Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Overheard at a Bookstore Today in Dayton, OH

"Well, I'm looking at getting either one of these Left Behind books or this Sarah Waters book."



Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

When All Else Fails...

At least there are Pirates.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Excerpt Meme (because I'm too headfull [tm] to make up my own content today)

Turn to page 123 in your work-in-progress. (If you haven’t gotten to page 123 yet, then turn to page 23. If you haven’t gotten there yet, then get busy and write page 23.) Count down four sentences and then instead of just the fifth sentence, give us the whole paragraph.

“No, long before that. What was left of you was sent here to Faleen because it has the highest concentration of magicians outside of Mushtallah. They called me in because I was your regular magician and had your case history.”

(hey, it caught me in the middle of a dialogue)

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Lost words

Lost words.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Why is it so Cold Today?

Why? Why? Why?

Monday, March 05, 2007

Man, My Ass Hurts

I got up at 5:30 am this morning and it was cold and dark outside and I thought, "What the fuck am I doing? It's cold and dark outside."

But by the time I was cognizant enough to realize how stupid this was, I'd already taken my adjusted Lantus dose, and half an hour later, my adjusted Novolog dose, so ready or not, I was biking to work.

It took less than an hour to get up there this morning, because there was no headwind. The weather wasn't bad at all and I thought: yeah, hey, I can do this!

Coming home was a different story.

My ass hurt all day from this morning's biking and the biking I did last night, and getting on the bike again tonight wasn't exactly something I was looking forward to. I somehow got lost looking for the cross-street that would get me back onto the lake path. I ended up spending more time on the street. The headwind was a bitch.

It was really fucking cold.

It was so cold along the lakefront that I stopped and pulled out my insulin from my bag and tugged it inside my double layer of coats because I was worried it was going to freeze.

The wind sent up waves along the bike path, and yea, all that displaced water froze. There were battered ice chunks all over the place, and it started to get dark around 6ish and I still had at least three miles to go.

I was tired. The headwind was bad. I blame that fucking headwind.

I was so tired, and I kept going. I just kept going, and that's what I told myself, though my legs wobbled and it hurt to breathe in the cold air: I just have to keep going. And it reminded me of this post, and then I thought, how weird is it when your own life reminds you of your own life? I mean, I'm not chugging down the lakefront thinking, "This is just like that one episode of Buffy!" I'm thinking, "fuck, yea, I've been through this before. And I did OK that time. I can do it again."

Maybe this is what it's like to be old.

I don't mind it, really.

Because I kept going. I just kept going. The last six or eights months have been like that. Just keep going. Just keep going. It'll be OK. It'll be OK. You can do this. It will get better.

For somebody that doesn't put any trust in any God, who doesn't believe in much of anything at all, I sure do run a lot on blind faith.

I had to walk the bike the last four blocks or so, after I came off the lakefront, because I didn't trust myself to be able to navigate those last few blocks on the street without getting hit by a car. My legs felt like they belonged to someone else and my toes were numb.

I carried my bike up three flights of steps and then sank into a hot bath.

I'm saving $80 a month in transit costs. I'm saving at least 6.5 units of insulin a day.

Someday, it will be spring, and I will not be fighting a frozen headwind coming in off the lake, throwing ice in my face.


Until then.... yeah.

Keep going.

Where I'm Going to Be In 26 Days:

Thank God.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Kama Sutra of Reading


I have now successfully paid (or partially paid, in the case of the doctors' bills), all of my bills except for the one from unemployment. The Office says they "overpaid" me by $65, and they'd like that money back. During the 4 weeks I was out of work, I received a whopping $655 from the State. That's not even enough to cover rent and utilities.

At some point, you just have to laugh.

In the meantime, things around here have fallen by the wayside. There's a lot of cleaning that hasn't gotten done, and I spent much of my evening hours catching up on the shithole that has become my home. I'm so behind on Black Desert that I've had to re-forecast the completion date on my novel schedule. My writing work this year is really tightly packed, so even being two weeks behind really throws everything else off.

I've also been thinking about putting tDW back into circulation. This will require me to read through it again, and make any changes I feel are neccessary. The worldbuilding in tDW isn't as complex as in the GW books, which may or may not be a problem.

