Saturday, July 31, 2010

check out the hook while my dj revolves it

RWA 2010 has come to a close; I've had a fantastic time, but I'm really looking forward to getting back to California and diving headfirst into my book. My day started far earlier than I would have liked, with a ten-minute pitch session at 9:20 with an editor from Harlequin. It went pretty well, but since I already have an agent, it wasn't a make or break scenario -- and, since I'm in a complete shake-up in regards to Ferguson's character, it was hard to be completely clear with the editor about where I'm going. But, since I promised to get the book done by October, I need to get cracking.

After the pitch, I did some manuscript work in my lobby, then came back to my room and packed so that I could see whether I would need to ship anything. I managed to fit about ten books into my luggage, only sacrificing two that I know I'll never read. I need to finish packing tomorrow morning, but I think I'm going to make it without having to stand in the insanely long line to ship things home. I met up with Grace and Tina for lunch, where I fortified myself with a cheeseburger before attending a two-hour rehearsal for the Golden Heart/RITA presentation. It was quite exciting to be sitting in a room with not just my fellow winners from last year who were presenting this year (five of us total), but romance superstars like Stephanie Laurens, Teresa Meideros, Meg Cabot, Victoria Alexander, Sabrina Jeffries, etc. I then dashed back to my room, took a nap, showered, blowdried my hair, carefully applied my makeup -- and just barely made it downstairs by six p.m. to walk over to the awards ceremony.

They seated presenters and finalists at six p.m. and started serving our food then, so we were done eating by seven, and the awards ceremony didn't actually start until eight. The dinner was pretty standard hotel fair -- an okay salad, a chicken breast entree, and a chocolate dessert. But, while most of the women at my presenter table were fellow Golden Heart finalists (Darynda, Jeannie, Kelly, and their dates), we were also joined by Roxanne St. Claire and Kresley Cole. Roxanne was presenting and Kresley was up for a RITA for paranormal (for a book I adored -- and she ended up winning!). Roxanne at some point had made friends with the hotel's general manager, and he sent several bottles of Veuve Clicquot to our table -- which I stayed away from before presenting, but hit liberally when I was done, since I adore good champagne more than virtually any other drink.

So my presenting went well -- I didn't fall, stumble, stutter, slur, or do anything else to embarrass myself. It's possible that I grimaced more than I smiled, since smiling is not my face's natural resting state and I was trying to force myself to smile while listening to the winner's speech, but I pulled it off regardless. Then, I drank several glasses of champagne while watching the rest of it (including Julia Quinn getting her third RITA). The lifetime achievement award went to Debbie Macomber, who has 75 million books in print, had one of her books turned into the Hallmark Channel's most-watched movie of the year, has a tie-in with a lot of knitting books and supplies, etc., etc. When she finally got up after all her many accomplishments were listed, she thanked like seven agents -- her fiction agent, her non-fiction agent, her merchandising agents, her tv and movie agents, and some other agent that I'm forgetting. Basically, she sounds like the sweetest woman, and she left me feeling simultaneously inspired and incredibly daunted by what she's accomplished.

After the awards ceremony was over, Grace, Tina and I met up with Sharon and Amy from Charleston and went over to a dance club at the Disney Boardwalk. It was a ridiculous, no-cover, all-ages-over-21 (although the door 'man' was 20) establishment, where the DJ was more of a VJ, since he played the videos for all the songs, which I found really distracting and wonderful. I had a blue hawaiian there, so while I'm not soused, I'm definitely lightly lubricated.

Unfortunately, I need to go to bed; my flight's a little after 3pm tomorrow, but since Orlando is full of screaming, overstimulated children, all of whom will likely trying to be getting home on Sunday (in addition to the squealing, overstimulated writers who are leaving the conference), my shuttle is picking me up shortly after 12pm. That means I need to get up and finish packing, and since I'd like to have breakfast with Grace and Tina before I go, sleep is imperative.

I shall leave you with two pictures: me in my fancy-pants dress before the start of the awards ceremony, and Kresley Cole's RITA award for best paranormal novel (with champagne in the background). Since a RITA award and a lot of champagne would be one of my biggest dreams come true, I'm going to take this photo above my desk until I get a RITA of my own. Goodnight!



Friday, July 30, 2010

caught in a bad romance

Today was another fabulous day, although I'm more pensive about my writing than I was yesterday. I had lunch with Eloisa James today, and it was utterly fantastic -- but it left me really questioning where I'm going with this plot, because she cut through to all the issues that I've been having with it and sort of covering up in my head. Mainly, Ferguson is not alpha enough. Oh, he's wonderful, and I adore him, but he's got a father who is still inconveniently alive, which means that his father has all the power, which means that he is kind of useless. I'm grossly generalizing here, but I see her point -- she actually suggested making Ferguson and his father younger and making his *father* the hero, because the father sounded more interesting. I'm not sure I could do that...but then again, who knows.

But, all in all she was fantastic to meet -- super friendly, super smart, and I respect and admire her greatly. So, I have a lot to think about. I also have a lot of work to do; I met with my agent later in the day, and promised her a book by October 1, which is only two months away -- so I need to get cracking. That means spending all of the next week writing as much as possible, then writing steadily and prolifically through to the end of September so that I can meet my deadline. I also desperately need to go to bed; I'm meeting with an editor tomorrow morning around 9am, and since I haven't woken up before nine a.m. since Wednesday, that's going to be a challenge.

You can read the recap of the day on zee romance novel (linking to another blog I wrote for my romance group today, since I couldn't bear to write three full blog posts about the same thing). Just one more day to go, and then I return to California and my enforced hermitage on Sunday. Goodnight!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

dressed so fine and looking so pretty

I had another lovely day at the romance conference today -- I'm not getting enough sleep, food, or caffeine, and I'm dangerously close to maxing out the extroverted portion of my mental energy, but it was a good day regardless. You can read the general details on zee romance blog if you care, so I will spare them here. I even got some writing done, although it was still slow as I was distracted by passers-by in the lobby.

Even more so than last year's conference, I'm feeling connected and energized and eager for the next step in my writing -- and like this is exactly what I'm supposed to be doing. Writing is a complete bitch, and sometimes it's so agonizing that you just want to scream from the pain and frustration of everything (whether it's rejection, or plot difficulties, or trying to come up with yet another word for 'manroot'). But, I genuinely love coming up with stories, playing with words, dreaming up sentences, tasting them as I'm writing them. Now, the trick is just to figure out how to get paid for that so that I can do it forever (or, alternatively, find a sugar daddy who will take care of me, although given how independently-minded I am, I'm not sure that I could be sweet and submissive enough to get a sugar daddy to maintain me -- such a dilemma).

So now I'm going to go to bed and attempt to get up early tomorrow so that I can think through what I need to accomplish tomorrow -- I'm not talking crazy early, more like seven or seven-thirty, although that window is quickly being mentally delayed to eight-thirty or nine. But I'm meeting with my agent tomorrow afternoon, so I want to be ready with what I want to discuss with her, and I'm also having lunch with Eloisa James, so I need to look presentable and not deranged so that she doesn't think I'm a crazy stalker. Wish me luck with that. And now, I'm off to dream about my writing career -- goodnight!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

i don't want to be a chicken, i would rather be a duck

If you were worried after last night's post, I apologize. I perhaps shared more than I should, but I'm glad that I got all my fear out on the blog last night -- calming myself down through writing was quite effective, since I was feeling much, much better today and had an excellent, highly social time at the conference. I attended some great workshops, spent the whole afternoon with a lovely woman from the SF chapter (and later joined her friend, who is also from the SF chapter and also lovely), and got half a dozen books autographed by some of my favorite authors. Then, I went straight to dinner with the Golden Heart finalists from last year at Cat Cora's restaurant on the Disney Boardwalk -- I really like all the women that I sat with, and so I had a fabulous time.

This is v. abbreviated because I prioritized blogging about it on zee romance blog: http://www.sararamsey.com/wordpress/2010/07/28/rwa-2010-day-0-settling-in-catching-up-and-trying-not-to-be-a-fool/. If you want more detail, check it out there. And now, I'm off to bed -- two glasses of wine, standing on my feet half the day, walking around in the heat, and being socially 'on' for twelve hours is certainly helping to get me in bed and adjusted to the timezone. Goodnight!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

and my daddy said 'stay away from juliet'

I made it to Orlando, after an utterly uneventful trip; everything was on schedule, even me, which was looking doubtful when I went to bed last night knowing that I would need to get up at four a.m. But, I made it to the airport in time to grab something to eat, slept most of the way to Chicago (and occasionally served as a pillow for the girl next to me, unfortunately), got to my next flight with no trouble, and read a book all the way to Orlando. This proved to be a mistake, for reasons that you will see shortly. When I got to Orlando, my luggage came out fairly quickly, I made it to a shuttle just as it was about to depart (with ten female romance conference attendees and one confused male engineer who was going to another hotel), and I got checked into my room about an hour after I landed.

