Saturday, December 31, 2011

shadows

I didn't intend to stay up this late, but I started to read a book, and you know how that goes. I slept quite late this morning, finally waking up around ten or eleven so that I could accomplish something with my day. After I showered, I grabbed lunch at a cafe down the street since I had no food in the house, and then came back and unpacked and did three loads of laundry. My affairs thus in order, I wrote for an hour or two, with a brief interruption from my writer friend Grace, who wanted to talk shop about some business stuff.

I threw in the towel on the writing so that I could go to the grocery store; in a bit of fun or madness, I invited some people over for New Year's Day brunch, and I wanted to shop for food today so that I wouldn't have to deal with crowds tomorrow. So I went to Whole Foods and bought all the weird flours required to make gluten free baking flour (brown rice, sorghum, potato, among others), as well as a variety of produce, fruits, and cheeses. Then I stopped at BevMo and bought three bottles of champagne and some gin, which is a good recipe for a party.

When I got home, I cleaned out the fridge, put away my groceries, and attempt to work some more, but it wasn't going well, and so I was happy to take a break and have supper with Terry and her friend Amy at Perry's. I was intent on trying the writing again, though, so I didn't hang out with them when we got home; instead, I came upstairs and toyed with my manuscript awhile longer. But when I hit the point where I was spending more time checking twitter than writing words, I decided to do what I've vowed to do more of -- stop wasting time on the internet and read one of the hundreds of books on my to-read list instead.

Tonight's book was OMBRIA IN SHADOW by Patricia A. McKillip; I've been slowly making my way through her backlist, for reasons that I can't even explain. Her plots are difficult to follow, so obfuscated by lush descriptions that you begin to wonder whether there is really a plot at all; the most powerful protagonists and antagonists are rarely described, never what they seem, and unsatisfactorily wrapped up at the end; and there's a quality of sameness to all her books that is both comforting and unsettling. However, there is magic in her books, too -- I simply can't stop reading once I've started, and it feels like I've fallen headlong into a different world, one where every word is a spell and every image is an enchantment.

So, needless to say, I read the entire thing, and now my brain is dazzled and I desperately need to sleep (and dream whatever strange and mysterious dreams will undoubtedly come). And so, goodnight; when I blog again, it will be 2012!

Friday, December 30, 2011

scar tissue that i wish you saw

I'm back in California, curled up in my own bed, listening to the foghorns in the distance. I wasn't precisely ready to leave Iowa, but I'm excited to be back for all sorts of fun times this weekend, as well as as much writing as I can squeeze in. But first, I must sleep a lot; I got less than six hours last night, which made this morning a rough and brutal slog so that I could catch my plane on time.

But I did catch my plane; my parents took me to the airport and helped me take in my bags (which I had to redistribute some weight in; the first bag was over by 2lbs, so I had to move a couple of books to the other bag, bringing them both in at 49lbs). Then we said goodbye, and I went to my gate to board my flight to Denver. All in all, my trip was uneventful -- there was a lot of turbulence in and out of Denver, and there was a screaming child on my Denver/San Francisco flight, but I still managed to write nearly ten pages (yay).

When I got to San Francisco, my old friend Claudia picked me up at the airport. Careful readers will remember that Claude doesn't live here and hasn't for nigh on half a decade, but she's in town for the holiday to see her mom and brother (who live in San Jose), and so she picked me up on her way to have dinner with Adit and Priyanka. It was super nice of her to do so, particularly since we then had to drag my suitcases up to Adit's apartment so they wouldn't get stolen from her car while she parked, and then had to drag them back down when we left, and then had to drag them up to my apartment when we got here. She's a trooper.

So we met Adit and Priyanka, who were leaving tonight for DC, and had a quick, lovely dinner at Little Chihuahua in Noe Valley. It's a clean, modernized version of a taqueria, and it was really tasty. It was also good to have some family time with Claude, an original family member, particularly since I won't see Adit and Priyanka for awhile longer. After dinner, Adit and Priyanka left for the airport and Claude brought me home. We spent another couple of hours hanging out while drinking bai mudan (a white tea that tasted vaguely of mint, since I'd made mint tea in my teamaker earlier), and it was great to catch up. Terry showed up sometime with one of her friends in tow, so we all hung out for awhile before Claude went back to San Jose and I realized I'm flipping exhausted.

And so, it's time for bed. Tomorrow holds laundry, grocery shopping, and a shitload of writing -- goodnight!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

i feel my heart start beating to my favorite song

It's my last night in Iowa for the immediate future; I leave for San Francisco tomorrow, and while my vacation should be over as soon as I get on the plane, I anticipate that I'll have some socializing over the next few days to reconnect to all the people I've barely seen since before Thanksgiving. Today was all about getting ready to go, though. I woke up late, showered, went upstairs, did the dishes (which likely surprised my mother, since she does the dishes herself all the time), and then used one of the skillets (my ulterior motive for doing the dishes) to makes myself some utterly awesome scrambled eggs with leftover ham, green peppers, onions, and black olives.

Thus sustained, I spent a couple of hours packing everything up. This took longer than my last packing job, since I won't be back for awhile and so needed to make sure I got everything that needed to be brought back to California. Once I was finished packing, I strolled outside and took some pictures of my father's miniature cows (which may not look small to you city slickers, but are definitely smaller than average). Then I spent the rest of the afternoon/evening writing Christmas cards, since I didn't want to have to pack the cards and take them back to California. I didn't write as many as I did last year, so apologies if you fell off the list -- you'll be back on the list next year, but I ran out of time and stamina to keep going.

Somewhere in there, I took a break for supper. My mother made ham and bean soup, which [censored] hates, but I was quite happy with it. I also watched some "Criminal Minds" and "CSI" while writing cards, which was both distracting and upsetting (I don't love "Criminal Minds", since it gets dark real fast). And yes, I know this post is boring as hell, but when you spend the whole day packing and writing Christmas cards, there just isn't much to say.

And now I suppose I should go to bed. I had a wonderful Christmas, and a wonderful Thanksgiving before that, but it's time to buckle down -- my first book comes out on Barnes and Noble's Nook in less than four weeks, and I have a million things to do before then! Goodnight!

ambush from ten sides

Today was mostly a wash; I hate to say that about visiting family, but let's face it...five hours in a truck to spend an hour an a half eating subpar Mexican food in Missouri is not my idea of a great time, particularly since I need to write a book (remember that book I'm trying to finish?). I woke up a little after eight, showered, made myself pretty (but not too pretty, in case any Missourians were looking for brides), brewed some coffee, blended a smoothie, and was ready to go when we finally rolled out the door around 9:30. We were twenty minutes late to our rendezvous with my mom's sister in Moberly, Missouri, but since she was forty minutes late, I suppose we were early?

When she came, it turns out that two of our three cousins had bailed, which neither [censored] nor I realized was an option. However, it was nice to see my aunt and my other cousin, even if it was a very short visit. When we were done, we turned around and came home, and I slept most of the way back, so I have nothing of interest to report from that part of the journey. When we got home, I went with [censored] to [censored] to feed some [censored]. Then, we went to [censored], where he showed me the progress he's made on [censored], with a warning not to [censored] because there might be [censored]. We took the new truck that my dad's business bought last week, which doesn't have running boards installed yet, so getting into it was possibly the most challenging thing I've done in weeks.

After finishing that errand, we came home and I messed around on the internet until suppertime; we have a veritable cornucopia of leftovers, and while leftovers usually aren't the best meal of the week, this ranked right up there -- leftover prime rib, sweet potatoes, baked beans, and five cup salad, plus new boiled/fried potatoes, made for a v. tasty supper. Then, I watched a bit of "NCIS", followed by the Kennedy Center Honors, which is one of my favorite things to watch over the holidays (ranking above even my joy at seeing stupid people stab each other over cheap toys at Walmart). Post-television, I spent several hours catching up on email and other minor online tasks, since I hate email and have been avoiding it for the past two weeks. The time has come to stop avoiding, though; vacation is almost over, and I need to focus if 2012 is a year that will make me proud before our dread Mayan overlord descends from the sky and incinerates us all. Goodnight!

