Wednesday, December 30, 2015

i mean, you're so shy and i'm loving your tie

I left the house today (shocker!), but since all I did was walk out to the mailbox and back, perhaps this should not be treated as a significant accomplishment. However, it was cold and there are 6+ inches of snow on the ground, so I'm going to act like this was a supremely risky and important endeavor.

The rest of my day was almost equally uneventful. I spent the morning and the evening reading (and finishing) BIG MAGIC, which I totally adored; it was occasionally just the slightest bit too much self-help preachy, but I was in the mood for that kind of pep talk, and her take on creativity and inspiration was pretty creative and inspiring, for lack of better words. I would wax on more about this, but I'm still thinking through my aspirations and desires for the new year, and it all feels too fragile to talk about right now. So, #sorrynotsorry.

Beyond the reading, I also spent an hour or so talking to a couple of romance writer friends, which was good for me. And I had supper with the family; my dad grilled steak and tiger prawns the size of your fist, and my mom made cheesy potatoes and green beans, and I opened a bottle of malbec with the excuse that I wanted to try out my vacuvin (true, but also I feel that steak merits a glass of wine). After supper, my mother listened to the Iowa State game on the radio (some of them aren't on tv, and she's hardcore), and when my dad got home from running an errand, he and I talked (about trains and the 1950s and Brazil and many other topics) and watched some fine television (starting with CBS, but we switched to PBS when 'Criminal Minds' came on, since that show is horrid and nightmare-inducing).

And then I finished reading my book, and now you're all caught up. I hope your breaks continue to amaze and restore and delight - goodnight!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

so tie me to a post and block my ears

Today I sorted through some of the detritus of my childhood, with the overall goal of getting my room sufficiently organized so it's easier to get work done here during the various weeks that I spend in Iowa over the course of most years. Since I usually spend 4-6 weeks here depending on my travel schedule and when I can make it home, that's probably too much time to spend not writing. Also, opening my closet and seeing a trainwreck kind of bums me out.

So I finished cleaning off my bookshelves, and I emptied out a lot of random crap from my closet that can be donated/tossed. I suspect some of it will be rescued from destruction by my family when they see what I'm giving up (there was some muttering from the person I share a wall with about my desire to get rid of my Pioneer seed corn-themed basketball from the 1980s, which is now mostly deflated...and I was never good at basketball anyway, and I already gave a sentimental reprieve to my tee-ball glove even though I sucked at that too). But I did as much organizing as I planned to, and my desk is usable and there's now way more room in my closet for actual clothes when I come home, so I'm happy with my progress.

Of course, I didn't spend all day doing that; I slept in, and I also took an unexpectedly-long lunch break. My mom and I were alone since my dad and [censored] had a variety of things to take care of outside the house, and so we had a long, meandering conversation while I drank iced coffee and chose to talk rather than sift through my closet. And then I did more stuff in my room, took another break for supper, finished throwing stuff away so I could get to my bed again, and then stopped it all to watch the Kennedy Center Honors.

Loyal readers know that the Kennedy Center Honors is one of my favorite television nights of the year. While I felt no real personal connection to any of the honorees this year, I cried during several of their stories, so it lived up to its usual self. I think I really just enjoy watching them be so surprised/emotional about the tributes to them, and to see their work recognized in such a delightful way.

After that, I messed around online, did some romance-related work, and now need to sleep so I can get more stuff done tomorrow - goodnight!

Monday, December 28, 2015

i can send you into overdrive

Shockingly, I crossed a bunch of stuff off my to-do list today - I think I've hit the point in my lethargic vacation where I feel like getting stuff done, which is always a good thing. I'm also supremely glad that I changed my flight to stay an extra week - today would not have been a pleasant day to leave Des Moines (all the snow means some flights were canceled and some people apparently aren't getting seats until January 3, which is ridiculous). And even without the weather, spending another week here will probably be better for me than the bustling chaos of the city (although by the time I go back, maybe I'll actually be ready for it).

As you may have guessed by now, we didn't lose power - but we got six or more inches of snow, and some ice to go along with it. I spent the morning discussing politics with my dad while drinking iced coffee (the iced coffee alone probably makes me 15 percentage points more liberal than he is). And then I spent the afternoon throwing stuff away - I wanted to organize my desk and bookshelf so I can actually use them, and my file cabinet was in dire need of purging. As it turns out, I probably don't need bank statements from 2001, right? I kept some of my college papers out of an unnecessary amount of nostalgia, and I still need to decide what to do with some keepsake-type stuff, but I cleared out half the file cabinet and my desk looks almost usable, so this is all good. The real question is whether I'll tackle my closet on this trip or leave it to continue mouldering - we shall see how much enthusiasm I can muster for it tomorrow.

But by late afternoon I no longer wanted to sift through my childhood, so I went upstairs and did some plotting and scheming for my 2016 schedule (books I want to write and places I want to go). I took a break for supper (roast beef, so traditional), and then I alternated between reading and watching some fine CBS programming. The fine CBS programming was action packed (Scorpion, then NCIS:LA, both of which I really like), which was kind of distracting from my book.

But the book started off great so far - I'm reading Elizabeth Gilbert's BIG MAGIC, which is about creativity/creative living. She's the one who wrote EAT PRAY LOVE, which I never actually read, even though I've been joking about having a 'basic white bitch' experience and then writing a memoir about it. And I typically abandon self-help type books halfway through, so we'll see how this goes. But so far, so good - she has some similar philosophies about creativity as I do (or at least as I aspire to), and I'm always curious to learn about other writers' processes.

And then I messed around on the internet and looked at hotels/travel options for a wedding I'm going to in February, and then I messed around with my 2016 production plan some more, and now I need to sleep before my eyes fall out. Goodnight!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

shut up and dance with me

Programming note: I intend to blog for the next few days as per usual...but there is a snowstorm bearing down upon us, and there is a chance we will lose power (perhaps for days), which may mean internet disappearance. Also, my phone is working somewhat sporadically and I may not be receiving all texts appropriately - so if you texted me since I've been in Iowa and I haven't responded, pls try again. Thank you for your understanding.

And now, back to your regularly scheduled content!

Today was quite fun, although I should have saved the title of yesterday's post for today, because 'all I really know is I don't want to know' is all too appropriate for recapping a family game of Cards Against Humanity. Uncle Mark, Aunt Kathy, and Drewbaby came down for the day, and we spent it playing games and eating leftovers (and the chili I made yesterday). First up was Balderdash, which we hadn't played in years (decades?) - it involves making up definitions for super obscure words, and then trying to guess the real definition rather than picking someone else's made-up definition instead. Unfortunately, everyone in this group is super smart (well, once we figured out that initialing our cards with 'w's didn't work in this group), so it made for a highly challenging and mentally taxing game. But it was still fun to play it, and I'm glad we dug it out of the games closet after so many years (but I may be biased, since I won both rounds - that's not even a #humblebrag, that's just a #brag).

After we tired of Balderdash, we switched to Cards Against Humanity, and we played that until it was time for the northern branch of the family to go home. As per usual, we learned far too much; it's slightly awkward to play with two sets of parents and their children, and I learned something about my physiological inheritance that should either make me feel #blessed or #nauseated (I'm going with #blessed, but others at the table may feel differently). There was also some discussion of a sex dungeon involving Barry Goldwater campaign buttons that I will never be able to bleach from my mind, but c'est la vie.

sssanyway. After the family left, I downloaded some books to my ipad in preparation for possible power outages, and I've got everything charging, etc. I also drank some tea and watched some fine CBS programming (mostly the news and its dire predictions for snow). And now, I'm going to sleep and hope that tomorrow's winter wonderland is heavy on wonder and light on winter - goodnight!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

all i really know is i don't want to know

I meant to go to bed an hour ago, but hey - it's vacation. And I slept way too long this morning, to the point that I was half-sleeping, half-dozing, and mostly having nightmares and daydreams rather than actually resting. But despite that somewhat inauspicious start, today was good. It was certainly quieter than yesterday - when I finally dragged myself upstairs, I spent some quality time with my dad, and then with my mom and [censored].

