Sunday, November 30, 2008

honey, honey, how you thrill me

Today was excellent, overshadowed only by the fact that I have to go back to work tomorrow. I spent the morning at the Peet's Coffee beside Books Inc.; this gave me a great hour of journal-writing while drinking a latte, followed by some nice browsing through the bookstore. Then I restocked on groceries and did two loads of laundry before meeting Katrina for an afternoon at another cafe. The cafe in question was called Coffee Bar; it seemed overrun by people who work at our company, since I recognized one girl, Katrina knew another, and there were at least a couple more with bags or shirts or laptops that indicated membership in our unholy fraternity. It's unsurprising that it was overrun. It's perhaps the trendiest cafe I've been to in the entire city. There are two levels of seating, an outdoor patio, lots of big tables that force strangers to sit together, and a gorgeous late-afternoon view of Twin Peaks through the glare on the two-story windows.

It was a nice place to catch up with Katrina. It was also a swift and brutal reintroduction to the San Francisco scene after my time in Iowa. When I'm home, I rarely leave the house -- I think I left the house three times in the six days that I was home. And when I do leave the house, it's not like there are teeming masses beyond the fence. So even though I'm now used to the different worlds in which I live and appreciate the idiosyncrasies of each of them, the first day back in either place is a bit strange.

The vast differences in coffee choices in my two homes are perhaps the most difficult to deal with. At home, my favorite "coffee" beverage is "cappuccino" made from powder at the convenience store where I used to work. It's little wonder that the first time I ever had real (or at least realistic) cappuccino, at the Stanford CoHo during Admit Weekend when I was seventeen, I was bitterly disappointed; where convenience store cappuccino is heavily sweetened and utterly lacking in espresso, coffeehouse cappuccino is espresso with just a bit of milk and foam. While I now like real cappuccino (provided that I add some sugar) and frequently order it for dessert when I'm at a nice restaurant, I don't think I'll ever forget the letdown of my first taste of real cappuccino.

Somewhat shockingly, I've now lived over a third of my life in California. I never thought that this would happen. I think I'm far from figuring out where I want to live during the next phase in my life (as an aside, in my journal today I decided that I'm officially out of the post-college phase, but I don't know what the name of my new phase is), and that's mostly because a) I don't like commitment, and b) there are things I love and hate about both Iowa and California, and regardless of where I am, there are things that I miss about the other. Maybe I should just pick up and move to a neutral territory (like Switzerland?). Of course, I still need a job, and so I'll likely stay here for awhile, but when I'm caught up in the excitement of writing and creating new stories and having more adventures, it's very hard to let my pragmatic side regain control.

Okay, since I like getting paid, I should go to bed so that I can go to work tomorrow. Goodnight!

he talks like a gentleman

I successfully made it back to San Francisco tonight, after traveling for a little over eleven hours. The fact that my parents live an hour and a half from the airport and there are no direct flights makes the trip ridiculously long, and happily for me I get to do it again in less than three weeks!

But, the time at home was good and my trip back was uneventful. I spent most of it reading "The Lives of the English Rakes," which is a fascinating history of some of the most debauched men in England. It covers the Restoration, the late Georgian/Regency period, and the late Victorian/early Edwardian periods; while the Georgian/Regency period is of most interest for my romance novels, the Restoration rakes were awesomely insane in their own right. I read the whole thing; for more info, you'll have to check out my Sara Ramsey blog in a couple of days.

I suppose I should go to bed; I need to accomplish some stuff tomorrow, and I will likely see Katrina. Then it's back to work on Monday -- it will be interesting to see how well I can get back into work mode when I know that I'm going home again in only eighteen days. Goodnight!

Friday, November 28, 2008

in which our author gives thanks for delicious turkey

I've had an excellent time at home, although it's drawing rapidly to a close. Most of my family was together for Thanksgiving; Uncle Mark, Aunt Kathy, Drew, Aunt Becky, and her scandalous fiance all came down for the day, which was lovely. We had Thanksgiving Dinner Round 1 with the town -- my grandparents started a community Thanksgiving over thirty years ago, and my grandmother insisted that we go this year. I'll post a picture when I finally download them. The dinner was in the town Centennial Building, which I have blogged about before -- it's a multipurpose community building, holding the city clerk's office, the library, the fire department, and a large space with a kitchen and a stage for town plays, Christmas pageants, auctions, etc. It is probably what Thanksgiving is supposed to be, since it's all about community. We started with a few words from the organizer, and then we all had to sign a hymn that no one knew (the woman who picked it was a war bride from England who moved here after World War II, and she said that they sang it all the time in England), and then the Presbyterian minister said grace before we all ate the lukewarm/cold potluck offerings. Mmm. Apparently the best food was the one I didn't take -- a couple from Cambodia moved to town recently, and they brought egg rolls that were reported to be fantastic. Yay diversity.

After that, we all came back to my parents' house and played Apples to Apples before Thanksgiving Dinner Round 2. My mom wanted turkey leftovers, and I'm glad she did; the turkey she made was one of the best I've ever had, particularly with corn casserole, homemade rolls, mashed potatoes and gravy, and awesome pumpkin pie. I had variations of that meal for lunch and dinner today, and it continues to be awesome; it sucks that I have to go back to California before the leftovers have overstayed their welcome.

We spent today engaged in a traditional Wampler family pursuit -- playing Rail Baron for six or eight hours. We took a break in the middle of the afternoon to accomplish stuff, and I took a tour of my brother's house; while he has some work to do, I'm still jealous that he's a homeowner, even if I wouldn't want to own a house in our hometown right now. When we resumed the game, Dad ended up winning, beating Mom by one turn and about a thousand dollars -- heartbreaking after playing for most of a day, and eerily similar to her loss the last time we played.

I spent the rest of the night updating and my romance blog -- check them out! Now, though, I should go to bed so that I can get up tomorrow in time to go to the airport. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

the cookie is tainted

My father brought home twelve chickens and two roosters today. If you want eggs, we will have plenty of them; one of the chickens laid an egg in the truck on the way home, which is a good sign for their later productivity (unless the cats figure out how to get in and kill them, in which case we will have a lot of chicken and noodles).

The other big news of the day is that I submitted my first official query letters to agents! I submitted to two agents; I'll likely submit to more over the next few days, but I kind of want to see how brutal the reaction is to these letters before I try again. The querying process will likely take months, but at least I'm on the path. I'm going to be sad if I find out that I'm like one of those mothers who never seems to suspect that her kid is actually ugly -- perhaps my book is one of those homely babies, but I can't accept that right now, so I will persist in my belief that it's the most beautiful baby in the whole world.

Of course, that all pales in comparison to the terrorist attacks in Mumbai today. I didn't stay in the Taj Mahal hotel that was attacked, but I stayed in the Taj President in 2005. I met Vishal and went to a nightclub in the Taj Mahal, and also had lunch in one of its restaurants that same weekend. While I didn't have the best time ever in Mumbai due to an extreme bout of food poisoning, I still have fond memories of the place, and it's sad to hear about such insane violent acts. I love India and would like to go back, but I'm sure my family is happy that I'm safe in Iowa instead of gallivanting across the subcontinent in the midst of an upswing in terrorism.

