Tuesday, November 30, 2010

She's all, No!

You weirdo peoples of the earth, I am telling you what.

Here, translate this and see if you come up with the same results I do:

Dr.: Nothing else has these symptoms! Everything points to M.S.!
Me: Holy crap! Is that what it is?
Dr.: I don't know what else could it be!

That is a paraphrase but tell me, does that or does that not constitute a doctor telling you that you have it? Huh? I mean, it does.

I don't know what else it could be was not in a mystified manner but in a manner indicating that that's what it was. Also we had this whole conversation about the symptoms and how to manage them and how it progresses and which kind this is and when to call for an appointment and whether we'd try medication and on and on. It was like a fifteen minute conversation.

Anyway today I finally heard back from my emails and she's all, No! I never diagnosed you with that! Never happened! Nuh-uh! Which is why I'm not treating it! Because you don't have it! Or something!

I am UP TO HERE with people saying things and then saying they didn't say them.

On the completely unrelated plus side, today a thorn in my side got pulled out, by a lion. Or a mouse pulled it out of my lion paw. Something like that. Fables, thorns, out! That sort of thing. I am exceedingly pleased about the lack of thorn. BOY HOWDY.

And in another plus side completely unrelated to either of the previous topics, I'm feeling delightfully free of my heinous novel that was dragging me down so much I felt like I was all hauling manacles around for the past month. Manacles of doom! Heavy ones! Made of iron and stuff! But no more. Today I'm all light and fluffy and you may imagine I'm wearing a crown of daisies and romping in the meadow with the Trio. We are as gods!

Which leads me to the next thing, in that I was sitting there at work thinking about Ovid, the way one does when one is somewhat obsessive about Ovid, and also thinking about Meg Cabot, and then I got this awesome idea. I know! I love awesome ideas! I'm getting the impression that I tend to get the world's best ideas on Tuesdays more than any other day. Do you think that's true? Could be.

So I'm in love with my Meg Cabot/Ovid idea and absolutely filled with delight about it.

I don't know what I want to write right now, but I have lots of lovely ideas, all of them for books (or other things) I would actually want to read/watch/adore/have action figures from and so, woohoo!

I'm probably going to do that supremely fun thing where I write up lots of notes about several of them and write about characters and work up an outline and think and think and stare up at the join between the ceiling and the wall a lot and get very startled when someone walks into the room.

Also, I'm done with my turkey. No more turkey! No more yams or spinach or szechaun green beans! Well, I baked a yam for tomorrow's lunch. And packed up some carrot sticks and a bunch of steamed kale.

I'm on a mission to make my black jeans comfortable and wear them every single day until people are like, "Jeez, you're like Charlie Brown or something, always wearing the same outfit." And I'll say, "I have four pairs of black jeans, though, see?" And then I'll have to sew some tiny applique rose to the left knee seam of one of them, and a tiny iris to another, and a tiny oak leaf to the third, and a tiny heart to the fourth, so that I can prove they're different ones, like tattoos for your jeans.

That's probably what'll happen.

So the mission involves a) avoiding meat (it is easy to avoid meat since it rarely leaps at you and forces you to eat it), b) avoiding baked goods (again, fairly easy, since they don't exist unless I bake them), and c) exercising the crap out of my evenings. Instead of sitting on the comfy couch (which is a little squashy right now, alas) with my feet sticking out of the quilt so they can soak up heat from Radiator Serge and reading Harry Potter on the music stand while I knit Christmas presents. For instance.

I might also go for walks over lunch, weather and wobbly legs permitting. Honestly, I think the walks will help *cure* the wobbly legs, since some of that is now weakness. Must! Get on! Nordictrack! Slacker!

I had one of those rants-to-myself in the car on the way home, where I had to turn off the radio because it kept interrupting, shhhhh, can't you hear I'm talking here? The rant involved things like vegetables! grain! yogurt! fruit! and something vehement about oatmeal for breakfast, I believe. Ooh, I'd better go cook that now, come to think of it.

So anyway dinner turned out to be steamed kale (LOVE THE KALE), brown rice, and some carrots. The sort of thing I love so much it's almost embarrassing how penitential it appears. No, dude, I'm in love with this stuff. Om nom nom. Kaaaaaaaaaaaale....mmmmmmmmm.

I'm still feeling very irritated with the doctor for a) sounding very sure when she wasn't, I guess?, or b) backpedaling vigorously when she was sure before, or c) wimping out on making a difficult diagnosis, or d) waffling among a, b, and c. I still feel completely convinced that it is what she said it is. I was convinced before I ever saw her. It's exactly like it, see. And she SAID SO. Grrrrrrrrr. Anyway the truth is the truth no matter what we think or say or whatever. It is as it is and no waffling or wondering will change it. That's the great thing about the truth. It's just TRUE. Whether I know it or not. So whatever it is remains true despite all of us, see what I'm saying?

I love that about the truth. I think I am actually a truth cultist. Cult of the truth! It's out there, you know. Mulder said so.

I'm also still feeling elated that I'm not weighted down by that dismal book. So there you go, it all balances out. Plus of course the giant dose of baby-holding serotonins or whatever that was.

Here is how babies are awesome:

--You start doing things for reasons you don't understand, because we have these instincts, apparently. And that is super cool.

--The serotonin thing. I am not kidding.

--Um, actually I think that accounts for most of it, because in all pragmatic ways they're kind of needy, noisy, messy little critters, but of course we need them or there wouldn't be any people in short order. Right.

I have to go knit and read HP7. I'm only on page 563! And it's nearly bed time. I went to the store for necessary item after work and tried to make myself purchase foods but all I got was cottage cheese. Because my head was going, "But we have yams, and potatoes, and kale, and carrots, and a squash, and cranberries, and yogurt, and rice, and corn chips, and dried beans, and barley and quinoa and cornmeal and flour and sugar and syrup and figs and frozen spinach and butter and popcorn and cat food and...." Who could buy groceries in the face of that? Plus, who would need to? It's just that the fridge is appallingly empty. There's nothing on the shelves. But that's because the veg is in the crisper drawers.

My phalaenopsis is going to bloom! And the jewel orchid is going to bloom a bunch, my most faithful bloomer. It's the paphiopedilum I used to get to bloom the most, but it got broken when the hanging baskets fell a year and a half ago and now it's two plants but the bigger one is still in water. Must pot that soon. It's thriving but, I mean, it should be in bark. Maybe others will bloom, too. They get happier the longer they're in the same spot. Hard to believe how few orchids I have now compared to the old days, huh? But these are mighty! They went through Death Valley without air conditioning and have lived umpteen places in what, five states? Orchids say: SETTLE DOWN.

Am all full of healthy delicious food instead of, er, gravy and pie. I predict great things. Great things!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Accio zees

Zees as in zeds. Oh so tired.

The non-hat Thing I'm knitting is on my head, very warm and cozy it is, too. But I'm so tired I'm going cross-eyed and running out of energy to read my book. It's not even 7:30. I think it might be illegal to go to bed. Small children don't go to bed this early, sheesh! But all my work is done except of course for knitting this Thing.

I'm feeling the familiar Christmas knitting madness descending, where it seems like there's tons of time but no time at all and it all feels like the dreams people in books have of running in mud.

I don't have those, but I did have a dream where I found out I had cancer and kept trying to call my parents but kept getting some nice Canadian guy who was very pleased to have someone to talk to and kept chatting to me. Over and over. I guess that's a good parallel. Who the heck dreams about Canadians as Canadians? I mean, since when is that a salient characteristic such that it's a trait of someone in a dream? WEIRDO. (They are everywhere! Being all nice and stuff!)

My mom took off this morning while I was at work, as planned. I am pleased to see she managed the garage door and the human garage door that you have to slam really hard to close at all. I was worried she'd have a struggle, not to mention worried that she might slip on the skating rink that is my driveway, but she managed all of it just fine, and I'm sure turning the heat in the office to 80 was a mistake and she meant to turn it down to 40 like we talked about in passing. Most likely. Sure was cozy in here when I got home, though, unlike my usual feeling that I'm living in a walk-in fridge.

I need to knit or otherwise construct a nightcap. Well, I have one. But it's polarfleece, and you know how polarfleece can kind of squeak like fingernails on the chalkboard? Yeah. That sets my teeth on edge, which is anti-restful. I'm thinking maybe flannel, though flannel can kind of do that too. Maybe a soft, stretchy knit fabric. Actually I have a blue knit skirt that is far too narrow to be seemly so maybe I'll convert it into a nightcap.

I seem to be allergic to the frelling naproxen now, studies show. I mean if I take it I get hives, so, um, don't take it. I emailed the doctor to ask what to take instead, oh yeah and can I see a specialist please like I asked for a week ago, because SERIOUSLY, this is annoying. And getting worse all the time. BLARGH. Oh well, maybe I'll hear tomorrow and see someone awesome and they'll be like, "Well indubitably it is an acute case of the rare jibba-jabba jimjams, and here is the cure," scribble scribble Rx. "Take two and be instantly relieved of all annoying autoimmune-related symptomatolology. Voila!"

That is probably how it'll go.

Once I finally eat up all this Thanksgiving food (tomorrow, I think) I'm going to wait a decent interval and then bake a cake. Doesn't all this healthy food make you want cake? I know! It's all vegetables and restrained butter usage and whatnot around here. Oh the humanity! And pie. Ooh, yeah, that's not so healthy. Never mind.

Besides being all warm and cozy and making it infinitely easier to get to sleep due to warmth, nightcaps give you awesomely hilarious hair in the morning. It's a great way to start the day.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Look, the dog is sleeping on the rug! The cat is under the day bed! Mom is in the shower! All's right with the world, more or less!

I got to see tiny baby Ryan yesterday. He is VERY SMALL. I'm not usually ever around babies that tiny. They put him in a sort of Moses basket on the kitchen counter while we all ate leftovers, though my stomach was insisting it ate already that day and would have no part of it. So I just had cranberries and then later pie, ha! I love how the logic goes: I'm not hungry! So only sugar, please!

Silly bunny.

Yes, I seem to be anti-food lately, absurd when there's all these delicious leftovers. Yesterday I didn't eat all day until about 3:00 and then could not face food at 7 with everyone. I think that's weird. License to indulge and no desire to do so.

The closest I came to actually having Thanksgiving dinner was when I brought a fez of Thanksgiving leftovers assembled platewise to work Friday and ate that for lunch. Otherwise it was bits and nibbles, and of course eating a drumstick when the turkey got done and Julia said, "Eat the foot!"

