mer: (Default)
Morning's effort to eat righter--meaning, hard push to get in the veg, not just a meandering, "Wellll... I guess I'll have a saaalad....."--led to semi-disaster.

Chard was slightly aged (well, poorly preserved, more like; it needed crisping up), and I had kidney beans, not black beans, on hand.

It wasn't a total disaster--the multi-colored peppers and the egg weren't enough to save it, but there was a container of salsa roja and a thumb of Irish cheddar who kept me from kicking the chard out completely.

If I just hadn't slept through the gym alarm, all would be grand. As it is, I took the extra time to prep dinner, prep the next two breakfasts, and prep a good lunch. Plus coffee. For which I've switched to soy creamer.

Now, for some strawberries.

PS, exercising "most days" instead of "I'll try for 3 days" is working out quite well. I haven't gone fewer than 5 days a week since I started. No movement on the scale beyond an initial 5 lbs, but I figure I had a lot of fat that needed conversion to muscle before it could start doing whatever it is that muscle does. The goal wasn't for the scale, though; the goal was for feeling great. And THAT is happening.
mer: (Cake or Death? (Eddie Izzard))
You have been betrayed!!! It’s a pity that this how your life is going
to come to an end as your death had already been paid for by someone who is very
close to you from all investigations.

I have ordered 3 (three) of my men to monitor every move of you and make sure
you are not out of sight till the date of your assassination.

According to the report I gets, you seem to be innocent about what you have been
accuse but I have no business with that, so that’s why am contacting you to know
if truly you are innocent and how much you value your life.

Get back to me if you sure want to live on, ignore this mail only if you feel
it’s a joke or just a threat.

Don’t forget your days on earth are numbered, so you have the chance to live if
only you will comply with me.

WARNING: Tell no one about this mail to you because he or she might just be the
person who wants you dead, and if that happens, I will be aware and am going to
make sure you DIE instantly.

I will give you every detail of where to be and how to take any actions be it
legal or illegal, that’s only when I read from you.

You need to stay calm and act unaware of this situation and follow instructions
because any move you make that is suspicious; you will DIE as your days are

Wow. I thought spam had really seen it's hay-day but this is awesome.
mer: (Absurd (Arrested Development))
I used to think I needed more sleep, and I did. I used to think I needed more exercise, and I did.

Now I have sleep and exercise. And I'm still frazzled.

Now what?
mer: (Disaster (Jayne))
I like this show. It's amusing, and I identify strongly with Phil and Cam. It also makes my husband reliably clutch his gut and guffaw once per episode, usually during a Luke one-liner, and that alone is worth watching the show, because it's funny to watch Dann watch it.

I like the notion that it's trying to illustrate more than the traditional nuclear family as we've seen it: A gay couple! A second marriage! An interracial/cross-cultural families! Loving your stepkids! Adoption!

Some of the things they do right, they do SO right. Example: Jay and Manny's relationship feels very real to me, as a stepmother. It's occasionally awkward, hesitant, over-thought. You want to do your best for this kid that has no reason to love you, so you don't always push things the way you would with your own children--and honestly, that's perhaps for your own betterment.

But the thing that 100% throws me out of it is that I have a hard time identifying with the women, because none of them work outside the home.

Sure, it makes sense that Gloria doesn't work--she's the trophy wife of a semi-retired and successful businessman. Now, just to be clear, her character is much more complex than "trophy wife," but her role is not, at least, not in the domestic sphere. She does cook, but I never see her cleaning (do I?), which means there's help. Which I think they refer to a lot--isn't that who dyed Jay's white robe pink recently? I confess to not being super-attentive to this fact. Anyway, I appreciate that Gloria has other roles, too: immigrant, mother, and bad-ass. I'll table sex object for now, especially since they've both backed off and examined Phil's weird little thing for her, which was seriously the one thing I hated about the show in the first season. All things considered, we know Gloria has worked, and worked hard, in the past; that she came from little; and she is certainly relishing her current role. Fair cop.

But does it make sense for Claire not to have a job? Phil is in real estate, and with the recent crises, it might behoove Claire to go to work. But let's leave the oddities of TV finances aside and consider that Claire is competetive, ambitious, and driven, and her youngest child is 12 or 13. How has she not combusted from being at home all this time? Her recent run at City Council or whatever is very late-arriving from that perspective.

So Gloria makes sense; Claire doesn't. The third stay-at-home parent on the show is not a woman, but let's take a look anyway. Cam seems reasonable in that role--no great sense of drive, and has a child at the age that most supports staying home. One suspects that in the working world, Cam would not be a high earner, where his wages might be a wash with the cost of daycare for their daughter. Where money and temperament align, it makes sense. Still doesn't make sense for Claire, though.

I appreciate that the show might be trying to show three families each with a stay-at-home parent. But let's get real. We have two very lightly-worked fathers on the show, as well. Jay is semi-retired. I think we've seen him at work... once? Twice? And how much do we think Phil really works? Couple hours away from home a day? Maybe four? I'm not saying a real realtor, I'm saying how Phil is portrayed on the show.

