Monday, February 28, 2011

In The Wee Hours Of The Morning


Hey, look. It's coming up on 3am and guess what I'm not doing. If you said 'sleeping', you'd be correct. So I'm going to blog instead.

Technically, it's Monday morning. The Vacation Week free-for-all has come to an end and a stillness should now settle over the Mount Washington Valley. I don't wish to seem ungrateful to the all mighty tourism dollar, without which I would be unemployed, but I'm kind of glad the majority of them have cleared out. I can't even tell you the number of times some out of state jackwagon came thisclose to hitting my car (you know, with me in it). Don't other states have traffic laws or is New Hampshire somehow the only one? Our state motto is "Live free or die" and yet we still obey red lights and four way stops.

Well, some of us do.

The important part is I accomplished two of the three goals I set at the beginning of the week. And they were probably the most important goals to reach. First of all, I did not kill any of my co-workers or customers. And second of all, I did not hang myself during the screening of the Justin Bieber movie. This, of course, means that I have failed yet again to reach my writing goal. But really, I should have known better than to set a writing goal during the perfect storm of vacation weeks.

Sunday was a day off and not just from the day job but from pretty much everything. Heather and I went to the all you can eat breakfast buffet and then hit the movie theater for a double header. Heather worked a few shifts at the theater over vacation week so we got to see our movies for free. This was good because if I had paid money to see the first movie, Hall Pass, I would have been pissed.

And this is coming from the woman who paid good money to see Justin Bieber. in 3-D.

Hall Pass is not a good movie. Heather and I laughed for maybe the first twenty minutes but then it stopped being funny and started being very unfunny. Instead of laughing, we were just kind of cringing. I especially didn't like Jenna Fisher and Christina Applegate in this movie. I don't think it was their fault. I think it was the material. And I swear that the beach house on Cape Cod (in August) had snow on the ground. Which it shouldn't have. And the snow might have been sand but it really looked like snow. Anyway, disappointing, very disappointing. But it's a Farrelly Brothers film (which I didn't actually realize until the end credits) so perhaps I just should've known.

The second movie we saw was the Liam Neeson thriller Unknown. This movie was better. Of course, it would have been hard not to be better. I'm not going to give away any of the plot details but I am going to say I didn't realize that January Jones was such a bad actress. I haven't seen her in anything else so I don't know if it was just in this movie that she sucked or if she's an all around bad actress. If you happen to have an opinion on this, feel free to let me know your thoughts. So yeah, Unknown wasn't bad. I much preferred Liam Neeson in Taken. Between the two of them, Taken is the one I'd want to watch again.

I came home from the moviefest just in time to watch the Cowboys on the Amazing Race go from dead last to third place. Woo Hoo! And then it was time for the Oscars. I posted my picks for a few categories just before the telecast and ended up with a winning percentage of 71%. I was a little worried early on when I started off 0 for 3. James Franco didn't seem all that interested in hosting the awards and Anne Hathaway, at times, seemed like she had downed an entire case of Red Bulls before hitting the stage. The opening bit was very funny though and contained two of my favorite lines. The first was Alec Baldwin accepting a capri sun-esque juice box of Ambien and saying, "Ambien! Don't mind if I do!" And then a little later when Morgan Freeman appeared and said, "Alec likes me to narrate his dreams. He says I have a soothing voice."

Hey, Morgan Freeman...I think you have a soothing voice too. If I ever get to sleep, wanna come and narrate my dreams too?

So that was last week. This is this week (how's that for deep?) and I am going to get caught up (if such a thing actually exists) and maybe even a little bit ahead (try not to laugh too hard at the idea of me getting ahead. You could hurt yourself). It's important that I accomplish things this week because this time next week, I'll be sleepless in Florida. You know, just for a change.

Here's hoping you all have wonderfully productive weeks. Until next time...

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Oscar Picks


Could I be any later with this post? I've been meaning to write this post for a while now but then Vacation Week happened. Oh well. I still have about a half hour before the big telecast (well, longer for me because I'm watching The Amazing Race first and recording the Academy Awards to start later) so I guess I could still be later. Of course then it would be more an Oscar review rather than predictions, wouldn't it?

I used to be pretty good at predicting winners. A few years back, I correctly picked winners in every category, even the ones about which I knew nothing (short film and documentary mostly. Yes, I sadly don't know as much about documentaries as I should). I've been off the last year or so and haven't gotten much right at all. But this year I think will be different. This year I've actually seen most of the nominated films and I think that actually helps when making my selections.

Here's what I think will happen tonight:

Best Picture: First of all, I have to say how very much I hate that they nominate ten pictures in this category. Eight of them generally don't have a real chance in hell so it seems like a waste to nominate more than five. This year, I think it's going to be between The Social Network and The King's Speech and I'm giving the edge to The King's Speech. I haven't seen it but I think Colin Firth's performance will push it over the top. My dark horse pick is True Grit.

Best Actor: Colin Firth. If they call anyone else's name, there should be an immediate recount. Unless they call Ryan Gosling (Blue Valentine) instead. I know he wasn't nominated (Gross Oversight) but stranger things have happened, right (Marisa Tomei, I'm looking at you).

Best Actress: I think Natalie Portman will dance away with the little gold man tonight. I saw Black Swan and I thought her performance was good but it didn't blow me away but neither did the other front runner Annette Bening in The Kids Are All Right. I would like to give the award to Michelle Williams for Blue Valentine.

Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale. It has to be Christian Bale. Did you see The Fighter? If you didn't know you were looking at Christian Bale, you'd never have guessed it was him.

Best Supporting Actress: I think this category will be between Melissa Leo for The Fighter and Hailee Steinfeld for True Grit. I hear Melissa Leo made some "For Your Consideration" spots that have irritated people and perhaps hurt her chances so I'm giving the edge to Hailee. I'm not sorry about this because Hailee was amazing in her role.

Best Director: How did Christopher Nolan not get nominated in this category? Seriously, talk about an oversight. It's between Tom Hooper for The King's Speech and David Fincher for The Social Network. Dark horse honors to go the Coen Brothers. I personally hope the Coen Brothers win because they always give great speeches.

Best Animated Feature: Toy Story 3 will win. Whether it should or not. Sorry, I know this opinion puts me in the minority but I wasn't in love with the latest in the Toy Story saga.

Best Original Screenplay: An award I hope to someday win... I'm hoping Christopher Nolan wins for Inception. It'll be a nice consolation prize. Kind of like when they gave Sophia Coppola the screenplay award for Lost In Translation instead of giving her the Best Director award.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Another award I would hope to win...Aaron Sorkin had better win this award. If he doesn't, it had better go to the Coen brothers or Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy (127 Hours).

Cinematography: I fully expect Black Swan to win this award. That movie was gorgeous. If it's not Black Swan, I'd expect to hear Inception called.

Art Direction: I don't think it'll win but I am obligated to pick Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One. It'll probably be Inception though.

Visual Effects: I know Inception should and will win this award but I am again saying Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One.

Original Score: The Social Network is going to win because I think the Academy wants to see Trent Reznor give a speech. I know I do.

Costume Design: How did Black Swan not get nominated in this category? Oh well, I expect Alice in Wonderland to score a win. The Academy likes flashy costumes. Dark horse pick is True Grit.


All right well, it's coming up on Go Time for the ceremony so that's all for me right now. Super excited to see James Franco and Anne Hathaway host. Happy Oscar Night, everyone.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Leave It To Bieber


Today was the day I escorted my young niece, Jupiter, to the Justin Bieber 3-D movie extravaganza. The day she tapped me to take her, she'd already gone through her grandmother and her other aunt and gotten a big Hell No (but probably not in those exact terms) from each of them so she came cozy-ing up to me instead.

Turns out that I am a sucker where my niece is concerned. And so my trip to the Justin Bieber movie became a reality.

Before this, everything I knew about Justin Bieber I learned from that one episode of Glee and that Superbowl commercial he did with Ozzy. "What's a Bieber?"

That's just what I was about to find out.

I arrived at my mother's house around 11:30am, about an hour later than I had originally planned. Apparently, I lack the technical know how to turn on the alarm clock on my smarter-than-me phone. That, or my subconscious was trying to tell me something. Here's how the afternoon went (Please note, all times are approximate):

12:00pm: Me: Let's get ready to go, okay? Jupiter: Okay. Oh, we're going to the store afterward so bring lots of money. Me: Uh...okay?

12:15pm
: Lunch at the Golden Arches (her choice). We see her classmate, Corey. Corey causes Jupiter to smile shyly and shrug a little. Me thinks Corey is a special friend but Jupiter does not give up any details.

12:40pm: We head out to the movie theater. We listen to Johnny Cash on the way. Jupiter informs me that Johnny Cash is boring.

12:45pm:
Jupiter informs me that the soundtrack to Buffy The Vampire Slayer is boring.

12:58pm:
I may have accidentally played a song that may have accidentally had some not nice words in the chorus. But you can't prove it. Unless Jupiter starts to recite it. In which case, I am deeply sorry but we were deep in conversation about Justin Bieber. Apparently, he's recently gotten his hair cut.

