Saturday, December 31, 2011

In Remembrance of New Years Past

It's New Year's Eve again and it's hard not to look back at the year. To evaluate it, hate it or bask in its glory. I also find myself reliving family traditions in my head.  By far my favorite is the New Year's Eve bash.  Every year we invited friends and family out to our farm. They brought along food, beverages, their dried up Christmas tree and fireworks.  My stepfather would push fallen trees and scrap wood into a pile twice as tall as most full-grown men. With a bonfire lit and bellies full of food and drink, we nailed two 2X4s to the bottom of each Christmas tree to make stands and then decorated them with bottle rockets and strings of fireworks. When all the trees are decorated, we shoveled coals from the bonfire onto the base of the tree and whooomph! Nothing more exciting and [possibly] dangerous than the combination of alcohol and pyrotechnics. We sometimes spent hundreds of dollars on the extra fireworks for after the trees had gone up in flames. 
Best of all, we had plenty of room for people to camp out if they couldn't drive home. The perfect New Year's set up. 

But my favorite part of all was when our dear friend, Jeff Sefeldt, recited The Cremation of Sam McGee from memory. It amazes me to this day that he memorized it in the first place but to recite it after an afternoon and night of drinking Keystone Light is truly a feat of olympic proportions. 

Robert Service (1874-1958)
                  The Cremation of Sam McGee
    There are strange things done in the midnight sun
        By the men who moil for gold;
    The Arctic trails have their secret tales
        That would make your blood run cold;
    The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
        But the queerest they ever did see
    Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
        I cremated Sam McGee.
    Now Sam McGee was from Tennessee, where the cotton blooms and blows.
    Why he left his home in the South to roam 'round the Pole, God only knows.
    He was always cold, but the land of gold seemed to hold him like a spell;
    Though he'd often say in his homely way that "he'd sooner live in hell."
    On a Christmas Day we were mushing our way over the Dawson trail.
    Talk of your cold! through the parka's fold it stabbed like a driven nail.
    If our eyes we'd close, then the lashes froze till sometimes we couldn't see;
    It wasn't much fun, but the only one to whimper was Sam McGee.
    And that very night, as we lay packed tight in our robes beneath the snow,
    And the dogs were fed, and the stars o'erhead were dancing heel and toe,
    He turned to me, and "Cap," says he, "I'll cash in this trip, I guess;
    And if I do, I'm asking that you won't refuse my last request."
    Well, he seemed so low that I couldn't say no; then he says with a sort of moan:
    "It's the cursèd cold, and it's got right hold, till I'm chilled clean through to the bone.
    Yet 'tain't being dead — it's my awful dread of the icy grave that pains;
    So I want you to swear that, foul or fair, you'll cremate my last remains."
    A pal's last need is a thing to heed, so I swore I would not fail;
    And we started on at the streak of dawn; but God! he looked ghastly pale.
    He crouched on the sleigh, and he raved all day of his home in Tennessee;
    And before nightfall a corpse was all that was left of Sam McGee.
    There wasn't a breath in that land of death, and I hurried, horror-driven,
    With a corpse half hid that I couldn't get rid, because of a promise given;
    It was lashed to the sleigh, and it seemed to say: "You may tax your brawn and brains,
    But you promised true, and it's up to you, to cremate those last remains."
    Now a promise made is a debt unpaid, and the trail has its own stern code.
    In the days to come, though my lips were dumb, in my heart how I cursed that load.
    In the long, long night, by the lone firelight, while the huskies, round in a ring,
    Howled out their woes to the homeless snows — Oh God! how I loathed the thing.
    And every day that quiet clay seemed to heavy and heavier grow;
    And on I went, though the dogs were spent and the grub was getting low;
    The trail was bad, and I felt half mad, but I swore I would not give in;
    And I'd often sing to the hateful thing, and it hearkened with a grin.
    Till I came to the marge of Lake Lebarge, and a derelict there lay;
    It was jammed in the ice, but I saw in a trice it was called the "Alice May."
    And I looked at it, and I thought a bit, and I looked at my frozen chum;
    Then "Here," said I, with a sudden cry, "is my cre-ma-tor-eum."
    Some planks I tore from the cabin floor, and I lit the boiler fire;
    Some coal I found that was lying around, and I heaped the fuel higher;
    The flames just soared, and the furnace roared — such a blaze you seldom see;
    And I burrowed a hole in the glowing coal, and I stuffed in Sam McGee.
    Then I made a hike, for I didn't like to hear him sizzle so;
    And the heavens scowled, and the huskies howled, and the wind began to blow.
    It was icy cold, but the hot sweat rolled down my cheeks, and I don't know why;
    And the greasy smoke in an inky cloak went streaking down the sky.
    I do not know how long in the snow I wrestled with grisly fear;
    But the stars came out and they danced about ere again I ventured near;
    I was sick with dread, but I bravely said: "I'll just take a peep inside.
    I guess he's cooked, and it's time I looked"; ... then the door I opened wide.
    And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm, in the heart of the furnace roar;
    And he wore a smile you could see a mile, and said: "Please close that door.
    It's fine in here, but I greatly fear, you'll let in the cold and storm —
    Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it's the first time I've been warm."
    There are strange things done in the midnight sun
        By the men who moil for gold;
    The Arctic trails have their secret tales
        That would make your blood run cold;
    The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
        But the queerest they ever did see
    Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
        I cremated Sam McGee.

I hope you all have a safe and fun filled night out there tonight. I'll be here at work--Saving lives and stamping out disease at the Wonderbilt. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Yule and a Blessed Solstice

Last night marked the Winter Solstice. The longest night of the year has passed and the days will grow longer--The light returns. For us pagans, it is a time of reflection. Looking at ourselves, figuring out what we want for the year ahead. Take a few minutes for yourself this day to figure out where you want to be one year from now--health, work, creatively, emotionally--and what goals you need to set in order to see that to fruition.