Because I was feeling v. sticky, I took a shower, blow-dried my hair (shocker, I know), and put on decent clothes to go downstairs and explore. I wanted to get a bit of a feel for the layout, so I walked around for a v. brief bit, then had a leisurely sushi dinner at one of the hotel restaurants while continuing to read the book that I had started on the plane.

But reading it tonight was a disaster; I should have sought people out, and instead I couldn't tear myself away from the book, so I read it on a large font on my Kindle in the dim light of a sushi bar/lounge, eating reasonably good sushi and drinking a ridiculously large glass/jug of sangria made with Japanese plum wine. I'm glad that I finished the book, but at the same time I know I read it because I am a coward. It's kind of funny how ridiculously, paralyzingly shy I can be sometimes, when all the indignities of my bleak adolescence that I've managed to almost entirely suppress/forget come crawling around the edges of my brain to point their mocking fingers at me and make me feel like I'm in eighth grade again, wearing exactly the wrong thing, too eager to lose myself in a book so that I don't have to think about the fact that I don't have any friends, desperately wishing that my life was different. I've managed to overcome the fashion demon (or, more accurately, have twisted it so that I'm now an addict, if a coworker's comment last week that I'm always wearing something awesome and it's always something she's never seen me wear before is any indication) -- but that same feeling of not knowing where to sit in the lunch room, the sickening dread of having to sit by the same dude in English class who relentlessly tormented me day after day after day, swamps me at the most inopportune times. Times like in the checkin line today, when I realized the woman in front of me was an editor who had my manuscript last fall and liked it but ultimately passed, and I didn't make any attempt to introduce myself because I didn't want to inconvenience her or make things awkward (because it would be awkward to have to talk to someone you rejected, right?)

Anyway, I should just get over it, since the people who hurt me the worst are quickly dying of drug overdoses and the like (the life expectancy of my high school class is short, apparently, since 5% of them have already died). And I escaped, and am following my dreams, and I have the most fabulous collection of shoes that a girl could hope to have. And if nothing else, I can cloak myself in any one of a dozen pairs of designer sunglasses and pretend like I haven't a care in the world. But I hate hate hate feeling like a teenager sometimes, when I've tried so hard to become the more open, trusting, outgoing girl I was on the path to becoming before the slings and arrows of a few stupid assholes crushed her.

Apparently the pitcher of plum wine sangria that I polished off has made me maudlin, even though I'm not drunk; I'll still tag this 'blame it on the alcohol' anyway, even though I was feeling this awful shyness well before the first sip of that sweet nectar hit my lips. So I'm going to go to bed, get up tomorrow, gird myself for battle in my favorite dress, perfectly applied makeup, and killer heels, and meet new people even if it kills me. Which it won't, because romance writers are some of the nicest people on the planet, and not a single one of them would dream of urinating in someone's locker in junior high (although that, actually, didn't happen to my locker -- but rather, to my few at-the-time-tentative friends down the hall, which would have been funny if it wasn't such a disgusting biohazard). And I will stop feeling sorry for myself, even if the memories can't be killed with a drug overdose as easily as the people responsible for them can. Goodnight!

and my daddy said 'stay away from juliet'

I made it to Orlando, after an utterly uneventful trip; everything was on schedule, even me, which was looking doubtful when I went to bed last night knowing that I would need to get up at four a.m. But, I made it to the airport in time to grab something to eat, slept most of the way to Chicago (and occasionally served as a pillow for the girl next to me, unfortunately), got to my next flight with no trouble, and read a book all the way to Orlando. This proved to be a mistake, for reasons that you will see shortly. When I got to Orlando, my luggage came out fairly quickly, I made it to a shuttle just as it was about to depart (with ten female romance conference attendees and one confused male engineer who was going to another hotel), and I got checked into my room about an hour after I landed.

Because I was feeling v. sticky, I took a shower, blow-dried my hair (shocker, I know), and put on decent clothes to go downstairs and explore. I wanted to get a bit of a feel for the layout, so I walked around for a v. brief bit, then had a leisurely sushi dinner at one of the hotel restaurants while continuing to read the book that I had started on the plane.

But reading it tonight was a disaster; I should have sought people out, and instead I couldn't tear myself away from the book, so I read it on a large font on my Kindle in the dim light of a sushi bar/lounge, eating reasonably good sushi and drinking a ridiculously large glass/jug of sangria made with Japanese plum wine. I'm glad that I finished the book, but at the same time I know I read it because I am a coward. It's kind of funny how ridiculously, paralyzingly shy I can be sometimes, when all the indignities of my bleak adolescence that I've managed to almost entirely suppress/forget come crawling around the edges of my brain to point their mocking fingers at me and make me feel like I'm in eighth grade again, wearing exactly the wrong thing, too eager to lose myself in a book so that I don't have to think about the fact that I don't have any friends, desperately wishing that my life was different. I've managed to overcome the fashion demon (or, more accurately, have twisted it so that I'm now an addict, if a coworker's comment last week that I'm always wearing something awesome and it's always something she's never seen me wear before is any indication) -- but that same feeling of not knowing where to sit in the lunch room, the sickening dread of having to sit by the same dude in English class who relentlessly tormented me day after day after day, swamps me at the most inopportune times. Times like in the checkin line today, when I realized the woman in front of me was an editor who had my manuscript last fall and liked it but ultimately passed, and I didn't make any attempt to introduce myself because I didn't want to inconvenience her or make things awkward (because it would be awkward to have to talk to someone you rejected, right?)

Anyway, I should just get over it, since the people who hurt me the worst are quickly dying of drug overdoses and the like (the life expectancy of my high school class is short, apparently, since 5% of them have already died). And I escaped, and am following my dreams, and I have the most fabulous collection of shoes that a girl could hope to have. And if nothing else, I can cloak myself in any one of a dozen pairs of designer sunglasses and pretend like I haven't a care in the world. But I hate hate hate feeling like a teenager sometimes, when I've tried so hard to become the more open, trusting, outgoing girl I was on the path to becoming before the slings and arrows of a few stupid assholes crushed her.

Apparently the pitcher of plum wine sangria that I polished off has made me maudlin, even though I'm not drunk; I'll still tag this 'blame it on the alcohol' anyway, even though I was feeling this awful shyness well before the first sip of that sweet nectar hit my lips. So I'm going to go to bed, get up tomorrow, gird myself for battle in my favorite dress, perfectly applied makeup, and killer heels, and meet new people even if it kills me. Which it won't, because romance writers are some of the nicest people on the planet, and not a single one of them would dream of urinating in someone's locker in junior high (although that, actually, didn't happen to my locker -- but rather, to my few at-the-time-tentative friends down the hall, which would have been funny if it wasn't such a disgusting biohazard). And I will stop feeling sorry for myself, even if the memories can't be killed with a drug overdose as easily as the people responsible for them can. Goodnight!

i'm a thief, a liar, an angel in the fire

I need to go to bed immediately, as I'm now destined to get less than four hours of sleep tonight -- that's the price you pay when you spend all day Sunday playing and all day Monday working, and still somehow expect to get packed and ready to go in your off hours. Ridiculous. It doesn't help that I had to be at the office at 7am this morning, and in an attempt to get through everything I could, stayed until 5:15pm -- and still wasn't done with everything. This led to me drafting emails while getting a pedicure, since my toes were horrendous and not worthy of the eight or nine pairs of cute shoes that I packed. Then, I grabbed a burrito, came home, packed while watching three episodes of Craig, and did another two hours worth of work for zee day job. But this means that I'm going to be able to get on the plane tomorrow without my work laptop for the first time in ages - YAY. And then I can spend the rest of the week focusing on all sorts of lovely romance writerly stuff, which will be absolutely wonderful. But now, despite giving you nothing of interest, I must go to bed. I shall blog when I get to Orlando!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

it's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday

Today was excellent, even if I didn't accomplish half of what I needed to. I drove myself up to the evil city this morning for a lovely brunch/movie experience with Chandlord. She humored me and insisted on going to Samovar, which of course made me v. happy; I had my usual salmon quiche, scone, etc., while she had her usual egg salad sandwich and insisted on splitting a chocolate bread pudding that was closer to a flan (but still delicious). We had a v. lovely conversation about many different topics, none of which I shall repeat here. Then we went back to her place, where we watched most of 'Bridget Jones's Diary'. It took a lot longer than I thought it would, because I had somehow forgotten that there were about forty-five minutes of movie left after the awesome fight scene between Hugh Grant and Colin Firth. Still, it was nice to take some time out to hang out before I go off to live the romance-novelist life for a few days. When I got home, I spent at least an hour and a half on the phone with my mom, who was home alone because my father and brother had gone to Kansas City. Then, I did some laundry, took care of a variety of logistical things for my trip online, watched some tv, and did some rather annoying tasks for the day job that fill me with absolute glee over the fact that I'm going to be able to take the next nine workdays off. I should have packed, but I didn't; and unfortunately, I have to go to work by 6:45am tomorrow. So, I'm going to bed, going to work, slogging hard to wrap things up, and then leaving early to get a pedicure, pack, and make sure I'm ready for my trip. Goodnight!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