Basically, Mitch is the only one we see coming and going from work in a reliable fashion. I actually believe he's gone for 8, 9 hours a day--low for a lawyer, but still.

Taking a peek at the younger generation, we have two female characters who are getting very close to breaking out in the world on their own. Haley and Alex are both expected to go to college and get jobs. It is, in fact, a constant bone of contention with Haley that she might not get into a good college, and then OMG what will she do??? There's a weird upper middle class paranoia about this plotline, wherein it is not acceptable for her to consider something like apprenticing with her dad, since real estate doesn't require college. There's a long tradition of boys being brought into the family business... Does this not occur to anyone because Haley's a girl?

But more to the point, with no role models of working women in her life, why are they beating it into her that she has to go to college, has to use college to get a good job? Why has she never shot back a snarky comment about her mom's usage of her college degree? I'm not saying she would be right to do so, but why wouldn't that occur to her as distinctly hypocritical of her parents--teenagers being so finely tuned to the hypocracy of their elders?

Oh, sure, there are more layers to this. For one thing, they don't want her to waste her potential--she has the ability to do more, if she wanted. They don't want her to feel limited by her choices. They have no faith in her past boyfriend picks to think that they might be good wage earners if she wanted to do the stay-at-home mom route. I get it. It's complicated.

But I have conversations all the time with women Claire's age about working or not working, and it never, ever seems to come up in the show. And you can't say that this show is a comedy, it doesn't address stuff like this, because it does.

But only when it thinks of it.

PS I stand corrected in the comments by [ profile] defectivewookie's wife. Claire had a hospitality-industry job of some sort before kids, and her career ambitions were addressed in an episode. One I totally don't remember, but hey. The upshot is still that it's rarely addressed... and it still feels highly unrealistic to see 3 single-income families wherein budgets don't even seem to come into play, in a show that otherwise does a reasonably good job portraying diversity in modern families.
mer: (Default)
Sometime after I ran away from home last week--which was as much a reaction to carrying on during spring break at a department of a large university that leans heavily on student assistants as though the students were not gone, as it was a reaction to finishing the latest draft of this Difficult Sophomore Novel--I realized that yes, I'm just going to have to let Some Things Slide.

And one of those Some Things is very probably the notion that I will someday catch up on things. (Less capitalized things there.)

Dayjob accounts for 29.7% of my time, between actual work, commuting, and lunch hour. I can reclaim 3% of my time for socializing or writing (lunch hour), but it would be generous to suspect that I really do, since a great deal of my lunch hour "socializing" is spent with work mates talking about work. In productive ways, even. I can reclaim another 3% (the commutes) for entertainment, as I usually absorb a podcast or an audiobook during these times, though, just as often, I'm devising strategies for work and singing at the top of my lungs. In any case, it's ironclad that this time is spent away from home and fairly rigidly split amongst these possibilities.

I also answer work email from home a fair amount, much to my husband's horror, but you know. That's what exempt status really means, right? Though this tallies to much less than 3% of my time. Probably more like 1%.

Sleep accounts for 28% of my time, which is down from 38% of my time pre-CPAP machine. So, hallelujah, time-saving device, though that's not what your true or intended purpose is. But the fact is, with fully oxygenated sleep, I rarely bank past 7 hours a night. I just--don't need to sleep anymore. I zonk out when I'm tired--and the Wall is much less negotiable now that I have proper sleep hygiene--but at the same time, I inevitably wake up 6.5-6.7 hours later, alert if not bright-eyed, and 98% of the time unwilling and unable to sleep again until the Wall comes bearing down again about 17 or 18 hours later. Miraculous.

So, another 6% of my time (if I'm low-balling it) relates to eating or planning to eat. As the main cook of the house, it's my task to get everything in the Sphere of Food accomplished, even if it's planning out a meal for someone else to execute. I get occasional, hard-won input from husband or child, but... So yeah, 10.5 hours a week is definitely low for food, but it's hard to sort that out.

I spend a mere 2% of my time on exercise. I'm working to increase that.

So, just 34% of my my life is left. Let's say... 4% to grooming. Down to 30%. During the low ebb of writing, that absorbs 8% of my time; high ebb, it's more like 20%. Sometimes 30%, when the deadlines are bearing down. Sometimes more.

That leaves 10 to 22% of my life, i.e. 2-5 hours a day (except we all know there's more time on weekends and less on weekdays), which is supposed to cover: being a friend, being a wife, being a stepmother, keeping house, putting away laundry, paying bills, taking care of finances, taking care of pets, meditation, reading for pleasure, seeing movies, watching television, calling my mother, answering fan mail, any hobbies I might want to acquire, relating to extended family, marketing books, attending conventions, and, you know, any sort of volunteer activities I might ever want to undertake. All of which has its own jumble of priorities, but too often get sorted out in crisis mode. No wonder I feel like I am failing at everything.