1:15pm:
Ani DiFranco (profanity free Ani, don't worry, mom...) is also boring. Fortunately, we have arrived at the craft store and can no longer discuss how boring all my music is.

1:40pm:
After I decline to buy Jupiter some nice permanent markers, she declares the craft store to be boring. Fortunately, it's time to go to the movies. We take our purchases (including junior mints to sneak inside the theater) and go.

1:45pm:
On our way into the theater, Jupiter tells me that Corey is her personal boyfriend. Since I am unfamiliar with the term 'personal boyfriend', I steel myself to ask. A personal boyfriend is a boyfriend about which other people do not know. I wonder if Corey is included in this group. Wait...since a personal boyfriend is a secret boyfriend, it's possible I wasn't supposed to blog about that.

1:48pm:
We get to the ticket counter where we are met by an impressively and irritatingly perky theater employee. I don't think I've ever been that happy to be anywhere I worked. She gives me our 3-D glasses and tickets and wishes us a good day with such enthusiasm that I have to take a step back, lest any of it get on me.

1:55pm:
After a visit to the concession stand (where Jupiter very nearly announces the presence of the super secret stash of candy in my bag) and the bathroom, we enter the theater. It's huge. And mostly empty. There are four other people.

1:56pm
: Jupiter says she'd like to sit in the very front. I nix that idea so she decides she'd like to sit in the corner of the very back row. This I agree to. All the better for no one to see me here.

2:00pm:
Jupiter amuses herself by exploring the mostly empty theater. Over and over again. I amuse myself by writing notes in my handy dandy notebook.

2:20pm
: Jupiter's still climbing up and down the stairs. I'm looking at the time and thinking, "Wasn't this thing supposed to have started already? Great, let's prolong this experience."

2:25pm:
The movie starts. Or rather the trailers and commercials begin.

2:40pm: The movie actually begins. It's called "Never Say Never" which makes me think of a James Bond movie. Too bad I will not be watching a shirtless Daniel Craig beat the living crap out of random bad guys. Instead I'll be watching some prepubescent pip squeak who needs a hair cut (Oh wait....). Win some, lose some.

2:43pm:
Justin Bieber's Canadian? They did not cover that on Glee. He is also left handed.

2:45pm: They show baby pictures. Jupiter asks me who the baby is.

2:50pm:
Girls scream. One tells the cameras how she tweeted Justin 100 times. In the same day.

2:52pm: Justin Bieber rides a segway.

2:55pm: Justin Bieber blow dries his hair. Wow. Such riveting footage.

2:58pm: We meet the stylist who came up with the purple hoodie.

3:00pm: Justin dances. Amazing how much it looks like skipping. Of course, I shouldn't judge. When I dance, it's amazing how much it looks like falling.

3:10pm: Justin tells his vocal coach that he needs a razor. The vocal coach responds, "A razor? Really?" I laugh. I receive dirty looks from the teenage girls sitting next to us.

3:15pm: Justin sings some song about smiling. The 3-D effects make it looks like he's pointing right at me. I am thrilled.

3:18pm: Justin's grandparents tell him he can't go out to play with his friends until he cleans his room. I laugh again. Jupiter says, "that's just like me."

3:30pm:
The stage manager picks Justin up and pretends to throw him over the side of some scaffolding. Tease.

3:33pm: An entire montage revolving around Justin's hair. Set to "At Last" by Etta James. Really?

3:35pm:
Justin eats donuts out of the trash. I'm not kidding.

3:36pm: More footage of more girls screaming and crying and trying to get through security to get on stage. Jupiter asks me, "What's wrong with those girls?" My response, "That's an excellent question."

3:40pm: Jupiter notes that Justin Bieber likes the New York Yankees. She knows this because it's on his hat. I've noticed this too. I think he's just trying to suck up to New York. No one really likes the Yankees, right?

3:47pm: Justin sings a song while sitting in a big metal heart dangling over the audience. I bet security loves this part of the show.

3:50pm: Justin sings a song with Miley Cyrus. They are cozy enough to spur Jupiter to ask me if they are boyfriend and girlfriend. I shudder to think.

3:55pm: This movie will end eventually, won't it? I mean, the kid's only sixteen years old. How long can this movie last?

3:58pm: More footage of more girls screaming and crying. Jupiter correctly notes that one of them is wearing the exact same skirt she's wearing.

3:59pm: One of the girls is drinking the same brand of water Jupiter is drinking.

4:00pm: Jaden Smith puts in an appearance. That kid is really frakking adorable.

4:03pm: They feature this "one less lonely girl" thing where a lucky member of the audience is brought up on stage. She sits on a stool and is given flowers and sits there while Justin serenades her. She then sobs uncontrollably afterward.

4:05pm: The big show in New York City. Lots of 3-D effects. It's like Justin's skipping dancing in our laps. Please stop.

4:10pm: More baby pictures? Really? C'mon, already. Jupiter is enthralled.

4:13pm: More singing and skipping dancing. I swear we've already heard this song. Of course, they all kind of sound the same to me.

4:15pm: I think I am going to die in this theater.

4:18pm
: Or maybe I've fallen into some kind of parallel universe/hell where I'll be watching this movie forever and ever.

4:21pm: Justin's team waxes philosophical on how Justin's here to stay. He won't go away. I really believe that.

4:25pm: The end! It's really the end! And what's even better, Jupiter announces that we can leave. As in before the credits have finished. Oh happy day!

4:30pm: On the way to the car, I ask Jupiter what her favorite part of the movie was. She answers, "every part!" When she asks me the same question, I respond, "the end credits."

4:31pm: We get in the car. I resist the urge to blast Guns N' Roses. Welcome to the jungle, Justin Bieber.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

In The Mail


I received a special treat in my mail today. And no, it wasn't another subscription offer from Classic Trains Magazine. Instead, it was a letter from The Store informing me that I am one of 400 employees, company wide, who have been selected to take part in a nation-wide survey to determine which company will receive the title of "Best Place To Work."

My first thought was, "Wow. You really don't read my blog, do you?"

Which, don't get me wrong, is a very, very good thing.

Still, I was beyond amused to have received this survey. I'm looking at it right now, trying to decide whether or not I should fill it out and mail it back. I'm also laughing about the letter which accompanied the survey, the one that takes the time to remind me why The Store deserves the title "Best Place To Work." The one that describes all the great things employees get to do, never mind the fact that I've never gotten to do any of them.

If you work at the west coast corporate office, you get to do those awesome things (and I have to admit, they really are awesome). If you work in an east coast outlet, this is what you get:

A phone call at 6:30pm Monday night from your boss telling you that she forgot to mention this during the two hour life draining staff meeting on Sunday but the district manager will be in The Store on Wednesday so everyone working that day (like me) must be wearing clothing from the current line so if you don't already have something (I don't), you'd have to come in and buy something to wear because the district manager would be looking for that.

First of all, I work in the stockroom where no customers go. Second of all, my shift will be over before the district manager arrives. Third of all, this phone call comes a day after the announcement that everyone working this coming Saturday (like me) has to purchase a special tee shirt (one which, by the way, doesn't have the company name or logo or anything on it) to wear that day to make sure the customers know who the employees are.

Silly me, I thought that's what the frakking name tags were for.

Is there a survey for the most ridiculous place to work? Because that's a survey I could get behind.

Monday, February 21, 2011

75 %


This is a reference to the success rate I experienced with the goals I set for myself at the beginning of last week. I set four goals. I accomplished three of them. Fell a little short on that last one but still, three out of four ain't bad, is it?

Here's what I set out to do:

1. Complete three 30 minute work outs. No matter how much lip I have to take from that stupid microchip. One of the yearly goals I set involved training for a 5K and working out will be a big step in that direction. I guess I could always run outside. It will be above freezing at some point this week. Or so they say.

I did this. I didn't run outside although I did take the dogs for a walk outside because it was so nice and warm and it seemed a shame to not take them with me. And, if you read yesterday's blog, you know I spent some time yelling rude things at my Wii trainer. As he greeted me with boundless enthusiasm this morning, I don't think he noticed.

2. Take the cats to their vets. This is only a big deal because most cats are a pain in the ass to take to the vets. Vader is very easy to take to the vet, however, her doctor is an hour’s drive away and whenever we go, we seem to have a horrendous experience (diagnosis wise). Read about the worst of our visits (the one that inspired me to take her to a new vet an hour away) HERE. Fat Cat is an absolute terror to take to the vet. Her vet appointments have, on occasion, translated to an ER visit for me. The only thing I can reasonably hope for now is that she’s become too damn fat to move. That, or the doctor gives her some tranquilizers.

I managed to accomplish this and all parties involved managed to walk away with all appendages in tact. But if you've looked at this blog in the last few days, you would've known that already. Moving on...

3. Finalize Florida vacation plans. The Man's grandparents winter down there and every year we say we’re going to go down for a visit. And every year something comes up that requires us to not go to Florida in the winter. One year it was the need to replace our washer and dryer. This year, however, we are going to make this trip a reality. And it (the plans) is going to happen this week.

