Sunday

22 January 2017

According to Timehop, two years ago we were at Disneyland. I think that was the last of the DL Indy Pub Panel meetings, which ended in a drunken writery fist fight.

I missed that. Sorry I missed it, too.

But, it gave everyone a lot more free time to just enjoy the place, and since Disneyland is one of my favorite things, I had no issue with that.

We went back later in the year, just before Christmas, but we haven't been back since.

The Spouse Thingy was off this week, and is off next, and I really wish we were heading down that way. I like simply walking around the park; we'll do an average of 10-12 miles a day at Disneyland, easily. It's just a hell of a lot more fun than walking around Six Flags here; we go there a few times a year, but it's for 2-3 hours tops. There are no rides there we really want to get on, so it's mostly a place to go walk when it's too hot to be outside here.

We thought about going but decided to stick closer to home, and go to San Francisco a few times...but then the rain rolled in and ruined that.

Still. Disneyland.

I freaking love it, but a trip there comes guilt. We know a lot of people in the area; lots of family and friends, but because we're there to, you know, DISNEYLAND, and I generally never know when I'm going to crash and burn, we just don't make plans to see anyone. If we planned to meet with someone, I'd have to suck it up, and if I have to suck it up, there's a really good chance that the rest of my week is over.

And with that comes the guilt. "You can see me, I'm family." Well, yeah, so are X and Y and Z, not to mention This cousin and That cousin and The Other cousin. Who do we pick? Who do we piss off? And the friends...yeah, the friends have been far more understanding, but I'm sure they're still annoyed.

I get that, I really do.

That doesn't change anything. Chances are, next time we go down there, we won't be making arrangements to see anyone. Hell, next time we go will be for a race. If you want to hang, register and huff and puff alongside me. That would be fun as hell, and I won't even get mad when you pull ahead of me and finish like an hour before I do.

And damn. A random thought of "I want to go to Disneyland" turned into a rant.

But I really want to go...

Saturday

21 January 2017

This guy


has decided that sitting on the arm of my chair, very close to my face, is his favorite spot. If I'm working, my lap taken over by the computer, he sits there THAT close to me, and either tries to stare me down, talks nonstop, or paws at my boobs.

Usually, it's the latter. The little shit has gotten to 2nd base more in three days than anyone did the first 30 years of my life.

It's not exactly helpful, and I've gotten far less done than I think I would have.

But. The angry-glasses snit is over.


Okay, fine, I don't look any happier, but I am. New glasses--yes they're identical to the old, other than not being broken--got in yesterday. Second pair of new glasses should get here next week...because I clearly need a backup pair.

But the thing that got me...the cost. With insurance coverage, the glasses purchased at the doc's officer were nearly $400. I went to Costco for the spare pair, and the exact same lens, all the same options, and a much sturdier frame was a hundred bucks less WITHOUT insurance.

Yeah, next year, Costco right from the start.


Friday

20 January 2017

The storms we've had over the past few days are going to be spendy...


That's looking out my office window to the front yard. The fence we share with one of the neighbors bit the dust in the middle of the night Wednesday. It's not reparable; we've both been sort-of fixing it off and on for the last 8 years, and this time the posts finally cracked.

I'm surprised they didn't break sooner, given that whoever did all the fencing around here didn't seat the posts in cement, just jammed them into the ground a few inches.

Still...the much-needed rain is going to cost us some bucks, because the fence is half ours, and with it, half the cost. I'm just glad it was only the one fence, because we share a fence line with 3 neighbors, and it all needs to be replaced sooner or later. I'm just glad we don't have to do all of it at once.

Thursday

19 January 2017

All right, by the time this posts at midnight 1/19/17, if I am not asleep, just shoot me.

I went to bed at 10:30 on Tuesday night, tossed and turned, got up at 1:00, annoyed the cats because I was awake and breathing, and went back to bed around 2:00. I felt sleepy, so off I went.

:::blink:::

I tossed and turned and gave up at 4:15, got up, decided to be nice and fed the furry little monsters, and got breakfast because apparently being awake all night stirs up an appetite.

The Spouse Thingy woke around then, too. We sat here and stared at the news, neither of us happy to be awake.

I went back to bed at 5:00. And fell asleep, finally, about 15 minutes later.

And phkit, I was awake again at 9:45.

So I've been sitting here pretty much all day , with only a few instances of movement, trying to not drool all over myself and trying to stay awake, so that I have hope of sleeping tonight.

The only good thing about being a zombie today, and missing the gym, is that it's been rainy and windy, to the point where I wouldn't have wanted to drive to the gym, anyway.

Not that I didn't send the Spouse Thingy to the post office and the grocery store...

Wednesday

18 January 2017

I had an odd impulse last night: I wanted to do the Tinkerbell 10K.

I was going to do the Pixie Dust Challenge last year--the 10K followed by a half marathon--but then the Spouse Thingy needed surgery, and we had to back out. And in backing out, we backed off on our training.

I don't think I have time to train for 6.1 miles followed by 13.2, but I certainly have time to get ready for the 6.1--I can do the distance, no problem. It's meeting the pace requirement that will be an issue.

There's four month to prepare. If I can't get my pace down to 16mm by then I probably never will. But as long as I'm ahead of the balloon ladies (they start the race last...you only have to be ahead of them) I should do ok.