So, when people say, "Did you see Neil Gaiman's blog?" and I heave a surly "NO, I DIDN'T" or when people say, "Didn't you get my Facebook inbox message?" and I apologize, or when people ask why I don't keep up with an obviously superior TV show and I have to gibber and explain that if I'm going to watch TV, it's going to be a quick 22 minutes that make me laugh, not a lengthy 44 that make me think or cry... this would be a good time to just give me a hug, and not try and debate why I'm letting Some Things Slide.

It would also NOT be a good time to question why I'm spending 5% of that day's free time on Pinterest. If that happens, it's I don't have the brain capacity left for more than pinning pretty pictures. I am not one of those people who can dominate in three spheres (or more!); who can go from dayjob to writing night to demanding hobby and to second demanding hobby and not break a sweat. At best, I can pull a solid B+ in my double major, and otherwise, I'm just going to have to take the C on the rest of the core curriculum, and get an F, a W or an I on everything else.

Um. This was actually supposed to be a witty breakdown of how I spend my time, but mostly, it's just become a breakdown in every other sense of the word.

Sorry about that.
mer: (Amaryllis)
I usually feel like a pretty brave little trooper or whatever you might want to call it when faced with news of death--not that I don't mourn or grieve, but I typically feel like I know where death fits in with it all.

Maybe that comes of being scared crapless of death between the ages of four and eleven? I've talked a little about my apocalyptic fears from being raised evangelical, but not lately--suffice it to say I was a morbid little kid, certain I and my mother were going to hell, and Jesus was coming, just not for me.

Maybe it comes from being a member of a large family in general (it seems like someone is always dying), or being very close to the holder of the Death Office--you know, the person who always ends up arranging the funerals. Maybe it comes from having been born with grandparents already in their 70s.

Maybe it comes from parental issues--my dad faced down his first bout of cancer when I was eleven, and had several in between before he died at the young age of forty-six (literally only ten years older than I am now). --And my mom worked with terminal patients for the better part of my adolescence, and it wasn't just worked with them, but brought them to our home, socialized with them, etc.

Whatever the reason, while I feel compassionate towards people who lose others, and while I feel grief when people die, it still doesn't usually strike me with a big "WHY GOD WHY" very often. Pretty much only when children die--or, in a weird paradox that I consider vaguely selfish and maybe even narcissistic, people I knew as children (even when I was also a child). A distant friend from high school passed away today, and I find myself vaguely inconsolable--far more grief-stricken than I potentially shoudl be, since I remember very little about this man other than as a genial math-class buddy.

I've been thinking a lot about the sparrow in the hall lately--even before this. It seems strange to me that after spending so much time rejecting any notion of any real God that I find convinced that I'm just a sparrow, and I am uncomfortable, perhaps even unhappy, with the belief that there is no storm outside the hall. I don't want or need an omnipotent, watchful God; but I do want a universe that will open up when I die. Actually, no--it's not for me. What I want is a universe that will open up when my friends, and family, and most especially the people I knew as children, die.


Jan. 28th, 2012 10:46 am
mer: (Default)
I do not have very many precious mementos from my childhood left intact anymore. My mementos are either non-precious things I have somehow managed to hold onto in spite of having only half-warm feelings for them, or have been damaged or broken in spite of my best efforts.

Example of the latter: My tiny glass elephant, hand-blown by a family friend when I was 5 and given to me by my aunt, lost an ear to Kayla's childhood. I found that E6000 adhesive actually glues glass back together, but it's still not quite right. That's probably my oldest artifact that I actually remember, shy of a few shabby stuffed animals and some over-handled books.

I do not particularly mind not having many artifacts--I'm trying to declutter my life, not add to it--but there are two things that bother me.

The first is: I have no reserves. Every physical item of my childhood is either gone or in my possession. My dad kept nothing of me, as far as I know; and my mom kept nothing of me, for certain, as she is a relentless declutterer and has moved so many times that I know she has nothing except pictures, and not very many of them, either. Aunts and grandparents and cousins who might have kept a few things have returned all these things to me at some point, either to mark milestones, or upon their death, or just because. It's nice of them to do that, and no, I wouldn't want a niece's stuff in my house, either, but without my parents to perform any archiving tricks, there's no well to return to. This isn't such a big deal, or a terrible thing, but I do feel sometimes that it's odd to have been excised so early from other people's houses--I mean, this all happened by my early twenties. Okay, maybe the biggest deal is that I was excised from my MOTHER's house so young. But then I look at all the little bits of my writing she saved, and all the other bits that I saved, and I think: well, I have those. And it's not even that they still exist, but here is proof positive that she gave me the space to write and be who I was.