Okay, if I'm going to wake up in time to eat all day, I suppose I should go to bed.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

it's the most wonderful time of the year

Several times on the way to Des Moines today, I saw the same ominous sight -- a large pool of blood on the highway, with rough smears showing that body had been dragged off the roadway into the gravel shoulder. Of course, I assume that these were deer-related, but my overly-fertile imagination went down the serial-killer path before I sternly told myself to keep my eyes on the prize.

The prize in this case is the Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart competition, which I successfully entered today. The award is given yearly to the best unpublished romance manuscripts, and if I final in the contest (which I won't know for months), it could give me a boost in the publication process. It's why I didn't blog yesterday -- I worked on the synopsis for the contest entry almost all of yesterday, and was so tired at the end that I couldn't summon the energy to blog (particularly since my parents could just come into my room and hold a mirror under my nose to check whether I was alive, rather than fretting because I had not blogged). But I finished the synopsis last night and emailed the synopsis and the first fifty pages of my book to a FedEx store in West Des Moines, so six copies were waiting for me when I got there this afternoon. After checking to make sure they were complete, I FedEx'd the entry to the organization headquarters -- and now I just have to wait until March to find out whether I am a finalist.

The rest of the day was pretty good; the other reason for going to Des Moines was to drop off the rental car that I used to surprise my parents, and so they and my brother picked me up at the airport. We had a very late lunch at 2:30ish, at which point I was so hungry that I was afraid I was going to faint, and ended up eating strawberry jam straight out of a packet, which was actually kind of good. We spent the rest of the day shopping and running errands, then came home and had supper before watching another fabulous episode of 'The Mentalist' -- and by "fabulous episode of 'The Mentalist'" I mean "fabulous forty-five minutes fantasizing about Simon Baker, the only blonde whom I love." Did I say too much?

Okay, enough creepiness, I should go to bed!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

over the river and through the woods

If you've ever wondered why I'm crazy, I chalk it up to my formative youth. Case in point -- my father today told me that fertilized eggs are better for you, and when I asked him why, he said that it's the 'little bit of spoo' in them. Yay.

I got to hear this bit of wisdom in person -- I'm in Iowa for the week! It was a surprise; no one knew I was coming except the people at work (in particular Terry, with whom I trusted my itinerary in case I died and she needed to call my parents). I just bought the tickets on Monday, but I got a fabulous deal, and so I'm staying until Saturday. I successfully surprised my parents, which was exactly what I wanted -- maybe I just wanted to be that awesome 1980s Folgers commercial where the guy comes home early on Christmas morning and wakes up his parents with some freshly-brewed coffee. But I didn't brew coffee (although I did have convenience-store cappuccino, a far-but-delicious cry from my nonfat lattes) -- instead, I sat around and watched Mom make supper for me. The only person not pleased to see me was my brother, but that may have been because he'd put a bunch of stuff in my room -- or it may be because he genuinely hates me.

Anyway, Iowa is good, but I'm ready for bed. Goodnight!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

i'll stay alive just to follow you home

I had an excellent day! I decided, based on the cafe that Adit, Katrina and I went to a couple of weeks ago, that the Pac Heights area to my east/north deserved some more exploring. So, I walked over to Fillmore, and then up toward Sacramento. I intended to go to the Peet's Coffee at Fillmore and Sacramento, but stopped a block early at a different cafe. This was good and bad -- the problem with more family-style cafes is that the wait staff's family is there, which means bored, annoying children. And, they were doing construction on the street outside, so it was loud even without the kids. And, two very grumpy old men sat next to me and proceeded to discuss unions with a stance that makes me shudder -- but despite all that, I still enjoyed myself, and was awesomely productive. I finished line-editing my final draft AND input all the changes into my laptop! There are two scenes that I want to rework a little bit because the points-of-view change too abruptly, but that should only take a couple of hours. And then I'm done done done. Hopefully I'll accomplish that tomorrow!

After leaving the cafe, I stopped at Whole Foods to pick up some groceries, and then came home and baked chocolate chip chewies while taking care of stuff around the apartment. If I didn't know what goes into them, I would think that the secret ingredient was liquid crack -- those cookies are insanely addictive. I don't make them now that I'm living by myself because I could easily eat an entire pan, but Terry requested that I make them for her dinner party tonight, and I was more than happy to oblige.

I went to Terry's around six p.m. -- she was having a v. belated birthday celebration (obviously belated, since her birthday is three days after mine), and since we share some friends in common, it was quite nice. I caught up a little with Lauren (aka Subz), hung out with Lisa (in town from LA for Big Game, which was kind of a waste since we got trounced), and continued to develop my budding friendship with Natasha (we may try to have brunch together, which is a key step in the friendship-development phase). I was supposed to go to the movies with them after dinner, but I'm rather tired and wasn't sure I could make it back to the city -- and, true to my hermitish ways, I want to make sure I can get up early enough tomorrow to be productive. Sigh. When the book is finished and submitted to agents, I think I'll take a break through the rest of the holidays (even though I have a fantastic idea for the next book and want to start it...)

Okay, that's all, goodnight!

my public persona

Trolling through my usual suspects on my Google Reader (it's a blog aggregator, for those of you who don't use it), I found a link to It purports to determine the 'personality' of your blog by analyzing your entries and determining what your thought process was while writing it.

My blogging personality is:

ESFP - The Performers

The entertaining and friendly type. They are especially attuned to pleasure and beauty and like to fill their surroundings with soft fabrics, bright colors and sweet smells. They live in the present moment and don´t like to plan ahead - they are always in risk of exhausting themselves.

The enjoy work that makes them able to help other people in a concrete and visible way. They tend to avoid conflicts and rarely initiate confrontation - qualities that can make it hard for them in management positions.

I've said before that my blog personality, while accurate in the sense that I don't lie (except lies in omission) about what's going on in my life, is not 100% 'me' -- so perhaps a performer-style personality for my blog is right on. In real life I'm an ENTJ (although the last test I took said I was back to an ENTP, so maybe I'm softening in my old age) -- but either way, I've never been termed a Sensing or a Feeling, but have always been strong on the iNtuition and Thinking.

Okay, no more internets -- I should go out and write!

Friday, November 21, 2008

lying in my bed i hear the clock tick and think of you

Today was generally good -- I worked out of San Francisco today, which was quite lovely. I had to be at the office at eight a.m., which was a little less painful when I could take the bus/walk rather than sit in traffic cursing the idiots around me. My performance review for Q3 was at eight a.m., and it went well. I did have a moment, though -- my director said that there was very little constructive (i.e. negative) feedback for me, and that I should take this as an opportunity to coach my team so that they write better peer reviews in the future. I almost retorted that maybe they didn't write a lot of constructive feedback because there wasn't a lot of constructive feedback to give me, but I decided to bite my tongue. A few minutes later she said one of my biggest strengths is that I'm so straightforward and 'authentic' in my communication -- while it's true, and I don't lie to people, I do sometimes lie by omission by refraining from expressing exactly how annoyed I am about some of the stupider things I see around me. But, that's probably made me easier to work with in general, so I suppose that's a good thing.

