This has not been a good month for our budget. On a whim, I decided I wanted to see Lisa, my German exchange student from a couple years ago, before she starts university in October, so I bought her a ticket to come spend 2.5 weeks with us in September. She'll be here to see my play, I'll get to spend some time with her, and she'll get to see all her friends before life starts getting more hectic for her.
Then, just before Craig took Alicia back to DC, the check engine light came on in my car. I drive a 2012 Ford Flex, and it's been a really solid car, without a ton of stuff that's had to be done on it. Well, we took it in last Tuesday and discovered that it was the fuel sensor that was shot. That was $700 to fix. On Thursday, they called back and said the sensor was fixed, but the entire cluster on the dashboard needed to be replaced. Grand total: $1300.
The tap on our kitchen sink has been leaking for ages, and we've reached the breaking point with it. So this week, we went and bought a new tap, and we'll have plumbing charges to get it installed and the sink resealed before the month ends. Total for that: $750
On top of that, I went to Sur La Table yesterday to exchange a birthday gift I got. I wanted new saucepans, but they weren't something I could buy as part of a set to save money. I had to buy them all individually. I ended up spending more than the exchange by way more than I should have. But they're quality pans, and I haven't had new ones in almost ten years so it really was time. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
But I will be watching money like a hawk for the rest of the month, that's for sure.
Someone at my college is scanning all the publicity negatives from the MainStage shows from the 60s through the 90s, and as a teaser, she posted the opening shot from the show I had my very first lead in, "The Death of Zukasky." Behold, baby-faced Eurydice (I'm 21 in the pic):
Our first read-through of the play was tonight, and it went amazingly well. We didn't have one of our actresses, but even with her missing, there were so many laughs and "aw" moments. I had a long talk afterward with the woman who plays the lead. She's been in a rough spot since we cast her because she doesn't see herself as this role at all. It's been taking everything we have to try and convince her otherwise. I see some of her points, and she's willing to work on things, but I just wish I could get her to see herself the way we do. It'll come. Eventually. She's too much of a professional for it not to. But it'll take time.
It's going to be such a funny show. I'm having to pick my battles with my co-director - he gets an idea in his head and sometimes it's really hard to shake it - and I've had to make a couple concessions so far that I deemed not worth the fight. I've stood my ground on others, though. Like tonight, we were talking costumes, and he wanted to put one of our actresses in black leggings for the final scene. Which takes place in North Carolina in the middle of August. And the character is 77. Who has recently had a hip replacement. I put my foot down. Because there is NO WAY she would be in such restrictive clothing so soon after hip surgery, let alone wearing something so clingy and dark in a hundred degree heat. He let it go, thank goodness.
Don't even get me started on the argument I had with him about his certainty that one of the other characters was getting abused by her husband.
Rehearsals start next Monday. My schedule will be crammed for a while. :)
TITLE: Good Omens AUTHOR: Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett DATE FINISHED: August 10 BLURB: According to "The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch" (the world's only completely accurate book of prophecies, written in 1655, before she exploded), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just before dinner.
So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon—both of whom have lived amongst Earth's mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle—are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture.
And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist . . .
Damn it, I got busy again. I didn't mean for it to go this long.
So what's happened?
1. Alicia left for DC Friday night. I was trying to spend as much time with her as I could, though it was a busy week. She had to leave early because she's got RA training for a couple weeks before school starts. I miss her already.
2. Our auditions were this week, and our play is cast! I'm really pleased with the final result. One of the actresses who was cast is my friend L. I had encouraged her to audition as practice since she hasn't done anything in twenty years, without any intention of it being for real since her schedule is a little nuts, but then my co-director absolutely fell in love with her. So on the plus side, I get to see her way more often now. I just have to be very careful about not looking like I have favorites.
3. I got pulled into doing some band stuff this past week, though that is tapering off big-time now.
4. One of my publishers is doing more republishing of out of print backlists, so I talked to Pepper and we decided to send our 60+ out of print to them. That's been work, though she's been doing a big part of it. She can't do the dozen titles of mine, though, and so far, I've been lagging. Thankfully, the publisher is only doing one a month, and I got September done, so I have a teensy bit of breathing space there.
5. I am massively behind on writing fic. I have a novella due at the end of this month that I need to finish, and then I have to throw myself into writing two stories that I've promised before the end of the year. I'm finally finding a rhythm with work, but with nightly rehearsals for the next six weeks, I have to be smarter about how I use my time.
6. I did manage to read a teensy bit of fic yesterday, though, when I was playing catch-up on LJ. My TBR pile is still massive, but I have to share this short gen fic written for Summer for Giles. It's called A Second Chance by aaronlisa, and it's a wonderful rewrite of Faith's introduction to the gang and Giles's reaction to her. Check it out. :)
"I think of acting and writing as pretty much the same thing. It’s all about getting inside the skin of your characters, and seeing where they are, and knowing how they’ve grown up. You have to know all this, like, in your bones, what they’ve come up against, who they are. And then you just start talking as them. And you write until the rust comes out of the faucet and it’s clear water. And you write down the clear water.”
I checked out the ebook of Jill Lepore's The Secret History of Wonder Woman a couple weeks ago. I am most definitely not a comics person, but I did read a few WW growing up, watched the show, loved the recent movie, and knew a teensy bit about the creator, so I figured, "Why not?"
Apparently, the answer to that question is, "Because you will tear your hair out for two weeks, trying to get past the crappy editing."
