Sunday, April 22, 2012

Like pulling teeth.

My teeth hurt. You know things are bad when you're thinking about how to persuade your dentist to give you a root canal. Stupid metal fillings, that's all I have to say.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Lord and lady of the flies

We've had a fly problem. Tens, dozens of flies, crawling on the windows, hopping around in the kitchen, gathering in my seedlings. "They're coming in from outside," Eric said, having read up on fly life cycles, and suggested we clean out under the back steps. But while this is undoubtedly a good idea, I thought that was unlikely to be the problem. And if it was, weatherstripping and a sweep made more sense. No, I was certain that something had died, probably in the basement, and we would have to find it and get rid of it. And before my mother comes for Maia's birthday in two weeks.

So tonight I said, "I want to figure out where the flies are coming from." In reality it could have been just me who did it...but I didn't want to find a flyblown corpse in my dark basement alone. 

So Eric got his shoes and accompanied me. More flies, dead ones this time, littered one of the back rooms in the basement. (The stairs go down to the laundry room, then curve back to this room, then to the one containing the furnace and the crawl space access.) "Okay," Eric conceded. "The source must be inside if there are this many dead."

We poked through storage boxes, the shrouded baby carrier, the defunct tool bench. "This is a fly graveyard," Eric said, looking at the tiny corpses. "But what killed them all?"

"I would think they starved," I offered. "Only no, wherever they're spawning should be able to feed them."

"Maybe not for long," he said darkly, and tried in vain to turn on a light over the tool bench. (Hey! I've never committed a true unintentional Tom Swifty before.) "Should I get a new bulb?" I offered.

"Yeah," he said, and proceeded to the rearmost back room while I tripped up the stairs to get a bulb. 

I heard a whunk and an "Oh!" and shouted from the top stairs, "What is it?" Then, noticing how loud I was, said, "I'll be down in a minute."

"Okay," he called, as ChloĆ« called for me from her bed. 

"Who is here?" Chloƫ asked when I poked my head in.

"Nobody. We're moving things in the basement to find where the flies are coming from. So we can clean it out. Nothing to worry about." I removed myself and went back downstairs.

"What is it?" I called when I was back down in the basement and braced to hear "a squirrel must have gotten in..." or something similar.

"The crawl space door was wide open!" 

We'd been in the crawl space earlier in the year to fix the front porch, and evidently never closed it. Now that I think about it, I feel like I remember wondering if we'd closed the door, but never going to look before I forgot. Evidently the flies bred outside in a sheltered place, as flies do, and found the wide-open crawl space door...

"They'd fly through here," Eric said, gesturing at the now hammered-closed door. "They found themselves in darkness. They went toward what light they could find, which was that," gesturing toward a cutout in the wall that led toward the laundry room, "and the ones that were smart..."

"You realize you're talking about flies."

"...The lucky ones made it upstairs."

I looked around as we circled back to the stairs. "So what we should do is wait a couple of weeks and then come down here and clean up all the dead bodies."

"Yep," he said, and we mounted the stairs to get back to the light, and leave the fly graveyard.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Hard to say

..."Oh, it's Japanese food? Someone told me it was Chinese!" I heard at work yesterday, from the other side of the division in the room I was in. Based on a flier Eric got by mistake yesterday, they were talking about a seminar on retiree investments held at a local Japanese restaurant.

"Oh, Jap food and Chinese food are all the same," said the new guy.

"Did he just say 'Jap'?" I asked my coworker, T, on this side of the division, a little louder than I would have normally. The new guy was going on in the same vein: oh those Orientals, all the same.

I got up to go talk to him, and heard J, on the other side of the division, say, "You shouldn't say things like that. A client could be coming through."

The new guy laughed at her, and joked, and went on. I got up and sat down twice, wanting to go say something and horribly fearful at the same time. Finally the new guy made another similar remark and J, defeated because no one around them was helping and the new guy wasn't listening, said quietly, "I can't agree with you, sir. I don't want to hear this."

And I got up and rounded the corner and said, "I agree. 'Jap' is a very pejorative term. Please don't use it again." I looked the new guy in the eye, and he sobered, and said, "All right."

I went back to my chair. T had gone in the meantime and I leaned over the desk and realized I was actually trembling. Not long after, the new guy came over and said, "I want to apologize. I didn't know Jap was an offensive word. I was using it as an abbreviation." I'm not sure I believe this, though he is fairly young, or whether it excuses it. But I smiled and accepted his apology. I don't know whether J got a similar one, or if he thought he'd personally offended me but not her, or if my relatively superior position made him worry. I was waiting for him to say "I didn't mean to insult your ancestors," or something similar, but he didn't. Not that it matters. I'm not Japanese, but here I am with my flat face and epicanthic fold to tell you that racist terms are not cool.

