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.


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.”


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.


7 December 2016

Since Thanksgiving...

The second book of The Wick Chronicles hit the shelves in hardback and for the Kindle (and Kindle apps). If you liked The Emperor of San Francisco, you'll really like Ozoo.

Trust me. I wouldn't lie.

The paperback will be out...soonish, I suppose. It'll look identical to the hardback, but will be a couple bucks cheaper.

If you really want cheap, get the Kindle version. I highly recommend it. Why pay more? (though if you find it for free online, that's bootleg and I earn nothing, which makes me grumpy.


The annual Battle for the Fireplace has begun. Every freaking day, whether it's cold or not, Max pesters the snot out of me to turn it on. Half the time (when he wins) he bakes in front of it for five minutes, then hops into his little cubby to cool off, but I don't dare turn it off or risk the wrath of his holiness.

I sit here sweating, because the thermostat is already set to 76 (Spouse Thingy is always cold) but hey, happy cat.

He's 15. For the most part, he gets what he wants.


 Facebook is eating my comments. If you think I post too much as it is, it's worse, and FB is deleting them randomly. It's bad enough when comments made on other peoples' posts go missing, but they're disappearing from my own. I have important chit to say, people! There are quizzes to take! How else will I know that I'm a genius when it comes to made up literature, and how else will people know what I think about the fact that their 8th cousin 6 times removed got a tattoo of feathers blowing in the wind?


18 Days until the Doctor Who Christmas Special.


And some of you are surely upset because people are telling you Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas, in spite of the fact that there are, like, 25 religious holidays this month. But no one seems upset that not a single person has ever wished me a Happy Whovimas. LIKE IT DOESN'T COUNT.

Am I offended? Not really. I'm not offended by being wished Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukah, Joyous Kwanzaa, or anything else. If you do get upset, it's probably time to check your sense of privilege. And your assholery. Because if it really bothers you that some people don't automatically wish you a Merry Christmas, or they have something other than a Christmas might be an asshole.

Embrace the spirit of the season, peoples, not the letter of your own religious law.


Max's annual Toys For Tots run will be done this week; if not today, then tomorrow. The goal: fill the back of the CX-5.

And if you need another reason to pick up a copy of his books, that could be it. His royalties are truly used for charity and not his nip habit. The toy run every year is the Main Event, the one we have the most fun with.

Now, I'll be honest...if he ever hits it really big, we may ask him for a few bucks to pay off the house, but for now, he makes the charitable donations throughout the year.

And that's why he gets the fireplace when he wants.

Good kitty.


24 November 2016

Thanksgiving Day so far....

6:30 a.m. Max is at the bedroom door, yakking his damn furry head off. 

Me: It's not time to eat.
Max: Food o'clock is almost here.
Me: You had a snack at three this morning. You are not hungry.
Max: Yes I am.
Me: It's not possible.
Me: You're waiting until after seven.
Max: I hate you. You're not my real mom.
Me: Yeah, well, I have the thumbs. Go away.

Every 30 seconds: meow, meow, meow

7 a.m.

Me: Fine, you little shit.
Max: (following me down the hall) You know, I could trade you in on a better model.
Me: Shuddup.
Me: You know, there's dry food.
Max: To quote Wick, dry food is for peasants.

I get out plates, I open a can, scoop out half for Buddah, half for Max. Buddah starts scarfing it down. Max looks at it like, WTF?

Max: I'm not eating this.
Me: You said you were starving. You like this flavor.
Max: Yeah, but it's not what I wanted.
Me: It's got shrimp in it. Your favorite.
Max: I want something else.
Me: Three days ago you ate this like it was your last meal.
Max: I want something else.

I cave, I open a can of roast beef.

Max: There you go. Making yourself useful.
Me: Just eat it.

5 minutes later:

Max: You performed adequately.
Me: Go find something to do that doesn't involve me.
Max: Fine, but we'll be repeating this performance at two o'clock.
Me: You don't eat again until five.
Max: You'd like to believe that, wouldn't you? See you at two.



21 November 2016

I have this on a sweatshirt, but I can't find it and I kind of want it again. It would be spiffy to wear on the days when I hog a table at Starbucks, which lately has been most days.

There was a star dash this week: 8 purchases netted 150 stars. I netted 150 stars. And I discovered how awesome it is to order on the app while I'm sitting there working. All I have to do is listen for my line waiting. The downside...I have spent a lot of money at Starbucks this month, and discovered I realllllly like the hot chocolate with extra mocha.

But, the end result, I won NaNoWriMo already, and the second book in the Wick Chronicles is formatted and awaiting a proof copy. If it doesn't get held up because of the holidays--they tend to actually look at the files before printing them--I should have a proof in hand in about 10 days.

Now, I could make the Kindle version available for sale this week...but that usually comes out with the book release.


So tempting.

And I need to go find that sweatshirt online again and buy it...


11 November 2016

I almost have no words...

(shared with permission)
This was bad enough; I spent some time on FB last night talking to Charlie, less about the election and more about the fallout, and the biggest issue for them is their youngest son. He's going to school overseas--a move made because he was being endlessly bullied for who he is, and he just wanted to go back to the place where he felt most safe--and he's telling them now that he doesn't think he'll ever come back.

"He's 17, bisexual, a bit on the flamboyant side, and has been a target since he was a little boy. When we took the kids to England a few years back, he relaxed. He was treated fairly, and no one cared that he was this unique, multi-racial kid with a penchant for blue hair and ballet. Within days of returning home, however, the bullying began again. He wanted to go back, to live with Erin, and finish school there. Instead, we went with him and have just been going back and forth, and my dad is staying home to be there for Alex and Rachel.

"We always thought that once he was through school, and grown, he would be comfortable coming home, but the morning after the election, he was on the phone with us, literally crying. He doesn't think he will ever come back, and as of right now, we're inclined to let him make this decision and support it any way we can."
 I floated around online a lot last night, and kept seeing similar messages: people are truly afraid. I have gay friends who are now terrified that their newly-won right to marry will be taken away. Friends who worry that they'll be deported--even if they're here legally--and one person who is legitimately afraid that if he's deported, he'll wind up beheaded, because of who he is.

