Monday, January 31, 2011

leave you there by yourself chained to fate

I'm way too tired to still be up, even though I took a two-hour "nap" (if one can call it that) this morning after Adit left. I woke up around 7:20, and left my room to use the bathroom after he got out of the shower, and then intended to sit around only long enough to say goodbye to him -- but he ended up sitting at my kitchen table until almost nine, so I ate some oatmeal and talked to him. When he left, I did go back to bed, but (as you might imagine) I slept rather fitfully, since I had been wide awake before going back to sleep. I finally got out of bed sometime after eleven, showered, made myself some eggs for lunch, and then talked to my parents for approximately two hours. After getting off the phone with them, I took care of some minor tasks and errands, and was just picking up my jacket to go to Starbucks and write for awhile when Chandlord called.

So, Chandlord and I met up at Starbucks, where we spent an hour discussing our respective lives before she ditched me to go to dinner with someone. I managed to write a couple of pages in the half hour that I had left before driving to Sunnyvale for dinner at John and Jess's house. Dinner was super tasty (even if my father would disapprove of the entirely vegetarian fare) -- a salad, followed by zucchini, yams, and an awesome ratatouille on top of a whole pile of cheese. Mmmm. They also opened a delicious bottle of white wine that Jess had gotten from her boss, and so we shared that before adjourning to the nearby couches, where Jess demonstrated her increasing ability with the guitar she got for Christmas by attempting an acoustic version of Ke$sha's "We R Who We R".

Surprisingly enough, Adit (some people call him the cat) showed up sometime after eight p.m., and so we went back to the dinner table, and then eventually back to the music. By the time I left (sometime shortly before 10:30), I realized I should have left an hour earlier -- a) because my hosts need to go to work the next morning before Jess gets her eyes fixed and b) I have to be at the gym by eight a.m., which is going to come all too soon. But, when I got home, I looked at tickets to Hawaii -- I was starting to plan a major three-week research trip to London for March, since I have some frequent flyer miles that I need to use. However, I'm starting to feel that three weeks is too long to take away from the writing, and that perhaps I would prefer to spend one week someplace sunny than three weeks trudging around English country estates in the rain. Time will tell, but I can get a ticket to Hawaii with the miles that I need to use (and for only $5 additional in tax, instead of the $150 in international taxes).

That's a decision for another day, however; now, it's time for bed!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

there is grass on this side too

I'm about as exhausted as I've felt in recent memory -- I slept v. poorly and not nearly long enough last night, and then dragged myself out of bed around nine a.m. even though I felt like death. The death feeling was not a hangover -- it was sleep deprivation, pure and simple. Adit slept even more poorly than I did, and was awake in my living room when I emerged from the cocoon of my bed to become a beautiful sleep-deprived butterfly. So, I made us some coffee (with the coffee grinder that my parents got me for Christmas, which worked wonderfully, and the french press that they gave me for my birthday a couple of years ago), and we enjoyed a cup of strong coffee at my kitchen table while discussing life and tings.

Eventually, after we both showered, we went to downtown Palo Alto in the rain and had lunch at Cafe Epi (the former Fratelli Deli, all grown up and chic-ified). He had some phone calls to make, which he did somewhere outside (which was a mystery to me, as it was raining), and I did some writing. I only netted a couple of pages today because Adit is the absolutely devil. While he may not have tempted me to drink to excess yet on this trip, he did finally force me to succumb to the evil lure of Angry Birds. The game has taken the smartphone nation by storm, and I had wisely avoided ever looking at it or downloading it because I knew that I would waste too much time on it. True to my worst prognostications, I alternated between writing and playing Angry Birds until Adit returned, with a minor moment of hubbub when the baby at the table next to me spilled a thai iced tea all over everything (luckily, I escaped almost entirely unscathed, although his mother wasn't so lucky).

So we came back to my place, Adit made some more calls, and I spent a lot of time talking to my parents. Then, I did some more work/procrastinating, watching some Jimmy Fallon sketches with Adit, and eventually drove up with him to the evil city to have dinner with the Chandlord and this kid that they call Yurkel (whose real name is Steve -- I know, the nicknames of my friends/acquaintances can be confusing, and I apologize). We picked up Chandlord at her apartment and then drove over to SoMa and proceeded to Basil Thai, where Yurkel met us. The food was quite tasty, even if it was vegetarian (sssssssss), and the company was entertaining (albeit double jhokers). When we left there sometime after 9:30, Adit tried to take us to a wine bar, which was closed, and then Yurkel suggested that we adjourn to his place and drink some nice bottle of wine that he had. So, we proceeded to drive over there, but on the way, Adit came to his senses and realized that he was too tired to do such a thing and still make it to work in the morning. As a result, we retrieved Chandlord from Yurkel's car, deposited her back at her apartment, drove to the San Francisco airport so that Adit could rent a car and no longer be dependent on my benevolence, and then came home.

And now, I really must sleep (or play Angry Birds). Tomorrow will require some massive progress (and some diligent gym-going), and as I have supper plans tomorrow night, I can't procrastinate all day. Goodnight!

no love

Other than the fact that I wrote a few pages of my romance novel today rather than taking a nap in the grass outside of Green Library, today was a v. nice reversion to college -- or, college as it might have been if we left campus. I made it out of bed, into the shower, and into some non-pajama clothes in time for breakfast with Zach (aka Pincubus). He's in town for the weekend, which is a v. rare occurrence, and so it was lovely to get some 1:1 time with him. We went over to Joanie's Cafe and caught up over eggs, then came back to my place and had tea before parting ways around one.

After Zach left, I procrastinated for awhile, but I eventually succeeded in writing approximately five pages of zee romance novel. It's not the best wordcount ever, but it was respectable. Then, Adit, my old friend, showed up around seven; he's in town for the week, and while he's ostensibly staying in a hotel the rest of the week, he's here tonight. We hung out for an hour and a half and both did some more work, and then we went to Redwood City for Peder (aka Timmy)'s housewarming party, where Zach was the guest of honor. Adit promptly stole Zach's thunder, since no one knew he was coming. True to form, our little cluster of friends formed a closed circle and stayed together through the entire party -- John and Jess were there, and Chris and Connie made it as well (rare, since Chris almost never escapes his office for such shenanigans), and so we all hung out and caught up. Or rather, we did some catching up and some making jhokes, but the end result was all v. fun. Then, Adit and I came home, watched some SNL, and now are preparing for bed.

I fear that this blog post does not adequately capture how nice my day was, but just like the closed circles my friends form at parties, none of the jhokes will translate here, and so I'm going to go to bed rather than subjecting you to the attempt. Goodnight!

Friday, January 28, 2011

battling the green death

The title of this post is not in reference to any plague that I am fighting (although my throat has that suspicious feeling that could either be the onset of a cold or the desire for a stiff drink); it is, however, a song from the soundtrack to "How to Train Your Dragon," which is the only music that I can write to these days. And, as I am working on the end of the book, green death seems strangely appropriate. This is not the end that I cobbled together for the contest that I entered in December; that ending was rather like the nests used in Chinese bird's nest soup -- overhyped and supposedly a delicacy, but actually composed of my own saliva rather than anything of real substance. Instead, I'm writing a brand spanking new ending. For those of you who are keeping score at home, I've written enough words for this book to have two or three whole books, and I'm still about 10-15k words away from the projected end of this version. Sigh.

But, today was good; I dragged myself out of bed, ate some oatmeal, and alternated between procrastinating and brainstorming the next scene before eating lunch and then speeding down to Santana Row for what was supposed to be my last spa treatment before canceling my membership like a good unemployed person. However, in an attempt to keep members, they require a written statement with the reason why you're canceling (jhokers), and I'm too late for the next billing period (double jhokers). So, I guess I'm going back one more time. This time was good enough to make me reconsider canceling; I got an excellent facial, my skin feels great, and I was entertained by the esthetician (who is going back to school to become a CPA). But, canceling is the smart thing to do, so I suppose I'll go back down there sometime soon with a written cancelation request and try to get them to let me stop being a customer.

After that, I browsed around Borders a bit (where I saw a prime example of why they were in trouble -- there was absolutely no one in the checkout line when I walked in, but there were forty people all drinking coffee and not buying books in the cafe upstairs). Then, I came home, procrastinated until dinnertime, ate some Amy's enchilada (yes, I am a gourmand), and then settled in to write. I ended up writing 2500 words (about ten pages) tonight, and they're words I feel good about -- I'll have to do some editing later, but the bones of the scene (which is not a double entendre -- there is no sexytime in these scenes!) are solid. I wrote them out by hand, typed them up, and then made some notes for how the scene I left off in the middle of ends. I also reconsidered a minor subplot that was going to rear its ugly head in the final climax, and I think I may cut it/combine it with another one -- as things stand, I think the ending is going to start to drag if I prolong it much beyond the battle they're currently fighting, so this is going to be it. Yay.

If I keep pushing hard, I should be done with this version on Tuesday or Wednesday next week -- and I cannot tell you how freaking ready I am to type "the end", even if it's not really the end and I'll have to do at least another month of editing and revisions. But, if I can finish the draft by Tuesday, I should theoretically be on track for getting it to my agent by the first of March -- I'll take a day or two off after finishing the draft so that it can cool off, and then spend a couple of weeks fixing known problems before sending it to my beta readers. And then, I can finish this sonofabitch and submit it and start on a new story that feels more like a shiny new Porsche Boxster convertible and less like a beat-up tan Nissan pickup which lacks all modern comforts (which, for those of you missing one or both of the comparison, is the car that I dream of and the car the I first drove in high school).

