16 April 2015

Yesterday, for the first time in about 15 years, the Spouse Thingy and I decided to play racquetball. We used to love it and were pretty well matched in terms of skill (read: we were equally not very good) and figured that the new gym has a court, why not use it?

We didn't keep score or even play by the rules. It was really just an hour of bouncing the ball off the wall and trying to take turns hitting it, but we were both drenched in sweat and had pretty decent heart rates by the end.

I only shrieked at the ball zooming toward me a couple of times, and only ducked 3 or 4.

And for some reason, the Spouse Thingy did not like my idea of getting a GoPro and recording our efforts for the amusement of others. Go figure.

Like good little gymrats, after we played we hit the circuit equipment for half an hour. And decided that we'd go back today and I would swim and he would do whatever he wanted to do.

Then I got up this morning.

The Thumper's Freight Train O'Crap hath runneth me over. It's just a reminder that my brain likes to do things my body can't always manage and why we usually try to be flexible when we go places, so that I can have some time to crash and burn without feeling like I'm ruining everything. Luckily, the gym is not a vacation, and it's going to be there tomorrow and the day after.

I am having fun, though. Well, fun in general. I'm not thrilled at the moment, if only because I would rather be doing things other that sitting here. I'll go have real fun tomorrow, I hope.

Might even play racquetball using actual rules.

Or not. That might not be fun.


14 April 2015

Looks like an ordinary iPod shuffle; it has all the limitations of a iPod shuffle: only 2 GB, and no way to switch up what you're listening to other than either listening to albums in order or on shuffle. Pretty limited.

But this one is waterproof.

I use it today in the pool, and it was awesome. I don't mind being alone with my brain while I swim, but it was nice to have music to help push me alone, and I managed to hit 1500 meters in 4 minutes under what it took me to hit 1350.

It's still a new thing, but I'm still digging the swimming. The only downsides are the crushing want of sleep a couple hours later, and the marathon peeing.

Still digging the Garmin while I'm swimming--it makes keeping track of where I'm at so easy--and all the data, too. I might not like it as much when I hit a plateau, but for now? It's fun.


10 April 2015

Right now, we have two gym memberships, plus the Spouse Thingy has a membership at a rock climbing gym. You'd think we'd be in awesome shape, but no... Having gym memberships does not equal using those memberships. We have not been using the membership to the gym that's literally a 10 minute walk away, nor has he been rock climbing.

To be fair, he hurt his shoulder right after joining the rock gym, and hasn't been able to manage it.

But the gym around the corner? I never really bothered because it doesn't have the one thing I really needed: a pool. It has everything else (though in short supply) but no classes whatsoever. The machines and giant bouncy balls didn't really interest me, but going back to the old gym with the pool didn't, either, because actually getting a lane in that pool was a crapshoot.

It was big enough to have 4 lanes open all the time, but they only kept 2, and the rest of the pool was left for people to lounge around and for kids to play in.

I grasp the concept of family gym memberships, but I really hated dodging kids that wouldn't stay in the open area and kept darting in front of me, and I really hated having some blonde bubblehead yell at me because my swimming was getting her kid--her kid who was in the water--wet. After a few too many times of waiting over an hour just to get a lane and then having to deal with kids (whom I do not blame; they were just being kids), I gave up. We canceled that membership and joined the gym around the corner.

The gym I never went to pool.

On Tuesday we sucked it up and went to check out another gym with a pool that's part of the same chain as the gym with the kids and DON'T GET MY SNOWFLAKE WET WHILE HE'S PLAYING IN THE POOL airheads. I knew it would also offer family memberships, but it's a much bigger gym so I had hopes that they would actually have 4 open lanes, at least most of the time.

It turned out to not only be's HUGE. Circuit training, free weights, resistance weights, cardio equipment...all in much bigger rooms and there's a lot more of them. There's a racquetball court. Basketball court. Classes. Tennis Courts. Hot tub.

And three pools.

Seriously, 3 pools. One is a 6-feet deep pool used for aqua classes. One is a more shallow pool where people can splash and play. And the big one is a 6-lane, no-kids-allowed lap pool.

Hell, yes, we joined.

Swimming is probably one of the things I need to be doing for my back and hips, and I should have no trouble getting lanes here. I intentionally went at lunch time today, when the other gym was packed and there was no hope of swimming, just to see how bad it was. There were 4 lanes open when I got to the pool, and a ton of kids in the play pool, and that suited me just fine.

I am slow in the water, very slow, but after swimming on Wednesday and then again today, I'm pretty happy.

And hungry.

And peeing a lot.

Holy hell, swimming makes me pee a lot.

But one of the oddest things making me happy: data. I bought a Garmin Vivoactive (yes, I know, another activity tracker. I like toys! And I got it at a substantial discount!) and this sucker tracks a lot. Not only steps, but it will track runs and walks using GPS (so I get nifty maps) and will track indoor runs and walks on a treadmill, it will track bike rides (again, nifty maps!) and it's waterproof and tracks swimming.

This is just a small portion of the data I get. I set up today to do 150 meter intervals, and I can get a total breakdown of each one: how many strokes each 25 meters takes, how long the 150 meters takes, average times and graphs to make it all look pretty.

Totally digging the data, even though it proves how slow I am.

I don't really care about my speed; right now I'm focusing on getting back to the distances I was swimming a few years ago.

All right, I'm not sure I can get back to what I was doing in Ohio--6000 meters--but I'm pretty sure I can get back up to 3000, which is roughly what I was doing a couple of years ago. I started out with 1100 on Wednesday and did 1350 today, I might shoot for 1500 Sunday.

I technically could have hit 1500 today, but I was moving like molasses at that point and figured I might as well give myself a goal for this weekend.

I might be done peeing my brains out by then.


15 March 2015

Last weekend, post shave, DKM and her mom and I were in the mall food court, grabbing some much needed food. I don’t remember how the subject came up (because my brain is basically swiss cheese at this stage of my life) but we were talking about the last time we’d worn dresses.