shorty got low low low low low low low low

I spent most of the day taking care of errands for my upcoming trip, procrastinating, and finally writing -- all in all, a good day, even though I could have been much more efficient. I picked up two dresses at the tailor's, then went to Nordstrom and returned a whole bunch of stuff that I bought at the anniversary sale. As the anniversary sale was still going on, and I had been 'good' and returned stuff, this gave me an excuse to buy some more stuff -- in this case, a pair of Converse sneakers to replace my worn-out, extremely smelly Pumas, and a pair of black pumps to wear with my dress for the awards ceremony. I picked up that dress as well, and the alterations came out well, so at least I know what I'm wearing when I go onstage to present an award in front of 2000+ people.

I also bought a ridiculously cool (or perhaps just ridiculous) ring that will really stand out and tie together my hobbit western outfit when I go home for the holidays this winter -- it's exactly the kind of ring that is going to make my brother question whether we are related and how I could have possibly changed so much after growing up in Iowa. I actually walked away from it at first, only to drive back to the mall five hours later and buy it because I couldn't stop thinking about it. When I saw it, I felt this strangely visceral tug to it, as though it had inspired in me some sort of lust that I've never really felt over a piece of jewelry before. I have a feeling that it's going to play a role in the inspiration for my Knights Templar/"gargoyle" young adult series in the future, if it doesn't give me carpal tunnel from trying to support the weight of it while typing. I've posted a picture of it below for your viewing pleasure, and you are welcome to make fun of it because I love it so much that I don't really care what you think.

Anyway, despite the time sucked up by that bit of folly, I still managed to finish my errands, grab a pizza at the Nordstrom Cafe, and come home with the intention of writing. Then I sat around for hours not writing, and just as I was about to write, I went back to Nordstrom to buy the ring. I had an Amy's enchilada when I got home, then settled in with my laptop -- and I finally got around to writing 1546 words of zee romance novel. This sex scene between Madeleine and Ferguson is turning into an epic; they're on the verge of finally, irrevocably consummating tings, but by the time they do, this scene is going to be close to twenty pages. That's not all sex; a lot of it is conversation leading up to sex, then quite a bit of detail about stripping each other out of their historical garb that I can likely cut. But I need to finish it so that I can move on to the rest of the book -- despite the fact that it currently sounds like a porn, there is quite a bit of plot that needs to happen after this (and, well, another sex scene in the garden of a masquerade ball) and I'm eager to get through it all. I can't keep wasting three hours on the internet for every hour that I spend writing, and I'm going to have to practice my self-discipline when I take my week-long staycation and try to finish this draft. If nothing else, the desire to finish so that I can move on to the next romance novel, and to the Knights Templar/gargoyle story, is growing by the day, so I really need to get through this one before I give in to the urge to move on to the next shiny thing.

And now, I should go to bed; I'm going to the city tomorrow morning to have brunch with Chandlord, and then I need to do laundry, pack, do some work for the day job, and make sure I'm prepped for my trip. And perhaps, if I get to it, Madeleine and Ferguson will finally finish their epic love scene -- miracles do happen, after all. Goodnight!

[and here's the ring]

rhyme vigilante

I've had a headache from the moment that I woke up until now, and several Aleves were not enough to save me. Fortunately, I didn't have any pressing meetings at work, and so I decided to work from home for the day; unfortunately, I had legitimate work to do, and so I didn't really relax. In fact, i think the headache is a tension headache, since when I consciously relax my forehead, it gets just a little bit better. I really hope that it gets better tomorrow, since I have an insanely long list of things to do and errands to run before I go to the romance conference this week.

I did do some writing this afternoon so that I could mail in my entrance to this mentorship contest; it's not a big deal, but it would still be exciting if I finaled. I got to the post office just in the nick of time, and the post office workers were some of the friendliest I've ever met in my entire life -- they gave the postal workers in my town (well, the big town -- the postmistress of the town nearest me is quite a bit less helpful) a run for their money, even though the postal workers in my town have known me all my life. Then, I came home, grabbed my Kindle and spent some time reading it at Cafe Borrone (love that place!) I needed to get out of the house, even though I still had massive pain in my head, and Cafe Borrone was the place to do it.

And now, after watching some "Top Chef" and some "White Collar" (I love the lead character in that show), I really should go to bed -- tomorrow awaits, with more errands than I ever like to have on a to-do list, so sleep now is fival. Goodnight!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

all the vampires walking through the valley move west down ventura boulevard

Today was lovely, although it was a nonstop slog from the time I got to the office at 8am until the writing group that I hosted left around 9pm. I had to be 'on' the entire time I was at work, since I had meetings straight from 8am until 2:15pm. I did about an hour of work at my desk, then realized that I was going to be horribly behind schedule with my personal life, and so dashed out the door to grab some things at the grocery store before coming home and cleaning furiously. It was too late to unpack anything else, but I did clear off my kitchen table of all the hundreds of notes to myself about my romance novel, and I swiffered all the little wampdevils off the floor (although without Adit here to call my hair detritus 'wampdevils', is that what they are? and oddly, they don't accumulate here they way they did in our apartment, so perhaps moving out of his place has exorcised the wampdevils). Somewhere in there, I had a half-hour call with a friend of a friend who is applying for a job at my company; I don't know if I was particularly helpful, since I was distracted by dusting, but she seemed pleased enough.

By seven p.m., I had accomplished just enough that I wasn't totally embarrassed by my lack of unpacking. The writing group all showed up within ten minutes of each other. It's a bunch of students from that creative writing class that I took this winter, and they've been getting together once a month since the class ended. This is the first time I was able to make it, and since it was at my house I couldn't flake at the last moment -- good strategy, right? The same people don't come every time, but tonight four of them came, and we workshopped two stories. They were both excellent; one was a standalone story that I thought was publishable and wonderful (not always the same thing) with minor edits, and the other was a chapter in an ongoing book-length story that will need a lot of additional writing to get to the end of, but the woman is working with a really fascinating historical setting and storyline (based on a Frenchman in colonial India). And, we had a really good discussion about balancing historical accuracy with the expectations/beliefs of modern readers -- in this case, about a guy acquiring a ten year old girl whom he later (unknown how much later) has sex with. At the time, ten was still a bit too young, but it wasn't unusual for teenagers to get married -- but ten now is pedophilia land, no questions, and so how do you write a story that is compelling and has a character that you can relate to if he's picking up a ten year old girl to adopt and later sleep with?

Anyway, I digress. When my guests left, I felt very energized about my writing again; even though this class has nothing to do with romance novels, I really like the people in this group a lot, and I'm glad we're still getting together after the class is over. The key for me is to translate that energy into finishing my damn book. I wanted to write tonight, but I needed a break from the grueling day. However, I need to get up quite early tomorrow and really focus on rewriting the intro so that I can get the weekend off to the right start.

If you have any books you've been reading and loving, I'd love to hear about them - please leave a comment. Otherwise, goodnight!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

total eclipse of the heart

I know it's utterly ridiculous, but I'm going to go to bed as soon as I finish writing this; it's only 9:15pm, but I'm exhausted, and I would rather sleep now and attempt to get up early tomorrow morning and write rather than forcing myself through the tiredness. I'm probably feeling so exhausted because I had to be mentally "on" all day -- I had another full day of training, which was v. valuable and rewarding, but was also mentally exhausting. It didn't help that I went back to my desk and spent two hours after the training ended taking care of the myriad things that absolutely had to get done. It also didn't help that I had a burrito for dinner, which promptly put me right over the edge into food coma land.

So, I don't really have much to share. The training was quite useful in terms of making me think about a lot of things related to my career, my performance, the choices ahead of me, etc., and I have a lot of stuff to ponder over the next couple of weeks as I take a step away from the day job to focus on my writing career (the romance conference is next week, and I'm taking off the week after that to hole up and finish the draft of my book). But, as is usual, while I left feeling totally energized and excited by the people I work with, I also found myself in desperate need of a break from the rest of humanity.

