31 December 2009

2009 Retrospective

On this New Year's Eve, I find myself looking back at 2009 and shaking my head in awe and wonder of the dichotomy of things that have happened.

On the good side:
- I got promoted at work - twice - and am happier and more fulfilled at this job than I have ever been at any other.

- I started meeting with my fellow Broken Writers, a group of lovely, witty, intelligent ladies whose company warms my heart.

- I was finally financially stable enough to purchase a new car.

On the bad side:
- My husband is trying to deal with his horrible, horrible job, and the stress is adversely affecting us both.

- I found out my mother is a raging, unrepentant narcissist who would rather be right than have a relationship with me.

- I have not written anything of note, much less completed a story.

A mixed bag, to say the least. But I am learning that life is neither good nor bad, it just is. With that in mind, we shall see what 2010 brings.

Happy New Year, everyone!

26 December 2009

In spite of everything...

I didn't spend Christmas day the way I thought I would. First, our CD player quit right in the middle of opening presents, putting the kibosh on our festive holiday background music. Fortunately, the tuner still worked, and one of the local radio stations was still playing Christmas music (as it had been since before Thanksgiving).

Second, the weather decided to go schizo, dumping a couple of inches of snow, ice, then rain atop us - which, of course, meant a wet basement. Cue the industrial fans set at full bore.

Third - and this is the coup de grace - my computer crashed. Crashed, as in completely hosed, black-screen-of-death crashed; the sys config file was corrupted. I wound up booting it from my recovery disks, then began the painful process of restoring all our data (including my DH's CV and my financial records) from a backup file...which, PTB be praised, was only a month old.

The restoration took over twenty-four hours.

But, strangely enough, I haven't let it affect my Christmas. DH spoiled me beyond belief, and I'm so happy to be able to spend this three-day weekend with him and our cat, playing with our toys and relaxing.

So Merry Christmas and happy holidays, everyone. Take time to count your blessings, and don't stress too much about life. After almost 43 years, I'm finally starting to learn that life happens - for good, bad, or indifferent - and what really matters is how you react to what it dishes at you.

Hmmm. Wonder what the new year will bring?

06 December 2009

Is it time?

Since I started this project at work, I find myself devoting all my energy to that career, as opposed to my writing. Even on the weekends, which should be prime writing time, I find myself drawn more to reading, to exercise, to socializing - to everything BUT writing. When I do set time aside to write, I end up producing perhaps one or two pages, getting frustrated, and firing up the mah jongg program instead.

Every. Single. Time.

I know that other authors have published their novels while also holding down a full-time job, but the question I'm asking myself is: has the time come for me to stop trying?

I have no illusions about my prospects. My divorce left my writing ability - and my confidence - a crippled wreck. The economic recession has made the publishing industry even more insular, and the monetary rewards smaller. To top it all off, I still haven't discovered what I really want to write about.

And I'm tired. Tired, frustrated, and cynical about the whole damn thing.

So perhaps it's time for me to get off the merry-go-round.

26 November 2009

Let the Games Begin.

I knew this would happen. Therefore, you'd think I would have been more prepared for the backlash of jealousy that accompanied the announcement of my promotion at work. So far it's been snarky comments ("Two promotions in a year? What's your secret?") and sullen, resentful silences accompanied by dagger glares.

On the other hand, there was also an outpouring of congratulations. Ya know, on second thought, I would really prefer to focus on that right now, instead of my insecurities. Already my self-doubt has begun to sabotage me on this project, and I don't want to give it any more ammunition.

Happy holidays, everyone.

20 November 2009


Those of you who follow my writings here know what emotional hell I've been through over the past couple of months. During this time, I've been trying my hardest not to let any of this personal angst spill over and affect my professional performance. Until yesterday, I thought I'd been losing that battle.

Yesterday morning I had my regular monthly meeting with my two supervisors. The purpose of this meeting is for associates to bring their managers up to date with what's happening in their jobs, mention any pain points, and talk about potential solutions. It's also a time used for reviewing performance goals and what strides associates have made toward completing them.

During my meeting, I admitted my recent troubles to my supervisors (without going into too much detail) and confessed my concerns about my performance. They reassured me that they thought I was doing a great job.

So great, in fact, that they PROMOTED ME! AGAIN!!!

As of Monday, my job title includes the word "Senior," and comes with a 6% pay increase.


I tell you, it was one heckuva shot in the arm - and a much-needed one, at that. Nice to know I don't totally suck as a person, no matter what others might think.

15 November 2009


After much angst and mental hand-wringing, I finally got in touch with my father last week. According to him, neither he nor my mother had the faintest clue as to why DH and I left their home in high dudgeon during our "vacation." Truth be told, with his poor hearing (he wears hearing aids in both ears), I don't think my dad heard much of what went on. When I explained it to him, he was devastated.

Then he asked what he and my mother could do to make things right, and I told him: a complete and unconditional apology from my mother for insulting me, and for insulting my husband.

Now, for an apology to mean anything, it must meet the following criteria:

definition of apology / definition of apologize
by J. E. Brown

To make an apology: In interpersonal manners, an acceptance of responsibility for a wrong, plus a pledge to change one's ways. The wrong may be either intentional or accidental; an apology is fitting in either case. The apology is usually made to the person or persons wronged, but may also be made to any third party to whom the wrongful act was evidence of untrustworthiness. The purpose of an apology is to put the listener at ease regarding the trustworthiness of the apologizing party.

An apology is not complete if it does not reflect all four of these:
• regret,
• understanding of the problem,
• acceptance of responsibility, and
• willingness to do better.

These are the necessary ingredients of a strong and reliable behavioral curb, a self-imposed restriction which the offender agrees to live by. It's your best guarantee and assurance that the behavior will not happen again (in fact, that's the whole purpose of an apology). If you don't hear all of the above elements in the apology, ask for them. If the offender resists, be skeptical.

Fast forward to yesterday. My father calls me. My mother gets on the phone, and says, "I'm sorry for anything I've done to cause you pain." Then, in a very snarky tone, says, "Well, I'll get off the phone now. I'm sure you'll be more comfortable that way."


What she said had none of the above qualities, making it a non-apology. To tell you the truth, I expected nothing less from her.

In other words, nothing has changed. My father is still desperately trying to get me to play happy families and sweep what happened under the rug, while my mother is still too busy being right to care that she's alienated her child.

Whatever. I'm glad Dad and I are still able to talk. Salvaging a relationship with him is the best I had hoped for. My mother, however, is a lost cause. There will be no more weekly phone calls, no more visits. And standing up to a narcissist (my mother) means that I will be vilified by her to the rest of the family, her friends, and everyone else they know so she can pay the poor, long-suffering victim and get everyone's sympathy.

I'm feeling strangely detached about the whole mess. I suppose that's a good thing?

07 November 2009

Oy. What a week!

I'm not sure how it got to be Saturday. Last time I looked, it was Monday...wasn't it?

This week at work we started parallel testing for the big project I'm working on. Talk about stress! Long hours, overtime, things going wrong, things going right, things going wrong again...oy.

I am, however, very glad to find it's Saturday. I can stay in my jammies, give lap time to my kitty, Princess Tortuga, read, write - in short, do anything my little heart desires.

And tomorrow, I get to meet up with my lovely and fabulous wellness-challenged writers.

I love weekends.

31 October 2009

Better Now.

My case of the crud is responding to antibiotics.

My boss told me I'm doing a fantastic job, and she's very impressed with me.

I've made a big purchase I'm very happy with. (No deets yet...I'll show you all later.)

The week is looking up!

20 October 2009

And now...

What's the result of too little sleep and a husband who's got a cold?

The crud, that's what. And I've got it.


Ick. My Indian name is now "Runs With Snot." I'm shaking with fever, and the back of my throat feels like someone's gone at it with an electric sander.

So not fun.

Marital property law dictates sharing of everything in a marriage, but things like this I can live without.

