Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Obligatory Review

It's time for my annual review... of me.

In lieu of making resolutions I knew wouldn't be kept, I decided last year to start looking back at the changes I'd made in my life that year to support my long-term goal of Doing the best that I can at the time.

The changes I'd made then still hold today, although I will confess that I'm getting sloppy about the plastic bags and I do buy Diet Coke, I just don't drink it every day.

In addition, in 2008
  • I lost some weight.
  • I started running again.
  • I switched to decaf coffee.
  • I stopped using my beloved Splenda.
  • I cut way back on meat and dairy products.
  • And, uh... I started using real glasses and silverware at work instead of plastic cups and disposable cutlery.

As you can see, I did pretty well in the areas of personal improvement and 'make less trash'. I did not, however, satisfy my pseudo-resolution for 2008, which was to have enough leave to take the 26th off. But I was spared the foul aftertaste of failure because we got it off anyway. Ha! Better lucky than clever, you know?

Also, I'll be doing the Burning Ceremony tonight. What? You haven't burnt your emotional baggage before? Give it a go. Trust me, you'll like it.

I'm off tomorrow for another statistics conference. Wheee! I'll be back next Thursday, although I'll post from the trenches if I can.

Have a safe & happy New Year's!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Third attempt

I've written and discarded two posts today, both full of complaints about the stupid things that are making me crabby this week. Long story short, I'm crabby and stupid things have been happening.

'Nuff said.

In other news, Lovely Daughter met Alan Alda last weekend. He attended the play she's doing in Philly. I heard there are pictures but I haven't seen them yet.

That's Alan-fucking-Alda, people!

All those hours I spent watching M*A*S*H in my teens and early twenties, I never dreamed that someday, decades in the future, Hawkeye Pierce would be in the audience watching my daughter on stage.

Although, according to Wikipedia, the final M*A*S*H episode aired almost exactly three months before Lovely Daughter was born.

Hmmm... Coincidence, or fate? You decide.

(Remind me sometime to tell you how the Star Wars movie releases coincide with major turning points in my life. Fascinating stuff.)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Something a little different

A different version of this tune enjoys regular rotation on my favorite radio station this time of year. I was pleased to find the original to share on this post-holiday edition of Friday Rocks!

Stop the Calvary, Jona Lewie

Stay warm, and I'll see you on Monday.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wednesday Weirdness

Here's something fun. Wednesday Weirdness posts a list of questions each, uh, Wednesday. To 'play', simply answer the questions on your blog and leave them a comment with the link.

Since it's Christmas Eve and I'm bored to tears at work with 2.5 hours left until I can leave, I figured I'd give it a go.

I used to make a few larger donations to my favorite charities each year. This year I made smaller donations (< $100) to several charities that caught my eye as I strolled through the interwebs. I just hope I can find all the receipts come tax time!

I had a fairly chaotic childhood and in some ways had to grow up too fast. Even so, I always wanted to be an adult so I could have at least some control over what happened to me. I would've liked to have a childhood more like my kids', but then I wouldn't be the piece of work that is me, I guess.

Hell, it was so long ago I don't remember. Probably cookies and I don't remember seeing anyone eating them.

I haven't seen my cousins for decades! I have no idea. I can think of a few of them I'd probably get along with, if we met now.

Geez, there are so many that I generally blank them out as I go along. One that sticks with me was my 'muffin visit' with Neighbor Lady last year.

Cash. Lots of cash. Like, several tens of thousands. A hundred grand would take care of a lot of outstanding issues, IYKWIM.

It's a go, if I'm sure we can get away with it. I really would never want to embarrass anyone.

8.) DO YOU HAVE ANY TRADITIONS FOR THE HOLIDAYS? (ie opening one gift Christmas Eve and saving the rest for Christmas Day, opening them all Christmas Eve, listening to a particular holiday CD while opening gifts, preparing a special breakfast, ETC)
All my traditions changed a couple of years ago when I divorced so I'm in the process of reinventing them. This year we're trying out a Christmas Day movie marathon (Star Wars, the original three) with sushi and udon noodles for dinner.

Lingerie. Sex toys. Not to say I wouldn't be a little intrigued, but I would definitely be embarrassed!

I collect crap. Old computers, paperback sci fi/fantasy books, boxes (might need to ship something, you know), and anything that I might need someday. 'Cause ya never know, ya know?

Hey, that was kind of fun. May have to do that again sometime.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Plane, trains, and automobiles (and busses, too)

We made it! The 30-minute flight was 4 hours late, and in a brilliant stroke of luck, we managed to get our luggage just in time to catch the next airport shuttle to our town.

An hour and a half later, we stood at the drop off point, a gas station about a mile from Mr B's house. The time: midnight.

Well, there was nothing for it but to walk. It actually was a nice little hike: not too cold, streets quiet, everything covered in snow... except it was midnight. But twenty minutes later it was all over.

Today's problem was how to get to my house, 3 miles away, with Mr B's car parked at the train station an hour south of here. Lucky for me the Ex is a very good sport, volunteering to leave work and pick me up in his Very Big Truck.

I got home and immediately attacked the foot of snow in my driveway. I knew there had to be a car in there somewhere! Eventually I prevailed and managed to get myself into work, only to be greeted by a very grumpy technician who had shown up four hours earlier to work on some equipment. Hey, if he'd've called me, I'd'a told him I'd be late. Sorry, man.

Meanwhile, Mr B caught a ferry to catch a bus to his car at the train station and is probably getting home right about now. And that, boys and girls, is an explicit illustration of how a quiet little birthday weekend away plus a snowstorm equals a huge, fucking hassle.

p.s. Did I mention the forecast is for another four to six inches of snow tomorrow? Did I mention that we generally don't do snow around here? Good times.

Monday, December 22, 2008


It seemed so simple. We would take the train down Friday evening, spend a nice weekend away, then take the train back Sunday afternoon*.

Oh, but no!

HUGE winter storm. Snow totals unseen in these parts for decades. Doom! Gloom! AaaaAAArrrGGGgghhh!!!

First clue came when we got a call from Amtrak Sunday morning telling us all service had been suspended. We couldn't even get a seat until Tuesday at the earliest.

We bit the bullet and paid $150 each** for a one-way flight, first thing Monday morning.

Uh, sorry. Canceled.

Rescheduled for Monday evening, and here we sit. Flight is already delayed 1.5 hours....

Anyone willing to place a bet?

* Note: We're not talking a long trip here. This is a 3-hour car ride under normal circumstances.

** Merry Christmas, Sweetie!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Santa Baby: Awkward Moment #6,874

Break out the mink, my pretties! We're Rockin' this Friday with Eartha.

Santa Baby, Eartha Kitt

This brings to mind a disturbing episode from just a few years ago.

I used to belong to a Unitarian Universalist fellowship. Every year they would ask folks to sign up to perform at the Holiday Music Service. Mostly it was singers, guitar players, and other instrumentalists; a pretty talented bunch overall.

Well... this particular year, the two young daughters of one of the members signed up to perform. They were maybe 10-12 years old at the most.

Come Music Service time, those two innocents stood in front of the entire fellowship and sang along to this very rendition of this very song. Their mother sat in the front row beaming encouragement as the rest of the assembled fellowship writhed in agony while these two prepubescent girls mimicked Eartha's sensual - dare I say 'earthy? - performance. It was every bit as awful as you might guess.

Boys and girls, can you say 'inappropriate'? I knew that you could.

I love this song, but now every time I hear it, my stomach clenches. I can only be grateful that they didn't show up in costume. There wouldn't be a pencil big enough to poke that image out of my mind's eye.

Mr. B & I are headed out of town for the weekend to celebrate the beginning of my 50th year. As Lovely Daughter used to say, Happy to Me!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Snow Day!

Apparently I can't blog at home. How strange.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Indispensable Bag


This attractive and function bag is an absolutely indispensable tool for the Liz-on-the-go. It holds all of her shit, including her lunch (lettuce in the zip-top bag) and important paperwork (goldenrod-colored form that was due back at Young Son's school yesterday) as well as about three months worth of paid bill stubs in the capacious back pocket. It's also sturdy enough to hold about $27.00 in loose change, which allows it to double as an effective self-defense weapon as well as an easy way to build upper body strength.

Its hard-wearing black vinyl blends in with just about any decor, including the crap-filled second desk in her office, as shown here surrounded by an ever-handy roll of paper towels for those inevitable spills, a banana about to take root, and a 3.5" floppy disk*.

You may think that a bag this amazing would be out-of-reach of the average shopper, but you'd be oh, so very wrong. This treasure was purchased at the local W*Mart, and for less than $20.00 you can own one, too!

** WTF?!?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Dear (your name here)

Found this inside a Christmas card tucked under my door mat yesterday. I have no idea how long it had been there.
DEAR NEIGHBORS ____Liz______

My last knee replacement surgery went well. The right knee is now going to be replaced.

