Saturday, June 30, 2007

Lovely Evening

I don't usually do boring posts like this, but...

I'm sitting here in my office, with the window open, a perfect breeze and the dying sunlight finding their way in to join me. I can hear a dozen different birds singing and chirping, and every so often a bunny hops over to nibble dandelion leaves.

Number One is at a slumber party, Number Two is playing with her new Webkinz and therefore oblivious to my whereabouts. J is playing City of Heroes (what else is new?).

No demands on me. No (real) watching the clock to be where I need to be at a certain time. Reading blogs by cool people and catching up on Harry Potter news.

I haven't been this relaxed in ages.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Random Friday

I think I've now missed three Thursday Thirteens in a row. Perhaps the reason I have is that I have been planning to list 13 books you should read, which would entail finding/downloading/uploading book covers and finding/making links, which is a lot of work and very daunting. So I'm just going to list the books I had in mind and let you find them on Amazon. I know. I'm very lazy.

Thirteen Books You Should Go Buy Now

This is in random order, with authors I know mixed in with authors I don't, and a mix of genres so everyone should be able to find at least one book they might like.

Avalon High by Meg Cabot (YA)
my daughter was high on this book so I read devoured it and LOVED it.

Dirty or Broken by Megan Hart (erotic)
Megan wondered yesterday why she doesn't write much shorter books. I'm glad she doesn't. Talk about rich--these books are the appetizer, main course, and dessert all rolled into one.

Storm Front (or any other Dresden Files book) by Jim Butcher (urban fantasy)
I recommended this to my husband months ago, and he ignored me until he had nothing else to read. He was hooked by the end of the first chapter. I am dying to get the most recent book but am trying to be a good girl $-wise.*

Akashan'te by Vicky Burkholder (high fantasy)
The Romance Studio said this is "a highly imaginative fantasy adventure filled with excitement and intrigue." My kind of story!

Any of the Ivy books by Misty Simon (mystery)
You'll laugh until you snort. And I defy you to not be able to find something of yourself in Ivy.

Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (romance)
I love any books that have football players in them, and SEP is a master of dialogue.

Prime Time by Vicky Burkholder (science fiction)
I listed her books separately because they aren't in the same genre. This one is really exciting!

His Only Wife by Cathy McDavid (contemporary romance)
This one is on the shelf now--hurry before it's gone! Firefighter stories are some of my favorites, for some reason, and this one is chock full of imagery. You know, like a dozen hot, sweaty, tired, hot, muscled, tight-T-shirt-wearing Hot Shots (wildfire fighters) trouping into a community center for food, sleep, and nursing attention. Yummmmm-my!

Cradle of Secrets by Lisa Mondello (inspirational romantic suspense)
This doesn't come out until November, but I had an opportunity to read an early copy. Inspirational is a genre I usually avoid, but this book was SO good. (Which is not to imply that inspirational romances are not good, they are just not my cup of tea, so it has to be exceptional to get past my personal biases.)

Coyote Dreams by CE Murphy (urban fantasy)
The heroine's journey in this series, plus her strength and the great cast of characters around her, make me sit and do nothing but read until I'm done with the book.

*That's why my TBR pile is down to 42 books from a high of about 130.

I went to the comic book store yesterday, shocked that I had missed the June 6th release date of the second issue of Supernatural: Origins. Okay, I was a bit disappointed with the first one anyway, but still.

I am not partial to the artwork, and heard I'm not the only one, but that's not a slap at the artist. It's just personal taste. It's a bit too angular. And it seems these artists are skilled enough to be able to portray the characters more like the source material. But maybe not.

There are issues about the Impala. I reconciled them. Yes the car John and the young boys are sitting on in the pilot is the Impala. It's just not John's yet. Jacob, being a family member to Mary, would have come racing over when he was notified of the fire, right? Right.

I just watched "Home" last night and the way Missouri describes meeting John doesn't quite jive with the way it happens in the comic book, but it's close enough that we can say she streamlined it for the boys.

The storyline itself...well, the murder of Mary's best friend by a hellhound is a bit weird. But I'll roll with it. I'm hoping they do more with the brothers' relationship and the interaction of the three of them over the course of the series.

We got a piano! Number Two has been wanting lessons for ages, and J found a listing for an auction nearby that had a Blasius & Sons upright. We spent three hours in the rain, but it was well worth it, as the crowd was really cheap and we got it for a mere $90. It will cost much more than that to get it here. LOL But still less than our budget. Now to find out how much tuning it will be...

I can't believe July is almost here. July, with family visits, doctor and orthodontist appointments, swimming lessons, cup stacking camp, and some Big Events:

  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix movie
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows release (and release party)
  • Number One's birthday, on which I shall not elaborate just in case she sneakily reads my blog
  • Hersheypark

I shall be exhausted by the end.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Warning: Rant Ahead

Every so often someone sends me this e-mail that's been circulating for years, about those of us who were born between 1930 and 1979, and how we did all these dangerous things like ride in the back of a pickup or without seatbelts and ate white bread and Kool-Aid without getting fat and crap like that.

I HATE that e-mail with the passion of a million fiery suns.

Yeah, people rode in the backs of pickups thirty years ago. And there were millions fewer cars on the roads, and drivers actually obeyed the 25-mph speed limit. Didn't wear seatbelts? Let me tell you about my cousin's cousin and how he went through the back window and almost lost his leg. And did lose his friend. You think the unsafe things we did had no repercussions? Why do you think they changed?