Eventually, I showered (yes, this is boring, keep going), and I actually accomplished something after that - I made a double batch of chili so that we have foodstuffs for tomorrow's game day with Uncle Mark et al. However, game day may not happen - it looks like there's a storm on the way with ice/snow, which may change the plans. But if all goes according to plan, there will be games tomorrow, which means I should probably sleep so I'm ready for them.

But first, the rest of my day. I made the soup, and then we finished playing the Rail Baron game we started on Christmas Eve. We had to take another break to eat supper (leftovers from the previous days' feasts), but we finished by 7:30 or 8 - and [censored] won. Congrats, I guess. I don't understand why [censored] later was literally grinding a [censored] in the basement, since [censored] won the game and doesn't need to enact bloody revenge against the rest of us, but whatev. Maybe I shall lock my door tonight and hope for the best...

sssanyway. After the game, I watched some fine public television (a documentary about disabled athletes), and then I holed up in my room and did some entirely unnecessary online shopping (a dress for on sale, so unnecessary). And now I'm going to sleep and hope that whatever nightmares I have don't turn into Lizzie Borden-style bloodbaths - goodnight!

Friday, December 25, 2015

we'll be counting stars

Merry Christmas! Paradoxically, one of the shortest days of the year somehow always feels like one of the longest (I think I mean that in a good way?). Or perhaps that's because it's a random day where I have to get up super early in the middle of vacation, and after seven months of basically getting up whenever I feel like it.

However, it was all wonderful. I woke up shortly after seven, and we spent a glorious couple of hours opening packages. It's traditional in our family to take turns and open one gift at a time, which tends to lengthen the festivities. Also, we take things like stocking stuffers very seriously (or not at all seriously, depending on your viewpoint), which makes for some entertaining gifts (such as the coloring book of the Kings and Queens of England that my dad got me). I was quite happy with my gifts, which are geared toward an alcoholic octogenarian hermit (lovely Sorel slippers + a Vacuvin for increasing the longevity of open bottles of wine make for a happy hermit, along with a few cookbooks to make sure I feed myself well in my hermitage, as well as various and sundry other items). I also got some travel-related items, though (especially an anti-theft purse and a luggage scale), which makes me think I'm sending mixed signals about my desire to be a hermit vs. my desire to get the fuck out of my current life and explore the unknown.

That last sentence was probably the most true thing I've typed in awhile. sssanyway. I was also quite happy with the reaction to the gifts I gave others, and I think we all had a great Christmas morning. Then we all picked up everything (our other Christmas tradition is that paper can't lie on the floor for more than fifteen minutes after the last gift is opened), messed around with our gifts (we also had to clean up so Mom could test her new vacuum cleaner, which is the stereotypically worst gift to give someone, but she wanted it), and generally got ready for the second phase of the day.

This started with brunch - my mother made a delicious breakfast casserole, and my father had made ambrosia last night (grapefruit, oranges, and bananas), and I contributed a bottle of champagne and some orange juice to get the party going. We had barely cleaned up from all of that before my sister and her family arrived - I think we were Christmas #3 for them (#4 for Sammi and Jaicee, who visited Sammi's paternal grandmother before coming out). So we hung out, opened more presents, played with Jaicee (who in an energetic, moody, super cute six-year-old), and ate an early supper (or late dinner, or early dinner, depending on your terminology) - Mom made ham and baked beans and cheesy potatoes and other crowd favorites, and it was super yummy.

Then Sammi took Jaicee into town to give her to her dad, and then Sammi came back and we all (sans Shawn, who refrained) played Cards Against Humanity until we were all too tired to continue. The less said about that, the better. Then they all left, and [censored] and Mom and I hung out in the kitchen while Mom finished the cleanup (in retrospect I should have done more to help, but I was intent on helping finish more of the champagne). And now, I'm desperate for sleep, and I hope I sleep in tomorrow to make up for today's bout of extreme socializing - goodnight! And I hope you all had a very merry Christmas (or whatever else you pagans celebrate)!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

now it's coming back, we can steal it if we bridge this gap

Merry Christmas Eve, everyone! My family traditions have evolved over the years as circumstances have changed, and so today was super quiet compared to years past. Christmas Eve used to always be celebrated with my dad's side of the family (lasagna for supper at Gram's house, along with Christmas Eve church services and opening packages), and we often hung out with my sister and her family in the afternoon. But today was an entirely different beast, and it was just the four of us...which was just fine with me, as it turns out.

I woke up this morning, showered, ate some yogurt, and ran into town to get a couple of things from the grocery store (they actually carry gluten free bread now, and I wanted orange juice for mimosas tomorrow). Then I wrapped the remaining packages that I needed to wrap for tomorrow's festivities. Eventually, everyone was done with everything that needed to be done, so we started a game of Rail Baron. We played for three hours or so, which was long enough to get to the point where all the railroads had been sold and shit was about to get real. Also, I opened a bottle of Decoy cabernet sauvignon, which I proceeded to finish (with an assist from my parents), and it certainly made being the banker (again) go faster than usual.

We stopped playing for supper, though - which was prime rib and baked potatoes, which was exactly as great a feast as it sounds. The prime rib was super tasty, and I regretted having finished my wine before the meat showed up, since they would have been great together. But [censored] was muttering about doing an intervention, so I didn't open another bottle, and am instead modeling what a paragon of virtue I can be.

After supper, we cleaned up and ended up putting the game away to finish another day, since our energy was flagging and we were probably two hours from finishing. Then I took a bit of an unintentional nap in the living room, and then I read a few chapters of THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE MONGOL QUEENS, which is totally fascinating - turns out Genghis Khan mostly left his empire in the control of his wives/daughters while on campaign, and his asshole sons/grandsons then assassinated them/marginalized them/wrote them out of the records over the subsequent generations. So maybe I'll keep reading it over the next couple of days, even though it has nothing to do with anything I should be reading or researching.

And now, I must sleep. I hope all of you are having lovely holidays - goodnight!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

can't feel my face

I had a generally good, albeit super quiet, day - this mostly involved sleeping until ten, which was awesome. And then I spent the midday/afternoon doing some romance work, wrapping some presents, and planning some 2016 stuff. The evening was similarly lowkey; we had supper, and then I watched some TV, and we made the unusual move of switching to PBS and watching a show about how King Herod built Temple Mount - the CBS show was 'Criminal Minds', which I hate, and watching a documentary was waaaay better.

The big thing on my mind right now is what to plan and where to go in 2016 - I need to start calendaring in which books I want to write + which places I want to visit, and figure out how to write as much as possible while also having more fun and exploring more things than I've done in the last few months. I have multiple trips already committed to (Hawaii and San Luis Obispo in February, Milwaukee in April, possibly Vegas in April (depending on whether I want to add that conference), San Diego in July, plus my usual 3+ trips to Iowa), and multiple things that I definitely want to add (NYC (maybe a couple of times), Paris/south of France for gargoyles research, possibly some of the great English country estates for regency research, something else beachy, maybe something in Asia or South America).

All of that combined is probably too much, as it turns out - especially if I want to write two historicals and finish the gargoyles and plot another series (or write my spinster honeymoon). But in case it hasn't been totally fucking obvious, I haven't been very productive while sitting in San Francisco, so it's hard to imagine that traveling could make it any worse - and if I can find the right cadence of alternating travel with hermiting, the added inspiration/joy could more than make up for the stresses of a more nomadic situation.

