Sunday, October 31, 2010

i can feel st. elmo's fire burning in me

I met one of my two goals today -- and, quite unusually, it was the gym goal rather than the writing goal. Perhaps it's a sign of just how blocked I'm feeling that I was actually looking forward to going to the gym instead of writing. Today wasn't entirely representative, though; I was waiting most of the morning/afternoon to find out if I finaled in this contest I entered (with a v. rough version of my first 50 pages back in July, before I killed off Ferguson's father and changed the whole story), and so was checking email every five minutes. I finally went to the gym so I would stop obsessing, and found out when I got home that I didn't final, which pretty much destroyed any desire to write the rest of the day. Woe is me, I know.

But, the gym was awesome -- the fact that the locker room is so nice that I would rather shower there than drive the five minutes back to my house is a pretty good indication of why I like the place. I spent forty minutes on a recumbent bike while reading another couple of chapters of the book that I started last night, and then showered with their incredibly awesome Kiehl's products, blow dried my hair, and went out to face the rest of the day.

I think I could be quite a happy camper if I get into the routine that I intend to get into -- writing three or four hours in the morning, then going to the gym in the afternoon. It's just a matter of getting into the routine, sticking with it, and not getting too discouraged with Madeleine and Ferguson. I was really hating them today, to an inordinate degree, and have been feeling like perhaps I should throw in the towel with them and start something new; but after spending a year and a half off and on with them, I'm not really ready to kill them just yet. But after two weeks of essentially slothlike behavior, it's time to either put up or shut up, so writing tomorrow starts with a vengeance.

After talking to my parents, I watched some of Game 4 of the World Series, then abandoned it to have dinner with Irish Matt. He just flew into town this evening, so I'm surprised he made it as far as he did (although around 9:30, he said that he was about to collapse and needed to leave, like, at once, which we promptly did). We went to Joya in Palo Alto, where the greeters were dressed in their best slutoween outfits (which, sadly or amazingly, were not so different from their regular outfits -- Joya is kind of a scene, but it has fantastic food). He had a steak, I had salmon, he had two glasses of zinfandel, and I had half a glass of zin and a glass of the same champagne I was serving at my party last week (which may have been a mistake). We wrapped it all up with a plate of churros with chocolate sauce, which I was way more into than he was. It was fantastic to see him; he's going to be too busy most of the rest of the week to hang out, but even if I don't see him again, he makes it out here a few times a year, and I have high hopes for an extended European adventure next summer, in which I hope he features as a major guest star.

Now, it's only eleven, but I'm going to go to bed in hopes of resetting my body clock so that I can start getting up earlier. Goodnight!

in the shadow of your first attack, i was questioning and looking back

So I have decided that I need to start getting up earlier. Sleeping until noon would be all well and good if I really felt like writing until two a.m., but as I never do, I think I'm going to have to try reverting to morning schedules. Morning does *not* mean six a.m. and will never mean six a.m. -- but it does, perhaps, mean eight a.m. If I could get in three good hours in the morning, then it would matter what I did the rest of the day -- I could write some more in the afternoon, or go out and about with a clear conscience.

Continuing with my mad desire to outline every single goal and track is with manic precision, I made a detailed day-by-day spreadsheet on which I can tally progress towards 15 separate goals. The spreadsheet automatically scores how well I did at the end of every week, which is pretty nifty, if a bit of overkill. I also started a monthly whiteboard, using a technique that Seinfeld supposedly uses -- make a big 'x' on your calendar every day that you write, and then see how long you can go without breaking the chain. This should be doable for me; I very rarely break the chain with the blog, after all. It's just a matter of getting into the right routine.

I took a break from my goal obsessions to join a gym this afternoon; while I didn't go to the gym consistently at work, at least it was there, and one consequence of my unemployment was losing gym access. I chose a gym that is conveniently five minutes away from my house and inconveniently expensive, in hopes that the combination of both factors will encourage me to go with some regularity. The facility is super nice, though, and since I can go whenever I want, I can optimize my schedule to avoid peak times (and yoga moms). That's another incentive to get up earlier -- if I get up, write in the morning, eat some lunch, and then go to the gym, I could get my writing done earlier in the day, go to the gym when most people aren't there, and still leave my late afternoons/evenings free for either writing or socializing. Perfect, right?

So after the gym, I went to Target, where I spent an inordinate amount of time stocking up on supplies. Then, I came home, reheated my vat of chili and made a grilled cheese sandwich to go with it, and watched last week's episode of "Top Chef: Just Desserts". While I think my chili turned out awesomely well, I'm kind of over it for now after eating it three nights in a row, so I froze the rest -- perhaps I'll make potato soup tomorrow, but we shall see. I wrapped up the night by reading part of a book -- CITY OF BONES, which is, as Katie will be dismayed to know, yet another young adult fantasy. The fact that I was able to stop in the middle so that I could go to bed at the reasonable hour of 1:30am says something either about the book or my willpower; I don't know the answer to that distinction myself. I love the story, but am not in love with the writing/voice -- but as yet another example of how important plot is, I'll finish it just to see how it turns out, even though I wish the writing was different.

And now, off to bed; I had intended to take Sunday off, but since I basically took today off, I'm kind of antsy to write tomorrow. Goodnight!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

we sang dirges in the dark

I was rather unproductive today; I need to stop going into my old office, because I don't think the free food is worth the productivity hit (although it's hard to say that when I'm actually going for the companionship, and I don't want to cut either of the people I saw today). My lunch date with Joy was at 1:15, and while I got out of bed around ten, I lazed about eating a bowl of cereal and reading recaps of last night's PROJECT RUNWAY (approximately 90% of the blogosphere agrees with my assessment of the complete travesty that was last night's judging). Then, I took my sweet time getting ready, blowdrying my hair even though I had no one to impress, and so I didn't get anything done before going in.

I met my friend Joy at my old building; she gave me an awesome little vampire-themed Android figurine and one of the best cards I've ever gotten, which she made herself, so that was lovely. We walked across the street to Big Table, where I overindulged in beef stew and mashed potatoes (which I could have made myself, and probably will one of these weeks), and hung out and exchanged gossip for an hour or so. Then, I parted ways with her and went over to the complex where I used to sit to meet up with Alaska Matt, who has just returned permanently from his stint in Dublin. He was only in town for a few days, since he's on his way to Alaska to reunite with his lovely wife Kia, and so I was honored that he squeezed me into his schedule. The bastard was supposed to be quitting (this was supposed to be close to his last day), but he reneged on our suicide pact and has agreed to stay with our company for another eighteen months -- which means that Kia, who had already moved to Alaska, is now moving back here and they're getting a place in SF. Bah. Actually, it's not bah at all, since I would love to have them around; they've been not-around more than they've been around the past few years, with time served in Dublin, Tokyo, and China, in addition to Matthew's travels in India (which is where I met him).

So, I'm really glad we got to catch up, even if we did it on the outermost fringes of the annual Halloween party (which has certainly been going downhill; this year the main snacks appeared to be nachos and dry sugar cookies, which is a far cry from the calamari tentacles, hard alcohol punches, and other scary delicacies of my first Halloween there seven years ago). I did get outed by Dontae and Andy, who noticed that I was sitting off on the edge of the lawn, but as I enjoy seeing both of them, this wasn't such a bad thing. I finally left when one of Alaska Matt's friends came over and killed the mood by discussing how much money he was losing in his divorce, the fact that he's living with his parents and has left everything in storage but his playstation, and his male-pattern baldness all within five minutes of meeting me -- unless his intent was to come as an oversharer for Halloween, he wasn't really my type. So, I came home (with an aborted stop at Philz, where I realized before going in that I had forgotten my wallet, and so had to turn away coffeeless), took a nap, ate some chili (even better the second day), ordered books for my blogging class (which starts next week), and generally procrastinated.

I finally stopped procrastinating for a couple of hours, not to write, but to list out some comprehensive goals for the next few quarters/years/decades. I started with all my dreams (which are laughably lofty), then broke out what I want to realistically accomplish in three years, then what I want to have done by this time next year, and then my goals for this quarter. I may hope to leave corporate America behind, but I'm going to steal the quarterly goal-setting process from my old job -- I laid out a bunch of "objectives and key results" for myself, picking three or four main objectives and outlining what has to be accomplished to successfully meet the objective. I think they're comprehensive, sufficiently challenging while still being doable, and easy to track -- the key, as always with me, is going to be to actually do them steadily and not just make a mad dash at the end of every quarter.

So now, it's time for bed; I also made a list of all the stuff I have to do to complete this week's goal of sending the first half of my book to my beta readers, and the list is disappointingly long -- so I'm going to be working this weekend. Teach me to spend too much time socializing during the week -- but then again, things likes "weeks" and "weekends" don't matter so much anymore, so I'll take my socializing when I can get it. Goodnight!

Friday, October 29, 2010

please don't stop the music

I have a couple very thin, raised red welts running down the length of my left arm, along with some other smaller welts decorating the skin around them. This is a change from last night, when there was a single arm-length welt on my right arm. The welts appear and disappear spontaneously and in random locations/sizes/shapes, which I find v. interesting (if a bit bizarre). Tonight, perhaps they're caused by stress -- mostly the stress of devoting two hours of my life to the finale of "Project Runway", only to see my least favorite designer show the ugliest clothes ever (there are a lot of blogosphere/twitterverse comments comparing the clothes unfavorably to the Jaclyn Smith collection at Kmart, which triggered a nice Zoolander memory) and win the whole damn thing. Ugh.

I also had another "I hate children and, more importantly, their parents" moment today, this time from reading the NEW YORK TIMES (which I should not be allowed to read). More specifically, I got annoyed at their comments section on an article about how a judge ruled that a lawsuit could move forward with a four-year-old as a defendant in a civil suit claiming that she was negligent while riding her bike, causing the death of an 87-year-old woman. From the story, it sounds like she and another four-year-old (also mentioned in the suit) were racing their bikes down a sidewalk in NYC while being "supervised" by their mothers, ran into an elderly woman and knocked her down, causing her to break her hip, and she died from complications of hip surgery three weeks later. I shouldn't have opened the comments because I saw exactly what I was expecting to see (saying the four-year-old couldn't possibly expect that the woman would die from being hit, and so apparently it was okay to run into her?). Worse, I saw even more extreme thoughts -- that if she was frail enough to be killed by a four-year-old, it was the woman (or her guardians) who were negligent in letting her walk outside, that she had already "outlived the actuarial tables" and so this wasn't a big deal, and that the estate was being greedy for suing, since the woman probably wouldn't have wanted to ruin a child's life just because she got killed.