We "survived" having mothers who smoke or drank while they were pregnant--oh, except those who DIED or were born with defects or serious illnesses. I guess you still call it "survival" even if you had to undergo surgeries and developmental delays and all manner of terrible things. Crack babies "survive," too. We don't imply that it's FINE for pregnant woment to do crack.

We slept in cribs with lead-based paints...hey, maybe the person who wrote this ate the lead paint and that's why their IQ is so low!

We rode bikes without helmets. Yep, and my cousin cracked his skull open--I bet that was worth it--and my brother STILL has to have work on the teeth he broke twenty years ago.

THINGS CHANGE. And I am so sick of the implication that my kids are living a worse life than my parents did just because we don't necessarily do things the same way.

If things were so much better then, why don't you just go back to that time? Regress your life to the way you lived then. You know what that means?

Get rid of your stupid e-mail.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Old Friends

I posted on Friday about the dreams I'd been having, and that reminded me of some old friends, and that put me in a nostalgic mood, and that made me want to blather on about my past. It might be boring. You've been warned.

My first best friend was David, the son of my mother's best friend, and I have no idea how his last name was spelled. Hey, I was nine the last time I saw him. It sounds like Ploo, and is probably Pleau. I dunno. I think I mentioned in an earlier post that he was Steve Austin, the Six-Million-Dollar Man, and I was Jamie Summers, the Bionic Woman, and my brother was Oscar Goldman, our handler. That's the main memory I have, of us playing that all the time.

After David was Tammy Moran. Her mother called me a few years ago, when she saw my mother's obituary. She's apparently teaching music in California, exactly what she wanted to do. We were close friends from age 7 (she was a year younger) to high school. But she was two grades behind me and we weren't in the same school after elementary, and she had her school friends and I had mine, and then I moved to NY.

In junior high and high school it was Jeanne Graham, Linda Rivera, Dawn Fournier, and occasionally Laurie Minihan. Linda and Dawn keep in touch with me. I don't know why. I was never a very good friend to any of them. We were all outcasts, and my mother had tried to teach me that we're known by the company we keep, and I hated being an outcast and knowing that hanging with them wouldn't help. My strongest memories of them are times I was an ass.

Something you didn't know about me that probably makes you like me less.

Linda and Dawn are married, Linda has kids, Dawn is trying. I haven't seen or heard from Laurie since I moved away from Agawam, and Google has nothing on her. Unless I'm just spelling her name wrong.

Betsy Hernandez was probably my closest friend in high school, at least in our junior year (she moved to town our sophomore year). She's my sister-in-law now, and we keep in touch about as well as I do with the rest of them. Which is, barely.

Bethany Sudbury was my next-door-neighbor for a while. She was a few years younger than me, but if it weren't for her, I might never have played outside. I always preferred books to sunshine. Beth contacted me a few years ago via my blog, asked how to get published, and then never responded to me again.

I moved my senior year to North Chatham, NY, and went to Ichabod Crane Central High School. Everything changed. No one remembered the shy, introverted kid. It was a small school, the jocks and the brains were the same kids, and they hung out with the goths after school. My best friend there, Sue Schreijack Pulver, remains in the area. She grew up there and still belongs to the rescue squad. We lost touch, too, and I think it's my fault. She stopped writing back when I wrote to her, and I'm guessing I said something in a phone conversation that she took badly. I don't know what else would cause her to stop.

My senior year I had lots of guy friends, too. David and Mark and Chris and Geo--oh, especially sweet Geo--and Dan and Sean. Makes me long for our reunion, except many of them were juniors. We lost touch through college. I ran into one guy about 9 years ago, when I was pregnant with Number Two. He chased me down outside of Staples. He was the manager of the Encore book store, which closed soon after so I never saw him again. I assume he was relocated. We weren't that close so it was flattering that he remembered me, and came after me. He'd been in the military right after graduation, though, and I wrote to him for a while because he was really homesick. I wonder if I still have those letters somewhere...

Summer jobs seemed to lend themselves to intense, short-lived friendships. I mentioned that I hung out with Vince and Peter that summer of '89. Ninety saw me in Michigan, working at a nature center and living with four other people in an old farmhouse. I never clicked with Kahle or Heather that much. I don't think they cared for me. But Rob and I had great religious debates, and he and his brother Dave were sweet guys. But they were older and didn't stay in touch, either.

There's a trend here, you might have noticed. I haven't stayed in touch with anyone. None of my friends from college...roommates...friends...I did trade e-mails with Eric Schutzbank, who was a very sweet, very understanding pledge the year I met Jim. He'd asked me to the pledge formal but I was about to have my first date with Jim and thought he'd ask me, so I turned Eric down. He never held it against me. :) He's a married attorney now, and seems happy.

There was Victoria, with her contraband cat who'd only eat when we were in the bathroom, but would always eat when we were in the bathroom. I made a mistake with her. I'd asked her to be one of my bridesmaids, but the church was really tiny and Jim didn't have enough guys to be groomsmen, so I "took it back." Idiot. She didn't come to the wedding and I never heard from her again. There are way too many Victoria Andersons for me to easily find her online.

Shawna Wamsley was my suitemate for two years. I heard her "crying" one night and thought her boyfriend was being an ass to her. But he was just playing the fart game, I found out the next day. (Farting and trying to shove her under the covers with it.) She had gorgeous strawberry hair that I still envy. They apparently got married but her news item on OWU's web site is twelve years old.