But we'll see - maybe by the time I get back to SF from Iowa, I'll never want to leave the city again. Now, I'm going to sleep and dream of all the things I want to do next year - goodnight!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

with the spirit of a hustler and the swagger of a college kid

Today was pretty lovely. Or, at least, it was pretty productive, and I didn't freeze to death despite leaving the house and venturing out into the foggy Iowa winter, so I'll take it as a win. I woke up this morning not feeling particularly in it to win it, since I'd woken up at 4am and vomited whatever was in my stomach...not sure what was up with that, and I still feel vaguely nauseated, but I'm pretty sure I'm not going to give anyone the gift of a Christmas miracle baby, so hopefully I'll feel better tomorrow.

sssanyway. I got myself all cleaned up, and then [censored] and I went to Des Moines to finish Christmas shopping. Our errands were accomplished pretty efficiently - we made a highly successful stop at Target, and then had lunch at some Mexican place nearby that was quite tasty (although my nausea came back, so I didn't attack the meal with my usual gusto). Then we made a couple more stops, including at a wine store on Ingersoll that is really good - I hadn't been there before, but they had Gloria Ferrer champagne, and I bought some Decoy and Seghesio reds, all of which tend to make me happy. Granted, I don't think my dad and I will get through it all while I'm home, but there are still two weekends between now and when I go back to California, and several celebrations in those days, so I'm going to make a valiant attempt.

After [censored] and I finished up in Des Moines (with a stop at Sam's Club, which is somehow preferable to Walmart), we drove back to southern Iowa while listening to [censored] - I'm not sure whether it was better than the [censored] we listened to earlier, since the music on the way to Des Moines made me suicidal because of the story and the music on the way back made me suicidal because of the genre, but it was all good.

I then spent the evening half-avoiding the family - not really, but Iowa State was playing basketball and it wasn't looking good toward the end, so I left the living room because I figured my mother would murder me if they lost two games in a row while I was watching. ISU pulled out the win, so it worked. And while I was sitting in the kitchen alone, I drank some tea and did a couple of hours of work, so that was an excellent choice.

Now, though, I need to sleep - wrapping of gifts probably needs to happen tomorrow, as does writing of stories (hahahaha) and curing of nausea. Goodnight!

Monday, December 21, 2015

i'll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies

My day started off with some unofficial work as tech support for my dad - as mentioned, his phone died an unexpected death last night, so we went into town to get him a new one. It's a sign of the times that there are basically no viable retail businesses in town, but there is a fully-stocked cellphone store because cellphones are now required utilities. So we got him hooked up with a new phone, and it was all mostly seamless, so that was good.

Then we came home, and I spent an hour messing around with the registration options for the conference I'm going to in Hawaii in February (yes, my life is hard). After lunch, I did another three hours' worth of work, which felt really good (even if it wasn't what I intended to work on over break). I might even get some more writing done later this week, but tomorrow is unlikely since I need to finish Christmas shopping with [censored] and so may [censored].

Eventually, it was time for supper (leftovers, yum), and then I watched some fine CBS programming while finishing the setup for my dad's phone. And now, on all that incredibly boring stuff, I'm going to sleep and hope that I get nine hours before tomorrow's adventures - goodnight!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

you can take back your memories, they're no good to me

We celebrated Wampler Family Christmas (tm) today, which meant that I had to get out of bed by nine, which is a total travesty. However, I survived it, and I'm going to try to improve upon that feat tomorrow, which means I need to go to bed soon. But getting up was worth it, I think. When the family members from the Des Moines area arrived, [censored] and I promptly kidnapped Andrew (aka Drewbaby, my only cousin on that side) and drove him to an undisclosed location for an undisclosed project, with the help of [censored]'s [censored]. Then we drove into town to complete the project (more later), and we made it home in time to help with the final preparations for Christmas dinner (aka lunch in your neck of the woods).

My mother put on a sumptuous feast, of course, with assists from Aunt Becky (rolls and other sundry snacks/cookies) and Aunt Kathy (relish tray + pies + a broccoli salad that Gram adored, although Gram promptly forgot that Kathy made it and kept complimenting Mom on it). All in all, it was quite lovely, although Gram's mental decline continues to be depressing. However, we all had a good time eating, joking around, talking, and then cleaning up + watching football.

We eventually opened presents, which meant we opened basically nothing since we're all too old for presents (although Uncle Mark and Aunt Kathy gave me a paper bead maker, which will be useful if I stop writing books and try to support my jewelry habit by making trinkets for other people). However, [censored], Andrew, and I gave everyone a delightful gift from this morning's shenanigans - the three of us recreated one of the most ridiculous family photos from our childhood, which was pretty entertaining. The original photo featured each branch of the family wearing matching colored polo shirts (my immediate family was pink; Drew's was navy blue; Becky was purple; Gram and Granddad were teal/green), and it was taken when [censored] and I were looking particularly awkward (as opposed to now!). So we recreated it with the three of us, and it looks *awesome* (and by awesome I mean kind of terrible, but so terrible that it goes back around the spectrum to awesome).

Of course, Gram thought it was a legitimate gift, which means it will probably be displayed prominently in her apartment until she dies, but whatev. After the gift-giving, Becky and Brian left, Dad took Gram back into town, and then the rest of us hung out for another couple of hours before Mark/Kathy/Drewbaby went back to Des Moines. And then Dad and I finished yesterday's wine and opened another bottle (a 2005 carignane that I think I'd brought back at some point - it was pretty good, surprisingly enough), and the wine helped dull the pain when my father figured out that his cellphone is messed up, so I think I will be running cellphone-related errands tomorrow.

And now, I shall sleep, and dream of all the work I want to get done tomorrow - goodnight!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

that would be enough

Today was pretty quiet in anticipation of celebrating Wampler family Christmas tomorrow...I had breakfast with the parents, wasted time online (which I'm trying to do less of on this break in an attempt to break some bad habits), vacuumed (my parents don't seem believe that my living in a studio is a good thing, but I have far, far less space to vacuum than they do), showered, and then ran a couple of errands in town. This is all vastly exciting, I know.

But all work and progress had to end at six p.m. because the Cyclones were playing basketball - and unfortunately they lost their first game of the season, although they seem to have a strange habit of losing to Northern Iowa. But we watched the whole game (although I did some light journaling while the game was on, since I can only go so long without wanting to scribble something), and I opened a bottle of wine towards the end because I decided that my detox was less important than getting through the night. Then, we ate some delicious soup that my mom had started before the game, and the mood was all far more upbeat than I was expecting (in that we were able to carry on a conversation and it mostly wasn't about basketball, so I think my mom will survive this loss).

And then I watched '48 Hours: Mystery', which I hated as much as usual, and now I'm going to go to bed remarkably early - family members from the north will descend upon us in the morning, and I should probably be awake and at least partially dressed when they do. Goodnight!

Friday, December 18, 2015

it takes something more this time than sweet, sweet lies

Today is the glorious anniversary of the birth of two of my favorite people: my mother (aka Jeannie Baby, aka Mom), and Vidya (aka Chandlord, aka Vidius Chandicus). Happy birthday, ladies! I suspect their birthdays were v. v. different, since my mother's involved having lunch with her garden club and supper with her husband/children at a local restaurant, while Chandlord's undoubtedly involved gay men and piano bars. But hopefully they both enjoyed them!

But you're not here to read about're here to read about the mundanities of my life, right?

So let's get to it. I slept late, but I was upstairs in time to eat the bacon my dad made for me. He seems disappointed that I've been detoxing since getting home rather than attempting to lead him astray into wine-land, so we went through the cabinets and took stock of wine on hand to see what we can drink over the holidays. It turns out that the pickings are somewhat abundant but also somewhat grim - my parents don't drink very much, and there are a few bottles of *extremely* dubious provenance (a gamay beaujolais from Slovenia in 1991 seems particularly questionable). There's some Ukrainian champagne that I have no intention of touching, and we didn't explore the liquors (Ukrainian pepper vodka needs to stay in its bottle and away from my mouth).