As of last night, it was just fear. I read post after post of people who are deeply afraid.

But then this morning...

I was supposed to meet Jacob next week during an investment conference in San Francisco. That it's postponed, fine, in the grand scheme of things it's a ripple in a very big pond. If it had been postponed because of the holidays or a mood swing, or the weather didn't suit all of the participants just right, it would be fine. It's not a life or death thing.

But this...the reason it has to be postponed.

His fourteen year old son didn't feel safe enough to keep living in this country.

My heart is broken for someone I've never met. My heart is broken for every single person who feels this afraid right now.

For years the mantra has been "It gets better." It's what we tell the kids who are suffering because they have to live in a world where they're treated like crap just for existing. It gets better; when you're older people will change and accept you. It gets better because you have more control over the people surrounding you. It gets better because you have choices in life that will take you away from the hate and the bullying.

Right now, there are a significant number of people who don't think it will get better. They're positive that it will now get worse.

I have no answers.

My heart hurts, and I have no answers.


10 November 2016

Nearly half the eligible voters in the U.S. did not vote on Tuesday. 46.6% of the adult population of the United States failed to cast a vote in one of the most contentious Presidential elections...ever.

It's not a judgment.

I don't know why so many people didn't vote. I can't even say they didn't go to the polls; there were issues with names being removed from the rolls a couple of months ago, and for all I know some of these voters were caught up in that. People were discussing online having waited in line with other voters who clutched their IDs, believing they needed them to vote (in CA, you do not) which leads me to think that some people stayed home for lack of identification. There could be a million different reasons why some either chose to not vote or could not vote; it's not up to me to judge them for it, not knowing the reasons.

But still...we had an election in which only one-quarter of the country elected the victor.

I've maintained for years that it's time to do away with the electoral college. The President-Elect himself thinks the electoral college is a disaster. This is the 5th time that the victor was, technically, the loser.

The archaic system needs to change. A government of the people and by the people needs to be chosen by all the people. What was a necessary part of the process--to be a Republic--is no longer needed. It really isn't.

And for the record, no, I didn't vote for Trump. I don't think he's qualified. But he is going to be the President, and I'm not going to start wailing about how horrific it will be and how we're all doomed. We don't know that yet. We know the things he said while campaigning, and we know the things he's done, but I think it's too soon to melt down over it.

And no, I also did not and will not start dumping friends who did vote for him. I'm watching this happen right and left on Facebook, and can't help but wonder why. Yes, you now have an insight into something you don't like or understand about someone you care about. That's life. People are different. People will cast a vote to someone they don't agree with on many fundamental levels, just to enact some change.

If you voted for him, I don't get it, but that's it. I just don't get it. I'm not holding your feet to the fire for it.

But the memes? OMG stop with all the political memes. Both sides. I might not judge you for whom you voted but I'm sure as hell judging you on the massive number of memes you post.

Let's go back to cat memes.

And let's try to be kind to one another. We're all in it together, whether we sit on the right or sit on the left or sit right on that middle line. Mourn and grieve for the horrible things that have been said and done and for the outcome if it was not what you wanted, kind. We're gonna need that.


31 October 2016
I went back and forth on whether to do NaNo this year (it starts tomorrow!)...I know I can do 50,000 words in a month; if you add up all the things I work on, I easily do 3 times that on an average month. It feels a little bit like cheating, when the purpose is to create a daily writing habit that I already have.

But...I'm doing it anyway, and using it to make myself sit my ass down and get the vomit draft of the third book in the Wick Chronicles done. This time of year it's too easy to get distracted, and it's too easy to make excuses--holiday shopping, and I have the second book to finish revisions on, which need to be done soon else the Wicked Witch of the East sets me on fire right before Thanksgiving--so having a goal of earning that shiny PDF certificate might be enough to keep me working.

I'll be writing around work yet to be done on final draft revisions for Ozoo (working title, though it seems to be sticking), so the Spouse Thingy has been warned: he's going to get a lot of shop time in November, because I'll have my face glues to notebooks and computers. This disappoints him greatly, as I'm sure you can imagine...being forced to go play in his workshop where he gets to create pens and bottle openers and clocks. I'm a cruel taskmaster.

Starbucks may need to give me my own table. I know I'll be spending a lot more time (and $) there.

A few days ago, I had a discussion online with a couple of people who want to give it a try, but are overwhelmed by the idea. Fifty thousand words seems like a lot. Writing an entire novel in a months seems like a lot. How can anyone even do it?

Here's the thing: 50,000 words does not a novel make. If you stop at 50K, you've got a novella (which is a lovely thing to write, and if you can do it, more power to you. I'm far too verbose) and even then, you're really not done. At the end of the month, whether you have 50,000 or 60,000 or 100,000+ words, what you have is, at best, the first draft. What I'll end up with is a vomit draft--called so because I pretty much vomit the words out and don't go back and edit anything. I just write. I write until I'm done, and then I go back and eviscerate the whole thing.

That's what you want to do for NaNoWriMo: write without editing. Let the story pour out, see where it goes, and while you're at it, create the habit of sitting down for a couple of hours a day and writing.

It's under 1700 words a day.

You really can do it.

No, you won't have a publishable manuscript, and that's just fine (and if you do, I bow to you.) But you will have written a book, and it will be a giant piece of YOU, and it's awesome (and scary and nerve-wracking and amazing.) It's also just flat out fun.

Don't let the nay-sayers--and there are those who look down their thin, long, pointy noses at the entire concept--push you away from it.

There's a book inside you.

Let it out.


21 October 2016

My insomnia is no secret; it's not unusual to find me posting on Facebook at three in the morning, usually something whining about not sleeping, because I'm original like that. I make an effort to get to bed at a normal people time, so that I can get up at a normal people time, but there's a huge obstacle in my way.

Its name is Max.