Grr. I really hate most children and their parents. They aren't just suing the four-year-olds -- they're suing the parents for negligence, but named the children as co-defendents. And if the kids had been taught to watch where they were going and not race down a city sidewalk -- and then watched while they did it -- the woman might not have died. Stupid.

Anyway, enough about children. Today was great; I slept in, grabbed a burrito for lunch, went to Whole Foods (home of more children and parents), and bought ingredients for chili (although I couldn't make it the way my mother makes it, exactly, since she certainly doesn't use organic pinto beans, and the only tomato juice they had was some overpriced tomato puree in a glass bottle -- but I wasn't in the mood to go to Safeway too just to get the midwest variants of these ingredients). Then I came home, procrastinated for a bit, and put in about four solid hours on the manuscript -- I didn't get as far as I would have liked, but I got farther than I was yesterday. I made my chili, made an awesome grilled cheese sandwich to accompany it, and watched the finale of "Project Runway"...and you know the rest.

Now, it's definitely time for bed; I didn't intend to stay up until two a.m. again tonight, but somehow I always manage it. Goodnight!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

looking back you shouldn't have fought it

Today was finally, wonderfully, painfully the kind of day that I need to have as a full-time writer -- even though I didn't write a single word for zee romance novel. Instead, I spent much of the day consumed with finishing the main assignment for my magazine class; I rolled out of bed sometime after nine (it would have been earlier, but my bed was warm and my house was approximately 55 degrees due to ongoing thermostat issues (not poverty issues, as I had to clarify to Gyre)) and took a shower before starting to jot down ideas for vignettes to write in the article. I think I need to find a whiteboard that I can put on suction cups in my shower, since I have all sorts of great ideas there and always fail to remember them all -- but perhaps I'm not ready for that level of eccentricity yet.

Or perhaps I am, given that I then sat around in my pajamas and bathrobe and wrote until I was running late, at which point I hurriedly threw on some clothes and makeup and sped over to my old workplace, where I had lunch with Gyre. It's funny that I've been gone less than two weeks and already had people doing the gasping "it's been so long!" thing -- but then again, most of them probably think it's ridiculous that I'm already back for lunch, so perhaps they were making fun of me. Of all my coworkers, Gyre was one of the more-annoyed ones over the fact that I left, mostly because I resigned when he was out of the office and couldn't talk me out of it. But, he's come to the realization that if we have lunch every three weeks like we always did, he's going to see me just as much as always, so he can pretend I never left (and I can score delicious food and keep up to date on the gossip).

After lunch, I stopped at Philz to fuel up with a large coffee, and was going to stay there to work, but the tables were too full and I decided to brave the freezing conditions of my apartment to write at home. With some judicious applications of the furnace (which still works -- I can turn it on and heat the place up to 75 degrees in about ten minutes, then shut it off before it turns the house into a sauna) and several layers of loungewear (which I'm going to have to buy more of if I'm going to insist on wearing clean pajamas all day every day), I stayed comfortable long enough to crank out a decent 1200-word article about this year's romance writers convention. We'll see what the class thinks; I should have spent more time on the assignment, but I think I acquitted myself pretty well.

However, by the time I printed it, ate a quick sandwich, and changed into real grownup clothing, I ended up fifteen minutes late to class. I didn't really miss that much; class was rather blah today, and I'm finding myself a lot less enamored with the class than I had hoped. The class is a strange combo of hostile/argumentative people with odd opinions, a few people who seem to think it's a fiction class, a large clump of mostly-silent people, and a teacher who really knows what he's talking about but sometimes talks too much to overcome the silent and hostile factions. It's too bad; there are several people that I think I could like if I could hear from them more, and I think the lecturer has a lot of interesting stuff to say that is unfortunately lost on most of the class. It's too late to drop, though, and I'm interested to hear what he has to say about pitching freelance writing, so I'm going to stick it out.

I came home directly after class with the intention of relaxing, but instead I got sucked into a book called COURTESANS: MONEY, SEX AND FAME IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY. It's fascinating, at least to me; the author gives a brief overview of highclass prostitution from ancient Greece to the 1700s, and then writes long, well-researched, fascinating profiles of five of the top courtesans of the "long nineteenth century" (generally accepted as the period from the French Revolution to the start of World War I, although her first courtesan was active slightly earlier than that). Since Madeleine is an actress, her life and story touch on issues similar to some of the courtesans of the age, at least in the sense that if her reputation is ruined she would be no better or different than them regardless of how nobly born she was (and yes, I realize I'm talking about my own fictional character as though she were real -- suck it).

So needless to say, this has been sitting on the top of my to-be-read pile for awhile, and I'm glad I got to it tonight. I didn't read all five profiles; instead, I focused on Elizabeth Armistead and Harriette Wilson, both of whom were active around the time that Madeleine and Ferguson's story takes place. Harriette was a more typical courtesan, flying high for a few years and setting the fashions for the London aristocrats even though no well-bred females would ever accept her, before winding up destitute and dying young while in exile in France. But, while she was active, she bedded the highest echelons of society, including Wellington. This all came out in her memoirs, published in 1825, which she "kindly" offered her former lovers the opportunity to opt out of for two hundred pounds (about ten thousand pounds today). Now I want to read her memoirs, since the quotes were really entertaining and shed a lot of light on Regency society.

But while Harriette was more entertaining, Elizabeth Armistead was truly moving; I cried some major tears at the end of her story, reading her diary entry in which she recounted the death of her true love and eventual husband, Charles James Fox, a major Whig politician who fiercely opposed George III as a tyrant, supported the American and French revolutions (to the obvious displeasure of most of his peers), and ultimately succeeded in abolishing the slave trade in Britain. Elizabeth had been a high-flying courtesan for over a decade (an eternity in those circles), and was the mistress of several dukes, marquesses, earls, and the Prince of Wales (later the Prince Regent, later George IV). But when she was 33 and he was 34, Elizabeth and Charles fell in love, and she retired from being a courtesan to live with him exclusively. They eventually married in secret, divulging their marriage seven years later while on a trip to France. She wasn't completely accepted by the ton, but she wasn't utterly cut, either -- the author claimed that she was the only woman to ever bridge the gap between the world of the courtesans (the demimonde) and the aristocracy to the extent she did. Still, Fox died in 1806 and she lived into her nineties, and when she died, she was refused burial with him in Westminster Abbey. Sad.

So now that I've bored you with all of that (when I'm sure you would have rather heard all the salacious bits about adultery, primitive contraceptives, prostitutes, etc.), I think it's time for bed. This book has given me a lot to think about; it's only tangentially relevant to the book I'm writing, but there are some fascinating details to weave into my manuscript as a result. Goodnight!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

i'm wide awake and i can see the perfect sky is torn

After a week and a half of sleeping as late as I wanted, I almost slept through my dentist appointment this morning; when the alarm went off at 7:20 (so early, I know), I automatically turned it off, and just happened to remember in the split second before I went back to sleep that I needed to wake up. Sigh. But, I made it to the dentist, where I got a proper cleaning and had no cavities for about the fifteenth year in a row (yay - if it had turned out that I needed major dental work, my unemployed checking account would have been v. unhappy).

Because my dentist is in San Jose, I decided to combine the dental appointment with my once-every-two-months spa experience, since the spa I go to in SF has a sister spa on Santana Row. However, when I got to Santana Row at 10:30, I realized I had made a horrible mistake; they were doing some sort of trick-or-treat activity for the yoga moms and their obnoxious little children, and so the first two levels of the parking garage were full of women trying to wrestle strollers out of their huge SUVs, and the sidewalks were jammed with children (of both the pleasant and screaming varieties) and dogs (of both the small/yappy and large/prone to scare children varieties). It was a complete scene, and unfortunately not the kind of scene I usually seek out. So I ducked into the Container Store and then Crate and Barrel, since they were off to the side of the madness; I escaped both places after buying a small whiteboard for my desk, so I got off pretty easy given how much I love both places. Then, I grabbed lunch at Pizza Antica, where the pizza was delicious and I had even more time to consider how these little toddler tyrants seem to control the lives of their yoga mothers.

I spent an hour or so at the cafe in Borders, where I made a v. detailed list of what I need to get done in the next twelve weeks to finish my book, enter it into the Golden Heart, and get it polished up so that my agent can start shopping it. The goal setting was good and v. helpful, if a bit daunting, since it means that after I clean some stuff up this week, I'm going to have to write 15,000 words each week for the next three weeks to get back on track. No hill for a climber, but I'm going to have to put some effort into the climb (and get out of bed before noon) if I'm going to make it happen.

Then, I adjourned to the spa; the verdict is that I'm going to go there from now on instead of San Francisco, because the treatments are slightly cheaper, parking is free instead of like $7/hr, it's more relaxing to come out of a massage on Santana Row than in a pool of someone's urine on Market Street, and the setting was smaller and therefore more intimate. I got an okay massage and one of the best facials I've ever had (including some sort of cactus peel that left my skin red but v. v. soft), so that was all good.