But we arranged things in order of 'likely poison', 'drinkable but may not enjoy', 'drinkable', and 'likely enjoyable' (mostly things I've brought/bought), so we have a plan of attack. And I plan to at least drain the 'likely poison' bottles so that we never have to repeat this experiment again. If I never blog after tonight, you'll know the '91 Slovenian wine got me.

sssanyway. After that, I showered, and then caught up with a couple of romance writer friends for an hour, which was delightful and gave me a lot to ponder. Eventually, the four of us left the house and went into town for a moderately early supper in honor of Mom's birthday - the restaurant was completely full, and I ran into more people than I expected (my first-grade teacher, who happened to also be my fourth-grade teacher, was eating with the wife of my high school govt/econ teacher, and [censored] and I talked to them for quite awhile; there were others, but they won't interest you any more than that one did). That's how things roll in a small town - when there's only one restaurant of any consequence, it's bound to turn into a social occasion.

But after supper, we abandoned town, came home, and did *not* watch CBS (shocker, I know). Instead, I made some tea and worked in the kitchen for a couple of hours, which was v. necessary for feeling like I'm making progress on the gargoyles + the romance business (not enough progress, but at least I got something done today).

And now, I'm going to sleep so that I can write + help my mom prep for Christmas + either go to [censored] with [censored] or blatantly ignore his invitation like I did today (time will tell!). Goodnight!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

say you'll see me again even if it's just pretend

I left the house today (shocking), but it was mildly depressing (not shocking). But first, my day. Sometime in the middle of the night I realized that my neck was hurting not because I was getting the flu (although my stomach is still wonky, but it's often wonky), but because I was sleeping on the wrong pillow. Yes, I'm that dumb. But after I solved that problem, I slept for like ten hours, which was great.

Then I spent the midday (I can't really call it morning) hanging out with my father, who told me a lot of stories about a lot of dead men who used to raise cattle. Then I took a shower, and then [censored] showed up, so I will blame [censored] for the fact that I didn't get any writing done this afternoon (since it's a time-honored tradition to blame [censored] for everything). Also, I blame the fact that there was some mild drama with hunters on our property (and by drama I mean there were gunshots and we didn't know who the dudes were, but we had a decent enough guess, so whatever).

But eventually we all left the house and went into town to have an early (5pm! early even for me!) supper with Gram at her assisted living facility. They did a Christmas soup supper for the residents and whichever guests they wanted to invite, and while Gram didn't remember that [censored] and I would be attending, the staff knew we were coming, so it all worked out. The chili was actually pretty good, and Gram seemed to be doing okay despite her ongoing mental decline, so it wasn't the worst way to spend an hour.

Then we came home by 6:30, killed thirty minutes in the kitchen while my dad looked up videos of one of the musicians who played at my parents' wedding reception, and then watched 'The Big Bang Theory' as a family in the living room. We also watched 'Life in Pieces', which is really pretty good (four short vignettes per thirty minute episode, all of which are funny/touching and cohesive stories in their own right, which is a really interesting format for network comedy). Then, [censored] [censored], and I stayed upstairs and watched the rest of the evening's fine CBS programming (although I hate 'Two Broke Girls' and mostly played Sudoku on my phone during that one....but 'Elementary' is pretty good).

And now, I should sleep and hope that the antacid I took calms my stomach -- otherwise, I might have to resort to some deep breathing or some shit, and I think meditation is frowned on in this neck of the woods, so I'm hoping the drugs do the trick. Goodnight!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

they got the cages, they got the boxes

This is a supremely boring post, likely because I missed my 'go outside' goal for the first time in months - it's too cold for my California blood, and I had nowhere to go, so I didn't make an attempt at escape. Instead, I had breakfast with the parents, showered, and spent the majority of the afternoon/early evening plotting and scheming for 2016. The key now is to actually do some fucking work rather than just planning it out, but what I planned felt good.

But that's all you get tonight - I still have that weird feeling of malaise/doom, like I'm slowly succumbing to some disease, but it's likely that I'm just a hypochondriac...we shall see. Goodnight!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

with your love nobody can drag me down

I had a lovely first day in ye olde Iowa - I slept in, had breakfast with my mom, unpacked, showered, and then did some actual business. The business was a video call with someone working on something related to tech and romance, and I thought it was going to last ~45mins, but it took 2.5 hours. I really hit it off with the woman I was talking to, which meant that a lot of our conversation turned into tangential rants about women in tech (my favorite!), but the romance side of the conversation was good as well. She also told me I need to date a Pixar animator, so if any of you know any, let's get on that, shall we?

sssanyway. After the call, I was starving and headachy, so I downed some more coffee and some leftover chili that I found in the fridge (the chili of my youth is v. v. different from the chili of my adulthood, in that it has more tomato juice, which was great when I loaded it up with crushed saltines....but the chili was still tasty, especially after I dumped cheese into it to try to mainline calories before I fainted). Then, my mom and I went into town to get groceries, where I ran into several people from my youth (my sixth-grade English teacher, who is also [censored]'s [censored]'s [censored]; a guy only Katie would remember, since he was witness to the time that I gave a presentation in high school while, bizarrely, only one of my nipples was on alert; and Heather, whom Katie and I worked with at the convenience store).

After escaping town, I came home and dove headfirst into political drama, since the debates were on (and my parents and I had our own mini-debate in the kitchen while the undercard debate was going on, and while we ate supper (crab legs and baked potatoes, yum)). Then we watched the rest of the main debate, to which I offer no comment. And then I watched the news, and all of Stephen Colbert, before realizing that I need to go to sleep immediately - I'm now wondering if my headachey faintness earlier was because I was feeling the renewed onslaught of the potential cold that I've kept fighting off for the last couple of weeks. So I downed some vitamins and am going to sleep and hope for the best - goodnight!

Monday, December 14, 2015

i ain't missing you (i can lie to myself)

I have returned to the land of my youth, and in 1.5 hours of watching television, I have already seen:

- a Ben Carson commercial (twice)
- a Marco Rubio commercial
- a Jeb Bush commercial
- a Bernie Sanders commercial

I also saw the news report about Branstad becoming the longest-serving governor in US history, beating out George Clinton, who was governor of New York during and after the Revolution. Branstad was governor for most of my childhood (youngest elected governor in US history as well), took some time off, and then ran for governor again. Ssssanyway, if those hours tell me anything about what I'm in for the next three weeks, I think I'm glad I brought my earplugs, and I may regret not bringing my eyemask.

Jhokes. I like politics, although I'm not really feeling this election cycle due to the high percentage of crazies in the race. I'm much more excited about 2020, when I shall support Kanye/Taylor Swift, as all good Americans will.

Moving was as long and boring as it usually is when I fly to Des Moines, and entirely uneventful. I got up at 5:45, was out the door at 6:30, at the airport by 7, and able to grab a quick breakfast and a coffee before boarding my flight. I slept through a lot of that one, and then I sat in Denver for two hours - I abandoned Cantina Grill (my usual stop) because I had Mexican breakfast at Andale in SFO, and so I had a salad and two glasses of wine at Lounge 5280 instead. And by 'salad' I mean I had a huge pile of burrata mozzarella and some sundried tomatoes, which was perfect.

Then I took the flight to Des Moines, sitting next to a v. friendly man who wanted to hear about my careers, which was nice except for the fact that I was trying to work on said career. How he still wanted to talk to the person next to him when he had just flown back from Taiwan is a total mystery to me; by that stage of an intercontinental journey, I get super stabby (okay, you're right, I'm always stabby, unless trying to befriend the bartender). But I got a little work done, and he really was nice, so it wasn't all as bad as I made it sound.