The second thing that bothers me is that I don't have many things from some rather key people in my life. I have more items from my great-grandmother than I do from my father. In fact, I would be hard pressed to point to anything in my entire house that might have come from my father. Part of that is because he gave me so few things during the course of my life, and part of it is because the few things he did give me were kind of non-durable--a lot of faddish, plasticy toys when I was younger. He did build me a dollhouse when I was four or five, but it was.... well, it was clumsy, and second, I sacrificed it to a ceremonial fire for healing a few years back. The only other thing I kept for very long was a small stuffed moose he gave me after a hunting trip, which caused my cousin to cry when he gave it to me and not my cousin, and I have such crappy memories about that... I don't know when I got rid of that, perhaps in a fit of pique before he died, perhaps some other time, but either way, it was not a font of warm memories. I wish I had something from him--but I wish it was something FROM him, that he had wanted to give to me, that was worth keeping, so that will never change.

The other two people I don't have strong material reminders from are my maternal grandparents. I have a few things from Grandma that I love and feel are the perfect thing, and those are mainly recipe cards written in her hand; I also have her "brag books" filled with pictures of her grandchildren. Those are just right, and quite probably enough to have, and the only thing I'm sad I don't have is an artifact of her knitting. (I also wish I had the antique wooden butter bowl that belonged to her mother, but she got rid of that while she was alive, to my chagrin.) I do have her cookie jar, now that I think of it, and I need to pull that out of the cupboard and cookiefy it, preferably with her recipe for icebox cookies. So I guess I'm square there, after all.

But for my grandfather, I have so little from someone who meant so very much. I have a rose quartz he found while digging in the garden and gave to me. I have a random woven turtle box he gave me. A kerosene lantern for emergencies. And... that's it.

But I also have all the stories he gave me. Mostly the turtle stories, but also his childhood stories. Those are treasures beyond telling, and I guess--I guess those are enough. They'll feel more like enough if I ever get them out of my head and set them down on paper, but I'm also afraid they'll look paltry if I do. Not because there weren't dozens of stories, but because I only remember a few, and because I can't possibly do them justice. Without seeing them outside of me, I can pretend that there's more to them; that the memories just out of reach might swim back into view someday. And there are the memories of being told the stories: of being cuddled on his lap far past the age that it must have been comfortable to hold me, of being rocked and having my back rubbed, while he told me about turtles who mowed lawns and went to church picnics.

So, really, do I need more artifacts to appreciate that?

No--I don't.
mer: (16 no's (HIMYM))
And I will not sum up.

Except very vaguely.

I don't know. It wasn't a great year in many ways, and for lots of reasons I don't really want to talk about on the internet. (*gasp* What? But you have previously wanted to talk about everything on the internet...) It was kind of one of those "every silver cloud has a really dark lining" kinds of years. The joys there are, however, are bright--friends, family, health, house, love, laughter, all that stuff.

My goal? Balance. Balance would be a Very Good Thing to consider in the coming year. (My goal is to consider it, because achieving it might be unpossible.)
mer: (Doctor Who - 10 in snow)
So, for this year's Christmas special, the plan was that my mom would come down, she would make a Christmas Eve dinner of lovely aloo choli, my in-laws would come over and I would cook us all a giant feast, and then the day after Christmas, we'd visit some friends. Somewhere in there, the house would get clean.

Dear readers, puking tried to ruin my Christmas plans.

Seriously. I'd taken Friday off work. The retrieving supervisor had felt ill for three days prior with a "gnome gnawing [her] intestines," but I'd brushed it off as "She sits pretty far away." I spent Friday cleaning the house and feeling just fine. I got up very early and made it to Trader Joe's by 8:05, to Whole Foods by 8:45, and to MedEquip (to get my CPAP pressure adjusted) by 10:00, then pretty much worked nearly non-stop but for a 30 minute break to lunch and a 45 minute nap late afternoon. All was going sort of well, other than I didn't check in on stepdaughter's cleaning of the bathroom, which I should have.

Cut for bathroom rant. )

I also, as usual, slightly misestimated Time Needed to Clean, per usual, so redistributing the chore load with my husband ended in an epic discussion, but we sorted it. Anyway. Mom arrived. We chatted, we watched 30 Rock, we got ready to eat...

My mom was putting together the aloo choli and I was toasting naan and suddenly I was overwhelmed by nausea. Like, "I DO NOT WANT TO EAT" levels of nausea. And I admitted it, which is not usual for me and feeling bad in front of my mom, because she swings into Full-on Nurse Mode.

Maybe that's why my husband feels I'm a hypochondriac. I know it's safe to mention feeling ill in front of people who aren't my mother, so I mention any twinge that comes along.

Now, Full-on Nurse Mode with my mother isn't like some awesome thing. I mean, Full-on Nurse Mode is awesome to behold, but it's not such fun to experience. She does things to you. Flu? She tries to make you drink hot pineapple juice laced with garlic, then feed you milk toast, and then everything you try to do for subsequent days afterward is met with a sharp, "JUST LIE DOWN AND BE SICK." She does not think well of people who try to do things while being ill. They're just asking for more being ill time in her book, and ultimately making her job harder. She has a highly competent bedside manner; you feel safe with her. But it's a kind of competence and safety that is occasionally hard to bear, especially if you were just feeling vaguely nauseated. She is not sympathetic.