I spent almost the entire day in meetings; because we have a lot of videoconferencing equipment, I was still obliged to do my job even though I wasn't in my home office. I did take a break to have lunch with Katrina, who was working out of the city today as well, so it was nice to have some non-meeting-related human contact. I would have left the office right at 4:30, at the end of my last meeting -- but I started to switch out of my heels and into my sneakers, only to discover that I'd somehow lost a shoe. I went to the previous room and saw it sitting under the chair I had sat in, but two of my colleagues were meeting in the room. I waited for ten minutes, since the sign on the door suggested that they would be done imminently, but I finally had to interrupt them to tell them that I'd left my shoe in the conference room. That's a rather weird thing to announce, but they were v. nice about it and we spent a couple of minutes catching up while I retrieved my sneaker, so all's well that ends well, as they used to say in "Little House on the Prairie."

On the way home, I made a quick stop at the Gap to exchange a shirt that I bought last weekend (the first version had a hole in it), and also did some browsing at Sephora and Macy's but didn't buy anything. When I got home, I made a list of things I want to accomplish this weekend, and am dismayed by how long it is -- so I spent the evening taking care of general household tasks so that I can spend some quality time with my manuscript tomorrow before going to Terry's for dinner. And then the end of the weekend will come all too soon..and the deadline for my contest entry is in a week and a half. That means I need to go to bed RIGHT NOW -- goodnight!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

see me working on the factory floor

I hope my arm doesn't fall off -- when I went in to get my allergy shots today, I told the doctor that Tuesday's dust injection had swelled up fairly sizably, to the point that it was still somewhat red and swollen today. So, she didn't give me a dust shot today, but did give me my tree shot and my grass shot. But the dust and the tree shots had been given in the same arm last time -- and now the new injection site is totally swollen, so it's likely that I misjudged and it was the tree shot that caused the swelling instead of the dust. Since she thought the swelling was bad enough to skip the dose this time, but then she *increased* the dose of the tree shot since that didn't seem to be the issue, the swelling is even worse than before. Fascinating, eh?

Today was an excellent day, although I was late to my eight a.m. meeting. My meetings were all nice, and I had a great mid-day interlude; first I had the allergy shots plus a doctor's checkup (and the doctor asked if I'd gotten my flu shot yet, I said "no" because I didn't intend to get one, and she immediately injected me -- gotta love the free healthcare at work, but in this case I just hope that I don't get the flu from the shot). Then, I saw the end of a talk and had lunch with Bill Murphy, who wrote "In a Time of War," which followed West Point's class of 2002. Pete (one of my team leads) was in that class at West Point, and so he'd helped to arrange for the author to give a talk in our office through our authors program. I really want to read the book now; Pete's pretty open about his experience (he served two tours in Iraq), but I'll never grasp it, and while a book can't make me grasp it either, I'm at least interested to learn more.

Tonight was my management team's monthly "margaritas and pie" get-together; while there is no pie, there are margaritas, and it's a chance for us to get together outside of the office, talk about how we're doing, get to know each other better, etc. It was v. entertaining -- and it was also nice to remember that, regardless of how ridiculous things sometimes are, I really love the people I work with, and that's a big motivating factor.

After margaritas and pie, I drove Pete home (which was basically a continuation of the margaritas and pie discussion), then came home and procrastinated. I get to work out of SF tomorrow; while I have to be there at eight a.m. because I have my performance review with my former manager then, I can spend the rest of the day getting some stuff done and then get home at a v. reasonable hour. Now, though, I should really go to bed -- I need to prep for my review, so I should get up early and make sure I get to work in time to get some caffeine, make some notes, and generally be more awake than most eight a.m. meetings. Goodnight!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

he took her out to high class places...he made a promise in the dark

I am IN LOVE with Simon Baker from "The Mentalist." I was in need of some non-work time this evening, and that included a break from the book, so I watched two episodes of "The Mentalist" while painting my fingernails a nice sparkly red (OPI's "Don't Toy With Me" from their Christmas collection). I totally adore him, and his cheeky little grin, and his three-piece suits (who still wears a vest?), even though I'm usually totally averse to blondes. I probably adore him even more because he's all about the powers of observation, which is v. nice. I will say that I also figured out who the killer was in every episode I've seen so far, but it wasn't because of the reasons that Simon Baker's character had -- it was because the camera lingered on them early on before they were suspects, so perhaps they should rework their indicators. But, I like the show a lot, and it's a good break from my otherwise-ridiculous life.

I'm in a better mood today than I was yesterday, even though nothing really changed -- I'm just calmer. I had meetings all day and the first two hours sucked, but things picked up after that, with a particular bright spot when I ran into Gyre when I was grabbing dessert (homemade mint chocolate chip ice cream) and spent a few minutes gossiping with him, and another bright spot at five when Terry scheduled me for a meeting to break me out of the possibility of another meeting and give me a chance to vent. So I left work feeling much better, and came home and decided that nothing on my achingly-long to-do list was more important than lusting after Simon Baker.

I suppose I should go to bed so that I can get up in time to look presentable for my eight a.m. meeting. Bleh. But tomorrow night is margaritas with my managers, and Friday I get to work out of SF, and then it's the weekend! And next week is a short week, so I just need to make it through five more work days before I get a substantive break. I think I can, I think I can...

Lastly, happy birthday Daddy!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

that's not a secret agent - that's a roided-up cabana boy

I'm watching an episode of Craig Ferguson right now from last week, and I was sad when he said "It's a great day for America everyone -- it's Friday!" I *wish* it was Friday! Sadly, it's only Tuesday, and I shall have to persevere.

My horoscope for today says: "It still may be hard to explain yourself clearly as you are not finished dealing with the challenges presented by your friends or family. You may be quite hopeful today about your future, even if the concrete information you have doesn't paint a pretty picture. All is not lost now because your desire for change may be sufficient to get the ball rolling in the right direction."

I am definitely feeling a desire for change, and I need to remind myself that I don't actually *want* change. I had a lovely hour with Alaska Matt this afternoon (for a meeting entitled "Summit on the Dangers of Feeding Corn to Salmon", since we like to pretend that our get-togethers are summit-level interstate trading discussions); he's leaving for Japan on Thursday, and that made me really want to move overseas again.

Then again, part of it is because I went to a meeting this morning (at 7:30am) for a project that I was on a year ago, and it felt like exactly the same meeting as the one I sat in last year at this time. That's always fun. And I was at the office until 7:30pm, which was way too late. But, I took a quick break around 5:30 (after the Alaska/Iowa summit) to drop off some pants at a tailor in Mountain View, and I picked up an earl grey milk tea on the way back to the office. I may adore Iowa, and I may prefer casseroles, steaks, and various potato dishes over just about anything else, but I do have a soft spot in my heart for Taiwanese pearl milk tea (sans the tapioca balls).

Sorry this is so boring; I basically had a bad day and am annoyed by just about everything, but none of it is stuff I can blog about, nor is any of it important or interesting, so I think I'll go to bed and just hope that I'm in a better mood tomorrow. Now I'm going to focus on watching Craig show us how he would make out with the camera -- goodnight!

Monday, November 17, 2008

bluegrass -- like country music, with more soul and less teeth

I'm watching Craig; he's still v. funny, but I'm not feeling his new hairstyle. He needs to go back to boyishly tousled, or dying it, or whatever he used to do before he became an American citizen.