I leave here December 22 for overnight in the city. I must be at the hospital at 6 am on 12/23. I should leave the hospital 12/27 for the care facility in town for physical therapy. Home in early January.

I will not be driving for while. Fortunately I have friends who will drive me to continued physical therapy until the surgeon says I can drive.

I may need your help getting the garbage cans out or fetching my mail. I hope I may call on you for that help until I can do it. Last time I was driving 4 weeks after surgery. This time it is my right knee - the driving knee - so I may be house bound longer.

My great niece will have a garage opener in case she has to get in. If you see anything wrong - broken windows, smoke coming out, etc., please call 911 and inform my niece at ###-####.

I will stop the mail and newspapers.

Neighbor Lady*

Neighbor Lady is a sixty-something extremely overweight single woman who has seasonally-appropriate plastic animal decorations and a large kitty flag decorating her front porch at all times. She invited us over for muffins shortly after I moved in last year and it was the most awkward and uncomfortable 20 minutes of my entire life. If I remember correctly, Mr. B got the distinct impression that she was not a huge fan of men. I might be making that up.

After that, she attempted to generate a friendship, but as I am fairly anti-social, the most I could handle was a smile and wave across the cul-de-sac.

This is not the first such directive I've received from Neighbor Lady. She handed out an almost identical letter (sans holiday cheer) earlier this year before her first knee surgery. I wish I'd saved it for you -- that one referred to her breast cancer surgery in 2000 and the assistance she required from her neighbors at the time. To establish precedent, I suppose.

I admit, I'm feeling rather put-upon. I doubt I'll be offering to take out her trash or collect her mail. After all, that's what friends are for. I figure the ones driving her to physical therapy should be able to cover it.

I know, my place in hell is already reserved.

*Not her real name

Monday, December 15, 2008

Perhaps one of his later works?

Mr B sent me this link today. We're not convinced it's Maxfield Parrish. What do you think?

Just in case you think I'm lying, check it out. I lack the Photoshop skills to make this up.

Friday, December 12, 2008


Yes, Virginia, Fridays Rock! Especially when the Kinks show up. Don your protective headgear and let's have at it, shall we?

Father Christmas, The Kinks

I think we can all relate, this year even more so.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

More fun at work

Not one to miss an opportunity to one-up Mr B, Evil Twin sent this recollection of an event that occurred a few months after 9/11 at her workplace (another Federal agency).

Once I opened a document in the mailroom that dispersed a large cloud of particulate matter. The phone call went something like this:

"State HAZMAT team. What is your emergency?"

"I just opened a large envelope. It had white powder in it, and now the powder is on the floor!"

"Yes, ma'am. Are you alone in the room?"

"No. I grabbed a co-worker, and asked her whether she thought I should call you! She did."

"Do you have an evacuation plan in your building?"

"Uh, I don't think so . . "

"Go to your fire alarm, and pull it. Get all of the people out of the building. Close the doors to the room you are in, and get undressed."


"You and the co-worker who is also contaminated, must strip down, and get ready for the HAZMAT team, which is on the way. You will be taken to an outside shower for decontamination."

"I'm not getting naked!" (Cue co-worker to go ape-shit)

"Ma'am! You must do this for your own protection! If you have large packing tape, use it to seal off the bottom of the doors."

Well, don't you know that we taped off the bottom of those doors, but we did not get naked -- even if it was going to kill us. No one else in the office knew what was going on, because the fire alarm had sent them outside.

Suddenly the HAZMAT team pulls up, puts on their little moon suits, and comes inside to find the two frightened, stunned federal employees that did their civic duty.

They banged on the door, and we let them in. They started doing their swiping and dusting and sweeping and swabbing while they ushered us outside into the nifty little shower they had set up.

By this time, the fire department had shown up, and once they learned it was a possible hazardous exposure, they kind of kicked back and watched, since this was pretty new to all of us.

Outside, the entire office was standing around waiting to see what was going on, when we emerged from the building and were escorted to the white tent.

About an hour later, we came out of the shower tent, all pink and shiny and smelling faintly of fungicide. My, we had an audience.

So, the bottom line was, the HAZMAT team didn't find anything suspicious in that powder, but they got some valuable practice. The fire department got to spend an hour watching someone else do the hard work. The people in the office were happy to see someone else screw something up.

When the company that sent the document was called by the HAZMAT people, they replied: "Oh, yeah. We get that a lot. It's the talcum powder we use to keep static out of the binding process."

The only people REALLY pissed were the daycare people who found out when the little tykes said, "Mrs. Clancy! There's an alien in the parking lot!" I guess someone should have told them.

I learned to let the mailroom people do their job, and if someone tells you to take your clothes off, you don't HAVE to do it.

Wait. When someone on the phone tell you to take your clothes off, you don't have to do it?


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Fun at work

Mr B, a federal employee, forwarded this to me with this note:

I'll bet this hardly ever happens in your building.

He's right about that!

From: Someone
To: Everyone
Subject: URGENT: Full armor drill today
Importance: High


[REDACTED] Building

Federal Protective Service will be in full armor today
with machine guns and all the battle gear to conduct a
DRILL on their readiness.

There will be plain clothes officers and additional
officers at both entrances and lobbies in full gear
including weaponry TO INCLUDE MACHINE GUNS.

We want to make sure you are aware of this exercise to
minimize confusion.



Please share this information with those that may not
have access to email. We do not want to alarm anyone.

Thank you for your patience during these few hours.

Designate Official, [REDACTED] Building

I particularly enjoyed the phrases in all caps. Very thoughtful.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

This is the essence of me

It really is. I am not even kidding.

Oh, and here's one I made using a photo ET sent me a while back:

Want to make your own 'Demotivator' posters? Visit's Parody Motivator Generator.

Monday, December 8, 2008

It's not bad, it's just written that way

It's almost time for the Annual Receipt of the Letters of Obscene Oversharing!

I don't have any examples for you (yet), but I've been thinking about what makes a Christmas letter so bad it's good (read: hilarious.) After countless hours* of research and careful analysis, I've concluded it comes down to violating one or more of these two simple concepts:
  1. Less Is More

  2. Consider Your Audience
Face it, people write Christmas letters because they're too lazy to write customized letters tailored to each recipient. I know this because that is why I write them. Instead of considering the individual on the receiving end, they (read: I) put in every single piece of information that might possibly interest any one of the recipients. Holiday buckshot, if you will. Ding-dong-ditch with a flaming bag of poo.

Yeah, it works. Problem is, most people don't care. Most people don't care about your dog's wacky hijinks or the biopsy results of the polyps in your stomach. True, some might, but if they really cared you probably already told them when the news was fresh.

I hesitate to come down too hard on the Christmas letter offenders because I really do enjoy reading their efforts and I wouldn't want them all to come to their senses. That would be sad, indeed.

If you don't want to find your missive mocked** on a blog like this, just keep the two simple concepts in mind and you'll do fine. But if you get any good ones this year, send 'em in! I'll post the juiciest bits.

* I spent a whole 15 minutes thinking about this. That's a long time for someone with the attention span of a toothpick.

** Mocked with loving-kindness, but mocked nonetheless.

Friday, December 5, 2008

It's that time

Time to start Rockin' the pre-holiday Fridays! Yep, my radio station has started in with the holiday music. Luckily, this little gem in in rotation.

Merry Christmas From The Family, Jill Sobule

How many weeks, again? Three?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Hater Whoonu

We had fun on Thanksgiving playing a warped version of a clean, wholesome family game. Why do I get the feeling this doesn't surprise you?

The game: Cranium Whoonu

The objective: All players (except one) are dealt cards from a stack naming completely random things (salsa, poodles, eBay, sundaes, nail polish, rock climbing, etc.)

Each player picks from his/her hand two cards representing items s/he thinks the last player likes the best and slides them into the Secret Envelope.

The Secret Envelope Person then orders the items from their most favorite to their least, with the most points awarded to the person who picked the most favorite, etc.

Well, we made it through one round of that before we rebelled. We wanted to pick the two things the Secret Envelope Person liked least = hated most. Most points awarded for most hated.

You know what? It was a lot more fun. But then again, we're just that way.

BTW, this is for ages 8 and up, and Young Son loved it. It's a great game to play with kids that won't drive adults nuts. Especially the Hater version.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Will you be ready?

OK, OK... wait a minute here... I have to stop laughing long enough to type.

Just found this and had to share. Mominatrix over at Imperfect Parent has the perfect way to celebrate the upcoming inauguration. Click below to get the whole story.

Might be NSFW for, uh, frank language, maybe?

Here's one for ya: ET will be here visiting on the Big Day. The mind boggles!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

That's why they call it...

...the Post-NaNo Blues.

Bleh. I've spent lots and lots of money online in the last 36 hours. I have no idea what I used to do all day, before November. I think I've forgotten how to blog.

This is not good.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Day 30

30 days, 75,033 words.