I had to admit…it’s been so long since I’ve worn a dress that if I were to put one on now, I would feel like a cross-dresser.

Later on I thought about that; it’s not just now. I clearly remember feeling like it was all kinds of wrong any time I had to wear a dress. I loathe dresses. I always have. It’s not a feeling that crept up on me with age and lack of wearing. Dresses were a major point of contention between my mother and I when I was little. I hated them, and it pissed her off to no end.

For a short time in 4th grade she instituted the Morning Dress Rule. I had to, no matter what I wanted, put on a dress in the morning for school, and I could change into pants at lunch before going back in the afternoon (yep, in Munich we were able to go home for lunch if we lived close enough to walk. I don’t see that happening now.)

I know now what she was going for, but then it was agony for me. And when I didn’t like something, I was a complete little shit. I think it lasted all of a month, maybe six weeks, before I wore her down. Or it could have been the volume of laundry, but I suspect my shitty little self bullied her into backing down.

I also know what she was afraid of; THAT was not what a kid should become, not in the late 60s and early 70s. All the things I hated—dresses, girly toys, anything frilly or pink or feminine—those all surely pointed to one thing, and apparently by forcing me into clothing that I despised, THAT was going to be corrected.

We can roll our eyes at the idea now, but I’m sure it made sense 40-45 years ago.

I was a hard-core tomboy, sure, but I was not THAT even though she couldn’t see it then.

And now I wonder: if such a huge issue had not been made of my preferences in clothing and toys and even colors, what would I like now?

There was a tipping point once puberty reared its ugly head and I was solidly into my early teen years. We were getting ready to move from Texas to California and it was suggested to me that “this would be a good time to change. You know, wear dresses and be more feminine. It’ll be easier because no one will know what you were like before.”

Surprisingly, it didn’t come from my mother, but she was on board with the idea.

Any inkling I might have had about it died with that. My (admittedly hurt) gut reaction was to wonder—out loud—what was so wrong with me that I needed to change? Why would I want to change? There was nothing wrong with me.

And there wasn’t. But I was just stubborn enough to decide that was it; I was going to be me and not give consideration to anything different. I didn’t have to be good enough for anyone else, because I was good enough for me.

My mother stopped pressing the matter by the time I was 15 or so, probably because it was clear I wasn’t turning into her worst fear, but I wonder now if left to my own choices, would I have gotten over my hatred of girly things and embraced at least a few of them?

I’ll never know, but I’ll probably always wonder.

I clearly got over my hate of things pink, though it still surprises some people to find out I don’t much care for it. Hot pink, I love it; pink-pink…no. Hell no.

I don’t even own a dress now; don’t expect me to, no matter what the event. I still mostly shop in the men’s department but not because of some weird loathing of women’s clothes; pants with useable pockets are rarely made for women, shirts are too short for women with any torso height, and most of them are—by design—clingy and face it, I don’t have the body for anything clingy. If I did, I would rock that chit so hard.

I am most comfortable in shorts and a t-shirt, probably always will be.

My point? It’s not that my mother dropped the ball, so heap pity upon poor me. No, she coped as best she could with a stubborn kid whose tastes frightened her. It’s also not that I wish I were different. I’m fine with me; other people might not be, but that’s not my problem.

My point…let your kids be who they are. Don’t presume anything based on the clothes they want and the toys they play with. Let them explore without pressure to choose one thing over another. Give them the grace to know they can be whoever they think they are, and the freedom to change that without feeling judged.

And if they wind being something other than what you expected or hoped for, freaking embrace that shit, because life is hard enough as it is and not giving a damn about the little things makes it just a bit easier.

I will never know if I would have been any different if I hadn’t felt like I was expected to change the person I fundamentally was; there’s a whole other can of worms there I haven’t yet opened up to peek at, but the crux of it is that I spent a lot of years railing against what someone else wanted, even after she no longer wanted it.

Take a good look at your kid.

She’s fine just as she is, whether she’s pretending to be a princess or Ironman. He’s fine even if he wants those pink shoes and a tutu. Those choices don’t mean anything beyond this is what I like right now.

And even if they do, so what? You had a kid, not a promise.

You will love them no matter what.


Thumper’s unsolicited advice for the day.

8 March 2015

Not the ending to this weekend I expected...
Waiting to start...people in blue are volunteers.
At least this year I knew to expect my head to feel a little bit cold post-shave.

What I did differently this year was wait until just 2 days before to dye my hair. Last year, I think I did it 2 weeks ahead, but not being too sure how green hair would look on me, I opted to wait. After all, if I liked it, I could go green again later, right?

I should know better.

In any case, I got there nice and early, checked in and got my t-shirt, and marveled at how few people were there. The volunteers outnumbered the shavees about 15 to 1 at that point. It got better, but not by much.

Last year there were over 360 registered shavees. This year, 167. And looking at the list, only 140 or so raised any money, and most raised $100 or less and I'm not sure if any of them bothered to show up for it.

"Only thing I'm worried about are green stains"
When I went to bed Friday night you all had donated $875; a little under my goal but over what I raised last year, so I was thrilled.

I got up and checked one last time, and 3 people pushed me over goal; $1075 raised...color me happy, even if I was green.

I had no idea how green at that point.

So I got there, checked in, Michelle and her mom were there for support and to take pictures, and away we went...the ad who cut my hair did the sides and back first so that I would briefly have "a really cool mowhawk" ad as she finished she told me that yep, I had a few stains.

Well, chit.

Sure...just a few stains.

Good thing I brought a hat.

A few days after last year's shave I realized I loathed not having hair. I don't like having long hair, but I hated not having hair at all, and I was pretty sure I wasn't going to do this again. It was, honestly, harder than walking. The 3 Day is a weekend filled with a lot of pain and sweat, but it's also a weekend filled with awesome and hanging with friends.

