Wednesday, March 31, 2010


So I got fired today. The fact that many others did as well doesn't actually lighten the weight, once it falls. For most, that weight falls instantly - the moment of realization might not, but the shock is immediate, the weight comes with it.

I am able to hold weight off fairly effectively, at least for the interminable period of a single day's span. It isn't hard. It isn't painful. It is often necessary. With the shock of layoff, there is much business to attend to. The telling of people, the reassuring of them, the making sure you aren't seen to be wigging the heck out. There's no time to indulge onself, there's too much to do.

In my case today: to demonstrate to a prospective new employer my ability to cope, to demonstrate simple grace. To give this news to my family, my mother. To endure and to immerse my consciousness in their attempts to be kind, to distract. To behave appropriately, and to behave completely INappropriately too - to deny what shock does.

To hold the weight off, if only for the day.

I lost my job somewhere between 8:15 and 8:30 this morning. I guess close to 8:15, maybe even earlier than that. Because there was the sitting through HR's dearly-held need to make speeches, to display their processes. To humor them, the first task of all the long list for the day.

I listened to them. Fifteen minutes, maybe? I've heard these things before. Once, my boss let me have a holiday weekend because he hated to ruin it for me - and he wasn't there that Monday morning. There was a note. There were guards.

The guard in my annex side of the main office, the office my boss and I shared on our own, attached to a regional facility, had its own guard. I remember him apologizing.

It was after September 11. He had had to do this duty depressigly much, I remember.

I remember apologizing to him. Well, saying I was sorry for him, in the sense of commisseration, anyway. I felt horrible for him. I still do, all these years later. I was okay. I never lost my home, after that happened. I went eight months without work. But I worked again. I was okay. His work had to be so much harder than job hunting, in some ways. I can't imagine. Never could.

Today, a young mother I work with lost her livelihood. And another, a single mom, whose own ex husband lost half his own income a year ago.

I at least was already trying. I have a prospect. I am fortunate; could be even more so. I have a lot of blessings to be grateful for. I wanted out. That I was given that end by a means removed from my control is likely not something to cry about.

Certainly not today. Not today. Today was my mom. Today was my brother's kindness. Today was my friend A, my friend T, beautiful Zuba. The sound of E's heart choking his throat, on the phone, helpless to put his hands across my back, as he did when my father died. Helpless to feel my hands on his in return. To be here for me.

Today was everyone around me, and feeling them showing that they *are* around me. Today was the day to receive kindness. And hope. Hope even from E, who has such a little store of that of his own. He had some for me. That was generous.

Today was gloriously beautiful, and I was off work.

Today wasn't time.

Tonight. Is time.

The weight has fallen, and I am profoundly tired. I am angry, sick, beaten, offended, tired. I'm afraid of my bed. Bereft of the reassurance of the presence of someone who loves me - of mere human companionship; presence - to make sure the shadows of this house, this night, would not be empty. I fear trying to sleep. And yet can hardly bear to remain upright, to come up with anything further to do with myself.

The weight has fallen.

Surely ... I must follow soon.

Surely, I was underneath it. And am even crushed.

If only for one night.

One more thing to do. To be under the rubble. The last thing to be done, on the day's list. You have to find yourself buried. You have to feel the toppling.

Before you dig out.

*Aching sigh*

Last Post

I didn't attach the tag "outrage" to the previous post. It may be odd to some observers, but there are a lot of things which prevent this seeming "out" of the ordinary (sadly), nor engendering any particular rage on my part.

For one, I've been looking for other work for some months now. Not because I imagined at all that this might happen. I just wasn't happy, I certainly wasn't being used particularly well, I can't say the position was the slightest bit stimulating, and I'm completely aware that what I have to offer, the management had no use for. The firing, for my part (I refuse to speak for the many others who hit the surprise chopping-block today), was no-harm/no-foul, in a way.

It also allowed me to demonstrate to the very nice people with whom I recently enjoyed a very good interview I sincerely hope to soon call a "successful" interview how beautifully I manage change and stressful surprises. My first act upon being let go was to scan and email myself the "this is not her fault" form letter the employer provided me. My first act upon returning home was to email it to the guy in HR at the prospective employer. He called within six minutes, surprisingly enough, and thus I was able to demonstrate my extreme grace and humor under pressure.

I can hardly think that (a) the call was a bad sign, nor that (b) my opportunity to behave so magnificently was poorly timed, itself.

This also frees me to discuss, here, the fuller extent of my current context, without so many filters.

I'd been dissatisfied for some time at the current job, and it was three days before Christmas I (as TEO puts it) "gave myself permission" to find another one. I haven't poured on the coal at this project, but it's been a small, steady stream of considerations. A conversation with a recruiter. A few resumes. I've used my own resources (the receipt of a laptop for Christmas was immensely interesting timing, I must say) and time - having flex scheduling has meant I didn't need to steal even that.

For a period of time, I felt terrible guilt over it, actually. It felt emotionally rather like cheating, and it was a bit of a dirty sensation. I pushed past that, and actually improved my outlook on the job itself, even as I continued looking for another, and found this put me in the position of strength. I wasn't feeling desperate to leave, which meant I'd have to be impressed out of this position.

Monday, I was impressed.

Here's hoping ... they were too.


My, My

I have been laid off.

Did NOT see that coming.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Fashion. Style.

I prefer the latter. Wildly. And I even have some.

Fashion is the inexplicable resurgence of inverted box pleats in femininity-destroying, waist-denying (the heck for!!!???) bulky fabrics like maternity double-knits circa 1969. Fashion was (and, sadly, some people think: still is) gladiator sandals and booties (um, and, RIP Alexander McQueen. I guess.). UGH. Because, after all, what is more attractive on a woman than to visually depediate (cut off her feet) the length of her legs, at the ankles - or even higher!? What could be more flattering than to DENY the long curves of one's legs?

Fashion is Anna Wintour and her effervescent, obvious JOY in life and the joy she brings to others.

