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The tricky landmine of logic and lust

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Well, I have an opportunity to date someone.

It’s this guy I know through a friend. He saw some comment on FB I posted on the mutual friend’s wall and he got in touch with me. He turned out to be really cool. Intelligent, witty and sarcastic, and he likes a lot of the same things I do. He gave me his HBOgo password so I could watch Game of Thrones. We emailed back and forth for a couple of months, but never talked on the phone or met in person until late August when he invited me to go see a stand-up comedian downtown.

I was nervous and almost bailed. I’m confused. On one hand, how fun it could be to have a boyfriend again, right? Especially one who is a lot like me and is easy to get along with? But on the other hand, I am planning to move to NJ. If I start something serious here, now of all times, it could really suck when the time comes to leave. (PS: I haven’t told him about NJ yet.) And finally, I’m still not sold on the idea of a relationship. As nice as romance and sex could be, it does bring certain expectations regarding time and responsibilities to remember important dates and to contact your partner on a regular basis (probably every day, right?). I’m feeling a time-crunch every day as it is. So many things I want to accomplish and spend time doing. Not sure I want to give up any of that time right now.

So, we met in person at last. All signs pointed to, “YAY!” He was really fun to hang out with. We laughed and talked easily like we were old friends. He’s like me with going off on tangents and taking weird humor a little too far; we had a great time together.

I think it will be great to hang out with him some more. We did it again on Friday night when we went to see Tom Green (who was hilarious, by the way). I remember laughing really hard in the parking lot as we walked up to the club because we were trying to do different accents and both of us suck so much at it. “Everything winds up going back to East Indian,” was the conclusion we made about our terrible abilities. During the show, we sat next to one another and shared a plate of pretzels and he brushed against my arm many times.

After we hang out, he sends me nice messages that say “I had a wonderful time with you” and “your eyes are so beautiful. I tried not to stare since I know you’re weird about eye contact and all of that, and I didn’t want to creep you out. But I really like looking at you… ok, now I do¬†sound creepy. I can’t win.” ūüôā ¬†It makes me feel nice, and it’s flattering that he enjoys spending time with me and clearly has something of a crush on me, too. I can tell he feels that way when we are together, because of the way he looks at me, the little gestures that are kind of “we are on a date” in that he won’t allow me to pay for anything, and he’s a total gentleman.

HERE’S THE PROBLEM.

I am not physically attracted to him. ūüė¶

And I feel awful for not being attracted to him. I feel so superficial and stupid, because I know it shouldn’t be all about looks and all of that. I do know that.

My secret thought is that, if I do decide to have a boyfriend again, I want to have the whole package. Someone who is fun and caring, but also gets my heart racing in that way.

In the vast majority of my past relationships, I have ‘settled’ for good enough, or what appears to be good enough at the onset. I know I am bad at picking good boyfriends and (gasp) husbands. I also know that I usually always concede the ‘sexual attraction’ thing.

Awful confession: In my last two serious relationships (including my marriage), I tolerated sex. Or, I would start off wanting it and then it would fade away fast. In the first case, Writer Ex didn’t enjoy sex with me after about 6 months or so, anyway. He even told me something inside me hurt him. Later, I found out I have severe endometriosis and my organs were all meshed together by scar tissue, pulling things in the wrong direction, so that could have been what was bothering him (and me! Ouch!) but the psychological effect of someone saying they didn’t want to be full-out intimate, yet they still wanted to cuddle and stuff, messed with me in a big way. I felt repulsive and sadly, not very feminine or confident. Plus, the longer I was with him I was turned off by HIM. He wasn’t a good-looking guy at all (some say he was my all-time homeliest boyfriend)¬†but back when I met him, I was all attracted to his personality and sense of humor and the fact that we both loved writing so much. He became attractive– for awhile, anyway. It all faded. We mutually agreed to end our engagement in an almost-painless conversation that was laced with relief. Weird.

And then X came along. I know now that he was mostly a rebound from Writer Ex. He was not attractive at all to me. In fact, I was flat-out turned off by his shaved head and blue eyes. He reminded me of a skinhead or something. But he was very nice and caring back then. He was so attentive, and so different in his affections and level of attention than Writer Ex ever was. He did amazing things to impress me back then; these romantic gestures and surprises that had me in awe because no one had ever been that nice to me. We had a few shared interests and we did laugh and stuff. He had a decent job, a house, and was very responsible and adult.

I thought I had found The One… and the fact that I didn’t find him sexually attractive was something I decided to overlook. Make the best of it and DON’T BE A SUPERFICIAL JERK. Some things outweigh looks.

And we all know how that mess turned out in the long run. How his super-attentive and responsible side took over and crushed everything in my life. How he was insanely possessive and bossed me around like I was a little kid who didn’t know anything about the world. How he put dozens of restrictions on me, including who I could spend time with and how much time I could “reasonably” spend with those people. It was the ugliest, most nasty relationship I have ever had. It got so close to destroying me. He found my vulnerable psychological spots and he pummeled the shit out of them. Even when I made my case, pleaded and downright begged, in tears, for him to ease up on me, he wouldn’t do it. Leaving him was the most wonderful decision I have ever made.

After those two consecutive debacles, it’s easy to see why I enjoyed living on my own, not dating or even caring one shit about men, for the next 5 years.

Sure, I wonder¬†sometimes what’s wrong with me, why I don’t feel the urge to get out there and try harder to attract male attention. Part of me wants to be in a relationship, of course. I’m only human and I do have some hormones at work. YET, I routinely find myself saying “I can’t be bothered” with “all of that” and I always mean it. I try reaching out and giving the dating/attraction thing a go of it every now and then, but in the end I appreciate the moment of, “Oh, the hell with this, I’m gonna go write” too much to keep trying.

And so, that brings me to my current dilemma.

