Saturday, December 31, 2005

The Last Day of The Year

It's about 5 minutes to 10. My intestinal tract and I are having a disagreement over something I ate, which is making tonight's party look like a no-go (damn touchy intestines!) as there is no point going to a party when you suspect you will need a toilet, like, instantly any second now. And I wanted that rolly bollen! ARGH!

No big revelations or reflections on the year past. I don't feel like going through all my posts for the year and being all relevant or something, which I never am anyway. No, I still have a NOVEL to finish. There's every chance it will end sometime AFTER midnight. Of course I'm fighting word for word. Bah and double bah. Even my goverment allotted extra second isn't going to help much. Damn it all, I'm finishing this thing TONIGHT, some time before dawn.

So, I'm watching my Jonny Quest videos, with King Kong vs. Godzilla waiting in the wings (is there a better way to spend New Year's Eve than watching so-crappy-they're-funny rubber monster movies? I can't think of anything.) Husband is deep in CoH land, I've got a cat's butt snuggled firmly against my hip, I can hear fire crackers and the occasional emergency vehicle outside, and all is right with the world.




Home Stretch

I am in the last chapter. I've got the outline. I am writing and writing and writing. One more day.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Magic 7

Erk! I've been tagged!

This is actually kind of difficult, as I don't think in these terms. Having already determined my chances of not dying aren't that good, I don't like to think about it much in favor of thinking about what I'm doing today. Luckily, I can crib off Xolo.

Seven things I plan to do before I kick the can:
1. Visit Ireland
2. Get a tattoo (a little one, under very specific conditions)
3. Publish a story and be PAID for it
4. Finish reading the books I've collected
5. See a glacier
6. Learn to play guitar
7.Finish writing a novel

Seven things I can do:
1. Sing
2. Write
3. Listen
4. Look
5. Imagine
6. Empathize
7. Love

Seven things I can't do:
1. Run a mile
2. Climb a mountain
3. Live without cats
4. Suntan
5. Have a baby
6. Be happy without my husband
7. Not eat chocolate

Seven things that attract me to another person:
1. Articulateness
2. Sense of humor that doesn't involve fart jokes or banana peels
3. Willingness to look foolish
4. Eyes
5. Smile
6. Intelligence (of some kind!)
7. Ability to both control and act on impulse

Seven things I say most often:
1. Indeed?
2. KITTY!!!
3. Ja ja ja (long story)
4. Where are my (keys, glasses, shoes, cellphone)?
5. Love you, Boo.
6.
7.
(I can't think of seven)

Seven people to do this little blogger game:
1. Sabrina
2. Jay
3. Michael
4. LazyGal
5. Rien
6. Solonor
7. Heather





Pity Party, Table 4

Last night was spent visiting with The Husband's Giant Cousins. He has two cousins who are both well over 6 feet tall. He hadn't seen the oldest one since he was in highschool. The younger remarried this year and is moving to Germany. He and Husband were close as kids, despite age difference (Cousin 2 is 10 years older), and we've seen him a few times over the years, enough for he and I do have a joking enjoyment of each other.

I have scads of cousins myself whom I never see. I haven't really seen anyone on my mother's side of the family since she died, and that's been more than half my lifetime. I don't think it was on purpose. Just happened. Maybe. On my father's side, there are very few cousins I WANT to see. Our lives, interests, expectations and opinions are too different.

I'm not close to any of my family. Not even my two brothers, which isn't that surprising considering I never see them and didn't grow up with them. It is a rather strange feeling to think of myself as that alone. I don't know that, beyond my husband and some friends, there are too many people on this earth who know me (as opposed to knowing of me) and would have more than a momentary reaction to events in my life. I have what I think of as a Christmas family -- we contact only at Christmas, through a card or a gift, and that's all. And that feels about normal.

It does remind me how much I miss my dad, and in an older, more exhausted way, my mom (she's been gone so very long that sometimes I think I've made up the person she was, that the memories I have of her, honed and picked over after so long, are not really representative of her.) There's no one to blame, no one to accuse of anything. I am, in essential ways, very different from the members of my family I know. I don't share much with them. There's not much to talk about except my mother or my father, who are gone. It's hard to build a relationship when all it has is the past.



Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Looking at a New Year

My life is confined at the moment to playing with my new DVD recorder (finally!) and getting to the end of this novel. I also have a mysteriously sore foot, and I suspect that, once again, the arrival of minimal winter weather (well, really, it's just early autumn weather to most of you) has deeply insulted the glands on the left side of my neck. They are swollen and my jaw is sore.

Feh. Throat feels fine, it's just a big sore spot in my neck. Big sore spots never bode well. January and February are traditionally my months for catching upper respiratory infections of various kinds. (I save summer for serious injuries and illnessed requiring surgery/major drugs. Everything on schedule, you know.)

Now, where did I get a germ? It must have been Saturday. Christmas eve, Husband and I received two Target Gift Cards from his aunt and uncle. We could not resist trundling right down to Target to blow them. For Christmas eve, the place was reasonably peaceful. There were no fights in the aisles, no screaming, no desperate shoppers pulling either end of iPod boxes -- rather dissapointing, really. We went, we shopped, we got a new comforter/bedsheet set, and came home. But if there was a place I could get a germ, that would be it.

I love my new DVD/VCR recorder. It's quite fancy schmancy. I own so many video tapes from long ago, and I record stuff on the PVR I want to keep. HOWEVER, I should point out that it checks videos for that FBI warning and will not record copyrighted video tapes. For that, I have to use the DVD drive and software on the desktop. (I just can't see REbuying a movie I already bought once just to change the viewing format. At best, I can sell these videos for maybe a buck a piece, and DVDs still run between $7 and $24 each. I'm not going into the pirating business -- I've got enough to carry to shows.) Anyway, I'm busily getting all the stuff from the PVR to disc. The quality is MUCH better directly to DVD than it was when I transfered it to my computer hard drive and then to the DVD burner. It also takes less time -- only one analog viewing, and I can cut commercials.

I'm also thinking about those End of the Year things so many of us think about when it's the End of the Year. Mostly I think how arbitrary this whole End of the Year thing is. Humanity has based the measurement of time on the movements of moon, sun, stars, and changes in the seasons, but like any measurement, it's a matter of picking something and making everyone agree to it (before the reailroads, time was completely local, did you know that?) Different cultures place the end of the year at different locations on the Gregorian Calendar Year. If you're the sort who feels more comfortable when other people agree with you, you can look around and find some segment of world population who will celebrate the end and beginning of a year on the arbitrary day of your chosing.

Anyway, I'm thinking of goals I'd like to set myself, perhaps an update to the ol' "100 things about me" list, possibly even a new banner for the weblog (although the table and chairs drawing has got to be my favorite.) Who knows? First goal -- like I've repeated so many times -- get to the end of the novel. It's close, I swear. A few folks offered to "first read" for me, and I'll be sending an email to double check on those offers.

Back to the grindstone.


Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Day in the Morning

Family members will be arriving shortly, so I must shower and dress myself for public viewing. Nothing of significance to say today, just a few notes.

The novel, she is not finished. Goal missed. Well, heck. Spent yesterday with the husband and it was nice, so it's a fair trade off. Novel finished by New Years Day. New goal. Sounds reasonable.



Saturday, December 24, 2005

The Continuing Story...

Latest labors recorded here.

ARGH! UGH! It took me the ENTIRE DAY to manage perhaps 1000-2000 words. They aren't even good words. I'm not wowed by them. BUT -- I accomplished what I wanted, I have a few ideas to employ as I go, and I'm getting near the damned end of the story.

Already I sense the plot will need MUCH tightening, and there are a number of scenes I'm already thinking "do I need that, and would it be better if I wrote THIS scene instead?" but that's for later -- much later. All I want is to finish. That's my goal. Finish. Be done. Get to something else. Throw this at readers and prepare myself for the hairy eyeballs (yes, they are just as scary on the internet as in a writing class).


Friday, December 23, 2005

Ice Whine

Actually, it's fairly warm out there, now (knew it would be) but dear friends in Canada sent the Husband and me two (teeny) bottles of ice wine for Christmas (among other nifty things) and I just had to come up with a mention.

I'm trying to finish the damn novel. It is not cooperating. Once again I'm back to fighting for every word on the page. Everything is a distraction. I've tried quiet, I've tried music, I've tried walking around the house. I come back, type a couple of words, hate them, refuse to delete them, and have to distract myself so I don't hurt anyone. What better distraction is there than whining in my weblog?

I sometimes wish I hadn't studied writing and literature so much. I wish I didn't know enough to question a passive voice phrase, or ponder how many adverbs I've used, or to torment myself over the relative precision of "really" over "actually" (more adverbs). Sometimes all I know gets in the way of saying a word. Sometimes I think all I really learned was self-doubt.

I feel awkward and weird even trying to explain the story. I can't even think about it without also thinking how 'others' will misinterpret it, or want it to be what it isn't, or think I'm not writing a story I "want" to write -- circles and spirals of thinking, all getting me no where.

