Preface to a New Year

I have a few blog entries I'm working on right now (Adventures in Non-Parenting Part 3 and a write-up of yesterday's hellish travel mishaps) but they aren't going to get done tonight, so I thought I'd throw up a quick "Coming Soon!" entry to preface the new year.


A new 365 project.

Yep, 2014 is an even-numbered year, which are apparently the years in which I do 365 projects.  Or something.  And this time around I'm going take a page from my husband's book, and do a photo every.  single.  day.  And then at the end of the year what a nice little flip-book I shall have!  Plus just imagine the hilarious chaos of photos that have nothing whatsoever to do with whatever I feel like writing about that day!  Chaos!  Hilarity!  All good things!

Because I am not quite so dedicated to perfection/craft/general manliness as he is, I am going to be taking those photos with my ever-present iPhone.  As such, these photos could be awesome, or they could be kind of lame.  But I'll do my best to keep it at least 85% suckage free around here, I promise.

(I may even re-vamp my header.)


Adventures in Non-Parenting, Part Two (featuring Toad)

There are a lot of things that go along with being parents that Nathan and I have never really experienced- including the age-old rite of passage that is The Christmas Program (from the audience's perspective, anyway).  Toad's parents asked if we might be interested in coming to his, and since we were going to Quail's ballet recital at the end of the week, we figured why the heck not?

It's about 12:25 when we roll up to the kindergarten parking lot.  The program starts at 1:00, and the doors open at 12:30.  I know that my sister-in-law (Toad's mother) has been here since the school opened for visitors at noon, holding a spot in line.  It's possible I think this is overkill...

...and then I see the line.

Nathan and I sign in and take our place at the end.  I have no idea where the beginning is, but after a few minutes of standing I tell him I'm going to try to find Toad's mom.  I trot down the hallway until I get to a corner, turn it, and trot down another long hallway until I go through a pair of doors into a breezeway, where I turn another corner, and continue to follow the line.  Every once in a while I have to dodge a handful of thigh-high children who obviously have their own traffic pattern that has nothing to do with the adults.

At last I come to the closed doors of the gym, where my sister-in-law is about fifth in line.

She was there at noon.  And she still wasn't the first.  Arriving an hour early was not, in fact, overkill.  Arriving a mere half hour early might actually qualify Nathan and I as "late".

I hug her and let her know where Nathan and I are, and then I begin the long trek back.

After a few false starts the line begins to move in earnest, and before too much longer we have shuffled our way into the gym, where an entire row has been reserved (thanks to the seat-holding powers of the otherwise pointless dark green programs) for Toad's assorted family members.  They're great seats- or so I think until all the tiny singers have trooped in wearing their various costumes and taken their various places and I realize that somehow I have selected the exact perfect seat to block my view of Toad.  Like, seriously- I couldn't have chosen a worse seat if I'd actively been trying to do so.

So I squirm and I strain and I focus my Irritated Glare at the back of a few heads until I manage to crane myself into a position to see him in between a pair of shoulders, and then the singing begins.

...I use the term "singing" loosely, because it doesn't quite capture the beauty of this experience.  I tell you, there is nothing quite like 200+ kids shrieking in off-key, unintelligible chorus- unless it is 200+ kids shrieking in an off-key, unintelligible chorus with a Southern Drawl.  Precious.  I suddenly understand the original purpose for the dark green programs: without them we'd have no clue what was being "sung".

It's more than just singing, of course- there are also choreographed hand and arm movements, which have the added benefit of serving as a sort of percussion section, since all of the kids in green (including Toad) have jingle bells attached to one wrist.  Some children have a better understanding of rhythm than others, which is only adding to the cacophonous chaos.

They are pretty cute, tho', although I hadn't realized until now just how large Toad is for his age.  And it seems I'm not the only one who thinks they're adorable: parents have begun flinging themselves at any and all photo-ops, questing always for the elusive "better angle" (apparently I'm not the only one who Chose Poorly in regards to seeing the only moppet I'm actually interested in).  I do mean "flinging" quite literally, by the way; one dude falls next to my chair and honestly it's kind of hilarious.

Speaking of funny, the next time I manage a glimpse of Toad I see that he's pretty much just phoning it in.  His singing seems distracted, and his movements are... lackadaisical, at best.  Underscoring this complete apathy is the sheer enthusiasm of the little girl to his right: she is really into it.  As a shameless performer myself, I can almost hear her thought process: Must make up for slacker neighbor!  More jingling!  Faster!

I feel you, little overachiever girl.  I feel you.

We are nearing the half-hour mark, which is what I have privately decided is about the limit of what my bony butt can handle of these hellish folding chairs, and we discover that there is, in fact, one part that all the children bothered to learn: at the very end they all yell "P-K-S!" in perfect, joyous unison.

(Yelling is easier than singing, I suppose, and comes more naturally to that age-group.)

The audience bursts into thunderous applause, and I feel certain that I'm not the only one who's feeling a deep and abiding gratitude at the timeliness of that ending.  Cute kids or not, my derriere needs a serious change of venue.


Adventures in Non-Parenting, Part One (featuring Grasshopper)

(Nathan and I are down South right now, visiting family for the holidays.  It is not the most relaxing of vacations, but it is Very Good.)

My husband and I are the only couple of our generation (in our nuclear families) yet to breed, which makes us something of a hot commodity: we are young, we are cool, and we don't have our own kids to distract us (/give us limiting, parental-like morals).  In short, we enjoy a certain favored status amongst the niblings: they are excited to see us, and we are excited to see them, and awesome chaos generally ensues.  We get a little taste of having kids, and then we get to give them back.  It's great.

I want to share a few of our most recent adventures in non-parenting...