We did this Saturday night. Everything's planned and all that's left is for my boss to approve my time off. If she doesn't, I guess I'll just quit...

4. Finish Schism. My WIP Second Nature is currently broken up into three sections. The first of these sections is Schism and I will finish writing it by the end of the week. This is going to require me to buckle down and work out some big problem chapters but I feel kind of confident that I can get this done.

I did not accomplish this goal. Of course it's the writing goal, right? I had to write eight chapters in order to complete Schism and I finished six of them. I came damn close with the last two- well, actually, I can't say that with any amount of certainty so I'll just say that I worked hard on the last two but just couldn't make them work in time.

This brings up an interesting conversation The Man and I were having this week. It deals with an announcement I'm not quite ready to make (or even totally commit to) but the gist of the conversation was The Man's point of view that if I claim to have done my best and yet haven't reached the goal I set out to reach, I haven't done my best, have I?

And, to be totally honest, I didn't do my best with this particular writing goal this particular week. There were a lot of distractions (so many new blogs, so little time) and I didn't budget my time well enough.

But I don't know if I like the all encompassing idea that my best isn't my best if I don't achieve what I set out to do. Isn't it possible to do your absolute best with something (as judged by yourself, I suppose, because only you would know) but still fall short? Or am I just trying to give myself an out for future failures?

Anyone else confused yet?

Here are the new goals for this week:

1. Do not kill any customers or co-workers who managed to get on my nerves this week.

It's vacation week in the Mount Washington Valley and for the first time in like a decade, Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts are on school vacation the same week. Normally, this is spread out over the course of two weeks so while it's rather busy, it's manageable. This week will be like some kind of perfect storm of people and will be so busy that The Store even put me on the schedule. We'll be tired, we'll be busy, kids will be running and screaming, tempers will be short and blood pressures will be high. I hereby resolve to NOT kill anyone.

2. Do not hang myself during the viewing of Never Say Never: The Justin Bieber Story.

Is that even what it's called? I honestly don't know. But the fact remains that I'm taking my niece to see the Justin Bieber movie this week. In 3-D. Did you know that this damn movie is one hour and forty five minutes long? How is Justin Bieber old enough to justify a nearly two hour movie?

3. Finish Schism. Or die trying.

Two chapters to go. Maybe between work and Justin Bieber, I'll find the time to get them done.

So that does it for me today. I have to run and take the dogs outside now because they very desperately need to go and The Man is refusing to do it because it's cold. No, this doesn't make me want to kick him very hard somewhere very sensitive. Not at all.

Happy Monday, all. May you all have productive weeks.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Point Break


No, despite the title of this blog and the use of the picture, I will not be writing about the Keanu Reeves/Patrick Swayze cimematic masterpiece. Although I am now inspired to have a Keanu Reeves moviefest, starting with Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, followed by Point Break and Speed, then finishing with The Matrix (only the first one though because I think the other two suck). I'll make the whole thing into a drinking game to include the following: take a drink/shot every time Keanu says "Whoa."

Maybe next weekend. Who's with me? Heather?

But that's another blog for another time. Tonight's entry is inspired by me having finally reached the breaking point where my cats are concerned. And not really both cats (although MEGA CAT is still on the shit list and will be for the rest of her life. Or my life since I am sure she'll continue to live forever, just to spite me...), just Vader.

Poor Vader. It's not even really her fault.

It started this morning when I came downstairs, feeling good, feeling happy and actually looking forward to working out. That ended about two minutes later when I discovered the trail of cat shit leading into the laundry room and the fairly fresh pile sitting in the corner of my office.

I said some not nice words. I said a lot of not nice words, causing The Man and the dogs to make themselves scarce and seek shelter from Hurricane M.J. in a dark corner at the far ends of the house.

As it turns out, one of the side effects of the antibiotic Vader's been on for the snotty nose thing is diarrhea. And a lot of it. But it means I can't justify being pissed off about the lapses in litter box etiquette because she can't help it. I mean, this next bit is going to be disgusting, I mean really really disgusting, but she doesn't have much, if any, control over it. I know this because it's happened while she's been sleeping. Just kind of slips on out and all over whatever she happens to be napping on.

I just can't catch a break.

But I did experience a break today. I lost it. I've tried to be very zen about this whole thing with Vader and I think, for the most part, I've done that. I've tried being cool, I've tried having a sense of humor about it, I've tried everything. I made a commitment to this cat and I've tried my absolute best to do right by her (I mean, come on, I've taken her to four different vets in two different states for crying out loud) but I just can't get ahead. I don't know what's wrong with her, no one knows what's wrong with her (she's seen four different vets now who have had four different conclusions and NONE of them seem to have panned out) and we can't fix it. Every damn medication we try ends up screwing up something else.

What the hell am I supposed to do?

Today I answered the question by yelling at everything and nothing and being an all around grump while I made the rounds around the house cleaning up all the things that needed cleaning up. I even made rude, snarky comments to my Wii instructor every time he tried to tell me to relax during yoga. After yoga, strength training and a thirty minute run, I felt less angry.

Still frustrated though.

I stopped the latest antibiotic to see if the face swelling would go down because that's what we did with the last antibiotic to which she was allergic. So far, it hasn't worked. As far as I know, she hasn't had any more diarrhea incidents which is nice but her nose is still oozing snot and her eyes are starting to fill up again with crud.

And the craziest thing is that even though Vader is afflicted with all these stupid nameless infections, the Mega Cat is afflicted with nothing but malevolence.

Just can't win. I'm completely at a loss as to what I should do now. I feel like I'm just bailing out a sinking boat but the other choices available are just not good enough.

Now I am sad. Sad and mad and definitely not rad.

How about some good news, then?

The Big Ass Bulletin Board is on the wall. The Man came through for me Friday evening. I'm looking forward to being able to spend some time this week getting everything in place. I will post pictures soon.

And I have some truly excellent selfless friends. I want to give a big shout out to Carl and Linda and Julia for spending some time on Saturday afternoon with me at my mother's house shoveling out a much needed path to the oil fill. You three went above and beyond the call of friendship and I shall soon shower you with baked goods (Don't worry. I'm not doing the baking. Just the buying. That's a gift for all involved...) to thank you further. I heart my friends.

And last, but not least, I want to thank all my new followers. I hit the 100 followers mark some time today and I'm floored. I remember when I was excited to have reached 10 followers. I could never imagine what it would be like to have ten times that many. I really wish I could do a giveaway or reward you with something other than a sob story about my disease ridden cat. I shall try to do better in the future. But a big, BIG shout out to Rachel Harrie for spearheading the Writers' Crusade experience.

So, if you choose to comment on this blog, tell me something good, something happy or give props to someone to whom you are grateful. Lord knows we need more of that in our lives...

Until next time.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Sick Cat (Plus, A MEGA CAT Vs. GATOR GIRL Update)


Vader (Sick Cat) went to the vet this week for her yearly shots (just one, rabies) and for a check on her various diseases. No one really know what's going on with her and it seems every time we see the doctor, we come home with a new diagnosis and a new prescription. If you're new to this blog, these diseases have run from cat herpes to cat asthma to cat chlamydia (yes, it would appear Vader is a wheezing cat slut) to some mystery disease no one can diagnose (Does House take on veterinary cases?). The treatments for these various diseases has been a veritable pharmacy of antibiotics and steroids and I don't even know what else. There's been a lot of them as we've tried (and failed) to find something that would knock the mystery disease out of poor Vader's poor beleaguered system.

Three antibiotics ago, we had pretty much scarred Vader for life (more so, even, that the introduction of canines into the household). The antibiotic made her foam at the mouth like she was a miniature version of Cujo. The replacement antibiotic made her lose her appetite and, consequently, most of her body mass. We had an eye ointment for approximately two days before it made her face swell so badly she couldn't open her eyes enough for me to get any ointment in there. This was apparently an allergic reaction. So we had to lose the ointment and substitute yet another appetite robbing antibiotic.

(Vader weighed in at seven pounds on visit this week. Six of that, I'm pretty sure, is fur. She really needs to be shaved because her fur has become horrible matted in some spots but it's just so damn cold, I can't justify doing it. She's going to have to deal with it until it gets warmer.)


But, through all that, we somehow managed to maybe, just maybe cure some of these infections (the Mega Cat, by the way, is not at all sick. At least physically. There are definitely some mental issues going on in that thick cat skull of hers.). The vet was very pleased with Vader's progress...until he noticed her snot filled nose. Cue nasal swab and Vader looking at me like she was planning my slow and painful death. Fast forward a few minutes while the nasal swab was examined under a microscope, followed by the doc offering me a latin-eqsue tongue twister (English translation: snotty nose) and prescribing the latest in our revolving cat pharmacy.

She's been on the new meds for a few days now and, just like with the ointment, the left side of her face is swelling up like a balloon.

Can anyone say 'allergic reaction'?

Looks like we're going back to the drawing board, kids.