Unfortunately, I wanted to spend tonight writing, but I fell asleep as soon as I stretched out on the couch with my laptop, and I don't have the willpower to force myself to wake up and write. So it's off to bed -- I'm going to set my alarm for six and try to write for an hour before work. Wish me luck with that -- goodnight!

you've got to be stronger than the story

I failed to be stronger than the story today. I tried to rewrite the first chapter of my book tonight...and tried...and tried. I tried at Cafe Borrone over my favorite sandwich; then I came home and tried over a big mug of my favorite chai. I eventually abandoned the laptop and tried pen and paper...and I wrote four pages, all of which I'm going to cut. It wasn't four pages in a row; it was four pages full of 2-3 paragraph attempts at an opening. Ugh. I finally gave it up for the night as a lost cause and spent the past two and a half hours doing work for the day job while watching 'Covert Affairs' and last night's episode of Craig. I had an all-day training today that kept me from getting anything done at work, so the work that I did tonight was v. necessary, but I would have felt better about it had I finished a draft of the new opening for my book.

Then again, I'm totally wide awake, so maybe I'll think about it some more tonight even though it's 12:30am. I like to think that caffeine has absolutely no effect on me, but it probably wasn't smart to make myself sixteen ounces of chai at 8pm. I'm going to try to go to bed anyway; I have to go to a meeting at 8am before starting another all-day training at 9am, so I should really get some sleep.

I shall leave you with a picture of the dress that I bought for the awards ceremony at the romance conference; I haven't picked the dress up yet, but I found this picture on the Nordstrom website for your viewing pleasure:




















I guess it's more grey than brown in this picture; I'm going to be curious to see it when I get it out of the unnatural light of the dressing room. As you can see, it comes down quite low in the front, and so I had to buy one of those glue-on backless strapless numbers. [spoiler alert: the squeamish amongst you should stop reading now and pretend that I said goodnight here] I tried the bra on tonight to make sure it was going to work and that I wouldn't have any bad reaction to the adhesive. The verdict: the glue worked and the bra stayed in place. However, it's two individual silicone cups that adhere to your breasts and then connect with a clasp in between to pull the breasts together -- and I have to say that molding a silicone cup to my skin looked and felt like I was gluing a piece of chicken to my breast. But hey, if the chicken-y bra keeps everything in place and doesn't fall out of my dress while I'm presenting the award, I'll be a happy camper.


And now, after far too much discussion of my unmentionables (which I seem to have a fascination with mentioning), it's time for bed!

Monday, July 19, 2010

she said 'i'll turn you on, sonny, to something strong'

Gah. I should have written tonight, but I'm dreading rewriting the opening to my book, and so I did some work for the day job while watching television. Granted, the television was fun (I watched the pilot of 'Covert Affairs' and an episode of 'Design Star' where some dude shot himself in the thumb with a nail gun before the judges sent home my least favorite designer), but I really should have written instead. Ah, well, there's always tomorrow, right?

Work was fine today; I spent four hours in a training related to a job that I no longer do (and will do the same thing for nine hours tomorrow and nine hours Wednesday), but it was entertaining, and I like all the people on that team, so it wasn't time entirely wasted. Then I slogged the rest of the afternoon, with varying degrees of success. Chandlord called me around 6pm, just as I was packing up to go home, and we ended up meeting for Thai food in downtown Mountain View. The yellow curry was too bland, the eggplant was aight, and Vidya ordered an appetizer consisting entirely of soy protein moulded to masquerade as chicken (with a peanut sauce accompaniment) -- if you had told me ten years ago that I would willingly eat my fair share of soy protein, I would have thought you were retarded, but miracles do happen. It was lovely to see Chandlord, as usual, and we strolled around Mountain View briefly to let the bad curry settle before parting ways. Then I came home, turned on the tv, and you know the rest.

And on that note, I should really get some sleep; I shouldn't be late to the start of training tomorrow, as much as I like to stroll in three minutes late, so getting some sleep now is imperative. It's particularly imperative so that I can write my heart out tomorrow night; goodnight!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

why don't you let it go, let it go, let it go

I love that 'research' for my writing can take the form of reading romance novels. I decided to read the first chapters of seven or eight of my favorite novels to see how they set up the story, what emotions they tried to engage, whether/how the hero and heroine met in the first chapter, etc. It was a good idea, except for the fact that I couldn't contain myself to just the first chapters, and so I jumped around and reread favorite scenes and whole sections, until it was far too late to do any writing tonight. Oops. But, I think it was helpful overall, and I'm looking forward to getting back into the writing tomorrow night.

I kept myself quite busy today, even though I didn't do any writing. I decided that I needed to keep making some progress unpacking, and so I focused all my energies on that. I'm not sure that you would actually be able to tell that I made much progress, despite the fact that I worked all afternoon at it -- but, my bedroom is no longer knee-deep in discarded clothes, I did two loads of laundry, and I took a lot of empty boxes to the garage. I still have a bit of stuff left to unpack, particularly the decorative elements that will bring everything together, but it's generally quite livable now.

As for the rest of the day, I forced myself out of bed at 8:30, and then spent some quality time setting up my Tivo to record a variety of shows that I love. I also procrastinated by looking at dog breeds online; I've been considering getting a puppy, but haven't made the leap yet because it's a lot of commitment, and judging by my complete hostility towards all forms of commitment, getting something that I have to take care of for 12-20 years makes me break out in hives. So, I started unpacking after I took a shower, but I eventually got hungry and had to take a break, so I went to Printers Ink Cafe on California Street, where I had a sandwich while reading the first fifty pages of my manuscript again. That's what prompted the desire to read the openings of a bunch of other books -- my second chapter is working, but my first isn't, and judging by experience with both this book and the previous one, the opening is where I really struggle. I then spent the afternoon contemplating what to do about that first chapter while unpacking, with a break to talk to my parents; they seemed to be in good form, even if it's ridiculously hot there and continues to rain, which is bad for both my dad's line of work and my mom's gardening. As much as I sometimes lament the fact that I'm so removed from nature and 'real' life, it is also sometimes nice to a) live in California, where there are no seasons, and b) have a career that is utterly unaffected by changes in the weather.

And now, I really should go to bed; the weekend ended way too soon, and I have to get to work early tomorrow so that I can get some stuff done before I participate in a half-day training. Goodnight!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

into the afterlife of you and me

I'm falling asleep over my keyboard again, which is a good sign that I need to keep this brief and go to bed. In fact, I'm making up words as I type this, which is a v. bad thing, and not something that I want to subject you to. Suffice it to say that the technician from the cable-company-who-must-not-be-named arrived and hooked up my tivo, I then drove up to the city and had lunch with Tammy, Shedletsky, and Daniel. Tammy then dragged me to the San Francisco Zoo, which was loads of fun, and then we went shopping and had coffee before parting ways.

After dropping off Tammy, I went straight at Limon for Javier's 30th birthday party. A good time was had by all, although I bailed at ten p.m. when dinner was over and the epic pub crawl was about to begin. I need to be in peak writing form tomorrow, and that means getting some sleep tonight so that I'm not falling asleep all over everything.

I'll give more details tomorrow, but I'm seriously falling asleep -- goodnight!

Friday, July 16, 2010

some days i can see the future

I'm falling asleep with my laptop, which means this post is going to have to be brief. I slogged this morning and early afternoon, with nothing particularly new or noteworthy going on, and then snuck out early to run a couple of errands and look for a dress for the romance convention I'm going to in a couple of weeks. I'm presenting the award that I won last year, and so I need to look a little fancier than I might otherwise. I was going to just wear the dress that I wore last year, but luckily I tried it on first; it's just the slightest bit tighter than it was before, and because it zips up the back, I wouldn't be able to get it on myself without someone's assistance to zip me up.

So, I ended up finding a new dress at Nordstrom -- there were no tears and no staggering realization that 'this is my dress' like you might see on 'Say Yes to the Dress', but since I was by myself, and my budget was closer to $150 than it was to $15,000, perhaps that's to be expected. I picked a most unusual color for me (brown), but the dress is really cute and flattering, and I didn't have the patience to keep shopping at other stores. They're doing the alterations for me, since I had to have the shoulder straps taken in like I do on virtually everything I buy (another reason to buy a dress this weekend, since I wouldn't be able to wait for alterations on anything I find next weekend). I'll post pics of it when I get it back, but until then you must live in suspense.