19 October 2009

Can't Sleep, Part II

My husband has a cold, which means he can't breathe, especially at night. He snores when he sleeps, which means that with this cold he sounds like a chainsaw. Or a wrecking crew. The cold also makes him restless; many's the time I've woken up with his elbow poking me in the kidney, or one of his arms flopped over me, or had him squish me onto the very edge of the bed, on the verge of falling out.


Last night I woke up at 11:00, with his snoring about to shake the windows. I'm a very light sleeper in general, so even with my earplugs I couldn't get back to the realm of unconsciousness. So I migrated to the couch, cat in tow, and tried to catch some Zs. No dice. Between the cat wanting to sleep all over me (after giving me a very thorough kneading first), terrible nightmares, and a couch that I can't quite stretch out full length on, I had a horrid night.

Insomnia sucks.

16 October 2009

Can't Sleep

It's 4:04 in the morning. I've been up since 2:45, and awake since about 2:00. Don't know why I'm battling insomnia right now. All I know is that it sucks.


At least it's Friday.

08 October 2009

Wicked Child

My mother has always been fond of telling all and sundry that when I turned thirteen, I became someone she didn't know. During this past trip, she went one step further and pontificated to my husband that "boys are easier to raise than girls." In front of me, yet.


First of all, it's called puberty. Everyone goes through it, and everyone becomes a hormonally-challenged snot. And everyone (usually) comes through to the other side intact. It's something you sign up for when you become a parent. Deal with it.

And secondly, even with the raging hormones, I didn't drink, didn't do drugs, and didn't run around. I got straight A's, was a member of the National Honor Society, was a National Merit scholar, and eventually graduated with honors from a small, prestigious college. I spent years trying to please my parents and be a model daughter.

Yet all she could say was that I was "difficult."

Well, ya know what? Doormats exist only to be stepped on, and I'm tired of it. In the past few years I've learned to recognize abuse for what it is, and stand up for myself. Clearly that rocks my parents' well-ordered world; it shocks and enrages them that I will not roll over and accept the role of meek, submissive (i.e., doormat) daughter any more.

If that makes me a wicked child, so be it. After forty-some-odd years I've finally decided that I like myself for who I am, and that there's more to life than pleasing people for whom my best will never be good enough. And my parents have shown that they cannot - and will not - be pleased. Instead of acknowledging that they may have hurt someone else's feelings and apologizing (like rational adults), they expect me to come groveling back and apologize *to them* for standing up for myself and my husband.

Well, I'm done. And I'm done feeling sorry for myself. I have a husband, friends, and co-workers who love and respect me for who I am. If my own family cannot do the same, it's their loss - not mine.

06 October 2009

It Arrived.

The package from Ground Zero, that is.

I opened up the box and there, buried by a sea of frilly robin's egg blue packing peanuts, was my makeup kit. No note, no nothing - just the kit.

I'm not sure whether to be happy or desolate. I mean, after everything that happened they're not going to say ONE WORD to me? I know better than to expect an apology from narcissists, but apparently they're happy to maintain radio silence. After all, clearly I am the one in the wrong. (sarcasm)

That hurts me almost as much as their insults to me and my husband.

I don't know these people. They're like strangers.

It feels like I have no parents now.

I want to cry all over again.

05 October 2009


Otherwise known as "We are Always Right."

Ever come across someone like this? Someone who, for whatever reason, is either unwilling or unable to consider the validity - or even the existence - of alternate viewpoints?

These people just boggle my mind. The "it's my way or the highway" tenet is so insular, so narrow-minded, so tremendously *arrogant* that it's a wonder they can function in society.

There is no arguing with them, or even disagreement. If you don't believe as they do, you are WRONG. End of story. To entertain notions to the contrary is so threatening to their worldview, to their very nature of self, that they must fight and deny them at every turn.

In the end (to quote from the movie "War Games"), the only way to win is not to play.

02 October 2009

Work Therapy

Remember how I was complaining last month about how tough my job was, and how frustrated I was getting?

Now, over a week after the great parental debacle, I find myself thanking my lucky stars that I have such interesting and worthwhile employment; not only am I becoming more comfortable in this new project to which I've been assigned, but it's also keeping my mind very much occupied and away from things I'd rather not think about - like the giant pink narcissistic elephant in the room.

I have yet to receive my makeup case; it'll probably get here in the next few days. I anticipate that it will arrive with a note about how disappointed my mother is, how hurt, yadda yadda yadda. Or maybe I'll get lucky and it will come unaccompanied.

Guess I'll have to wait and see.

30 September 2009

The Response from Ground Zero

After everything that happened last week, I finally received a communication from my parents - a two-line missive from my father stating that my mother had found my makeup kit (that I'd accidentally left behind), and that they'd be mailing it out tomorrow.

That's it.

OMG. I've known warmer icebergs.

28 September 2009


Can't sleep.

Food tastes like sawdust.

I keep going over events from my childhood/young adulthood, seeing them with fresh eyes, and the horror begins anew.

I hate this.

27 September 2009


After the whole vacation fiasco, I've been doing a great deal of thinking. Thinking, reminiscing, and analyzing.

In short, I was drawing parallels between my mother's behavior and that of my ex-husband. And I came to an earth-shattering conclusion: my mother is a narcissist.

Granted, I'm neither a psychiatrist nor a licensed therapist, but it explains so much, both about her behavior and my own responses.

Unfortunately, along with this enlightenment comes pain, grief, and a gut-wrenching sense of betrayal.

Check out this link to a very telling list of characteristics of narcissistic mothers. My mother meets 20 of the 24 characteristics on this list.

I am still reeling from this revelation, shaken to the very core of my being. It's like a veil has been lifted, and everything I thought I knew is an illusion.

There is no going back from this point. Now, there is only recovery.

26 September 2009

My Terrible, Awful, No Good, Very Bad Vacation

My last vacation = one week of my life I'll never get back. In fact, it was one of the worst weeks of my life. In addition to being jet-lagged and travel-weary, I feel like complete and total crap.

What happened, you ask?

Well, without going into details, suffice to say that my mother, who has always been very religious, has become an intolerant, judgmental zealot. Add alcohol into the mix, and she's completely off her rocker. I had an inkling she was unhappy about something from the moment we arrived, but things didn't come to a head until our fourth night in my parents' house.

Having nitpicked at him for days - including telling him, on the very anniversary of his mother's death, that he should be glad his mother died the way she did (suddenly, painfully, of pancreatic cancer) - my mother's seemingly irrational hatred of my husband boiled over. Off came the kid gloves. That night she baited, harassed, and outright insulted my husband, who left the table rather than lose his temper with her. Then she argued with me when I had the temerity to stand up for him and call her on her outrageous behavior. Despite my best efforts, I found there was no reasoning with her.

Even though she drove us from the dinner table, she still wouldn't let things go. And when we decided we'd taken enough abuse (around 8:30 that night), she chortled, jeered, and all but danced with malicious delight as we packed our bags and left. And my father, who I have always considered to be a logical, thoughtful, rational individual, stood by her side and said not one word to stop her.

We spent the last two days and nights of our vacation in hotels, trying to salvage what was left of our week - while I tried to make some sort of sense of what just happened.

I am flabbergasted. Gobsmacked. And, it goes without saying, completely devastated. That person who hurled insults and cackled at our anger and discomfort is not my mother. It seems that when she turned 80 this past February, some switch was thrown in her head, turning her into one of the ugliest, hateful, most passive-aggressive women I've ever had the misfortune to know. Dementia? Mild cognitive impairment? Possibly. I may never know the real reason. All I do know is the person who needled and jeered at us is a stranger. An irrational, abusive, fanatical stranger.

My mother has always said that when I turned 13, I became someone she didn't know. Now I suppose it's my turn. She wouldn't even entertain the possibility that she had crossed a line. Wrapped in an impenetrable cloak of self-righteousness, even when we were leaving in the dark of night, she staunchly maintained the tenet that She Is Right. Always.

I hope she enjoys being right. Because without a genuine and sincere apology - and a demonstrated change in behavior - it's cost her a daughter.

14 September 2009

I'm Still Here...Mostly

If it seems like I haven't been posting a lot lately, that's because, well - I haven't.