Monday, December 26, 2011

where they go hardcore and there's glitter on the floor

I should have gone to bed ages ago. I have to get up early tomorrow to venture into the wilds of Missouri (pronounced Missura, of course) to meet up with my mom's sister and kids, which would be fun if I didn't feel the crushing weight of all the things I need to do (write a book; write my Christmas cards, which are looking less likely; take care of a million things related to promo). Also, it's Missouri, which I enjoy looking down upon since the counties directly south of us might possibly be even more backwoods than ours. Sounds impossible, I know, but it's true.

We had a lovely family day today, though -- it was Wampler Rail Baron Day (tm), and so I rolled out of bed before ten a.m. so that I could shower and prepare for the festivities. Uncle Mark, Aunt Kathy, and Drewbaby came down, and they brought Drewbaby's girlfriend Stephanie along (he must feel v. secure in his relationship if he's willing to let her socialize with us, let alone let her see a star football player like himself play Rail Baron for an entire day). It was Aunt Kathy's birthday, and she sacrificed day-after-Christmas sales to play, so you can see how important such a tradition is to us. So we basically played and snacked all day; I snacked less than I could have, due to the gluten-free status and to the fact that I'm traditionally the banker, which means I'm basically chained to the game for its duration. I don't actually mind, though, and at least this time I did well enough to not feel like I totally wasted my time.

We started playing around 12:30, but we took a break at 4pm (shortly after the last railroad sold, which is when shit gets real) and scattered -- [censored]/Drewbaby/Steffi went to feed the feral cats that still show up at my grandma's backdoor expecting handouts; Mom and Aunt Kathy went into town to run an errand; Uncle Mark went to pick up my grandmother and bring her out to our place; and Dad and I drove around some fields looking for tiling inputs and outputs for the invoices he was trying to finish before the end of the year. Driving through the fields almost made me seasick -- I won't even call it carsick, since his pickup bouncing over the ruts felt like we were being tossed around on the sea in a small rowboat. Looking for the inputs was almost like a scavenger hunt, though; they were orange pillar-like objects scattered across the field, visible from some angles and hidden from others depending on the height/depth of the ruts between you and the inputs. But he thinks we found them all, and I didn't puke in his truck, so it seemed to be a success. It's slightly crazy to me that this is all farmland when my father says that there were 'city' roads that used to cross one of those farms way back in the day -- but even fifty years ago, our town was already shrinking, and it's continuing its long, slow retreat.

sssanyway, we came home and found everyone else was back, so we made supper (ham sandwiches for everyone else, ham quesadillas on corn tortillas for me) and got back into Rail Baron. Around seven, people started making concerned noises about whether the game was ever going to end, since no one had a lot of money, and so we set a timer for 30 minutes and said we'd stop and declare the winner based on highest asset value at the end of the round when the timer went off. That really sped things up, since some of us had massive incentive to keep the game moving fast to collect more money, but we still called a halt at the end of 30mins -- and my brother won, with me in second and Uncle Mark in third. Then, they all left, I took Gram back to her apartment, and then picked [censored] up in Humeston after he dropped off a truck up there. I made it home without hitting any deer, and mostly did nothing since then, but I suppose I should sleep.

Did I mention that [censored] gave me a copy of Rail Baron for Christmas? So if any of you want to play someday, we can! All you need is a full day and a lot of snacks, and maybe some alcohol for good measure (although I've played it sober for years and have yet to kill anyone).

Okay, really, sleep is imperative. Only a couple more days in Iowa -- goodnight!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

silence will fall

Merry Christmas! It's already over in Iowa, of course, but it will live on in our hearts forever (or at least for another hour, if you're in California). I had an absolutely lovely day -- thankfully, there are no small children in this house, and so we got up at the utterly wretched but still civilized hour of eight a.m. to open presents (in truth, my parents were awake sometime around five, and I woke up at 6:30 from a rather intensely vivid nightmare, but I went back to bed until the appointed hour). We took our time opening our packages, and everyone seemed to enjoy what they received.

As usual, no one would have traded their stash for another person's pile, since our interests are so varied; oddly enough, this year I probably would have taken my dad's stash if I was forced at gunpoint to switch, since he got a lot of cast iron cookware that I'm jealous of, but I'm quite happy with what I got. Several books, of course, including Haruki Murakami's massive "1Q84"; another gluten-free cookbook (which looks amazeballs); a bottle of absurdly expensive but completely luscious fountain pen ink (for the book that still refuses to write itself); several kitchen implements, including a creme brulee torch and eight creme brulee ramekins; and a copy of Rail Baron from [censored], who managed to find a brand-new still-in-box copy of a game we've had for nearly thirty years (a game which did not achieve the immortal fame that would guarantee massive reprints, like Monopoly or Candy Land). So, as usual, I anticipate a lot of post-Christmas cooking and reading in my future.

After opening presents, we all slowly meandered around the house, showering, etc. My mom went into town and retrieved my grandmother, who came out for brunch and stayed most of the afternoon. For once in my Iowa life, brunch was the way I usually have it in California -- after noon, with champagne. My dad made his always-awesome fried potatoes, scrambled eggs w/mushrooms/peppers/onions, bacon, and ambrosia, and my mom made blueberry muffins (which I resisted), and we all ended up in what would have been food comas if my grandmother had stopped asking me questions about when I'm going back to work long enough that I could have fallen asleep. On round three or four of her questions about whether I'm working, at which point I reminded her that I'd left my job over a year ago, she actually called me a 'rich old maid' -- which I might have cut her for if I didn't know that she would forget that she had called me that by the time I came back with my shank. Sigh.

sssanyway, it really was nice, despite the circular conversations. My grandmother went back to her apartment sometime after four (closer to five), and then we prepared for another round of eating. We watched "60 Minutes" first, which had some v. interesting bits about the Vatican library and about an island of Orthodox monasteries in Greece. Then we had prime rib, baked potatoes, and five cup salad -- I don't think any of us were particularly hungry, but it was our only chance to do it, and the prime rib was some of the best I've ever had. Mmm. Post-rib, [censored] and I [censored] the final three [censored], and now I'm all caught up until [censored] returns sometime late next year. I may go back and catch the first few seasons that we skipped, but we shall see -- theoretically I have a book or five to write in the next year, so television time needs to be reduced.

And now, I shall sleep; we're playing games tomorrow, sans reindeer, and I need to be in peak physical condition if I'm going to run the Rail Baron bank for eight hours. Goodnight!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

pa rum pa pum pum

Merry Christmas Eve, everyone! It's already Christmas Day in ye olde Iowa, and I must go to sleep immediately so that I may awaken at some ungodly hour for our traditional package opening activities. We celebrated Christmas Eve today, though; my sister and her family came over, so we exchanged gifts and ate foodstuffs with them. My mother made a delicious Christmas Eve dinner (aka lunch), with ham, baked beans, cheesy potatoes, five cup salad (ten cup salad this time, since she doubled the recipe), sweet potatoes, etc. Then, even though we all wanted to take naps, we persevered and opened presents. I got two gluten-free cookbooks from my sister, both of which look really good, so I'm looking forward to trying them when I get back to California, land of alternative flours. And my nieces and nephew seemed to like what they got, as did my grand-niece (great-niece?) -- [censored] and I gave her a purple sock monkey, among other things, and her mother (my niece; try to keep up) said that she already had one. I was disappointed, but then she said that the other sock monkey is red and my grand-niece is scared of it because she thinks it's trying to eat her. She seemed to view the purple sock monkey as a friend, so I think that's a good thing?

After they all left, I took a little bit of a nap, but it wasn't really enough. Then, [censored] and I [censored] another six [censored], with a break in between to eat a variety of leftovers for supper. We also broke so that we could finish wrapping presents for tomorrow, which didn't take long. We only have three [censored] left, which we should get through easily before I go back to California -- yay. And now, I really must sleep -- Christmas comes early! Goodnight!