The book is basically a biography of William Moulton Marston, with photographs and comic strips interspersed that relate to the telling of the story (which, in Kindle's defense, were actually legible; they often are a jumbled mess). He was a pretty out-there guy, defender of feminism, convinced of his own superiority, believer in polygamy. He created the first lie detector. He was into bondage. He wasn't nearly as smart as the women he loved. He was, in my opinion, a real asshole.
Not for these reasons. No, it's mostly because I have very little tolerance for people who are convinced they are the best thing since sliced bread. And boy does he fit that mold. He habitually lied to make himself look better. He also gave his wife ultimatums about bringing other women into their relationship. She convinced herself of the one he eventually "married" by saying this was the only way she could have children and a career at the same time. All of the women dote on him like he's the second coming, and it's infuriating.
But I'm not judging the book on the man she's trying to talk about, even if much of what went into Wonder Woman were aspects ripped from his everyday life (for instance, he gave his second "wife" bracelets that she wore all the time). No, the book doesn't work because the author, in all the research she did, all the letters she dredged up, never found a fact that wasn't worth putting into the book. The first 2/3s meanders all over the place, introducing people that have absolutely no bearing on anything before making a sharp left back to one of the principals. I got a deep dive into the rise of the birth control movement, the evolution of psychology on college campuses, various criminal trials, politics at Harvard, and so on. By the time it got to the WW stuff, I dreaded picking it up.
I just spent the last hour playing catch-up on LJ, but I know I missed stuff. I hate being gone for more than a couple days.
I wasn't sure if the antibiotics were actually helping until Sunday. I wasn't getting worse, but the streak from the bite wasn't shrinking either. On top of that, I did something to my lower back at work on Saturday, so I wasn't feeling great in general. But Sunday night, I checked it out again (I've been keeping it bandaged because it's under my bra strap and the bandage protected it from rubbing raw), and it looked better. This morning, it was almost gone completely. So yay!
One of the coolest things I read while I was catching up on online stuff was this post from Tom and Lorenzo. It's about these wedding photos from 1957 that only recently resurfaced. The "married" couple are a pair of young men, and the glimpse into gay culture of the 50s is both fascinating and sad. These two were so obviously in love, and yet had to hide. It breaks my heart. I only hope they got to live a long and happy life together.
Urgent Care took almost two hours. I got called in 20 minutes late, then at the end, got forgotten because they thought I was done. Oops.
Anyway, the doctor confirmed the infection. I was definitely bitten by something and have developed cellulitis. I had to get a tetanus shot and I'm now on two antibiotics. They also drew around it so I can monitor it over the next few days. If I develop a fever or it gets worse in the next couple days, I have to go to the ER so I can get IV antibiotics. Fingers crossed I don't have to.
At least it doesn't hurt. The two shots I got hurt a lot more.
On Monday morning, I noticed a dime-sized mark on my shoulder. It was a dull pinkish-red but not painful and didn't have a head, so I just attributed it as a random bruise. I bruise easily, they show up all the time without me knowing from what, so it seemed like a logical conclusion.
This morning, that spot is brighter red, warm to the touch, and has a faint red streak emanating from it, headed to my armpit. Clearly, not a bruise, lol. I figure it must be a bite (the wedding on Saturday was outside, and I wore a sleeveless dress, so I could have easily gotten bitten then), but the red, curved line bothered me a bit, so I called the nurse on the healthline of our insurance.
She wanted me to go Urgent Care within the hour, since the streak could be an infection. I can't, because I have an appointment I *have* to make this morning, but I'm going to go afterward.
I think I might have beaten this cold. I'm not congested any more, but I got tired very easily today, and I'm struggling now at 10:30 to stay awake, in spite of taking an hour nap after working high school walk-thru registration for five hours today. I don't usually go to bed for another hour, but I think I'm making an exception tonight.
I am mostly caught up to a point where I can actually start doing some writing again. I'm hoping to do at least one line for camelot_drabble's bingo this month, I have a novella due to one of my publishers on September 1, and I still have to finish my Fandom Trumps Hate fics. BUT, my life should be slowing down a little bit. Yes, play stuff will start taking the place of band stuff in my schedule, but that's not as draining as I find the latter. Probably because I enjoy it a lot more, lol. Either way, I have to figure out a schedule where my butt is in the chair and my hands are on the keyboard producing words and not surfing the internet. I miss writing.
I swear to god, July is trying to kill me. I meant to stay on top of LJ, but this past week had high school walk-thru (which I worked on the days I didn't work at the library), the Hugh Jackman concert, and then the wedding yesterday of our best friends' oldest daughter (the one who lived with me this past year). Plus, our A/C died for two of those days. There's more to come - one more walk-thru day, my days at the library, plus the run-up to auditions for the play I'm co-directing - but it should slow down. Provided I survive.
The wedding yesterday was gorgeous, but I woke up at 5:30am sneezing like a madwoman. By noon, I was completely congested and running a low-grade fever. I pumped myself full of drugs so I could make it through the evening ceremony/reception, but when we left at 11, I fell asleep in the car right away, slept for the 90 minutes home, woke up just enough to stumble to my room and strip out of my clothes, and slept through to 9:30 this morning. Today has been better than yesterday, though, so I'm hoping I can nip this in the bud.
In catching up with stuff today, I discovered that there is going to be an Angel game from Jasco (the people who did the recent Buffy game that I love so much) coming out later this year.
