29 January 2009

A Fresh Perspective

My computer monitor, at the ripe old age of four, started to give up the ghost last week. It started with recurring bouts of flickering on and off like an expensive strobe light, which I cured by unplugging it from the computer and reconnecting it. Yesterday morning, however, it kicked the proverbial bucket.

I was dozing in bed, warm and comfy and blissfully unaware, when I heard footsteps. A large weight sank onto the edge of the bed.

"Honey?" My husband gave my shoulder a gentle shake.

Me: (turning over) Umph?

"Honey, the monitor's dead. I wanted to tell you now, so you wouldn't find out when you went to use the computer. I didn't want you to have a little melty-down."

Me: (still sleepy) Melty-down?

"You know - a lot of 'frick-frick-frick-frick-frick-frick!' and gnashing of teeth. I didn't want you to start the day that way."

Me: (brow furrowed) Um, okay. Thank you. (Do I really do that?)

He then told me he would meet me at Best Buy after work, and we'd get a new monitor. I wasn't particularly looking forward to braving the rush hour hordes to do this, but it turned out to be a rather nice experience. We found a reasonably-priced monitor right away, didn't have to stand in line very long, and afterward proceeded to the restaurant across the street for dinner. Margaritas and burgers. Much better than I'd expected.

As a result, we now have a 19" monitor - small by today's standards, but ginormous when compared to the old 15" version. It's taking a bit of getting used to, rather like watching an IMAX movie for the first time, but I like it. It's nice to get a fresh perspective.

27 January 2009

Why I Hate (Most) Romance Novels

I've mentioned in previous posts that my reading tastes have changed, and that I don't read many romance novels any more. Here's why: romance novels are predicated on the hero and heroine falling in love, despite outward obstacles and their own individual baggage. Not a bad thing in itself. What I hate is when we, as readers, are forced to endure unbelievable characters, contrived plots, and overblown sex for sex's sake (e.g., has nothing to do with forwarding either the character or plot arcs).

Case in point: the book I am reading right now. What's wrong with it?


Let me 'splain.

Hero: Alpha male, which the author has translated to "caveman." Stalks around (wearing black, of course) and broods a lot. Internal monologue consists of "Heroine is so hawt. She's a shrew, but I will enjoy taming her (translation: rape her). I'm so studly I will make her love it."

Heroine: Too Stupid To Live (TSTL), but a Ravishing Beauty (aren't they all?), who stomps her feet and pouts a lot about the Wrongs Done Her. Her internal monologue is basically: "Oh, how I hate this man who has killed my family, claimed my lands, enslaved my people, and constantly threatens to rape me! Oh, but he's so hawt..."

Two-dimensional Friend of Hero (to heroine): You misunderstand him. He's got A Tortured Past. We all have been through Tortured Stuff with him, so we're unquestioningly loyal, even if he is an asshole.

Me: *gag*

I'm about a third of the way through this book, and have lost count of the number of times I've wanted to throw it against the wall. How in the hell did this tripe get published? Granted, the author's use of language is better than many others I've read, but unlikeable, self-absorbed characters like these hold absolutely no interest for me. An author's job is to introduce us, the readers, to sympathetic (if flawed) protagonists in believable situations, culminating in an emotional catharsis. The author of this story, as well as most of her currently published fellows, on the other hand, have introduced me to the fine art of book flinging.

Given the predominance of this type of blather in today's market, Book Flinging could well become the next new olympic event. At this rate, I've got a good shot at the gold.

24 January 2009

Mea Culpa, Yet Again

I just realized my last post was...last weekend. Oy. So, I'm not the most consistent blogger in the world. I try to post first thing in the morning, but lately I've been so tired it's hard to see straight, much less type anything coherent.

What's been going on, you ask? Hmmm. Where to start?