Friday, December 23, 2011

the pandorica opens

I didn't even attempt to work today. Instead, I woke up at eleven, took a shower, ate some chili, and spent the rest of the day [censored] nine [censored] with [censored]. We took a break around 4pm so that I could run into town and buy a last-minute gift for a family member; I also bought a bottle of Templeton Rye, since the liquor store in town happened to have a batch and it's an approved hipster liquor for the making of fancy cocktails when I get back to San Francisco. Then I came home, [censored] two [censored], and took a break for supper.

My mom has been trying quite hard to translate our old favorites into gluten-free delights, and she scored big on two levels today. The first was a peanut butter cookie sans flour (which annoyed [censored], since she called downstairs to tell us that she had made me cookies, which he thought wasn't inclusive enough). The second was a tenderloin, which in Iowa vernacular is a piece of pork pounded/flattened, dipped in egg and crushed saltines, and fried. I can't eat the saltines, but she tried crushed corn chex for me, and it was splendid. Granted, I couldn't eat the bun, which was unfortunate, but the tenderloin was delightful.

After supper, I wrapped a couple of gifts, then [censored] three [censored] before [censored]'s bedtime. And now I should really go to sleep myself -- we're doing Christmas with my sister tomorrow (I suppose it is Christmas Eve, which feels odd), and then I have to wrap the rest of my parents' presents and let visions of sugarplums dance through my head. Goodnight!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

you could be the one that i adore

Hello, dear readers. I'm going to go to bed v. shortly, so this must be brief (and then I must actually go to bed, rather than staying up another hour like I did last night). I slept until noon today (reminder: set an alarm for tomorrow), then spent the afternoon taking care of a variety of tasks that didn't net any new words on zee romance novel. But, I trimmed my bangs, showered, cleaned my room, put on the duvet that had been sitting patiently and awaiting my tender loving care, paid some bills (which necessitated a walk to the mailbox, which was a chore since I was freezing), wrapped [censored]'s Christmas presents (since he was out of the house), etc., so that was all good.

I threw in the towel earlier than usual, though, because I had plans to meet my friend Hannah in town for supper. She was one of my best friends in high school, and while we don't talk often (as is true with me and anyone who doesn't live in San Francisco), we try to get together when I'm in town. Also, we're something like fourth or fifth cousins, if that matters to you people, but since she's cousins with approximately half the town, this isn't really surprising. She was kind enough to drive over here (she lives in the town that my mom and I went shopping in yesterday), and we spent three and a half hours catching up, which was totally lovely. Neither of us had much gossip to share with each other, but we got reasonably caught up on each other's lives, and it was great to see her again.

I got home around 9:30, and then watched the last of "The Mentalist" and had a brief political argument with my dad (such arguments are both happening more often and getting briefer, as always happens during primary season -- and since they're now getting multiple robocalls/night from various candidates, in addition to seeing multiple political ads/commercial block, there are lots of opportunities to get into a discussion). And then I came downstairs, watched the trailer for "The Hobbit", and wrote several pages of Malcolm and Amelia's story. And now I shall go to bed and attempt to write a bit more in the morning before proceeding with the plans I have with [censored] tomorrow -- he wants me to [censored] [censored] all day, and I agreed to it so that he would stop [censored], so it should be fun. Goodnight!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

to dungeons deep and caverns old

I've got nothing to report today...I woke up around ten (shocking, I know), showered, ate some chili, and went with my mother to Centerville to finish Christmas shopping and buy groceries. Centerville has stoplights, so that was pretty exciting.

After we bought groceries, we came home, and I thought about writing, but I took a nap instead. Then we ate supper (fajitas, and my mom bought corn tortillas in a nod to my gluten-free-ness -- she's tried quite hard, which has been v. lovely of her), I watched some "Criminal Minds", and then I came downstairs and alternated between plotting out the next few scenes of zee romance novel and reading up on the latest "Hobbit" gossip until now. And even though it's super early (1:15am), I'm going to go to bed and hope for better writing vibes tomorrow. Goodnight!

[and also, happy birthday to Jessica! Yay for being old!]

there and back again

OMG THERE'S A TRAILER FOR THE HOBBIT MOVIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0k3kHtyoqc

that is all.

Okay, maybe that's not all, although really, that's the most exciting thing that happened today. I woke up late, as expected, took a shower, and then drank a smoothie while making my favorite black bean chili so that I'll have something non-gluteny to eat for lunch the next few days. Then, I spent the rest of the day working; I didn't write, but I completed a questionnaire for the publicist I'm hiring (that she'll use to determine publicity angles and to fashion into FAQs, author pages, etc.) that turned into eighteen pages of freeform answers to all her questions. It was quite exhausting, and I'm glad I'm done with it, since it had been hanging over my head.

Of course, I didn't work nonstop; I took a break to have supper (hamburgers with hamburger gravy), and I wasn't maximally productive after supper because I was working while watching NCIS, NCIS:LA, and Unforgettable in the background (yay CBS). And I discovered the new Hobbit trailer, which I've been quite restrained about, since I've only watched it a couple of times. But now I really need to go to bed; I'm going to Centerville with my mom to finish my Christmas shopping tomorrow, and that means I should probably wake up before noon -- I'm aiming for ten a.m. Goodnight!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

in december drinking horchata

No horchata here, unless Diet Mountain Dew is a new horchata flavor. I accomplished quite a bit today, despite myself; I woke up at eleven, showered, did some work, ate a late lunch (salami and cheese and a banana, since I was scrounging for sans-gluten foodstuffs and it was the best I could do without cooking anything), watched some Nate Berkus, then proofread, then wrapped presents until suppertime. My mother made a bunch of deliciousness (pepper steak, which is steak roasted with green peppers, tomatoes, and onions; baked potatoes; corn; and the last of the jello salad from Saturday), and then [censored] and I watched an episode of Doctor Who.

My familial obligations thus fulfilled, I spent the last few hours finishing the proofreading, since I promised my agent I would have it back to her in the morning. I also started working on a questionnaire for my publicist, but since I'm super wordy, it's slow going. So, I think I shall go to bed and work on it in the morning (or, more likely, afternoon, since it's almost four a.m. here, which means I will sleep until noon). Goodnight!

Monday, December 19, 2011

burning out his fuse up here alone

First off, I hope that my mother and Chandlord both had utterly lovely birthdays! While I'm sad that I can't celebrate with both of them, celebrating with my mother is better protection for my liver and my vocal chords than any party at a gay piano bar, so I suppose it's a good thing I'm in Iowa instead of San Francisco tonight.

Today was quite lowkey; my father made brunch for us, consisting of scrambled eggs with sausage/peppers/onions, fried potatoes, and ambrosia (all yummy). Then, my mother opened her birthday presents, then got what she really wanted, which was a couple of uninterrupted hours to watch her beloved Iowa State Cyclones play basketball. While she did that, I proofread HEIRESS for awhile, and then spent an inordinate amount of time exploring possible Christmas gifts. I'm almost done shopping, which is a good thing, even if I spent hours on it today that I really didn't have to sacrifice.

I did manage to catch "60 Minutes", which included a piece on a pristine coral reef off the coast of Cuba and a great interview with Meryl Streep. We ate supper (leftover turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, etc., which was just as tasty today as it was yesterday), then watched the finale of "Survivor", which managed to break my heart even though I didn't watch all season. Then I did some more Christmas stuff, did some Wikipedia research, and proofread until now. Hopefully I can finish proofreading tomorrow so I can get back to SCOTSMEN before Malcolm and Amelia commit mutiny and run away to star in some other, faster author's story.

And now, I shall sleep -- goodnight!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

red solo cup

I'm way too tired to still be awake, but I've been thinking about Christmas presents (always a challenge) and marketing strategies (related to my writing, not to convincing my family that they want whatever I've bought for them, although perhaps I should explore that too). Today was lovely, though -- we celebrated Christmas with the Wamplers, which really should be a movie. You'd pay to see it, right?