The Hugh Jackman concert was so much fun. I was a little surprised at how many small children were there, and all of them knew all the words to The Greatest Showman, lol. There was a little girl (who couldn't have been more than three) in the front row, dressed in a red sequined jacket with tails and a huge black tulle skirt, with an absolute riot of blonde curls. So adorable. Hugh saw her in the second act and hopped off the stage to interact with her. But the man is so charming and a natural entertainer. His singing isn't great - I've always thought he was just competent in that regard - but he's funny, articulate, and moves like a dream.
So you remember that buffyversebingo community I helped put together a month ago?
We have our first bingo already! Even better, it's from the fabulous teragramm!
She created three banners, a fic banner, and a set of mood themes to get her bingo. You can see them all over at her artwork journal, teragramm_icons. My favorite is the one she did for "cleanse," though her "bleed it out" banner makes my heart ache for Buffy. I hate seeing Buffy hurt.
I wish I used mood themes. I would totally snag hers.
Thanks to hollydb, I bought myself a red trench coat from the Buffy collection at Hot Topic today. I mean, how could I not? It's my favorite color and one of my favorites of Buffy's coats. Plus, I had birthday money to spend, so I figure I deserve it.
I'v been rewatching seasons 1 and 2 of Stranger Things so Alicia and I can watch S3 when she gets home next week. I loved it the first time around, but I'm just as in love with David Harbour this second time around as I was then. It makes me worried, though. He's been in a ton of headlines regarding S3. I'm completely unspoiled, but I'm starting to fear there's something significant for Hopper in S3.
If you've seen it, please don't tell me!
In other news, Alex got his AP scores yesterday. He took five AP classes last year - English, US History, Seminar, Calculus, and Psychology. He got 4s in three of them, which should be good enough for college credit, depending on where he ends up. I'm a little relieved. He doesn't have the activities that Alicia had in high school, so he has to rely more on grades and testing to impress. He's doing great so far. He's got a 4.2 GPA, and his SAT was 1430, which are more than solid enough. He's scheduled to take the SAT subject tests in October, since he wants to apply to a couple schools that require them. I have no doubt he'll blow the math one out of the water. He did for the composite test. That kid is crazy smart that way. I hope for his sake it's enough.
We woke up this morning to discover that Lucy, our Boston Terrier, had blood and pus in her urine. Not good, especially since she just had a physical two weeks ago that was completely clear (including the urinalysis). I was able to get her an appointment to see the vet, but Alicia and Craig had to take her because it was half an hour before I was due to work at the library. We won't have definitive results until Monday, but the vet said it looked like a typical UTI which is treatable with antibiotics. So we're giving her those and praying the news stays the same when they confirm the diagnosis.
During all this, I got a text from someone who didn't know I was no longer president of the band boosters. I then spent the next two hours getting her in touch with the right people for what she wanted, as well as also talking down the current president from unleashing on her unnecessarily. In some ways, next year won't be any different at all with the band responsibilities, lol.
Luckily, after that I was able to go into work and just be around quiet for the next five hours. The only problem there was that I was hyped on adrenaline when I arrived so got caught up on absolutely everything with an hour and a half left on my shift. I ended up just doing a lot of straightening then, but hey, it's not like it's hard work.
After dinner tonight, we sat down to play Buffy. The new expansion just came out recently, but when Craig, Alex, and I played the other night, we got our asses kicked. This time, we had Alicia join in. We played with Spike and Dru as the Big Bad, and had random characters. Alex was Buffy, Craig was Willow, Alicia was Giles, and I was Riley. I didn't use Riley's stupid special ability even once. So lame. We did get the Gentlemen as one of the monsters of the week, however, so that was fun (you're not allowed to speak when they come into play, which is interesting when it's a cooperative game that relies on working together to do multiple things at the same time). We also managed to squeak in a win, right under the wire. Willow turned evil at the very last minute, and we only had one more turn before we were officially apocalypsed, but hey, a win is a win. :)
TITLE: Ava Gardner: The Secret Conversations AUTHOR: Peter Evans DATE FINISHED: June 27 BLURB: Ava Gardner was one of Hollywood’s biggest and brightest stars during the 1940s and ’50s, an Oscar-nominated leading lady who co-starred with Clark Gable, Burt Lancaster, and Humphrey Bogart, among others. But this riveting account of her storied life, including her marriage to Frank Sinatra, and career had to wait for publication until after her death—because Gardner feared it was too revealing.
“I either write the book or sell the jewels,” Gardner told coauthor Peter Evans, “and I’m kinda sentimental about the jewels.” The legendary actress serves up plenty of gems in these pages, reflecting with delicious humor and cutting wit on a life that took her from rural North Carolina to the heights of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Tell-all stories abound, especially when Gardner divulges on her three husbands: Mickey Rooney, a serial cheater so notorious that even his mother warned Gardner about him; bandleader Artie Shaw, whom Ava calls “a dominating son of a bitch…always putting me down;” and Frank Sinatra (“We were fighting all the time. Fighting and boozing. It was madness. But he was good in the feathers”).
Alex took his driving test today and passed, woo hoo! Just in time, too. He is taking a couple classes at a different high school in town next year and at least one of my workdays will conflict with picking him up to take him back to his main school. Craig's more focused on the extra $700 we have to pay every six months for car insurance. Kids are expensive, man.
Alicia's bridesmaid dress came in last week so we went to Sacramento on Saturday to try on/pick it up. It fits perfectly everywhere except it's too high under the arms and needs to be lowered because it digs painfully into her sides. They could get us in right then to fit her, but guess when we get the dress back? Two days before the wedding. I don't know why the bride (or her mom) isn't hyperventilating about cutting it so close, but they were both perfectly fine with it. Me, I'm a nervous wreck about something going horribly wrong.