I woke up early this morning and snapped this picture of the Yule Sunrise.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Time to have another look at this budget

No. I'm not getting political. I don't need anything else to piss me off. I mean my own household budget.

For the first time in my adult life, I am damn near broke. Paychecks are cutting it too close for comfort and the credit card is close to maxed out. One income for five people plus paying for my husband's college out of pocket (because we "make too much" for financial aid) has finally caught up with us. We aren't missing payments or anything like that. But it wouldn't take much to push us over the edge. Especially now that my husband's unemployment has run out.

Here are my solutions:
Go through our clothes, DVDs, CDs and toys for things to sell. This might not be the best time for a yard sale but there's always craigslist, right?
Stop buying every book that catches my eye. For the next year, I will only buy books that are part of a series I am already invested in. I will stop buying books in a series that has taken a turn for the worse in hopes that the author has somehow rescued the plot and characters from certain literary doom. Get a library card, too.
Stop eating out at work. No exceptions. If all we have is stale bread and peanut butter, then that's what's for dinner.
Start using coupons more frequently.
Ask myself "do we need this right now?" with every item that goes into the shopping cart. Now I only shop at two places: Costco and Kroger. Okay, three places. I go to Barnes & Noble maybe four times a year. If you people see me at any of those places, gazing longingly at something that isn't a necessity, call me out on it.
Freeze back food. We spend a ton on Dagan's gluten free food items. I will start cooking in the middle of the day and freeze back lunch stuff for him. I just have to drag out those gluten free cookbooks again.

So, dear folks...what are your best money saving tips?

Monday, December 5, 2011

TBR: To Be Read

Deniz, over at The Girdle of Melian, has posted pictures of her TBR (To Be Read) piles and it inspired me to do the same. Here are my piles. A few books in each picture I have read, but those are extra copies I bought with the intention of [one day] re-reading.
The Xerox box is full of books, too.

The Gabaldon books are extras for loaning to friends.

Disregard "linger", I read it this summer.

I've already read Lover Unleashed, too.

The bottom shelf has been read, plus it holds my blank journals.

A table in my bedroom.

The drawer in the table (above)

The white box is full, too...

Oops. I forgot about this drawer-full...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bringing up the rear

I am so far behind all my writing buddies in NaNoWriMo-land that it is beyond funny. So far beyond funny that it has come full circle and found its way back to being humorous. Most of them have already crossed the finish line today. And good for them. I can look back now and see all the times I could have written more and, like the procrastinator I am, said to myself, "I'll write extra tomorrow," which of course never happened. But I still got words down every single day. And that is more than I can say for my norm.

I started out this morning around 8000 words in the hole with only about eighteen hours to get caught up. A daunting task to be sure. More like horrifying. It is two in the afternoon now and I have 3,370 words left to go. I know I can do this. Even if I have to count this blog post as words, I don't care. It might be cheating. You know what I say to that? FUCK. IT. I have worked my ass of this month, not just writing. Being the stay at home mom during the week, the nurse at work, the sole-provider of money for home and tuition/books for my husband.

I won't give a shit what these fifty thousand words look like at midnight tonight as long as the math works out for me. So take that NaNoWriMo--who's your bitch? Not this gal.

My rewards: Scotch, four new books, Scotch, a Gillian Welch concert tomorrow night, Scotch, and free time to do whatever the fuck I want. Oh yeah, and more Scotch.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Oh, the humanity!