My new, extra-important project at work started about two weeks ago (the one that set my colleagues on their "favorites" rant), and ever since then I've felt like I've been floundering. The work is tough, yes, and to complicate matters, not everything else in my life is going as smoothly as I'd like, either.

Right now I'm stressed out of my gourd (again), and trying not to let myself get overwhelmed at work. It's not easy; I frequently feel like a fish out of water, and that's very frustrating. Those of you who know me well also know what a perfectionist I am, and that perfectionism is both a benefit and a curse. And I've been doing a lot of cursing lately, at least to myself.

I guess I should be satisfied with doing the dogpaddle, at least until I can get myself to shallower water. I'll let you know when I'm there.

29 August 2009


Ah, my favorite word.


**(Warning: rant ahead)**

This past week at work my department met to discuss the results of a "Workplace of Choice" survey we completed several months ago. When the questions pertaining to opportunities for advancement and promotion came up, the majority of my fellows were pessimistic about both. When I disagreed, two of the more vocal naysayers started throwing around the word "favoritism." Neither of them, of course, looked me in the eye when they said it, but it was pretty obvious they were referring to me.

I tried not to let it get to me, but like a thorn it wriggled its way under my skin. I work my ass off - and I'm proud of that fact. I'm always looking for new ways to do things and new ways to prove myself. And when I'm given a new project, I do my utmost to produce the best possible results. I'm proud of the work I do, which is why it irks me to no end that my co-workers think so little of me, that they believe my success comes not from my own skills and drive, but from the caprice of management - whom they also don't seem to hold in very high esteem.

Well, here's a news flash, you azzhats - how 'bout you get off your dead asses and start communicating with management instead of expecting them to come to you? How 'bout you ASK how you can help? How 'bout you quit whining and DO something, for fuck's sake?!


Fortunately, my supervisors know the score when it comes to the use of this word - that most people who choose to sling it around are those who have the most entitlement issues, and who, at heart, don't really want to go above and beyond - they want the perks without having to do the work.

Yeah, I know these folks are green-eyed with envy, and right now I don't give a flying rodent's patoot for their pweshus widdle hurt feewings. They don't like me for being smart and ambitious? Tough. If they want change, they need to look to themselves instead of shooting off their mouths.



15 August 2009

Week From Hell - It's Over!

This past week was a real doozy. I was put on a big project at work at the last minute, which necessitated travel to northern Milwaukee for training every day this week.

And, of course, there was still the matter of my professional certification exam.

Since I didn't want to miss any training to take my exam, I rescheduled the test for this morning at 9:00 AM. At the very least, I figured it would give me a few more hours of study time.

Now, training involved being up at 5 AM, meeting my co-workers at a Park-n-Ride at 7:30, traveling 45 minutes to an hour north (navigating rush-hour traffic all the way), training in a new software suite for 7-8 hours, then driving 45 minutes to an hour home. I would study on the ride to/from the training site, and when I got home, I would study for another hour after supper.

Needless to say, I was stressed out of my gourd.

Fast forward to this morning...I actually got to sleep in until 6:30. (You know you lead a sad life when 6:30 is sleeping in!) Then I got up, showered, dressed, had breakfast, and went over my acronym flashcards one more time. I traveled down to the test center (which was located in a privately-owned hangar at the Kenosha Airport), sat in a stuffy closet equipped with three computer carrels, completed the 120 test questions (most of which I knew the answers to), then tried not to sweat profusely as the proctor/hangar owner printed out my scores. 75% is a passing grade for this exam, which is known to be so tough that few people pass it the first time around.



I didn't score any lower than 81% in any category on the test. I stared at the exam results sheet; I admit it took a moment for my adrenaline-fogged brain to comprehend the fact that my week of hell was over, and that I'd passed my dreaded exam. Passed with flying colors, no less! The folks in the hangar office were quite amused by my ensuing happy dance.

OMG. All I want to do now is nap. Nap, and do my nails. I'll celebrate tomorrow, when I'm not 1) fluttering, or 2) exhausted.

Thanks to everyone for putting up with me! **Smooches** to all!

08 August 2009

One Down....

Yesterday marked the first of three hurdles I must accomplish over both this week and next: I held a total of four training sessions at work for a team website I created. As an introvert, I *hate* speaking in front of people - my insides get all twisted into knots, my tongue tries to stick itself to the roof of my get the picture.

But I made certain to be prepared. I had my presentation written out on a series of color-coded 4x6 index cards, I had handouts, and I had even created a fun, introductory video with Windows Movie Maker. To my shock and pleasure, everyone *loved* the video! And apparently the presentation itself wasn't too shabby, either - all my supervisors had nothing but complimentary things to say, as did my peers.


Now for the other two hurdles: I have to get through the next week, which means five days of training on a new software package for a special project at work, capped off by my professional certification exam on Friday afternoon.

By this time next Saturday, I hope to be feeling none of the stress currently plaguing me. In fact, I hope to be sleeping off a night of celebratory carousing.

Only time will tell.

For now, though, I'd better go study. More later.

29 July 2009

Update to WTF

I don't want to reveal too much in such a public forum, but suffice to say that we must be under the Chinese curse of "may you live in interesting times."

28 July 2009


DH just called. The convo was tortuously brief:

DH: Oh. You're home.

Me: Yep. Just got here. What's up?

DH (in a low voice): Um...I'll have to tell you later.

WTF?! He was going to talk to the answering machine, but can't talk to me? Or doesn't want to talk to me....

All of a sudden I have a hideous lump in the pit of my stomach. Send good vibes my way - I have a feeling I might need them.

23 July 2009


Well, with all the stress and lack of sleep, combined with poor nutritional choices, I worked myself into a migraine yesterday. It was a really weird, kind of out-of-body experience...except for the pain, that is.

I left work early, and after a rather harrowing drive home, settled down with some Excedrin Migraine, benadryl, and a cold gel mask topped with my silk sleep mask. After several hours of unconsciousness, I was feeling much more like myself. And, when DH came home, I could tell he was feeling much more like himself, too - he's free of Amityville Manor, and the crooked bureaucrats who run it.

This morning is almost surreal: no, my migraine didn't return. DH isn't walking around like a man on death row, and I'm (almost) pain free.

Wow. What a difference a day makes.

22 July 2009

Today's the Day

Today my husband makes good his escape. And he reports, to my great amusement, that Wolfram & Hart is giving him an exit interview, and that his NP supervisor has given him a "script" to spoon-feed to his interviewer.

Anyone else see anything wrong with this?

At any rate, he's torn between following the script and telling this corporate interviewer what really happened. I told him not to expect any approval for telling the truth; from everything I've seen, this company is a legend in its own garage. They don't want to hear the truth; their version of reality has no basis in fact, only in spin. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him think.

I'm so glad he's finally getting out of that toxic environment. Now, maybe both of us can relax a bit, and shed the horrendous headaches that have dogged us both for the past few days...weeks...even months.

Here's hoping....

21 July 2009


As you may have gathered from my previous posts, my DH has only a matter of days (well, less than a day, now) until he escapes from Amityville Manor. His former employers are doing all they can to make him not regret leaving: the euphemistically termed "management" is ignoring him, or worse, making snide comments within his hearing (but not to his face); his nemeses in the Therapy and Nutrition departments have not only been snide, but have openly tried to pick fights with him; and, to cap it all off, yesterday he was urinated upon by a resident.

Needless to say, the poor man is stressed nearly to the breaking point. He doesn't eat, and can't sleep - last night we stayed up most of the night talking as we laid next to each other in bed. He knows he can't stay, but at the same time, can't help but worry that something about his new position will be seriously flawed. Mind you, he's had no indication of this in the interactions he's had so far with his new bosses, but he's been conditioned to believe that he will never have a good place to work.

I'm so worried for him. I've never seen him like this before. And, in the meantime, neither of us are getting any sleep.

I'm still praying to the PTB that his new job is everything he's been promised it will be. If it's not...I'm not sure what will happen.

18 July 2009

Validation...I Hope.