Our plums are coming in fast and thick now. We have two plum trees, one of which isn't quite as mature and only produced a dozen or so plums this year. The other one, however, has been heavily laden all spring, and they are finally getting ripe enough to start picking. We're eating them as is, mostly because pitting them would be a nightmare. I don't have time for more, and hey, it's healthier for us this way anyway.
A couple years ago, I bought a journaling book called The 52 Lists Project. My goal was to do a list a week, which I thought was more than doable. It was, until I reached list 4 which was about the soundtrack of your life. I don't define my life by music. I don't play music on a regular basis. I've never obsessed about certain musicians even though I have a few favorites, and I rarely remember titles of songs. So I got stuck. And my linear brain refused to let me move forward.
I just found it buried on my nightstand while I was cleaning. Instead of shuffling it to the bottom of the pile like I normally do, I pulled it out. I've decided to skip this damn soundtrack list and use the book as Sunday posts. So here goes.
LIST THE THINGS THAT MAKE YOU FEEL HEALTHY: MIND, BODY, AND SOUL
I've been working at the library for two weeks now, and I'm still trying to adjust to it. First of all, it's been a long time when I've been on my feet for so many consecutive hours, so my body rebelled for the first week. My last two shifts have been a lot better, so it's a matter of getting used to it, but damn it, I get tired a solid two, sometimes three, hours earlier than before, and it's eating away my time. It means I have little creative energy when I can actually get online, and that's just not acceptable. I have all this stuff I want to do. I have to get this sorted out.
The other thing that's messing me up is food. I work two opening shifts during the week, while Saturdays can vary. I have not worked a single shift yet where I manage to eat something before I have to go in. That means, when I'm done, I'm both tired and starving, and I make poor choices. OR, Craig feels sorry for me and we get food in. This has to stop. As soon as possible. But I don't know how without exhausting myself even further. It's not like I'm spending the time before going into work playing games. I already have to get up during the week at 6am to take Craig and Alicia to the train. When I get home, it's usually just before 7 (we tend to leave around 6:30, but if I can't roll out of bed and be coherent, I need that time to wake up), and I have to start getting ready, make my tea, feed the dog, and all the other stuff that's part of waking the house up in the morning. The trick will be finding the time to cook breakfasts that I can heat up and eat on the run, but I haven't had any time (or energy when I do have some time) to do that.
The one good thing is that the job is going fabulously well. My manager kept apologizing the first week about it not being the most exciting work with a little repetition, but I think I've finally managed to convince her that I'm enjoying it. Part of me can't believe I'm actually getting paid to keep the library in good order.
A discussion at the EF Facebook page yesterday got me looking through my old nomination spreadsheets for LLGA. In the process, I discovered a fair number of fics are probably considered lost because they're on sites new readers don't look at.
Because I don't apparently have *enough* to do, I want to compile a list of those fics for readers with links. What I need to know, however, is where current Spuffy readers go looking for fic.
This is what I'm sure of: AO3 FFnet Elysian Fields All About Spike Spuffy Realm
What others are out there that are actually still live? I know Nocturnal Light is gone.
TITLE: Cold Secrets AUTHOR: Toni Anderson DATE FINISHED: June 15 BLURB: Computer expert Ashley Chen joined the FBI to fight against evil in the world--evil she experienced firsthand. She has mad skills and deadly secrets, and once she starts working with straight-shooting FBI agent, Lucas Randall, she also has big trouble. After years of pushing people away, she's finally falling for someone. The feeling is entirely mutual, but as Ashley intensifies her online pursuit of an international trafficking ring, her traumatic past collides with her present and suddenly Lucas can't tell which side she's on. As the case escalates into a high-stakes game of cat and mouse, it turns out Ashley isn't the only one with something to hide.
Rules: list the first lines of your last 10 published stories. See if there are any patterns yourself, or have other people say what they notice.
FYI: I excluded one of my last 10 because it was in response to a challenge where everybody had to start a story with the same first line, so it's not indicative of my style.
1. Her laughter rings throughout the cottage. - The Magic of Destiny
2. From the edge of the training field, the clang of sword meeting sword rang in five year-old Arthur's ears like the clarion song of birds first thing in the morning. - Picking Up the Sword
3. Percival stands at the door, knowing he should knock, scared of what will happen when he does. - Leave My Heart At the Door
4. The email from Morgana came with a link and three words. - Let's Get Personal
5. "You can't be serious." - Simple and Grand
6. As the day progressed, Merlin felt the back of his neck get redder and redder. - New Kid
7. For the most part, Arthur excused Merlin's tardiness. - In Return
8. Though it was hardly the first time he’d gone out since Gwen’s death, something about Gaius’s retirement party put Arthur into a maudlin mood, almost from the moment they walked through the hall’s doors. - Sharing the Same Truth
9. Icy water sprayed across Arthur’s trousers as the taxi rolled past, soaking him to the skin before he could jump back away from the street. - Like a Song
10. “I think you should come in.” - Count Me In
I already knew what some of my favorite ways to start fics were. I like short lines of dialogue without tags and visceral imagery - sound or touch most often - that lead into something else. Six of these do that. Two of the others convey an emotional effect to set a mood, which I like for shorter fic.