The day bed is insanely comfortable and all the quilts and things were very warm and cozy. It turns out I don't mind twin beds as long as there's a back like a couch back. You know I thought about building my twin bed in L.A. into a day bed ALL THE TIME. If only I'd gotten the Skil saw back then! Or I bet M. has one. See. I think the lesson is: GO FOR IT.

I generally think the lesson is GO FOR IT, come to think of it. Well, most often people don't when they should! Is what I'm saying. Yeah!

The housepets are lying there looking at each other instead of following each other around the (very small) house, which is quite an improvement. Mr. Kitty was so very glad to see Rollodog! They licked each other's faces and kitty rubbed against Rollo's legs and they sniffed noses. Oh boy the interspecies housepet adorableness goes off the scale when a dog and cat who used to live together are reunited. Yay!

I'm repeatedly confused by the concept of a human making sounds in the house who is not me. And, like, how it sounds when someone talks...from another room! That I'm not in! Very odd. I've never had a guest here before, have I? Not to stay over. And it wouldn't have worked this time either except I knew my brother had that inflatable twin bed that I borrowed and bought him a new one of after the first one got moldy that I could borrow and then will replace at a later, better funded date.

Meanwhile I have a COUCH. A comfortable couch! I might never get off it.

Except I really need more tea. More tea!

The baby, man. He is tiny, as mentioned! They make humans really small. He apparently nurses for 45 minutes every two hours, which is already taking its toll on his poor mother, who gets approximately zero sleep. Their household is a bit of a stressful place right now with everyone having eighteen cows except the aforementioned exhausted mum.

Did you know they say mum here? It's what they say. Or more commonly mumma, which I've never heard anywhere else. Also bum. It's like creeping Canadianism! I like it. And of course there are Tim Hortonses everywhere you turn. Not toque, though. Hey, someone write a story where Maine gets annexed by Canada and becomes an Atlantic Province and nobody notices except we get the RCMP and health care. Half the cars at the mall are Canadian already.

I would love a story about a genteel revolution where Canada politely points out our aggression and mismanagement and sets things right in a quiet way. Like, during the Superbowl or something, when no one would notice. And then things are just mysteriously better. Oh, Canada!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Writing rules

You guys, I hate my book! And only today realized why: I would never in one million years READ this book. I broke rule #1!

The rules of writing:

1. Write what you would like to read.

2. Write with love and sympathy for your characters

3. Have a plan (or don't)

4. Always be going somewhere (not literally, necessarily)

5. Plan good act outs or it will read like pudding

6. Don't just stand around and talk

7. Everything in the story has to be doing more than one job

8. Tell it in a nice straight line. You can mix it up later.

9. Torture your characters

10. Try to make Hank quit

That's all I've got. I got most of them except #5 and crucially #1 and also somewhat #2, but rule #1 is #1 FOR A REASON. You will never be happy writing a book you would not want to read. For one thing, you're going to have to read it. Whoops! A lot! Over and over and over! In detail! Excruciating detail!

It should be the kind of story you'd grab on the way out the door to the hospital when you know it's going to be the only book you have for the next two days. (That makes me kind of hyperventilate, thinking about that. I might need one of those electronic reader thingies one of these days. Being without books = HELL.)

I dunno, dystopias? Do I like to read those? I'm not sure. There's The Dispossessed, which subtitles itself An Ambiguous Utopia, accurately. Those Mockingjay books are dystopian and awesome, but kind of fizzled into suckitude towards the end. Quite a lot of YA is dystopian, now that I think about it. I suppose because it's aimed at an audience discovering an imperfect world.

So anyway, unless I find a way to turn it into a singing, dancing, fully-developed-character-having, sympathetic-antagonists-having, gloriously engaging, scientifically accurate gripping saga of awesomeness and whatnot, I am not so sure it's happening.

Here is what I like in books, about which you are free to say NO DUH: fundamentally good people in impossible situations who find their way to awesomeness both internal and external by the end. That's it! That's what I like! So I should write that.

Meanwhile, I'm going to go make garlic popcorn before going to dinner where I generally end up allergic to the food, though odds are good it will be leftovers that I made myself, in which case I'll feel silly, but it's either that or pack a sandwich and I didn't bake any bread. I'm saving my Thanksgiving leftovers to feed my mom, of course! I might have to make another Thanksgiving dinner next week since I somehow ended up with very little actual food out of it. Hmmm! That was the POINT after all but the fridge remains stubbornly empty despite all of my persistent not cooking anything because I just cooked for days and days and then left most of it at someone else's house. Oh, right.

Mmmm, popcorn. It's that stupid black popcorn that's too light and flies all over the kitchen out of the popper, but oh well. I will sweep the floor! Whoops, I should have done that already. Dang it. I'm off!

Friday, November 26, 2010

This bed is all deflatey

Hey, I forgot that the inflatable bed deflates itself! Spontaneous deflation! Whoa!

This is going to make it tricky to sleep on it, y'all. Someone please explain to me WHY I put a leaky inflatable mattress back into the inflatable mattress storage fez? What the what?

I could use the queen sized one, but the idea was to have a functional couch as well, for visiting humanoids. I don't know when my mom is arriving tomorrow. Oh, I should call and find out. I'll do that after I eat some popcorn. After these szechuan green beans.

Mmm, szechuan green beans.

I was getting the house ready and in fact got a LOT done, but then I was tidying up the bedroom (mostly done!) when my legs got wobbly and said SIT DOWN and also EAT SOMETHING. They are bossy legs. And they have a way of enforcing their diktats. Dude, is that a word? I guess so!

Damn, I want to get a mattress for this couch. The whole needing tires for the car situation is going to push that back even more. Dang, argh!

I cleared the computer off the table/desk and made it so that two people can sit there and eat foods simultaneously! Of course there's only one *chair*...but there's also the sewing stool. That'll do nicely as supplemental chairage. It used to be sole chairage! Remember that?

You know what I love? When people in tv shows treat the camera like either a mirror or a monitor. I absolutely love that! Remember when Gaeta used to do that? They do it on Doctor Who sometimes. They're doing it in this episode with the mighty Jagrofess and Simon Pegg. Yay! And the odd boy I had completely forgotten who is apparently traveling with them. Who the heck is that boy? I don't remember what his deal is. Was he working in the mogul museum with the sad Dalek?

My alarm clock's batteries are dying, with the interesting effect that now it beeps in Morse code in the morning. It used to go beepbeepbeepbeep! beepbeepbeepbeep! and so on. Now, yes, a system of dots and dashes. I'm not sure what it's trying to say to me because I always hit snooze and conk back out. What do you think, should I write down the messages and translate them? But maybe it's only saying GET UP, because that is what the alarm clock says. It's a mystery! Mysterious! Communications from time itself!

I wish that food refilled my leg operation gas tank. It does not! But that doesn't seem to stop me from trying. Getting hungry and tired wears it out but then only time (aha, a theme) fills it back up.

Okay one last randomized thing, though it's quite possible time is a theme here too: my hair is growing out very fast, as always, but get this: it seems to be growing OUT. As in horizontally. It's hilarious and somewhat mad scientist-ish. I'm 67% sure that at some point it'll go, "Oh, gravity," and return to the more or less vertical with that triangular effect, but we shall see.

This bed has gone so flat that where I'm sitting is now squashed down to the slats below. Humph. Time as represented by directional motion and a change in entropy. Is it increased or decreased entropy when a mattress deflates? I'm thinking increased.

Rugby is on tv. Yay! I love rugby! Hey, you know how to alienate people? Say: "Football is such a stupid game. It's all just these guys built like furniture crashing into each other and falling down. Now, rugby, that's a *real* game." It's perfect. Try it! Soccer makes them madder, but they really have no answer to the rugby comparison, because you can say things like: "Oh yeah, well, in rugby? No pads. No helmets. Not even shin guards like in soccer. Football is for wimps." Heh heh.

I love when the kitty jumps on the couch/bed and he's almost at eye level because it's squashed where I am and poofed up where he is.

Okay, we have a plan. My mom is going to the brotherland (babyland!) and I'm going to go over there and see the baby and she'll follow me back here. Because of how my house confounds the GPS and all that. Plus, baby! I want to see the baby! If I'd thought in time I could have gone on my way home from work but I did not, plus the rapidly icing roads (it was 33 degrees and dropping with freezing rain falling) and bald tires sent me scurrying home very, very carefully.

I think if I inflate them more, they'll rest more on the middle and less on the outer edges where they're so very smooooth. I looked at the tracks in the slush and you can totally see it. Telltale tracks!

I must go wash the dishes now. And tomorrow morning the laundry. And tonight clean the bathroom. And tomorrow vacuum. I already shoveled the front steps and cleared all the front-door-blocking fezzes of fabric and trampolines and things out of the way. (I don't use the front door, obviously.) Still need to scout for more cat toys the dog might eat. Busy busy busy!

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Kitty is very pleased with his offering of turkey and keeps sniffing my head, which I think means I cooked a turkey today. Let's hope his dish full was enough and he doesn't devour me in my sleep.

Came home with my own leftovers cooked elsewhere, which is odd. But there was literally no food in the fridge but two kinds of pie, so good thing I did.

Nap time!

Oh my lords of Kobol, please do not ever make Thanksgiving dinner while chasing an energetic three year old all day long. I mean it came out fine but now that blessed nap time has arrived and she's finally stopped singing the songs from Sleeping Beauty or whatever and gone to sleep, I am ZONKED.

I stopped in the middle of mashing potatoes to go set the DVR for the Capitals game, then stopped in the middle of that because my brother called to say the baby was here, YAY! Little baby nephew! So very exciting! Exactly term today, too, so well done, sister-in-law!

They are bringing her turkey dinner in a little while. Phew! Awesome!

This house is also very full of turkey dinner and every kind of side dish and two kinds of pie. I still have to finish the potatoes and make the gravy. I suspect I reek of sage. Sage! Isn't that some kind of witchy de-cursing herb? Maybe it can work on the communications curse thing!

Buffy marathon! Awesome! Buffy is the Thanksgiving show for me bar none. If only I'd remembered my DVD of Pangs, drat it! But I remembered everything else and I can watch it tonight. Oh look, Drusilla is torturing Angel, who's tied to the bedposts with no shirt on. I still say Boreanaz is better looking now on Bones. Shocking heresy, isn't it?

I am all parched. Child care leads me to neglect my beverages. Put the kettle on! Hup hup! Go!

Third person

Little niece is running around narrating everything she does in the third person. She was being Mowgli (running around in her underpants) but then she switched to Cinderella (underpants plus purple tutu I made last year) and saying things like, "Mowgli is kicking the soccer ball now!" It's pretty trippy in fact.