I've grown increasingly despondent about Mondays; I really didn't want to go to work today, and my feelings were justified given the generally overwhelming number of meetings that I have this week, in addition to feeling that I was super behind since I hadn't read email since Thursday. However, things got better in the afternoon; we had a team offsite at Laser Quest, the laser tag place down the street from our office.

I've never played laser tag before, and while I was bad at it, I wasn't as bad as I am at shoot-em-up videogames (like my disastrous attempt to play Halo, where the person I was playing against got so bored that he decided to only kill me by hitting me over the head with the butt of his revolver, which is usually impossible, but was quite easy for him). So, it was quite fun. Then, I played a couple of rounds of Dance Dance Revolution in the arcade outside the playing field, and I think my general skills at DDR shocked everyone who saw me play; while I'm by no means an expert, and don't even consider myself to be very good, I was able to hit a harder difficulty level and do a couple of songs that were impressively full of jumps, so that was quite entertaining.

The string of happiness continued when I left; I expected traffic to be a nightmare at 5:30, but I miraculously made it home in less than an hour. I took a shower, ate a delicious frozen mushroom and olive pizza, and did some work until now. I'm much more caught up than I was, and while I may not get totally caught up this week anyway, I guess I'm ready for tomorrow. But since tomorrow starts with a 7:30am meeting, I should really go to bed -- goodnight!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

every time i convince myself it's what i need, the darkness fills my eyes

I'm tantalizingly close to being done editing my book; there were any number of things that I did this weekend that prevented me from making it through the last forty pages tonight, but I don't regret any of them, so that's okay. Today was quite lovely -- it was v. warm today, although I expect that it will start cooling off soon, and since I'm turning into a grown-up, I was awake early enough to enjoy it. I was out of bed a little after seven, and I caught up on the news, showered, read some blogs, and ate a sandwich before leaving my apartment a little after ten a.m. in search of a cafe where I could work on my book.

I chose to go to Union Square, which I like, probably because of the contrast between the Tenderloin and the glitzy stores of Union Square, a transition that happens over the course of a few blocks. It's amazing how quickly neighborhoods change here; it's only eight blocks east to Union Square, and my building and all points west are quite nice, but there is a two or three block stretch between here and Union Square that feels a bit sketchy. Case in point -- I walked past a woman who was changing her pants in the middle of the sidewalk while her apparently drugged-out companion watched. Then two blocks later I windowshopped past upscale art galleries and high-end luxury clothing stores, before stopping at Borders to hang out in their cafe for a couple of hours.

I was v. productive in the cafe; perhaps I had fond memories of the hours I spent in the cafe of the West Des Moines Borders while I was on sabbatical. Katrina called my while I was working to ask if I wanted to go shopping with her, since she had a 30% off card for Gap and Banana Republic; I don't think she expected me to say yes, but I was in the mood for a break, and I felt guilty about being too drunk at 6pm on Friday to make it to her party, so I met up with her and we spent a couple of hours shopping. Even though what I really need is shoes (yes, shoes -- I have too many sandals/sneakers and not enough high heels/pumps to go with my newly manager-style wardrobe, even if I generally have enough shoes to clothe a ragtag band of guerrillas if not a bona fide brigade), I bought a couple of tops instead. However, I did buy a pair a jeans, which I needed rather desperately, and which necessitated doing an unexpected load of laundry tonight so that I could wash them before taking them to get shortened sometime this week.

Seeing Katrina was fun, and it's been awhile since I've been shopping with someone, so that was entertaining even if I find humanity in general to be rather annoying. For example, some dad was hanging out with his toddler in Banana Republic, apparently waiting for the mom to be done shopping -- and I discovered, to my horror, that someone has made toddler shoes that make this awful squeaking noise like an old-timey bicycle horn every time the kid takes a step. Who the hell thought that was a good idea? And who the hell thinks it's a good idea to then subject a whole storeload of people to listening to your kid squeaking loudly? My parents later discussed the apocalypse with me during our weekly phone call, but now that I remember that charming vignette, there's a part of me that thinks humans deserve to go the way of the dodo bird.

After awhile, I felt the urge to get back to my book, so I parted ways with Katrina and took a bus back to my apartment. I spent an hour and a half on the phone with my parents for my weekly doom-and-gloom update -- not that they're necessarily more doom-and-gloomy than most people right now, but most of the people I talk to are at work, and since I manage many of them, I don't think it's good policy to spread hysteria by recommending that they stock up on canned goods. But they're entertaining even (or especially) when they're in doom-and-gloom mode, so that was nice. Then I spent the rest of the evening working on the book and doing laundry and trying not to procrastinate by reading up on the Mayan calendar and the upcoming end of the world (with mixed success -- I like considering the end of the world, and the story above would indicate that it's because I don't like people, but I think it's more likely because I'm in the mood for an adventure and attempting to flee a metropolitan area would certainly qualify).

I should go to bed; it's shaping up to be a busy week at work, and since I took Friday off I'm going to feel behind tomorrow morning. But I only have two weeks before the deadline for the romance contest I'm entering, and I'm already past due on my self-imposed deadline for starting to submit to agents, so I need to keep going with the book, which means I need to sleep less :( Goodnight!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

if you're all alone when the pretty birds have flown

I was rather unproductive today; the remnants of yesterday's ill effects kept me lethargic this morning even though I was out of bed by eight, and my plans this afternoon pulled me away from my desk for some enforced socializing. Even though it's nine p.m. on a Saturday and it seems like I'm wasting my youth, I'm going to go to bed as soon as I write this so that I can get up early and work on the book all day tomorrow in an effort to salvage what's left of the weekend.

Despite my guilt over my productivity levels, I had a good day. I spent the morning taking care of stuff around the apartment, making and eating some veggie fajitas, painting my fingernails (which I ended up smudging, so I'll likely redo them tomorrow), and watching three Tivo'd episodes of '30 Rock.' I adore that show and wish that I could be Tina Fey, so it was quite a nice morning.

My afternoon activity was Jasmine's baby shower in San Mateo. Joanna doesn't have a car and we both live in the city, so I picked her up and took her down with me. Happily, the present that I ordered for Jasmine (a rather comprehensive set of onesies, outfits, socks, hats, and a blanket from Carter's) arrived at her place yesterday, which was just in time, so I got to watch her open it and verify that it was all as cute as it looked online. Jasmine's mom and mother-in-law were both there, and they had made a ridiculous amount of food, so I spent the afternoon eating, playing baby-shower-themed games, and being horrified by the prospect of giving birth.

Seriously, there is a reason why it used to be considered v. inappropriate to discuss the birthing process in front of young, unwed females. Jasmine's mom shared some wildly disgusting anecdotes from her own experience giving birth to three kids without serious painkillers, and while she claimed that she would rather give birth than go to the dentist (a claim I highly doubt), I just can't understand why anyone would knowingly subject herself to having an uncontrollable demon lodged inside of her, kicking her cervix for several months. Ugh.

I'm just kidding about not understanding, and I suppose having kids is worth it, but as I've gotten older and developed more of a sense of myself independent of my relationships with others, the drive to have children has slowed down. It will likely speed up again in my thirties, but right now, I'm glad that there are no little monsters growing in my belly.