I'm also hip-dip in yet ANOTHER round of line edits for GW, the last set before it sees daylight, and they're taking a long time. A lot of this work is synching it up with what's going on in Black Desert and, you know, making the plot make coherent sense.

You know, little things.

The characters and setting are cool, tho.

I have a whopping two stories currently in the mail, and I think I'm going to sit down and work on another writing schedule - a more detailed one - in order to fit in all the writing and other activities I'd like to get in. Right now I'm having a lot of trouble staying motivated, which is probably because I'm so awash in concerns like grocery money and finding a real job (I'm covered for "catastrophes" insurance-wise until the end of March. After that, I don't know where the money will come from in order to save my ass if I get hit by a car).

I've also committed to a trip to Spain at the end of the month with David, for which I've already bought my plane tickets and made hotel reservations, so financially-able or not, that's coming up as well. Basically, the $800 "leftover" from the 401(K) check of $2000 that *didn't* go toward health insurance is going toward spending money for Spain ($300) and covering the time I'll be out of work ($500).

Getting by on a knife edge... it's like being in college again!

Only, with more debt!

One of the big things I finally did today is head downtown and buy a decent bike, a chain, a foot pump, and a tire repair kit (I was able to "afford" to pay cash for this through aforementioned creative accounting). I then road the bike from my office downtown to my place in Uptown and timed myself. It took me about an hour and fifteen minutes to go the 7-8 miles from there to here, and that was with two stops to adjust the pressure in the tires and a blustery headwind that probably made the sweltering 30-degree weather feel like the teens. But hey, it beats -30, and my hope is that now that it's March, we're going to avoid extremes like that and I can bike from downtown to home twice a day.

This does a lot of things for me. It'll save me $80 in transit costs a month, get rid of my doctor's shit about my weight (I was 204 at WFC and I'm holding steady now at 206 - 14 miles of bike riding five days a week will likely alter that), and result in me using less insulin. Insulin is fucktastically expensive, and I'll be dropping my basel Lantus insulin from 16 units to 14 a day and subtracting two units of breakfast insulin to start. I started out from downtown with a 156 number (hmmmm cinnamon dolce latte with free Starbucks card!) and an hour after getting home, I was at 68, so it'll kill the hell out of my sugar, which is great.

It's also going to go a long way toward improving my fitness level, which I haven't been happy with since I started getting sick. WisCon is going to mark the one-year anniversery of the whole "suprise, you have a chronic illness!" thing, and after a year of ups and downs and adjustments and craziness and job layoffs and bizarre interpersonal events related to my personal life, it would be nice to be at a place where I felt physically and mentally put back together again. I think I'm moving toward that place. Now that Jenn's been feeling better, I have more time to devout to fixing all of the stuff inside and outside of me that's been broken.

The last couple of weeks I've had a lot of trouble staying focused. It has to do with feeling overwhelmed: whenever I have a moment to myself, I just sort of wander around aimlessly, playing Cossaks, opening up the gaming company module, opening up story files, clicking obsessively on the Stumbleupon button, mentally noting the fact that the bathroom hasn't been cleaned in two weeks and wondering who's going to do something about that, etc.

One of the other good things about the long bikerides is that it's going to give me a lot of time to myself to think things through. At home, I'm spending a lot of mental energy helping Jenn through her rough times with school, and on the train, there are so many people you need to be aware of that you can't totally retreat, and at work, well... at work it's my job to pretend I like people and be friendly, and there's nothing more exhausting for an introvert than to spend all day being nice to people.

Since over five miles of the bike ride is actually along the paved lakefront path, I don't have to worry the whole time about getting hit by a car, and I can sort some things out in my head about what I need to do, how I need to sort through my time, and most of all, how to get myself back into a positive mindset.

You know, the whole power-feminism brutal women mindset.

I had a lot of fun doing all-weather biking in Alaska, and it did a lot for me and my moods, my strength, and getting myself sorted out in the head after a long winter hanging out with less than virtous characters. I came out of that winter and started my summer with bike rides, Clarion, some success at my actual field of study, a decision to go to grad school and leave Alaska, and etc. I had a map that got me closer to what I wanted.

I wouldn't mind having one of those again.

Not the knowing what I want part: rest assured, I know exactly what I want.

It's the map I'm having trouble with.