And then I got to DSM, and my parents picked me up, and we renewed our acquaintance (okay, maybe we have more than an acquaintance) at Johnny's. Their favorite waiter was working (#protip: almost as good as befriending the bartender, although no free drinks yet), and we had shrimp cocktail and salad and steaks and it was all delightful. Also, Johnny's wine list is quite good, so I had a glass of Paraduxx and no doubt added evidence to the intervention my family will stage later this Christmas about my wine habits (although I hope they wait until after I drink the bottle I brought back with me).

Then we successfully made the seventy mile journey home, and then I watched some fine CBS programming (NCIS: Los Angeles, which I really like, as well as the local news and a bit of Colbert). And now I am going to do a bit more work and then go to bed - goodnight!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

i know i should have fought it, at least i'm being honest

No blog for you tonight - I need to go to bed immediately, since my flight for Iowa leaves around 8:25am and I have to check a bag and grab some breakfast before boarding (and hope that traffic isn't a complete shitshow).

Not that the blog would interest you all that much tonight anyway. I spent the whole day alternating between getting ready for my trip and running errands (down to Union Street to grab a couple of things + have lunch at my favorite cafe + say happy holidays to Tony; over to Philz to grab coffee to fortify myself for today + coffee beans to fortify myself for the next three weeks). I also spent some quality time sitting on the couch happily reminiscing about the debauchery of the past few days + also regretting the debauchery and trying to rehydrate. And I talked to my parents, even though I will see them tomorrow, and got through a bunch of stuff on my to-do list.

But everything is done, I'm all packed up, and all that remains is trying to squeeze in some sleep and a shower before leaving. Get ready for some #smalltownlife posts - goodnight!

i'm not one to forget, you know

I compressed as much socializing into today as I usually compress into a week, and I'm probably going to pay the price for it tomorrow, but it was all v. necessary for my soul before returning to the land of my birth for the holidays. Of course, it didn't help that I was feeling vaguely unhealthy after several days of debauchery, but I powered through....

First up was breakfast in the dirty east bay, which required getting up around 7:30, which I just barely managed to do. After I showered, I drove to Berkeley, where I had breakfast with John and Jess at Saul's (which we went to a couple of months ago....even if I didn't like John and Jess, it might be worth going there for breakfast, since the corned beef hash is the most delicious thing ever). I was supposed to see Jess last night at the gay men's choir thing, but since that didn't happen, I was glad that we got some legit time together. They seemed to be doing well, although John is madly prepping for finals (giving them, not taking them), and the preparations for their baby friend are likely to start ticking up now that they're halfway in. But beyond that, they were their usual lovely selves, and well worth the drive.

As it turns out, though, that drive maybe wasn't necessary, since they ended up coming into the city thereafter...but still, Saul's was tasty. When I got home, I rebooked my Iowa flight (I extended my stay, since #smalltownlife seems better than #fecestime for New Year's Eve), and then I took a nap. And then I drove over to Adit and Priyanka's, where I crashed John and Jess's first meeting with Vihaan (aka family time: the next generation). Vihaan continues to spend most of his time drinking and sleeping, which is similar to his father, although Vihaan gets far more sleep, and his nutrients are mostly milk-based rather than alcohol-based.

sssanyway, on a legit note, Vihaan seems to be doing well and has grown quite noticeably since the last time I saw him. And Adit and Priyanka looked remarkably relaxed(ish). And Adit's mom was there, which was lovely since she clearly does not care about embarrassing him. Granted, they are living in a strange and foreign world involving baby wraps and carriers and multiple changing tables and all sorts of other stuff, but I'm glad to see that they're all doing well (even if Adit has given up on style and reverted back to the sweatshirts and loose pants of his youth).

Eventually, we all parted ways, and I came home for a few minutes before making a highly impromptu plan to eat a 4pm lunch/dinner takeout session with Vidya (aka Chandlord). I was also supposed to see her at gay men's choir, but this was preferable since we could actually talk. We bartered food, since she picked up thai at Osha, and I took her 16 eggs, two apples, two pints of cream, and some cheese that was all going to spoil while I was gone. Of course, spending forty minutes together wasn't enough to catch up on everything, but it was better than nothing!

Then I got my nails done (I will call this a necessity, since I had gel polish on that had to be removed before Iowa), and then I came home, pounded some vitamins, and laid on the couch to try to stave off the cold I've felt like I was getting for the last two weeks. I had to rally, though, and go to Claudia's friend's apartment for a party; Rosa (the friend) only lives five blocks from me, and while they're five very very sketchy blocks, it would have been pretty bad for me to skip.

As it turns out, I'm glad I went; the rest of them were all scientists, but they humored my romance novelist background, and they let me get really excited about the idea of 'humanized mice' (which apparently have a scientific purpose, and that purpose is not to be dressed in Dickensian outfits and placed in a fancy little miniature house....seems like a waste to do anything with them other than that, but I digress). Also, Claudia spilled my nefarious plan for twins name Mason and Dixon, so I may not be invited back there, but we'll see. I was there from 8pm to almost midnight, and I enjoyed the company a lot (and I enjoyed the wine as well, although I really should have pushed it aside and spared my liver).

But now I am desperate for sleep, and I need to spend tomorrow being v. diligent so that I can pack, get through some business stuff, run errands, clean, etc., etc. before leaving for Iowa on Monday. Goodnight!

Friday, December 11, 2015


Today went totally off the rails in the best way, but it is probably for the best that I'm going back to Iowa on Monday, since I'm going to need some serious detox. I woke up in Healdsburg feeling better than I deserved to feel, and I managed to shower and make myself look presentable before meeting Shedletsky and Tina (aka Bride of Shedletsky) downstairs for breakfast. Breakfast was somewhat lackluster, but that was probably because we were inadvertently comparing it to last night (Tina said, 'Last night I felt like I was living in the Capitol [from the Hunger Games], and this morning I remember that I'm human'). Also, we weren't really hungry, since last night's feast was epic.

But we rallied and went into Healdsburg, with the intent of doing one lowkey tasting and then having lunch so that I could get on the road by 2ish (the Shedletskys were staying another night and so didn't have my constraints). We went to Seghesio first, partially because it was open earlier than the rest of them, and partially because I've had their zinfandel many times and really like it. The tasting there was great, and all the wines were delightful, and it was as lowkey as I had expected the morning to go...

But then we went to the town square, walked around, still weren't hungry, and so decided to go to another tasting room before having lunch. This was the best and worst decision ever. We went to Banshee, partially based on the name and partially because the tasting room looked super fun and hipstery. When we walked in, we were the only people there, and that stayed true for 2+ hours...and we drank that entire time. Brandon (my new bestie; also, if you're not getting the message, #protip: always befriend the bartender, although technically Brandon is in sales) was running the tasting room, and he hung out with us and ended up drinking everything with us, which was so awesome.

Also awesome - the tasting was supposed to be six wines, and I think he poured us 12-14 each (including a couple of rare ones that he poured with the Coravin system to avoid pulling the cork). And I really loved all of them, but there were some particularly great pinots, as well as a very lovely cab franc. And we sat around on the couches and talked about wine and food and Healdsburg and life, and generally had the best possible time. I also bought four bottles of wine; #sorrynotsorry.

At the end, one of his coworkers (apparently known as Handsome Zach) showed up, and so Brandon left the tasting room in that guy's hands and came with us to have a late lunch at the brewery/burger place down the street, which was super delish (avocado burger on a gluten free bun + garlic fries made me happy). Then we all parted ways, and Shedletsky, Tina and I took a nap in their bed (lol). But Brandon ended up coming over to Madrona and having an early drink with us - we had spoken glowingly about the eggnog, so he had a glass with us, and it was all totally lovely.

