Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 Book List

Every year since 2007 I've tracked my reading in my little red book.  That book is one of my prize possessions. It's a great resource when I want to give recommendations, or double check if I've read a book or not before buying or putting it on hold at the library.  Plus, it's fun to look back every once in a while and see what I've read.

I have a few rules for my list.  First, it has to be a while book.  If I only read a few chapters or a couple stories out of an anthology it doesn't count.  Also, only books I'm reading for the first time go on the list.  My regular re-reads of The Blue Castle or The Westing Game don't count.  Neither do all those Vorkosigan books that I'm re-reading before starting on the new one.  Without these rules my list would be much, much longer.  But the rules make me happy, and it's my list so what the hell.

Without further ado, my 2010 reading list:

1.  Home Is Where the Wine Is- Laurie Perry
2.  Shiver- Maggie Stiefvater
3.  Skin Trade- Laurell K. Hamilton
4.  Laced With Magic- Barbara Bretton
5.  The Convenient Marriage- Georgette Heyer
6.  The Magic Knot- Helen Scott Taylor
7.  Fired Up- Jayne Ann Krentz
8.  If He's Sinful- Hannah Howell
9.  Divine Misdemeanors- Laurell K. Hamilton
10.  Suite Scarlett- Maureen Johnson
11.  A Matter of Class- Mary Balogh
12.  My Sister the Vampire #1: Switched- Sienna Mercer
13.  Uneven- Anah Crow
14.  The Comeback Kiss- Lani Diane Rich
15.  Once Dead, Twice Shy- Kim Harrison
16.  The Reluctant Widow- Georgette Heyer
17.  Going Gray- Anne Kreamer
18.  The Rules of Gentility- Janet Mullany
19.  Ash- Malinda Lo
20.  Devil's Bride- Stephanie Laurens
21.  A Poisoned Season- Tasha Alexander
22.  Lord Braybrook's Penniless Bride- Elizabeth Rolls
23.  Alice I Have Been- Melanie Benjamin
24.  I Kissed a Zombie and I Liked It- Adam Selzer
25.  The Abduction of Julia- Karen Hawkins
26.  In Milady's Chamber- Sheri Cobb South
27.  Mr Impossible- Loretta Chase
28.  The Truth About Lord Stoneville- Sabrina Jeffries
29.  A Rake's Vow- Stephanioe Laurens
30.  The Twelve Sacred Traditions of Magnificent Mothers-In-Law- Haywood Smith
31.  The Murder of King Tut- James Patterson
32.  Wild Ride- Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer
33.  Lessons in French- Laura Kinsale
34.  Bundle of Trouble- Diana Orgain
35.  Skinwalker- Faith Hunter
36.  Flirt- Laurell K. Hamilton
37.  Intertwined- Gena Showalter
38.  Beyond Heaving Bosoms- Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan
39.  A Touch of Dead- Charlaine Harris
40.  The Reckoning- Kelley Armstrong
41.  What the Librarian Did- Karina Bliss
42.  Last of the Ravens- Linda Winstead Jones
43.  Born of Night- Sherrilyn Kenyon
44.  Blue Diablo- Ann Aguirre
45.  Captive of Sin- Anna Campbell
46.  The Cinderella Deal- Jennifer Crusie
47.  Beautiful Creatures- Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
48.  Instant Attraction- Jill Shalvis
49.  Scandal's Bride- Stephanie Laurens
50.  Mistress By Mistake- Maggie Robinson
51.  Blood Cross- Faith Hunter
52.  Darkfever- Karen Marie Moning
53.  Tales of the Otherworld- Kelley Armstrong
54.  The Dead Travel Fast- Deanna Raybourn
55.  The Girl Who Chased the Moon- Sarah Addison Allen
56.  Mistress of the Art of Death- Ariana Franklin
57.  Bloodfever- Karen Marie Moning
58.  Frostbitten- Kelley Armstrong
59.  Faefever- Karen Marie Moning
60.  Dreamfever- Karen Marie Moning
61.  Street Magic- Caitlin Kittredge
62.  The Englor Affair- J. L. Langley
63.  Exit Strategy- Kelley Armstrong
64.  St. Nacho's- Z. A. Maxfield
65.  Wild Heart- Lori Brighton
66.  Handyman- Claire Thompson
67.  Storm Born- Richelle Mead
68.  Exclusively Yours- Shannon Stacey
69.  Something About You- Julie James
70.  Stranded With a Spy- Merline Lovelace
71.  Rules Were Made to Be Broken- Lenore Black
72.  Demonfire- Kate Douglas
73.  What She Deserves- Ellie Marvel
74.  The Last Hellion- Loretta Chase
75.  Made to Be Broken- Kelley Armstrong
76.  The Vorkosigan Companion- Lilian Stewart Carl
77.  Zero at the Bone- Jane Seville
78.  Ten Things I Love About You- Julia Quinn
79.  Changes- Jim Butcher
80.  The Wicked House of Rohan- Anne Stuart
81.  Changeless- Gail Carriger
82.  The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie- Jennifer Ashley
83.  Heart's Sentinel- P.J. Schnyder
84.  Magic Bleeds- Ilona Andrews
85.  Sizzling Sixteen- Janet Evanovich
86.  Dark and Disorderly- Bernita Harris
87.  Maybe This Time- Jennifer Crusie
88.  Bullet- Laurell K. Hamilton
89.  Jungle Heat- Bonnie Dee
90.  Silver Borne- Patricia Briggs
91.  Alien Revealed- Lilly Cain
92.  Allegra Fairweather: Paranormal Investigator- Janni Nell
93.  Draw the Dark- Ilsa J. Bick
94.  What She Needs- Anne Calhoun
95.  Burning Up- Sarah Mayberry
96.  Last Night's Scandal- Loretta Chase
97.  Bayou Moon- Ilona Andrews
98.  Menage on a Train- Alice Gaines
99.  Tonight, My Love- Tracie Sommers
100.  Dark Road to Darjeeling- Deanna Raybourn
101.  Savage Sanctuary- Jacqueline Barbary
102.  Butterfly Tattoo- Deidre Knight
103.  Burning Lamp- Amanda Quick
104.  The Lion of Kent- Aleksandr Voinov and Kate Cotoner
105.  Hunger- Jackie Morse Kessler
106.  Dead in the Family- Charlaine Harris
107.  Motor City Fae- cindy Spencer Pape
108.  Penelope and Prince Charming- Jennifer Ashley
109.  Trust Me On This- Jennifer Crusie
110.  Twas the Night- Sandra Hill, Trish Jensen, Kate Holmes
111.  Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake- Sarah MacLean
112. A Christmas to Die For- Marta Perry

That's it.  That's all she read.  I may knock off a little Doctor Who winter freebie while the house is quiet this afternoon.  If so, I'll come back and add it to the list.  If not, there's always next year!

Irresolute

It's New Year's Resolution time, and as Crusie would say, I got nothin'.  No specific goals.  Nothing special I want to do in the coming year.  Maybe I'm just tired.

Resolutions, ideally, should be a mixture of things we know we can do but just haven't done yet, and things we aren't sure we can do, but we're willing to try.  Right now I have many things that I don't even want to admit I want because it's just setting myself up for failure, and other things that I genuinely have no interest in.

For example, saying I want to write a book would be setting myself up for failure, because right now I barely have the attention span to finish a blog post, let alone a book.  I'm not going to resolve to lose weight, even though I really, really need to, because routine errands outside the house exhaust me.  The thought of doing the kind of exercise required for weight loss makes me want to roll over and go back to sleep.

So instead, there are a few things I'm going to try to do, when I think about it.  I'm going to turn off the computer and read more books, when I think about it.  I'm going to blog more, when I think about it.  I'm going to use the Wii to move a little more, when I think about it.  I'm going to try to be better about keeping up with friends, when I think about it.  I'm going to work on my beaded scarf and sock yarn blankie, when I think about it.  I'm going to put away some of the crap still lingering in the corners of my room from the move, when I think about it.  (You'd think that living with the boxes and suitcases 24/7 would keep this particular project in the front of my mind.  You'd be wrong.  Fibro fog has eaten my brain.)