When we were asked if we'd watch Grasshopper for the evening while his parents went to a Christmas party, we said, "Absolutely!"  Grasshopper is a little over three years old, and great fun- plus we feel a special bond with him since we were there for his birth.  Even better, his parents offered to loan us their second car for the remainder of our visit, effectively saving us about $400 in car-rental fees.

(Best-paid night of babysitting ever?  Probably.)

And, since Nathan had to return the rental car to the airport, anyway, he was also going to give their friend Robert (who was flying home that night) a ride.  Perfect!

We arrive a little before four (which is when Robert was due to show up at the house), and kiss the siblings goodbye.  Grasshopper is still sleeping, so they don't wake him- but they do warn me that lately he's been suffering separation anxiety and to expect tears.  I brace myself accordingly.

Around 4:10, Robert still hasn't arrived, and Grasshopper wakes up crying.  I go in to soothe him, but he is not having it.  He wants his parents.  I explain they are not here, and we walk around the house together so he can see I'm not lying.  He cries the whole time, and does not want comfort from me.

By 4:25 Robert is still MIA, and Grasshopper is still crying.  I say to Nathan, "Look, when Robert gets here you two just go in the rental car, and once I get him calmer we'll follow in the Civic."  I'm starting to feel stressed out, because Robert's flight is to China: if he misses it, it's kind of a Big Deal.  Plus, you know... still-crying child.

Robert arrives a little after 4:30, and he and Nathan take off.  I get Grasshopper dressed, and honestly it would be funny if it weren't so heartbreaking.  He is still sobbing desperately, but is completely obedient.  He gasps and shudders and puts on his pants and shoes as directed.  We go down to the garage and while I am trying to wrestle the carseat into place he stands there crying, then eventually drags a stool over so he can sit there and cry.  Because, Gentle Readers, I am taking my time.

Not intentionally, oh no!  But for the life of me, I cannot find the damn latch system.  I have shoved my arm into the seats up to my elbows, and I still can't find the things I'm supposed to attach the car seat to.  I even go so far as to get out the instruction manual, but there is no reference to them.  Finally, in frustration, I just seat-belt the stupid car seat in (and latch the top) like the diagram shows me.  I jerk it around a bit to make certain it's secure, and then I tell Ethan he has to get into his car seat.

Except, of course, he does not want to get into the car, not even to go to Chuck E Cheese (which was the original plan for after we picked Nathan up from the airport).  I explain to him that we have to, so his options are to get into the car seat himself, or have me put him in, but those are the only options.

I feel like an ogre.

He opts to have me put him in.

(He's still crying.  Have I mentioned he's still crying?  It's close to 5pm now.)

So.  We are in.  We are buckled.  I hit the remote garage opener- and the other door, the one not behind the car, opens.  I close it, hop out, and hit the button on the wall.

Same result.

So I go manually wrestle the garage door open (and curse my lack-of-height), hop back in the car, and put the keys in the ignition except no I don't because they're the wrong keys.

I swallow my curse word, get out, close the garage door, swear to Grasshopper that I will be right back, run upstairs to grab the other key I saw hanging on the hook, run back down, hop back in and-

Yeah, you know where this is going.

Maybe, I think desperately to myself as I pocket the other set of not-the-car-keys, Maybe Nathan knows where Robert left the keys to his VW.  Because he told us we could use the VW tonight if we wanted, and I know for a fact that it has a latch-system.

So I release Grasshopper (still crying!) from his belted purgatory, wrestle the stupid car seat back out of the Civic, and call my husband.

Aaaaand go straight to voice mail.

"No," I say, visions of dead phone dancing in my head.  "Oh no no no no no..."  A still weeping Grasshopper holds my hand as we trudge back up the stairs, and I try again.  Still straight to voice mail.  Near to weeping myself, I try one more time-

It rings.  He answers.

"Do you know where Robert left his car keys?" I ask.

"I have them in my hand," he says.

Of course you do, I think.  Of course.  You do.

"...you're going to have to take a cab home from the airport," I say in my Small Wife Voice.

"Um, okay," he says.  "Text me their address, because I don't know it."

We hang up and I do, followed by,

Do you want me to order pizza?


And then I turn to Grasshopper, who wants to know why we aren't going to go rescue Uncle Nathan from the airport.

"I have the wrong keys, baby," I say.  "He is going to take a cab.  Now, do you want to watch cartoons, or do you want a story?"

"Cartoons" is, apparently, the magic word, because as soon as we are settled on the couch watching something with trucks, the tears have vanished and he's every bit as snugly and happy as you could want.

It's 5:25.  I cannot help but be impressed by his stamina, anyway.

Grasshopper solved, I turn to the task of ordering pizza.

The first place I contact won't deliver to us.  Neither will the second.  At which point Nathan walks in the door and I whimper, "Please find a place that will deliver!" and go curl up with Grasshopper, desperate to lose myself in the world of technicolor talking vehicles and easy solutions.

(The rest of the night was a breeze; Nathan found a Dominoes willing to come out that far, and after dinner Grasshopper and I played with blocks until his parents got home.  No one had any hard feelings, and when we left the next morning he cried for us, so all in all, I'd call it a successful adventure.)


NaNo Snippets

Bits and pieces of what I've written over the past nine days (featuring two of an increasingly large cast of POV characters):


Weasel was not the name he was born with- it was the name he had earned.

His mother had called him Gloss, but that was long ago, in a different life.  A life in which he still had a mother, and a sister.  Pretty names and mothers, those were things for babies.  Weasel was not a baby.  Weasel was a survivor.  The reapings had taken his entire family, one by one, but not him.  Never him.  Weasel was too sneaky, too quick.  Too good at remaining unnoticed.  They'd never caught him, and they never would catch him.