Max has no problem ignoring my existence throughout most of the day. He wants me for breakfast, a 10 a.m. snack, dinner, TV-watching lap time around 8 p.m., snack, and then I no longer exist for him again.

Unless I'm asleep.

When I'm asleep, Max becomes social. When I'm asleep, Max has 3,298 things he desperately needs to discuss. Now, I sit in bed and read for a bit before shutting everything down for the night, and he could come in and sit on the bed with me and talk his damned fool head off if he wanted to, but this is not when he feels pressed to be anywhere near me.

When he was only waking me once a night, I could deal with it. When he was waking me twice, I put up with it. But we reached the point where he was waking me more than once an hour, often 2-3 times, apparently for no reason other than he could. It wasn't even that he needed anything; he just wanted me to be awake.

I felt like crap most of the time, cranky and nauseated, because I was getting no uninterrupted sleep. So I did what I hated doing: I started closing the bedroom door at night, locking him out.

He didn't seem to notice at first. I listened, waiting for him to howl indignantly, but he was quiet. The only time I heard him in the hallway, meowing, was at breakfast time, and I could deal with that.

I finally started getting some sleep, rarely interrupted. The number of times I found myself on Facebook in the middle of the night dwindled to a rare few. I no longer felt like I wanted to punch every other person I passed during the day.

All through July, then August, I was able to sleep like a normal person.

In September, I heard him call out a few times, but nothing that worried me--he didn't actually need anything--or bothered me. If he was meowing by the door when I was sleeping, I didn't hear it.

Then he learned a new trick.

Max figured out how to knock on the door.

I have no idea how it occurred to him to even try--I mean, his ability to flip on light switches, I get, he sees us do it all the time, and when we do, light appears--but if he has an urgent need to wake me up, he knocks. And then hollers. And knocks again.

Knock, knock, knock. Meow. Knock knock, knock. Land shark. Knock, knock, knock.

The door is staying closed, because even so, I'm sleeping a little more than I was before, but he's back to waking me up.

And a lot of nights, I am truly grateful that Buddah is about as bright as a brick, otherwise...I'd probably be dead by now.


19 October 2016

The Spouse Thingy and I have been training for the 3 Day for a while now, and have had some fairly decent mileage days. The expectation has been that in this last month we would really ramp it up and get those 18/15 mile back-to-back walks in and test out just how delicate our feet are.

But then two days ago I got a message from my editor, one that effectively means we aren't walking this year after all (but hang on, there's more!)

The Wicked Witch of the East will be in San Francisco the weekend of the 3 Day along with her son, who is in the early-ish stages of founding a new publishing house, and will be meeting with a venture capitalist...and me. This is kind of a big deal, putting me right there at the door on opening day, one of the first writers they want to sign, and they want a face-to-face in November.

In the pro/con listing, the pros definitely outweigh the cons. I have the prospect of better distribution, better marketing, better graphics, better everything. I don't have to give up my own imprints. On the con side...I have to be a grownup.

This counts as business casual, right?
But for right now, the big thing is that this meeting conflicts with going to San Diego for the 3 Day.


There's always a but...

They're allowing us to defer to next year, all the fundraising included. Anything you donated will still count toward us walking next year, but there will also be some prizes next year because the Spouse Thingy is still a little bit short.

So we're not going to San Diego. But we will still walk, but it will be in NorCal instead of SoCal, and it will be on our own instead of with the hundreds of other pink people. You're still getting the sweat equity from us.

We'll probably start walking the day after the meeting, because by then I am going to be horking up my toenails from nerves, but I should be good to go about 10 minutes after we're done.

My tummy already hurts.

In the meantime...DKM has to take me shopping for grownup clothes, so I can at least fake my way through looking the part.


17 October 2016

If you follow me on Facebook, you may recall that 10 days ago I was pondering the possible location of a manuscript I wrote 35 years ago. I knew I’d seen it at some point in the last couple of years, but couldn’t remember exactly where. When I wrote it, there were no personal computers or word processors; it was done on an old typewriter—not even electric—and the only copy of it existed on yellowing paper in fading ink.

I don’t know why I never typed it into Word and saved it as a digital file. I just didn’t. But I tend to keep everything I write, so I knew it was somewhere around here. I planned on digging through every box in the garage, every closet, and then a second time if needed…but then I ate something that did not agree with me, and I lost 5 days of searching.

But the night before last I was in the spare room—which is basically a closet, the walls lined with tall IKEA wardrobes—and spotted a plastic crate on top of one of the wardrobes that looked as if it might have old papers in it. Yesterday, since I felt better, I dragged a ladder inside, pulled the crate down, and then the sky opened up, pouring down sunshine and rainbows and puffy pink clouds made of candy.

It was there, buried under an assortment of old paperback books, and another, more recent manuscript.

I rushed to announce the discovery on Facebook—hurray!—and then sat down and began to read this decades-old fantasy novel, because surely I can now take that first draft and turn it into something good and worthy of other peoples’ time. I remembered bits and pieces of the storyline, which is why I wanted to find it; the concept was good, and it could be woven into the book I’m currently working on (The Wick Chronicles, Book Three, for those keeping score.)

The opening was a little shaky, but that’s all right. It was redeemable.

Then I kept reading. This serious book, a tale of salvation in the midst of war, made me howl with laughter. The story that has simmered somewhere in my brain since I was a teenager, one that I pounded out on a 30-year-old typewriter while sitting at the kitchen table in our first apartment in Provo, Utah, is so unbelievably bad, so horrifically plotted out, that I couldn’t help myself. Amid several dozen WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING moments there was a plethora of snickering at my own ineptitude and clumsy attempts at sounding oh-so-clever.

I’d forgotten so much of the story that reading it—in spite of the horror of how bad it really is—kept me turning the pages to see what happened next. Yes, the narrative sucked and the words I used were clumsy and poorly chosen, but I needed to know. How the hell did I resolve this mess?

It's not a long story; novella length, an easy 2 hour read. So I stayed in my chair with the pages perched on my lap, and read all the way through.

Right up to the point where I realized the last chapter, the final battle and story resolution, is missing.