That's about it, I guess.  If I can just keep putting one foot in front of the other, and maybe make a little bit of progress on the good days, I'll count 2011 as a success.  I guess that's pretty much the definition of success for everyone.  I just have to remember to keep adjusting my ideas of "progress" and "good days" so I can get there, too.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I Swear I'm Not Pregnant

I felt a little off this morning.  Not particularly hungry.  And then this afternoon I was making a batch of toffee for my mom, and all of the sudden I was so nauseous.  The smell of the butter cooking was just killing me.  I ended up pulling it off the heat about 20 degrees early and sitting down with a few pretzels and a ginger ale.  Once I settled down a bit I went back into the kitchen to finish up and raced right back out again.

While I'd been in the kitchen, Mom had been cleaning the bathrooms.  I didn't get more than two steps into the bathroom before the smell of bleach chased me back out again, trying not to retch.

I got a little something in me at dinner and went back to my room.  Mom wanted to make coleslaw for tomorrow night's dinner, and she was worried the vinegar would bother me.  When I came back out a couple hours later to decorate the Christmas tree, I didn't notice any vinegar smell at all.  But the cabbage smell was enough to gag a maggot.

I've got my period right now, and that always makes my Crohn's flare up a bit.  Nausea and other unpleasant digestive symptoms aren't exactly unusual.  But I've never had this sensitivity to smell before.  I hope it goes away overnight, because I can't imagine the next few days will be pleasant if I keep feeling this way.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Huzzah!

The Christmas knitting!  It is done!


Those are the two pair of socks I knit for my father for Christmas.  I finished the last one about 5 minutes ago.  I still need to weave in a few ends on the face cloths I made for my mom and on the scarves I made for my brother's in-laws, but that shouldn't take long.  I hope to take care of the face cloths tonight before I go to bed.  The scarves I can work on tomorrow in front of the rest of the fam, since the in-laws won't be there.

Done, done, finito, done!

Also, I know my hair looks like it survived a recent encounter with a pair of hair clippers, but I promise, it's just pulled back in a pony tail.  It's as long and snarly and multi-colored as it's always been.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Re-Discovering

Last fall, in a burst of creative desperation, I took Lani/Lucy's Discovery class.  I'd just moved away from the home I loved to live with my parents on the other side of the country.  The yankee side.  The class was my attempt to hang on to my image of who I was as a person before my health trampled me.

It wasn't a terribly successful venture, not through any fault of Lani's.  The day after I arrived in Massachusetts my parents got an offer on their house.  What might have been difficult suddenly became impossible.  I attended all the classes, but there was no time or space or energy to do the assignments or participate in any meaningful way.

At about the same time I got the idea for the book review blog, and suddenly my attention was split even further.  About a month ago I decided that I really wanted to get serious about the blog.  I want the reviews to go up like clockwork.  I want to have interesting reading related essays at least a couple times a month.  Good steady content will drive more people to the site and increase comments.  Eventually, it will become what I want it to be: a conversation about books among people who love them.  But that relies on me reading and reviewing at a steady rate, at least once a week.  My current reading project, which should wrap up next week I hope, hasn't allowed that.  But after the first of the year I want to be going great guns.

The desire to review, the personal train wreck of the class, and the fact that I've done basically no fiction writing in the last four years led me to the idea that fiction writing wasn't the dream for me anymore.  I decided to quietly shelve the idea.  Nothing else about my life was what I'd dreamed or hoped or even wanted.  Walking away seemed like the right thing to do.

That, of course, is when the itch returned.  The idea, the very, very small idea.  Someone laughing.  They're happy.  I have not the tiniest clue who they are or what their story might be.  But I think I want to write it.  Just for me.  Not for a publisher.  Not for my imagined future adoring fans.  Just for me. 

My happiest times writing were back when I first started.  Every night I'd come home from work, eat dinner, and then sit down to write on my word processor.  (Did you ever use one of those?  It was like the bastard child of a typewriter and a Speak & Spell.)  Every night I'd work on my story.  I wasn't picturing the beta readers, I wasn't wondering what some editor or agent might think.  I was just telling my story to a very interested party-- me.  I want to go back to that.  I want to write because it's fun and I like it, and damn what anyone else thinks.  But first I need a story.  So I'm going to do Discovery again.

Lani leaves the class recording up and available to class members.  Tonight I downloaded them.  Maybe next week or maybe sometime after the first of the year I'm going to go through them again.  I want to find out who that laughing person is.  I want to know why they were laughing.  And I want to laugh along with them. 

Ordinarily I'd wonder if I was setting myself up for another fall, to do this again after failing so recently.  But you know, it's funny.  It was only two months ago, but it feels like a lifetime.  Like I was a different person then than I am now.  I think there's value for me in those lessons if I just play around with it, take it at my own pace, and see what happens.

I still intend to pull my act together with the book blog.  I feel bad that I haven't been as steady and organized as I would have liked.  (Also, with only two of us reviewing, the work load is much heavier than I anticipated.  If anyone else would like to write a review or two, please let me know.)  I think if I can develop a routine for all of my writing, and that includes blogging here, too, the whole process will smooth out.

It's the getting started that's hard.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Little Mysteries

Something the wonderful Julie said in her comments the other day got me thinking about this.  The odd, random stuff that comes up in conversation sometimes.  The little things that you never would have guessed about someone-- even someone you know well.  I decided to dig around in my personal closet and see if I can find a few to share.

I was in the marching band in high school.  I played the flute.  I still have it, but I don't play it much anymore.  Whenever I do, it scares the cat.  In my four years we won the state competition twice and marched in two national parades-- the Orange Bowl parade and the Fiesta Bowl parade.

My favorite TV show as a kid was The Dukes of Hazzard.  The Best Christmas Ever was the year when it fell on a Friday, and therefore it was both Christmas and Dukes of Hazzard day all in one.  (Although I don't remember actually watching the show that day.  But I sure do remember being excited about it!)  I had the hugest crush on Bo Duke.

I finaled in the first RWA chapter contest I ever entered-- West Houston RWA's Emily.  I was 22 and at my first RWA meeting.  Everyone kept talking about the Emily, but no one actually said what it was.  As the meeting broke up I approached someone-- it turned out to be a pre-published NYT Bestselling Author Kerrelyn Sparks-- and asked what the Emily was.  She said, "It's our chapter contest.  You have to enter!"  So I did.  One judge gave me a perfect score.  Another wrote in the comments that she felt I was ready for publication.  Almost 15 years later and it's still the most success I've had with my writing.  I never did finish that book.

My grandmother was one of the first people ever on TV.  She worked in Philadelphia for a company that was developing the technology.  They needed something to broadcast, so they got their employees together and had a talent show.  My grandmother sang.  (When she wasn't typing or running a switchboard at her day job, she was a professional church soloist.)  Somewhere we have an album with the group photo from her television performance.  Based on the family stories I did a little googling, and I think this is what she did.  I'm pretty sure she worked for Philco.  I'd ask my parents to be sure, but they're asleep right now. ;p

I inherited musical talent from the other side of the family, too.  My great grandfather was an orchestra leader in Philadelphia.  One day he was walking down the street with his wife when he said, "Someday I'm going to play trumpet in that church."  Her response was reportedly, "Honey, that's not our church.  Plus, you don't play the trumpet."  So he learned.  And damned if he didn't play trumpet there professionally one day.

I've been in, I believe 36 out of 50 states.  I've lived in 5 of them-- Pennsylvania, Iowa, Texas, Indiana, and Massachusetts.  I've lived in two of them twice-- Indiana and Texas.  I've made brief forays into the edges of Canada and Mexico (pre-9/11, when you didn't need a passport to cross the border), but other than that I've never left the country.  If I could go anywhere in the world, and silly things like cost, my physical limitations, and the political situation were no barrier, I'd go to see the monuments of Egypt.  It would be cool to see England someday, too.  But if I could only go one place, it would be Egypt.

I never met my paternal grandmother.  She died shortly before I was born.  But she did come to me once, in a dream.  My grandfather, who had died a couple years before, was with her.  I was in high school and one of my best friends had died.  In the dream Mom Mom and Pop Pop were holding hands, and they told me that it was OK, that I didn't have to worry anymore.  Jasper was there, he was safe, and they were looking out for him.  I woke up crying.

My parents were both juniors.  So when they got married they decided that their children would not be named after anyone.  I am Rebecca Lynn and my brother is Jeremy Daniel.  (I insisted on the Daniel.  In fact, according to my parents, I never called him anything but My Jeremy Daniel for the first year of his life.)  Being their first child, Mom and Dad recorded the calls they made to friends and family announcing my birth.  Somewhere, in one of these million and a half boxes we just hauled half way across the country, there is a recording of some great aunt somewhere saying, "Rebecca Lynn?  What kind of name is Rebecca Lynn?"