Okay, now I want to go pull out photo albums and yearbooks and wallow in nostalgia all afternoon. I betcha anything I dream in the "past" again.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

New Passion

Last night I attended my first professional soccer match. And all I can say is, what took me so long?

The Harrisburg City Islanders have been around since 2004. One of the owners is the guy whose company handles my 401(k), but do you think I made an effort? Of course not. City Island is a great place, but I equate sports on the island with crowds, parking issues, and mayflies (which actually bother J more than me, but still).

But the team has a promotion now that offers free Pro Passes to kids who are playing soccer, which means for most games, they go free. Number One's team was going to last night's game, so we decided to go.

Parking? Free. And not overly crowded.

Crowds? Minimal.

Issues? Obliterated.

The seats we got assigned were front row bleachers behind one goal. J wants me to spring for the more expensive sideline seats next time, but they weren't bad seats. We were right next to the players coming off the field after warmups and coming on during introductions.

And maannnnn. WHY was I not compelled to go to these games? Twenty-two hot guys--lean, muscled, strong guys--duking it out with their feet. Hot, sweaty guys wiping sweat off their faces with the hems of their shirts--exposing lots of yummy abs. What's not compelling about that?

The game was fun, too. The distances the ball travels amaze me, though I found the differences that result interesting. It was less disciplined than I would have expected. Some sequences had fabulous passing and teamwork, but a lot of the time, it's a header free-for-all. There wasn't as much finesse and footwork than I thought we'd see. There was plenty of acting, as any time a player went down and a foul was whistled, they acted really hurt.

The Islanders are having a good season. They have only one loss, and that's to Western Mass, which is where I grew up, so I'm not unhappy about that. I'm pretty much a hometown girl, even if I've lived in PA nearly as long as I lived in MA. They are in round two of the U.S. Open Cup, too. We missed the round one game because of storms (bought tickets and then bagged the game, which of course they won). I hope we get a chance to see another game.

So this is going up on my web site's Passions page, and I'll be there Wednesday, cheering my team on.

To think I always thought I'd only like soccer when my kids were in the game. Silly me.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Dreams of the "Past"

I don't have recurring dreams per se, in the sense that the same thing happens over and over. I do have recurring themes, or elements. One is school. Another is flying (though not for a long time). Otherwise, I dream wildly disparate stuff, often very complex and richly detailed. The longer I go without working on a new book, the more complex and detailed and exhausting my dreams get.

The last three nights, though, have been doozies. I keep revisiting my past. This happens a lot, mostly with the "I'm back in school" dreams, usually where I realize I've missed class all semester, or I don't know where my locker is. I was in new schools a lot (though not as often as some, and only once after the term started), so that might be why that is. But usually, I'm a different version of me. I'm the me I was back then, or if older, at least pre-wife-and-mother. Or an alterna-me, where my life as I know it hasn't happened. This time, I have been revisiting my past as me now.

Tuesday night, I was in an educational setting. It was a really old school, like a magnificent college. It was some kind of entertainment-oriented program. Megan was in the program, too, and we were maybe second-years. Nathan Fillion was in it, too, about to finish. The early part is less clear, though I remember he was warm and funny and I hung out with him a lot. The end part is very clear. He was teaching a final class before he finished the program, and he gave an assignment to us. I spent a long time flipping through my notebook, looking for a clean piece of paper that didn't have notes all over it. No, not those kind of notes. Notes Megan and I had written back and forth in class. Don't know where that comes from. We don't do that in chapter meetings at all. I was working hard at writing a very complimentary essay about Nathan that would cause him to come find me after the term ended, touched by my words.

Wednesday night I dreamed I was back in my old bedroom in Brady Village. We lived in Brady Village when I was in fifth through eleventh grades. Then we moved to New York, and I started college, and my parents moved to Connecticut, and the summer after my freshman year I worked at Blockbuster Video (also, during winter break, in a different store owned by the same people and managed by a guy I'd trained the previous summer, Scott Ritter). In my dream, I worked at Blockbuster but was in the apartment I hadn't lived in for nearly two decades, and some of the old crowd was there. I don't think Peter (Bonitatebus, in case he Googles himself) or Vince (Scarpetti) were in it, which is weird, because they were my best work friends that summer. Instead, while I spent the bulk of the dream searching desperately for the phone number for the store because I didn't know my schedule that day, two guys from PERG or something were there, all excited that I was back, and trying to get me to volunteer again (I never did before, I contacted them but they were pushy and obnoxious). They wanted me to do social work kind of stuff, which I vehemently refused (I'm so introverted!). So while I was searching, I kept finding all these bits of memorabilia, the detritus of everyday life. But no phone number. I was really relieved when I woke up and realized I wasn't late for work.

Last night's dream was the lightest. I dreamed first of my friend Lainey. I was picking her up in some hotel and griping that she had seven suitcases for a two-day stay. I don't know what happened there, but the dream changed and I was back in Agawam, the town I left when I was 16. I was at the apartment of an old friend, Jeanne, and she still lived there after all these years. We were getting into my car to go to lunch and I said something about gosh, her daughter must be what, five now? And she said three. And that's really funny because she's really, like, 20. I asked where she wanted to go to lunch, and she was all gung-ho about Burger King and their awesome chicken sandwiches. Not liking fast food even in my dreams, I let Vicki pick. Yes, a friend from now was in my dream of being back home. She knew of a great restaurant, despite never having been in Agawam in her (real) life.

I wonder what tonight holds for me.