Fashion is, I still can't even comprehend this one, Andre Leon Talley appearing on AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL, for goodness' sake. Whatthe??

Style is flattering.

Style is striking.

Style is artistic, creative, but not necessarily showy-for-its-own-sake (nor for money's sake, yes I said it).

Style is what my mama taught me, and what I feel like playing with. It's an awful lot of fun, painting with different styles. Sometimes together.

Vogue's problem is it rarely has fun. Joyless, dour, actually sometimes unbeautiful. Here is one of the most influential fashionistas on the planet. This was challenging once. Now it is actually creaky, old, entrenched. "Edge" itself has been institutionalized (listen to Tyra for one minute, and hear the sheer, lush ludicrosity of the necessity of both a "smize" -smiling with one's eyes - and "edginess" all in a single breath). It's as commodified as "punk" has been for over a generation now. It threatens to make goth kids light and fluffy. It is just one more depressing image of commerce and The Beauty Industry.

Not that I don't participate wholeheartedly in TBI, of course.

But I don't pretend I'm doing anything finer. And I don't feel the need to do so by prescriptive (stupidly expensive) methods. I'm CHEAP, man. Fifty-five dollars recently for a pair of Nine West shoes was a wild expenditure. Most of my dresses and clothes cost thirty dollars or less, unless I've *really* decided a few more bucks are definitely worth it. I thrive in Ross Dress For Less and Marshall's and Stein Mart (that's high end for me, baby). eBay is my happy place. I refuse full price.

And I refuse brand interests. Cachet. Whatever's "in". (Amusingly, just now, I accidentally typed wshatever - an amusing mistake, all variables considered, if just a hair off my MPAA rating.) Once I begin to realize some feature, some flourish is fashionable "this year" (or season, or whatever), I begin to resist mightily.

See also: rosettes on everything, right now. Ugh. Or those shutter pleat dresses my mom finds so impossibly enchanting. Or the halter tops girls with perfectly tiny, culturally-sanctioned figures have been wearing for more than five YEARS now, to make sure they look good and round, or pregnant. Goodness, people. I'm a *moron* and I can spot this stuff. I can see it as the unattractive junk it is, serving no purpose but to line someone's pockets for this month, and then all over again when everyone suddenly realizes this stuff is "out" again NEXT month. Come on!

Let go of fashion. Fashion something for yourselves. Get some real style. All your very own.

Stealing Without Credit. Also: *WOE!*

No more "nerd" for me, apparently. It seems I am just a geek. Boo. (I'm still not changing my tags.)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Fashion. Vanity.

Okay, I've copped to my issues, but here is a twist on the thing. In several ways, I'm genuinuely unsure this is as healthy a thing as I generally believe it to be, but it is one of the oddities of my personality.

Two years ago or thereabout, I had a weak day when one of those guys with the magazine subscriptions hit my front door, and - heaven help me - I ended up buying one off him. The only magazine I could even imagine looking at (and let it be said, this one didn't exactly grab me by the collar) was Vogue, so I checked that box, wrote a stupidly large check, forgot about the visitation (and the money) for like six or more months, and figured I'd been had. Tis what it is, I tried not to feel bad.

The magazines, though, did actually begin to arrive - something like eight or ten months after the purchase, but they did start to come. And, man, they have been coming ever since. At least a year and a half - and I'd purchased a "mini" (6 months) subscription. So in a way (I confess I could care less about), I'm actually getting significantly more than my money's "worth".

Anyway, so here's the thing. You hear about those studies, where twelve minutes or something worth of looking at fashion mags leaves women feeling depressed and/or fat or whatever. (Yes, you also hear studies about women over 35 and their odds of being murdered by terrorists versus finding a man, but whatever. I think the ones about body image aren't completely far-fetched.)

I'm the woman who picks up those magazines, looks at those emaciated and often characterless models, and thinks, "dang, I am a WOMAN" and feels awfully good about it.

I mean, yeah, feminist backlash against unrealistic body image, sour grapes, "those women are meant to be models, not objects of romantic love". I know, I know. But, genuinely, and really weirdly, I am saying, looking at twenty year olds with four foot long legs the thighs of which are as thin as my ARMS, leaves me feeling generally more appealing. Not down on them, nor even their industry (which I find too frankly ludicrous to be much offended by), but *good* just in my skin.

Maybe it's the result of growing up with no conception that anyone ever might find me the slightest bit cute. Maybe it's thanks to a streak of noconformity. I don't actually think this relates to my vanities; those come in different areas and manifestations than overall body image, and let's not pretend I don't wish I were a little bit thinner at least some of the time. But even when I feel a little bigger, I really don't ever feel literally "fat" - in the sense of disliking myself over something like my body. I know when it feels best, I know what I think looks best, I generally am comfortable with my bones.

And, in the end ... is it "vanity", really - to feel good about yourself, instead of bad, when looking at images of other people in images meant to be of beauty ...


Tune in next time for part 2 - fashion versus style ...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Yep, Still At It

Beautiful (if not overly warm) day out, and here I am - finished the year's-worth of filing, have listed ten items on eBay, only one load of laundry is left to dry (and two to fold - but I actually kind of like that, so no problem), and the last dress has been marked for its hemming. That should be a matter of setting the line, cutting, and then ironing in the stitch witch, so - easy peasy.

And on top of all this, Godfathers one and two having finished up as I've been doing all this stuff, I've surfed what broadcast has to offer, and - it being junk - I'm listning to Bill Moyers' "Now" (my ex would be so proud). How morally and intellectually superior can I get?

(Heh - ask me when and if I ever get the TAXES done ...)

Oh, And

Did I just *totally* fill the ice trays? ALL the ice trays?

Ohhhhhhhh, yes.

Yes, I did.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Saturday night, and I'm getting things *done*. I've had nights out a couple weeks in a row, so tonight I felt like crossing some stuff off my list - not least, the serious backlog of laundry. But I've also cleaned house and balanced my checkbook (though taxes still aren't done just yet ...), so doing pretty well.