We've spent the last two nights bingeing "Good Omens." I never read the book. Though Terry Pratchett is Craig's favorite author, I wasn't as entertained by him with the couple of titles I read. And I'm embarrassed to admit that aside from admiring him in his social media and being aware of how well-received his books are, I've never read Neil Gaiman, either.
That has to change. Because I flippin' LOVED "Good Omens."
So...last week, electric_heart posted about interest in a Buffy bingo community, and since it's been something I've been thinking about, I jumped in to help do it. Clearly, I'm insane because I'm so damn busy already, but honestly, I'm soooooo excited!
Buffyverse Bingo is a low-pressure prompt challenge community for fans of BtVS and AtS. Sign up to participate, and you will get a bingo card with 24 prompts for you to fill. Prompts can be filled by a wide variety of fanworks, such as fics, icons, gifs, meta, picspam, videos, drawings, etc.
I had my first shift at the library yesterday. Mostly training and paperwork, but it went very well. I think I'm going to end up loving it there. It's also got me thinking if I want to pursue further education in library sciences if I want to work more hours. With Alex graduating next year, it would be nice to have something that gets me out of the house more, and the library is the perfect environment for it.
More of my time this week has been spent working with electric_heart in creating a Buffy bingo challenge. We're creating mirror communities at LJ and DW that--fingers crossed--will be ready to go by July 1. I have to say I'm really excited about it. I've been wanting something like this for a little while, and when she posted at DW earlier this week about whether they would be interest in it, I jumped at it. It won't just be for fic, either. We're allowing a lot of other types of fanworks, including fanart, vids, poetic, and meta. The goal is to attract creators so the fandom as a whole has more to enjoy.
Other big events this week...last night, on the way home from dinner, Craig ran over something that looked like a twig on the road. Turned out, it wasn't. Almost immediately, there was this horrible grinding sound, so he pulled over and discovered it was something metal and it had completely torn through some pipe on the undercarriage. It wasn't fuel, but it was leaking badly, so he took it into the shop and left it there. He went back this morning to get it on their docket. The pipe was part of the A/C system for the back seat. It cost us $300 to fix (not replace, that would've been $900), but we also needed an oil change and new tires. Altogether, the bill came to $1200. Not what we were hoping for this month, let me tell you.
Today was vet appointments for two of our pets. For our Boston Terrier, it was just a check-up to see how she's doing on her arthritis medicine. It can have an adverse effect on her liver, so while she seemed fine in her physical examination, I'll have to wait a couple days to get the results on her bloodwork. We also took in our senior cat. One of his dew claws had become ingrown, but he's also lost weight in recent months, so I wanted to have him checked. A few years ago, he had a tumor on his thyroid that caused the same symptom. He underwent radiation then to get rid of it and recovered great. The odds are very slim (in single digits, percentage-wise) for a recurrence, but they did bloodwork so we can see if something's going on or if he's just old man thin. He's never been a fat cat. At his healthiest, he was barely 12 pounds, all muscle. He's definitely underweight now, but he's also 15 years old. It's a waiting game there, too.
Tomorrow is another busy day. I have to be at the high school at 7am to work graduation, then we're off to a graduation party in the afternoon, before heading out to see "Whose Live Anyway?" in the evening. All of this while I feel less than 100%. I'm not sure if it's just my allergies going overboard (because I've been without my prescription Flonase for a month now, and OTC doesn't do it for me) or if I'm catching a cold. Either way, I spent most of today sneezing like a madwoman and partially blocked. Blech. Hopefully, I can get some sleep tonight. I'm going to need it.
TITLE: Murder House AUTHOR: Jordan Castillo Price DATE FINISHED: June 4 BLURB: Few people would willingly spend the night in a murder house, but Victor Bayne is up for the challenge. He’ll do whatever it takes to get a look at his permanent record, including going undercover in a townhouse where a recent death took place. Why not? There was no foul play involved, and as a psychic medium, he’d know if a ghost was creeping up on him. The whole “murder house” claim is just a product of a kid’s overactive imagination, and he’s confident he has the situation under control.
Until he gets a load of the smell.
Turns out, undercover work is a lot tougher than it looks. Vic misses Jacob something fierce. The subject of his assignment is a real piece of work. His partner has definitely got something to hide…and then the investigation takes a truly bizarre turn.
What happens if the murder house reveals itself to be more than just a schoolyard rumor?
TITLE: Americanah AUTHOR: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie DATE FINISHED: June 1 BLURB: Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland.
I have had a busy week. Craig and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary over the weekend by going to LA with the kids and doing the VIP Universal tour. It was made a little more special by the presence of good friends who joined us for the day. The weather in LA wasn't the greatest - 60 and cloudy all day long - but the ten of us had an absolute blast. It all perfectly embodied what Craig and I have been spending the last twenty years doing - building memories that we will always treasure. Our marriage isn't just about us. It's about our family and our friends and everything we've worked to create. This was an excellent celebration of all that.
I ended up getting the directing job at the theater, but as a co-director with the gentleman I know from the festival. We talked for three hours this morning, getting to know each other, and I actually think it's going to be a great fit. We have very similar approaches and temperaments, and our experience complements each other. Auditions will be the beginning of August, and his son is getting married this month, so we won't have to start working on it in earnest until July.
Our board elections were tonight for the band boosters, and I am no longer on it. Thank goodness. I couldn't do it with the play commitment since our rehearsals are during marching season, but I'm still going to function as the communications coordinator and be heavily involved. For instance, I'm still working all three days of high school walk-thru.