My body is experiencing perimenopause, or something very similar that has thrown my hormones completely out of whack. It's like being on one of those ultra-modern twisty-turny rollercoasters, but with none of the fun; I can go from zero to Complete Raving Bitch (CRB) in nothing flat. Likewise, I can go from normal to sobbing uncontrollably in the same amount of time. Most of the time I realize what's happening, and can temper the worst of it, but not before others have noticed and started to worry. It's even started to affect my work. Very frightening.

Fortunately, I have found a new doctor who is very thorough, and determined to find the cause of all this hormonal mayhem. Unfortunately, determining the cause also involves multiple blood draws over a series of weeks. Not fun, but I'm willing to endure for the sake of finding out what's behind all of this, and (hopefully) putting a stop to it.

I've also been working like a fiend to improve my situation at work. My special project is due to come to a close at the end of this month, a full month earlier than expected, and I've been terrified by the prospect of going back to 20 hours a week. Working full time has given me an influx of much-needed cash, and I really don't want to lose it. Worrying = not so conducive to sleep.

But I do have some good news: I found out yesterday that I will not be returning to my 20 hour a week status - I will be transitioning to a 32-hour week. Better, but it will still mean a cut in pay until I (again, hopefully) get a raise in April. To that end, I've been lobbying for a promotion, which comes with a guaranteed salary increase. Even though my 2008 evaluation kicked butt, no one mentioned the "P" word. So, being a take-charge type, I asked what I had to do to get one. My supervisor said I certainly met the criteria for moving up a level, but she had to discuss it with the other departmental supervisor and she'd let me know at our meeting next month.

So, as with my health issues, I'm playing the waiting game, and my little mind is busy torturing me with worst-case scenarios. Much suckage. So please forgive me if I've been a little preoccupied of late. I haven't gone AWOL - at least not physically. I'll keep you updated, I promise. It just might take me a while.


Even with all of this coming to a head this week, I must insist that I haven't abandoned my opinion that this will be a wonderful year. It will be - but, as with any roller coster, you can't have highs without some corresponding lows. I will do my darndest to focus on the good parts, and spare you the worst of the bad.

Let's just say it's going to be a wild ride. :-)

19 January 2009

Food Hangover

Today is the last day of what has been a wonderful birthday weekend; MLK Jr. Day is a federal holiday and, as such, my place of work is closed. Part of me wishes I'd taken more time off, 'cause I don't want this birthday to end. In addition to all the goodies he brought home Thursday night, and the onesie, my husband also bought me a completely unexpected gift (more on that in another post), then last night took me out to one of the best steakhouses ever.

After an evening of pear martini, an assortment of cheeses from around the world (included a triple-cream Australian cheese that was to die for), champagne, a petite filet, shrimp scampi, wine, sauteed spinach, roasted new potatoes with rosemary, all followed by slivers of chocolate chip pecan pie AND turtle cheesecake garnished with ice cream and two birthday candles, I was quite happily stuffed, and glad that I'd worn stretchy-waisted pants.

This morning I'm still feeling a bit logey from eating all that rich food, but it was totally worth it. I've always been a foodie, and last night was foodie heaven.

Being my last day off before going back to work, and given my food hangover, I plan to take it easy today. I've got a couple of errands to run, but other than that I plan to be a happy slug, awash in memories of food and the knowledge that I am well and truly loved.

This is going to be a wonderful year.

16 January 2009

Happy Birthday to Me!

I'm 42 today. The answer to the question of the universe. I've got a few more gray hairs (well hidden, thanks to my stylist) and a few more wrinkles, but I also have friends I cherish, a job I enjoy, and a husband who adores me - last night, even after working a 10-1/2 hour day, he brought home a rotisserie chicken, two bottles of my favorite champagne, tiramisu for dessert, and some of the most beautiful pink roses I have ever seen.

It's going to be a great year.

15 January 2009


It's beyond cold here. Woke up this morning and the temp is well below zero. With the wind chill, it's downright...well, not even "arctic" begins to describe it.