Probably the biggest *feeling* accomplishment might actually seem the smallest from outside. I have this magnificent vintage dress from the UK - it's WWII era, made by the factories started in that period. The silhouette is New Look (though my own dress isn't pleated, nor quite so snazz), the fabric is this gorgeous "silk" (I'm fairly sure it's a very early synthetic silk substitute) moire', it's the most wonderful magenta, and I nearly died when I found it on eBay last year. My plan at the time was to go as a noir era femme fatale, and I ended up doing it up fairly well.

Oh, but this dress.

Being at least sixty years old, it can be admitted, some hands have had at this piece in the intervening generations. The original shoulder pads are intact, but perhaps not worth having been salvaged. There are some interesting repairs, and the buttons - wonderful, lovely buttons, for those who understand that a good button can actually be a pretty amazing finish for a garment - were wandering around badly.

So tonight, I realized a longstanding to-do/dream. I reinforced the placket behind the buttons with the lining acetate from an old pair of pants saved only for exactly such cannibalization missions, so these gorgeous buttons would have something to hold on to (and so the moire' wouldn't have to bear the weight, or be damaged and pulled any further). I removed the shoulder pads. I re-tacked the wonderful pointed cuffs on the short sleeves, which had been REALLY poorly sewn in place (and unevenly) at some point in the past. I did a little finishing ironing - and, in fact, even ironed two blouses and a skirt, too (and ironing is fairly rare for me; so ...).

Between this and having already completed two loads of laundry, the housecleaning, and enjoying some fantastic tabouli, hummus, and pita, I'm sitting rather pretty tonight. I don't feel too guilty about not having done taxes, but do hope I will sit down with that tomorrow for a bit.

Oh, and the filing. The year's worth of filing. Geesh.

But what a nice Saturday night, actually.


Tomorrow's (totally non-)sewing project: hemming a dress which is totally *meh* at lower-calf length, to make it a total stunner at knee length instead.

By "hemming" read: stitch-witching. It's a super stretchy knit, and I am just not that good, actually. But I'm a dab hand at stitch-witch, actually, and I find no shame in using it. For synthetics, it is actually better than basting.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Following Post Probably Isn't Even PG-13

But it's a quote with some "language" to it, so here is your parental warning. Fairly mild stuff, but at least don't hold me responsible where my youngest niece is concerned on this one ...

People driven to be constantly unique can be a real pain in the ass.

I love Roger Ebert. That said, "Greenberg" just sounds like an insufferable flick.


Walking out of the office today, one of my directors was asking about the novel and we got to talking about readings/reading it out loud. He said he found authors reading their works fascinating, and I told him how I'd read the first three chapters fully before submitting them - and, to be sure, many of my scenes I've read this way for their rhythm.

It got me to thinking about audio books - specifically, about being an author and reading my own work. This particular novel being what it is, I'm very curious, suddenly, whether my reading it would "fly".

I actually have a good deal of theater training (in my past), and no small amount of interest in the possibility. For years, I wanted to record books for the deaf; had a friend who did it, and he never quite got me hooked up. Some time back, my brother and I amusingly discovered our mutual dream of becoming voiceover artists. Many times, opportunities have come flirting - and, when I knew some guys in radio, small stuff actually came up, just a few times.

I have, to be sure, an extremely excellent voice, I am told (and assure myself, of course). One friend once memorably complimented me as having a voice "like brownies baking", which may actually sound a little more precious than my speech actually is, but is understood and very much appreciated. I've cultivated it, of course, but from a pretty early age I understand I had something to work with (as does my brother, too). I was in my mid-twenties when I began consciously slowing it down, lowering it, modulating in a very particular way. And, verbally, I am a little bit of a chameleon.

But, at the end of the day, even the best woman's voice is a *woman's* voice - and the novel I've written is decidedly muscular stuff. Headily masculine, the more I read it (hi, Kent Dixon! I think I've practiced enough now!). I don't know whether MALE readers - listeners - would go for a feminine reading, even if that reading is by the author who made this stuff.

I think to myself, well, I've actually set up one plank of my marketing and queries to address the simple reality that a reasonably attractive woman author could actually be a selling point worth exploiting for the novel itself. So why not extend that into the product range, include it in the audio book?

(Always assuming there will be one ...)

I think to myself, DARN IT, THIS IS MINE ANYWAY - heh.

I do wonder, though, how distracting that would be - most specifically for men (I really don't think women wig out about gender stuff of this variety so easily) - to be told a tale of warriors and conquest by a particularly expressive, strong (heh - courageous) woman's voice.

And, oh yes: comments, emails, and any feedback is *definitely* welcome, in response to this post.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Why the heck do I not watch this show regularly? I *always* enjoy it when I do watch it.


I was fifteen when I first heard of Hitchhiker's. My best friend at the time, Mark (I'll use his first name as (a) we haven't seen one another in twenty years, so I feel his anonymity is safe with this much "exposure", and (b) it's not as if Mark is an exceptionally rare name; shoot, the boys born within four years to either side of my own age were contractually obligated to be named either David, Jason, Justin, Mark, or Mike - as were girls legally requred to be Lauras, Kimberlys, Kellys, Karens, or Jennifers - my parents, clearly, were A-number-one weirdos ...), was the first real smart, pop-cultural guy I'd really spent time with. He was also a redhead - we had three in the general gang, two were sort of our hippies, and Mark was the younger one, and more strawberry blond.

I heard once that he became a republican after highschool. I suppose it's just as well we lost touch. (Though some do acknowledge being able to look past that sort of "difference" - ahem.)

Anyway. Mark and H2G2.