I'm also making Thanksgiving dinner, which I hurled into the car at 7:15 after a startling phone call saying there's an hour at least. I made it in 50 minutes, including the world's fastest shower and feeding the cat. Whoosh!

Yep. Baby's en route! Things are happening right now. I'm doing the fun stuff like putting eye drops in the kid's eyes by using the kitty method, wrapping her up in a blanket. You know how you wrap the kitty in a towel to give them medication, right? Wrap the kid in a blanket and put her on your lap all immobilized and put drops in her eyes while she howls and cries. Which she's going to do either way, but wrapped in a blanket she can't slay you with flailing arms and legs, see.

I plan for claws and teeth, but the same policies work with 3 year olds, apparently.

We've been watching The Jungle Book all morning. It has some politically questionable content as far as post-colonialism and racist imagery and I have to go cook some sweet potatoes and make creamed spinach. Things get a little *interrupted* hereabouts.

Also, I believe she lost my ring. But it'll turn up.

I like Bagheera the panther very much. I like the way he moves exactly like a panther. Shere Khan moves just right also. Cat moves!

It seems the cat is my objective correlative of the day. Unless I'm using that term wrong, like everyone does. You know in grad school they taught us the crucial example was those New York city coffee cups with the Greek temples on them. Huh? What do those mean? I have no idea. Everyone nodded and wrote notes and secretly thought that T. S. Eliot was kind of a stuffy pain, but a good poet.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Short lists

Things I said by accident and what I intended to say:

"You are biting my keys!"
("You are biting my brush!" Said to the kitty, who was biting my brush. He always bites my brush when I'm brushing him with the other brush. I offer my brush because otherwise he bites ME.)

"There's condensation on the steering wheel!"
("There's condensation on the doorknob." On the inside of the door opening onto the garage. Which is startling enough, hence the exclamation.)

I like the logic of those. I was looking at the bristles on the brush and thinking of bunches of things and leaving for work. And the doorknob of course is on the way to the car, which has a steering wheel, doesn't it? Yeah! And doorknobs are round and turn on stems like steering wheels. And get you places, I suppose, don't they? Sure!

Things I was called today that are not my name:


(The pharmacist when I could only get one of my three prescriptions, but I also only *needed* one of them, so it wasn't as pathetic as it seemed.)

Things I have made so far tonight before getting too hungry to continue:
bread dough
cloverleaf roll dough

Other jobs accomplished:
washed the dishes
online jobbery
eating everything there was to eat for lunch, except the last of the rolls
becoming ravenous at dinner time (as is appropriate)
eating the rolls

Things I still need to do:
peel one million apples and cook them up
make pie crust
possibly in the reverse order
make the pumpkin pie filling
bake the bread
bake the rolls
bake the pies
bake bake bake!
write lots of wordy words and words
remember what else I forgot
finish the baby blanket

Also I should find something besides rolls to eat. Rolls are good but insufficient unto the day. I'm trying very hard to stay out of the best szechuan green beans EVER and also the cranberries but it's oh so hard. Mmm. I should steam the kale and eat that. Kale makes you very happy.

I really like those cat people on Doctor Who. They're so very catty. And catlike. And they just really seem like people who evolved from cats. Except for how they're doctors but never lick anyone, which I'm sure cats and cat-evolved beings would definitely do. My cat licks my arms all the time. It's how cats take care of you and are nice to you. Well, that and snuggling extensively, and shedding on your work clothes. And biting your keys.

Gaaaaah, hungry! I'm off to bite food items.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Johnny and the...

More Pratchetty goodness. I just finished (well, right after work) Johnny and the Bomb, which was excellent, if a little on the trippy side, and Johnny and the Dead yesterday, and the first in the series, Only You Can Save Mankind the day before. I think. One of those days like that.

Isn't the trippy complaint unfair? The first book has Johnny going inside a video game, which is actually real, it turns out. And in Johnny and the Dead, Johnny can inexplicably talk to the dead, but then so can everyone else, if they pay attention. The point was the same as in the first book: he stops and sees things that others don't bother to see. I like that! But in Johnny and the Bomb our man Johnny is able to use fancy complicated time travel abilities with no explanation of how he got that skill. It irked me because it was my nemesis, bad magic. Nooooo!

I am perfectly okay with a bag lady's shopping cart being full of black plastic bags of time, but I'm not okay with someone inexplicably getting some kind of magical skill out of nowhere and using it and then being unable to explain where it came from or where it went. Time travel is not the same as paying attention to things other people miss.

No cheating! Stop it, writers of Earth!

I made the world's absolute best szechuan green beans tonight. Oh boy! I also made the cranberries. That still leaves an awful lot to do tomorrow, namely making da pies from start to finish. Well, it's not that bad if I don't make apple. But peeling the apples is filling me with doomful dread. I never peel the apples. But this time I'm going to. Dun dun!

Part of my dread is that I can't really be trusted with a knife due to the way the train I'm on is vibrating and juddering around on the tracks, see. You know, the *train.* I discovered tonight that mincing garlic is a hazardous affair. But managed not to slice off any important fingers or anything.

And part of the dread is coming off the lovely steroids, which make everything so happy and peaceful and wonderful. SIGH. Do you know, I read that one of the treatments for really severe debilitating M.S. attacks is gigantic doses of that same glucocorticoid, to the level of one gram per kilo of your weight. The pills I took were 4 mg and made me all happy. What must one gram per kilo be like? All at once? Yowza. The mind reels. And I bet the mind reels when they do it, too.

I emailed my nice doctor saying allergic reaction plus/then all shaky and wobbly, cause and effect or sides of a coin or what the what? I have not heard back. But I did notice what I'd forgotten, which is that her last email to me was the results of the MRI of my lower back, where she said straight out that what was happening to me was because of the herniated discs. Even though the very next day in her office she said it was the You Know What.

I find that worrying.

I also asked to see a rheumatologist, as advised by my doctor-in-law.

The baby has not arrived yet, you might have surmised! I am on alert. Constant vigilance! Maybe soon, maybe in a week or two. Gosh!

I keep thinking I should get up early and exercise when I have control of my limbs, unlike, say, after work, when even making dinner is fraught with peril. It was around 10:30 this morning that they went all crossed wires on me. I was sitting there at my desk, working away, when my forearms started feeling weird, sort of light and disconnected, and I held up one hand and looked at it and it was doing that vibrating thing.

I keep thinking that taking my vitamins should help, right? Take your vitamins! It'll help! I'm a little scared of pills due to being allergic to boring old naproxen so I'm taking one at a time and waiting hours to see what happens. Because I read things that are like, "Aha, it's molybdenum! The cause is molybdenum deficiency!" Which just sounds ridiculous to me. Really? Molybdenum? And then I have this tiny echo of a memory that maybe I ran across that once before, and then I get very anxious because I don't remember squat, including most of last week.

Isn't this DUMB? Isn't it boring? I find I have a poor attitude about all of this! Which does not help!

Here's what I know:

Szechuan green beans are seriously good! I made them with some olive oil, soy sauce (probably verboten), brown sugar (ditto), cayenne, garlic, and some flour at the end to make the juice turn into nice thick sauce. Oh boy! I got the proportions exactly right somehow and it came out amazingly good.

Pumpkin pie: also an extremely wonderful food. Someone mentioned not liking the sweat that it gets on top, which is when I realized a) ew and b) the ones I make don't get that. It must be the extra liquid or something from the canned pumpkin, because it doesn't happen with mine. Cool! I win!

Those little clementines are so very good. I ate three today, which is like one regular orange. Eventually I'll remember that they give me Issues, but maybe they don't anymore, right? Yeah!

You know what is the height of delicious decadence for me? Smoked salmon. I know! It's not even so very expensive sometimes! And it's like my favorite thing in the world next to szechuan green beans, pumpkin pie, and clementines, which I might have to call satsumas because of the tenth Doctor in his first episode, know what I mean?

Anyway I have to find a way/time to exercise. Maybe if I had a recumbent stationary bike I could ride that. You can't really fall off of that and it doesn't matter if you're wobbly. No excuses! Maybe I will get one! Maybe I'll go looking around in a speculative manner and there will be one for $45 and I'll go, "Yay!" and buy it and take it home and use it every single day. It could happen!

Hmm, hmm, thinking about good storytelling a lot more today, but I don't have extensive thoughts about it except that good storytelling means telling a simple, straightforward story in a compelling way. Well, duh! But that thing about keeping it simple and keeping it NOW sometimes eludes me. You know, just telling what is happening right now. Instead of getting all tangled up in complications that you then forget and can't reconstruct later, ahem, cough cough, innocent look.

My heat bill went down. I'm agog. Is that from shrink-wrapping the sliding glass door, or going to work all day long and not needing heat? Or both? Because I was pretty skimpy with the heat when I was home, let me tell you.

This evening has vanished on me. Cooking then a phone call that ate up my pie-baking and writing time, though it was very fun, truly. I would go to bed but Mr. Kitty is sleeping next to me on the quilt. At night he's started sleeping next to me on the bed. Mr. Kitty! Such a terrific cat. Also very very fluffy. And quilt-o-centric. And Radiator Serge-o-centric, too. Just like me.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Fascinating, Captain.

I'm still oddly entertained by the bizarre things coming out of my mouth. Like when I meant to say I'd have to get up early and shovel the driveway, but instead I said mow the yard. That keeps happening lately. I'm trying to say one thing and I say the next one over by mistake, like I'm not really in charge of the word choice mechanism the way you're supposed to be.

It doesn't seem to happen in print, though. Isn't that interesting? Fascinating, Captain.

It also doesn't seem to be going away. Hmmmmm. It occurred to me today that the Romans in Gaul might be cumulative, not something that happens and then heals up and goes away again. Like, what if I can't get back my ability to hold forth in an unpremeditated manner at great length and with great facility? I'm the one who could lecture on any subject that I knew anything about for an hour without pause and hold the attention of a class without the slightest difficulty. Talk talk talk!

It's kind of alarming. But not as alarming as it ought to be. Because of how the alarm circuits don't work so well either. Hmmmmmm.

Anyway I keep trying to figure everything out and not doing so well but I think I've gotten some basics down, y'all:

don't eat food I'm allergic to
don't take medications I'm allergic to

Because...they will nibble away at the insulation on the wiring in my brain and then it won't work as well anymore.

Really, I know I talk about Flowers for Algernon all the time, but we might be entering into real Flowers for Algernon territory here. When I can't remember the name of that book (I think it's actually a novella) then I'll know I'm in BIG TROUBLE. Or worse, if I forget that it exists. Yoicks!