Unless he let them.


The face belonged to a young woman: a beautiful young woman with high cheekbones and a narrow chin, whose lips and eyelids were stained a vivid, damning red.

The eyes within those lids were bright with disbelieving tears.

"Gloss," she whispered, and a strangely buzzing part of Weasel's brain realized that there was a tiny gap between her front teeth.  The same gap his mother had had...

"You're dead," he said.

"I know," she said, and the tears began to fall.

"No, you're dead," Weasel insisted, shaking his head.  "You were taken in a reaping and you're dead.  No one survives a reaping!"

The woman who should have been dead smiled and reached out with her other hand to touch Weasel's face, to still it.  He should have flinched away from her touch, but instead he leaned into it.  Her flesh was cold, and the scent not what he remembered, but... it wasn't completely unfamiliar.

"Oh baby, I didn't survive," she said.


Almost as soon as he had the thought, he was on the stranger, a muscular man who surely thought he had nothing to fear in a darkened alleyway- certainly not from a spindly child.

Wrong, thought Weasel, his hand clamped firmly over the man’s mouth.  The man must have struggled, but it had less effect on Weasel than a captured moth’s fluttering.  He dragged the man over to his mother, whom he’d left laying on the cobblestones.

“Drink,” he said, holding the man towards her, but she didn’t respond.  “Mama, you have to drink!”  But Longreed was past hearing him.  Sobbing with frustration, Weasel bit the man’s neck himself, and pressed it to his mother’s mouth.  The taste of blood made him want to vomit, and he spat out what had collected on his tongue, gagging.  The man’s struggles grew even weaker as his blood pumped uselessly out of the jagged hole in his neck, but still Longreed did not move- not even to swallow.

Drink!” shrieked Weasel, past caring who heard him. But Longreed didn’t drink, couldn’t drink.  Her breathing had stopped.  The blood had pooled in her mouth and was overflowing around her, making a widening pool on the street.

Weasel howled in despair, flinging the human’s corpse away from him with such force that he heard bones shatter when it hit a wall.  The sound triggered something vicious in him, and he began to strike out at the stone walls around him, crushing and destroying until the air was so thick with dust and debris that he was choking on it.

The choking made him stop, and instinctively he leapt up out of the cloud, seeking clear air.  When he found it he clung to the roof, coughed until his lungs were clear- but the roof began to shudder, and soon the building was collapsing beneath him.  He jumped to the next building, realizing as he did so that he was abandoning his mother.

He tried to twist in mid-air, and ended up falling to the street below him, hitting with a force that should have killed him.  Would have killed him, if he hadn’t been a god.  No one noticed the child falling from the sky, however, because all eyes were turned towards the falling building- the building he had destroyed in his rage and grief.

Run, his mother’s voice was in his head.  You must make the most of it while you can.  You must go.  Now.  Go and live.  It is all I want of you.

The child-god ran.


He was no longer a god, that was certain, but he wasn't quite human again, either.  He couldn't feel the Elixir in his veins, but he was still a little stronger than he should have been, a little quicker.  Didn't get hungry so often as he should, didn't tire as quickly.


 He tried not to stare at the glass of wine, which glimmered red and black in the lamplight and reminded him of nothing so much of his mother's blood spilling across the stones.  He didn't want to drink it, but then again, part of him did.  People loved wine, seemed to love being drunk.  If being drunk was anything like being Arete, how could he not at least try it?

He took a large gulp, then gasped and sputtered as it burned his throat.  The others laughed and pounded his back as he tried to regain his breath.

It's nothing at all like Elixir, he thought, and forces himself to take another sip.  It's too thin, too sour.  It doesn't even taste like plums!  He finished his glass, and they poured him another.  He felt a warmth blossoming in his stomach, and as he drank again the warmth crept into his thighs and became a numbness.

This... was not what he had expected.

He didn't like it.  He didn't like it at all.  This was exactly the opposite of being Arete- everything was swimming, and he'd lost the fine control of his muscles that he prided himself on.  Why do they like this? he wondered, trying desperately to find a place to lie down as his new compatriots roared with laughter.  But he knew why.

They've never had Elixir.  If they had, they'd never want to... to do this to themselves!

"The bloodmages have the best part of the palace, of course, after Godemperor himself.  We are his most valuable subjects, more precious to him than the Kingpriests, and we live accordingly.  It's a wonderful life, child.  You're very fortunate to be one of us." 

"Why are we so important to him?" Mirror asked, awed at the idea of this new life that awaited her.

"Because we are the only ones who can make more Risen," said Redstorm.

"We make the mosnters?" Mirror shrank back in horror.

"Of course," Redshard laughed.  "You didn't think they sprang up naturally, did you?"

Mirror shrugged.  Truth was, she hadn't given much thought at all to where the Risen came from- the fact that they existed was more than terrible enough.

"But- but why do we make them?"

"What do you know of the Arete?" asked Redstorm, giving Redshard a quelling look.  The woman sat back and smirked.

"They're very rich and pretty and never die," said Mirror.  "And they have red teeth."

"And do you know why they have red teeth?"


"It is because they drink the Elixir."

"What's the el- elih- what's that?"

"Elixir is the blood of a Risen."

"They drink blood?  But the Risen drink blood!"

"The Risen drink the blood of humans," Redstorm corrected.  "Arete drink the blood of the Risen, and they are as far above the Risen as the risen are above the humans they prey upon."

"For thousands of years the Risen called themselves gods on earth," Redshard said scornfully.  "But Godemperor overthrew them, because he is the only true god.  He created the Arete to govern and protect his human subjects, but the Arete require Elixir, and since we are the only ones who can create more Risen, we are the most beloved of Godemperor's subjects."