But now, I should really sleep; I have brunch plans tomorrow, and then I have to hit the writing hard -- I'm not taking Saturday off because I intend to take a couple of days off when I finish the draft. Goodnight!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

when a heart breaks, well it don't break even

I had an excellent day even though I didn't get a lick of writing done. Perhaps I should rephrase -- I had an excellent end to the day that wiped away all memories of the drudgery of earlier in the day. The day started with my dream self viciously fighting to stay asleep, rather than sullenly acquiescing to my field-marshal self's demand to get up and go to the gym. I didn't sleep well at all last night, which was part of the problem, and so I went into the gym on less than six hours of sleep (not enough) and half a cup of cottage cheese that I ate in the car (not enough, and also possibly slightly dangerous). When I got there, I realized that the reward for getting my muscles properly stretched yesterday was that I could do more sets/reps today -- how is that fair? So, Alyssa pushed me hard today, which left me feeling vaguely ill (probably because I don't do well eating right after I wake up) but also v. good about overcoming my dream self's desires to stay in bed.

Of course, I came home and promptly took a nap (although it feels weird to call it a nap when it was at 9:45am). Then, I spent half an hour on the phone with a recruiter who is interviewing someone who used to report to me, messed around on Twitter for a bit, and spent several hours cleaning my house. It wasn't horrendously dirty, but it needed a good dusting/swiffering/vacuuming/polishing, which I proceeded to do. Now, every room but my bedroom looks great, and that makes me much happier going into the weekend. I did take a break in the afternoon to run some errands and get groceries, and then I came home, ate some supper, and finished reading the stories that I needed to read for my writing group tonight. I also had one moment of amused delight that made my day -- my brother sent me a letter with the word 'glitter' repeated all over it, in a clear allusion to the profusion of glitter he would have been covered in if the Christmas card I had sent him had not been lost in the mail. How sad that he didn't get it, but the letter he sent me in return was worth the loss.

So the reason I was in such a mad rush to clean today was that I was hosting the writing group. It's the one that formed after the great historical fiction class that I took last winter, and almost everyone attended tonight -- including a new member who took a class with that instructor last fall and got put in touch with us because she was looking for a writing group. It was a great group size (seven people tonight) and a v. fun discussion, which left me excited and energized for the work ahead. Even though no one else writes romance, it's been fun to see what they've been working on, since several people in the group are working on book-length fiction, which means each time they present, we get to see a different snippet of a broader story. I was also really impressed by the new woman's short story -- gorgeous writing and a v. nice description of character. She also seemed to be impressed with us for having a broad age range, which I thought was rather funny, although when she said that her previous writing group died off, I think she perhaps meant it more literally than I originally took it.

Anyway, I bit the bullet and sent them the first two chapters of zee romance novel so that they could critique it. It turned out to be very helpful to get the perspectives of people who've never read romance before, since I was curious to see if they were hooked early on, if they understood the characters well enough, etc. They pointed out some v. good places for me to focus on improvements, but on the whole seemed to enjoy it, which was obviously an ego-boost. And, my concerns about how a group that focuses mostly on literary fiction would react to lines such as "Ferguson did not say anything — could not say anything. He was too distracted by the sudden, furious rush of blood to his cock." were misplaced. They didn't even bring that line up (thank goodness), and on the whole seemed to think it was delightful. So, yay.

The group was super fun, with many conversational detours into publishing and literature in general, and so I'm glad that we got together. They ended up trickling out the door around 9:30, with plans to meet again in three weeks. I'm glad that I'm not taking a class this quarter, if only because it makes it easier to spend time with this group (which I've shamefully neglected up to this point).

But now, I must go to bed; I want to go to the gym tomorrow, and I must write before I die (or, more likely, Madeleine and Ferguson die) from the lack of words spilling onto the page. Goodnight!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

thank you for your time, try not to waste any more of mine

My experiment in internet withdrawal was mostly successful today -- other than the fact that I slept until ten and started using the internet again at six, of course. But, in the time that I wasn't online, I was quite productive, so perhaps I should do this more often. Doing it more often would be easier if I could rely on my own willpower, rather than doing everything in advance to ensure that I can't use the internet -- such as going to a place without wireless and leaving my smartphone behind, which effectively felt like stepping back into the dark ages of 2005.

I shall return to the beginning, though, which involved me not realizing that the alarm on my non-smartphone only snoozes once -- as a result, I turned off the alarm and didn't get out of bed until ten a.m. This was not early enough to write, but was early enough to eat something before going to the gym for my stretching appointment with Art, who proceeded to abuse my limbs with a combination of his hands and a PVC pipe. As it turns out, he was v. good; I was not exactly looking forward to the appointment after the seriousness with which he an Alyssa scrutinized me yesterday, but he turned out to be pretty friendly (which is nice, considering the level of pain he inflicted -- it's always nice to develop Stockholm Syndrome early on with one's tormenters). But after he was done, I did a few test squats and was amazed at the results; my form was v. good, and my tendency to unconsciously lift my left heel while squatting disappeared. The final test comes tomorrow when I work out with Alyssa, but adding one or two sessions with Art every month may make a huge difference in making me feel like a graceful human being rather than a member of the island of misfit toys.

After I finished at the gym, I ate some lunch, came home, packed my backpack, and walked over to Stanford's Green Library, where I knew that I could write in a lovely venue without any access to internet. I only stayed for three hours, but I wrote seven pages -- not a prodigious sum for three hours, but the scene was a difficult one (the "dark moment" when all seems to be lost), so I was v. pleased with that. Then, I walked home while it was still daylight to avoid a) rapists and b) more important, the twenty-degree temperature drop that comes at sunset. I made myself some supper (the white chili recipe I liked from the cookbook my parents gave me), and proceeded to take care of some minor tasks that had been niggling at the sides of my consciousness over the past couple of weeks. It didn't result in any more writing, but as these were all things that needed to be done, I can't really regret it.

And now, I must go to bed. For those of you who miss the links, you can read this ESPN story of one of the Oklahoma State basketball players who was killed when one of their team planes crashed ten years ago -- but be forewarned that it's v. long and v. tear-inducing (which is part of why I didn't venture back out after supper to write in a coffee shop -- there's nothing more pathetic than a single girl who looks like she's been crying sitting alone at a Starbucks). Goodnight!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

ride off into your delusional sunset

Ugh. Today was a massive fail, and you're probably getting as sick of reading about massive fails as I am of writing them down. I did make it into the gym for my eight a.m. training session with Alyssa, where she tortured me with a variety of ridiculous-looking exercises. Then, she introduced me to this other dude (Art) who specializes more in stretching/alignment issues -- she works out with him herself sometimes and recommended that I see him, since my left side is such a disaster compared to my right side. They spent five minutes circling me and examining my body like it was a used car, commenting on my musculature and posture, etc., before Art confirmed what Alyssa already knew -- my left side is significantly weaker than my right. So, I'm seeing him tomorrow for a full session to see what he recommends -- if I am like a used car in this situation, hopefully he's able to help me increase my resale value (I'm so funny).

After being examined like an insect, I was in a slightly fouler mood than I usually am when leaving the gym, and so I messed around on twitter for a couple of hours, and then ate lunch (a salad that I picked up from the gym and brought home with me). I also did a load of laundry, since the situation (mostly with gym clothes and pajamas) was getting dire. I inadvertently took a nap, since I didn't sleep well last night (nothing to do with Chandlord!), and then relocated to Peet's for awhile in an attempt to get some writing done. I was only marginally successful; I even browsed around Borders for a bit to try to find some inspiration, but it wasn't happening.

So I came home, finally unpacked the Christmas presents I shipped back to myself (all of which made it intact), and was briefly in a better mood from unwrapping all my presents all over again. I ate frozen enchiladas for dinner, proceeded to waste a lot of time on the internet, and then spent the last hour and a half writing in my journal -- not anything related to Madeleine and Ferguson, but helpful nonetheless. I'm coming to the realization that because I'm so used to viciously controlling my emotions, the act of writing can be difficult for me because it involves tapping into all those emotions that I refuse to let myself dwell on (which is probably why I take so many naps/have so many headaches) -- and that I think I use the internet as anesthetic, since my twitter stream certainly serves to wipe out all thoughts of my own.

With that little bit of brooding to depress you, I will attempt to cheer you up with the entertaining thought of me not using the internet for the next few days. I'll still blog, and I need to check email once or twice a day because I've got stuff going on -- but I'm taking the utterly draconian step of charging my unlocked nonsmartphone so that I can switch my sim card over and stop carrying my email/twitter/etc around with me for the next few days. We'll see if I can survive it, but I'm curious about the experiment.

And now, I need to sleep; since I don't have to be to the gym until eleven, that gives me a chance to get up and write beforehand (which I am endeavoring to be excited about, and attempting to reassure myself that it will happen and that I won't just pound my head on my desk in frustration). Goodnight!

Monday, January 24, 2011

forbidden friendship

I'm v. distracted and don't quite know how to blog right now; Chandlord is drifting off to sweet slumber on my couch whilst watching tivo'd episodes of Craig, and so I am having trouble concentrating. Craig has the absolute most awkward guest ever on his show right now -- the first guest was Emily Deschanel from "Bones", who was quite lovely, but the second one is an awkward disaster. Chandlord said it would be like having me on the show, which hurt my feelings, but since she refuses to leave, I think I'm stuck with her.

The first two-thirds of my day was fine, although not particularly wonderful; I set my alarm for eight, and then somehow managed to turn it off and so slept until ten. I forced myself out of bed, procrastinated for a couple of hours, went to Starbucks and successfully rebrainstormed the scene that I'm currently struggling with, wasted some more time in the afternoon, and finally forced myself to write approximately four pages before Chandlord showed up a little after five p.m. We had planned to go see a literary event at Stanford -- a conversation between Tim O'Brien and Tobias Wolff. Tobias Wolff is a famous offer who heads up the Stanford creative writing department; Tim O'Brien is a famous author who has written numerous acclaimed stories, including "The Things They Carried", a story about the Vietnam War that Katie may remember from high school English. So, Chandlord and I ate a frozen pizza and split a bottle of wine, and then walked over to the event, since I basically live on campus.

We were approximately 12 minutes early, but we got there just as they ran out of seats. I thought that we were fine, but I forgot that the really popular events do fill up; the talks I've gone to at Stanford over the past few years have been related to medieval studies, which, as you might suspect, ain't so popular. So, we ended up not seeing it -- instead, we got coffee at the new Coupa Cafe (which has replaced Moonbeans, where we used to get coffee as students a decade ago), browsed through the Stanford bookstore, and then walked back to my place (taking a detour to swing on a tire swing). We would have gotten fine latenight cuisine (aka mozzarella sticks), but it was only 7:30pm, which wasn't exactly late.