He had one of those apartment spaces in the lower level of his family's ranch house. Sitting on a hill, he had his own door, his own den area, a bedroom off it, and I'm pretty sure his own bathroom. I could not tell you what "his parents' house" looked like, except from the outside, because - dude - fourteen, he was, and he had *his own place*! Awesome! We used to sit there listening to his (dizzying, to me) album collection, with the "party light" hooked to the stereo, pretending we were deep. I have to say, even the memory is seriously cool even now. Mark was one of the more hilarious people I'd ever met, and because he was a litte younger than I, I didn't have to be all intimidated by how smart he was too. I styled myself pretty smart even then, of course, but with a pack of friends like mine this was 100% bravado.

He pulled out the radio shows, once, incredibly excited about this find, and wanting so badly to share.

I have to confess, that first listen, as much as I was ready to be impressed on instruction, it took me a WHILE to get Hitchhiker's at all. I mean, I definitely sat there laughing. But let's just say it: thank GOODNESS I had hip friends to guide me around (yeah, I see what I did there - apologies), because girl is a total waste of cool stuff to know about without other people's direction.

Marvin is the sum total of my memory of that day - and of, as I must assume there were, the subsequent days of listening to the shows. I know a lot of people attach to one character or another (duh), and so many to Marvin of course, but Marvin's voice, even now, defines the experience of the Guide.

I have owned the eighties TV shows since 1993, but only in the past year was I able to actually SEE it, to experience it with anything like objectivity. I cling to my beloved entertainments, to the forgiveness and inclusiveness of my wild SUBjectivity. I've talked before about how I'm the ideal consumer of movies etc., with my incredible ability for accepting entertainment on its terms, if I'm up for it at all. Having been able to "see" the BBC TV version at last, I can attest, it really is cr*p. The sound design, in particular, appears to have been designed by sadists of the first order. Oh, but it's HITCHHIKER'S crap! It's MY crap! It's crap Adams doesn't seem to have complained about extensively; and, if he can accept it as part of his "universe", why on Earth would I ruin his fun *or mine* and go all snotty about it?? I love Mark Wing-Davey, I love David Dixon, and Peter Jones (dude, Peter Jones! Woo!), I've never even managed to hate the TV version of Trillian - and that's significant, if not downright mad of me.

I loved the movie, too. Cried at the dolphins. Cried at the end, too. Held my best friend TEO's hand and squee'd quietly through the whole first time we ever saw it. And, inevitably, we gave it to one another for Hannumas, of course. Still do - those opening credits do it to me faster even than "Babe" does, at least as surely as - insanely, with my *hatred* of musicals generally - "The Prince of Egypt" does when they sing "Deliverance".

H2G2 is deeeeeeeeeeep in me, is what I'm saying. An ex I hadn't seen in thirteen years reappeared some time back, and surprised me by making lots of Guide references at me, in memory. I'd made him a convert, and his fervency was strong. I still have my first copies of the books, including the copy of the "more than complete guide" my mom gave me, a gorgeous leatherbound edition with gold leaf ... and, inexplicably, clearly non-acid-free paper which has aged attractively over the years.

My dad and I used to share the physicist jokes, and 42-jokes. When I TURNED 42 this year, it wasn't only my brother who referenced the number. I just re-read my Dirk Gently, too, not too long back (excellent fun, goshdarnit).

Wow, and my headache is better. That is the power of the Adams, y'all.

I think I should go, then, and walk my old good dog.

Generational Bequests

I heard this week that, apparently, a new generation of our line may be displaying the tendency toward those headaches I have blogged about briefly in the past, which plague my brother and me both so perniciously. A more heartbreaking inheritance would be unpleasant to even contemplate.

As I type, I am being reminded of The Joy What Be's Spring, and its attendant headaches. I've enjoyed already the ER doc's suggested dosage of four Advil, and it's doing nothing for me. And about three hours left to go before I can begin considering anything further.

There are times, particularly with headaches at this time of the day, when a good meal helps - or when, my (non-)snacking habits being what they are, I get a brain-pain thanks partially to low blood sugar. This is not one of those times.

No, this is one of those times when all it takes is a peek out the window - storm a'comin' - to see, literally *visibly* my cause. And it's a pity, because I quite like storms, especially the first ones of the year, the going-out-like-a-lion numbers March sets us up with.

But this one actually looks to be a particularly wimpy number. The sky's grey (not the cool-oh yellow, or green, it becomes with your really good barnstormers), the breeze is there, but not warm, and the patches of light are wan stuff, nothing electrically interesting to look at. Meh.

As to the headache - a bit strong, for as weak as the weather has a look of being. There's the barnstormer.

I'll be off shortly for an icepack (I keep two at all times for just this purpose; I've never used them for anything else, actually) for my skull, and some sort of indifferent meal.

Someone I know actually recently attempted to go headache-for-headache with me on a quantity basis. Even he had sense enough to qualify his statement as to his headaches' relative quality, though.

I'll say this: don't tell me about your puny little aches until you've had one that lasted you five months. You don't know a headache until you have as many ways of categorizing them as those imaginary Eskimoes they used to say had five hundred words for "snow". Rob McKenna's the guy who knows about precip.

I'm the chick who knows a headache when I have one. *Sigh*

My poor young relative. I pray that one was just an ordinary one.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The last post is incomplete because technology ate it. I considered rewriting the rest, but felt the artifact was best not "restored" (never a success, really). And so it stands. That is life. That is, sometimes, how things ought to be.


My mother found something this week we knew would appear someday, but, sitting at my desk on a warm spring morning, I was taken by surprise. She found the audio recording of my father's memorial service. I've been asking for years to have that burned onto a CD.

There's only one person I could imagine being in the room with, listening to that after seven years an a couple months. The one whose hands were the softest thing I felt the day my father died.

I can't call on that company.

I need to be alone.

I don't know when my mother will have it available. Having found it, she won't lend it probably. And I don't know how long it will take her to hit a retail outlet to have copies made for me and my brother.

My brother and I both spoke at that service. People were so kind, so beautifully honorable. A colleague of dad's I actually worked with myself, who said to me

Monday, March 22, 2010


I was trying to remember my college apartments the other day. Not the crackerbox on the north end of town I moved into in like January 1991, but the "college" apartments, the ones I lived on on campus: the "real" (totally fake) thing.