When I was a kid my dad used to tease me and tell me that he'd wanted to name me Agnella Blossom, but my mom wouldn't let him.

Every year we put our Christmas tree up on Christmas Eve.  (Except for this year when we're going to do it a few days early to make things a little less stressful.)  When we were little Santa put up the tree.  Once we got a little older we were allowed to help put up the tree as a way to help Santa out.  All those millions of other kids to get to, you know.

My brother believed in Santa until late in his elementary years.  In fact, at 32 I still haven't ever heard him admit that he isn't a real, flesh and blood man who comes down the chimney to deliver presents once a year.  (Hey, my brother ain't dumb.  As the pillow sitting on my couch right now says, "Those who don't believe get underwear.")

I learned the basics of knitting from my grandmother as a kid.  She also took a stab at teaching me to crochet the summer before she died.  I wouldn't say it was all that successful if my aim was to learn to crochet.  But as a way to spend time together and be close, it was excellent.

The summer between my freshman and sophomore years in college I started picking up large print books my grandparents at the library.  The first time it was the whim of a moment, and I wasn't really sure what they would like.  So I got an assortment of books, whatever caught my eye.  They loved it.  It turned out they liked "the cat books" best.  (I think they were The Cat Who books by Lilian Jackson Braun.)  What they liked even better, though, was that their granddaughter was interested enough to pick up books for them.  Every week or two I'd pick up the old ones and come back with some new stuff.  There always had to be at least three.  Granddad read faster than Grandmom did, and with only two books they'd fight over who got to read what, when.  They were pills.

Well, that's... quite a lot actually about me and my family.  I don't know if they really rise to the level of mysteries.  They're perfectly well known to me, obviously.  But I thought they were interesting tidbits, at least.

What about you?  Anything interesting you'd like to share?  Write your own blog post if you'd like, and then give us the link in the comments.  I'd love to hear something new and mysterious about you, too!

Sometimes I'm a Jerk, Too

This weekend I did a thoughtless thing, and now I feel like a shithead.

I went out to dinner with my brother and sister-in-law on Friday night.  We laughed and had a really good time.  My brother took my dad to a train show on Saturday (he used to collect N-gauge trains and put up an elaborate train platform every year at Christmas).  And then they sat with my parents at church on Sunday.  It doesn't totally make up for everything that's happened in the last six weeks or so, but it was a big step in the right direction.

So anyway, on Friday night, right in front of my SIL, I told my brother that Mom was making everyone's favorite Christmas cookie and asked him what kind he wanted.  But I didn't ask her what she wanted.  It was thoughtless and rude, and I can't believe I did it.

It seems like a little thing, but I still feel bad about it.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Oh, brother

I'm a bit cheesed off with my brother right now.  It started the weekend we moved in.  The movers delivered everything on Friday, and understandably he had to work.  But instead of coming over on Saturday to help (keeping in mind that this was for his 71 yr old father with Parkinson's, his 63 yr old mother with a not-100%-successful knee replacement, and his 35 yr old sister with pretty significant medical restrictions of my own), he decided to spend the day with his father-in-law, helping him with his model trains.

I can't be the only one who thinks that's shitty.

Since then he's come by probably twice a week on average.  One Saturday he helped us move some stuff to storage.  One evening he helped us buy TVs, and one night later that week he helped us set them up.  (This is more or less what he does for a living.)  Every other time he's come by it's been to hang out, eat a meal that my mother fixed, and go home.  With the exception of the one Saturday and the night we bought the TVs, these have all been nights of his choosing.  No one is demanding his presence.

Once he had plans to take my father to a meeting, which he cancelled last minute.  Dad tried to go by himself.  My mother was terrified the whole time because Dad's night driving has really gone down hill in the last six months.  (I don't know how much longer it's going to be before we're going to have to take away the keys.)  Dad was back home about 20 minutes later.  He knew which intersection he was supposed to be at, but he somehow ended up in the wrong place anyway.  When he couldn't find the building he just came home.  So Dad had the pleasure of being dumped last minute by his son, feeling like crap because he couldn't find a place that he should have been able to find with no problems, and missing a meeting he was really looking forward to.  What was my brother doing that was so important?  Dinking around at church.  And again, no one asked him to make these plans with Dad.  It was his idea, and then he backed out.

Earlier this week he came to dinner and announced what the Christmas plans would be.  Mom was not happy about them, and she questioned him.  In the past, the story has always been that since his MIL's birthday is the 24th, it was super important for them to be down there for Christmas Eve.  She had expected that they'd go down for the 24th and come back to spend Christmas day with us.  Nope.  Just the opposite.  We get Christmas Eve (although they won't be going to Christmas Eve service-- the most important thing for my dad-- because his wife doesn't want to) and an hour or two Christmas morning, and then they're driving down to spend two and a half days with her parents.  Mom, lacking input from them up to this point, had started making plans based on what she thought they might want to do.  The in-laws, on the other hand, were consulted, and my brother and his wife made their plans based on what worked best for that side of the family.  When Mom pushed back on this, questioning the plans, my brother told her that she needed to learn to "compromise".  Excuse me?  I thought compromise was two people sacrificing to come to a mutually acceptable solution.  I'm pretty sure it's not one side telling the other side to shut up and take it.

The next day I called him for something completely unrelated, and the topic wandered into Mom and Dad.  (Mostly Mom, because she does all the talking for the two of them, so she's the one he resents the most.)  I let him know that his making plans and not keeping them was upsetting Mom and Dad.  (He'd also made plans to have dinner with us last Saturday night, knowing Mom was going to make her annual Hanukkah meal (ie: piles of yummy yummy latkes!).  She had announced that she wanted to make the meal and let him pick the night that was best for him.  Then he backed out to go to a party.)  He said he considers all plans tentative.  What that says to me and Mom and Dad is that he's willing to make plans with us until and unless something better comes along.  He's mad that we aren't perfectly fine with him dumping us.  He thinks we should understand that "I will be there" really means "I'll think about it."

There was some other stuff about how he has a life of his own, and he didn't really want Mom and Dad (and presumably by extension, me) moving here.  (Buddy, if you think I want to be here, you've got another think coming.  I hate Indiana.)  He doesn't think he should have drop everything any time they call, and that they should be doing more stuff for themselves. 

Never mind that they kill themselves trying to do stuff before breaking down and asking, and when they do they always fall all over themselves assuring that it works with your plans and schedule, never mind what works best for them.

What I didn't say, but wanted to, was: "They came here to be close to you, you little ass wipe.  If you didn't want them here you should have spoken up sometime in the last year or so, since that's how long you've known they planned to retire here.  And they wouldn't ask for your help (not that you can be bothered to follow through and give it) if they didn't really need it.  They've started hiring people to do some of this stuff because they're sick of waiting for you to get around to doing what you say you're going to do."  Can you tell I was pissed?

I did a lot of deep breathing last night, and watched a lot of Christmas specials, and eventually I calmed down.

Today I emailed him to warn him that if he was thinking about getting Mom an oven thermometer for Christmas (she's been talking about it A LOT for the last few days) that he might want to hold off, because she was talking about getting one this afternoon.  Also, I asked for his Christmas list again.  (Before we moved into deeper waters in our conversation yesterday, he'd told me he was making a list at an online musician's store.)  The guitar place he likes to shop at is running a sale this weekend, so why pay more next week?  He emailed back that he'd already sent us his Amazon list (he did, it has 7 items on it, 5 of which are expensive electronics), and other than that all he wanted was gift certificates to the guitar store.

Right now I'd like nothing better than to tromp over to his house in my steel toed boots and kick him in the taint.

Am I totally off base here?  Am I being way to sensitive here, or is being a real little shit?

Fa La La La La

The Christmas spirit is finally creeping into Huddleston Drive.  Yesterday, with out meaning to, all of my TV was holiday themed.  I watched Tuesday night's episode of Glee, which was entertaining but weird.  Why were Puck and Rachel so enthusiastically going along with all the Christmas music?  Puck, in his own skewed, Puckish way, is very proud of his Jewish heritage.  So why would he shut up now?  And Sue playing out the Grinch story was so hackneyed I couldn't believe what I was seeing.  The bit about Coach Beast and Artie's present from Santa made me cry a little, though.  (But why was she Santa?  That part was straight out of bizarre-ville, too.)