So we got home, chatted over some herbal tea (which is really just herbal tea, not code for anything), and Chandlord decided to stay here rather than driving back to the evil city. So, we watched a tiny bit of "The Bachelor", then started watching episodes of Craig. Now, she's asleep on my couch and I should go to bed so that I can go to the gym tomorrow morning, and then write like the wind so that I can feel better about myself. Goodnight!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

in the land of truth, my friend, the man with one fact is the king

Today was a failure on the productivity standpoint, so let's just pretend that I intended to take the whole weekend off, shall we? The lesson I learned (or rather, relearned) is that I need to set an alarm if I intend to get anything done; otherwise, I stay in bed until noon, as happened today. When I did drag myself out of bed, I sat around until almost 2pm trying to motivate myself to write or go to the gym. The gym won, shockingly enough, and so I went there (meeting my 5x/wk goal) and did some highly inclined treadmill while watching half an hour or so of "The Return of the King." I'd been meaning to rewatch the trilogy for awhile, and I probably would have stayed to watch the whole thing, except I didn't want to do treadmill for another three hours and I needed to call my parents. So, I did some stretching, showered, came home, and talked to my parents for over an hour -- all seemed to be well with them, even if they're buried in snow and I'm sitting smug in the seventy-degree weather of Northern California.

After I got off the phone with them, I ended up seeing pretty much the same segment of "Return of the King" as I saw at the gym; the gym must be showing satellite tv on the east coast timings, because when i got home from the gym, the same channel was showing the end of "The Two Towers" instead of the part of "The Return of the King" that it should have reached. This is boring you to death, I know, so I shall spare you any more details. sssanyway, Vidya and I made impromptu plans to meet up for dinner in Santana Row, and we went to this relatively upscale Mexican restaurant, which turned into an expensive endeavor given that we each had a margarita, we split an appetizer, split two entrees, and had dessert. Also, the servers brought our appetizer and entrees at the same time, which was too bad since the appetizer was basically a big pile of melted cheese that needed to be eaten before anything else, and so our entrees were slightly cold. Still, though, it was all tasty; we split a chile relleno and this dish that tasted like a Ukrainian potato pancake covered in cheese and spices (which I saw as an upgrade, although Chandlord felt that it was a downgrade from an Indian dish called aloo tikki, which also involves potato cakes and spices).

We then walked and talked up and down the length of Santana Row before parting ways, and then I came home and spent the last hour or so reading about Mao Zedong and the Cultural Revolution (isn't that how all 29-year-olds spend their evenings?). And now, I really must go to bed; I'm setting my alarm tomorrow morning, since my days off are over until next weekend. Goodnight!

so long to devotion, you taught me everything i know

I forced myself to take the day off, and it turned out to be a completely lovely, rejuvenating sort of day -- one that I would not have had if I had told myself that I would write some absurdly unrealistic number of words instead. I woke up around ten, made myself some oatmeal, and then booked an 11:30 appointment to get a pedicure, since my toenails were starting to embarrass me at the gym -- I may not have the budget or inclination to keep up with all the yoga moms running around in their matching lululemon outfits, but I can try to look like I'm not a complete sloth.

The pedicure was lovely; while sitting in the chair letting some other poor soul deal with my feet, I read most of a novella (whose title I almost didn't repeat here, since it embarrasses me, but I will say it in the name of brutal, self-effacing honesty -- "The Ghost Shrink, the Accidental Gigolo, and the Poltergeist Accountant"). It's been sitting on my Kindle for a long time, since I abandoned my Kindle for awhile in favor of print books, but I decided to read it today. And, even though the title might not lead you to think this, I thought that it was utterly cute and charming. It was a novella, so the plot was less intricate than the larger novels that I read, but I liked the heroine a lot. Also, I know the author personally; she won the Golden Heart in a different category the same year that I won mine, and we sat together at the awards ceremony. It's quite strange to read books when you know the authors, which is something that I'm going to have to get used to as I make more friends within the romance community.

After the pedicure, I finished the novel while eating a sandwich at Printers Inc's outdoor patio; the weather was absolutely smashing today, so I'm glad I spent a bit of it outside. Then, I made my way to the theatre for a matinee showing of "The King's Speech"; I'd been meaning to see it for ages, and finally decided to just go by myself, since it's in the theatre just down the street from where I live and I thought none of my friends would want to go to a movie with me ever again after the other monstrosities I've dragged them to (which was sad, since Jess emailed me tonight asking if I wanted to see it -- oops).

I thought the movie was wonderful -- Colin Firth definitely deserves an Oscar for it, since he captured such a depth of emotion and repression as the man who became George VI (the current Queen Elizabeth's father). I could hear other people in the audience making actual sounds of distress as he tried to speak with his stammer -- it was quite moving. Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter were great, as was Guy Pearce as the ridiculous Edward VIII (who abdicated for love -- how stupid), and I thought the script was quite good. Of course, I could be totally biased, since it rolled a whole bunch of my obsessions (the British monarchy, World War II, reluctant heroes, etc.) into one neat little package. But I highly recommend it, even if it is one of those quiet films that you could just as easily see on DVD as in the theatre.

Following the movie, I came home and lost myself in a wikipedia wormhole for awhile, before pulling myself out again to run a couple of errands (dropping off a UPS package to return the unused textbook for that class I dropped, and buying hair scissors so that I can trim my own bangs when they get too dire). Then, I went to Starbucks and had some tea while staring a new book -- Zoe Archer's WARRIOR, the first in a four-part series that I had also downloaded to my Kindle awhile ago. I continued the book over some sushi, then came home and finished it. The verdict was that it was good, but it just made me want to work on my own stories -- which I suppose was the point of taking a day off.

So, having had my day off, tomorrow beckons, and I think I'm starting to feel the rush of desperation that I get when I haven't written for a couple of days. I'm also not feeling the compulsion I was feeling yesterday to try to get my job back; I suspected it was a passing thing, and I'm pretty sure I was right. Now it's time to sleep so that I can accomplish something less self-indulgent tomorrow -- goodnight!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

i'll show you a place high on a desert plain

I shall start by giving you fair warning that there will be no links in my post tonight; I should have gone to bed ages ago, and finding appropriate links typically doubles the amount of time it takes me to craft this drivel. I had a very odd, frustrating, surreal kind of day, nearly flinging myself headfirst into an anxiety-laced local minima* before pulling myself out by brute force at the last second (a feat I rarely accomplish). (*For those of you unfamiliar with Adit and mathematics, "local minima" are a mathematical term that Adit has used to describe my occasional depressions, as local minima are the lowest points in the general vicinity. Yes, we are dorks, carry on.)

As a result of last night's smashing headache, I didn't get out of bed until after ten; by the time I ate some Cheerios, messed around on the internet, and threw myself into my makeup and clothes, I was approximately five minutes late for lunch with Gyre. He seemed to be in good form, and I enjoyed catching up with him since we had missed one of our usual lunches while I spent the holidays in Iowa. Then, I went up to the fourth floor and said hello to Meital (Alan's admin), and we caught up on life, since I had not seen her since my going-away party in October.

I stayed just a fraction too long, getting caught by Alan and the big boss; the big boss happened to be over in that building instead of the one she normally inhabits, and so she saw me on campus twice in one week. It was nice to see them both, even if it looked suspicious that I was apparently hanging around so much (which is why I try to sneak in and out for lunch, choosing cafes that are far removed from the normal areas where the people I know usually eat).

And then I left, driving directly into a maelstrom of self-doubt and fear and anxiety and all those other negative emotions that I thought I had killed when I decided to leave my job for good. As happened on Tuesday, seeing the big boss reminded me of all the good things I have left behind -- and the fact that they still haven't replaced me means that there is an obvious open door available to me that would not be open if someone had already filled my role. Even in the darkest moment, feeling that I should email the big boss immediately and express interest in returning, I knew that I would not even be considering looking for a job right now if it weren't the job I left -- which means this is more fear-based than driven by any other needs.

Luckily, while I may not be getting any better at preventing myself from freaking out in the first place, I stumbled upon a solution -- I sat around the house for twenty minutes or so, and then went to the gym and worked out for an hour. Then, I got my eyebrows waxed (and the white hairs removed from my left eyebrow; there are four of them now, and I'm going to look like Andy Rooney before I'm thirty, which may be driving some of my anxiety), took a shower, and came home, my mind beginning to slow down from its endless processing over my fate. I then made some dinner; the cookbook my parents got me continues to produce winners. Tonight it was a pasta dish with hot Italian turkey sausage, tomatoes, spinach and parmesan, which took twenty minutes and was quite delicious.

I had intended to write tonight, but my thoughts were still too much of a mess, and I knew that if I failed at writing tonight, I would just berate myself even more about what I have left behind. So, I picked up one of the books I got for Christmas -- Patricia McKillip's THE BARDS OF BONE PLAIN, which is fantasy written with all the skill and lyricism of a gifted literary author. I of course finished it in one go, even though I had originally intended to put it down by eleven p.m.; the storylines were set in ancient times and in the 'present day' of the story (what felt like the 1920s, although it was never said), and alternated between each other at every chapter, very similar to Murakami's HARD BOILED WONDERLAND AND THE END OF THE WORLD. I find that kind of story impossible to put down, since you're always wanting to get back to the other storyline regardless of which one you're currently reading. The book was lovely -- not quite perfect, since I wanted to know a bit more about the v. ambiguous villain, but certainly good enough to release me from the spell of corporate America and pull me back into the spell of writing.

I won't ramble on much longer, but I will leave you with an observation (if only to remind myself of it when I inevitably read this post again someday). The observation is this: I realized the other day that writing is perhaps the first thing I have ever encountered (besides reading) that I do not think I could ever grow bored of. My heart is fickle and my mind too restless to stay with any one place for long (which perhaps partially explains my tragic performance in relationships), so any job, no matter how good, has always managed to make me bored within the year. But writing...there is something intoxicating about the words, about weaving together something out of absolutely nothing at all, about trying to capture a scent or a gesture or a glint in someone's eye with a few markings on a page -- about finding a character and being delighted when they surprise you.