I lived for a period of time with the people who later became my future and then present in-laws. I loved D and D (their respective initials, kids, not the RPG ... D&D is an RPG, right??), and though I have not seen their faces since 1994, I still do. Beloved Ex keeps me posted on their doin's, including the ownership of a dog with the most PRECIOUS name I could absolutely never imagine my once-father-in-law owning. Ah, my in-laws - and, shoot, my ex. Posts upon posts there, wonderful, wonderful people I still pray for and am so happy to know are doing comfortably well. Yes, including their dorky son.

But my apartments. I had two, each one located on the same floor of the same old house, which had been a frat house just the year before. I believe that place has since been torn down; a great shame - it was one of those magnificient homes which made College Town such a marvelous place to be sometimes.

The first pad was three rooms, all leading off an echoing, dark, high-ceilinged hardwood hallway. From the left to right, if one was coming in the (frosted glass!) front door: huge, huge bedroom; huge, huge kitchen; big and funky-shaped living room with a tower-shaped window corner looking down a verdant hillside. The large bathroom with the giant clawfoot tub (which had, sadly, been framed-in to hide its footies) was on the farthest left extremity, off of the bedroom. There was a big deck off the kitchen, which I shamefully never used, and which had a disused stairway down to the parking lot and the dumpsters. I seem to remember spending all my time in the BR, really - or, more likely, with BEx, then my cool-oh rockstar townie boyfriend. But, when home - the bedroom. Homework there, everything there. The funny thing is that, apart from the general location of the mattress-on-the-floor, I can't actually remember what that room looked like. The window seems off at such a distance, in a part of the room receded into imagination, not really a real place. I do remember the bizarrely shallow closets; you couldn't really hang things there. And I may not even be remembering the bed's location right, because I'm simultaneously remembering the "desk" (giant plywood top and the requisite cinder blocks) being in the same place. Weird.

The huge, huge kitchen I used not at all - I think the only table in there was our old green-vinyl-topped card table; maybe a tablecloth to fancy it up. The living room and its magical brass-chained hanging marble table, and the giant console TV which barely picked up anything but the distant echo of PBS, leading me to dramatic mental monologues about how PBS would be my money donation recipient of choice (when I grew up) - also scarcely used. It took me a week, I think, to discover the funky smell I could not figure out was the slumped-over remains of the lime green beanbag chair my mom and dad had given me for my tenth birthday, marinating in Old Kitty Gert's first pee-marking experiment(s?). (And here marks one occasion I *know* I used that back stair ...)

My one vivid memory of that home was the way I would find myself absolutely transfixed by the most unearthly sound ... a musical, ghostly, wondrous noise - a high keen, a bright whistle, a sweet and longing call, a metallic, echoing, distant -- and yet very near -- song, an insinuating serenade. Beautiful. Singular. I've never heard its like in all the years since.

It took me two months, I think it turned out to be, for me to figure out what that sound was.

It was the train, hugging the steel curves of its rails, as it took a tight turn around the cliff at the foot of my verdant hill.


Anyway. Gert-kitty, too. The other great memory of that home. I remember when I got him, living in that place. I remember his being so tiny, I took him for walks, him riding on my shoulder, hiding in my hair.

Yes: Gert was a boy. Yeah, I know. I'd never had a cat before, and it's DANG hard to tell when they're like five weeks old, dude. He rocked, so don't diss the name, man.

The second apartment was in its way more sensible. It certainly contains more memories (the big event in first-apartment days was the jumping of Gert, from our second-story pad, down to the BRICK patio below, a descent of about eighteen feet or so. Yowza). Second apartment was where I lived when I graduated - and my parents were serenaded one summer night by the charming and dulcet calls of drunken about-to-be-college-grads hollering about precisely the sort of things they were interested in rewarding themselves with, with the sorority girls up the way. Oh my.

It's the apartment I had when I discovered the effect of dish detergent and Clorox (chlorine gas! WHOO-WHEE!). The place I lived during some of the worst bronchitis of my life, where BEx used to come to make sure I was okay, and fell asleep RAPIDLY under the influence of Tylenol with Codeine. Apparently, I put on quite the floorshows, brief as they necessarily turned out to be. It's where my cousin's family and mine, and BEx, came together for the Charlie Brown's Christmas kind of meal which was the very first time I ever entertained.

It's where the couches were twin beds stacked on each other, with bedspreads for slipcovers.

It's where I went looking for a job.

It's the end of that part of my life.

These environs truly scarcely exist in my mind anymore. I remember the ticking-fabric, blue striped curtains in the secong apartment, the windows to each side of the nonfunctional fireplace. I remember the skinny, dark kitchen. I remember the bedroom, its ancient aqua wool carpet, the way I cleaned it by scuffing dirt and lint around with my shoes, since I didn't have a vacuum. I remember those windows. I remember the bathroom there, too, warm, white, and pretty. Used to lie in that tub for so many hours. I kept a little RV-portable TV in there. I did my homework there. I ate meals in that tub.

I remember being sick, and hot, and BEx putting a silver ring box on my shoulder blade one summer nighttime. I remember Xeroxing my hand for my mom at work after that. "My ring!"

I remember the best photo of us two ever taken, him on the step outside that building, both of us staring at some family or other off to one side.

I remember, and know now, the fine man who once married me, and am blessed and grateful all the sadness is gone from that. He was so good to me. Man, I was a rotten snot.

I remember fragments, and bad roommates, and things either side of my college apartments. I remember BEx's apartment, and our friends, and our family back then.

I was a lucky girl.

What crazy luck: I still am.

Even if that building is gone.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Baseless Alpha

Because I have a paltry 160 items on my Netflix DVD qeue and 40 more on view-instantly, I have decided: I think I need to look into this Space 1999 thing. It sounds kind of like my kinda geekery.