This...this is an attention-sucking finger-pointing, cringing sort of endeavor. People stare, whisper, mock, and not in a fun way. Some look sympathetic, thinking I have no hair because I'm the one that's sick.

I have to admit, while I can handle the reactions of the neon pink hair, no hair made me very, very uncomfortable.

But...I'm over it.

This is far easier than what people in treatment go through.

Besides, it also gave me this picture.

I wanted to see how bad the back of my head was stained, so I contorted myself to take a picture, and found myself laughing.

Not because of the green, but because of the scar.

I didn't realize it was still so prominent.

When I was 5, maybe 6, I was sitting in a folding metal chair in temporary housing in Germany, in my Grandfather's room. He was teasing me about taking the chair and said he was going to sit on my lap...and proceeded to do just that.

Her certainly never intended to put any weight on my lap, but somehow it was just enough to upset the chair and I went backwards, right into the radiator under the window.

I know he felt horrible. I was screaming in pain, screaming because I was scared, screaming because I was just a little kid and GRANDPA BROKE ME.

He scooped me up and sat on the edge of his bed with me on his lap, while my parents came running. He told me over and over I was okay, he was sorry, I was okay. And when my mother and father got into the room and I wiggled away because...MOMMY...he looked at his bright white dress shirt and said firmly, "Look what you did. You got blood all over my good shirt."

 I stopped crying instantly. Oh holy hell, I got blood on Grandpa's shirt and surely I was going to get one hell of a spanking.

For just that brief moment, I thought he was actually mad.

But no...he wasn't mad. He was just trying to make me laugh, and the distraction stopped me from crying long enough for me to understand I wasn't really hurt.

For a long time after that, he teased that I owed him a new shirt. Get a job. You owe me a new white shirt.

For a long time after that, he kept checking the back of my head, hoping that scar would vanish.

I know he hoped it would, because even though we both knew it was an accident, he always felt bad about being the reason I cracked my head on the radiator. He felt bad even though I wasn't really hurt. He wanted that scar to go away.

But me? I'm freaking glad it didn't. Because I have that scar I have a touchstone to my grandfather, and he was a pretty cool guy.

Even if it is surrounded by green splotches.

Or, as Dean McCaughan put it, leprechaun kisses.

I kinda like that.


5 March 2015

Not the best dye job I've done, but we have green...

Oh, and I waited long enough to do this that for sure my scalp will be stained on Saturday when the hairs get shaved off.

I'll just tell people it's cooties, and then breathe heavily at them.


2 March 2015

Yeah...I don't think that pink is going to bleach out. I suspect that when I wash this out, my roots will be near white and I will have killer pink tips.

This would be awesome, except in the next couple of days I need to dye it neon green.

Just 5 more days until it all comes off, regardless of what color it actually ends up being...but since I'm dying it this week, y'all have a good shot at seeing green stains on my scalp.

And yep, this is the last fundraiser mention I will do for this event on this blog.

So far I've raised $390 of a $1000 goal. Did I mention donations are tax deductible? THEY'RE TAX DEDUCTIBLE, Y'ALL!

Get your deductible here.

Also, you get warm fuzzies, which is more than I'll have for a couple of weeks after this...


27 February 2015

I started writing Charybdis when I was 14 years old; we were getting ready to move from Texas to California, I was bored, and even then writing was what I turned to in order to fill all those adolescent, angsty empty spaces. The bones of that book had been simmering in my head for almost a year, and being moved away from my school and my friends, having a summer where I would know no one and live in strange surroundings, fostered an almost obsessive need to take pen to paper.

Writing, reading, and TV were about the only things I had to get through that summer. I penned a horrible mess of a manuscript—friends who later read it in high school can probably attest to that—but even after shoving it into a drawer, it stuck with me. I was never sure if that was because it was my lifeline to normalcy during that move (which was more than one move, in reality; there was a transient apartment while my parents looked for a house, so I didn’t even bother trying to meet anyone that summer) or just the beginning of what I knew I wanted and needed to do for the rest of my life, but there was one thing I was sure of.

One character in the book, the only one without a first person voice, the character whose storyline had to be told in third person, would be loosely based on an actor I never met and never would, someone whose portrayal of what would become an icon in pop culture. He is who I saw in my head every time I wrote; even as I later peeled way the layers of that character to get a better feel for who he really was, he is who I pictured.

And today he died.

Anyone who knew me in junior high (and remembers me, I never count on that) knows I was a huge Star Trek fan. I never saw it on its original run (we were in Germany) but I lived for the afternoon reruns every day. I was so invested in it that my mother actually gave up trying to peel me way from my 13” black and white TV to come to dinner, and allowed me to eat as soon as it was over.

I loved that show so much that it made me the butt of a few jokes (never really mean spirited, surprisingly) and even my favorite journalism and history teacher noticed it (probably because of all the Star Trek articles I submitted to the school paper) and poked fun at me for it. I don’t even remember what the subject on hand was, but I clearly remember him saying in front of the entire 8th grade history class that I was daydreaming about taking Captain Kirk in hand and skipping into the sunset.

Everyone laughed. I turned beet red, but I laughed, too. He wasn’t being mean and at the time it was freaking funny…and in the back of my head I was thinking he was so, so wrong.

If I was going to skip into the sunset, it was damn well going to be with Mr. Spock.

I still can’t tell you why I loved Spock so much; I loved everything Star Trek, but it was Spock that kept me hooked. It was Spock whom I heard in my head so many nights when I was agonizing over stupid things I’d said and stupid things that had been said to me. It was Spock I thought of when trying to puzzle over why who I was wasn’t good enough for anyone else, why—even those who were supposed to love me unconditionally—people kept telling me if I would just do THIS or I would just do THAT, I would be, you know, normal.

To be anyone other than myself would be…illogical.

I learned a lot about self-acceptance through Spock’s version of logic. As a consequence, I learned a lot about accepting other people for who they were, too.