I feel like I should feel ashamed on my gut reaction, which is to wait for the whole package this time.

At this point in my life, I feel strongly that I deserve the very best match for me that’s possible. I’ve had it with guys who treat me like shit. Yes. But it’s interesting, because at the same time I am also done with guys I am not actually attracted to. Guys who I say are “good enough” and, in the process of trying to Be Adult About All of This and realize that Looks Don’t Matter in the End, I decide to give them a shot.

I’m tired of not feeling magic when I kiss someone. OK, I am a LOT out of practice, at the moment, but I still know all too well that¬†feeling of “well, this is OK” when I kissed past boyfriends/husbands. And I also remember how it felt to kiss the good ones and go, “Holy shit, this is HOT!” Right now I want a spark, damn it. A real, honest to God, two-way attraction. I was lucky enough to get it once or twice in my younger life, and now I want it again.

At the moment, the way I feel about Funny Guy is… I feel like he is excellent guy-friend material.

Ugh.

I’ve had guy friends like this before, and I love them. But the thing with these particular guys is they just don’t seem like potential boyfriends. They seem like buddies. Someone to be crude and stupid with in my joking around. The sex-spark is never once ignited. At least not for me. In fact, it’s almost impossible to see them in “that way.”

So, now I am caught in a tough place. Today,¬†Funny Guy¬†pretty much asked me on a date. He said we should go to the movies together sometime, and in the last email he said, “Let’s make it a date! Yes, I said the d-word.”

And I am like, “OHHHH NOOOO.” Cue sad-face.

I have to reply to him somehow, but all day I have been agonizing over what to say or not say. Three main options here: 1) I thought about just acting like he never said “the d-word” and keep going with¬†my natural reaction, which is to not let it go there. 2) I could try to find a way to word it so he knows where I stand, and do it without hurting his feelings. 3) Or, I could go with it, go on the damn date, and see how it feels. Give him a chance.

Damned if I don’t even want to try the third option. I know. I suck.

Here’s a perfectly good guy on all initial accounts. He and I have a great rapport. He doesn’t date around (he’s also been single for a really long time). He has a decent job, and takes care of his elderly mother. He is humble and kind. All of this is important shit.

And here I am all cringing at the idea of possibly kissing him.

He’s not repulsive. People who see his picture have said, “Oh, he’s cute” or “Oh, he’s not bad.” OK. That’s something.

But as I think of it, it’s almost a subconscious thing that’s guiding me, here. Something deep inside that says “nope” and tells me to keep this one on a friend level. It could be a basic chemical reaction, like you read about with pheromones and compatibility on a genetic level– a sixth sense, in a way. Or it could just be me being afraid of having a boyfriend again, period. Or I just don’t like him in that way, and that’s the end of it. Either way, I feel something telling me it’s OK if I don’t want to kiss this guy, or spend too much time with him.

I’m not sure what to think. Trust my gut, or let my brain step in and be logical about this and give the guy a chance for all the right reasons.

I hate this crap!

 

 

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A lack of interest… in me.

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I’m feeling a bit dejected today. I haven’t heard back from a handful of agents I queried weeks ago. I am out there on Twitter, commenting on blogs, reading everything I can about the current market for science fiction and YA, and all of that has led to me thinking my book’s not good enough.

I think my plot might sound boring next to some of these high-concept, high-drama books. I don’t know. Maybe my style of writing just isn’t marketable. I was thinking today about what kind of books inspired me most back when I first began writing novel-length stuff, and that’s easy: The Catcher in the Rye, and The Outsiders.

Both have male protagonists, both have more of an internal-struggle plot–not a big ‘defining moment when everything changes’ plot– and both are more interested in the MC’s point of view as they go through certain situations.

My first novel was maybe my best in terms of writing a believable male protagonist who goes through a defined, clear plot. Also, he was nothing like me. He was a jock, a smoker, a guy who was dealing with a family going through divorce and issues with his older sister… I created everything from nowhere. Part of me is wondering if I should just go back and rewrite THAT book, and submit that one around to agents. At least it’s more of an adventure. Things happen, stakes are high, the MC can be killed at any time (and nearly does die at the end). These are the elements today’s hot books NEED TO HAVE.

Does my book have those elements? No, since it’s more like CITR and Outsiders. But are people interested in reading¬†those kind of novels right now? Umm…¬†I just don’t know anymore.

I’m circling a lonely little drain of self-doubt right now. (That’s why I came here. To whine about it.)

I¬†participated in¬†a stupid little Twitter event today, where you have to pitch your book in 140 characters or less. Super difficult to do! Anyway, agents read over all the tweets with the corresponding hashtag, and they favorite or reply to pitches they’d like to see as a full query. It’s been a few hours and no one’s favorited my tweet. ūüė¶ Hey, I know, it’s just a silly Twitter event and it doesn’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things. There are a LOT of tweets out there with the hashtag to sift through, and maybe the right agents for me just aren’t on Twitter today. Maybe. Still, seeing other tweets getting favorited and commented on left and right is making me more than a little jealous and insecure. I should just shut it all down for the day and not look anymore.

The other thing bothering me today is not knowing where things stand with this guy I’ve been texting with for a week now. Long story short, but last week after drinking some booze and laughing my ass off watching Parks & Recreation, I went online and scoped out dudes on that site OKCupid. I saw one that made me go, “Oh. Wait a second, what is THIS?” and I made a quick profile and messaged him one short sentence: “Nice Dalek.” (He’s a huge Doctor Who fan, and one of his pics was him with a Dalek.) I didn’t expect a response and was only doing it half-seriously. The next morning, I even had that regret moment of oh, boy. Did I just throw my ring into the online dating fray last night??