Tonight's dinner was a glorious huge organic red bell pepper, so delicious, and some cloverleaf rolls, and a bowl of some sort of sludgy soup or something out of the freezer. The freezer can be a place where food goes to be forgotten so I'm trying to clear out whatever's in there so I can start fresh. WITH LABELS. I have a roll of blue gaffer's tape and a red Sharpie by the freezer now so there's no excuse whatsoever for the mystery food bricks of unknown provenance.

And some cranberries. Mmm, I love cranberries. I accidentally bought six more bags today to stick in the freezer. There's still going to be a hideously long cranberry drought in my life, isn't there? And pumpkin. I'm going to end up pumpkinless!

Tonight I was going to peel apples and bake a pie, but then I got the email from my brother that we are in High Alert and didn't want to have anything in the oven that I couldn't walk away from. Or, you know, forget about.

Yes, it's a little like when a parent or someone first starts slipping gears and all of a sudden you're anxious and hovering and worrying about everything, and then after a while you get used to it. I'm sure I'll calm down. But hearing words come out of my mouth that I absolutely did not intend to say is Quite Alarming.

Actually there is a famous instance of that between me and Bagrole where she went to Gibson's and came back with a bag that I thought had donuts in it and I looked into the bag and said, "You have a whole bag of donuts!" only it was, like, diet Coke and cigarettes and tampons. But even though I'd seen them before I got the sentence out, it was sort of already in the queue and could not be stopped! It had to be said!

It's kind of like that.

And so I'm becoming an absolute food fascist in extreme ways. But I did eat some fruit and smoked salmon today, declining all the sandwiches and fabulous chocolate confections. I really might have to make homemade fudge or something soon, though. I'm having wicked chocolate cravings.

I'm also hoping maybe (since I have no idea what I'm talking about) it might be totally just a localized thing and go away, right? It might. Like the hives and puffy face. Though all the other stuff is hanging around still in ways that I wish it wouldn't. Dislike! Dislike!

My book is charging along. You know I kind of got interrupted there by the brainstorm and my benadryl habit but I also got hung up because it kind of dead-ended. You should never allow that! Do not park on a dead end! Keep on going until you're turned around, at least, see what I mean? Anyway I got out of that last night and wrote dreadful things and more dreadful things today.

And overall it's making me absolutely determined to write cheerful stressful zooming fabulous snappy YA novels and no more grim misery, seriously. I cannot take it. Also I don't like writing about science when I don't know the slightest tiny little thing about it. I feel fraudulent. I mean I know that viruses exchange sections of genetic material or whatever but that is NOT ENOUGH for me to feel secure in my knowledge enough to write things based on it. I have to be more right than that! I have to be right enough that someone who knows could read it and say, "This is alarming and plausible, but likely would not happen for this and that reason." And then I will say, "As long as it's plausible, I'm okay with it, and yay for alarming!"

It's really gross, though. Argh. Awful. Next time the virus has to cause fairy dust and a twinkle in your eye, and maybe a skip in your step and the urge to bake cakes. Yucky!

In sum, I don't like my book much at all, even though it might be kind of good in some ways. I mean, I'm doing it well, but it might not be a good thing to be doing in the first place, see what I mean?

So I keep having delightful fantasies about what other books I could be writing. Oooh. Ahhhh! How about that one? It's kind of dark and quiet in my head, though. Pleasantly calm and strangely unstressed, but not the usual fiesta of jabber. It's like my head is now Maine when it used to be L.A., exactly. And you know which one I liked better!

Maybe I'll have some coffee tomorrow. And maybe it'll get better when I'm off the steroids, too. I really think it might. I was talking about how awesome the steroids are with someone today and he mentioned how it just makes you feel amazing and like everything's easy and right with the world, which I would have to agree with, though I also really appreciate reacquiring (mostly) the use of my limbs and not looking like a freakish plague victim, incidentally.

Hey, I have a new resolution about this, too. I'm going to Urgent Care the minute that the allergic reaction starts up, instead of waiting a couple of days and letting it fry my brains, right? Right. RIGHT AWAY. I'll see if they can jack me up on the steroids immediately since the reaction has such dreadful consequences.

And did I mention my resolution about not poking the demon in the eye all the time?

Me: Hey demon! Poke poke. Poke. Pokepokepokepokepoke.
Demon: [pummels me mercilessly]
Me: Hey, no fair, the demon attacked me and bit my brains!
Demon: You are an idiot.

I read this short beginning to what should be an excellent YA novel but instead is terrible. I wrote it, so I can say that. It startled me with its awfulness. Not the writing, not the characterization or how vivid it is--all that was great. But the story was DREN. It had no urgency, no direction, no pressure, no stress. In fact, everything was fine! And people were bopping along, doing stuff! Great stuff! Cool stuff! Except, what the hell, me? Start with your hair on fire is rule #1. Be going somewhere is also rule #1. Give us a reason to care about someone is, additionally, rule #1. Because you can't do without any of them. Tripartite primary rule!

It's just fascinating to me (Captain) how I didn't know anything about how to write anything for quite a while there. Or even how to look at it and know what was wrong with it. Like, how come I didn't see what the problem was, right? Amazing. Astonishing. Inducing chagrin.

I'm all for people wise-cracking on the very threshold of DOOM though. I think I might write one of those next. Like really terrible things happen and it's all scary and stressful but they keep trying to make each other crack a smile and laugh at themselves.

Man, those cloverleaf rolls were good. Though kind of dry. I baked them too long. In truth I forgot about them. (Ahem. The demon snickers.) But still good warmed up in the microwave with a paper-thin shaving of cold butter on them.

You know how if someone told you seventeen things you needed to take with you on your way out the door you might forget one or two, or even three? It's like that triple bad right now. Like if I have to take three things with me, I'll probably forget two, or pick up two and then put one down to pick up the third and forget the second, or put the first one in my pocket and think I left it home. I went to get water and tea without my water bottle or tea cup. I really hope my brain grows back. Such a useful thing! A mind is a terrible thing not to have. Hee.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

New list

I am sorry to laugh but watching my hand go crazy trying to ladle the drained fat off the sausage was VERY funny. Jiggety jiggety jig!

Here's a new list of things I am out of and must pick up at the store:

olive oil
whole wheat flour

Shocking, I know. I ended up lopping a hunk off the bread dough and using that for pizza crust, since I'm sure not going to the store just for yeast. And anyway when my arms are so spazzy, driving can be unwise. I remember the time I tried it and the car was all over the road. Yoicks. No thanks.

Here are some things I got done today:

Online Job
cleaned the moldy bird feeder in preparation for affording bird seed again
took down and scrubbed the shower curtain, which needed it
unscrewed and cleaned the bathtub drain, not that it goes any faster now
vacuumed the whole house
took apart and cleaned the vacuum (it's a bagless, you're supposed to)
put all the laundry away
made rolls
made pizza
got rid of that vile pumpkin soup
washed the sheets

Still left to do:

eat up some pizza (I think I can manage that)
pack some up for lunch tomorrow
wash the dishes
finish the baby blanket
send more queries (if brainpower allows)
write 9500 words for NaNo or some fraction thereof (again, brainpower allowing)
put the sheets back on
relax (ha ha)

I think that's awfully productive for someone with half-working staggery legs and flailing Muppet arms, don't you?

Also if I really did burn out the stress circuits, that is awesome. Who knows, maybe it's from something else, like, I dunno, steroids or all that benadryl, but it's lovely not to be stressed. AT ALL. Like I'm all deep breaths and tackling awful jobs like the shower curtain with no fanfare or having to psych myself up or anything. Though I admit that mildewy smell was a motivating factor. My mom might possibly be coming to stay here next week so I kind of thought I should do some of the things I'd later wish I had done, see what I mean?

Not that there's anything particularly wrong with having a moldy bird feeder soaking in a cat litter bucket in your bathroom. But still. Hey, I had the lid on it!

The pizza has hot Italian sausage with probably a lot of the hot drained out of it with the fat, onions, spinach, and a little olive oil on the crust in lieu of sauce. And provolone for cheese. I love laying out the circles of provolone and then cutting the last two circles into sixths and fitting those wedges in between the circles around the edge to fill in the spaces. That is one of those things that is WAY too satisfying. Oh plus then I eat the few leftover wedges. Mmm.

Pizza's done! Gone the sun! I'm off!

Shiver me timbers

A picture of George Washington in frock coat came on the tv last night and little niece yelled out: "Pirate!" Yay!

I misunderestimated my paycheck again. I think they may be paying me more than they told me they were going to. Or else I suck at math. Possibly both. Either way, I like the results.

Also I called up the car insurance (due Thursday) to see if I could pay 3 months at a time instead of six and they told me just to wait two weeks and I'll still be fine. Whoa! Apparently there's this grace period. I will take them up on that since it means paying the rent on time, which you know I love to do. Things are creeping back to normality, though. I like it.

The wind storms yesterday knocked my mailbox over. Or else something hit it, like a car backed into it. If so, it was most likely the landlord. Who coincidentally needs to fix it. Though I might go prop it up in lieu of not getting any mail. Mailboxes get knocked down all the time around here, mostly hit by plows or massive bow waves of plowed snow. Which tells you how tall the snow gets, huh?

It snowed at the brotherland yesterday but not here. To quote little niece again: "What a rip!" That sounded so hilariously archaic coming from her. Does anyone say that these days? I feel like that's from about 1972. She must have heard it somewhere, though. She used it perfectly in context.

Scones are such a wonderful thing to have around when you wake up in the morning. Almost as if it had been PLANNED. A breakfast food! Available at breakfast time! Why don't I have any bread anymore? Is it because of one of those idiotic self-abnegation flaky advice on autoimmune sites? But I'm eating scones, see. And making pizza tonight. They are made of wheat flour. The all natural hot sausage was super on sale because it was about to perish! Yum!

You see how I get into trouble. I forget just absolutely EVERYTHING all the time.

Also I'm all shaking like a leaf in the wind today, but at least not puffy and hivey. My weight dropped back down from the alarming sudden you are having angioedema leap of what, 12 or 13 lbs? Overnight? That is a shock to the system. It does not in any possible way feel remotely good at all and it looks outrageously horrible and nothing fits. I'm glad I can't remember much of this past week. Let's just hope nobody else does either. Can we do that retroactive alteration of history thing they used to do in the USSR? What was that called? Damn you, aphasia.

I do remember enough not to take the naproxen. We'll see how tomorrow goes. In fact I'm scared of all the vitamins and things. Let's avoid them all just to be safe. Though yesterday's performance was pretty conclusive. Of course there's nothing to say I'm not allergic to several of them. La la la.