So now you can see what I've been up to (this month, anyway).  And now I have to get back to it!  More to come, promise...


Autumn at Last! (and Vampires, Apparently)

And a very happy Autumnal Equinox to you, Gentle Readers.

I love autumn.  Love it.  It's my very favorite time of year, if for no other reason than it just feels comfortable to me.  Plus, as the (spiritually) native PNWer that I am, by the end of summer I'm all,

"Yeah, okay, beautiful weather, butwhereismyrain?!"

and not just because I love grey.  See, I love summer and all the lovely outdoor things that come along with it, but when I'm busy doing lovely outdoor things that means I'm not busy writing, lovely things or otherwise.  Autumn and winter are a writer's natural habitat, which I suppose is why Wisconsin turns out so many winners (artists too, for that matter).  It also happens to be Tattoo Season, but more on that in a later post...

This is what a writer's keyboard looks like.  It horrifies Nathan and frightens people who never learned touch-typing.

Aaaaanyway, today I sat down and cracked open my The Consequence of Treachery Best files, and damned if I wasn't pleased with what I found.  So I spent several contented hours noodling around on that, and giving some thought to what this year's NaNo project will be.  I have three well-germinated story-seeds that I can choose from for sprouting (oh, wait- just remembered a fourth!), but I'm really not sure which way I want to go.  Here, I'll lay them out for you, and you tell me what you think:

By Blood- sort of a vampire/faerie YA thing, but really a story about what it means to be a mixed race.  No romance, but an emphasis on familial bonds.  And revenge.

LFLF (placeholder title)- vampires again, and romance.  It started out as a sarcastic thing between Nathan and myself, and turned into an actually intriguing concept involving a male vampire who's managed to mature past the Brooding stage, and his constantly-reincarnated (but not always as a female) soul mate. 

Bloodborn- holy shit, do I think about anything other than vampires? (Apparently not...) This one is more about the toppling of empires, and it turns the vampire trope on its head a bit by making the vampires the oppressed class, upon which the powerful humans feed in order to gain super powers.  There might be a romance in this one, but if I go that direction it won't be a driving force.

The Pfenix of Winterhaven- no vampires!  Hah!  The story of a young girl who is one of the reincarnated Spiritual Leaders of her people.  She must journey into the ice-locked Outside to find salvation for them all.  No romance (because the protagonist is, like, eleven).  Of course, I very specifically see this one as a graphic novel, so probably it won't get tapped for NaNo...  ::sigh::

So what do you think, Gentle Readers?  What would you rather read first: a half-breed female vampire vengeance story; a post-broody male vampire reincarnated love story; or female uber-vampire revolution story?  VAMPIRES!


My Dog Hates Camping

When I got home last Friday, I discovered that Isis had decided to emulate her mom:

A previously pristine leg.

Yep, that's right- she got ink.  Did it herself, too.  By which I mean she chewed up my good pen that one of her cat-siblings must have helpfully knocked onto the floor for her.  ::sigh::  And while it may not be quite so permanent as my forelimb-adornments, it is proving to be more resistant to being washed off than one might have imagined (until one remembered that I buy water-resistant ink pens.  ::sigh:: again).

Thus it was with new spots that Isis hopped into the back of the car and allowed us to drive her three hours to Ocean City State Park, where we were meeting up with Lara and Chris (and Moose) to do what we'd dubbed a "Scaled Surfing Trip".  Scaled because I'd not surfed in almost exactly a year, and Lara... well, Lara was only eight weeks out from surgery, so there you go.

We got there and set up in the dark (someday perhaps we'll pitch that tent when it's light out, I swear), ate some stupid-delicious burgers, and shortly thereafter went to bed.  Isis curled up between the two of us on top of our double sleeping-bag, which had the effect of pinning us to the sides.  Super comfortable for her, not so much for us.

Now, the last time we took Isis camping (her first time), she was so miserable about having to lay on the ground that, in order to keep from going to bed at 7:30 (as she would have preferred), we ended up doing this:

70 lb Lap Pig.
...for two hours. Because she wanted to sleep.  As such, I thought I'd be super clever this time around and bring her dog bed so that she could be more comfortable.  When we got up the next morning I brought it out of the car, and it seemed to be just the thing:

Watch Pig is Watchful.
That settled, we made a leisurely breakfast of bacon and omelets:

Lara has some culinary skills, y'all.
 After a bit more puttering about the campsite, we all headed down to the beach for our surfing adventures.  There are no photos of that, unfortunately, because Lara and I were too busy surfing, and Nathan and Chris were too busy wrangling dogs (and lifting logs, apparently).

Functional Fitness?
Oh wait they DID get a photo of us!  With dogs, not surfboards, but still...

But it was glorious to be in the (white)water again, and this time I swear on all that's holy it won't be a full year before the next excursion!

The guys kept charge of the campsite while Lara and I went to shower off, but when I got back they informed me that Isis, for reasons known only unto her and the gods of derp, had decided to pee on her bed.

I was not amused.

But she was so pathetic standing there, not wanting to lay on the hard ground, that I flipped the bed over and gave it back to her.  She did that little circling-three-times thing that dogs do before they lay down- and promptly peed on the bed again.

I was even less amused.

So then she was forced to lay on some pine needles.

Nathan comforts Isis in her misery.
 And then this happened:
Because basically I am a freaking pushover.

That night, Nathan and I decided to split our double sleeping bag into individuals, so that when Isis lay in between us we'd still have the ability to, you know, move.  Isis and I went to bed first (something she'd been desiring for at least an hour), but do you think that dog would settle down and sleep?  No she would not.  Not until I opened my sleeping bag and she climbed in with me.