Enter my husband, with his ultra-creative (and often profane) vernacular.

Last night, coming home from his 12-hour workday, my husband was greeted with eight inches of charming (NOT) lake effect snow that, thanks to the wind, had formed a two foot high drift in front of our garage. Dutifully, he suited up and prepared to go out and do battle. But as he opened the side door and stared at the world of white through the panes of the storm door, he declared, "It looks like Hoth out there!"

Then he opens the storm door. The wind whips snow into his face.

"Motherhother!" he yells.

My husband, the Star Wars geek, has done it again. It's not just cold out there -- it's a motherhother.


14 January 2009

Birthday Suit

Does it mean I'm getting old if I prefer all-encompassing fleece over skimpy lingerie? Or does it simply mean I live in a place that's currently colder than a brass monkey's you-know-whats?

Allow me to explain:

My 42nd birthday is rapidly approaching. To celebrate the occasion, my husband got me a second fleece onesie. Unlike the one he got me for Christmas, which is a semi-butch skull print, this one is pink with mulberry-colored paw prints all over it. Cuteness personified. And also very, very warm.

Some women might be horrified by this gift, but I'm delighted. It speaks of my honey's deep and abiding love, and his concern for my well-being. Despite my self-proclaimed girly-girl status I've never been one for silky, revealing lingerie. My husband knows this; according to him, I'm cute and sexy in my fleecy cocoon, which has the added benefit of protecting him from my icicle-like appendages. Bonus!

So in answer to my questions, I'm not old, but rather practical; I live in a place where any sane, rational person with budding arthritis and cold extremities does her best to stay warm in winter, including gratefully donning a paw-printed swath of insulating fleece.

Looks like I now have a new birthday suit. And might I add that it's a damn sight warmer than the one I started with. Heh.

11 January 2009

Winter's Beauty

Glancing out the window earlier this morning, I was struck by the contrast of the dark, almost purple overcast sky and the stark whiteness of the snow-covered pine tree on the other side of our back fence. It was eerily beautiful - an almost surreal beauty that sets your mind spinning with thoughts of wintry fantasy worlds, of mysterious women wrapped in cloaks of midnight blue velvet, hoods raised to obscure their beauty, walking like shadows amongst the silent, snow-frosted trees.

But that's just me. *grin*

10 January 2009

I *HATE* Feeling Like a Dumb Bunny

I consider myself a fairly smart person. I graduated from college, got my master's degree, and I work at a bank.

So why in the bloody fucking hell can't I change a bloody fucking lightbulb?!

Background: the bulbs in our bathroom ceiling-mounted light fixture went out. My husband, the usual performer of regular household maintenance, is out running errands, but I thought, this should be simple enough, right? I mean, how hard can it be? I'll just unscrew the center rod, remove the glass cover, replace the bulbs, and all will be well.

Nope. The cover won't go back on; the screw goes up into the mounting, but the threads won't catch. I don't know if something's broken, or if I'm just doing it wrong.

Either way, I have to wait until my husband gets home, when I know he'll give me the lecture about leaving household repair to him, because, as he will insist, I'm not mechanically inclined. Which is terribly patronizing and will, in turn, make me feel even worse.

I can't even change a goddamn lightbulb. How sad is that?

UPDATE: Well, turns out it *wasn't* me, it was the cheap piece of crap fixture; when I unscrewed the center bolt, the nut on the inside of the fixture that was supposed to stay in place...didn't. And my husband didn't patronize me, either - I think he realized how upset I was that I fucked up a seemingly simple lightbulb change. In addition, the rocket scientists who owned the house before us didn't install the fixture correctly in the first place, so it took my husband about twenty minutes to figure out what was wrong and fix it.

But now we have light, and it works the way it should. With no dumb bunnies.

09 January 2009

What Do You Mean, Strangling Isn't an Option?

Ever notice that no matter where you work, there's always someone whose toxic behavior makes your teeth clench? In any other venue you could avoid these toxic troublemakers like the plague; at work, however, the best you can learn to do is cope, because strangling isn't an option.