The problem with deciding now that I wanted to do it, was the fact that Run Disney is sold out for the 10K. I could have gotten a Challenge bib, but realizing I likely won't be ready for that, I wanted the 10K.

All was not lost...one of the travel agents that handles some Disney race things had one. So I'm in.

I got a hotel room.

Only thing not procured is airfare, but I need to wait on that until I know if the Spouse Thingy is coming or not.

Because, really...I'll do this alone. I'll fly alone, get the the hotel alone, to the race alone...that's how badly I want to do it.

Y'all know, I hate flying. But I'll do it.

Now I better train for it, because I damn well want the medal.

Tuesday

17 January 2017

Oddz N Endz Redux987

Took the broken glasses back to be re-welded. No problem, it's covered under their warranty, come back in an hour.

Went back in an hour: come back in 15 minutes.

Went back 25 minutes later: come back in an hour.

I said things from the bad word list (Are you fucking kidding me?) I could not hang around the mall for another hour, so we have to go back tomorrow. The mall is not, like, a 5 minute drive. It's a pain in the ass.

* * * * * * *

Got in the pool for the first time in a very long time; I've been fighting some fairly serious tendonitis in my right shoulder for the last year, to the point where I couldn't even reach up to scratch the back of my own neck. Couldn't lift anything more than a few pounds, nor reach out to my right. But, after PT and months of stretching and ice and heat, it was time to give it a try.

After warming up, I could manage a modified stroke, as long as I didn't push it. I only swam for half an hour, but it was a start. We'll see how it feels tomorrow, but as long as it's not worse, I think I'm back swimming. Which is good, because it's my favorite exercise thingy.

Downside: when you haven't been swimming for nearly a year, you get super flabby. I gained about 5 pounds, but it looks like 20 of flab. I was grossed out on my own behalf.

* * * * * * *

Because he hates me, Murf came up with a fundraiser idea. If I hit $600 raised for the St. Baldrick's shave, I will sing on video, and upload it to Facebook and link to it here (I apologize to all ahead of time, I don't sing well.) If I hit $1000, he will match the entire amount. Over $1000, he will match. So let's suffer the horror of my singing, and murder his wallet.

* * * * * * *

I am going to make brownies tonight. Because it seems like the smart thing to do after getting back to the gym.

Monday

16 January 2017

See how happy I am?


I only needed to weld point to hold for about another week. New glasses were ordered last Tuesday, with a 7-10 day delivery expected. It's been 6 days and I'm not counting on them being ready until the 2 week mark.

So of course, as I sat here last night, I realized somekitty had smudged a lens with his nose, and started to clean them.

Snap.

I'd barely touched them. It was the exact way they broke 3-4 weeks ago. Start to clean, barely get cloth to the lens, and snap.

So I'm sitting here with the broken frame perched on my face--I don't want to use tape because once the Spouse Thingy is up and awake he'll hopefully drive me to get them re-welded--and I can sorta see, but because of my progressive lenses, it's far from perfect. I'm going to have a headache by the end of the day.

Go ahead, point and laugh. There are worse things that can happen. They can likely be re-welded and I have new ones coming, it's not the end of the world. But dammit...one more week. That's all I needed from them. One more week.

The real downside...I had a lot of work planned today, sending people into a war with a giant kitty and a massive black dragon, but I don't really want to strain my eyes that much.

Wait. They're not fighting against the giant kitty and the black dragon. They're allies. I wouldn't want the kitty to be my enemy, because Fluffy? He'll eat a bitch.

Sunday

15 January 2017

2015
Remember this?

This was in February 2015, right after getting my head shaved. This is what happens when you agree to dye your hair just before having it shaved from your scalp--splotches. In this case, green, because that's what the highest bidder asked for.

Dye your hair green! It'll be fun!

For the record, I hated the green It did not look good on me, not at all.

And damn...it too a long time to get the stains off my scalp.

The first year I participated in St. Baldrick's, my hair was purple. I kind of liked the purple, and it went on well in advance, so that by the time I sat in front of the masses and lost all my hair, it was no longer dotting my skin like a weird stubble-pricked map.

2014
Last year I escaped the clippers when a friend made a last minute, super large donation, but the kicker was that I had to keep my hair. She did it because she was aware that the Spouse Thingy was not thrilled with me getting my head shaved again, and also because she knows it's pretty much my least favorite weird thing to do for charity.

I don't think she'll do it again. Her own spouse thingy will likely hide her credit card to keep it from happening again.

So. I've registered for my 4th St. Baldricks, shaving my head to raise money for childhood cancer research. I will do humiliating things to raise money (sand nudity, because no one wants to see that) and while I am willing to dye my hair, you gotta know by now that I like doing that. In fact, I'm probably doing that tonight, at least bleaching it to prepare for color on Monday.

Go ahead, talk amongst yourselves, figure out what you want me to do this year.

And while you're talking, please donate. I set a goal of $500, which is less than last year, but if I could blow over my 2015 high of $1000, that'd be awesome.


Saturday

14 January 2017

Like most Saturdays, this morning I put my laptop into my backpack, shoved wallet and keys into pockets, and put on a sweatshirt; Saturdays are for sitting at a table in Starbucks with more tea than I need to drink while I pretend to work. This Saturday, I needed to run to Walmart first to pick up the Spouse Thingy's meds from the pharmacy, and Max kindly escorted me to the door.