I left my red jacket at Stately Burns Manor last night, drat! You realize this means I can't go out in the yard now. There are large bore guns firing in reasonably close proximity at startlingly random intervals, which means hunters nearby, and you know they can't always be trusted to tell a bear from a Dodge Ram, and certainly can't be trusted to tell me from a bear. Or whatever they're shooting these days. Deer? Can't be turkey, the guns are way too big. BLAM! You would have turkey confetti.

Anyway I couldn't do yard work if I wanted to. My arms are so shaky today it's hard to type, which is boring and obstructive. I have Things To Do! Like Online Job, for instance, which I did not forget about one tiny bit. I woke up to my arms just shaking and shaking. Actually my legs do it too but not so much when they're not doing anything, see. Just sort of vibrating visibly. I guess that's tremor. I'm not really that interested. It can stop doing it and that would be good, though. It's funniest (I admit it's slightly entertaining to see your limbs carrying on without you) when I'm trying to do something precise, like put the teabag into the teacup, and it goes waving all over the place. And writing by hand, just forget it. I should be able to finish knitting the enormous baby blanket today, though, and get it all washed and ready to go.

Mmmm, pizza. Good to take for lunches, too. And I have veg! I am outrageously excited about the veg. I keep admiring the big red bell pepper.

Various mundane housecleaning tasks to undertake, plus lots more essential tidying up. I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving very much. I have this whole plan of attack, which things to make the night before and all that. Yum.

On the menu:
stuffing (another reason to bake bread)
szechuan green beans
sweet potatoes with crystallized ginger
cloverleaf rolls
pumpkin pie
apple pie
mac and cheese

And then you eat it for about a week. Yay!

The cloverleaf rolls are one of those things that's absurdly extra nicer than regular rolls, even though all you do is roll the bread dough into smaller balls and stick three or four together in a muffin tin socket. There's something so nice about them. You pull them apart where they fused, see. And yum! I use half white, half whole wheat flour so they're light but substantial. Oh boy! I might have to make them instead of bread today, come to think of it. There could be excellent slapstick with the flappy wavery arms, aren't you sad you're missing it? Think of the potential with flour!

Better make sure I have sage and all that. I can run to the judgy hippie store and restock spices after work if I know ahead of time, see. I think I'm out of ginger already after yesterday's pie fest. Tragedy! I am out of many things. It's one of those odd things that happens when you get all broke for a very long time. You run out of this and that as normal but they don't get replaced so gradually you're out of more and more of everything until there's practically none of anything. Herbal tea, for instance. Been out for a while. I'll get some soon. On the plus side, there's so much room in the cupboards!

Ooh. When do I take the turkey out to defrost? Today? Tomorrow? I think today. I think it goes into the fridge and takes up essentially the whole entire thing.

In sum: flaily! Excited! Got things to do! Whoopee!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Sugar, eggs, tea

Went to the store and hurried through all the pokey people standing there like stunned oxen, saying, "Sugar, eggs, tea. Sugar, eggs, tea. Sugar, eggs, tea." And in fact I bought sugar, eggs, and tea. I had to make only ONE pumpkin pie today instead of TWO (one to take to the casa del brother) because I did not have enough sugar or eggs. Woe! Plenty of pumpkin, though. PLENTY.

There was this fascinating new informational event in the war on being allergic to frelling everything, which is to say: after dinner I took the steroids and the naproxen I'm supposed to be taking twice a day. Only you know I ran out of the prescription ones so I've been taking the over the counter ones instead. Blue. And then all the allergicality came whooshing back. The doc at the table said I shouldn't be able to have an allergic reaction to anything while taking that much of the steroids, but I am, I am, I am, and I don't understand it one bit.

But if it's the blue naproxens, that would explain it, right? Because I take them twice a day every day. I mean, I did. I am not going to anymore.

I forgot it this morning and spent a blissful day with no big red pumpkin face. At least until dinner.

Or maybe it was something on the chicken, who knows. I kind of give up. It seems like I'm okay at home and get in trouble when I go out, but surely that's coincidence, right?


Two different people today told me I have aphasia. If a third one does, I'm in big trouble. But I don't talk to that many people, so I think I'm safe.

Anyway I guess I'll refill that prescription. Heh heh. Unless it's the actual naproxen at fault. Can that happen? I'll just stop taking it completely for a while.

Doc-in-law says to see a rheumatologist about endless ridiculous autoimmune things. I'm going to ask for a referral. Must stamp out this stupidity! How long has this been going on? Since that day I suddenly got so crazy allergic at the bakery and that heroin addict girl said it looked like I had cotton fever, right? When was that, 2005? 2006? No idea. What year did Serenity come out?

Anyway the pumpkin pie is great. I forgot it when I went over. Whoops. Quite delicious, thanks!

Oh hi! Nothing going on over here. Not even very much mental activity. It's very peaceful. I cook and wash dishes and cook and wash dishes again. I did the laundry. I watched a Doctor Who while cooking. I just don't think this season is very good, I'm sad to say. Also I only realized today that Karen Gillan (Amy) looks like Felicia Day. How come I didn't figure that out before?

The show is like....kind of like fan fiction in a way. Like someone sees what it used to be about 40 degrees off kilter. Like when there's a sequel that replicates the wrong parts of the original. So you get all the fast yammering and the insouciance (aphasia can bite me) without the emotional core and the heart. You get all the running around without the plots that actually hang together. The stories DO NOT MAKE SENSE. They really don't. You couldn't repeat one back after watching it because it's all disjointed and illogical. In a good story it's like dominoes, or Mousetrap, but this is like turning over random cards and then going, "Ta-da!"

Today I watched The Vampires of Venice and it was so convoluted and nonsensical, I kept just shaking my head at the nonsense. One of the things that keeps happening this season that makes me mad is they keep having the Doctor walk right into the enemy's lair and be completely in the power of someone who was trying to kill him ten seconds before, and then the enemy doesn't do anything about it. They talk, they banter, they parley. And then he walks out, or escapes with some minor pathetic half-hearted attack on him. Well, sorry, that's just dumb.

Which leads me to irritating point #2: absolutely no sense of peril whatsoever. You are never worried for the Doctor or Amy or the aliens. You never care whatsoever. It was only in the pilot that I felt any sense of urgency or danger and that was mostly because it was a little girl left home alone and then this strange man came into her house and then left her behind.

No emotional connection, no peril, no stories to follow because they don't make sense. How did this show get so very terrible? Even the pacing is all wonky. The villains get long, boring, villainous monologues (or more often dialogues with the Doctor) and everyone just takes a nap for five minutes while someone we don't care about explains in a voice dripping with eeeeevil how they're going to do this and that and the other. And the Doctor just stands there. And then he zips out and it's back to racing around doing who knows what for no apparent reason at all.

It's like if you watched the previous seasons and didn't actually understand why people were running around, but only grasped that there must be running around, and just threw it in there every episode like a set piece. Same with the fast talking, and all of it. It's like all the pieces are there but they don't hang together properly. But the very worst thing is that nothing matters, ever. It can't make me care.

This is not a show that's going to break your heart or put you on the edge of your seat anymore. That's very sad because I really liked that show. Rats!

I caught part of the old episode with the Slevin the other day and was struck by how it's all about heart. It's all who wants what and how they can get it or not get it, and how that wrecks them. There is no heart in this one. Why isn't there any heart? Was that a conscious choice? Why on earth would you do that?


Anyway I'm off to sleep a whole lot and maybe tomorrow can avoid being allergic or aphasic or doped to the gills and can maybe write some things, eh? We hope? Sure! I know the world won't end if I don't but I really seriously dislike this lobotomized feeling, though at least it seems to have taken the stress with it. I mean if I had to choose between cowlike and happy or stressed and writing, I'd choose stressed every time. But cowlike is what I've got right now. Moooooooo.

Friday, November 19, 2010


Apples. Apple skins, maybe? That seems to be what's setting me off every day. I think that's DUMB but what can you do?

Breakfasts this week: apple pie, apple pie, apple pie, apple/blueberry smoothie, apple/blueberry smoothie. Plus apples for snacks every afternoon.

At least I can go appleless for a little while and see if it helps. Things are Not Good. I know, it's not what I wanted to hear either, but the good cleared up thing of the first day is gone and I'm back to puffy pumpkin face. How come it's not working? The only real reason would have to be that I keep eating allergicalification.

Oh well, it's calming down again this evening. Mostly.

Harry Potter 6 is good! Dark and sad. But very good. It's an odd book. I can never wrap my head around it or remember exactly what happens in it, no matter how many times I've read it. Maybe the movie will help it stick better? Like: I never remember WHO the half-blood prince is. NEVER.

Alan Rickman is SO VERY AWESOME as Snape, oh my goodness. What do you call that high buttoned black coat thing he wears? It has some kind of Italian name. It might be clergy chic. It puts me in mind of priests from the flashbacks in The Godfather or something.

I could try googling images of vestments but that seems fraught with fruitlessness.

Dang, what am I going to put in my smoothies now? Blueberries and soy milk alone, I guess. What other fruits do they have? No grapefruit with my steroids. Fresh fruit is wicked expensive and frozen is often all sulfited up to preserve color. Canned is also illegal. The best thing is to buy it fresh from the farm stand and freeze it myself but whoops, it's November! Too late! Well. I think I'll just have to cough up for expensive fresh fruit when there's something to cough.

Today was awesome. I could walk and went sashaying down the hall all day long. I was reading up on what causes the no-walking specifically and apparently your muscles tighten up on their own and stay flexed, so it's like they're busy when you tell them to do stuff. They stay clenched. That's why they don't seem able to find the floor when you walk, or alternatively don't come when they're called, which is why they drag and you trip. Or so the research says.

By the time I got to the grocery store they were all dragging along again, which sucks.

It's just going to be a feature of the landscape, I suppose. Get tired, legs don't work. It happens. I was also reading about the foggy brain effect but (this is true) I can't really remember what it said. Ha ha, universe! I get it! Very funny!

I really wish I could talk to an expert in the field about the connection between allergic reactions and the neurological symptoms. I was looking back through the archives (for as it happens, my life is meticulously recorded!) and every time I get a really bad attack, it starts with an allergic reaction.

Now, does that mean the allergic reaction *causes* the MS symptoms, or does it mean that the allergic reaction is *one of* the MS symptoms? Because it seems I get allergic reactions to things I did not react to just the week before. Consider the apples. Consider the sesame noodles. Consider bread, which sometimes gives me painful conniptions and sometimes is completely harmless.