I got through the background check for the library job last Thursday, so now I'm just waiting to hear from the library about when I start. I hope it's next week. I have to work our graduation on Saturday. Where is all my free time? I haven't even had the chance to write a single word in over a week, and it's killing me. Maybe tomorrow. Fingers crossed.
My 20th wedding anniversary is in 9 days. Craig and I had talked awhile ago about going somewhere, just the two of us, but tonight we decided to make it a mini-family vacation instead. We don't have a lot of time with Alicia this summer, and our opportunities for family trips are getting fewer as the kids get older, so it really made the most sense.
So provided we can get someone to watch the dog, we're going to drive down to LA next weekend and do the VIP experience at Universal.
We did it last summer for my birthday and seriously had an absolute blast. We actually prefer Universal to Disney now that the kids are older, and the VIP experience was well worth it for us. We'll only be gone for three days, but it's going to be so worth it.
After working myself to death this past week, I'm now fighting a cold. My throat has been sore all day. I really don't need this right now.
On Friday, I had my interview about directing the first play of the 2019/20 season of the community theater I did the festival with. I'm supposed to know by Wednesday who's going to get it. I'm not holding my breath. There are five people interested, two of whom have amazing credentials but were lax about getting their interview scheduled at that point. One other is someone well known to the board. If I do manage to squeak in and get it, it will only be as co-directing, I'm pretty sure. I said I was more than happy to do that, which as it turns out, the other someone said as well. He is an absolutely lovely man who was so nice to me during the festival. I would love to be able to co-direct with him. I think we'd be pretty compatible.
Today was a long drive to Sacramento to hit David's Bridal with Alicia. She still didn't have her bridesmaid dress picked out for the wedding in July, and ordering online from them had proven disastrous while she was in DC. Lucky for us, we found three different dresses that would work, all of which could be ordered in time in the right color. The one we ended up getting was not one that had been on her radar, but the salesgirl said, "Let me just get it for you to try. You'll be surprised at how much it looks better on than hanging on the rack." And she was right. Alicia looked great in it. Even better, she felt comfortable and confident. So that is now all done, thank god.
I'm throwing a small graduation party next Saturday. R, the oldest daughter of the family we always have Thanksgiving with, has been living with us since last September as she finishes up nursing school. She'd been living at home, but her dad got a new job down in SoCal so we offered to let her stay with us so she didn't have to go through the hassle of transferring. She's also the one getting married in July, so I knew she didn't have a lot of energy or time to deal with anything for graduation. It's very intimate, only 15-20 people, so I'm just making lasagna and serving a few sides with it, and ordering a cake. I need to get the house ready this week for her family since they'll be staying the weekend with us instead of staying at a hotel.
I survived my posting day at Seasonal Spuffy, though my story is still a WIP. I feel pretty good about that, but now that the crunch is over, I need to start working on other projects that are due. I'm thinking I will write one chapter for that, and then work on one of my Fandom Trumps Hate stories concurrently. Then when I finish the SS story, I can go on to finish Razing the Veil over at EF. I will have written a lot of new fic this year by the time it's over.
I hate getting my picture taken. HATE. When the kids were little, I avoided doing it as often as I could. I regret that now. Life is too short, and I wish I had more memories to hold onto.
So when my friend T insisted she get a picture of me and Alicia at the concert the other night, I was more than happy to do it. I have very few pictures of just us, especially in recent years. There were other pictures taken that I absolutely loathe because I have so many issues with self-loathing body images, but I liked this one of us enough to share:
I've been insanely busy the past week, so let's play catch up.
I accepted the library job. Now, I'm in the administrative process of getting hired by the county which means background checks, fingerprinting, multiple levels of approvals, etc. I probably won't start working until June, but that's okay. Life is crazy busy right now.
Alicia is home, safe and sound. She was free for a few days, and then started her internship today on the peninsula. With Craig also commuting into work, it meant the house was very, very quiet. I forget what a force of nature she is when she's been gone for a bit, but when she's home and then not, there's a very definitive hole in the space she's left behind. It was startling today.
Yesterday was the huge spring concert for the band. Normally, that means I spend three days baking since nobody else seems willing to do anything about refreshments, but I lost last Friday and Saturday to period pain issues that pretty much flattened me. I mean, the first day or so is always pretty bad, but this was a battering ram to my entire midsection, from my sternum to my pelvis. I couldn't even be touched without wincing from pain. Then Sunday was Mother's Day, which was lovely for the most part. I got Harry Potter themed gifts, including this sorting hat snack server and a gorgeous luminary. Alicia brought me back the most delicate, most beautiful ornament from DC's cherry blossom festival. And then in the evening, I had other booster moms over so we could wrap 15 raffle baskets for Tuesday's concert.
All that means is that my normal baking happened in the course of one day. I managed to get 15 dozen cookies/brownies/bar cookies done on Monday. That might be my record, especially since one batch of brownies (and I did 6) takes over an hour and only makes 9 brownies.
Now, I'm in the throes of finishing up a third chapter of a new WIP for seasonal_spuffy on Friday. It's been so much fun writing Spike again. I needed the distraction today, too. The health insurance sitch is driving me crazy. Craig's new job covers COBRA costs for three months (since employees don't get their health insurance until they've been on the job for 90 days), but it didn't happen automatically. It won't be in effect until next week, which meant we had to pay the full price cost of two prescriptions so far. AND I can't even get a Flonase refill until it's in effect because my doctor literally can't prescribe it without being preauthorized by the insurance. I've been out for a couple days because I didn't know it was the insurance holding it up, and now I have to go back to that familiar choking feeling until I can get more. Hopefully soon.
