Dad, Dust, Ditz

GOOD: Dreamed I was on a road trip with Dad and some of my siblings.

BAD: As we were driving, the clouds behind us turned black, then billowed orange, and ash fell from the sky. (Yes, I did just finish reading Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn.)

GOOD: Dad drove as fast as he could, and we at least got ahead of the main thrust of the blast, and though we had to pull off the road when the ash cloud hit, we were able to dash into a temporary office building. It wasn’t much more than a metal box on a concrete slab, but enough that the air inside was breathable. AND it had wi-fi.

ALSO GOOD: Thanks to the wi-fi, I checked my e-mail, and found I had a response to a short story I’d submitted recently.

BAD: It was a rejection.

GOOD: It wasn’t a form rejection. There was a good amount of constructive criticism.

BAD: It wasn’t a story I’ve actually written, so the criticism wouldn’t do me much good even if it was from someone smarter than I am, which (being as how it came from my own subconscious) it wasn’t. Also, the only part of it I remember was about a character named Tanya, who was supposed to be a totally ditzy bimbo, but apparently I don’t fully understand the bimbo mindset.

GOOD: The editor provided some helpful tips for improving future bimbos.

BAD: I don’t remember the tips, except that there was something vague about nails and matching purses, neither of which I would take my own advice on. So.

Anyway, I can’t help but feel this dream sums up much about my writer brain and my limitations as a writer. Other sci-fi and fantasy writing friends would have dreamed they led an intrepid band of volcanologists, spelunking deep into a cave on the outskirts of the seismic ring, there to battle past Bigfoot and set charges to release pressure and end the eruptions and save the Pacific Northwest.

Or they’d be an up and coming ice mage destined to defeat the flame mage who has turned a green and fertile kingdom to fiery desolation.

Instead, I dreamed I was alternately whining about slow Internet, yelling at Dad for going outside without covering his mouth with something to keep from breathing dust and ash, and hunkered over the screen trying to understand why Tanya was insufficiently bimbo-esque.

Sigh.

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Proof that God has a sense of humor:

1. A few weeks ago as everyone was starting to think about Thanksgiving, those of us attending the local gathering got to talking about dishes to include. “So and so should bring her cranberry salad. “I’ve got mashed potatoes covered!” “Who will bring rolls?”

In the course of the conversation, someone innocently said, “Maybe Elizabeth could bring olives.” In reality, there were probably two reasons for this: first of all, I’ve been pretty busy and had to drive a little way, so trying to make something too elaborate would be tough, and they were trying to be nice. Secondly, my side of the family has a track record of taking olives at Thanksgiving very, very seriously. There MUST be olives, preferably both green and black, or you might as well not have turkey, either, because it just can’t be a real Thanksgiving dinner.

But me, with my aggravating tendency to be thin-skinned, partly took it as “you probably can’t be depended on to bring anything more.” And I felt all huffy about it, even though I knew it was silly and not real. I decided I was gonna knock everyone’s socks off, make at LEAST two things, and at least one fairly involved dish: pumpkin cheesecake, and not a simple recipe, either.

Fast forward to this week. Work has been wearing me out, so I get home and hole up. Which meant I procrastinated on getting cheesecake ingredients until it was really too late, especially since I lost most of my baking pans in the move, and would have had to go in search of those as well as ingredients, and I didn’t want to face the crowds.

So instead, I decided I was going to make individual pecan tarts: I found a recipe for which I had all ingredients, and which used a muffin tin–one of the only pans I still had on hand. It did involve using my new food processor, which a friend gave me as a house warming gift and which I’ve stared at nervously for a month without quite daring to use. I stalled until Thanksgiving morning before I actually dug it out.

Well, folks, I could not get the darned thing to turn on. I took it off the base. I put it back on. I took the lid off. I put it back on. I tried different electrical outlets. No dice. And since the tart ingredients were too thick for a blender and impossible to smooth out by hand since it included dried fruit, I had to give it up.

Guess who brought nothing but olives to the Thanksgiving feast after all?

2. I have a tendency to slide into bad Internet habits. I’ll sit at the computer with about three sites up (social media and news, mostly), and just keep cycling between them hitting refresh, even though not much changes and even though I would be much better off just checking a few times a day and spending more spare time reading and writing and, you know, cleaning the house.

Saturday I did a little journal writing in the morning, goal setting. I told myself that, especially during Advent, I’m going to spend less time staring at screens, more time reading and thinking. And then I set my journal down and went right back to it.