Hey. Move it closer. I can't reach.
Every time I leave the house, if there's a cat near, I tell them I'll be back. It's only polite, and there might be a tiny part of them that actually gives a damn.

This time I told Max I was going to the store.

And then asked if he needed anything.

And then I actually waited for a response.

In my defense, I have not slept much in the last week, because the little shit sits outside my door and talks all damned night.

Still.

I waited.

Shuddup.


Friday

13 January 2017

Max is perched on the back of my chair, literally breathing down my neck. Every once in a while he slaps the side if my head with his tail--he knows exactly what he's doing and that it annoys me--and it feels like he's reading over my shoulder as I work. It's like, thwap, change that sentence. I don't like it. Thwap, fix that; Wick is funnier than that.

He spends a great deal of time lounging near my head if I'm working from the recliner in the living room. Since this is technically his work, I suppose that's a good thing, but I could really do without the tail slapping me and the frequent vocal reminders that I am not worthy and he's just letting me do this because he's nice.

But...we're (yes, we're) working on two projects at once, the third book in the Wick series and the volume that follows, which will not be a part of The Wick Chronicles because it's definitely not YA material. It's not erotica, either, but it falls on the side of good-thing-my-mother-won't-read-this. I'll give a copy to the Boy when it's done, but I won't want to know if he read it.

I've never written as out-of-sequence as I am this time. The third Wick book is about half done, and I stopped for a while to pound out notes for (working series title) Wick After Dark, and wound up with so many pages that the word count could have won NaNoWriMo again. For the freaking notes. Now that I've gotten that done, it's back to the third book.

The problem is that I tend to get a little absorbed when I'm this deep into something, and I'll be this deep until both books are finished...but I also need to get to the gym, go for bike rides, and do normal-people kinds of things, lest I become fused with the chair.

The Spouse Thingy also had a couple of weeks off coming up, and I should probably spend some time with him.

Life would be so much easier if sleep wasn't a requirement.

Sleeping is another issue. Still. Always. I envy those of you who are normal sleepers. Every once in a while I get a string of nights where I actually manage it for 8 straight hours, and I very much enjoy that. This sleeping for 3 and waking up for 3, and sleeping for 3 more is getting old.

Maybe I should take up drinking. My writing might be a lot wilder, and I might even sleep after.

I have Fireball in my freezer.

Maybe I'll try.

Maybe Max will get his damned tail out of my ear.

Wednesday

11 January 2017

I have to admit, I was not looking forward to quitting one gym to join another. While I know that the gym minion doesn't give a chit if I stay or go, there's always that little part of me that worries they'll take it personally. And then we'll do the whole It's not you, it's me! thing, and there will be tears and tearing out of hair, and everyone is just unhappy at the end.

How it really went:

Spouse Thingy: Yeah, we need to quit.
Gym Minion: Okay. Give me the account email so I can send you the confirmation.
Spouse Thingy: Okay.
Gym Minion: Okay.
Spouse Thingy: Bye.

A peek of the track and the pool
There was nothing wrong with that gym; it had everything we needed. But the new gym is about half the cost, and the pools are indoors, and there's an indoor track. Since swimming outdoors when it's cold or raining is sucky enough to keep me home, the switch is a good thing. AND NO BEES IN THE POOL! Bees in the pool are a problem when you're allergic.

So tomorrow we'll go work out and I'll try my first swim since, I think, last April. I'm still rehabbing my shoulder, so if I can't handle a crawl, I'll just kick my way across and work on not swimming flat, which is what got me into trouble in the first place.

The track is only 1/10th mile, but on days when I just don't want to walk outside, it's an option. And looking at it, it might be the perfect place to attempt running. Run the short straights, walk the curves. Maybe I'll actually get where I can find a sub-4mph pace.

Shuddup, I know you walk faster than that. I'm old and fat and slow.

Then again, I was slow when I was young and thin.

Still...it'll be good to get back in the water. We kept up with the walk training until November, so I think we'll both be able to jump right into that without having to build back up, but damn I am so looking forward to the day when I swim a mile again.

Tuesday

10 January 2017


I'm squinting at the monitor right now, because I had an eye appointment this afternoon, during which my eyes were dilated, and three hours later they're still quite dilated. But, that's over for the next year or two, and in a week or so I'll have new glasses...and given that mine broke a few weeks ago, it's a good thing. Even though it was $$.

Still, even though it's hard to see, here I sit with the computer on my lap, surfing around online. Because clearly, I like to torture myself.

And speaking of torture, I'm doing the Donna Virtual Breast Cancer Half Marathon again this year. There's the in-person Marathon and Half, but I have no desire to travel to Florida for this, so again, it's the virtual. They raise money for the Mayo Clinic's breast cancer research programs, so it's a worthwhile endeavor.

The Spouse Thingy has a couple of weeks coming off, and I'll probably pick a day during then to do it, hopefully in San Francisco where pounding out the miles doesn't feel like torture.

I'm not going to hard-core fundraise for this one, but if you want your first tax deduction of the year, I sure as hell won't discourage it. You can donate here.

Later this year is the 3 Day, but we deferred from last year, so most of the funds have been raised for that (but dammit, we need to re-register and I keep forgetting)...the Spouse Thingy has a little bit more to raise, but we'll get to that later, once I nail down a prize or two.