The logical step after Star Trek, after totally trying to grok Spock, was to follow Leonard Nimoy. After all, he was Spock, no matter what his first memoir said. I started watching Mission Impossible reruns, and when he popped up as Paris, I was overjoyed. I watched the hell out of that, and thusly was the foundation for Ron Gallery formed.

He looked a lot like this guy
And yet…Ron was not the most stellar of characters. He was greatly flawed; he was the bad guy, right? How could I base him on someone I damn near worshiped?

It was easy; I knew things about him no one else did. I knew he wasn’t the horrible person he seemed to be. I knew his motives. I knew just how deeply he loved the people in his life and how hard he was contorting himself to protect them. I couldn’t put all of that into the book, because no one wants to read a 1000 page novel by a first time writer.

But anyone who stuck with the whole series, who read The Flipside of Here, knows who Ron Gallery really was.

And now they know who he looked like.

I was crushed when I got online this morning; the first thing I saw when getting onto Facebook was an RIP Spock update. That I knew Leonard Nimoy had been ill didn’t change that. That he was 83 didn’t change that. All I knew was that someone so fundamental to my adolescence, someone who literally helped form how I would learn to view the world, how to treat other people, and how to be a bit more comfortable with myself, was gone.

He wasn’t Spock. I know that.

He was Spock. I know that, too.

I know that I am nowhere near being alone in how his work affected personal growth, and in my sorrow that he’s gone.

I also know that I’m not the only one who shed a few real tears this morning. He lived long. He prospered. He was 83…and it wasn’t enough.

That was one hell of a final tweet. And I hope he knew that he'll be kept in a million memories for a very, very long time.


25 February 2015

In ten days, this:

will become this:

The big difference? The hair will not be purple when I arrive at the Galleria Mall in Roseville to get my head shaved.

No, it will be green.

Neon green.

Okay, well most of it will be green. I still have pinkish/purplish tips, so who knows what color the tips will be. Could be black, could be brown, could be my hair is just going to break off and I'll show up with all these weird patches of mange-like fuzz.

It's for a good cause. And there's still time to donate toward it. And remember, it's tax deductible, so you have that going for you.

Got something embarrassing you want me to do for a donation? Let me know...if the number is high enough, you know I'm game.

Well, other than shave my head, because...kind of defeats the purpose.


16 February 2015

Peoples...wanting me to use your name in a book could potentially end up with you hating me, because I might do terrible things to your namesake somewhere in the storyline.

However, knowing that, one friend really, really wants to be a fictional princess. So in the next manuscript--not sure how long it'll take to write or if it will even be publish-worthy--there shall be a Princess Oz.

So. Who wants to be a prince? Or king*? Queen*? Or the Scottish but not Scottish Emperor of San Francisco?

There's a cat. So far his name is Wick. Or Prints. I haven't decided for sure.

And hey, I never said it was going to be a GOOD manuscript. But the story has been in my head for 2-3 years and it's time to write it, suckage or not.

*minor characters.


14 February 2015

Meet my new friend. I have seen her around town a thousand times, reached for things high on the shelves in the grocery store, but never really talked to her before.

Today I ran into her outside McDonald's--this will teach me to stop for diet sweet tea--and she asked for a ride to CVS.

Not a problem. I even went inside to get her meds; she called the pharmacist from the car and they were fine with letting me pick them up.

Now, I knew I was going to be taking her home; not a problem, either. But then...

"Could you take me to Walmart?"


"I only have two dollars. Can you give me enough to get dinner?"


I took her shopping--and everyone at Walmart seems to know her--and we met lots of people from her church, too.

Groceries for dinner turned into a full cart, which wasn't really a problem other than I have a tiny trunk and needed the back seat of my car for her walker. I put my foot down when she wanted to get a set of $60 lamps (which I heard about several more times..."Oh, I need light, I have no light in my apartment.")

Luckily as I was loading the car, a family came out of the store and while Mom helped me put things in the trunk, her son helped my new friend into the car, because I just didn't have the upper body strength to get her from the scooter-cart into my very low front seat. 

A whole lot of money later, I drove her home, carried 62 bazillion grocery bags halfway across the apartment complex (ok, it felt like that far. Really was just around the back of the building) and when I headed home I looked at my watch...two hours.

Oh yeah, I got played. I don't mind, other than now she knows my name and she knows my car, and she is not shy about asking people for things.

We totally have to move now.

7 February 2015

All right…so I’ve tried a bunch of different wearable tech to track steps and the like. So which did I think was the best?

It depends.

Both Garmin and Fitbit make good, accurate step counters. From there, it’s a matter of what else you want the device to do for you.

Fitbit One: it’s basically just a pedometer, but it also gives you the time, floors climbed, calories burned, distance covered, and activity level. You can clip it to your waistband, bra, or stick it in your pocket. Press a button and you can see what you’ve done for the day. It's simple and it works.

Fitbit Flex: pretty much like the One, except you wear it on your wrist and—as far as I know—you have to synch it to your computer or phone to see how many steps you’ve taken. That part never appealed to me so I never tried it. I want to be able to check where I'm at without using the phone or computer.

Fitbit Charge: does everything the One does, but you wear it on your wrist. It’s a good watch substitute, and you can see your data with a press of a button or tapping it twice. When you hit your step goal for the day, it vibrates. I used it for a while and found it to be pretty accurate.

Fitbit Charge HR: It’s the Charge with a heart rate monitor in it. No personal experience with it, but for someone active who wants to track HR while working out, it seems like a good deal.

Fitbit Surge: this is a powerhouse tech device. It looks like a watch and has a subdued clockface with a subtle backlight when tapped once (which is great for the middle of the night.) Aside from steps counted and all the other above things, it has GPS (I didn’t get around to testing that; I hear it works well but is a huge battery drain), and can be used to track several other exercises, including distance done on a treadmill. It also has a heart rate monitor. I really liked it, but had some issues, and a friend developed a rash and felt the HR monitor was wildly inaccurate. It’s supposed to also give you incoming text and phone notifications when paired with your phone, but it would not stay connected to my phone and the vibration intensity is so weak I couldn’t really feel it, so that was useless to me.