I have no idea how this mess ended.

My laughter turned to a touch of upset; not because it needs to be finished, but because I really want to know how the hell I took a teenaged boy from his life as a cobbler’s son to defeating an army of highly trained warriors serving at the whimsy of a Dark Wizard…all in under 150 double spaced pages.

The story is there, though. It will serve as threads that I can wind through my work-in-progress, and another ending can be written, but damn…I really want to know how this clusterfrak of a book ended.


7 October 2016

♦ I have been awake since 6:20 this morning and I can't even blame Max. What I can blame is a freaky assed dream in which I was dying. I don't know from what, but I was at death's door, and the Spouse Thingy wanted me to get out of bed to make a pot roast while he went out to get milkshakes.

♦ This would be funny, if not for the fact that three people I care about have died in the last week and a half.

♦ And that better have been a damned good milkshake, Spouse Thingy.

♦ Today is day one of the Atlanta 3 Day, and a bunch of my favorite people are there, either walking or crewing. I freaking loved Atlanta (and it's where I met most of them!) and would like to walk it again someday. Hell, I'd like to just visit it again someday.

♦ While they spend the weekend sweating, I'm spending it...well, sweating some because I have training to do...working. Book #2 of The Wick Chronicles needs one more pass, and then it goes to the editor. Maybe she can think of a good title.

NaNoWriMo is coming up. 50,000 words in 30 days. I know it has a lot of critics, but I am not one of them. It's a terrific writing exercise and in that 30 days you can certainly get the bones of a story out of your head. I'm tempted to sign up again and use the time to build the foundation for the third book in the Wick series, even though I'll lose a week while we're in San Diego for the 3 Day. Losing a week puts the word count at around 2200 a day, and I can do that.

♦ So, we'll see. I already have notes on paper and a story in my head, so it's doable.

♦ Son of a bitch, now I want a milkshake.

♦ And pizza.

♦ It takes about 8-10 miles of walking to burn off pizza. But it might be worth it.

♦ It's now 9:20, and I kinda want to go back to bed...


17 September 2016

...and the winner of the 13" HP Laptop is


I'll contact you in a few minutes to double check your mailing address and maybe then you can tell me what your last name is?

Might be helpful in shipping.

Thanks to everyone for donating and playing for the prizes!


16 September 2016

Ok, I know I was supposed to post the winner of the laptop yesterday...but I am dog sitting, and the list of names and numbers is sitting on my desk at home.

I'll be home tomorrow, so come back tomorrow night...the number will be drawn and posted then.

Thanks :)


5 September 2016

♦ Holy hell, where did the rest of August go? For that matter, how is it already September when just a few days ago it was, like, March?

♦ I turned 55 last month. I'm surprised I didn't mention that. If y'all remember, I was pretty sure I would die at 50. Getting halfway to 60 is a weird little thrill.

♦ In the last month I have literally written an entire novel. It's the Vomit Draft and it totally sucks, but I crammed out 110,000 words and I like the story.

♦ Vomit Draft = writing without editing of any sort. It's just...sit your asterisk down and write, and let the story come out. Right now it's a lot of stage direction and dialog (which is why it sucks) but that's what the next couple of drafts are for.

♦ Remember all the swimming I was doing? I have not been doing it for several months because of my shoulder. I thought I had just over done it--I was up to 2500-3500 meters 3-4 times a week--and took a break to let the shoulder rest. But it never got better, so I finally sucked it up and went to the doc.

♦ Tomorrow I start PT for rotator cuff issues, and I am not looking forward to it at all. It's gonna suck. But it might suck a little less than it would have 3 weeks ago, before the doc started me on a good NSAID; still hurts but maybe not as much.

♦ All I want is to be able to get back into the pool. Just a few months out and I've gained back most of the weight I'd lost, and am really flabby. I don't get nearly the same results from walking.

♦ Speaking of we get into the higher mileage days, we start thinking about walking in San Francisco. Last week we did 7.25 just walking along the Embarcadero and part of downtown. I don't think I'll ever get tired of that. Not sure where this week's long walk will be, but we probably need to kick it up a notch and do 10.

I did not buy this hat while we were at Pier 39
My shirt matched the flowers, though...
♦ I really need to win the lottery so we can just retire and buy a place in SF. I would freaking love to live there.

♦ All right, back to work. I have a narrative to fix.


18 August 2016

Just posted this to Facebook:

So...I needed to redraw a number for that I did...and this is the number that spit out:

Congrats to Michelle Calvo.

I'll message you on FB, see if you want it mailed or delivered.

Or I might hold it hostage, I dunno.

Maybe trade it for some strawberries at the Cheesecake Factory.

I can do that... right???

In other news...Max's first work of fiction, THE EMPEROR OF SAN FRANCISCO. is now out.He posted this on his FB author page:

Don't try to click those's an image...

So far, the people who have read it (and it just popped up on Amazon for the Kindle last night, 3) have really enjoyed it. Max has active links to each edition on his blog...but to get to the Kindle version, just [CLICK HERE.]

We're ordering some paperback and hardback copies, so if you think you'll want a pawtographed copy, stay tuned... we should have them in about 2 weeks.


15 August 2016

Thar be winners!

Of the Samsung Galaxy Tab E

#382... Katie Kirwan

Of the Dell 11" Laptop

#516...Honkers McBonkers (yeah LOL I'm gonna need your real name.)

I'll contact the winners tonight to double check shipping addresses, and will get them in the mail probably on Wednesday, since I won't be home until tomorrow night.

Next drawing is on September 15th for a 13" HP Laptop.

Bonus: if the Spouse Thingy hits his minimum ($2300) before or on that date, there will be an additional drawing for a $500 Amazon gift card.

Every $5 donated is a shot, and your donations are tax deductible. He's halfway there!


11 August 2016

Oddz N Endz #7,312,554 v.28

♦ Max's book was uploaded to the printer and distributor at the end of July; normally I have a hard proof copy in hand within a week, and then it's on sale within days of approving the proof. This time, I have no idea what the problem is, but I not only have not seen a hard proof, I haven't even gotten an electronic proof. The book is's DONE...but it's hung up in the ether somewhere.