I grabbed some takeout sushi for dinner, washed a load of laundry, and spent the evening reading a book about the Regency period. It's fascinating stuff, and the good news is that it confirmed that theatres in London started as early as six p.m., which is quite a relief for a certain aspect of my current story. And then, I fell asleep over my keyboard, and now I need to go to bed. The cable company that shall not be named for fear of getting another stalker comment on my blog is coming tomorrow morning, and then I'm going up to the city of sin to see Tammy in the afternoon and go to a birthday dinner tomorrow night. Since I intend to write tomorrow morning before that cable company comes, I need to go to bed right now. Goodnight!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

i let my enemies slide for the meantime

Today was wonderful, despite the fact that you're going to have to get that stick out and beat me for not writing tonight. My strategy of getting more sleep last night paid off, as my mind felt much clearer and more prepared to speed through and make guesses on the multiple choice test I had to take this afternoon. I made it into work for my eight a.m. meeting, and then studied for the exam from 9am to 12pm; the exam was about display advertising (image ads, video, etc.) + YouTube advertising, which is a pretty fascinating subject that would serve me well in terms of publicizing my books someday, but that I've really had very little practice with at work. So I read the study guide, took some notes, watched a few YouTube videos as 'research', and then grabbed lunch before the exam. The exam was technically from 1pm to 3:30pm, but I finished 110 questions in a little less than an hour; I ended up with an 87% (passing was 70%). I was totally pleased with that, as I tied the big boss's score -- I'm competitive enough to acknowledge that all I really care about is winning, not whether this exam had anything to do with my core job (it didn't, but I was required to take it anyway). And now I'm all done with these exams, which is fantastic news!

After finishing the exam, I had some milk and Oreos while prepping for a 1:1 with the big boss. We had a really good conversation, which was useful since we're not going to meet again for a month (she's out half of next week and we're both out the two weeks after that, so we won't meet again until sometime in August). If I wanted to work fifteen hours a day, I easily could; instead, I'm going to have to triage, prioritize, and figure out how to make myself more productive during the work day so that I can accomplish all of the great ideas that we had for what I can work on this quarter. One of them was making our communications as funny as the Old Spice YouTube campaign was this week -- I made the big boss watch several of the videos, but I don't think that either of us is cut out to compete with the Old Spice dude. If you didn't see any of them, check out the Old Spice YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/oldspice#p/c/484F058C3EAF7FA6 -- be prepared to waste an hour, because this guy is incredible.

But the best thing that happened today was that I discovered (by getting a newsletter from Gavin Rossdale) that Bush is reuniting! Yes, the band behind such great songs as 'Glycerine', 'Comedown', and 'The Chemicals Between Us', which broke up around 2003, is getting back together (although it's really only Gavin and the drummer - they replaced the other two) and releasing an album this fall. I downloaded the single this afternoon and listened to it approximately 40 times; I like it, but I was also the only person to buy his solo album, so I'm perhaps not the best judge.

When I got home, I cleaned the kitchen, took care of some sundry necessities, and made dinner (the last of my chicken fajitas, yum). I then sat down intending to write, but I failed; instead, I set up my Tivo box in preparation for the Comcast guy to come this weekend and bring me a cablecard so that I can get HD programming on the Tivo. It's really annoying that they have to send a technician to do it; I'm pretty sure I could install it myself, but I'm also pretty sure that since Comcast is legally required to provide a cablecard to any customer who asks for it, they're trying to recoup some of it by charing me a $16 professional installation fee for what amounts to slipping a credit-card-sized card into my Tivo unit and punching in a code. Whatever; I'm just excited to get my Tivo fully set up so that I can start recording Craig again.

So now, I'm going to go to bed so that I can get up, finish my work quickly, and do some serious writing. Goodnight!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

you've got to cut until it hurts

Well, Madeleine and Ferguson are still in a heightened state of need and frustration. I wrote 350 words tonight at Cafe Borrone, at about a third of the speed that I normally write at, but even a glass of sauvignon blanc wasn't unlocking the creative juices necessary to get through the scene. I'm pretty happy with what I did write, but at this pace they're going to be old and grey before they ever wrap things up, so I need to get moving.

Today was really rather blah; I barely made it to work for my 7:30 meeting, and I was tired and cranky all day. I should have studied for this exam that I have tomorrow, but I procrastinated by working on a bunch of other things instead -- we'll see whether I regret it or not by about 3pm tomorrow. I should have studied when I got home from Borrone, but I walked in the door just as the latest episode of "Top Chef" was coming on, and so I watched that instead. And now, I think I'll go to bed at 10pm for once so that I can be in a slightly better mood/sharpness level tomorrow, since I may be able to make up for my lack of studying with a well-rested mind that is better capable of guessing. Goodnight!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

i smell like i sound, i'm lost and i'm found

Today was excellent; I didn't meet my 3000 word goal, but there's no need to pull out a stick and beat me just yet. I made it into the office a little before nine a.m. even though I didn't have any meetings until later in the morning (I know, my will-power in the mornings is so impressive). Then, I slogged quite efficiently all day, getting a lot done (while still taking a break to enjoy baked potato Tuesday at the cafe near me), and leaving the office promptly at six p.m.

There was a slight bit of traffic on the freeway between my office and my house, which reminded me exactly why I'm so thrilled that I moved back to the glorious south bay. When I got home, I promptly turned off my internet connection and wrote for three hours, with a twenty-minute break to make myself some delicious chicken fajitas with the leftover chicken from last night and some of the peppers and onions I keep chopped up and frozen for meals such as these. In three hours, I should have come close to 3000 words; instead, I only wrote 1295. I blame the fact that I was writing the scene in which Madeleine and Ferguson have sex for the first time, which always goes extremely slowly because I have to try to avoid using cliches, while still accepting that everything I can write is a cliche, and balancing my desire to make an emotionally moving scene with my own inner cynicism that would rather turn it all into a big joke. That's how I write sentences like "He was a Greek statue come to life, a god disguised as a man, slipping out of his costume to claim his maiden," which is around the point where I decided that I was done with the night and needed to quit before it got any worse.

So I took a break and watched an episode of "Design Star." I don't know if I'm going to keep watching it, since the contestants and the hosts are all strangely flat and uncompelling, but I kind of want to see what happens. Then I answered a couple of emails from work, and now I need to go to bed; unlike this morning, I have to be in the office tomorrow at 7:30am for a meeting *before* the usual 8am meeting with the big boss, which is a crime against my humanity. But, getting in at 7:30 means I can leave at 4:30 with no regrets, and so hopefully I can finish Madeleine and Ferguson's consummation scene tomorrow night without too much drama. Goodnight!

Monday, July 12, 2010

mouth is alive, juice is like wine, and i'm hungry like the wolf

Today was okay; not perfect in terms of productivity, but not terrible either. I slogged all day, with a break for lunch with Cody (one of the first people who ever reported to me) and a lovely interlude with Chandlord at Starbucks, before leaving the office a little after six p.m. Vidya was in fine form, as was the shirtless middle-aged man sunning himself on the Starbucks patio while reading a newspaper. Since we see each other so often, there aren't exactly a lot of new stories to share, but we somehow managed to keep ourselves entertained for an hour before she headed back to the city and I went back to wrap up some stuff at work.

After work, I came home and made some delicious chicken fajitas that almost put me to sleep. Then, I procrastinated on the internet for awhile before finally forcing myself to write ~1000 words of Madeleine and Ferguson's story. 1000 is good, but it's not enough; I really want to finish a first draft of the story before I go to the romance conference, but that would require more like 3000 words a day. That's doable, if I start focusing promptly when I get home, but it won't be easy...but it's a good goal to set.

So, help me stay accountable. I'm going to post my word count here every day between now and the conference. My current total word count is 48,006 words; I need to get to ~90,000 words (give or take 10,000). If I'm not tracking to meet that target by July 28, please beat me with a stick -- that sounds painful, but it actually might be preferred to the tactic I took while trying to finish my honors thesis in college, which was to get Walter to take away my shower stuff in the hopes that I would get so dirty that I would finish the thesis out of desperation (it didn't work).

But now, I need to go to bed so that I can get cracking on that audacious goal tomorrow -- goodnight!

you're everything i need and more, it's written all over your face

So my blog last night did not tell the whole story. After I blogged at midnight, I made the mistake of picking up my Kindle -- and the next thing I knew, it was six a.m., the birds were singing, and the sky was ominously bright. Perhaps it seemed ominously bright because I was reading a book about vampires (you know you have a problem when you stay up all night reading about creatures who don't exist...although in my defense (questionable defense at best), I never really got into "Twilight" because I prefer my vampires darker and more complicated. Sparkling in the sunlight instead of igniting in it, endlessly going through a cycle of high school/college attendance rather than doing some truly fun and crazy shit with your immortality, and insisting on having a virgin bride does not count as complicated.

I shall stop talking about vampires before I scare off the non-vampire-lovers amongst you (although your numbers are lower than you might think, if I have a good pulse on my friends' tastes). Because of my stupidity, I only slept four hours last 'night', from six to ten a.m. Then, I dragged myself out of bed, attempted to make myself presentable, and then sped out of my apartment to make it up to the city in time for a noon appointment. On the way, I talked to my parents, who were in fine form despite me calling them about six hours earlier than I usually do, and it certainly helped me to stay awake for the drive.