But then friends picked me up to return the food processor* and to do some Christmas shopping and then play some music. As I was leaving the house with my instruments, I set the phone down to shift some things around, and then forgot it. So I spent the whole day without Internet access.

Cold turkey.

Very funny, God.

*In case anyone cares, the food processor is fine. It was…ahem…user error. That said, three users made the same error, including one user who owns the same model, so at least there’s that.

Moving Conditions

Halvah as packing and tidying obstacle
Halvah as packing and tidying obstacle

Packing books:
1. Unfold moving box.
2. Tape bottom.
3. Put books in box.
4. Tape box shut.
5. Label, stack with other packed boxes.
6. Dust shelf.

Packing books, cat owner’s edition:
1. Unfold moving box.
2. Attempt to tape bottom. When first section of tape proves to be totally covered with hair due to a curious cat’s investigation and head rubbing, pull off section of tape, drop on the ground, pick up dispenser to tape again.
3. Chase completely frantic cat around the house, remove first piece of tape from their back foot, toss tape in trash.
4. Realize you set the tape dispenser down at some point during the chase. Sigh, then search house for approximately thirty minutes before finding it.
5. If tape is not too hairy, tape bottom of box, set on the ground.
6. Remove cat from box.
7. Remove cat from box.
8. Remove cat from box.
9. Put books in box. Quickly.
10. Go to tape box shut, realize the tape dispenser got moved aside during the all the cat removing. Search. Finally find. Curse silently.
11. Tape box shut. More or less. Ignore tufts of hair sticking to tape.
12. Retrieve pencil the cat pushed under the bookshelf, label box, stack with other packed boxes.
13. Remove cat from shelf.
14. Remove cat from shelf.
15. Remove cat from shelf.
16. Dust shelf. For all the good that will do.
17. Pour drink or dish up ice cream.

 

To March, in Sympathy

Just one lion

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It comes in like a lion, they say,
this third month of ours:
all teeth and claws,
roaring, snarling, raging.
Dragged into being two days premature,
is it any wonder?

There are those who pity February,
that cold post-shortened month–
but I beg you,
give some thought to March.

Desktop Analysis

winwall7057_29large

Co-worker #1:  I love this image. It’s so relaxing. It reminds me of the poppy field in the Wizard of Oz.

Me:  That…wasn’t really a very nice relaxing…

Co-worker #1:  Yeah, OK, but look! There’s snow coming down. So it’s OK. The snow is falling. They’re saved.

Me:  Or else the little dots are evil nanobots or some sort of genetically altered insects come to destroy us all.

*pause*

Co-worker #2:  You know, this is an interesting psychological exercise.

Sitting Pretty

Fauteuil rond2

I dreamed Extreme Leather Armchair Sitting was the latest craze.

The goal was to get a photo of yourself, from behind, draped in a leather armchair overlooking…something unusual. Or exceptionally mundane. Or poignant. Scenic mountain vistas were good. So was a colorful shot taken in a New York alley.

And the unwritten rules stated you had to get the chair wherever it was under your own power, at least the final stretch, so you’d see people straining to lug leather armchairs up stony outcrops and through the streets.

I suppose it makes about as much sense as a lot of other fads. I’m still not sure where it came from. Still, fads involving comfy chairs can’t be all bad, can they?

Beep Beep

Recent cell phone shopping experience:

1. Spent time telling a coworker about the things I like on my current phone (Samsung Galaxy S3). In the process, used voice control to set a twenty minute timer.

2. Stuck phone in my pocket, completely forgetting I’d set the timer.

3. Went to a store that sells Verizon phones. Precisely as I reached out and touched one of the beautiful new Samsung Note 4 phones, an alarm started going off. Beep beep, beep beep!

4. Being as how beeping noises in general have a strangely disembodied effect to them, assumed it was the display phone making That Noise. Thought I’d caused it.

5. Spent long, panicky moments fumbling through every doggone setting on the phone, trying to MAKE IT STOP. I turned off the sound, went through the alarms, fiddled with the sound settings, etc., etc., etc. Luckily no one was nearby, but it was sooooo embarrassing, I can’t even tell you. (I have a phobia of attracting unwanted attention through noises. I have trouble even chewing in public.)

6. Finally realized the sound was coming from my pocket.

I didn’t stay too much longer.

I did get a nice tour of the phone, I suppose.