And then Mom wanted to watch the Charlie Brown Christmas special.  Always a favorite around our house.  It was followed up by a Prep and Landing short that was really cute.  Dad slept through the whole thing, and Mom dozed off and on.  I finished the scarf I've been working on for my brother's father-in-law.  Yay!

After they went to bed I took the bag of Christmas refrigerator decorations that Mom found the other day and put them up.  (It wasn't quite the ninja decorating I've been doing so far.  They knew I was going to put them up, they just didn't know I was going to do it last night.)

And then to top off the festivities, I got 6 Christmas cards in the mail yesterday.  It was just the tip of the domestic Christmas card iceberg-- there are many more to go.  (The international cards went out on Monday.  Fingers crossed that the recipients get them before New Year's.)  But it was progress.

Last night, after the not-quite-ninja decorating I sat down and took a good look at the calendar.  Then I took a look at the knitting that has to be done in the next two weeks.  After I stopped hyperventilating, I made a list.  If I stick to the schedule, I should be able to finish all my knitting in time for the big day.  Fortunately for my schedule, my traditional, gotta get it done Christmas movie will be on TV next Friday-- A Very Brady Christmas.  I don't know what it is about that movie, but I always seem to do my best last minute crafting while watching it.  Thank you, TV Programmers!

Today I start with a tissue sweater for my great aunt.  (It's a cozy for those little packs of tissues you put in your purse.)  It looks to be a quickie project, so there should be no problem whipping it up and then doing another half a dozen or so cards.  Maybe I'll even get a jump start on tomorrow's knitting!

It's a hope.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Poor Man's Blog Post

I have many things on my mind right now, but no energy to express them.  So I'm making a list.

1. Long Term Disability called.  They've decided I could work, I just choose not to.  Fuck them.
2. Talked to more medical insurance people today.  I am too fat to qualify for insurance.  Fuck them, too.
3. Talked to old apt manager.  They decided to charge me $135 to clean an apartment that was fully emptied, with nothing more than normal wear and tear, and is scheduled to be completely remodeled, anyway.  Fuck all y'all.
4.  My brother declared at dinner tonight that he and his wife will spend Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with us, and then they're leaving at 11:00am to drive down for Christmas brunch and dinner with the in laws.  Since my brother's idea of "morning" is 1:00pm, I don't think we're going to see much of them on Christmas day.  Mom didn't say too much about it at the time, but I know I'm going to get an earful tomorrow.
5.  My 71 year old father kicked ass on Wii Bowling tonight.  He scored a 189!
6.  I'm pretty sure I officially have all my Christmas shopping done.
7.  I'm about 2/3 of the way through doing my Christmas cards.
8.  I received my first three Christmas cards today!  I'm going to hang them on my door as soon as I find the scotch tape.
9.  It's freaking cold in Indiana.  There is snow.  I would like to go home now.
10.  I'm reading an historical romance right now.  There's some fairly improbable stuff going down, but everything else is so good that you don't notice so much.
11.  I have many more bookish things to say, but I'm having trouble finding the motivation to say them.
12.  Same goes here.  This blog has been shamefully neglected in the last month or so.
13.  I should make a commitment to write on one of the blogs every day, but I know I won't do it.  Maybe I'll try that when it gets closer to New Year's.  I always get excited about new projects and old stuff gets reinvigorated then.

So, that's the Readers' Digest version of what's going on in my head right now.  Aren't you glad you asked?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Big, scary day

Today I had an adventure.  I borrowed my dad's car keys and left the house by myself.  It's the first time I've gone anywhere by myself since Labor Day weekend, when I drove to the airport in Houston and got on the plane.  It's only the second time I've been behind the wheel since then.

It was pretty damn scary at first.  Almost three months is a long time to go without driving on doing anything independently.  I was way out of practice.  The fact that I was driving someone else's car didn't help.  (My car is long gone.  sniffle.)

Mom was in a foul mood this morning, and apparently all day yesterday, too.  (I missed yesterday.  After all the company and Thanksgiving hoopla, I declared Sunday an I'm In My Room, Leave Me Alone day.)  She was upset because she thought she would have all the house done, and there are still boxes everywhere, and she can't find her Christmas stuff, and she was MAD.  So while the 'rents went to the Social Security office to get stuff straightened out, I went shopping.

The two things she specifically mentioned were her Christmas mugs, which she always puts out first thing and are very important to her, and the Advent wreath.  I found some cheap mugs at Michael's, so I was able to take care of that, but the Advent wreath was a bust. 

Michael's had undecorated, do-it-yourself Advent wreathes for a while, but they were sold out when I got there.  And they had one pre-decorated one, but it was way over the top and fugly.  The whole things was covered with purple flowers and white things crusted with glitter.  She would have appreciated the thought (and she damn well better if I'm spending 25 bucks for the ugly thing), but she'd rather die than have something that over done and ugly on her table.

I went to four other places-- four!-- and none of them had ever heard of an Advent wreath.  Even Hobby Lobby, which is Christianville USA, didn't have them or know what they were .  I was beginning to feel like a freak.  I'm not the only one in the world, aside from Michael's Happy Glue Gun Lady, who knows what these things are, right?


One of these puppies.  Light a candle every Sunday in Advent.  You've seen these, right?  I know a lot of people don't go in for the religious aspect of Christmas.  I can't say I worry about it too much myself.  But I grew up with one of these on my table for as far back as I can remember.  My family can't be total weirdos.  There have to be Advent wreaths out there somewhere.  It's just so bizarre to me that I spoke to at least 7 people in 4 different stores, stores that carry all kinds of Christmas decorations and people who work in and stock those departments, and not a one of them even knew what an it was.  Very strange.  I knew that Indiana was the Twilight Zone, but come on.

Anyway, even though I couldn't lay my hands on a non-fugly Advent wreath, I did find a few other Christmassy things to brighten up the place.  One was a small pillow that says "Those who don't believe get underwear."  I was highly amused and had to have it right away.  The fact that it was on sale helped. I got a magnet with a snowman on it that says "snow".  (I collect magnets, so it's always exciting to find a new one.)  And I bought a set of blocks that spell out the word "joy".  Mom has a set of acrobatic elves that spell "Joy" that she always puts on the piano.  My brother and I delight in scrambling them, so that they say "oyj" instead.  One year I hid the J, so it just said "oy!", which I found highly amusing.  So I took the blocks and put them on the piano, out of order, of course.  So far Mom has noticed the mugs, which she couldn't help but notice since I put one at her place at the table, and the pillow, which she also couldn't help but notice because it was on the couch right where she planned to sit.  No one has noticed the magnet or the blocks yet.

The weather is supposed to be cold and crappy for the next several days (plus I totally wore myself out shopping and will need a couple of days of rest to recover), so I think that's all the stealth decorating for a little while.  I may call Michael's and see if a new shipment of the undecorated Advent wreaths have come in.  If they have, I may pick up one of their decorated wreaths for the front door, too.  There was one there that I liked.  And maybe I'll get a fake poinsettia, if I can find one that's bushy enough.  (Not a real one if I can avoid it-- they're poisonous to cats, and Trouble is dumb enough to eat the whole damn thing.)

This place may start to look a lot like Christmas, whether Mom finds any of her decorations or not!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Twits

I have nothing of any depth to say today, so this is going to a group of tweet-ish length updates, or Twits.

Julie, yes my birthday was Monday!  It's the first birthday I've spent with family in years.  One of my favorite breakfast, one of my favorite dinners, birthday cake-- yellow cake with chocolate frosting and Homemade Vanilla Blue Bell Ice Cream (the best ice cream in the world and formerly available only in Texas), a dozen roses from my parents, and a bunch of birthday cards.  It was a good day.

But my hand still hurts.

I was in the bathroom earlier this evening when I heard, "Bad cat!  What did you do?"  Turns out, what the cat did was get up on the table and chew up four out of the 12 hamburger buns in the package.  I mean just totally annihilated them.  It was bound to happen sometime.  I warned Mom that he does this.  She may be annoyed, but she also thought it was funny.  She had a heck of a time telling me about it without laughing.  Mom always smirks at how Troub has Dad wrapped around his little paw, but he's got her, too.

Tomorrow we get my stuff out of storage.  It's lived there since I moved to Massachusetts Labor Day weekend.  I can't wait to sleep in my own bed and set up my Wii.  I want to see my Wee Peeple dolls again and have my own clothes hamper.  Unfortunately, this means I'm going to be up to my eyeballs in boxes or the foreseeable future.  Pray for me.