So if nothing else, that's as good a reason as any to keep at this and stop thinking about my old job; I thought that I had stopped thinking about it, but apparently the big boss is like a sip of the bad stuff for a recovering workaholic, and I was ready to throw myself off the wagon and straight into a death-inducing amount of work when I saw her today. The thought of getting paid well and being secure and beging recognized for things which I am good at is v. seductive, v. rational, and exactly why I stayed so long; but there are other things in life that I need to do, and I'll just have to trust that the rest of it will work itself out.

Okay, I have brooded far too long, and likely lost every reader except my mother, who will now be worried about me. That means it's time for bed; I'm taking tomorrow off, since I had told myself I would take it off all week and must hold true to that promise, even though I have no plans; perhaps I'll go to the beach, or finally see THE KING'S SPEECH. Goodnight!

Friday, January 21, 2011

like indecision to call you and hear your voice of treason

Man, I have the worst headache -- I blame it on Adit. He certainly gets credit for enough other things in life that he should take credit for this one too, right?

sssanyway, today started off wonderfully, tapered off into boredom, had a brief flash of excitement again, and then ended in the pain of my pain-filled head (and if I write something like "pain of my pain-filled head", you know I'm not thinking clearly). I made it into the gym by eight a.m. for my training appointment with Alyssa, who made me do a variety of exercises, including doing squats while my face was about six inches from the wall so that it would force me to overcome my tendency to lean forward (fear of face-planting does work wonders for me while exercising, it turns out). After we wrapped up, I showered quickly, blowdried my hair (shocking, I know), and came home just in time to make a mug of tea before talking to my agent.

The conversation was great; she loves the first half of Madeleine and Ferguson's story, thought my current ending sounds good, and is excited to get it out into the market when I'm done. I'm targeting wrapping it up and sending it to her by the first of March (and to my beta readers sometime in mid-February -- those of you who read the first half don't have to wait long now for the second, if you're willing to read it!). She'll have to read it and give feedback, and I need some time to write a working synopsis for the next book so that she can try to sell them as a series, but the overall goal is for her to pitch it to editors starting April first (an auspicious day, since it celebrates not only all fools, but the birth of my favorite fool of all, Ritu Rani).

So, that's all v. good news. We also talked about the market, how she's feeling, etc.; while she cannot in any way guarantee that this book will sell, she has sold over a hundred in the past year, so at least I know she's solvent and not going anywhere. I hung up with her all eager to write for the rest of the day, but somehow managed to squander it instead. First, I went to Cafe Borrone, where I was disappointed to find that they weren't serving black bean soup today; I made do with salmon carpaccio, but it was sadly lacking in what I wanted (namely, black beans). Then, I bought groceries, came home, procrastinated by reading "Top Chef: All Stars" blogs, decided to take a break and run some more errands, and then came home and procrastinated some more. I made the unusual decision to call my parents on a weeknight to tell them about my conversation with my agent (which makes me either a good daughter or a six-year-old), and am now trying to convince them to come out and visit me sometime.

My procrastination was all leading up to what I thought was going to be a seven p.m. dinner, and since I a) can't write when I'm hungry and b) was saving my calories (I sound like such a girl) for dinner out, I didn't snack and didn't write. But then, Adit postponed dinner until eight -- and then, he canceled, leaving me to grumble while heating up an Amy's enchilada. At that point, I decided to just throw in the towel, and started watching an episode of "Covert Affairs" (the season was this summer/early fall, but I had eight episodes sitting on my Tivo that I had been saving for a rainy day) while eating my microwaved delicacy.

But then, Adit said dinner was back on, and I immediately declined (as I was already in my pajamas), and so he immediately informed me that dinner was back on for him at my house. So, I cooked him an Amy's margherita pizza, he showed up and spent half an hour in my kitchen, and then he left for the airport, wearing one of my sweatshirts because he left his jacket at a friend's house and is about to fly into a blizzard in Boston. I don't quite understand that kid, but it was good to see him nonetheless, and I hope that he doesn't freeze to death before returning my sweatshirt.

After he left, I watched two more episodes of "Covert Affairs" and really, really wished that I could have been a spy. And now, with my headache still raging, I need to get some sleep -- goodnight!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

prison breaks are organized with more efficiency and teamwork

I had a lovely day, but I was too busy to write very much -- how did I ever get anything done when I had a job? I perhaps would have had time if I had managed to drag myself out of bed before 9:30, but it wasn't meant to be. When I finally did get out of bed, I had enough time to get dressed, make some tea, and eat a snacky snack before driving up to the evil city to have lunch with Tina, who writes vampire erotica (and some v. hot stories about Greek gods as well), is part of the San Francisco romance chapter, and is doing v. v. well with self-publishing on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. It was quite nice to get together and talk about writing and the industry over sushi (and then peppermint tea in her apartment), and so I ended up spending three hours with her before heading back to the glorious south bay.

When I got home, I could have theoretically written then, as it was only four p.m. But, I messed around with my email inbox, dropped the writing class that I was signed up for this quarter, and wrote the lecturer a farewell note (which I had been putting off, since she seemed like a nice lady and I felt bad dropping her class -- but it had to be done). Finally, I decided to go to Peet's Coffee in Mountain View, where I was supposed to meet the Chandlord at 5:55pm, so that I could write for twenty minutes before she arrived; but as it turns out, she was early as well, so we just sat there in an odd little corner of the store and discussed our so-called lives for an adequate amount of time.

Eventually, though, we vacated and met up with John and Jess at Vive Sol, which is about one hundred million times nicer than the places the four of us usually go for dinner. And by that, I mean that the lighting was not something akin to what one might find in a dorm room, there were no real or perceived cleanliness issues, and there was additional clientele besides ourselves and the 3-6 other patrons staring at us that we usually experience in other establishments. And, we had bona fide margaritas; the places we go usually don't serve alcohol (unless they are the Olive Garden, whose wine lists leaves something to be desired). As usual, I can't possibly recount all of the good times that we had, including the occasional outburst of "Wamperdoo," which is one of the more bizarre nicknames I've been graced with (I think Adit came up with it).

But, a good time was indeed had. When it came time to part ways, I stopped by Whole Foods to buy a glass bottle of overpriced unhomogenized milk (I am such a poser), then came home and watched tonight's episode of "Top Chef: All Stars". The competition is heating up too much for me to be satisfied leaving the episode on my tivo for a few days, so I had to watch it immediately -- and it was worth it. And now, even though it's not quite eleven, I'm going to go to bed; I have a date with destiny (aka Alyssa) at the gym tomorrow morning, a call with my agent after that, and a possible pizza excursion with Adit tomorrow night. Goodnight!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

if i don't we'll both end up with just your song to say goodbye

Today was a v. long day, most of which was fun or at least passably interesting. I set my alarm for six a.m. so that I could register for the romance conference right when the site opened; while I've registered for the past couple several months after registration opened and had no issues, I was a little panicked by people on Twitter speculating that the conference hotel room block might sell out v. early. It's true that the room block almost always sells out and that people end up in random overflow hotels, which has not yet happened to me -- but since the conference hotel is in NYC and is a v. v. good rate for the heart of Times Square, it would make sense that the block would sell out fast, since no one would be able to find cheaper alternative accommodation anywhere nearby.

So, I woke up at six, registered, got my hotel taken care of, and promptly went back to sleep for an hour. Then, I dragged myself out of bed and made it to the gym by eight a.m., where Alyssa tortured me to the point of nausea. This was not her fault at all; I was doing bicycle crunches, which involve way too much stuff at once -- crunching, lifting alternating legs, moving elbows -- and somehow if I have to keep track of maintaining too many different types of proper form, I forget to breathe. In fact, this rather reminded me of the difficulties I have swimming; I *can* swim, I just don't like it because I sometimes forget to breathe and then start to panic (and also, I can't touch the ground, but that wasn't a problem while doing crunches). The short version is that I'm physically retarded, but she was v. nice about it, and I promised to practice breathing while doing bicycle crunches at home. Lame.

Anyway, after I got my breath back and no longer felt like I was going to faint or throw up on her feet, we finished the workout, and then I showered, came home, ate some oatmeal, and did some more brainstorming on zee book until it was time to leave the house. I met up with John for lunch at my old place of employment; they've opened up yet another cafe since the last time I was there, so we checked it out. As it turned out, the food was pretty good and I liked the ambience; also, it was good to see John, and you can thank him for harassing me into bringing back links for the names (unless you hate links for the names, in which case you should comment and outvote him!)

After dropping John off at his building, I went to the building where I used to work and had a bona fide meeting (ridiculous, right?) -- this girl Sophie, whom I quite like, accepted the "visibility opportunity" of planning the leadership summit that I planned last year (on top of her regularly scheduled day job), since the big boss still hasn't hired someone to replace me. So I met with her and the big boss's admin for an hour and "downloaded" (to use the corporate speak I've abandoned) my memories from last year's conference. Amusingly (where I'm using "amusingly" to mean "not amusingly"), they apparently forgot about the 26-page document I wrote before I left that included all the information one would need to plan a conference, so I basically just showed that to Sophie. But, I drank a diet coke there, took an iced tea for the road, and stuffed two more diet cokes into my purse, so that's adequate compensation for an hour of my time, right?

While there, I did get to say hi to the big boss, which was lovely; I haven't had a single regret about leaving my job, but seeing her again was the first time I felt a twinge of "I miss this", since I basically had a big hero-worship work crush on her, and I was trying to teach someone else to plan a conference, which was one of my favorite things to do. Sigh. She also told me that the annual feedback around communication was v. positive for the past year; I left right when the survey results were being analyzed, but I'm happy to hear that it sounds like my job may have made a slight difference after all. I also spent a little bit of time with Joy, said hi to all the guys on the finance/ops teams, and then made my escape.