And that was the end of my adventure in Healdsburg. Sadly, I wasn't able to get back to the city in time for my original Friday night plan (gay men's choir!), but I at least got back here so that I could sleep in my own bed (as was the other part of the original Friday night plan) rather than sleeping with the Shedletskys (which also would have been fun, but perhaps not advisable). So now that I'm safe and sort of rehydrated, I'm going to crawl into bed and hope that sleep starts the detox process - goodnight!

so bring us some figgy pudding

I had the best day today! Yes, I used an exclamation point; my serious writer card is hereby revoked (although I also used a semicolon, so maybe I'm just on probation). But today was seriously great. I messed around the apartment this morning, taking care of things and grooming and packing, but I made it out of the building by eleven so that I could spend an hour working at Goody (with some success - the young adult book is exciting me at the moment). Then I drove to wine country, and that's when the real fun began...

First up was a very long, leisurely afternoon at Gloria Ferrer. You may remember that I became a member because I'm a fancy bitch, and so I met up with Shedletsky and Tina (aka Bride of Shedletsky), and we sat on the terrace for a long time and enjoyed the complimentary flights that come with my membership. We also had charcuterie and cheese, which was delish, as usual. And then, because we were enjoying the terrace so much, and because there was no one there, we bought a bottle of pinot noir to split; I think this was technically against the rules, but they seemed cool with it. The weather was perfect for it, and they brought us blankets when it became slightly less perfect, and we moved inside for the last half hour when it started to rain, so that was all delightful. Needless to say, Gloria Ferrer remains one of my favorite places; they may not have the best wine in the entire valley ever (although I think their sparklings are really good), but the terrace alone is worth the visit.

After we were done there, we drove up to Healdsburg and checked in at Madrona, which is where I had my weird/fabulous/eccentric night out in August. We had made reservations ages ago to go to the Dickens-themed dinner, and we were v. v. excited about this. I was particularly excited about the eggnog, which was what brought me here; as you may recall, I befriended the bartender in August, and she had told me that she had started the eggnog back in February. So when we had changed and made it downstairs, I made sure to order a pre-dinner eggnog and reintroduce myself to the bartender, who was v. happy to see me (#protip: befriend the bartender). And the eggnog was everything I had dreamed about...

But dinner was also incredible. It was a five-course menu; we started with this amuse bouche served in an eggshell that had had the top perfectly sliced off, which was so good. Then there was a dungeness crab salad, and a truffle risotto that was so fucking good (although Tina had the soup, which was also amazingly good), and beef wellington (the beef was perfect, as were the potatoes), and a fancy dessert that looked like a ho-ho and tasted like an andes mint, with meringues shaped like mushrooms around a 'log' of chocolate cake. And we had all the wine pairings, which were delish.

But the other weird/amazing/awesome thing about dinner was the Victorian-style carolers who came around and sang during courses. It was two men (a bass and a tenor) and three women, and they were in full period garb, which was super cool (if you're an extreme dork like me). They came through a few times and sang 2-3 carols each time, and they were really good (although if you hate being sung to at dinner, this was not for you - but they were carefully timed with the courses/waitstaff, so no one was ever actually eating while they sang). Tina wanted to set me up with one of the carolers, but alas, it wasn't meant to be.

But then we went back to the bar area (a covered patio with heatlamps and the awesome sound of rain pounding outside). Shedletsky and I were going to just get an eggnog to finish off the night, but Pam wanted to share some of the things she's been making, and I couldn't decline. So she comped us a liqueur, and she also made two cocktails with a special liqueur she made for herself + a homemade shrub (vinegar-based syrup) + sparkling wine, and that cocktail was *delish*. She also brought me a little bottle of the new bitters she's been making/experimenting with, and asked me to try it out at home and let her know what I think. Again, #protip, befriend the bartenders.

So we enjoyed our drinks, and talked about a lot of ridiculous things (politics, bullets, spinster honeymoons), and then we got a last round of eggnog before Pam went home. We closed down the bar so hard that the last hotel employee just showed us how to turn off the heat lamps and lock the doors, so we hung out until we could hang out no more.

And now I want to sleep, and try to sleep off the alcohol, and dream of sweet things until it's time to meet the Shedletskys for breakfast - goodnight!

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

we keep this love in a photograph

I didn't get the ten hours of sleep that I hoped for last night, but it was pretty close. When I woke up, I stayed in bed for awhile daydreaming/ruminating, but I eventually dragged myself out from under the covers, took a shower, and did a few hours of work. I didn't get any writing done, but I had a lot of stuff to take care of, and I got through a decent amount.

Then I vacated the apartment and went to the Mission, where I got a haircut so that I can see again; my bangs recently surpassed super-stylish, and it was time to trim them up. Then I came home, messed around for a bit, and decided to walk downtown and go to the mall before my dinner plans.

This turned out to be a great decision (for my acquisitive heart, at least, if not my bank account). When I got there, I talked briefly to [censored] about [censored] while drinking a tea, and then I went to Nordstrom and very efficiently parted myself of some money in exchange for some goods. The first stop was the lingerie department to buy a bra for the dress I want to wear tomorrow (success, I think; well, success in the fact that I bought three, although whether any of them will work remains to be seen).

The second stop was the shoe department for a pair of suede boots that I've had my eye on for months. In a highly amusing turn of events, the guy who helped me was the guy who sold me my Jimmy Choo sandals back in March (for the charity gala I went to, although I didn't wear them because my dress selection changed). He actually remembered the Jimmy Choos, and where I previously worked, and who I was going to the gala with - all of which was astonishing, and even he seemed astonished since he claims he doesn't remember people that well. So I bought the boots from him while telling him that I now write romance novels and hate men, and we had a highly amusing fifteen minutes as a result.

Ah, memories.

Then I left the mall and met up with the original Jen Lui for drinks and dinner at Gitane. We had a lot to catch up on, so we had a drink at the bar, and then spent two hours splitting a variety of food items (we overordered, since the server told us we weren't ordering enough - she was wrong). It was great to see her, even if our conversations tend to veer toward concern/depression over getting older (as all conversations do these days, it seems).

And then we parted ways, and I started to walk home, but when I saw my first crackhead, I promptly called a lyft to take me the remaining six blocks (I wasn't feeling the crackhead scene today, since when I had been driving at noon today, one of them lurched toward my passenger door as though he was going to get in, so I had to lock my doors, which was all very bizrre). And now I need to sleep - I am running away to Healdsburg tomorrow, so I need to get up and pack and hopefully write for a couple of hours before that happens. Goodnight!

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

you don't mess with love, you mess with the truth

I'm totally wiped out - the last two weeks have been pretty draining, somehow, despite the fun I had in Denver and the additional fun I had in New York. Some of it is probably the realization that I need to really, truly take a break from Rafe and Octavia's book and work on something else for awhile - I need to take a step back, stop pressuring myself, and find my voice again. Some of it is probably the fact that 2015 is coming to an end, and while there were many wonderful things about this year, there were definitely areas where I didn't make as much (or any) progress as I had intended.

But I feel like I'm turning a corner and figuring out the changes I need to make to be productive again, so that's all great. And I've got more fun things on tap this week before going back to Iowa for what will almost certainly be a restorative couple of weeks, so that's all good. Tonight, though, going to bed is probably the most important thing...

But first, my day. I slept okay last night despite my caffeine experience, which was kind of shocking. When I woke up, I went to Philz for a couple of hours and scribbled in my notebook. Then I came home and talked to someone who used to work for me; she's in business school and wanted to check in on her plans for next year, so we caught up for an hour over the phone.

At that point I really kind of wanted a nap, but I had committed to another writing date in San Mateo, so I drove down. Anne and Barbara were great to see, as per usual; as per usual, we also talked too much, but eventually we buckled down and I did some good work on the young adult series, which really pleased me. Unfortunately, since we talked so much, and since I actually wanted to get some work done, I stayed there until 5:45, which was deadly for traffic - it took me an hour to get home, and reminded me how glad I am that I no longer have to commute. It was worth it, though, since I won't see Anne and Barbara again until the new year, and I probably wouldn't have gotten anything done in my exhausted haze if I'd stayed home this afternoon.