But he responded. We wrote emails on the site all day on Friday, and he sent me his phone # so we could text. And text we DID. Holy shit. I have lost count of how many texts I have sent in the past week. It’s been a lot of fun, and he sounds like a pretty smart, intuitive and nice guy. It’s a little weird he hasn’t tried to just call me by now. I can handle it, though. He said outright he hates talking on the phone. But the other day, he said he thought we should meet in person soon to see if we had actual chemistry in real life, since everything was going so well in our texts. I agreed, we started talking about where and when, and then he asked about my sexual expectations and the texting went all serious in tone for a day. But he didn’t say anything that was a dealbreaker for me. However, did I? I was 100% honest with him. He brings out the honesty. He’s a behavioral health counselor (which I am completely fascinated by) and very blunt with me, too. Anyway, I wonder if I scared him off or said something wrong.

Because yesterday and today, our texting dropped off significantly. He hasn’t said a thing about seeing me this week. I kinda feel like something has changed his mind. I don’t know what. It’s probably something on his end and not something I did or said. I know that. But it still sucks, because I was getting my hopes up about meeting him and now I don’t know if it will really happen or not.

(I think he is either way too nervous and afraid to meet me, or he is talking to some other girl and might like her more. He said he had his heart broken about 6 months ago, so he’s probably scared of dating again.)

I’m thinking of texting him and flat out asking if he wants to meet up soon. See what he says. It’s just weird he was all gung-ho about it and then it just disappeared, like we’d never discussed it.

FUCK. See, this crap, this drama, these games, whatever… this is precisely the crap I do not want to deal with. This is why I am not actively trying to date. I don’t like the guessing game shit. It’s probably for the best if he weirds out on me, because my life just goes back to the way it’s been and I don’t have to deal with a guy, a relationship, with all that bullcrap.

Well, there it all is. I’m frustrated about the lack of agent responses, my writing itself, and now this guy. It does feel better to just vomit it all out here on my trusty ol’ diary blog, though.

The tale of two agents

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I can safely declare the Writing Conference a complete success! Here’s the rundown:

I left around 7am on Friday, with printed directions from Google, because I still don’t know how to use my GPS in the car. It’s not that I tried to understand it and couldn’t figure it out; it’s because I don’t care enough to find out how to use it. I do like seeing the map that tells me where I am at any given time, though. It’s pretty.

The drive out took longer than expected, mostly because of traffic once I got closer to Los Angeles. After Indio, CA, in fact… it was all a pain in the ass. But at least I didn’t get lost, and my car behaved very, very well. All in all, it was 409 miles.

I liked the hotel. Very contemporary, and most of the Conference activities were right downstairs. I didn’t use my car until it was time to leave on Sunday. My room was nice, but there was a strange little problem: the toilet smelled bad. It got better after the cleaning crew were in there, but it only came back as the hours went by. I have no clue what was wrong, and I didn’t care enough to bitch about it. I just kept the door closed and tried not to think about it.

Which wasn’t hard to do. I had so many other, wonderful things on my mind the entire time I was there!

The speakers were great. I took all kinds of notes and learned quite a bit about the publishing business itself (the legal issues seminar was of particular interest) and got some fantastic ideas and new techniques to try out as I build a story. I loved it so much… just being there, surrounded by people just like me, listening to speakers who clearly knew what they were doing and were willing to share knowledge with the rest of us, and only thinking about writing… ahhh! I can’t really explain it well, but it definitely felt¬†amazing and totally new.

What a vast difference it is attending a conference like this, where I personally care about the subject, and attending conferences for work. Never once did my mind wander off somewhere else as a speaker talked. I didn’t feel like taking a nap in the middle of the day. And I didn’t question my life choices that led me to this point in my life. (Which is something¬†that tends to¬†cross my mind at least a¬†couple of times whenever I am working at a conference, for the past 12 years or so now… I’m always like, “This can’t be all I am meant¬†to do.” I’ve always wanted to be a fiction writer, so I’d spend all those other conferences daydreaming about my books. I have the notes to prove it, too. Some people doodle when they’re bored; I write scenes and notes.)

I made a couple of friends there, too. Friday night was a cocktail reception to mingle with the other attendees. I stood in line for the cheese and crackers in front of a girl with my same first name, and we started chatting. Turns out she is writing a YA fantasy novel and we tried our pitches out on one another. She lives in CA now, but was born and raised right here in Mesa. We talked about local restaurants and quirks of the city (ahem, Mormons everywhere) and basically hit it off. It was fun to just blab about the process of writing, of walking around with characters in your head all day, of the anxiety and excitement we felt about being there at the conference… I’m really excited to have made a new friend. We plan to become readers for one another if we’re working on something and we need an outside opinion. Yay!

I also noticed at least 3 very cute guys there. One was downright sexy, actually. Dark, curly hair and scruff… he was always smiling and chewing on his pen. He wore a 3 piece suit the first day, which was enough to make me nuts right there. Something about a classy, well-dressed, scruffy (!) guy in a suit just wows me, lately. And to know he was a bit of a nerd… a writer?! Too much, too much! I really was dying to find an excuse to talk to him (especially once I noticed there was no wedding ring), but it never materialized. Not to blame my new friend, but my best opportunities happened to be moments when she was talking to me and I couldn’t just walk away from the conversation. Oh, well.

It was just nice to see that kind of eye candy. And know that there are smart, handsome guy writers out there. They do exist. That’s such a relief. Maybe one day, just maybe… I can land me one of my own.

Saturday afternoon was the Pitch Slam. Every single person I talked to was nervous and freaking out as we stood in line to go into the room where the agents waited. People were rehearsing their pitches out loud to themselves, and one woman was apparently meditating with something in her hand… a crystal? Or a cross? No idea.