So, in other news, the MEGA CAT and GATOR GIRL Battle Royale came to a screeching halt yesterday when their endless antagonizing of one another bleed into civilian territory. Me. During a viewing of The Vampire Diaries (I heart Damon Salvatore) of all things. Definitely not a good time to interrupt me. It ended with MEGA CAT thinking her best and only escape route from the GATOR GIRL was to run up my face.

We. Were. Not. Amused.

And after I finished applying all the necessary neosporin and gauze and band aids, I put an end to the Battle Royale. And no, I did not drop kick either animal into a snowbank no matter how tempting that idea was. They made the very wise decision to call a truce that lasted a full twenty four hours (but mostly, I suspect, because the Gator Girl was out of the house most of the day today) and are currently bitch slapping each other up and down the living room.

Ah, the joys of pet parenthood.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Mega Cat Versus Gator Girl


Disclaimer: I love my pets. I feel the need to start off this post by saying that because what I'm going to write after this disclaimer might lead people to think otherwise. But I do love my pets. Otherwise there would be no reason to not drop kick them into a snowbank. You'll see what I mean.

Good afternoon and welcome, all of you, to the Mount Washington Valley Battle Royale where two seemingly normal household pets (well, normal to anyone who hasn't actually met them) will enter to fight it out for household supremacy and the bragging rights to being the biggest pain in my ass.

Let's meet our contenders:

IN THIS CORNER, we have MEGA CAT, the cat previously known as Fat. She's a ten year old alley cat weighing in at 13 pounds. Her hobbies include sleeping, eating, biting veterinary staff and terrorizing house guests with her ear splitting never ending meows and her Touch Me And Die attitude. (Somewhere in the world, my former co-worker and still good friend Cindy is having a good laugh over having dodged that bullet.) Please welcome MEGA CAT.



AND IN THIS CORNER, we have the Gator Girl, a five year old sixty pound Belgian Malinois (not a German Shepherd). Her hobbies include running, jumping, leaping, devising ways to steal cookies out of locked cupboards (I am not even kidding a little), dominating a German Shepherd more than twice her size and running. She's the alternative energy solution to which we have all been looking, she's the GATOR GIRL.



Let's see what our contenders have been up to this week, shall we?

MEGA CAT has been busy extracting vengeance for her Wednesday trip to the vet's. Apparently, she overheard me making her appointment on Monday because Tuesday morning, I entered my office, my sacred writing space, to find that not only had she scattered all my carefully organized notes on the floor, but that she had also pissed all over the dog bed. While I was cleaning that up, she was in the bathroom, shredding a roll of toilet paper, dumping out the trash can and taking a dump in my bathtub. While I was cleaning that up, she was in the kitchen, dumping out her water dish and then vomiting on my dining room table. Twice. And then she wondered why I didn't react well to her trying to get in my lap to cuddle that evening (Move on, MEGA CAT. Or out, even.). Wednesday, she terrorized the vet and the vet tech and then bit me that night when I had the audacity to lift her off the mantle upon which she was trying to place her fat ass. It can't support your weight, MEGA CAT. Nothing can. This morning, she mistook (Ha! Mistook, my ass!) the newly cleaned dog bed for her litter box before she sat on the counter meowing and systematically knocking things off it into the dog's water dish below because I hadn't yet gotten her breakfast.

IlovemypetsIlovemypetsIlovemypetsIlovemypetsIlovemypets...

Wow. That is quite a list of transgressions for a three day time span. I don't know if the Gator Girl is up for this challenge. Wait a minute. What am I talking about? This is the Gator Girl. You'll find that with the exception of sitting still, there is no challenge she's not prepared to face.

The GATOR GIRL got her week off to a strong start when she jumped up on the dining room table to polish off the dish of cat food left there for the ailing Sick Cat (the cat formerly known as Vader). This was followed by a sneak attack on the kitchen trash because she saw me put some spoiled corn bread in there earlier. While I was in the shower, she mounted an assault on the litter box which involved the defeat of the considerable anti-Gator Girl security system surrounding the litter box. And because she hadn't yet been disgusting enough, she later broke into the kitchen trash yet again, this time to go after the nice fresh Mega Cat vomit. She chased Sick Cat around mercilessly (you want to chase a cat, Gator Girl? Go after Mega Cat. Please, go after Mega Cat) and made Big cry (Although, to be fair, some days it doesn't take much to make Big cry.). She got into the hamper so she could chew up some socks and underwear (would it have killed you to start a load while you were at it, Gator Girl?) and followed it by vomiting. A lot. (Gee, I'm not sure why she'd feel the urge to purge.) While I was cleaning that up, she worked her way past the intricate child locks on the cookie cupboard doors so she could load up again, this time at least on dog cookies. Of course they were fruit cookies which then led to diarrhea.

IlovemypetsIlovemypetsIlovemypetsIlovemypetsIlovemypets...

So now you're up to date. Today's round of MEGA CAT Vs. GATOR GIRL has gotten much more personal. They haven't been able to leave each other alone all day. But you know what? So long as they're leaving Big, Sick Cat and me alone, I don't think I care.

Two pets enter...one pet leaves.

Who will it be?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

It's Here...


Look what came today:


That's right. My Big Ass Bulletin Board has arrived. Oh boy, am I excited about this. It's sitting in the hallway right now, just waiting for me to hang it on the wall. And I want to do that. I really, really do. I just need The Man to help me do it as I do not have the go-go gadget arms and upper body strength required to tackle such a task on my own. When I asked The Man tonight when he might be available to help, he said he'd check his calendar and get back to me.

We. Are. Not. Amused.

But we are still very excited that the bulletin board is here.

In other news, there was a Bernard Pivot Blogfest today (or yesterday, I guess since it is technically Thursday now). I didn't participate because I found out about it too late but I had a great time reading others' responses and decided I'd like to play too, even if I'm a day late (if I was on time, I doubt anyone would recognize me). Here are my answers:

1. What is your favorite word?

Triskaidekaphobia. It's the fear of the number thirteen. I don't suffer from it. I just think it's fun to say. It has rhythm. Which is more than I can say for me. I am also fond of the word jackwagon.

2. What is your least favorite word?

Saunter. I really don't like that word. If I ever describe any character of mine sauntering around, someone should check to make sure the pod people haven't taken over my brain. Although what they would want with my brain, I do not know. Still...

3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Intelligence. Also, music and excellent storytelling. I want to be wowed. I want to be moved.

4. What turns you off?

Pretty much the opposite of the above. Intolerance and ignorance. Also, I find Jersey Shore to be pretty damn repugnant.

5. What is your favorite curse word?

I think it's incredibly unfair to ask the daughter of a sailor to pick just one favorite curse word.

6. What sound or noise do you love?

I love the sound of my dogs snoring when they've fallen asleep while keeping me company when I'm writing. I am also fond of the sound of my niece and godchildren's laughter.

7. What sound or noise do you hate?

The beeping noises that trucks make when they back up. Sets my dogs off every time. And I do mean every time.

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

I've always wanted to be some kind of ass-kicking international woman of mystery a la Sydney Bristow (or River Tam). That, or a Vampire Slayer.

9. What profession would you not like to do?

Child care. Bless those who have the patience and talent for it but I am not one of them. Not by any stretch of the imagination.

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

I would expect to hear, "Who let you in?" But I would like to hear, "You're just in time to watch the Pats game on the big screen."

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Three Down, Five To Go


I pulled the plug on my ninja-esque writingfest yesterday after the fortieth or so hour when I just could no longer see or think straight and all my characters were suddenly obsessed with taking a nice long nap. I also managed to break the comma key on my keyboard. It's since been fixed but at one point, I had three pages worth of commas before I got the key unstuck. (Talk about overusing commas in your writing.) Then once it was unstuck, it just refused to work at all. This then solved my problem of comma abuse.

All in all, I created more than 2,500 words yesterday. I know 2,500 words isn't very much in the grand scheme of things but when you've been as unproductive as I have been of late, it's very exciting. Plus, I'm at that point in this section of the story where the main plot line has been worked out but the secondary lines need finishing and finessing. None of the chapters need a lot of words. They just need the right words. And in Schism (the portion of Second Nature on which I've been focusing), those secondary lines and characters have been giving me trouble. The right words have been difficult to come by.

But I am taking back the night. And day. A little bit at a time.

So those 2,500 words yesterday made it possible for me to move three of the eight chapters I'm working on this week into the "Done" column. I also chipped away at the others so I'm optimistic that I'll be able to move a couple more over either later tonight (have to take the vengeful Fat Cat to the vet this afternoon...never a good time for anyone involved) or early tomorrow.

Maybe I can make this goal happen after all.

We are so very happy, we do the dance of joy.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Dark And Windy Night


*Warning: I was up all night long and haven't gone to bed yet. This means I've been up for a good thirty hours now. This means this blog will be kind of rambling and potentially senseless. Enjoy!*

It was very windy last night in the Mount Washington Valley. This is nothing new. It seems that ever since Joe gave the go ahead for Marie to take down our trees (A long story. A long and bitter story.), the wind blows much harder for much longer than it used to. When it does this at night, it makes our bedroom really rather loud and some times, it makes it hard to fall asleep.