I was just getting home when John called and asked if I wanted to have a quick dinner, so I suggested Borrone (of course). That turned out to be a bad call, because Jimmy Carter was signing books at the bookstore next door, and so parking was v. difficult. But Borrone itself wasn't any more crowded than it usually is, and they were serving the gouda sandwich tonight, so that was great. I did get waylaid by some strange woman who seemed very nice (if slightly batty; she was old) -- she was sitting at the table behind me, and we struck up a conversation when she asked me to watch her stuff so that she could get a coffee. She ended up talking to me while John waited in line to order, and I began to get the first small inklings of problems when she claimed that Google and Microsoft had designed her website and that it was projected to be bigger than Amazon someday. Then she wouldn't stop talking even after John came back, and it quickly devolved from entertaining to annoying to slightly scary and then back to annoying before I eventually stopped paying attention to her. As John said, this stuff makes for a good story -- but the problem is that you have to actually talk to the person to get the story, and in this case I'm not sure it was worth the effort.

sssanyway, after I turned my back on the "Amazon killer", John and I had a v. nice, quick supper, and I got caught up on the ten days that I have missed at my former company. It was also nice to vent to someone about the yoga mom phenomenon to someone who understands; I don't think his sister is a yoga mom (I haven't seen her in ages, and besides, she has a job), but he had just come from his nephew's fifth birthday party, so we had many anecdotes to exchange about how children are the devil. After he left, I worked on the book for a bit -- I'm slowly getting back into the story, and I think I've finally pieced together a scene that has been blocking me. I'm going to have to actually write it tomorrow, but I'm too tired tonight -- and I need to work on the assignment for my magazine class tomorrow as well, so we'll see how much writing I get done.

Now, though, i'm not going to keep myself up any longer as punishment for my unproductive day -- I'm going to go to bed and hit it hard tomorrow. Goodnight!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

see our love turn to rust

There are times when I love living near Stanford. There are other times, such as when I can hear the fullblown revelry of Full Moon on the Quad without leaving my living room, that I question the wisdom of living so close to all the memories of my alma mater. I don't actually have any particularly fond (or not fond) memories of Full Moon on the Quad, although I do recall that John and I went to it after we had both graduated, carrying a sign that said "I was your RA's RA", which was true for hundreds of people in the crowd and made us look ridiculously old. For those of you who didn't go to Stanford, I will use short words to explain that it's a tradition for freshmen and seniors (and everyone else, plus sketchy grad students and alumni) to gather in the quad during the first full moon of the school year and kiss at midnight. They should be kissing right now, so hopefully the noise will die down soon (yes, I am old and crotchety).

I was not productive today and so am deeply, horrendously annoyed with myself. I did get up relatively early and was out the door by 10am to go to Starbucks and work for awhile, but I spent the time there responding to email instead of writing. Then, I picked Renee up from the Caltrain station and we had a long lunch at Joanie's, which was deliciousness tempered by the fact that there were way too many fucking flies, which both distracted and disgusted me. When we could take the flies no more, we adjourned to Keplers to look at books and then to Borrone to have a tasty nonalcoholic beverage in the sun before she caught her train back to San Jose and I took care of some tings. It was lovely to see her; unfortunately, she hadn't been able to make it to zee party on Saturday, so I'm glad we got to catch up while she was still in town.

I finally got home around five p.m., where I read a romance writers magazine and took a nap. Then, I finished cleaning my kitchen, ate leftovers for dinner (the maidrites dried out from being in the crockpot too long on Saturday, but the baked beans and lemon cake were perfect), and decided that I needed to read a book to clear my mind from the previous week and get back into that creative space where my thoughts are magical and meant to go down on paper rather than disappear in a champagne haze. I still wasn't feeling quite right today after my champagne-soaked weekend, so I indulged myself. The book was Robin McKinley's THE BLUE SWORD -- one of my all-time favorites for getting into dreamspace, since the writing is luscious and the story of a girl who is called to do something she neither understands nor controls seems rather too relatable to my writing. Granted, my writing will not save the kingdom, but if rereading an old favorite can get me out of my procrastinatory haze and back into my imagination, I'm all for it.

Unfortunately tomorrow won't be perfectly devoted to writing; I have to go to the dentist in the morning, and I have an appointment to get a massage and facial tomorrow afternoon (I know, I'm unemployed, but I signed up for a year at the spa when I was still employed, and I have to use my massage by the end of the month or I'll lose it). But, there's a break of several hours in between that I intend to spend holed up in a cafe -- so productivity begins in earnest tomorrow. Goodnight!

Monday, October 25, 2010

i won't ever have to lie, won't ever have to say goodbye

For all that my head this morning felt like it had been hit with an exploding champagne cork (which almost did happen last night, as Fauxneil had a bit of a mishap with one of the many bottles of champagne that I forced the guys to open during zee party), I still managed to eke a good day out of my hangover. I didn't sleep well at all last night, probably because stupidly made chai around nine p.m. and then started to get a hangover by two a.m. (the beauty/peril of afternoon drinking), and so when I woke up to see Chandlord off around eight a.m., I promptly crawled back into bed and stayed there until after eleven. Then, I finally dragged myself upright and into the kitchen, where I cleaned up the worst ravages of yesterday's excesses. After loading up the dishwasher, washing almost everything that needed to be handwashed (except the soup pot and the maidrite crockpot, which are soaking), and taking out a big bag of trash and two bags of recycling, my kitchen is closer to livable again. Really, I wasn't in such bad shape, since I had done all the cooking and cleaning up before any guests arrived, and so most of what was left was paper plates, soup bowls, disposable cups, and the chai mugs. But, every counter surface was just a bit damp and sticky from beer, rum, champagne, simple syrup, or all of it combined, so a good scrubbing was in order.

I was also in need of a good scrubbing after that, so I took a long shower and washed my hair for the first time in days (yes, I thought you would want to know that -- as long as I wash and dry the bangs every day, the rest of it can go several days and still look pretty kickin'). Then, I pulled on a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt and drove to Menlo Park, where John and Jess were babysitting his sister's two kids, to deliver the phone that John left here yesterday. The kids are super cute and v. playful, and I stayed for an hour and a half -- but spending time, any time, with someone else's kids is enough to remind me that any maternal urges I may have right now are entirely hormonal and at complete odds with the aspects of my life that I enjoy. Kids are also at odds with the aspects I don't enjoy -- namely, champagne hangovers, since I belatedly realized that toddlers were not going to make my champagne headache resolve any faster.

So, I escaped, came home, and had my traditional Sunday afternoon phone call with my parents, who told me not to watch the "60 Minutes" piece tonight on unemployment in the Bay Area, since it might depress me (which of course means I'm going to watch it later, preferably when the fact that I'm not getting a paycheck starts to sink in). Then, I took a brief nap before getting up, dressing myself in a slightly more upscale version of my afternoon outfit (same everything else, but with a teal cashmere cardigan rather than a sweatshirt), and met Vidya and Ronak for dinner at Shana Thai. I don't know Ronak super well, but after spending the evening making fun of Vidya with him, I think he's a winner. Ronak stayed with Vidya last night, and the more observant among you will question this, since Vidya stayed with me last night -- Ronak apparently drove all the way back up to the city to stay at Vidya's last night, but since Vidya was here, they didn't actually get to see each other. So, Vidya brought him to our usual Sunday night meal (if you can call the fact that we've done it two Sundays in a row "usual").

We ended up ordering enough food for six people, which was a little ridiculous, but that's how we roll. We eventually had to part ways, though, since they were going to see a movie (a documentary, of course, since Chandlord doesn't watch the kinds of movies I watch) and I had no interest in going with them. On the way home, I stopped at Verde for an earl grey milk tea -- no pearls, of course, and certainly no aloe or red brick or any other additions that people are stupid enough to get there.

The milk tea may have been a mistake, even though it was lovely to get it; now I'm uncomfortably full, caffeinated, and likely to sleep badly. But I'm going to try to sleep anyway -- now that my party is over and I've had a week of relative sloth, I need to hit the writing in earnest starting tomorrow. Goodnight!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

super sad true love story

I don't think I can do justice to the awesomeness that was today, because I'm still hella impacted by the vast quantities of champagne and rum that I downed. The rum and champagne is because I rather ridiculously recreated someone else's wedding 'signature cocktail' for my own party - the "coming up roses" cocktail that I had at Pete and Bridget's wedding (reminder: that entry is here). It's 2oz of raspberry rum, 0.5 ounces of rose-flavored simple syrup, 2-3oz of champagne, and a lime wedge - delicious enough to go down easy, strong enough to make you regret having seven or eight of them in the morning. There are six empty champagne bottles and an entire empty handle of raspberry rum sitting on my counter, so I'm not the only one who had a good day!

sssanyway, the lead-up to the party was rough; in my unemployment, I'm not used to getting up before eleven a.m., and so I wasn't able to wake up much before 8:30 to get ready. I spent the morning running errands, swiffering up the errant wampdevils, making maidrites, etc., and getting prepared for zee party. Zee party was technically from 2pm to 7pm; there was a group of people who showed up around 3pm, and another group who showed up around 5pm, so the general flow of the party was quite nice. I made maidrites (aka sloppy joes - only Ritu, who also grew up in Iowa, knew what the hell maidrites were), baked beans, deviled eggs, potato soup for the vegetarians, lemon cake, and chocolate chip chewies. And, I made the 'coming up roses' cocktail described above - it was a huge hit, although I will definitely be feeling the pain tomorrow.

This was one of the few times that I mixed a couple of friend groups; I never do this, since I believe in keeping my private life private, but I mingled my old Stanford friends with some of my (relatively) new work friends. I say relatively because Tolu and I have been friends for seven years, Chris and I were in India five years ago, and I've known Natasha for two or three years, but given that I've known John, Oniel, and Jav for eleven years, two years is nothing. So Shedletsky, Chris and Natasha, Tolu and Kristina, Chandlord, John and Jess, Javier and Sylvia, Oniel (aka Fauxneil, whose girlfriend still boycotts half my parties because I once threw and Olympics party in honor of the subjugated Chinese factory slaves), Josh (who was in India with me as well), Ritu, Roopa, Connie, and their friends Ronak and Jasmine all showed up, and a good time was had by all.