Garmin Vivofit: It’s a lot like the Fitbit One, but worn on your wrist. There’s no backlight, so you can’t see it in the dark…which doesn’t matter unless you also wear it at night and want to use it as a watch. The bonus with this one—the battery lasts for a year. Not having to charge it every 5-7 days gives it major points.

Garmin Vivosmart: worn on the wrist, it tracks steps, calories, and distance, and has a watch function. It looks like a plain band but turns on with two taps to its face, and also does text and call notifications, and the vibration intensity is very good. It’s also quite accurate.

Now, the thing with all the ones worn on the wrist are that they fail to count steps if you’re holding onto something that causes your arm to not move—like a shopping cart or if you’re wearing a backpack and holding onto the strap. Grocery shop for an hour and you can miss a lot of steps.

For me…I like the Fitbit One for ease of use. It’s simple and does what I need it to do, which is count my steps. But for getting text notifications, I also wear the Garmin Vivosmart band, because I can’t hear my phone in my pocket.

I’ve tried all but the Flex (and Charge HR, but it’s pretty much the same as the Charge.)

For someone wanting text and phone notifications, the Garmin Vivosmart works best.

If I didn’t need the notifications, I would go with the Fitbit One for accuracy and versatility (pocket or waistband or bra), or the Charge if a wristband is preferred. (The only reason the Charge is above the Vivofit on my list is being able to see it in the dark. They’re both excellent. The battery life on the Vivofit makes it a strong contender.)

So...the Fitbit One comes out on top for me After that (presuming one doesn't need text notifications), the Charge, the Vivofit, and the Surge is pretty much last until they work the kinks out of it.

Bonus...the Fitbit One is the least expensive out of those, too.


6 February 2015

Toward the end of last year I helped someone format a book for digital publishing; I was happy to do it for no reason other than she found my work a few years ago and devoured all of my books and emailed me about them, in a totally non-stalkerish way (I also made the mistake of sending her an Amazon gift card for her birthday about 4 years ago, resulting in Amazon pulling every review she'd left for my books. But that's neither here nor there.)

As a thank you, she sent me a new toy, one that had been resting on my Amazon wishlist since it was available for pre-order. I left it there as a reminder to keep checking the reviews on it, and when my current version of said toy croaked or I got tired of it, I would then be able to make an informed choice about its replacement.

It makes sense in my head. I certainly never expected anyone to get it for me.

The new toy? A Fitbit Surge. This sucker does a lot: steps, calories, and floors climbed, as well as having a heart rate monitor, GPS for runs and walks, treadmill tracking, and a bunch of other things. I was most interested in it for the call and text notifications; when my phone is in my pocket I often don't hear it when a text comes in, so something buzzing on my wrist is helpful.

It's the function I like the most on my Garmin Vivosmart; you text me, 90% of the time I'll know. The other 10% is because I'm in the bathroom and my phone is in the living room.

So I had very high hopes for the Surge, because Fitbit makes good stuff. I liked the original Fitbit, I liked the Fitbit One, the Fitbit Force, the Fitboit Charge, and I was sure I would love the Surge.

I sure as hell wasn't going to complain if it fell short, because...GIFT.

But then Oz texted me last night...she's not having a lot of luck with it.  It's missing a huge chunk of her steps, the heart rate monitor is inaccurate, and she's developed a rash from wearing it.

And the silent alarm--responsible for incoming call and text notifications--is weak.

I'd noticed that. I even poked around on the Fitbit forums to see if there was any way to increase the intensity of the alarm, because as it works now, it's pretty useless for me. I'm not the only one complaining about that...there are lots of mentions of not being able to feel it vibrate, an issue especially for those who were using it as a wake-up alarm.

There are also a lot of complaints about the HR monitor being way off.

I'd also noticed some wrist pain, but chalked that up to it being new and me not being used to it...until the pain crept up my arm, in a nice tight line from my wrist to my elbow. No rash for me, but...owies.

It won't stay connected to my phone, so even if the alarm worked, it wouldn't function.

Oz is sending hers back; for now I've just taken mine off and am recharging my older Fitbit One, and I'm wearning the Garmin Vivosmart on mt wrist so that I can get notifications. I'd go it with solely, but I do like using the Fitbit site, where there are friends to inspire me to get off my asterisk and walk more, for no other reason than I MUST WIN.*

The Surge is a great idea, but yeah...they need to iron the kinks out.

*I am so totally not winning because I have family members who I'm pretty sure are walking in their sleep every night...


5 February 2015

Sometimes, it's terrific when someone else can put into words something that's in your head...

Sally Forth, written by Francesco Marciuliano*
It's nice if and when you can make bank with your passion, but it's never really about the money.

It's your voice. Fail to follow that, and you lose...yourself.

*He has a terrific blog, Medium Large, ad wrote a wonderful post about this today...


30 January 2015

I did not particularly enjoy this look. Until my hair grew back out, I was 13 kinds of uncomfortable, and was pretty sure I wouldn't do it again. Bald is a tricky thing for most women to pull off, and I am not one that does it well.


My hair did grow back. I got over the discomfort. It was, in the grand scheme of things, pretty easy.

So I'm doing it again.

On March 7th, I will be at the Galleria Mall in Roseville, and I will sit in front of a crowd and let someone take clippers to my head, and shave me down to bare stubble. And I will again be 13 kinds of uncomfortable, and probably cold, too.

I set a goal of $1000 this year; last year you all donated $835, so I'm aiming for just a little higher.

First person to donate $150 or more gets to pick the hair color I'll hit the stage with.

Second person to donate $150 or more can decide whether or not I get on that stage wearing spandex.

It's open season on da Wabbit, peoples. I will DO THINGS for donations. You know I will.