I am a firm believer in karma: what goes around, comes around, for good or bad. As a corollary, I like to believe that good things will eventually come to good, loyal, honest folk. Of course, in the real world, that isn't always the case, much to my frustration. Good people get screwed over all the time, and it sucks. But every once in a while, something happens to give me hope.

Case in point: my DH works for the Wolfram & Hart of the geriatric healthcare world. (All you "Angel" fans know exactly what I'm talking about. If you don't, check out the Wikipedia entry.) They appear benevolent on the exterior, but in reality they're a cold, soulless, bureaucratic Goliath bent on stomping into a fine powder any who get in their way or, heaven forbid, don't toe the party line.

This company - and its building management - think it's perfectly acceptable to let nursing aides get away with not completing the doctor's or nurse practitioner's orders, to not check patients' dressings (thereby worsening said patients' conditions), and generally be lazy, insolent, do-nothing fucktards.

My DH tried to change this, only to get smacked down. He has *never* had the backing of his building's management "team," receiving instead nothing but attitude, stupidity, and cowardice.

Not any more.

As of this coming Wednesday, he's escaping the clutches of Wolfram & Hart for private practice. Naturally, he's worried; up until now, his NP career has involved working entirely for soulless, money-grubbing, backstabbing "healthcare" corporations. Will private practice be any different? Will he remember how to do ambulatory care after ten months in hell? Will he get along with his practice partners?

I desperately hope the answer to all the above is a resounding YES. My DH is a loyal, honest, and deeply ethical individual, and these traits extend to his medical practice. He's a good person; he deserves to have something good happen to him, especially after all the shit he's had to endure for the last ten months.

I pray to the PTB that this time, he's finally found a place worthy of him.

01 July 2009


This morning, in a moment of horrendous clarity, I realized that I've been blogging at work (yes, my company lets me do that) more than I have here.

Mea culpa!

I don't have much to report, anyway - DH is still stressed at work (because his "managers" can't manage their way out of a wet paper bag), our basement still tends to leak (which is less traumatic now that we have two industrial-strength blowers), and I still like my job.

I had my mid-year review yesterday, and it went really well. Basically, my manager is thrilled with what I've accomplished so far this year, and can't wait to see what I do in the next 6 months. Frankly, neither can I - I've been doing my best duck imitation (tranquil on the surface, paddling like hell underneath) for all my projects, which are somehow getting done. At the beginning of the year, two of my upper-level managers wondered if my proposed goals would be enough of a challenge. I can now say with absolute certainty: they are!

In fact, it's getting to the point where I'd just like to take a day off to try to catch my breath. I don't have any vacation coming up until fall, and the prospect of continuing at this pace without a break makes me cringe.

On top of it all, I have an idea for a story that's consuming me, AND I have a professional certification test to study for.

Now that I think about it...sheesh! No wonder I'm tired! So please forgive my sporadic posts. I'm just a little...overwhelmed right about now. But fear not, I haven't forgotten about you, dear readers, so stay tuned!

17 June 2009

On the Bright Side

Lest you, my dear readers, begin to think I'm a complete downer, I've decided to post today about things that are going *right* in my life.

1) I'm about to celebrate my 4th wedding anniversary with a wonderful, wonderful man.

2) I love my job. (Really! I do!)

3) I have some of the best friends in the world, who happen to be some of the best writers in the world (IMNSHO).

4) I have a cute, cuddly (if neurotic) rescue kitty who adores me, and vice versa.

5) After a gray, gloomy, miserable start to the day, it's now bright, cool, and sunny. Beautiful.

What about you? What are the bright spots in *your* life?

13 June 2009

So Tired of People

Thing1 and Thing2 are still at it at work. I've been trying to detach, trying to remember my Zen precepts, and it's exhausting. Especially when Thing1 makes a point to snub me when we're the only people in the room, but gets all fakey sweet in the presence of witnesses.

Thing2 isn't acknowledging me at all, won't even look at me, which is fine. The farther away she keeps her hygienically-challenged self from me, the better.

The clandestine, whispered bitchfests, however, continue.


When will these people learn to grow up?

05 June 2009

Buddha's Wisdom Strikes Again

I get along with most everyone at my place of work, with the notable exception of two women. One, a 20-something-year veteran of the company, thinks she's a manager (she isn't). As a result, she tries to girl-bully people into doing what she thinks they should be doing. If they don't, she gets pissy and snipes at them behind their backs, while giving them a fake, sweet smile to their faces. It's gotten so bad I've nicknamed her Janus, after the two-faced Roman god.

The other woman I've mentioned here before: the mousy, insecure, passive/aggressive socially inept yotch who desperately tries to prove herself the brightest kid in class (and falls desperately short).

This past week, while DH was away, things came to a head with both of these creatures. It was so bad I had to ask two of my managers for help - which, fortunately, I received. I was still horribly torqued off, and ranted last night to my husband, getting more and more upset as I relived the wrongs done to me.

My husband, without missing a beat, turned to me and said, "What is the primary tenet of Buddhism?"

To which I automatically replied, "Resistance to what exists is the cause of all suffering."

Ding-ding-ding! Gazillion-watt lightbulb goes on!

I slap my forehead in an utter "D'oh!" moment. I was giving those yotches so much power over me that I was making myself miserable. These women are who they are, and no matter how much I protest and gnash my teeth, I cannot change them. I can only acknowledge what they are, accept their existence, and refuse to let them affect me so greatly.

Buddha was a gentle teacher. His teachings, however, sometimes require application with a clue-by-four.


04 June 2009

He's Back

He's home. I'm happy. The cat's happy. (She crawled under the covers with us last night and purred so loudly it woke up both DH and me - no mean feat, considering I wear earplugs to bed!)

All's right with the world this morning.

*happy sigh*

03 June 2009


My DH is out of town on business; he left early yesterday morning, and will be back tonight.

Good thing - I never sleep well when he's gone. Last night, despite sleeping next to a body pillow, I tossed and turned. Woke up this morning feeling hung over. I'm on my second cup of tea, and I'm *still* groggy.

Can't wait till he gets back. Neither can the cat - she's been pacing around the house like she's looking for something/someone, meowling all the way. I tried brushing her, playing with her, and offering her treats, but she's having none of it.

Come home soon, honey. We miss you.

23 May 2009


Warning: Do not view this video while eating or drinking. The Management will not be responsible for any spew-dampened monitors, keyboards, or other electronic equipment.

20 May 2009

Taking a Break

On the wise advice of my husband and my writerly colleagues, I'm taking a break from writing this week, with no plans to log into my laptop until the weekend.

In the meantime, I've been doing things to re-fill my creative well and take care of me: reading (new Sookie Stackhouse novel), getting re-acquainted with exercise (ow...), and painting my nails (it builds hand/eye coordination, doncha know...).

The fact that I'm really enjoying myself tells me I was overstressed from trying too hard. I'm hoping that this will give me just the break I need to return to writing.

Just keeping my fingers crossed.

16 May 2009

Gloom, Despair, and Agony

A very, very, very bad day today. I can't seem to connect with anything I write. I'm on the verge of tears even as I type this.

At what point do I just give up and say, I can't do this any more?

At what point do I stop torturing myself?

I don't know the answer. Maybe I never will.

15 May 2009

FOTD (Funny Of The Day)

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Thought I'd start off my Friday with a laugh. Just wanted to share.

12 May 2009


For everything I've written lately, there's a ten page limit; I write up to that point, then either get stuck or bored and don't write anything more on that idea.

What is it about these stories, these characters, that bore me? I just can't seem to get into them enough to care. For everything on which I've worked for the past month, that disconnect has prevented me from getting truly "into" my writing; I can't get into my own head to pry out these concepts and images.

I suspect my deep-seated fears are still strangling me, continuing to distance me from the camera in my mind. Although despair often tempts me to just call it quits - for good - I'm not ready to give up yet, dammit.

I know I can write. I can write well. But still my subconscious seeks to protect me from a host of shadowed terrors.

I just have to out-stubborn myself.

Twisted, innit?