But seriously, I can't do justice to it all. My brain cells are still dying with every champagne bubble bursting in my stomach, and while I love the feeling of my brain cells crying out for assistance before slowly succumbing to a bottle of Gloria Ferrer blanc de noirs and a bunch of Bacardi Razz, it doesn't help me to formulate proper sentences. I had a wonderful time, though -- this was a wonderful way to celebrate my emancipation from the day job. In fact, Chandlord declared this an Abe Lincoln party (since I live in a log cabin), which resulted in a lot of discussion of emancipations and proclamations, as well as John making a drink called "Body of Lincoln, Blood of Lincoln", which involved eating a tater tot and then drinking something involving Courvosier, champagne, food coloring, etc. Since I supply food coloring as a standard mixer, this was an easy drink to make; someday, perhaps, I will grow up, but until then I will buy food coloring for every party I host as a matter of course.

Anyway, I made a whole vat of chai and then pushed everyone out the door to attend their Stanford reunion parties (if they hadn't left already), and Chandlord claimed that she was only going to take a nap before going to a different party she needed to attend, but I'm pretty sure she's out for the count. So, I'm going to go to bed, spend tomorrow cleaning up the champagne aftermath, and then seriously devote myself to writing starting Monday morning. And I must say that I can't wait -- while I love love LOVE champagne, I'm in love with words too, and the writing is going to have to take precedence for awhile.

And so, goodnight! Starting tomorrow, I will stop killing brain cells quite so recklessly, at least for a few days. Yay.

Friday, October 22, 2010

queen of the night

So it's become clear to me that even though I know *how* to plan a party, and am looking forward to having people attend it, I'm not precisely in the mood for housework. This was particularly evident since I watched last night's "Project Runway" this morning rather than doing anything productive; watching television in the middle of the day was one of those bridges I thought I wouldn't cross, but after exactly one week of unemployment, I'm firmly entrenched on the other side of that bridge, watching tv with the gibbering masses rather than focusing on something more useful.

I can't say that I regret it, though; what this season of "Project Runway" has lacked in actual fashion was more than made up for by its sheer drama and ridiculousness. I'm glad that there's only one episode left, since I'm kind of sick of all of them, but it has been a fun train wreck to watch. However, after watching the show, I had to pull myself back to my own train wreck, and so I went to Safeway and bought a ridiculous amount of stuff for this party I'm throwing tomorrow. Perhaps the amount wasn't ridiculous, but the contents were; I'm creating a true midwestern feast, and I'm sure the dude at the register was judging me hardcore when he saw jello, instant onions, tater tots, cream of mushroom soup, frozen lemonade, and a variety of other hellishly overprocessed (by California standards) roll across his barcode scanner.

When I got home, I threw myself into the cooking for awhile, boiling a couple dozen eggs (for deviled eggs and some egg salad for the vegetarians) and making a lemon cake, chocolate chip chewies, and potato/leek soup. The soup is primarily for tomorrow, but I ate it for dinner tonight as well, which was exactly what I wanted after a rather dreary day. I stopped cooking to watch two episodes of "Dinner: Impossible", and by the time I was done eating, watching the show, and cleaning up the kitchen, I felt like throwing in the towel for the night.

So tomorrow I still have to clean the bathroom, straighten up the living room, swiffer, put away yesterday's laundry, and then make maidrites (aka loose meat sandwiches), baked beans, deviled eggs and possibly tater tot casserole (if I don't decide to abandon the casserole, since I'm sure I already have more food than we're possibly going to eat). The truly unfortunate thing is that I had intended to rent some folding chairs since it looks like we're not going to be able to hang out outside due to rain, but I forgot to call ahead for them and I couldn't find anyplace online that would allow pickup tomorrow. Hmm.

But, it will be fun regardless, and I'm trying to make things that then require absolutely no effort for me once everyone is here so that I can just drink a lot of champagne and be merry. So rather than clean my bathroom, I'm going to go to bed now and get a fresh start in the morning; I stayed in bed for quite awhile last night, but I was having endless, vague nightmares for no apparent reason, so I'm hoping that tonight will be better. Goodnight!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

living that good life

I unfortunately did not get nearly as much done today as I intended, but it wasn't entirely wasted. I managed to get out of bed at ten, which is an hour earlier than any other day this week, so things are looking up in that department. I also did two loads of laundry, since the situation was getting dire, made myself a cup of chai, and finished reading my manuscript. At some point I made lunch (shocker), which I suppose wasn't so difficult, since it was a grilled cheese sandwich (with Kraft American singles, of course). And before I left the house, I made a comprehensive list of the groceries that I need to procure, thinking that I would go to the grocery store after dinner, but as it turned out, there was no time for that.

I finally left the house around four p.m. and whiled away an hour and a half at Starbucks, where I spent most of the time writing an email to my agent and taking care of some other tings online. Then, I met Heather (aka dear respected madam) and the other Heather (who I managed, along with Pete, a year or so ago) at Fiesta del Mar for a new incarnation of margaritas and pie. Pete was supposed to come, but he claimed that he wasn't feeling well, so it ended up just being the three of us. That was enough for some ridiculous conversations, and we ended up staying until 8:40pm -- three hours, if you're keeping track back home. By the time we were done, I was full of chips, my contacts were gluing themselves to my eyes, and I did not have the energy necessary to go to the store. So, I came home, watched "Top Chef: Just Desserts" (which I really don't like so much -- I may have to abandon it), and am going to go to bed early tonight (shocking!) so that I can get stuff done tomorrow.

Apologies for the boring post; you can't win 'em every night. Goodnight!

oh say that you'll be true and never leave me blue suzie q

For some reason, my favorite editing music of choice lately has been the "blues rock" station on Pandora. I never really listened to much blues rock, probably because it's been occasionally critically acclaimed and I tend to prefer things that have never been praised by anyone with decent taste. But, it's interesting enough to keep me awake, funky enough that I think it gets me into a different mood than the music I usually write to, and not so well-known to me that I think I'll stab myself in the ear if I have to listen to any of it again.

As a result of my Pandora love, I upgraded to Pandora premium. The totally awesome thing is that Pandora and Tivo made an agreement to stream Pandora via Tivo, so I can listen to Pandora through the better speakers of my TV and without burning through my laptop battery while working on my couch. It's the little things that make me happy these days.

I failed to get out of bed early as I had intended; instead, I slept until eleven. I'm going to have to start getting up earlier, but this week may be a wash. So I showered, dressed myself before I wrecked myself, took care of some email, and went over to Borrone for a late lunch. There, I spent a couple of hours doing the reading and homework for my magazine class, which meant that I didn't have time to write today. When I left Borrone, I bought some groceries (since this whole being responsible for breakfast and lunch is really hard when I have no food in the house), cleaned up my living room, took care of some stuff online, chatted with a few friends, and ate a v. quick sandwich before dashing over to Stanford campus for class. Class was good, and I need to spend some quality time on it over the next few days, since my big assignment (a feature story) is due next week. Sigh.

When I got home from class, I procrastinated online for awhile (you know you're procrastinating when you sit through an entire three minute video advertisement for a machine that automagically debones whole chickens, turkeys, etc. and extrudes the remaining meat product) and then read the first quarter of the current version of my novel. It's really the first half of what I've got, but when the novel is finished, this will be approximately the first quarter. Verdict: a lot of great stuff so far, but I'm struggling with including enough information to ground the reader without bogging down the plot, and I think I have too many secondary characters, and a couple of the really important secondary characters haven't even made an appearance yet. So, I'm feeling good, but I also have a ton of work to do.

On top of the work I have to do for the book, plus the magazine class and the blogging class that is starting in two weeks, I also volunteered to help plan the awards ceremony for next year's romance conference, and the president of the romance organization contacted me today asking if she could put me up as the candidate for assistant chair of the ceremony committee at the board meeting in November. I'm excited about this, since I like planning events and so am happy to give back in this way, but at the same time perhaps I shouldn't have mentioned my qualifications (which she said were 'impressive') and pretended that my only skill was cat-rearing so that I didn't end up with an assistant chair position. Oh, well -- we all know taking a back seat when I have the skills for a front seat doesn't make me happy, so I'm going to let my excitement about this win out over my laziness.

Okay, it's bedtime -- in addition to reading the rest of my manuscript tomorrow, I need to do some serious stuff around the house to start getting ready for the kids who are coming over on Saturday. Goodnight!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

how thoughtlessly we dissipate our energies...perhaps we don't fulfill each others' fantasies

I'm going to go to bed "early" tonight (12:30) because I almost slept through lunch, and that's just a little bit absurd. I managed to pull myself out of bed around eleven a.m. so that I could make it to my old office in time to have lunch (baked potato Tuesday!) with my friend Jason. It was good to see him, since I didn't really see him much in the month or two before I quit. His wife is having a baby in December and they just bought a new house and are renting out their old one, and so he's got quite a bit going on. It made me feel like a complete slacker by comparison, but I'm pretty happy with what I've got going on right now, even if I didn't write much today.

After lunch, I ran into Natasha, and so we took a walk and talked for forty-five minutes. Then, I drove to downtown Mountain View and got a delicious latte at Red Rock Cafe, sat down to write, and felt some of the same issues around the scene I'm working on that I felt when I was blocked on the scene with the twins a couple of weeks ago. What fixed the previous scene was realizing that it was in the wrong setting and carried the wrong emotional weight, but I don't know how to fix this scene because I can't really remember what's happening at this point since I've rewritten so many damn times.

So I decided that it would behoove me to reread what I have so far, particularly since I haven't really written in about ten days and so may have enough distance from it to make some useful observations. But, I was out of printer paper, and so that necessitated a trip to Office Max (dangerous, but I escaped with exactly what I went for -- a case of printer paper and a couple of plastic file bins that were on sale, since my files are overflowing and need to be stored in the garage). Then I dashed home, printed what I have so far, emptied all the work-related boxes out of my car into the garage while waiting for the printer to finish, and hole-punched everything so that I could put it into one of my slick binders and read it like a book.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), I couldn't tackle the reading then; I had to go back over to the area near my office to meet my friend Riki for a drink. He was the one who originally set up lunch with Jason, but then he canceled on us, and since he works in the evil city I thought it was worth it to have a drink instead. He invited his friend Alex, who used to work for the same company as us and now works for the enemy down the street from me, and Alex's brother, who is still part of our company. So that was fun, since I hadn't seen Alex (or Riki, for that matter) in a long time.