Things are... not going well for my brother's marriage.  I would not be surprised if she files for divorce sometime after Thanksgiving.  You never know, things could work out after all.  But I'll be shocked if she doesn't file by the end of January.  Ordinarily I wouldn't mention any of this, as it's most certainly Not My Business.  But it's causing drama with the 'rents.  If he does what he was talking about doing earlier today and moves to another state, there will be an explosion of epic proportions.  Mom has been gloating for weeks about all of us being together again.  She is going to lose her shit if he takes off now that we've moved across the country to be here.  Maybe this is just early-onset divorce crazy, and he'll live on our couch for six months instead.

I finally broke down and ordered my new clothes today.  I got:

2 zip front hooded sweatshirts
1 zip front, floor length, hooded bathroom (I spend so much time lounging in the one I already had, I decided to get another)
3 long sleeve tshirts
3 thermal shirts
1 long thermal henley sleep shirt
3 long sleeve sleep shirts
3 flannel sleep pants
3 layered look tshirts
2 pair of jeans, hopefully the right size this time

So, basically, I should be drowning in warm, cozy clothing by the end of next week.  Yay!

Extra points if any of it comes in on Wednesday.  They're predicting snow here for Thanksgiving.  Yuck.

I think that's everything for now.  I tell you what, this may be a particularly boring blog to read, but I could crank out these little updates all day.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Moment of Grace

I hadn't been out of the house for a couple of days, so this afternoon I decided to go grocery shopping with my mom.  I made it as far as the driveway, where I committed one of the greatest pratfalls of all time.  It wasn't pretty, ya'll.  The only thing I could think as I sprawled across the pavement was, "oh, please, don't let me have broken anything."  Because, of course, I don't have any insurance.  Fortunately, while the palm of my left hand is pretty shredded, and the whole hand is stiff and swollen, there's no sign of broken bones.  Whew.

And speaking of graceful, Julie mentioned in the comments getting food all over her sleeves.  I don't have that problem so much, but I do have an amazing ability to dribble food down my front.  I don't think I have a single shirt that doesn't have a stain somewhere.  Since I'm getting new clothes, it's time to do something about it.  When we saw my great aunt last month, she had something she called her "pearls", and I plan to try to make something similar for myself.  Auntie's is a string of pearl beads with an alligator clip at each end.  You sling the strand around your neck and clip each end to the napkin instead of tucking it into your shirt.  The difference is that I plan to knit a length of icord instead of using beads.  Sock yarn should make a thin enough cord, and the colors should be a lot of fun.  When I told Mom what I was planning to do, she decided she wanted one, too.  So now I have a new project, as soon as the swelling goes down.  ugh.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Upon the Horns of a Dilemna

It's time to share another secret with you all.  Despite my love of Project Runway and America's Next Top Model, I'm pretty ambivalent about my own clothing.  I have few requirements, and none of them have anything to do with looking stylish.

The first problem is fit.  I am a fat girl.  I'm not being coy.  I'm not talking about needing to lose 10 lbs or comparing myself to models on the covers of magazines.  The last time I was on a scale I was over 300 lbs, and that kind of weight comes with clothing challenges.  Shirts are constantly too short, revealing, if you'll forgive my mixing of metaphors, my fish belly white muffin top.  It's embarrassing.  If you notice us fat girls constantly yanking down the hems of our shirts, that's why.  They're just too damn short.

With pants I often find them unacceptably tight over the gut, hips, and tush, but ridiculously wide from mid-thigh down.  Sometimes the waistband is tight also, but more often it gapes ridiculously.  Not only does the skin tight stuff over the tummy, butt, and thighs emphasize exactly what we'd like to pretend isn't there, but with the Crohn's anything that presses against my stomach is painful.  So the challenge becomes finding pants that I can sit and stand in without swimming in them or being cut in half.

Those are two of the *ahem* biggest problems I have with finding clothes.  The next problem is one of availability and standards.  Have you noticed how often big women wear unnatural fabrics and sequins?  This is not by choice.  It's exceptionally hard to find sane clothing made from natural fabrics for plus sized women in stores.  There are catalogs, but you never know what you're getting until it arrives.  Will the quality be good?  Will it fit right or will it be a complete disaster?  And because fat clothes are apparently a specialty item, even though a growing portion of the population need them, they tend to be more expensive.  It makes sense, I guess.  Significant demand, plus limited supply, means higher prices and fewer bargains.

Well, I didn't mean to rant.  I guess I had a few things to get off my chest.  The real reason I started this post was because I have some wardrobe building to do, and I'm feeling stuck.  I've already ordered a few things, a couple of which fit and are exactly what I was looking for.  A couple were what I want, but the sizes were completely ridiculous.  I bought jeans in two different styles, figuring one or the other would work for me.  I followed the sizing instructions.  And they both look like clown pants.  I followed the same sizing instructions, and the flannel pants and thermal top sets I bought are just right.  Go figure.

Anyway, I'm going to post a few things, and I'd love to get your opinion.  Keep in mind that I spend 90% of my time at home, so comfy is the word of the day.  When I do go out it will be casual-- jeans if I can figure out what size fits me and a basic top.  And I've moved from toasty Texas to the frigid north, so warmth is an issue.  I'm doing most of my shopping at OneStopPlus.com, but I can also get basics, like long sleeve tshirts, for a good price at Walmart.com.  They might not carry the sizes I need in the store, but I can sometimes find them online.

So, here's some of what I'm looking at.  I'd like at least a couple more pair of flannel pants for lounging around the house. 
Option one
Option two

I'm not absolutely in love with any of the color combinations.  There's a sage thermal top that matches the sage flannel pants in option one, but I like the top much more than the bottoms.  The french lilac combo of option two is all right, and you can get discount on both pieces when you buy a long sleeve cotton tshirt to match.  But again, I'm not totally sold.  (I prefer more vibrant colors.)  The red/white/black check in option two is all right, but I'm not sure the large square checks are the most flattering.

I do really like the yellow-with-blue-flowers version of this thermal, but several people mention in the reviews that it's scratchy.  I'm a delicate flower, and if it's scratchy I probably won't wear it.

scratchy thermal?
And I like the layered-look crewneck tee, which comes in colored sleeves and white sleeves.

colored
white

I'm spoiled for choices with these-- there are a million colors so it's hard to make a decision.  They're offering $4 off if you buy two or more.

And I really like the look of this sherpa sweatshirt.  Looks snuggly and warm.  I'm even pretty sure what color I want-- golden wheat.  I'm just not sure I want to spend the money.

sherpa sweatshirt

I know this is dumb.  We're just talking about around the house slouchware.  But funds are limited, and I can't try any of this stuff on before buying (although I can return it if necessary), and I need some help.  So help!  Which of these should I get?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fun With Drugs

I just finished pricing my meds at all the local pharmacies.  Fun, fun, fun.  I have no health insurance at the moment, and the future does not look promising on that front, so I'm paying for all my meds out of pocket.  Let me tell you, this shit ain't cheap.  If you've got prescription drug coverage, raise a glass to your insurance provider.  You could be paying much, much more.

I was a little surprised at first how widely the prices varied at different pharmacies.  Then I thought I would end up with a different prescription at every pharmacy in town.  But it turns out that the best prices are evenly split between two places-- Sam's Club and Walgreen's, with the W card.  All but one of the worst prices are at CVS.  The cheapest refills will save me a little more than $150 over the most expensive ones.  That's a pretty big difference when you consider it's the exact same pills in either bottle.

On a brighter note, I remembered something about the trip from Massachusetts to Indiana that I forgot to tell you.  (I have Swiss cheese for brains, I swear.)  As we were driving through Pennsylvania we passed about a million deer crossing signs.  But someone in the Keystone State has a sense of humor, so they looked a little something like this (not my picture):


Happy Wednesday, y'all!

Monday, November 8, 2010

I'm Back!

Glory, hallelujah!  We have achieved internet!  I went approximately 9 days, four hours without any kind of communication with the outside world.  Please God, never again.  It may have been the cold, dry air that I'm totally not used to anymore, but I choose to believe it was the lack of internet that has been causing this all over body itching.  Hopefully it will go away now that I have unlimited access to all the LOLcats and porn a person could ever hope to consume.  (Oh, pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease!  I'm not kidding about the itching part.)