In other words, I think massive allergic reactions are a symptom and not a cause. Then they give me steroids to cure the allergic reactions (especially when I beg every doctor I know) and it knocks down the MS and the allergic reactions go away. I would really like to be on something all the time that would stop the whole thing, personally. I think it's all one big gigantic autoimmune clusterfrak but I don't know how to fix that.

I would really like to talk to an expert. Like, say, an immunologist and a neurologist. Maybe one of each, at a table, with scones and cups of tea. Maybe iced scones. Mmmm. And they're not allowed to leave the table until they GIVE ME SOME FRELLING ANSWERS. And a cure. Ahem.

I think I'm going to put the movie on the laptop and watch it again while I go wash the enormous piles of dishes and also, maybe possibly, go make some scones. Yummers.

I got veg, y'all. I got snap peas, green beans, kale, a big red pepper, a cucumber. I got yogurt and apples (d'oh!) and toppings for a pizza. Oh the various yum! I am very excited about all the veg, this is true!

Ginny Weasley is awesome. Both book and movie Ginny Weasleys. Awesome! Also Luna Lovegood, who is rapidly becoming one of my favorite characters ever, partly because she's someone who shows you who people really are by how they treat her.

So I've had my boots on all evening because my sister-in-law's doctor said "Any time now," and there are words like "dilation" being tossed around. I'll have to pack my laptop bag at night in case I have to make a hasty exit in the small hours. And I might get to spend all day with my little niece, which sounds so exhausting it makes me exceedingly tired just thinking about it.

On the plus side, though, lots and lots of Timmy Time! Yay! BOY do I love that show! Behhhhhh! Behhhhh! Behhhhh? Behhhhhhh. Hoot hoooooot? Hoooot. Oh sorry, just quoting the dialog there. Behhhhhhh!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Rattle and hum

Oh, you know how much I adore the glucocorticoids, yes? I LOVE THEM. I love how they make me all better instantly. Well, five hours after taking the first four all at once my face shrunk down to normal face instead of pumpkin face, the hideous grated puffy face effect went away, most of the hives went away, my skin wasn't burning up and hot to the touch any more, and incidentally my fingers move much easier.

Mmm, corticosteroids. Mmmmmmmm.

I called my doctor's office and explained to the nurse who talked to the doctor who told the nurse to tell me to go pick up my prescription after work at Walmart. Yay! $4, man. This same prescription always cost around $11 in L.A. and was more like $12 or $13 at the EVIL pharmacy of EVIL.

I get so excited every time I get prescriptions there because they are always like that, 1/2 to 1/4 the price I used to pay. Awesome. Say what you will about Walmart (and I'll agree) but I sure do love the cheap prescriptions.

Also the pharmacist was nice even when I lifted my scarf off my neck to show him my hideous hives. He was like, "Heh heh! Gotta go!" Hee. Massive attack makes me so crazed. Well picture the worst sunburn you've ever had, only all over your body, and then get covered, absolutely covered with mosquito bites, including all through your hair. I've been crawling out of my skin for days.

Apparently I went a little catatonic at work because I kept getting jolted out of reveries by someone saying, "How you doing?" And then I'd realize I'd just been gazing at the spot where the wall meets the ceiling. Like, for minutes. Today I went to two benadryl every four hours and it did nothing at all to stop any of this which is why I called up the nice doctor.

Also apparently I forgot my whole entire life because they gave everyone turkeys today (I LOVE THEM!)(work, but also turkeys) and someone asked if I'd bought one already and I said no, because today was payday and I'd thought about going grocery shopping due to my extreme dearth of edibles. And then I got home and put the turkey in the freezer and there was one there already.

Oh yeah!

That's kind of bizarre. Though with the massive allergic attack absolutely frying my brain, and I mean that unfortunately a little literally, I'm operating at very low levels lately. I can't write. I can't remember anything. I can't walk--it's like my feet can't find the floor again. I'm sort of vibrating all over with this crazy tremor thing.

But it's already a lot better because this drug really fixes me up.

And I'm very pleased to have Normal Face mostly back already.

I hereby vow to avoid food and medications I'm allergic to, because not only do I get the allergic reaction, I get a fake zombie attack. It's not a real one but it mimics the real one. Right.

Hey! I have to go to the store! Must purchase foods! Today I lived on a smoothie made of apples and blueberries and soy milk, some rice cakes for lunch, and rice for dinner. And more blueberries. And some chocolate chips because of the Bones episode.

It was so odd they kept talking about central Maine. That is basically here. I mean there is a geographical center but that's inhabited by trees and deer and moose and beavers and eagles. As far as people go, this is central Maine. Hi, Bones! Send your children to small liberal arts colleges! That's where they'll get the best education! I taught at the big state school and boy howdy, I know.

Oddly I've been thinking about one of my students at Penn lately. He had some kind of weird autoimmune disorder that left him with little red marks all over. (Okay, it's not so odd I've been thinking about him lately.) I remember one class meeting (maybe on Dante?) where he asked me why bad things happen to good people. How do you make sense of a universe where terrible things happen to people who don't deserve them? Because in Dante it's very clear. You are good, good things happen to you. You are bad, etc.

So of course I started talking about theodicy, another thing I studied for my dissertation. We also studied it in the class I taught on world religion and foundational myths. One of the great things about great massive swaths of education is that you find out that everyone has already thought about just about everything you can think of and come up with different responses to them. It's nice because we don't have to invent the wheel, but we can also come up with our own answers and join the party.

Anyway I get fascinated by the Church Fathers and all their increasingly logical (over centuries) approaches to the same problems. Though I think it would be a lot more interesting if they didn't have to keep on talking about religion. That's not a joke, actually. I sort of translate everything in my head, replacing certain words with "the universe" and all that.

Theodicy! Autoimmune! It all makes sense. Though there is no evil in this case, just idiotic choices that led to easily foreseeable outcomes.

I hope I can sleep. This is the jitterbug drug, recall.

I'm really dreading the food fascism. I get so very bored so very quickly, and to put it a more positive way, I love making interesting food and wish I could when I can't. I want to feel fantastic so I have to stop flirting with dangerous food and stay far, far away from it. I did NOT eat a cannoli today, aren't you proud?

I think all the pills rattling around in me are starting to work because instead of using words my brain is just humming along with the music.

Another day I'll worry about falling a week behind on NaNo and all that. Pshaw, dismissive wave, whatever! If you can't do it, you can't do it. But you can always do it later. Yeah! I still feel sure I'll finish on time. It's been a wacky roller coaster lately but I'm feeling like things will settle down now. Let's hope so!

Bonus: Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz's hilarious wig! At least I hope that's a wig. Goodness.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ach du bunny!

Is so very cold in house! Argh!

I think it's related to turning the heat down to 40 (which equals 50) but I can't be sure.

The bedroom and bathroom are always heated so I'm sure kitty spends the day in there, probably in his nest in the linen cupboard.

I'm about to fade out again. This reaction is getting worse, which kind of worries me, because why? Why? Okay, I ate 1/2 a cannoli this morning, but it was impossible to say no! It was a cannoli, you guys! Murrrrr.

The fabulously awesome Other Doctor upped my dosage and told me I was an idiot (not in so many words) for taking the old meds I'm allergic to. And refused me steroids, which made me sad. They fix it! If it doesn't die down by tomorrow afternoon I'll call my regular doctor and see what to do. Benadryl doesn't dent this thing.

I think my plan is to watch the piled up Grey's Anatomy episodes. I started to, but then shut it off because that show has sort of sensitized me to manufactured drama. I mean, it feels so manufactured, the drama. They broke the suspension of disbelief for me with the shooter in the hospital. And then the episode I tried to watch had lovely Kevin McKidd completely manufacturing drama, which kicked me right out and I turned it off.

But I sort of want to catch up so I can keep watching it. I've only watched Bones since they canceled Caprica! I got mad at tv, didn't I? Ha!

The plan was to bake no-crust pumpkin pie tonight but I have only two modes: crazy itchy, feverish and shivery pre-benadryl (that is right now) or zombied out post-benadryl. And I just took it, so look out below. Ozymandias, king of kings! Look on his work, ye mighty, and despair. Er, because I'm picturing myself toppling over in slow motion and crashing to the floor and lying there like a fallen statue, right? Except wasn't Ozymandias just some legs?

So anyway.

Lots of research today. Oh boy. I'm finding myself irritated beyond endurance by this American insistence that all ills can be cured by *giving things up.* I'm sure it's just martyrdom and self-abnegation and all that medieval malarkey perpetrated by a religion that sees holiness in suffering and denial. They all say to give up wheat and dairy and soy and peanuts and I forget what all else, which is great except that every flaky alternative medicine site says the exact same thing about EVERYTHING.

I really don't believe that yogurt is a curse from Satan, you guys. I don't believe the same few foods cause every bad thing that ever happened to anyone.

But I did read one amazing thing. MS is hugely more prevalent north of about Boston, which might or might not have to do with diminished UV and therefore less vitamin D. But get this: in Norway, people on the coast who eat a lot of fish don't get it nearly as much as people who live inland and eat a lot of dairy products and red meat. (Naturally they put it that way, because it can't just be that the fish is good for you--there has to be a villain, the usual one, twirling its bovine mustache.)

But I might go get some fish. Because that was pretty convincing, that study. I'm majorly skeptical I know but any medical research that starts out with an axe to grind is instantly suspect. How about you go look first, then come back and tell me what you find? Yeah!

Plus, mmmm, fish.

Also I forgot to start taking my vitamins again after the bronchitis ended. But now I am. Okay! Hopefully that'll make me way less staggery and spazzy.

The Other Doctor is so smart. I really like her. I asked whether allergic reactions can set it off and she said definitely. And she said it can cause the thyroid problems. All these autoimmune things are connected apparently.

It's also bizarre to read things that say, oh, a major preliminary symptom is dropping everything all the time. Remember all those mugs and glasses I've smashed in the past year? I've never broken so many dishes in my whole life combined. Dropping things and having one eye get messed up are two great big flashing neon signals.

I have the most impressive case of hives I've ever seen. It is so hideous. I am scarf-wearing woman lately, to hide my neck and the v of my shirt, where it's worst, but I can't hide my face, alas. I need to take two benadryl at a time all day, though I don't want to because I don't want to be zombified at work, but it's really bad and getting worse, so I guess I will. Blah. I might actually conk out, though. Which would be bad.

The Other Doctor kept the bottle of evil meds, thank goodness. And she said she's going to get me on three-month prescriptions which are cheaper. Woohoo! And all that good stuff.

I don't seem to have the wherewithal to write while this is going on. I opened up my laptop over lunch and then read An Abundance of Katherines the whole time.