She slept like a log, too, the little beast.

My dog is the most spoiled.

The next morning we woke to thunder- and then rain.  But hey, that's camping in the PNW!

Please notice that Moose is happily rolling in the mud behind Lara.

Isis, of course, just took it as one more miserable piece to her miserable existence.


Eventually I just let her sit in the car while we packed up.

Princess Pig in the Royal Chariot

So everyone (except for Isis) had a lot of fun, and we can't wait to do it again.  In the meantime, I've started researching doggie jackets...

This is a dog with STUNNINGLY built character.


Speaking Up at the Dentist

There are certain days that I know I'm going to have an experience that will be at least moderately entertaining: entertaining enough for me to twist into a story for the blog, anyway.  And I was pretty sure that today was one of those days- I mean, come on, the dentist!  To get drilled and filled!  It practically writes itself!

What I did not realize,  however, was just how "entertaining" (for lack of a better word) today's visit would be.


I'm sitting in the chair, listening to my music via my earbuds, and texting Nathan.

[Topical anesthetic.  Weeeeeeeiiiird.]

I carefully plug my non-numb nostril, so that I can prove to myself that I am so getting air through the other one, and there is no need for the panic that is trying to claw its way up my throat.

[A little freaky.  Guess I'm not as cool as a cucumber as I'd thought...]

The truth is that I am having mini-flashbacks to times when drugs have gone wrong for me.  Like the time they gave me epinephrine before a surgery, and my body went into a very scary over-drive, arching up and off the table, completely out of my control.  So yeah, I'm trying not to think about that.  Trying to be subjectively amazed at how quickly this topical took effect.

The doc comes in and I crack a joke that it's a good thing he's here, since the numbness is wearing off.  Except it's not really a joke, because it is wearing off.

"Oh, it'll still be numb where it counts," he says.  "I promise."

"Awesome.  I reserve the right to scream and hit you, then."

"Fair enough."

Banter, see?  Banter is good.  But just in case, I add,

"I promise not to hit you.  But I may scream."

And then he gives me the first of two shots, and you know what?  Not fucking numb.  A little numb, yeah, but I am definitely feeling the needle go in, and the subsequent flow of liquid.  I make grunty pain-noises, because MythBusters has taught me that's a good way to manage pain.

And then he gives me the second shot, in my lower jaw, and you know how before I was all, "not fucking numb"?  Well now I'm really not numb, not even a little bit, and I actually make the effort to more fully articulate the swear words I'd been grunting, and this shot just keeps going and going in spite of the nails I am digging into my palms.  But hey- better than the alternative, which is getting drilled with no drugs.

They leave me for a bit, while the numbness starts to creep into place.  Through my jaw, into my tongue- and then into my eye.  It's... not pleasant.  But hell- it's the dentist.  It's not supposed to be pleasant.

They return, and he starts working, and at first everything is fine.  I've turned my music down to very soft, because when it's loud I can't hear him telling me what to do, and I figure me obeying his directions probably trumps my desire to dampen the drill-sound.  And then the assistant (who has already proven herself to be not the sharpest crayon in the box by repeating, "It's topical," when I'd asked what sort of drug they'd used to act so quickly) says,

"So what do you think will happen with Syria?"

And the doctor replies,

"Well, we all know Obama is a closest Muslim..."

::mental record scratch::

What? I think.  Oh, ha hah, he must be setting up a joke okay no, he's still talking... aaaaany minute now, he's going to roll his eyes and no?  Still... still talking.  About... Obama supporting the Brotherhood of Muslims to ensure as many Christians die as possible.  Wow.  He said that.  This... this conversation is happening.  Across my head.  Right now.  And... I can't argue.  Or correct any of their misconceptions about the implications of Syria using chemical weapons.  How is it possible that an educated person genuinely holds beliefs like this?  And what kind of judgement calls does this guy make that he thinks it's appropriate to talk about this in a professional environment, and... holy shit, he keeps harping on about how they're killing Christians.  Did he- yes he did just imply that Christian babies being killed is a bigger deal than non-Christian babies getting killed.  Isn't it pretty much horrific no matter what kind of baby gets killed?  Also, preeeeetty sure babies aren't religious.  Wow, I'm so uncomfortable right now, and I don't mean just physically.  I can't believe how unprofessional this is.  I can't believe how angry I am, but I don't dare move, because he's got all sorts of very dangerous tools in my mouth, plus I'm drugged.  Fuck I'm glad he doesn't know I'm not a Christian.  And fuck, it pisses me off that I'm seriously in a position right now where I just had to have that thought.  How long are they going to keep talking about- oh, awesome.  Now we're on to Obama causing the next World War.  The draft?  Really?  Do these people not know anything about the military at all?  Okay, stupid question, obviously, man how long can this possibly did he just make a sexist joke?!  Did I seriously just hear him say something about "How to tell a woman not to wag her tongue so much?"  I must have misheard that.  There's no way- who am I kidding.  He totally said that, just like he totally said all that other bat-shit insane crap.  Please let this be over soon...

...at least I'll get a good blog entry out of this.

 I was shaking by the end of it.  He left, and the assistant brought me to a seated position and asked if I had any questions.

"No," I said, in the best icy-calm voice I could manage with half my face numb.  "But I do want to say that it is extremely unprofessional for you to be discussing politics over a patient like that.  The things... it's not even about my personal beliefs, it was unprofessional, and I was extremely uncomfortable."

She looked as though I'd struck her, and in a way I guess I had.  I wouldn't be surprised if I was the first patient to call them out on that bullshit.  Which only my made me angrier, because I am a very assertive person, very sure of myself, very capable of stepping up and saying, "This is wrong", and if I felt threatened in that experience, how much worse for someone whose inner core isn't so bolstered?  The thought of anyone meeker or gentler than I am being put in that situation just made me even more livid.