We've only met a couple of the neighbors so far.  Next door we have two sisters, somewhere in their 60s I'd guess.  There are raspberry bushes at the back of our property lines, and they brought us a jar of their homemade raspberry preserves.  This stuff is good.  As of breakfast this morning, the preserves are already gone.  I'm hoping if we return their glass jar, they'll share again next year.  Either that or Mom's going to have to take up making and canning preserves again, because this was way better than what you get at the store.

Last week I went to visit my new LYS.  (Local Yarn Store.  Not that the store is new, although I think it might be new-ish.  More that I'm new to the local.)  It's small but serviceable.  But the best part is that they're friendly.  The shop cat, George, came over to make friends before I'd had a chance to more than glance at my first shelf.  (That was a bit bittersweet, because George looks a lot like my best friend's cat did about 10 years ago.  Nico-kitty is getting up there, and his plumage is much less plumy these days.  Plus they are a thousand miles away now, so not much chance to stop by and see them.)  They have knit ins on Friday nights, so I'll probably go this week and check it out.  Goodness knows I have plenty of knitting to do.

There's probably other stuff I meant to tell you, but it's late and I'm high on internet.  G'night, all!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Travelogue

It took several days, and the recovery has taken several more, but I'm finally in Indiana and sort of back to normal after the trip.  Here are a few highlights.

We made it to Danvers, CT the first night, where we missed our exit and then drove in circles for half an hour trying to find the hotel.  This gave us the opportunity to drive past the world's largest dairy store.  The drive the next morning through the rest of CT, NY, and into Pennsylvania was gorgeous.  We passed through or by a few interesting towns, including Lords Valley, PA and Frackville.  We stopped to get gas, and everyone's spirits were lifted when I spotted a display of Tastykakes, the greatest snack food known to man.  And available almost exclusively in Pennsylvania.  (It was apparently not the first time the woman behind the counter had a group of semi-delirious travelers carry the entire contents of her snack cake display up to the register.)  We stocked up on Krimpets and TastyPies and hit the road again.

Next stop was Hershey, PA, The Sweetest Place on Earth, and home to Hershey's Chocolate.  Also home to Hershey Park, where I had such a good time as a child that my family still hasn't let me live it down.  Wahoo!  We drove down both Chocolate Avenue and Cocoa Avenue.  Usually the whole town smells like chocolate, but they weren't making any the day we drove through.  Apparently, they're in the process of moving the actual chocolate making to China.  We also drove past a Dove facility.

The reason we were in Hershey is that my great aunt lives in the Masonic home next door in Elizabethtown.  Wowza, is that place big.  It could probably be a whole city by itself.  Auntie was in fine form.  91 and sharp as a tack, she was overjoyed to have us stay with her for the night, even though Trouble decided to jump up on her bed and hide under her $1,000 hand stitched quilt.  Otherwise, he was very well behaved.  Except for the part when it was time to leave and he decided he wasn't going back in that damn carrier no matter what anyone said.  He ran around Auntie's living room like his tail was on fire, while she crooned "poor baby" and my father and uncle alternately chased him and jumped away in fear of being bit.  He wouldn't really bite anyone.  Troub is a pacifist at heart, as well as being the original scaredy cat.  But he did NOT want to go back in that carrier.  (Can't say I blame him.)  He actually growled at everyone, including me.

The next day was the miserable slog.  Nine hours+ in the car, from Elizabethtown, PA all the way to Indianapolis.  It was the long day, so of course my Crohn's decided to kick up about 15 minutes after we got in the car.  Stupid stomach.  We went through some tunnels, and we stopped at a rest stop where we stocked up again on TastyKakes and I found a Hershey Kiss magnet to add to my magnet collection.  (I now have a magnet from every state I've ever lived in, except for Iowa, and a lot of other fun ones, too.  I'm hoping to come up with a way to display them in my room that won't cost and arm and a leg.  Large magnetic white boards aren't cheap.)  I remember waving at Jenny and Lucy as we blew through Columbus sometime around 6:30 that evening.  Other than that, the day is mostly just one long, dreadful blur.  We rolled into the hotel around 9:30pm.  I don't think four people and a cat have ever been happier to get out of a car.

And that is the story of my trip from Massachusetts to Indiana.  I'd post pictures, but I didn't take any.  (They wouldn't have been any good anyway.  I'm a terrible photographer.)  Sometime in the next 20 hours or so I'll try to fill you in on the house.  I'm pretty sure we'll be moving out of the hotel tomorrow, and God only knows when I'll have internet access again.  As far as I know, my parents haven't even contacted the phone company about setting up service yet.  Oh, well.  I guess that's why Starbucks was invented.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Come On, Get Happy!

My recent posts have all been grumpy, angsty stress-fests, so I've decided to do another 10 Happy Things post.

1.  I've picked out my parents' Christmas present!  They love Cook's Illustrated, and they love the TV show America's Test Kitchen.  Well they've come out with a cookbook, and Barnes & Noble has it for 50% off with a coupon through the end of next week.  Ding, ding, ding!  We have a winner!  $20 for a joint gift, plus a pair or two of hand knit socks for my dad, and Mom has been asking for some more hand knit face cloths made from Cotton Tots (which is really soft and cozy).  The 'rents are done!

2.  Glory, Hallelujah!  Mom just came in and told me that everything is finally a go with the house!  Closing is now set for Monday afternoon.  Then we'll beat feet for Indiana, and close on the new house hopefully sometime late next week.  Woo hoo!

3.  Last night we went out for dinner and had a really good time.  My uncle is here, helping us get packed up and ready to go.  I've always liked him, but we've never lived close or visited much, so I don't know him very well.  We laughed a lot last night, and I think it's the first time we've all really relaxed and enjoyed ourselves since he got here.  Maybe now that things are getting settled with the move there will be more time for that.

4.  Most of the packing got done yesterday, so even though a couple of movers are here again today finishing the dregs, it is much quieter.  Yay!  I'm sitting on my bed with my computer in my lap (I take that whole "laptop" thing seriously) and Mom walked by and said, "I keep forgetting you're in here-- you're so quiet."  Quiet is good.

5.  I also just found out that I will have a hotel room to myself this weekend.  Bliss.  The stress and noise and commotion has really had my hair standing on end the last couple of days.  Plus, Shark Week should be starting any minute, and that always sends my Crohn's out of whack.

6.  I love funny names for your period.  Shark Week ('cause there's blood in the water), Aunt Flow, Commies in the Funhouse-- they all amuse me terribly.

7.  I've read 395 books since January 1, 2007.  That's when I starting keeping track in a cool little journal I got for being the last Cherry to cross the finish line of NaNo 2006.  My goal for this year was to reach 400, and I will accomplish that easily.  I may even get there before the end of this month.  It just depends on how much reading time I get in the next few days.

8.  The neighbor across the street cut my hair the other day.  I hadn't had anything done to it since right before Christmas last year, and it was getting bad.  She chopped off all the split ends and stuff, and now it's less scraggly and doesn't tangle as much.  It still tangles.  I think that's just the nature of curly hair.  But it's much, much better.

9.  I'm gearing up for NaNo next month.  Last night I googled around until I found some numbers for how much I might make with stories at a couple of different publishers.  Then I had a high old time crunching numbers for highly improbable scenarios, like whether or not I could pay all my medical bills and a few other small expenses if I sold a book every month all year long.  It looks like I could, at some of the more popular epublishers, if I continue to live with my parents.  Of course, the likelihood of me writing, polishing, and selling a book a month is not great.  Even when my health was better and my brain was sharper that was unlikely.  But it amused me to look at all of that.  (I know.  I'm weird.  For many people these speculations would be depressing.  For me, it's a what if.)

10.  It's Thursday, and I still have internet!  I know it's only because the move has been put off a couple of days, but it still makes me happy.  I thought I'd be cut off from the world by now.

And that's what makes me happy!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Odds and Ends

No big news to report today, just lots of little things.

Yesterday on Twitter I learned that Toni Blake has written a romance novel featuring a heroine who has Crohn's disease.  The book comes out at the end of December.  I'm hoping if things really settle in with Books and Bacon in the next 6 to 8 weeks that the author will agree to do a guest blog or an interview or something.  I think it's so cool that someone has written a main character with Crohn's.  Usually we're the weird, hard to solve problem on medical dramas.  At worst, we're portrayed as drug seekers.  It will be nice to see a positive, and hopefully realistic, depiction of what it's like to live with this disease.