Out of curiosity, I Googled my old friends. Peter is a Ph.D. working in cancer-related nanotechnology. He owns patents and arranges bike rides for charity. Very intimidating. I hope he doesn't Google himself and find this blog (and really, someone that smart and important couldn't be bothered, right?)

Vince appears to be the principal of an elementary school. I only found one small picture, but it does look like him, 18 years older. And it's totally something he'd be. I can see him as one of those sweet guys who knows all the kids names and keeps them all in line because they don't want to disappoint him.

Scott is probably not the former United Nations weapons inspector, but his name is less uncommon than the other guys'.

Jeanne could be a floral designer/author, a federal judge, or an X-Men fan 'zine editor. It's more likely her name has changed and I'll never find her. That's kind of sad.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I'm a Mess

This morning, I put my weight on the ball of my flexed right foot, and my leg gave way. With searing pain in my ankle.

Yeah, I think that's pretty much done in.

I've sprained that ankle at least a dozen times in the past fifteen or more years. I remember most of them. First one was playing football at my cousin's house. Once was in a parking lot walking from work to the dorm--actually, I think I had two in that exact same pothole. The last one was in December, stepping on the edge of the driveway. I feel as nauseous now, remembering, as I did then, lying on the ground. Gah.

It's never major sprains. I can always walk okay after icing it, just can't bend it laterally or put pressure on the soft tissue. But I've been having trouble with that ankle over the last couple of years, with stiffness and pain when I try to wear heels or even just walking after I've been sitting for a while. I thought exercise might help, but it's not. I probably have degenerative joint disease. Funny that it's only ever been my right ankle. I have never sprained the left in my whole life.

It's a hard truth we face as we get older, that certain injuries will always bother us, to varying degrees. I have a bad shoulder, too, that probably has a labral tear. Tried to hand something to the baby behind me in the car, felt it pop. Get horrible headaches if I sleep on that side, carry something over the shoulder for more than five minutes or weighing more than half a pound, etc. Chiropractic helps, as does drinking lots of water when the pain starts.

But it gets weirder. In May 2006, I was only a couple of weeks away from my last day at work. I made a joke about it to my coworker, who really didn't want me to leave. She pretended to come after me. I ran down the hall, and when I planted my foot to turn left into the work room, the rug slid and dumped me on the floor. I slid into the doorjamb, putting a major bruise on my left shin.

It's still there. And yes, that date is correct. Thirteen months later, I have a brown discoloration about two inches in diameter on my leg.

My skin is showing my age, too. I don't have any real wrinkles yet, though when I'm fatigued the lines in my forehead don't go away. But the skin on my face and hands is looking a bit like the buttery seats of a roadster. It's soft and supple, not dry like in the winter, but has a leathery appearance. I'm afraid I'm going to start looking like Robert Redford soon.

Moisturizing might help, but I have no vent in my bathroom. So this time of year I'm sweating from the time I get out of bed until I settle at my computer about two hours later. Putting lotion on my face that's covered with beads of water isn't going to have a healthy effect. I do know I need to drink more water, though. Maybe that will help.

I also have a forehead anomaly that's blamed on my hairstyle. I have a part on the right and bangs on the left, and no matter how often I go out with my hair pulled back off my face, I still have a creamy white patch on the left side of my forehead. In fact, my entire body's tan lines are funky. Shorts lines, t-shirt lines, the thing with my face (which is as much freckles as tan), watch mark, left arm darker than the right, different shoulder and chest marks due to tank tops and two different bathing suit necklines...and then there's the Great Spray-On Sunscreen Debacle. Huge white patches on my upper arms in the center of lobster city. That will never even out.

See? I'm a mess. And a freak, to boot. :)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Scattered Stuff

Apparently, being "man of the day" has gone to my husband's head. I was planning to pick up his dinner tonight at Passage to India, which he hasn't had in a while. Circumstances made it easier for him to get it. But where I thought he was asking not only if he should get it, but if I also wanted it, getting some for me never crossed his mind.

S'okay. I have a mint or two left in the bowl on my desk here. That will suffice. *sigh*


My Snapple cap says August has the most births of all the months. Which is funny, because I only have one birthday on my list in August. My year is front-loaded, with five each in January and February, and four in March.


I read in both Entertainment Weekly and Parade magazines this weekend about government encroachment into television programming and film ratings (and/or related issues). The EW column talked about how lots of parents will take their kids to see Hostel: II because it's "only" rated R, and that's a reason to just do away with the rating system 'cause it doesn't work. And Parade addressed the FCC's interest in regulating the amount of violence on TV by actually dictating content.

First, any parent who needs an NC-17 rating to avoid taking their five-year-old to a horror movie, especially one with the horrendous levels of torture reported in Hostel: II, is criminally negligent. Much as I would like to stand outside the theater and tell them that, though, it's not my place. Nor is it the government's. I think the rating system is as good as it can get, and we'd be much better off trying to educate people than to regulate them. Those who care can get the information they need from existing processes. Those who don't care won't ever care.

I know it's harder to keep your kids from watching stuff on TV without your knowledge. But our TiVo system's ratings/parental controls combination is working fine for us. As is the fact that we have raised sensitive, self-regulating kids who don't want to see images that are inappropriate for them. If we can do it, anyone can.