My appointment was at Nordstrom; I am apparently such a valued shopper (code for I have a problem) that two different saleswomen called me over the last week to see if I wanted to make an appointment with them to preview the anniversary sale items before they go on sale this Friday. Previewing the sale was rather strange -- basically, she took me to this little room on the top floor, where I was able to browse around a weird hodgepodge of racks with a few other previewers. If I saw something that I wanted, she wrote it down, and I'll be able to pick everything up next weekend after the sale has started.

The anniversary sale deals were fabulous; I was in the market for some new unmentionables, and the ones in the sale were gorgeous and 30-40% off. And the items on sale aren't those sad, unloved end-of-season remnants; this the fall collection, and they put it on sale for two weeks before the price actually goes up (rather than down, like most stores). I generally stuck to my plan, focusing on unmentionables, although I did have a lapse and preordered a purse (in my defense, it was a gorgeous saddle color that doesn't resemble any other bag I have, and was 40% off). But, I successfully put down the Pucci sunglasses and walked away from them, so I was proud of myself.

However, it all took a bit longer than I anticipated, since I had to try on the unmentionables (I'm trying to see how many times I can use "unmentionables" in the same blog post), and the saleswoman had to write down all the product numbers rather than getting any sort of automated scanner like they have with wedding registries. By the time I left Nordstrom, it was two p.m. and I was absolutely starving. So, I went to Samovar, where I had the usual (salmon quiche, fruit, scone, masala chai). The staff seemed happy to see me, and the waitress remembered my usual order even though I hadn't been in for two months. I stocked up on tins of masala chai and their perfect English Breakfast looseleaf blend, since it will likely be awhile before I go again; I've been getting back into drinking looseleaf rather than bagged tea, so stocking up was critical.

The day slowly declined after that; I should have gone to Chris's birthday party, but by the time I got home, I was so exhausted that I bailed and took a nap instead. Then, I spent the evening cleaning out my fridge, cleaning off my desk (it looks really lovely now!), taking care of some work stuff, and doing a variety of other random things. And now, I really should go to bed; I can't stay up until six a.m. if I intend to get up then to write, so goodnight!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

tonight's gonna be a good night

I'm exhausted; I somehow packed a lot of unpacking and a five-hour wedding into the same day, which probably shouldn't have happened. I got up around eight and proceeded to unpack, arrange, and rearrange for the next five hours. The good news is that all of my books are finally unpacked and organized; the bad news is that there is still a lot left to be done. But, the progress that I made today was good, and I'll try to keep slogging ahead with it after work this week.

Eventually, though, I had to stop unpacking so that I could get ready to go to Tolu and Kristina's wedding. In terms of pure effort required to attend, this was perhaps the easiest wedding I've ever gone to; the venue was ten minutes away, and I was only invited to the reception. Since it started at 3pm, the attire was slightly less formal (although I did blowdry my hair in honor of the occasion), so I wore a fun dark pink jersey knit dress with a built-in 'belt' with some big purple jewels on it. Trust me, it looks better than I just made it sound. So I got to spend some quality time with Joann, Lizzie, Jane, Jen, and Justin -- these are some of the people that I do the "friendship renewal dinners" with every six weeks or so. Lizzie has been in the area for all of them, but is moving to Seattle in August and so will be dead to us; Joann just got back from a two-year stint in Singapore; Jane has been in the area for all of them as well, although she no longer works at the same company that Joann, Tolu and I do; Jen left the company a couple of years ago and has just finished business school (so I haven't seen her in ages, since she was spending all her time at Duke); and Justin displayed the most dedication that I've ever seen in a wedding guest. He left the company long enough ago that he's now entering his fourth year of med school in Portland, and he's doing rotations that start at 6am. Since he didn't have tomorrow off, he flew down here today, got to the reception right as it started at 3pm, and then left at 7pm to catch the last direct flight back to Portland. That's friendship right there.

The reception was lovely, and Tolu and Kristina are a great couple. Since I've been watching a lot of "Say Yes to the Dress" (and apparently missed a doozy of an episode last night, since both Joann and Aunt Becky made it a point to tell me about it), I felt more equipped to have an opinion on Kristina's dress, and it was absolutely beautiful on her. So, I'm glad that I was invited and got to hang out with my work peeps and with Tolu and Kristina well -- I love weddings!

When I finally got home, I watched a bunch of different on-demand episodes of a variety of reality shows (Throwdown with Bobby Flay, even though I hate him and the premise; Ace of Cakes; and a couple of episodes of Design Star) while continuing to clean and organize. And now, I must go to bed; I'm running up to the city tomorrow to take care of a couple of errands, but I need to get back down here in time to go to a birthday party, and I would like to get some writing done tomorrow. Goodnight!

Friday, July 09, 2010

life went on beyond the palisades

I'm falling asleep over my laptop, which is a sign that I should throw in the towel and go to bed> I worked pretty hard today, and I ate out at two different Mexican restaurants, so it's no wonder I'm tired. I woke up this morning and took a detour to work to attempt to drop off a dress at a one-hour cleaners' place so that I could wear it to a wedding tomorrow, but the cleaners were on vacation, so I'm just going to have to dig something else out of my closet. Luckily, things mostly picked up after that disappointment -- I slogged heavily from 10:30am to 5pm, taking a break only to have lunch with Heather and Heather at Fiesta Del Mar. After my slog over the past three days, I'm feeling more caught up than I was; now, the trick will be to keep my momentum going so that I can accomplish all the things that I want even when there is nothing important to force me to get stuff done.

So lunch with the Heathers was good, even if we had to be efficient because I needed to meet with the big boss at one. Then, I slogged the rest of the afternoon, came home, and did my favorite activity (washing my towels and sheets -- when Adit saw my mom's laundry room in Iowa, he said 'this is Sara's dream come true' because I seem to do a *lot* of laundry compared to my peers). I started unpacking the rest of the boxes in my living room; I'm not quite there yet, but I'm getting close.

The most amusing thing about today was that Sri emailed and said that he was in town, but that he was leaving tonight, and so any attempt to see him would require meeting him for dinner between 7:30 and 8:15. Funnily, Chandlord and I had ran into Sri's former roommate Raymond in Palo Alto last night, and he seemed quite shifty; he was apparently under orders not to tell anyone that Sri was here. Anyway, Sri, Raymond and I went to Los Gallos, a taqueria in Redwood City, and caught up quite well (including a hilarious brainstorm about a werewhale who changes between wolf and a whale, cutting out the human element entirely). Sadly, they had to leave, and so I came home around 9:30, debated continuing to unpack, and instead did nothing. At least I refrained from watching "Say Yes to the Dress" -- I'm making progress.

Even though it's not quite eleven p.m. on a Friday, I'm going to go to bed; I want to keep unpacking tomorrow morning, and then I have to go to Tolu's wedding reception tomorrow afternoon. Goodnight!

and now we murderers because we kill time

Today was lovely, although I'm not completely recovered from my travels. I did sleep almost nine hours last night, which was very much needed, and then I made it into the office for a ten a.m. meeting (I know, no great accomplishment, but it felt like it at the time). I slogged throughout the day getting ready for a meeting with the big boss that we should have had yesterday, but as it turned out, she has pinkeye (which I am quite familiar with, having seen it in the dorms) and so didn't want to tape the video that we were supposed to do today. We still met for almost an hour to discuss other issues, which was useful, and then I slogged the rest of the afternoon.

I meant to spend tonight industriously working on my book or unpacking my apartment; instead, I met up with Vidya for a v. extended drink/dinner extravaganza at Joya in Palo Alto. We met shortly after five p.m., and ended up staying for over two hours. Oddly, they seated us right in the front, technically inside but next to an entire wall open to the outdoors, where we could be viewed by any passersby. Despite the fact that we were both dressed rather unfashionably for the milieu, we didn't scare away any potential customers, and the seats gave us prime people-watching opportunities (like the time when I said to Vidya, "Look at that jackass", and there were so many jackasses crossing the street at that point that she had no clue which one I was referring to). I had two glasses of my favorite Gloria Ferrer blanc de noirs champagne, Chandlord had two glasses of malbec, and we split four tapas dishes and a dessert of churros with chocolate dipping sauce. We also got to see a bunch of little middle-schoolers arrive for what appeared to be a birthday party for one of them; they sat in the back drinking (what I assume was) fake cocktails and making me feel simultaneously ashamed and superior because of my more down-to-earth upbringing.