08 May 2009


Things at work have been nutso this week. To absurdly increased volume add a pinch of downward-spiraling office morale and a few sprinkles of malfunctioning equipment, and voila! One grumpy me!

Fortunately, I got out of the office yesterday to attend a training session on critical conversations at our main office. Not only was the session *extremely* enlightening, but it also got me away from the daily grind. Bonus!

And today is Friday, payday, and sunny.


06 May 2009

Obsessive Little Fruitloop!

I am, of course, talking about my cat.

In addition to plucking a huge hank of fur out of her left flank, her anxiety, coupled with a hefty dose of obsessive-compulsive behavior, has now lead her to start deforesting her tail, as well. Of course, when she does this, the skin gets irritated, resulting in yet more licking, more irritation, more licking....

You get the idea.

Come Saturday, we're off to the vet. Necessary trauma. I want to make sure some underlying allergy or other condition isn't behind this whole pluckfest. And short of kitty prozac, I want to ask the vet what I can do (aromatherapy, Rescue Remedy) to ease the anxiety rattling around inside that little furry head.


More later.

02 May 2009


***I'M WRITING!***

Just had to share.


01 May 2009

Here Comes the Sun

Yesterday afternoon, after several hours of more (so not needed) rain, the sun finally appeared. I opened the blinds on the western window of our living room to let in some light, and *poof*! Instant cat!

I wish I'd thought to get a picture of her, all sprawled out in a pose of very evident kitty happiness.

Seeing her happy - and not plucking out her fur - made me happy.

Looking forward to more sunshine this weekend!!

27 April 2009

Kitty Neuroses

My cat has SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).

I kid you not. We've gone a little over three days without sunshine, and between that and the wet basement (sump pump running, fans blowing nonstop), she's been one little bundle of stress. So stressed, as a matter of fact, that her occasional fur-plucking has escalated into a full-blown Pluckfest.

Last night I discovered her obsessively licking at her flank. A closer inspection revealed that she'd torn out a huge (1.5" diameter) hunk of fur, leaving her skin raw and red.

She's done this one time before, several years ago - she tore out a huge hunk on one shoulder blade. The fur grew back, but it came in white (and she's a mostly-black Tortie).

There's not much to be done for her except hope the sun re-emerges soon.

Now I have yet another title for Her Highness, Princess Tortuga, dowager Queen of Chicken, Terror of the Deck...and now, Plucker of the Fur.


26 April 2009

Noah? Is that you?

Three days of constant rain.

Over two inches of rainfall.

One wet basement.


Why are we here, again?

25 April 2009

It's Broke, and We Can't Fix It

And by "it," I'm talking about the medical system in this country.

The doctors are in bed with the insurance companies, with big pharma making an unholy menage-a-trois.

We pay ungodly amounts of money to the insurance hucksters month after month in the deluded hope that when we need healthcare, it'll be paid for.


My bout with perimenopause racked up about $2,000 worth of lab work and doctor's bills. And the insurance company, predictably, isn't going to pay for most of it. Worse, they won't even tell me why. I'll bet they're sitting in their cubicles using Magic 8 balls to determine whether they'll pay or not. Mostly not.

Here, ladies and gentlemen, is greed at its finest. It's not about taking care of people. It's not about doing the right thing. It's about the Almighty Dollar, about seven-figure executive bonuses, and us ordinary folks are screwed six ways from Sunday.

Pissed off? You bet I am. Unfortunately, there's nothing I can do. The Medical/Insurance/Pharma complex knows this, and expect us to just bend over and take it.

It's just not fucking fair.

24 April 2009

Dreams - Stories You Tell Yourself

My subconscious told me a really neat, scary ghost story last night, for the first time in a long time; lately, my dreams have been a bunch of confusing images/vignettes with little logic or cohesion, but last night - wow!

In this dream, my husband and I were in Paris. While walking across a bridge over a large, rushing stream (it was only a stream, not the Seine), we looked down and realized that there was a house built in the middle of the water, partially hidden by/connected to the bridge. Intrigued, we went down onto the riverbank for a closer look - a discovered a "for sale" sign.

The real estate agent happened to be right there, and insisted on showing us around - never mind that 1) we weren't interested in buying a house, and 2) there's no way we could afford this stone-and-mullionned window pre-Rafaelite structure. The main entrance, strangely enough, was through a tunnel in the sewers. But when we got into the house, BAM! it did the TARDIS thing of being much larger inside than out. Elegant carved wood walls, beautiful veined marble floors, and furnishings that looked like they came from the turn of the last century.

Turns out this had been the house of a famous writer and his family - his wife had been a painter, and they had a 10-year-old son. My dream-self finds this terribly fascinating, and I can't wait to explore the rest of the house. We find the the cozy room at the waterline of the rushing river (whose leaded windows miraculously don't leak) that has his-and-hers divans, an easel, and a desk with a typewriter and papers still strewn over it. There's also several bedrooms, a palatial marble bath, a garage, and a kitchen - where the cook asks, in French, if we'd like some tea.

Things didn't get creepy until we reached the nursery wing. Again, everything's been perfectly preserved - not a speck of dust anywhere. When I ask why, the real estate agent nervously tells me that the writer stipulated it remain this way. More prodding on our part gets him to reveal that when the writer's son died, both the writer and his wife died soon thereafter under mysterious circumstances. We walk into what was once the boy's room, and immediately sense a presence that tells us to get out. We leave the room; the door slams shut behind us.

I won't bore you with the rest - it played out as the "ghost child looking for a mother" trope - but upon waking I was struck by the fantastic detail and cohesiveness of the plot.

Yow. If only I could write stories like my brain does! Anyone got a direct wetware connection from the subconscious to a computer?

23 April 2009

46 Chromosomes + 7 Alleles in Common = 1 Pain in the Ass

Woke up this morning with a "something's gonna hit the fan" feeling, and I think I know what it is.

Background: my oldest brother and I don't get along. I think he's a self-absorbed, entitled, bona fide narcissist. We haven't spoken since our last unpleasant encounter about four years ago, when my then-fiance and I were visiting my parents, and he and his wife showed up and proceeded to monopolize their attention and make everything All About Them. And no, I wasn't imagining things - my then-fiance (now husband) was just as gobsmacked as I was.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, out of the blue, my brother called me, then proceeded to natter on about his favorite topic - himself - like nothing was wrong. To make a long story short, I told him I wasn't interested in having a relationship with him, and he was shocked - shocked! - by my reaction. I told him why, and he couldn't for the life of him remember the visit that way. He then proceeded to give me a bunch of non-apologies: "I'm sorry if I did anything to offend you," and the classic "I'm sorry you feel that way." In a wounded tone, he then said that when I was ready, I could contact him.

I refrained from telling him not to hold his breath.

Anyway, this week my brother and his wife are visiting my parents, and I just know he's going to tattle about me to them - he's done it before. Now, mind you, the man's 59 years old. But he's also endowed with a serious case of sibling rivalry, and won't hesitate to play the victim in front of an audience.


Thus the feeling of impending doom. I just know I'm going to hear about this from my parents this weekend, and I'm preparing myself to handle it. And no, I'm not going to tell them that just because my brother and I have seven alleles in common doesn't mean I have to like him...even though it's true. I'm going to be gentle and tell my mother that I know what she wants, but I can't give it to her right now.

Maybe, if I'm really lucky, my sixth sense is wrong about this, and the topic will never come up.

If I'm lucky.

19 April 2009

Vegas Vignettes: Day 5 - Travel Hell

Our last day. *sigh* My husband was ready to go home; I hadn't yet reached my limit of people/crowds/noise, but I was close. We woke up and got ready at a leisurely pace, then wandered over to the Paris for another lovely, lovely breakfast.

Back at the hotel, we packed up, then headed downstairs to check out. To our dismay, we discovered that the lobby was just as crowded as it was on the day we checked in. *grumble* Fortunately, the hotel had some staffers making their way through the lines, doing express checkout. As we'd been in line for close to 20 minutes by that point, in front of some very loud, obnoxious, and obviously self-entitled people, we took the express option and ran.