And even if they can't...I know there are solid studies that show exposure to violence promotes it in kids, and interferes with learning self control. The biggest argument I ever had with my husband was back in college, when he said violent video games and TV shows were no big deal. He stormed out of the room; I flipped him off through the window. I won, as here we are 17 years later, my philosophy in the lead. But I know some of my kids' friends are watching the stuff I don't let mine watch, and they're not going around beating people up. Look at some of the movies that were PG when we were kids, and compare it to the fare out now. Remember the cartoons we watched? The vast majority of us turned out A-OK.


Parade also has an article that states that in contrast to the independent loneliness of America's historical "heroes,"

The science of the past decade has demonstrated that love, companionship and community are woven deeply into our DNA. Emotional connection is a biological imperative, and we pay a high price for ignoring it. Isolation is what's unnatural--and deadly.

Science aside, romance authors have been saying this for a lot longer than a decade.

I also think that in my own generation, at least, the stoic, "I feel nothing" male has no place. Most of the men I know have no problems making connections with others, talking about their feelings, and even showing those feelings. We see it, too, in the popular entertainment that is the barometer of our national tone. In the character-driven shows, at least (and the reality shows!), men have no problem saying "I love you" or expressing their anger and the reason for it. Even if they don't say it, they at least explore it inside themselves. And I think for an actor to be able to convey emotion, they have to know how to feel it. That might be naive of me, but it can't be universally untrue.

So. Make friends, fall in love, talk things out, and live a longer, more satisfying life. And if you're not sure how, read some romance novels.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Kyle XY (Spoilers)

I've been trying to keep this to myself, because it's nothing new. Everyone knows I love Lost, that even though the quality of the show fell off this year, I have full trust in Damon and Carlton, blah blah blah. I got pissed at Tim Kring for comparing Heroes to Lost and claimed it was better. Aside: Heroes ended the season at 35 to Lost's 20 in the ratings, and Kring created the cardinal sin of admitting they wrote the finale the way they wrote it not because it served the story, but because that's the way they wanted it.

So here's yet another executive producer, this time for Kyle XY, bashing a very popular show to try to make hers look better:

"Unlike LOST, where it seems like they’re just making it up, we actually know what the secret of KYLE XY is."

I watched the first season of Kyle XY on DVD last week. It was okay. I found it very slow much of the time. The redundant and unnecessary voiceover was annoying, and any assumption on the part of a show's makers that I am stupid makes me not want to keep watching. But it did improve over the very short (only 10 episodes) season. They had a lot of growth in certain characters (Declan is my favorite). I really liked Kyle's abilities, as little as they showcased them, and I looked forward to the second season because someone mentioned that we were supposed to see a lot more of that in season two.

The executive producer also said “the answer to Kyle’s existence actually opens a completely new direction for the show. It’s not the end of the series… it’s just the beginning.”

Coulda fooled me. In fact, the season premiere felt like a series finale. Kyle's creator was killed, Kyle went back to the place that was home, and the evil people were blown up. The "big answers" were totally predictable. Well, okay, not the extended gestation part, that was interesting, but duh, it was a bit obvious he was created. I don't see this "completely new direction" she mentioned. Sure, XX survived the blast, but in the episode that was like the one little element they throw in to imply there could have been more, if only the show had been allowed to continue.

So here's what I expect:

Kyle will continue to make lame and obvious observations about humans while he tries to "discover himself"

The Tragers continue to lavish him with love and resentment in equal amounts

XX becomes the enemy and wooooo, Kyle has someone to fight with the same abilities he has

I'll keep watching. It's a diversion, and not horrible like Painkiller Jane. And very little else is on, with Studio 60 winding up and making me mourn. It's on ABC Family, which automatically lowers expectations. But I wouldn't care one bit if it went off the air.

So it figures there's no chance of that.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #12

Thirteen Things in My Office That Probably Are Not In Yours

1. A Coaster With Texas On It

2. A License Plate With My Name On It

3. A Lord of the Rings Puzzle

4. A Poster of the Double SuperBowl Cover of Patriots Football Weekly

5. A Handmade Quilt With My Picture (and family photos) On It

6. Genuine Original Foxboro Stadium Dirt

7. Jack from Lost (Christmas present from J)

8. The Cover of My First Book, Framed

9. A Collage of Stuff Related to My Birth (in England)

10. A Very Sweet, But Very Dumb Dog

11. Fred, My Non-Paranormal Muse

12. Merlin, My Paranormal Muse

13. Lots

and Lots

and Lots

of Legolas!

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

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The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Copyright Infringement

There's been a lot around the Internet (mostly LiveJournal, from what I've seen) about photos and audio clips from the theater production last week of "A Few Good Men" in Dallas. Some people have been trying to point out that recordings of any kind are copyright infringement and against the law, as well as poor theater etiquette.

I love how the "theater etiquette" part seems to take precedence in the arguments over the "breaking the law" part. But it's fact that the script and the performance are both protected under copyright law. Recording or taking pictures for your own use is a violation. Posting that stuff on the Internet is a bigger one, and does deliberate harm (even if you do not make money--there are other ways to "gain" from such posting).

What's even more amusing is that the parties discussing this issue are part of a broader fandom that focuses on a creative effort in which one of the actors is involved. And this fandom has, of course, a huge fanfiction component.

And fanfiction is violation of copyright.

Just sayin'.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Changing Attitude

I started a whiny post about how stupid it was to come to the pool so soon after last week's bombardment when I hate shrill, screaming crowds and I also hate being splashed. And I couldn't write today. And I got the orthodontist bill. Blech.

But I decided I didn't want a whiny post. At least, not a whole one.

"Renegade" is playing over the pool's loudspeakers now. How can I be whiny when the best song used to best effect in Supernatural is on?

