Friday, September 30, 2011

when i'm at the bar, security just can't fight them off

Today was lovely, but tomorrow will be epic. I had quite a productive morning and afternoon; I took care of a lot of emails and tings before speeding down to the south bay for my training session with Alyssa. Alyssa knows that I'm going winetasting tomorrow, and the workout she designed seemed purposefully intended to ensure that I can't lift my arms (or the dangerous, sweet nectar that is wine). Since she didn't know what a mojito was before I started training with her, she and I clearly have different views on alcohol -- hers is the healthy/trainer approach, whereas mine is the fun/Hemingway approach. We'll just have to agree to disagree on that one.

After working out, I ate a late lunch at Joanie's Cafe (where I surprised the waiter by getting eggs instead of a salad). Then I went to the grocery store, where I checked out three times -- once for 70 bottles of water (see: wine tasting tomorrow and my desire to keep the group hydrated), once for snacky snacks (because the water weighed so much that I couldn't steer the cart, so had to do two trips), and once because I got in my car and realized I'd forgotten to buy cups. After I finally finished at Safeway, I sped back to the city of sin and furiously cleaned the apartment in preparation for the weekend. I got through everything I wanted to get done just when my friend Vivi (note: not her real name - that's the glory of being friends with romance authors, since everyone has multiple identities) called to say she was looking for parking. Vivi's in town for the weekend, and possibly forever if my nefarious plans to convince her to move her are successful. So I met her downstairs, she came up and saw the apartment, and we promptly retired to the roof deck, where we started to catch up in the glorious late afternoon sun.

At some point Terry came home, who had the unbelievably bad luck to be rear-ended a second time in three days on her way home from work tonight. Needless to say, she needed a drink, so she made us cosmos and we continued to sit on the deck until it got dark/cold. We spent some more time hanging out downstairs, then adjourned to Perry's for dinner (and another drink, por supuesto), where I took an awesome photo of a man whose shirt exactly matched the tablecloth. Then, we came home, painted our toenails, watched "Big Bang Theory", and then watched an episode of "Jeopardy!" that I'd taped from yesterday. I never tape Jeopardy, but my friend Chris Fleitas was on it -- he was one of the kids at the summer camp that I went to in high school, and I stayed with him when my parents made the v. questionable decision of letting me go to Mardi Gras my senior year of high school, alone, with kids from camp that they had never met (Chris lived in New Orleans then). Chris lives out here now and I haven't seen him in forever, but I saw on Facebook that he would be on Jeopardy, so I taped it. And he was AMAZING - I forgot to tape today's episode, but he won yesterday and today for a combined two-day total of $83,000. Boo yah! Yeah, I realize it's silly to get so excited, particularly when I haven't seen someone in ages (which is mostly my fault, since I'm flaky), but I like Chris and that's ridiculously cool.

Anyway, post Jeopardy, it was clearly time to go to bed -- wine tasting is in the morning, and I can't wake up late for it given how much I've harangued everyone about getting here on time. Tomorrow will be epic, and I will do my best to stay awake long enough to blog tomorrow night. Goodnight!






never mind, i'll find someone like you

I felt quite productive today, even if I didn't write a damn thing. My mind is whirling with the possibilities before me, and I spent a lot of today getting small stuff squared away -- little things like taking care of minor email tasks, cleaning off my desk, washing my sheets, making a new agenda for Q4, etc. I forgot to eat breakfast and half of an unsatisfying salad for lunch, which is as good a sign as any that I'm back into my dark days of workaholism. If only I could run off and fight in the Spanish Civil War and trade my addiction to work for an addiction to bourbon, I'd have a much more interesting life (even if my life would be a clear ripoff of Hemingway). Funny how the relapse suddenly seized me as soon as I started thinking about my writing as a startup, rather than sitting around waiting for someone to like me (isn't that dramatic?).

I had to slough off around 2:30 to rush downtown, where I was almost late for my spa appointments (tragic, I know). I had a facial to clean up my skin, followed by a massage that I had high hopes for. The facial was quite good, and is the reason I keep going back; the massage was one of the worst I've ever had, and if anything my neck feels worse than it did when I went in. I think the masseuse must have been new -- the massage itself wasn't great, but she failed to ask basic questions about whether her pressure was okay or whether the bed was warm/cool enough, and she almost forgot to move the bolster under my knees. I know, this is the very definition of a #firstworldproblem, to use a Twitter expression. My neck has really been bothering me the past six weeks or so, and I resorted to lying on a heating pad for an hour tonight, but I may have to see a doctor or something if it doesn't get better. Yes, my health woes continue in ways that are minor enough to be laughable but chronic enough to be annoying. Sorry that I'm turning into your grandmother.

After the massage, I sat in the whirlpool for awhile in an effort to do what the masseuse could not, but to no avail. So, I left the spa, came home, dragged Terry out of the house and around the corner, and got takeout burgers from Roam. To be honest, I didn't have to drag Terry very hard; Roam is quickly becoming our go-to spot for a quick dinner, particularly since it's got the protein I'm supposed to be eating in an utterly delicious form. We brought our burgers home and watch some fine television programming. First up was the season premiere of "The Good Wife", which was good but not explosively so; I didn't really get the bit with the daughter's tutor, but hopefully the next few episodes will 'splain. Also, I'm a little ashamed of myself that I'm so ridiculously attracted to Chris Noth (Mr. Big to those of you who watched "Sex and the City" or failed to properly commit ritual seppuku after witnessing the atrocity that was "Sex and the City 2") - he generally plays somewhat sleazy characters and is, as I just discovered to my horror, older than my father. And yet for me he steals every scene he's in. Sigh. Moving on from that moment of oversharing, Terry and I finished "The Good Wife" and watched the second episode of "The New Girl". I was disappointed that they replaced last week's hilarious black dude with a new, different black dude; apparently they filmed the pilot awhile ago with an actor attached to a series that later got picked up for a longer run (per Terry's insane knowledge of tv trivia), and so they replaced that actor for the regular season of "The New Girl." Way to not even try to pretend that they wanted a black guy for diversity, since they basically swapped him out -- or maybe I'm just bitter because I liked last week's guy way better.

I stopped watching television at that point so that I could lie on my heating pad and read a book about social marketing; I then abandoned the heating pad, sat up, and started listing all the things I need to do/investigate to come up with a comprehensive marketing plan that will lead to success/fame/glory/profit (or at least one sale to someone who doesn't know me - I'll take that as a start). And I took care of some v. necessary email, and all the sudden it's one a.m. Blergh. I suppose that means I should go to bed - goodnight!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

keep the faith

My horoscope for today pretty much sums it up: "Your key planet Mercury is up against a formidable adversary today as it squares powerful Pluto. You may have shared an idea or started a project in the past few days, yet now you might feel as if your task is more challenging than you thought. Nevertheless, you feel unstoppable and aren't in the mood to negotiate. But your uncharacteristic aggression can create more problems than you realize. Take several deep breaths and think your next steps through before you swing into action."

As I've hinted already, I'm entering a workaholic mode and am already feeling like the wine bus on Saturday is going to be one glorious last hurrah before I barricade myself for the next few months/years. The last bit of disappointment over not selling my second book is slowly leaching out of my system; similar to the first book, the initial months were the hardest (full of despair and bleak thoughts and wanting to pull the covers over my head), then I went through a period of depressed resignation (not helped in this instance by my ulcer friend), and now I'm in the fired-up 'let's try this again' mood in which I want to write something amazing and take over the world. I can't help but think of Chumbawamba in this instance, although I wish that I hadn't. Granted, there are still a few editors who still have it, but neither my agent nor I feel particularly optimistic about our prospects. Amusingly enough, Jenn had just gotten a rejection before I talked to her this morning; this rejection even praised my "assured and lyrical voice" and my "feisty heroine", but said that my writing reminds her too much of another author they're already publishing. Grr.

So, the end. Or rather, the beginning. Jenn and I had an excellent conversation, and while I'm still mulling over the exact path I want to take and the insane amount of work required to traverse it, I think both my heart and my gut are aligned on the path I need to take. All of my myriad talents make me a great test candidate for self-publishing at this stage of the industry -- I have the writing talent (award-winning stories that get rejected by editors because they don't have space on their lists, not because they hate my guts), I have the tech skills, and I have the marketing and business knowledge to take a stab at it without being completely clueless. It's just taken several months to get over the dream of a glorious three-book deal (which Jenn thought would happen; she was as surprised as I was that we didn't sell) and align myself to a new, different, riskier dream.

And that was the agent chat. We discussed more of the business and logistics end and I have some decisions to make about how I work with her and what I do first, but the main thing is that I'm moving forward on *something*. And I can't express how good that feels after several months of traveling about like I hadn't a care in the world, giving myself an ulcer over my disappointment, and letting my self-doubt consume me. So if I do go all crazy workaholic on you in the next few months, give me awhile before you stage an intervention; I need some work time for awhile to get my dreams back on track.

Post agent chat, I had to urgently deal with the last details of our trip to Napa on Saturday. That left me precious little time to eat lunch, so I grabbed a protein box from Starbucks (that sounds more ominous than it is -- I don't think it's human, but it does have an egg, some cheese, peanut butter, apples, grapes, and some sort of biscuity thing) on my way to my hair appointment with Susie. I went shorter than I have in ages; while it's still long enough to cover my collarbones, it's no longer long enough to cover my breasts, and I kept being surprised when I was playing with it tonight and my hand ran out of hair several inches sooner than it usually does. It looks great, though, and I'm excited to have cut my hair-drying time by at least a third. Post-Susie, I came home, did some more winery stuff, grabbed a v. late lunch/early dinner at Roam (burgers, yum), then came home and took a nap. It was absurdly hot in the city today, so hot that it was still 77 degrees when Terry and I went out later in the evening, which is almost unheard of.