In happier news, I got this fantastic box from Amazon that I didn't even order! Ah, the joy of a wishlist! Is there anything as special as someone you aren't related to, and who can't and doesn't expect anything from you, just giving you a gift because they want to? Because they want to think someone is happy for what they did? It's one of the more special feelings in the world, knowing someone else is thinking nicely of you.

Winter?

Right on schedule, Florida gets its first intimations of winter. It's 42 degrees this morning (that's 6 degrees C for your heathens on the highly logical system) which has me thinking maybe I should shut a few windows and wear more than a t-shirt and light sweat pants. Maybe actually run a space heater so the cats will let me walk.

Cats. All they want is body heat. And food.

For my beloved friends up to your asses in freezing white stuff, being bowled over by howling arctic winds, wondering if you still have a nose -- I AM NOT WHINING.

I am GLOATING. See? Gloat, gloat. This is Florida, and it's sunny out there. It'll be warm (in a comparative sense) really soon. Like this afternoon. My hands are too cold to whine. So There.

I'm hunting down my one pair of warm socks any minute now.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Walking on Broken Glass

Literally. It seems I have a gift for finding bits of broken glass with my bare feet, in places where we can't imagine how broken glass came to be. Twice today I managed to do a little foot piercing. I've yet to wipe up the blood from the bathroom floor tiles. I consider them a monument.

Tomorrow, as soon as I stop limping, I'm vacuuming.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Sentimental Journey

Today, twelve years ago, my father wore a tux (the only time in his life he did) and stood at my wedding ceremony/handfasting to my husband. I met and married the man I love in about 14 months time -- from being friends via AOL to our first meeting where (for me) it was Love At First Sight. Being the cynic I was, and with my history, at the same time I decided I was in love, I also decided that anyone that good looking and polished had to be gay, because that would be my luck. (Long history of relationships that Just Wouldn't Work, shall we say?)

Two weeks later, we disproved the Gay theory, and within 4 weeks he was talking marriage to me. There was never an actual proposal, you see. We just started discussing my moving in to his house and deciding marriage would be good because he had insurance and I didn't. Actually, my dog moved in with him before I did by about 2 months.

Twelve years. It hasn't been roses, not by a stretch. It's been hard a lot of the time. It's been painful and confusing and there have been times I thought "Why am I making us both unhappy?" But we stuck, mostly because I can't imagine my life without him, and he seems to like me, too.

The best parts? We laugh a lot -- a whole lot. We can sing together (as long as he puts a finger in the ear closest to me and sticks to melody). We can discuss the strangest stuff for hours. We can fight and make up pretty quickly. After 12 years, I still look forward to seeing him at the end of the day, and I can't wait to kiss him. We can work on things together, cooperatively, (although we are both the bossy controlling type who is ALWAYS right).

We've spent so much time learning the "how" of our relationship -- how to talk to each other, how to approach things, how to tell moods, how to do and not do things. Still much to learn, and a lot of personal stuff to work through. So many things we've lived through, where he's proven to me how valuable a person he is, how truly good he is, how smart and talented he is, and how loving.

So, one more year down. Here's to all the others yet to come, because I'm looking forward to them.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Cheer

I spent a lot of time and care decorating this tree and my living room for the party on Sunday because I knew at least 4 highly opinionated, decor savvy gay men would be IN said living room.

I have no idea what they said to each other on their long drives home, but NONE of them pulled me to the side to say "Hon, hon, you SO don't....."

I think I'm in the clear.











































Will the fun never end?

As if my peeling skin/attacking eyebrow stories aren't enough, I got ambitious and recorded a little snippet of song for you.

Play at your own risk Song Sample

This was recorded using MS recorder and a headphone mic. The volume is down so it might require adjusting on your end. Took about 5 minutes. I make no guarantee as to the quality of the sound file or my voice.

Prejudiced Winter

I can tell the Florida Approximation of Winter is approaching because my forehead is peeling.

Why is this? I have no idea. It just does. The humidity drops and suddenly skin is falling from the space between my eyebrows like snowflakes. This is not a happy situation. Yes, I moisturize. It's a curse, part of the being over 35 thing I suspect, another step along the gradual disintegration that will end in a flower print mumu, fuzzy slippers and a walker.

This has led me to another unhappy realization. I have my father's eyebrows. No, I'm not talking about shape or color. I'm talking volume here. My dad -- love him so, miss him lots -- had those long shaggy old man eyebrows. Now, so do I. Of all the things I could have inherited, why do I get the NON-complimentary aspects of both parents? Talk about losing the genetic lottery. My eyebrows are heading for my hairline and are trying to bridge the gap over my nose. I had no idea they loved each other so much. I have resorted to self-torture, also known as tweezing.

Tweezing, tworture, there is no difference. I bet the Geneva Convention bans the use of tweezing as cruel and unusual. If the Red Cross had access to Gitmo, they'd find tweezers and perfectly shaped Arabic eyebrows, under which eyes filled with pain and tears dart. It's just bad.

I've been searching for reasons I do this to myself, and I guess it comes down to my highly westernized idea of "woman". Women have two eyebrows, neither of which approximate a live creature. They can have airy armpits -- big whoop. They can have braidable leg hair -- yee haw. They can shave their heads, never touch cosmetics or perfume, wear nothing but flannel, denim and argyle socks for all I care. But they should not have flaking skin on their face, nor should they have unibrows, mustaches or beards.

That's just me, I know. I'm full of prejudices like that. I'm just living in dread of the ear-hair.

Still writing

Remember that novel I was working on? I still am. Still documenting my progress over in my writing journal. I have a couple of victims, um, kind volunteers who are willing to read it as First Readers.

I've got a deadline of only 5 more days to finish this thing. I think I can do it.

First Readers, if you don't know, are very special people. They are the ones that a writer hands a first draft to. It's like handing over a baby. First readers don't edit -- they read, react, and mark typos, trouble spots, and anything that looks weird. Sometimes you just can't do a second draft until someone else's eyes have been over the thing. First readers are gentle but honest. They do not use red pencils. They help a writer get a little distance and perspective.

Ugh. Now to get to that point.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Post Party

Was a smashing goodtime (no one and nothing got literally smashed, please.) Most everyone brought wine -- it's the new Hot Dish. I've got several bottles, both opened and unopened.

Best part -- Miss S showed up in Man Drag Glory. One day trip for final divorce proceedings, some glaring, and then back north. Complete surprise and happy it was.

Having parties on Sunday nights means everyone starts wandering away by about 9:30 because 1) we live on the bare edge of civilization 2) work starts uncomfortably early for most folk.

Aside from wine, there are relatively few leftovers. All the hot food was eaten. There are some cookies and things left, which is fine. Husband's incredible Chocolate Fudge Rum-Mousse cake was devoured in all its richness. The weather was chilly enough that the hot Mulled Cider vanshed quickly. The house was beautiful although I could NOT find the camera to take a picture of it looking all perfect and glowy with Christmas Wonder.

Still have to clean leftovers and find that camera, after I recover from the night's dreaming. Won't tell you, it was gross, but I must have a subconsious fear of a really major cold right now.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Winter Dark

Someone made a rule -- if I want to host a Yule/Solstice/Christmas party, it will be rainy and dark and about as wintery as Florida manages. I think it's a mood thing. I don't think it's actually BAD -- the rain is never a hard rain, and cold outside is kinda normal this time of year. And the cloud covered skies make all the lights we hang look that much better. So I like this rule.

Having made this public, next year will be the Florida Christmas I remember as a kid -- 80 degrees and running around on my new tricycle in shorts and no shoes. Not that I want a new tricycle or anything. I can wait. I want LEGOS. I never get them. Feh.

There are lights to hang, foods to bake, and two rooms to clean yet on the agenda. At some point I'll post pictures of my lovely tree and living room.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Important Floor Stuff

I was going to rant about this incredibly stupid "War on/against Christmas" thing and about how Christianity swiped Christmas from the Romans and Celts anyway and then spent a few hundred years killing anyone who didn't agree with them, which is, of course, just SO VERY in line with what Jesus Christ taught (and the Jews rejected him because he wasn't a war leader? Talk about bad timing) and how, really, Happy Holidays not only included Kwanza and Hannukah, but Yule and Solstice, too, although mainstream American News organizations seem to have missed that little one, and I'm not going around bitching when people wish me a Merry Christmas OR a Happy Holiday, since they have no idea which one I'm celebrating (I don't have it tattooed on my forehead) so SOME PEOPLE should just get a grip on themselves. Give some food and clothes to a homeless person or visit someone dying of a terrible disease and find something larger to worry about than that random strangers telepathically determine which holiday (if any) you prefer and then use the appropriate saying ...Happy Solstice, by the way.

Which is what I am really going to talk about, at least as it concerns my new floor.

We finally got all the stuff for Good Will moved out of the front room, including the old TV stand we couldn't give to anyone else (people wanted it, but they wanted it delivered, and, just no.) and some ex-kitchen stuff. So there is this huge expanse of beautiful wood in the foyer/dining area. And it was messy.