Please excuse my negativity today. I have reached a point of maximum capacity and I must purge before I explode in a rush of festering toxic sludge. For those of you who’ve experienced this verbal emesis from me before, my apologies. 
The setup: My usual Friday marathon. Awake from 06:00 until 09:00 Saturday morning. I have been sick since Tuesday morning around 02:00. So tired at work Firday night, I fell asleep at the desk. Twice. Not just a cat nap. It was the kind of sleep that leaves you with numb extremities and an arm covered in drool. The Best twenty minutes of my life. 
Back to the point. What was my point? Negativity. Yes. So. 
After I got home, I fed the two Littlest Heathens breakfast, played with them for a half an hour before taking a shower and falling into a coma at 09:02. This is the sleep absent of dreams and full of restoration, unless of course your husband is studying and doesn’t realize the kids are giggling and fighting about four feet away from your head. Granted, there’s a wall between us and I had my earplugs in. Still loud as hell and it was two hours before I_should_have woken up.
I banged on the wall. Nothing. The giggles continued. I waited ten minutes, and by that time the decrepit old bastard next door had begun obsessive-compulsively mowing the twenty foot patch of grass outside my bedroom window (that he just mowed yesterday), before yelling—with a not-so-effective-voice since I’ve been sick for the last three days— “SHUT UP!” 
That worked for the kids. The old man outside my window? Not so much. 
So I tossed and turned and I fumed, to the point that I was too angry to fall back to sleep. Plus, I had to pee. I was pissed about that too (yuk-yuk-yuk). Fantasies of slashing the tires on Old Man’s precious lawnmower danced through my head. Or even better, I could go to their house at four o’clock in the morning and blow an air-horn, or ring the door bell incessantly until they were forced from their comfy beds to shuffle to the door in pajamas and then hide in the bushes while they looked for the mysterious prankster. Maybe a skunk could even mosey on by and spray Old Man. Ooh, ooh. Best idea ever: I could wait until he finished mowing and use our blower to move all the leaves from our yard into his yard since he was only mowing to shred up the newly-fallen leaves. 
Finally, at 4:15, after fueling the fires of my rage for forty-five minutes, I threw the covers off, stomped to the bathroom, peed, slammed the lid down and marched to the kitchen spewing my verbal curse word salad like an R-rated version of Yosemite Sam. 
My husband sat on the couch, studying like a good boy. The Littlest Heathens played quietly in the floor like angels. 
“What’s the matter, baby?” My husband looked up at me from his ventilator study guide. 
“I’m sick and I’m tired. And that fucking asshole is mowing the goddamn grass AGAIN! I am over this shit.” [Now keep in mind, the Old Man has been told by myself and my husband on more than one occasion that I work every weekend at night.]
No response from my husband. He knows when to ignore me and let me vomit my anger at other people. My kids, well, I don’t know what they were doing because I was in the kitchen taking Mucinex DM.
“He_just_mowed the leaves yesterday.”I picked up the Brita pitcher (still cursing about the selfishness of humans) because the directions say I must take this giant bitter phlegm-buster with a full glass of water. The pitcher was empty. Son of a motherless goat. 
"Why does he have to mow the part next to the bedroom? Why not the rest of the sonofabitchin' acre he lives on?" I slammed the Brita lid on the counter and a large chunk of it flew off. 
Just fucking spectacular. 
I blew out a breath (it was more of a sob, actually) and calmly retrieved the superglue from the junk drawer and glued the lid back together, holding pressure while the water filtered drop by agonizing drop.
I was angry to the point of tears and that is not an exaggeration. In that moment the world felt like a dungeon of wrongness. An inescapable Hell filled with frustration, selfishness and unfairness. I was a five year-old wearing a grown up suit that didn’t fit and itched like a mound of fire ants lived inside the fibers. 
Then I got angry all over again. This time it was aimed at myself for being the selfish one. 
So what if the old man is senile and compulsively cares for his yard. It’s his right to do that. He’s lived long enough, paid his dues, probably has a wife he can’t stand so yard work is his only freedom. Who am I to deny him the one thing he has left? I am no one. 
Except, I am [theoretically] the very person he should be sensitive to. He’s already had one ambulance ride to the hospital this year. I estimated him to be somewhere between eighty to eighty five years old. Not getting any younger or healthier. When he ends up in the ICU, will he want the nightshift nurse who’s single-handedly providing for her family of five on six and a half hours of sleep in the past two and a half days? 
No, he would want the nurse who has had a decent night/day of sleep so that they have the patience to wipe his ass when he shits the bed for the tenth time in twelve hours, or help him walk to the bathroom (a trip that can take upwards of half an hour for some ICU folks, those of them that are lucky enough to be conscious), the friendly face instead of the impatient hard-ass, the one that reminds herself to “kill ‘em with kindness” just like they taught in nursing school. 
This is the nurse that I strive to be. No matter how bad my mood, my patients don’t suffer for it. Hopefully he has the same kind of nurse when his age catches up to him and finds the hospital visits come more frequently. Maybe they won’t, but if they do, he’ll be lucky to have a nurse like me instead of one that rolls their eyes (yes, this happens, you might even know someone who’s experienced this first hand), or sighs loudly at the request for Yet Another Soda. 
My point in all this--besides the fact that I clearly need more sleep, a very long vacation and possibly some anger management--is that you have no idea how much your actions affect others. Think about it the next time you want to mow your lawn two days in a row. 
And if someone brings something to your attention on multiple occasions, particularly something that is negatively affecting others around you, listen to them. Don't just blow them off. They might not be making it up just to piss you off. Maybe they’re onto something. 
That's pretty much it. I won't rant about cops holding down protesters in order to ensure that the pepper spray makes it directly into their eyes. That's for another day.

Thanks for listening, y’all. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Addendum to The Writing Life

Ahem. It has been brought to my attention *g* by Deniz over at The Girdle of Melian (who has her own synopsis of a typical writing day) that I neglected to tell y'all about my work-writing day. Well, I work every Friday and Saturday--nightshift in the ICU--plus either a Monday or Wednesday due to my husband's class schedule. I prefer to do nightshifts all in a row, but shit happens like Husband's Decision to Make a Career Change.

So! My Friday and Monday consists of the same schedule I posted earlier except I leave for work at 6pm, work until 7am (writing when I can*), home by 8am, then sleep all day Saturday, waking up at around 5pm to go back to work. This crazy schedule means I stay up for around 26-28 hours straight--twice a week. Sunday, after work, I usually sleep a little later, waking up at 7pm-ish to cook dinner and get the kids to bed so I can read or write** after they're asleep.

*Writing at work is hit or miss. If we're busy, I get nothing done. Flu season is on its way so I won't even try. But on the nights when I'm the Charge Nurse, I can usually get a thousand words in between my paperwork, starting IVs, admitting patients (or as another Charge Nurse calls it...Rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic) and putting out theoretical fires as they come up.
**The back and forth of dayshift/nightshift (especially since I can't work all three nights in a row anymore) has taken its toll on my brain. I can't write anything worth a shit when I've slept so erratically. That means Sunday nights and Tuesday nights are usually a wash for writing. But I try anyway, even though I don't typically keep what I's jibberish.

There you have it. My crazy schedule. It's no wonder I drink so much coffee and have a messy house. I've learned to accept the clutter and walk around it. Life is too short to spend it all on chores.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Writing Life

Over at the Compuserve Books and Writer's Forum, one of the members posted a synopsis of her writing day. It was leisurely and really the scenario that every aspiring writer dreams of. Breakfast, write, lunch and a t.v. show, write and edit some more. Dinner with husband, reading, etc. Honestly, it made me insanely jealous. That may sound petty, but here's why...