About an hour ago, I got an email from the woman I interviewed with at the library. She said, "I have a question. Can you call me?"
So I did.
She opened with, "So you were our second choice when we were hiring, and we really wanted you, but we only had the one position. We've had some personnel shifting and now I need someone for about ten hours a week, Saturday afternoons and either a Tuesday or Wednesday night. Would you be interested?"
I might've exploded a little on the inside.
Seriously, it's so part-time it would just be about getting out of the house a couple days a week and having some spending money that I don't feel guilty about. But I want to talk to Craig about the Saturday thing before I commit, which she more than understood. I'm going to call her tomorrow with my decision.
But! I want it. I would get to live with books for ten hours a week. I hope Craig doesn't come up with a good reason for me not to take it. What a fabulous Mother's Day gift it would be!
I got annoyed by a book review this morning that disparaged a book I love as being unworthy of recommendation because it didn't meaningfully change the reader in any way. She then went on to say a book that simply entertained was worth less than one that provoked thought.
Well, screw that.
I love a solid literary novel, but I absolutely loathe readers/reviewers that denigrate genre fiction. Everybody reads for different reasons. Everybody has different tastes. To dismiss another person's reading pleasure is elitist and completely unnecessary. All it does is make the person making the statements feel superior. It's perfectly fine to say a book isn't for you, but if there is legitimately nothing technically wrong with it, I see zero valid reason to belittle those readers who do respond well to the book.
It's why I have such issue with a lot of academia. I've run smack dab into the same elitism and it infuriates me. Those books they think are such classics? Are completely unreadable to some people. And it's not because a person isn't smart enough. It's because reading is SUBJECTIVE. Your way of reading is not the only way. What you get out of it is not necessarily what I do. And you have no right to tell me that mine is ridiculous simply because it doesn't mesh with yours. It's called mutual respect. It shouldn't be such a hard concept to grasp.
The bulk of what I read is done so purely for escapism. There is nothing wrong with that. All people do when they act so superior about their reading material is make me want to avoid them at all costs. Which I do. And have done. That sort of elitist BS only shows how shallow they really are, and I would much rather have people of value in my life than any of them.
Miracle of miracles, the valve under the sink was fixed today!
I texted a friend who's a manager for a building company, asking her for a referral. She called me two minutes later and said she had a handyman (who happened to be her boyfriend's uncle) in the area and if I called him right away, he could probably get it done today. Needless to say, I jumped on it. It's done and the new installation date is scheduled for next Monday.
The guy was a character, though. He's got a band on the side, and when he walked in and saw my guitar and our piano, he started chatting away. When he asked about my guitar, I pulled it out to show him and he went a little nuts, lol. Next thing I know, he's playing and I'm getting serenaded with "Purple Rain." He was actually really good, but it made me laugh enough to call my friend afterward. I told her the story, and she laughed and said, "Yep. That's him."
He does a ton of different stuff, though, and at the end of the day, his rates are very reasonable and I liked him, so we're going to have him back for more work.
And oh! Thank you so much for telling me I wasn't being selfish about wanting a birthday party! I talked to Alicia this morning about it, and she's 200% on board. "All I need is a theme and a guest list," she said. We batted around a lot of ideas and settled on "Back to the 80s." Two hours later, she texted me and said, "I have a Pinterest board and a half dozen ideas for invitations already. Why did you do this to me right before finals?!?" She's just as excited as I am. :)
I can't believe it's Wednesday already. This week has just flown by.
Craig started his new job today. The office is in San Francisco, and parking is a pain there so he's taking the train into the city. The problem is, parking at our station is impossible after 6am because the lot is completely full. So I have to get up with him and drive him there. I'm out of practice. I am just *not* a morning person.
I was stuck at home today because our new dishwasher was due to be delivered between 10:30am and 2pm. Well, they showed up at 1:30. Nice guys. But when they got under the sink to take out the old machine, they ran into a problem. The water shut-off valve is broken and won't turn off. We need to get a plumber to come out and fix it, then call the delivery people again to try installing again. Except you know what? We've had a couple other jobs with that sink - we want a new tap, it needs to be resealed because there's a leak - but Craig called four different plumbers who all told him no, the job wasn't big enough for them to take it. Really?!? One of the guys is literally less than a mile away. It would be easy money he could do on a slow day. But no, the job's too small. So fingers crossed we can find someone who'll do this. I don't have high hopes.
Alicia is home in a week. I'm excited about that.
Back in February, Craig asked me if I wanted to do something special for my birthday because I turn 50 in July. Initially I said no. We have an important wedding a week afterward, and I didn't want to distract from her celebration. But then on Monday when I saw that John Singleton had died - at the age of 51 - I freaked a little. Life is short. Plus, I have never had any kind of party that was just about me. Never had a birthday party. No bridal shower. No baby showers. The closest I ever got was our wedding, and that was about both of us. Is it selfish I want this? It feels selfish.
It's been a busy few days. I went to a friend's birthday party on Friday night, and ended up talking with one of her work friends (someone I didn't know) for two hours. We just hit it off in ways I don't often with women I meet. We ended up exchanging numbers and friending each other on Facebook. It's just weird because that never happens to me. In fact, until she and I started chatting, I'd spent the first two hours of the party pretty much in the background. I only knew one other person there and she had to leave pretty early. Everybody else was already friends, so it was very odd man out for me until this other woman starting drawing me into conversation.