Of course, when you're an insomniac who can't turn off her brain, the wind doesn't much matter.

I pulled the plug on that whole sleeping thing at about two in the morning when I found myself getting angry at Joe and the dogs for all being soundly asleep. The dogs were snoring. Unrelated side note: it's adorable when the Gator Girl is snoring. It really is. She can be so dainty about some things (including snoring) that you can some times forget (some times) what a bruiser she is the rest of the time.

Anyway, I was irrationally angry and went downstairs to my office to try and work.

I love my office, I do. It's an entire room devoted to writing and other awesome things. And it's only going to get more awesome from here because soon (and I mean like tomorrow soon), I'll be the proud owner of a big ass bulletin board. I ordered it last night online and for whatever reason (a gift horse whose mouth I did not check out), I'm getting free two day shipping. It's a 6'x4' bulletin board that I'm going to put on the one open wall in my office. I have another bulletin board, next to my desk. This one's much smaller and is currently covered with a few pictures of family and friends, some flair (my brother and sister-in-law always find me the most awesome flair), a letter received from a past student (one actually validating my effectiveness as an educator) and a variety of other trinkets with a variety of back stories. I think Joe is concerned that the new board will just become a much larger version of this one. And it won't. At least I don't think so. The new board is supposed to become my big giant storyboard on which things vital to the construction of my fantasy world and the story that takes places within it will be posted.

Have I mentioned how very excited I am about this?

I also ordered that new bookcase to be placed in the living room. I don't have a shortage of books, not by any means, but the problem here will be deciding which books will be placed upon it. My books are very specifically organized. Well, they're getting less organized by the minute as the stacks grow more precarious, but I definitely have a system. Everything needs to be arranged by genre first. And then height. Then author. Then the year published and so on and so forth.

My books in my classroom where arranged this way. The kids quickly learned how crazy it made me when I'd come in in the morning to find things out of order. I don't want to suggest that they perhaps took advantage of my little OCD-ness but yeah, they totally did. Adorable little snot rags. Precious youth.

Another story about my book sorting obsession that doesn't at all make me seem like a crazy dictator person with whom no one should be forced to live: When we first moved to the Mount Washington Valley, my family came to help us unpack and while I was on a food run, my mother set herself to unpacking my books onto an empty bookcase. This made Joe very nervous.

"You shouldn't touch her books," he told my mother. "She likes them arranged a certain way and you shouldn't touch them. She'll be mad. She'll think I did it and she'll be mad."

So what if I had packed the books in boxes by genre and author and publication date? Is that really so wrong? But, in all honesty, I wouldn't have been mad. Probably wouldn't have been mad. Just driven to correct the situation as quickly as possible.

My mother assured him she was just trying to get rid of boxes and I could rearrange them later when she was done. I should say my mother tried to assure Joe of this but he wasn't having any of it. That's why, when I returned home with our dinner spread, I was greeted at the door by my mother who said, "I touched your books. Not Joe. He told me not to touch them but I just put them on the shelves for you so I could get rid of the boxes and-"

It was then that I realized I had a problem.

Not that I've made any steps toward correcting this problem. I like my books how I like my books.

I'm leaning toward putting nice trade paperbacks and hardcover novels on this new bookshelf because they'll look the nicest and anyone who comes into the house could be looking at them. I'm not trying to impress people with the novels I read. How could I? I've very well documented the amount of time I've spent reading what some would consider to be embarrassing literature. But the hardcovers and the trade paperbacks will look nice in that case. The vampire romance novels will be hidden in my closet... that's not true. But they will be stashed upstairs where guests never go.

And we're moving on...

After my shopping spree last night, I started to write. In order to complete the goal I set at the beginning of the week, I need to finish writing eight chapters (eight chapters? Really? I didn't realize it was that many when I set this goal. That's a lot, isn't it? What the hell was I thinking?). By the end of the night, I still hadn't finished any but I was 1,000 words closer to it. This is good. This is very good. It's been so long since Productivity and I have shared the same air space, I almost didn't recognize it. I had to pull the plug on things at quarter past six when the sleepy trio got up but still, 1,000 words.

I'm going to say it again: 1,000 words.

Suddenly, I didn't mind having stayed up all night long. I've spent the last few hours getting errands and chores taken care of and out of the way (not to mention writing this blog) but I am now ready to spend the rest of the afternoon either asleep at this desk or pounding out another 1,000 words.

Let's hope for the latter.

One last thing to share before I go...Here's the conversation I had with Joe this morning:

Him: Happy Valentine's Day.
Me: That was yesterday.
Him: Really?
Me: Don't worry. You bought me some very nice presents about which I am embarrassingly excited.
Him: Well, that was nice of me.
Me: Yes, it certainly was.

I shall post pictures of my office space (why does it say paper jam when there is no paper jam?) later in the week or the start of next week should the writing ninja in me hijack my body and force it to do nothing but write.

Here's hoping for the latter...

Monday, February 14, 2011

GOOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLLLS of the Week


Before I get to the goal setting portion of today's blog, there's a little seasonal business to be dealt with first. I don't know if you've heard but today is Valentine's Day. A lot of the blogs that I've read today have mentioned it in one form or another and for a while, I wanted to weigh in on the topic of love in literary form. But as I am currently planning to use this topic as part of my A to Z Blogfest this April (and not under the letter 'L" either), that idea is out.

Several blogs are posting romantic bits of their WIPs. There's a blogfest of Love At First Sight where you post an excerpt of your novel where the two who are the two first meet. I thought about doing that because I really do love the scenes where my main characters first meet in Effigy and Vinnie And Ellie ( a working title that I do not like, by the way). But they're rather long, too long to put in a blog, I think, and so I'm not going to do that. Vinnie and Ellie's cute meet is posted on my site (just follow the link above) so if you'd like to check it out, please do.

So that leaves me with just wishing everyone out there a happy Valentine's Day. We're rather low key about it in our house. So low key in fact that we don't do anything and Joe completely forgot about it. I honestly forgot about it too. I generally send out cards to my nieces and godchildren and completely spaced on it. Sorry, kids. I'll probably remember Easter... probably.

Joe and I don't do the gift giving thing either. His gift to me this year was not groaning audibly last night when I ordered yet more books from Amazon. I'm thinking about stretching that generosity to another online order today...not for more books but for a new bookcase and a large bulletin board to hang in my office. I have a big empty wall that's just screaming for a big empty bulletin board. That would be my gift to him...the gift of a bookcase (which he would have to assemble) on which to put the mountains of paperbacks I have all over the place. And when he's done with that, he can hang my new giant bulletin board.

Hmm...maybe I should make him some lasagna or something to go along with that.

Anyway, onward and upward, right? Let's talk goals. I set goals at the start of every year. Goals that will, with any luck, be completed by the end of the year. These goals I'm going to list below are meant to be completed by the end of the week.

1. Finish Schism. My WIP Second Nature is currently broken up into three sections. The first of these sections is Schism and I will finish writing it by the end of the week. This is going to require me to buckle down and work out some big problem chapters but I feel kind of confident that I can get this done.

2. Take the cats to their vets. This is only a big deal because most cats are a pain in the ass to take to the vets. Vader is very easy to take to the vet, however, her doctor is an hour's drive away and whenever we go, we seem to have a horrendous experience (diagnosis wise). Read about the worst of our visits (the one that inspired me to take her to a new vet an hour away) HERE. Fat Cat is an absolute terror to take to the vet. Her vet appointments have, on occasion, translated to an ER visit for me. The only thing I can reasonably hope for now is that she's become too damn fat to move. That, or the doctor gives her some tranquilizers.

3. Complete three 30 minute work outs. No matter how much lip I have to take from that stupid microchip. One of the yearly goals I set involved training for a 5K and working out will be a big step in that direction. I guess I could always run outside. It will be above freezing at some point this week. Or so they say.

4. Finalize Florida vacation plans. Joe's grandparents winter down there and every year we say we're going to go down for a visit. And every year something comes up that requires us to not go to Florida in the winter. One year it was the need to replace our washer and dryer. This year, however, we are going to make this trip a reality. And it (the plans) is going to happen this week.

Anyone else setting any goals this week? Enjoy your Valentine's Day, or enjoy hating it, the way some people do. Until next time...

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Fitness Follies


I worked out this morning.

(pause for laughter)

I started off with my Tae Bo DVD. I was only a few minutes into it when Billy Blanks started yelling at me to get my shoulders down, point my toes and show him some energy. It made me wonder how he knew that my shoulders were, in fact, up around my ears, my toes were unpointed and I was definitely lacking in the energy department. Maybe it was just a lucky guess on his part but whatever it was, it was creepy.

I pressed on, laughing out loud when Billy suggested we perform particular exercises, double time. Then, around the fifteen minute (out of thirty) mark, I developed an unforseen complication.