Now, I've been sweeping and running Max because 1) it looks like hell if I don't and 2) we are having a HOLIDAY PARTY (yeah, I said it!) on Sunday and the floor should not crunch. However, I hadn't mopped yet and the floor was looking sort of sad and unmopped. So I got some Murphy's Oil Soap (special for hardwood floors!) and a mop and bucket, and did the whole mopping thing. I even followed the directions on the back of the bottle (no rinsing!).

Looked shitty. Smeary, yucky, completey unmopped, worse than BEFORE I mopped. I was, shall we say, dissapointed in the result. Put in a new mop head. Changed the mop water. Got the extra muscular Husband to do some mopping in case it was just a Lack of Muscle.

Nope. Actually had a white film on the floor. We broke out the rags, got down on our knees and started HAND RUBBING the floor. I sensed a little ridiculousness creeping into my obsession.

Sudden inspiration -- I also had some Murphy's Oil Soap squirt-n-mop stuff. What could it hurt, we we already doing it the old fashioned way. Amazingly, it worked. I don't get what the difference is, but obviously there IS one.

While down there on the hands and knees I noticed the first (tiny) gouge and the first (light) scratch. I had a mild panic attack, and then we went out and bought a rug.

My floor needs protection. Besides, the dog has gotten scary the way she goes into spastic dog-on-ice mode when she turns a corner on the floor a little too fast. She's a dog with long legs. She's gonna break one, so I got the rug for traction. Yeah. For the dog. Uhhuh

She looks pretty good for a 230 year old Dame

Today is the birthday of Jane Austen. She is by far one of my favorite authors, mostly, I imagine, because I was spared having to study her work in school. After I actually read it for pleasure, I got curious and have been studying bits and pieces on my own. One day I'll find a formal class on her work, but I'll be proof from having the books spoiled for me by excessively picky explanations by having read them several times by then (except Mansfield Park. I am overcome with the desire to smack Fanny Brice when I read that one.)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

And in other random news

ROPEY THE UNLUCKY STICKFIGURE MAN

There's no explaining it. It's one of those experiences you have to have for yourself.

Busy Signal

I'm awfully busy, it seems. Haven't written more than a few words this week, which is a little dissapointing. I don't want to miss my goal of finishing the novel by Christmas. Next week promises more time, though.

What am I doing? Housecleaning mostly, which is more difficult than might seem because my lower back and I are not agreeing about the standing up thing. After 1/2 hour on my feet, I have to sit. This means things get done in fits and starts. There is decorating also, which goes about the same, plus I'm parting with a number of Christmas decorations from days past. I know some of my favorite old ornaments are in those boxes, which is a little painful, but it's just time. I both want and don't want them. I want them for what I think when I see them, but as for actually putting them on a tree -- no, not likely. And that makes me sad, that the Christmas tree has become just something that decorates my house instead of a center for memories and love, but that's how it is.

These are the times when I find myself wishing we'd had children. Just to have someone else with whom to make memories that will live after I no longer do. Children are, in some ways, a path into immortality. I feel sad when I think about it, as if I've let down the generations before me, my own parents, and myself, because I waited too long and then wasn't brave enough to go through the surgery, because I can't see how we could adopt, because, because because...

Christmas makes me maudlin.

We went to the chorus Christmas party last night, the highlight of which was the "White Elephant Gift Exchange". That's where most of the gifts are gag gifts and people go by numbers, with the option to take a gift already opened or get a new one. There was surprisingly little rapid trading of gifts, in part because many were, frankly, HIDEOUS and hit the garbage as soon as they left the room. However, there was one...well, I've seen it before at wholesale shows and in catalogs. It's made somewhere in Indonesia or Southeast Asia. Carved wood depicting a human figure crouched over HUGE PHALLUS with wings. It was a hotly contested item. It was awful and therefore glorious.

I got two stuffed toy crabs. They were cute.

Husband and I are spatting, spitting and throwing sparks at each other. I think we are both tired from all the running and cleaning and trying to do things. Neither of us are what you would call highly social people. We prefer to be home most of the time. Holidays, even now that I no longer go into tizzies, are stressful simply because they are holidays, full of emotion and expectation and all kinds of stuff.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Critics and Tenors

Last night's gig was chorus related. One of our members works at a Disney Hotel as a sort of event organizer, and there was some sort of event (the details elude me) where they wanted a group of carolers to sing for about 20 minutes, and the chorus would be paid (not the singers -- we each got a free drink and a couple of canapes). So, six of us threw together some songs, spent about an hour rehearsing (mostly right before going on) and drove out to Disney.

We were singing at the Dolphin, easily one of the gaudiest of the huge, gaudy hotels planted all over the Disney property. Now, I am standing in the lobby with 4 gay men (and one lesbian) critiqing the interior design of a hotel with hand painted wallpaper and noticing where the 12 foot Christmas trees placed every few yards had missing lights. We didn't like it, at least not all together. Elements were nice, but the giant circus tent dome ceiling -- not so much. Just so you know.

We were stationed in the pre-party area (a hallway lined with tables for silent auction, toys for tots donations, photo opportunities, and drinks) by the doors into the "ball room". We sang our numbers to the backs and sides of people as they were herded from one area to another. Before and after the singing, we critiqued the gowns various women wore (what else is there to do?) Apparently there was a black-white theme going on, or the majority of people in this particular Christmas party group had no imagination or color sense.

One woman -- let's call her Amazing Grace -- had on a particularly, shall we say, affecting ensemble. Basic black with diamond shaped cutout front and back. A little daring, but not unusual...except that the dress was not designed for the body it covered. If one is wearing an open back, back cleavage is a no-no and nothing, but NOTHING, should flop out of the BACK of the dress. Grace apparently had a great denial mechanism going for her.

As for the front cleavage...SUPPORT GARMENT NEEDED HERE! Or a crane lift. Something. The overall effect was Flesh Balloon -- Someone call Stacy and Clinton, we have a problem. I had a momentary impulse to grab a tablecloth and throw it over her, cloak fashion.

Add to this sartorial oops large, poofy, black dyed hair and a makeup job that was...shall we say, Drag Queen-esque? Now, I know 3 drag queens, two of whom do it professionally and one who is working her way up. There are certain rules to their make up, and one of them is It Is Meant To Be Seen on Stage. In normal light at close range, all you see are the contours, highlights and low lights. There is no face, just a grouping of color blocks.

I have high hopes that Amazing Grace has a WONDERFUL personality. At least she gave us something besides the wall coverings to talk about.

As for the singing -- that went well. We made up our arrangements fairly quickly, as at least four of us were strong improvisers and the other two adept followers. We performed jazzy, syncopated versions of Deck the Halls and Come, All Ye Faithful (no, we had no lightening strike, but the lights in the ballroom we rehearsed in did start flashing at one point). Everything else was pretty straightforward, simple harmonies. What was most fun is that this little caroling group was made up of members from the two ensembles and one from the chorus (mostly because his partner was in the group and made him come along). We are thinking of forming a new ensemble and combining the other group names.

(Ok, this is a complete inside joke, so be prepared to shake your head and roll your eyes. The folk ensemble is Homophonic , the SATB ensemble is Menage. The new group? Homage. Shut up, we think it's hysterical.)

Miss P and I are in the two (possibly three) ensembles together -- she was kind enough to volunteer when our alto bowed out midway through the rehearsal period. We are becoming a musical unit, she and I. Our voices and harmonic talents just dovetail so nicely. And I'm really starting to appreciate one of the basses from Homophonic as well -- he doesn't get to stand out as much in that group, and he's really a talent. I'll call him Z-Man for future reference, since I will probably be talking about him again.

He's the one who knew about the hand painted wallpaper, by the way.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Post concert yeehaw

Very Long Weekend. Not in a bad way, but any weekend where I have to put on a tux shirt, bow tie and cumberbund three times is a bit straining.

All in all, respectable performances. We sold far more seats than we were really expecting from last reported ticket sales. Honest injun, most of us thought the Sunday Matinee would have maybe 80 people and the two evening performances might crest the 150 mark. Instead, Saturday was a total sell out (they had people standing) and both Sunday performances were to about 200 or more a piece.

I sort of had pangs (again) when the chorus performed the songs I could sing, but I don't miss that much the standing on stage for hours (although, in response to past begging, when the curtain could come down and let everyone sit on the risers, it did). My two ensemble performances went well -- ok, the second ensemble had a few, shall we say, challenging moments. First performance was sorta "eh" in our opinion, but we completed it standing up. The second, I had a total panic moment at the end, could not find my note, and ran for that high note I'd been begging not to sing. It was fear, pure and simple. The final performance went off with only one hitch, easily recovered and only those "in the know" caught on.