So anyway, after the baby shower, I dropped Joanna off, stopped at the grocery store, came home, and wrote in my journal. But because I slept for less than six hours last night, and did not sleep a full eight hours on Thursday night either, I'm too tired to work on my next book-related task, which involves one final line-edit of my manuscript. So, it's bedtime, and I'll edit the whole thing tomorrow. Some might prefer to have a baby kicking their cervix rather than sit someplace all day with a red pen and four hundred pages of manuscript, but to each her own. Goodnight!

if hate were people, i'd be china

I have a hangover at one a.m. That should be illegal. Luckily for my liver, Irish Matt is only in town once every few months, which means that when he is here, it sort of feels like alcoholic Christmas.

I woke up this morning around seven, got up and showered, and then spent the morning making a database of possible agents and researching their submission preferences so that I could figure out who to submit to. That all went very well, and I think I know which agents I want to target first. Then, I caught a bus to the San Francisco Ferry Building to meet up with Matt for lunch.

The Ferry Building is pretty cool; I've never been there before, but I'll have to go back. While ferries still operate out of the slips behind the building, the main concourses in the building have been turned into a gourmand's dream -- all sorts of specialty food stops (this is the first time I've ever seen a shop or kiosk that only sells mushrooms), as well as multiple restaurants and places to buy meals to go. They also have a farmers' market a couple of times a week, which wasn't going on today, but would likely be fun to go to, so I'll have to check it out sometime.

That sometime won't be tomorrow if I still feel this way, particularly since I need to get some book stuff done before I go to a baby shower in the afternoon. Matt and I had a great time; we met at 1:30, and hung out over wine and cocktails until after six. Having four glasses of wine and a cosmopolitan was not smart of me, given that I only had a granola bar for breakfast and my lunch consisted of a salad. But it was a *gorgeous* day -- almost eighty degrees, and we were sitting on an outdoor patio, and I rarely see Matt, so I have no regrets.

When I got home, I passed out for an hour or so. I wanted to go out and meet up with Adit and Katrina, but I was still pretty intoxicated at nine, and realized that if I went out I would be tempted to drink more, which would be a v. bad thing. So I stayed in, ate some enchiladas and then some potato leek soup in an effort to kickstart my recovery, and watched "City Slickers" and several episodes of "The Cosby Show". Now, though, I should probably go to bed so that I can continue the recovery in the morning before being a grown-up and participating in a baby shower. Goodnight!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

in the day we sweat it out in the streets of a runaway american dream

Today was a great day, despite spending almost three hours in traffic because I went down and came back at peak rush hour. Actually, most of the cold, hard facts would indicate that I had a bad day; the trip to work took an hour and a half, I got three allergy shots, I didn't have time for lunch until finally eating a sandwich at 3pm while sitting in another meeting, it took an hour and a half to get home, and then I spent two hours working.

But, it was still good -- mostly because I successfully led a team meeting, which was entertaining because I got to subject 500 people in four different offices to random Iowa trivia. For this particular meeting, the meeting organizers compile a deck of slides from all the presenters, but they rotate who actually leads the meeting, and the meeting leader has to introduce each speaker. For whatever reason, the meeting leader gives some trivia between each topic -- and I told the organizers that I wanted my trivia to be Iowa related. So they put together slides with Iowa features and supplied some trivia (John Wayne's birthplace, Iowa beating Penn State last weekend, etc.) I also supplied my own trivia -- in particular regarding the Honey Bee War with Missouri.

I think I was generally polished, but I did have one slip-up. One of the trivia facts was about where the name "Iowa" came from, and the answer of course was from the Ioway tribe. Unfortunately, my monologue went something like this: "Iowa was named after the Ioway Indian tribe, who was led by Chief White Cloud [pictured]...I probably should have said Native American, but we still call them Indians in Iowa...yeah, I shouldn't have said that" at which point I passed the mic abruptly to the next presenter. Other than that, though, it went swimmingly, and as long as no one complains to HR about me, I think it was a success!

So forcing that many people to learn more about Iowa pretty much made my day. The other thing that made my day is that it was effectively my Friday -- I'm taking tomorrow off, and I'm going to finish this book if it kills me! Despite the relatively early hour, I think I'll go to bed so that I can get up tomorrow and get started. Goodnight!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

sweetheart, you're so cruel

I'm having a recovering workaholic day, in which it's vital to remind myself that I'm in recovery and I need to take it easy. I got to work at 7:45am, which was the third day of a pre-8am start in a row, because I had meetings straight through from 9:15am to 6pm and I had to write a performance review that I was delivering at 4pm.

Katrina and Adit attempted to give me advice on my meetings on Saturday, and while their advice was valid, I find that I have trouble getting rid of meetings because I a) genuinely like many of them, b) am at a level where meetings are intended to comprise a bulk of my day, and c) I have trouble saying no. I'm working on c to make sure that I'm prioritizing my time effectively, but b will only get worse and a is directly related to my core problem of engaging enough in work to feel satisfied without engaging so much that it takes over again.

I was reminded today that part of the problem is that I'm just genuinely very good at what I do. I don't usually toot my own horn, probably because my high school peers beat any such scholastic pretensions out of me, but I have a talent for strategic, operations-focused management, and the role that I'm in now makes use of my talents and offers opportunity to stretch them. Add to that the fact that I genuinely care, and care deeply, about the business and my team, and it's hard to keep myself back sometimes because I have a lot of trouble consciously *not* doing something that I could technically do just because I'm trying to have that thing that some people call a "life" -- even if my "life" consists of working all weekend every weekend on a romance novel instead.

So anyway, I got home at 7:15, made dinner, and then worked for about an hour and a half. This is danger-zone material, but I'm taking Friday off, which will help to reset me. And hopefully I'll figure out the querying process this weekend so that I can make continued progress on selling the book and eventually be in a position where I can make a truly informed decision between pursuing business and writing. Now, though, I'm really tired, so it's time for bed!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

the memories don't answer when i call your name

This is a four-minute post. Today was an excellent day at work in terms of my relationships with people, including hearing that I gave someone the most useful performance review they've had in multiple years at the company, which made my day. It was even excellent despite the fact that I had to get allergy shots, and despite the fact that I wore my manager pants (my euphemism for non-denim pants, particularly those with pinstripes) for a lunch with a director, only to have the lunch canceled. Oh, well, at least I looked nice for everyone else!

After work, I had dinner with Terry, which was v. fun. We talked about life for most of it, but towards the end we veered into some work-related stuff (since we work on teams that occasionally overlap) -- and I came to the sick realization of how close I am to totally repeating a project that I was involved with last year at this time. It was that project that ended up necessitating a last-minute trip to India in December, but I don't know if I'll get to go again. I don't even know if I want to -- the problem is that I'm really passionate about the issue underlying this project, but I also worked on that type of stuff for the first 4.5 years of my career, and when I came back I explicitly said that I would do anything they asked me to do except get back into that group. Now I'm getting pulled back in, and I'm still passionate enough that I want to help solve it, but maybe I should be looking for ways to jump the sinking ship instead. That would imply that I'm a passenger rather than a crew member, though, and I'd much rather be influencing the destiny than along for the ride.

Hmm, that turned broody fast, but luckily my time is up, so goodnight!