I had only come up with my pitch in the hour prior to the PS. I’d gotten ideas throughout Friday and Saturday regarding what I should do and what points I should hit, so at lunchtime I went to my hotel room and wrote the whole thing out on the tiny hotel notepad. Then I practiced reading it out loud, timing myself… and I came in under the 90 second mark, which was the goal! (We had 3 minutes total with each agent. The first 90 seconds, the author makes their pitch. The remaining 90 seconds was for the agent to give you feedback about your pitch, how you can improve it, ideas for what to do/ not do, etc… or, if you were lucky, they’d give you their business card and ask you to send some of your work to them because it intrigued them.)

So, I went down to the PS feeling a lot better now that I had a pitch in my hand. I didn’t plan to read it, of course. But now I had a real idea of what to say about my book that would make it stand out. That’s all I wanted.

It was PACKED in the PS. I think there were at least 12 agents in there, so there were also 12 lines of people lining up to talk to each agent. Some lines were so long, they snaked into a curve around other lines. Suddenly, I was very nervous.

I finally got up to the first agent and felt like I was bombing. It was because I wasn’t breathing right, and my face was all hot and blushing. But I pushed through, said my main points, and waited to hear the criticism. However…

The agent smiled and asked me a question I was able to answer really easily (and I can’t recall what it was now!) and then she slid her business card across the table. “Can you please send me the first 50 pages of your manuscript? I’d love to take a look.”

H O L Y  S H I T ! !

Unbelievable. I had prepared myself mentally that an agent asking for a partial was unlikely, because the PS event’s real purpose is to help you develop your pitch, itself, with feedback from real agents.

I went to my second agent. She was visibly excited and said, “Oh, wow!” twice about two of my major plot points. When I told her how it could be marketed (it’s a cross between this and this), she said, “See? You just did one of the more difficult things for a writer, and the agent both: you gave me the marketing line. Wonderful!” and then, under her breath, she actually said, “I could sell this.”

This agent wanted to see the first 3 chapters, as well as a summary paragraph of what my plans are for the sequel!

I was TWO for TWO.

Much, much, much more than I ever expected! I don’t know why I am so convinced that no one’s going to like my book and they will only think I’m weird for writing such a story, but I’m finally learning to get over that and have faith in my work. It’s good. It is. I worked so long and so hard on this thing. I have revised and edited like crazy. It’s time to see what everyone else thinks!

I spoke with two more agents after that. The third was receptive but told me that my story sounded a little too sci-fi¬†for her, but my pitch was excellent. The fourth agent was just STRANGE. She just sat there and stared as I told her my pitch, and when I ran out of time, she just raised her eyebrows and goes, “Thank you. Good luck,” and looked to the next person in line. Later, I heard that she did this with pretty much everyone who pitched to her, so I didn’t feel bad. Maybe she was a robot. The PitchBot 2000!

So, I rode the high of knowing two agents were interested enough in what I told them about my book to want to see more. The feeling is amazing, and so validating. My family and friends are just as excited as I am, and now I can’t wait to do the actual queries now that I’m home and I’ve had time to tweak my query letter and develop the summary to the sequel.

So, in the end, this was the most worthwhile experience. I am so grateful I was able to do it, and that I gathered my courage and did what I set out to do: pitch the hell outta my book. Pitching isn’t easy, at all. But I did it. That’s what counts!

I’d love to go to another writing conference sometime. Too bad so many of them are expensive! I’ll just have to see how things pan out. For now, I came home with all the takeaways I could have hoped for, and the crazy-amazing bonus of two agents’ personal business cards… I’m good for awhile.

What the Pitch Slam looks like!

We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun…

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^^ That stupid song is in my head today. Chris Elliott sang it on an episode of Get a Life once. Just those lines.

So, that had nothing to do with ANYthing. ūüôā

The Halloween event was fun! My sister and I assembled badges for the exhibitors, staff and patrons with a group of people. (There was something like 700 total that had to be put together.) Everyone was really very nice. There was even a cool little kid that was talking our ears off and making us laugh. The geek cred on this kid was out the window, and he was only about 9 years old or so. He told my sister, “Nice Dalek shirt!” and held his own in a Doctor Who conversation that even I couldn’t follow. When we were all talking about Labyrinth and quoting it, he had the funniest line of the night: “David Bowie needs to wear some pants.”

Indeed he does, young man. Indeed he does.

On Saturday I got to have lunch with my sister and BIL before she and I went to the actual Halloween event. We bought stuff. Not a lot of stuff, but still… they had a lot of cool Halloween-themed things to buy there. It was awesome.

The last time I went grocery shopping, I bought some booze for myself. Why? Well, it occurred to me one night last week that all the writing might be just a teeny bit more fun if I had a slight buzz going. So I bought some wine, and did one of those 6 packs of beer where you can mix and match. I have only had one glass of wine so far, but it actually was a good time to sit and work on my book while drinkin’ the wine! I was very happy, too, that I have 14 chapters completely polished and ready to go. Now I just have about 10 more or so to go… (Part of this revision process is determining where new chapters actually start. So I don’t know what the final number will actually be at this point, but my guess is somewhere around 25.)

Yesterday I devoted to yard work. I did a lot, but I didn’t finish. I physically couldn’t go on. My back was getting that telltale “it’s about to blow out on you” tension, and I knew I had to lie on the floor and let everything just go back into alignment for a little while. My hands were shaking from all the clipping (I was mostly pruning hedges and the trees, and filled up the entire green recycling bin) and I was definitely overheated, with a bright red, blotchy face and sweat actually dripping on the floor if I shook my head. Eww.

Look, I don’t mind getting sweaty and dirty. I like the feeling of accomplishment that only comes from hard, physical labor, I really do. But sometimes, I have a day like yesterday where I am surprised¬†at how exhausting it really can be! And gross. ALL of my clothes were soaked through, and I had a dusting of tiny leaf-clippings and¬†yard dirt¬†stuck in the sweat and in my hair. And I had enough of it. That shower felt incredible.

