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 artwork by Skottie Young Real life makes for crazy times, I tell ya. I haven't been blogging much because I haven't had much to say. Okay, that's not entirely true. I've had plenty to say, but there are times when you just don't want to spew negativity, invite drama or spend every waking minute of your online life kvetching about one thing when your life is pretty awesome. 2013 started off by behaving like an unruly teenager. You see, we rent our house, my husband and I. And as of the end of this month, our lease is up. Well, we have to give notice of staying or leaving on New Year's Day, but that usually comes in the form of paperwork we fill out in December. New Year's Eve came along and we still hadn't received that paperwork. So, I got a little panicked that we would be scrambling to find a new place, pack, move and that made Jamie more than a little... um... crazy? Long story short (too late): We're all good. Staying where we are for another year. Woo.

There's also an issue with transportation. Oh, my car is fine. It's the other car. For the past 9 months or so we've been using my late sister-in-law's car. Well, last month, the registration expired. We found out that the car is still in her name and the DMV wants an asston of paperwork to get that fixed. Almost there! So the husband has taken my car to get to work (you know, since he has a real job and not one where he sits at a computer talking to imaginary people and the Internet all day), and that means the kiddo and I had to walk/take the city bus to get her to school.  I lasted all of a week. For one thing, the walk has been brutal on my back. I've been in more pain this past week than I've been in a very long time and I'd rather not put myself back into the hospital. Also? It's Phoenix, but our lows right now are in the 20s. That's the temperature we'd be walking in. I can suck it up and whine about it later, but that's not okay for my 7 year old, ya know? Not cool with that. We ran through many letters of the alphabet before finally concocting a plan that works for all involved and doesn't require her to be out in 20 degree temperatures for an hour to get to school. Yay!

There are good things going on, too. Don't let the above paragraphs fool you. My husband started a new job in December. It was up in the air for months as he waited for security clearances and background checks to go through, but just after Thanksgiving we got word that yes, he would be starting his new position. It's been a huge boost to his sanity and that makes for a happier family all together.

Friends are chasing dreams, finding fulfillment and welcoming their own joys. I've got a couple of irons on the fire that I can't really discuss at present. This year--dubbed by my friend Brian as The Year of Giving it A Shot--seems to be off to a good start. Albeit frustrating at times.

So yeah. How the hell have you been?

Auld Lang Syne

Here it is, New Year's Eve. With just over 12 hours left, 2012 is trying to get me to hate it and shove it out the door. But I can't, really. So much happened this cousin Rich and my Aunt Cathy (no relation to one another) passed away....I signed on with my stellar agent Jennie Goloboy. ...I made new friends and contacts within the industry. ...I wrote another book and several short pieces. ...I got my 7th tattoo. husband changed jobs (twice). ...I turned 32. daughter turned 7.

Friends had babies. Friends got divorced and married.  I read new books. I found new comedians and television shows to enjoy. I listened to new bands. Saw movies. Played games....and lots of other stuff, too. Most of it beneath the surface. Little changes that don't look like much from the outside.

And so 2012 -- the Year of Behaving Admirably -- draws to a close. It's been an odd duck, 2012. It started off with a bang of awesome. It saw some low points and changes. But all in all, I'd call 2012 a success. Thank you for being part of it. I hope you stick around for 2013, because we've got some awesome stories to make.

No Substitute For An Actual Post

Wow. What a week. So, let's for a moment forget the flurry of Thanksgiving and the terribly satisfying gluttony that followed (because all of that in and of itself was exhausting). We hosted 10 people at our house and had enough food for probably twice that. Either that or we just weren't all that enthusiastic about our stretchy pants. Anyway, it has been a whirlwind that only feels like it's dying down today because I am not physically in motion.Sunday I got word that my Grandmother fell and broke her hip. Multiple fractures. Now, the woman is 92 years old with osteoporosis and has been living on her own since before my grandfather died in 2004. She's a tough cookie. That being said... well, I was scared to death. You see, two years ago I had this dream that my Grandma told me the exact day she was going to die. (Why yes, I do remember a dream I had two years ago. I also remember one I had when I was 4 with more clarity than I remember last month. What of it?) November 26, for those curious. ALSO, I had this really creepy feeling about a week and a half ago (a week before she fell, that is)... just this weird, "Oh God is Grandma alright" feeling. Turns out both of my aunts had the same kind of ookiness on the same day. So, Sunday, Grandma falls and gets to the hospital. Surgery ensues when? Monday the 26th of November.  *facepalm* I was on pins and fucking needles all. damn. day. Because I was certain she wouldn't make it out of surgery. "This is it, this dream is coming true."  Long story short (too late): Grandma came through surgery with rainbow unicorns. She's got some hardware in her hip and her chances of winning a championship pogo-stick competition are minimal, but she is on the mend. She starts rehab this week and will then be moving in with my aunts. She was sitting up and even took a couple of assisted steps yesterday. Go Grandma! Beyond that, there's all sorts of crazy shit going on. My husband and daughter overruled my desires to sit and sulk and worry on Sunday by forcing me to deck my halls. Our house is full of fa and la and all ready for Christmas.