So all that took way too much time, and I was quite happy to come home and write for an hour, which I did. Then, I got back in the car and dragged myself to Sunnyvale for my every-six-weeks Friendship Renewal Dinner (tm) with whichever members of my friends from the old temp program happen to be living in the area on any given week. We did it at Tolu and Kristina's new house this time, which was lovely to see; Jane was there when I got there, and Sarah arrived a bit later (now permanently returned to California after a two-year stint in Asia). Joann showed up way late, as she had a late conference call (another thing I don't miss at all). I'm glad I got to catch up with all of them, as I missed the holiday edition of the Friendship Renewal Dinner, and I'm glad to have Sarah back in the area, even if that gives me less incentive to try to go to Japan in the next year or two.

I finally made it home around 10:15, and I forced myself to write for another half hour before calling it quits. I didn't quite get to four pages today, but given how little time I spent at home, I feel pretty good about it. Tomorrow will be another packed day -- gym in the morning, lunch in the evil city, supper with friends in the glorious south bay -- so I should go to bed. Goodnight!

Monday, January 17, 2011

the atom will implode, the fragile kingdom fall

So I definitely didn't accomplish as much as I intended today, and since I saw no one other than the people at the gym and my neighbor's daughter, I don't have a lot to say. But, since that never stops me, I'll just have to persevere with this entry and see if I can come up with anything of interest, right?

I did manage to get up before nine a.m., which was quite acceptable. Then, I considered going to the gym, but decided to have breakfast and try to write first; around eleven, though, I decided that the writing wasn't going anywhere, so I went to the gym and did equal amounts elliptical and stretching in an effort to get my left leg to behave like my right leg. As that's a months-long rather than minutes-long task, I didn't notice any progress, but I'll just have to keep at it. Then I showered, got a salad to go from their cafe, came home, ate lunch over my compulsive checking of Twitter, and did a load of laundry. My laundry these days is totally laughable -- it's all gym clothes and pajamas, which is the true sign of someone who works from home.

I proceeded to squander the afternoon, although I did eventually do some work -- first, an extensive treatment of what will happen in the next scene (which is crucial, which is probably why I'm avoiding it), and then clearing out a bunch of emails that I've been sitting on for the past few weeks/months. I despise emails, as any of you who have tried to email me know, but I put a dent in my communications which was probably necessary even though it didn't make me happy. I eventually stopped emailing and made supper -- a pasta dish out of that cookbook my parents gave me, which is sort of a fettuccine alfredo, although the alfredo sauce is 10x healthier than restaurant alfredos (at a cost of approximately 30% of the taste), and the pasta has zucchini in it, which was actually quite good. I think I should add some chicken or scallops to it next time, but I was lazy tonight; still, it was utterly sufficient and v. easy to make (although it required two pans and my immersion blender, which I thought was a bit of overkill).

And then, while I should have written, I threw in the towel; I spent a bit of time preparing for my conversation with my agent later this week, and then I finished the book I started on Saturday (THE NONESUCH). Verdict: wonderful banter, but as usual with Heyer, I am so annoyed that the hero and heroine get together on virtually the last page and are never shown doing anything more than a single chaste kiss. That was an interesting observation for me, though, since I was on the verge of having Madeleine and Ferguson get together too late in the book (not physically, since they have sex before they're committed to getting married (those whores!)), and it was good to feel that frustration over someone else's book and recognize that it could be a problem in mine. So, I'm counting the reading as research so that I can feel better about my progress.

Tomorrow promises to be way too busy -- I need to get up early to register for the romance conference, train with Alyssa at the gym, possibly talk to my agent, go to my old employer for lunch, chat with the girl who got suckered (er, offered a great visibility opportunity) into planning the leadership summit I planned last year), and then write for a few hours before having dinner with some friends. The "write for a few hours" part of that is the most key, even if it's the least pressing -- hopefully I can remind myself of that fact. Goodnight!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

your heart felt good, it was dripping pitch and made of wood

I need to get to bed immediately; after the success I had last week getting up before eight a.m. (shockingly early, I know), I want to get back into that schedule rather than the slothfilled one that I kept this weekend. I did drag myself out of bed by eleven this morning, which was nothing worth bragging about, and I showered, ate some oatmeal, and considered going to Stanford library to write. But, I ultimately stayed in my own house like the hermit I sometimes am, only leaving in the evening to grab a burrito.

As it turned out, today was much, much better than yesterday, even if I did turn my ringer off to avoid any temptation to hang out with friends (not that anyone called me, sniff). But from a productivity standpoint, I felt v. good -- I wrote 10-12 pages, and typed up everything that I wrote out today and yesterday, so I'm in a great place to start the week. Now that the ending approacheth, I'm feeling really good about it; hopefully that level of confidence continues, because if it does, I should be to the end of the draft in about a week.

I did take a break in the middle of the writing to talk to my parents, since some things do ultimately have to take precedence. They were in fine form, although I'm glad I'm not there since it sounds like Iowa is bitterly cold and about to get some more snow. And, when I finished writing (around eight p.m.), I rewarded myself by watching to Golden Globes telecast that I had tivo'd. Some reward, I know -- but I am always entertained by the Golden Globes, since it's fun to guess who is drunk and who is just ridiculous. I also enjoy watching what dresses the women chose and speculating why they wore what they wore, so the show was fun even if I felt like even more of a hermit for watching a bunch of other people partying and celebrating themselves while I drank diet coke alone (but hey, drinking diet coke is practically a celebration for me, or at least my chemical-craving taste buds).

But now, the show is over, I've spent the last hour doing a combination of procrastinating (bad) and reviewing last week's progress/setting goals for this week (good), so it's time for bed.

Finally, happy one-day-belated birthday to my cousin Drewbaby -- I'm not ashamed to admit that I tend to lose track of the days now that I'm "self-employed", so I forgot that yesterday was the 15th. Happy birthday!

and as the two of us rebel and damn you all to hell

I'm quite cranky tonight; perhaps I should just recognize that Saturdays are typically exercises in frustration when it comes to my writing and plan accordingly. It seems that I get all cranky and self-loathing every Saturday, probably because I always think that I'm going to get so much done, and then when it doesn't happen I quickly spiral into a local minima.

Or perhaps I was doomed to begin with, because I woke up with a wine headache, and that is never a good start to the day. I managed to drag myself out of bed and into a restorative shower before going to downtown Campbell for lunch with Heather, Salim, Chris and Natasha at Sonoma Chicken Coop. I'd never been to downtown Campbell before; it was cute in pretty much the same way that the downtowns of most of the cities in the glorious south bay are. But my lunch was v. tasty (a chicken, avocado, and cheddar sandwich, which was much better than it sounds, if that's possible -- the chicken was fried, after all), and it was great to see everyone -- my three week sojourn in Iowa meant that I was separated from all my friends for a month or more, so it's been good to catch up. However, lunch last way longer than I expected; I got there at noon, and didn't leave until three. By the time I got home, it was after 3:30, and so I decided to take a quick, rejuvenating nap...

...and promptly, unexpectedly slept for two hours, since I failed to set an alarm. That pretty much scotched the rest of the day, since then I was cranky, headachy, and v. displeased about having slept so long, since I knew it would ruin my attempts to sleep tonight. I did managed to wrestle out about four pages of Madeleine and Ferguson's story after that (you will be happy to know that he proposed and she said yes!), eat a bowl of cereal for dinner since I was still full from lunch, and then manage to keep from wasting time on the internet by reading 3/4s of a Georgette Heyer book that I hadn't read before -- THE NONESUCH, which is one of her older hero/older heroine books (where "older" is 35 and 26, respectively -- I feel ancient). The hero and heroine are named Waldo and Ancilla, which I find ridiculous, but other than that, the book is pretty good.

Now, though, I should go to bed in an attempt to stop being cranky so that I can get up tomorrow, go to the gym, talk to my parents, and write the rest of the day. Goodnight!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

i go back to december all the time

I had another lovely day today -- whatever it is that I'm doing in terms of balancing writing/socializing/procrastinating, it seems to be working. Today wasn't in perfect balance; I didn't go to the gym, after all, which means I need to go this weekend. But, I did manage to write, hang out with friends, and make a totally kickass French dinner, so that isn't all bad, right?

I also managed to drag myself out of bed at eight a.m., which is utterly shocking considering that I had nowhere to be and no houseguests to attend to. I thought I would go to the gym then, but after making some oatmeal, catching up on twitter, and typing up the stuff that I wrote out in my notebook yesterday, it was suddenly ten a.m. So, I took a quick shower, went to BevMo and Whole Foods to pick up ingredients for dinner, came home, and ate a delicious Amy's enchilada -- the fact that I was cooking tonight made eating frozen food in the middle of the day seem perfectly acceptable. Then, I set out on my cooking odyssey -- the dish in question was a chicken bouillabaisse from one of the two Barefoot Contessa cookbooks sitting on my cooking shelf. Bouillabaisse is usually made with seafood, but the chicken dish is a) cheaper, b) easier, and c) better suited for someone who doesn't eat shrimp. I'd been meaning to try the recipe and had never gotten around to it, but tonight offered a perfect opportunity -- Katrina is allergic to both gluten and dairy, and every single other recipe I go to for entertaining purposes contains either flour, butter, milk or cheese. The bouillabaisse was the only one that did not, but thank goodness that she now eats meat -- if I had been looking for a recipe without gluten, dairy, or meat, we might have been staring at a big bowl of steamed green beans for supper.

So the recipe was extremely straightforward -- brown some chicken, create a sauce of pureed tomato, a ton of garlic, fennel seeds, saffron, a cup of white wine, and a few tablespoons of Pernod (a licorice-flavored liquor), add the chicken back in with some potatoes, and cook. But, the peeling of the garlic was not quick, and I had to finish trimming the chicken as the butcher left some ribs attached to the breasts. I also had to make the garnish that goes with the dish, which is a sort of mayonnaise (called rouille) -- I'd never made mayonnaise before and was quite nervous about it, but it turned out v. well and didn't break or collapse. The rouille was not just mayonnaise; it was flavored with garlic, saffron and crushed red peppers, and while it tasted too salty when I made it, it turned out to be an absolutely awesome addition to the bouillabaisse when it was served.