Without Comment

Saturday, March 03, 2007


The company I work for leases the top ten or twelve floors of a big high rise downtown, and my co-receptionist, Nell, and I receive all of the FedEx, DHL, UPS and messenger deliveries for all ten floors on our floor. We serve as the public reception desk - there's another one on the Executive floor and another on the Legal floor. When we get a delivery, we notify the recipient and they usually come up or down to get it.

Yesterday, one of the women from the Legal department, let's call her Val, stopped by the desk while Nell was away and asked me if I remembered a delivery she'd gotten a week before.

"You know," she said, "the big weird bamboo thing."

"Yea," I said, "I remember that one."

Most people get flowers or balloons or even cookie or candy arrangements, but she'd received a big square vase of living bamboo shoots trained into a sort of umbrella shape. I remember her reading the card and looking puzzled and a little flustered. She actually told us she really didn't want them, and did we want them? Before finally, grudgingly, bringing them upstairs (we have actually had a couple of women refuse deliveries like these from admirers. You'd be surprised)

"Do you remember who delivered it?" Val asked. "I mean, who actually came up here and delivered it?"

"The messenger service," I said. I know the three messengers who work downstairs by name now: Tern, Brett, and Nessa. I once made Brett blush.

"So who are they? They're employed by the building?"

"Yeah. What happens is the messenger services are employed by whatever company sent the gift, and dropped off with the building's service, and then the building's messengers come up here. It's a security thing."

Since 9/11, security downtown has been pretty tight. You have to have a badge to get through the downstairs turnstiles and another badge that allows you access to the inner doors of whatever floor you're on. There's *another* set of doors beyond the reception desks that you have to get buzzed through, as well, in order to access the rooms beyond. I only have a card that's good on my floor and to get passed downstairs security. So I don't have access to any other company floors. If I want to get into them, I have to have somebody who has access to that floor escort me through.

"Good," she said, and she launched into this story about how she was shopping for furniture at Macy's and discussing furniture with one of the salesmen, and she'd casually mentioned that instead of getting something delivered, she'd probably just rent a truck here downtown since she worked at XXX company here at XX South XXX street."

He ended up giving her his card, with, convienently, his home number scrawled on the back.

She didn't think anything of it until a few days later, when this bizarre bamboo tree complete with cheesy poem-of-obvious-interest arrived.

"So there's no way he knows what floor I work on?" she asked me.

"No," I said, "he couldn't have gotten up here."

She was more than a little flustered, and probably overly worried, but you know, when a guy puts his home number on the back of a card, pretty much anybody knows what that means. If she doesn't call you back, it means she's not interested. Sending something to her place of business after one casual conversation, after she *hasn't* called you back... not a great idea.

It was a very strange moment, because I could sympathize with both parties. I'd love to live in a world where sending flowers to a stranger *wasn't* considered an opening move to stalking.

"I've learned my lesson," she said. "I'm never going to be so casual about telling strangers where I work again."

There's this belief that women are totally and absolutely responsible for any assault made against them. They're expected to be constantly alert for psychos, to assume the worst of every nice guy, to guard their behavior closely in case they're mistaken for sluts, for "asking for it," for being too flirty.

And it's a double-edged sword, because if you *are* nice to somebody who turns out to be crazy, then it's your fault if he hacks you up after work cause you were dumb enough to *tell him where you worked* and if you're cool and impersonal toward him you're just some cold frigid man-hating bitch.

More often than not, women who are cool and reserved toward strange men are, in fact, protecting themselves. It's not that we don't want to be nice. I'd love to be nicer to people. But after smiling at guys on the street and having them assume that was some kind of invitation to harrassment or following me home, well, I've learned my lesson too insofar as city living goes.

In conversations with strangers, one of the best ways to establish early on that you're not interested in anything romantic, of course, is to pull the "my boyfriend" card. Jenn used to do this when she worked at a comic book shop full of friendly geeky boys who liked to talk. She loved talking to them - she was just, obviously, never especially interested, so she made up a boyfriend, and made sure so work in a reference to her imaginary boyfriend any time a guy seemed to be getting super friendly (sure, you could make up a girlfriend or tell them about your real girlfriend, I guess, but I there can sometimes be anxiety around outing yourself to strangers because 1) they might give you shittier service/be assholes 2) be even more turned on and pushy at the idea ie "she just needs a good hetero fuck! I'll cure her!" variety). It's a nice way to establish the, "Yes, I like you, but merely in a friendly way!" thing without the guy heading for the hills in embarrassment. The ones who don't back off after this probably aren't the sort you'd want as friends anyway.