Unfortunately, we still had a couple of hours to kill before our shuttle arrived to take us to the airport. We stored our bags with the bell captain, then hunkered down on a sofa in a quiet corner of the lobby to read and watch people go by.

A couple of hours later, now thoroughly tired of sitting, we gathered our luggage and waited by the curb. The shuttle was late - 10 minutes passed, then 15. I called the shuttle service; the driver, apparently, was stuck in traffic, but would be there soon. Another 10 minutes passed, and the shuttle finally arrived. The harried driver all but snatched our luggage from us, threw it in the back of the bus, then demanded payment. Alarmed, I told him we were on a prepaid package. He scowled and snapped that he'd need our booking number; I produced our travel documents, which he grabbed from my hands. When I protested, he muttered something about having to write things down and that he'd return it to me. Yeah. Right.

We boarded the shuttle. The driver tossed our travel docs onto the dashboard. Then we hung on for dear life with the rest of the passengers as the driver did his best NASCAR-driver impression through the crowded streets. When we got to the airport and stopped at our drop-off point, the driver bolted out of the bus, our paperwork forgotten. I snatched it up on my way out. Asshat.

We checked in at the airline, and my husband, tired of being smooshed into steerage, asked if they had any first class seats left. They did. Score! We then wended our way through the (mercifully short) security line, bought some bottled water and some BK for supper, then settled down at our gate to wait.

Everything else went fine until we were actually on the plane and waiting in line to take off. A passenger in the back of the plane started going into some physical distress, so we had to get out of line, go BACK to the gate, and wait for the Clark County EMTs to arrive. Once they get the guy off the plane, we had to wait to get refueled and fill out paperwork. When we get back in line to take off, we're now 10th in line, with another 20 minute wait. We're now a total of 90 minutes behind schedule.

We arrive in Milwaukee a little after 1 AM, tired, cranky, and fed up. If my husband hadn't had the foresight to purchase places for us up in the comfy seats, I would've had a meltdown by the time all was said and done. We got home and collapsed into bed by 2:30.

Vacations are great, but travel really SUCKS. It's good to be home.

14 April 2009

Vegas Vignettes: Day 4, Part 2 - The Bodies Strike Back

As I mentioned in my previous post, my husband, being a hardcore medical professional, *really* wanted to see the Bodies exhibit. Prior to this, he had asked me several times if I wanted to accompany him. Silly me thought, "How bad could it be?" and went in with him.

The first couple of displays were very interesting, but the second room had a couple of complete cadavers on display. My husband is instantly engrossed, muttering, "Oh, so that's what that looks like!" I'm OK until the third room. Now, this is a very graphic display. The cadavers have been stripped of skin and plasticized to preserve them; every organ, every nerve, muscle and major blood vessel is exactly where it should be, only right there in front of us.

My husband is examining the third cadaver when I realize I'm not feeling well. In fact, I'm feeling lousy - nauseated, lightheaded, and feverish. I look at the floor; I feel better. I look at the cadaver - *bang!* - my symptoms return in force. Only this time, my vision is starting to dim. Holy shit, I'm about to faint.

So I grabbed my husband's arm, and said something along these lines: "Honey, I'm not feeling well, so I'm going to leave. I know you really want to see the rest of the exhibit, so I want you to take your time and see everything you want to see. But if I stay, I'm going to either throw up or pass out. So I'll meet you outside. I love you." And I took off. I walked through the rest of the rooms, head down, trying my best not to look at the rest of the displays (healthy vs. diseased lungs, etc.). Fortunately, there's a bypass to the fetal exhibit (thank the PTB!), and soon I'm outside, sitting my shaking, quivering, nauseated self on a bench and ignoring the looks from passersby.

Between 5-10 minutes later my husband emerges, takes one look at me, and promptly hauls me to the nearest Starbucks for some water and a fizzy soda. Smiling, he tells me the medical reason for what happened to me - and that he would have pointed it out on one of the bodies, but I was too busy trying not to faint. Rest assured, dear reader, that although I wanted to, I didn't backhand him. (grin)

Once I had recovered (and my husband was convinced of that fact), we took a taxi over to the Mirage, and visited Sigfried & Roy's Secret Garden. Dolphin and big cat paradise! Took lots of pictures, oohed over the 4-month-old baby leopard (who was enjoying his first day in public that day - yay for good timing!), and enjoyed being out in the sun.

That evening, back at the Bellagio, we celebrated my husband's birthday at Prime, the hotel's premiere steakhouse. More cocktails, a table right next to the windows (which gave us a ringside seat for the fountain show, as well as for the hordes of ducks and ducklings swimming by!), delicious filet mignon, and decadent chocolate for dessert. Fortunately, my flirtation with fainting earlier in the day hadn't affected my appetite.

As the coup de grace, we rented Madagascar 2 back in the hotel room, and laughed ourselves silly. Best movie of the entire trip!

We finally fell into an exhausted sleep around 10:00.

Next post: the horrors of modern travel, part deux....

11 April 2009

Vegas Vignettes: Day 4, Part 1

Have I mentioned that we really enjoyed our breakfasts at the Paris? This morning our waitress made us samples of their other champagne cocktail offerings: the kir royale (made with creme de cassis liqueur and champagne) and the chambourd cocktail (raspberry liqueur and champagne). Both totally yummy, both potent enough to make you want to sing happily through breakfast. Fortunately, I suppressed the urge. Heh.

After seeing it offered on the menu for the past three days, and unable to contain his curiosity, my husband finally ordered the bacon and chocolate waffle. I can see your foreheads crinkling in a WTF? expression from here. But trust me - the combination of sweet and salt, served with chocolate syrup and REAL whipped cream, was enough to have my husband moaning in an almost x-rated fashion. Then he shared a piece with me, and we moaned together. Oh. My. God. Unbelievably good. Didn't quite throw my quiche lorraine with its side of lovely greens into the shade, but almost.

Fortified by and still quasi-delirious from our breakfast, we started on the first leg of our "be a tourist" day. We took a cab to the Luxor, where we bought tickets to both the Titantic and Bodies exhibits. The Titanic exhibit was breathtaking. Everything, from their recreation of third class/steerage accomodations (complete with the sound and feel of the engines) to their recreation of the ship's grand staircase, was extremely well done. But what really took our breath away was the "Big Piece," a large piece of the Titanic's hull that has been recovered and preserved for posterity. Looking at that suspended chunk of metal, at the crushed glass still in the portholes, we were completely in awe of the force that tore it like a piece of paper from the rest of the hull.

Dodging the photo-sellers and the obligatory gift shop at the end (buy a real piece of coal salvaged from the Titanic!), we headed over to the Bodies exhibit next door. My husband, being a medical professional, wanted to see this most of all; it featured real cadavers, preserved by plasticization. Before we went in, he asked me over and over if I wanted to see this. Having sat through high school anatomy class, and having dissected icky things, I thought, "How hard can this be?"

I should have known better than to tempt karma....

Tune in next time for the unfortunate results of my hubris!

08 April 2009

Vegas Vignettes: Day 3

Another glorious day, another glorious breakfast at the Paris. Afterwards, my husband and I part ways so I can head back to the Bellagio salon to get my hair done.

I've worn my hair long (past shoulder length) for several years, and I was ready for a change. With the advice of my great colorist and very awesome stylist, I came away with an A-line cut (higher in the back than in the front) with long, shaped bangs. It looked *awesome*!

Sporting my kickin' new 'do, I then met up with my husband at the Baccarat bar, an open area just outside the baccarat room, and also a fabulous place to watch people. To my great amusement, my husband - a die-hard fan of Belgian ale - had discovered the lure of the chocolatini.

Yep, you read right - chocolatini. My buff, very manly husband was drinking (and enjoying very much) a "girly" drink. Considerably amused, I joined him for a similar libation, and we watched the world go by for another hour.