The fam showed up around ten, which was an ungodly early hour for me and rather late for all of them. And we hung out all day; my mother made a delicious holiday feast (turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, green bean casserole, spinach salad, cranberry sauce, jello ribbon salad), and we were all quite merry. Later in the afternoon, we opened gifts -- the giftgiving has slowed down since my brother and I are well into our twenties (er, thirty for me) and there are no longer any children on that side of the family, but it was still fun. Our cousin Drewbaby is a senior in high school, and so we all got various versions of his senior pictures. In return, my brother and I gave him various accoutrements that he will need in college (a deck of cards, ping pong balls, red solo cups, a funnel, some plastic pipe, etc.; what he decides to do with all of that is completely up to him, and I trust that he will be a thoughtful and responsible young man). I also got a v. cool leather bound journal/book thing from Aunt Becky and Scandalous Uncle Brian, which is so pretty that I might have to use it as decoration rather than as a repository for my thoughts.

Becky and Brian left sometime around fiveish and took Gram back to her apartment on the way, but Mark/Kathy/Drewbaby stuck around for another hour or two before heading north. After they left, I hung out in the kitchen with the parents for awhile, ate some leftovers, watched some "48 Hours Mystery" on CBS (of course), and eventually came downstairs, where I worked on marketing for awhile, messed around on YouTube (which was directly related to my marketing thoughts), and then explored Christmas ideas. And now I must go to bed -- tomorrow is my mother's birthday, which will be celebrated with brunch and Cyclones basketball, which is v. different from the birthday celebrating that Chandlord will be doing at a gay piano bar (although I shall be there in spirit). Goodnight!

Friday, December 16, 2011

plum plum plum plum...

I was supremely unproductive today, and it makes me sad. Of course, I slept late, which is to be expected. Then I spent a couple of hours messing around with my computer and my nook; I got back the formatted epub version of HEIRESS today, which I need to proofread in the next couple of days. It was super exciting to see it on my nook, I must say. The cover showed up in the library, just like all the other books, and the initial peek I took at it showed that the formatting looks great and v. professional. So, once I proofread it, it's done, and the fun and trauma of publicizing and getting ready for the launch can begin in earnest.

Sometime in the middle of the afternoon, I decided to brave the wild winds (not really; "brave the wild winds" is the title of the first romance novel I ever read) and go for a walk. However, I only made it as far as the yard. My dad was standing by his fence watching his miniature cattle, which are quite charming, I must say. So I examined them with him while he told me all about them, which was a lovely interlude even if it required no physical effort beyond holding myself upright. Then I returned to the house, had a snack, and eventually realized that I needed to shower immediately, since we needed to leave to go to my niece and nephew's school Christmas program.

We left home shortly after five p.m. and went to the next big town over for supper before the concert. In a nod to my gluten sorrows, we skipped Pizza Ranch and instead had Chinese buffet; it was actually pretty tasty, although it was obviously never going to give Hong Kong Flower Lounge a run for its money. There wasn't a single bean curd in sight, nor were there any chopsticks, but I was satisfied with the rest of it. We also ran into my second-grade teacher, which was nice. Then we went to the small town where my sister lives and sat through an hour of Christmas music. Zane and Allie are in the high school choir (he's a senior; she's a sophomore), and I thought the choir was quite good. The sixth grade band led things off and they were cutely, laughably terrible, as is usually true with sixth grade bands. The high school band was significantly better; I was expecting good things, since that school district usually did well against ours in the marching band competition we always went to (although we win virtually every year, and have since I was in high school). And they were good, although their strength was in their percussion section, which was really quite excellent.

And now that I feel bad for critiquing children, I should go to bed. After the concert, we came home, helped mom get ready for tomrrow's Wampler family Christmas, and then [censored] and I wrapped presents and watched YouTube videos. I must sleep now if I'm going to get up in time to enjoy lunch at a time that will feel like breakfast. Yay. Goodnight!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

leave tonight or live and die this way

As expected, I'm utterly exhausted -- but on the whole, today was as smooth as I could possibly ask for. I woke up on time and was ready exactly when the car service showed up to take me to the airport. The driver was v. pleasant and gave me his card to arrange cars on the side with him (and he also told me I didn't look thirty, which is always welcome). Check-in was a breeze and I had time to grab a latte and some yogurt before getting on my flight. Both my flights were totally on time, my luggage made it home, and I had no issues anywhere. And, I plotted a possible novella tie-in to SCOTSMEN (because what I really need to be doing right now is plotting a secondary story -- but I had this idea years ago to write a novella related to Malcolm's ancestor, the first earl, and his kidnapped bride (medieval, obvi), and I want to see where it goes).

Upon reaching Des Moines, the family picked me up and we went out for an oddly-timed meal at four p.m., which was totally welcome given that my eating schedule was already way off from having a burrito bowl at the equivalent of ten a.m. my time. After 'dinner', we went to Target and did some Christmas/other shopping, then went to Menards/Home Depot to look for another item before finally coming home. Once we got here, I watched "The Mentalist", then came downstairs and unpacked fully so that I can focus on writing tomorrow.

I also cleaned off my desk, and while sorting through papers in my paper organizer, I stumbled across some truly embarrassing shit. Stuff like photos of me in a cloak and dress at a Mormon Trail reenactment. Or the photo of me wearing a men's tshirt as a nightgown, a big floppy hat, huge rhinestone earrings, and gloves while reading "The Secret Garden". I also found a bunch of programs from various activities I did in high school (and I made myself toss the duplicates -- do I really need three programs from the one-act play I was in freshman year?). And, there were cards that I sent to my grandmothers over the years; they saved them, apparently, and all the things I sent them have worked their way back into my hands as we've sorted through their stuff. It made me feel slightly nostalgic; there were a few letters that I wrote just for the hell of it without any holiday attached, and I felt a twinge of guilt because I haven't done that for anyone in ages. I kind of miss letter-writing -- if I'm industrious, maybe I'll get my fill by writing some Christmas cards over the next few days.

The papers on the desk were the tip of the memory iceberg, of course; I have a full file cabinet and ten+ boxes in my closet, and I'm debating cleaning out the file cabinet while I'm home. But it probably shouldn't be a priority, unlike SCOTSMEN, which I desperately need to finish. Now, though, I should sleep if I want to get up and work tomorrow -- goodnight!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

take your fast car and keep on driving

I need to get up in six hours, so I'll keep this brief. Surprisingly, I got through everything I was supposed to do today (except for finishing my book, but hey, you knew that was coming). I drove down to Palo Alto and trained with Alyssa, who was appropriately demanding in honor of my departure; we said our goodbyes at the end, since I won't see her for three weeks (she's leaving for Hawaii right before I get back). Then, I took the fastest shower I've ever taken there (the Kiehl's products encourage me to linger), left the gym, and went to Joanie's for lunch. It was also the quickest Joanie's lunch I've ever had -- the server brought me a diet coke before I asked for one, and it seemed like they made my Cobb salad when they saw me walking up the sidewalk, because I only waited about three minutes for it. Ah, the joys of being a regular. The server noticed my gluten allergy because I've declined bread the past couple of times, so we commiserated over that, and I generally left feeling quite happy about my last salad-eating experience of 2011.

I drove home immediately (well, with a stop to grab coffee at Philz, since I needed caffeine to get me through the rest of the day), and spent some quality time on the phone (NTSB recommendations be damned, although it was via a manufacturer-installed hands free device) with [censored] so that we could discuss our plan of attack for Christmas gift giving. We made remarkable progress today, although there's still a lot of shopping (and even more wrapping) to be done. I spent far more time than I intended this afternoon thinking about, looking at, conversing about, and ordering Christmas gifts, but I suppose that's time I won't have to spend later.