After Joya, we walked around for a bit; I tried to take Vidya to Borders, but she felt she was too loud for the place, and may have been offended when I kept pointing out political tomes for 'her' bookclub (clearly distancing myself from the bookclub that I am ostensibly part of as well). So we walked down University, then returned to our cars and parted ways. It was lovely to see her after a week apart; she continues to think that we need more friends, which I don't understand, since I'm totally psyched to spend tomorrow night watching another marathon of "Say Yes to the Dress" (what 28-year-old *wouldn't* want to do that?!)

When I got home, I should have worked, but instead I sent a few emails and then watched the last two weeks' episodes of Top Chef. And now, I really should sleep; tomorrow will come all too soon, and then it's oddly the weekend again. Goodnight!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

all my innocence is wasted on the dead and dreaming

I'm totally wiped out -- two flight cancelations in twenty-four hours will do that to you. I slept approximately three hours last night (and those three hours were rather poor), waking up at 3am to shower and leave for the Des Moines airport again. Michael took me up to DSM in the dark, and I got there just in time to go through security, buy a bottle of water, and board my flight. I got to Chicago on time, sat through my 2.5hr layover...then continued to sit as the departure time changed from 9:40, to 10:30, to 11:30, to 12, before the flight was canceled entirely due to mechanical difficulties. I'm rather sick of hearing about mechanical difficulties, and think it's a bit worrisome that United had two such issues without any backup planes available (I understand no backups available in Des Moines -- but to not be able to fix a problem with pressurization in Chicago and not have a backup either seems unacceptable to me).

Anyway, the one good thing is that they automatically rebooked me on a flight leaving direct to SFO at 2pm, and called me to tell me about it, so that I could check in on my laptop (and board using my mobile phone) rather than standing in line with the 200 people who were bounced from my canceled flight (+the 40 or 50 people who were already on standby for that flight because they had a flight canceled yesterday). Of course, that wasn't all good, since the 2pm flight was delayed by 90mins. But, I eventually got to board, and I reached SFO at 6:15pm today, only 19 hours after I was supposed to.

I left the airport and drove straight to the office; even though I was exhausted, I had an all-hands with the big boss and one of her international teams, and it lasted from 8:30-10pm. It went well, although at that point I could really not have cared less. And now, I'm back in my house, I'm not traveling again for another three weeks, and I'm going to go to bed so that I can be productive tomorrow. I was at least productive today; I did quite a bit of work in the airport, and then I wrote five or six pages of zee romance novel on the plane, so the day wasn't a complete waste. But tomorrow will be a complete waste if I don't get some sleep -- goodnight!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

grounded

So I was all primed to get on a plane and get back to my regularly-scheduled life -- and then my flight from Des Moines to Denver was canceled. In retrospect I probably should have just gotten a hotel room in Des Moines or stayed with my aunt, but as my brother wasn't too far from Des Moines when I found out that the flight was canceled, he came back, picked me up, and shook me down for a dinner at Johnny's Italian Steakhouse before bringing me home. Since my new flight leaves Des Moines at six a.m., I'm only going to get four hours of sleep -- and since I have a ton of work that I should have done, I'm not going to get much sleep on the plane. C'est la vie, I guess.

The rest of the day was pretty good; I spent some quality time with my mom, took care of some essential grooming tasks (such as eyebrows and exfoliation), packed, had lunch, and then went up to Des Moines with my mom and brother to meet my dad at Perkins for pie before going to the airport. Dad had gone to Des Moines earlier for a meeting, which is why we didn't all go up together, but we had some time to say goodbye (or so we thought) over pie before going to the airport.

But now, I need to sleep so that I can get up and do it again (much quicker and surlier). Goodnight!

Monday, July 05, 2010

i swear i'll do my best to comply

I'm debating shutting down my Facebook account. I never log in anyway, and I'm not a fan of the fact that many of my 'friends' are people whom I haven't spoken to in years and likely never will again. There are a handful of people that I like seeing updates from, but given the strange etiquette around defriending/blocking people, it would be super weird to block people that I'm already friends with. So I can either let it go on forever without logging in, or I can delete it and move on with my life. No decisions have been made yet, but perhaps the day when I shake loose the chains of Facebook is coming...

Today was lovely; I woke up to Adit saying "Wamp" in my own house, which was quite unnerving since no one calls me "Wamp" here (for obvious reasons). My grandmother came over and we all had brunch before Adit and Omar took off on the next leg of their adventure. Adit was worried that they would hit traffic in Chicago, but they made it in less than six hours, which was pretty good time. So, after a great evening of socializing, they departed, leaving everyone quite satisfied. They seemed to have fun in ye olde Iowa, my parents continue to adore Adit and thought Omar was charming, and Michael, Katie, James, Amy and I had a ridiculous time with them last night. Unless I get married, this type of gathering may never happen here again, but the amount of fun we had may convince me to do something about the state of my relationships and start working more aggressively toward the marriage point.

First, though, I need to work aggressively toward the publishing point -- but I didn't do anything about it today. Instead, after they left, I took a three-hour nap. I spent a bit of time working this afternoon before attending the funeral of my family's favorite cat, who passed away after a brief but heartrending illness, and was buried in a pillowcase in the yard. Then, my dad and I drove down to my grandmother's to take her some sweet corn that we forgot to give her this morning; I didn't get to spend much time with my dad (or anyone else, really) on this trip since it was so short, so it was good to hang out (and experience his new truck in all its glory, with its heated AND cooled leather seats, backup camera, interactive touchscreen navigation/radio system, etc.) When we got home, my parents made dinner -- hamburgers, leftover potato salad, and the usual vast quantities of sweet corn.

And after procrastinating tonight, it's time for me to go to bed. I need to pack tomorrow morning, and I want to get up relatively early even though my flight isn't until six p.m. Goodnight!

no touch monkey (bwaaaaaaaaaaa!)

Check out the labels -- this may be the only time, other than my wedding, that these tags are used on the same post. After much anticipation, the first non-high-school friends to ever visit my hometown arrived this afternoon. Adit and Omar appeared to have a delightful time -- after driving through rain all last night in Nebraska and all this morning from Kearney to our house, they arrived here at 3pm, at which point we promptly started to feed them massive amounts of food. My parents made corn on the cob, potato salad, bean salad, and bratwurst, all of which (except, in my humble opinion, for the bean salad, but my mom, brother and Adit liked it) were delicious. Then, we left for town just in time to catch the Fourth of July parade, which lasted about two minutes, and was replete with a color guard (two old men carrying a couple of flags), two people with a dog, a girl on a pony, an ambulance, and a fire truck. We actually were able to see the parade a second time as we walked back across the square to the parked vehicle, so I suppose that was nice?

Michael was kind enough to drive us around and give us the grand tour, since his Suburban was much roomier than my old Pontiac Sunfire. We drove around town seeing the sights (mainly replicating the loop that my friends and I made around town endlessly on weekends during high school), stopped at the convenience store where I used to work to get gas for the car and a Red Bull for Adit, and stopped at the grocery store to get mushrooms and ice. We swung back past the house to drop off the ice, and convinced my mom to give us a tour of the round barn and its environs. The tour was lovely (although nothing was particularly new to me, but the buildings are cool), and Adit and Omar both bought round barn tshirts, which they proceeded to wear the rest of the evening. Then, Michael and I took them around the great town of Allerton, where they saw my brother's house, my parents' business, and a variety of other buildings and memories.

We came home and ate strawberry shortcake and started drinking, with the intention of going in to see fireworks, but it proceeded to rain 2.5" in the past six hours, so fireworks were cancelled. Instead, my dad made some delicious pizza (including the first and last vegetarian pizza that will ever be prepared in this house), and we ate pizza around the island in the kitchen while discussing small town life. Sometime after 10pm, Katie, Katie's husband James, and Katie's sister came over, and we all ended up hanging out in the kitchen until 2:30am. I hadn't seen Katie in ages, and it had been even longer since I had seen James, so it was good to catch up with them. The evening was highly entertaining, although it sort of degenerated as we switched from drinking beer (or in my case, Smirnoff Ice) to drinking either Bailey's or scotch on the rocks. Also, I think we fully explored the fun that can be had with this Android app that plays the opening scream from "CSI: Miami" on command -- basically, take any joke, ridiculous comment, or word of wisdom and play that scream right after it (which has to be timed pretty well to work), and the hilarity of the joke increases eightfold. Or, since I am prone to exaggerating, possibly twofold. Either way, it was vastly entertaining.