To quote Austin Powers, 'And... I'm spent.'

I have a feeling this next week is going to be a bit of a letdown. Thank the universe that Starbuck's is selling their dark chocolate covered grahams again.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Seems like it, sometimes, don't it?

Every time this comes on the radio, Young Son asks me to crank it up. So this Friday we're Rockin' it Young Son-style.

It's The End Of The World As We Know It, REM

Seems appropriate, with my deadline arriving in 2 days, 15 hours, 8 minutes, give or take.

p.s. Check this out!

See you Monday. It'll all be over then. Hopefully not the whole world, tho.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Aren't you supposed to be off feeding your face? I am.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Today, I got nothing.

My shoulder hurts*. My foot hurts**. I want to hunker down and crank out a good 2K on my story but I'm not exactly sure what's supposed to happen next. And I have 3 hours and 45 minutes until I can go home.

I think I'm going to bust open the pack of fig newtons in my drawer and drown my sorrows.

I am pathetic.

* Long story. Sucks getting old.
** See above.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Day 25 pt 2

There's this woman I know. I don't know her well - mostly from afar - although we've met a few times in recent years. She is funny and witty and clever and... eccentric. She has 'deficits', as she puts it, but she embraces them and celebrates them. They are all part of what makes her funny and witty and clever. And eccentric. And she has a PhD, which only enhances the cachet of eccentricity, IMHO.

She blogs, although 'blog' is a lame-assed word compared to what she does. I blog; she slices off a piece of her heart and sticks it on the screen. She blogged all the way through her husband's death from mesothelioma and the year of hell after. I love to read her blog, and when a rare post from her pops up in my Google reader, I hoard it, savoring it until I have read everything else, Like a tiny bag of Peanut M&M's at the bottom of the plastic Halloween pumpkin.

Today, she ended with this quote from Thornton Wilder.
When you're safe at home you wish you were having an adventure; when you're having an adventure you wish you were safe at home.

With all the whining I've been doing about the frivolous, self-imposed hell I've set up for myself this month, this hit me upside the head like a cold, wet sponge.

Time for me to Shut The Fuck Up and write. November will be over soon enough, and then where will I be? Safe at home, whining about how I wish I was having an adventure.

Day 25

Make it stop! I'm losing my grip here, people. I no longer have any idea of how I'm going to get to the end, or even whether the end I had planned will still work.

Worst of all, over the weekend I came up with the brilliant notion of shooting for 75,000 words. Trying to generate 2,500 words a day when I have no idea where I'm going is bloody awful painful. I may have to kill of one of my characters just to keep it 'fresh'.

I finally took a second to tally up last weeks word count: 16,324, which means another $16.32 for TOOLOL. So that's one good thing, at least.

5 days, 12 hours, 19 minutes...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Guest Post: Evil Twin, Again

Evil Twin has decided to share one of our finer moments with you.
“Hey, Liz, since the guys are going to play 18 holes today, why don’t we take the boat out to the island?”

It was a lovely Sunday in July. 1987, I think. The girls (hers and mine) were two and four. The families had been out to the island several times that summer, but we decided that we didn’t need no stinkin’ men to escort us five miles down the river, and one mile across open water to the island.

Plans were made, coolers packed and the boat was loaded. The girls were wearing their lovely personal flotation devices – which had large collars with handles (which I assumed could be snagged with a boat hook in the event one of them ended up in the drink).

It was a splendid morning. Not a cloud in the sky, nary a ripple in the water. We chugged easily past the cemetery and the marinas out to open water. It was only a short mile to the island. It was very shallow, and the small sailboat nudged into the sand only 20 feet from the beach. We anchored, off-loaded the children onto the beach, and brought the coolers, chairs, umbrellas and other beach detritus to shore.

Settled in, I opened the cooler to dispense some snacks for the girls. Liz caught sight of what was inside.

“You didn’t bring the entire one-gallon bottle of Vintner’s Choice did you?”

Vintner’s Choice was our recreational wine. It was so affordable. I think the gallon bottle set us back $6.99.

“Well, I didn’t have anything smaller to put some in, so I brought it. We don’t have to drink it all.”

But, yes. Yes we did.

We had lunch. We applied sunscreen to the girls. We had a little wine. Sunscreen. Wine. Sunscreen. Wine. Wine. Sunscreen. Wine. Wine. Wine.

We roused ourselves out of our stupor, and discovered that the sun was sitting pretty low in the sky. In fact, much lower than it usually was when we left the island for home.

I looked at Liz who was now salmon-colored and blistered*. Yes. She had applied sunscreen. To her daughter. She is the whitest person I know. We were on the beach for eight hours. Do the math.

I wasn’t burnt too badly, however, I was drunk as snot. I stood quickly to load the boat and promptly fell flat on my face in the sand. Liz got me up, splashed some ice-cold cooler water in my face, and we somehow got the boat loaded (but not as loaded as I). We even remembered to put the kids on. They were so exhausted they went right to sleep in the cabin. Oh, how I envied them.
When everything was stowed away, I got my second wind. The breeze had picked up, and was quite respectable.

“I know! Let’s sail back!” I said.

“You sure? Can we go all the way back?” said Liz. Such a skeptic.

“Shhure! I bet we can make it back without the motor the whole way!”

“You’re on! No motor ‘til we get to the dock!”

And so it was. While on the open water, the wind kept us going at a sprightly pace. We made great time. Then we turned to go up-river, and we lost our wind. Fortunately, the tide was coming in, and we were able to ride with it, but the exhilaration disappeared with the breeze. We were making headway, but it was unimpressive. I went to the tiller, and shoved it back and forth, back and forth, which helped a little. Each of us had a stubborn streak, but when we were together, it was 1 + 1 = 3. We would do this!

I looked up, and Liz stood on the cabin roof, blowing into the mainsail with all her might.

“Aho-o-oy, there!” came wafting from the marina to our sad little craft.

We looked up, and there in the deepening twilight stood our husbands – annoyed, perplexed and concerned.

“Where are the girls?”

“Below. Sleeping!” we shouted.

“Is something wrong with the motor?” --Why else would we be drifting home in the near dark, they wondered.

“No! We’re gonna sail home if it takes us all week!”

“Are you drunk?”


“Give us the girls!”

So I rocked the tiller, and Liz blew into the sail until we were alongside the dock, and made the hand-off.

“Give us a push. Make it a good one, and we might make it back in an hour.” I said, and the husbands gave a mighty heave-ho in the general direction of home port. Liz took stock of her sun poisoning, and I leaned over the side, and fed the fish.

By the time we got to the cemetery, the breeze picked up again, and we made headway. The last half-mile we made slow but steady progress. By the time we docked, it was dark. The husbands stood there, our sleeping children in the car, and asked, “What the hell was that all about?”

“We sailed all the way back! By ourselves!”

This is why I can no longer drink. By 1990, I had completely used up my liver.

* Note to self: Make dermatologist appointment...

Friday, November 21, 2008

All about me

Mr. B and the Ex have been on travel this week. Since they both work in/on/around government entities*, one or the other of them is usually either headed to or just back from DC. Sometimes their travel overlaps.

Today it has finally happened. Even as we speak, they are flying back from DC. All the way across the country.

On. The. Same. Plane.

I can just imagine them, wedged into their teeny seats, talking smack about me behind my back, hour after hour.

Frankly, it's making me queasy.

* Albeit different ones.

Keeping it real

Oh, joyous day! Monty Python has (have?) its (their?) own YouTube channel, with a bunch of high quality clips available for our (my?) viewing pleasure.

I believe this one is exactly what we need to Rock this Friday! straight into the ground.

Last night I showed it to Young Son and he's all, like, "So? I knew that." Kids these days. I suspect I'm going to have to start monitoring his Nova-watching.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Just broke 50,000 words!

Mr. B sez "So you can stop now, right?"

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Day 19

Ugh. This was a tough one. I think this was the first day I found myself staring at the word count. I was less than 100 words shy of my goal for today and I was unable to think of a single thing to write. So I made some shit up and made it to 47,689.

Tomorrow I hope to push through 50K. Then I really need to start working my way toward the ending. I sure as hell don't want to reach Nov 30th without finding out what happened to these guys. That would suck.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Day 18

Is it over yet? I don't understand. I keep writing and writing and it's still not over. I am ready for it to be over.

I realized yesterday that in a good 80% of my story (and I'm being conservative here) my characters are sitting and talking. Or standing still and talking. Or sitting and thinking. Or lying flat on their backs in bed, staring at the ceiling, thinking*. Yesterday I did manage to get two characters to clink wineglasses, but that pretty much exhausted me and I had to go lie down in a dark room with a cold cloth on my forehead.

(Come to think of it, that last paragraph pretty much describes my life. I really need to get out more.)