I've been putting the finishing touches on getting a short story ready for submission for potential publication in an anthology. Had to write up a bio for the thing. I hate writing bios, especially short ones because (let's face it) I ramble. All the bios I read for comparison/ideas were basically, "So and so has a OMGWTFBBQPHD from Wooptieshit University and has spent many years gaining credibility. S/he was published in Big Bad Monthly and the coveted Epic Awesome quarterly. S/he has something pithy and clever here about living in a fantasy land with a cat that thinks it's a panther."  I don't have any of that. I have no nifty degrees. I have no publishing credits to my name outside of a school newspaper and possibly a bathroom wall somewhere in the Midwest.  Bios are where I freak out and feel inadequate.

So when I mention on my personal Facebook page that I'm doing this bio thing and how much I hate it, I got all sorts of suggestions from my beloved (and disturbed) friends. My favorite involved the line, "She lives in the American Southwest with 2 hobbits, 2 cats and a small thermonuclear device she bought on" Classic. Gold. Right there.

But, I think I've got that submission cocked, locked and ready to rock some stripey socks.

Two more things started falling into place. I can't talk about them just yet, but soon I will be able to spill it here. Because these gears are moving, others that have been at a standstill for months can get back to rolling as well. And soon Damocles will take his leave of me. Right? RIGHT?!

So yeah, I was hoping to get the next installment in the Better Know A Trickster series out to you this week, but due to crazy shit happening in my personal space, I'm going to ask for an extension of goodwill. Maui is coming, don't you worry.

Love and peaches, gang.

Shuffle Up And Deal

Author's note: I'm getting tired of writing these, but when these things happen, this is the only thing I know how to do.

Over the years, Cathy has changed last names a few times. Neihaus, Gillespie...she started off, though, with Wyman. One of five Wyman kids, as a matter of fact, to inhabit the original Dysfunction Junction (pictured at the right...damn I miss that back yard).

My aunt Cathy was a sharp-tongued, occasionally foul-mouthed firebrand of an Irish-Italian woman. She was loud, crazy and her laugh--dear God that woman's laugh is as easy to call up in memory as my own name.

Whenever I think of Cathy, I think of summertime. I spent many summers as a child with her as my day-care provider. She taught me to dive into a swimming pool, how to clean someone's clock at 500 rummy and how to shuffle cards. Those summers with her I watched her grow large with pregnancy, watched the babies in her tummy kick her cards while we played. I watched her change diapers. I played with my cousins at her house.

My Aunt Cathy is gone.

She's been sick with various problems for many years, but being a stubborn Wyman, nothing could keep her down. Not until now, when Leukemia took hold of her. She doesn't have to fight anymore, though. No more pain, questions, illnesses. Now, she is free and at the truest peace she's known. Today, at around 5:20pm Indiana time, my Aunt Cathy joined her mother on the other side.

I haven't seen her since 2007 at my grandmother's funeral. When I think of Cathy, though, my mind immediately begins to walk through her house. The living room where we played cards for hours on end. The backyard with its treehouse, the creek running through the woods, the dog house. The pantry that was always full of infinite varieties of cereals and chips. A fridge full of treats that I could sneak away not so stealthily. I think of summertime...sticky with humidity and the juice of mulberries from the ginormous tree in the back yard.

I like to think that wherever she is now, she's basking in sunlight....maybe in a big backyard like the one in the picture with springy grass between her toes and the scent of pear trees and honeysuckle in the air. I like to think that she and my grandma are putting together a big picnic or something for us when the rest of us join her when our times come.

I've got a while *knock wood* before I see her again, but when I do, I hope she'll have time for a game of Rummy. First one to 500 wins.

Buzzing Around

Summer vacation has officially begun for my daughter. For this next week, she will be home with me. Sean works from home. I need to write. My 6 year old needs stimulation. Yeah, the sanity level in this house has plummeted already and it's only Monday morning. If you're the praying sort, mention my name to your god. Don't mention that time in Belize. K? Thanks.Anyway, Book 2 has reached the half-way-to-word-goal mark of 40k words. *flexes muscles* I want to have it done by the end of the month. Not too much else going on right now. Saw the Avengers again (this time in Loki-licious 3D). Loved it even more. Had shwarma afterward. Getting my tattoo fixed next week. For those who don't know, a couple of days into healing, my Seal of Rassilon stuck to the shirt I was wearing while I slept. When I peeled off the shirt, I also took up a few layers of skin and ink. So, there are blotches on my tattoo where I don't have ink. Touch ups are next Tuesday.

OH! And I finally got to see Thor. You see, back when it came out Sean outright *lied* to me when he and the Guise Knights went to go see it. Then he tried to hide it. Now, I can't give him grief about it anymore as I've finally seen it. (Albeit on DVD.)... Oh who am I kidding, of course I can. I'll just do it less often. Maybe.

Anyway, I have to cut this one short, kids.

Be excellent to each other.