When I got home, I ate a sandwich, and then I scribbled some more, and then I answered some emails and took care of sundry tasks. And now that I've taken care of my last sundry task (aka making sure my mother knows I'm alive for the day), I'm going to crawl into bed and hope I get at least ten hours of sleep - goodnight!

Monday, December 07, 2015

blow a kiss, fire a gun

I have nothing that I care to share with you today, but I'll cobble together something. I woke up feeling like I might be coming down with something, so I canceled on lunch with Gyre and lazed in bed for awhile (necessary, since I hadn't slept well last night). But I eventually got out of bed, did some bona fide work, showered, ate a snack, and went to San Mateo to write with Barbara and Anne. This turned into more talking than writing, but since I was in the mood to talk, that wasn't such a bad thing. But I reread a bunch of notes on my young adult series and realized I have some good stuff going, so I'm going to keep going with it for awhile and see if it helps me to get back into the writing groove.

Then I drove back to the city, braving the traffic on 280, and stopped at Starbucks to grab tea - probably ill-advised, and I might be up all night ruminating thanks to the caffeine, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. Then I came home, opened a bottle of wine, ordered a pizza, and dealt with a variety of email-related tasks until now.

And now, on that incredibly boring note, I shall leave you in suspense for another day to see if tomorrow's post is more interesting. Goodnight!

Sunday, December 06, 2015

say you'll remember me

Today was incredibly long, and I should probably go to bed immediately to try and recover...but I have returned to the city of sin after a v. uneventful day of travel. I woke up in NYC at 5:45am, got my stuff together, said a v. quick goodbye to a v. sleepy Terry, and then took a cab to Newark, where I had time to eat breakfast before boarding my flight. The flight, as I said, was uneventful, and I alternated between napping and scribbling for the duration.

When I got to SFO, I retrieved my car, drove home, and spent the afternoon unpacking, doing laundry, and talking to my parents. Then I messed around on the internet, and I was about to make a sandwich when Katrina texted to see if I wanted to grab dinner. This was an excellent plan, so I picked her up and we went to My Tofu House, where we caught up on a variety of ridiculous stories and shut the place down with our mirth.

Then I dropped her off, came home, and am now contemplating the peace and beauty of my bed - goodnight!

Saturday, December 05, 2015

these streets will make you feel brand new

I had another great day in New York, and I'm sad that I'm leaving in ten hours (which means I really need to go to bed). But, as I've said before, I'm excited to sleep in my own bed, so I'll take it. Still, today was great. Neither Terry nor I slept all that well last night (although I slept way more than she did), so we were slow getting up and about and out the door. But we walked up the street and had brunch at Sarabeth's - the food was delicious, and we took the opportunity to catch up on a variety of topics, so that was great.

Then, we wandered through Central Park, checked out some holiday market stalls, and then walked down Fifth Avenue while looking at the extravagant storefronts. We saw the tree at Rockefeller Center (lovely), then saw some more market stalls at Bryant Park, but by that point it was three p.m. and I wasn't feeling the crowds. So we took the subway back up to the Upper West Side and had a drink at a snack at the french place down the street from Terry's place (delightful) before coming back to Terry's place and resting for just a bit.

But we couldn't laze about - we had super fun plans tonight, since I had made a reservation at Mermaid Inn for us + my friend Maya (who also writes romance novels). The three of us had an awesome time massacring oysters and downing prosecco, and we talked about a variety of highly inappropriate topics there for a couple of hours. Then, we walked over to another bar (Amor y Amaro, which is next to Death and Company, where I've spent some delightful time with Riturani) and had another drink and more highly inappropriate conversation. It turns out that Maya and I have the same ultrasnarky sense of humor and should probably not be writing historical romance, but c'est la vie. And Maya and Terry have the same addiction to Soulcycle, so I expect that by the next time I come to NYC, they will have made fast friends with each other in their Soulcycle cult and will no longer talk to me. Again, c'est la vie.

But by ten p.m. we were all old and tired, so we came home, and I am now mostly packed to leave tomorrow. I need to get up around six, which means I need to go to bed immediately (and dream of my next trip out here) - goodnight!

Friday, December 04, 2015

all we need is somebody to lean on

I continue to love my time in New York, and I continue to be unenthused about returning to SF (although I'm v. enthused about returning to my own bed and sleeping like the dead next week). I didn't sleep all that well last night, probably because I had too much alcohol and too much fire running through my veins after burning things. But I stayed in bed until 8:45ish, and then I went downstairs and had a cup of tea with Kathia while enjoying the early(ish) morning light in her living room.

Then I showered, packed, etc., and we went into town and wrote for an hour at a coffee shop. Then, we had lunch at a diner down the street - this is the first diner I've ever been to that has one of our favorite sparkling wines (cremant, which is not champagne by definition, but is super delicious), which seems to fit into the general fanciness of the rich small towns of upstate New York. We didn't have cremant, though; instead, I had an omelette with home fries and gluten free toast, which fortified me for my journey.

Then, we took selfies and said goodbye, and I caught a train back to Manhattan. The train ride was uneventful, and then I enjoyed (wrong word) the hazards of securing and taking a taxi to Terry's place from Grand Central (I ended up walking several blocks away from Grand Central before finding a cab, which was probably just as fast as waiting for a cab in the clusterfuck around the station; taking the subway would have been faster, but I didn't feel like hauling my luggage up and down a bunch of stairs). When I got here, I took a nap (v. necessary), freshened up, and went about my next plan for the day...

...which was to meet up with Kathia's sister Parisa for drinks. Parisa edits my stuff, and I hadn't talked to her recently since I haven't finished a book in a long time, but I wanted to see her while I was in New York. We were supposed to meet at what looked like a cute wine bar, but it was closed for a private event, so we ended up at Alta, where we sat at the bar for a couple of hours and had some delicious snacks to tide us over (the fried rice balls were delish, and there was another dish with tiny bits of egg on top that was to die for). Oddly, when I finally went to the restroom at the end of our time there, I realized I had been there before; Vivi and I had dinner there in January 2014, but I never would have guessed it from sitting at the bar, since the bar looks like a regular bar and you have no idea that the restaurant stretches far into the back and opens up into an atrium with a second story balcony (which is where Vivi and I sat). Bizarre.

But when we finished our drinks there, we met up with Terry (remember her?) at Grape and Vine, which we chose solely because we were able to get a reservation via OpenTable an hour before we needed it. This should tell you something. As it turns out, the food was really good (I had steak), and the wine was good (we split a bottle), and the company was excellent (Terry and Parisa are v. entertaining), but the service was pretty slow. However, it was still a lovely evening...

...which then went sideways when Terry needed to meet a coworker friend at a party, which turned out to be at Fat Buddha in the East Village, which turned out to be a total jhoke. It was as close to a club scene as I've been in a really long time, and I was probably too tired to enjoy it. But I liked Terry's friend a lot, and we took some entertaining photos with the friend's friend, and it was all good.

Then we said goodbye to Parisa, and Terry and I came back to her place, where I have once again turned on the air conditioner in an attempt to survive the night. So now it's time for bed, and we'll see how I do with sleep tonight - goodnight!

Thursday, December 03, 2015

i walked right out of the machinery

I had another wonderful day in New York...while I wouldn't go so far as to say that I want to move here, it has certainly been good for me to get out of SF for a few days (and the thought is certainly percolating, with increasing insistence, that I've said 'it's been good to get out of SF' a bit too frequently and with too much sincerity the last few months to ignore that instinct....). But I don't know what that realization holds, other than that I expect to enjoy the rest of my weekend as much as I've enjoyed my week so far.