But I also hate how agitated I got over confronting him, and how close I was to saying nothing. I'm hardly a confrontational person, but I should still be able to stand up for what's right. I'm ashamed that it was so hard for me. I guess I haven't had enough practice.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A tale of two stories

I bought two books at the Borders closing sale. --That's misleading. I bought dozens of books at the Borders closing sale. But I'm thinking about just two of them. I finished reading one last night: Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti, by Genevieve Valentine. It's about...hmm. It's about a circus made of people who are part machine in a postapocalyptic world. Part machine in a steampunk sort of way, not a Terminator sort of way. I don't read for style, but the style of this one caught me. And then the people, the world...if you look at the plot itself it's a fairly simple, fairly small plot, but you can't really do that because the characters' motivations and creation (within the story, that is) and the world itself are all so connected. It's a gorgeous book. All angles, no curves, but it circles back on itself and opens up little surprise doors and illuminates this grim life these grim people lead until it's beautiful. I generally don't write letters to authors, but I'm considering writing to this one to demand to know when her next is coming out.

So I finished it last night. I really should have just ended the night on that, but I like to have a book with me when I'm going through my end-of-the-night rituals (i.e., showering, brushing teeth, packing lunch). So I went to our recent-purchase stack and picked out Timecaster, by Joe Kimball. I'd picked this one out because the premise is similar to, though flashier than (and a near copy of Minority Report, as I understand it, though I've never seen or read it), a story idea I've been carrying around, and I thought it would be a fast, light read. It was in its way. Nine pages later I laid it on the post where we put things that need to go downstairs so that I could put it in the Goodwill pile.

It probably doesn't help that it came right after Mechanique, but I read some parts aloud to Eric and he was unimpressed too. There was immediate "as you know Bob." There was the self-described alpha male character being a jerk when he thought he was being assertive and alpha-male, though it only served to amuse me that he was simultaneously being kept by his wife. It may be the description of his wife that got me. One of the last real redheads? Gorgeous and svelte, with emerald green eyes? Oh, and she's a (legal) prostitute, too? The argument between the main character and his wife reminded me of the arguments between Mal and Inara in Firefly, but that's not actually the recommendation it sounds like because Mal is being a jerk in those arguments, too. Also, the "I only married you because it was cheaper than continuing to hire you" line was not as funny or endearing as the author probably intended it. And I got no sense that the character was intended to be a jerk. He seemed intended to be a wish-fulfillment sort of character. My sense is that I wasn't the intended audience. So, it can go to someone else who is part of that audience, and I'm sure he will enjoy it.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

In which I get a pass

So I survived the holidays intact...actually, a couple of pounds heavier, which doesn't normally happen to me. It was kind of interesting to notice the change, how I craved sugar so hard, and how now that they're over and my stress level is somewhat lower, I don't. The stress wasn't just due to the holidays, though that didn't help; work has been and continues to be crazy-busy, and I've been fretting over various issues in my life (job-hunting, house-selling, my marriage, finances, hobbies, housekeeping, and my teeth). Also I'm not getting nearly enough sleep. Somehow the status quo is that on the weekends, Eric gets to sleep in, and I catch a nap if I'm able to synchronize the girls' naps. I'm always on call for middle-of-the-night issues because I waken more easily (and am still nursing in Maia's case). This is not the way to run a successful Mamarchy.

So with the new year, though that wasn't how I planned it, I'm trying to get more sleep and worry less. Eric asked me the other day to try focusing on the positive aspects of my life, and I tried it and found it a very alien aspect. Which is not good. So I'm going to get myself some more practice in it, because I know that negativity does beget itself and doesn't taste good going down. It also helps that our finances are doing better with the help of a W-4 adjustment, a raise, and an impending refinance of our mortgage--and this last helps me just settle down to the reality that we're unlikely to sell the house, which in turn has calmed me down some. Apparently, sometimes certainty can be better than hope.

Speaking of certainty, I got a "pass" on my full request for Shoelace. Which I had expected, so it's not terribly disappointing, but a little bit, and I'm also feeling odd that I don't have anything out--which is really weird considering the very short amount of time I've had anything out on submission, ever. I'm still working on getting myself time to work on Lead Ghosts; with my sleep deprivation I decided that nights are not a good idea, which leaves my lunch hour. I've been skipping my lunch break at work to try to catch up, but I'm starting to realize I'm simply not going to, and so I may as well benefit from the break.

I did find an article with suggestions on improving writing efficiency (can't find it at the moment--YA fantasy author, I think, or just fantasy; got up to 10K words a day) and really liked the one, that prior to each writing session one should sit down and write down everything that's supposed to happen in the next scene, because it's tough to figure out what's supposed to happen at the same time that you're trying to concentrate on writing well and depicting mood and showing the scene and all of that. Which makes a lot of sense, and made me recall that I did something like that (though not as detailed) for PV. So I'm going to try it again.

Also started thinking about how an urban fantasy set in South Korea with tokkaebi instead of vampires would be fun. We'll see where that goes, if anywhere. I'm also excited about Lead Ghosts, which makes me happy. Now to make sure I actually take that time and work on it. That would also help lessen my stress, I think.