Terry's footsteps coming up the stairs awoke me from my nap, and I sprang up all eager for our planned wine bar excursion, but she had been rearended on the freeway on the way home and was understandably shaken by that. Her car wasn't badly damaged, but she was feeling a bit of whiplash (my non-medical diagnosis; WebMD would probably tell her it was spinal cancer), so we hung out at home for awhile while she dealt with the insurance company. We still went out, though, and had a glass of wine at Ottimista Enoteca, conveniently (or dangerously) located two blocks from our house. The place was lovely, even if I did horrify the host by asking for ice; I wanted it for my water, but he clearly thought I was going to dump it in my lovely glass of montepulciano. Terry and I caught up over our wine (and I stopped at a glass even though I wanted a second -- there will be time enough for multiple glasses of wine, and that time is Saturday), then came home and watched last week's "Project Runway". She went to bed, I continued rereading the book I finished two years ago, and eventually decided I should go to bed rather than reading when I was no longer awake enough to think.

And so, goodnight -- tomorrow looks different than I had hoped it would six months ago, but I'm excited anyway. I should also take a brief moment to give a shout-out to my sister, whose birthday was today - yay! For the rest of you, you also get a yay, but without the exclamation point. Goodnight!

we found love in a hopeless place

Hmm, what to say about today. It was quite leisurely, really, or at least the morning was; I didn't have to train with Alyssa until noon, and so I slept until nine, then spent a couple of hours putzing around and taking care of small tings so that I could focus on large tings later in the day. I also wrote one hundred-ish words of Ellie and Nick's story; it's unusual for me to write when I know I only have ten or fifteen minutes, but I'm trying to get better at writing when I happen to have a bit of time on my hands. I had to step away from the keyboard, though, and drive down to the glorious south bay, where Alyssa found new and unusual ways to torture me. Actually, she didn't really torture me; we did a lot of stretching, since I'm still having problems with my neck and shoulders, although her insistence that I hold a goblet squat for several minutes (twice) seemed more like sadism than healing. Still, we parted on good terms despite the goblet squats, so I suppose I'll see her on Friday.

Post workout, I showered and had a late lunch at Joanie's, where my salad was delicious but my concentration was utterly destroyed by some dudes having a political conversation (and judging middle-of-the-country people rather harshly) right behind me. So, I didn't get any writing done there as I had intended, but c'est la vie. I sped back to the city of sin, but since my training was later than usual I didn't get home until after four p.m. I then proceeded to squander some time on what felt like a useful endeavor - cleaning a few fountain pens so that I can use the luscious new inks that I got from my favorite online ink supplier. They're going out of business (boo), so I bought several inks from them on clearance, and they were sitting downstairs when I got home. The verdict is that I love every single ink I bought (hence the pen cleaning, since I want to use them all immediately). Then, I hole-punched the copy of my first book that I printed out this weekend so that I can read the whole thing and figure out how I might want to rewrite it...

...and came up with an idea for an alternate setup that made me almost giddy with excitement. I won't share it here, and who knows when or if I'll get around to rewriting it, but it was pretty winning. Terry discovered me contemplating the idea (in a way that surely made me look half crazy) while staring off into space and drinking a fruit smoothie, but I didn't scare her enough to drive her out of the living room, so I must have maintained some margin of sanity. I spent the next few hours taking care of stuff online while watching tv (the second half of the season premiere of "Two and a Half Men", which was awful, and an episode of "How I Met Your Mother", which was wonderful), and now I should go to bed. I'm talking to my agent tomorrow morning to decide my future (which is one of those grandiose, sweeping statements I love to make), and then I'm getting a haircut (which will hopefully not be another grandiose, sweeping gesture, although I do want to go somewhat shorter). Goodnight!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

sometimes love comes around and it knocks you down

I very nearly forgot to blog tonight, which would have annoyed me to no end. I can't break the streak by simply going to bed when there have been all those nights of blogging on my phone under v. adverse conditions, standing on street corners in Germany trying to pick up wifi hotspots, etc.

Still, this blog post isn't really worth anyone's time. I'm returning to my workaholic roots, which is easier to do when there are a variety of tasks beyond writing (which I didn't do today). Writing isn't something I can sustainably do for twelve hours, but I can work on many other things in that amount of time. My day got off to a late start due to last night's late end, and so I didn't get anything done before leaving to make it to my training appointment with Alyssa. It was good to see her, even if my workout had to be modified because my neck is hurting again; it's not as bad as it was a month ago when I couldn't turn my head, but it doesn't feel pleasant. Post workout, I drank a smoothie while taking my car through the car wash - a v. necessary endeavor, and one I'd put off for too long (judging by the surprise I felt when I realized I could see things so clearly through my rearview mirror). Then, I worked on my writing business plan at Starbucks for a couple of hours while trying to ignore the man shouting at his credit card company over the phone while sitting in the exact center of the Starbucks.

Eventually, though, I had to return to the city of sin to beat the traffic, a crapshoot that I got lucky at today. When I got home I tried to do some more stuff, but my energy crashed, so I took a fifteen minute nap. Revived, I made myself breakfast for dinner (bacon, eggs, oatmeal), then worked straight through the past six hours. Some of it was related to that contest I'm judging coordinating (which I'm v. nearly done with, thank goodness); some of it involved researching and picking wineries for the epic wine bus experience on Saturday (expect a good blog post in five days); and some of it involved finishing my business plan draft so that I could send it to my agent. I also did some pricing models to determine the price points at which it makes sense to self-publish vs. take a traditional deal, and the results were slightly surprising given how evangelical the self-pubbers are about how much more money they're making. Anyway, I think I'm mostly prepared for our chat, and I hope that it goes well (and by 'goes well' I mean that it gives me a better sense of where I should be focusing my efforts over the next 3-6 months: either on writing another book or two in pursuit of a traditional deal, or self-publishing what I have and focusing more on marketing and social media while writing something new).

And now, I really must sleep; I'm training with Alyssa again tomorrow, and then I need to write like mad or else I will be v. mad. Goodnight!

Monday, September 26, 2011

our love turns to rust

Perhaps some 'splaining about last night's blog post is in order, but I'm not going to spend much time 'splaining because I should be in bed. Needless to say, my Saturday took some unexpected twists and turns; I almost didn't go out at all after taking a mid-afternoon nap, but my decision to rally for Leland Tea led to a twelve hour descent into debauchery. As a result, I stayed over at Adit's and awoke in the morning feeling better than I deserved but worse than I preferred. Jess was staying over as well, even though she hadn't hung out with us until showing up at Adit's place at midnight looking for a place to crash since she had plans in the city on both Saturday and Sunday. I convinced her to cancel her Sunday plans, though (opera in the ballpark, which I and everyone else was bailing on due to precipitation and the fact that it's the opera - j/k, opera fans), and the three of us decided to get brunch together. We called Katrina and forced her to come with us, and it looked like it was going to be an awesome time...

...until we went to Samovar and my love affair with that place was irreparably damaged. Any longtime (or even shorttime) readers of the blog know that I love Samovar with all my heart, despite their occasionally bad service and their overpriced menu options. I went back through my blog and confirmed that I've gone 40+ times in the past two years (at which point I stopped counting), both alone to write/brainstorm and with friends. I had a Groupon for Samovar, which is part of why we ended up there today, but it ended up being a complete shitshow. Food for Adit, Jess and I came very quickly, but Katrina's food took almost an hour. The waitress's apology wasn't really an apology; she said that the kitchen was very small and had gotten swamped, and that we could look back in the kitchen to see how small it is (which is a terrible excuse, since Samovar has been open 10+ years and wasn't entirely full this morning anyway - they should be able to get a fucking bowl of rice with some salmon on it out of the kitchen in less than an hour). She also failed to bring us water until the third time we'd asked, which was also ridiculous. And the icing on the cake was that when we paid, she said there wasn't enough change to break a freaking twenty dollar bill, which meant that we had to break it amongst ourselves and then get change from the restaurant across the street because they were out of change.

So, I was unusually irate about all of this (note: my horoscope for today says: You might try to keep your feelings to yourself as the Moon returns to cool Virgo today, but you won't likely be able to prevent an emotional eruption. You have run out of patience and may think that you have to do something immediately or you'll lose your chance. Just remember that initiating action is easy now, but you won't be able to just hit the undo button tomorrow.). Usually I let such ridiculousness slide, and might not have said anything, but Katrina had been chatting up the owner (Jesse) earlier, and when he came by at the end, she very politely/cheerfully told him about the late food and the lack of change. He seemed totally sympathetic at first, and at first I calmed down. But then I walked out and realized that he hadn't really given much of an apologize. Nor had he asked what he could do the change the situation - if nothing else, I think he should have comped Katrina's food or at least her tea, and/or gone to get more change.

At that realization, I went nearly incandescent with anger. Samovar's service problems clearly stem from an owner who doesn't quite know how to apologize and doesn't attempt to make customers happy again, and who uses the 'zen' aspects of teamaking to excuse slow, sloppy service and food prep (their menu even says that the modern world is too hectic to appreciate tea, and that everyone should just slow down and wait). And if they stem from the owner, they're not going to improve. And, like so many things in my life (and this is not a trait I'm proud of), Samovar has disappointed me for the last time and I'm going to cut it out of my heart despite my love for it.

If you stuck through that rant, you deserve a cookie (I would give you a scone, but since I'm not going back to Samovar, you'll have to settle for a scone from somewhere else). Post-Samovar, I was too angry to continue to hang out and realized that, like a small child who hasn't slept enough, perhaps I needed a nap and some quiet time. So I abandoned my friends, came home, took a nap, did some dishes, talked to my parents (of course), and then finally started doing the work I was supposed to do this weekend. I didn't quite get through all of it, but I judged five contest entries, took care of some spreadsheet stuff, and thought a little bit about my upcoming agent conversation. The next few days are going to be hectic, but hopefully my rage will subside and clarity will replace it.

Now, though, I should really sleep; I have to see Alyssa tomorrow, and I've got a ton to do both before and after to get my week off on the right foot. Goodnight!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle wiggle yeah

It's four am and I've been imbibing some drinky drinks, which says it all. I started out the day with dim sum, followed by a nap, followed by tea at Leland Tea with Katrina / Kirsten / Simon / Adit / Priyanka, followed by a jewelry show, followed by giving Tom Foolery financial advice over a bottle of wine at my place, followed by dinner at Noeteca with Adit/Priyanka/Jav /Lily, followed by a lot of alcohol. And now I'm stuck here so I shall sleep and hopefully have breakfast with Adit and Jess in the morning. Goodnight!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

sand and regret

Today was somewhat lovely, but it has ended with a bang, so I'll take it. I got more than eight hours of sleep for the first time in several nights, and since I didn't dream of children being eaten by machine aliens, I rather enjoyed lazing about in bed for a few minutes after I woke up. I spent the morning taking care of a variety of tings around the house, none of which would be of interest to you. I also made breakfast, following Alyssa's plan for me (since I'm getting back onto a plan now that I'm here and staying here for at least a couple of months straight) -- bacon, eggs, and oatmeal, which is no sacrifice. We're waiting anxiously to see whether the ulcer makes a comeback -- so far, no strong signs of it, although the fact that I consider some small amount of stomach pain to be normal is probably an indicator that I've been having problems for a long time and never acknowledged it. I'm sure I'll have a better sense of it by next week, and hopefully it's fully healed so that I can stop regaling you with tales of my health woes.