So I told the people at the desk, too.  And changed my follow-up appointments to a different doctor.  And then lodged a written complaint.  Because, as a wise man once said, the standard you walk past is the standard you accept.

In a way I find the whole experience funny- funny in that, "This is so surreally inappropriate, any moment now Ashton Kutcher is going to step out from behind the pillar," way.  You know, funny in the, "If I don't laugh about this I'm going to punch someone in the nuts via their throat," way.

Funny in the, "At least I got a blog entry out of this," way.


Don't Call it a Migraine

So last night, around 2000, my head began to ache.  Then came the light-sensitivity, and finally the nausea.  I was in bed by 2100, desperately trying to fall asleep before it got worse.  "Migraine Lite", I called it in my status update, and I wasn't kidding.

See, I used to get migraines fairly regularly when I was a child- not sure why, but I did.  Even at six I knew that moving only made the pain worse, but it hurt so much I couldn't help but writhe.  It hurt so much I would hallucinate from the pain.  It was an awful, awful thing, although as an adult my sympathy is torn between child-me, and my mother, who (a migraine sufferer, herself) wasn't able to do anything to make it better beyond gently stroking my temples (an action which, to this day, means "love" to me).  Fortunately, I outgrew those horrible migraines- but the memory remains.

I woke up around 0100 from the pain, and the nausea, flailed out of bed and took more pain killers.  Woke up again when my alarm went off at 0630: my life remained one giant NOPE.  Half an hour later I crawled out of bed, put on the bare minimum of acceptable clothing, and drove into work to take care of a few Must Be Done things so that I could come back home to bed.

"This is how I know it's not a real migraine," I told Nathan as I slipped on my flip flops, "Because if it was a real migraine I wouldn't be able to do anything by lay in bed and cry."

I was back in bed by 0745, wrapped in my improvised eye-mask.

Pajama shirt secured with a scarf.  Knot to the front to reduce skull discomfort.
I lay there thinking to myself that migraines, even quasi-migraines, are one of the worst ways to be ill because you literally can't do anything but lay there.  No reading, no internet, no television, no music.  Just darkness and silence and as little movement as you can manage.  It's hard to sleep because it hurts so badly, but sometimes you get lucky and sleep comes, anyway.

Around 1130 I tentatively removed my eye-mask- the light was still too bright, but it didn't hurt.

"Progress," I muttered.  Then the dog barked, and that didn't hurt, either, so I slowly sat upright, and didn't have even the slightest urge to vomit.

So I went in to work and honestly spent a good deal of it hiding in the darkened break room, but hey- at least it wasn't a migraine.


You Guys Really Like Babies

That last entry got me more than three times the pages views as I have subscribers (putting it that way makes it sound more impressive than the actual numbers involved).  Which means, obviously, that the old marketing saw re: babies and puppies is totally true.  As such, in order to keep bringing in the high numbers, I obviously need to keep posting photos of babies.

Okay, enough pandering.  Because really there's no point in exploiting my niblings if I'm not actually going to make any money off of it, now is there?  Didn't think so.

Nathan is off capturing a sunset at Trillium Lake, an adventure which we've attempted in the past only to be thwarted by snow (and, to be more specific, by our distinct lack of snowshoes).  The pig and I stayed home, to host dinner for my uncle and aunt, who got in from Dubai this afternoon.  I served them a pork-based meal, and they were appropriately excited about it.  There were plums for dessert, because my husband has his own ways of being romantic.

Is it possible he brought me... ALL the plums?


I'm Going on a Picnic, and I'm Bringing a Bouncing Baby Boy...

Okay so that title is a total lie.  We brought grilled chicken and roasted veggies.  And a pig bull.  It was my sister-in-law who brought the baby.  But when you're playing the "Going on a Picnic" road trip game you don't say, "My sister-in-law is going on a picnic," because that's just awkward.

We went on a picnic today!  It was great.  We drove up to Olympia to meet up with Chelsea and Eaglet, and had a lovely walk around the lake, and then an equally lovely picnic.  Family time is good time.

This is how Nathan wants the world to think he reacts to babies:

"What is it?!"

But the reality is really a little closer to this:

Just some dudes hangin' out with a pig bull.

And if he thinks no one is watching?

Look closely at the fingers- he is totally tickling that baby.

Yeah.  Pretty awesome.  Anyway.

On our way home from Oly, we saw a sign for Rainbow Falls State Park, and made a "why the hell not" decision to go investigate it.

Investigations Galore
The falls weren't actually all that impressive, but it was a nice little side trip, and a nice little reminder that we are adults, and we do whatever the hell we want**.  Also it's just possible that Nathan managed to get a good shot or two out of it.  Proof of that particular pudding will have to wait, however, until he's caught up on today's sportball happenings.

**(just so long as we're not out too late because bedtimes)


This is Just to Say

Plums were on sale the last time I went to Chuck's, both red and black, and so I loaded up on the red ones, and that was on Wednesday and now it's Friday night and I've just eaten the last one (my fourth of the day) and all I can think is that I need to go get more plums like literally right now.

(Seriously you guys, it's been like eating succulent rubies imported directly from Bism.)

(Also, if my husband had eaten the last one before me I'd probably have murdered him, no matter how excellent a poem he left on the counter to replace it.)