So the fact that I said something and didn't try to choke down any food right then probably, in retrospect, should have been the sign that something was going to happen.

My stomach seemed to settle, and I had a bite or two of food, and a bite or two of naan. And stopped there.

Cut for Vomit. )

I spent the evening being nauseated and considering ways in which not to puke, and having waves of body chills and aches. I fell asleep on the couch around 9ish, sitting up, unwilling to go to bed even though I was wretched because lying down seemed like a bad idea; Dann played video games (Mom went to bed). Sometime past midnight, after I drank some electrolytes and ate some applesauce, I made it to bed.

I woke up mostly okay. I tried toast; toast was a friend. Then I had to start cooking Christmas dinner, which my mom was a huge help with. Every time I mentioned part of the plan that was complex, she nixed it. "Don't make it complicated, you're sick..." Full-on Nurse Mode, right? I hadn't gotten to do any of the prep I'd wanted to do the night before. All I'd managed was to hard-boil some eggs and doing the turkey brine.

So, morning. Turkey in the oven. Mom peeled potatoes. My husband took pity on me and made the bread. (He also did the chocolate pie, but not from pity.) We put together squash and sweet potatoes and broccoli. Everything was humming along. Then Diabetic Cat, Kali, yowled for a few minutes and randomly ran into the bathroom to puke on the rug. I sat down with her for a minute a little while afterward, and noticed she hadn't cleaned the puke off her paw; yet, she was purring, almost uncontrollably while she sat on my lap, not in any sort of cuddling-purring position. Dann and I looked at each other, a little worried.

Odd. Dann's parents and brother arrived. Back to the kitchen. We were achieving controlled chaos. It was noted Kali was drooling. Then panting. K. came home as I was looking up "diabetic cat panting drooling" online. The suggestion was not low blood sugar, but "symptoms of cystitis." Hm. But time to go to the vet, the website suggested--and hurry.

When I went back to the living room, Dann was already looking up the emergency vet's info. I sat with Kali a minute. Her pupils were wide, and she was strolling into unconsciousness. I almost went to get corn syrup to rub on her gums, but I wasn't sure that wouldn't hurt her more. Dann was back, I was calling the vet, they were saying come in, cars had to be moved, Dann and the cat were gone, K. was on the couch being comforted by her grandmother.

All I could think was that the last time there was a pet health crisis, Dann had had to deal with it alone, and it had been so hard on him, and I'd promised he wouldn't have to do it again--but there we were. I thought K. might feel better if she were there, that if we had to do the hard thing, she might prefer the chance to say good-bye, so I asked her if she wanted to go. She nodded, miserable and crying, and thirty seconds later I was saying, "You're in charge of dinner" to all available parents.

It was a long drive to the vet. Inevitably, on Platt, there was an old man driving ahead of me, who kept staring at the garbage dump and going 5 miles below the limit. I thought about how people regret chances they miss by minutes instead of by longer periods of time. I thought if the cat died while we were en route, it was going to be hard not to hate this old man.

K. and I held hands and sniffled silently the whole way there.

We got in the door to find Dann calmly filling out paperwork. A wretched few minutes later, the vet tech came in to say that Kali's glucose had been 31 (down from the 150 which would be considered normal-managed for a diabetic cat), and she'd been given dextrose and was perking up. We did the medical history of the cat, which nearly took all three of us anyway.

They wanted to pump her with fluids and monitor her for a few hours. We were let to go see her. The vet and the tech both told us about how when she was given the dextrose, she certainly seemed confused, like, "How did I get here???!?", coming out of her half-conscious fugue state. She meowed at us to let her out of the damn cage when we came in, as we each took a turn petting her. Only towards the end of the petting did she try to get up and come out, but we pushed her back down.

I texted my brother-in-law that the cat seemed stabilized, after the parents failed to figure out how to operate the landline phone; then said, "We're coming back in 20 minutes." He texted back, "With or without cat?" which I didn't get until I got out of the car. So we came in announcing that the cat was okay. Or, K. did. She's getting to that point where she thinks of these things.

We went home, opened presents, had Christmas dinner, opened more presents. It was slightly subdued, but much the cheerieer for having avoided the worst result. We had alternating bouts of self-recrimination for not figuring out what was going on with her earlier, and being glad we got her to the vet when we did. Or I did. I'm not sure about Dann.

The turkey was fantastic, if I do say so myself. That recipe is solid gold.

At some point, the vet called to say Kali's sugar was up and down and weird, and they wanted to observe her overnight. The cost was... high. Dann and K. went to the vet's to say goodnight to her, and to give the vet her food and insulin (and pay the deposit). Mom and I cleaned the kitchen...

Life went on... Folks-in-law went home, while we here watched a lot of 30 Rock and ate stocking candy and I fondled my new books.