But, I had to part ways at 6:15 to make it over to my every-six-weeks Friendship Renewal Dinner (tm) with Joann and Tolu. We went to Shana Thai in Mountain View (on Moffett, of all places), which Heather (aka dear respected madam) had recommended -- and it was hands down the best Thai food I've had in Mountain View in quite some time. It didn't taste bland at all, which was a huge step up from Amarin or King of Krung Siam. We had a generally fun time catching up for a couple of hours, which was quite nice, so I'm glad I went even if I got nothing of note done today.

When I got home, I spent the rest of the night looking at shelving systems online; you may think that I have enough shelves, since I have one built-in set, three leaning shelves, and a big library cabinet (not counting the linen closet and the pantry closet), but I still have books in boxes and my general desk area is a wreck. I finally managed to find a set that I liked that were the right height, length, coloring, etc., and I went ahead and ordered them so that I could stop obsessing over them. Once I figure out the lamp situation in my bedroom, I should be done with acquiring new stuff for my house, but we'll see once I get my bed put together.

Now, it's time for bed. I have no social plans tomorrow, although I do have class at 6:15, so tomorrow is going to be a hermit writing day (which I'm quite excited about). Goodnight!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

we were perfect when we started, i've been wondering where we've gone

Apparently I can't help staying up until two a.m. -- more on that in a moment. Today was my "first day at my new job", and so I did what anyone else would do on their first day -- agonized over my outfit and dressed up more than I should have. Granted, I lazed about in bed until almost eleven, but after I dragged myself out of the warmth of my down comforter, I showered, dried my hair, and eventually settled on a grey wool skirt with ivory lace at the bottom (one of the last items of clothing I purchased at Anthropologie before freezing my clothing budget, sniff), a grey shirt, a long black cardigan, purple tights, and a pair of 4" heels. It was pretty kicking, if I do say so myself, although I should have worn my boots instead, partially because my left foot is too fragile to wear such ridiculous shoes, and partially because I snagged the hell out of my tights on a splinter in my chair at Starbucks.

But before I went to Starbucks, I talked to Katie for around an hour; she had the day off and texted me in the middle of a "Walker, Texas Ranger" marathon to tell me to call her when I woke up. The silly girl texted me at 9:20am here, which was hours before I was ready to call her back, but I finally did -- and it was absolutely lovely to catch up. I'm hoping that we talk more now that she knows that I'm unemployed, since we talked more when I was back in Iowa for my sabbatical a couple of years ago. But I'm realizing that I'm going to have to be careful about overscheduling my days, since I could easily accomplish nothing if I just socialize all the time, so I'll need to check myself.

After wrapping up with Katie, I ate some leftover Thai food and went to Starbucks, where I spent an hour trying to get back into the story after a week's hiatus. I only wrote ~300 words, which wasn't nearly enough, but then I had to take a break from the romance novel to work on a post for the group blog that I'm part of with the other Golden Heart finalists from my year. I haven't blogged there very much because I've been so busy with life, but I decided to jump back in this week, and I needed to finish a post for it by 9pm (it goes live at midnight EDT). I ended up writing about my decision to quit my day job and trying to determine whether the reasons holding you back are rational, or just fear disguised as rationality. You can read it here; if you still have no idea how I brought myself to do this, perhaps the post will help.

So I finished the post just in time, then filled out a form to volunteer to help plan the awards ceremony at next year's romance convention, and then met John and Jess for sushi in Sunnyvale. At this point, I had switched into jeans and a sweatshirt, since I had changed into pajamas when I got home from Starbucks (which means I dressed up for my 'new job' for all of four hours, which was fine by me). It was fun to see them; we're trying to make a ritual Monday night supper, although Jessica asked us too late to include Vidya, who declined and left us heartbroken. We didn't have as much fun without her, but we were able to eat a lot of meat (such as eel) to make up for it.

When I got home, I checked the blog to make sure it had posted correctly, and dealt with some email that had come in while I was out. Then, I debated writing -- and instead picked up the book that was delivered to my doorstep today. It's called THE BROKEN KINGDOMS, and it's the sequel to THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS, which I read while I was dying of my strange lung ailment in Paris this spring. I usually don't read whole books while on vacation, but I was so sick that the only energy I could muster one night was to find a cafe and sit with my Kindle and eat some soup (and drink a glass of wine, little caring at the time whether the alcohol affected my cold medicine of unclear provenance, since I was desperate for some sleep). But just as that night, it was a mistake to pick up a book tonight; even when I'm exhausted and intent on doing other things, it's really hard for me to put a book done when I've started it. So even though I'd set an alarm and kept resetting it to try to stop myself from continuing to red, I ended up plowing through it in about 4.5 hours.

Katie would hate this book as much as she would hate everything else I've been reading lately -- it's fantasy, but of the gods-and-magic variety rather than steampunk or the vampires/werewolves type that has been so popular the past few years. Katie was somewhat mollified to learn the other night in one of my posts that I'm going on a bender of fantasy/young adult paranormal because I'm researching for a future young adult paranormal book -- although why she was mollified, I do not know, since she's going to have an epic moral dilemma on her hands. Will she support me and read whatever I write, or will she stay true to her assertion that fantasy/paranormal is weird and unenjoyable? I suspect that this will be the moment when we discover that she does not love me enough to overcome her hatred of the genre, but time will tell.

Anyway, THE BROKEN KINGDOMS was excellent, particularly in terms of the language and the v. interesting world the writer has created. But now, I should go to bed -- I've overscheduled my day tomorrow, and now have lunch plans, happy hour plans, and dinner plans, which means I have to squeeze writing into the cracks between those events. I also have to check in on the group blog that I wrote for, since I'm supposed to answer comments and interact with the community -- so I can't sleep too late, or I will miss all the action from the east coast. Goodnight!

Monday, October 18, 2010

i dream of love as time runs through my hands

Today was an utterly lazy day; I half-suspected that it would be, since rain was in the forecast and I love nothing better than lazing around on rainy Sundays. I woke up around ten and dozed in the warmth of my bed until around eleven, when I finally got dressed and went to Mike's Cafe for brunch. It's not that I love the place (I don't, particularly), but it's usually fairly easy to get a table and the clientele is so old that no one seems to notice that I'm there by myself. So I had my usual casserole and a v. good cup of coffee while brainstorming some upcoming blog activities -- not this blog (if you're wanting the content of this one to improve, you're in for a serious disappointment), but my romance blog and the group blog that I'm part of with some of the other finalists from that award I won last year. I have to write a blog post for the group blog for Tuesday, so that was the top priority. I didn't finish the post, but I know what I want to write, so knocking it out tomorrow shouldn't be too hard.

The long-term priority, though, is my romance blog; I need to start building content and getting into a rhythm there, and since I'm taking a class on blogging that starts in a couple of weeks, I want to get some ideas flowing now. I think I came up with a good list -- the first part was to figure out the general theme/tone. A lot of writers seem to end up writing blogs about how they write -- interesting to other writers, perhaps, but not interesting to potential readers. It's kind of a catch-22 -- right now it would be a lot easier for me to attract a following by blogging about writing, since my connections on Twitter are primarily with other writers. But eventually, the goal is to be published, and at that point I would rather have an audience of readers than writers. So, I'm just going to have to write a fun, breezy historical romance blog and pretend that I have an audience beyond my mother for the first few months until things get rolling.

After lingering over my coffee and notebook, I came home, cleaned my kitchen, took care of some stuff online, and took a nap. Then, I had my ritual call with my parents, who were in fine spirits because they've been having gorgeous weather for a couple of weeks, which they desperately needed. When we were done, I made a mug of tea and drove up to the evil city, expecting to have a quick dinner with Chandlord...

...but I didn't realize there was a game at Candlestick, and so what should have been a ~40min drive on a Sunday night instead took me an hour and forty-five minutes. I wanted to shoot myself. If nothing else, it was an excellent reminder of how glad I am to be done with both the city and my awful commute. However, dinner was lovely -- Chandlord, her friend Kathy, and I went to the Korean soft tofu place that Adit and I used to go to, which was the perfect warm, soupy meal for a rainy Sunday. The wait was a little long and they could have made my tofu spicier (I said "medium", as did Kathy, but mine was several shades lighter on the spice spectrum based on the color -- I think they discriminated against me because I'm pale and clearly not built for heat), but I was quite glad we went there.

However, I had to come home after we were done -- tomorrow's a work day, after all, even if I'm not getting paid for it and no one is expecting me to turn up anywhere. I'm interested to see how my process goes and whether I get into a rhythm or do something different every day -- we shall see. Now, though, it's time for bed -- my "new job" starts tomorrow!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

i can feel your heart beat through my shirt

I'm tired and about to go to bed - but since I expect that I will quickly shift to a 1am-9am sleep schedule since I no longer have to drag myself to the office at a respectable hour, I'm not really forcing myself to sleep. Perhaps I should try to stay on an office schedule, but I just don't think I have it in me to become a morning person regardless of how many people seem to love sunrises and getting their best work done while all the rest of the world is asleep.

I stuck with my hiatus from writing for the weekend; there were a couple of times when I thought I should sit down and write, but I held myself back. I think a weekend of manual labor and reading is exactly what I need to clear my head of the remnants of the day job before I jump into writing in earnest next week. As a result, my labors around the house were pretty successful today. I shifted summer and winter clothes between my bedroom closet and the hallway closet, putting most of my work clothes in the hallway and moving my comfiest, oldest sweatshirts and sweaters into my main closet. While I've become addicted to fashion, I still like to be comfortable, and I have a feeling that comfort is going to trump fashion in my writing career, at least around the house. Then, I unpacked and organized all the piles of stuff strewn around the floor of the bedroom, so it's now truly livable for the first time since moving in. I still need to put together the bedframe that I ordered, but I put that off until tomorrow because when I finally had the space necessary to tackle it, it was four p.m. and the light on that side of the house had vanished for the day.