Gaining Momentum

It's not just writing that I've been slacking on, lately.  I've also been slacking on eating right, riding my bike, and climbing, which has had certain, shall we say squishifying results on my body (not to mention unhappy results in my brain chemistry).  But I'm getting back in line with all those things- Nathan and I are teaming up with a friend of mine to do a (relative) Whole30 this month.  I say "relative" because we're electing to keep dairy in, and Nathan said the only way he'd do it was if he was allowed beers on Saturday, because it's football season.  To which I replied Deal, because moderation in all things, right?  Right.

So that's eating right.  Riding my bike took a hit when I jacked up my ankle back in June, but it's been feeling much better, lately, so back on the bike with me.  It's pretty much the same story with climbing, only with the added disincentive that was my climbing bros having had weird schedules all summer, so pretty much any time I was at the gym I was alone, and that just sucks and leads to limiting myself to like three routes before I give up in a bored and sulky pout.

Today, however, KB and I managed to hook up and I had the best day of climbing that I've had in a long-ass time- basically since my last outdoor trip, to French's Dome at the end of July.  (yeah, I know- I should have blogged about that at the time.  Sorry...)  And that little trip resulted in an elephant-looking ankle, which today did not, so all in all, today wins.  Yay winning!

Of course, now my hands are too shredded to practice the guitar, which I have also been slacking on, but still... one step at a time...


Tooth for a Tooth

So I've basically spent the past two months wandering around in an uninspired wasteland, and while I feel like that was maybe somewhat justified, that time has passed and it's time to get my shit together and be a writer again.  Which includes blogging, because seriously- how lame is it that I only had one entry for the month of August?  Pretty lame, I'm just saying.

Today is Wednesday, which means Errands Day, and I conducted myself accordingly.  First things first, I took Kink back to the vet, because two weeks ago he had a tooth extracted and apparently a fortnight is the amount of time one waits before following up on these sorts of things (Houston we are cleared for crunchy food- praise Sekhmet!)  The girl behind the desk mentioned that it had been a weird morning- "We had so many appointments scheduled, but two were no-shows, and one called to cancel- and then you were pretty early, which actually worked out really well!"

"Yeah, I tend to be early," I said.  "I have to factor in Jenny O Gets Lost Time."

Puzzled head cock from the tech.

"See, I'm really, really bad about getting lost, even going to places I've been a billion times," I explained**, "So I always have to plan in extra time- which generally ensures that I will not get lost, but if I don't factor it in, then I will."

Of course, "generally ensures" does not equate to "always ensures", and thus a few hours later I found myself sitting in a parking lot, calling my new dentist's office.

"Yeah, hi- where are you guys, exactly?"

As it turned out I'd actually already been in the correct parking lot a few minutes prior, but somehow missed the entire building (don't ask) and so moved on to the next (incorrect) parking lot in an attempt to track it down.  It also turned out to be less of a hassle to walk back to the correct location than to attempt to drive back to it, so that's what I did.  And thanks to Jenny O Gets Lost Time, I still managed to arrive on schedule.

Word of advice?  Don't let four years go by between seeing a dentist.  That being said, expect more Thrilling Dental Adventures next Wednesday, when I return to get my two cavities filled (and cracked filling replaced).  ::sigh::

**Our first Christmas as a couple, Nathan bought me a Garmin.  Because he'd been on the phone with me one too many times when I said, "Huh.  I wonder where I am..."


Words and Gods

I am a man, and men are animals who tell stories.  This is a gift from God, who spoke our species into being, but left the end of our story untold.

                                -Sacrament, Clive Barker

I disagree; I feel certain all animals must tell stories- because we know animals dream, and we know animals communicate, and what are stories but communicated dreams?  It's just that ours is the species who writes them down.  Perhaps, then, the Gods' magic resides not so much in the Words themselves, but in the letters used to Shape them...


So You Married a Feminist

It's no secret that I'm a feminist.  I'm not quiet about it, and I never have been.  Momma done raised me right, and all that.  So, of course, Nathan was fully aware that he was marrying a feminist- and he may even have had an inkling of what that meant.

Me, on the other hand?  Well, I had my suspicions (in fact they were more than suspicions, or I wouldn't have married him) but it wasn't until the other day that I had the chance to make my pronouncement...

"I watched Mulan while you were gone," he says absently as we flip through Netflix options.

"Yeah?"  I perk up.  I love that movie.  Generally speaking, I will love any story that involves a protagonist who gender-bends to get what they want.  Especially if what they want is to be a warrior.

"Yeah.  I don't get why she wasn't more angry."

"What do you mean?"

"It's just- she saves the entire friggin' army and China all by herself, but when that guy she likes finds out she's not a man suddenly she's not trustworthy anymore?  And at the end of the movie she just forgives him like it's no big deal!"  His voice is full of disgust, and I cannot help but laugh.

"So you're saying... she should be treated the same regardless of her gender?"

He makes a noncommittal grunt, and I smile sweetly.  "You are so a feminist," I say, and kiss him on the forehead.


On Being Okay

I am a writer.  It's what I do.  I write.  It's how I process things.  So when I found out I was pregnant, I wrote about it.  And the day after my miscarriage, I wrote about that.  And I'm still writing, about both those things.  Because I'm still dealing with them, and I expect that I will be for a long time to come.  And while it's true that there's no actual need for me to post what I write for the world to see, I've come to the conclusion that if there's any chance that what I've written might help someone else process things, well... why not?

It took me a bit to come to this conclusion.  If you'd asked me, a year ago, if I'd ever post in a public forum about having had a miscarriage, my answer would have been the cliched, "Not no but hell no."  Grief has always been a fairly private thing to me.  I don't want it on display; I don't want people feeling sorry for me; I want to deal with my shit and move on.