After we pried ourselves out of our seats, we went down to La Scarpa, a little shoe boutique that specializes in delicious designer shoes. A sign of the times - they were actually having a sale! Booya! Unlike the snobby sales clerks on the strip, who didn't deign to pay any attention to you unless you were obviously wealthy, the associate at La Scarpa was wonderful. My husband bought me a pair of L.A.M.B. sandals for my birthday, and I bought a pair of Luciano Padovan t-straps. Again, booya!

Following an early supper and a token stint at the slot machines (won $16 and promptly took my money and ran!), we went back to the room and watched Taken with Liam Neeson. Fun, if predictable and trite in places. Lots of shoot-em-up action, after which we collapsed gratefully into the pillow-topped king-size bed.

Watch this space for upcoming details on day 3, in which involves the Titanic, a baby leopard, and a near-fainting experience!

07 April 2009

Vegas Vignettes: Day 2, Part 2

After our lovely breakfast, my husband and I went next door to the Miracle Mile shops at Planet Hollywood to pick up tickets for a show we were to see that afternoon. After a while I had to leave to get back to the Bellagio salon, so hubby stayed to shop (gasp!).

Let me say this for the record: a good pedicure is like heaven on earth. I had the most wonderful manicurist, and she and I chatted away quite amiably while she pampered my feet, then my hands.

Polished and primped, I met up with my husband, and we went to see Gregory Popovich's Comedy Pet Theater. Popovich, a fourth-generation Russian circus clown, has rescued dozens of pets (cats, dogs, ferrets, rats, and *geese*!) and trained them to perform in his act. Yes, even the cats! Very cute, very funny, and highly entertaining.

After the show, we ended up at P. F. Chang's for supper - more tasty adult beverages, plus potstickers!

Back at our room, as we were unwinding for the evening, we watched Quantum of Solace. Not bad, but not great. Weenie villain.

We finally collapsed around 9 p.m. local time (trying to readjust our body clocks), tired and happy. Viva Las Vegas!

03 April 2009

Vegas Vignettes: Day 2, Part 1

After a restful night's sleep, my husband and I got up and headed across the street to the Paris Hotel & Casino. We had learned during previous trips that the café in our own hotel was not so great for the first meal of the day, but the offerings at the Paris were very good, indeed. The sun was shining, and cool breezes played with our hair as we crossed the busy Strip in our quest for food.

In the past, we had gone to the Paris's generic little café, located in the heart of the hotel, but my sharp-eyed husband spotted people dining on the terrace at Mon Ami Gabi, a lovely little French bistro that until now had served only lunch and dinner. We found out that they were indeed open, and since we adored their food, we couldn't wait to see what they had in store for us for breakfast.

What we found: perfect scrambled eggs, generous portions of thick-cut bacon, mimosas, bellinis, crêpes as big as your head served with mountains of fresh fruit, pink grapefruit studded with blackberries and crystallized ginger, cafe-au-lait served French style (in a bowl)....

Yes, my husband and I are foodies, and this was absolute foodie heaven--and particularly welcome after our travel hell on the previous day. This meal alone was enough to make us practically weep with joy, and we vowed to come back every morning we were in Vegas to sample more of Mon Ami Gabi's culinary delights.

Thus fortified, we left the Paris to continue our day's adventures...which I will continue in another post. Seldom does a meal deserve its own spotlight, but this one did, and I didn't want its magnificence getting lost in the shuffle of the rest of the day.

Stay tuned for the rest of our adventures!

02 April 2009

Vegas Vignettes: Day 1 - Arrival

Yes, we got there. And that's about all the good I can say.

After waking up at the ungodly hour of 3 AM to catch our 6:30 flight, we drove to the a blizzard. Yes, Mother Nature had to go on the rag the day we left; the snow resembled wet concrete, roads not plowed, people meandering all over the three lanes. When we got inside the airport itself, we discovered that the airline queue is a gazillion miles long. It took us half an hour to get up to the counter, only to discovered that we'd been assigned separate seats for the second leg of our flight. Had to pay $30 a head to arrange to sit together. Then, they wanted $15 for each suitcase. Once we got on the plane, they told us we had to be de-iced. Unfortunately, they had only 1 de-icing truck. 1-1/2 very stuffy hours and two crying toddlers later, we finally departed.

We arrived at our stopover, hurried to our gate...and I realized I'd left my jacket back on the plane. I ran back to get it, cursing all the way and giving myself a blister in the process. Boarded the plane bound for Las Vegas - we're seated in an exit row - and I found myself crammed in the middle seat between my husband and an overflowingly humongous guy on the aisle. Great.

Three cramped hours later we arrived in Vegas - and we couldn't find the shuttle to transfer us to the hotel. We wandered around outside, dodging massive numbers of travelers (all of whom were towing massive amounts of luggage), fended off overeager barkers hawking limo services, and finally found out we had to go back inside the terminal, take the elevator to a *different* level, check in with the transfer service, and THEN get to our bus.

Once we got on the bus, our hotel is the first stop. Once inside the hotel, however, we discovered multiple lines of people checking in/out. We waited another half hour in line, being jostled at almost every step by numberous careless and arrogant Eurotrash, all to be checked in by a snippy receptionist. Keys in hand, we then dodged more Eurotrash, almost every one of them with dangling cigarettes in their hands, and head for the elevators. When we arrived at our floor, we discovered our room was at the far, far, far end.

By this point, both my husband and I were beyond cranky. All we wanted to do was unpack and get something to eat, both of which we did. I ate and drank waaaayyy too much (one of the hotel's signature cocktails is like liquid crack - I couldn't resist), but managed to stumble from the restaurant to the hotel's salon to make reservations to get pampered over the next couple of days.

Our evening consisted of slaloming through the still-growing crowds of tourists in the casino to reach the elevators, then a retreat into our room, where we crashed...HARD.

End of Day 1. Thankfully.

Stay tuned for Day 2!

28 March 2009

Off and Running

I will be on holiday for the next week or so, so I apologize in advance for the paucity of new posts.

Before I go, however, I want to leave you with yet another list I found when I was cleaning out my desk:

The Seven Blunders of the World

1. Wealth without work.
2. Pleasure without conscience.
3. Knowledge without character.
4. Commerce without morality. [Hear that, AIG?]
5. Science without humanity.
6. Worship without sacrifice.
7. Politics without principle.

- Mahatma Gandhi

There. I'll leave you to chew on that for a while until I return. :-)

24 March 2009

21 Rules for Writers

I was cleaning up around my desk last night, and I came across something that had fallen off the corkboard on the wall above my computer. I've shared it before with my closest friends, but I thought I'd post it here as well, if nothing else but to remind myself of a few home truths. My comments are in italics:

21 Rules for Writers (by Erica Jong)

1. Have faith - not cynicism. [In other words, don't let the Inner Editor get to you.]
2. Dare to dream.
3. Take your mind off publication. [This is a big one for me.]
4. Write for joy. [Something I seem to have forgotten lately.]
5. Get the reader to turn the page.
6. Forget politics (let your real politics shine through).
7. Forget intellect.
8. Forget ego.
9. Be a beginner.
10. Accept change.
11. Don't think your mind needs altering.
12. Don't expect approval for telling the truth.
13. Use everything.
14. Remember that writing is dangerous if it's any good.
15. Let sex (the body and the physical world) in!
16. Forget critics. [Especially the one in your head.]
17. Tell your truth, not the world's.
18. Remember to be earth-bound.
19. Remember to be wild!
20. Write for the child in yourself and others.

That last one is the biggie for me - at times I get so caught up in the way I think I should be writing that I lose all joy and spontaneity in the story I'm trying to tell. So this is my reminder...there are no rules.

I'll let you know later if I actually take that to heart....

21 March 2009

What Makes a Good Story?

Ask this question to five different people and you'll get five different answers. Writing is subjective; so is reading. One person's keeper is another's wall-banging dreck.

With this in mind, I've been soldiering through the stash of non-romance novels I bought lo those many months ago at Barnes & Noble. Most of them I haven't been able to finish, for one reason or another. The historical fiction piece set in China? Yawn. Too detailed, too precious, too boring. The Japanese crime thriller? Ick. Unlikeable characters, fragmented POV, gloomy setting and atmosphere. No hope anywhere. That, and the translation sucked.