After I took care of a variety of tings, I went to the grocery store and stocked up on the necessary items to follow Alyssa's plan for the next few days. Then I came home, put everything away, and spent a couple of hours doing a thankless task related to the contest I'm coordinating. I also printed out a fresh copy of my first manuscript, which I haven't touched in years; if we don't get an offer on the second book, I'm thinking seriously of self-publishing, but I would want to rewrite the first book before doing that. Eventually, I had to scurry out the door and drive down to the south bay to fulfill my glorious destiny for the evening.

My first stop was the gym to do cardio, as per Alyssa's orders. Post-cardio (and post-shower, naturally), I spent forty-five minutes in traffic but eventually reached the abode of Heather (aka dear respected madam) and Salim (aka dear respected ma'am sir). Heather and I had conspired to have a sleepover, and ended up inviting Durand as well, which made for a v. entertaining evening. Salim got out all the fixin's for making our own pizzas (while the rest of us watched the end of an earlier season of "Project Runway" - Salim encourages sloth, and encouraged it even more by pressing an amaretto sour in my hand and telling me to stay on the couch). The pizza and the amaretto sour were not Alyssa-approved, but the company was vastly entertaining. Salim yelled at me for eating raw dough, but we were able to get beyond that and enjoy a v. pleasant evening.

After pizza and "Project Runway" were over, we got a movie via on-demand. Tonight's screening was "Salvation Boulevard", which I'd never heard of, but we agreed to it because it starred Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Connolly, and Marisa Tomei. I have v. fond memories of the time that Pierce Brosnan and Greg Kinnear teamed up in "The Matador", and while I didn't think that this was quite as solid, I still really enjoyed it. If I start saying "aw, man" a lot, you can blame this movie. While the storyline kind of fell apart a little bit, all the actors were so great that it didn't really matter.

Post-movie, we flipped through channels, watched a bit of "Get Shorty", and discovered that "Sahara" was on (which was promptly vetoed as I put Heather and Salim through it last time I was here and they weren't about to do it again). Heather and Salim went to bed around then -- but not before the best moment of the evening (nay, my life), when Durand asked if they had any heat-stimulating lotion for his back (he's having back problems) and Salim forced him to take his shirt off and then massaged some kind of thai oil into his back. This amused me vastly, and almost made me wish that I was having back problems too.

Durand and I stayed up a bit longer and watched some Kathy Griffin, but I want to get some solid sleep before another fun day tomorrow, so I'm going to go to sleep (in this wonderful, totally lovely guest bed -- Heather and Salim know how to entertain). Goodnight!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

open my body up and do some surgery

This morning was rough; after getting less than my usual eight to nine hours of sleep for the past two nights, I felt (and likely looked) like the dead when i rolled out of bed at seven. Yes, seven -- and I know, I never get up at seven. But Alyssa and I had moved Friday's session to this morning at nine, a mistake I immediately regretted after sitting in traffic for an hour and a half. So while I was out the door by 7:45 and gave myself an hour and fifteen minutes to reach my destination, I was still fifteen minutes late to our training session. I think I only heard "Party Rock Anthem" once in that hour and a half, though, so I consider it something of a victory.

Today was our reassessment day, which means Alyssa weighed, measured, poked, and prodded me, and then we sat down to discuss goals, aspirations, hopes, dreams, etc. It was like a reality tv show, only without the yelling, crying, drinking or hair-pulling. I know, we're so boring. Since my anti-ulcer meds ended yesterday, we're tentatively waiting to see how my stomach fares this weekend, but the main goal is to get back onto a more consistent eating + gym regimen that has been sorely lacking all spring/summer due to the combo of my incessant traveling + my ulcer friend. Needless to say, it will be an interesting next few months (if "interesting" is the right word to apply to foods such as skinless chicken, steamed cauliflower, and peanut butter -- although it's really not as bad as all that, since the list still includes beef, bacon, oatmeal, and the almond milk smoothie I've come to adore). The main 'interesting' part is that the list does not include wine, tequila, mojitos, cosmos, vodka cranberries, champagne, mai tais, or any other delicious, delicious alcoholic beverages -- bad for my social life, but probably good for my ulcer and everything else.

After Alyssa and I wrapped up, I took a leisurely shower, then went over to my old place of employment and had lunch with Gyre. I hadn't caught up with him one on one since he went out on paternity leave, so we had much to discuss. He seemed to be in good spirits, even after we realized that we'd known each other for eight years and would probably be having the same lunch in another eight years from now. After we finished lunch, he escorted me upstairs (since I must now be escorted, even though my legend lives on since the streamers from my going-away party, now badly faded, are still in the main conference room in my old building) and handed responsibility of me over to Meital, who is admin to Alan (my old boss who is not the big boss, but who is one step removed from her). Meital and I caught up briefly before Alan spied me (not hard, since he has a floor-to-ceiling window overlooking Meital's cube). Alan and I then chatted for twenty minutes or so, which was lovely and made me feel like I had never left (even though it's been almost a year - shocking).

Eventually, though, I had to leave and return to the evil city. I made a v. rare (for me) mistake and put a meeting in my calendar for an hour earlier than it actually was, which led me to believe that I had been stood up. Luckily, I was 'stood up' at Samovar, my favorite place in the world, so I had a chai and wrote while I waited for my friend Grace (who, unbeknownst to me, had been sitting on the other side of the terrace most of the time I was waiting, since she was early too). Grace writes historicals, like me; she finaled in the same award contest that I won, although in a different year; and she's also waiting to hear whether anyone's going to buy her second book after getting all rejections on the first. Our paths are scary similar, so we had an excellent time gossiping and catching up on writing and life. While I love having friends who aren't writers, it's also nice to know people who are going through something similar to me, so we had a great time.

I dropped Grace off around six, came home, procrastinated for a couple of hours, and have been taking care of general tasks/housekeeping stuff for the past few hours. I also hung out with Terry and watched the hour-long premieres of "Big Bang Theory" and "Modern Family", both of which were excellent. Now, though, I should really sleep; I don't have to get up early tomorrow, but there's a lot I need to do in preparation for the weekend. Goodnight!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

i got passion in my pants and i ain't afraid to show it

Why hello, blog. My pride and my defeat, my lover and my enemy, my joy and my torment. We meet again. And tonight, as with every night for the past oh-so-many years, I must sit down and write in you. I'm near delirious with exhaustion, and yet here I am, typing into the ether, recording fleeting bits and meaningless pieces of my days.

In other words, I'm tired. I would tell the blog to shove it and just go to bed, but I haven't missed a night in months and months (other than when I was in a castle in Germany sans internet, which I don't think counts), so I guess I'm stuck. I didn't get nearly enough sleep last night after staying up until 2:30am, and the sleep that I did get was fitful, particularly after the sun came up and turned its burning rays on the Marina at an unusually early hour. While there were foghorns last night and tonight, I expect that tomorrow morning will be a repeat of today -- an early clearing of the fog so that the city can heat up to an unusual 80+ degrees.

Anyway, this morning I made it out of the house and down to Palo Alto in time to train with Alyssa (although I had to buy socks at extortionate prices from the gym's clothing store, since I managed to forget mine). Surprisingly I am still able to walk and lift my arms, but we'll see if that's still true tomorrow. After Alyssa, I showered, dried my hair, and went to Joanie's, where I had my usual cobb salad -- this time sans bleu cheese, since it doesn't seem to agree with my stomach very well. Today was the last day of my acid blocker regimen, so I should know by the weekend whether the pain is back or whether I'm healed (although healing might be temporary if it is indeed stress-induced - I need to make some changes in my life when it comes to stress management, but the thought of making those changes is stressing me out, so it might be a lost cause). And while I was at Joanie's, I actually met Joanie's parents, who happened to sit at the table next to mine. I thought they were wonderful even before they told me they were her parents, and now I feel like I'm even more a part of the Joanie's secret society (even though I've never met Joanie; it's her ex-husband Bernard who owns the place). Yes, I'm crazy.

I then proceeded to Stanford campus, where I marveled at how young the incoming frosh (who arrived yesterday) look. And by 'marveled' I mean 'grew exceedingly depressed over how old I am' and also 'realized that I've known Adit for twelve long, tortured years'. But I digress. I spent the afternoon in one of the gorgeous reading rooms, where I took a nap and then wrote seven pages of Ellie and Nick's story. I just barely left in time to make it to my scheduled dinner in Mountain View, but I was surprisingly on time; I met up with Jane, Tolu and Joann for our every-six-weeks friendship renewal dinner, this time at Sura Sushi. It's been way more than six weeks since we've gotten together; with the various travels everyone (well, at least me) made over the summer, the last time the group got together was at my log cabin back in Aprilish. It was great to see them, and we caught up for a couple of hours over a variety of delicious foodstuffs. When we parted, I sped back to the evil city and managed to catch Terry before she went to bed. She made me watch "The New Girl", which turned out to be totally hysterical and is now on my must-watch list. Then we watched some Craig before she went to bed and I cleaned up my room.

And now, my dears, I must go to bed, and leave teh blog only to return and wrestle with its hold over me again tomorrow night. Goodnight!

music makes the bourgeoisie

I should have been in bed ages ago, so imma keep this brief. Did I mention that I got pulled over yesterday? That's a rhetorical question; I looked up the answer for you. The answer is no, I didn't mention that I got pulled over yesterday. My brush with the law lasted all of forty-five seconds, which is why I completely forgot about it last night. I renewed my registration in May like I was supposed to, but I had never bothered to put the new sticker on my car because it required removing my obnoxious, brag-filled Stanford Alumni license plate holder, a task which I just never got around to doing with all my travels and general procrastination this summer. I was thirty seconds away from my off-ramp to see Alyssa yesterday when I got pulled over. The cop strolled up to my passenger side and I already had my registration out and was looking for my insurance card. As soon as he saw the registration he asked why I hadn't put it on yet; after I mumbled something about my own laziness, he just handed it back to me, told me not to forget again, and walked away without checking my insurance, license, or anything else. Yay for being an unthreatening white female in an unthreatening RAV4.