Dann and K. picked up Kali this morning. She was better, and deeply pleased to be in their company on the car trip home, from all accounts; normally, she despises the car.

Today, got news from a friend ([ profile] iuliamentis) we were supposed to meet up with that her husband had a puking migraine. So that was the third way that vomit iterrupted this festive weekend. Three pukes in three days! We did head on over to [ profile] splash_the_cat's to exchange some presents, after a trip to the non-emergency vet for glucose testing and advice.

And... that was the holiday. I'd like to plan on a pleasant and easy-going five days to round out 2011, but I'm not counting these eggs before they hatch.
mer: (Anthropology (Binford))
I judge you by your last three tweets.

They don't have to be witty bits of perfection.  But you know.  Something vaguely interesting would be nice.

If they are @ replies that seem to be in dialogue with someone, I approve.  I may even click over to see more than your last three tweets.  But mostly, at that point, I think, "Wow, an actual conversation!  This may be a person worth knowing, for they understand that we are not all book-buying machines on Twitter!"  And I probably follow you back.


If your last 3 tweets are pleas to buy your book, it's over before it has begun.  You are abusing Twitter.

If you DM me to thank me for following you, and also, check out your book?  It's over.

If you @ me to thank you for following you, and also, check out your book?  It's over.

You can't thank someone and try to sell them something in the same interaction, and expect a fruitful relationship thereafter.

If you follow me, and I follow you back, and you act like I followed you randomly in your thanking?  I know you aren't actually paying attention, and I unfollow again.  Because you're just trying to use me.

You have absolutely no idea how to use Twitter, my friend.  I want a hundred good tweets before you self-promo me.  MINIMUM.

Or at least three.


Dec. 1st, 2011 01:00 pm
mer: (16 no's (HIMYM))
Did not win NaNo.  Did not get past about 2600 words, in point of fact. 

On the other hand, I rewrote an entire book between October 8th and November 13th, so.  I've decided I won't be beating myself up.
mer: (Default)
I may have mentioned that I came to a conclusion a while back, but I want to revisit it even if I did.  And that conclusion is that writing advice is often either given or taken as prescriptive when in fact everyone everywhere should realize it is, at best, descriptive.

It's a bit like language. You can pretend there are rules of language that people should follow (giving a prescription for grammar, basically), but in the end, the only thing a rule does in that case is describe how certain people use the language at this point in time.

Language is fluid over time. Things change.

Example: Eventually, we will all say "ax" when we mean "ask."  It will probably still be spelled "ask" however.  Much like most of us no longer say "hwat" for "what."

Other example: consider how we no longer use "terrible" in the "Great and Terrible Oz" sense but rather in the "this cake is dry; it's terrible" sense.  The meanings of words are mitigated or intensified, for a variety of reasons. Words referencing taboo or uncomfortable subjects get abandoned--when's the last time you said, "My grandmother died and the funeral is tomorrow" instead of "my grandmother passed away and the funeral is tomorrow"?  "Die" is a clinical term, but it's considered a bit impolite to use it for someone recently deceased.  Likewise, I feel like "passed away" is getting stigmatized; people are now using "passed" instead.

You can install a council of rules lawyers on language, but most of the world will laugh at it. See, France.  

As for councils of rules lawyers on writing? We need to start laughing at them. Certainly we who wish to publish must respect what the market will bear, and always listen to *your* editor, to the degree that you can...  but in general, advice is relative, highness, and anyone who tells you otherwise is selling you something.

Few things annoy me more than when another writer spouts half-understood prescriptivist writing rules at me.  I'm trying to be tolerant about it, because a) when you mention craft problems on social media, you probably deserve the response you get, and b) I'm not that established of a writer, so I should remember that 8 or 9 years ago, that could have been me.

In any case, whether you buy my descriptivist/prescriptivist argument, I'm going to outline my personal Hierarchy of Advice.

1) Good advice for you, but you aren't ready to hear it yet, so you won't understand it.  Leads to later revelations where you are dumbfounded that you had been told this all along, but you can't believe you didn't realize how epic and useful it really is.

2) Bad advice for you at this point, but you try to follow it. Often leads to mushy manuscripts or a vaguely ill feeling.

3) Bad advice, period. Indistinguishable from #2 without perspective and time.

4) Good advice that you are ready to hear, and OMG why doesn't everyone hear this and revel in its marvel and brilliance? I shall now try to tell everyone with the most vaguely related problem how this is good advice.

5) (Neutral) advice that others find good but that you find stupid.

6) (Neutral) advice that, when presented, seems so simplistic that you wonder how this is a revelation.  Are you actually so good at that particular thing that you have fully internalized it and conscious thought about it is unnecessary, or are you <i>so bad</i> at it, you can't figure out how to use this perfectly reasonable sounding advice?  You ponder this in dark hours, but no one has ever really told you you do it badly, so, maybe, mmmaaaybe, you are a genius on this one subject.  But probably not.