23 January 2015

I said it last year and I'll say it again (even though I did it anyway): Disneyland is not the place for a bunch of writers and indie publishers to try to be all professional and get things done, and I'm not doing it next year. Unless I change my mind, because, DISNEYLAND.

We got there late Monday afternoon, in time to meet up with the Boy and his fantabulous girlfriend (seriously, he has to keep her. We have decided) before they left (they were there over the weekend, couldn't stay an extra day) and then headed for the ticket booth to upgrade our 5 day park hopper tickets for season passes, so that we have an excuse to go there for something other than failed indie publishing things and then can meet up with the people we really want to see. We have family in the area, and friends, and so far have had time blocked off that's made it impossible to make any other plans. So now we'll be able to.

But...the Indie Pub Panel, which in spite of some wishes was not intended to be held in a bar, wound up being started in a bar, and I was not there to witness the best part of it.

The night before we got there, while those who were already there got together for drinks, The Queen called two of the male writers in attendance "flaming faggots," to which they took umbrage, and they called her on it. Her husband backed her up and got in their faces...words flew, then fists.

I missed the drunk writer fist fight. Dammit.

In any case, it set an unhappy tone and a lot of people left. I don't know if they went home or just decided to go into Disneyland and forget the panel, but if they went home they made a mistake, because the weather was perfect and the crowds were super light, so when The Spouse Thingy and I headed out to the parks in the afternoon, we had a great time.

We did so much in just 2 afternoons--got on pretty much every ride we wanted in less than 10 minutes, and then rode them 3-4 times--that yesterday we just kind of wandered around until our feet seriously hurt. We'd planned on trying to see a show or two in order to sit for a while, but somehow managed to be on the wrong side of the park every time...which was still fine, because we did everything we'd wanted and then some, and now that we have the passes we can go back and see those another time.

And in spite of saying we wouldn't buy more than one t-shirt each because we already have t-shirts, I think we both left with a couple of them.

But the one thing I almost bought but didn't?

 If I could have justified it--like where I would ever wear it--I totally would have.

Maybe next time. Not sure when that will be--don't want to impose on the Grandma to watch the cats too often even though they totally love her--but in order to make the passes worth it we kinda have to go back at least twice more this year. at Disneyland before it gets too hot? We should totally have a party.

16 January 2015

Dear Lady in the grocery store whose kid was having a total meltdown in the cart,

Look, every parent has to go through that. You head into the store to grocery shop, stick the kid in the seat of the cart, and all the sudden the earth is melting and OH HELL NO he’s not going to put up with that, so the crying starts.

He’s not even trying to get you to put things into the cart he wants you to get. He just doesn’t like the way the world is tilted on its axis today, and he’s going to let everyone in the store know about it. It’s not a temper tantrum and there’s nothing wrong; he’s just having a moment the only way his 20 month old brain can.

No one was glaring at you; I’m sure you felt the sting of a thousand dagger-like stares slam into you, but truly, no one really cared. He was loud, but kids are loud. It wasn’t a big deal. It especially wasn’t a big deal to me until I heard you lean over to say to him, “You are a bad boy. A BAD boy.”

I sighed, sad for him. And then a few minutes later when I heard it again, telling him he was such a bad boy, my heart broke for him.

Here’s the thing. He’s not a bad boy. He’s a toddler with no way to express himself when something is bothering him, other than to cry. He doesn’t have the words. He doesn’t have the cognitive ability to realize that the thing that is bothering him will be over with soon, and things will get better. There is nothing in his realm of existence to tell him that crying because something is just a little off is anything more than getting you to listen.

He’s not bad.

He’s a little boy.

But I guarantee you, if you keep telling him that he’s a bad boy, if that’s your go-to response when he acts in ways you wish he didn’t, at some point he’s going to believe that about himself. Kids will tuck the things said to them about themselves into a deep, dark place in their souls, and eventually it becomes Identity.

You are the person to whom he looks for not only the pieces to the puzzle that will form the picture of who he will be, but also the way those pieces fit together. Every time you tell him he’s bad becomes another piece to his puzzle. Piece after jagged piece after jagged piece.

How many pieces of that puzzle do you want to be colored with the idea I'm a bad person?

Look, I know you love him. I know you’re frustrated and probably embarrassed because his crying is that loud and that unwarranted, but he’s not going to stop because he doesn’t know what’s wrong. He’s just being an upset little boy, and that’s okay. Even though his cries are that loud, he still hears you…and what would you rather have settle into his brain? You’re a bad boy? Or maybe I know, we’ll be done soon, I’m sorry you’re upset.

It’s not a temper tantrum, He's not throwing things, hitting, kicking, yelling at you, flat-on-his-back-on-the-floor refusing to move; he’s just crying.

Over the next 20 years he will do endless things to upset you; he will engage in behaviors of which you will not approve. He will do things that could be called bad, but there’s a huge difference in doing the things kids do as they grow and learn and make mistakes and actually being bad.

There are no bad boys stuff into toddler sized shoes.

He’s not a bad boy.

He’s not.

Not yet.


12 January 2015

I understand that people online exaggerate, bluff, brag, and outright lie about the minutiae of their lives. Typically, that doesn’t bother me. I don’t care if you’re a 62 year old housewife from the Midwest who lives on the Internet as a 25 year old blonde with a huge rack. I don’t care if you’re a basement dweller who hasn’t seen much daylight for the last ten years but put yourself out there as a hard core biker with a farkled-out Harley Road Glide.

I don’t care because there’s not a lot of chance that someone will get hurt by whatever fantasy you’re living online. Suit yourself. If you’re not using your online persona for monetary gain, or to inflict pain on someone else, no big deal; if you do it to protect yourself, go for it.

But if you play the cancer card, or any serious illness card, if you put out there that you’re battling a horrific disease when the truth is that there’s not a damn thing wrong with you…I care about that. And I judge you HARD for it.