During the matinee performance with the first ensemble there was a little "incident". Shortly after the song began, we heard a loud crackling sound coming from the house. It sounded like someone was popping bubble wrap or worse, and it went on and on and on. We figured one of the gels on the lights had melted, but couldn't figure out why it went on for minutes. Later we learned that one of the (new) techies had seen a gel slip and decided to adjust ALL the gels in the catwalk while we were performing. They couldn't hear it on the headphones in the booth or backstage, but as soon as the head sound tech found out, there was scolding done. Just someone new to the scene, I suppose. Not Making Noise is a huge thing during any performance.

So, I feel pretty good (and tired) and am looking forward to the next concert now. I also got to mediate/moderate/gossip about someone ELSE'S drama, which was a refreshing change. And I REALLY like my director (Dr. James Bass, in case you are curious). He's just very cool and damn talented -- I'd rather listen to HIM sing, honestly.

Now, on to Christmas Decorating, and a quick carolling gig tonight -- ugh, I don't know that I can actually sing anymore...

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Fa La La La...oh, whatever

Tech rehearsal last night. It felt a little odd to be sitting in the house rather than being on stage. I had a couple of pangs, especially during the 2 or 3 songs in the program I especially liked and had sung fairly well. However, it's a long program and all the songs I SUCKED at didn't give me a pang of any kind.

I talked a bit with the director after it was over. I'm all anti-drama, so I didn't want him to think this WAS a drama situation, just me and my gremlins trying to kill each other. He was ok with it, I think. He's working his ass off, driving from another town 2 hours away to be here, and going through his own personal stuff. I really admire him.

The first ensemble I work with did pretty well. The second ensemble, not so good. The director's choice of music was a bit ambitious, and the piece is really intended for a much larger group. Four people and a piano don't make quite the same impression as 4 full sections and an orchestra. And I KEEP FORGETTING WORDS. Don't know why, it's an arrangement of a song I know (Do You Hear What I Hear) but sooner or later I'll drop a word. Of course, our tenor is fighting the same problem, our alto has one tricky entrance that's catching her, and our bass (who is director) is, I think, regretting his choice and trying to encourage us. It's not like we haven't worked on this shit. Even our brilliant accompaniest is fighting with it. Ah well, we will muddle through -- nothing else to do.

In other news, the novel has crossed 70,000 words. I'm still struggling to assemble some jewlery and displays to ship to a photo shoot. I'm trying to get the house decorated AND clean at the same time.

And, I went to the orthodontis yesterday. Next time I go could be the BIG DAY. I could have them off in January! My 8 months of treatment (hahhhahhahhaHAH! that's so funny) would come to an end after 20 months! I'll be able to really brush my actual TEETH. I miss my teeth.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Neurotic Re awakening

OK, so it took about 20 minutes of rehearsal to refresh and revive all my mental anguish. Somewhere in the middle of the third song, I found myself thinking "If I killed myself tonight, I wouldn't have to sing this weekend." Repeatedly.

Which is a big ol' red warning light, don'tcha think?

So I won't be singing with the chorus this concert, only with the ensembles. I'm making myself nuts for no good reason and it's no body's fault but my own, so it's time to cut it the hell out. And I did. I still feel a little wishy washy about it, because, damn, what fun is a complete angst filled moment if you can't linger in the afterglow, but I feel better. It was a hard decision and there are some parts I wish I could fix, but I put myself in a nice lose-lose situation for which there was no right or wrong desision, only degrees of which hurts least.

Anyway, this gives me a few weeks until next season to forget all about it and see how much I can worry next time.

More of what I'm talking about

Erotic moments from Bible...

I find some interesting contradictions in this.

1) nudity is automatically erotic (at least, female nudity)
2) eroticism is used to gain religious interest (whereas religion/Christianity is usually highly repressive of eroticism)
3) Quote "...it doesn't say anywhere in the Bible that you are forbidden to show yourself nude." No, apparently in Genesis we came up with body shame all on our own -- but it's certainly been a HUGE central point in Christianity (and other religions), down to admonishments to women to cover or cut off their hair so as not to incite men.

Now, the violence and eroticism of the Bible has been used as a counter-censorship argument (that if you ban such-and-such book for sex and violence, you have to ban the Bible on the same grounds) so this...just makes me laugh.

Happy Pagan over here :>

(Photo brought to you via Xoloitzquintle so blame him)

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Volunteer Baggage Carriers

I had one of those long, strange conversations with a friend last night that I am prone to have, all about how my own hyper-awareness of sexuality in our culture has become like imprisoning walls and in particular how it affects my writing.

(How was that for a thesis sentence?)

It's a labrynthine mess of ideas, really. It starts here -- Anything and everything in American culture seems to have sex lurking at the bottom of it, or can have sex dragged into it. Everything. Jello, catfur, lumber, cars, lawn care...start talking about it and somehow, some way, a sexual inuendo, a joke, a reference can or will be brought in.

I get really tired of it. Sex is well and fine and when I want to talk or write about it, I'm perfectly capable and in general interested. However, there are huge realms of things that aren't about sex and I like to get to those, as well, without all the interference. Everything, absolultely everything, seems to be in some sexual catagory -- it's gay, it's straight, it's macho, its girly, it's sexy, it's limp, blah blah blah. I hear it from gay friends, I hear it from straight friends, to the point where, in my head now along with the editor who tells me what crap my writing is, I have a Hayes Code censor checking everything for its potential sexual content. Remember the uproad about the Lion King and the letters in the dust? That kind of nitpicking, pointless, annoying self checking.

And it's really making me crazy.

You see, I'm reasonably sure that two given human beings in any gender combination can have a loving, affectionate relationship, complete with hugs and kisses, tears and laughter, and never once feel an impulse to combine body parts or create mutual orgasms. Hell, chances are good that they can be naked in the same room and not have anyone get gooey. I've had these kinds of relationships myself, with both make and female friends. I don't think I'm that unusual.

But the strait-jacketing THING in my head, this censorous rule, keeps whispering that if two people touch, it's gotta be about sex. Somebody wants to schtup somebody. Doesn't matter who the two are -- two men are gay, two women are lesbians, man and woman are lovers/adulterers, adult and child are pedophile and Lolita/victim.

I wonder when, exactly, our ideas about how people act with each other changed. Why is it when we read letters between friends written 100 years ago, their terms of endearment and signs of affection which then, apparently, indicated acceptable expressions of feeling, in modern interpretation indicate intense desires to fuck? I have no particular course of study to reference, but my uneducated perception is that roughly from the 1920's through the 1960's, we developed the modern concept of the unfeeling male and the emotionally messy female -- real men give bonecrushing handshakes and all women air-kiss unless there's a mink coat involved. And from the mid-1960's to today, we've been struggling to break out of that cement prison -- sensitive men and strong women, metrosexuals and bra burning. I'm sure there's some college course somewhere that analyzes this.

I wish I could just dump it wholesale out of my own thinking, so I could just write people as I'm sure they are, without constantly second guessing myself with "But will the reader think this? Will the reader think that?" I'm tired of it, but I can't seem to unload it.

My conversation with my friend went much further along than this, into gay revisionist history and the whole "historical greats were on our team" thinking, with the insistence of so many straight and terrified people that being gay is evil (but apparently it's ok to kill other humans, either as punishments for crimes or in war or just because you don't like their politics...but that's a whole 'nuther labyrinth).

Most of all, I'm tired of all the "It's wrong! It's Bad!" attached baggage. I'm tired of having it in my head. I'm hoping by writing out my aggrivation with it here, I can unload some of it and get it out of my life. Writing as therapy and all that.

OH you lucky folks, standing in as my therapists. No, don't even bother sending me a bill for hauling my shit around for me. You volunteered.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Pitchas



Max the Roomba, and the NEW FLOOR




















The replacement shelf for the one that came crashing down. It was amazing that they actually had one -- we haven't seen them for over a year, and then we had to comb the area for the ones we put up, as no store had more than one, apparantly. Just Lucky!











Benny, being cute as only Benny can be.


















New Shelf Unit. We made this (and you can tell if you get close up) pretty fast, but it works and I'm happy and everything!
















New floor and the fireplace that got crashed on by the glass shelf. Doesn't the floor look FANTASTIC? I love my floor!












The floor again -- still love it -- and this great scrap metal sculpture cat we got a couple of years ago. I actually DON'T have a lot of huge "cat things" but we saw this when we were in Cedar Key a few years ago, and it was just so...so perfect!


and that FLOOR. What a floor!











Minutia

I guess I got tired of being so neuorotic about the whole chorus thing, because currently I can't work up a single good panic about it. However, the sore throats keep rotating through and I have an actual, honest to gross cold sore on my lip. I NEVER get cold sores. Is it possible to have a psychosomatic cold sore? I've only had maybe 4 my whole life. I don't know.

My only little lip herpe.

Anyway, the concerts are this weekend. Come on out and see the glamor.