7) (Neutral) advice that "everyone" agrees on, but newish writers take too much to heart, and experienced writers seem puzzled that newish writers don't understand the exceptions to.  As advice, it mostly seems to function as the Organic Chemistry of writing. But in fact, none of the rest of the pre-med program is as hard as Orgo.  It's a weeder rule, a gateway rule, and it is commonly believed you have to earn the right to go back on this bit of advice.

Any others I've missed?


Nov. 7th, 2011 09:59 pm
mer: (Default)
I suppose now that the secret is "out", I won't get much more of this, but I find myself really entertained by the people who want to talk about my book--and not because they want to talk about my book, exactly, but they want me to explain myself for being secretly interesting.  Or something.

My thoughts:

1) If you didn't find me interesting before, you probably will not find me interesting now.  Whether or not you will find the book interesting? Different  question.

2) I was not actually carrying on a secret life.  I have never been shy about admitting to wanting to be a writer, my whole life; nor in the last ten years, when asked what my hobbies were, was it rare I avoided mentioning the writing thing.  Typically, if I avoided mentioning it, it was to people I was buying discount tires from.  Even if they asked what I did in my spare time, I would say "reading" instead of "writing."  Because...  when there is a fleeting relationship with someone, do they really need to know about my hopes and dreams?

2b) I did also refuse to admit once to a cashier at Borders that I was buying writing books because I was writing.  Because I was ornery that day. Also, file under "fleeting relationship."  Because while I knew quite a few of my Borders cashiers by at least sight back in the day, I could tell he wasn't going to be in it for the long haul.

2c) Also, I've never brought it up with the dentist.  I like my dentist just fine; however, I find that I do not wish to carry on conversations, small or large, casual or not, with people who have their hands in my mouth.  Professionally, that is; you will not henceforth get me to shut up about anything by sticking your hand in my mouth. I like my current hygienist very well because she respects my boundaries. 

3) While I admit that it seems quite sudden that I have become a published author, I assure you, I have been working at this diligently for a while.  And have published numerous short stories.  I know you think those don't count, but...  they do.

3b) I have, in fact, been working at this for coming up on 10 years.  Ish.

3c) Likewise, this book has been pending for like 2 years.

4) Contrary to the evidence exhibited at/by my dayjob, I do have ambition.  It just wasn't dayjob-oriented.

I think that about covers it.


Oct. 31st, 2011 08:54 pm
mer: (Default)
I'm back to liking my book again.


I know many of  you are not a fan of the kind of romance that starts off with hate and ends with love, and truly, I don't like it if it's not earned, or at least understood/explained--but you know what? It's not about the truth of that relationship that I like watching it; it's highly uncomfortable to hate, and then to realize you've changed your mind.  It's like, "What fundamental truth about myself did I miss exactly?"  But it's fun to watch characters twist themselves around like a pretzel--fun in a roller coaster way, not in a sociopathic way.

In other words, I hope my pathetic romances I have with my novels are at least entertaining.  Ish.
mer: (Beasts & Demi-Gods (King Arthur)) I dramatically pare down this Book of a Thousand Everythings and hope that what I leave behind can be given sufficient emotional heft as to be Highly Exciting to more than people who already know me.

The question after that will be, should I attempt NaNoWriMo with the whole first week cut off by this book?  Not because I think I need NaNo for it's productivity angle, but because I want a win, and some camaraderie, and...  to write something that I don't need to have anxiety about.  


Anyway, I brewed myself a tall cup of coffee and downloaded the latest beta of Scrivener.  We'll see.
mer: (Book (Heart))
Seriously, my book talk was the most fun I've had with this writing gig since I sold the book.
,cake and book 

-I should always fill the audience with people who already believe I'm funny
-A late-arriving cake is okay if it's dramatic, because the ooooohs are worth it; also, it gives the cake artist a chance to take a bow, and how often do they get to do that? Not often enough.

In other news, I've been on writing retreat since Thursday night, and while I did my due diligence to a rewrite of a short story that Ruth Nestvold and I are shopping around and had a scribbly-notes convo with my editor on the phone, I didn't have a real chance to do any writing until late yesterday.  I was busy doing other things--SFWA renewal, working out some giveaways, answering interview questions, tossing up a blog post here and there...  Somehow that consumed almost two days.  I mean, beside the time I spent mulling over Film Critic Hulk's latest genius post and mentally absorbing my editor's notes.  And the time I spent just talking to my fellow writers at retreat.  My buddy Steve Buchheit finished his rewrite last night, which means he's actually almost ready to start querying agents, and I'm so beyond excited about that, you have no idea. 

Other than that, I have a white spot on one of my nails, and it's on the gift finger, so I'm waiting for that to grow out. (White spot on your nail? Counting from your thumb, you go, "A friend, a foe, a gift, a beau, a journey go."  And when it grows out, you get that thing! In theory! It's a total superstition, obvs, but I still do it!)
mer: (Herbalist's Apprentice)
Here's the jumble:

In October, my awesome fun book signing at MY library (the one I've worked in since I was 19, give or take a few years spent at the library next door). With CAKE.