Re-reading the official NaNoWriMo guide, "No Plot? No Problem!" recently, I found this little nugget in the sidebar.
Q: Can I quit now?
A: No, you cannot quit now.


p.s. 43,661 words as of last night. Yesterday was a 3500+ word day. No wonder I'm crabby. That's a lot of sitting around and talking.

Friday, November 14, 2008


I wrote 5912 words today.

I can't tell if I feel like I just finished a violent case of diarrhea or just gave birth. That brings me to 17,517 words for the week. Another $17.52 for The Office of Letters and Light, hooray!

I'm spent.

Does It Clash?

Aha! It's not much to look at, but I finally found a version of this video that is embeddable. So crank the volume and commence to Rockin' that Friday, my pretties!

Rock The Casbah, The Clash

This is one of my most favorite-y of favorites from Back In The Day. I'd love to work it in to my tale but it's two years too late. Oh well. I'm off to bury myself in the swamp that will continue sucking up every spare ounce/inch/amp/watt/joule of my mental energy for the next 16 days, 13 hours, and 27 minutes, give or take....

p.s. 30,224 as of yesterday

Thursday, November 13, 2008

You got to move it, move it!


"You know, Ted, I feel like we've grown really close. I know we've only known each other four weeks and three days, but to me it seems like at least nine weeks and five days."

"I know what you mean. I feel like I know everything about you. But sometimes, it's just... I don't know..."

"What, Ted? What is it?" Oh no... not now!

"Well, I really can't think of a good way to put this so I'm just going to throw it out there. Please, please don't take this the wrong way, but... sometimes, I get this notion that, uh, that we're not going anywhere."

"Really?" Alice said innocently, as her stomach flipped dramatically.

"I mean -- oh God, I knew this wouldn't come out right -- it's got nothing to do with you, honest! You're great, you really are. And the more I learn about you, the more I realize how great you are. And how great we could be together. I know we could be great together, if only..."

Alice sighed, her shoulders slumping. She knew exactly where this was going. "I think I understand what you're getting at. We've shared so much, over the phone, long conversations over dinner, long talks over coffee, long talks during long walks. It's been, well, lots and lots of talk, but no action. Right?"

"That's it, exactly. I'm so glad you understand! Do you think there's a chance we could figure out how to... move forward?"

Alice glared at the ceiling, mouthing the foulest curses she could think of.

"Alice? You there? What do you think?"

Alice sighed, steeling herself to throw the turd on the table. If he could handle this, they might just make it after all. "I want to, Ted, I really do, but there's something I need to tell you first."

Silence. "Uh... OK, what is it? Do I want to hear this?" His voice sounded suspiciously neutral.

Alice took a deep breath. "Well, it's November, right?"

"Yeah, all month long, as I understand it..."

"Um, Carol says we have a new Writer, see? And, well, she has a problem with, ummm, intimacy. The Writer, not Carol, although from what I hear, this month hasn't been a walk in the park for Carol and Bob either..." Alice realized she was babbling. "Anyway, the Writer seems to balk at writing, uh..." Alice stalled, trying not to admit to herself that she was blushing, "um, erotica. She can't seem to write it." Alice listened as hard as she could for any sort of giveaway sounds from the other end.


"So even though we've had amazing dialog and some mind-blowing, emotionally charged scenes revealing our pasts in excruciating detail, we might not be able to get past this point, at least right now."

"Not now? Then, like when? Tomorrow? Next week?"

Alice was relieved that he sounded more curious than frustrated or sarcastic. And it sounded like he had been planning on some action, which was very encouraging. Their few make-out sessions had been fun and pretty hot, really, but were becoming increasingly frustrating. A gal can only be happy at second base for so long, you know.

"Well, if we're lucky, she'll get her act together soon, like, oh, in the next week or so. Or maybe the week after, week four, when she wraps stuff up. But if she just can't do it, we might have to, uh, wait until December 1st when she moves on and leaves us the hell alone." Alice winced, her eyes squeezed shut, waiting. This is make or break time...


"I know, it sounds a long way off but Saturday is the 15th so we're halfway there..." Alice hoped the phone conveyed her optimistic tone. C'mon, c'mon, Ted, don't bail on me!

"December? Really?"

Damn, Ted sounded like someone just stole his dog and shot his car. No, wait, that didn't sound right. Reverse that.

Alice forged on, determined to sell Ted on the idea of hanging in there for the big payoff. "But maybe not. Maybe she'll get past it soon. I mean, she's got us to the point where there isn't much else to say. We've pretty much given up our entire life histories already, and the novelty of our wacky hijinks at work is starting to wear off, too. It's getting to be inevitable, I'm sure of it. Besides," Alice dropped her voice low, almost to whisper, "I went to the Mall yesterday, to Victoria's Secret? And I bought some, um, outfits, know what I mean?" Alice resisted the temptation to add on the nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

"Outfits? Really? Like, fun outfits?" Ted's voice perked up considerably. Alice hoped that wasn't the only thing.

"Yeah. I was going to keep it a surprise, but I think it's a really good sign. I think we're getting there. Honest."

"Fun outfits... wow..."

"So, are we good? Think we can hang in there for a little longer?"

"Oh, sure. But, hey, I gotta go. Something, uh, something just... came up, 'k? Call you tomorrow?"

"Sure, I'll talk to you tomorrow. Hope everything comes out all right."

"I'm... sure it will. 'Bye!"

Alice flipped her phone shut and rested her head on the back of the sofa, smiling at the ceiling. Yep, Everything is going to be just fine!


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Day 12

Wow. Despite my whining, I broke 25K yesterday. It feels really weird.

Things are definitely slowing down as the story get more complicated. I expel a chunk, then have to sit and stare at it awhile, hoping another chunk bubbles up from the depths.

It's a lot like having bronchitis, really.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Day 11

In which we are, in actuality, talking about Day 10 since we have not yet written a single word on Day 11. Other than these, of course. Which do not count since they are not in my story. Although if I cut and pasted this blog post and pretended that my main character was reading my blog... oh wait, the interwebs hadn't been invented in 1980. Damn!

As of yesterday, statistics show I am 47% of the way to my goal of 50K, with 23,506 words. Sounds good, doesn't it? Well, uh, there is one slight problem. I am, at most, only a third of the way through my story arc. And most of the action occurs in the final third. Ruh-roh!

Why is this a problem? Because not only am I gunning for word count, but the ultimate goal is to actually finish the damned thing this month. The last two words I want to type on Nov. 30th are 'The' and 'End'. At this rate, it ain't gonna happen. Time to stop describing the inside of the bus my main character rides to work and get down to bidness here!

In other news, I am coming down with a cold. I felt it coming on over the weekend but it finally confirmed its presence yesterday. I was concerned that feeling lousy would make it hard for me to concentrate and get into the story. Well, apparently that wasn't a problem - I ended up with 3400 words yesterday, my highest daily word count yet. As I told Mr B, they ain't all keepers, but the beauty of this madness is that they don't have to be. Hell, it's easy to succeed if the bar is set low enough.

On a happier note, last Saturday I donated $18.66 to The Office of Letters and Light in celebration of* the 18,661 words I "wrote" that first week. If I continue to feel crappy this week (and the phones at work stay slow) I should be able to top that this week.

If you have any spare change lying around, click on the Firstgiving button over on the left and throw a handful to the group responsible for this madness. I'd mightily appreciate it.

* Read: 'to apologize for'.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Guest Post: Evil Twin

Evil Twin has volunteered to entertain you with a piece of our shared history. Back in the day, I was scrambling to find funds for my Brief Yet Disastrous Attempt At Grad School. I asked ET for a letter of recommendation for a small scholarship. She graciously complied.

The Northern Town Garden Club
Northern Town, New England.

To whom it may concern:

It is my honor and privilege to recommend Liz C. for your annual Military Wife scholarship. I have known Liz for four years. We became fast friends on the day that she took pity on me and told me where the ladies’ room was on my fourth day at the new job.

She embodies many qualities I admire. When her husband is on deployment, she sucks it up and takes out the recycling. She does not whine. Her young daughter says "please" and "thank you" without prompting. Liz uses her turn signal religiously, and most important, she plays no musical instruments.

If she says she’ll spend the $500 scholarship money on books, she probably will. She’s cut way back on the beer since we joined Weight Watchers.

Liz is a good military wife and mother, and way too smart to be making copies all day. Thank you for considering Liz for this scholarship.


Evil Twin

I got the scholarship.

This is a bona fide No Shitter. And that is why she's my BFF.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Future's so bright

Whip out the shades, everyone! This Friday Rocks! Eighties-style.

Timbuk3, The Future's So Bright (I Gotta Wear Shades)

On the YouTube page I got the link from, there's a note that the graphics were done on an Amiga 1000 with the very first edition of Deluxe Paint. I think they hold up rather well, don't you?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Nota bene

Today's stats:
Word count: 2280
Total: 15,551
Things in <air quote>Novel-land</air quote> are getting complicated. I fear my frantic pace will be slowing pretty drastically here shortly. Fasten your seatbelts and prepare for rapid deceleration!