So I have moved into the phase of reading my own novel, now. I gave it a break for a couple of weeks, and now have picked up and begun to actually try to experience it as a consumer. It's turning out to be pretty gratifying. For one, I'm more than one fifth the way through, and the tone is a lot more cohesive than I thought the thing might be. Frankly, I built this story with such patchwork methods, I have been prepared for a lot of shifting and imbalance. And I know I'll find some of that yet. But the first sections are surprisingly coherent. Stronger than I imagined - and, let's face it, kids; I imagined the work was pretty good.

I just thought it would need some polishing, now that it's pieced.

In the first hundred pages of reading, though, I've been able to keep it very much to READING. Which is really freeing. I'm really not working on this anymore. And, for the first time, my novel is actually entertainment for me. And it IS entertaining! Bloody awesome.


I was just reading a post at a geek blog belonging to a friend, about the revelation of discovering he's the bee's knees at all games except for a little puzzle number. This has led to a wry review of talents he's always assumed that he had, and a bit of a navel-gazer post, unusual for this guy.

Now, I'm a hardcore navel gazer, even if not all that frequent, and what struck me most was the fact that at the end of it, the big question raised by his frustration with what's supposed to be an "easy" game was, "am I really not as smart as I thought I was?"

It's an interesting thing, getting a view like that into the whys and wherefores of someone's makeup, especially when they're getting a view they themselves haven't anticipated seeing in themselves. A major part of the reason I started this blog myself was that it gave me a safe forum to be able to say things I otherwise might avoid working up to directly. We all want to be understood, and I think a major percentage of the internet is devoted to various levels of self-justification which won't be gainsaid in person. I can talk about my failures and shortcomings in ways that *feel* like I'm not being judged, and calmly enough not to be defensive (much). I can go on about the real estate of my face, even knowing whose eyes will roll at the post, but with enough distance between my words and anyone who might find fault with them that usually the nits won't get picked. Or I can be 100% arbitrary and apropos-of-nothing about The Manitou or gays in the military - or, yeah as self-referentially-linky as I wannabe - and be content (if not satisfied - yeh) knowing: this place isn't for the audience.

But it's always amazing when you have a set of assumptions about someone, assumptions they have sort of almost set out for you, assumptions you know they share, and then you walk into the bathroom one night and find them doing the mirror-stare and being a bit more surprised than you'd imagine.

It's also really fun to find out that a huge gamer nerd is having a crisis of faith in his ability to think strategically, when you just finished writing a whole novel full of intense and really strong battle scenes. Because, dude I can't do games. Of ANY bleeding kind, puzzle or no puzzle.

But I can strategize. Apparently.

Now gimme a crossword puzzle. I am on fire.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

More Guy Entertainment

Recent additions to my DVD collection include, of course, Trek, but also Shaun of the Dead and Robocop's 20th anniversary edition. The latter film is perhaps the first, and most ultimaely "guy" movie of my personal repertoire. I had to be dragged to it, and I really did have a hard time with it; even by current standards, it's a pretty violent and wildly bloody flick. But I enjoyed it, too. Looking at it now, there really are things about it I find brilliant; and not least of these are the little side trips into the world-building: the "NIWS" features with a woman I remember actually did Entertainment Tonight, back in the day, the ads, the horrifically offensive television content. Weller's great, and I'm particularly interested at how relatively diverse and progressive the various characters are; Nancy Allen gets to play a genuine kind of woman, and, though the core roles are still pretty white, the presence of other ethnicities isn't too preciously chosen. I think in some ways, movies actually got *less* inclusive after this film - which is very sobering, when you think of it.

Anyway, it's a great entertainment. I love Miguel Ferrer, of course, and Kurtwood Smith is one of my favorite parts of the movie. Ray Wise. I mean, casting alone, this thing is a gas. It's funny to watch the extras and hear from Ronny Cox that apparently, up until this role, he'd always played good guys, and apparently pretty hapless ones. From Robocop and Total Recall, this is hardly my own experience of the guy, of course. The rogues' gallery here is fantastic, but fortunately doesn't completely overmatch the good guys, which sometimes tends to happen unfortunately.

The story is still compelling (even if certain artifacts are amusing twenty-three years on; though, I think, in kind of good ways ... and they still play for good laughs, maybe even better now), and builds really well. The connections to comic geekery are good (hi, Stan Lee), but the thing itself stands alone (well, given the sequels, I suppose we could *wish* it had ...), and the years haven't damaged it, really. I think it was deserving of a steelcase deluxe edition, and I'm enjoying going through mine now.

Next up, Shaun OTD again. Hee. Simon Pegg's so nifty.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


Note to J. J. Abrams: as MUCH as I love the movie you made, the funny thing about my consumption of Star Trek in general, and my consumption, even, of your Star Trek movie in particular, is that I didn't really buy into it for the Star WARS excitement you're on about so much in the extras.

I'm not one of those Trek fans who goes particularly rabid about the whole Trek-versus-Wars thing (which I wasn't even aware of until I was like thirty or thirty-five, this is how disinterested I am in SW really). But the point, for me, is that Wars never got me. It never hooked, me, I can't generate interest in it, in the same way I can't generate interest in watching televised sports. I just don't get IT, myself.

People go on about SW's mythology - and I am a mythology geek from way back - but, oddly enough, the mythology thing is actually my problem. I don't mind reading myths, because in reading one's brain can backfill and create character, setting, and one's own interests. For a movie, that's served up concretely - and yet character doesn't get looked to, all too often. So SW, for me, is as rarefied as myth is without the production assistant in my brain - but without the depth of character, and investment in them, that reading allows me to create. So I see SW, and I see amazing visuals peopled (and aliened) by carboard cutouts. Meh. It's better than golf, but even the syndicated Stargate series feel to me more accomplished with characterization.