Monday, November 10, 2008

wait for it to crash and burn

Irish Matt is in town for the week, and I just got home from dinner with him. Long-time readers can guess what that means -- I had a cocktail and half a bottle of wine, in addition to a three-course appetizer/dinner/dessert meal. Since I'm no longer living the profligate expat lifestyle, it hurt a bit more that I had to pay for it myself, but seeing Matt was obviously well worth it!

I had to be at work for that stupid seven a.m. meeting, which I was annoyed about -- but I was amused when I found out that the participant who forced my manager to calendar the meeting actually wanted to have it *this weekend*, and my manager pushed back. I've never had a meeting on a weekend before, and if this had happened this weekend, I would have been furious, since it was pretty much pointless anyway. But, I got a lot done today before leaving the office at three to beat traffic, and then working at home for an hour before running down to Union Square to meet up with Matt.

We decided on the Cheesecake Factory on top of Macy's because it was close by and offered lots of choices; surprisingly, even though it was 5:30pm on a Monday, the place was packed, and we had to wait for a table before finally being seated on the terrace outside. It was lovely (to use an Irish word) despite the chill, since there were heat lamps and a nice view of the skyline. We spent a couple of hours catching up over drinks, which was quite nice; I feel v. lucky that I see Matt a couple of times a year, and I hope that continues. After dinner, we walked in the same general direction so that I could catch my bus, and stopped to impetuously buy Matt a new jacket before parting ways. Both of us are taking Friday off and so we may have lunch -- which, if it's true to our alcoholic form, may scratch some of my productivity on Friday afternoon, but I'm looking forward to it nonetheless.

Now, though, even though it's 9pm and I'm still a bit tipsy, I think I'm going to try to go to bed; I have to get up super early to do the stuff for tomorrow that I should have done tonight, and I won't be able to do it unless I get some sleep. Goodnight!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

leave me dreaming on the bed, i'll see you right back here tomorrow for the next round

The good (great, excellent, fantastic, amazing) news is that I just finished the final draft of my novel. It's not the final final -- I still need to print it and do a last read-through for spelling/grammar/word choice -- but all the scenes that are meant to be there are there, and I think the continuity and general storyline is fixed up and spiffy. It turns out that when I woke up this morning I actually liked what I wrote yesterday, now that I'm out from under Adit's "helpful" comments about the likelihood that I'll ever finish my book, and things progressed well from there.

The bad (but not bad enough to ruin my euphoria) news is that I spent the entire day working on it, and by entire day I mean from before ten a.m. until about fifteen minutes ago (a little after nine p.m.), with a fifteen minute break for lunch, a twenty minute break for dinner, a compulsory Sunday hour-long conversation with my parents, and fifteen minutes to run to Starbucks. So I guess that's only technically nine hours of work -- but writing is rather exhausting, at least for me, particularly since I wrote twelve brand-new pages today (about 2500 words) and edited/rewrote many other paragraphs. And nine hours of work on a Sunday is always a little exhausting, particularly since I have to be at work for a seven a.m. meeting tomorrow and then I have to slog through the day trying to do all the things that I probably should have done this weekend.

But none of that matters -- the final draft is done! I'm taking Friday off so that I can use next weekend to finish the proofreading and start drafting query letters to agents. Remind me to chill my mini-bottle of pink champagne this week so that when I finish the final final final next weekend, I can toast myself. I wouldn't have to toast myself alone, but I'm running low on friends because I've been a hermit (or, as Katrina said yesterday, I've been 'stonewalling') in an effort to keep my real job and finish my book. So apologies to the people who have tried to get in touch with me (particularly Terry, who wanted to hang out, and Chandlord, who left a message I haven't listened to yet, and Ritu/Katie/Felicia, all of whom I owe phone calls/emails). Someday soon I'll get back into the social groove, but right now I really must go to bed!

don't panic, don't panic

I finally read Julia Quinn's latest book, "Mr. Cavendish, I Presume." While it was better than the book she released earlier this year, I was still not a huge fan; the premise of these two books was that she wrote them together, but they were two sides of the same general storyline (the first being about a man who turned out to be the long-lost heir to a dukedom, and the second being about the man who grew up thinking he was the duke). While the premise was interesting, I thought the first book was ridiculous, particularly because she threw in that the lost duke was dyslexic in like the last chapter of the book, which was v. strange. I liked this book better because I thought the characters were more likable. But, if any of you read it, did you believe that Thomas Cavendish (the original earl) would have inherited nothing? His mother was an heiress in her own right to one of the largest fortunes in England, which theoretically would have been left directly to him rather than tied up with the dukedom?

However, the part that annoyed me the most was that of the six females I name in my book, this book contains three of those names -- and in somewhat the same general usage as mine. My heroine is also named Amelia, her mother is named Augusta (although in this book, Augusta is the duke's evil grandmother), and the duke has a mistress named Celeste (which is the name my earl makes up for his fake mistress). WTF? I'm keeping Amelia because that's indelibly her name, and likely Augusta as well, but I should probably change Celeste. Sigh.

The rest of the day was good. I woke up a little after seven, took care of various tasks, took a bubble bath, blow-dried my hair, and was utterly ready for the day by ten a.m. This is a strange switch from the past twenty-seven years of my experience, but I seem to be shifting earlier in the day. Around noon, Adit picked me up and we went to a cafe to work; when Katrina joined us after one, there was no room for her to sit down because the group that took over the place seemed in no rush to leave, so we vacated and went to the tea place near my apartment, where we worked for the rest of the afternoon. Adit brought me home around six, we played some Wii Golf, I made him some soup (and by 'made' I mean I reheated the potato soup from my freezer), and we watched an episode of "The Cosby Show" before he took off. I decided to read a book, and you know the rest.

Mostly my writing today was an exercise in frustration; it's very hard to just write a new scene to drop in the middle of a manuscript you've had sitting in its current general form for several months, and I'm really struggling with it. I have a feeling I'll cut just about everything that I wrote today, but that's an issue for tomorrow. So on that note, I suppose I should go to bed so that I can get to work in the morning!

Friday, November 07, 2008

meet me in the clouds

In an effort to get ready for the weekend, I decided to spend the evening on housework. I didn't do as much as I'd initially wanted to, but I did do the dishes, make dinner, and wash and fold three loads of laundry, which was respectable. It was particularly respectable since I was in the office by 7:30 this morning, and by the time I got home I just felt like crashing instead.

I intended to write in my journal tonight, but I instead spent an hour rereading old entries from the past couple of years. My journaling has fallen off significantly since the start of my leave of absence; I wrote fairly regularly from September of 2006 to December of 2007, even though I was also blogging constantly, but I only have half a dozen entries from this year despite the fact that this year has been quite momentous in terms of life changes.

Part of it is obviously that I've refocused my writing priorities on the book, which is a good thing. But, I wonder if I'm doing myself a long-term disservice; the blog is a great place for recapping my day-to-day life, but there is a hell of a lot of inner monologue that I filter well before it ever comes out here. The journal is better for revisiting emotions/events that I experienced in the past and understanding whether and how I've made progress. Without that sort of brooding, I may not be 'refilling my well of creativity' (I'm not quoting a specific person, but I feel like I've heard/read that phrase somewhere before) -- and my well of creativity is vital for my long-term success as a writer.