It's an interesting dance, and I remember spending a couple of days in the kitchen at work here having lunch with some of the construction guys and Ms. Conner, the janitor, and laughing it up, telling dirty jokes, and generally just having a good time. The problem was, after the second day of that, the recently divorced guy with the type-1 diabetic daughter tried to push that a step further and made a comment about how great it would be if he and I just had casual sex without any strings, and ah, yes, alas, so much for casual joking days in the kitchen. The next time I saw him, I went from friendly to professional, and sadly, I saw him feel the chill, and I was kind of sad about the whole thing, cause we'd had a lot of fun joking around.

Negotiating interest feels like it's one of those invisible privlege things that guys have. If a woman's interested and you blow her off, you're not usually worried about her pulling some psycho shit and stalking you (sure, it happens, but as a society, we don't really train guys to be worried about this sort of behavior). As women, it feels like there's this constant dance around boundaries, around establishing friendliness vs. interest and etc., and if there's any mistake, if a guys *does* go wacko because you turned him down, it's always going to be your fault for not being polite, for not being polite enough, for not mentioning soon enough that you had a boyfriend/girlfriend, for wearing that short skirt, for continuing to even speak in the same space....

Friday, March 02, 2007


Speed-reading test. The problem is, you've gotta test for comprehension. It's like asking someone to take a typing test and then not subtracting from their score based on mistakes they make. Hey, I can type 300 words a minute going ASOWHOHD nsdoafnsohf[oweihf aosdjfao sidkjf fajsd pfajsodf!!!

Cheerful hamster for breakfast!

The Speech Accent Archive. English speakers' (native and non-native) accents from around the globe.

Useful phrases. How to say, "Oh my God, there's an ax in my head!" in various lanaguages.

C'mon, you know you wondered.

Well, Fuck

It's snowing again. In March.

The thing is, when I got back to the lower 48 after my two-year stint in Alaska, I got into the habit of assuming that Spring came in... March. This is because in WA State, where I'm originally from, the Spring bulbs spring in... March.

But here in Chicago, Spring does not start until April.

In Alaska, Spring happened in May. By April, I was clawing at the windows waiting for Spring and wondering what the hell all the snow was still doing on the ground, even knowing that yes, indeed, Spring in Fairbanks (AKA: Meltdown) actually happened in May.

I'm always ready for Spring about a month before it's ready for me, no matter where I am.*

* Durban didn't have seasons. It was hot, very hot, or hot and raining.

Thursday, March 01, 2007


When I'm feeling really down about my work, I go to the bookstore downtown or down the street and I stand in front of the SF/F section. Then I open books at random and read the first few lines, the first paragraph.

98% of the time, it makes me feel a lot better.

The rest of the time, I buy the book.

Everybody wins.

My Latest Doctor's Bill

So, I cashed out my 401(K) so I could pay $360 a month for "catastrophic" health insurance, which means they don't pay anything toward any of my medical costs until after I pay $2500 out of pocket. No co-pays, no 50% and certainly no 80% of anything, until I cough $2500 out of my ass this year.

For $1615, I have this dubious form of health insurance through the end of March, which might be real useful if I, like, get hit by a car (knock on wood). Otherwise, basically, I just blew $1615 and gave the government a nice chunk of my retirement savings in the form of taxes.

And I just got my doctor's bill for my January appointment:

Office visit: $90
Comp Metabolic Profile: $50
Hemoglobin A1C: $50
BC/RP DF (no idea what this is): $20

THEN I got the medical bill from the actual LAB that does the work:

Hemoglobin, Glycosylated: $45.50
Comprehen Metabolic Panel: $50

So where am I supposed to get this "extra" $305 when I make $1999 a month and my bills are $1900 a month?

I seriously considered not going to the doctor again until I have health insurance (I mean, REAL insurance), and then I realized that the medical system has insured that I can't do that: I *have to pay someone* to give me my insulin prescriptions.

I have to pay them not only for my meds, but for the privilege of getting the meds that keep me alive.

God bless America.