Anyway, after I finished the preparations and cleaned the kitchen, I rewarded myself with a nap. Then, I managed to churn out three or four pages before my guests arrived; Ferguson is proposing to Madeleine in a most awkward way, so I'm struggling to get it right. But eventually, my dinner party started -- it consisted of Katrina, as mentioned above, plus this girl named Kirstin, whom I have been casually acquainted with for many years but have never really hung out with much in person [note: I'm still trying to play the link game, and the most obvious thing to link Kirstin to would be a story she had published in the New Yorker, but as I usually try to grant those who are given guest appearances on the blog partial anonymity, I'm not linking to it - instead, we had an entertaining conversation about sex in romance novels, so that will have to suffice].

We had an absolutely lovely time; my dinner parties are usually larger, but it was nice that the three of us could sit around the table comfortably without crowding and discuss a variety of tings over the course of four hours or so. Katrina brought dip and crackers, Kirstin brought flowers and some mini cupcakes for dessert (for me and her, at least, since they were off-limits to Katrina), and the bouillabaisse turned out to be a total winner that I will make again for future events (particularly since I now have a bottle of Pernod that I only used three tablespoons of). Kirstin only lives four blocks away from me and is doing a creative writing fellowship at our alma mater, so hopefully I'll run into her at some readings on campus this winter.

And the whole point of the evening was almost avoided, but we did succeed in putting makeup on Katrina -- she wanted a lesson in putting on makeup, since she never wears it and so feels like she looks ridiculous when someone else puts it on for her at a wedding. As longtime readers know, I have what might be called a "problem" in terms of my addiction to Sephora, and so my linen closet actually has a shelf organized like a little miniature Sephora kiosk -- it was like taking her for a makeover in the comfort of my own home. I was concerned that I would screw up and turn her off makeup forever, but more than my fair share of a couple of bottles of wine gave me the courage to come after her with brushes, glosses, and wands -- nothing out of hand, but instead perfectly suited to her minimalist approach. I know, it was a miracle to find minimalist makeup in the land of glitter and shine that is my makeup collection, but somehow it was done, and I think that she was quite pleased with the result. If she wasn't, she surely hid it well, although perhaps she was so scared of my glee/excitement that she would have done anything to get me to put down the mascara.

Anyway, they left a little before midnight, I cleaned up (which was super easy, since I had already done all the cooking dishes before they arrived -- I basically dumped everything in the dishwasher), and now I should really think about getting some sleep. This is the latest I've stayed up all week, and I have some massive writing goals to accomplish this weekend; I'm also meeting up with some people for brunch tomorrow, so I should get some rest before that happens. And Adit is apparently in town; he castigated me for not inviting him to dinner, even though a) he didn't tell me he was coming and b) he was on a plane during dinner anyway. But, that means I'll probably have to drop everything to see him at some point, since that's what people do when Adit returns, right? And so, goodnight!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

moses supposes erroneously

Today was lovely, and almost, almost as productive as I had intended -- if I had put in another hour of writing rather than sloughing off early to have coffee with the Chandlord, I would have hit my goal. I shan't regret it, though; I had not seen Vidius Chandicus in over a month, which verges on criminal, and so going off to meet her before dinner was perfectly wonderful.

But, the day started earlier than that, of course; in fact, it started at 7:30, when I dragged myself out of bed and into the gym clothes that I had so thoughtfully laid out the night before so that I could make it to the gym for my eight a.m. session with Alyssa. I would have been on time, too, had I not forgotten that I had put my recycling bin out last night, and since I couldn't see it in my rearview mirror, I of course knocked it over and had to pick up the detritus strewn across my driveway. Bleh. Alyssa tortured me just the right amount, and we continue to marvel at how much weaker/tighter/generally *wrong* the entire left side of my body is in comparison to my right side -- so much so that another trainer, clearly bored with his adequate client, began discussing my form with her while I did squats. Someday, with enough stretching/lifting/training, the ship carrying a better left side will come in -- or perhaps I'll have a stroke and bring my right side down to its level.

Anyway, after the gym, I came home and ate some oatmeal, then went to Starbucks and wrote for an hour and a half. Then I came home, took a break, ate the leftover white chili from yesterday (even better the second day), and wrote for another couple of hours. Chandlord called and asked me to meet up with her for coffee, and so I took a break, looked at some cookbooks, and then drove down to Sunnyvale to rendezvous with her. We went to Peet's (not to be confused with Philz) and caught up on the utter lack of anything that happened to us in the last month, which was lovely.

The reason we were in Sunnyvale, though, was because we were meeting up with John and Jess for our semi-regular supper, this time at Taste Buds (a somewhat superior version of Chaat Paradise). They were in fine form, and as usual, I find myself at a complete loss to recount anything that happened there because the jhokes all flew so fast. It was they who suggested that I start including a link related to every person mentioned in a blog post, which is a great idea -- you need more useless content on this blog, right?

Eventually, we had to part ways, as all good things come to an end (including my status as a Virgo, apparently, although further research indicates that I'm still a Virgo on the tropical zodiac, which is the one that matters, so I shall keep calm and carry on). So I came home and watched last night's version of Top Chef, in which I discovered that the spoiler I saw last night was not completely a spoiler because I misinterpreted what I read due to the fact that I forgot about someone who was still on the show. I also chatted briefly with Terry, who is living the business school life and going to Vegas this weekend while I sit at home on my couch and type away on my laptop. And now, I really should go to bed; I want to go to the gym earlyish tomorrow, and then write the day away before having a low-key dinner party tomorrow night. Goodnight!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

start turning the girl into the ground, roll a new love over

I had a long, writing-filled day, and I can feel the energy leeching from my bones as I become one with the couch, so I should probably take myself off to bed. I woke up at 6:30am, after not sleeping well all night; Matt and I were both awoken at midnight by the sound of the shelves in my shower collapsing and dumping all the bottles of shampoos, body washes, and various unguents into the tub. Matt was remarkably calm about it, considering that it sounded like someone was breaking in; I was calm too, because it has done this before, although never in the middle of the night while a guest slept in my living room. After that excitement, I slept fitfully the rest of the night, and so was ready to take Matt to work (with a v. brief stop at Starbucks to get him some caffeine) before going to the gym.

I felt v. virtuous for getting to the gym at 7:30, where I did 25 minutes of elliptical, 15 minutes of stretching, and 10 minutes of waiting for a shower (which is the peril of going at a time when everyone else goes to the gym). Then I came home, ate some oatmeal, procrastinated a bit, and then wrote until lunchtime. I actually made lunch from the new cookbook that my parents gave me for Christmas, and it was outstanding; the cookbook's portions are specifically designed for two people (or one person, with a second helping as leftovers for the next day). So, I made white chili -- onion, ground turkey breast, chicken broth, a variety of spices, green chiles, white beans, and a splash of lime juice -- and it was perfect, warm and satisfying, with just the right amount to eat today and save for tomorrow's lunch. It was quite nice to make something and know that I won't have to eat it for the next week; the key with this is to plan ahead so I get the right ingredients, but it could revolutionize (or at least improve) the way I cook for myself during the week.

I meant to get back to writing after that, but with the terrible sleep I had last night, I ended up napping for over an hour. I did eventually rouse myself and head over to Stanford, grabbing an early supper and writing another couple of pages of Madeleine and Ferguson's story. All told, I probably wrote six pages today -- not perfect, but not too shabby, and I feel good about what I did write.

Finally, I went to the first meeting of the writing class that I'm taking this quarter; I'm really on the fence about whether to stay in the class because a) it's not directly useful or relevant to the book I'm trying to finish and b) my cynicism may not mesh well with the instructor's more, shall we say, joyous outlook on life. However, the readings look interesting, I could use some more practice with the issues we intend to discuss, and despite my cynicism we ended up having a pretty good discussion tonight, so I'll give it another week before making up my mind.

Now, though, I should sleep; I'm training with Alyssa tomorrow morning, and then jumping back into my writing. Goodnight!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

there's a spark in you

I'm about to go to bed earlier than I have in an age; there's an Irishman asleep in my living room (who, thankfully, is tall enough that I'm pretty sure he's not a leprechaun), and in honor of his jetlag + the fact that I want to go to the gym early tomorrow, I'm retiring earlier than usual.

I had a lovely day to start the first full week of 2011 in California; I managed to drag myself out of bed and to the gym in time for my eight a.m. training session with Alyssa. We reevaluated my 'progress' -- which, in this case, was a regression, since the past 3.5 weeks of unmoderated consumption of midwestern food (instead of the salads and endless variations of chicken breast that I was subsisting on before) + lack of exercise basically meant that I slipped back to somewhere between where I was when I met her the first time in November and where I was when we reevaluated a few days before I went back to Iowa. I was strangely perfectly fine with that -- I would have rather enjoyed the holidays than been an ascetic martyr, and the beauty of starting with her before the holidays is that, on the whole, I ended the holiday period still slightly ahead of where I was before I started. We set some aggressive goals for the next three months, including training with her twice a week, and so I bought groceries this afternoon to help me get back on track (since 'on track' does not involve any variations of Baja Fresh, the delicious head-sized sandwiches at Cafe Borrone, etc.).

After the gym, I came home and took care of some stuff around the house before driving over to my old place of employment to have lunch with Dontae, who used to report to me and is now more of a friend than a minion (even if I did skip his birthday party on Saturday because I felt too old to attend). It was lovely to see him, and we cafe-hopped, grabbing dishes from two different cafes and ending with coffee from the barista in the area where people usually wait for the shuttles back to the evil city or the dirty east bay at the end of the day. After we parted ways, I did my grocery shopping, came home, and finished tidying up my place, which involved more swiffering than I care to admit. The only thing left to tackle now is my bedroom, but it's going to remain a sty for awhile, since I need to stop procrastinating with housework and start writing.