People do get hurt by that. You’re not only toying with peoples’ emotions and deep fears, you’re detracting from those who do have those illnesses. And when you’re found out, you also call into question the people whose lives are legitimately consumed by the simple act of trying to stay alive. You lie, you get caught, and people start looking hard at others who are fighting the fight you supposedly were. After all, if one person can try to get away with it, why wouldn’t someone else?

Here’s the thing: that lie isn’t sustainable. Face it, if you lie about having breast cancer, you’re going to trip up on the details and those who know a whole lot more about it than you do are going to figure it out. If you pile on top of that some fairly unlikely scenarios—oh, I had breast cancer for a few weeks last year but I’m all better now because I swallowed the red pill and had 3.2 x-rays while I hopped up and down on one foot—you’re adding flash to bring out the details of the picture you’re trying to get everyone to accept.

In the last year I’ve come to be made aware of three different people who are most likely lying about their diseases. Things just don’t add up. The devil is in the details, and these devils lack the highlights and lowlights that make their stories plausible. I’m not the only one sitting here puzzling it out; we’re all doing the same math and getting different answers.

Why does it matter?

It matters because we know others who truly are battling illness and disease, and our hearts break for what they’re going through.

It matters because things like this make people care, make people cry, make people hit their knees and beg the high power of their belief system to grant mercy to someone who’s just making up things as they go along.

It matters because it makes people feel impotent, being unable to do something to just fix it, to wish away the disease and everything it brings; it spurs people into getting online and checking every day, two or three or a dozen times, just for good news about the person they care about.

It matters because it’s mean.

Pretending to be John Doe, artist extraordinaire, doesn’t matter; that’s your own fantasy world and as long as you’re not asking people for money or other things, it hurts no one. Pretending to be Jane Doe, cancer victim, is so many kinds of wrong I can’t even begin to count them all.

If you are doing this, or have done this, you suck.

People know, and you suck.


10 January 2015

It's no secret that I have an unnatural and perhaps over-the-top love of Doctor Who. Just sitting here in my office, I can see three TARDISes without really looking. I own t-shirts and Who Monopoly and other assorted Who things. I have a Who tattoo.

So when I was gifted this--

--a leather-bound replica of River Song's journal, I'm frankly surprised I didn't wet myself.  It's solid and substantial, and has the feel of leather that once broken in will be so, so soft.

It also has this:

Pages that look weathered and worn.

I totally less than 3 this...but what am I going to use it for? Seriously. Whatever I write in it has to be worthy of using pages in it. Other journals I've used for scribbling notes about storyline and character traits. I've doodled in them. Tossed them aside once the manuscript was done.

But this...this has to be for something special, and right now I haven't a clue what that will be.


9 January 2015

Ramble, ramble...

I belong to a couple of smallish writers’ and indie publishers’ groups online. I lurk in a few, actively participate in those small ones, and have left behind at least a dozen because of the utter lack of professionalism in them. No, I don’t think it needs to be all business nor overly formal, but if we’re there to discuss and dissect the nuts and bolts of publishing, then let’s do just that and save the personal pokes and jabs for elsewhere.

That doesn’t mean I follow my own credo all the time. I am just as guilty of straying off topic and doing it in a less than professional manner as anyone else.

The Independent Publishers Panel (aka Indy Pub Panel) is coming up again, and in spite of what we all said last year—Disneyland is a bad place to try to be all adult and get work things accomplished—it’s being held in the same venue. Apparently the lesson learned there needs to be reinforced, something no one is really complaining about. But, no, I did not want to deliver the main “panel” at this thing.

I’m not sure talking about my cat writing books and actually making sales is something I could talk about for an hour. I’m not adverse to a hearty 10 minute discussion with a few people, but just me talking to 19 other people? No one really wants that. I doubt I could do it and maintain any sense of professionalism. Especially if given enough mojitos to get me to open my mouth.

And that’s the crux: being professional, even for an event involving people who mostly know each other. I don’t think it matters if the event is small or large, filled with people who know each other well or not; if we’re going to be involved in making indy publishing a established profession, then we need to act like it.

And I might be a little touchy about it, having been the target of a very unprofessional attack on my work this past year. I was not happy to get unsolicited criticism as it is, but it was the complete lack of professionalism in how that criticism was given that made me take a step back. It surprised me that someone putting themselves out there as a professional would engage in what was essentially an expletive-laden and unhelpful pseudo-review.

This indy group has one particular member who is bluntly opinionated and not kind about it. She really does deserve a reality call, and because she has some truly warped ideas about the content of character where people who have tattoos and brightly colored hair are concerned, that reality call could come from me. It might come from me. But I would hope that I, along with everyone else, can maintain some semblance of being an adult at work, and that none of us lose sight of the fact that we are in a growing industry, and if we can’t get a grasp on what it means to be a professional in it, we’re only going to contribute to its potential downfall.

The workday isn’t 24 hours; we can all go be true to our inner 8 year olds at the end of the day. Or by lunchtime, if last year was a predictor (and I suspect it might be.)

The Queen can be dethroned, just not during the conduct of business. And dethroning the Queen does not also mean being an ass about it.

(Although, it would give me a fleeting, very momentary thrill to pop off with Bitch, you might be the Arbiter Queen of Everyone’s Morality, but I’m the freaking Drag King of All, and my crown is a lot bigger and a whole lot more fabulous, so shutity shut up.)

Yeah, no. I wouldn’t ever actually say that because the .75 second thrill would be followed by the angst of having hurt someone’s feelings, and no matter how well deserved, I just don’t want to do that.

But hell yeah, I might think it.

Thinking but not saying…that’s professional, right?

(It's highly likely I won't even see Her Majesty, so...)

And yes, my hair will be pink. That’s totally professional.

Yes it is.


5 January 2015

File this under chit I absolutely don't need but really kinda want:

Not sure where to get it, but I might have to go surfing for it.


2 January 2015

All right, so I want to eat better in 2015. So what did I do today? I left the house after 1 pm without having eaten anything at all, so after mailing a package I swung by McD’s before heading to Starbucks, where I will endeavor to write as many run-on sentences as I can, because…the Influence of Buddah Pest.