Last night was the season premiere of Once Upon a Time, so I had to watch that. I also finished reading that book Touch¬†that I started a couple days ago. It was pretty good! I definitely feel confident mentioning that publisher and this particular book in my pitch (where it’s applicable, of course) for my own book. (Something along these lines: “Readers of Lucy by Laurence Gonzales, Touch¬†by Jus Accardo¬†and the Maximum Ride series will like this book…”)

Today I went to the dentist before work, and got great news: My tooth is not cracked, after all! And the sensitivity I am feeling is the usual sensitivity I’ve been dealing with for awhile¬†with all the exposed dentin on my molars. There was a raggedy new chip in one of the teeth, but no decay or anything. The dentist–who is a new dentist, taking over the practice from the last guy–¬†even poked at it (carefully!) and the pain that I braced for didn’t come. Whew! He also didn’t think a crown was necessary at this time. And to think the previous dentist recommended I not only crown that tooth, but also crown the perfectly healthy coinciding tooth on the top! I did NOT like the idea of doing that.

This dentist also had a surprising insight into my tooth-grinding. As he looked at my teeth, he wondered if I actually grind my teeth that much at all. He suspects that, back when I had my braces, the orthodontist may have actually sanded down¬†my molars so the metal bands would fit better around those teeth! Because, my top teeth are fine with almost no wear that would indicate grinding. I don’t have jaw pain or anything, either. I thought this was fascinating. So, all these years, I have been blaming myself for wearing down my teeth like this, and I might not have done it, after all…? Weird! Well, I am still going to wear a bite guard every night, like I have been for 14+years now. No sense stopping that. Still, wow! And screw you, Dr. Scott! You shouldn’t have sanded down my friggin’ molars to make your job easier…! I knew that guy was a sadist. All the kids who went there knew that.

Anyway, it’s time to head out of here and go home soon. I think I’ll be working on the book again tonight for as long as I can. I have an in-town conference/meeting tomorrow in Phoenix all day, so I won’t be in the office… I should probably write my work article instead of my book, but honestly… I really don’t want to! I want to do MY stuff! So I will!

1851 Dream House

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Oh my god, you guys.

If I had the means, I would buy this house in a heartbeat! It’s in my price range, too. ¬†‘Course, it would mean moving to NJ and being in a beautiful historic neighborhood near the bay, just a couple miles from my Dad… what a hardship it would be.

It’s a Greek-revival, all-brick, 5-bedroom house built in 1851. LOOK AT THIS SHIT. It makes me want to puke!!

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Can you believe that crown moulding, and the curved doorways? They said in the listing this house has the original doors and hardware. I’m serious, when I saw this house I actually felt that sensation of my heart skipping a beat. I felt nauseous and hairs stood up on my arms!!! Why? Because this is pretty much my dream house. I absolutely flippin’ love super old houses, brick, porches like that, and that kitchen could not be prettier! (I don’t need 5 bedrooms, but I could easily let some trusted family member or two live with me…)

Plus, I bet this house is haunted as hell!!! I wonder who that dude is in the old photo over the fireplace? It would be a blast to dig into the history of a place like this. See who lived there over the years, find out stories about the people and the house… ahh!

I do well in haunted houses!

I wish I could just drop everything, and go to NJ with a stack of money.

Beware the Double-Click!

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I forgot to include this in my last post, but guess who accidentally paid the new, higher car payment TWICE this month?!

Yep. I did.

I paid online and I clicked submit twice. Like a jackass. I can’t believe I did that. Especially THIS month! I had to pull over money from savings to cover it. At least I don’t need to make a payment in July now. (I called and checked to be sure!)

In refinancing news, I found out it doesn’t make financial sense to refinance right now. I already have a sweet-ass interest rate as it is, and the closing costs wrapped into my loan coupled with higher mortgage insurance adds up to 80 something dollars MORE each month! So, that’s that. It’s OK, though. I’m steadily paying this thing down as it is and soon…hopefully sooner rather than later… I’ll reach the point where I can sell and cover my ass.

It could be a lot worse.

I’m back to being grateful for what I do have, again. I had my day or two of feeling stressed, scared and sorry for myself and now I’m done. I’m just going to be smarter going forward, that’s all. None of these problems are permanent. I’m lucky for that.

What I love and what gets on my nerves

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It’s been a long time since I did some fun lists. This is the perfect time, since if I don’t do a little throwaway post like this, I’ll end up writing about the #1 thing that has been on my mind (it’s a family thing) and there’s no need to get into all of THAT here on the blog. Not right now.

THINGS I LOVE RIGHT NOW:

* Cashews. (No surprise there! They’re still soooo good.)

* The album “Some Nights” by .fun

* The Island of Doctor Moreau. It was one of the free downloads on Amazon and I started reading it yesterday fully expecting to get bored and give up on it, like I do with most classic novels, but I ended up staying up late reading it last night. Cool! Anything with animals and freaky-ass science experiments always pulls me in. I’m surprised I haven’t read this book yet. I saw the terrible movie with Marlon Brando years ago, but fortunately I forgot almost everything about it. (I only remember Marlon Brando having a tiny Mini-Me person, mostly because South Park mocked it… and that at one point, MB put a bucket on his head.)

* When Gremlin is rolling around happily on my bed, being all goofy and affectionate, and he inevitably rolls right off the bed. I think he is doing it on purpose now, because seriously dude: How many times do you have to roll off the goddamned bed before you realize you shouldn’t be rolling right¬†around at the edge like that? Oh, well. At least he’s cute.

* For the first time in years, I made my sister some birthday presents. It’s all possible because I cleaned out my office and organized all of my craft stuff. Now it’s a pleasure to go in there and find something. I “made” her a necklace (I put that in quotes b/c I only bought the chain, jumprings, pendant and closure and used pliers to put ’em all together… I don’t think it qualifies as true “making”– more like “assembling”) and put some adorable¬†iron-ons on a T-shirt. It was nice to finally use some of the things I’ve purchased over the years and shoved away in the big, cluttered bins I had where all the craft/art stuff went to be forgotten. Sadly, the necklace I gave her? I had bought all of that stuff for last year’s birthday. But hey, at least it finally got done and now she has it. It feels good to “make” things.