I did manage to write a couple of pages this afternoon, and was getting into the groove when Irish Matt called asking to be picked up. Longtime readers will remember that Irish Matt was one of my closest friends from my India expat days, and we traveled together in Sri Lanka at the end of our assignment in India. He comes to California a few times a year, and we still see each other whenever he's here even though he jumped ship for our archrival last year. He came into town today and wasn't able to find a hotel room anywhere in the Valley, so he's currently sleeping in my living room on a juryrigged 'bed' made of my couch and loveseat cushions since he's too tall for the couch (or my bed, since I offered it to him and he declined). After I picked him up, we went to Menlo Park and had a delightful dinner at Left Bank, catching up on life and spending several minutes thoroughly bashing 'Sex and the City 2'. We got back here around nine, and he was clearly on the verge of collapsing, and so I got him settled into my cabin and let him go to sleep.

And now, it's bedtime; I'm going to the gym early (and dropping him off at work on the way), and then I have all day free to write before the first meeting of this quarter's writing class tomorrow night. If I never blog again, it turns out that Irish Matt was a leprechaun after all -- but given that he would have had a much easier time murdering me in Sri Lanka without ever getting caught, I have a feeling I'm safe. Goodnight!

Monday, January 10, 2011

not so fireproof

Don't worry, I'm not testing my immunity to flame; instead, I'm listening to the "How to Train Your Dragon" soundtrack while working on writing-related stuff. Someone I follow on twitter mentioned it as great music to write to, and I have to agree -- uplifting, pleasant, vaguely Celtic, without any distracting words. I suppose I could listen to the "Lord of the Rings" soundtrack instead, but that one has too much distracting high-heroism crescendos, while the kid-friendly "Dragon" soundtrack is a little easier on the ears.

Anyway, today was a reasonably productive day; I woke up around 7:30 and hung out with Terry until it was time to drive her up to the interview that she was in town for. I dropped her off and made it home by 10:15, then did a couple of loads of laundry, procrastinated for a bit, showered, defrosted and ate some chili from my freezer, and then did a couple of hours of writing (shocking, I know). I took a break, eventually made my way to the Stanford CoHo because I was craving their pasta (weird, I know, since it's a little gross), did some more writing there, and then came home and watched the BCS championship game while messing around on my laptop. I ended the night by spending the last half hour drafting an email to my agent about my ideas for the next couple of romances, my reaction to her feedback from last week, etc., and suggesting times for a call later this week/early next week. And now that I'm no longer putting off the email (only because it was long, not because it was difficult), I can focus on the writing again tomorrow.

Wordcount wise, today was shorter than I would have liked - 529, rather than 2000+. But, I reset Scrivener with all the new scenes that I'm planning and archived the old scenes that I'm scrapping in favor of the new ending that I have planned. This obviously set me back on my overall wordcount from where I'd ended up when "finishing" the manuscript for the contest that I ended in December, and it's going to take a couple of weeks to finish the full draft again, but I'm feeling good about where it's headed. Now, to focus - and if I can focus like I did this afternoon before getting distracted by football, I think I'll be in good shape.

But first, I must go to bed; I have to be at the gym at 8am to meet with Alyssa and atone for the numerous shrimp families I massacred yesterday. Goodnight!

Sunday, January 09, 2011

the return of the shrimp families

This morning was v. exciting -- it was the first time I've had dim sum in months (in fact, almost a year; according to a search on zee blog, my last dim sum was on February 21 with Heather and Salim (aren't you glad I obsessively record what I eat every day?)). I met up with Tammy and Daniel at the Hong Kong Flower Lounge, which is the restaurant that defined a several-year swath of my life, and we had all the old favorites -- har gar (aka shrimp families), deep fried shrimp dumplings, deep fried shrimp wrapped in bean curd, rice noodle with pork, steamed pork buns, baked pork pastries, shrimp egg rolls, and steamed bean curd filled with shrimp (which looks disgusting, but is one of my faves). We also ordered something called 'steamed egg custard roll', which I thought was the steamed egg custard bun we used to get, but it turned out to be a thin sheet of egg custard rolled up fruit-rollup style, which infuriated Tammy and delighted Daniel.

So, a good time was had by all (or at least me), even if Tammy did managed to get a picture of me proving that I can fit my entire fist into my mouth. After we parted ways, I came home, talked to my dad, and then welcomed Terry, who is up here for one night only and currently sleeping on my couch. We chatted for a bit, I left her to her own devices while I talked to my mother, and then we chatted some more before going out for tasty Mexican food with her three siblings who are all still in the area. Then, filled up with Mexican (which is v. v. full on top of a belly full of dim sum -- Alyssa will not be happy with me), we came home, talked a bit more, watched an episode of "The Tudors" (verdict: so hot right now/five hundred years ago), talked some more, and then parted ways so she could sleep.

But, I should probably sleep too, as I have to drop her off someplace by 9:30a.m., and then I need to embark on my massive productivity kick to finish Madeleine and Ferguson's story before they die of old age. Goodnight!

want you to make me feel like i'm the only girl in the world

I intended to go to bed an hour ago, but I got lured into the depths of Wikipedia while attempting to determine how many years someone in Regency-era England might go missing before they were declared dead. That's what everyone my age does on a Saturday night, right?

Today was a generally lazy day, even though it started remarkably early for a Saturday; I made it to Berkeley just before the 9:30am start of the monthly meeting of the SF area romance group that I'm part of, and enjoyed the camaraderie of fellow romance novelists for a couple of hours. The guest speaker is one of my agent's colleagues; she has 20+ years of experience in publishing, mostly on the editorial side, and joined the agency last year. I introduced myself v. briefly (score one for overcoming my shyness), and then listened to her talk about trends (slightly depressing, since published authors get fewer chances to become a bestseller before getting cut from the program) and a variety of other publishing topics. After making a lunch date with Tina (one of the women I hung out with in Orlando last summer, who is seeing a lot of success with self-e-publishing on Amazon/etc.), I skipped out and drove across the bridge to the evil city, where I holed up at Samovar in Yerba Buena Gardens for a couple of hours and brainstormed my plot. Then, I got my bangs trimmed (thank goodness -- I can see again!), came home, took a nap, and generally alternated between wikipedia and my notebook the rest of the night.

I think I had a major breakthrough with the end of my book today; I wasn't happy with the ending I came up with in December, since I think it's too gimmicky, but I wasn't sure how to fix it. However, one off-handed comment from my agent helped me to have a breakthrough, since I realized I was about to make the same mistake I made with my first book (which was to resolve their love story/internal conflict last, rather than the external forces keeping them apart - editors said that they wanted the relationship to resolve sooner). With that in mind, I completely redrafted my synopsis for the last third of the book, and I think it's going to be a lot better. Now it's just a matter of writing it -- no hill for a climber, right?

Unfortunately, I think I'm getting sick, and so I'm going to go to bed in hopes of staving off whatever imminent disaster is lurking in my lungs. Goodnight!

Friday, January 07, 2011

dirty bit

I had an utterly fun, utterly exhausting day, and I need to go to bed immediately so that I can make it up to Berkeley tomorrow morning for the monthly meeting of my romance writers' chapter. I was awake by 7:30ish this morning, and the first thing I saw was an email from my agent -- she read the whole first half of my book (the same thing that I sent to some beta readers in November and entered in that contest in early December), and she said that she really loves it. All her feedback was either a) positive or b) useful/doable, with the only substantive changes related to considering increasing the steaminess (since romance is trending 'hotter', and Madeleine and Ferguson do not have sex until halfway into the book, which is practically an eternity in today's publishing climate). We're going to set up a call for sometime in the next week or two to discuss the end and any initial plans for which editors to submit to. But, it was definitely a huge relief that she liked it, and I'm excited to finish it. She also said that if we try to resell the first book I wrote, I'm going to have to substantially rewrite it to match the great leap forward (in a non-communist sense) that I've taken with my writing -- which I agree with, since compared to this book, my first book is unreadable swill (as much as I loved it at the time).

So, that automatically started me off in the right mood. I messed around the house and straightened things up and unpacked for a couple of hours, and then met up with Tammy (in town from Boston) at Cafe Borrone. We proceeded to hit a trifecta of all my favorite places -- Borrone in Menlo Park, followed by Samovar *and* the Noe Valley Philz Coffee in San Francisco. All in all, we spent about seven hours together, which was totally lovely; she's crazy and ridiculous, and I adore her for it.

Driving her back to the city and hanging out there made perfect sense because I had dinner plans up there -- as soon as I abandoned her, I met up with Pete, Heather and Durand at Mission Beach Cafe. Detail-oriented readers will remember that I had a delicious rabbit pot pie there with Adit, Priyanka, etc. (although they didn't eat any of it, since they are godforsaken vegetarians) back when I still lived in the evil city, and Adit, Vidya and I had an epic mimosa-fueled brunch there (paid for by my former employer) shortly before Adit abandoned the city for the beast coast. Anyway, we had a fantastic time; I reprised my rabbit pot pie, we had a couple of bottles of fantastic wine, and generally spent 2.5 hours gossiping and catching up. Heather boyfriend met us just as we were leaving, and we walked down the street to Elixer to hang out for another hour before parting ways. It was awesome to see them; Pete, Heather and I used to do 'margaritas and pie' every month when we all worked together, but we're no longer on the same team (and I'm no longer employed there anyway), so the tradition fell apart a year ago. Pete's moving to SoCal, though, so getting together was imperative -- and for the first time ever, we actually had a piece of pie at margaritas and pie (although we didn't have margaritas -- you can't win 'em all).

But now that I'm home safe and sound, and curled up under my down comforter, I'm going to go to sleep and dream of what awaits Madeleine and Ferguson at the end of this book. Goodnight!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

mirror mirror on the wall, who's the baddest of them all

I've been sleepy for the past seven hours, so it's probably time to give up and go to bed. This morning started much earlier than I would have liked, since I had a 9:30 training session with Alyssa -- nothing like getting back into the groove eighteen hours after landing in California. It was good to see her, and she was easy on me today; she also gave me a belated Christmas present of tea and biscotti, which was lovely. The gym was hopping today, since there was the post-New-Years influx of new members (apparently, the rush will die down when all those resolutions expire around the end of January). And as much as I hate to get up early, I asked Alyssa to switch me to 8am slots instead of noon slots -- if I train with her at noon, I don't get anything done beforehand, and then it's at least 2pm before I get back to any attempt to write. 8am may be brutal (to me, at least; probably not brutal to those of you getting up at five or six), but if it increases my chances for productivity, it's probably worth it.