Tomorrow we have an appointment to join the new gym--kinda fancy, needing an appointment--and after registering for the Donna this week has a here we go kind of feel to it. I want to hit the ground running (metaphorically) and get training underway for the 3 Day and, hopefully, a Disney race this time next year.

So yeah.

Here we go.


Monday

Sunday

8 January 2017

I heard music until one this morning. At some point it went from death metal to country, so whatever freak is lurking in my head or in the air vents needs to develop better taste, because neither of those things appeal to me.

I realize I will probably never know where it's coming from; it just freaked me out to hear it in the living room. That was a first.

So. Meh.

I have done very little this weekend, at least little that involved moving. It's rainy as hell, so I haven't been keen on going anywhere. Mostly I sat here and worked, typing out notes while Law & Order: SVU played in the background. No, I don't know why I didn't just turn the TV off. It's not like I was paying attention to it.

But this week...movement. We're joining the new gym and letting go our membership at the old, and getting back to a regular workout routine. I still can't swim because my shoulder just won't allow for it, but I can kick my way across the pool and stretch out my back while I'm at it. There's an indoor track to use when walking outside doesn't appeal to me, and I still harbor those thoughts of running. It seems like it might be easier to do the run/walk 30/30 thing there.

Well, it would be easier to not do anything, but that's not going to shave weight off my fat asterisk and is not going to get me ready for 60 miles. There's 11 months to go, but I'm trying to shift my focus away from that, because it would be too easy to just put it off.

So, join the new gym, get one of my 2017 Intentions started.

Go me.

Saturday

7 January 2017

Nearly every night since we moved into this house, as I try to fall asleep, I hear music. It's horrible, death-metal type music, and I've always just assumed that it's phantom noise generated by my tinnitus. I get in bed, turn the fan on, and generally within 15 minutes it starts.

But right now I'm in the living room with the TV off, and just before 11, when I'm often in bed with the lights out, the music started up. From my seat, it sounds like it's coming from the air vent in the ceiling. When I'm in bed, it sounds like it's coming from the air vent...but I assumed it was just one of those things.

So now I'm a little freaked out. I'm home alone. There is not a TV nor a radio in in this house. So where the hell IS that music coming from?

Friday

6 January 2017

I still harbor delusions that one day, I will be a runner. Or a jogger. I’m not picky. I just want to be able to move at a pace that would allow me to participate in events for shiny medal things, and not wind up with a DNF at the end. I can handle the distances, but it’s the pace that eludes me. Give me enough water and a few places to pee, I can pound out 13 miles…but not quickly. My near-jogging pace is other peoples’ walking pace.

A year ago I was registered for the Hot Chocolate in San Francisco and chit happened and I wound up not going; I did the miles closer to home, but it wasn’t speedy and I didn’t get anything shiny. I played with the idea of registering for it this year, counting on the training miles for the 3 Day to be a springboard, but then more chit happened and we didn’t do the 3 Day (but we trained!) and then I kind of forgot about it.

But it’s this weekend. And this weekend looks to be a horrific one for rain in the Bay Area. If they still hold the race, the runners won’t just get wet, they’ll be drenched. With added wind, the lighter ones might even take flight. I saw the weather forecast earlier and was a little glad that I’d forgotten about it, because not only am I still sick, I’m kind of a weenie and wouldn’t make the drive for a race where I would get wet and likely not finish.

This weekend is also the Dopey at Walt Disney World in FL, and they’re supposed to get a wet mess tomorrow, just in time for the half marathon. It’s bad enough that the race has already been canceled—it’s a safety issue, given the lightning that tends to arrive with storms in the area—which leaves runners kind of stranded.

The Hot Chocolate is one thing. It’s not that spendy to register, and if you wind up in SF and not running, there are tons of free things to do. Registering for a Disney race is an investment; the race itself isn’t cheap, and there’s usually air fare and hotels involved, and those runners are already there, they’ve already spent the money, and they’re not getting it back. They’ll get choices—a Disney gift card in the amount of the race registration, or two one-day park hoppers, or a deferral to another Disney race—but they don’t get to run and thy don’t get their travel expenses back.

The challenge runners, the ones who registered to run multiple races—5K on Thursday, 10K on Friday, Half Marathon on Saturday, and Full Marathon on Sunday—don’t get the shot to meet the challenge.

It’s got to be seriously disheartening.

Sure, it’s the risk of registering, but that doesn’t make it any less disappointing. And having had to bail on more than one event in the last few years, I have a little bit of a notion what that’s like.

Still…I keep hoping that one day I’ll be at one of those races. If our training for the 3 Day goes well this year, and I can peel some speed off my pace, I’d still like to do the Hot Chocolate or a Disney race. I may take a chance and register for the Star Wars at Disneyland next January…the question is whether I shoot for a challenge or just pick either the 10K or the half. Or save the Disney race for May and do the Tinkerbell, and give the Hot Chocolate a try in January.

Then that little voice in the back of my head reminds me I haven’t actually made it to anything lately, so why get my hopes up? What if I take on the training, and real life crap rears up again and I don’t make it yet again?

But…what if I do?

Maybe think about it when I can actually do more than walk to the bathroom and back without getting tired. Today is not that day.