I spent the rest of the evening packing, with an hour and a half break to have dinner with Terry and her aunt, who is visiting for a conference. We went to Perry's, our old standby down the street, where we ate far too many potato skins with cheese/bacon/sour cream. I also had a small bowl of chili (delicious) and half a crab (also delicious), which made for the weirdest combination of foods I've had in awhile, but it was the best I could do sans gluten at a place where I usually get sandwiches. It was all really tasty, though, so I have no regrets. Then we came home, I did my dishes and finished packing, and now I must go to sleep. My flight leaves at seven a.m., which is earlier than I like to wake up, let alone earlier than I like to be showered, dressed, and through security. Goodnight!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

you may case the grounds from the cascades to puget sound

I'm flipping exhausted, which is perhaps to be expected considering that I traveled for seven hours today to get back to my apartment. I woke up at 4:45, took a quick shower, grabbed my backpack, drove to the airport, parked in the international terminal, and went to security to check in. Then I grabbed a coffee and some fruit and walked toward my gate -- only to discover that gate 91 is not after gate 90, but rather is in the international terminal instead of the domestic terminal. Blame my sleep-deprived pre-caffeine brain. So I walked back across the entire length of terminal three, through the connector, and into the international terminal (which, observant readers will note, is where I started when I parked my car). I made it just as my flight was starting to board, so it all worked out.

Then I sat on the plane for two hours and wrote several pages, which was great. When I got to my destination (Seattle, which I feel exceedingly guilty about since I have several friends in Seattle whom I've never visited, but I simply didn't have time to take a trip right now, and so doing this round-trip-while-working thing was the only way to get miles), I sat in an airport restaurant and ate a subpar omelet while listening to a woman and her adult son get v. drunk (they were asking for triple shots at 9:30am, which the restaurant wouldn't do), then yell at each other over whether the son had stolen money from her when she couldn't find the cash she thought she had. Bad news bears for them. Then, I got on another plane and came straight back to San Francisco, drove home, and have worked ever since.

I'll admit I wasn't as productive as I could have been this afternoon because I was so tired, but I accomplished a ton today, so that's all good news. And now, I really must sleep; I'm training with Alyssa tomorrow, and then I have to pack and keep writing before going to Iowa on Thursday. Goodnight!

Monday, December 12, 2011

all your mental armor drags me down

I must go to sleep immediately; I'm getting up super early (i.e. 4:45am) in what amounts to a dry run for Thursday's flight home. As mentioned v. briefly last week, I'm doing a roundtrip tomorrow solely to accrue enough miles to keep premier status on United; I'll be back in San Francisco in the afternoon, and I'm using my quality time on the plane to keep forging ahead on Malcolm and Amelia. I know, I'm totally ridiculous.

Today was fine, but I shan't discuss it in detail because I desperately need to sleep. Suffice it to say that I trained with Alyssa, ran a whole bunch of v. necessary errands, quickly said hello to Gyre (since our every-three-weeks lunches happened to fall on Thanksgiving and on my flight home this week, which means it would have been 9+ weeks between lunches if I waited to see him until after the holidays), came home, worked, hung a bunch of picture frames, had a v. quick fly-by dinner with Chandlord at some Moroccan place, and then watched last night's "Once Upon a Time" with Terry. I was v. saddened by tonight's episode, mostly because I guessed what the outcome would be and was proven right when I really hoped to be wrong. Sigh.

And now, to bed -- hopefully I'll have a safe and pleasant journey to San Francisco tomorrow! Goodnight!

may your days be merry and bright

Ah, sweet elixir coursing through my veins. I didn't intend to be lying in bed weaving slowly and cheerfully through the fumes of a whisky/rum cloud that will eventually turn into a hangover, but c'est la vie (or c'est ma vie? I don't know French, but this is definitely my life, if not the life). When I awoke this morning, I took a shower and went to Morning Due to have breakfast and write for awhile -- and I was successful, too, writing several pages over eggs and coffee. On my way home, I stopped at Safeway for eggs and cream, then stopped at BevMo (Beverages and More, for the uninitiated) and bought rum, bourbon, cointreau, maraschino liqueur, and two bottles of wine. The cointreau was for Terry; the maraschino liqueur was for my future attempts to recreate the Hemingway daiquiri; and the rum and bourbon were for the egg nog that I wished to experiment with tonight.

When I got home, Terry was in the midst of major holiday preparations -- she had been baking cookies and shopping for ornaments, but right when I got home, she and her sister went down the street and bought a Christmas tree to decorate. So, I spent the late afternoon decorating; she took care of the tree, but I did other things I'd been meaning to do, like reorganizing the living room bookshelves, changing the lightbulbs in the kitchen, and starting to hang the picture frames we've been intending to hang for ages. Katrina came over around 6:30, and we went to Roam to pick up burgers (which were utterly delicious, and may have convinced Katrina that there are benefits to living in the Marina, since they had turkey burgers sans buns, which was right up her alley).

Then, I made the egg nog, and the night devolved from there. By the time Terry had a cup of it (which was not a full glass -- I was serving them in my Irish coffee glasses, which are more like 8oz, and they weren't full), she was too drunk to even think of driving her sister home. Katrina was smart and went the Hemingway daiquiri route, which meant she was eventually able to bike home; I was not smart, and had three glasses of nog, and so was quite pleasantly drunk while Terry and I watched all of "White Christmas" with Bing Crosby. I'd never seen it before, so Terry was drunkenly adamant that we had to watch it -- and I must say that I totally enjoyed it, hammered or not.

And now, I must sleep. If you would like to make your own egg nog, the recipe is here: http://256.com/gray/recipes/eggnog/. The ingredients are 4 eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 cup white rum, 1 cup bourbon, 1 1/2 cup milk, and 1 cup whipping cream, which should explain why we got so thoroughly soused. It tasted nothing like the uber thick, cloyingly sweet nonalcoholic carton egg nogs of my youth, and everything like a whisky shot with just enough of something else (uh, rum?) added to keep me from throwing up in disgust. Yum. Now that I've sold you on it (really, it was delicious), enjoy. Goodnight!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

good girls don't but i do

It's either write some more or go to bed, so I'm choosing bed -- while I've written diligently tonight, it wasn't coming easily or quickly, and I'm too tired to gird my loins for a continued slog through the blown-out detritus of Malcolm and Amelia's story in my ongoing effort to superglue it all back together. However, today was generally good. I woke up at 8:15am (shocking, I know) and went to Berkeley for my romance writing chapter's Christmas party. It was really just our usual meeting, although it included lunch and involved a few inspirational speeches from within the chapter rather than a guest speaker. They had asked me to be one of the four speakers, and I must say that it went really well -- I got several nice comments afterwards, and I think that I struck a chord with some people, which is always nice. I'd like to do more speaking in the future at romance/publishing events, so this was a good baby step in terms of practice, and it was also fun since I really do enjoy this chapter way more than my averse-to-groups self originally anticipated when I first joined last year.

After the speeches were over, I had lunch with the people at my table (including two phenoms in the self-publishing world -- my friend Tina and another woman whose publishing name is either Bella or Lucy, depending on what she's writing, although her real first name is something else entirely). Then, I drove back to the evil city and spent some quality time hanging out with Terry. She may not have thought it was quality time, since we ended up watching the last half hour of "King Arthur" when she flipped through the channels and landed there -- yet another half hour of my life lost to the shame and crawling misery of knowing that I so eagerly anticipated that movie and was so bitterly disappointed, to the detriment of ever getting anyone to go to another movie with me again. Sigh. We eventually went to Starbucks and got coffee, and then we came home and I locked myself in my room the rest of the night (with a brief excursion downstairs to get a Diet Mountain Dew out of the fridge).

The writing is going okay, but I certainly didn't write nonstop for the past six hours, much to my chagrin. I did finally figure out what was blocking me, though, and once I figured that out, I made progress pretty quickly. I pray that tomorrow will continue along that line (the line where I progressed quickly, not the line in which I was blocked), but surely sleep will help. Goodnight!