When I get home I (hopefully) have a copywriting project to do. I thought I'd have it done this morning, but I didn't have everything I needed. Then we have to have dinner, and if I'm disciplined, I'll read through my WIP to be ready to start writing new tomorrow.

But I don't think I'll be able to read through the whole thing at once this evening, and even if I could...well, I'm not feeling very disciplined, either. Oh, and I have to go to the grocery store. Dammit.

And thus summer begins. There is always an obstacle. The kids needing to be fed, or driven somewhere. The house being unclean. Laundry and dishes piling up faster and dirtier than during the school year. And even finding time to write, but not being prepared to. (Like, I could be working on the book right now, instead of typing this blog post at the pool, but I can't see my laptop well enough in this bright light and I can't do revision on the Neo.)

Okay, that's the problem set-up. Now the solution:

Work harder.



Stop whining.


Sunday, June 10, 2007

The End of the Insanity

It wouldn't be completely true to say I'm not a people person. I can spend all day interacting with friends online. I have family and friends I love to spend time with. But the energizing effect of being with any of those people is very finite. Being surrounded by dozens to hundreds of people in varying levels of crowded and/or loud conditions is incredibly draining. Being unable to find time alone, moreso.

Thus is the last week of school the worst of the year for me. It's not like any of it is difficult or anything. It's just a constant drain with no replenishment.

But it's all over now. Rehearsals and dance recital are done, with no significant hitches. Soccer games are finally over, though we're already focusing forward on preparation for the fall season. House guests have waved goodbye and headed home. And in two hours, my kids will be asleep.


I did get a small recharge last night, after a pretty cranky day. I went with my father and husband to see Ocean's Thirteen, which was pure delight. I didn't dislike the second movie, though it definitely had replaced the crisp winkiness of the first movie with a smug self-congratulations that diminished it. This new one, though, returned, as much as any sequel can, to the tone and fun of the original.

For someone who has seen Ocean's Eleven many times, this one is a bit easier to read. But knowing where it's going doesn't make it any less fun to get there. Predicting who people really are or why they are there is part of the charm. The relationships are as comfortable, and even more important, given the reason they are all together. I heartily recommend this film, especially if you hated the last one.

Tomorrow is the real start of summer vacation. I have 210 pages to write by July 7, and I'm determined to start by reading through and revising the 90 pages I've already begun. Wish me luck!

And luck to all of you, working or not, who are home with their kids all summer.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Extremes of Service

I got a new computer recently, as you may know. I was dumb and paid for an IEEE somethingsomethingsomethingsomething that has something to do with digital transfer or something about which I'm clueless. But what I really needed was an IEEE somethingelsesomethingelsesomethingelsesomethingelse, aka a parallel port. I contacted Dell via their live chat, the guy offered a solution that doesn't work for my printer, and proceeded to immediately find me four options at third-party retailers. The entire thing took maybe ten minutes, tops. I love well-trained, helpful people who know how to do their jobs.

In contrast, I recently tried to add a bank account to my PayPal account. There are four fields on the screen: bank name, routing number, account number, and repeat account number. I got an error message that said the First Name had to be letters, numbers, spaces, or hyphens only. I e-mailed PayPal customer service. They sent back a cheerful response telling me how to add a bank account to my account. I said no, they DIDN'T solve my problem, they just repeated their own FAQ files, and I still got the error message. Today I got a message from a new "person" who said "in looking at your account history I see your problem is solved. Have a nice day!"



I have spent the last two days running nonstop. Cleaning, shopping, cooking (okay, doing the Wendy's drive-thru), preparing for dress rehearsal, recording dress rehearsal (badly), more cleaning, laundry, running the kids all over town. My dad and stepmother will be here in one to two hours, I have soccer camp for Number Two tonight, tomorrow is the dance show, for which I am a backstage Mom (*screaming stress*). And there's a soccer game on Sunday.

I love my family and enjoy spending time with them, which I haven't done in a year. The backstage stuff is never as bad as I anticipate it being, and everything goes smoothly even if we're rushing nonstop. The cleaning is done, and I may have some time to read at camp tonight.

So why won't my nerve endings stop vibrating?

All in all, I'd much rather be here.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #11

Thirteen Reasons I'm Glad Tomorrow Is The Last Day Of School,
Despite The Whole, Going-Insane-While-Trying-To-Keep-
Time-To-Work Thing

1. Sleeping "In"
Last summer I felt guilty every day for not getting up at 7:00 when my husband did, but I'm just not a morning person--I am wholeheartedly a night person. So I usually got up at 8:00. Which is a helluva lot better than 6:21 a.m.

2. Having Help With Cleaning
My kids like me being home because they were tired of 6 and 10 years, respectively, of "summer camp" (i.e. day care). They refuse to let me sign them up for very many activities. Nonetheless, we do wind up with a schedule. And part of that schedule is cleaning some part of the house every day. They also take over full responsibility feeding the animals and emptying the dishwasher.

3. Spending Time With My Kids
Some people won't believe this, but you have to break it down. I definitely love my kids. I'm proud of them, and I'm doing my best to make them grow up into good people. There are some things I enjoy doing with them (bike rides and movies, for example). But I'm not a "playing" Mom. I don't want to spend tons of random time hanging out and doing things that don't interest me. Consequently, I spend the entire school year feeling guilty for any afternoon that I come back to my computer after they get home from school. All the forced togetherness during the summer gives me plenty of quality time so I can feel less guilty about the time I don't spend.

