smartass

Random Happenings

So, I know I've been remiss in keeping this blog updated lately. My husband's work schedule changed and while that's good in some ways, it sucks in others. We're all getting used to a new routine. This comes on the heels of getting back into the swing of things after Christmas break which shifted our lives after another previous shift and so on and so forth. Routine? What's that?Anyway, I don't have anything profound for you today. No rants or pieces of masterful flash fiction. However, I do have a tiny tidbit of news.

As you may know, yesterday Rob Lowe went on Twitter and proclaimed that he had it on Good Authority (*coughIRSAYcough*) that my second husband Peyton Manning would be retiring by day's end. Well, this is not acceptable to me, and I tweeted as such. Then, I posted a similar, but longer version of the tweet to my Facebook page. Both essentially say that Rob Lowe is full of shit and that I give him the benefit of the doubt. He's just providing an example of what happens in a world where SOPA takes away one's ability to find corroborating evidence on the Internet. So, flash forward to the nighttime. My daughter is sound asleep, the cats are prowling about and waiting for snuggles, the husband is killing zombies. And I? I'm scrolling through the Huffington Post. And there is an article about Rob Lowe's sports reporting. Woot! So I read it and see a slideshow of tweets about the whole thing. As I'm scrolling through said tweets, I notice a field of blue sunflowers and go, "Hey! That's my background!" My eyes tracked up and then, "Hey! That's my name!" Among the tweets they counted as some of the funnier responses to the "news", they included one from yours truly. Woot! Any day now I expect Colbert, Stewart and my girlfriend Rachel Maddow to call and ask me to be on their show for my incredible wit. /snarkasm.

Soooo what else is happening, readers? I know there was something I was going to tell you about my daughter but for the life of me my sleep-depraved (yes, I just made up that word) brain can't remember at this point. Just imagine it was hilarious and moving and made your uterus tweak with longing to procreate.

OH! This was fun... the other day I got a bill from Chase. Now, a few months ago this would not have been anything out of the ordinary, but (!) in December I closed the account. That's right. I paid off my credit card and said, "Fuck off, Chase! We're through! Occupy my wallet no more!" and there was much rejoicing. (yay) Well, as I said, I got a bill from them the other day. They wanted a paltry $1.50 on an account that had been paid off and closed.

Hrm. Odd.

At first, I wondered if this was that awkward attempt at reconnection after a breakup. I know, Chase, you had some good times with my interest payments. But it's over. I think we both need to live separate lives. It's better this way.

So, yesterday I called just to make sure this message was received. I was informed that this was just a standard interest payment on the $0.00 balance on my account. I reminded the nice Indian lady at the call center that there shouldn't even be an account to draw interest. She then told me that I paid off the account and then closed it three days later. The interest is what built up in those 3 days of not using the card. Seriously? Fucking seriously? I voiced my displeasure and let her know that this was ridiculous and she kindly cancelled the charge. Dear Indian Lady, I'm sorry if I was snippy, but sometimes you just have to get harsh with an ex otherwise they just keep coming back. Like cockroaches, Keith Richards or fashion mistakes.

AND, speaking of fashion... it has come to my attention that a Shreveport, Louisana parish commissioner wants to ban pajama pants in public. As my devoted readers know, I am the High Priestess of the Cult of Jammy Pants. Seeing this... I am upset, nay! appalled! This is outrageous and against my religious beliefs in comfort and flannel for all. So, mortal enemy, you make yourself known. My crusade begins.

Oh, last weekend I went with my good friend and had my hand squeezed to a pulp while she got a tattoo on her foot. She got a peacock-colored koi in memory of our Nicki. I'm getting my memorial ink next month. You'll see. :)

That's about all that's going on here at the moment. Still shopping Technical Difficulties (Book 1 in my Etudes in C# series). Book 2 is. I'm stuck at chapter 4 but that's only because I'm not sure how to handle Chapter 9 and beyond. Weird, I know, but I need to have a clear vision of what's ahead to keep going. So, I'm outlining and trying to pull together what happens after a specific DUN DUN DUNNNNN moment. Book 3 is an attention whore. It keeps telling me all these awesome things that can happen and showing me scenes. A companion short that takes place during the events of Book 3 is an even bigger whore. So I've written most of that one. The later books are congealing more and more. Book 6 (the last one) is being all ominous and "muahahaha".

Yeah. Other than the above, that's about it. Oh, and I've developed an obsession with the British show Q.I. Here's a clip. I defy you to not giggle.  (Also includes David Tennant.)

And with that, I'm out, kids. Be excellent to each other.

Twue Lovee

Yup, the calendar has turned and it's that day again. February 14th. Saint Valentine's Day. Stores and cubicles are festooned with red and pink hearts, people stand on street corners hawking roses and over-sized teddy bears, and the lament begins. Happy Singles' Awareness Day. Every Kiss begins with Kay (TM). I even saw a commercial with a guy in satin pajamas lounging in a candlelit bedroom imploring men to give their women the ultimate gift for Valentine's Day - self-exam for testicular cancer. The tagline: "Why give her a diamond when you can give the family jewels?" Are you fucking kidding me?