Alice rolled her chair back from her desk, stood, and stretched. She picked up the half-full coffee cup that had been sitting untouched next to her computer for hours and took a hesitant sip of the room-temperature contents. Blech. That's just nasty. How long have I been sitting here, anyway?

She headed into the kitchen and dumped the remainder down the drain. She rinsed the sludge out of the cup and set it in the sink. She opened the dishwasher and looked at the clean dishes jammed into every cubic inch of space. Even the ten minutes it would take to empty it seemed like too much effort. Maybe just the silverware. She pulled the basket out and set it on the counter. She opened the silverware drawer. She picked up a fork. She put it in the drawer. She picked up a spoon. She put it in the drawer. This is ridiculous! She slammed the drawer shut and leaned against the sink, arms crossed.

Everything seemed completely overwhelming right now. Was there anything at all good left on the TiVo? Spending the rest of the day on the couch staring at the TV was about all she could handle.

I wish Ted would call.... Coincidentally enough, her cell phone decided to ring that very second. She fumbled pulling it out of her pocket and checked the caller id. Nope, not Ted. Damn. She sighed and flipped it open.

"Hey, Carol."

"Hey, girl! What're you up to?"

"Absolutely nothing! I spent all morning on the computer doing who knows what and am now standing in the kitchen trying to figure out what to do to kill the 8 hours before I can go to bed without feeling like a complete loser. How 'bout you?"

"I'm kind of stuck too. Bob took the kids out and about and they'll be gone until dinner. I putzed around getting some odds and ends done but all of a sudden I feel like I'm dead in the water. Hey, did that guy call today? What's his name?"

"Ted. Nope. I thought things were pretty hot and heavy between us, but nada. We went out Thursday night for Thai and had a major snogfest at his place after but I had to get home and get some sleep for my eight o'clock conference call Friday morning. I hope he didn't think I was bolting. We talked a lot on the phone yesterday but we both decided to stay home last night."

"Well, it's still early. Maybe he'll call later."

"Hope so. He's a pretty nice guy. Probably the best one I've gone out with in a long time. Just don't know if anything is going to come of it but I guess it's too early to tell."

"Yeah, sometime these things take time."

"Yeah, I know. But at my age, time seems like something in short supply."

Alice waited for Carol's response but didn't hear any signs of life on the other end. "Carol? You there?"

"Oh, yeah, sorry. Just spaced out for a minute. I just can't seem to hold a thought in my head for more than a second lately."

"Me too! You should see me, standing here in the middle of the floor turning in circles trying to figure out what I should be doing. It's driving me nuts!"

"That's why Bob took the kids out today. We were driving each other batshit last night. Karl was picking up Pokemon cards one at a time, saying their name, and stacking them in a pile. And the girls got into a 'Yuh-huh! Nuh-huh!' argument that lasted ten minutes, I swear. This morning Bob chased them all out into the car and took them to the mall just to get them out of the house. Sounds like we're all in the same boat."

"Yeah. Hey, it's the second week, right?"

"I think so. Wait... I just checked -- yep, today's the 8th. Looks like we've hit the NaNo Doldrums, big-time. Last week was so high-energy, it's really jarring to come to a screeching halt all of a sudden like this."

"I know! Last week was crazy busy. I had things lined up one after the other every day and couldn't hardly catch my breath. High drama at work, of course, then Ted and I went out, what, four nights? Good times." Alice smiled briefly, but it faded quickly. "But now I feel like I'm completely burned out. Actually, it started yesterday. No wonder Ted and I didn't get together."

"Sure sounds like Doldrums to me. It's taking forever to get the simplest things done, too. I tried to clear the piles of junk mail off the counter and found myself opening up each envelope and reading the stupid things aloud! Insane!"

"I noticed she just now turned the word count off, too. I think she's getting freaked out."

"Well, poor kid, it is her first time. Hopefully she'll push through it this weekend and we can get back to life as we know it. Oops... hold on..." Carol sneezed. "Sorry. I've been doing a lot of that today. But it's better than throwing my hands up in the air and scowling, like I was doing last week. That got real old, real quick."

"God, I hope things even out soon! I'm dying for something resembling normal. And I'm hoping that this Ted thing doesn't burn out too fast. I have high hopes for this one."

"Not to get too nosy, but have you... you know?"

Surprisingly, Alice found herself blushing. "No, not yet. But it's only been a week. I was kind of hoping we'd get together this weekend, but I'm feeling so fried, I'm not sure that's going to happen."

"Fair warning, Hon: She does seem to have a problem with more... intimate moments, so you might not get anything too explicit. I'm just sayin' is all."

"Great. Just what I need: a noob Writer with Protestant Ancestors. Hey, maybe that explains why I decided I had to go home Thursday night. Thanks for the warning. I'll try not to get my hopes up."

"Want to meet for lunch or something? I really need to get out of the house. And despite our ridiculously repetitive actions lately, I don't think there's any way we're going to make it to 2000 here. Maybe a change of venue will help, or at least get her off our backs for a few hours."

"Sure, sounds good. It'll help take my mind off of Ted, too. But we can't go to the bookstore, 'k? I just hate having to read out loud the entire back cover description of every book I pick up. Word count or not, that's just embarrassing!"

"OK, meet you at The Spotted Cock in half an hour?"

"You're on. See you there." Alice flipped her phone shut.

She slowly shook her head. "Ah, November sucks." She headed upstairs to put on something not made of flannel. Stopped halfway up the steps, she glared at the ceiling. "Fair warning, bee-yotch: If you screw up this thing with Ted, I swear, I'll take up sign language!"


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Day 5

Dear Diary,

Last night*, I was wondering something. Now that I no longer have Extreme Election Avoidance Syndrome to send me hiding deep within my <air quote>Novel</air quote> for hours upon end, will I continue to be able to spew large chunks of nonsense, day after day?

Today I found my answer: Probably. Apparently I can spew large, steaming gobs of waste for hours on end, with no particular motivation whatsoever. Thank the universe for small favors, eh?

Today's carnage:
Word count: 2378
Total: 13,271

Today, the relationship between my two main characters was established. There were extended sections of dialog and everything! Of course they both talk exactly the same (like me) but I will deal with that some time in the far future, if I ever go back to edit the damned thing.

But for now, I hereby decree that everyone in my <air quote>Novel</air quote> will talk exactly like ME!

As it was written, so let it be done.

Liz C

* After the champagne, puppies, and diamonds.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It's over!

And life in these United States is looking pretty damned good right now.

Day 4

Note how I am not, absolutely not, posting a political post on this most political of days? Oh, I was tempted, believe me. I even wrote up a nice rant this morning inviting everyone not voting for Obama to stay home. But I would never ever post such a thing.

Anyway, on to the really important business at hand.

Dear Diary,

I have now decided how to refer to my effort. It is known as 'My <air quote>Novel</air quote>'. I spent a good amount of time on it yesterday, and, thanks to the election, an obscene amount of time on it today in an attempt not to think about what MAY OR MAY NOT HAPPEN TODAY OMG WTF IS IT OVER YET?!?

That angst netted me over 3000 words today. And I might even rack up some more if we spent all night in front of the TV obsessively flicking from channel to channel desperately trying to FIND OUT IF SOMETHING HAS HAPPENED AND OMG IS IT OVER YET?

But the Real big news is that SOMETHING FINALLY HAPPENED in My <air quote>Novel</air quote>: the first Big Hairy Deal was revealed. First, my protagonist had to pee in a cup (there's that peeing thing again. I may need to see someone about that) and then she found out she was pregnant.

So here are the stats for today and to date:
Word count: 3013
Total: 10893
I'd really better tighten this up a bit, though. At this rate, I'll have hit 50K and still only be 2/3 of the way through my story arc. Ramble on, much?

Hopefully, the next time I write we will all be celebrating with champagne and puppies and diamonds. Except for those who willfully chose to vote the wrong way. No soup for them!

Liz C

Monday, November 3, 2008

Dream ticket?

We poke our heads briefly into reality to bring you this priceless image:

Is it over yet?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Day 2

Dear Diary,

I humbly submit today's stats:
Word count: 2878
Total: 5108
(Hey's that's 10%!)

Today I brought my second character, the guy, into play. I was nervous about that but it went pretty well. The two characters went out for the afternoon, had dinner, cuddled on the couch, and oh yeah, discussed that whole 'missed period' thing. I described his apartment in great detail. I have no idea why.

And the action contained in that one brief paragraph, amazingly enough, took almost 3000 words.

I just realized that somewhere along the way I jumped from Saturday afternoon to Sunday evening. Crap. Oh well, I'll deal with that tomorrow.

Oh yeah, and we almost got my son's room painted. Just one more coat of red. Hey, next time I decide to paint a wall any sort of deep red, slap me, please. Or at least threaten me with something nasty if I neglect to buy the tinted primer. Thank you.