After leaving the bedroom to encroaching darkness, I did a couple of hours' worth of email for my real life and my alter ego. I finally set up Gmail's Priority Inbox for both accounts; I used it at work and loved it, but had never bothered to set it up for the rest of my life. Now, both accounts have important messages automatically moved to the top, and I set up an 'action' label that I can give to emails that require me to do something so that they're all grouped in their own little part of my inbox. Brilliant! I'm trying to get off on the right foot when it comes to communications, since I've neglected my personal email for years and need to get better at it if I'm going to ever talk to enough people to keep me sane while I'm staying home all day.

Ultimately, I took a shower, ordered some Thai food (from a place on California Ave - not the best I've ever had by a long shot, but since it's only five minutes away, it was a win), and watched last week's "Project Runway". Then, I picked up a book -- WICKED LOVELY, which beat out the other options because it was shorter. The basic premise is that some seventeen year old is chosen by the faeries' Summer King to be his queen and end his mother (the Winter Queen)'s reign, but the girl doesn't want to do it. I had high hopes because it was recommended by a couple of authors I love, but while I was really intrigued by the mythology behind the story, it was just a little bit flat. Too bad -- I might read the next ones in the series anyway, because I'm a completist, but it was nowhere near some of the other stuff I've liked recently.

You'll note that I'm reading a lot of either fantasy or young adult these days (which probably explains why Katie no longer calls me, since her abhorrence of fantasy is legendary). Part of it is because I have trouble reading other historical romances while I'm writing them. A bigger part is that I really want to write a young adult fantasy/end of the world story, and so this is all research in addition to pleasure. When I started writing romance, I'd already read hundreds of them, so I didn't need to do a deep exploration of storylines, expected plot points, voice, etc. But with young adult, I have to do the research -- when I qualified as a young adult, this type of book wasn't quite as prevalent, and if it was, I was too busy plowing through the romance/mystery/literature/history sections to check out young adult anyway. But I'm starting to get a feel for the emotional arcs, standard characters, rhythm/pacing/voice, etc., which is a good step.

So now, I'm off to bed. Tomorrow brings more cleaning (if my foot holds up - I strained the left one badly while wearing flip flops in Tokyo, and since I made the mistake of wearing flip flops on Thursday while carrying many boxes of stuff down to my car at work, the pain has flared up again), laundry, and drafting a blog post for the romance website I sometimes blog for. Yay - goodnight!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

you and me could write a bad romance

It's all over. I had a lovely last day at work -- I managed to get in around 9:30 (despite staying up until almost two a.m. writing my goodbye email and taking care of some other stuff), where I slogged excessively until 2:30pm to wrap up the last bits of stuff that I wanted to finish. As I was still sending emails until about five minutes before my exit interview, I was clearly taking my productivity down to the wire.

But, my friend Sarah happened to be in town from Tokyo, and she hung out on my couch for an hour -- we had always said that we would quit together, and while we didn't hold true to that (all my fault, obviously), at least she was here on my final day. And, in a v. surprising and touching note, my parents sent me flowers, so I had a gorgeous flower arrangement to look at while dashing off all my last emails/requests/responses.

Around 2:30, I went over to my old building and hung out for an hour and a half, saying some desultory goodbyes and wrapping things up with my laptop. At four, I did my exit interview, which was a bit of a jhoke only because I'm friends with the HR person, who recently moved to Israel but was back in town and happened to end up covering for the HR person who was going to do my exit but was out sick. So, I ended up asking her as many questions about Israel as she asked me about why I was leaving, which was funny. She also didn't have the paperwork and had to scramble to find it, and I was concerned because I had deduced from my last direct deposit (this morning) that they had neglected to pay me for my accrued vacation (an issue that we didn't resolve - Imma have to follow up with someone). This kind of stuff is rather par for the course, and is a charming bookend to the start of my career, when the recruiter forgot to call me to tell me that I was hired, but when I called to check the status on a Friday, she asked if I could start Monday. Ah, memories.

The HR woman claimed that she had to take me downstairs to pick up a copy of the NDA that I signed when I joined, but then she escorted me into a final surprise party thrown for me by my friend Jenni (whom I've worked with for ages and also spent quality time with in South Africa and India - where 'quality' is sort of a pun since that's one of the many projects we've worked on) and the big boss's admin. They had decorated a conference room with an explosion of pink, brought cupcakes and champagne, and a bunch of people chipped in for giftcards to Barnes and Noble and Sephora (they know me too well). It was lovely, although true to form I called out exactly how awkward it was, since we were all sort of standing/sitting in a circle, not saying much, and then someone would ask me a question about my future. That just made it v. entertaining to me, though -- but definitely not the kind of emotional vibe that would have brought me to tears (although not much would have, unless they showed the end of a cheesy romantic dramedy).

But, a lot of my favorite people were there, and it was nice to say goodbyes in person. Then, a smaller group of us (mostly expats - Heather and Salim, Chris and Natasha, plus Meital (Alan's admin) and Will (who was on one of my old teams back in 2007)) adjourned to a nearby bar, where we spent a couple of hours telling tales over drinks. After drinks, Heather and Salim took me to Fiesta del Mar, where the server sarcastically asked "Really?" when I ordered enchiladas suizas, since I get that every time and he apparently knows it. Ha. Then, Heather let me into my old building one final time (since my badge is gone forever) to pick up the flowers from my parents and the bottle of champagne the big boss gave me, and I drove off into the night.

So while today was lovely and fairly unemotional, I think I will feel more emotional over the next few days. My goodbye email has already resulted in over seventy responses -- and not to go too far into a Sally Field "you like me, you really like me!" moment, but so many of them are so incredibly nice that I can't quite express how grateful I am for them. It's always nice to know that you'll be missed, and I'm glad that all the efforts I put into collaboration and relationships (even on the days when I would have rather stabbed myself in the face than go to another meeting and try to get monkeys to play nicely with each other) were noticed and appreciated.

But I don't feel guilty about leaving, and given my general near-Catholic levels of guilt about almost everything, I'm quite proud of myself for not feeling bad about this. It was hard to say goodbye to the big boss, and I joked that we sort of gave each other a man hug (she doesn't like touching and was holding her laptop, and my approach was awkward as usual), but she'll be fine without me (as she said, she managed to write her thank-you note to me without having me ghostwrite it, which I think demonstrates she can handle herself). But it really wasn't hard to say goodbye to anyone who showed up to the party, because I'll see them all again (and am having lunch with two of them and dinner with three more of them next week anyway).

So that's the end. I feel good about it, and I'm excited for the next phase in my life, scary as it may be. But I'm giving myself the weekend off from writing -- it's time to put my house in order, so I'm going to spend the weekend cleaning, finally getting my bedroom in livable condition, and possibly watching an endless amount of "True Blood". Goodnight!

Friday, October 15, 2010

our old friend fear and you and me

In approximately sixteen hours, I'll be unemployed. It's still not sinking in; I spent the day packing my desk, shredding seven years' worth of documents (including my notebook from temp training so many years ago, which made me quite sad), and trying to decide whether to keep things like feather boas, lava lamps, potato heads, etc. Typically I've kept all that stuff because I've always needed stuff to decorate my desk with -- but I already have things to decorate my home desk with, and since I'm not going to have two desks, I don't really need two desks' worth of ridiculous toys.

But, I'm all packed up, and I've taken everything to my car, and I was only in the office from 8am to 8:30pm to get it done. I still have some last minute stuff to wrap up tomorrow, but I'm in pretty good shape, so I can walk out the door with a clear conscience. Whether I walk out with a smile remains to be seen. I think I will -- I'm really excited about the next part of my life, and even if I'm not smiling tomorrow, I will be when I roll out of bed around ten a.m. on Monday and don't have to go to the office. But, I'm not going to like giving up my laptop, or the badge that gets me access to a treasure trove of Diet Coke and snacky snacks.

I'm also not going to like saying goodbye to people, of course, but that's a given. In fact, I hate saying goodbye so much that I had lunch today with Heather (aka dear respected madam) and Vidya (aka Chandlord) -- two people I know I will see a lot of, one of whom doesn't even work there anyway -- rather than with people for whom it might actually be a goodbye. This was the first time that Chandlord and Heather have met, and I think it was good; I've wanted to introduce them for awhile, so this was a good opportunity even though the food and general attractiveness of the other patrons at that particular cafe was lower than usual today.

And that's it for now -- tomorrow it ends. Unfortunately real life doesn't have a doom-laden 'Lord of the Rings' style soundtrack, or else this would be the Khazad-Dum sequence, where the Balrog portrays a fiery demon known as 'never getting paid again' -- but like Gandalf, I will destroy him and arise anew to return to you at the turn of the tide.

Okay, that was too horribly nerdy even for me. That's a clear sign that it's time for bed. Then, I'm taking the weekend mostly off, but the writing begins in earnest on Monday -- I can't wait!

Daily word count: 0 (0% of goal)
Productive time: -
RescueTime productivity rating: - (global average: 0.34)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

and you feel just fine 'cause you do what you're told

I have to go to bed immediately; I was only five minutes late to the big boss's staff meeting this morning, but as I have another eight a.m. (my very last one!) with her tomorrow that I'm running rather than merely sitting through, I need to get some sleep.

It's now less than forty-two hours until I'm officially unemployed, which is still impossible to believe. It's also going to be impossible to finish everything on the list of things that I want to do, but I'm going to try my damnedest to do it. Luckily, the most important thing (a twenty-five page over-the-top manifesto of how to do my job) is done, and the big boss loved it, so at least I know that I'm not leaving my successor hanging. Now it's on to the rest of my list, and we'll see how far I get before they pry my laptop out of my hands.

Today was good, even though I spent the whole day slogging in anticipation of my last 1:1 with the big boss. Neither of us cried (since neither of us are criers), and I think she's still in denial (since she gave me notes to write a blog post for her, which isn't quite what I needed right now even though I'm happy to do it), but it was a great last meeting. I'm really going to miss working with her, even though there are aspects of my job that I won't miss, so wrapping up with her was sad.