I am STILL crawling with all deliberate speed toward the end of that novel - thingie. 64,000 and climbing and I haven't made it to chapter 10 yet. Is it just me or is Word particularly unsuited to writing novels? Or at least for ME to write novels. It's hard to make easy-to-find notes. I keep thinking "Index Cards" except I'm rotten at assembling them into order, too. I need to keep notes on the names of people, and of places; little maps with the layout of rooms, houses, cities; what I said about whatever important item there is; how things work. Stuff like that. I started with notes typed into an outline, only it wasn't intuitive to rush over and enter stuff when I made it up and then the outline got so long I couldn't find anything again. Notecards look better and better, if I could just figure out how to organize them.

I'll need them for the revision. I'm still playing with Word, though, trying to make it do all the work. I'll lose damn notecards.

I am in love with my house. I'll have pictures shortly to explain why. I didn't always love my house, and, like anyone you love, it still has things that make me crazy and things I just don't know what to do about and things I'm just living with. But on the whole, with the new floor and the beautiful new shelf unit hiding the unfortunate unused bedroom foor, I love it. Nothing like a little refurbishment to improve a relationship.



Friday, December 02, 2005

Un enigmaticalizing

OK, yesterday's post was a bit, shall we say, cryptic? Here's the short version.

Lots and lots of drama about chorus. I've gotten to this weird place where I want to support the chorus and where others would react rather badly to me NOT participating, but I don't actually wanna sing. Specifically, I don't want our new (and pretty damn wonderful) director to hear how crappy I sound right now. So, I'm doing the exact thing I thought I would do (I know me so well) and not exactly singing my best. THis means I sound crappy, so I'm also singing very quietly. ON those few occasions when I forget myself (which is when I'm really enjoying rehearsal) I take every single comment he makes as being directed at me, and instantly tone it all down.

Are you following so far? My head is a weird and twisted place.

Anyway, rehearsals are now pretty dismal. My throat starts to hurt almost as we start. Now, our rehearsal room was remodeled last year and nearby rooms are in remodeling, which means a lot of paint fumes and new carpet and all -- the smells/fumes are miserable for me, being sensitive to them, so my sinuses usually start up as soon as I enter the room. I'm not the only one, so I'm reasonably sure THAT isn't Just In My Head. But the throat thing -- I'm thinking the throat thing is me.

I mean, I KNOW I'm doing all this to myself. I'm all wound up in my eternal battle between what I imagine other people want/think of me, and what I feel I've committed to do, and how worthless I feel to do it, and blah blah blah -- I mean, seriously, I get sick of listening to myself moan about it.

However self aware I am, though, I just don't come up with paths OUT of it. And I while I might be able to think my throat INTO being sore, I'm not having so much luck thinking it OUT of being sore.

I know I'm capable of displaying psychological situations as physical maladies. As a kid -- about age 8 or so, and again at 11 -- I went through bouts of high stress where I would just not be able to walk. I'd fall all the time, just walk along and fall. When I was older, it would be stairs -- I still get nervous going down stairs because I've fallen down so many stairs and I swear it feels like I've got Bette Davis in white face standing behind me, ready to push me down.

Ya know, to look at me you wouldn't know I was crazy. And maybe that's a bit of an extreme statement. Maybe I'm just very suseptible to stress, like some folks are suseptible to peanuts, and the mechanisms I developed very young to deal with said stress aren't so very good in the adult world. I can psychobabble my way around pretty well.

I'm still not all that jazzed about this magic ability, ya know? I mean, the whole psychosomatic stigma -- It's All In Your Head -- like that makes it somehow not real. Invalid. Unworthy. Stupid. Lazy. I've got a whole long list to go with those words. AS if everything isn't just all in everyone's head -- who we are, where we are, what's going on, how we feel, etc -- all the perceptions and thoughts and experiences we have, just so much stuff in our heads.

Not much to do but go after the problem as best I can, poking and prying at it, making myself ok, using whatever handy placebo method I like to flip that switch in my brain. I've got a whole big, hute theory on myself (that I'm not going to detail here, because no matter how honest I like to be, it's still embarrassing on some level to me). I found it by looking at my fiction writing, by the way.

Writing is so theraputic.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

The biggest problem

with feeling confident that one's malady is really psychosomatic in origin is that the knowledge doesn't do a damn thing about curing the malady.

Ain't the mind a wunnerful thing?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A post to just...well...post

Lesseee, what's going on?

I am less than lukewarm about the upcoming chorus concert, which is Not Good. In part it was because there was a Little Too Much Drama this time, and I feel very disconnected and non-essential. In part it's just not feeling terribly involved. I don't feel like my presence or absense makes any difference. If not for Husband's insistance that I maintain it as an activity, and my commitments to the two ensembles, I'd bow out about now. I'm not currently enjoying it. I'm not interested. I'm not preparing. My thoughts are elsewhere. That's too bad, because I usually enjoy the chorus. Feh. It won't make a bit of difference, really, so I'll get through it one way or another.

We are building a new book case for the living room. You see, our house is rather oddly laid out, in part because Husband never intended to live in it that long, and in part because he was a bachelor whose home was his mother's vacation home. So, things are situated to make, in effect, two suites that share a common central area. Once I appeared, I screwed up all his plans, and we've been trying to remake the house ever since. Our bedroom has two doors, one into the library and one directly into the living room. That second door is blocked off on one side by the dog's crate, and on the other by a large chair, since to use it eats up a big portion of the living room, and it's an awkward door anyway. So, we are finaly hiding that door with a book case. Doors people can't open always invite comment, and everyone wants to open them. They are irresistable. So, it will become the Secret Door. One day we may remove it and simply make a wall, but this is easier for now.

Still writing. It's what I think about most of the time, now. I want to finish this book. Yeah, it's a book. I officially declare it The Book. Looks like I have a good chance of meeting my November 30th goal of 60,000 words, and I think I can have it finished (as in ready for the first real edit) by mid December, Christmas at the latest. Someone else will be reading it before the new year.

Nothing Else going on, really. Still got Max, still got floor, still got Husband, still got friends, debating how much actual decoration I'm going to do (love the decorating, but the house is in shambles, sooo)

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Little Update

Oh, the Roomba has been named Max.

I'm still working on the novel I started for NaNoWriMo (You thought all that was over, just because I reached the required wordcount? Oh, you foolish mortals.) I'm still maintaining my writing journal, too.

My writing journal must be some of the most boring stuff ever, but I find myself constantly re-reading it. This journy I've taken in the last month is completly new territory. I've found a whole new ability to discipline myself as a writer. This is a huge step, folks.

It's also interesting as the journy of the novel itself. I'm not writing The Great American here. At most, I've got a rather modest low fantasy mixed with an historical -- not an original mixing, I assure you, but none-the-less, that's what I ended up with. Publishable? I have no idea.

I have to finish it, first. Then it has to be edited. I have to find a couple of articulate people willing to read the book and react without trying to rewrite it. (oh, and check for typos and such). Then I have to STOP revising it before I kill it. Oh lord. this is gonna be the hard part. THEN, and only then, can I even think about submitting it. That's too scary a thought to look at right now.

Girl Toys

Having now hard floors through the center of the house, I am aware (well, MORE aware) of how much crap accumulates in 5 hours. Crumbs, lint, cat hair, mysterious cosmic particles -- it all comes to rest on my nice new shiny floor. Swifter not withstanding, I began to feel outnumbered.

The Husband and I discussed getting ourselves a Roomba robotic vacuum for some time -- since I first saw one in a Sharper Image catalog, in fact. Back then it seemed trendy and ridiculous. Now, they show up in Home Depot and Target (I've sworn off Wal-Mart). After spending one day chasing around multiplying dust bunnies, we decided the moment was now. Yeah, pricy. The credit card is weeping in the corner.

But it's CUTE! It's SOOO CUTE! We charged it up, put batteries in the remote and pressed da button. It did a little electronic song and started zipping around the floor. It doesn't SOUND like a vacuum, so the cats are more fascinated than disturbed. For an appliance, it's fun, as you can drive it around with the remote like a tidy RC car. If you pick it up, it makes a little noise like it's talking to you. It makes different noises for different situations.

The instructions are a little...little. Happily, lots of stuff is intuitive (for someone who loves her computers and electric gadgets). I'm figuring it out bit by bit.

As for cleaning - it doesn't have a large capacity so you have to empty it each time you use it, but it picks up a surprising amount. Mostly the little stuff that accumulates constantly, that you have to chase around with broom and dustpan (or Swifter, still my friend). It zigs and zags on its little robotic way, then it parks itself on its charging station. It gets under furniture, it gets in corners, it climbs up on the rugs, it even detects extra dirty spots -- so far, it's all love.

I'm debating whether to name it Rosie, Sally, or Max.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Guess What I Did?


Yep. Word total is 50.720. Story is not done. At least anoter 10,000 words. I'm right on the edge of all the action. There are at least 4 more chapters, possibly five (every time I turn around the chapters multiply).

I'm still damn happy I did this. I'm pleased with myself that I not only finished this little word count goal, but did it ahead of schedule! I mean, I used DISCIPLINE! I KEPT AT IT! I DIDN'T GIVE UP!

So, new goal -- 10,000 more words by the 30th, or the end of the story, which ever comes first. If I need a new goal after that, I'll set it.