No, I mean CAKE.

Deni of Small Review loves my book. I mean, this is like ideal reader love.  I don't intend to post many reviews here, if ANY more--I'll just note that Kirkus was definitely okay with it, and so was Publisher's Weekly, and unless a major review site actually comes across with a star OR I get some awesome review from an honest to god 10-year-old, that's all you'll see about reviews from here on.

Here are my acknowledgments:

I want to thank my readers and critiquers. First, the Feral Writers: Julie Winningham, David Klecha, and honorary Feral Julie DeJong. Excelsior! group: Sarah Zettel, Lawrence Kapture, Jonathan Jarrard, Elizabeth Bartmess, Christine Pellar-Kosbar, Karen Everson, and Diane Rivis. The Hastings Point Workshoppers of 2009: Elizabeth Shack, Emily Kasja Herrstrom, Amy O. Lau, Stephen Buchheit, and Victoria Witt. And also Leah Bobet, Marissa K. Lingen, Jason Larke, Sunny Smith, and Kate Riley, and for more than just the reads. Thanks also to Sarah Prineas, Sherwood Smith, Jim C. Hines, Rachel Neumeier, and Stephanie Burgis for kindnesses rendered.

Thank you to my family--Kayla Fuller, Raluca Cook, Iulia Forro, Anne and Rick Fuller, and Bev Cook in particular for specific help on the book and giving me writing space and time, but thank you all for your support.

Thanks to my awesome coworkers at MLibrary at the University of Michigan: not only for the collections, the articles on Romanian folklore, and the OED, but for all the help and encouragement.

Thank you extremely very much no-more-than-that to my editor, Anne Hoppe, and my agent, Caitlin Blasdell, and everyone on their teams who helped this book along.

And thank you to Dann Fuller, who told me to go to Romania when I dithered and who made me write even when I didn't want to.

I had to pare the acks to the bones to be able to get them in, so they are not as effusive and verbose as the first draft.

And finally, you can read the first 8ish chapters at my publisher's site.

And I think that's about it for boring self-promo.  I hear Seanan McGuire and Sherwood Smith have books out today, too, so if MG isn't your cuppa, you have NO lack of choices.


Aug. 29th, 2011 09:26 pm
mer: (Book (Heart))
It seems to me that enforcing a book-buying moratorium on myself would be fully hypocritical since I'm going to spend the rest of my life encouraging people to purchase books with my name on them, so I'm going to go on a book-buying diet for a few months, and see if I can't lose 10% of my bookweight.

That would be, actually, unread bookweight. Because I did actually do a cull and took a bag of books to the library to donate. PLUS I took a bag of books that has been in my car's trunk for about two years.

I have also decided to stop reading out of obligation. I don't need to be a completist. I may ditch a series if I'm not enjoying it! I may, I may! This should free me up for more new authors and that's a good thing, and also, reading what you enjoy is a good thing, too. Hm. I'm learning! I'm 36 and I am finally figuring things out!

What else, what else? Oh, a music diet. I have Enough Music for now, I really do.

And no new paper products until I run out. No index cards, no notebooks. Sweartagod.

Also: a week from tomorrow, my book will be OUT.

*gnaws fingernails*
mer: (Burn (Burn Notice))
So, remember my awesome dermagraphia and hives and the h1/h2 anti-histamine blocker saga? No? That's okay. If you do, you may be interested to know that the promised "It will burn itself out eventually--90% of cases do in a year," remained untrue for 2 years. Or was it 3? I don't even know anymore.

But, per my allergist's suggestion, I kept going off the meds once a month or so and waited for the hives to reappear.

Well, cross your fingers and spit real high, I still get pretty itchy on occasion--but maybe once a week, on my arm or whatever, for ten minutes, instead of Hours of Raging Inflammation Across My Back. Likewise, I don't seem to welt up all over my face randomly at work eight times a day. Right now, my upper arm has four itchy scratch-welts, so I just thought about it, and how minor it is, compared to previous times.

Now, what interests me is that when they were testing me for whatever triggered it--and came up with nothing--the doctor said, "Oh, so you had a really bad respiratory infection? Oh? And the hives started up the same month? Yeah, that's how it is sometimes." Basically, my immune system got all pissed off at that point. Hyper-sensitized or something. I don't know, I'm not that great at explaining it, but it all made sense to me.

Interestingly, and perhaps entirely coincidentally, I had a really bad respiratory infection this year, the first time since the advent of the hives, and kblam, my skin started being about three dozen times more normal afterward. I'm not saying it means anything, but I sure do wonder if my immune system reset itself or something then. However that stuff works.

Anyway, that's my random health update. In other news, I still have bonespurs like nobody's business.
mer: (Oath (HIMYM))
a) the photo I did snap of yesterday's storm, after the coolest of light effects was gone--but some of the green is still there in the water


b) came home from the lake to a gigantic box of author copies!!!


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