Current read: modern, intelligently-crafted thriller with a morally ambiguous hero, intriguing plot, lush writing. Not a keeper, but head and shoulders above the others.

That got me thinking...what characteristics must a story possess to keep me interested?

1.) Likeable characters: If everyone in the book is an asshole with no redeeming qualities, forget it. Who wants to read about people for whom you feel no empathy, and you'd rather just shoot and put out of your misery? Feh!

2.) An interesting, well-paced plot: I have no interest in reading about the day-to-day minutiae of a Chinese girl's life in excruciating moment-by-moment detail. What purpose does it serve, save to stroke the author's ego and display to his/her writing peers that he/she deserves to be published simply on the depth of his/her knowledge of that subject/time period? To me, that's nothing but literary masturbation. Again, feh.

3.) Finely crafted language: Alas, even the most interesting plot and sympathetic characters can't save a book if the clumsiness of the prose keeps pulling me out of the story. It's like looking at a Degas through a smudged and water-spotted camera lens; you can glimpse the beauty beyond, but your view of that beauty is hopelessly obscured, and you will never grasp the true nature of what is depicted on the canvas. Talk about an exercise in frustration.

So there you have it in a nutshell - my benchmarks for quality. What about you? What do you look for?

19 March 2009

Know Thyself

I remember taking a Myers-Briggs personality test in the early 1990s as part of a "team building" exercise at my then-current job. My BFFs, Carrie and Nancy, have been using the MBTI lately in either their writing or their personal lives, so I decided to give it a shot and find out if I've changed or not; this time, I'm taking the test for me, as part of who I am, rather than who I think I want to be in a work environment.

My results? I'm an INFJ - Introverted, iNtuitive, Feeling, Judging.

Here's what Wikipedia says about me:

"INFJs are conscientious and value-driven. They seek meaning in relationships, ideas, and events, with an eye toward better understanding themselves and others. Using their intuitive skills, they develop a clear vision, which they then execute decisively to better the lives of others. Like their INTJ counterparts, INFJs regard problems as opportunities to design and implement creative solutions.

INFJs are quiet, private individuals who prefer to exercise their influence behind the scenes. Although very independent, INFJs are intensely interested in the well-being of others. INFJs prefer one-on-one relationships to large groups. Sensitive and complex, they are adept at understanding complicated issues and driven to resolve differences in a cooperative and creative manner.

Accounting for 1–3% of the population, INFJs have a rich, vivid inner life, which they may be reluctant to share with those around them. Nevertheless, they are congenial in their interactions, and perceptive of the emotions of others. Generally well-liked by their peers, they may often be considered close friends and confidants by most other types. However, they are guarded in expressing their own feelings, especially to new people, and so tend to establish close relationships slowly. INFJs tend to be easily hurt, though they may not reveal this except to their closest companions. INFJs may 'silently withdraw as a way of setting limits,' rather than expressing their wounded feelings. This behavior may leave others confused and upset.

INFJs tend to be sensitive, quiet leaders with a great depth of personality. They are intricately and deeply woven, mysterious, and highly complex, sometimes puzzling even to themselves. They have an orderly view toward the world, but are internally arranged in a complex way that only they could understand. Abstract in communicating, they live in a world of hidden meanings and possibilities. With a natural affinity for art, INFJs tend to be creative and easily inspired. Yet they may also do well in the sciences, aided by their intuition."

Oy. That's me to a "T". Especially the part about silently withdrawing as a way of setting limits when my feelings are hurt. I'm going through that right now, and this is exactly how I'm reacting. Kinda scary, actually. Enlightening, but scary. Then again, that's what enlightenment does - shows you the truth. How we react to that truth defines depth of character.

How am I reacting? Right now, I'm going to have another cup of tea and meditate on this. More to come.

18 March 2009

Spring is Here!

Forget what the calendar says; spring is definitely here. Not only is the weather warmer, but the migratory songbirds have arrived en masse, and are serenading me and the cat even as I type.

I *must* have SAD. I say that 'cause the happiness I feel at the sunshine, the warm weather, and birdsong is almost indescribable - serious words coming from a writer.

I'm happy. The cat's happy. And, judging from the twitterpation going on outside, so are the birds. Everyone's happy.

Hope you are, too!

14 March 2009

Oy, What a Week.

Once again I find myself writing more apologies than posts these days. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. I just simply didn't have the energy. However, being Saturday, I feel more relaxed than I have all week, and am now able to encapsulate what's been going on.

#1 - The Saga of the Sump Pump

Our house was built in 1940. Over the years, previous owners have made various "improvements" (and I use the word loosely) which, from what I can see, translates to shoddy, cheap, half-assed do-it-yourself work. Our plumbing is a disjointed maze, and you don't wanna know about the electrical - to call it a nightmare is a gross understatement.

Case in point: our sump pump. With all the rain we've had lately, we were just glad the thing worked. Then, on Tuesday, it decided to give up the ghost. Replacing it was a two hour ordeal for my husband (on top of his 10-hour day) involving much cursing, a discovery that the mooks who'd installed the first pump and the piping had used 60 degree angle connectors, not proper 90 degree ones, and two separate trips to the hardware store. The old pump was noisy, swirled the water around, and only spat out water from the exit pipe in a series of thin gouts. The new pump (1/2 horsepower!) drained the well in 5 seconds flat, resulting in a gush of water at the exit pipe that would do Niagara Falls proud. that's what a proper sump pump is supposed to do! (*smacks forehead*)

#2 - HRT and the Consequences Thereof

I blogged earlier about my visit to my doctor, who turned out to be just as arrogant, superior, and entitled as most other physicians I've known. She is, however, treating me for my perimenopause, which at this point involves HRT (hormone replacement therapy).

I started the HRT on Monday. By Wednesday, I was feeling very strange: bloated, irritable, and tired. By Thursday, I knew why - I started my period. Damn. Strange that my doctor hadn't mentioned this possibility. That in itself pisses me off, but add to it the fact that I'm now experiencing crampus maximus and I'm worn out, and I'm seriously torqued. This had better stop within a week, or I'm going to unleash hell on that supposedly superior bitch.

#3 - Murphy's Law, Otherwise Known as Work

Our "new" check scanner at work has broken down three times in the past week. Three. Which means I and my work partner have had to spend copious amounts of time both on the phone with the maintenance company and with the tech, who *still* doesn't know what's wrong with the damned thing. After the third incident I made a command decision and swapped out the malfunctioning scanner for an older, more reliable model, and work progressed as it should.

Then our second scanner went kaput. Nothing mechanical, but something software related, and serious enough to warrant a call to our software provider. The problem could potentially cause the bank some nasty consequences, so until it's resolved we can't use the scanner.

So, going in to Monday (our heaviest work day), we're down to only one machine. Yesterday evening, in addition to helping close branches - imagine a work version of a Filene's Basement sale - I was also dealing with the tech for scanner #1, and trying to make arrangements to get a second scanner set up before the Monday morning deluge.

Part of this is my fault: I wanted more responsibility, and I got it. Living proof of the maxim, "Be careful what you wish for."

#4 - A New Hope

There is, however, light at the end of the tunnel, and bright enough to sweep away all the accumulated dreck from his week from hell: I have a title for my WIP. Everything is coming together - the characters, their motivations, themes, and the plot; I just have to keep writing.

Thanks for sticking with me through this, and for making it this far. Chalk it up to me wanting to make up for lost blogging time. And hopefully I'll have more good news to post in the future.

Stay tuned!

09 March 2009

Sunshine. Finally.

Bad enough that I have a touch of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Add to that the fact that it poured rain the entire weekend, that our basement is wet yet again (*cringe*), that I had an abysmal doctor visit where I was treated like poo, and that I got squat done (including writing), and I had an absolutely dismal weekend.

But this morning the sun is shining, there's birdsong in the air, and I'm determined to shake off the blues. I'm even taking my laptop and my iPod to work with me in the hopes of spending my lunch hour happily immersed in my latest story.

It will get better. That's what I keep telling myself.