I can do this. Everything else will come later. I can do this now.

Friday, November 25, 2005

The End is Near

I am closing in on my word count goal. I lack a little under 3000 words to reach the magical 50,000 -- not including my notes, which I pulled out already. With those, I'm already over the limit, but I have enough story to get there at this point.

So, yeah, I'm still going. And I intend to FINISH the damn thing, with luck before the 30th. I'm just setting goals and heading for them. I'm amazing myself that I am doing that. I've been keeping up with notes on my writing journal as well, for those few of you who actually wander over there.

Oh, the new floor looks FABULOUS! I can't wait to move the furniture back into place.

Thanksgiving went very smoothly and I have a new favorite cranberry relish recipe. I'm going to try it in a variation for a pie filling. Letcha know how that goes.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

FLOOR! we have FLOOR!

The new wood floor is halfway down and looks FANTASTIC. The cats are a little freaked out. I'm sorta looking forward to Bea's first high speed foray. Well, actually I'm looking forward to the expression on her sweet little kitten face when she realizes she can't dig into carpet to stop her sideways slide anymore...(she has no brakes and very little steering, even for a cat, but it doesn't stop her. Walls stop her.)

Monday, November 21, 2005

Specific Gravity

It's been an eventful day here. I have been packing all my china and crystal into boxes ahead of tomorrow's floor installation. Almost all of what I have was previously my mother-in-laws. My mother's china and crystal are now (and will remain as far as I know) in the custody of my ex-stepfather. This stuff is nicer anyway.

Our living room has one very high wall under its very high ceiling, and about 2 years go we installed a set of glass shelves on that wall and on another in the kitchen. They displayed some of the art and antique vases I've collected and a lot of dust because they are, well, pretty high and no one goes up there with a white glove to inspect, and I just don't worry about that stuff.

I was sitting on the floor having a conversation with a cat when one of those shelves came crashing down. I was about 3 feet from it and protected from the flying glass by a large ottoman. Also lost was one small antique cobolt blue vase bought on our honeymoon; a cheap tall blue vase filled with marbles and silk flowers, purchased at Wal-mart some years ago after the tall mate to the antique was destroyed by a certain cat in this household, then a new kitten; the shelf itself, a heavy thing that cannot be replaced because they are no longer manufactured; our nice looking but relatively useless fireplace accessories; the wood mantel of our faux fireplace. I've been picking up the hunks and the marbles, but I've snagged enough splinters to rest for a while.

As unnerving as it was having all that crash just a few feet from me, I had been cleaning things from that area all morning. I could have been right under it.

Stranger still is that nothing but entropy brought it down. The wall was unmoved, untouched. The house didn't rumble. No trunk or sterophonic boomcar went by. There wasn't even any wind. Someone turned up the gravity right there and WHAM CRASH TINKLE TINKLE (no, that wasn't me going tinkle tinkle, although the thought did cross my mind while I hunkered behind the ottoman).

Far too interesting a day.

Weather Bulletin

To all my shivering, shuddering frostbitten friends in the Northlands.

Today's Weather

Yes, a balmy 81 degrees F (that's 27 C) I started today in sweatpants but I'm changing into shorts because it's too hot. My roses are blooming. It's humid today because a cold front is pushing rain this way, and tomorrow we expect it to be a chilly 62 degrees F (18 C). Brrrr.

I'll have to find a sweater.

Leftovers

It's funny how many times I've thought "Wow, I should post about THIS in my weblog" and then didn't

Because I am Doing NaNoWriMo.

Little things are going on around here -- we are getting new floors this week. Byebye cat- and dog-pee carpet, hello (mostly) hardwood, from the foyer through the living room and around into the kitchen. I'm excited because I've wanted this for a few years now, but I haven't really gotten too worked up. You see, all I could think was

Is this going to interrupt my NaNo writing time?

I was originally slated to Cook the Thanksgiving Meal (whoo hoo) for Husband's family and haul it to my mother in law's house. However, the floor interfered with that. It was supposed to go in last week, but there was a shipping problem and it was pushed off to this week. They have to pull out my appliances and such so we will be eating take out this week. I didn't really mind the cooking duties (Just the hauling ones), and yet my thought was

Oh yea! More time for NaNo.

I'm charging my way through the novel. There are over 40,000 words in that there thing, I'm reaching the center of the story where all my set up starts falling into action, just like those dominos people stack up to knock over. I'm not surprised at all how hard it is, although when I really sit down and just do it, a lot happens. It's the sitting down and doing in -- everything in the world is more interesting. I've folded laundry to avoid writing. I can see the story in my head (mostly) but translating it into words on paper is a different event. What looks simple in my head becomes full of questions. How did this character get to that spot to do this thing? I know he DOES this thing, but why is he doing this thing? And how will it affect that character over there? And does it make any sense with what I had happen before? I have these thoughts all through the day. I dream at night and try to work out the plot of my dreams. The novel centers my life and takes over my life. I am not giving much time to anything else -- not chorus, not gaming (well, a little, because it's a nice distraction, but then I'm all anxious to go write), certainly not housework. This book I'm writing is the white meat of my life. Everything else is garnish. So I guess what I have on my YIM comment is true.

NaNoWriMo Owns My Soul.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Let us pause and ask why

Why am I writing in NaNoWriMo this year? A friend of mine refered to it as a stunt.

Respect this friend as I may, and knowing full well he most likely did not mean it as I am taking it, I found that deeply insulting, in part because the word stunt (from Mirriam Webster Online) means

an unusual or difficult feat requiring great skill or daring; especially : one performed or undertaken chiefly to gain attention or publicity.

I'd submit then that marathon running, going for the X-prize, or any sports competition from fencing to football, is a stunt. Becoming a musician, a dancer or an artist could be seen as a stunt activity, since often attention or publicity is at least one goal. Any challenging or difficult thing a person tries to do that could get attention or publicity is a stunt, or could at least be seen as a stunt. The word carries connotations of doing a thing only for the publicity, which in our society is both condoned and condemned (would you know who Paris Hilton is otherwise?), heavy on the condemnation. Stunts are Not Worthy.

I'm not doing NaNo as a stunt. There's no attention or publicity to get, so I'm not thinking about it. No one is likely to read what I write. Chances of publication are slim to none. Only those few who read my blogs know I'm doing it. I don't expect anything much to come of it, except what I gain on a personal level.

So, what am I gaining? What am I learning?

I'm learning that I don't have to block myself up with judging my writing as I write it. I've learned that when I focus on an arbitrary goal, like word count and deadline, I don't have time to worry about all the other stuff that usually corks my writing up tight. I'm learning that if I don't spit out that rough draft in all its awful, rough, nasty glory, I have nothing to refine and edit and polish. I'm learning that I can discipline myself to the task, at least for a short time.

I'm doing this to tell myself, for all future dates when I am frustrated, when I berate myself for wasting time, squandering effort, pretending I have talent, torturing others with my drivel -- when I am hating myself, my writing, and the entire alphabet -- that I did finish something. I ran that race. I got to the end. I set a goal and made it.

Which means I can do it again.

Stunt? Maybe for some, but not for me. And I'm not swallowing any goldfish.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

No Explanation

  1. Hold up both your hands in front of you so that they touch, wrist to wrist (or close enough).
  2. Point your fingers in the famous "Look, I got a gun" position -- thumbs up, index fingers out, other fingers curled in.
  3. Pretend to fire said finger guns
  4. While firing, yell "YIP! YIP! YIP!" in a high pitched, doggy-like voice.

What have you got? Double muzzle Chihuahua guns.

Don't ask me why, but this kept the Husband and me laughing most of the weekend.

Yes, I'm still writing. Doesn't this TELL you I'm still writing? Would any person who isn't trying to pump out 50,000 words in the form of a novel have time to think of Chihuahua guns?

(It's even more fun if you say it, a la Les Nessman, "chi-hoowa-hoowa")

Friday, November 11, 2005

Still writing

Setbacks not withstanding, I'm closing in on the halfway point. I posted an except (heaven help you all). Just think of me leaning over my laptop, tapping away nonsense you won't have to read, unlike the usual drivel I put here which you, stalwart and loyal folk that you are, still somehow poke through occasionally.

I guess it is a little better than folding socks or cleaning the cat box.


NaNoWriMo owns my soul.

Monday, November 07, 2005

I'm writing, I'm writing!

I'm actually still doing the NiNoWriMo -- yeah, actually still doing it. I'm amazed. But I'm lonely. Go talk to me over there so I know you still care.

Monday, October 31, 2005

A (temporary) Fare Well Letter

Tomorrow is November First. This is important for three reasons.

1) It means 30 days until the end of Hurricane Season. This year, I'm saying it ain't over 'til it's over.

2) It means 25 days until I have to cook a turkey and cart it over the river and through the woods (ok, ok, over Leesburg and up 441). Oh, and sides.

3) NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow.