My typical day writing:
Wake up at 0620 start coffee. Make oldest heathen’s breakfast and wake him up.
0630 drink half a cup of coffee in complete solitude whilst checking email/facebook/twitter until youngest heathen wakes up asking for yogurt-peach then strawberry.
0640 Give oldest heathen a glass of soy milk and his probiotic, and if he’s done with breakfast administer vitamins. Youngest heathen is usually awake by now.
0650 finish giving youngest heathen her yogurt and fluff oldest heathen’s clothes in the dryer because I never got them out and folded them the night before.
0710 make oldest heathen’s lunch and check backpack for completed homework, notes, and snack. Prod youngest heathen to the bathroom to pee. Wake Middle Heathen who isn’t fond of mornings, like his mother. Get all three dressed to take Oldest to school.
0735 Take Oldest to school, home by 0800 and finish breakfast for Two Littlest Heathens
0830 Stare at laptop and decide where to start, editing or write a scene. Doesn’t matter which because I’ll be interrupted every minute or two by things like…
“Hey, Mommy.” Middle One shoves a portable game in my face. “I’m pretending Barricade is Megatron. He’s the hardest to beat.”
“Mommy,” sings the Littlest one, “I have to go pee-pee.”
“Hey, Mommy, how do you spell handwriting?”
“Mommy, I want some soy milk.”
“Hey Mommy, why do we have to brush our teeth every day?”
“Mommy, I pooted.”
“Hey, Mommy, look at this. It’s Bone Crusher and Scorpinock.”
After about ten minutes of this, I give up and close the laptop. We play outside off and on for two hours then go back in around ten or eleven to get ready for lunch.
1200 Watch Caillou, which is a guaranteed thirty minutes of no kid interruptions if I time the beginning of lunch with the beginning of the show. Write like hell for those thirty minutes. Maybe squeeze another hour playing outside after lunch or watch a movie if it’s raining/too cold/too hot.
Spend the rest of the day (in stolen five minute intervals) adding to or editing those furious words I got earlier in between more questions/statements/requests like the ones listed above.
1430 Leave to get oldest from school, dragging Middle and Littlest with me, read while waiting in school line, home by 1515 at the latest.
Snacks for everyone except me, I haven’t eaten since breakfast at 0800, forgot to write that down earlier.
[Damn, this is exhausting just typing it.]
Start homework Battle Royale by 1600. With or without alcohol.
1700 start dinner eat by 1800.
Still no time for me.
Brushing Teeth
Keeping my eyes open
2100 Everybody needs to back off before Mommy loses her shit.  Read stories and tuck each kid in their respective beds, where I usually fall asleep in one of them. If I’m lucky*, I stay awake and write til 2200 then read til 2300 and either fall asleep on the couch or go to bed to wake up at 0620** the next day and do it all again.

*I'm usually not.
**That’s if no one wakes up in the night (which is rare these days) or if Oldest doesn’t wake up at 0530 wanting to know if it’s too early to get up yet.

Monday, October 31, 2011

What the Hell am I thinking?

I've finally done it. I have lost my mind. Last night, I signed up for NaNoWriMo. As if there wasn't enough on my plate. In case you're wondering, here's what is on my plate:
1. Three kids; ages 3, 4 and 10. The three and four year-olds stay at home with me during the week while ...
2. I work nightshift, three 12-hour shifts per week [in which very little writing can be done] and sleep the day after while...
3. My husband is back in school full time to become a Respiratory Therapist. He's gone all day Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. On either Tuesday or Thursday, he goes back to school to study with his classmates. Every minute he's home, he is studying. This is paying off as evidenced by his A-average.
4. I'm editing my first novel and really trying to take a more business-like approach after SiWC. Last year I pitched to an agent who requested the first 35 pages and this year I pitched to an editor who wants to see it (upon its completion). I learned that NaNo is not the right way to do your rewrites. I tried this last year and got 50,000 words, but it was all backstory. NaNo could very well pull me away from the Book That Needs Attention.
5. My house is a disaster zone.
6. We're traveling Nov. 23-27 for Thanksgiving

So!  I figure I've got around 20-25 days that I can actually write, which puts my daily word count goal at 2,000-2,500. On the plus side, I am kid-free for four days this week. I'm aiming for much higher word counts on those four days to make a buffer for the aforementioned holiday travel.

Plan: Write out the list of scenes I need to finish the first book. I've spent the last few months ripping the SFD (shitty first draft) to pieces and I have many holes to fill. Start the next book. Ideas for this have been bouncing around like so many ping-pong balls in my head for the last year. Lastly, Try not to kill anyone from the stress.

Somebody tell me this is actually possible. Please.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Apparently, I am naive.

I've been working on a post that summed up my absence over the summer months.  A humorous self-titled* post to break the ice and get back to blogging on a regular basis. It's still not finished, almost, but not quite.
And then yesterday I got a phone call regarding two of my very best friends here in Nashville.  Leaving out all details, basically my heart, pride, and trust have been crushed. So this little emotional word-salad gushed out yesterday while I waited in line to pick up my eldest from school.  Here it is in all its unedited glory.

"Words won't come. How can you organize a single coherent thought while betrayal churns, fresh and putrid, in your gut.
I can't judge the acts. I am no saint, to be sure. The lies will not abide.  To trust and defend were my downfall. I will not blindly do either again.
Guilt, I hope, has entered their minds. It will be a self-inflicted punishment. If they have no guilt, then nothing is left of their souls."

Weird, I know. But if felt good to get it out. And it was better than puking which is the other feeling I had.
Hopefully today is a better day and I get some real writing done.

*Self-Titled, as in "A Day in the Life of Me"

Thursday, May 26, 2011

For my babies

This one goes out to my munchkins.
Thanks to Timmy B at Black 13.  I love it.