You know what? I'm going to get this coped with tomorrow one way or another. I'm so uncomfortable and looped from the shivers and whatnot that I'm not really functional. I mean, I don't want to bake pie! MADNESS! That's just wrong!

Later, bunnies. Shiver shiver itch itch.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I did all this research today to see whether You Know What can be triggered by allergic reactions. Or whether IT causes them, come to think of it. A good solid reputable resource with many footnotes (I totally judge you by your footnotes, world, so use lots) told me that there are all these correlations between IT and various other things, to wit:

1) wheat and milk allergies
2) low vitamin D
3) inflammatory responses in general

Since I'm still getting worse from the allergic reaction I had to being STUPID (I have since filled that prescription, you'll be glad to hear) and coincidentally seem to be having a minor recurrence of You Know Which I was curious what the relationship was.

Easy enough, if wretched, to cut out wheat and milk and take a vitamin D every day since I already have a gigantor bottle of them but never bother. Well...I did for a long time but stopped when I had bronchitis because pills kept getting stuck in my throat and making me throw up. Lost a lot of vitamins that way before I wised up.

Oy, I don't mean to complain...wait, yes I do. I am complaining! Even though you can tell me to jam it in my ear because this current horrible allergic reaction is MY OWN FAULT. I still get to complain, though. Ugh! Argh! Blargh! Hideously disfiguring massive reaction! Ack! Gack! Mosquito bites all over my face and neck and chest and in my hair and down my arms and everywhere, aaaaaargh!

Even with benadryl. I know! It's still fallout from taking the generic thyroid meds. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Tomorrow I'm hoping to get that delicious steroid dosepack prescribed by the nice doctor. I look appalling so I think the odds are good. Blaaaaargh, the chills and shivers and the flaming burning skin and the itchy itchy. Took two benadryl at 5:00 but no good effect yet. I've been taking them all day, to be honest. And it's not diminishing.

Hey, you want to hear about something else I did that was stupid but delicious? I ate the cannoli. SO GOOD. I've been very good about not eating contraband deliciousness that people hold up in front of me and ask me to try. But I couldn't resist the cannoli, man. This was my logic: I'm already taking benadryl! What's the harm?

Ahahahaha. Pretty weak, I tell you what.

Today I was wondering what the effect of using phonetic spellings of actual pronunciations would be on sci-fi cussing. Like if I said "those frakken hives," does that convey the effect I want? What about "those frellen hives"? Not quite the same. I think I like "frakken" for "frakking" as an adjectival usage, though. Do you think it's evolving into a new form? Analogous to golden, in a Germanic kind of way?

The golden bowl.
That frakken rejection letter.

See what I'm saying?

What, you don't get philological when all doped up on over-the-counter medications? Did you know I was published in the Dutch journal with the Latinate (yet full of Greek roots) name Neophilologus?

The worst part is it makes me SO COLD all the time. And crazy from the hives and also the allergic reaction crazy, and if I get the Medrol that'll make me even yet still more delirious and loopy again. More so. Frank psychosis, isn't that right? As a side effect? All roads lead to bananacakes in this instance.

I'm going to go eat pie and wrap myself around Radiator Serge and watch the fourth Harry Potter movie until I can legally go to bed. I think the pie is proscribed under the wheat embargo but too frakken bad (yes? no?) because it's PIE and therefore subject to an exemption. So there.

My reaction: then I'd better eat it all up fast! I know. I know. I know! I know. But....pie!

Monday, November 15, 2010


Seriously, I need math rehab. To figure out how many words I needed to have by the end of today, the 15th, for a deadline of 50K words in 30 days, I multiplied 1667 (the daily required word count) by 15 and came up with 20005. So I wrote 20006 words.

Except, what is half of 50K? I KNOW!!! Durrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Mild stupids relapse. I'm sure it'll pass. Right?

I renewed that prescription. I did not clearly explain why I didn't renew it. It's because I'm seeing the endocrinologist and she's almost certainly going to up my dosage, because that's what they do, because of how I'm still an underwhelming pudding slash motionless potato most of the time, just sitting there going spleh.

Isn't that an evocative word? Spleh. Say it and you too will feel spleh.

But then I figured they come in 25 mcg increments and I take 50 now so maybe she'll just up it to 75 and I can cut some in half. In any case, I'll get rid of the ones I'm allergic to, jeez. Dopeypants McDuh. Every time I eat anything it sets it off all over again. Especially massively over-spiced curry food or spicy sesame noodles. AHEM.

Good thing I have 7/8 of an apple pie, you guys! It is so dang good! And so very harmless. There, I'll live on pie. Mmmmm, pie.

P.S. I am deeply psyched to be infinitesimally more than halfway done. And I did actually get the quilt strips pinned and also jump and run on the trampoline for eight and a half minutes, which isn't ten, but is way more than not doing it at all. Good for today. Tomorrow we go again! Rah rah rah! Achievement in several events! Every day, must attempt again! Rah!

Quick, before I conk out!

Oh, hey! I know what caused the attack of the stupids. Stupidity! Yes! I know it's cyclical but hear me out.

I still have that thyroid medication I'm allergic to, because dude I paid money for that, and now that I'm nearly out of the good kind I'm *not* allergic to, and going to see the doc in question Weds., I figured I'd stretch it by taking the other one. Just for two days! Just for a little while!

STOOPID. It looks like a swarm of bees stung my face all over. And so on. So I'll be collapsing into benadryllian unconsciousness soon but wanted to drop in and share the awesomeness. Woohoo!

Oh, there isn't any, much. Well, I heard they didn't like my partial, blargh! Unhappiness! But there are other queries out and it's a matter of fit, yo, not a measure of awesomeness.

That is one of the secrets of happiness, realizing that most situations are exactly that. A matter of fit, not a measure of awesomeness.

For the book, she has the awesomeness, I know! SO MUCH! But we'll just have to find the peoples who see that and stand on their chairs and point at it and go, "AWESOME!"

I really have to get on the trampolinum (it's the Roman version) or I won't get much exercicio today at all. I did go for a big long walk over lunch but then I was back in 15 minutes, which just goes to show I don't know how long it takes to go how far. I was all, "I am going for a half hour walk! See you in half an hour!" and then everyone (including me) was bemused when it only took fifteen minutes. I guess I'll have to take a longer route or cross the busy road or (this was someone's suggestion) go around twice.

I might just go around twice.

I'm also psyched to bring x-c skis and ski this route over lunch, I'm not kidding. It's flat over there! It is not flat at home one bit. And there are giant flat fields and enormous unused parking lots that I'm sure won't get plowed. It'll be awesome. And there's that excellent thing I like so much, where someone would actually notice if I fell into a snowdrift and didn't come back. St. Bernards would come after me with hot buttered rum in a barrel! Mmmm!

Trampolino, I am coming for you! Must acquire fitness via exertion. I hear this works. But we shall see!

Attack of the stupids!

Why am I still awake? Because I can't figure out my quilt. Oh yes, it's still lying all over the living room rug. Because the pattern goes like this: blue, stripey, pattern, stars, stripey, pattern. Repeat! Then offset it by one in the next column. Seems simple enough, no?

Well first I didn't have enough pattern or stripey ones, so I watched about six Torchwoods and cut and sewed and pressed a bunch of those (my sewing machine arbitrarily decided to work today which makes me wonder whether it's the bobbins or something...hmmm) and then it wasn't big enough except I'm all out of starry fabric. It's the back to the giant sunburst quilt I gave much adored boy M. So there is no more. Which limits the quilt, see?

Anyway all that is solved, it's all cut and laid out and it's as big as it's going to be, but I am NOT CAPABLE of looking at it and telling you whether it's right. I can't tell. I guess it's rude to call it an attack of the stupids but it kind of feels like that in a Flowers for Algernon kind of way.

All I need to do is follow each diagonal row down and see if they're all the same, or else alternating blue and starry. But it's like my wide focus is busted and all I can look at is one square at a time.

And then! I went to the big fez by the front door to get more fabric, and something went KAWUMP against my front door, from the outside. HOLY CRAP. What was that? What could possibly go KAWUMP against my front door from the outside? I live in the middle of a dang FOREST and it's NIGHT.

I went into the other room and stared at the cat, who was unfazed. But then, he couldn't possibly hear it over Torchwood, which is a loud show, y'all. That's why he was in the other room. Rabid weevil noises: cat leaves.

So then I was all full of terror because KAWUMP. Bear? What else would do that? I'll go look at it in the morning. I kind of think a bear would have Rent My Screen Door Asunder if it was in the mood to go KAWUMPing, but who knows? Maybe the scent of curried chicken salad and apple pie drove it bezonkers.

Oh yes, I baked fabulous apple pie. You are really missing out, I tell you what. And the curried chicken salad will burn your eyebrows off. I was measuring curry powder in there in the outrageously large quantities the recipe asks for (5 tablespoons) when it had an avalanche in the jar and a whole lot fell into the bowl. Whoops! It's super good, though. Goes great with apple pie.

I also made sesame noodles earlier. Or was that yesterday? I'm confused. This morning I was talking to D. and she referred to our previous conversation and I said, "Was that a week ago?" Because I really have no idea. She said it was just a few days ago. Okay! I believe her. I'm sort of coming unmoored in time or something. Do you think it's connected to the attack of the stupids and the problem with my wide angle lens?

In summary, I got so alarmed by the KAWUMP and the associated Torchwood terror (what a stressful show!) that I spent the whole evening wrangling my quilt and never wrote a word of book. Shocking! Nor did I send out any more queries, but I did send a bunch yesterday. And by a bunch I think I mean three. Three is a bunch! A small bunch.

It was not the thrillingest weekend, though I did spend as much of today ON MY FEET as possible despite a right leg that was all full of complaints and uncooperative. And yesterday I had a very fun time hanging out with little niece. I like that kid. Remember that lovely picture of David Tennant giving you the nicest smile in the world? Well, it's my desktop wallpaper, and what a difference it's made to how I feel about my laptop, strangely enough. It is way less of a cranky space now. Anyway little niece saw it and said, "Who's that?" and I said, "That's David Tennant." And she said, "I like him!" And I said, "Me too!" Yay! Cute boys from space: the next generation.

And then she sat on my lap and I got to read her If I Had Duck Feet and other modern classics and got many hugs. Also somehow I coerced my brother into making me a white russian during The Big Lebowski. I'm so susceptible to suggestion. Anyway it's traditional to have white russians during The Big Lebowski for obvious reasons. Plus, mmm!