After I worked out with Alyssa, I showered (yay for Kiehl's products again) and grabbed a salad in the gym's cafe. Then, I went on an odyssey to do a lot of laundry and failed; it took quite a bit of time to locate and sort all the laundry I wanted to do and load it into my car, but when I got to the laundromat, there were only enough machines to do two loads (rather than the five that I had taken with me). So, I prioritized clothing, leaving towels, sheets and coats for another day, and had a cup of Philz coffee and reviewed my manuscript while waiting for my laundry to finish. When I got home, I had just put my stuff away when Katie called, and so I caught up with her for the first time in an age.

Finally, I wound up my night with a sandwich at Cafe Borrone (which I adore so much that I went there tonight even though I already had plans to meet Tammy there tomorrow), where I wrote 750+ words of Madeleine and Ferguson's story. It's not a huge amount, but it's more than I had before, and I'm starting to feel my way through to the end again. I was distracted by the people around me more than usual, since one table had a fairly loud argument about custody/visitation rights between feuding parents (with their new partners both sitting by them in silent, awkward support) and another table sounded like a Duke alumna interviewing a prospective student regarding why he had applied. So, I finally threw in the towel and made the mistake of deciding to browse Kepler's, where I almost immediately bought two books - one was a book on the thoughts and beliefs of people in the medieval period, and another was a gorgeous two-volume, twelve-pound behemoth on the history of sculpture from antiquity to the present day. You can guess that both of these are purely for research of my 'gargoyle' young adult romance novels; the hero grew up in the middle ages, and I need to understand sculpture and identify possible locations in which to set my stories. So, between the two of them (and the thirty percent discount, which rendered Kepler's competitive with Amazon on price as well as on my desire to support local booksellers), I have to v. interesting reading to do as soon as I finish Madeleine and Ferguson's story.

But that story won't finish itself, and so I think it's time for me to hie myself off to bed. I intend to write a lot tomorrow before going up to the evil city for an epic dinner with some former coworkers -- so goodnight!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

back to life, back to reality

I'm having trouble with Blogger tonight, so I'm trying emailing a post to it to see if it will all work out. Today was mildly exhausting, as I got up at 7:30, finished getting ready, went to Des Moines with my parents, and said goodbye to them in the airport (sniff, sniff). But, my flights were on time and I got upgraded to first on both of them, so I did not suffer the indignity of children kicking the back of my seat for four hours (yay). Instead, I rode in style, drinking coffee out of a real mug while reading a bit, writing a bit, and generally relaxing.

When I got home, though, I didn't let myself stop; instead, I thoroughly cleaned my bathroom, cleaned out my fridge and pantry and took out the trash, made an interim grocery list (just the basics until I have time to figure out next week's plan of cooking attack), grabbed dinner and went to the grocery store, and then came home and watched the last three episodes of "Top Chef: All Stars." I plan to be similarly busy tomorrow -- I'm meeting Alyssa at 9:30, and then I need to do several loads of laundry, clean the kitchen, and do a variety of other tings.

While I wasn't exactly ready to leave Iowa, I'm also excited to get back into a routine and tackle my writing in a serious way now that I've had a couple of months of pseudo-break. So, expect more talk of writing and less talk of procrastinating on this blog (or, if I do procrastinate, expect some writing anyway). Goodnight!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

do you ever feel, feel so paper thin

I had a moment just now (while remembering the time that a rat bolted across the entertainment center while we were watching television in my apartment in Hyderabad) when I felt like the earlier portions of my life were something that happened to someone else. And earlier tonight, while writing the last twenty or so Christmas cards on my list, I idly thought to myself that I might like to live in Washington, D.C., since I've greatly enjoyed my visits there -- and then realized that my life is starting to settle into certain grooves, and the likelihood of spending a year or two someplace is diminishing as I get older.

I've gone on (and on) about this before, and I know that it's my classic desire to run away that's fueling thoughts of new cities -- but then again, I didn't really feel much regret over the fact that I likely won't like in D.C., which is probably a good sign. I don't think I'll spend the rest of my life in California...but I do think that it will be a point to which I keep returning, even if I occasionally spend months wandering. Iowa is also that point, but in a different way -- here, the 'point' is the very specific confluence of my family and my house, while in California, it's a broader, shallower swamp (if you will) containing a variety of locations and many different friends of varying degrees. They each have their own magic and their own appeal -- and when I'm in one, I sort of let the other one slip away (which is why I tend to be an even worse correspondent when I'm at home, even though I have all sorts of time).

Anyway, today was spent almost entirely in preparation for my return to the golden state; I packed up a couple of boxes of Christmas presents to ship to California, packed my suitcases, saw both my sister and my grandmother, ate a bologna sandwich (I am working out with Alyssa first thing Thursday morning and she is going to kill me), took care of a variety of tings online, and had supper with my parents and brother (steak and baked potatoes, yum). Then, I wrote Christmas cards -- probably not the most social way to spend my last night at home, but I didn't want to haul them back with me either, and knew that it was either now or never. I did Christmas cards while watching the new Paula Abdul vehicle "Live to Dance" and an episode of "NCIS", which is why it took three times longer than it should have -- and by the time I was done, my parents were mostly asleep. And now, after doing the last things on my to-do list, I should really go to sleep; my flight leaves in eleven and a half hours, and I have much to do before it does. Goodnight!

Monday, January 03, 2011

all right now

I should have gone to bed ages ago, but I was too excited about Stanford's crushing performance in the Orange Bowl to go to sleep. It was an awesome night of football, even if I had to watch it streaming over the interwebs rather than on tv, since my parents don't have cable (although my brother did hook his laptop up to his tv, allowing me to get as close as possible to a traditional viewing experience). Harbaugh's attitude amuses me, Luck was amazing, and I'm looking forward to seeing CBS's profile on Owen Marecic tomorrow night -- all in all, it was an exciting day to be a Stanford alum.

The rest of my day was decent too; I dragged myself out of bed around 10:30 and made it into town by noon to have lunch with Hannah, one of my best friends from high school who now lives half an hour away and works as a naturalist for a resort in the next county over. It was good to see her; she came to my grandmother's birthday party a couple of weeks ago, but we didn't really have time to catch up then, so I'm glad we were able to get together before my departure. After lunch, I came home, did some procrastinating, had supper (maidrites and mac and cheese), and then watched part of the Iowa State/Northern Illinois basketball game while waiting for the Orange Bowl to start. It was an ugly game, but Fred Hoiberg (the hometown hero who became one of ISU's most storied players, played in the NBA for ten years, retired due to a heart issue, took a job in the Timberwolves' front office, and then became head coach of ISU without any previous coaching experience) is hands down one of the most attractive basketball coaches in the country today. And, er, he's doing great things to turn the program around, despite having less than ten eligible players this season. In fact, two of ISU's football players just walked on as basketball players this morning, and they were already in uniform and on the floor tonight, if that says anything about the critical lack of depth on ISU's bench. But Hoiberg seems to have great coaching instincts, and I'm hopeful that he'll turn things around.

But the rest of the night was all about Stanford, and I shall go to bed happy. I need to get up fairly early tomorrow so that I can pack up my Christmas presents and get them to the lumber yard (which serves as the UPS drop off point) by noonish. I leave for California on Wednesday, so tomorrow is going to be busy. Goodnight!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

got that glitter on my eyes

As everything that I say on zee blog gets criticized while I'm at home, I don't even know where to start. I will attempt to stick to the facts, although we'll see what I get wrong -- fair enough?

My grandmother came over for Sunday brunch; she said it was the best brunch she had had in a very long time, which is rather funny considering that we had a v. similar brunch last week for Christmas. However, this was our usual Sunday brunch fare, replacing the Christmas breakfast casserole with fried eggs and fried potatoes, and adding ambrosia even though that is usually too much work for a typical Sunday feast. The potatoes were as good as always, my father fried my eggs over easy in bacon grease, and the ambrosia, blueberry muffins, and bacon were all delish as well.

While putting the finishing touches on brunch, we got to see a big show of the circle of life. First up were twenty or thirty deer charging across our property -- a large herd, even by our standards, particularly in the middle of the day. Then, it became clear why they were riled up -- between our house and the pond, a coyote streaked by with a hunting dog hot on his heels, with another hunting dog lagging behind on the chase. We later saw two more coyotes, although it was unclear whether they intended to help the first coyote or merely witness and laugh at his demise. I've seen coyotes before, but rarely in such exciting circumstances, and so brunch conversation was rather dull by comparison.

After brunch, I putzed around, talked to my mother and brother for awhile, and eventually got bored with their discussion of various business matters. So, I spent some quality time with my 2011 day planner figuring out what I've got coming up and how I might build more writing into my routine. With thoughts of productivity running high, I promptly came downstairs and took a combination bath/nap before eventually making my way back upstairs to fashion some more pelmini before the leftover meat filling goes bad. Supper consisted of delicious homemade chicken and noodles and mashed potatoes, with leftover chocolate meringue pie for dessert -- I just sort of feel ill with all the food I've eaten over the past couple of weeks, and while I'm not ready for my vacation to end, my arteries may weep with relief at the sight of my favorite salad at my gym's cafe later this week. But, I might as well go out on a high note, and as chicken and noodles are one of my favorites, I could hardly pass it up.

We finished the night by playing two games of hearts (I won the second one, barely, but it hardly counts in my mind because it was a total fluke), and then my brother and I watched Ace of Base videos (don't ask -- and don't turn around, for that matter). And now, I'm going to go to bed -- I'm having lunch with a high school friend tomorrow (shocking, I know), and I need to pack up my Christmas gifts to ship back to California. Goodnight!