Thursday

5 January 2017

It figures that I would get (mildly) sick right when I decide to give the post-a-day thing a whirl. All I want to do is curl up in bed. I don’t even feel particularly bad; I just have zero energy and sleep is constantly calling my name (this is why you should have no sympathy at all for me…I’m sick but not even half as sick as most people get with a URI.) I got it into my head that I would get in bed and read, but that lasts for all of two minutes before I shove the Kindle aside and close my eyes.

The one thing it’s been good for: weeding through the things in my brain that are trying to create the next couple of Wick stories. I’ve got two books going right now; one is the third book in the Wick Chronicles, the other will most likely be shuffled off into its own set, tentatively Wick After Dark. The former is a good 80,000 words along, the latter is just a compilation of notes, but I’ve got over 55 pages of notes and I’m not done.

The thing tripping me up is that I’m not quite satisfied with the next Wick book. I love the story; it’s fun and is swirling with sci-fi and fantasy elements, but the execution it just a bit off to me. It’s been just off enough to have set is aside in favor of writing notes for the too-oft-requested-from-a-single-person-Char-you’re-a-prevert WAD novel. I’ve let it simmer in the back of my brain, and while I’ve been lying in bed dozing, it started to bubble and a few of the bubbles popped, and I realized where I went wrong.

I started in the wrong place. If I wrote both books at the same time, Wick 3 would take place smack dab in the middle of Wick After Dark, which in the hands of a much more skilled writer would work well, but I:

1-don’t want to force people into buying two books to get the meat of one story.
2-Wick After Dark will not be a YA book, so it needs to be separate.
3-I think I’m good but not quite that good. I could do it, but something would suffer for it.

Haven't tried this, but hey...it could be good
Mainly my sanity.

I can see the new start to Wick 3; it drifted in front of my eyes the way the opening to The Flipside of Here did when I was training for the 2010 3 Day…although, this time, perhaps, cold medicine may have been involved and may play a part in how I write it. Well, maybe not cold medicine when I’m actually writing. Booze is more likely. Thanks to my son I have a new love of Fireball and am tempted to test out the “Write drunk; edit sober” adage.

At least something good will come out of this crud.

Possibly a drinking problem, but hey…

Wednesday

4 January 2017

While I curled up in bed, dozing most of the day away, the Spouse Thingy took down the Whovimas tree and put all the decorations away. The living room now looks depressingly bare, and Max in unhappy because the tree is no longer there to hide his mancat cubby near the fireplace. Now when he he relaxes in there we'll be able to see him, which will suck half the joy out of having it.

I've gotten zero work done, because all I feel like doing is sleeping...and when I go to bed tonight I'll probably lay there wide awake, because all I've done today is doze.

It's just a cold, though. I will survive. Hell, if I didn't feel so sleepy, it wouldn't be bad at all.

But I was also right, it's annoying the cats. Max wants me where he expects me to be at any given time, not curled up in bed.

He, too, will survive.

Tuesday

3 January 2017

This is my best friend right now:

It feels like someone shoved a blowtorch down my throat, but I'm pretty sure it was really just the Spouse Thingy's cooties floating through the house.

Also pretty sure the next 5 days will be spent doing as little as possible, because I tend to sleep when I don't feel well. This annoys the cats, but they'll survive.

It would help if dinner would present itself.

We're gonna live on cereal, I think.

Monday

2 January 2017

Back when we lived in Vacaville--and for a short time after, before it closed--I used to go to Borders a few times a week. The idea was to work, but more often than not, I watched people. Being tucked into the back of the bookstore, the cafe was a great place for people-watching; the variety of Borders customers was pretty freaking wide, and as a result I had a lot of things to blog about.

Then the whole chain went belly-up, and for a long time I had no fun place to go when I didn't feel like working at home. There was a Starbucks here, but it was tiny and I'm not a coffee drinker; I didn't care for even the aroma of coffee, so it seemed like punishment to spend much time there.

The Dixon Starbucks was located right next door to a Quiznos; I really liked Quiznos, but it, too, went out of business. The space remained empty for over a year, until Starbucks expanded into it. It underwent a remodel, and when it was done I had to check it out. Because, why not? It's not like there are a ton of entertaining things in this little town. Two minutes spent scoping out a coffee shop I would never use seemed like an okay idea.

It was huge. Tons of people could be here and it wouldn't feel confined. It didn't have that overbearing coffee smell.

I decided to give it a whirl. I've been writing here since then. I think the bulk of 5 books have been crafted here, and there are surely more to come. I love my home office, but...it helps to be around other people sometimes.

There's the downside to being a writer...you spend a lot of time alone.

The view from my favorite table...still doesn't show the whole store
So I'm still not a coffee drinker, but they have lots of different types of tea, and I have a place that is not cloistered away in the house, absent of other people. On a given day there's someone who catches my attention, but I recently realized that no one had caught it enough to pull me away from my work, and nothing was especially blog-worthy.

Lately, the place has been filled with students from UCD cramming for finals, and people taking a break from their holiday shopping. There have been a few meltdowns, but they've been cringe-worthy and not funny enough to write about. There have been a couple of times where there's obviously been a job interview happening at the table near me, and I've had to bite my tongue to keep from feeding answers to the poor interviewee. And right now there's a guy sitting next to me who is eating the most obnoxious smelling thing in existence...but he'll be done soon and hopefully to odor will go with it.

Either this just isn't the best place for people-watching, or I've been buried deep enough in the Emperor and Ozoo to not notice.