Today wasn't nearly as eventful. I did go to the gym, where I climbed 60+ flights of stairs on the treadmill while reading a contest entry that I needed to judge. That left me with such a sour taste for contest entries that I spent much of the rest of the day procrastinating, doing some social media stuff (hey, it's my job, etc). I finally finished reading contest entries around 7:30 or 8, watched some television with Terry, and then started typing up score sheets and feedback. And that's why I'm still up at 2:23 in the morning -- each entry was 50+ pages, and I had a lot to say. Sigh. At least I'm done, though, so I can move on with my life (or start judging the other contest that is due this weekend).

And that, my friends, is all she wrote. Goodnight!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

we used to kiss all night, now it's just a bar fight

Man, I'm sleepy - I intended to go to bed ages ago. Instead, I finally wrote a blog post (on grieving and the Regency) for zee romance blog. I've been sitting on the topic for months and couldn't let it go, and for some reason it stalled all posting because I couldn't get it out of my head.

I'm glad I finally wrote it, though. After training with Alyssa this morning (which was good - she gave me some silicone egg poaching thingies, which was super nice of her), I went to Joanie's and made some notes while eating a cobb salad. The notes were an initial list of all the things I would need to do to self-publish Madeleine and Ferguson (and Amelia and Malcolm, although that book (my first) will require rewrites). We're still waiting to hear back from several publishers, any one of whom might make an offer -- but it's been five months, and if I'm going to self-publish, I want to get at least one of the books out before the holiday season. In that event, though, I'll need to work my ass off the next few months to do all the technical elements (formatting, editing, getting cover art, cover copy, blurbs, etc.), and I'll also need to write and implement a hardcore marketing plan to drive sales. That means things like zee romance blog can no longer sit off on the sidelines, and I need to get cracking if I'm going to do this.

Post-glorious-south-bay, I drove back to the city of sin, where it was almost ninety degrees (shocking). Luckily my living room was relatively cool, so I made some chai (not cool, but maybe the heat was making me miss India) and alternated between procrastinating and writing some more of the rough draft of Nick and Ellie's story. I netted close to four pages - not a bounteous number, but given how hard this story has been, I'll take it. Terry eventually got home and we watched some fine CBS programming (yes, I'm turning into my parents). I was tivo'ing the season premiere of "How I Met Your Mother", and then we watched the season premiere of "Two and a Half Men" out of morbid curiosity to see how they incorporated Ashton Kutcher. I was pretty unimpressed; I actually liked Ashton Kutcher, but I'm about five seasons past the point where I got tired of Alan (Jon Cryer's character) being such a money-obsessed sadsack, so I doubt I'll watch (until I go home for Thanksgiving and happen to catch it with my parents, of course). We also watched part of "Two Broke Girls" (my jury is out on that one, but it's more promising than I expected), and the first five minutes of "The Playboy Club" on NBC (I predict it will die a quick, unlamented death).

All of that was procrastination from finishing the contest I'm supposed to be judging, and I continued to procrastinate by writing a blog post. Maybe I should judge contests all the time, since I get so much other stuff done when I'm avoiding the entries. That just means I'll have to finish tomorrow (the absolute deadline day), in addition to the other stuff I want to accomplish in the morning. C'est la vie, I suppose. Goodnight!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

the violent bear it away

Today was lovely, and perhaps by tomorrow I shall be recovered by my Friday night reading binge and the subsequent disruption to my sleeping patterns. Terry and I hosted book club today; technically it was Terry who was hosting, but since we share an apartment, it behooves us to help each other with such endeavors. She made potatoes, cut up a variety of fruits, made oatmeal, and bought some pound cake at the Marina farmers' market; I made the eggs and expanded our baked goods offering by buying some brioche bread, an apple turnover, and an awesome almond croissant (which I wish I didn't now know was awesome, since I'll want it all the time) from La Boulange (rather than baking my planned cake, since I decided not to bother getting up early and driving to every grocery store in the city looking for canned blueberries). We also went through two bottles of champagne for mimosas, which explains the hour-long nap I had to take in the middle of the afternoon.

Lauren (aka Subz), Katrina and Chandlord (aka Vidius Chandicus) all showed up right on schedule, and we carried our food and libations up to the roof deck, where we held our book club in the intense sun of San Francisco's always-late-to-the-party summer. Now that I'm psychologically getting ready for fall, it's of course 75 degrees and brilliantly sunny outside, and will likely remain that way through the end of October. I shouldn't complain, particularly since the whole summer here was cold and unusually rainy, but still -- I actually got a bit of a sunburn on my chest, which is crazy for how close we are to the equinox.

The book club itself, centered on THE HELP, was v. enjoyable. We all seemed to really like the book (except for Vidya, who, ahem, watched the movie instead -- in her defense, she thought she wasn't going to be able to make it), and were all mildly surprised that we had liked it, since we didn't expect much out of it when we picked it. So, if any of you are interested in women's fiction/historical fiction with a lot of social commentary, an interesting Southern setting, or a lot of entertaining insight into the utterly destructive social warfare women wage against each other, I recommend it!

After we finished discussing the book, we adjourned downstairs to get out of the sun. Subz left at that point to pick up Nathan, but the rest of us sat around and watched some "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" -- clearly we are v. highbrow. Katrina and Chandlord escaped when the episode ended, and I took a nap to recover from the ravages of two mimosas (avoiding alcohol due to my ulcer has made me an utter lightweight). Post nap, I returned to the roof deck and talked to my parents for an hour or so, as per usual on Sunday. Then, I attempted to work, but instead got sucked into watching the Emmys, followed by an episode of "Mad Men" with Terry -- I'd seen that episode when I lived with Adit, and it's one of my all-time faves since a secretary accidentally cuts off a dude's foot with a riding lawn mower. I know, I'm not a nice person.

And now, I suppose I should sleep -- I need to force myself through the difficulties I'm having with both in-progress manuscripts this week, and that means I need sleep so that I can wake up and focus. Goodnight!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

stella maris

I'm tired, but no more tired than I deserve given how late I stayed up last night (this morning) and how fitfully I slept in the sunlight. After going to bed at 5:30, I slept well until about nine, and then dozed off and on until noon. I don't know why, but for some reason every time I want to sleep in it's actually sunny in the morning here, rather than the usual fog until eleven or so, and today was no exception. I put my face mask on, but it wasn't a perfect solution, and so I finally rolled out of bed feeling groggy and completely wiped out. So I spent the afternoon puttering around the house; I emptied the dishwasher, cleaned off the patio table, played around online, drank some strong tea in an effort to revive myself, took a shower to revive myself further, etc. Terry and I are having people over tomorrow morning, so in the late afternoon we went to the grocery store to stock up on necessary ingredients. Unfortunately we went to two grocery stores and couldn't find a can of blueberries for my blueberry coffee cake anywhere, which was super annoying. So, I'm going to get up tomorrow and try the Whole Foods across town; if they don't have blueberries, I'll either whip up a lemon cake instead or buy muffins and tell everyone to suck it. Aren't I a charming and gracious host?

After the grocery store, we came home and watched some football for an hour or so (or rather, Terry watched football and I sort of half paid attention while messing around online and talking to my brother) -- I had to cheer for Oklahoma over Florida State, even though Iowa State likely won't be in the same conference as the Sooners for all that much longer. Then we walked down the street and grabbed burgers and an order of sweet potato fries at Roam, which was totally delicious. We made it home just in time for the Stanford/Arizona game, which looked closer than I would have liked at the beginning, but turned into a v. comfortable almost-blowout by the end. Terry went to bed at the beginning of the second half, but I watched the rest of the game while reading entries for a romance contest I'm judging; I still have three more entries to go (for that contest - plus another 5-6 for a contest due next weekend), but at least I read a few of them.

And now, I suppose I should sleep, even though my groaning bookshelves are beckoning me and asking me to read something like I did last night. I shall resist (I think). Goodnight!

lie down in darkness

This is the latest I've stayed up (and, consequently, the latest I've blogged) in an age -- and I'm not even drunk, so good for me. I had a mostly lovely day; the middle portion of it was dominated by meeting up with Nathan at his newest startup and participating in a user behavior interview, which basically meant that I got to talk about myself for two hours (my favorite subject!) and I got a whole sandwich as compensation. Yay. It was actually fun, even if my description sounded sarcastic. While I love writing (some days) and publishing (...even fewer days), there is a part of me that misses the speed and excitement (and compensation) of the tech world, so it was fun to see an early startup in action.

After my interview ended, I came home, spent some quality time eating the second half of my sandwich and staring off into space, and then forced myself to work on zee gargoyle book. It was slow going trying to fight my way back into it, since it's been several days since I've written anything. I finally took the unusual approach of lying on my bed, on my stomach, with my head buried in a pillow and my arms stretched in front of me, typing blind. That prevents my internal editor from going crazy with the criticism and self-loathing ("you used that tired, cliched metaphor to describe her? ugh! you are such a poser, etc., etc."). I managed to get almost four pages out that way before the air was getting too stale in my pillow prison; when I came up for air, I started fixing typos, then I started despairing, and then Terry came home and rescued me from my despair. But upon rereading some of it later, it's actually not that bad, and at least I'm four pages further along than I was -- so yay for beating my internal editor into submission, if only for a couple of hours.

Once Terry got home, we decided to order dinner, so we picked it up from Blue Barn (a salad and sandwich place that is oh-so-very Marina), brought it back, and watched last night's "Project Runway" (verdict: Oliver is pretty much the worst, since he bitched about having to dress a real woman who has breasts, particularly because she actually tried to give input on the dress he was designing for her and he didn't want her to talk). The whole episode was pretty entertaining, though, even if I feel pretty lukewarm about the designs by most of the contestants and don't think the style level matches some of the previous seasons. After watching "Project Runway", we watched an episode of "Bones", since Terry still wants me to get caught up before the new season starts (probably a losing proposition, since I'm just now at the end of season two and we have four or five more to go before November -- and I'm not really a tv person). After that, it was ten p.m. and I intended to check my email, reread my gargoyle stuff a bit, and go to bed.