The Gator Girl.

The Gator Girl does not like it when I punch things. Hmmm...this sounds bad, as though I walk around punching things a lot. And I don't. Not really, anyway. Not that you can prove. Unless you're Joe's arms...I mean, I never punch things. Anyway, there's something about me reaching out with a fist that makes the Gator Girl attack. This is why I only do Tae Bo when she's safely tucked in her crate. But Joe either didn't know or didn't care what I was doing in the living room and he released the beast.

The Gator Girl beelined right toward me and took me down. I decided then that I was done with Billy Blanks for the day. I'm pretty sure Billy was glad to see me go.

I switched then to the Wii Fit program. The Gator Girl is much more accepting of the Wii Fit. Except the boxing program.

I haven't started up the Wii Fit lately. I've been too lazy busy to spend the time on it. I knew it had been awhile since my last session so I was prepared to take some shit from the pompous little bit of machinery. It didn't waste any time, admonishing me for my lax attitude toward my workouts because it had been thiry some odd days since our last visit together.

Then, just for fun, I logged in as Joe's mii. It had been 242 days since Joe's last appearance on the Wii Fit and do you know what that machine did then? Ragged on ME some more. The Wii told Joe that it had been thirty some odd days since I was last on the Wii Fit program and how not okay that was.

I am not feeling the love.

I started off with yoga where, after the machine groaned under my weight (asshole. I do NOT weigh that much.), I was given the female trainer because my regular trainer (the guy) was unavailable. Unavailable? Really, dude? You're CGI. You cease to exist when I turn off the program and continue to NOT exist until I turn the program back on. How can you be unavailable?

Definitely NOT feeling the love.

My trainer got his lazy CGI ass to the CGI gym in time for my strength training. He apologized for being late as he had stayed out too last the night before. It's not the first time I've been told this by the Wii Fit Trainer but it didn't piss me off any less the second time.

Dear Wii Fit Trainer,

YOU'RE NOT REAL. YOU DIDN'T STAY OUT TOO LATE LAST NIGHT; YOU DIDN'T DO ANYTHING LAST NIGHT. IN FACT, YOU HAVEN'T DONE ANYTHING IN THIRTY SOME ODD DAYS, YOU LAZY CGI BUM.

Sincerely,

Me
Is this payback for me not being more of a Wii Fit slave?

I think I'm going to go eat a batch of super fattening and uber delicious homemade macaroni and cheese. Then I'll chase that with a bag of chocolate chip cookies and a pint of Ben and Jerry's Phish Food. What do you think about that, Wii Fit?

That's what I thought.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

In Which I Waste My Time (And Other Tales)


I went to work (the day job) yesterday.

The end.

No, really. The entire experience was a complete waste of my time. It was a stupid four hour shift and for the first two hours, I did nothing because there was literally nothing to do. There was no shipment, there was no folding, there was nothing that needed to be done. There weren't even any customers in The Store which was too bad because, honestly, I would have helped them because I was that bored. So I did nothing.

Well, I did try on some clothes and bought myself a couple of sweatshirts that were on clearance. My shift will have about covered the cost of my purchase, which is nice, I think. But yeah, for two hours, I did nothing but stand around and get paid for it. In all honesty, I would have rather stayed home in front of the computer.

The other two hours of my shift were spent unwrapping flip flops and dealing with the day's shipment (seven whole boxes) and taking my company required fifteen minute break. This made me laugh as I hadn't done anything all day but sure, what the hell, I'd take a break. I got paid for it and sat around for fifteen minutes longer than I was supposed to because by that time, I'd finished everything that had cropped up to be done and so I was back to having absolutely nothing to do.

After work, I stopped off at the book store because I had a coupon. I went in, picked out my book (another vampire romance novel...my not so secret shame) and went to the register to pay. It was there that I was, once again, hit up for the store's rewards program. And not the regular program for which I signed up years before. And not even the special gold program of which I was apparently just made a part of (possibly because of my shopping habits. If they know you by name at the bookstore, you might be there too often) but the special rewards program that's a step above the gold program. And it only costs the customer $20 a year to join.

I politely declined. I know they have to try and upsell the customer on this stuff. I work in retail and I'm expected to do the same (I stubbornly refuse, much to the delight of my boss) so I try to be understanding when I get hit up for this stuff. But I've refused multiple times. And I had told this particular cashier multiple times that I just wasn't interested.

But she just wouldn't let up.

I don't like to be harassed. Anyone at The Store can tell you this. I have flatly refused to get direct deposit if for no other reason than they bugged me about it one too many times. Bookstore Lady probably should've checked with The Store because then maybe she would've known that the quickest way to lose my (apparently considerable) business would be to harass me.

And that's what I told her. Before I paid for my vampire romance novel and left. Very dramatic like. And just when I think I'm done, just when I think I'll be doing all my book shopping on Amazon, the company sends me a forty percent off coupon in my email.

Evil brats.

Normally this isn't a problem for me, snubbing businesses I have decided need to be snubbed. When a particular hotel chain pissed me off years ago, I said I'd never stay in one of their hotels ever again and no matter how good an offer they sent (and believe me, they sent some very nice offers. Joe was very sad.), I never went back.

But the book store? That's a whole other story. Can I truly deny myself a forty percent off coupon? I guess we'll find out...

What else happened on Friday? Oh yeah, I received a card in the mail from Classic Trains Magazine. Some of you might be laughing right about now. If you don't know why that's funny, click HERE to find out. The CTM people are offering me a free trial issue and a free gift. I think the free gift is a booklet entitled "More Great Train Stations". Apparently the promise to remove me from the mailing list was only good until the end of last year.

I have decided not to take them up on their offer.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

In Which I Pull A Ninja All Nighter, Part Two


3:00am: Food. Must. Have. Food. As I don't want to use the stove or the oven or the microwave (it'll wake the dogs), I settle for chocolate chip cookies. Another food perfect for ninja all nighters. The cats meow a lot at me as I liberate the cookies from the pantry. This does not wake the dogs. Go figure.

3:05am: Back to work. My computer is requesting that I restart it because of some automatic update. I tell the computer I'll restart later. I'm busy, dammit.

3:10am: See, computer, when I said 'later', I actually meant more like twelve hours from now. Not five minutes.

3:13am: Not NOW, dammit. Later.

3:15am: A pop up window informs me that the computer will restart shortly whether or not I want it to. Really? Fine. Go ahead and restart. I'll go get some more chocolate chip cookies carrot sticks.

3:15am: I had glasses earlier. What did I do with those?

3:20am: Why is the iPod always so heavy metal happy at this time of night? It's probably good though because the acoustic folk music would run the risk of making me sleepy. Sleepier. Not that writing ninjas ever get tired. Because they don't. Or so I hear.

4:00am: Tesla and Savatage, back to back to back to back.

4:38am: I discover a continuity error in Chapter 37. I make a note to come back and fix it later. Tonight's about creation. Not revision. Stupid continuity errors.

4:46am: I start work on Chapter 38. This is a Very Important Chapter. A VIC if you will. If I can knock this chapter out before the family gets up, I will be very happy. For a change.

5:08am: Oh good. Skid Row and Motley Crue. And yes, that's me being sarcastic. The Significant Other's the metal fan. Me, not so much. But as I am too lazy busy to get up to change the music, I deal with it.

5:13am: The night's word count is now at 1049. Still kind of pathetic but as it is progress, I will take it.

5:15am: I hear the Gator Girl start pacing upstairs in the bedroom. The dogs, pathetically, never sleep well at night when I'm not in the room with them so this is a sign that the night's coming to a close. Maybe another forty five minutes before I'll have to exchange my writing ninja mask for my dog mom hat.

5:41am: Oh. My. Can it be that Chapter 38 is now in the 'Done' column? You know, at least for now... Still, how the hell did I manage that? I mean, that's right. I'm a writing ninja type person with ninja writing skills. Yeah.

5:43am: Start working on Chapter 39.

5:45am: Stop working on Chapter 39. I still have no idea where this particular scene is going to go. I'll come back to it later.

5:46am: More jumping jacks. Blood flow is instrumental in staying awake. Why don't I have a caffeine addiction like any other self respecting writer?

5:48am: My knees hurt. Back to work! Writing ninjas, ho!

5:59am: Maybe This Time, my self proclaimed theme song, puts in an appearance. It's gonna happen, happen some time. Maybe this time, I'll win... one can only hope.

6:03am: Bonus Time! And hey look. Chapter 43 is also unfinished.

6:05am: And I don't know how to remedy that. I could be hitting what the kids call a wall. Stupid sugar crashes.

6:06am: Am about to pull the plug on the iPod when The Black Keys' song Chop and Change comes on. This we must listen to. If I ever finish writing Second Nature and get to the revision part of life, this will be my theme song. So what if it doesn't technically have anything to do with editing.

6:08am: The Gator Girl's pacing more. The Significant Other is not going to listen to that for much longer. If I was smart, I would wrap things up now and just go get the dogs.

6:09am: Never been noted for being smart. But you probably already knew that.