* Fresh lemons. I love how they look, how they smell when I peel them, and how they taste in fresh juices. It’s so funny that very few juice recipes call for an entire lemon (or two)– I guess it’s too tart for most people?– but I’m always throwing a whole lemon in there just for one tall glass of juice. I really appreciate lemons now b/c the other day, I was making my green juice and realized I was out of lemons so I used a couple of oranges. UGH. Not so good. All citrus fruits are not created equal. That’s for damn sure.

* My Kindle. I’ve been using it much, much more than I even expected I might. I added one game on there, too (Falling Blocks) so I have something to do for times I might not want to devote my full attention to reading. It’s really a neat device. I still feel weirdly guilty, though, for not reading my paper books right now.

* When my friend K puts her son on the phone and he talks to me… I melt. He’s 3 now, and he told me the other day about drinking from a silly straw and he was just ridiculously adorable. “The juice goes round and around and around and mmmm, it’s GOOD!”¬†I have such limited contact and experience with little kids, so these little tidbits are pretty awesome. I love the things that occur to him to talk about, and the stories K tells me. It’s neat to hear about his emerging personality. I love that stuff — the stuff you can’t predict¬†regarding what a kid will be into as they get older. ¬†

* The pomobasil¬†sauce at Alessia’s¬†Italian restaurant. We were there the other night for T’s birthday and even though we’ve been there before, we definitely don’t go there enough. Very few red sauces can compare to this stuff. It’s so fresh and light. Ooooh, I want some right now…!

THINGS THAT GET ON MY NERVES:

* Photos of myself. UGH, I think I look awful anymore! I would be cool with someone submitting me to What Not to Wear¬†because damn. I need a makeover or something. I look so schlumpy, chubby and plain. Something’s not right with my hair.

* My sprinklerheads¬†in the grass out back. They’re only spraying a limited distance lately and I have a feeling I need to do some heavy labor to unclog all the sprinkler openings to remove hard water buildup. Nope, that won’t be fun.

* As the Prius shifts between electric and gas motors, it’s been lurching lately. Sometimes, it feels like I have the thing in neutral because I’ll floor the gas and the car remains sluggish and draggy. I probably need to take it in to make sure everything is OK, because I don’t think it was doing this when I bought it. At least I have the warranty. Whew.

* The word “kitty” or “kitties”… I don’t have kitties. I have CATS. I don’t know why I am bugged¬†by “kitty” so much, but I am. Also, my guys are too cool for a girly-sounding word like kitties. They’re dudes. They’re cats. End of story.

* This one, I feel bad about because some of you use it, but I have to be¬†honest: Furbabies. I just can’t do it. To me, it sounds silly… and also, I immediately picture human babies covered in thick, nasty-ass fur. Like wolfmen babies. Yeah, I can’t do it. Sorry. ūüė¶

(…now that’s¬†a furbaby.)

* The way my boss says the word “wolf.” He says “wuff.” Oh man, I totally want to tease him or shame him into saying it correctly! But that would be mean, so instead I’ll just blog about it.

* Sunshades¬†for my car. I can’t find a friggin’ shade for my windshield that fits. I have bought two now, and both have been terrible disappointments. The first was too tiny. So I bought a “jumbo” sized one (another word I hate: JUMBO) and it fits, mostly, but it’s super floppy and is a pain in the ass to set up and fold up again. Who knew a Prius would be so difficult to find a shade for? The HHR¬†also was impossible, because the windshield in that car was so incredibly small… but it wasn’t as bad with the HHR since the sun wasn’t coming in such a big surface area as it is on the Prius.

* I’m sad that I am not loving my car right now. I want to love it, and I do love a LOT about it, but something’s off. I can’t put my finger on it. I hope I didn’t make a mistake.

* Hand sanitizer. Normally, I am a fan of it. But the other day I had something in my eye and without thinking, I reached up to pull out the hair or eyelash and the sanitizer hadn’t dried all the way. Yeeeouch! Hey, it’s just a little annoyance, and one that occurred due to my own stupidity, but still. It bugged me.

Now, if I could only stop drinking the damn stuff to get buzzed…

My post-Conference post

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I just got back from Baltimore for our Conference. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been, which says something. I dread travelling for work, because most of the time I end up so dead-tired and drained that I fall asleep trying to take notes during sessions, and I get crabby because of a lack of alone-time. However, this trip went pretty well and I remained pretty upbeat and positive throughout the thing.

Sure, I did have a lot of work to do there, but the days went relatively fast and during downtime, R and I went down to the Inner Harbor. We went on a boat tour around the harbor right when we got there on Saturday night. It was cool because we learned about all the sites along the water and it was a boat with a bar. We both had a couple glasses of wine and sat up at the front of the boat, enjoying the breeze off the water and watching the sun slowly set. Ahhh. So nice. This was the correct thing to do first, for sure, because it kind of set the tone for the rest of our time there.

We ate dinner most nights down at the harbor, too. We got my boss J to come with us twice, so that was good. (If we hadn’t brought him along, he wouldn’t have ventured out of the hotel! He said so himself. Anyway, he ended up having a great time with us and it was good that my two work-friends got to bond a little more.)

R and I also toured two historic ships in the harbor while we were there: The USS Constellation, and the USS Torsk. I will probably do another post about the ships… a post with photos!… since I took a whole lot of pictures. I was inspired to write a couple more short stories while I was there, one of which will take place on that exact sub.