But I wasn't quite tired yet, and I needed to read THE HELP before Sunday morning -- we're having book club, and Terry picked that as this session's book because she'd accidentally bought it on her Kindle. So I downloaded the book and thought I'd read a couple of chapters before going to bed. And of course, as always happens with me, I read the whole damn thing. I was surprised at how much I liked it, although now I wonder how they made it into a movie since it's not the loudest story out there. It was certainly v. interesting to me from a storytelling/craft standpoint too, although those aren't topics that I usually discuss at bookclub. And it made me wonder, just a little, if I should be writing the book of my heart about southern Iowa, although I'm not sure about the angle that I would take into that story or whether I could go home after I told it. But maybe that's me not being brave enough...or recognizing that I don't have the talent for it...or just acknowledging that it's more fun to write romance and YA and leaving it at that.

sssanyway, enough brooding over my future writing career for tonight (or rather, this morning)...and enough parentheses, too. Goodnight!

Friday, September 16, 2011

so i can be your backseat driver

I awoke this morning exhausted and tense, sweating from dreams of death and destruction. I don't know why my nightmares are almost always apocalyptic in nature (actually, I do know why -- if you read about supervolcanoes and megatsunamis and mass extinctions, etc., and are generally a stress case, it's bound to happen). But I had three unrelated nightmares in a row, which is v. rare for me. The first involved being on a plane that couldn't land and was being escorted by fighter jets -- although to be fair, the real nightmare in that situation was that I was late checking in on Southwest and almost got stuck with a middle seat (trauma!). The second was the worst of the three, and one I've actually had before -- I was standing on a barren plain, with rubbish and ash all around, and a child was playing in front of me. He picked up a bone and tried blowing into it like it was a whistle, but no sound came out. Or rather, a sound that I couldn't hear came out -- because it attracted hordes of these awful machine-like aliens who scuttled across the landscape and ate the fucking kid right in front of me. Ugh. The third dream involved holing up in an apartment while the apocalypse raged outside; for some reason Bruce Willis was there, but he promptly escaped and left me to my own devices. And for some reason I had to help an old woman find her blood pressure meds. Weird all around.

So after those visions, the rest of the day pretty much paled in comparison. I drove down to train with Alyssa and was almost fifteen minutes late due to traffic; luckily, this is the last time I'm training at 10am, and we're switching to 11am next week, which should improve the traffic situation. (side note: I've had multiple discussions with people about how easy I am to track via the blog, so if I disappear, check the IP logs). She punished me appropriately, and I had to do step-ups onto the tallest step they have in the gym -- easy peasy for most people, but I'm short enough that the tallest step is slightly taller than my knee joint, which makes for a steep step indeed. Doing that 60-80 times on each leg means I'm going to dislike stairs tomorrow, but I suppose it's all useful if I end up having to run from the apocalypse someday (if the apocalypse consists mostly of small machines that can be thwarted by climbing some stairs).

Post workout, I messed around with my hair, then had a long lunch at Sprout in downtown Palo Alto, which I haven't been to in months. After eating my salad, I went to Stanford campus, where I stood in an unnecessarily long line at the post office to mail something, then went to the library and wrote for awhile. Or, to be fair, I took a nap for an hour, and then wrote for awhile. I've returned to Ellie and Nick's Regency story, if only temporarily, and wrote approximately four pages -- not bad for the amount of time I had and the fact that I've callously ignored them for two months. Then I left the library and met up with Heather (aka dear respected madam) and Elizabeth (another old coworker) for dinner at the Counter; I hadn't seen Elizabeth in months, and Heather and I have barely seen each other because of my travels this summer, so it was great to catch up. Heather and I did subject Elizabeth to an intense discussion of THE DARK ENQUIRY, which we both recently read, but other than that we were on good behavior. Post-dinner, I went to Heather's car to grab a bag of books I'd loaned her, and then ended up sitting in her car for another hour discussing books, etc., which was nice as nice could be.

By then it was already after eight o'clock, and I'd told Katie I would call her half an hour before that. I tried to call her, but she was on the phone, so I got gas, ran to Starbucks, worked on the story a little bit, and waited for her to call back. I was just about to give up when the call came in, and we ended up catching up for forty-five minutes or so -- it's too bad that they moved to Denver instead of San Francisco, since I doubt I'll be able to convince them to move here now that they've discovered that they like Denver, but at least I can visit them in a much cooler city than Dallas (no offense to the Texans out there). After our call, it was 9:30pm, and so I hightailed it home, where I had a scant forty minutes to unwind before getting in the car again and picking up Terry at the airport. She's been safely retrieved from Fashion Week (that bitch), and so I expect we'll do a lot of catching up this weekend.

And now, my dear readers, I must go to bed; the writing actually went half okay today, when I ignored the fact that I had no idea where I was going with the scene I was writing, so hopefully I can get into it again tomorrow. Goodnight!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

if you find a man who's worth a damn and treats you well...then he's a fool

Today was one of those days that I would normally beat myself up about, but I'm trying to stop being so self-critical (see: ulcer), so let's recognize the positives. I spent several hours thinking about writing, even though I didn't actually write; I'm brainstorming for the future and exchanged a couple of long emails with my agent about the subject, so the brainstorming I did today was v. necessary. I also took care of a variety of household tasks, such as taking out the trash, paying my bills, tidying up the living room and kitchen, cooking chicken for the next few days, and prepackaging the ingredients for five days' worth of fruit smoothies (which is what Alyssa wants me to eat post-workout -- before you think that's a rather high-calorie low-return food, the smoothie is made of berries, half a banana, a cup of almond milk (blasphemy), and a scoop of whey protein, with no tasty yogurt or ice cream in sight). And, I had a conference call re: the awards ceremony I'm planning for next year's romance conference, which went quite well, so the day wasn't an utter wash.

It would be nice to go to bed feeling like I'd been more productive than I was, but I'll try to be happy with what I did do. Tomorrow looks to be busy -- I'm training with Alyssa, and then I'm going to squeeze in some writing time before having dinner with dear respected madam. Terry comes home sometime tomorrow night too, so I'm sure this weekend will involve some fun catching up. And now, after the most boring blog post in recent memory (I blame my stomach, which hurts, which is another reminder to stop stressing about my productivity levels), I'm going to bed. Goodnight!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

let it all unfurl into broken remnants

This book is slowly killing me. Emphasis on 'slowly' - the writing is coming out in torturous little bursts of breath between endless, drowning silences. At least it came out at all today; I wrote four pages, expending enough mental energy that it felt like forty...but the wordcount doesn't lie. It's not that I stopped caring about the story - it's quite possible that I care too much, and that I'm putting too much pressure on the story, which always results in trouble. It's also possible that I just don't know what the hell I'm doing, but I'm trying to push through regardless. If I can just get through the next twenty thousand words or so I should get to smoother waters, but the next couple of weeks aren't going to be pleasant.

Today wasn't all struggle -- or rather, upon reflecting on that statement, the other struggles were at least more fun. I picked up Tammy and dragged her to Millbrae for our usual dim sum pilgrimage, where we waged glorious war upon dozens of shrimp families, annihilating them with no casualties on our side. The shrimp families came in successive waves of different formations: shrimp noodle, shrimp in bean curd, shrimp dumpling, and shrimp in bean curd, with help from their allies (barbecue pork bun and egg custard tart), but they were no match for our appetites. As usual Tammy and I had a delightful time talking about life, love and "Project Runway", but all good things must end. So, I dumped her off in the city, spent a glorious half hour buying some more looseleaf tea at Samovar (since I was totally out of my staple black tea and was going through withdrawal) and a few of the pens I adore from the Japanese stationery store in the downtown mall, and then came home to write.

You know about the writing already. Around six I made the unusual decision to go to the downtown Equinox to work out; I've never used the city Equinox before since the parking situation is dicey, but Alyssa and I thought it would be a good idea to try it and see whether I'm more likely to go to that gym, go to the yoga studio near my house, or do my own outdoor workouts. So, she got me a week-long guest pass to the city gym starting today, and I decided to check it out. The gym is v. weird compared to the one I'm used to in Palo Alto; because space is at even more of a premium in the financial district than it is down south, the gym is on three levels and the ceilings are a lot lower, which makes it feel a bit more cramped (although it didn't help that I got there for the evening rush). It may also be weird because they built it in the former Pacific Coast Stock Exchange and put the locker rooms in the vault -- nice idea, although it felt rather, er, vaulty. However, I was able to park on the street for free and didn't have to wait for a treadmill or a shower, so it wasn't bad. I'll try it again tomorrow during the day and see how the parking/workout situation plays out, but it may all work out just fine.

After the gym, I came home and was lured into my neighbor's apartment; he said that he had just made some jam and asked if I wanted a jar. This is weird in comparison to all my other California experiences where the neighbors never acknowledged each other, but I've talked to him quite a bit in the garage, stairwell, etc., and since he grew up in rural Minnesota several decades ago, I think he has more of the midwestern hospitality than most people I know. Anyway, he showed me his apartment, which is truly gorgeous -- and they have a library with a hidden liquor cabinet, which is pretty much my dream come true. After we said our farewells, I came upstairs, wrestled with the story some more, and eventually put it away to take care of some other tings. And now, my dears, I must go to sleep -- goodnight!

say goodbye to the world you thought you lived in

I trained with Alyssa today; this week is in transition, but we're moving towards a Monday/Wedneday/Friday schedule, which I think will be lovely. Even lovelier is that it's an 11am slot instead of a 10am, which means traffic is less of an issue, which makes me a happy camper. Our workout today was great, although I thought my left glute was strangely sore; I later discovered that I have a large bruise on my ass which I am at a complete loss to explain, so I guess my birthday was a good one!

sssanyway, after working out, I took the fastest shower ever, barely dried my hair, and sped over to my old place of employment to have lunch with Gyre, Lizzie and Tolu. Lizzie doesn't work there anymore either, and in fact lives in Seattle, but it was as good a place as any to meet. I hadn't seen Gyre since he left on paternity leave, and I hadn't seen Tolu in almost as long, so it was v. nice to catch up. After lunch, I came home, bought some groceries (berries and meat, which isn't code for anything), and proceeded to spend the rest of the day consuming content rather than making it.