But, I was happy to find that I've made significant progress on or completed most of the goals that I set for myself on January 1, 2008, despite the fact that I never revisited the list, so that's great. And many of the issues that concerned me a year or two ago have in some ways died down after my detoxing sabbatical, even if I will likely always struggle with work/life balance (and even if there are days that I wish I was off someplace writing full-time).

So I may write a little in my journal tonight, but it's close to my bedtime; I had a headache all day, and I need to make serious progress on the book this weekend. Goodnight!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

love is all of heaven away

I'm too tired to even make this a four-minute post; I think I'm getting sick, based on my sore throat and my swollen lymph nodes, but I have to go to work tomorrow anyway, so I'm going to go to bed right now.

However, v. briefly, today was excellent. I had lunch with Adit and Katrina at my place of employment, which was quite fun even when Adit called into question my entire decision-making framework. The amazing chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream made up for it. After work, I went straight to Palo Alto and got a haircut; the stylist was v. friendly (grew up in Wisconsin, so we discussed moving here from the midwest), and even though I spent more on my haircut than any good midwestern would, I absolutely love it. It's still long, but she added more layers, so it looks sleeker and more stylish. She told me that I could model my hair, which she probably tells everybody, but after getting it professionally blow-dried and styled, I can almost believe it. Too bad I'll never style it again; it doesn't look nearly so good half-wet.

Okay, that's all -- goodnight!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

the formula has made you free

This is going to be a four-minute post if I can make it that long. I'm exhausted -- I don't think it's because I'm truly tired, but my contacts started fogging over around 5pm, I had no solution with me, and I had to make it through a two-hour dinner in Palo Alto before I could come home, so I just got home fifteen minutes ago. But perhaps I'm exhausted by the rest of the week -- I have meetings all day tomorrow starting at 8am, and all day Friday as well, and I have some major progress to make on a critical project that somehow has to happen even though I'm in meetings all day. This used to not be a problem because I would just work at home for four or five hours every night, but when you're no longer willing to do that, the whole schedule becomes slightly impossible to resolve.

But today was good, even if there was an accident on the freeway that made me later than intended (I actually saw the aftermath before the cops or rescue crews got there -- looked like someone merged directly into someone else, since the cars were smashed together side by side, with two or three cars piled up behind them). I had a strategy thing in the morning that was fun, then had lunch w/my team leads, and then spent the afternoon in other good meetings. Dinner was at Gordon Biersch with Lizzie, Sarah, and Jane; I haven't seen Jane since Jen's going-away party in August, so that was good. We discussed a lot of politics, but it stayed pretty civil, so my blood pressure didn't go up. And I thought some more about running for office in Iowa someday -- I think maybe it should happen, I just don't know if I want to commit myself to public service or if I should just focus on my literary endeavors.

Okay, four minutes are up, goodnight!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

back in the ussr

I just finished doing some yoga with my Wii Fit; after some rather intense election-driven emotions over the past few hours, I found myself desperate to forget it all for a few minutes and do some stretching. I'm getting ready for bed, and in many ways I don't feel like blogging tonight, but in the interest of ensuring that my parents don't think that some crazed Californian killed me, I shall persevere.

Say what you will about Obama's potential policies, or my rather serious concerns about the depth of Democratic control of both branches of the legislature, there is something fundamentally good about this nation in that we are able to elect men (and someday women) to high office, given that only a hundred and fifty years ago we were killing each other over slavery. That such a tidal shift in national thinking has occurred in such a relatively short period of time is remarkable. I am generally optimistic about our long-term future (concerns about the apocalypse aside), mostly because we tend to be a nation that allows for the free flourishing of new ideas. If nothing else, Obama's election signals just how broad the opportunities in this country are.

However, I'm not thrilled that he won. I'm thrilled that he represents a generational shift and a possible move towards post-racial politics. I'm thrilled for all the people in the crowds who thought this day would never come (and was unexpectedly moved by seeing the tears on Jesse Jackson's face, even though I disagree with him on just about everything). I'm thrilled that the election is over and we can start focusing on the real problems that we face. But I'm not thrilled about the direction that we may take in facing them. I'm not thrilled that the typical Democrat solutions to such problems are steeply increased spending, an emphasis on unions, and policies that inevitably seem to be bad for the short-term health of small businesses (businesses that usually can't weather the storm and survive long enough to see any long-term gains).

What I do hope comes out of all of this is that the Republican party, or, even better, some combination of the centrist, socially-liberal/fiscally-conservative elements of both parties, ends up doing some serious soul-searching and reinvention over the next couple of election cycles. Most of my despondency over the past couple of months was tied directly to the fact that I don't feel like I have a party; my affiliation to the Republicans seems betrayed by the aggressive spending of the last eight years and the ridiculous emphasis on turning moral beliefs into binding law, while I can never get behind the Democrats on most of their platform.

The biggest part of my despondency, though, stems from feeling ridiculously alone. It's not like I'm an arch-conservative (as evidenced by the fact that I attended a district Republican convention as a youth delegate during the 1996 election, suggested that maybe we should drop the anti-abortion plank, and was promptly labeled a 'Clinton spy' by my peers and forced to eat lunch alone). But since my SF district is only 9.7% registered Republican and my workplace is overwhelmingly Democrat, I have few people with whom I can have a rational conversation about politics. Note that 'rational' doesn't mean that I expect people to agree with me; rather, I don't like the pervasive sense that anyone who has conservative beliefs should somehow either a) be ashamed of themselves, or b) is just too stupid/ignorant to understand and support the liberal viewpoint. I've said this before, and now you can wait until at least 2010 before I say it again, but it always amazes me how many Democrats profess to be all about voter rights and empowerment, and yet say the most disparaging things about the 'red' half of the country and suggest that they shouldn't be voting. This is not all or even most Democrats, but it's those people who have made me uncomfortable/unlikely to share my views outside of a close circle of friends (+ the less controlled audience of this blog).

But, it's all over, and I'm happy about that. I actually cried rather hard during McCain's concession speech, which surprised me; I don't think I've cried that hard since possibly the last funeral I went to. It was only perhaps 10% related to where I think the country's going; the other 90% was because, even though I think he didn't run a great campaign, should never have picked Palin as his VP, and disappointed me with his non-maverick stance on so many issues, I still have a great deal of respect and admiration for him, and I always cry when I see lifelong dreams die (hence my emotional investment in the Olympics). I also cried a little during Obama's speech, out of recognition for what the moment itself meant even though I'm not particularly looking forward to the next four years.

So with some tears, some yoga, and some blogging, I think it's time for bed. Tomorrow we'll return to your regularly-scheduled inane and non-controversial blog style, so I hope you're ready for two more years of meaningless drivel. Although I must say that it's moments like these when I want to get involved in politics -- stupid, I know, but if I could control my spurts of insanity, I could be a great politician. On that scary thought, it's time for bed!

Monday, November 03, 2008

arm yourself because no one else here will save you

This is a four-minute post. I meant to get a lot of work done this afternoon, but I slacked off instead -- I played Wii with Heather, Pete, and Mike, which involved an hour and a half of tennis and bowling. It was quite fun, even if it's clear that we're all rather competitive. It was a good warm-up for the evening activity -- the team planned a trivia night, held in one of the big conference rooms, and so we played team trivia from 6:30-8.