♦ Even so, we're powering on with the followup book. I'm starting to think the vomit draft will be done before the first book is available.

♦ Yes, there's a vomit draft. It's pretty much all stage direction and dialog at this point, and the actual "first" draft will come after. The vomit draft is the one where I just write without editing, pretty much barfing out words onto virtual paper. I'm having a lot of fun with this, but it's really, really, really bad at this point.

♦ The Spouse Thingy and I are still training and we're both picking up steam. We did 6 miles today and it was easy; not too long ago, he wasn't sure he could do six. Since he did not die, he's aware he can walk long distances.

♦ He's still $1,180 from being able to walk...and we're drawing the winner of the Samsung Galaxy Tab E and the winner of the Dell 11" laptop on Monday, August 15th. There's still time to have a shot at both prizes. Every $5 you donate gets you a shot. (I've hit minimum, so let's worry about him first.)
If he hits the magic number, $2300, on or before Sept 15th, there will be a drawing for a $500 Amazon gift card from those people who already donated.

♦ Still reading? Good for you. There's more.

♦ Many, many years ago, the Spouse Thingy and I moved to Utah, because that's where BYU lives. I had a little studio apartment, he rented a bedroom in a converted basement, and we were good little Mormons.

♦ Sort of.

♦ Use your imagination.

♦ Now, when you're a student at BYU, you sign an agreement, and part of that agreement is to not live in sin. Hell, you can't (or couldn't, I don't know about now) even live in an apartment building where there were students of the opposite gender. Apartment complexes in Provo tended to have more than one building: one for male students, one for female, and only the really desperate or brave visited the other alone.

♦ parents were in Okinawa. They were coming back the next summer, and we were planning on getting married then, but in the planning stages it became really clear that I was not getting any parental support or encouragement. My dad in particular was certain that we were going to crash and burn within a year. So no, we weren't getting any help in planning, and they were leaving the Sacramento area soon after returning from Okinawa. Before our intended wedding date.

♦ We were stubborn, and still planned on it...but in the meantime, we were very young, and had a whole lot of hormones, and no desire to get caught and then kicked out of BYU.

♦ So, six months before we were getting married...we got married. The intention was to do it all again when and if my parents stopped being asses about it, so we told no one.

♦ My dad never came around. So we had a "private" thing in Utah, alone, and adopted that as our official wedding date, and still did not tell. Well, not until the Boy was 7 or 8 years old. We told him, mostly because he could keep a secret, and we wanted to illustrate to him that we would support his adult decisions because we didn't want him to ever make a decision like that. And to this day we hold to that: whenever and however he and his fiancee decide to marry, we're fine with it. Elope or not. Hell, live together forever or not. It's their choice, their lives.

♦ Anyway. The one year mark my dad was sure about came and went. Again and again and again. He was glad to be wrong, but he never knew the truth...that annual you-be-wrong date happened six months earlier than he knew of.

♦ My parents never knew. And to be honest, if they were still alive, it would still be a secret.

♦ And yes, the Spouse Thingy told his mom before I made this public. We were pretty sure she wouldn't be as thoroughly ticked off as my parents would have been, because she's awesome like that. He told her this week, and since he didn't come home with his hair having been set on fire, I'm assuming it was all right.

♦ So. One of the reasons we're coming clean...this December we'll celebrate our 35th anniversary. It's a major enough milestone that I didn't want to NOT celebrate it openly.

♦ Thirty-five years, people. That's longer than a lot of you have been alive.

♦ Take my advice: don't carry a secret this long.

♦ your kids. They know their hearts, and if you did your job, you know you can trust them. Kids...own your own lives.


♦ Now...we have to figure out HOW we want to celebrate....

♦ That's all. That's enough, eh...?


3 August 2016

So we're training. It's kind of what one must do before tackling a 60 mile walk, though I know a few who just show up for the event and walk it all without having tackled a single training mile, and they do just fine.

These people are clearly inhuman and much be stopped.

Yesterday we did an easy 5 miles and today was supposed to be 8 miles, but we got a late start and by the time we were headed out it was 72 and climbing fast. We then thought about cutting it to 6 miles, but at 4.5 the heat--only 85 at that point--was getting to me, so we went home and decided to go to Costco and walk around the giant building in the a/c.

In theory, this is a good idea.

In the time we got there we were both so hungry that if there had been a lot of free samples, we would have eaten them all.

So now it's almost 5 p.m. and we're 6.3 for the day...and if it cools down any tonight we might get those last 2.7. It could even be 90, because 90 with no sun doesn't feel half as bad a 85 with.

Kinda hoping we do, because I really don't want to get too far off schedule and I need to beat my feet the frak up before we start getting into the 10 mile range...which is next week.

I see a day trip to San Francisco next week...20-25 degrees cooler, nicer views. Well, to be fair, our original plans for today had us going to SF, but we were convinced otherwise last night by a couple of redditors who mentioned a few planned protests. So next week.

But we are training...only 16 weeks until the walk.


21 July 2016

Something I'd forgotten about when training for a long walk...once you start to ratchet up your distance, getting over 5 miles, for a while you're hungry. I mean, you're hungry. You want to eat things as big as your head, and then an hour later, you want to do it again.

I had the same issue when I started swimming; for the first 2 weeks, all I wanted to do was eat.

Now, the first time I trained for this, IIRC, that kind of hunger didn't hit until I was walking over 8-10 miles. And then, it made sense; I'd burned 1000 calories, I was going to want to eat.

Today I did 4 easy miles (and I still have a hard time believing 4-6 miles is easy now, given how hard it was a few years ago) and would have done a couple more if not for the heat (which wasn't even 80 degrees...I am not adjusted to summer yet.) I stopped at Starbucks halfway for some iced tea, thinking that I would head for a place where I knew there was a restroom, because...tea...but wound up at home instead because I are a wimp.