I need to get back into the non-gargoyle series, but instead I watched last season's finale of "The Good Wife" -- I'd tivo'd it in May and never gotten around to watching it, but I needed to catch up before the new season starts. The verdict is that I need to start watching this show obsessively, since it's incredibly well plotted, paced, and acted. After watching tv, I read an entire romance novel, which sadly didn't satisfy me quite as much as I had hoped. It's weird that I actually know authors now on a more personal level; this book was written by someone I know and have hung out with a bit, and while I thought it was good, I didn't love it. That made me sad, and also made me realize how awkward it will be for the people I know who decide to read my book and don't actually like it. Sigh.

But even though this blog post is boring and you, dear reader, deserve better than that, I'm going to go to bed. I don't have to go all the way to the south bay tomorrow, but I am having dim sum with Tammy, so hopefully I can do some writing before and/or after eating enough shrimp families to put myself in a coma. Goodnight!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

i wish i knew another way, but we're gonna have to clone you

My birthday is almost over. If you had talked to me this morning I would have said that I couldn't wait, since I was in a truly foul mood when I awoke (the spins always do that to me, and my hangover was compounded by incessantly mournful 9/11 coverage that made me want to stab myself in the face). But after the events of this evening, all is well with the world again, my faith is restored, and I think I'm ready to face my thirties with happiness (or, at least, fairly positive resignation).

So as I said, I awoke with a hangover (deserved), with birthday confetti all over the floor and too much alcohol-induced dizziness to do much about it. The hangover led me to try sitting quietly in one place as a cure, but I should have gone downstairs and watched something/anything mindnumbing rather than reading 9/11 coverage online. The mistake was made, however, and as a result I was less excited about my birthday than I ever have been in my entire life (the original 9/11 included, since I at least had eight hours of that day before I heard about the towers, even though I slept through most of that time). But, I rallied and dragged myself downstairs, where I opened the cards and presents I'd been stockpiling for the last couple of days. My parents sent me two cards (one funny, one maudlin with glitter - my favorite things!), my brother sent me a hilarious handmade card, and my mom's sister sent me a card as well. And I opened the presents from my parents; they got me two Barefoot Contessa cookbooks (I *adore* her and have never been failed by one of her recipes), an awesome cookbook/bible about breadmaking, and a microplane cheese grater since I was v. jealous of Adit and Priyanka's cheese grater when I helped them cook dinner at their place a few weeks ago. The presents were all individually wrapped so that it was even more exciting, if it's possible to feel excitement when one is sitting alone in her apartment during a national day of mourning.

But I will stop being melodramatic. Even though I wanted to cook to make people happy, and even though there are now a ton of Barefoot Contessa recipes I want to try, I decided that I would order pizza for dinner tonight so that I wouldn't have to slave away over cooking, serving, and doing dishes on my birthday. So there wasn't much that I needed to get ready, although I did tidy up a bit, get out extra chairs from the storage closet, etc. I also baked my own cake -- funfetti cake with rainbow chip frosting, which somehow manages to taste so danged good even though it's probably mostly chemicals. I baked it in two round pans and frosted it as a layer cake, perched atop the pedestal cake plate I got from my aunt's wedding, and it was awesome if I do say so myself. I also panicked at the last minute and ran to the corner store to get some appetizer type stuff, which may not have been wholly necessary but was certainly better than everyone sitting around awkwardly waiting for the pizza to arrive.

However, there was v. little awkwardness (and what awkwardness there was was awesome and hilarious, particularly since I thrive on awkward situations). John and Jess were the first to arrive, and we spent a few glorious minutes up on the roof deck before other people started trickling in. Katrina was the next to arrive, followed shortly by Nathan and Lauren (aka Subz, my friend who bridges the googler expat circle and the Stanford group with me), who brought a bottle of wine and a dozen roses (yay). Chris Boyd got horribly stuck in traffic, but got there eventually, and we all had a v. v. lovely evening -- and we even had a lovely evening after Adit showed up three hours late, so it was all good The pizza was a success, and since one of my goals for this year (more on that in a moment) is to be kinder to myself about not meeting every single goal and accept that I can't please everyone, ordering pizza instead of cooking was the way to go.

There were so many great memories from dinner that I can't record them all, but suffice it to say that the group was well balanced and quite entertaining. The one memory I will share is of Lauren and Nathan grilling me on my favorite memories from this year and my goals and plans for next year, which is a surprisingly intimidating question that they pull out in every party they go to. And now I really should go to bed; Alyssa awaits, followed by lunch plans, followed by some serious writing timeline. Goodnight!

everybody's looking for something

"Happy birthday" confetti litters the floor and my ears are ringing like a thousand strippers just tried to shout sweet nothings into them. Yes, it's my birthday, terrorists be damned. On the radio this morning, when I was driving to Berkeley at the ungodly hour of 8:30 a.m., the DJ said that "this is not just about remembering, it's about not forgetting." Pardon me for laughing at your sentiment, DJ, but isn't that just a trifle ridiculous?

sssanyway, I awoke early this morning to go to the monthly Romance Writers of America meeting in Berkeley. The meeting was v. excellent; the speaker was a member of Scribd, an online file sharing site that is being used heavily for excerpts, and I'm dreaming of all the ways I can effectively utilize them. I also got to see my friend Grace, who hasn't been to a meeting in awhile, which was lovely -- we're going to get together for dinner in the next couple of weeks, and I'm v. much looking forward to that. Then I drove back to the city of sin, where I met up with Oniel, Kathryn, and Obaby (whose legal name is Cole, but really, who cares?) for a late brunch. I was v. v. honored that they brought their incredibly cute three-week-old baby into the evil city for a birthday brunch with yours truly; while catching up with Oniel and Kathryn would have been lovely regardless, the addition of their progeny was extra special.

Post brunch, I went to bevmo to stock up on ulcer-unfriendly libations, then came home and took a nap. Post-nap, I rallied and met Tammy (aka Tammmmmmmehhhhhhhh) and her boyfriend Daniel in the Tenderloin for some Vietnamese food; my Imperial Role was served with the surliest service ever, which I much appreciated. We had reservations at Bourbon and Branch shortly thereafter; it's a speakeasy, with a code word every night, and I can't imagine that they're breaking even given that they don't allow the place to fill to capacity. But, I had three v. delicious drinks in our allotted ninety minutes -- the 'hemingway daiquiri' with light rum, maraschino cherry liquor, grapefruit juice, and lime juice; and two of the 'citizen cane' with cachaca, etc. Tammy insisted on embarrassing me with a crown of sparkly pink and a lot of Happy Birthday confetti, which of course ended up in my bosom, and so I have been slowly shedding it all night.

Post Bourbon and Branch, I intended to come home, but instead I went to DNA Lounge with Tammy and Daniel for a few hours, where I saw Can (whose last name I will leave out for privacy purposes, even though Can sounds v. sad without its last name). We rang in my birthday in style, grabbed some pizza by the slice next door, and then I insisted on leaving as befits my age. To be fair to myself, I'm not 30 for another five hours (my birth time was 8:11am CDT, which is 6:11am here; I always did find it fascinating that in my birth date and time there are only 3 integers total: 1, 8 and 9 (8:11 on 9/11/81)). But I'm going to go to bed like the old person I really am, knowing that I will not recover from three cocktails, a redbull+vodka, and 1.5 tequila shots easily. Sigh. Anyway, happy birthday-slash-national day of mourning to me -- goodnight!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

i saw the ending when i turned the page

I meant to go to bed an hour ago, and was in fact falling asleep over my notebook at 10:30pm, but I stayed up reading a combination of 9/11 memorial coverage and my own version of 9/11 memories (every birthday blog post for the past six years). I have to stop doing this; it's just making me maudlin, and then I alternate between feeling angry about my birthday being inextricably linked to a national tragedy and feeling guilty that I'm angry. When I sue my ulcer for the pain and suffering (and lack of alcohol) it has caused, the ulcer can enter this evidence of my ability to feel anger and guilt over just about everything as Defense Exhibit A.

Anyway, today felt incredibly slow, probably because it was the first day all week that I didn't drive down to Palo Alto, and so I reclaimed 2-4 hours of my day. I woke up around nine, showered, made some tea, took care of tings, etc., and eventually settled in to write -- and just as that happened, our cleaning lady (who was supposed to come yesterday) showed up. I left the place to her tender ministrations, partially so that I wasn't in her way but mostly because she needed to park in my garage space since Terry's car is taking the other one. I ran to Safeway to buy ingredients for my birthday cake (and no, I'm not making the cake I have dreamed of making for years, which I can't even describe here because it's in such poor taste; I decided that if my downstairs neighbors come up to complain about my dinner party noise, I don't want them to see such a display and hate me forever). And then I went to Samovar in Hayes Valley, where I wrote (v., v. slowly) for a couple of hours over some Monkey Picked Iron Goddess of Mercy (an oolong tea with the best name ever). This scene is still coming incredibly painfully, but at least I got some more of it out, and now that I'm done with it, the story can (hopefully) pick up again.

I came home with the intention of writing some more, but I couldn't get back into it. Eventually I ordered some Thai takeout, ate it while watching Craig, and then finished the book I'd started on the plane last weekend -- THE DARK ENQUIRY, which is part of that Victorian mystery/romance series that I adore. This wasn't my favorite book in the series, since I thought the ending was a bit rushed, but I'm of course still eager for the next one in the series, which is still months and months away. Then I came upstairs, wrote another few paragraphs in a v. dreamlike fashion that quickly turned into sleep, and roused myself to go to bed (only to read 9/11 coverage, stupid). But now I really must sleep -- I'm going to Berkeley tomorrow for the romance meeting, followed by lunch with Oniel, Kathryn and Obaby, followed by some quality time alone baking my own birthday cake, followed by drinks with Tammy (aka Tammmmmmehhh). And through it all I have to ignore the box from Amazon and the two birthday cards that came in the mail today; I want to save them for my birthday, but it's so difficult to be disciplined. Goodnight!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

a sky full of lighters

I have a raging headache, which I realized is probably the direct consequence of only having one diet coke and no other forms of caffeine today. Boo. And now it makes sense that I took a long nap at the library while I was supposed to be writing this afternoon; without the sweet elixir of caffeine running through my veins, I was pretty much useless.