Liz C

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Day 1

Dear Diary,

Today, in between running and painting Young Son's room and a couple of trips to the hardware store (and a nap), I cranked out the first 2230 words on my NaNo story. Yeah, it's pretty much all 'throat clearing', but nobody said it had to actually go anywhere. I'm going for sheer volume, baby!

So far my character has gone back to work after her lunch break, finished her day, come home from work, gone straight to bed, woke up too early when she realized she missed her period, and spent five hours writing at her kitchen table. And peed, twice that we know of.

2230 words = not quite 24 hours.

Drone on, much?

I suppose for this kind of a project it's a blessing that I can ramble on for hours about nothing. It's going to be a long 30 days for my poor character. Pity her.

Tomorrow: Another character! Rejoice!

Liz C

Friday, October 31, 2008

Call me crazy

[We supercede our regularly-scheduled Friday Rocks! to present this Very Important Message.]

No, really. Go ahead, call me crazy. DO IT! Because I'm planning to do something I have no sane reason to even consider.

I'm talking NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month. Fifty-thousand words in thirty days of forced-march writing. For someone who hasn't written anything resembling fiction in over 30 years*, that's a tall order.

I've been toying around with the idea since I first heard of it last Dec., just after the 2007 NaNoWriMo ended. I got really wound up about it but figured I had a whole year to get over it. I mentioned it here a couple of months ago, just to see what it felt like to say it out loud. I was pretty sure that by the time October rolled around, the Shiny! would have faded and I would have been distracted by something else.

No luck. I may really do this thing.

And that makes me officially crazy. To meet the goal, I'll have to write an average of 1667 words/day. My longest post to date (excluding my throat-clearing exercises here and here) is just about 1000 words, and even that, thanks to my attention span, took a couple of days to shit craft. Hell, my word count for the entire first year of this blog was only about 60,000. And I dare to think I can spew 83.3% of that in fiction form in a month?

Sure! Why the hell not? No one said it had to be good, or even intelligible. No one else ever has to see it. I've even been preparing, kind of: I was overcome by an unprecedented surge of inspiration a month or so ago and drafted the barest outline of a possible story. I worked on it for a week or two and haven't touched it since, but I think about it almost every day. I've read the official guide, and have even been lurking on the NaNoWriMo forums.

I've also set up a FirstGiving page. See, I'm planning on donating to The Office of Letters and Light**, the non-profit responsible for the whole NaNoWriMo thing, a penny for every ten words on my official word count, which will be updated daily (more or less) over there on the left. I'll probably make my donations at the end of each week. If I meet the 50K minimum, that's a minimum $50 contribution. So yeah, I'll be stressing myself out for a month and paying for the privilege. Can it get any better than that?

Hey, wanna sponsor me***? Meet (or beat) my contribution, or even contribute one dollar, and I'll... send you my eternal thanks. Or something. I'll think of something, I promise.

So how will this latest manifestation of Shiny! affect this blog, Dear Reader? It means that November posts may be heavy on the ranting and whining about my "novel". But I still think it will be a grand adventure. A grand adventure most likely resulting in an epic fail, but that could be spectacular, too.

So pull a lawn chair up to the curb, hold my beer, and watch this!

* Bless Mr. Johnson and Mr. Urbane and their struggles to teach us teen-aged Hoosiers the most rudimentary creative writing skilz.

** Isn't that the coolest name ever?!?

*** Evil Twin already has. The gauntlet has been thrown down!

Thursday, October 30, 2008


So when I was 29, I was married and had a kid. I started freaking out about the Big Three-Oh. I was getting OLD! I hadn't GOTTEN anywhere in life! I hadn't finished my DEGREE! And that was a Big Hairy DEAL! I'd managed to finish one year of college right of high school, dropped out before the end of my third semester, and had been hacking away at it piecemeal ever since, one community college course at a time. I had more schools on my transcript than Sarah Palin, fer chrissakes.

Fuck it. I decided I was going back to school full-time to get those last two years out of the way and get my DEGREE. Because then I would have ACCOMPLISHED something.

Hey, at the time it seemed like a big deal.

So I did. I applied and FAFSA-ed and transcripted and I went back to school full-time the next Fall. I started out in computer science, since I liked computers and already did computer-y things for a living, but it didn't take me long to realize that what I really liked was math. Gloriously-abstract-deliciously-above-anything-practical math. And apparently math liked me back. I did well and felt like I was finally doing GREAT THINGS with my life.

I did well enough that I was encouraged to apply for grad school. And of course, if you're going to grad school in math, you want to go into pure math; not the mundane, ordinary, common applied math. (Even if you really liked applied math.)

So I applied and interviewed and GRE-ed and FAFSA-ed and was, miracle of miracles, accepted in the pure math program -- with an assistantship! -- at a Good Private University. Wasn't I the shit?

The term started. I met my classmates and was a little dismayed. I think I was the oldest one (at the ripe age of 31). I wasn't the only married one but I was the only one with a child. I definitely was the only one married to a currently deploying active duty military member, and the only one commuting 45 minutes each way. Hmmm... one of these things is not like the others...

Doubts about my abilities aside, the immediate problem was that I already had a life. One that I couldn't give up for a math-centric lifestyle, no matter how shiny.

The professors, bless their hearts, went about the business of making sure that the STUDENTS paid their DUES, as had the generations of TAs before. But I didn't have a lot of patience for dues-paying. I had shit to do. The tension between the married-with-family life I had and the grad-student lifestyle I was supposed to have escalated. I wanted this so bad, why wasn't it WORKING?

Finally, my MOMENT OF CLARITY came in my first class in Measure Theory*. I had no notion of what in the holy hell Measure Theory was. I opened the deceptively slim, yet somehow outrageously expensive red volume in front of me, frantically seeking some context. I flipped past the title page, searching for the introductory material; you know, the part where the author explains what branch of mathematics this area of study sprang from, major discoveries in the field, blah, blah,blah. Nope. Nothing. The very first words in that book are forever burned into my brain:

Let S be a space.

OK, ok, I know. Anyone who's sat through any sort of abstract math class knows this is just your standard 'define your terms' kind of thing. No big, right? Unfortunately, at that moment, it was big. That one bald, 'keep up, you poser, or go home' declaration somehow severed the last tenuous connection between the math I knew and understood and the huge, scary, wasteland of math OUT THERE that was beyond any hope of comprehension. By me, at least.

I knew I was well and truly fucked.

It took awhile for me to come to grips with the fact that I had failed. I couldn't do this. I had to drop out. Total elapsed time = One month.

As weird as it sounds, I had never failed at anything before. Up to that point in my young life, I had either quit or conquered everything I had put my mind to. I had never failed.

At that moment I became a mere mortal, with limits. I guess that's called growing up, huh?

* Ah, Wikipedia, where were you in 1991??

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Today's Quote

Scene: Breakfast time, weekday morning. Mr. B has joined us, which is not typical on a school day. Young Son is eating his customary Eggo waffle.
Young Son: Yay, Mr B is here!

(chew chew chew...)


Why is Mr B here?

I absolutely lost it. At that moment, it was the funniest goddamned thing I had ever heard.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

3 days, 15 hours, 8 minutes


Karl rolled over on his belly and extended his leg as far as he possibly could. He managed to just barely catch the edge of the door with his foot to shove it closed with a satisfying bang. Quincy and Chloe had been crabbing at each other ever since Mom told them to 'Get upstairs and get the crap off their bedroom floor right this minute!' and he was sick of hearing them.

Mom had told him to do the same, but he figured he had another few minutes to build Bionicles before she yelled up to make sure he was cleaning. He usually got a couple of warnings before the hammer fell and he would really have to get to work. Mom usually didn't make a big deal about the messes in their bedrooms, but she wanted to paint the walls in both rooms next weekend so they had to pick everything up.

Karl looked up from the really awesome creature taking shape in his hands and glanced around the room. Yeah, there was a lot of stuff, but he could probably shove it into the bins and under the bed and be done pretty quickly. Just a few more minutes and he'd get started....


He suddenly realized that was Mom's 'I'm Really Aggravated' yell. Oh crap! It was so hard to hear when his door was shut, and she got really mad if she had to yell more than once and he didn't answer.

"Karl! Please don't make me come up there, answer me! Are you cleaning up?"

Karl dropped his most awesome creature, jumped up, threw open the door, and yelled "Yeah, Mom! I'm doing it, I swear!"

He listened for a moment, hoping with all his heart that he wouldn't hear her feet on the stairs. If he got busted for playing instead of picking up, he wouldn't get any Wii time after dinner. Whew! It sounded like he was safe.

One nice thing about Mom yelling was that Quincy and Chloe finally shut up. Chloe had been a real pain in the butt ever since she got her learner's permit last week and Quincy couldn't stand it. They had been really rotten last weekend at Grandma's - Chloe acting like she thought she was all grown up, and Quincy doing mean stuff, like when she put a hair on Chloe's dessert when Quincy wasn't looking. Karl chuckled at the memory. That had been awesome! The look on Chloe's face was perfect.