The managers on my team played as a group, and we tied for second, which was v. respectable. I felt extremely old, though; there were a couple of rounds of movie-related questions, and we realized that all of us were old enough to see most of the movies in the theatre when they came out, while all of our team members are at least five years younger than us (and in the case of the girl who turned 21 (!) today, six years younger than me and eight years younger than Pete). I managed to have fun even though we lost -- anyone who saw me back when I played Brain Bowl (i.e. Katie, my partner in brain bowl crime) knows how much I hate to lose at trivia competitions.

I made it home and caught up on some random small things, but now it's time for bed. I'm going to work tomorrow, but coming home early to hole up and watch the returns -- I'm predicting a brutal bloodbath, and a lot of depressing conversations with my parents for the next few years. Or, if you're 90% of my blog readership, I'm predicting victory for you. Congratulations, I guess :)

Four minutes are up, goodnight!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

i've been downhearted baby ever since the day we met

I spent all day working on the book. I took a break around two p.m. to get a couple of things from Whole Foods and pick up a prescription, then got back to the grind for a few hours before calling my parents while making dinner. We spent an hour catching up rather bleakly; I'll be glad when the election is over. Then I ate my delicious potato-leek soup and portioned up the rest to freeze, before getting back to the book and working on it until now.

My major task for today was to make a comprehensive outline of the book. This was necessary for a couple of reasons: 1) I have to write a synopsis for the contest I'm entering, and most agents also require synopses, so that's the final step after I finish the manuscript itself; and 2) it was useful to distill the 400 pages of manuscript into a 13-page outline so that I could see whether the plotlines hang together and whether the individuals' internal monologues are consistent throughout the book.

It turns out I'm pretty happy with it; the additions that I've made over the last couple of weeks have helped to make Malcolm's motivations clearer at the beginning, and I know what I need to add/extend/change at the end to make the final emotional climax more satisfying. I think this can be accomplished with one new scene + added details in a couple of other scenes, and I've earmarked where those details need to go, so adding them in should be fairly easy.

But because my brain was already a little fried from the outlining exercise, I spent the evening wrapping up the research on the few remaining historical details (like when Princes Street in Edinburgh was constructed, what kinds of shoes men wear with their kilts, whether mahogany furniture was popular in the 1800s, etc.) I also spent some quality time with my name books -- I realized that Fiona wasn't popular until after 1840, and I had never given a full name to Ferguson, so I set out to remedy both of those issues. Ferguson is now William Avenel Ferguson Stafford, earl of Rothwell (although he doesn't use the title and only goes by Ferguson because he hates his English father, the duke of Harwich), and his sister (formerly Fiona) is now Elinor "Ellie" Claiborne, marchioness of Folkestone.

Names are weird; I was trying to come up with a ridiculous name for a v. minor character, went to the Oxford Dictionary of English Christian Names, and stumbled upon Godfrey. I thought, 'perfect!', and for some reason thought that 'Godfrey Huggins' sounded like a great name. I did due diligence, Googled it, and discovered that Godfrey Huggins was 1st Viscount Malvern, and the governor of Southern Rhodesia. I'd read up on Rhodesia a few months ago, so I guess the name embedded itself in my mind even if I never in a million years would have remembered it of my own accord. It's a good thing I Googled it, though, or else the five other people in the world who know that he was the governor of Southern Rhodesia would have been most upset.

Okay, I really need to go to bed. For those of you who have emailed me and I haven't gotten back to you -- I'll catch up with you v. soon! I want to be done with the book in two weeks, and at that point I'll likely reemerge into society for a few weeks.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

come to believe that i better not leave before i get my chance to ride

I did not accomplish nearly as much with the book as I intended today, a fact that I attribute to a combination of hangover, ridiculously slow service at lunch, and general malaise over the election. I actually wasn't very hungover this morning, which makes sense since I wasn't particularly intoxicated last night, but since I only drank red wine last night, I had a fairly bad headache. I also woke up at 7:30, after sleeping approximately six hours, which wasn't enough. Terry and I went to Starbucks for coffee (after sitting around for awhile and recovering in the apartment). When she left, I spent some time tidying up the apartment and taking care of my online banking stuff, and then texted Oniel to see if he still wanted to have lunch.

He did, and so we agreed to go to Moulin Rouge, the entertaining diner near my apartment run by an elderly Asian couple and their son. However, I was less than entertained today -- the wait for a table stretched to over half an hour (unusual), and then the food took over an hour to come out. Given that I ordered eggs over easy, toast, and ham, all of which I have in my fridge, I was a bit sad. But, it was good in the sense that I got to thoroughly catch up with Oniel, more so than if we had gone to the crepe place and been done in twenty-five minutes.

So that was fun, but by the time I got home, it was 2:30pm and I was flagging from last night's lack of sleep. I decided to take a nap, and didn't wake up until five -- it rained most of the day and the sound was rather soothing, which I suppose kept me lulled into slumber. I spent some time reading about the election (mistake), then made myself some quesadillas before settling in to work on the book. But I didn't get as far as I would have liked, so I'll have to get cracking on it tomorrow.

The best thing about today, though (other than Oniel, of course) is that I wore my new cowboy boots! I've never owned cowboy boots before, given that I'm not particularly 'country' despite my roots. But I've been on a boot/heels kick recently, and I ordered them from Zappos on Thursday -- and Zappos upgrading my shipping for free, so I got them yesterday. They are *awesome* -- I put them on, and they immediately felt broken in. They're genuine riding boots, not cowboy-inspired fashion boots, so they'll last forever -- and if the economy collapses and I have to move home to live off the land, they're rated to withstand manure and other barnyard hazards, so I'm all set. My parents buy canned goods, I buy shoes -- we all prepare in different ways.

Okay, bedtime, goodnight!

it was a graveyard smash

I just got home from pretending to be my age for a change -- Lauren (aka Subz) and Nathan (who I actually knew several years before Lauren) had a dinner party in honor of Halloween, and since Terry is also friends with Lauren, we went together. I'm really glad this came together; when left to my own devices, I just work on the book, but it's nice to have plans and remember that I'm a social creature once in awhile. I recycled my costume from last year and went as Toucan Sam -- this was great, since I needed to feel like I was using my bird-feet slippers and my yellow tights and my handcrafted Toucan Sam mask more than once.

I had a fabulous time -- while Terry, Lauren and Nathan were the only ones I knew well, I also ran into Ken (who was one of the first/only participants of the infamous 'Stanford Dating?' show, which means I know his mannerisms *far* too well from studying hours of video footage of him for months on end, even though we've barely spoken to each other in the last seven years), as well as some friends of Lauren's who are actually connected to the guy who was the factotum (fancy word for RA/TA) for TASP when I went to that summer camp in high school. We had a fun time hanging out, making pizzas, and trying to remember that they guy whose name tag said 'Joe' (he was Joe the Plumber) was actually named Ryan. All in all, it was a nice evening, punctuated by far more wine than I usually drink, which made the twenty-minute search for a cab frustrating and will give me an awful headache tomorrow.

Now, though, I should go to bed -- I have tentative lunch plans with Oniel, and then I need to spend the rest of the weekend working on the book. Goodnight!