However, the day wasn't all wasted; I made it down to the gym in time to train with Alyssa, who ensured that I will remember her all weekend when I attempt to climb stairs. I grabbed a smoothie after working out to tide me over, and then went to the Palo Alto Borders for what is likely the last time. There isn't much left, and the scavengers are now picking over the furniture and fixtures; I believe all Borders stores will close within the next week, and I won't make it down there again before it does. I picked up another 15 or so books, so I've done my bit in helping them to liquidate; between the Palo Alto store and my hard-hitting trip to the Santana Row store a couple of months ago, I probably bought close to 100 books from them in the last six months. If only people had bought that many books from them at full price, they'd still be afloat -- but since very few of the books I bought were ones I would pay full price for, that's wishful thinking. I will miss Borders, but at least my bookshelves are now amply stocked for any upcoming apocalypses on my birthday.

After Borders, I grabbed a late lunch at Chipotle, then went to Stanford library, where I had grand plans to write a lot. I ended up writing less than a lot, only two and a half pages in the course of about four hours (the nap kind of ate into that time), but at least I made some progress, and hopefully I can move on from this difficult scene and get back to something fun tomorrow. I ate at the Coho (ridiculous), then came home and watched some Craig -- he had Julie Chen on the show on Monday, and I always love watching them together because they seem to have a lot of fun and he makes a lot of sly (or not so sly) digs at how she's married to the head of CBS. Then I watched tonight's "Project Runway", which was entertaining mostly because half the people hate each other and the other half are great designers, so at least there's a good mix of talent + drama this year. And now, I think I shall sleep, and set my teamaker to have some tea waiting for me when I wake up tomorrow so that I can crawl down and caffeinate myself before I die. Goodnight!

the sharp knife of a short life

I stayed up later than I intended; I made the mistake of picking up a book, which is never a good idea. Luckily, this blog is going to be short tonight since I have absolutely nothing of interest to report. Terry left for New York and Fashion Week (that bitch) today, and I dropped her off at the office so that she could take a cab straight from there later in the afternoon. Then, I proceeded to Palo Alto, where I worked out with Alyssa and caught up on life and tings with her while she tortured me for an hour. My workout was at noon rather than my usual ten a.m. slot, so by the time I showered, grabbed a salad at Joanie's Cafe, drove back to the city, and stopped at the grocery store, it was after four p.m. by the time I got home.

And, unfortunately, my productivity was pretty much shot. I did reread the first half of my first romance novel with some vague intention of thinking about how to change it someday to make it more publishable. And the odd verdict is that I like some of the dialogue/banter/characters in it more than I do Madeleine and Ferguson's book, but the pacing was off and there wasn't enough conflict to sustain the entire thing. It was an interesting lesson, if for no other reason than I want to apply it to Ellie's book (which has been lingering most sadly since I started the gargoyle book instead) -- I think I'm going to start alternating between working on the Regency book and the gargoyle book, since the days when I'm stuck with one may still be days that I can eke out progress on the other one. We shall see, we shall see. But now, I should sleep; I'm training with Alyssa again tomorrow, and then I have grand plans to be genuinely productive instead in the afternoon. Goodnight!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

got a sex drive, push to start

Today went utterly astray. I don't actually mind how far astray it went, although I intend to buckle down and write for the next few days like there's no tomorrow (even though I'll have to do some stuff later this week to prepare for my birthday celebrations/national day of mourning). On my way down to the glorious south bay to train with Alyssa, I remembered that I hadn't emailed her to confirm that she had held my sessions for this week; I'd told her my travel dates before I left for Iowa, but I usually confirm closer to my return date so that we're all squared away. As it turns out, my suspicion was correct; she thought I was coming back next week and had scheduled over my appointments. I actually didn't mind, and I was a good girl and did cardio rather than just leaving and having coffee. But we rescheduled for tomorrow and Thursday, so I'll have to go down to Palo Alto twice more this week. Yay (?).

After the gym, I showered, procured a smoothie since I was starving (no food in the house yet), and drove over to my old place of work to have lunch with Katrina, John, and one of Katrina's other friends. I was glad that I'd bought the smoothie, since the cafe was having an off day; nothing was bad, but they didn't seem to put together a menu that could be eaten together with any sort of genuine pleasure. However, the company was pleasurable enough to make up for the food, and we spent a v. entertaining hour discussing our respective weekends and making jhokes. Random Dude left at 1pm, and shortly thereafter I dropped John and Katrina off at their buildings before stealing away from campus like I'd never been there.

So I had intended to come home straightaway and write all afternoon, but Chandlord conspired against me. The first Tuesday of every month is free at the San Francisco museums, and she had called to ask if I wanted to go to the SFMOMA (Museum of Modern Art, for those of you who, like me, don't particularly care about art). I said sure, since I could just drop in on my way home. But unfortunately, just as I was about to park (actually, it was fortunate that she called when she did, since 30 seconds later would have meant that I wasted $3 to park in the garage for a minute), Chandlord called and said that while the museum was open, the exhibit she wanted to see was nearly sold out -- unsurprisingly so, since today was the last day of the exhibit. The only time we could get tickets for was 5pm, which was hideously inconvenient since I was there at 2:30pm. So, I gave Chandlord a ride home, came home and took a nap, and then dressed more warmly (mostly with violet tights under my black dress, and a sweater on top of it, since it was 75 degrees in Palo Alto and quite brisk up here) before driving back downtown to meet with Chandlord again.

As it turned out, I enjoyed the exhibit; it was about the Steins (Gertrude, Leo, Michael, and Michael's wife Sarah) and the tremendous influence they exerted on the art world in the first part of the century through their collecting and displaying interests. It was all quite interesting, but it was a little stressful because the place was packed, I can't see over anyone, and we had to be done by 5:45 because the exhibit closed then. We made it, though, and replenished ourselves afterward with Samovar in Yerba Buena Gardens (naturally, since I can't be across the street from Samovar without going, and I would have gone whether Chandlord wanted to or not). Samovar was lovely, as per usual, and Chandlord was fine too, even if she does make fun of my pronunciation of words like "Vegas" and "coyote".

Eventually I dropped Chandlord off at home, came back to my place, and hung out with Terry for the last time before she goes to New York tomorrow. We watched last week's episode of "Project Runway" (ridic) and an episode of "What Not To Wear" (which I need to start tivo'ing to see if they ever throw away someone's colored tights) before I came upstairs and dealt with volunteer romance stuff for the past hour or two. And now, my lovelies, I must be off to bed; I'm training with Alyssa tomorrow, and then I have big hopes and dreams that I will attempt to live up to. Goodnight!

Monday, September 05, 2011

every teardrop is a waterfall

Today was one of those surface-lazy days when I appeared to do virtually nothing, but my brain was working overtime thinking about everything I want to do with my life. I have so many ideas, but committing to any of them is hard, because as Terry pointed out I have more ideas already than can be accomplished in a lifetime (since my ideas are rather grandiose and involved, and span completely different industries) -- and that means that committing to some ideas requires acknowledging that others will be left undone. Sigh.

But I'd rather have too many ideas than none at all, so I shall persevere. As I said, today was surface-lazy; I stayed in bed until almost eleven before eventually wandering downstairs and reacquainting myself with my absurdly expensive teamaker. I succeeded in unpacking some of my suitcase and threw in a load of laundry before showering, which is key for making sure I don't seem totally slovenly this week. After I showered, Terry and I drove down to Palo Alto; it may be absurd to drive down there on a day when I don't already have to, but there was no traffic today and we both wanted to go to Joanie's and the mall, so it worked out. Joanie's was excellent, as per usual, although I surprised them by getting eggs instead of my beloved cobb salad. The mall was also excellent; Terry laughed at the fact that the shoe salesman at Bloomingdale's recognized me and came over to say hi, but I swear that I've only bought from him once. I didn't buy anything today, however, since I'm trying to be a good little funemployed person and not spend money on frivolities (an easy claim to make, since I bought a bunch of clothes five days ago in Des Moines). Instead, I assisted Terry in looking for stuff, since she's going to Fashion Week in New York (that bitch), which was fun in its own right.

And then we returned to the city of sin, where I folded my clothes, procrastinated a bit, and then spent an hour in a chat room with my fellow romance award finalists. After I wrapped that up, Terry and I had dinner down the street, where we continued the discussion we were having in the car about entertainment, new media, business ventures, etc. Since one of my completely ridiculous lifegoals is to be a media mogul, this was v. timely. When we came home, though, we cast aside thoughts of business and watched the last two episodes of the second season of "Mad Men"; I'd seen them before, but they were entertaining nonetheless.

And now, I think I should go to bed. I have a date with destiny (aka Alyssa) tomorrow morning that I don't want to be late for, and I need to get back to the city after lunch so that I can write furiously and make some progress on the gargoyles before they come after me. Goodnight!

Sunday, September 04, 2011

party rock is in the house tonight

I freaking hate that stupid 'Party Rock' song, and can't wait for summer to be over if only so that this summer's unofficial anthem disappears into the swirling cesspool of human refuse in which it belongs. Ugh.

Beyond that moment of rage, I had an excellent day and am now curled up in my San Francisco bed. I didn't get up particularly early this morning, but 9:30am felt like a great sacrifice. I soldiered on, though, and had showered and packed most of my stuff by the time brunch was ready. My dad made our usual, albeit not so frequent anymore, Sunday brunch, which was a grease fest of fried potatoes, bacon, sausage, fried eggs, and blueberry muffins. Yummy yummy, even if Alyssa will be most displeased. After brunch, I packed the last of my stuff, put away my toiletries in preparation for my next trip, and bid a fond farewell to my Iowa room. Then, my parents took me to the airport and said a sad, although not prolonged, goodbye before I went through security.

My travels were blessedly quiet and uneventful; the worst person I encountered was a woman sitting in the Des Moines boarding area who complained loudly and with many uses of 'fuck' and 'bullshit' on the phone to an unknown party about how it was fucking bullshit that the airline let her choose her seat online and then wouldn't give it to her, which meant she would have to sit in the middle and would have to put her backpack under the seat in front of her. I thought it was fucking bullshit for her to have such a terrible attitude that she had to be such a whiny child in front of some visibly horrified little old ladies sitting next to her, but I suppose that's life.