4. Camp Nana
For most of the summer weeks, my mother-in-law takes the kids overnight on Tuesday. She gets them at some time Tuesday (sometimes late morning, sometimes late afternoon) and keeps them until Wednesday evening. That full writing day is soooo appreciated when it's rare.

5. Date Nights
Goes along with Camp Nana. I get some quiet time with my husband and get to see some movies we wouldn't normally get to see together. We don't go out every single week, but even the ones at home in different rooms are calm and restful and we feel connected.

6. Diminished Schedule
There is so much less to do in the summer! We do still have soccer camp going on for the next seven Fridays for Number Two, and Number One will start practices in July, and they each have a class or two, and Number One has swimming lessons, and we have some doctor and dentist appointments and Number Two's orthodontia. But trust me, that's a vastly diminished schedule.

7. Harry Potter
I can't tell you how geeked I am for July. The fifth movie will be a decent appetizer, but I don't expect much from it. It's just a great way to pass the time. But the book. I listen to Jim Dale's performance rather than reading the book itself, and I tell you, July 21st can't come fast enough.

8. The BEACH!
We go on vacation in August, to Myrtle Beach. J's choice, gifted to us by the in-laws as they have a time share down there now. I can't recall ever being to any southern beaches, so I am setting my expectations really low. I'm used to New England waters--cooling off, bodysurfing, etc.--and I have a feeling we'll have flat, calm water, extreme humidity (well, there's always humidity, we're at the BEACH), and bathwater temperatures that do not refresh. Anyone who has been there, feel free to disabuse me of my notions. :)

9. Supernatural Summer
I'm going to watch both the first two seasons, every Thursday between now and the start of season 3 or until I finish, whichever comes first. Why, yes, I have seen every episode multiple times already. So?

10. More Reading Time
I have an unacceptable mind set that is telling me finding good writing time will be difficult this summer. Part of that stems from experience, part from the knowledge that my full-time writer friends with kids don't plan to do as much work during the summer. So I hope to read a lot more books than I've been managing.

11. Netflix
My Netflix account got a little disused over the last half of the television season this year. I will concentrate on catching up a bit. I am currently watching Kyle XY (have only seen two episodes so far, not that impressed) and next up is season 3 of Entourage. Plus there are a ton of movies I haven't seen yet.

12. Movies
Okay, maybe cheating a little because I mentioned this under two other items, but summer movies are one of my great loves. Yes, I adore good blockbusters. That means well written, well acted, and well directed. I'm pretty picky, though I've relaxed my standards a bit. Fantastic Four and X-Men 3 were great disappointments in past years. But it's not so much the quality of the film as the entire experience. The darkening theater, the big screen and surround sound, the trailers and the anticipation as the movie starts. What adventure will it take me on? This happens all throughout the year, of course, and some of my top favorites weren't released anywhere close to summer. But summer movies always follow a barren winter/spring, and there are many more possibilities.

13. Long Days, Longer Evenings, and Anticipation of the Fall
I love living in a part of the country where things change. There's something to appreciate about every season, and each one makes the next even better to reach. I'm not exactly counting the days to August 27th and the first day of school, but I am looking forward to it.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


There's a high school football game coming up next week called the Big 33 Football Classic. It's the 50th game played between the best high school football players in Ohio and Pennsylvania. I always kind of dismissed it as more hype than substance. An excuse to party for a week, and one of those things riding on tradition. But I just read an article about it, and it said there has never been a SuperBowl without a Big 33 alum in it.

Huh. Who knew?

The weather this week has been absolutely stellar. After last week's stifling 90-degree temperatures, we've been in the 70s all this week and down below 50 last night. We've had some rain, but nice rain, and some wind, but undamaging wind. And right now I have a perfect breeze and a kitty in my open window.

If only it could stay like this.

Speaking of kitties...we've taken down the gate that kept them from coming downstairs into the finished basement. (Reference blogs from June to October 2006 and the Saga of the Carpet-Loving Cat) I can't tell if Frisbee has started peeing down here again, or if it's old odors, which tend to be pretty strong when I do laundry.

Anyway, the cats have been spending much of the day with me now that they can. And Frisbee has volunteered to be my paper shredder. I keep telling her I need those swim lesson forms, but she hasn't been listening well.

Samhain Publishing is having a first line contest. I've been keeping track of the ones I like most. As of the moment I'm writing this, they have 204 entries. I've noted 18 that I like the most, but there are a lot more that are still really good.

Here's the really amusing part. Out of 204 entries, 27 mention death, not including those that use it euphemistically. That's 13%! Protagonists dead, dead bodies, angels of death, they've got it all covered. And only 14 entries (6.8%!) mention sex! Though a couple more mention condoms.

I wonder if the percentage will carry through to other rounds?

The networks are trying to suck me in again. They cancel Jake 2.0, then dangle a similar premise (Chuck) in front of me and add Adam Baldwin, making it very difficult for me to ignore.

Worse, they do a remake of The Bionic Woman. Talk about the nostalgia card. I was Jamie Sommers. My best friend, David Pleu (Plue? Pleau? I don't know, I was six. It sounded like Ploo), was Steve Austin. And my poor baby brother was Oscar Goldman. Every time. He's still traumatized.

I'm holding to my vow not to watch any new shows at the beginning of the season, though. I will record them for a minimum of four weeks and listen to the buzz before I watch. If the ratings are low, I won't start watching until there are at least 13 episodes. Thirteen is enough to have some level of satisfaction and blunt the sadness. Less than that, for a really good show (i.e. Kitchen Confidential, which got 5 episodes before cancellation but made DVD and which I LOVED) just infuriates. And I'm done with infuriation.