It was pretty busy, but this McD’s is fairly efficient, so I didn’t have to wait long for my 6 chicken nuggets and small drink (no I don’t know why I ordered a small when a large is the same size.) I got my tray and say down, and as I bit into the first nugget a teenager with an attitude problem was at the counter, yelling—loudly—at the cashier because she handed him a medium cup instead of a large.

Same price and all that, but he’d ordered a combo meal, and that comes with a medium.

He didn’t care.

He yelled until he turned red, practically spitting as he ramped up, leaning into the counter with his hands flat on it. The cashier took a protective step back, the guy in line behind the kid took a step forward, the manager was running from the restroom, when at the door came a bellow that stopped everyone in their tracks.

Lesson this kid probably learned today? When you live in a small town, your Mom just might go to the same place as you for lunch.

The air crackled with the electricity of her anger, and it went quiet as she barked out his name, followed with a disappointment-laden, icy, loud, How dare you?

Yes, Markus, the rest of us wondered as well, How dare you?

She stomped toward her son, who stood there with his mouth hanging open and eyes turning red with tears he was fighting, and she lit into him.

I am so ashamed. I cannot believe that you would treat anyone like this.

Markus tried to defend himself, but with one swipe of an index finger pointed at him, she went on. I don’t care if she spit in your food. You do not treat anyone like this. You never treat someone without respect.

He managed to nod.

Your apology had better be real.

And it was. He was as apologetic as I have ever seen anyone, but the blow came afterward, when he had said he was really sorry, after she had told him to put his bicycle in the back of her car, and grounded him for two weeks.

You are not the man I thought you were.

Markus’s tears broke free, slipped over his cheeks, and he looked broken. He apologized again and ran out the store. His mother apologized profusely to the cashier and everyone around her before following him out.

By the time I finished my last chicken nugget, people had just begun to talk again, still stunned at the entire display. I got up, shoved my trash into the can and walked out toward my car.

Markus’s mother was parked two slots away; he was slumped in his seat, head leaning against the window, and she was crying her eyes out.

Markus wasn’t the only one broken today.

I truly hope they can heal.


1 January 2015

New year, new me, eat better, excessive more, yadda yadda yadda. 2014 went out with more of a sigh than a bang, which is perfectly fine with me. When the clock tripped over from 11:59 12/31/14 to 12:00 1/1/15, I was sitting in bed, reading with the TV on, listening to Buddah snore from his perch on top of the kitty tower in the corner, and that was exactly what I wanted to be doing.

We've never been big NYE partiers. There were a few memorable ones when we were in North Dakota and then Ohio, but otherwise we pretty much stick to home, even if the Spouse Thingy isn't working. It's quiet and boring, if you're looking in from the outside. But really, I think you want to spend the last moments of the old year with the person you want to spend the last moments of the new year with, and quiet and boring isn't so bad.

After over 3 decades, it's a nice place to be.

And 2014 was pretty good to me. Other than a couple of nuisance head colds and an ill-timed virus, I felt pretty good during the year. I went places; I had a blast at Disneyland--never mind the Indy Pub Panel, we had a good time--and I got on a plane by myself and didn't freak out. I got a book finished and into distribution. I participated in a few charity events and raised a bit of money for them. I reclaimed my want of riding and bought the bike I should have gotten 3 years ago. I got to see my son in a bunch of plays over the summer. I got to see him in the lead of Cuckoo's Nest and own the role.

It was a good year.

I'm not big on making resolutions, but I think 2015 will be the year of moving more and eating better, pretty much what I wanted for 2014 (and kinda did!). Doing and seeing more. No grand proclamations of dropping 100 pounds and tackling a marathon; I just want to do more for myself, go places and see things, even if that just means driving into SF and seeking out the lesser known things to do.

I might get on a plane again. Okay, well I know I will this month, but I won't be alone for that. I just might fly somewhere all by myself again. The Pink Slips are walking in Philadelphia this year and I'd like to be there. I'd like to slam dunk a 3 Day, walk in one without getting sick.

First up for this year is the Donna Virtual Half Marathon. And after that...I'll find new events and new endeavors, and have myself a truly spiffy, wonderful, amazing 2015.


24 December 2014

17 December 2014

Many years ago I received a card in the mail; I can't tell you if it was a birthday card, a Christmas card, or just a random thinking-of-you card. Those details were lost to the aftermath of what was in the card.


Not just a little glitter glued to the cardstock; no, the person who sent me the card filled it with loose glitter, and I assume laughed at the cleverness of it and the mental image of me opening the card and getting glitter all over myself.

The real problem was that I opened my mail while sitting at my desk, and all that glitter spilled onto my not-old-at-all laptop computer. One that at the time we could barley afford, but I was working on the last draft of my first book and had a deadline, and I was going to school at the same time, so a laptop became more of a necessity than a luxury. And back then, they weren't cheap; the equivalent system now would be three hundred tops, but that one cost us $1200. That was a freaking lot back then.

I opened that card, the glitter went everywhere, including the nether regions of that laptop, and it never worked the same.

Within a few weeks, it just sort of stopped.

I was not amused when I opened the card, not amused as I tried to clean the mess up, not amused as I desperately tried to get it out of the computer, not amused as the computer died. Not once was I amused.

Even if the laptop hadn't been right there and taken the brunt of the glitter bomb, I would not have been amused.

It's not funny, people.

I was reminded of this while poking through the Secret Santa subreddit on Reddit, when someone posted a picture of a card they're sending along with the gift; it's clearly labeled on the envelope that the card contains glitter, which is at least something...but still, I would not be a happy recipient.

Don't be the douche who thinks it's funny. It's not. That glitter gets everywhere, sticks to everything, it hard to clean up, and if you have little kids or pets, there's the additional worry that they'll get into it before it can be cleaned up.

It's one of those things that the mental image is funny but the reality is not. So please...don't.