Probably the latter.

And cripes, I was going to go home after writing this, but I just looked outside and it's raining hard.

Fine. I've got work to do. And maybe someone worthy of note will come in. I can always hope.




Sunday

1 January 2017

You used to blog a lot. You should do that again. Like do that whole post-a-day for a month.
This said by someone who once had a very good blog but shut it down for reasons never really made public. (Oh I know why, but if I said, that'd be telling, and I'd be a lousy friend if I told.)

Wait.

I've been told I suck before.

Nah. I won't.

My response: Don't people usually do that in November as an alternative to NaNoWriMo? It's, like, NaBloWriMo or something like that. Which I find far more difficult that NaNo, which is only pounding out 50,000 words in a month. I did 50K of total crap in the last 2 weeks; it's easy when it doesn't have to be good (in my defense, it's all notes.)
Do it and I'll bake you some cookies.
Note the offer is to bake the cookies, not actually send the cookies to me. I'm still waiting on promised cookies from 2009.
Just get back in the habit. Make it one of your INTENTIONS. 31 posts in January.
I was still waffling about the idea. I mean, I'm working on 2 books right now, and dedicating myself to a blog post a day cut into my Reddit surfing and kitty porn time. But then my resolve to go to bed early went out with a bang last night, thanks to the assholes nearby who were setting off tiny little bombs, and I realized I have a lot to complain about, so maybe I will do it.

Random, very old picture of Max and Buddah
No, seriously, the fireworks were insane last night, and to describe it as tiny bombs is not an exaggeration. Regular fireworks do not shake the house so hard you worry that windows have broken, and regular fireworks don't bug Max. Last night it was so bad that both cats dove under the bed, and even after it quieted down, they were freaked out. I had Max literally laying across the top of my head all night, and Buddah was on the floor by the bed until around 5.

I invited him to come up on the bed with us, but I think he wanted to be able to dive for cover again.

The Spouse Thingy fed them when he got home from work, or he tried to. He opened 3 different cans and they wouldn't eat. At 11 I tried to feed them again--Fancy Feast beef, which is the favorite and even gts eaten when they don't feel great--but they each took a bite or two and walked away.

Stressed kitties don't eat, and these guys were still stressed nearly 12 hours later.

At 1:45 I drove to the grocery store and bought bacon, came home, and fried 2 slices, just to see if they would eat something. That, at least, worked. I split one slice between them (saving the rest as tomorrow's treat) and then snuck some crunchy treats onto their plates.

So hopefully they're fine now. But I'm still pissed off that people think it's perfectly fine to set off very-much-illegal fireworks, just because they feel like it, using the date as an excuse.

People, when your fun scares the shit out of your neighbors and sets off their car alarms, it's a bad idea. Find another way to celebrate. Like, in front of the TV with booze, like the rest of us.

Yeah, I never got around to that, either. I have Fireball in my freezer, and didn't even take a shot.

Oh. Maybe that's what I should do for January. Drunk blogging. 31 days worth.

Huh.

Friday

30 December 2016

Sometime this week, while pretending to work but actually surfing through Facebook or Reddit or a random writers’ group in which my fellow writers were also pretending to work, I saw a meme that struck a bit of a chord with me. Its creator proposed that instead of New Year’s Resolutions, we simply state our intentions for the coming year.

Admittedly, my first thought swirled around Sure, yep, the pathway to Hell and all that, but the more I thought about it, the more sense it made to me. Resolutions sound so stern, like if you don’t get to all of them, you’re a failure. Intentions…it’s flexible. A list of intentions feels like the things you’ll get around to, and really want to do, but if you don’t? Eh, no harm no foul.

So I have some intentions for 2017. Realistic things, I think.

♦  I pounded out 1205 walking miles in 2016, and that was without a lot of effort. So for 2017, I’d like to break 1300. That feels doable.

♦ We’re looking at switching gyms. I really, really like the gym to which we already belong, but the pools are outside and it’s too easy to make excuses on chilly days. New gym has indoor pools and an indoor track. So, change gyms.

♦ Go to the gym a couple times a week.

♦ Ride my bicycle more. I’m not talking long, sweat-powered training rides. Just…take the damn thing out and have fun. Ride it to Starbucks instead of driving. Get a cooler-backpack (as opposed to a cool backpack, which I already have) and take it to pick up odd things from the grocery store.

♦ Finish and publish the next two books in the Wick Chronicles…though one might not be part of the Chronicles series, but perhaps a new Wick After Dark edition.

♦ Write something stupid fun, just for myself. It never needs to see print. It will be awful and wonderful and not-literary-at-all and glorious. A story with no real point other than why the hell not write it.

♦ Visit San Francisco more often and do fun touristy things. I love the city, love walking around it, but it’s definitely more fun when you’re seeing things and not just walking or shopping.

♦ Disneyland.

♦ Be a bit kinder; that’s always a work in progress.

♦ Not die.

Yeah…all intentions, except maybe that last one, which is really more of a begging the cosmos kind of thing. If I finish 2017 having checked off everything, spiffy. If not, eh, no biggy.

Wednesday

28 December 2016

In a few days, California's newest law on hand held devices while driving takes effect. In essence, it's a giant STOP DOING THAT, another attempt to get people off their phones while behind the wheel. It's aimed at literally getting phones out of hands--no more using the speaker phone while holding it in hand--and getting attention back onto the road.