After I got away from her, though, I had a great trip. I was upgraded from Des Moines to Denver, and spent the flight drinking coffee out of a real mug while writing my life plan (plans, I haz 'em, and they are grand indeed) and translating that plan into 1-, 3-, and 5-year goals. The 1-year plan is rather frontloaded, so I'm going to be a busy camper for the next three months. Smug with my success at writing a life plan, and arriving on time with an hour and a half to kill, I had two margaritas in Denver and started reading THE DARK ENQUIRY, which is the latest book in that Victorian mystery/romance series I've been loving. Pleasantly buzzed, I spent the flight from Denver to San Francisco reading as well, although the disadvantage of the iPad is that I lost approximately 30 minutes of reading time because the device had to be shut off for takeoff and landing. I'm about halfway through the book, but I'm actually going to save me from myself and go to bed without opening it again -- otherwise, I would read it all tonight in a hazy delirium of exhaustion and be wrecked for tomorrow.

Terry was kind enough to pick me up from the airport, and we caught up for an hour or so before adjourning to our respective rooms. She's going to New York for Fashion Week (that bitch) on Wednesday, so catching up now was vital. And now, I shall go to sleep so that I can get some stuff done tomorrow -- goodnight!

Saturday, September 03, 2011

lost in memories, lost in all the sheets and old pillows

My time in Iowa came to an end in a rather hectic, bittersweet way today. I return to the city of sin tomorrow afternoon, where there is much writing and working out to be done and many birthday celebrations (or at least one, tastefully lowkey 9/11 birthday celebration) to be had. But today was all about the past. I spent the afternoon sifting through the detritus of two abandoned houses -- the one I grew up in, and the one where I spent a lot of time as a child. During our 'documentation of all things' project this week, my mother said that there was a box of her stuff that never made it to the new house. Since the old house is across the driveway from the new house, one would think that this wouldn't be a difficult task -- but if one thinks that, one doesn't understand how fast old farmhouses fall apart when they're unoccupied. When I realized what was in that box (the yellow flower canisters from my youth), I was determined that we should go get it.

So my mother and I prepared to go across the driveway, but my father and brother cleared the path first with an expeditionary force loaded for bear (or at least raccoon) but didn't turn up anything (other than one of our cats, which almost bought it before being recognized in time). And we retrieved the box, as well as a whole bunch of [censored]'s stuff that had been left upstairs. As it turned out, it was easier to get the stuff out of the upstairs by getting my dad's platform lift and loading things onto the lift through the second-floor window -- not a method I've ever used to move, but one I wish I had access to in my current place, with its multiple flights of stairs. The end of the expedition was a success that nearly turned into disaster; we stopped just in time, since an absolute downpour started just as my father drove the lift back across the driveway, so we hustled everything into the garage in the pouring rain and then stopped for the day.

However, I didn't spend all my time helping them (probably much to their chagrin, since I instigated it). I had to go see my grandmother and say goodbye to her, and she was down at her old house with my aunt, sorting through her own detritus. A planned half hour turned into more like an hour-plus; there's much more stuff left in her house than ours, since she only moved to assisted living a few weeks ago, but at least her house still has power and isn't yet in an advanced stage of decay. Still, it's so strange to go through things that once mattered so much and now no longer matter, or still matter but have no purpose, or evoke memories of other things that have long since disappeared.

And I suppose that's the hardest part for me, at least, about going through these abandoned things -- other than the allergies and asthma, it's seeing bits of life, of my past, strewn across floors and buried under slowly-collapsing houses, and knowing that you can't save everything. The perfectionist in me wants to burn it all; the hoarder sifts through the wreckage looking for salvage. None of my stuff, with the exception of one plate, was in our old house, since I'd flown home for a week a few years ago to get it all out right when my parents moved. But it's still our old house, where my childhood happened, decaying at a rate that it feels like it was abandoned four decades ago, rather than four years. It was totally livable when we moved out; now, ceilings have collapsed, mounds of insulation and debris cover some of the floors, and water pours into the hall closet through a hole in the roof. Even my grandmother's house is fading fast; the floors are softening and the walls are bowing, in a process that started years ago but will accelerate this winter when it goes through freezes and thaws with no indoor heat. And this story is playing out across the hundreds of abandoned houses, barns, corncribs, etc. in the area. There just aren't enough people left to live in them, take care of them, or even destroy them. Nature is taking it all back, at a rate that makes you realize just how fragile the manmade world is.

So anyway, it was all mildly depressing, but progress was made, and I'm happy. And if nothing else, my mother's box of dishes was still perfectly intact, so at least there's that. After we finished, I helped my dad freeze ice cream (verdict: half frozen due to some malfunction of the ice cream freezer, but utterly delicious thanks to my mom's preparation of the ice cream base), and then my dad made rotisserie chicken and my mom made corn (plus the potato salad she made earlier in the day). It was ostensibly my birthday dinner a week early, so happy birthday to me! And now, sadly, I really should go to bed; I need to pack in the morning, and we'll have to leave here around 1:30 if I'm going to make my flight. Goodnight!

Friday, September 02, 2011

careful, icarus

Today was mandatory family fun-day, and I think most of us had at least the minimum required amount of fun before the sun threatened to destroy us all. Since I woke up at nine a.m. for this, I'm glad that I enjoyed myself. We went to the greater Des Moines metropolitan area for a day of sophisticated pleasure -- wine tasting at an Iowa winery, lunch at some Italian place that sadly wasn't the Olive Garden, and a take-no-prisoners game of minigolf in which the weather had the upper hand.

I've meant to go to the winery for ages and have never made it, but my parents decided that today was the day. My mom actually went there a few weeks ago, somewhat by accident after her car load of fellow garden club members stumbled upon the winery on their excursion to see a hosta garden (linked for your edification, since I don't know my plant names either). While I'm sure that our visit wasn't nearly as fun as a bunch of little old ladies (and my mother, whom I am too smart to lump into that category - and since the mean age of her garden club is approximately 74, she's practically a baby by comparison anyway) descending upon them, we still spent a nice twenty minutes or so there. My brother hates wine and so stayed in the car with his laptop, but we tried three dry reds, a mead, and a port. I find most Iowa wines too sweet, which apparently has to do with the varietals that they're able to grow; they can grow French varietals and some hybrids, but there are a lot of grapes that can't cope with either the heat that is normal of Iowa summers, or the sheets of water/ice that will be under them winter. However, the port was okay (for port, which I mostly drink as a joke), and there were a couple of reds that I actually liked. Now if only people would stop buying cough syrup and telling people it was an Iowa sweet table wine, we'd be in business.

After the winery, we had lunch at some Italian place in Jordan Creek before progressing to mini-golf. It was the nicest court I've been to, but since it was 91 degrees (with a heat index somewhere above that) we were all wilting by the time we finished. I came in second, a few strokes behind dad, despite an awesome hole in one that wasn't enough to save me. It's just too bad that the day was too hot for a continued tour of golf courses - but after sitting in a McDonald's to cool off because the truck can't cool down fast enough, we all decided that we would just go home.

And the rest of the evening was uneventful; we had takeout pizza from the best convenience store kitchen ever (so what if it's probably all a health violation - that pizza is amazing), and then I messed around on the computer until now. I'm starting to fall asleep on my laptop, though, so I'll publish before I say something stupid. Goodnight!

Thursday, September 01, 2011

that's the impression that i get

I had an extremely uneventful day; everyone else in the family left this morning, leaving me with an empty house and no vehicles available to escape it. So, true to my sloth-filled nature while in Iowa, I stayed in bed, messed around with my laptop, and finally showered and went upstairs to eat lunch just as my mother was returning (at two p.m.). I prefer to believe that I'm not sloth-filled, actually. Instead, chalk it up to the fact that I just don't switch timezones when I come here - waking up at 10am and going to bed at 2am is the same as my 8am/midnight schedule in California.

Now that you have that fascinating tidbit to ponder, I'll toss you another one - I made my favorite caprese salad for the family tonight. This is the one I often make when I have people over for dinner, from my go-to Barefoot Contessa cookbook, in which I roast the tomatoes until they are almost caramelized and then arrange them on a platter with fresh mozzarella and basil. I thought they were awesome, as usual (although I over-peppered them); my mother seemed to think they were good and ate several; my father ate two and declared them 'better than that other shit you made' (the 'other shit' being my ill-fated attempt to introduce my parents to the joys of risotto three years ago, which they have never forgiven me for); and my brother missed supper, walked in late, and turned his nose up at them. I was pleased, though, and particularly impressed by the quality of the fresh mozzarella that I picked up last night - it was on sale, so I got two 8oz packages for $4, and the Wisconsin mozzarella rivaled anything produced by those so-called happy cows in California. While I still doubt that I will move back to Iowa, the quality of the cheese I've had in the past two days does improve the odds.

Sadly, I didn't write today; I was too busy playing with tomatoes, watching some fine CBS programming ("Big Brother" followed by "The Mentalist", which I love and don't watch nearly often enough - as is true of all television, since if I were left to my own devices I would usually just forget to turn it on), and doing a project for my local romance chapter that I volunteered for and that took a good two hours to finish. I agreed to coordinate the historical category of a writing contest they're running, and since the main contest coordinator sent me all the historical entries this morning, I had to go through and make scoresheets, verify that the entries opened properly, and send the emails out to the judges with the manuscripts and scoresheets to be judged. This wasn't difficult, just tedious, and this is the kind of work-type task that I strangely miss if only because it gives me an excuse to watch tv in the background. Perhaps I watch less tv because anything that I consider 'work' (writing, research, editing, blogging) is something that requires concentration, while my past life involved a lot of stupid spreadsheets that could be done by a trained monkey. Ah, the good old days.

And now I should sleep; I'm supposed to be up, showered and dressed by 9:30am so that I can have some mandatory fun time with the family, and since I haven't gotten out of bed before 9:30 the entire time I've been here, this could be a challenge. I would make a trained monkey do it in my place, but [censored] is already invited to the mandatory fun time (zing!). So I shall go to bed and wake up like a good girl - goodnight!