After work, I came home, talked to my dad, ate supper, and then slogged from 7:30pm until now. The v. observant of you will note that I skipped class tonight; I'd already decided yesterday that I would skip, since I'm too engrossed in last-minute day job stuff to prioritize it, but I'll make it to the rest of the classes this quarter. And now, with my battery dying and my eyes closing, it's time for bed. Any bets on what my blog will be like when I no longer have my job to talk about?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

return to earth

I'm not gonna lie - I teared up while watching coverage of the first miner being pulled out of that Chilean mine. It was quite moving, even though I was of course indulging in my cynical side and telling Terry all sorts of awful jhokes over IM. But, as I've been listening to it for the past five hours (more on that in a minute), I've gotten a bit too snarky about the meaningless patter that the news anchors keep saying. My favorite is any version of 'he has returned to earth' or 'on solid ground for the first time in 67 days' -- really? They've returned to earth? Ha.

Anyway, I had a lovely if continually bittersweet day. I went in, got some work done, and had lunch with the big boss's husband -- we worked together long before I started working for the big boss, but he switched teams a year ago and so I haven't seen him as much and wanted to say goodbye. Then, I worked for another hour before going back to main campus for my last free birthday massage. It's unfortunate that I found this massage therapist just before I left, since she's the best one I've had at work in the seven years I've been there, so I got her card for her private massage practice (even though I'm three days away from unemployment and lack of income, so massages are going to be fewer and farther between). Then, I went to the grand opening of the new onsite store, where I scored a free pair of mittens in our rather garish colors.

I did another hour of work after that, even though I felt too relaxed and lotioned up to really be eager for productivity. Then, I took a long coffee break with Chandlord, who was in fine form, before coming home and eating some Hot Pockets while getting work done. I worked until about eleven, sending a bunch of emails that I needed to get out while watching the mine rescue. And then, in my most important act of the week -- I retinseled my hair. I haven't had any tinsel in my hair since I got the bangs, but I put in black tinsel in honor of my departure from work. I'd had people vote on Buzz for what color of tinsel to use, and the big boss weighed in for black, which I just happened to have on hand. As it turns out, it's actually pretty noticeable, because it's a black metallic that adds a subtle shimmer -- so it's perfect for my last three days.

Now, I desperately need to sleep; my last big boss staff meeting is tomorrow morning at eight a.m., and I don't want to be late. Goodnight!

Monday, October 11, 2010

clever girl

Day one of my last day at work was lovely. I didn't sleep well last night, but managed to drag myself in by ten a.m., which was utterly respectable since I stayed until after six-thirty (and since they can't exactly fire me -- and if they wanted to fire me for coming in at ten, they should have fired me at least once a week for the past seven years). I slogged fairly effectively for most of the day, although I wasn't completely effective while working from Slice Cafe, since I was mildly distracted by John and later Katrina. However, since I had told them I was going to Slice, perhaps I was asking for it.

I vacated Slice for a doctor's appointment, then went back to my building and slogged for another couple of hours. I nearly forgot to leave in time for dinner, but I made it to dinner just in discover that the restaurant was closed. Damn these restaurants that close on Mondays! John, Jessica, and Vidya all arrived within a few minutes, and v. strangely, the owner of the restaurant arrived as well, bearing the golf clubs that he had been using on his day off. Because this restaurant was Indian, we agreed to limit our choices to other Indian restaurants in Sunnyvale (which isn't really a limit, since there are at least twenty Indian restaurants in Sunnyvale, capital of the west coast Indians) -- which I knew was going to lead to my doom.

My doom, of course, was Chaat Paradise, my self-proclaimed least favorite Indian restaurant ever (even thought it's technically in Mountain View, not Sunnyvale). It's Vidya's go-to choice in the area, and John and Jess were happy to agree, and so we went. I kind of didn't want to go because I prophesied exactly what would happen -- as with just about everything I have ever claimed to hate, I ended up really liking it. I am cursed. We had pani poori, a couple of paneer dishes, and some eggplant, served with a generous portion of complete insanity. I don't know if the reason that I didn't like it before is because Adit always orders the driest items on the menu or if it's because I'm always embarrassed when I go there, but tonight was no exception on the embarrassment scale; we were the loudest group in the restaurant, inducing a whooping cough fit in John right as the server came to clear our table, which I'm sure made that man v. concerned.

So anyway, it was quite the evening, full of nonsensical jhokes about HP Pavilion and quotes from "Jurassic Park". We also made a pact that one decade from now, we will go to all the places photographed in the restaurant -- but as I've already forgotten the names of all of them, I guess we'll have to go back to Chaat Paradise at least once more. On that note, we parted ways, and I came back to Palo Alto, where I decided to throw in the towel on work for the night and watch last night's "60 Minutes". It's not quite the same as sitting with Adit while watching a few minutes with Andy Rooney, but it was quite a good episode; the Nelson Mandela piece was good, and the Eminem segment only increased my awe of Eminem's vocabulary and insane talent.

Now, I'm going to go to bed early so that I can get up at a reasonable hour and blowdry my hair before work -- doesn't that sound productive? Goodnight!

boots and fists to pound on the pavement

I didn't leave the house today. This is the first time in ages I haven't left the house; despite my hermitish tendencies and the fact that I live in a little hobbit-like cabin that seems custom-made for hermitville, I've been pretty good about getting out of it at least once a day.

Today, however, was not one of those days. After drinking a whole bottle of wine last night and staying up until almost three to finish it (which, by the way, was because I was in an excellent mood; I was a happy wino, not a bitter one), it's no surprise that I stayed in bed until eleven. I got out of bed to make myself some excellent breakfast quesadillas (only differentiated from supper quesadillas by the time of day they were served) and catch up on my online life. Then, exhausted by my exertions, I took a nap.

After napping, I changed out of my nightgown into some clean pajamas, which was the extent of making myself presentable (it was at that point I knew I wouldn't leave the house today), and proceeded to do my last self-assessment for work. It's two weeks late, but compared to when I usually turn the thing in, it felt like I was getting it in early, so I patted myself on the back for that. Then, I talked to my parents in our usual Sunday ritual, took another nap, ate some dinner, and proceeded to work on stuff for the day job the rest of the night.

So, no writing got done, but as I have to wrap up stuff for work, I don't think I'll do much writing this week. There will be time enough for writing when I'm unemployed -- which is this Friday, which is absolutely astonishing. I'm sad about leaving my friends, but on the other hand (and most of the first hand, if I'm being honest) I cannot *wait* to have some serious time to devote to my writing.

Even though I took so many naps today that I'm not at all tired, I'm going to go to bed now; I need to get to work at a respectable hour, since the big boss is back in town and I have a lot to finish before we part ways. Goodnight!

Daily word count: 0 (0% of goal)
Productive time: -
RescueTime productivity rating: - (global average: 0.34)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

sure of myself, sure of it now

I'm quite shocked and somewhat embarrassed to report that I just drank a whole bottle of cabernet sauvignon by myself. Granted, I drank it over the course of the past six hours, leaving me lightly soused rather than utterly inebriated -- but given how I feel now, it's no wonder I was completely hammered after the 'fantastic Tuscan voyage' that Adit, Chandlord, Timmy Timer and I took to the Olive Garden, since on that memorable occasion I had at least one bottle of wine and two 'roadies' of mini-champagnes in under four hours. I don't actually know what's worse -- drinking moderately alone, or getting hammered at the fucking Olive Garden.

The day started off quite nicely -- I lazed about in bed, showered, and went to one of my old favorite haunts in Palo Alto Midtown (Mike's Cafe) for brunch. Brunch was merely okay, since they nearly burned the potatoes in my veggie casserole, but I read a bit of a plotting/structure book that helped me to get back on track. then, I relocated to teh Starbucks down the street, where I successfully wrote almost ten pages -- and they were ten v. emotionally charged pages to boot, so I felt quite satisfied with that.

Taking a breather from the writing, I ran to the grocery store, restocked some essentials (like Amy's frozen enchiladas, which I adore), and came home, where I tidied tings up. Chandlord called, which was a lovely surprise, but I declined her invite to come to the city for dinner because I wanted to get some writing done. But, in a v. foolish move, I opened some wine, and proceeded to drink the whole damn bottle. I didn't *mean* to drink the bottle, but as it turned out, it was a really lovely, delicious cabernet, and I couldn't let it just sit in the fridge to rot. So, I drank wine while going through a bunch of pictures of the olden days to put on my corkboards (verdict: success in narrowing down, but I felt some extreme nostalgia for India, friends who have moved to the east coast, etc.), and then I watched some "Top Chef: Just Desserts" while polishing off the bottle.

I have grand ambitions for tomorrow, so I should probably sleep off the alcohol; i need to pack up my office at work, and I want to write another couple of scenes of zee romance novel. Wish me luck! And now, I shall go to bed.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

today was just a day bleeding into another

I was horribly unproductive today -- all remaining tasks at work are things I don't want to do, and I'm back to stressing about the book because I'm sick to death of it and wish that I had finished it a year ago so that I could be working on something else. Even though I've been writing pretty steadily since the end of July, the fact that I killed off the father and changed the plot completely changed the book, and I probably should have just started from scratch, since that's essentially what I did.

Here's a fun fact: even though I've written 33,389 words in the past two months (which is pretty respectable -- I'd rather be writing 2000 words/day, but 500/day is totally fine), I've actually got 10,000 words *less* than I had at the start of August. At the beginning of August, I was at 55,222 words; if I had been able to add those 33,389 words to that number, I would have a fully-finished book. Instead, I'm now at 45,866 words -- which means I basically deleted 20% of what I had, rewrote 60% of it, and kept the other 20% (at least for now). It's no wonder this book is driving me insane -- even though I feel like I'm making steady progress, I simultaneously feel like the goal line is moving farther and farther away.

So, apologies if I'm just a wee bit frustrated. I'm not doubting my decision to focus on writing full-time -- I always manage to work through these doldrums, and the sun will come out tomorrow (yes, I just referenced a musical, sue me), and Madeleine and Ferguson will live to love another day, even though tonight I want to kill them. But, writing has its downsides just like any other job -- and while I would rather bang my head against my desk trying to come up with a plot than fill out another expense report, at least expense reports are easy.