I don't have a problem with this. Truthfully, if you talk on the phone or text while driving, my level of respect for you plummets. There is nothing--nothing--that requires you to use your phone while driving, with the possible exception of a true, gotta-call-911-NOW emergency.

With the law taking effect on January 1st, people are talking about it, and what surprises me are the number of people who are pissed off about it. But I'm really good at it! I can multi-task! I haven't engaged in any of the arguments, but I've lurked in a few threads at various spots online, watching the back and forth, the spittle-flying anger some are generating over the simple idea that they're no longer allowed to do more than touch-swipe their phones while the car is in motion.

I grit my teeth and move on. But my loathing for those who can't stay off their phones goes back many years, at least 13, when cell phones were common but hadn't quite saturated the market as they have in recent years. I wrote about it, and nearly every time the argument surfaces, I revisit the piece, which originally appeared in the anthology Clear Horizons. It's long, but... here it is.

Being Regular
I spent $1.15 on a soda so small it could send a thirsty toddler into a major meltdown. And they call it a “tall,” not “microscopic, two sips and you’re done, small” as they probably should. The cup—and I just measured—is just a tad taller than my middle finger is long. And trust me, I have small hands.

Still, because I sit here in the café, taking up space, I felt compelled to buy the drink. It’s not as if I don’t really want it, I do; it’s the idea of dropping over a dollar for less soda than I could get in a 25 cent can of WalMart’s house brand (which, in my esteemed opinion, is pretty darned tasty.) I’m not the only one. There were seven or eight other people in here, doing what I’m doing—pretending to work or study—and all purchased the obligatory cheapest menu item to feel justified in taking up space.

Somehow I doubt the bookstore police (oh, yeah…the café is in a bookstore) are going to storm in and beat us all about the head and shoulders with wet sweat socks if we wander in and sit down without buying anything. It’s the principle of the matter: you take up a business’s space, you buy at least a small part of their product.

I do this a lot. I wrote at least half of a novel sitting in this café (but hey, not all in one day…), and have taken notice of the regulars here. Many seem to be students of the university down the road, in search of a quiet place to study and work on class assignments. I’ve often felt the impulse (but never acted on it) to point out that the McDonalds just across the street from the school, is usually just as quiet, and a whole lot cheaper.

I know that because I wrote part of a novel there, too.

Come to think of it, of the three novels I’ve written, most of them were penned in McD’s, the café, the food courts of Travis AFB and Wright Patterson AFB, Burger King, and Taco Bell.

There’s a pattern there.
And it’s evident: writing books contributes to weight  gain.
But, the regulars.

Of all the regulars, the most visible is Douggy. I know his name only because some of the employees greet him with the same infectious enthusiasm that the regulars on Cheers greeted Norm. They gleefully call out his name, and instantly have ready for him his favorite beverage along with a cookie or brownie. They watch for him; when someone notices Douggy in the parking lot, it’s a race to the door to let him in, and accompany him to the café where his favorite table, or one close to it, is cleaned off, and where he is served.

Douggy is most visible because he arrives via the county bus-taxi service in a large and brightly painted motorized wheelchair, and because he is carefully fed his cookie or brownie by the blonde girl who works behind the counter, as they carry on a conversation only she can really understand.

People stare, and whisper, as people are wont to do. Most of the regulars smile and wave their fingers when Douggy arrives, acknowledging him as one of us. A person and not a sideshow.

The day I inadvertently sat at Douggy’s table, engrossed in my own work (or perhaps a game of computer Scrabble; it’s hard to remember, but with my work ethic…it was probably Scrabble), no one said anything, but as the door to the bookstore was held open, my internal voice piped up, and I casually moved to another table.

Confetti did not pour from some hidden spot in the ceiling. No one cheered or offered me a bright and shiny mylar balloon for my consideration. My moving was expected; not required, but expected. Kind of like what anyone would do if they were perched upon Norm’s Cheers stool. The courteous thing to do is move, without fanfare and without expectation.

There’s another guy I see here quite often. He sits with his back to the window, holding a coffee cup between his hands, and watches people in the café. Well, he stares. And he doesn’t seem to care that people not only realize he’s staring at them, but it makes them uncomfortable. I tend to think of him as “Creepy Guy” (not to be confused with the old man at the YMCA pool who stares at me while I swim. He’s “Creepy Old Guy.”)

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Creepy Guy take a sip from the coffee cup he holds possessively between his hands. As far as I can tell, he just buys the thing to have a reason to sit there and stare.

There’s an older couple (older than me, in any case, and these days I’m quite happy to find people older than me out and about) who are here almost every time I am. They each buy a coffee and a freakishly huge cookie, then sit at a table for two, where they talk about their grandkids (perfect little angels, of course, even the one who whipped it out and peed on the fake tree at the mall food court), the trips they’ve taken (making me want to go see the World’s Biggest Ball Of Twine, too), and their finances. That last one usually sparks a tense, teeth-clenched, under-the-breath argument about shoes she doesn’t need, and tools he’s too stupid to use correctly. As far as I can see, he hasn’t yet cut a finger off, but she reminds him that he did sand a hole through one of the chairs that goes to her grandmother’s antique dining set.