(In case you can't tell where this is, it wraps around my left hip)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Facebook Spellcheck

Yesterday I posted on an author's Facebook page that I enjoyed her book and jokingly chided her for the cliffhanger ending [which I secretly and sadistically enjoy. Not sure why I like the torture of those endings, but I do. I'm weird. I know.]  Anyhow, someone [needlessly] jumped to the author's defense and her reply was saturated with spelling errors.  I didn't call her out for it; it's a pointless argument.  For all I know, English is her second language.  Or maybe she just doesn't care.  But the fact that she's defending someone's writing style, but doesn't take the time to fix the red spelling errors seems a little off to me. Here's how it went [I've deleted the poster's name and profile picture. I put the errors in bold, not because I think y'all are stupid*]:

Illusions was wonderful--a pleasure to read. but woman, you are simply evil for that cliffhanger ending ;)
14 hours ago ·  · 

  • 3 people like this.
    • D.R. ikr? she left us hanging!
      14 hours ago · 

    • Aven McNab I know, but I honestly kind of like the torture of cliffhangers-for a little while. then I start thinking about how long till the next one...
      14 hours ago · 

    • J.E.   Cliff hangers are a good move for almost any wrighter because it leaves you wanting to read more. So when the next book comes out, you bye it. plain and simple :) But it also depends on how much you like the book, and some people don't want to read the book that comes after a cliff hanger so I gess its a 50 50. I think it was a smart move for this serise because aprilynne already has readers infested in her books all she has to do is make them want more.

      14 hours ago · 
    • J.E.  and wright really good books to keep them intorested. THAT ISNT EASY FOLKS!

      *I can see how "infested" and "bye" didn't get flagged as misspellings; they are spelled correctly, just wrong words.  Not to mention the contractions missing their apostrophes.  Am I the only one who reads over her post before posting?  I don't think so.  The irony of this being posted on an author's page is what gets me.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tattoos, I love you

Just realized I hadn't posted pics of my finished half sleeve.  I was reminded by a post from Aunt Becky over at Mommy Want's Vodka today--she's getting her next one today.  Can't wait to see what she gets.  Her last one, a beautiful phoenix, was strikingly awesome.

Anyhow, here's the pics (taken a few days after it was finished).

Friday, March 25, 2011

What I've been reading

I thought I'd pass along some of the great books I've been reading lately.  As always, the genres vary with my fickle mind.

*The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen--Literary Fiction.  As always Mr. Franzen blows me away with his observation of the everyday human existence. It's a guilty pleasure to watch these dysfunctional characters fall apart and then pick up the pieces.
*A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness--Paranormal Fiction.  Being a witch or a daemon is hereditary and the MC has been denying her genetic witch roots for years.  After accidentally summoning a bewitched ancient text she meets a Vampire who changes her life for better and worse.  Great debut novel.  Two more books to follow, so says the author on her facebook page.
*Shiver (and its sequel Linger) by Maggie Stiefvater--YA Paranormal Fiction.  A new take on how werewolves are made and, of course, young love.  The third and final book in this series will be released in July.
*The Raven Queen by Jules Watson--Historical Fiction.  Retelling of the ancient Irish tale about Queen Maeve.  This book loosely ties into her last stand-alone novel, The Swan Maiden (retelling of Deidre of the Sorrows).
*Darkest Mercy by Melissa Marr--YA Paranormal Fiction.  This is the final book in her Fairy series, and it was a great ending.  I'm glad she didn't try to drag this out like another YA series that started out with a bang but now seems just annoying (rhymes with Mouse of Light).

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Vote for WWTS!!!

We Were The States are competing for a spot for Live on the Green.  Vote for them on Lightning 100's website between 10 a.m. and midnight (central time), even if you aren't a Nashvillian...go ahead and vote if you like music at all.  They are good, because I said so.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Resistance Is Futile. Uh, this guy says it's not. I'm with him.

 (Image from Google Images search for "resistance")
Today I started reading THE WAR OF ART by Steven Pressfield.  A Must Read for all artists, writers, musicians.  Heck, anyone really.  Seriously, go buy a copy.  
I can’t comment on every point he makes, but I’ll touch on the ones that hit me hardest.  I’ll cover Book One today—Resistance:  Defining the Enemy 
It is invisible.  That sneaky little shit! 
Resistance is Internal.  We blame it on our jobs, our kids, our stress.  No.  It’s inside us. It will say anything, do anything to trick you.  “Resistance is always lying and always full of shit.”  (Pg. 9)
Use Resistance to solidify what we really want.  “The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.”  (pg. 12)
You cannot reason with Resistance.  It has one goal—to stop you—and it never tires of the game.  
Resistance never goes away, taunting you until the bitter end.  There is no First Blood.  It’s a Death Match.  And it is strongest near the end, when your goal is within your grasp.  Watch out for it.  Don’t let it get you.
Resistance is not self-sustaining.  Our fear is its daily bread.  Without the fear, Resistance dies.  
*The number one symptom is Procrastination.  And I excel at procrastination.  We are bosom pals, BFFs, comrades, brothers [or sisters] in arms!  It’s the easiest to rationalize because what’s the harm in waiting another day to start?  No one’s gonna keel over because I didn’t write today, or the last however many days.  
He goes on to list others like getting into trouble, creating drama or going on about your drama, criticizing others, alcohol, drugs, and on and on.  These things get you attention.  Much easier than buckling down and finishing what you started. 
*Unhappiness.  This was, by far, the most profound because it described me to a T.  
A low-grade misery pervades everything.  We’re bored, we’re restless.  We can’t get no satisfaction.  There’s guilt but we can’t put our finger on the source.  We want to go back to bed; we want to get up and party.  We feel unloved and unlovable.  We’re disgusted.  We hate our lives.  We hate ourselves.”  (Pg. 31)
That pretty much sums up the last four months, some points more than others.  According to Pressfield, the only cure is...drumroll, please...doing our work. 
*Self-Doubt.  I have this in spades.  But Pressfield says this can also be our ally.  Being scared shows how much we want this thing, be it a novel, a painting, or a song.  So while I feel like I’m drowning in it sometimes, at least I know for sure this isn’t a phase.  Am I a writer?  He says if I ask that question at all, then I am.  Whew.  I was starting to wonder *g*
*Fear also points us towards what we should be doing, just like the quote above from page twelve.  It guides us.  More fear=More certainty.  I don’t know about you, but I’m scared shitless.  Scared that I won’t finish one book, let alone all the ideas I have brewing upstairs. 
*Rationalization—Resistance’s fraternal twin (my term, not his).  The problem with rationalizations is that they are legitimate issues.  I_do_have three kids, one of which has Asperger’s.  I_am_the only income right now.    I_am_working full-time plus overtime to make ends meet.  I_don’t_have babysitters or family nearby to help.  This is all bullshit.  He cites Tolstoy (had thirteen kids and still wrote WAR AND PEACE) and Lance Armstrong (won Tour de France after cancer!).  I used to be my own example of this—Supermom who bakes gluten free brownies for the school function after cooking for a family of five and getting them to bed and_then_staying up to read and write.  But somewhere down the line, I let Resistance get the upper hand.  
It is my goal to get myself back and beyond where I was before.  Eliminate Resistance.  