Friday, December 09, 2011

i can't tell you what it really is, i can only tell you what it feels like

If I weren't supposed to be writing a book, today would have been unequivocally lovely. I woke up early but not too early (is nine a.m. early? possibly not), drove down to Palo Alto, and worked out with Alyssa. My workout went amazingly badly, since I kept feeling nauseous and lightheaded -- probably because I had trail mix for breakfast on the way down rather than fueling up properly because I wasted too much time prepping a box to send back to Barnes and Noble (which I then left on the kitchen table, alas), but it was still good to see Alyssa. After that I showered and got the smoothie she told me to have, which made me feel better, and I felt fine the rest of the day, so yay to that.

I had to be back at my old place of employment at three p.m. to see Heather (aka dear respected madam), and I needed a place to work until then, so I texted John to see if he was working at a cafe this afternoon. He was, although I ended up not getting a ton of work done; we had lunch, then coffee, then worked for a bit, but I only wrote a few paragraphs of Malcolm and Amelia's story. He had to go to a meeting just as dear respected madam came over to hang out, so she took the chair he vacated, and she and I proceeded to talk for two and a half hours. It was lovely to see her, particularly since I hadn't seen her alone in ages, so we caught up as fully as we could.

Then I looked at my phone and realized that I was ten minutes late for my next plan, which was margaritas and Mexican food with Terry and Lauren (aka Subz). So I sped over there and hung out with them for two hours, which was fantastic; Lauren was in good form, as always, and we compared notes on what we've heard about each other from Alyssa this week, so that was entertaining. Then we all parted ways and drove back to the evil city in our own conveyances. When I got home, Terry and I watched the most recent "Bones", followed by a couple of episodes of "Say Yes to the Dress", which was either the best or the worst possible way to end a Friday night.

And now, my dears, I really must go to bed; I have to be in Berkeley early tomorrow for the monthly romance writers meeting, and so I should sleep immediately. Goodnight!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

nathaniel and superfly

I didn't make as much progress as I intended to make with the sequence of the book that I'm working on right now, but today was still lovely. It started earlier than I planned, which threw off my energy for the day; I was still asleep at 9:30 when our housekeeper knocked on my bedroom door. She had apparently been downstairs, and while I thought I heard something, I hadn't bothered to wake up and check. She comes every other week and usually comes in the afternoons, so I had planned to vacate before she showed up, but that plan failed. So I spend some time checking my email, etc., while she cleaned up, and then after she left, I made myself a late breakfast/early lunch, showered, got dressed (with my cute new boots, despite the fact that my plans involved some walking), and drove over to the northwest point of the city to visit the Legion of Honor.

The Legion of Honor is an arts museum, housed in a building originally intended to honor California's WWI casualties. The setting couldn't be more gorgeous -- it's on a cliff overlooking the cold depths of the Pacific, surrounded by trees and hills. I can't believe I have never been there before, given how long I've lived out here; I will hit up every museum I run across when I'm traveling, but I haven't been to any of the museums in San Francisco except for the SFMoMA (ironic, since I am not really into modern art, and yet I've been there many times). I wouldn't have gone today, but I had to go; I've been waiting for a year and a half to see a traveling exhibit that was coming here, and while it started in August, I'd never gotten around to going. It ends on the 31st, so if I didn't see it now, it wouldn't happen.

I'm so glad I went. The exhibit was 'The Mourners: Tomb Sculptures From the Court of Burgundy' -- and from the fact that it's tomb sculptures, you should bet your money on this being a research trip for the gargoyle book, not anything related to Malcolm and Amelia. The first two dukes of Burgundy had these fantastically elaborate tombs constructed within a Carthusian monastery they sponsored solely for the purpose of holding their tombs (if I were to die in my sleep tonight, I can guess where I would be buried, but even though I know the approximate location of the plot, it's a far cry from a tomb that would take twenty years to carve within a sprawling monastic community built to pray for my soul). Under the tomb of each duke (father and son, btw, with their wives), there are dozens of intricately carved alabaster figures, all in mourning for the bodies lying above them.

While the mourners usually live in Dijon, home of the former Burgundian court (but not in their original location, thanks to the damned French peasants who destroyed tons of stuff back in the 1790s), that museum is currently being renovated, and so the mourners went on tour in the US. It was actually way cooler to see them here than it would be to see them in the tomb itself -- in the San Francisco exhibit space, each of them were displayed apart from each other with enough room to get up close, see them from all angles, and appreciate the artistry of each piece rather than seeing it all in aggregate. If you want to see what I'm talking about, the mourners site is here.

Anyway, I got tons of good ideas, and I bought the exhibit book so that I can refresh my memory later. I wrote some notes in the museum cafe, then wandered around a bit more and spent half an hour in the porcelain gallery, where I was basically undisturbed since no one seems to care about porcelain even though this was one of the most amazing collections of late 1700s English and French porcelain I've ever seen. Yeah, I'm that much of a dork.

Post-porcelain, I came home, knowing that I couldn't do the rest of the museum justice in the time I had left, so I'll have to return someday. Once home, I did some writing, although not as much (or, more importantly, as well) as I would have liked -- so when Terry came home, I was super eager for a distraction, and so watched tv the rest of the night. And now I'm going to go to bed at the insanely early hour of midnight so that I can get up and write before meeting with Alyssa. Goodnight!

the bad boys are standing in the shadows

I don't really want to talk about today. My panic and despair over the book are about to consume me, and so I spent the day avoiding the panic and despair by avoiding most conscious thought -- sounds like a good plan, right? I think I needed a break so that I can hit it hard tomorrow, so I'm not beating myself up over today, but I need to get in gear tomorrow, lest I end up needing to beat myself up in my next blog post.

I did a bit of work this morning/afternoon, but I had to stop around 1:45 and go downtown to the mall. Yes, I had to. I had made an appointment at the spa to use my monthly credit on a facial, and I couldn't reschedule it because there are v. few days of the month left in which I will be here, so it had to be done. I went slightly early and returned a pair of shoes to Bloomingdales, then chatted with John for a few minutes (since our ye olde blood of Lincoln dinners are a bygone memory now that I've moved to the evil city) before going into the spa. My facial was good, but at the end of it, I actually succeeded in canceling my membership. Or I think I succeeded -- while the spa is awesome, half their yelp reviews are one-star reviews over how difficult it was to cancel, so we'll see whether I was successful when I check my credit card early next month. Since I've been saying for a year that I was going to cancel, and then getting seduced into staying, I was quite proud of my fortitude. I promptly squandered my fortitude by buying a pair of boots at Nordstrom, but they were less than the shoes I'd just returned, so in my head, all the math today worked out in my favor.

When I got home, Terry was here, and we watched this week's "How I Met Your Mother" (devastating) and some YouTube before I came upstairs and worked. The manuscript wasn't going well at all, though, and I ended up pulling out my Nintendo DS, which I rarely play, just to shut down my mind for a bit. It worked, but now I must go to sleep so that I can get up tomorrow and try, try again. Goodnight!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

my kingdom for a fitted tunic

Today was the kind of day I probably needed to have, although I can't help but regret that I didn't write anything substantive for Malcolm and Amelia's book. Instead, today was all about catching up on all the things that had been piling up on my to-do list (or rather, lists) over the past few weeks as I've ignored everything to make progress on the stupid book. Yes, I'm calling it a stupid book; I'm feeling rather wistful and forlorn about how much I've ended up rewriting it, and Terry saw the wild desperation in my eyes when she got home -- she's being v. cautious around me these days, which is probably for the best.

sssanyway, I spent the whole day and night engaged in busy work, but I'm feeling much more caught up on my other responsibilities (volunteer activities, Christmas lists, my three main email accounts, etc.), so hopefully I can write tomorrow without feeling like I'm dangerously close to missing majorly important deadlines. I did take a wee break with Terry tonight; we picked up salads at Blue Barn and watched the latest episode of "Once Upon a Time", which I *adored* (adored adored adored). Since my brain is turning to mush and I was much punchier than usual, I think I amused Terry with my commentary (I don't always commentate, but this episode deserved it) -- or, see above about how she's being cautious with me. Perhaps she didn't want to risk getting shanked with a fountain pen, and so pretended that she thought I was hilarious. But the episode was great and I am having some serious fangirl lust for Prince Charming; if any of you know where I can find a dude like him, sans the stupid poncho he was wearing for three minutes of the episode, I would be most grateful.