I am, of course, referring to the mousey, dumpy, self-esteem deprived, socially inept, intrusive, boundary-ignoring, eavesdropping, *filthy* C-U-Next-Tuesday with whom I am unfortunately forced to work. This yotch feels so threatened by me that she has to inject passive-aggressive digs at me into EVERY conversation. Yep, that's right - every. Single. Conversation. And if you try to call her on it, she gets self-righteous and defensive, and storms off in a huff. You cannot reason with her. Believe me - others have tried.


In speaking judiciously with some other members of my department, I discovered I'm not alone in my pain: no one else can stand her, either. And, apparently, she's been called on the carpet by our superiors about her behavior in the past. Well, I tell ya - if she doesn't shut her yap, she's going to get called on it again.

I'm not going to confront her; I've learned that doesn't work. I simply refuse to rise to the bait when she comes at me on one of her fake-nice info-seeking forays. They're pitifully obvious, and it just frosts her cookies that I don't give her any more than monosyllabic answers. But I've learned the hard way that I need to protect myself from her - given the chance, she will go through documents on your desk (even when you're sitting there!), eavesdrop on conversations, read e-mail over your shoulder, all in the search to "get something" on you so she can use it to get ahead.

Case in point - for the past few weeks our department has been wrapping up our 2008 personal development plans and drafting plans for 2009. She's been relentless in trying to find out what I've got on my plan, but I hadn't divulged any information, voluntarily or otherwise, until yesterday. It's my fault, really; I had left a voicemail on a colleague's phone about a particular certification exam I want to take this year. While I was passing the Yotch's desk, this colleague stopped me to answer my question. When I turned around, Yotch was busily looking up the website for the organization that offers this certification; upon hearing that I wanted to take this exam, suddenly SHE wanted it, too. She's already taken this exam and failed it, but she feels so threatened by my successes that she needs to bolster her pathetic little ego any way she can. Junior high, much?

It's even more frustrating knowing there's nothing I can do about her behavior; I can only change my own reaction. I realize that I'm on the right track - being polite but distant, responsive but uninformative - and that she will eventually hang herself with her own dysfunction in front of our supervisors.

I just wish there was some way to give her more rope.

08 January 2009

Reading Evolution

Do you find that your reading tastes have changed over the years? Mine certainly have, but it took a recent trip to Barnes & Noble to realize how much.

Ten years ago, I read mostly historical romance, with a smattering of sci-fi (Lois McMaster Bujold) or fantasy/urban fantasy thrown in. Fast forward to this past's the breakdown of my stash: two fantasy novels (Emma Bull and Mercedes Lackey), one urban fantasy (Laurell K. Hamilton), one Japanese thriller, one modern thriller, two historical fiction novels (one set in 19th-century China, the other in Roman Britain), and one book on Zen Buddhism.

Notice there's not a single romance title among them. Save for books written by friends, or friends of friends, I don't read romance any more. I just don't want to; nothing about the genre attracts me any more. Maybe it's my own cynicism with the industry, maybe it's a by-product of my own hideous divorce experience, or maybe I think the genre has hamstrung itself with over-used and cliched concepts.

Whatever the cause, I'm stretching my reading wings and trying new and different things. Over the next few days I'll post some of my thoughts on these experiences, and what, if any, genre piques my interest.

For reading, that is. Writing is still another matter. But more on that later.

02 January 2009

Happy New Year!!

Hope your 2009 started off in a good way! Mine certainly did:

- The basement is now dry.

- My darling honey got me a half dozen of the most gorgeous red roses I've ever seen.

- We spent New Year's Day in our jammies, watching Cartoon Network's totally awesome Looney Tunes marathon.

- We had pizza and champagne for dinner.

Wherever you are, and however you celebrated, I hope it was happy, and that that happiness continues the whole year through.