In other book news, the latest Vorkosigan novel comes out today.  And I just found out last night that all the first editions come with a CD that has all of the books in the series (well, all but one, which appears to have been left off for some reason) in ebook format.  I wanted it before, and I've been checking Amazon pretty much daily to figure out when it would be available for Kindle.  Now I'm foaming at the mouth for it!  I don't particularly want the hardback, although I'm not totally opposed to the idea.  But I really, really want those ebooks!  I've been thinking about buying the whole series in ebook, since I got them all from the library and don't have my own copies.  (Some of my favorite books, and I don't have copies!)  This will save me big bucks.  Amazon has it for a good price, and I've been trying to figure out what else I want to get to bring the total cost up to $25 for the free shipping.  I'm thinking Wii game, since I'll hopefully be able to hook that up again soon, but I'm not seeing anything I really want that won't cost me $40.  Maybe I'll just suck it up and pay the $3.99 for shipping.

The moving isn't going so well.  There are problems with someone's mortgage up the chain.  We're four days from closing, and we still don't have a written commitment to purchase the house.  We're not putting all our stuff on a moving truck unless we're sure that the sale is going through.  So as you can imagine, this is causing a lot of stress.

The cat went to "summer camp" this afternoon in preparation for the packers coming in tomorrow.  (We're still packing, because we'll be up shit creek if we don't and the sale goes through.  We're just not putting all the boxes on a truck.)  I miss the little booger already.  Although I won't miss him screaming in my ear at 6am because he wants his breakfast.  I didn't have the heart to tell her, but Mom didn't make it any easier when she insisted on helping stuff him in his carrier.  He loves his grandmom, but sometimes she freaks him out, too.  She's not used to handling him.  There was much scrambling around in my room for a little while this afternoon.  And not the good kind.

Well, I guess that's everything for the moment.  I should probably go stick something in a box, just in case we do end up moving to Indiana after all.  I swear I haven't been sticking pins in a voo doo doll of the realtor, or hiring Witchy to cast a spell against the sale or anything.  Really.  I promise.

Update: My brother called tonight.  He had a stomach bug yesterday that kicked off a round of seizures so bad that he doesn't remember the ride in the ambulance to the hospital.  He's at home now, and he worked part of a day today.  I love my brother, but he can be so FRUSTRATING with this stuff.  One, his doctor is clueless as to why this is happening, but he won't switch doctors or get a second opinion.  So his condition is only ever on the edge of being controlled.  Any emotional or physical upset kicks them off again.  Two, he's not always good about taking his medication, which only exacerbates the problem.  Indiana leaves driving restriction to the doctors (Texas required a full 12 months without a seizure before you could get your license back), and his doctor is doing nothing.  Which means my brother, who hasn't managed to be seizure free for more than a few months at a time since this started two years ago, is still driving himself whenever he wants.  The "You could kill someone!" argument gets nowhere, because he claims he can feel them coming on and can just pull over to the side of the road.  I don't know what's going to have to happen to make him take this seriously.  The last time I talked to him about all this he said he didn't feel like it was something he had to worry about all that much about because they were only happening every couple of months.  A seizure every couple of months is NOT acceptable.  Not when your entire attempt to deal with the problem consists of one doctor shrugging his shoulders and saying, "I don't know."  Grrr.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Confession Time

In case you haven't noticed, I'm not too excited about moving back to Indiana.  Even the possibility of meeting the Great and Terrible Fokker hasn't been enough to get me jazzed about it.  I've known in my heart why this is bothering me so much, but I haven't shared it with anyone yet.  Well, what is a blog for if not confessing your darkest fears and secrets?  So here goes.

I was not happy when I lived in Indiana the first time.  We moved there just in time for me to start my freshman year of high school, and I didn't want to go then, either.  We'd been living in Texas, and I was really happy there.  I had lots of friends, and starting over at that age can be difficult.  (Of course, as I'm finding out, starting over at any age is difficult.)  Even thought I lived there for four years, I never really found my tribe.  I was in band, and I had band friends.  I was in honors, and I had honors friends.  But I never found friends that I really fit with.  I haven't kept in touch with anyone I knew in high school.

So even though I know this move is the best thing for my parents, that they are retiring in a place where they have many friends and roots in the community, there's nothing like that there for me.  Mom is over the moon that her two children will be in the same city with her for the first time in more than 15 years.  I'm glad that I'll get the chance to spend more time with my brother and that I'll be able to get to know my sister in law, whom I've only met three times.  But that opportunity doesn't outweigh the dread for me.

The biggest part of the problem, which I realize is going to totally contradict what I said above, is that I'm terrified of seeing anyone I knew in high school.  I'm sick, I'm fat, I'm not working, and I've moved across the country to live with my parents.  It's the perfect Hollywood vision of a loser.  And I feel like a loser.  And I don't want anyone who has ever known me to see me like that.  I don't know why this fear is so strong.  I haven't seen these people in nearly 20 years.  They have no meaning in my life, except as people I used to know a long time ago.  But I'm still afraid.

Somehow, I didn't feel this way in Texas,  The people who know me there watched my life tank.  They saw my health go down the toilet.  They know me and have learned to accept my limitations.  They love me anyway.  But all these new people, they don't know me any more.  I used to be slim (although I couldn't see it then) and energetic.  I was in the marching band and Academic Decathlon and a million other clubs and activities.  I was always going.  And yet all that activity has lead to no where.  I'm right back to where I used to be, living in Indiana with my mom and dad, having accomplished nothing.  It makes me want to curl up in a corner and hide.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Why I Hate the Drug Companies

This afternoon I crossed state lines in an attempt to buy prescription medication.  In the good old days (you know, like August) I could go down the street and get a prescription from my local pharmacy for $30 because I had prescription drug coverage through my insurance.  Now I am uninsured, but I still need medicines, this one particularly, because it's a steroid and you can just stop those puppies cold turkey.

So I called around last week to find out who had my prescriptions for the best prices.  Target was the winner with this one at $1011 for a one month refill.  That's right.  One month.  So, plan B.  I remembered I had a card from the drug company that would help me pay for this medication.  So I took it to Walgreens, where I was picking up another prescription at the time, and asked them to check it out.  Turns out the card is worth $500.  Woo hoo!  But it's good everywhere but Massachusetts, where I currently live.  sigh.  Time for a new plan.

So I take my prescription bottle with all the info on it and my magic card to a Target across the state line in New Hampshire.  No big deal.  It's not that far away, and my parents had errands they wanted to run in the area anyway.  I give the bottle and the card to the pharmacist, explain that I'd like to transfer my prescription to Target and get as many pills as the $500 card will allow.  Call me if there are any problems.

An hour later I'm sitting on a bench in the mall, waiting for my parents to do something or other, when I get a call from Target.  They're very sorry, but they can't get the card to work.  You must have primary insurance that will pay for at least part of the prescription, and then the card will cover the rest, up to $500.

Hell.

After suppressing the urge to throw things, I asked her how much one week of the prescription would cost.  $232.26.  Fortunately, steroids require tapers, and one week of the prescription as written is actually three weeks of medication for me.  (You're supposed to take 1 pill a day for 6 weeks to safely taper.  It's going to be more like 30 days.)  So I gritted my teeth and bought the damn drugs.

And then I had a perfectly miserable time thinking of all the things I could have bought with that $232.26.

  • 1/3 of a month's medical insurance premium
  • a car payment on my beloved Toyota that I had to sell when I moved here
  • one of the super fancy Tivos that I was drooling over the other night
  • a month's supply of three other prescriptions put together
  • almost 5 months worth of cell phone service
  • 29 books for my Kindle
Clearly, there are other things I could have spent that money on.  Why was I in this predicament?  (Other than the fact that I have a chronic disease that I did not ask for and have no control over.)  Because a drug company gave out cards offering to pay for $500 worth of medication, medication that is criminally expensive to begin with, and then refused to allow people with out insurance, the ones who really need it, to use the card.  How fucked up is that?  When I had insurance the card wasn't worth the hassle.  Now that I desperately need the card, it won't work because I don't have insurance.  What this drug company has done is place advertisements in doctors' offices (which they aren't supposed to do, right?) and called them patient assistance cards.  They placed these cards knowing that they would never have to pay on the vast majority of them because for the vast majority of us they are worthless.

Bastards.