My flight back home on Wednesday is where I ran into trouble. First, the airline wouldn’t let me bring my carry-on suitcase on board, even though it was still within the size parameters. Why? Because I was in the last group to board, and all of the space in the overhead bins was taken. So they forced me to check my bag, and I wasn’t happy. I have had bad luck with checked luggage in the past, and since I was on a connecting flight stopping in Dallas, I had a sinking feeling that me and my bag wouldn’t see each other for awhile.

Next, we land in Dallas and there was almost no time to get to the next flight. I had to just rush over to another terminal and only had time to grab a fruit cup and a bottle of milk at an Au Bon Pain near my gate. I had been hoping for a more substantial meal, but since I was due home in Phoenix by 5:40, I figured I could wait and the little snack would hold me over for the 2 hour, 50 minute flight to Phoenix.

The plane was, once more, packed to capacity. And I was assigned a middle seat. Son of a…! But again, I told myself it was just gonna be a short flight and it would be fine. But then, the hours dragged on and on. I didn’t have a watch, but it did seem like a lot of time was passing. I kept just-missing announcements because I had my iPod on and I’d only realize they were doing an announcement in time for the last few words or so. Finally, I heard one of the announcements: There was a bad storm in Phoenix with high winds, and the tower in Phoenix wasn’t going to let us land. We had been circling around over New Mexico for awhile, just wasting time and fuel and waiting for the go-ahead to land. Well, after a couple hours, it never did come, and the plane was almost out of fuel. “We’re going to Las Vegas to refuel and then we hope to get you folks to Phoenix soon after that,” said the captain. The whole plane groaned.

Overall, I was on that plane for about 5 hours. I was starving and had to pee like crazy, but the lines to use the bathrooms were quite long and they kept telling everyone to remain seated/ go back to their seats so not everyone got a chance to go to the bathroom. It was pretty miserable, actually.

We finally landed sometime between 8:30 and¬†9:00 in Phoenix. I¬†felt terrible b/c this¬†was one time where I had asked someone to pick me up. Usually I just park down near the airport and drive myself to and from, but this time my sister said she could pick me up. She headed to the airport to be there in time for the 5:40 arrival, but of course the flight was seriously delayed. She and my brother in law just hung out, left, went and got dinner, came back again, and the plane was still delayed, so finally¬†I told them I’d call/text when I landed, and one of them could come get me at that point. It sucked to ruin their entire night like that. I was probably more upset about inconveniencing them than I was to be stuck on that bad flight for so long. Fortunately, they were super-cool and understanding about the whole thing.

And¬†man, I was shocked when I saw my suitcase come around on the luggage carousel! I can’t believe they didn’t lose my bag. That was so¬†nice and unexpected.

I had the next two days off and I just putzed around mostly, going shopping and riding my bike. It was pretty sweet to have a 4 day weekend. Saturday was an excellent “hang out with my sister” day for the most part, too. I drove us around because, well, NEW CAR. It’s still fun to drive that Prius! I can’t wait to get the windows tinted, though. It’s getting so hot outside already.

For Mother’s Day,¬†we took Mom to Texas Roadhouse for dinner, since that’s where she wanted to¬†go. It was just the 4 of us¬†like usual: me, Mom, T and BIL. It was a¬†good meal, actually… I admit I love their¬†food, too. After that we went back to T’s house, because she’d made a homemade cake. We then watched the season finale of Once Upon a Time together, which was fun.¬†

So that’s my summary of what I’ve been up to for the last week or so. So exciting, yes? By the way, the drive to blog is dying for me. It’s just not there like it used to be. I think that my days of posting every day or every other day are behind me. I’m moving on to other stuff, I guess. Like what? Well, I don’t know. Reading. Writing my own stories. Working. Quality pet time, now that there are 4. And now, exercise again. I know I’m not the only one cutting back on the blogging. For some time now, other bloggers have stepped out of the game or just haven’t posted at all, and it’s the way it used to be with all the mutual comments and stuff… Oh, well. Life goes on. And blogging doesn’t need to be a big part of it! That’s totally cool with me.

A piece called ‘Shadow Magnet’

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I’ve decided to share this with you guys/girls, not for any particular reason other than I just sort of feel like it! It’s one of the pieces I’ve been submitting here and there, and the one that’s technically creative non-fiction.

Two things first:

1) I hereby claim this story as my own original work, and copyright it March 2012 under my legal name, L.J.A. So don’t even think of stealing this! I keel ya, I keel ya dead, I will.

2) The title is the name of the song that we were listening to in this story/essay. It’s from one of my favorite atmospheric albums of all time, “Duality” by Lisa Gerrard and Pieter Bourke. (Lisa Gerrard later composed the equally haunting “Gladiator” soundtrack, if you’re curious.)¬†Here’s the song.

OK.

Here’s “Shadow Magnet”:

Wind lapped at our hair, and the nervous feel of letting go of the gas pedal and yet not reaching for the brake stirred my stomach. The road was simple — two-lanes, twisting through black trees and night. No houses, no buildings on either side. Just dense forest and beyond that, an uneven canvas splashed with untamed mountains.

            During a brief stop outside of Flagstaff, we had put the top down so now we were cruising along quickly in the late May air unfettered. There weren’t many other cars on the road, perhaps because it was a Monday night. The weekend crowd was long since tucked into their beds, getting ready for another day of commuting down congested pathways to return to gray Formica desks and chipped white coffee mugs.

            We began to notice that something was changing about our road trip. My best friend and I were no longer reliving the moments we had just had in Las Vegas, or reminiscing about high school. We were becoming still, the way old friends do, and slowly let our bones relax in their joints and sink into the white leather seats of the car. It was a gradual thing that had been happening since the sun had begun to drop behind us, but in the exhaustion of a full day of driving we hadn’t taken notice. Until now.