Then the hypothetical became reality.  And I suddenly realized that by not talking about it, I was be making it more dark and terrible than it actually was.  That's not to say it wasn't terrible- it was.  It is.  It will be.  But by being able to talk to people about it, it helps me feel like it's going to be okay.  After all, I don't hide the fact that my father died- why should I hide the fact that our baby died?  To hide that it existed in the first place, to deny the joy that we felt over the burgeoning possibilities hidden in my womb- that, to me, seems more unbearable by far than to admit to people that now I'm sad.

I was still on the fence about it until a chance encounter this afternoon.  I ran into a friend of mine, and when he asked me about climbing, I hesitated, took a deep breath- and admitted that I'd just had a miscarriage.  And do you know what happened?  He didn't feel sorry for me- he gave me an understanding look, and then told me about when he and his wife went through miscarriage.  And then we made jokes.  And it was okay.  I was okay.

Sad, but okay.  So I got home, and I decided to post all these little writings I had laying around, so that the world can see how happy I was- and how sad I am.  And how okay I'll be.


So Sorry

The funny thing about miscarriage is my unrelenting desire to apologize to everyone.

“I’m sorry,” is constantly on the tip of my tongue, just waiting to preface every interaction I have.  It’s not logical- I know it’s not logical, but it’s there.

I’m sorry I bled on that.

I’m sorry to bother you.

I’m sorry I lost our baby.

I’m sorry you’re hurting.

I’m sorry I can’t make it better.

I’m sorry I woke you.

I’m sorry I’m telling you such awful news.

I’m sorry I won’t be in to work for the next few days.

I’m sorry I can’t go climbing for a while.

I’m sorry I’m hiding.

I’m sorry I made you sad.

I’m sorry I keep crying.

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry.

I'm sorry.

I know that some of you might read those phrases in a sarcastic tone, but the truth is I really mean it- I am sorry, for all of it.  That it’s happened and is happening and will go on happening.  I know, logically, that none of it is my fault or anything for me to feel sorry about.

Emotions don’t care about logic.

My biggest regret is that we only told one couple about the pregnancy.  There are only two people in the world, aside from us, who got to know the unadulterated joy of my being pregnant.  Everyone else only knows that I was pregnant, but now I’m not.  No joy in the association, only sorrow.  And all because I wanted to wait until after my first ultrasound, which was going to be on Wednesday, to tell our families.

The spotting started late Friday night- pale pink and nothing to worry about.  That’s what I kept telling myself, anyway, as I lay in bed thinking about what I’d forbidden myself to think about until that point- that miscarriage is quite common in the first twelve weeks.  And I was only about seven weeks along.

The next morning I confessed to Nathan about the spotting, and that I was scared.  But it still wasn’t much, so I went hiking with some friends.  They were the couple that I chose to tell, and I’ll be honest- it was motivated by my desire to have an untainted moment of happiness, just in case something went wrong.  Because by that time, tiny little cramps had started.

On the drive home I called the on-call doctor.  She told me to take a warm bath and some Tylenol, and to come in for an ultrasound on Monday, just in case.  She also said that if the bleeding or pain got worse, to go ahead and go to the ER.

At about 2330, Nathan and I went to the ER.  We were there for six hours before the doctor finally confirmed what we already knew.  Three of those hours were us sitting alone in a small room after the ultrasound, not being told anything.  They’d hooked me up to an IV, and it hurt, and all I wanted was to take the damn thing out and go home, because I am not stupid and I knew what they were carefully avoiding telling us.

The only heartbeat I’d heard on the monitor had been my own.


Busy Body

I'm standing in the dressing room, eying my bikini-clad body (had to get a larger top, for, um, quite obvious reasons), and I notice that my hips are a bit fleshier than normal.

Uh oh, I think, because I am conditioned to react that way to any squishifying of my form.  I purse my lips and poke the hip in a judgmental manner, making a brief mental catalog of what I've been eating lately.

No, wait, pipes up a different part of my brain.  We need to adjust our reactions to the changes in our body.  We need to see them in the context of the pregnancy, now.  It's time for a new standard of physical expression of health.

New standard.  Right.  I take a deep breath and smile at the fleshiness.  It's a sign of better things to come.


The Secrecy Farce

I'm staring at myself in the mirror, staring at my noticeably larger breasts, and all I can think is,

There is no way in hell my mother is going to get off that plane, see me, and not know I'm pregnant. 

Don't get me wrong, I have some cute and clever reveals planned, but I'm seriously starting to realize that pretty soon, anyone who has any familiarity with my silhouette whatsoever isn't going to need to be told.


My New Hobby

"I guess being pregnant is your hobby now, huh?"

That's what Nathan said to me this morning as I dutifully checked not one but both of my pregnancy apps.  I have to say, he's not wrong.

The coffee table is currently home to a teetering pile of library books, spanning the not-so-broad subjects of pregnancy, pregnancy yoga, pregnancy massage, and birth.  I have a new collection of websites that get checked on a daily-if-not-hourly basis, a new (still secret) wishlist on Amazon ("Spawning"), and, obviously, a new blog** to host all my extra-self-involved thoughts on the experience of growing an entirely new human.  The kitchen table has a few pamphlets from the maternity center, including the paperwork for our first ultrasound.  My phone, in addition to the aforementioned apps, also has a gallery labeled "Belly Progression", which currently sports a grand total of seven photos of me making various faces in reaction to my non-existent "bump" (and my suddenly extra-existent boobs).  I just got done watching a film that I probably wouldn't have watched a year ago.  (Hint: it shares a title with one of the few pregnancy guides not currently perched on my coffee table.)

Hobby is, of course, the polite way of saying obsession.


**(at the time of writing I'd created a baby-specific blog so that I wouldn't drive the readers of this blog insane.  Needless to say, circumstances changed and so did the blog this entry belonged to.)