Yeah, I'm gonna make my stand here and now, 50,000 words of useless drivel or...or...or not. But if I'm rare here, I'll be at my OTHER site keeping up with the word count and things. If I'm not posting here, it isn't for lack of love for each and every one of you, but because I'm being all literary and shit. Or playing a lot of solitaire while trying to be literary and shit because, you know, in addition to drinking, all writers play Solitaire. I might even break out that bottle of vodka I've got stashed...

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Don't Taste the Bathroom, Please

Working at Necronomicon again. New hotel, new layout, but mostly the same people. Not really happy about the layout of the dealer's room -- as a matter of record, neither is the person in charge of the room. But it's a first year and so far, sales are good.

Of course, we don't actually see anything that doesn't happen in the dealer's room, but I've made a few observations.

1) This hotel has fruit flavored bathrooms, at least for women. I walked into the bathroom outside the dealer's room and almost had strawberry air freshener poisoning. It's not a pleasant thing.
2) Too many geeks don't understand the bathing concept. The dealer's room is very tight and crowded this year, so it's REALLY noticeable. I've been floating the idea of a Super Soaker water gun filled with soapy water and food coloring, so severe offenders can be marked and others warned.
3) There are far too many sports and news channels on the hotel's cable options. Feh.
4) It's costing me $10 a day to be online here. Oh, and the WiFi doesn't extend to the dealer's room, because no one at a conference or meeting would want to use the internet, right? But you can get it in the lobby area just before all the conference rooms. We walk out there every few hours to run our credit card slips.
5) There isn't a hell of a lot I want in an SF/Fantasy/Horror convention dealer's room anymore. I've bought 1 book (an impulse buy present for someone who wasn't going to get one before). I got 3 books from Evil Book woman in trade for massage, and we will probably buy a few of the colored printed "tapestry" sheets. We use them for everything and most of ours are worn out, ripped, or faded.

Right now we are trying to find new shows we can get into, and we have to make the jump into regular art shows at some point -- maybe next year. We've tried it before and it's such a pain, what with getting photos, having slides made (lots are going to digital, oh glory), filling out applications, etc. But we are starting to make money at it now. Oh, yeah, have to FINISH THE DAMN WEBSITE one of these days. I hardly have anything that I've got a picture of left in my boxes.

Oh yeah, need new boxes. LaGuz peed on some of the boxes I store jewelry in. If she wasn't 14 yrs old and a cuddly old lady, she'd be bedroom slippers by now. Oh, who am I kidding? She will pee where she wants until she dies, and she knows it. I'm a wuss.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Whose Right?

N.J. Students Ordered to Take Down Blogs

Not that I think the INTENT is necessarily wrong headed here -- protecting kids from the nut cases that do wander our world -- but I think this is a case of "protecting" a child by keeping him or her ignorant and unprepared. I also think it steps all over the rights and reponsibilities of parents, who are the ones to make these kinds of decisions.

If you want to protect a child from something, you TEACH them about it and how to handle it. You cannot put a child in a nice cotton padded box and then dump them out of it at 18 or 21 and expect them to go it alone.

Somehow, I think this has much deeper implications that simply protecting teens. I think this is a way of preventing a teen from publishing online anything the school (and the religious organization that runs the school) doesn't like or approve.

As for the kids, there are lots and lots of ways around this particular form of censorship that pop into my mind, and I'm positive they will pop into those kids' minds even faster. What a waste of effort.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Am I a Conservative?

Bill's Author Says Some Bloggers Would be Protected by Shield Law

I'm not so much attracted to this tidbit by the idea of blogger protection as by a few lines from one of the representatives supporting it.

"As a conservative, I believe the only real check on government is a free press," Pence said. "And as someone who believes in limited government, I believe nothing is more conservative than promoting and protecting the principle of a free press."

I agree that transparancy is the only way to monitor the goings-on of government (which is made up of people, most of whom are fallable, few of whom are saintly, and all of whom are quite capable of rationalizing anything they do). Historically, the press (again, made up of the same kind of people) has been the instrument for providing that close-inspection lens.

I also believe in limited government. In my mind, governments exist as a way for people to do collectively what they cannot do individually, and to respond with as much neutrality as possible in deciding what things should be done. I know it gets more complicated than that, especially since any two groups of people may have quite different ideas about what should be done, but for the moment let's stick with the simple idea.

I just realized, upon reading this, that I'd no idea "conservatives" felt this way. Over the last 10 years or so, I've come to believe that conservativism meant "You should live the way I want you to live." and that a conservative government would be large so that it could poke deeply into the lives of every citizen and control what they did and did not see, do, think, or say. Somewhere I'd become convinced (and I don't think I'm alone in this) that conservatives sought to conserve a single particular way of living, a single set of beliefs, and a single world view -- one, of course, most comfortable to a group of people with a distinct and specific comfort zone that they want to convince everyone else is "The Best Way" -- as if even they all live and believe exactly the same.

You see, I thought that wanting small government involved only in matters that couldn't be handled by individuals or small groups made me a liberal. I thought requiring those given the freedoms and priveledges of our society to act with personal responsibility and culpability, leaving people to otherwise live their own lives in their own way, to mind my own business, to offer help to others and not judgement, made me a liberal. It certainly didn't sound like anything I heard from conservatives, and in these days where everyone has to be on one of two teams, there wasn't much other choice. Since I thought government was created to help us do as a large group those things not otherwise manageble, and not to give one group control over the lives of other groups, I figured liberal was where it was at.

Who'da thunk? Now what am I?

Things you Don't Expect

There are certain things that come with being female and 40. You know, you have a particular set of expectations. By 40 you've either settled into a career or you are in your mid-life crisis and moving toward another career. You either have a mortgage or you are moving cross-country for that new career and a new mortgage. You've probably been married at least once. You've had your kids or you've decided not to have kids. You're looking more seriously at the mysterious world of retirement planning. You know a lot more about medicine than you ever expected to know, and you'll discuss it at the drop of a hat. You hate your weight, your hair, your inability to find THE perfect dress, but you're, you know, kind of over it. Things don't bother you quite the way they once did. Entirely new things you never knew could bother you now bother you, but not so much you do more than notice they bother you.

I have a Very Best Friend in the Whole World. We were born a month apart, met in 7th grade, had a fight (she made an unflattering use of me in a short story read for class, I pulled her hair), bonded over a love of words and individual yet complementary senses of humor, but didn't really become the Cosmic Twinkies we are until a week after highschool graduation. Since then we have been Very Best Friends in the Whole World, so much so that years can go by and when we meet again, we just pick up where we left off. I love her, adore her, and think she's wonderful. People don't know it, but when I say someone reminds me of my VBFWO, it's a huge compliment.

I talked with her yesterday, a post hurricane check, since she lives south of me and got more whacked by the storm than I did. She's fine -- she's teaching, her career is going well, her daughter is starting her 3rd year in college, her son is getting through highschool, her husband is good and life is pretty much where she expected it. Except one thing.

She's pregnant.

This is not one of the things one expects when one is female and 40.

She was nervous about telling me because of my miscarriages and my whole "whelp, no kids" thing, that I'd be upset because, damn it, whenever something happens to one of us, the other gets a different version of the EXACT SAME THING. She had appendicitis one year and just after her surgery she came up to visit. The NEXT DAY I was in the emergency room with the gallbladder. We get nervous about things like this. She's nervous about the baby's condition, the changes it will bring in her life, the things she will get and give up. She was looking forward to the whole empty nest thing, yet she's cautiously excited.

All I keep thinking is "well, this wasn't expected." I'm kind of going through it in my head, all my reasons for not doing the adoption thing or the incredibly expensive various other methods I know people are doing to have a child. A lot of them come down to "I'm 40". I'm excited for her, nervous for her, and once again wishing we didn't live an hour+ away from each other.

Still, I might have to steal the baby. For long weekends.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Hey, Look -- Autumn!

Wilma is hurrying on past with nary a scratch nor scrape on yours truly. There are other regions of the state not so lucky. I was listening to tornado reports in the wee hours this morning -- they were giving locations by major intersections. Several were familiar to me. That was ookie. Lots and lots of rain, hours and hours and hours of it.

So we went to work. Work was open (surprise, surprise) and most people showed up except those with kids not in school (because they are closed today) with no one to watch them. The roof of the main office has a long history of being leaky. It was leaky again today. It was leaky in my office. Not terribly leaky, just "oh that ceiling tile is unhappy" leaky. Those acoustical ceiling tiles soak water like a sponge, and then fall in splattery chunks onto the floor.

Of course, Bennie the Kitten Wonder decided that today was THE day to make his great escape. He got as far as the bushes next to the house and realized it was WET and CHILLY and DARK out here. This was, of course, all part of the great Human Conspiracy to keep him from killing lizards and rolling in dirt. He had just turned around to head back to the door when he realized that would be capitulating. SO, he was frozen in indecision, getting wet and trying to make a bold strike for Housecat Independence (he's the only member in our household. The other cats regard the Great Outdoors with indifference or outright disgust.) when Husband reached in and grabbed him by the scruff, hauled him out of the bushes and tossed him into the house.