But now, it's three a.m., and as Adit and Omar are attempting to leave tomorrow morning around 11am, I need to get some sleep so that I can get up and see them off. Goodnight!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

i guess i'll die another day

Today was a lovely day in the heartland, with a lot of delicious food and very little work to mar the experience. I rolled out of bed a little after eleven (after waking up at six a.m. and grasping for my eyemask to protect myself from the relentless morning sun streaming in through my east-facing windows) and went upstairs, where I spend some quality time with my mother. My father was nowhere to be found; he had gotten up much earlier to dig a grave for a horse (not our horse, since we don't have one -- but as he has dirt-moving equipment, he occasionally gets called to dig graves for large farm animals whose relationship with their owners are strong enough that they merit burial instead of being summarily dragged out into the far reaches of a field). Eventually, I came downstairs again, took a shower, and then went into town with my mother. We stocked up on beer and vegetarian-friendly foods for Adit's grand arrival tomorrow -- it looks like we could have some storms tomorrow night, which could adversely impact plans to go to the town parade and watch fireworks, but we'll have some fun regardless.

After we got back from town, I tried to take a nap, but spent most of my naptime either a) shivering in my air-conditioned room, since I'm used to the warmer, non-climate-controlled rooms in my California house, or b) playing on the internet. Finally, I gave up the cause as lost and went upstairs, where I chopped up potatoes for my mom's potato salad. I watched tv in the kitchen while my parents cooked supper -- after burying the horse, my father had driven up to Indianola to get some of the first sweet corn of the season, and so we had sweet corn and steak for dinner (verdict: delicious). Unfortunately, we all got sucked into "Die Another Day", Pierce Brosnan's last foray as James Bond -- I like Pierce Brosnan, but that movie was terrible, nonsensical, and generally annoying. I like Daniel Craig a lot better (but, sadly, the next one is on hold because MGM is in serious financial trouble, and so it might not get made :( But, I still watched the whole damn thing, even though the only thing I liked was having a villain with a face full of diamonds.

And now, I should probably go to bed; while I doubt that Adit and Omar will arrive before 12 or 1, I can't sleep until then. Goodnight!

Saturday, July 03, 2010

i need you in my house 'cause you're my home

Today was rather hectic; I pulled myself out of bed and showered rather rapidly, but then I spent way more time than anticipated finishing th packing process. The reason I spent more time is because I decided to clean my bedroom, since I hate coming home to a messy house, and because my bedroom only gets direct sunlight in the morning and currently has no light fixtures, the best time to tackle the daunting pile of clothing on the floor was in the morning. I'm happy to report that I hung up all my clothes and generally tidied things up; there's still work to do on the bedroom (and the living room, and the kitchen), but it's coming together.

So I made it into work and started organizing all the receipts I need for this mammoth expense report that I need to do for my Japan trip; it's perilously close to late, and since a lot of places in Tokyo didn't take my corporate credit card and I had paid for my flight on my personal credit card, I need to submit my expense report so that I get my money back someday. It's too bad that I hate doing expense reports...and also too bad that I didn't write down what each receipt from this trip was for, since the receipts are solely in Japanese and now I have to guess that they're for. Luckily I have a pretty good memory (and my blog to fall back on if I need to remember what I did on a specific day), which is helping.

I was more than happy to set the receipts aside for lunch; Jess came over to have lunch at my office, and she was kind enough to bring the bag that she and John had brought back to California after Adit's wedding. The bag contained a dress that I want to wear to a wedding reception next weekend, all of the tea cups that Adit gave out as wedding favors, and my favorite overly-glam sparkly jelly flipflops that will be completely out of place in Iowa. It was good to catch up with Jess, particularly since she and John are leaving for Canada and Europe next week and won't be back until almost the end of the month. It sounds like John still has whooping cough; I wonder if I caught it around the same time, since my cough in Europe sounds like a whooping cough incident. But, since I was vaccinated specifically for pertussis in January, you would think I would be fine -- but I reacted badly to the vaccine, so who knows.

Anyway, after Jess left (with a promise to invite me to lunch at Apple), I immediately scrambled and left for the airport. I got to my gate with just enough time to grab a diet coke before boarding, and the flight was uneventful. I had a 2.5hr layover in Denver, so I had a burrito and a margarita at my and my brother's favorite Mexican restaurant in the Denver airport while catching up on email for the day job. I have some day job stuff to do this weekend, but hopefully I can crank it out tomorrow so that I can play on Sunday-Tuesday.

On the flight from Denver to Des Moines, I got upgraded to first class; it's a bit of overkill for a 1h20min flight to Des Moines, but I wasn't going to turn it down. The steward served me coffee in a real mug; the coffee was still the same shitty brew they use in the plebian economy classes, but the mug made me feel slightly more upscale. I also successfully wrote 1000 words of Madeleine and Ferguson's story; I'll likely need to edit a lot of it, but making some progress is better than none.

My parents picked me up (around 11:20pm CDT), and we somehow managed to stay awake for the 90min drive back to my parents' house. My brother was still awake when we got home, so I stayed up and talked to him for awhile -- but now I'm exhausted, and I can't sleep all day tomorrow because I have to get ready for the main event. Goodnight!

Thursday, July 01, 2010

she's got a halo around her finger around you

I had a decent day today; I made it into the office at eight a.m. to present to the Americas leadership team (led by Alan, who used to be my boss in the ridiculous 16-hour-a-day job I had before I went on leave, and who now reports to the big boss), and then went straight from there to coordinate an hour and a half of videoconference meetings between the big boss and her European teams. Then, I worked for an hour before driving up to San Francisco for a couple of hours; the big boss was also doing an all-hands in the city, and while I didn't completely need to be there, hearing her speak makes it easier for me to draft stuff later. Amusingly, I drove Alan up and back with me; on the way up, we also took this other guy with us, and he and Alan held their one-on-one in my car while we sat in traffic. Alan and I had a good conversation on the way back too; so while today involved virtually no tangible productivity, I still felt like I accomplished some things.

I left the main office around 5pm, came home, and briefly talked to my parents. Then I threw a load of clothes in the wash, grabbed a burrito at Baja Fresh, came home, and contemplated packing. I think I'm basically packed up; I have a few things to throw in the suitcase tomorrow, but I'm pretty close.

And that, my friends, is a v. neutral and boring blog post. Nothing great happened to me, but nothing terrible happened either, and so I'll take it. And now, I'm going to bed -- Iowa awaits! Goodnight!

i used to cry, but now i hold my head up high

I will admit that I woke up angry this morning; there were no stories springing fully-formed from my mind like I had hoped. Even if there were, I didn't have time to write them down; as it was, I ended up putting my eye makeup on in the car ("luckily" there's a stoplight near my house that I routinely get stuck at for three minutes) and showing up nine minutes late to the big boss's staff meeting. Since the big boss was ten minutes late, she was none the wiser, and the presentation I had to give went pretty well. I made the wise tactical move of dressing up (grey sheath dress with big white polka dots, black cardigan, four inch stiletto heels), which made me sit up and feel confident, and served to mask my utterly surly mood. The four inch stilettos also kept me chained to my desk, which was good for my productivity; I only really left the desk for a couple of meetings + lunch with Gyre, and when Gyre and I walked across the courtyard to a nearby cafe, I was taking hobbled, constrained steps like a Chinese concubine. This led to him taking hobbled, constrained steps as well, which I found much more amusing than it really was, and now I have bored you with that detail as well!

I had my usual one-on-one with the big boss this afternoon; perhaps the answer to all my surliness last night is to take a quarter to just work fifteen hours a day for the day job, since that would keep me from stewing about my writing. There's certainly plenty to do to keep me busy this quarter, and while I've been proud of myself for having more of a life than I did before I went on leave, some of my old workaholic tendencies are flaring up in the face of my negative feelings about my writing. After all, I could throw my entire heart and soul into my job until there was nothing left of me, and it could just keep taking...and I will admit that there is a not-insignificant part of me that enjoys being a martyr and would get quite a bit of masochistic pleasure out of overachieving at work and selling myself in the process. I won't do it, but thinking of all the things I could be doing for the big boss if I was willing to sublimate myself for the good of The Man sometimes tempts me.

Anyway, things got a bit brighter after I left work; I had dinner with Chris and Natasha at their house, and Chris grilled a lot of meat for us while we sat out on their deck. They are a v. amusing couple, both solo and together, and they were bickering quite a bit tonight, which I found v. entertaining. They both work for my company, and so we talked a bit of shop, but for the most part we just relaxed, hung out, and caught up. It was a great break, and I'm glad it stopped me from brooding for a few hours. I got home around ten p.m., fired up the work laptop, and worked for the last couple of hours (although there was a good fifteen minutes or so where I fell asleep over the keys while trying to make some slides).

Thanks to those of you who read my post yesterday and didn't roll your eyes (and thanks even to those of you who did roll your eyes) -- while i'm still annoyed and less than thrilled with myself, I'm not in quite such a bad place as i was last night, and I'm sure that it will get better when I figure out how to break through this next set of scenes. Now, though, I desperately need to sleep; I'm only going to get six hours at this point, which is not enough. Goodnight!