Oh well, back to work before Mom came to check. Karl sighed as he turned around to survey the task ahead. As long as there was a lot of rug showing, Mom was usually pretty happy. He grabbed the pile of books on the floor next to his bed and shoved them into the already-full bookshelf. He scooped up a bunch of the Bionicle parts and Legos strewn across the floor and threw them into the bin. Hey, wait! There is that other red foot. Sweet! He bent over and plucked it out, only to see a mask and a couple of other parts that would look really good on his creature. He plopped down next to the bin and started digging, adding odds and ends to the pile slowly growing on the floor next to him. This is going to be amazing!

"C'mon, Karl! I really need you to get this done before dinner!"

Karl whipped his head around to see Mom standing in the door. Crap! He missed the sound of her coming up the stairs. He was so busted. He could tell she was trying really hard not to unload on him, too. Oh man, he'd really pushed his luck this time. He jumped to his feet, dropping the parts in his hands.

Mom walked into the room and threw up her hands. "You've been up here half an hour and you haven't even started, have you?" She sighed, exasperated.

Uh-oh. He was really going to have to get busy before she lost it. "Yeah, I did, really! Look, I picked up my books already. See?" He pointed hopefully to the overloaded bookcase, hoping with all his heart that the pile of books and papers he had just shoved in there didn't fall back out while she was standing there. That would be bad.

"Look, Karl. You're nine now and you are certainly old enough to do this without me having to stand here and tell you what to do. Start with the trash, then pick up all the dirty clothes. You know how to do this! If you do one thing at a time, it will go pretty fast. You have to get it done by dinner or there will be no Wii time. Got it?"

"OK. Sorry, Mom." Karl shuffled around the room, picking up all of the socks and shirts and pants. He threw them out into the hall. Then he started grabbing up all the wads of dirty Kleenex. His allergies had been bugging him really bad lately and they were everywhere! He dumped them into the trash, then turned to finding all of his drawings. Hey, there's that cool one I did last week with the Lava Guy and the Wind Guy and the Lightning Guy... I really should have given them different weapons, though. Where's a pencil? There's one! The other papers slipped from his grasp as he dropped to the floor, grabbed a book, and started erasing Lava Guy's shield and Lightning Guy's sword.

Gee, maybe he should finish picking up first.

He dropped the pencil and picked up the papers he dropped. He shoved them into the bookcase, putting his Dragonology book on top to keep them from falling off.
He turned to survey his progress, and... huh. What is that flashing light up in the corner by the door? He moved toward it, squinting, and... Wait! It was numbers! And it was counting! 992, 993, 994... what in the heck is it?!?

His jaw dropped and he backed away slowly, tripping over the blue Bionicle bin in the middle of the floor. 1021, 1022, 1023... OK, this is getting freaky.

He ran into Chloe and Quincy's room, his eyes wide, his heart beating wildly. The girls were sitting on their beds, sorting through piles of crap. They looked up in unison, scowling.

"Ka-aa-rrrrl," Quincy whined, "you know you're not allowed in here without knocking! Go back out and..."

"Wait, wait! This is important, really! Guys, you gotta come see this! There's this light? Up near the ceiling of my room? And it's counting! It's really freaky and I'm kinda scared... oh man, look!" Karl pointed up to the ceiling, the corner near the door. "There it is! There's one here too!"

The girls obviously thought he was trying to play a trick on them, but the fear in his voice seemed real and they couldn't help but look.

"Wait, I see it!" Chloe said, rising from her bed, the stuff in her hands slipping to the floor. "1176, 1177, 1178, 1179... Quincy! Do you see it too?"

"Yeah, and it's scaring me! Moo-ooo-mm!" Quincy leaped up and ran out the door to the top of the stairs. "Mom! You gotta come up, right now! I meeean it!"

Karl couldn't help but think that every single thing that came out of Quincy's mouth sounded like whining. What a pain.

"What?!" Mom's 'Extremely Agitated' voice floated up the stairs. "This had better be really important, Quincy."

"It is, Mom, really! There's this thing on the ceiling and it's really wee-iii-rrd!"

Mom must've believed her because she came racing up the stairs, an alarmed look on her face. The 'Extremely Agitated' voice was gone. "What, honey? What is it? Where is it?"

Chloe pointed at the light. "There! Up by the door, see? And it's counting! 1312, 1313, 1314..."

Mom stared at it for a second then threw her hands up in the air. "GodDAMmit!" she muttered under her breath. "Can't we get a minute's peace?"

Karl was somewhat reassured that Mom didn't freak out and seemed to know what it was, but he was still wary. Whatever it was, it wasn't... normal.

They all just stared at it, even Mom. It was counting, but not regular counting like a stopwatch. It kept stopping and starting, sometimes even backing up. And sometimes it would stop for a really long time, then all of a sudden it would start counting so fast it was a blur.

Karl looked up at Mom. She was transfixed, staring at the glowing green light with a scowl on her face. He tugged at her sleeve. "Mom? What is it? Is it something bad?"

Mom shook her head and looked down at him, absently patting his head. "No, honey, it's just..."

Just then, Karl heard the front door slam and Dad's cheerful "Helloooo, family!"

Mom turned away from Karl and headed out the door to the top of the stairs. "Bob? We're up here. You've got to see this!"

Dad came bounding up the stairs, a big grin on his face. "Hey, what's up? Why is everyone in here? Are we having a slumber party or something?" He kissed Mom on the forehead. "Hi, Sweetie. What's going on?"

Everyone started talking at once, pointed excitedly at the corner, trying to get Dad's attention. Karl noticed that the counting slowed way down. 1572... 1573...

"Hey, hey, hey! Wait a minute, you guys! Let Mom tell me about it."

Dad turned to Mom, his eyes drifting up to the corner by the door. "What is it, honey? Are the big crunchy spiders back? They don't usually come inside until winter." His eyes locked on the light and he squinted, trying to bring it into focus. "What the hell? Is that what I think it is?"

"Yeah," Mom said. "The Writer. She must have the word count feature turned on."

Karl was absolutely baffled. He had no idea what in the heck Mom was talking about. But he was reassured, once again, when he noticed that Dad wasn't freaking out or anything. Dad just stood there like the rest of them, scowling.

Dad shook his head, kind of disgusted, just like Mom had. "Great. Have I told you how much I hate November?" He looked at Mom. "C'mon. You know she won't stop until she hits 2,000. We may as well go downstairs."

Mom sighed and nodded. "Go ahead and wash your hands, guys. Dinner in five minutes."

"But Mo-oo-om," Quincy whined, "what is it?"

"Never mind, honey. I'll explain at dinner. It's no big deal, really." Mom and Dad headed down the stairs, muttering to each other.

Chloe and Quincy ran to hog the upstairs bathroom so Karl headed downstairs to wash.

Dinner was really quiet, too. And nobody wanted to look at the ceiling.

Finally Mom looked around the ceiling and spied the counter thing, over by the back door. 1830, 1831....

She sighed again and looked around the table. "OK, here's the deal. It's November, and there's this thing called NaNoWriMo when tens of thousands of people try to write a 50,000 word story in 30 days. Most of the time, it's no problem at all. Most of the authors are pretty good and you hardly notice them. But every once in awhile," she glowered at the counter, "you get a Writer who isn't very good and they, well, they get in the way."

Karl struggled to understand. "But what's the counter-thingy?"

Dad leaned forward, resting his arms on the table. "To meet the goal, the Writers have to try to write at least 1667 words each day. Sometimes they set the goal a little higher, just in case. My guess is that this noob... I mean new Writer is trying to hit 2,000 words. She must have a word counter in her word processor, that's all. I bet that when she reaches 2000, that'll be the end of it.


So that's what 2000 words looks like. Huh.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Somehow it's always my fault

Evil Twin sends this cautionary message:

Don't Let This Happen To You!

Be sure to check out this link, too -- the other headlines on the news page are priceless.

Take heart, my friends. In eight days it will all be over. And if something goes awry, you can rest easy knowing that somehow it is all my fault.

(The remarkable thing is that it sounds very much like my Protestant Ancestors. How'd they do that?)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Knock on wood

Pull up your white sox and straighten your bowties, my pretties! This Friday we're Rockin' it ska-core-style*.

The Impression That I Get, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Let's Face It

Definitely a Class-A Friday Rocker. I just plain love it. And I >heart< Dicky Barrett's vocals!

Note to ET: Hey, he's from Providence! Think he likes his soggy Wheaties heated up?

* Don't you love Wikipedia? Without Wikipedia, I would have even less of an idea of what the fuck I was talking about.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Suck on that, beavers!

Goddamn this is funny!