Not long ago, out for an evening and talking with some Wars nerds in between dancing with my friends, one guy brought up the point that Trek, since it consisted of so many series, and since it was served up in our homes, and since it contains such a range and depth of storylines, some episodic and some more overarching, has simply more *material* to get one with. I'd say that's fair, leaving aside anyone's inevitable argument that if one really gets into the whole media universe of material for both - because, in the end, the starting points, what is served to us without our having to go out and really seek "more" than is major-released, or weekly-broadcast, *do* come in different proportions. Everyone with any exposure to much pop culture at all has grown up with one or half a dozen series of Trek beamed constantly into their homes - even those luddites among us without CABLE, for goodness sake, have access to syndicated versions of Trek in its many iterations; whereas, really, Wars is available pretty much via the movies, in terms of stuff we don't have to go look for. The sheer hours-to-hours proportion of what's been produced in Trek versus Wars is pretty massively Trek-intensive. I grew up with Bones in the background. Lando I'd have had to go out to find. So, easy peasy. I became a Trek fan, if even out of sheer laziness/inertia (or lack of the latter).

And, of course, being a contrarian, I would naturally have always been one to resist the whole "saw it five hundred twenty-seven times" thing Wars had going for it in a way Trek only generated much later. The repulsion from that was built in (and not least because, seriously, Wars had WARS in the title, which was a very real turnoff for the nine-or-whatever-year-old GIRL I was when it came on the scene.

This brings me to the point of why I should have become a Trek fan at all, and that just having it piped into the house, available, hardly explains this.

And, to be sure, when I was really young, Trek probably annoyed me. It was all boys, but for Uhura, and of course she was a woman of science, of extreme articulation, of all those things I found most intimidating and impossible to even aspire to when I was a little girl. She didn't attract me, she barely registered with me, all I saw as a kid was guys and fear and dreary old hollering and fighting.

When I was little, Bewitched was my thing. I Dream of Jeannie. Elizabeth Montgomery was more of a Barbie (as lovely a woman as she was) - she was pitched right at my level, my interests. She was easy, she was remarkably beautiful. I wanted to be her, and I wanted magic powers. Like Dollhouse much later, these shows about women were fantasy stuff. I wanted to be gorgeous, magic, and possessed of a fabulously mod, funky apartment like Jeannie's bottle. Heh.

Trek was always around; my brother must have watched it, though he was no more of a big fan than I was, and certainly isn't now (in those dark-ages days of the 1970s, kids, there were only three channels; one tended to take what there was, and syndication allowed ubiquity in those days). I got older, got into M*A*S*H. I got older, I became an Arthurian nerdling.

I still remember exactly the weather, the day in spring, the visit to my Aunt L., when just she and I went to a bookstore in Northern Virginia, and I found "The Crystal Cave" and "The Last Enchantment".

Now Arthuriana is some intensely male-oriented literature. Guenevere-schmenevere, this stuff was all about boys. And Mary Stewart ... a woman ... wrote from the point of view of a MAN! A boy, then a man, then an old man. All about men. And I loved it.

Blame Mary Stewart, then, for my becoming a woman who writes first-person male warrior kings, I guess.

Anyway, it has got to be Arthur who opened me up to male entertainments ... and battle scenes.

Okay, and d*mnitall to heck, I STILL just loathe battle scenes. Seriously. It's ridiculous. I have worked hard to make them the best - perhaps my adversarial attitude toward them makes them my own personal victories to win - but I will never genuinely "appreciate" them, not in the sense of enjoying them for themselves. I don't fast-forward through them in movies, and I don't skip pages through them in books, but that is because I am a completist, and have certain OCD tendencies in my entertainment consumption habits. It's not because I have warmed to battle scenes.

All right. Anyway, so Merlin opened me up to the reading-entertainment possibilities with male characters. How I ever went beyond that into the viewing-entertainment possibilities of men, I genuinely don't know. It took me a long, long, LONG time - and doesn't even owe to the men in my actual life. My dad was a James Bond guy, but never into Star Trek. My brother wasn't action/adventure oriented particularly. I did have guy friends, many of whom by high school were certainly Trek geeks, though that was not much of a draw; it stayed in the background. My friend Mark got me into Douglas Adams, so maybe that's a start.

However it happened, Trek seeped into me only VERY slowly. By high school, still not really a fan. In college, maybe it was in syndication again; I know I consumed Little House in those days, almost as if it were tolerable stuff (it really wasn't, but it wasn't the news and it wasn't kids' programming - and, again, only the three channels, and FOX, back in those days).

But, too, in college, The Next Generation also came along. I guess that must have really been the grabber, for me. Women were much more prominent by then, and the universe was interesting to see. I still remember the pilot episode, watching the world they were creating.

And *that's* really the thing. The world building. I was fascinated enough, by then, by the process of writing - even not understanding it - that this finally, fully "got" me. And TNG's world had kids, politics I finally understood, palatably presented, exciting makeup of course, and of course ongoing storylines. I was readily addicted.

Even still, I wasn't much surrounded by other fans. Fitting in with my contrarianism, and my preference to consume entertainment either solo or only with those I am most intimately connected with, I finally became a Trek fan all by myself. My boyfriend-then-fiancee'-then-husband was no more a fan really than any previous men in my life, though he was happy enough with my becoming one. Neither one of us much noticed as it was happening.

And so, I was twenty-five or so by the time my geek- and fan-dom were really established. As E put it when we went to the movie, it had always been "part of my DNA". But pulling it deeper into my makeup was a longer process.

I have, here and there, tried to get into Wars - though fairly passively; watching it if it was on, and just the once going to the theater (ohh, JarJar ... not an auspicious first actual attempt, that one).

But it's Trek I do care about. Call part of myself. Squee over, become excited about - invested in.

So, J. J. ... nice as your commentaries and things are (and there are some cruddy ones out there, it's not like I don't know - see also "Nemesis" - ugh), please shut UP about Star Wars. For those who just don't care (and, yes, for those who actively dislike Wars, from the loyalty/competition between the two universes), it's actively distracting. We came for a Trek flick. Maybe let's focus on that, when discussing it. Eh?