I know it may seem blasphemous of me. That I might have to turn in my woman card or that as a married woman I should just shut the fuck up, but I hate Valentine's Day.

I had the typical childhood experiences with this "holiday". I actually liked it back in the day when all you had to do was take a shoe box, some glue and construction paper and BAM! you've made yourself a little mailbox. Everyone in your class got a list of names, so no one would be left out. On Valentine's Day, you'd get a bunch of pre-made, store-bought cards with cartoon characters and super heroes slinging bad puns about love when you're still at an age that the opposite gender has cooties. Back then, it was enough to know that your mom paid $3 for someone to bring you a paper heart with a mint Scotch-taped to it in the middle of class.

But then...

Oh, dear God... PUBERTY! I'd say that's when my utter loathing for Valentine's Day began. Gone were the days of indiscriminate card giving. Down with conversation hearts and shoe-box greetings. Candygrams became a status of your worth! If Cupid sent you something it meant that you had value in the world. As you can probably tell, I never got one. I spent many a Valentine's Day single and hating it. Spent many dances in the corner wishing someone other than my probably-gay friend would ask me to dance. Then, I got a boyfriend and I basked in it. I overcompensated by being disgustingly cute and ignoring everything else in the world except for him and marching band. When that relationship ended, I got used to flying solo for February 14th...and hated it even more.

Many years later, after it has "gotten better" just like they say, I am a married woman with a spectacular family. I've married my best friend, we have a daughter... I smile so much my face hurts and can't stop thinking that I've either won some kind of lottery or I'm in a coma and got really good drugs. But, even still, I find myself cringing on Valentine's Day. Maybe it's performance anxiety. Maybe it's just a lingering habit from my single years. Or maybe, this "holiday" is a bunch of bullshit.

Money/Candy/Diamonds/Flowers = Affection and Worth in the World

This is the equation we're given to believe. And Money/Candy/Diamonds/Flowers received on a specific calendar date = Exponentially More Affection and Worth?

I don't think so.

We're told that we're alone if we don't have that ONE special person on this ONE day of the year. That we are meaningless to the rest of society. That is bullshit. You can still be alone in a crowd of people who love you? It goes like this: you define your worth, not a Hallmark holiday. Being loved by one person? Eh. My friends and family love me and that is pretty damn cool. As my friend Giorgos commented, he is blessed with not one but DOZENS of people who care about him and take pleasure that he is in the world.

My point? Every day is an opportunity to tell people that you care, that you love them and are blessed to know them. You don't have to have a "special" someone to be loved. No one day with its red and pink frippery can contain the amount of love there is in this world to give.

So, I've come full circle, in an odd way. Where once Valentine's Day was a thing for kids, just another day with silly cards, now I come to it with some bitterness toward the consumerist nature of the day, but with a sense of juvenile humor.

Happy Valentine's Day from me to you...

I Am The R & D Department

So, I think I've written here before that I'm sometimes afraid I've drawn the attentions of Homeland Security. You see, as a writer, I do research to know what the hell I'm talking about. As I have no car, most of my research is Google-based. (All praise to the Google!) Now, when writing my first novel, I thought that poor, hapless bastard tracking my Internet searches earned his pay. On one day, I did searches for all of the following:Elephant hair ropeC-4 explosives Dynamite Black Powder explosions, video Puppies*

(My daughter was 3 at the time, you figure it out.)

Well, no one came knocking on my door and I kept on writing. My last novel (the one that is on submission at present) didn't have too many searches to raise eyebrows. So, today, I started test driving some new ideas for the revamp of my sequel. This led to a few ideas and the need for some more research to make sure I wasn't writing out of my ass.

Those search terms, though... yeah, I'm a little worried.

White House Rose Garden Pennsylvania Avenue Secret Service Code Names

If I disappear, please know that I am innocent! I'm just a writer trying to hone my craft and inject some realism into my world with hordes of rotting undead--who find love and meaning in the world.

Also, I need to brag about my daughter!

So, apparently her kindergarten class started a unit on the solar system. Awesome! K is totally into astronomy. Has been for years. I think she was 3 or 4 when she explained to me how a black hole works. When I picked her up from school yesterday, her teacher told me that she had told the class a lot about planets.

"We're very excited for her knowledge," Teacher T said.

I couldn't help but wonder if this was code for, "I just wish she'd shut up and let me teach the class."

So, we're driving home and K tells me that the Universe has no edge. "That's right," I said. "The Universe is expanding."

We talked a bit about how the planet doesn't expand, but the Universe does. What's the difference? Oh, okay. That kinda thing. Then she asked, "Mommy, how does the Universe expand?"

If I hadn't known her her whole life, I probably would've stared at K with a deer in the headlights expression and tell her to ask her father.  But, instead, I got excited. I know this one! said a little geeky voice in my head.

"I'll show you when we get home."