I dunno... much as I hate to say it, the GOP might have the edge here. I think Obama could stand to look a little more fierce.

Gotta run -- I gotta go change my pants.

Apologies to Cary @ LOTD. Dude, I just had to copycat this.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008



Bob awoke slowly. He pushed back the blankets and stretched a good, long, morning stretch as the chilly air hit him. He rolled over to face Carol. She was still sleeping soundly, a thin string of drool connecting the corner of her slightly open mouth to the pillow below. She looked silly. If she knew I was watching her, she would hate that, he thought. He smiled.

He rolled on his back, noting with pride the morning wood saluting him under the covers. Not bad for an old married dad, he thought proudly. He also realized that his bladder needed immediate attention. He climbed out of bed, wincing slightly as his feet hit the cold floor, and padded, still groggy, to the bathroom.

Attending to the business at hand, his brain and bladder clearing in concert, he gradually realized it was Saturday morning, the kids were gone, and he and Carol were at home alone with nothing planned until they picked up the kids from Grandma's tomorrow after church.

He smiled, more broadly this time.

He grabbed a quick drink of water, hoping to dislodge at least some of the morning funk in his mouth. He paused to admire his physique in the mirror, noting that the time at the gym was starting to pay off. He shuffled quickly back to the bedroom and climbed back into the warm nest of blankets.

Carol roused slightly and cuddled into him to share her warmth, a habit ingrained over their many years together. He brushed back the hair from her forehead and planted a light kiss.

"Hey there."

"Hey yourself."

"How you doin'?"

"Good. Still sleepy, though." She kissed the base of his throat.

"Guess what?"


"It's just us, today. The kids are with Mom. We've got nothing planned. We could stay in bed all day if we wanted...." His post-pee-weakened morning wood perked back up a bit at the thought. Sure, they'd been making love for the better part of twenty years, but it was still a hell of a lot of fun.

"Mmm.... yeah, we could, couldn't we?" Carol slid her leg up and over his hip, snuggling in even closer.

Bob slid his hand down her back, gently rubbing her bum. He scooted down to allow his lips access to her ear and neck.

Carol responded warmly, throwing her head back as he worked his way down her throat.

All of a sudden Bob froze.

Carol lifted her head to look at him, puzzled. "What's wrong, baby?"

"I... dunno." Bob pushed himself into a sitting position, rubbing his head in confusion. "Everything was great, really, and all of a sudden it was like, I don't know, I completely had no idea what I was supposed to do."

Carol propped herself up on one arm and looked at him with concern. "What do you mean, you forgot? C'mon, we've been doing this for 17 years. How could you just forget?" she teased. A horrified look crossed her face. "Oh god -- is it me? Did I do something wrong? Should I go brush my teeth? I'm so sorry, sweetie!"

Bob reached over and absently patted her hand, "Nah, you're fine, really. It's... I don't know if I can even explain it. I just... forgot."

Suddenly, Carol sat up and brought her hands to her mouth in astonishment. "Oh, shit. I think I know what it is," she whispered. "Shit! I can't believe it!" She threw back the covers and jumped out of bed, wincing as her feet hit the cold floor. She stomped across the room and started pacing, glaring at the ceiling. "I can't friggin' believe it! It's November first, right? Fuck. Fuck!"

Although Bob always did appreciate her ability to swear, it was his turn to be concerned. She was really and truly pissed. "Yeah, it's the first... what's wrong, honey? C'mon, you're really scaring me here."

"It's the Writer!" Carol said through clenched teeth, shaking her fist at the ceiling. "NaNoWriMo starts today and we have a goddamned noob Writer who doesn't know shit about writing erotica. GodDAMmit!"

Bob's mouth fell open, the light of comprehension dawning as he looked upward. "Oh man. Oh man!" He got out of bed and walked over to Carol, taking her in his arms. "You've got to be kidding me. What the fuck? I'm sure she's made love before, what in the hell is her problem?

Carol dropped her head to his chest. "I don't know. I just don't know."

She turned away and started pacing again, her clenched fists pounding her thighs with every step. "But whatever the hell her problem is, it really sucks! Here we have this great chance to spend all day in bed fucking each others' brains out," She threw back her head and glared at the ceiling, her voice choked with frustration, "Do you have any idea how hard those are to come by, with three kids?!?" she yelled, warming to her topic, "and this goofball nutcase who, out of the blue, thinks she's going to crank out the next Great American Novel in a month comes along and messes it up."

She slowed to a stop, her wrath fading to disappointment, her eyes welling with tears. She covered her face with her hands and just stood there, quietly sobbing and cursing.

Bob dropped his head, his shoulders slumped, echoing her disappointment. He noted with almost clinical detachment that his prized morning wood was completely gone.

"Crap. I really fucking hate November, you know?" He sighed, walked over to the bed, and sat down heavily. He said mockingly to the ceiling, "All those NaNoWriMo wanna-bees with their fucked-up dreams of glory, thinking that they can learn in a month what Real Writers spend years agonizing over. It just makes me sick." He grabbed a pillow and hurled it at the ceiling. It hit the light fixture and fell impotently to the floor, narrowly missing Carol. She was still sobbing and cursing and didn't even flinch.

Damn, he thought. If the Writer is a complete loser, I might not get laid again until December! He punched the bed in anger but it didn't help.

He took a deep breath, exhaled, scrubbed his hand over his face, and looked up at Carol. "Oh well, there's nothing for it, I guess. Whaddya say we get cleaned up, go for some waffles at the Pancake House, and head over to Lowe's? We could check out paint colors for the girls' room."

Carol choked back the last of her sobs, wiped her eyes and nose on her sleeve and let her hands fall to her side. She regarded Bob with an air of resignation, her face blotchy and damp. "Sure. You want the first shower? I'll go start the coffee."

"Yeah, OK." Bob headed off toward the bathroom, shaking his head.

Carol followed him. On her way through the door, she shot an angry glance at the ceiling over her shoulder.

"Fuckin' noob!" she growled, as she slammed the door.


Apologies to Lynn Viehl over at Paperback Writer.

And apologies to Bob and Carol. I'm really sorry. Really. I feel your pain.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Breaking new ground

Mr B and I just celebrated our 18-month* 'Anniversary Season'.

See, according to my records, we have three anniversary-worthy events -- Discovery Day (aka First Email), First Coffee, and First Night -- spread over a seven-week period, which was, conveniently enough, 18 months ago.

Anyhooze, one recent evening we were marveling at our X-treme! longevity (snort!) when we realized that this is the longest either of us had been with someone without either breaking up or getting married. I think we deserve major points for boldly going where neither of us have gone before. Hell, we aren't even shacking up yet**! I want my gold star, dammit.

And here's an even more amazing fact for your consideration: Records that far back are sparse, but the latest computer models estimate that sometime next summer will mark 25 years since we first met. Shit, that's only seven years less than I've known the Ex, and we were married for-ev-er!

So all you 20-somethings out there, keep an eye on those casual acquaintances and co-workers. You never know....

* Yeah, we're still counting in months. Isn't that precious? Although I think we are required by law and common decency to cease that shit at the two-year mark.

** This is not due to any moral/religious prejudice against 'shacking'; rather, it's more likely the result of some combination of exquisite self-control and unabashed cowardice. Or maybe just the latter.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Tenuous at best

Ha! I bet you thought I was over myself and my 'Oh-so-tenuous-as-to-be-non-existant' connections with people of talent. Wrong!

Just last week I learned that Mr B's nephew used to be in a rap group* with Jay Smooth! Yes, that Jay Smooth. I was so tickled pink that I am still beside myself**.

Speaking of Jay Smooth, here's his latest:

The truly sad thing is that you know there will be people who will watch this and think it's real. "Oooo, scary black community! Too dark for America!"

And that, Gentle Reader, scares the shit outta me.

* Aren't I hip, with my mad street lingo?

** Which, although fun, makes driving rather awkward.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Things can only get better

You've come back for your Fridays Rock! fix, eh? Thought you might. Sure, I'll hook you up.

Things Can Only Get Better, Howard Jones, Dream Into Action

Ah, memories old and new. This song came out when I was in my mid-20s and is therefore permanently engraved into the fabric of my brain. As my mental facilities (continue to) succumb to the ravages of time, one of the last things to go will be songs from the early to mid-80s. I may not be able to wipe myself, but I'll be able to holla 'Whoa-whoa-whooooa' at the top of my lungs.

More recently, right after I split from the Ex, Howard Jones played at our small theater downtown. I bought one ticket and went by myself. It was probably the first social-ish thing I did by myself during the period of Maximum Chaos right after All Hell Broke Loose.

I'm not a hugastic Howard Jones fan, but dammit, I had a blast! It was just Howard (sans the lovely 'do) and a guitarist, and they played their asses off. Almost the entire audience was my age (duh!) and we all sang our little hearts out. It was a great show.

As advertised, things only got better. And as good as things are today, I believe the prediction still holds true.