One good spot in all this mess-- I got a $10 Target card from the pharmacist.  I think she felt bad for me.  I'm going to save it just in case I need more of this medication.  It will almost buy me one pill.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Picturepalooza

I'm not feeling particularly wordy today, and I just downloaded a bunch of old pictures off of my parents' camera, so congratulations!  You're getting pictures today!

These first few are Christmas ornaments that I knit for my brother and sister-in-law as Christmas presents a few years ago.

The "body" of this little guy is a wine cork I got from
someone on Freecycle.  Recycling at it's finest!
Mini sock
Itty bitty sweater!
You'll notice that all the other ornaments are Hallmark.
My SIL works part time at a Hallmark store.
Troubbie the Wonder Cat
Also, you can see a very *small* part of my yarn collection
there on the left.
My Christmas tree.  Wasn't it pretty?
We had Christmas crackers!
Isn't it lovely how my paper hat matches my outfit?
Dad had a hat, too, and he looks absolutely thrilled about it.

Huge time jump!


Here's a picture of what will be my bedroom in the new house.
I haven't seen it in person yet, but according to my brother,
it really is as small as it looks.
Closet!

And one last set of pictures to finish off with the Christmas theme.

Snowman!
Snowman butt!


Monday, October 11, 2010

It's Almost Time

Three weeks from today it will be November.  You know what that means.  NaNo time.

I haven't really done NaNo since 2006.  That was an excellent NaNo for me.  I made serious progress on a book that I really loved, and only got a little lost at the end.  As opposed to other years where I started out strong in the first week/week and a half and then scrambled to throw any old words onto the page to finish out the month with my 50,000.

I'm not sure what I want to do this time around.  I've kicked around three ideas.  First, there's the story that I've been working on in Discovery.  It's a good concept, definitely one worth working on.  But it's... big.  Slippery in my mind.  And I keep finding the most creative excuses not to do the homework for class.  (Embarrassingly, I fell asleep in class yesterday and missed about half of it.  Lucy, if you're reading this, it was all me, not you.  I woke up long enough to type I'M A GREAT WRITER!!!! and then fell asleep for another two hours.)  I strongly suspect that this is just too much story for me at this time.  I haven't done any writing worth mentioning in almost 4 years.  Maybe I need to start with something smaller, with less at stake.  I really want to try something with this story, and to do that I need more confidence, more practice under my belt.

My second idea is to write anywhere from 3 to 10 short pieces aimed at the Harlequin Spice Briefs line.  I don't mean to say that these are easy to write.  It takes skill to take a small concept and turn it into a full story without any extraneous bits or feeling like there's stuff that's been left out.  Not to mention these are hot stories, and if you can't write a heck of a sex scene, you're sunk.  But I think this is something I might be able to do this year.  Take a moment, a look, a touch, and spin it into a story.  Too short for saggy middles.  No wallowing around, trying to figure out what to do next.  It starts, they do it, you tie it all up.  At NaNo pace each one should take me anywhere from a few days up to a week.  (The length requirements are 5,000-15,000 words.)  But can I come up with 3 to 10 little fantasies to write about?

My third idea, which has merit just for it's ridiculousness, is to just wing something, some silly, fun story, and blog it.  Let any commenters throw out ideas when I get stuck.  Something that will be just pure fun.  Strictly writing for the hell of it.  That winging it, writing on the fly type attitude strikes me as particularly NaNo-ish.  And provided I can keep going and actually find a way to wrap up whatever mess I've created by Nov 30, I think it could be a pretty satisfying way to jump back into the writing pool.  The only problem is, I have not the tiniest idea what this story would be about. 

So, what do you think?  Set my self up for failure with the big scary book, go nympho for the month and write a series of sexy shorts with an eye toward submitting one or more of them by the end of the year, or should I go foo foo crazy and blog the results for all the world to see?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Better Blogging

I'm really enjoying this blogging thing, and I want to get better at it.  So I did the logical thing and checked out a blogging group.  Culture shock.  They were all talking about stuff like marketing you blog, whether or not to pay to advertise your blog (do people really do this?), commenting on as many blogs as you can so that people will follow you back to your blog and comment.

Basically, it was all about increasing your stats and comments.  Now don't get me wrong.  I love comments.  It always makes me smile when someone takes the time to comment on something that I've written.

But what I'm really looking for is suggestions on how to write a better blog.  Maybe I'm naive, but I happen to believe that a good product, more interesting posts, will eventually build a larger readership.  I want people to find my blog, through whatever means, and find it interesting enough to want to come back again.  I don't want to spend my time trying to come up with something interesting to say about some random blog in the hope that the blogger will come back and comment here.  Those comments are like the Twinkies of the blogosphere-- a brief rush but ultimately unfulfilling.

So what should I do to improve my blogging skills?  Write better posts!  Duh.  But what is it that I'm lacking?  Focus?  Consistency?  Is the tone too negative?  Should I interact more in the comments?

Lay it on me, y'all.  I can take it.

Friday, October 8, 2010

And another thing....

I keep tripping over contests or donation schemes this week that require you to comment or follow or friend people.  It's really bugging me.  "If 500 people comment on my blog, I'll donate $500 to XYZ charity!"  And then everyone in the world puts in on Twitter, and it ends up all over my Twitter stream.  The blogger ends up looking like a good person, when all they're really doing is paying $500 for a huge number of comments and publicity.  If you want to donate $500 to charity so bad, go do it privately.  I don't need to hear about it.

Cynical.  It goes with the cranky.

Last night a blogger announced that a book give away was just about to close.  It was for a book I've been wanting, so I popped on over.  All you had to do was comment, and you're entered in the drawing.  Cool.  But follow the blogger on Twitter you get x number of extra entries.  And if you follow the author, too, you get x more entries.  And if you friend them on Facebook you get this, and if you add them as a friend on Goodreads you get that, and by the time you're done, everyone who entered the contest had about 20 or 30 entries, and the blogger and the author's stats are through the roof.  Annoying.  This morning I checked my Twitter stream, and it's been totally overwhelmed by youtube videos and other worthless crap from the blogger and author.  Super annoying.

And there are a couple people in my Twitter stream who I otherwise like and respect.  They have interesting things to say, and I want to read them.  But they keep sending out the same tweets over and over, flogging their blogs.  Not, "I have a new post, come read it!"  But identical tweets, about the same post or contest, over and over and OVER again.

I realize I am one hand, clapping in the darkness.  I'm not an expert or anyone of any great importance.  But really, people.  Social networking-- ur doin it rong.

Cranky

I can't help it.  It's been coming for days, and I've been trying to suppress it, but it's just not working.  I'm cranky.  I hurt.  I'm tired of trying to keep up with my parents' schedule and routine and of trying to be a helpful little monkey.  I'm sick of being around people.  I'm sick of shouting all the time because a) everyone is always trying to talk to each other from three rooms away, and b) my mother is going deaf.  I am sick of being blasted out of my seat by the TV.  I can be in my bedroom-- upstairs and on the opposite side of the house-- and hear the TV as clearly as if I was in the room.  I've developed tinnitus, y'all.  Seriously.  My ears are ringing.

What I really, truly, desperately want is to close the door, pull the covers over my head, and not see another human until Tuesday.

What I must do soon is pull on a sweatshirt and a pair of shoes and go downstairs and greet people at this damn garage sale my parents are having.  Every time they sell something they come in the house and holler up the stairs with the new sales total.  We're up to $4.75.  Yee haw.

Like I said.  Cranky.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Great Googly Moogly

I spent part of the day today calling pharmacies and pricing my most urgent prescriptions now that I don't have insurance or prescription drug coverage.  Never do this.  It's too depressing for words.

I only priced the four that need to be refilled in the next two weeks.  No point in going through the hassle if it doesn't need to be refilled yet, because the prices might be different in Indiana.  One of my prescriptions-- just one prescription, for one month-- is $1011.49.  And that's the cheapest price I could find for that one.  It's a steroid, and I've been weening myself off of it anyway, so I may just take my last nine pills and hope for the best.  I have a bottle of Prednisone for emergencies.  It plays merry hell with the body, but it's cheap.  If I start to crash and burn without the other steroid I'll just start up on the Pred.  I could buy a couple of years' worth of Pred for the price of one month of the other stuff.

I will say one thing for my thousand dollar steroids.  They make my $130/month Savella look mighty cheap in comparison.  And the Savella, at least in the short term, would be much more miserable to go off.