I took a bowl of water, a marble and some blue food coloring. The bowl of colored water was my not-to-scale model of the Universe. I dropped the marble in the water a few times and showed K the ripples, pointing out how they get bigger as they get farther from the center. Once I knew she had that down, I asked her, "did they talk about the Big Bang at school?"

"Yes!" she bounced. "It's a big explosion!" "Right," I said. "So let's say this marble is the Big Bang. When it hits the water going to set off an explosion in the center of the universe. That explosion causes shockwaves--like we see on Mythbusters--and that energy ripples out, expanding through the Universe."

"Wow!" she said, dropping the marble again. "Get it? Understand how the Universe is still expanding?" "Yeah!" She looked at the water. "Can we make it green now?"

She's still five. :)

Tangled Up In Blue

 So, what's got me all twisted up? Writing a sequel. That's right. I've written two novels in my life, one of them is on submission, and now I face the daunting task of a sequel. But that really shouldn't be so bad, should it? After all, I've had ideas for Book 2 running circles in my head for months, so this should be just as easy as Book 1. Right? Hehehe, silly writer. You're so cute when you're naive!

So, what's the problem, you ask... let's talk shop. Meet me after the jump.

Alright, so here's the deal. Originally, I saw this overreaching story arc being a trilogy. I wrote Book 1 and edited the hell out of it. Somehow, I managed to land an agent (woo! Liz is awesome!), melted my brain doing more edits and now we're in that nebulous, nail-biting process that is submission. So, I thought I'd spend that "downtime" (yeah, right) with the sequel. Crank that bad boy out and let Book 1 fly on its own. Well, while Book 2 has had some moments that just really flow, the further in I get, the more it stalls. But, I subscribe to the "get your ass in the chair and fucking write" theory, so I kept going. More stalling, more feelings of "what the hell is wrong with this? where am I going wrong?" This week, the gears have been grinding like sweaty chicks with implants in a club scene. Yesterday, I looked at the manuscript sitting there in Word and just heard the metallic snap of the machine.

I took a walk. I let my mind wander, gently breezing over the characters, the situations, the nuances of plot. And like proverbial lightning, it struck me:

I'm writing the wrong book.
Most of the ways I want to torture  challenge my protagonist are deep, soul-wrenching things. But she's not ready for this. The reader hasn't built up any attachment to some of the newer characters, so their impact is lessened. The protagonist hasn't grown in such a way that she can handle what I want to thrust upon her. This is too soon. These plots and storylines? Not Book 2 material.
So, this changes the landscape considerably. For one, I'm no longer looking at a trilogy. Nope. Eve's story goes beyond just three books. (Plus, there are stories I want to tell from the POV of other characters.) But, for another, that begs the question: what the hell is Book 2 going to be about? Can anything be salvaged from the draft I have going right now? Well, sure. My opening will be great in a few books. A couple of scenes are appropriate for Book 2, so they can be absorbed. But for the most part, I'm starting from square one again. Hell, I don't even know what the working title for this one will be as "Mourning Sickness" does not fit at all.
Yesterday's walk helped clear my head a bit. There's still a tangle of plot threads and stories that I need to sort through and put into some sort of order, but there are fewer knots.
Today is a day for imagining. For brainstorming. For letting creativity live and thrive.
And how could it not? I started using Pandora and the first station I made was based on Daft Punk, Bollywood and Gorillaz.
Yeah. It's a good day.

Equations

So, last Monday I found a lump in my breast. I went to the doctor 2 days later and got a referral for a mammogram and ultrasound. Unfortunately, these tests have to wait until December 2 (grr). Now, this lump isn't just some uncomfortable bit of flesh in my (as Bri so aptly puts it) "titty meat", it is a painful orb of SUCK! Guh! For nearly two weeks my boob has been constantly radiating with ow. Wearing a bra just compounds the experience. So, whilst at home, I roam free and wild, the way Janis Joplin intended. However, when around others, I try to keep the bra on so that it is not abundantly clear to everyone in Phoenix that I am a wuss who would die if I lived in the midwest again. Yeah, I've been so cold lately that my nipples could cut glass. I try to respect my fellow humans by putting the girls in their sling, but Jesus-My-Gardener, that fucking hurts, too!

So, I have a proclamation.  From this day forth, if you see me in public, in your home or in mine, the likelihood that I am wearing a bra will be approximately 1%.

See below.

Lump in boob = pain
Lump in boob + bra = pain(2)
Cold weather - bra = Glasscutting nipples + slight embarassment = me blushing
Me blushing + lump in boob  < pain(2)

ergo Lump in boob + cold - bra = acceptable levels of pain and humiliation.

Yeah, it's not worth all the ouchfulness to strap on the C-cupholder.

Thus ends my PSA.

LOVE!

EDITED 11/30 TO ADD: So, I got a phone call yesterday from the imaging center. When I made the appointment 20 days ago, apparently, the douche running the phones didn't realize that there would not be a radiologist on site on 12/2. Therefore, an entire day of patients were scheduled and had to be juggled around to make up for his error. I have to wait 2 more weeks. Dammit.