Friday, February 25, 2011

Shhh! Even the walls have ears.

I have a confession to make.

There's a new story brewing, and it has me totally distracted.  I haven't been able to write on my first WIP all week because these new characters keep nudging me.  Okay, that's a tad dramatic.  I have written a one hundred words in the last week, which is so far below what I used to get in a day.  So today I gave up the fight and started writing this new one.  It feels a bit like adultery, running around on the other characters.  But Izzy, Joey, and Iain keep saying, "Nah, it's okay.  We'd rather nap anyway."

So with their permission, I'll see where this new one takes me.  At least it has me writing with enthusiasm again.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

How many days until...

the new Jules Watson book arrives?   Four.  This woman is second only to Diana Gabaldon.  And we all know how I feel about her books.  Obsession.

my tattoo gets finished?   Seven.  Absolutely, positively Can Not Wait!!!!!

my income tax rebate gets here?   Seven.  Too bad it'll probably be spent on the house.

the new JR Ward book is released?   Twenty-eight.  Not sure if I'll have time to re-read the series before that happens.

the Old 280 Boogie?   Fifty-three.  Just me and the kids, I'm afraid.  John's up to his neck in Anatomy and Physiology...pun intended.

Bronwen's birthday?  Fifty-five.  Holy Atomic Pile, Batman!  My youngest will be three years old!

my birthday?   Eighty-six.  Both feet firmly planted in the "Thirties."

Bonnaroo?   One-hundred and nine.  Fingers crossed because the line-up this year will melt your face off.

Let's just stop there for now.  Any number bigger than 109 would just make me sad.

Monday, February 14, 2011


Valentine’s Day again.  It’s been hectic so far.  But Mondays usually are since I have to leave work a half hour early to get home in time for my husband to leave for his school.  THEN I have to get one sleepy nine year old up/fed/clothed to take to school and the other two Rugrats up and clothed to go along for the ride.  
Shortly after midnight (while at work), I realized I’d forgotten all about my 3rd grader’s party.  They were supposed to decorate their own Valentine’s gift bag/box and have Valentine’s cards for all 24 classmates.  Of course the drive home this morning had as many red lights, cop cars, and wrecks to keep me from making good time on the road.  Stopping at Kroger to buy the necessary Spiderman “27 Lenticular Valentines” didn’t speed things up much.  
The cards got labeled, ink promptly smudged, breakfast devoured, bladders emptied, vitamins swallowed, lunch packed, and kids with sleep-crusted eyes were buckled in.  We left our house ten minutes behind schedule and made it to school with two minutes to spare.  Whew!  
Doesn’t really feel like Valentine’s Day this year.  Probably since I didn’t buy anyone anything.  I had hoped to have my tax return money by now, but the IRS is slow this year.  
More importantly, today marks fifteen years since my grandfather William Albert Oggs— a.k.a. Billy, a.k.a “B”—left this world.  He was full of life, fun, great one-liners, curse words, and love.  He did a crossword puzzle every day, enjoyed Scotch at night, made the best Chicken Salad Sandwiches on Earth, loved Western novels and listening to Opera.  He didn’t tolerate running indoors_at all_.  If I recall correctly, his favorite rock song was CCR- Lookin’ Out My Backdoor.  He is missed by all who knew him for more reasons than I could ever list here.

On a lighter note, I'm counting down the hours until the Bonnaroo 2011 Lineup is announced even though we still don’t know if we can go this year. ☺ 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

We Were ___ ______

No, I’m not going to blabber about We Were Promised Jetpacks again (even though I stand by my obsession 100% and anxiously await a new album this year).  
Today, it’s all about We Were the States, a great band (brings to mind The Pixies a little) with not anywhere near enough airplay.  This is so typical of the Nashville music scene.  An awesome band that falls on the deaf ears of Music City’s Cliques.  It’s damn near impossible to get going musically here if you aren’t a Golden child of one of Country music’s Darling chart-toppers. 
Last year they played SXSW (for the third? Year) and took a spot right up there with Dr. Dog and Broken Social Scene for surprise blowout bands.  
So why aren’t they breaking out all over the U.S.?  Because they’re in this black hole of a music industry town.   Truly, it's a Travesty.  It's a Sham.  It's a Mockery.  It's a traveshamockery!!!   Please, take a listen and spread the word if you like them.  They could use some exposure.

p.s. I know that sounded pretty bitter.  What can I say?  I'm a bitter person tonight [this morning].  I think I'll listen to these albums some more.  That'll put me in a better mood.
p.p.s. Thanks to Devin for turning me on to this band.  Work didn't suck nearly as bad tonight.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tattoo Frenzy

There’s a tattoo thread over at the Compuserve Writers Forum.  It’s got a few of us craving more ink.  Three weeks from today, and my half-sleeve will be finished.  How long will I be able to wait for the next one?  Not sure.  The funds will likely make that decision for me.
I have ideas for my next five.  
#1: Inside the right upper arm—all my kids names end in the letter “n.”  I want a lower case N done in the story book fashion like the picture below, with all the kids names leading up to it, like a fairy tale story, only backwards.
     (Image above taken from a search of Google images)
With their names stacked up (above), the tattoo will loosely resemble the number three, which I like for some reason.
#2:  Left shoulder/back—Black and grey portrait of my maternal grandfather, using a picture taken of him shortly after returning from WW2 (1943ish) angled so that he looks at …
#3:  Back—a black and grey portrait of my maternal grandmother, from her “Beauty” portrait done her freshman year in college.