An hour later, I wanted to eat everything in sight. I still do. I've restrained myself, but there's a gallon of ice cream in the freezer, and I've heard it calling my name since I got home.

This does not bode well for me. By the time I hit 10 miles, I'm going to be eating things the size of small children. If it keeps up, by the time the 3 Day rolls around I will have gained 75 pounds.

Really hoping next week to get into San Francisco again, but this time we'll park near Pier 39 and walk toward the Golden Gate Bridge. We can get 8 miles in without worrying about heat, and then the Spouse Thingy can have fresh seafood, and I will have popcorn or a pretzel, because, ew, seafood.

Really glad the doc said I could walk this year. I've missed this.


19 July 2016

There are 122 days until the San Diego 2016 3 Day; our high mileage days should have us doing 7 miles one day and 6 the next, so we're right on track. By the week after next, we need to hit 8/6, which seems easy enough...we might push for that next week, picking a day to go to San Francisco to walk between Pier 39 and the Golden Gate Bridge, which beats the heck out of walking around Dixon all the time.

Remember this? LOL
I love this little town, but it's about 5 square miles of flat sameness, and after a while it's kind of mind numbing. The bonus of training with the Spouse Thingy this time is that I'm not trying to wedge my long walks in on days he's working or sleeping--which would put me walking alone on weekend days around town--but we're going out and getting the walks in while we do other things. Last week we went to SF for a few hours just to walk around downtown; it's a slower pace because of all the people-dodging, but face it, we'll be people-dodging in San Diego, too. far no blisters. Anyone who was around for my first walk might remember the fun I had with those, pretty much right from the start.

Now...I'm at my goal, my fundraising is essentially done. The Spouse Thingy still needs to raise $1560, so if you're of a mind to donate, please donate to his walk. There are still prizes to be had--on August 1st someone will win a Samsung Galaxy Tab E tablet, and someone will win an 11" Dell laptop computer.

After that, the next drawing will be on September 15th, for a 13" Dell laptop. And if the Spouse Thingy makes it to $2300 by that date, a very generous donor who has already provided the spendy prizes is offering one more, a $500 Amazon gift card.

And as always...I can be bought. For the right donation to the Spouse Thingy, I will do things. Embarrassing things. Legal, but embarrassing.

Now, off to look at Google Maps, to decide where I want to walk tomorrow...


14 July 2016

For reals. I don't play, I don't get it, and Pokemon in general was one of those things that flew right by me when it first started, but cripes...I've been unhappily surprised at the volume of posts I'm seeing online making fun of other people for going outside and having a good time.
It feels a lot like people whining YOU'RE NOT HAVING FUN THE RIGHT WAY. 

I did see one post last night, someone who was quite happy that their kid walked a total of 5 miles yesterday. He and his friends had so much fun, they're going to do it again. They met up at a local park and found half a dozen other kids doing the same thing, and had a ton of fun hanging out and getting to know each other. 
And yet...the same people who I've seen complaining about how our kids all sit inside in front of TVs and computers are now making fun of them for going outside and doing something.

No, they don't play the way we did when we were kids. We didn't play the same way our parents did. Our grandkids won't play the same way our kids do.
That's not a bad thing.
And yes, there are some very inattentive player walking into parked cars and trees, and the company that made the app has some work to do on placement, but overall? I tend to be in favor of anything that gets kids (and adults, be honest) excited and moving.



8 July 2016

From the Discussions With Friends and Acquaintances Files
"I'm tired of all of it right now. What gets me is that I've had a hard life, too. Minimum wage jobs. Food stamps. I was homeless for 3 years. I drove a shit car and I got pulled over a couple times a month for fix-it tickets. I struggled for half my adult life. Why is my hard life less important just because I'm white?"
It's not less important. Yes, everyone suffers at some point in their life. Statistically (the last time I checked, but it's been a while), there are more white people than black people on welfare. I wandered around San Francisco a bit this week, and the obvious homeless I saw were overwhelmingly white.

But here's the thing.

You and I?

Our struggles will never be because we are white.

It really is that simple. Everyone will experience hard times. Everyone struggles. Everyone has a moment in their life when they hit their knees because it doesn't seem like they can take one more thing going wrong. But you and I will never face those struggles with the reason being the color of our skin.

I will never be pulled over for driving while white.
I will never be tracked around a store because I am white.
I will never have to fear for my life when engaging someone in authority because I am white. 
"All lives matter, plain and simple."
Well yeah, all lives matter. But the truth is that right now, we all just seem to accept that white lives matter, and the divide is becoming so strong that a whole lot of people are rightly standing up to remind us all that black lives matter, too.

It sucks that we need reminding.

It's shameful that the message has to be shouted to be heard.

It's horrible that we didn't move past this need decades ago.

But here we are.

24 June 2016

This guy.

He is why my office is set up the way that it is. There's the TARDIS, tall bookshelf, less tall bookshelf, and his tree, so that he has access to the top of the TARDIS, which is his favorite place to hang out.

He also likes the top of that bookcase.


At some point, he dragged a nip banana to the top of the TARDIS, and goes up there just about every day to get high. I don't mind this, it keeps him out of my hair.

But this...

...this is how the tops of the bookcases look all the freaking time now. I tell him to clean his mess up, but does he listen?

Damn cat.

Don't get me started on the footprints all over my desk...


15 June 2016

...and the winner is...

Of the Kodak Digital Camera


Jerri Hodges

Of the Roku Stick


Deborah Zemek

Of the Kindle Fire 6


Susie McGavin


I'll double check to make sure I have your addresses, and if I do they'll go out no later than Friday. If I don't, I'll be emailing to get it.

The next drawing will be on August 1st, and the prizes up for grabs are a Samsung Galaxy Tab E, and a Dell 11" laptop.


5 June 2016

In 10 days, someone is going to win a 14 MP Kodak digital camera. And someone is going to win a Roju stick. And someone is going to win a Kindle Fire 6.

All it takes to have a chance is to donate to my upcoming SGK 3 Day Walk; every $5 gets you an entry, and donating now still keeps you in the running for prizes the rest of summer (and there are 2 laptops coming up!)