It occurs to me that it's only new shows that networks yank unceremoniously. If a show gets a second or third or more season, they are allowed to finish it off. Even an early finale (ref. The O.C.) gets announcement and an ability to control the ending. Not, like, getting one of the main characters shot, cliffhangering the episode, and then terminating without notice.

Okay, that's enough procrastination. On to Hummingbird!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Goals Progress, May

May was a crazy month. I show signs of slacking off.

After saying we wouldn't talk about the weight, I lost a couple of pounds. Average down 7, which isn't the 22 of my goal, but hey, it's better than nothing! My pants, which are always snug out of the dryer and way loose by the time they go into the laundry basket, are now not so snug. Kind of amazing. Would be a good feeling if I weren't walking around with baggy-butt all the time.

I skipped 5 days of exercise in May, and some of the days I counted were barely acceptable. I'm still ahead, though, and another amazing thing--after doing a couple of weeks with no weight training and only 15-minute walks most of the time, I expected to be weaker going back into the gym. Not only was I stronger (leg pressing 200+ now!), but my cardio is better. I used to hit 168 with the pulse meter on the treadmill. Now, even at higher speed and incline, I'm not getting above 145. I guess sometimes you need to slow it down a little, let your body solidify after the previous hard work.

I read 8 books in May. But I am down 4.5 from my goal. That will be hard to make up. Not because 4.5 books is so many, but because I can't seem to read any faster/find more time. I'm tempted to spend this last week of school reading instead of writing. (Gasp! Don't tell!)

Speaking of writing...

22,435 words for May. Short of the 29,167 per month I should have. And I'm now in a full-goal deficit of 30,416. Most of what I wrote in May was nonfiction projects. I didn't say at the beginning of the year that my writing goal was only FICTION words. :) And if I wasn't doing the copywriting I would have more fiction words. But for the first time, I'm thinking it's possible I won't make my goal! And that's just unacceptable.

No progress on the household goal yet. Probably July we'll get started, I think.

So how many of you who did set annual goals are keeping up with them?

Sunday, June 03, 2007


MaryF tagged me again. Good thing, too, 'cause I've had nothing to say for too long.

No, I'm not sick. Shush.

Two names you go by:
1. Natalie
2. Nuj

Two things you are wearing right now:
1. Pink t-shirt with a dainty little bow at the bottom of the V-neck
2. Denim capris

Two things you would want (or have) in a relationship:
1. independence
2. connection

Two of your favorite things to do:
1. Read
2. Watch Supernatural

Two things you want very badly at the moment:
1. Jensen Ackles
2. Popcorn

Two pets you had/have:
1. Brandy was my first dog, who was born shortly before I was
2. Papaya was my first cat, given to me by a guy dating my mother

Two things you did last night:
1. Read Entertainment Weekly
2. Went to see Pirates of the Caribbean again

Two things you ate today:
1. sloppy Joes
2. cracked pepper and sea salt potato chips

Two people you last talked to:
1. my husband
2. Number Two

Two things you’re doing tomorrow:
1. Reading through the 90 written pages of Hummingbird
2. Working out at Planet Fitness

Two longest car rides:
1. Albany to Delaware, Ohio, the first time I headed for college
2. Mechanicsburg, PA, to Cape Cod, for my cousin's wedding--12 hours when it should have been 8

Two favorite holidays:
1. Mother's Day
2. Christmas

Two favorite beverages:
1. Water
2. Tea

Four things About ME!

Things you may not have known about me:
1. When I was a kid, my friend Tammy Moran and I would "make movies." We'd plot them, cast them, and act them out. I may have some of the plots and titles in a box somewhere.

2. I hate wearing bras. As soon as I think I won't be going out or having anyone in for the rest of the day, it comes off.

3. I have the remnant of a bruise on my left shin that I got in May 2006.

4. When I was six or seven I forgot my glasses at school, and was so afraid of what my mother would say I lied and told her they'd done a vision screening. She was mad that they hadn't notified her and called to complain. BUSTED!

Four jobs I have had in my life:
1. Em-Kay Dry Cleaner and Laundromat, Valatie, NY (it was still there two summers ago when we swung through on our way home from Vermont)--1988, end of senior year, then the summer

2. Pizza demonstrator at Kroger's--1989, spring semester

3. Valentine's By the Sea--concession stand on Long Island Sound, summer 1989

4. Olan Mills--calling locals to sell in-home photo packages, lasted two days in 1991

Four movies I would watch over and over:
1. Pirates of the Caribbean
2. Lord of the Rings
3. Princess Bride
4. Monty Python and The Holy Grail

Four places I have lived:
1. North Chatham, NY
2. Benton Harbor, MI
3. Southwick, MA
4. South Ruislip, England (and 13 other places in 4 other towns/states)

Four of my favorite foods:
1. popcorn
2. ice cream
3. snow crab legs
4. garlic mashed potatoes

Four places I’d rather be right now:
1. Misquamicut, Rhode Island
2. A Jason Manns concert
3. A meeting with the editor who just bought my book
4. Glacier National Park

I tag:

Jody, to give her something exciting to do

Misty, because she didn't do it last time, and I don't think she even READS this blog anymore

Bicky, so she doesn't have to think so hard about a blog post

Monica, because I think her answers will be really interesting