6:15am: Hitting the wall over and over again. Chapters 44 and 46 start off unfinished and end off unfinished. The current word count total is 1427. Must write 73 more words. It's what a ninja would do.

6:19am: 46 more words. I feel like it's 11:58pm on November 30th.

6:22am: Holy Crap. I did it. I hit 1500 words. Sure, it took me eight hours to do it in but this is still Very Big News. If you're me.

6:23am: I hear a herd of elephants come down the stairs. Nope, my mistake. It's just my dogs. Thank goodness. I am beat.

GOOD LUCK TO EVERYONE PARTICIPATING IN NiNoWriMo!

In Which I Pull A Ninja All Nighter, Part One


10:oopm: I take the dogs out. While I wait, I do jumping jacks. Don't judge. It's cold outside. Plus, I ate two pieces of cake and a whole mess of chocolate chip cookies earlier.

10:20pm: I send the dogs to bed, a sure sign I am serious about this all nighter. I change into my pajamas...black, 'cause I'm a ninja. A writing ninja.

10:22pm: The writing ninja trips over Fat Cat and falls down the stairs. But, you know, stealthily.

10:30pm: I barricade myself in my office armed with only a nalgene filled with water (if there was ever a time to drink coffee...) and a roll of giant smarties- the official food of ninja all nighters. I am so prepared to do some word count assassinating.

10:31pm: Just as soon as I check in on Facebook.

10:33pm: And Blogger. Hello, new followers! So nice to make your acquaintance. I look forward to checking out your blogs in the days to come.

10:40pm: Oh hey look...there's an actual word processing program on this computer. How long has that been there? I open it up and start the mood music. This is a special writing playlist I developed comprised of instrumental music stolen from my favorite soundtracks, including but not limited to The Lord of the Rings movies.

10:45pm: I decide to start by writing out Second Nature's time line as I think I am screwing that up. I really want to know where and when my characters are doing what they do.

10:50pm: Turns out I was right. I did screw things up but not as badly as I thought. Go me.

10:51pm: I start work on actually writing an actual scene. It's one that's been giving me a lot of trouble for quite some time now. So much trouble, in fact, that my writing progress has been pretty nonexistent so far this year. It involves a man and his drink and his depression.

11:00pm: The writing ninja chokes on an overly and unexpectedly sour giant smartie. But, you know, stealthily.

11:22pm: Minesweeper. I lose. I write something brilliant.

11:33pm: The scene also involves a dagger. I get one of mine (yes, this means I have more than one) out of the closet to help facilitate thinking.

11:43pm: More Minesweeper. More losing. The writing ninja pops some more giant smarties and wonders why she doesn't get more done.

11:48pm: The Lord of the Rings soundtrack is really beautiful. That is all.

12:09am: I actually spell 'unscathed' as 'unscaved' and for some reason, Spell Check seems to take issue with this. It takes me two tries to correct it as Spell Check doesn't recognize what word I am actually going for. But on the bright side, at least it means I'm writing.

12:10am: I celebrate this development by checking Facebook. Someone commented on my status. I'm surprised to see it because normally my not so smart phone makes noise whenever someone does this because I'm too ignorant lazy (is there anything truthful that doesn't seem so pathetic? I don't think so.) busy to change the settings. Why didn't I hear it?

12:20am: Oh hey, look. The not so smart phone is in another room. With the sound off. Yeah. I'm smart like a ninja. A really stupid ninja.

12:40am: Somehow, against all odds, I have managed to write 540 words. This, I know, is not a lot but it is a Big Deal for me because I've written next to nothing for so long. The giant smarties and dagger must be working!

12:52am: I put on A Perfect Circle's album Thirteenth Step as their songs often embody the character I am working on. With? For? Somehow, 'for' seems the most accurate.

1:15am: I add Alice in Chain's Down In A Hole and Johnny Cash's Hurt to the playlist. This particular character is not in a good emotional place.

1:17am: I download mp3s from Amazon. I write something brilliant like the writing ninja I am.

1:20am: I lie on the floor in my office with my dagger on my chest as I try to figure out what my drunk depressed character does next.

1:25am: I put the dagger to the side and decide to do sit ups as described by Spenser in the novel A Savage Place. Spenser does 100 sit ups. I do less.

1:30am: Back to work. I swear, this scene/chapter is almost done.

1:35am: I think I might be ready to declare this scene/chapter finished. At least for now.

1:36am: I celebrate my writing success by changing the language setting on my Facebook page to "pirate." And no, I'm not kidding. Arr!

1:38am: I try to get back to work and get distracted by the thought of macaroni and cheese.

1:42am: I am now distracted by my online search for vacation rentals in Bar Harbor. For August. Nothing like planning ahead.

1:43am: Have I mentioned that Johnny Cash's cover of Hurt is frakking awsome? Because if I didn't, I meant to.

1:45am: I stop searching and contemplating food and start work on the next chapter. This one involves a new character in an equally bad emotional place. If I ever write a happy, well adjusted character, someone should probably check to make sure the pod people didn't get me.

2:24am: Wow...did I really work that long without Minesweeper or other distractions? I stop because the giant smarties ran out a while back and my stomach is demanding food.

2:30am: Break time. Which, I know, is laughable given the night's events. The word count total is currently sitting at 759. I am a pathetic writing ninja. But, you know, stealthily...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Going On Crusade


Wow, I am just joining everything in sight lately. But I hear putting oneself out there is instrumental to people realizing you're there. Hard to believe that they didn't notice me sitting underneath a blanket in the darkest corner of my office.

So I am announcing that I am joining the Crusades. That's right, I am traveling back in time to take up arms with King Richard and- no wait, that's not right. I'm actually joining a different crusade: The Writers' Platform Building Crusade

The Writers' Crusade is the brainchild of blogger Rachel Harrie. The idea behind it is to connect aspiring writers, published writers, beginner bloggers, industry people and whoever else to each other with the "aim of building our online platforms."

It sounds like a great idea to me and I encourage you to go out and sign up as well. And if you're reading this because you already are a crusader... Hi!

Check out the original post HERE.

Now let's go write something...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

NiNoWriMo


I don't know how I came across it. One blog led me to another blog which led me to NiNoWriMo and because I'm such a joiner (bonus points to anyone who laughed out loud at the idea of me being a joiner), I decided to give it a whirl.

NiNoWriMo is the brainchild of blogger Ali Cross and stands for Ninja Novel Writing Month which does not mean that I have to write a ninja novel. Not that I have anything against ninja novels because I don't. I just don't have the knowledge necessary to write such a novel. It may hold true that I don't have the knowledge necessary to write any such novel but that remains to be seen. The concept of NiNoWriMo is simple: write a damn novel. Or, if you're one of the fortunate people with the ability to finish a novel, you can participate in Ali's NiNoReMo (Ninja Novel Revising Month). Someday I hope to be able to participate in the NiNoReMo experience.

Someday.

But until then, I am going to work, ninja style (I've got my black pajamas and Hanzo sword (bonus points if you can Name That Reference!)) on Second Nature and see if I can't make a serious dent in that damn WIP. I don't expect to finish the book. I don't know if that's me being realistic or pessimistic but it's going to be a rather long novel and here it is, February 8th, and I have yet to do anything with the story this month.

Details.

The best part is, if I don't make it happen in the month of February, I can try again in March because, as Ali tells us, every month is NiNoWriMo. Me thinks I may stand a fighting chance...if only I can get out of the way of myself.

Again, details are a bitch.

So head out to Ali's blog and check out the other NiNoWriMo participants. If any of you happen to be reading this blog, I wish you the very best of luck.

Thundercats, ho! (and no, I don't mean Cheetara...)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Mega Python Versus Gatoroid Drinking Game


I don't know if you've ever seen the SyFy channel's original movies but they are terrible. Bad writing, bad acting, bad special effects. And, for whatever reason, I can't stop watching them. Neither can anyone else evidently, judging by how damn popular these horrible movies have become.

The latest offering from the brain trust at the SyFy original movie office stars 80's pop stars Tiffany and Debbie Gibson. Both ladies have starred in previous SyFy movies but, as far as I know anyway, this is their first time sharing the SyFy spotlight. When Heather and I heard this, we knew what we would have to do.

Create a drinking game.

So, without having seen the movie, we devised fifteen criteria for taking a shot or taking a drink (and added two more after about the first ten minutes of the movie). We debated on whether we should do some kind of shots or just take a drink of some alcoholic beverage (Joe stuck with beer and wants it documented how much he wasn't playing this game.). We ultimately decided upon just taking a drink. This turned out to be a good decision (see, I am capable of it!) as we were pretty buzzed by the end of the movie without doing shots. We leave the choice up to you but please, please, please, play responsibly.

And now, here is, for your pleasure, the Mega Python Versus Gatoroid Drinking Game. Have fun...