            Ahead, my headlights brushed over the yellow line and made a full sweep of the trees and banks of earth crowded out to the edge of the road. I wondered if the trees and plants had moved out there just to study the alien cars as they sped past. But the rest of the time, the trees hung back in the forest and told stories to their saplings.

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Kristen had been playing one funky song on repeat for the past half hour or so, and she asked if she could put on one of my CDs. ‚ÄúI‚Äôve been saving this one until it was darkest,‚ÄĚ she said, teeth flashing in the dim console lighting. I was glad she thought of this particular CD that way. I agreed without answering and she hit play.

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† The soft, ethereal mandolins and other ancient, wavering instruments I didn‚Äôt know the name of began to swirl into the air. My fingers flew to the volume button without thinking. A woman‚Äôs low, moaning singing voice wove between the instruments seamlessly, and it was at that moment — when the music became echo-y and fully surrounded us — when we came over a small hill, the trees broke and we saw the rocks.

            Anyone who has driven the mundanely-popular Highway 89 south into Sedona has seen these rocks before. They tower majestically against the sky during the day, strangely Mars-like. Impressive under the forever-turquoise sky, yes, but also the stuff of gift-shop postcards printed in China. At night, those same rocks present like malformed, hunched giants wearing skirts of swaying pine trees and oak. The music combined with the sight we were seeing before and above us made my mouth fall open, and I thought I could actually slow time if I measured out my breaths. It would be quite welcome to be sealed up in a time capsule at that instant, so I could always be hearing this song and forever feel those moon-coated rocks overwhelming the small person that I was.

            We were still pretty far from town, and we didn’t want to get there. I didn’t want to see artificial lights, artificial anything. I slowed down and switched the headlights off so that it seemed we were sliding down the hill in the dark, towards the open, gnarled arms of the pitch-black, whispering, alive forest. Kristen gasped next to me, yet not from fear. It was the beauty and excitement of losing ourselves submissively to the ethereal part of the world.

            My stomach fluttered, and my eyes began to tear up from the wind. No. Not the wind, but the undulating vision in my head. I glanced quickly to my left and saw, in the dark, a family of trolls scampering up the embankment with rocks poised in their gray fists, ready to hurl at us. Up on the road ahead, there was no yellow line anymore, but there were shadows of trees and outlines of phantom women twisting in the moonlight.

            The music was leaving thick trails in the air behind us as we drove on, the wheels clinging to the earth just barely. The ghost-glow of the moon fell everywhere, and I realized without looking up that it was a full moon. The ripe sheen fell on my own hands, my silver rings glittering in between shadows. I breathed deeply and felt my blood begin to tingle in my arms and feet. The music was inside me now, and not just all around me and on my surface.

            As the music continued to swell, I spotted skeletons peering out from behind trees, heads tilting curiously as the living swept past them. The music had called many creatures out that night. Owls with human faces dipped down in the air above us, the stars outlining them as they followed us along the darkened road. A mountain rose suddenly on our right, very close to the road, and a huge, wide mouth dropped open to blow its warm breath of dirt, leaves and creosote out at us. We sailed through the cloud, our lungs sucking in sweet, ancient air. My car had become a chariot driven by invisible black horses that galloped on pillowy hooves. I didn’t have to steer, since they knew the way.

            Up ahead, there was something weaving through the tangle of tree trunks and making its way toward us. Was it a floating parade of Titanias and Oberons, bearing torches of honey and twigs? The twinkling amber eyes of a dark green, three-mile long serpent?

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Two headlights were on top of us in an instant. It jarred my breathing back to an everyday stress level and I flipped my headlights back on, disappointed in the technological simplicity of it. My shoulders sunk down just a bit, and Kristen tensed as the car whipped past us and was gone again. Another car was coming up the road, and another behind it. The tree sprites, bears and ghosts retreated back into the woods, and some even watched us go — I glimpsed them in the low red glow of my taillights in the rearview mirror. We didn‚Äôt want to return to civilized thoughts, but my car was pointing there and it wanted to go to a place with gas stations and glowing fluorescent lights. And the song had ended.

-End-

I have no brainpower today

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You know, today might be a 5-Hour Energy day. I’m so slow on the uptake today. My memory is crap if someone asks me about articles I have in the works. In my Monday meeting just now, I had to say “I’ll check my file back at my desk and let you know” when usually, I can answer questions off the top of my head. Blehhh. I don’t like feeling this way. It’s a whole lot of fuzzy thinking and I almost feel like I’ve been drugged.

I haven’t been drugged, of course. Hell, I don’t even have aspirin in my system. What’s wrong is I’m just not feeling well. Yesterday I felt sick all day with a bad headache, sinus pressure, fatigue and ear/throat pain. I know it was because the weather was cold, windy and rainy. My sinuses are super-sensitive to changes in air pressure and humidity– it’s ridiculous. I slept a lot yesterday, which was nice, and I used the neti pot with warm water a couple of times, trying to flush out/ soothe my sinuses. I didn’t sleep well, but that was probably because my brain was going a mile a minute. I kept thinking about my book, the shows I’m watching right now, the book I’m reading, and probably a few other things.

This morning it was still chilly and overcast outside, and I was surrounded by warm, fuzzy creatures who only wanted to snuggle and/or lick me (that would be Gremlin, the champion forehead-licker) and it was tough to get out of bed. But I did it, and got to work on-time and everything. Yay me.

I’ve got to admit I’m considering asking if I can go home. I won’t actually do it, though. I’d rather save my sick-time for more serious or more painful conditions. Mostly, I’m just tired and that’s not a good enough excuse. In the meantime, I’m going to scrounge up one of those 5-Hour bottles and chug that bitch right down my gullet. And maybe take a brisk walk around the lake or some crap like that. Anything that will wake me up and get my brain functioning again.

OK, here I go. Time to getzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz (Oh, look. My head fell on the keyboard, conveniently on the z button.)