Now, unfortunately, it's time for bed -- and if Madeleine and Ferguson don't come to me in my dreams and tell me what happens when he takes her home for the first time (they don't have sex, so the dream should just be informative, not pornographic), I will be quite displeased. Goodnight!

Friday, October 08, 2010

battle without honor or humanity

I had an eight a.m. meeting this morning (only two more eight a.m. meetings left, provided no one schedules me for any more!) that I was extremely surly about having to attend, but luckily this too shall pass. After the meeting, I went to main campus to get my last set of allergy shots at work, and they all swelled up quite obnoxiously (I still have a hot, hard lump the size of my palm burrowing into my right arm) -- luckily, I'll be able to continue getting shots at the doctor's private practice, so someday I may actually be free of my allergies. Then, I went back to my building, did some work, welcomed back my friend Joy (who took the last month off), and then went to Big Table to have lunch with Katrina. After lunch, I did some more work until around 3pm, when I sloughed off early to get my eyes checked and order one last pair of contacts before my fancy schmancy vision coverage goes the way of all the other perks I'm walking away from.

I grabbed a pearl milk tea, came home, and did a bit of work and surfing on the internet until around seven. Then, I ate dinner (a baked potato -- I could live off of them exclusively, although with the small but viable possibility of potato blight it's probably not wise to get too attached to them as my only food source), debated writing, and decided to give myself a night off so that I can be more productive this weekend. So, I read a book that showed up earlier this week, called THE IRON DUKE by Meljean Brooks. It's gotten rave reviews amongst the people I follow on Twitter, and I would say that those raves are mostly justified -- but I'm not sure that I have any friends whom I would recommend it to, since it falls firmly into the steampunk genre, which not everyone amongst my acquaintance would embrace.

The only other time I mentioned steampunk on this blog (I just checked), I refrained from explaining what it was, but you're not going to be so lucky this time. In a nutshell, steampunk takes most of the flavor and ambience of Victorian (or in this case, I'm thinking Regency) society, but adds a shitload of crazy gadgets and machines powered by steam. "League of Extraordinary Gentleman", in addition to being a very unfortunate way for Sean Connery to end his long and illustrious (to me) career, was an example of steampunk, and Jules Verne could be seen as a loose precursor to the genre. So, in addition to having a somewhat more technical bent that most romance (since you have to have some scientific interest in machines to come up with steampunk inventions and get into the technical details of dirigibles, etc.), it also seems to deal with some alternate history -- if you've already altered history by giving people steam-powered armor or turning them into cyborgs, you might as well alter history entirely, right?

I've only read a very tiny bit of steampunk -- the SOULLESS/CHANGELESS/BLAMELESS series, and now THE IRON DUKE. The first series is basically Victorian England with vampires, werewolves, and steam-powered stuff; entertaining, but not super into steampunk land. THE IRON DUKE is much further down that road -- it's an alt-history look at what would have happened if the Mongols had kidnapped Marco Polo's expedition, forced the scientists to work for them, and eventually developed nanobots that could infect and control others, thus seizing all of the Old World and driving the refugees to the Americas. The book takes place nine years after a pirate (later given a dukedom) destroys the Mongol Horde's presence in England and frees the populace. I particularly liked that the Iron Duke in real life was Wellington -- and the author made this guys a sort of parallel of Wellington, only parts of him are actually made of iron. Ha.

So now I've gone into way too much detail and likely scared you off. Those of you who are still here should know that I'm not sure I would get much more into steampunk than I already have (although I would read more of both these series) -- but in terms of writing, it's a fascinating look at how to build a convincing and realistic world, and I thought the characters were quite strong. But in terms of my own writing, I don't think it will ever get into steampunk land; I would definitely write a dark dystopian alternate history, since apocalypses are kind of my cup of tea, but any dream I've ever had of the end of the world never involved a steam-powered weapon.

But now, it's almost two a.m., and I should probably make at least some attempt to get something done at the office tomorrow. I'll be unemployed a week from tomorrow and will have all sorts of time to sleep (or, hopefully, write) then. Goodnight!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

but you know that i was never fair, you were always fine

The weather widget on my phone is now forecasting up to the last day of my job (next Friday, predicted to be sunny and 71 degrees), which is yet another reminder that this is all becoming real very fast. I'm really quite happy that it's becoming real, even though I will miss being able to run into people at work all the time (because if I run into people unexpectedly in my own house, I'm likely not going to be thrilled to see them). But, as I don't like saying goodbye to people, the next few days aren't going to be the best ever.

Today was pretty good, even though I need to start buckling down if I'm going to finish the things I'm supposed to finish before I go. I had lunch with John at the cafe in the building my team sat in from 2005 to 2007; the cafe has changed concepts a couple of times since then (Oasis -> Jia (I think?) -> Steam, for those of you keeping track at home), but today's lunch was pretty good. Then, I went back to my building for a meeting with the recruiter who is trying to fill my role (things are not looking pretty, but it's about to not be my problem), and then snuck away to a snacky-type cafe on main campus (Slice) to while away the afternoon. There were only fifteen or twenty people in the cafe when I walked in, but I got to say hi to both Elisabeth (one of my favorite former direct reports) and Joann (of temp program days of yore -- she's the one who just moved back from Singapore). John showed up too, and we drank oddly disgusting chocolate smoothies while working. I believe that he was working on stuff for the job that actually pays him, while I was definitely doing the reading for my magazine class tonight, since I've been too consumed with Madeleine and Ferguson and day job stuff to do my homework. We left when we fortuitously overheard someone say that it looked like it was going to rain, and got back to my car just as the raindrops started, thus saving his laptop and my overpriced handbag from ruin.

I dropped him off at his building, came home, had some peanut butter, and finished the reading for class just in time to head over to campus. Class tonight was good, but I was too tired to fully enjoy it -- yet another reason why I'm looking forward to being unemployed. Then I came home and intended to write, but I think my brain was too tired, so I futzed around on the internet for a bit instead.

Now I desperately need to sleep; I've been going in late every day this week since the big boss is in Dublin and no one else cares where I do my work from, but I have an eight a.m. meeting tomorrow that is going to wreck me if I don't go to bed soon. Goodnight!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

you said, "baby we don't speak of that"

The writing is happening and I'm letting it take me over, likely to the detriment of everything else. I don't really want to acknowledge that everything is coming to an abrupt end at work, and so rather than think about it or even socialize with people, I've spent the last couple of days (and will likely spend the rest of this week) in hiding, doing whatever absolutely has to get done and then running away to work on the novel. Today's "must get done" list included interviewing somebody, sending some emails, ordering discounted office supplies from Office Depot (I should have enough of my favorite post-it flags for research to last me a year), ordering discounted Fandango bucks (so that I can see movies at an effective 16% discount), and ordering a year of access to Rosetta Stone (so that I can learn French and run away to Carcassonne -- through my corporate discount, I was able to get a year's subscription, starting November 15, for only $116 instead of the $749 that the disks would have cost).

Feeling quite good about all I had accomplished, I slipped out of the office around 5pm and went to Cafe Borrone, where I wrote like mad for a couple of hours. Then I came home and wrote until now -- the total word output isn't high, since I only netted ~1200 words and deleted another 3000, but I'm trying to polish the first half so that I can send it out to some lucky beta readers (volunteer if you want to be one of them -- people who are consistent readers of romance and not just interested in doing a find/search for 'manroot' get priority). So, the lack of wordcount wasn't a bad thing. I actually was quite pleased with what I did write -- I finally got a draft of that stupid scene with the twins that has been giving me fits for a week, and while it's not perfect, at least it's getting there.

Now, though, I suppose I should go to bed. The only other thing of note is that I spent a bit of time researching prices for the California Zephyr -- maybe I should take the train from Iowa to California after Christmas? I have to cancel/rebook my plane ticket for Iowa anyway because I stupidly booked it before I quit and now need to extend the trip on both sides -- but the cost of a one-way flight to Iowa in mid-December and the cost of a one-way train ticket with a sleeper berth to California in early January is the same as the cost of my roundtrip air ticket. Granted, train travel through the Rockies and the Sierras in January might be a bit dicey -- but it's probably the most beautiful time to see the mountains too, and since I have no deadlines, I wouldn't be screwed if I got stuck someplace (unless we ended up in a Murder on the Orient Express situation, and then I would only be screwed if I was the victim). It would also be good practice to see if I want to do the Trans-Siberian someday; there are probably more Mennonites than Russian mafiosos in tracksuits on Amtrak, but otherwise, it probably wouldn't be so different.

Okay, enough blogging for one night -- goodnight!

Daily word count: 1209 (65.45% of goal)
Productive time: 5.5hrs
RescueTime productivity rating: 1.43 (global average: 0.93)

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

you stand this close to me, like the future was supposed to be

YES. I forced myself back on track with the writing today by sheer force of will, even though it was a work day. The consequence was that I didn't force myself on track with the day job, since I can only be so disciplined, but as I'm having a major attack of senioritis, maybe that's to be expected. I did have a goodbye meeting with Alan, which made me sad, so it's no wonder I threw myself into my writing rather than my transition stuff.

Anyway, I managed to write for over four hours today (before work and after) for a grand total of ~2300 words (>10 pages). I wasn't quite as fast in terms of words/hour as I sometimes am, but as I was rewriting the beginning (again) to provide a stronger lead-in for the scene with the twins that is killing me, this was to be expected. And now the beginning is much stronger and tighter than it was, which is a wonderful thing. I can't write quite as much tomorrow and Wednesday because I need to do the assignment for my magazine class and then go to my magazine class, but I'm really pleased with today's progress. If I can keep this feeling, rather than the throw-the-laptop-through-the-window feeling, I might get something accomplished.

Now, though, I'm completely out of words, and so the blog is going to have to get published with a much shorter entry than usual (which should be exciting for you, since you'll spend 1-2mins less on it today than you might otherwise have). Enjoy your extra time!

Daily word count: 2390 (119.5% of goal)
Productive time: 4.5hrs
RescueTime productivity rating: 0.92 (global average: 0.84)