That shuts him up for a minute, and I’m pretty sure she’s headed to the mall and every store that sells spiffy new shoes. Often—though not as often as I see other people—there’s this young woman (25 or thereabouts) who brings her young son; most of the time she has just bought him a new book, and he sits at the table, pretending he can read. His face is unusually serious for a three year old, but it’s a seriousness borne of determination: he will read the entire text of If You Give A Mouse A Cookie before they leave. When he’s done, he slams the book closed and proclaims “That’s just not right.”

I’m not sure what’s not right. Mice do like cookies; I’ve seen one try to carry off an entire Oreo. And I’d think that if you did give a mouse a cookie, or a part thereof, you’d be  obligated to follow through.

There’s usually an odd assortment of FrankenWalkers, kids just learning to master their own feet, and quite often they’re fascinated by what must be extremely new shoes. They walk with their heads down, staring at the contraptions Velcroed in place; I now understand this, having recently acquired a spiffy new pair of red, white, and blue Converse Chuck Taylor’s. Yes, for the first day or so, I frequently watched my feet, enthralled by the canvas pseudo-flags sticking out from the bottom of my jeans.

Okay. Yes. I’m 42 years old. I bought shoes better suited to a 16 year old. But they’re spiffy. They’re Chuck’s. And they match my brand new red, white, and blue leather flag jacket.

It’s not a midlife crisis thing. Not even accounting for the fact that last year I bought a shiny red convertible. Nope.

Do I wonder what the other regulars think about the middle aged housewife who sits there with a notebook or sometimes a laptop computer, scribbling away, dressed like a backwards teenager?

Sometimes. But I’m fairly sure I’m not as interesting to them as they are to me. At least not on the days I’m not talking to myself.

Once in a while, kids (especially those who are there often) will walk up and ask what I’m doing (and as tempted as it is, I’ve never answered “writing porn, go ask Mommy what that is!”) and start a conversation to the horror of their parents—parents who were paying such close attention that they failed to notice when their precious offspring wandered away.

Most of them are attracted by my jacket; that’s my assumption, spurred on by a two year old who pointed at me and squealed “Fag!”

That’s toddler-speak for “flag.”

Right?

The thing about the regulars: while we acknowledge each other, we do not speak to each other. It’s silent courtesy; we know we’re not there to socialize for the most part. Some of us are there to write the next Great American Novel, some are there to scratch out the Perfect Term Paper, some to unwind, to reconnect with the person on the other side of the same table, but we’re not there to make friends. Any details we know about one another are discovered only through bits and pieces of overheard conversations.

Until today.

Douggy has not been seen in the café in over a week. His absence has been noticed, definitely, but people miss days here and there. Being at the café from 1-3 p.m. is not a requirement, and there is Real Life out there. So the first few days of Douggy’s absences were noted, but not with concern.

But today Creepy Guy put his cup down on the table, and asked of no one in particular, “Where’s Douggy?”

Everyone looked up from what they were doing and glanced at Douggy’s vacant table. Not only was Douggy not there, but the blonde who always greeted him with an explosive smile and cookies, who patiently fed him and wiped his chin of crumbs and dribbles, always with the utmost care and respect, was also absent.
So today we talked, comparing mental notes. “When did you last see him?” “How was he? Looking tired? Happy? What?” “What about the girl? Anywhere around so we can ask her?”

We moved from our respective spots and sat together, wondering out loud where the kid with the bright grin and killer wheels was. As far as we could figure out, no one had seen him in at least a week. Neither had we seen the blonde girl.

Our loud conversation caught the ear of the other girl working behind the café counter; she set aside her towel and came over to us, pulling over a chair from another table.

The blonde is Douggy’s sister.

And Douggy, who evidently refused to allow his disability to get the better of him, bravely driving his brightly painted wheelchair on even the busiest of streets, entered a crosswalk at precisely the moment the driver of a minivan chose to answer her cell phone.

She took her eyes off the road just long enough to miss the fact that the kid in the wheelchair had rolled off the sidewalk. Just long enough for her to plow into him at full speed. At 45 miles an hour.

Douggy never had a chance.

The silence that fell over the two tables we occupied was an uncomfortable pause of concern; in a movie it would have exploded like a spent bubble, anger demanding retribution, the driver of the minivan’s head on a platter.

One by one we retreated to our former tables. And then one by one people left. Students went to their classes. The older couple headed out, and as he shoved his empty cup into the trash can he commented on the sale at shoe store just down the street. The café girl went back to work, cleaning the counter.

I looked at my too-expensive toddler soda, wondering what I should think. What I should feel. I did not know Douggy, not in the least. I do not know what caused him to live out his life in a motorized wheelchair, or even how long he had been in it. I never guessed that the blonde was his sister.

I never thought to ask.
I never presumed to strike up a conversation with Douggy or his sister. Or anyone else.
I’m here to work.
I come in here and pay too much money for too little drink, so I can work.

Creepy Guy pushed himself up with a loud sigh, crumpling the foam coffee cup in his hand. He paused before heading for the door, and looked at me. Not in my general direction, but at me, he looked into my eyes.

“I’ll see ya around,” he said. “Take care.”
*~*~*~*
You don't need your phone while you're driving. You just don't.

Get a dash mount if if use it for navigation, turn the voice commands on, and leave it alone. Pull over if you get a text you have to take. Pull over if you get a call you want to answer. But keep your hands off the phone and your eyes on the road.