The Mega Python Versus Gatoroid Drinking Game

(Please play responsibly)

Take a drink/shot when:

1. Lyrics from either singer's songbook are used as dialogue (i.e. "I think we're alone now" or "I just can't shake your love")

2. Footage of CGI snake and/or gator slithering/crawling is repeated. Oh hell, just take a drink any time any footage is repeated

3. One calls the other a bitch

4. A cat fight breaks out, featuring actual fighting cats or Tiffany and Debbie Gibson pulling hair

5. A man holds back one of the leading ladies

6. Any time an actor screams for whatever reason

7. Any time the gatoroid or python eats someone (it is all right to take just one drink/shot when the monsters attack a group or, in the case of this movie, swallow an Amtrack train. Unless you want to get especially shitfaced. Then have at it.)

8. Any time an actor says either 'mega python' or 'gatoroid'

9. If either Tiffany or Debbie Gibson play a scientist

10. If Miami is threatened by either creature

11. A building is destroyed

12. Any time a character gets out of a vehicle

13. Any time a character uses any salutation

14. Any time a character suggests any branch of the armed forces (navy, air force, army, national guard, coast guard, etc.) be called in

15. If a virus kills either monster

The next two are additions we made within the first ten minutes of the viewing of the movie:

16. Any time Heather says, "Really?" in a complete derisive kind of way as though she expected more reality from a movie called "Mega Python Versus Gatoroid"

17. A bodiless snake head attacks something or someone (the movie was not very good about concealing its foreshadowing).

So without giving away any of the oh so awesomely bad plot, I can tell you that this is a pretty effective game. You can get very drunk off numbers two and three alone. The salutation one (added when Joe was making fun of us about what we were putting on the list) is a complete dud as is number eight, which I find surprising as the damn movie's called "Mega Python Versus Gatoroid" but whatever... it's still cheesy good fun.

I'm not sure what our next drinking game will be (I know we talked about this at breakfast, Heather, but I can't remember what it was) but I'm sure it'll be awesome.

(warning: the following video contains images of CGI mega pythons and Gatoroids as well as the word 'bitch' and Tiffany's breasts about to pop out of her dress. Proceed with caution.)



Friday, February 4, 2011

The Top Ten Songs I Can't Believe I Forgot

I survived Inventory. But of course I did, right? It's Inventory, not Vietnam. Anyway, things went about as I expected they might. The jerk shouting out random numbers turned out to be my boss and I neglected to bring snacks along with me. This turned out to be a Bad. Idea. as inventory lasted a little longer than we had initially thought it might and after my twelfth hour of sku checking and recounting, I found myself in need of something a little more substantial to eat than the little baggie of carrot sticks I had packed for myself. Fortunately, I found a peanut butter chocolate chip granola in the back of my locker. And there was much rejoicing... the bonus was, it was only a little stale.

But anyway, it's done and over with and I don't have to go back to work for an entire week. Oh yeah...can you say writing time? Okay, can you say 'housework'? Because that's what I'll actually be doing. Playing catch up...and probably losing.

But before I get to scrubbing bathrooms (and the rug. Apparently the dogs threw up all over it while I was working last night and Joe lacks the necessary skill set to properly clean up such stains), I wanted to post the following list.


THE TOP TEN SONGS I CAN'T BELIEVE I FORGOT


This is a remnant from Alex J. Cavanaugh's blogfest from last month (wow...it's February already? I feel so far behind!) where we were to post our top ten favorite songs of all time. I did this as well as posted my top thirty songs of all time (the lists start here) because I had a very hard time choosing just ten. But now I find myself in need of posting another list (one I meant to post last month and well, didn't. Stupid inventory prep.) to cover just a few more songs. And yet, still, I find it's not enough.

Here we go:

10. Push by Matchbox Twenty- I don't know what it is about this song but I just love it. I also want to mention the band's song Hang from the same album (You Or Someone Like You). Beautiful!!

9. Silent All These Years by Tori Amos- The song that got me to buy all of Tori Amos's CDs. All right, well, not all of them, but certainly quite a few. A shout out to her entire Little Earthquakes album.

8. I Hate Myself For Loving You by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts- It was a toss up between this song and the band's hit I Love Rock N' Roll. We (the fam) used to sing both these songs at the top of our lungs every time they came on the radio of our old enormous crown vic station wagon.

7. Nothing Else Matters by Metallica- Yes, Metallica did the song but I first heard a cover done by Bif Naked when my bestest bud, Heather, told me about it and hooked me with saying, "this song reminds me of your book!" which she does from time to time (and by the way, I absolutely love it when people tell me things like this. It's nice to know something I wrote actually stuck with someone beyond the reading of it.). And this will probably irritate some hard core audiophiles out there, but I kind of like the Bif Naked version better. Commence throwing rotten vegetables now.

6. Mad World by Gary Jules- It's just a damn gorgeous song with some damn gorgeous lyrics.

5. Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley (or Rufus Wainwright)- See above.

4. Under The Bridge by the Red Hot Chili Peppers- The song that got me to listen to the RHCP. Also love their song Breaking The Girl.

3. Turn My Head by Live- It was a toss up between this one and I Alone because they're both rather awesome but Turn My Head gets the nod because it's a Cate and James song. And yeah, I know most of you don't know what that means but I really do hope that maybe some day you will.

2. Sober by Tool- This was the omission that riled Heather enough to say "I was very disappointed to see that [this song] wasn't on your list." And since I hate to disappoint my drinking buddies (Mega Python Versus Gatoroid drinking game tomorrow!), I had to make amends. This song is amazing and I really do adore it. I honestly don't know why it wasn't included in the top thirty. I really don't. I don't know what I was thinking. If I had to do it over again, I'd boot Cyndi Lauper's ass right to the curb and then bumped everyone down a spot because, at the very least, Sober deserves to be in the #11-20 list. And yet, it's still not number one...

1. The Hero of Canton- I don't know who wrote this song. Ben Edlund wrote the Jaynestown episode of Firefly in which this song appears so I guess maybe it was him? Anyway, whoever wrote it, I love because this song is frakking awesome. I really do sing it all the time. A lot of groups have recorded this song (see them at amazon's mp3 download page thing). I downloaded a couple of them. The Bedlam Bards' rendition is on my iPod. What about yours? Are you cool enough for The Hero of Canton?




Well, gotta go to the crappy town where I'm a hero so I can work on my gorram geese juggling. Hope you all have a very shiny day...

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Inventory Prep


Yesterday it snowed. You might have heard about it. Apparently, it was a pretty big storm. Anyway, it was big enough and bad enough that New Hampshire declared a snow emergency. This cracks me up because it's New England after all and snow is what is supposed to happen this time of year. But whatever. New Hampshire declared an emergency and because of that, the mall where The Store is located closed. This is a Big Deal because the mall never closes.

But as Ruthie, Store Manager (herein after referred to as SM) and I were in The Store at 7am, we didn't know this. And when we found out about this, SM decided we should stay because we still had things to do because Inventory was still on Thursday (today). Then she made the sales associates come in to work because there was so much to do. And then, because we were all here anyway, she decided to open the doors for any (stupid) shoppers that happened by.

"You be sure to come get me when these idiots show up," I said to the SM, "because I would like to come out here and glare at them properly."

"Yeah," the SM said in response, "I'm not doing that."

We did have one sale. It was someone who was staying at the hotel next to the mall and had walked over to go shopping. Unfortunately for them, we were the only store open so it didn't take them long to complete their plans for the day. On an unrelated people are jerks side note, other guests at the same hotel demanded (yes, demanded) a free night from the hotel because the mall was closed.

So Ruthie and I powered through our inventory prep work in hopes that we'd get sent home early. We finished it all and we were sent home early but only to be told that we'd have to come in earlier today. Seems like a crappy reward for being awesome efficient workers but I suppose we should be used to it by now.

The following list details all the things one needs in order to insure a successful inventory experience:

1. An ability to count quickly and accurately. In the event that only one of these qualities is available, the ability to count accurately is preferred. These qualities are sometimes both absent from the so called inventory specialists. Isn't that ironic? Or just mind numbingly aggravating.

2. A sense of humor. Because someone will invariably start shouting out random numbers at you while you're counting a massive stack of tee shirts. A sense of humor will be instrumental in NOT killing this person.

3. A sense of patience. Did you read number one? Seriously, some of these people can only accurately count the minutes between their cigarette breaks. I really don't like smokers who think their addiction entitles them to additional time off. I'm addicted to chocolate yet I don't get frequent chocolate breaks, do I?

4. A high tolerance for B.O. Because, yeah, counting isn't the only challenge for the so called inventory specialists. Apparently, personal hygiene is also a stumper.

5. A fifth of whiskey, scotch or vodka (whatever your personal preference). Turn the night into a drinking game! Whenever a so called inventory specialist calls for a sku check, do a shot. Whenever a so called inventory specialist miscounts an area, do a shot. Whenever a so called inventory specialist needs a cigarette break, do a shot.

6. A ride home. Or, in the event of a truly disastrous crew of so called inventory specialists, a ride to the hospital.

So there you have it. All the things required to survive Inventory. Follow these simple instructions and you too will have a successful inventory experience. TTFN...