#4:  Right shoulder/back—black and grey portrait of my paternal grandparents, if I can find the picture I have in mind.  Pop (6’4’’)  holding up Grandmom (not quite 5’) around her waist, or her standing on a stool next to him.
#5:  Back of neck—black sketch of an open book.  I picture it with blank pages, literally like someone doodled it on my skin.  Wispy strokes, a few pages curled up.  

Once I find the actual pictures of 2 and 4 I’ll scan them and post them here with a link to this original blog entry.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Writing Again, and again, and again...

Today I started writing again, after fifty-three days of Zero Words on the page (excluding blog entries).  There’s only 163 of them today, and they aren’t great ones.  But they’re present in all their black-on-white-background glory.
Every time I’m out of the writing routine, for any length of time, I’m amazed at how hard it is to get back into the groove.  Each time I tell myself, “This time, I won’t stop.  I won’t get out of the routine.  I’ll write everyday.  Every Single Day.  Even if it’s only a handful of words.”  
Sadly, life happens.  It happens in little ways, like chasing three kids down with a Kleenex when we all get the latest cold.  It happens in big ways, like when you look at things too hard and let self-doubt take over your mind.  
 Well, life has been happening to me… A Lot.  I had lost interest in reading and writing.  It has been taking me [on average] a week or more to finish a book.  Completely unheard of before the winter brought on my scapegoat, Seasonal Affect Disorder.  I found myself posting less and less on the Writer’s Forum.  What did I have to post since I wasn’t writing?
Kids, work, bills, S.A.D., self-doubt….more excuses for me to be lazy.  What I need is a word counter I can post here on my blog, maybe Facebook as well (which seems to be my biggest distraction of late), so that I have some sort of public accountability.  Not that my mere twenty followers even check this page daily, but they might.  And someone just might call me out for not writing.  *Cough*  This means you Compuserve Ladies who have blogs I follow—Zan Marie, Tara, Spesh, Claire and Susan, and Laura.
I’ll state my goals here, as well as the Forum, for the month.
1. Write every day on my WIP
2. Read at least one book per week
3. Post on this blog at least weekly

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Music on my mind

We're having a sort of music swap/discussion over at the Compuserve Writers Forum.  Here's my original post.  Join in over there or comment here.  I look forward to new suggestions.

Running late with this thread.  I meant to post just after the new year.  Here it is Groundhog's Day/Imbolc and I'm finally getting around to it.  I was a little disappointed with Vampire Weekend's new album "Contra" as well as MGMT's "Contratulations".  Maybe a few more listens will sway me.

Albums released in 2010
Mumford and Sons "Sigh No More" *
We Were Promised Jetpacks "The Last Place You'll Look(EP)" *
Local Natives "Gorilla Manor" *
Broken Bells "Broken Bells" *
Band of Horses "Infinite Arms"
The Black Keys "Brothers"
Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse, '...Present Dark Night of the Soul' *
Arcade Fire, 'The Suburbs' *
Deerhunter, 'Halcyon Digest'
Bob Dylan, 'Bootleg Series #9 - The Witmark Demos'

New To Me Bands (discovered in 2010)
Matt and Kim "Grand" 2009
Finniston "Organised for Hi Fi" (no longer together)
Heartless Bastards "The Mountain"  2009
The Big Pink "A Brief History of Love" 2009

Oldies But Goodies
Smashing Pumpkins "Siamese Dream" *
Ryan Adams "Easy Tiger" *
Dan Auerbach "Keep It Hid" *
Mark Knopfler "Golden Heart" *
Loudon Wainwright III "Strange Weirdos"
Neutral Milk Hotel "In The Aeroplane Over The Sea"
Bonnie Prince Billy "Master and Everyone"
Ray LaMontagne "Trouble" *  
Gillian Welch--All albums, but especially "Soul Journey" *
Dave Rawlings Machine "Friend of a Friend"

*Listened to the least weekly--almost daily.

2011 has kicked off with The Decemberists's "The King is Dead"  and Iron & Wine's "Kiss Each Other Clean"  Looking forward to more great music this year.  

So...what did you listen to last year?  What are you listening to now?  Any albums coming out soon that you're looking forward to?  Suggestions?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

News and Other Nonsense you probably don't care about.

Another Groundhog's Day has arrived, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed for No Delay In Spring.  Phil  the groundhog says it's an early spring.  I hope that tubby rodent is right.  I've had my fill of S.A.D. for this year, thank you very much.

As always, I'm keeping my eyes peeled for links to Scotland in everything.  Groundhog's Day is no different.
From Wikipedia:

"In Scotland the tradition may also derive from an English poem:
As the light grows longer
The cold grows stronger
If Candlemas be fair and bright
Winter will have another flight
If Candlemas be cloud and rain
Winter will be gone and not come again
A farmer should on Candlemas day
Have half his corn and half his hay
On Candlemas day if thorns hang a drop
You can be sure of a good pea crop
This tradition also stems from similar beliefs associated with Candlemas Day[11] and Groundhog Day. Candlemas, also known as the Purification of the Virgin or the Presentation, coincides with the pagan observance Imbolc."