The indignation, you can imagine, was immense, requiring that he run into the back room and meow a lot about the injustices of his life. I picked him up, kissed his head (which just adds to the indignities he suffers) and dropped him on the bed. He's recovering on the back of the chair.

In other news, it is actually sorta COOL out there. After weeks of muggy high 80's and low 90's, it's actually dipping into the 60's and 70's today. It's almost like Autumn or something. This is what October is SUPPOSED to be like here. Only without the hurricane part.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Very Wet

Hurricanes make everything complicated. We are not in the direct path of the storm (so far) and we aren't on the coast, so we aren't under evacuation orders or even boarding up windows. However, there are still tornadoes and high winds, heavy rains and power outages to consider. So we are having to decide

- do we go to work in the morning? (yes, and if the building is closed, we come home. If not, we work until either closing time or until the power goes out/roof comes off/boss gets nervous. Don't know how many people will show up. They've announced public school closure for our county, so that will cut down how many people show for work.

- do we drive down for Husband to teach Yoga/me to rehearse with ensemble? ( No. Heavy rains for an hour each way just isn't a good idea.)

I don't expect much more than a lot of rain, but there is nothing predictable about storms. We got through the last 3 with nary a power flicker, most power lines in our area being under ground, but there's nothing certain, except that it will be very wet tomorrow.

My big fat cat, Ophelia is already stationed under my chair, a place she only goes when she's upset. There's been a little thunder, which usually sends her under the bed. The "under the chair" thing bothers me.

Friday, October 21, 2005

How Clean

Experts Refute Anti-Bacterial Soap Claims

This interests me because 1) I don't believe in a bacteria-free life. As one scientist quoted in the article says "Bacteria are not going to be destroyed," he said. "They've seen dinosaurs come and go. They will be happy to see us come and go. Any attempt to sterilize our home is fraught with failure." 2) I think there's enough marketing and money-making based on creating new problems for new products to solve. 3) Fear based marketing gets on my nerves.

There was a brief flirtation with the anti-bacterial stuff around our house -- I think it was a freebie or something like that. After years of presriptions to kill everything, I avoid anti-biotics as much as possible (I was once prescribed them for a viral infection, which was a complete waste, but my doctor operates under the idea that if he doesn't give you a pill, you won't feel like he did anything).

First, I gotta accept that SOMETHING, one day, is going to kill me. I'm going to die. Fact. End of story. Second, I've got enough stuff to be paranoid about. Third, I think there's something to this idea of "That which does not kill us makes us stronger" as applied both to humans and to the little bacteria everywhere.

Seriously, how clean does a person have to be?

Girly Girl

I just noticed that all my fingernails are not only rather long, but mostly the same length. This realization made me think about giving myself a manicure and maybe painting them an unnatural color.

I go through phases of "girly girl" stuff. Most of the time I can't be bothered -- curling irons, make-up, things like that just take up time I could spend running around bashing evildoers in virtual spandex. I'ce got ugly feet so the whole idea of a pedicure is right up there with getting multiple lip piercings with bouganvilla thorns. Yet once in a while my lifelong exposure to American Culture and Glamor Magazine gets to me, and I gotta do something girly.

Of course, it always ends in disaster. If I ignore my fingernailes except to trim them, they will grow rather long and be sturdy as steel. If I pay them attention, every nail I have will break down to the second knuckle and I will type with painful little stubs. Nature's little way of protecting me from the straitjacket of cultural stereotypes, I guess, except that there is still a stereotype left that I slide into -- you know which one. The one that always uses the wrong laundry detergent in a side-by-side comparison.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

And I'm Awake Why?

Came in to work today because 1) someone has to empty the dehumidifior in the boss's office while he's traveling and 2) there's a lunch meeting I'm supposed to attend. It's an odd factor of my odd job. I really only have work to do when my boss is in the office. I have "busy work" I can do other times, but I'm just producing paper to go to people who are going to ignore it as long as they can, so it hardly seems worthwhile. Occasionally I have a project I can work on, but, like most everything I do, in the end they get ignored because they will inconvenience someone else. I have very good reasons to only work part time here. It's all to save my self-worth.

Speaking of saving my self-worth, a sort of crisis has arisen in the Chorus. I don't know who (if anyone) from the Chorus reads this site, so paranoia has kept me silent up to this moment. I don't know if the crisis in particular was a long time building or just arose from the particular set of conditions currently in place, but it sits on my mind a lot.

First, we have a new director, whom I think is fantastic. He's not everyone's cup of tea -- the chorus has, in my opinion, taken a very casual approach to music up to now. Many people attend for the social aspect, with some singing on the side, which is fun and fine, but is more "glee club" than "chorus". We are something of a "pop" chorus, which I think has bred a "musicality doesn't really matter" attitude. Our new director comes from a very classical training background -- more what I'm used to in directors, really -- and there is a great deal of adjustment to be made all around. In any case, there are a variety of opinions about all of this.

My part came up when, once more, I ran straight into the fact I'm not a tenor and I can't easily sing a tenor part. The rule was, under the former director, that women could sing "up the octave" on whatever songs they couldn't sing in the tenor range. This worked halfway for me, since I have a middle range voice. I could usually reach all but the lowest notes (or, highest if I was up) which meant I switched around a lot during songs. This was never particularly easy, but it worked ok. It also didn't make for the most beautiful blended, "one voice" sound. the new director certainly didn't care for it. I don't really blame him, considering his goals and his background.

Now, I've always had some problems feeling like I was singing well with the chorus (one reason I love the ensembles) because nothing was in my key. I've had a lot of interior battles about it, because if I'm given an opportunity to beat myself up on something, I certainly will. With the rule now to sing everything in the proper octave, I literally was mouthing whole sections of songs, and not necessarily singing well through other parts, and in general I either had to sing very softly to maintain blend and balance, or just not sing at all. The idea of standing on stage pretending to sing was too disheartening, so I decided that I'd take a concert off. We're allowed to do that and still sing with the ensembles for one concert per season. I figured it would give the new director a chance to settle in without having to deal with me and my set of problems, and next concert we'd see what happened to make life better.

What has come out of this and what I realize I've always felt is that the chorus, despite its declaration of being a mixed group, has had trouble recruiting and keeping women because it has no place for women. Few women sing tenor. Most are altos and sopranos (as are some men). But the chorus has maintained a TTBB structure, which allows women to sing only if they are able to sing tenor or are willing to sing in less comfortable keys. Although the chorus welcomes women and men, it doesn't REALLY welcome women. It sort of lets them in if they will pretend to be boys for the duration. I hadn't actually formed that into words until two days ago.

It's a very peculiar kind of thought to have about this organization, that this is another "boy's club" situation with a group that is supposed to be all about diversity and acceptance. And it underlines something of which I've become more aware as I've grown older -- accepting anyone different from one's self, no matter what that difference is, requires attention, effort, an ability to deal with discomfort, and constant vigilence. It is so very easy to slip into habits of clustering only with people like one's self. Opposites may attract (on some levels) but birds of a feather flock together on much deeper levels (to shove some cliches into work here). It really doesn't matter what kind of feathers one has. Animals tend to stick with others of their kind. When a dog and a cat get along well, it's a news feature. Well, that's the same with people. If we want to be just at our lowest level, we cluster with those just like us. If we want to rise above and use all our human potential, we must learn to live comfortably with those who are different from us.

That's a big lesson to get from this situation. And I really wish I could take a nap now. Thinking is just so exhausting.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells

For those of you who haven't even gotten the lights taken down from last year, most of my Christmas shopping arrived today. Oh my, only 8 weeks to wrap them!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Sundry Sunday Considerations

The whole "righty tighty, lefty loosey" thing only works IF
1) you can identify right and left instantly and consistantly
2) The screws you are trying to remove were actually installed under that rule

Otherwise you go around and around for nothing. I prefer "clockwise, counter-clockwise" because, somehow, THAT always comes out the same way.

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The new Target opened up last week. It is about 1/4 of a mile closer to our house than the Wal-Mart that had previously been the center of the local universe. We, of course, checked it out yesterday. It is many steps above the usual mileau we experience at Wally-world. I bought two new clocks for the bathroom and and the living room and an assortment of fancy chocolates. They have a fancy chocolates aisle. This makes Target Superior. Dark Chocolate Espresso Hazelnuts do, indeed, make the world go 'round. Clockwise.

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I never needed the phrase "man-cooter" in my life. I still don't. However, it is now permanently engraved on my word collecting brain, seared into the grey matter with a smell not unlike burnt toast, thanks to Michael. I will take revenge as I may.

It's right there with "hootchie" and "hoo hoo". Words I just don't need, but I'm stuck with.

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I have officially given up any pretence at having a life in order to get my City of Heroes character to level 50, preferably before the rollout of City of Villains. They made us an offer we couldn't refuse and we are sucked into the maelstrom of virtual goodies. Hell, I've finally made a website for my screenshots.

It's really very, very sad.