So maybe the sewing machine just won't quilt. Maybe it needs a new needle. (I have new needles.) Maybe it's just all gummed up. Maybe it's because I changed it to 8 stitches per inch from the highest setting, for quilting. Maybe it's because before it was facing west and now it's facing north. Maybe it's possessed. Maybe it doesn't like synthetic batting, and who does, really? Maybe it'll work just find for this quilt. Maybe I can sew the squares into approximately equal sizes instead of the usual all over the place effect. Maybe I should sew the squares together into larger squares like normal people do instead of into long strips that warp and stretch like I always do. OR MAYBE NOT.

I feel like someone put a tea cozy on my brain. I'm going to sleep! Let's hope for higher acuity tomorrow, eh? Yeah! I have a fridge full of deliciousness and that gives me hope that the week might be okay, somehow. Illogical, but there it is.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Arguing with myse-elf

Holy crap. It's much worse than I thought! Research on academic hiring says that "most MFA holders teach outside the tenure track." http://www.mla.org/pdf/workforce_rpt03.pdf

That's pretty damning. Their source is the NSOPF data here:

2004 NSOPF: Report on Faculty and Instructional Staff in Fall 2003. Washington: NCES, 2006.

I'm sure I'd learn a huge amount in an MFA and would love it no end, but will it increase how much I earn, for the money I'd spend? Will it have a worthwhile ROI? This research says no. That makes me sad! Because, WANT!

You can read what Maureen Johnson says about it here, including the part about how she's still paying $800/month on her student loans. And she's one of the rare writers (they say 5%) who earn enough from writing fiction to live on. Would she be earning that without the MFA? What about the others in her class? Are they earning enough from writing to live on? Or is it the Maureen-ness that's what's getting her there and not the MFA-ness?

When you look at a website called Maureen Johnson Books, and your last name is a transitive verb involving conflagration, do you think about what your analogous website would be called? Fahrenheit 451, man! I do not believe in such activities.

If you are unaware, Maureen is awesome. She uses the word hosening in her post! And her books are outrageously good. I think I own most of them, though somehow not The Keys to the Golden Firebird, which I'll fix one of these days when finances get more en-happied. Point being, she says this: "MFA students have probably been hosed already."

I came up against this when I got into the UCLA screenwriting program. I know! Awesome, right? Crazy hard to get into, very prestigious, all that. I didn't go. Why not? Because it was a stupidly large amount of money with absolutely no guarantee either stated or implied of any ROI whatsoever. And because so many people WHO KNOW (like Maureen) say things like this all the time. Yes, you will learn a huge amount. You will become a better writer. You will have an absolute blast. You will take out gigantic loans. Will it pay off financially, like any financial investment should? Probably not. Very, very unlikely.

Wasn't I just arguing with someone about back-filling decision-making so that we get to do what we want? It's how people make a lot of choices. You want to do X and you fill in the arguments that get you there. I studied this in my dissertation when I researched torture. (Oh, the meta.) People say they torture to get information or whatever, but in all of the research ever done, everyone who tortures admits it's a terrible way to get information, you can't rely on it, and people will say anything, especially what they think you want to hear. People torture other people because they want to torture other people, and then find reasons for it after the fact. That's how people make decisions, unless they are particularly rational and clear-thinking and Spocklike, and who among us can claim that?

So it's very hard to look at something fabulous and glorious that will actually make me a better writer and think, "Wait a minute. Is it a good idea to do this? Will it be a good return on investment?" No business person would make an investment like this. The cost is enormous and the *financial* payoff has absurdly long odds. Not the learning payoff--that would be great. But the financial payoff.

I just remembered who was arguing that point. It was West in Perfect Monster, my hyper-rational Oblivio character who gets tortured and knows why people do what they do, though he can't really navigate a social setting with any aplomb. Aw, West. You really suck for such a good guy, or vice versa. We know you're sorry about the genocide. Oh, wait, you're not yet, because the book is not quite a third of the way in and you haven't gotten there yet, because hello, torture doesn't work to the point where it causes further extremism, which everyone knows but they do it anyway. But you will get there, right? You better, or the book is For Naught. Journey and all.

I'm arguing with myself. Arguing with myse-elf!

Here, listen to Artie sing the song on Glee! Yay!

Or alternatively there's the fantastic Safety Dance number in the mall, right? I LOVE this! I could watch it all day.

I just realized a thing about Artie and identification and that particular song and dance routine that maybe should have been obvious to me earlier but oh well, always late to my own party, that's me. 

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Huh. I think if I get an agent by the end of the year, I won't go to the MFA program. What do you think of that plan?

The reason is, I want an MFA so I can get decently paid tenure-track teaching jobs. Which publication will get me just the same if not better. So yeah. I think that might work.


Friday, November 12, 2010


You know what's hard? Writing someone entirely un-self-aware to the point of obliviousness. Clearly he is based upon He Who Shall Not Be Named of unlamented dramatic exit from my life, aka Oblivio. Actually if you nickname your fiance Oblivio, I think you might be suffering from some determined un-self-awareness yourself, there, bunny. Also talking about yourself in the second person is weird, so cut it out.

Anyway YES it's good that I'm writing Oblivio into something because a) the trait is absolutely perfect for this character, who does terrible, terrible things by means of denial, and b) because you should use all those many yards of fabric you have for something, am I right? and c) because it's actually possible for the other main character to find this idiot endearing, which just about blows my mind due to all the latent rage and stuff, and d) because it's obliterating actual Oblivio, for which thank you shiny iridescent Lords of Kobol and all your frilly minions in sleighs. Phew!

But it can be very hard to write the un-self-awareness in that it's all unreliable narrator all the time. I think it's going well though. The only downside is the burnt toast smell emerging from my ears.

The other character sort of popped into being unannounced. I thought she was a he before. But she isn't. It's just as well because I was all schmoopy and smitten and that's no way to write somebody, no way. I adore this character, especially because of the hugely dark decisions and clear thinking and absolutely truthful acceptance of reality no matter how impossibly awful it is. And oh my, is it awful!

That's the other hard thing. This is a tough book to immerse myself in all the time, seriously. Like over lunch when normally I'd be like, "Yay! Let's go write my book! I love my book!" instead I'm like, "Urrrrgh, seventeen flavors of grim death and misery, hurray. Let's get that page count and go do something fun." And then it comes out frelling AMAZING and I want to write more but the lure of not writing the grim misery is high. So there's that.

I'd much rather be writing the best idea ever which I decided to call The Hubble Door because, well, it makes sense. But I've already talked about it a lot to someone and shouldn't talk any more until I write it. It's super awesome though and all full of wanting two things of which you can only have one, which is one of my favorite things ever.

Oh and it's like that one killer Buffy episode where she's in the mental institution and the world of the show that we know is a fictional construct in her mind. Or vice versa, right? There is an episode like that in Star Trek: TNG with Riker and one in DS9 with O'Brien and probably others elsewhere. Help me out, do you know of any?

Remember the DS9 one? That's the one that kills you. Miles O'Brien is locked in this prison with a nice but annoying green guy for years and years. Ee'char, remember Ee'char? Season 4, episode 18? Okay I had to look it up. It's called Hard Time. And it kind of doesn't apply because he doesn't know it isn't real while it's happening. But the point is, everything that happens there changes him in the real world. Never mind!

It's still a super good episode though. But not as good as the Buffy one. Season 6, episode 17, Normal Again. Oh my goodness, that episode just kills you dead.

See also the whole entire tv show Life on Mars, or at least what I saw of the British one. He's living in the present but then he's suddenly living in the early 70s but remembers everything from the present, so it can't be true, but he's clearly stuck there, so which one is real? And so on.

I sure am talking about it a lot for someone who isn't going to talk about it. Anyway it's not like it's crazy fun times over there, either. I am TORTURING my main character so much! Ouch, he says. Ouch and ouch and ouch.

Not as ouchy as Perfect Monster, though. Jiminy crivens, it's no fun at all to be in that book.

Fortunately I've read all the Thursday Next books and I know perfectly well that at the end of the work day, all the characters in books punch their time cards and go on home to their happy families or out on the town or go visit other books or whatever. I mean, they're just actors. So it's okay!

I invented something really vile and upsetting over lunch today, though. Yeesh.

Well, hopefully it's all *processing* or something.

I've been reading up on It, the vile ailment that seems to have its hooks in me. It's sort of fun (in a demented way) to think of it as It, like a fourth-rank cut rate demonic possession that doesn't cause a lot of problems except a couple times a year. Like, what a lame demon! Has to save up its energy all that time! But I'm only thinking that fictionally, as in, for fiction purposes, because I'm all healthily integrated and whatnot, heh heh! Sure! Yeah!

Anyway reading up on That Whole Thing has revealed many interesting factors like, oh, fatigue. Like how sometimes you sleep a ton and still can't drag yourself through the day and are almost completely useless all afternoon and can't actually think for beans. You know, that kind of thing.

So anyway. The more I learn, the less I worry about it. And the more I think it started a while back. You know what they treat it with? Corticosteroids. Remember how they'd give me those for breathing issues in L.A. and I'd suddenly get pale and normal looking instead of all red and flamey? Hmmmmmm. Just the weekend before last I was trying to talk to the urgent care doctor into giving me Medrol because it makes me feel so much better in every way. (He declined. I got prednisone instead. I wonder if anyone else ever has exhibited corticosteroid-seeking behavior, like skeevy people have narcotic-seeking behavior?)

Poor D., she was all befuddled that the hospital here doesn't even *have* a neurologist. She said there are multiple cat neurologists right in her area. Yep. There isn't one here, or I'd be going to see that person right now. Well, not right now. But some reasonable facsimile of immediately if not sooner.

In sum, I am completely wrung out but I've made today's writing quota by getting less and less ahead until now I'm like 200 words ahead, but you know what? I DON'T CARE. I'm too tired and squashed and ready for a little off/down/out time. This is when it would be good to have a movie to watch but whoops! It'll probably get here Monday. Oh, timing. When are you where I need you? (Yes? No? No. Oh well.)

But I might crack open Final Draft and write some of that Hubble Door thing, what do you say? Want to? Huh? Yeah, you do! You know you want to!

Guess what else? My old friend and recurring roommate D. (who is actually previously mentioned D's old boyfriend from high school, how about that?) sent me (online) the text of a letter he wrote me in 1992. It's one of the most awesome things I've read it one million years. Eighteen year old letter! Remember when he stayed in my nanny grotto out in that big ol' mansion? And when I was living in northern Virginia and we went to Monticello and played the card game What's More? while waiting in the super long line? Staying in the apartment over the garage in Berkeley? Living in that other house in Berkeley? Sharing that house in Seattle? I know!

The past was so much more interesting, huh? Don't think I don't know it every single day!