Today is Imbolc for all my fellow Pagans out there.  Out with the old, and in with the new.  I think I've got my head back on straight, after two months of confusion and emotional hijacking, and can resume my daily writing routine.  No longer will I let the judgements and criticisms of others dictate my worth or ability.

Yesterday I got my taxes filed (finally!) only to find out the IRS won't be processing them until Valentine's day due to certain laws getting passed too late last year.  I still say they should pay us interest.  The one time I owed taxes, I had to pay 6%, IIRC.  But then again, our government sucks at finances so they'd probably screw it up anyway.

In more narcissistic news, I've bought myself two pair of shoes [pics below] that will surely brighten my view of the world after such a grey blah winter.  Especially since both were on sale.  The boots are due to arrive today, beautiful burgundy leather riding boots.  Another week and my Chuck Taylor-esque red velvet sneakers will be here.  Retail therapy really does ease the soul.
Dolce Vita Women's Donner Boot (

Maroon Velvet Sneakers (J.Jill)

Also, please visit This Website to learn more about the Old 280 Boogie, and how you can support it, whether you're from the area or not.  This is an area very close to where I grew up.  I've already made my donation and put in vacation time to attend this year.  So, go make yours.  Thanks!         

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Left Arm Longs for the Caress of a Brillo Pad

It's now been a week since I got my half-sleeve started.  Day three it started peeling.  Day four it started itching.  Those two things [for me] are the worst part about tattoos.  I'd rather have the raw feeling of a fresh tattoo than this shit.  This has been the ultimate test of my will power.  Only my desire to not fuck up this awesome original art on my arm has kept me from disfiguring my arm for a moment of relief.

I'm a picker, and not in a cool way like the Steve Miller song.  I'm the one peeling my sunburned skin after a trip to the beach and popping enormous black head zits on our sedated patients ... you get the picture.  It sounds gross, but I know plenty of people who compulsively do these things.  Oddly enough, or maybe not, they work in medicine like me.

I have a new-found respect for people stuck with a cast and aren't able to scratch the itch beneath it.  It's really driving me crazy.  Tank-tops are a bit too chilly for this time of year so I have to dress in long sleeves which makes my arm itch even more.  I thought getting tattooed in the winter would be better--I wouldn't have to worry about getting too much sun exposure.  Now I'm not so sure.

"If it itches apply some lotion."  Well that's what I've done, but then I start worrying that the friction of rubbing the lotion in might pull the pieces off too early.  "Don't use regular soap or get your shampoo on it because it might have perfumes." Right.  Okay. Trying to wash my Rapunzel-length hair is an ordeal to say the least.  I lean to my right side to wash and rinse it which gets water in my ear...ugh.  Is the water pressure in my shower too much?  Will it rip the loose peeling pieces off?  Did it stay wet too long?  

This is starting to sound more neurotic than I think I actually am.  Am I over-thinking this?  Probably.

Bottom line:  This is worth it.   My badass tattoo is totally worth all the annoying shit that comes with it.  But I still say the hardest part isn't getting the tattoo, it's taking care of it.  And waiting for the next session.  That's pretty hard too.

[Had to reschedule my next appointment to accommodate John's class schedule. So I'm back to a five week countdown again.  March 1st is too far away.]

Monday, January 24, 2011

My Christmas Theme

What I want for Christmas by Ralphie Parker Aven McNab

What I want for Christmas is a Red Ryder BB gun with a compass in the stock and this thing which tells time  gift certificate to Black 13 Tattoo Parlor.  I think that everybody should have a Red Ryder BB gun gift certificate to Black 13 Tattoo Parlor.  They're very good for Christmas.  I don't think that a football is a very good Christmas present.

[This is applicable to all gift-giving occasions.  Here is the link.  Please and Thank You]

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Aww, shucks.

Thanks to Zan Marie for the Stylish Blogger award.  I'm not sure how to do this awards thing.  I think all the folks from the Compuserve Forum (who have blogs and those who don't) are stylish, so I'll pay it forward by giving them all a shout out from here.

The definition of stylish ( 1. having elegance or taste or refinement in manners or dress  2. being or in accordance with current social fashions.

Elegance is a word I would Not use to describe myself, nor do I think I am refined (exception: taste in whisky).  I do in fact have a certain "taste" in my manners (using curse words too much, sarcastic by nature, sometimes blunt to a fault) and my dress (I live in my jeans, tshirts with humorous sayings which may be considered inappropriate to others which pretty much knocks out "being in accordance with current social fashions").  So, I'm glad to know that in my life something is stylish, even if it's just my blog.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

t-minus 35 days and counting

Not quite 48 hours post-tattoo...

Is it possible to have a crush on one of your appendages?

Exactly five weeks until it's finished, and I'm as giddy as a school girl.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tattoo #3

Some people see their body as a temple and feel they should not taint it.  Other people, like me, see their body as a temple and choose to decorate the canvas with art.  And sadly, there are people who don't see their body as anything at all.  I feel bad for them.

The idea for this tattoo came to me when my husband gave me a necklace back in 2004 (exactly like the plaque below).  I always thought it would be a great tattoo, but waited six years for money, time, and to be sure I still wanted it.  The shape and layout are perfect for the upper arm.  Ian White (Black 13 Tattoo Parlor) took the two pictures  (below) and created this beautiful piece.  I'm ecstatic with the results.  He changed the scrollwork to a tree which would probably be the length of my whole arm if you straightened it out. We have one more session in February to finish it off.

The artwork represents the three phases of Woman--Maiden, Mother, and Crone.  (Scroll about halfway down for the individual explanations)

The tattoos I have, as well as the future ones, are for me-not the rest of the world.  I do want to share them, because they are beautiful and part of me. Until tattoos are accepted in the workplace, I'll keep mine covered.  I understand the stereotypes and don't want to scare any of my older patients.  But outside of work, I'll show them with pride.