Once my walk is fully funded (I'm only $600 from it) then I'll remove links to my walk and put the Spouse Thingy's in instead (and if you prefer, go ahead and donate to him! It still counts towards the drawings!)

And again, if we both reach our minimum goals by the end of September, one of my generous friends is springing for a pretty spiffy prize (yet to be determined, but we're pretty sure it will be of the 4K variety.)

Training in earnest will begin soon..we're kinda waiting for the Spouse Thingy to recover from surgery, but a couple weeks from now we'll head out on our first training walk...there's lots of time to get ready for this, and maybe this will be the year with no blisters!


I can dream.


30 May 2016

Here's an idea: how about we don't judge someone else because their kid got away from them? It happens to even the best of parents; you turn away for 3 seconds, and the kid is gone. And yes, I realize you're all perfect and you special little snowflake would never get away from you. But those parents who have runners, you get it. You can have one moment of being human, and off the kid goes. It happens, and it happens to most parents. Generally you're lucky and catch them quickly, but go spend an hour in Disneyland and see how often kids take off. Hell, go to your public park on a busy day. Or the mall.

It happens.

And here's another idea: how about we don't judge a zoo for placing a human life above an animal, based on the little bit of video they could show on the news? The full video is online, and if you watch it you'll have a clearer understanding of the scope of what was happening. The gorilla was not going to protect that child; as a male, when presented with a child that was not his own offspring, he would have killed that boy.

Yes, other gorillas have cared for human children under similar circumstances...and those gorillas were female. Big difference.

Yes, it sucks that they killed the gorilla. But the truth is that if they had not, that little boy would be dead. Tranquilizers would not have worked fast enough and in his already agitated state would have further enraged him. Would you really have preferred a blood bath? A dead little boy over a dead animal?

There was no winning in this.

But now those parents are facing unbearable public scrutiny and are getting death threats. And unless you were right there, you don't really know what happened or how the kid got away from them. Your knee jerk reaction is not helping anything. The posting of memes proclaiming the gorilla to keeping a better eye on the kid than the parents is, frankly, mean.

If you have're not a perfect parent. None of us are. None of us can be. We all leave scars on our kids, no matter how hard we try not to.

What we can be is compassionate, and try to understand that these parents and that little boy are scarred for life, and now because of public reaction are probably terrified for their lives.

Do you really want to pile onto that? Be that kind of person?

It sucks all the way around, but no one deserves the hell these parents are getting online, no one deserves the death threats, and to contribute to the pain they will be weighed down with for the rest of their lives--they're never getting over this, you know that--is terribly unkind.


28 May 2016

Three years ago today, my mom died.

Three years ago tomorrow is my parents wedding anniversary; it would have been 67 years.

Like the last year, when a normal person might feel the sting of mourning slap them in the face, I feel more grateful than anything. Religious convictions aside (and I am not dripping with religion, since I think it's one of those things best left 99% private 99% of the time) I do think there's something after this life, and knowing what tomorrow is...I'm just glad my parents are together.

So no, I haven't been sitting here dwelling on it, other than to note the date...but I did note it. And I hope they're having one hell of a good time together.


25 May 2016

The first draft of this book--including roughly 10 passes through it to make additions and subtractions and to hunt adverbs--is done. The file is off to my editor and a copy has been printed out for the Spouse Thingy to proofread (and yes, Charlie, I will send you one to proofread, too.)

I am nauseated.

Unless you count a manuscript I wrote in high school--and I don't, though I may rewrite that one someday--this is my first venture into young adult fiction, doubled by it also being light science fiction. Add to it the pressure of this being Max's book (and he sat on the back of my chair, thumping his thinks into my head using his tail during a large chunk of the writing) and I'm about 13 kinds of nervous.

I'm also about 13 kinds of excited so while the editor tears it apart (and she surely will; I left a lot of stage-direction type things in the narrative for...reasons...and it's dialog-heavy [which she expects from me but that won't stop her from pointing it out] ) I'll dive into taking notes for the next one.

I realized during one pass, while I was hunting adverbs, that I used some familiar names; one was intentional, because a friend really wanted to be a princess, others were not but I'm not inclined to change those names because they fit well. I do need a female name for a queen that shows up toward the end but will be in the next book...she may or may not be a little bit bitchy, but she will surely be somewhat flaky and unsure of herself.

Who wants to be the possibly bitchy but surely not-great-at-the-job queen? I don't want to keep the name I used as a placeholder; it fell into place because I had the TV on and when I glanced up Raven Simone was on the screen and it was like, "phkit, I'll use that for now." Not really feeling that choice.


The first draft of Max's first piece of fiction is in the can, but needs a character name.

Possibly a title, too...


22 May 2016

Oddz N Endz #983,102,344.6/2(4.66*9.1)+([mathishard]

♦ Max and I are coming into the home stretch with his first piece of fiction. He's been like the little angel on one shoulder and the little devil on the other, reminding me that this piece is targeted for young adults so we can't say that, but then taunting me with other inappropriate material because kids today.

♦ I believe he is also upset because I nixed using the word "dood" in favor of its more traditional spelling. Proof of this was the tail thwacked at my face as he lounged on the back of my chair, when I informed him that "dood" is technically not a word. Ok, not proof, you'll just have to take my word for it. But I did get a face-full of Max tail.

♦ Speaking of the furry monster, his late night concertos have turned into a raging bitch-fest held less than 6 inches from my face. It's one thing for him to sit in the hallway, singing; it's a whole other thing for him to be right there, yowling his head off as he tries to get me out of bed. Yes, the answer is to close the door, and I do that once he wakes me up, but there have been nights when he's been genuinely distressed, so I leave it open just in case.

♦ I have high hopes that sooner rather than later he'll learn that being a little bitch at night gets him removed from the room and the door gets closed. I also understand that I am seriously deluded.