All righty then.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Jozey: NO

(No limit on points for the subject line reference on this one, because in five more minutes I probably wouldn't be able to justify/understand/translate it myself.)

I cut bangs again today. INSTANTLY was so happy. I'd actually gotten a haircut two weeks ago, on another one of these days I can't discuss right now, on this page, but which was itself yet again interesting/stressful(/good)/important. I left feeling the stylist could have done more layering around my face, so I went back today for a bit of a touch up - and, before I went, I thickened up my bangs.

She actually asked me, at the first cut, if I'd thought about adding to the existing wisp of fringe, and I demurred, because people trying to look like Bettie Page - and people comparing me to her, even when I'm very definitely not trying to look like her (and despite my actual lack of resemblance to her) - kind of tire me out.

But the fact remains: I have a lot of face happening. I won't go so far as to call myself moon-faced, because actually it's pretty squared-off - but that's the main reason why. The facts of my weight, age, and good side (sadly, opposite my much larger, rounder, and mushier side - which is of COURSE on my cowlick side, darnit, rendering it generally more exposed) pretty much render me exactly that thing I have long hated in the many men I find it baffling I am expected by our culture - *erm* ... Hollywood - to find "attractive": I am a meat-faced person. And it's a fairly pale face, with dark hair around it, so it can kind of shine forth like a celestial gob of ice-cold rock.

I mean, let's not pretend my vanity's evaporated. Part of the reason I know as pathetically much as I do about having a good side, and the effect of light on fair skin amplifying the *amount* of skin one perceives as showing, is the nerdly obsession of conceit.

But it's a whole lotta face, and, as stated, it's a square face, and bottom-heavy (thanks grandma), and my coloring emphasizes the sheer area on display, the acreage of FACE.

So bangs help curtain off unecessary backstage areas. Foreheads are negligible real estate. They can be foregone, if ya wanna. So: bangs. And another trip to the stylist, to get those layers cut in, so there's what we hair dorks refer to as "movement" around the face. Texture, shape, volume, too.

Good lordy me.

This is a lotta post.

I already know who's rolling his eyes. Heh. Hey, it's not like neither of us knew. So the post stands. *Dork dork dorking away ...*

February 28, 2010

On Friday, the 26th, I had dinner with a friend who's been in my life so long we are more than family in the merely technical sense, we really are family. His father is my uncle, his sister (TEO) is my cousin; my sister in a way--the closest I will ever come to one. His brother, his nephews, I love them as much as anyone with whom the incident of DNA or marriage links me.

B is tired, and under pressure the like of which I suspect I will never have to endure. And he paid me the astounding compliment of getting, out of our time together, a bit of laughter, some genuine fun, and reason to thank me for understanding.

Of course, I never will understand. I have long been "Dear Abby" to my friends, as I have always called it - this capacity for being turned-to, for somehow distracting people from pain, from tension. The central function of that is knowing we will *never* deeply understand one another. But we can care, and make it known, and we can know what NOT to waste someone's time saying. And we can make them know there is nothing *they* can say which is a waste of time. Nothing.

Laughing my tail of with my friend, my cousin, B, was such a beautiful thing. I'd been under some stress of my own, things which as yet will remain undiscussed here for technical reasons. Last week was hard, and filled with ups, downs, some very good things and some very hard things, and one diamond-hard hopeful thing which reminded me that some stress is positive stuff. I went from hideous, free-form guilt (fifty points and a bag of potato chips to the reader who gets that hideous, free-form reference) to unjustifiable euphoria, back to guilt, and some external tension again. Concurrent with this, I was working hard on the novel, and hoping very much to be able to say I'd completed the work on it - to be able to send it to the agent who asked for three chapters, last October at JRW's conference.

So as to prevent anyone else's stress, any bruises to the arm, or broken bowls of petunias (only twenty-five points for that reference, kids), I will say this much about that last: I emailed the chapters, having read the whole of them (the first fifty-six pages of the novel) to myself, out loud, over the course of the weekend, and making sure they at least are unimpeachably "clean". The email went to the agent, 8:50 p.m., Sunday, February 28, 2010. I hit my goal: to do this by the end of the month in which my (forty-second) birthday occurred.


I won't shy away from admitting: I cried.

My brother had called earlier in the evening, and he said to me, "Dad would be proud."

My mom fielded my "I did it" call after I did it, and was wonderfully mom-like. She took me to dinner Monday, another day filled with extreme importance (again, not for publication now), and she and my stepdad and I had a really good time. I arrived after they did, popped out the flash drive on which the document lives, and said, "Your grandbook! It's a boy!" Mom poured the olive oil for my bread, and said, "It's not every day I serve a novelist." The food was perfect, the company was lovely, the excitement was fun, and the waiter dropped a whole spaghetti with marinara on the table but NONE of us got spattered (and mom was wearing a cream sweater!). They brought her a whole new one (it had already made it as far as a to-go box), and also gave us the most delicious, creamy, cool, subtly-nutmegged and wonderfully-vanilla-y rice pudding, which we shared.

Then I went home, opened email, and got a piece of news which was wholly unexpected, disappointing, and frustrating. But which will not stop me from being amazing.

Tonight, I have been watching my yummy-delicious new Star Trek (2009) DVD. Mmmmm. Star Trek. I love this movie. I mean, LOVE this movie. I first saw it with E, a million miles from anyone either of us has ever known or met. I second saw it in the magnificent old movie palace in my city, and ran into someone delightful from my previous employer. And now, tonight, I third saw it in my beautiful home, with my beautiful dog, while that beautiful E flies above the Pacific Ocean, with his own family. That I'm PMS'ing means it made me cry, but in that good, "oh, long distance telephone service commercials are so SAD!" kind of hormonal way which makes me so happy I am a female and get hormones that make me FEEL something, and sometimes something so good and squishy. And next - special features. Mmmm, Trek special features. Aww. Awesome.

It has been a long week, and a hard one in some ways. Two weeks, really. But weird, good, and amazing.