After that, I came upstairs and worked until now. And now I really must, must go to sleep, before my precarious mental state tips me over the edge into outright insanity. I rather like most of my garments and don't want to start rending them, nor do I wish to tear out my hair, and I'm too attached the clean floors to cover myself in ashes -- so any mourning over the death and rebirth of Malcolm and Amelia will have to be done quietly and with minimal gnashing of teeth. Goodnight!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

all the good girls are home with broken hearts

I should have gone to bed as soon as I got home -- since I got home at 12:30, that wouldn't have been an early bedtime by any means. I went down to Palo Alto today, and while I wasn't particularly productive in the early afternoon, I managed to kick it into high gear and write seventeen pages before abandoning the library around 11:30pm.

While I feel good about what I've written and the changes I've made, I am also verging on panic over how much I have left to do. The problem is that the rewrite that started as a minor attempt to fix plot and continuity issues turned into a major rewrite to fix pacing and development issues, which turned into a wholesale rewrite of every scene, scrapping at least half of them entirely. For instance, I rewrote the wedding scene today -- and really, all I kept was the location, what Amelia was wearing, and a few snippets of dialogue over the course of ten pages. It's no wonder this book is killing me. But, I suppose the good news is that if I pull this off, I've proven to myself that I can write a book in approximately two months -- which isn't entirely accurate, since the hardest bits around getting to know the characters and exploring a variety of options with the plot/structure was already done, but it makes writing a book every 3-4 months seem more realistic than it used to.

Now, though, I really must sleep -- I need to repeat (or double, or triple) this feat tomorrow. Goodnight!

Monday, December 05, 2011

don't you leave him, samwise gamgee

What shall I say about today? What can I say that will keep you from skimming this, looking for your own name before moving on to other internet pursuits? Probably nothing, I realize, so I'll just write what I normally write, and you can go about your merry way. Today was lovely in a quiet sort of way; I woke up close to noon, after my time out and about last night, and discovered that I'm probably getting sick -- the vague sore throat, the early stages of a cough, and the sinus problems gave it away. I didn't mope around feeling sorry for myself, though; I took a quick shower, and then Terry and I went to Morning Due and ate/worked for a couple of hours. I wrote four pages of a v. intense post-coital scene with Malcolm and Amelia, which I felt v. good about. Then I came home and talked to my parents for awhile; nothing's changed since I was home four days ago, although my father now has a herd of cattle, so I suppose that's a change worth noting (miniature cattle, which is even more worth noting).

Post parental call, I sat around for a bit and got annoyed over the BCS championship, since I would have liked to have seen Oklahoma St play LSU (and felt slightly bad for OSU that the game that kept them out of the championship was their loss to Iowa State, but c'est la vie). However, the Stanford/Oklahoma St matchup in the Fiesta Bowl should be a great game, particularly since [censored] went to Oklahoma St for grad school, and this is one of those rare times when our college teams will play each other. I v. nearly succumbed to temptation and got tickets for the Fiesta Bowl, since Chris Boyd is going and we had discussed it last night; however, upon further reflection, I would rather spend several hundred dollars on airfare to London/Paris (or, equally likely, alcohol) than on a two-day trip to Arizona. I may regret this if we never go to a bowl again in my lifetime, but I live in hope.

I was supposed to have family dinner with Chandlord and Katrina at 7:30, but at 6:15 (just as I was about to write for an hour, I swear), Chandlord called and asked if I wanted to have a drink with her first. That was a temptation I couldn't resist, so I picked her up and we went to Nopa, a bar/restaurant conveniently close to Katrina's place. Katrina joined us there v. shortly thereafter, and we all enjoyed a nice hipster cocktail (I had a Hemingway daiquiri to replace the one that I spilled at Adit's Christmas party several weeks ago; Chandlord had a cocktail involving amontillado (not an entire cask of it, just a shot) sherry and champagne; and Katrina had a v. lovely hot toddy). I must say that pretentious hipster cocktails are right up my alley. This bar even had a bottle of Templeton Rye prominently displayed, which will mean nothing to anyone who lives outside of Iowa or isn't a rye fanatic, but nearly made me abandon my hatred of whisky long enough to have a drink made out of it. I would like to get really good at making hipster cocktails, but living in a city like San Francisco, it's easier to just go out and get one or five whenever you feel like it.

After our drink, we nearly had another drink, but instead made a prudent decision to continue on to dinner at Enjoy Vegetarian in the Inner Sunset. They are, as you guessed, vegetarian, although they perform some sort of weird alchemy on things like seitan and tofu to make them taste like meat. In fact, I was a little weirded/grossed out by how much the fake stuff actually tasted like sea bass in the "eggplant sea bass" dish -- half the things on their menu look like meat dishes because they're called things like "sea bass" and "beef" (those sound like meat, right? am I crazy?), but they're actually weird soy/gluten products. However, everything was really tasty, and I did enjoy it. We also ran into Adit and Priyanka, who were there with Adit's brother-in-law and the BIL's brother, although we all pretended that we didn't know each other, which was the highlight of my evening.

We all decided after dinner that another drink was foolish, so I dropped them both off and came home. Then I proceeded to forget my decision of twenty minutes earlier and had a drink with Terry, although I didn't have to leave my house for it, since she made us cosmos so that we could drink while watching some tv. She went to bed, and I should have written, but instead I booked a round-trip-in-a-day flight to a secret location in a few days -- you'll have to read the blog to see where I go. I checked my United status and realized that I hadn't hit premier with my last trip -- I thought I would, and so I used miles to book my ticket home for Christmas rather than buying the ticket. But I'm 450 miles short, so I found a $100 roundtrip ticket for next Tuesday, leaving here at 7am and getting back around 2pm. If I had more time and wasn't trying to write a book, I would have gone overnight and seen Walter or Lizzie or someone else in the general vicinity, but time is of the essence, so instead of going to a cafe and writing next Tuesday, I'll just do my writing on an airplane. It feels a little ridic to do this, but given that $100 covers the cost of my bag check fees for two trips home next year that would be waived if I had premier status, I think it's worth it, particularly since I usually go home 3-4 times and also intend to go to London/Paris, New York, and possibly Dallas/Chicago/New Orleans (romance conferences - tbd).

But now, I really need to sleep; I have to train tomorrow, and I hope my illness doesn't take over before then. Goodnight!

Sunday, December 04, 2011

show up and throw up

I'm still not done with SCOTSMEN, thanks for asking. I did make progress today, though, so that's good news. I woke up around eleven, showered, and was debating whether to make something for lunch, go out in the city for lunch, or drive to Palo Alto and have lunch when Terry asked whether I wanted to grab food. So we finally tried a breakfast/brunch cafe on Union Street that we've been meaning to try, and it turns out that the food was awesome. I had huevos rancheros, which are perfect for my gluten-free life since there are corn tortillas that make me feel like I'm getting some form of carb without loading up on wheat. And it turns out the huevos rancheros were actually really good; a lot of times they're a weird side addition to the menu that does not go well, but I would definitely eat these again.

So Terry and I lingered over brunch and caught up some more, since we haven't really seen each other in the last couple of weeks. Then, I came home, called Barnes and Noble about my defective Nook (they're sending a replacement, yay), took care of a couple of tings, and packed my bag to go down to Stanford and work. I wouldn't have gone down, but I needed to be there tonight for a party, so I decided to go a few hours early and write. That meant packing a backpack full of writing supplies and another bag with makeup and high heels to change into before heading to the party, but it all worked out quite well. I spent three hours at Stanford library and wrote a v. hot sex scene (Malcolm and Amelia don't love each other yet, but they sure want each other) while students around me studied for finals. Yes, it's weird, but it all worked out well.