Anyway, today was pretty successful in terms of taming my monkey mind (although, as my dad pointed out, he has called me 'Sara Jane Monkey Brain' since I was a small child, so perhaps it's his fault!). I slept for nine or ten hours last night, and I woke up feeling remarkably peaceful. So I successfully avoided my phone and the internet, wandered downstairs, made some tea, and sipped it while looking out the window at the fantastic gorge behind Kathia's house. There's a lot of natural quartz in the area, which means the ground shimmers and sparkles as the sun comes up. And I saw deer in the woods while I was making my tea, which was a far cry from the sirens and screaming crackheads of the city of sin.

So I enjoyed my tea and contemplated life, and eventually Kathia joined me (she had gotten up at five, written, and gone back to bed while I was in hours six through nine of my epic sleep). We sat around for a bit, and then we went to a restaurant near her to have breakfast (delish) and write for a couple of hours. This felt so much like old times, which was really soothing. I didn't write, but I reread a bunch of stuff for the YA book, which I think I'm going to work on through the end of the year, since I'm feeling like romance is a lie (j/k, kind of).

After that, we came back home, walked around outside (I picked up some quartz to take home, since I will eventually turn into my ancestors and hoard rocks), and then returned to the warmth of the house. I worked for another hour or two, and then I took a long, blissful nap. Eventually, though, I woke up, showered, pulled myself together, and Kathia and I went out for a long, extravagant dinner.

The long, extravagant dinner involved sitting at the bar at The Inn at Pound Ridge, which is a Jean-Georges Vongerichten establishment. We started with a glass of champagne each (because champagne is always the right answer), and we split a beet salad (delish) and the crispy sushi with hamachi (which was one of the best bites of food I've had in a really long time -- the sushi rice was crisped up on the outside almost like a tater tot, but had spicy mayo worked into it, and it was out of this world good). Then I had an awesome awesome pork chop wrapped in prosciutto, and Kathia's lamb chops looked equally awesome (although I prefer pork by a mile). We skipped dessert, but I had hot chocolate, which somehow made me feel like a twelve-year-old after two hours of being a decadent adult, and it was somehow the best way to feel.

Then we came back to her house and had a grand old time burning some stuff while drinking a bit of Templeton rye. And then we curled up in her living room and talked until I was yawning too much to keep going.

So, my visit has been great, and I will hopefully meet up with Kathia in Paris or New Orleans (or come back to New York) sometime in the nearish future. But tomorrow, I must say goodbye again (after breakfast/writing/lunch) and go back to Manhattan, where I have more fun planned between now and when my flight leaves on Sunday. That means I should sleep so I can enjoy it - goodnight!

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

you've dreamed a thousand dreams, none seem to stick in your mind

I am holed up in Kathia's guest room after a long, (mostly) lovely day that has done so many good things for my heart and soul. I wasn't too sure how I would feel about today when I woke up; really, it felt like I never actually slept, since I had too much wine and not nearly enough water, and it was hot in Terry's apartment (through no fault of hers), and the time difference wasn't my friend, and my monkey mind and endlessly racing thoughts haven't been my friend for awhile (and were worse than usual last night, probably because I kept dozing off and getting just enough sleep to fuel them again during my waking moments).

So I dozed off and on throughout the night, and was supposed to wake up and have breakfast with Terry, but when breakfast time came I felt like death and didn't feel like eating. Luckily, Terry didn't seem to want breakfast either, so she went to work and I lazed about for another couple of hours. But eventually I pulled myself together, packed my stuff, went down the street to grab a quick lunch, and then dashed to Grand Central to catch a train (and just barely made it - if I'd missed it I would have only had to wait thirty minutes, but I'm glad I caught it).

After an hour of sitting on the train and distracting myself with the wonders of my smartphone, I arrived in Kathia's town. She lives in a super cute area outside New York City, and she picked me up and took me promptly to a coffee shop, where we renewed our friendship over lattes and a couple of glorious hours of conversation. Then she brought me back to her house and gave me the full tour - it's so gorgeous here, and the serenity is v. v. welcome after the bustle of cities and airports and stress and drama that I've had the last few weeks (months, years).

So we sat around here and talked some more, and then we went out for an earlyish dinner at a delish restaurant (the burger went a long way toward restoring me back to health, despite my lack of sleep), and then we walked around the town before having a glass of wine at a wine bar. And then we came back, and by mutual agreement went to our own rooms at nine - I'm exhausted, and Kathia tends to get up early, so we're relaxing in anticipation of more fun times (and hopefully writing times) tomorrow.

Anyway, it's really lovely here, and I'm enjoying my Kathia-time after too long of an absence - so I'm going to go to bed and hopefully sleep the sleep of the dead so that I can enjoy more of it tomorrow. Goodnight!

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

when tomorrow comes i'll be on my own

I am comfortably holed up in Terry's apartment in New York, where the building's heat appears to be set to 79 degrees, which is a far cry from the drafty, windswept apartment I left behind in San Francisco. Such a far cry, in fact, that I have turned on her window air conditioner - #sorrynotsorry, even if this is perhaps not an approved step to take during the Paris climate change talks. When I am scavenging in the dust of a post-apocalyptic wasteland after nuclear war with Russia, I will think back fondly to this moment.

I will also think back fondly to when I could spend an entire day sitting on a plane, reading a book, drinking wine, and crying like a crazy person - which is exactly what I did today. I got up at seven (after getting up at five and trying, without success, to tame my monkey mind until the monkey mind finally let me get thirty more minutes of sleep), showered, threw the last bits of stuff into my suitcase, made an iced coffee, and hied myself to the airport (which took stupidly long because traffic was highly unpleasant). I had just enough time to eat a v. rushed breakfast and grab a latte before boarding, but I had an exit row (entirely wasted upon me, I know), so I was comfortable enough.

I napped until after takeoff (boarding starts so ridiculously early now, and takeoff was slightly delayed, so I basically sat on the plane for an hour before we went down the runway). Then, when the drink cart came by, I bought a premium wine (a legit half bottle, for $15, which was in my opinion well worth it given that it was twice the size of a regular airplane wine bottle, exactly twice the price, and probably also twice as good), and proceeded to drink the whole bottle while reading HOW TO BAKE A PERFECT LIFE. I'm friends with the author, which feels weird and name-droppy to say since she is highly acclaimed, has won tons of awards, and is basically the coolest person ever. But she's in the group I've been doing writing retreats with, so I think it's legit to say we're friends.

Anyway, even if we weren't friends, this book was somehow exactly what I needed to read today - deep and complex and heartwrenching, but so delightful and uplifting. So I drank that bottle of wine, got another small bottle (disgusting swill compared to the premium stuff), and drank it while eating pringles. And I seriously cried through most of the book, using my cocktail napkin to wipe the tears away, which again, probably made me look like a crazy person. But again, #sorrynotsorry.

We landed before I was finished, but I grabbed my stuff, trudged through the bowels of Newark airport to the airtrain, took the airtrain to the real train station, and took a train to Penn Station. That train took long enough that I was able to finish the book, which made me happy. Then I took a subway to Terry's, where we were delightfully reunited and immediately went out for a late dinner at Ribbon, which is a couple of blocks from her apartment. I had risotto and she had quinoa (what is the world coming to, I ask again), and we had more wine, and then dessert with dessert wine, so you can guess what my liver is saying (it is *not* saying #blessed). And it was delightful to start the catchup process, although we have much more to say to each other, I'm sure, before I leave on Sunday.

However, tomorrow I must go upstate to see Kathia (remember her?), so our continued catchup will happen over breakfast before I leave for a couple of days. But I'll be back in Manhattan on Friday(ish), and you'll hear from me before then anyway. Goodnight!