♦ This morning the little shit was fed by the Spouse Thingy when he got home from work; an hour later both cats were banging on the bedroom door. I got up, because hey, maybe the Spouse Thingy was late and they hadn't yet eaten, but no...they had. They just wanted me up so that they could have the bed, and they wanted it RIGHT NOW so they could steal my warms.

♦ This is the current look I'm getting from him. It's past snack o'clock, and I am clearly failing him.

♦ Fine. Crunchy treats, and then back to work...though I may go over to Starbucks just so I can have some task-master free thinking time.


13 May 2016

I was thrilled when I went into Starbucks today; it was nearly empty, save for a few people sitting on the far side of the room, their faces bathed in the glow from their MacBooks screens. My favorite table on the close side of the room was available, and no one else was near. So after I got my tea I sat down, cracked open my notebook, and began scribbling furiously.

There was a metric ton of crap I wanted to get out of my head and onto paper, notes for the Max's current work-in-progress, and the solitude of my little corner of Starbucks was perfect for dislodging all of that from my brain. I worked in near-quiet, save the music playing and the sounds of the baristas working, for half an hour. It was the perfect ratio of noise to quiet that I like, and I was getting copious notes written.

And then came John and Jane Doe, who picked--from all those empty ones--the table right next to me, and they began a very not-so-quiet conversation. Granted, they had every right to sit there and do what they wanted to do, but dammit, I was on a roll. Eavesdropping was not on my list of things I wanted to get done today.

I kept trying to work, but everything came to a screeching halt. Their conversation went from admiring their drinks to the weather to what to do about "the bathroom issue."

People...the older I get, the less I care about social convention. I know I need to keep my mouth shut, but I'm rapidly nearing the point where I don't give a shit, and I am going to say something that gets me into trouble. Today was close to being that day.

Jane was sympathetic, a little bit. "I sort of get where they're coming from, but I don't want to share a bathroom with a man."

No, Jane, you do not sort of get where they're coming from. Not even a little. Because if you did, you would understand something very fundamental: that transwoman in the restroom is not a man. That transwoman is a woman, in every way that matters. The junk between someone's legs? That doesn't matter. She is a woman, and deserves to pee in peace, the same as anyone else.

I think that's what's missing from the national conversation. It's not about men using women's restrooms, or women using men's; it's understanding that regardless of biology, some peoples' parts don't match who they really are. Yes, she might have a penis, but she's still a woman. She doesn't exactly have much in the way of testosterone anymore, so she really isn't a threat to you. And yes, that muscle-bound, gorgeous gentleman might still have a vagina, but he's still a he, and is not some goofy chick trying to sneak a peak at your inadequacies.

You've been using restrooms with trans people for years and had absolutely no idea.

And wrap your brain around this: that woman in the restroom who looks like a man but is still obviously a female may be gay, may be not; she may be gender fluid or gender queer, or may be not. She may be on the precipice of transitioning, or might be perfectly happy where she is: completely hetero but still gender fluid.

You may be confused, but your confusion doesn't give you the right to make her uncomfortable.

It certainly doesn't give you the right to eject her from the restroom.

But maybe, if we stop talking about men using the women's restroom and start grasping the fact that the person making you a little uncomfortable is a woman regardless of genitalia, we can get past the idea that it's all right to shove someone out of the restroom in the first place, and it's all right for someone else to be different than yourself and to pursuit their own identity.

You don't have to like it. Just accept it.

And before the Bible-thumpers weigh in with "God doesn't make mistakes and if He wanted that person to be a woman He'd have made him one to begin with" consider this: we interfere with the way people are all the freaking time. We "fix" mistakes of biology as a matter of routine when we think we understand them, and we do it because fixing things makes their lives easier (or we hope it will.)

Consider the kid born with a cleft lip. Are you going to tell him he has to stay that way because God wanted him to have it? How about the kid born with her heart on the outside? Does she have to live with that until she dies? Doctors can fix it, but why bother if that's what God intended?

And you...someone who has undergone mastectomy to rid yourself of breast cancer. God fully intended you to have both breasts, did He not? Or is that all right because it's you and you want to live? What about you, dude? You lost a testicle to cancer, had it removed so it wouldn't kill you. You were clearly born with two, apparently because that's what God intended. Hey, keep both of those disease-riddled kidneys. God wants that.

Ah, but that's different, no? That's life and death.

So is someone's transition. Not being able to, not having access to the health care that makes it possible, drives people to suicide every day. It is most definitely a matter of life and death, and deserves the same intervention that any other hiccup in the process of biology gets.

We play God all the time. We interfere with the seeming order of things because sometimes biology screws up. We do it because to do anything else is unkind. We fix mistakes of biology, because the person affected is not a mistake, but someone living with one, and to refuse is to be on the wrong side of morality.

God doesn't screw up. But the clear fact is that He allows processes to, for whatever Giant Cosmic Reasons we're not yet able to comprehend. He also gives us the intelligence to do something about it all, to reason our way through it, to study and develop ways to cope and repair. He allows the kid to be born with a cleft lip for His own reasons, but he also gave us the smarts to fix it.

This is no different. You don't have to understand why someone needs to correct the gender of their birth any more than you need to understand why the narwhal bacons at midnight.

(That probably doesn't make sense to you, but it does make sense to thousands of people online right this moment. And I'm willing to bet you accept that.)

So maybe just accept, too, that the transwoman in the stall next to your wife is a woman, and nothing else. And truthfully, if you're worried about who's in the restroom with your kid, maybe think about not letting your kid go in there alone.

Frankly, I would be more worried about the men in the restroom with my son if he was still little... statistics and all that.

And if you're that concerned, instead of tossing people out of a restroom and making them feel less than human, direct your energy into something that makes more sense: advocate for unisex, single stall restrooms. Then everyone gets to pee in peace.

And me?

Next person to whack me with a purse in the ladies room because they have a knee jerk reaction to the short hair and tattoos is not getting off as lightly as before. I will defend myself, even if it means breaking that little old Asian lady in half, because people? I am tired. I'm done with the crap.

I shouldn't have to worry about it, but I do. And I have it far, far easier than my trans friends, and I know that.