Around 7:30, I left the library, went to my car and grabbed my makeup, and refreshed myself before heading over the Chris and Connie's for their Christmas/Chris's birthday party. His birthday isn't until the 20th, but they were celebrating early, and I had a lovely time. I stopped on the way to buy a bottle of wine, and I'm glad that he opened it while I was still there, since it was my favorite wine of the night (and his too, I believe; I purposefully bought the same wine he brought to my birthday dinner a couple of months ago, assuming that he loves it, which he does). Connie made all sorts of awesome hors d'oeuvres, and I'm sure I'll feel ill in the morning since I had way too much gluten (my stomach hurts right now). I hadn't had dinner and didn't have time to stop since I lost track of time and was already running late, so I ended up eating too many pigs in a blanket, which was a delicious mistake.

But the party was fun; obviously Chris and Connie were there, but I also got to see Chris and Kristen, Peder (aka Timmy) and Suzy, Adit, and Scott and Catherine, all of whom were in good form. There were some other people there whom I didn't know and didn't really meet, since even in a small party like that, our clique tends to isolate itself. Or perhaps I tend to isolate myself but always have someone to isolate myself with. Either way, Chris, Folkie, Kristen, Adit, Timmy, Suzy and I ended up out on the patio under the heat lamp, drinking wine and reminiscing until everyone else left and it was too cold to sit outside. So we rejoined Connie inside and continued to chat until sometime after midnight. I was the last one to leave, awkwardly, since everyone else left while I was in the bathroom, and I got home around 1:45. You needed to know that detail, right?

And now, my friends, I must sleep. You know what awaits me tomorrow, but if you can't put words to my fate, I'll say it for you: Malcolm and Amelia are going to try to bludgeon me to death, and I'm going to do my level best to write fast enough to avoid dying. Goodnight!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

once i rose above the noise and confusion just to get a glimpse beyond this illusion

Hello, weekend. You feel remarkably similar to all my other days, except Terry is home, which hasn't been true for awhile. And while other people use you to get in the holiday spirit, attend parties, connect with loved ones, and eat copious amounts of gluten, I shall do none of those things, because SCOTSMEN has me by the throat and I'm going to die if I don't finish it. [well, perhaps I will go to a party, but don't tell SCOTSMEN]

I was moderately productive today, but it wasn't enough. I drove down to the glorious south bay to train with Alyssa, who forgave me for not walking a lot while I was at home when I told her about my walk in the 37-degree weather over gravel and past aggressive dogs to a cemetery that was preferable to the route that would have taken me over a dirt road past a rumored bobcat dwelling. She was in good form and I got through my entire planned workout despite being dehydrated and tight, so success! After I showered, I ate a salad at the gym cafe, and then made a snap decision to go to Stanford library and work rather than coming home. This was a difficult decision because I tend to get a lot done at the library, but going on a Friday afternoon means committing until evening, since I wouldn't want to deal with Friday traffic anytime after two or three p.m.

Thus committed, I went to the library, read an article on Martin Scorsese and the creative life, felt v. inspired, and realized that writing is the only thing in my life that I wouldn't want to retire from; I could see myself writing until my death, no matter how much money I make or how comfortable I am. Thus inspired, I promptly squandered my inspiration and only wrote six pages. Bleh. I left around six in search of food, but nothing on campus met the appropriate combo of gluten-free and tasty, so I left campus and intended to go to Chipotle. However, Chipotle's line was out the door, so I went in search of the even tastier fare at Palo Alto Sol. There, I had some delicious enchiladas (with corn tortillas, yay gluten free) and a tasty margarita while writing another page or so, and then repaired to the Starbucks across the street to write for another half an hour until they closed. I finally felt confident enough to brave the traffic, which was only bad for a few miles around the airport, and made it home around nine.

I intended to write some more, but my new Nook showed up on my doorstep this afternoon, and I wanted to play with it. Unfortunately, it appears to be defective, which is super annoying; the bottom half of the screen is black and remains black no matter what I do. I even went through the painstaking guess and check process of registering the device (using the keyboard that was present beneath the blackness - good thing I know my keyboards so well that I could figure out how to enter my info), then figuring out how to reset the device (also on a menu that was blacked out), but to no avail. Sadness. It makes me want to get a Kobo instead, but we'll see whether B&N will replace it when I call them tomorrow.

Terry got home sometime around 10:30 or 11, so we chatted for awhile, and then she went to bed and I played with my Nook some more. And now I must sleep too; Malcolm and Amelia await me in the morning, likely with cudgels and maces and flails and other medieval weapons that have no place in their story, but since they won't freaking do what they're told, it wouldn't surprise me if they suddenly switched time periods. Goodnight!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

the sound of settling

I was much lazier than I intended to be today. I woke up around ten, showered, ate breakfast, etc., and then decided to go down to Palo Alto with an eye toward working at the library and taking care of a variety of errands. The errands were duly accomplished, and I had a delicious lunch at Joanie's Cafe (my secret true reason for wanting to go down), but with the unpleasant winds and a realization that I didn't want to stay at Stanford until after rush hour, I came home instead. Then I took a nap, because that's what one needs to do after doing nothing. Then I spent some time brainstorming the manuscript, thinking about alternatives, etc., etc.

I settled in to write for real around eight p.m., but then I got lost in Wikipedia and didn't emerge until 10:30. Most of that had nothing to do with SCOTSMEN, alas -- but it had a lot to do with the gargoyles, which I am desperate to return to since I think they could be totally wonderful. So I spent an hour writing some notes of plot/character developments that I've been thinking of for them, which was absolutely not what I needed to be doing, but I didn't want to lose those ideas just to spend another hour banging my head on my desk over SCOTSMEN.

Tomorrow is another day, though, and I can feel myself emerging from the current block -- hopefully it's the only one remaining, since I don't have time to be blocked. And now I shall sleep so that I can write tomorrow; goodnight!

i dreamed a dream

I am back in California, after an utterly uneventful trip. I bid my parents goodbye at home this time, since my brother took me to the airport by himself; he dropped me off on time, and I was able to get a soda and hang out for a few minutes before boarding the flight to Denver. I then sat in Denver for a couple of hours and ate a burrito bowl (sans tortilla in a nod to my gluten problems) and drank a margarita, which made me intensely sleepy for most of the flight from Denver to San Francisco. Needless to say, I didn't get much writing done; I'm mulling over an issue with the middle of the book, and I think I've untangled it, but I didn't want to jinx it by forcing the writing too soon.

On my way home from the airport, I stopped at the grocery store to stock up on writerly snacks, then came home and cleaned the kitchen so that I could put my groceries away and rest easy knowing that I can wake up tomorrow and cook in said kitchen. I also unpacked fully (not hard, since I came back with a carry on and left a bunch of stuff in Iowa), switched the comforter on my bed to my heavier winter version (it's v. windy tonight), messed around on the internet, and then made the mistake of picking up a book.

Of course I read the whole thing straight through; it was ALPHABET OF THORN by Patricia A. McKillip, which was far enough away from the Regency romance genre to be bearable in this, my darkest hour, but also beautiful enough to seduce and interesting enough to enchant. I've read a couple of her other books (THE BELL AT SEALEY HEAD; THE BARDS OF BONE PLAIN), and her style is v. clearly her own; lots of gorgeous language, weird half-explained (or not explained at all) magic, people with strange names, whispers of ancient magic and/or evil weaving through multiple storylines in the 'modern' world. And it always makes me want to write ye olde high fantasy, although it's going to have to wait for the other eighteen books I've already got planned (the remaining 2.5 in the Muses series; seven in a different Regency or possibly Georgian series; four in a Victorian or late-Regency series; four or five in my gargoyles series, not to mention the Olympics idea I was toying with briefly the other night). My imagination encompasses entire worlds -- the trick is sitting down in this one long enough to write them down.

But now I really, really must sleep. I have errands to run tomorrow, and then I must fling myself headlong into SCOTSMEN and finish the damned thing so that I can move on to other stories. Goodnight!