Then yesterday, we were out appliance shopping. Our dishwasher has been cranky for a while now, and Saturday morning, it finally died. The damn thing would not stop beeping and refused to run a cycle. Since it's obviously a computer issue, it was better to just buy a new one. That gets delivered on Wednesday.
I will not be seeing Endgame until after May 8. That's when Alicia gets home. Because we've seen all the rest of the movies as a family, she requested that we see this one together, too. I haven't been spoiled so far, but I'll admit I'm terrified something is going to slip through.
Craig had his annual physical on Friday, too. His blood sugar is too high, so the doctor has put him on meds and ordered him to lose weight. I threw myself into getting all the bad stuff out of the house and sorting through my recipes to focus on low carb alternatives to get his sugars in check. We know low carb works for us. When we met in '97, he was coming off his chemo and I was coming out of my abusive first marriage. We were both much heavier than we wanted to be. We did low carb together then (because my gyno suggested it as a way to help with my PCOS) and did marvelously. He lost 100 pounds, and I lost 45. So I know we can do this. Yes, we're 20 years older, but I know what to do. And honestly, fear for his health is the best motivator. Apparently, I'll move heaven and earth to ensure his prolonged good health much more readily than I will mine, lol.
TITLE: Redeployment AUTHOR: Phil Klay DATE FINISHED: April 21 BLURB: Phil Klay's Redeployment takes readers to the frontlines of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, asking us to understand what happened there, and what happened to the soldiers who returned. Interwoven with themes of brutality and faith, guilt and fear, helplessness and survival, the characters in these stories struggle to make meaning out of chaos.
In "Redeployment", a soldier who has had to shoot dogs because they were eating human corpses must learn what it is like to return to domestic life in suburbia, surrounded by people "who have no idea where Fallujah is, where three members of your platoon died." In "After Action Report", a Lance Corporal seeks expiation for a killing he didn't commit, in order that his best friend will be unburdened. A Morturary Affairs Marine tells about his experiences collecting remains—of U.S. and Iraqi soldiers both. A chaplain sees his understanding of Christianity, and his ability to provide solace through religion, tested by the actions of a ferocious Colonel. And in the darkly comic "Money as a Weapons System", a young Foreign Service Officer is given the absurd task of helping Iraqis improve their lives by teaching them to play baseball. These stories reveal the intricate combination of monotony, bureaucracy, comradeship and violence that make up a soldier's daily life at war, and the isolation, remorse, and despair that can accompany a soldier's homecoming.
Redeployment is poised to become a classic in the tradition of war writing. Across nations and continents, Klay sets in devastating relief the two worlds a soldier inhabits: one of extremes and one of loss. Written with a hard-eyed realism and stunning emotional depth, this work marks Phil Klay as one of the most talented new voices of his generation.
TITLE: Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me: A Graphic Memoir AUTHOR: Ellen Forney DATE FINISHED: April 20 BLURB: Shortly before her thirtieth birthday, Forney was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Flagrantly manic and terrified that medications would cause her to lose creativity, she began a years-long struggle to find mental stability while retaining her passions and creativity.
Searching to make sense of the popular concept of the crazy artist, she finds inspiration from the lives and work of other artists and writers who suffered from mood disorders, including Vincent van Gogh, Georgia O’Keeffe, William Styron, and Sylvia Plath. She also researches the clinical aspects of bipolar disorder, including the strengths and limitations of various treatments and medications, and what studies tell us about the conundrum of attempting to “cure” an otherwise brilliant mind.
Darkly funny and intensely personal, Forney’s memoir provides a visceral glimpse into the effects of a mood disorder on an artist’s work, as she shares her own story through bold black-and-white images and evocative prose.
Craig and I went to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in San Francisco last night. I almost didn't go because I didn't feel well in the morning, but in the end, I'm glad I did. The show was more delightful than I anticipated. The young man playing Charlie was surprisingly good, and I even enjoyed Wonka. I was nervous about him in particular. My Wonka will always be Gene Wilder. But this one was different enough while still having some of the same spirit. I'm okay with that.
We did errands this morning, then Alex and I played games most of the afternoon, including two games of Buffy Legendary. I lost both games, but man, I love playing it. We had two set-ups - Buffy and her men (Spike, Angel, & Giles) and a Scooby set-up with Angel as a fighting back-up. Alex kept having questions about some of the pictures, so I described the episodes they were from. Tabula Rasa. Something Blue. Fool for Love. He kept laughing at the dialogue bits I'd share, but I still haven't convinced him to watch the whole show yet. Some day. For now, I just have to be happy that he knows all the words to Once More with Feelings.
Oh, and I finally figured out my seasonal_spuffy story title! I worked on the outline tonight, so it should be ready to start writing on Monday. That feels good. Let's just hope that feeling lasts after I actually start. ;)
This has been an up and down week. I spent yesterday furious with the world, for relatively silly reasons, then woke up this morning insanely anxious because I had a bad dream about a friend. I had to text her as soon as I got downstairs to make sure she was okay. She was, of course. It's just me being overly sensitive.
I managed to get some gardening done and finished edits on something that's been hanging over my head. I've also started outlining my seasonal_spuffy story. It's not going as smoothly as I'd like yet, but it will. My problem is that I haven't nailed down the title yet. For me, that's a huge deal. I'm a very linear writer. It's why I can't skip scenes while I'm writing and put in placeholders like "insert sex scene here." It's why I can't start writing a story until I know how it ends. So without the right title, the one that embodies the story in some way, I'm still on shaky ground. It'll come. Just not yet.