Halloween Season Has Arrived

It’s a little less than a month and  half til Halloween, and Depravicat is already working on his costume.

As you can see, he’s very excited about Halloween.

(That’s a pretty good haircut, too. Sometime, I’ll have to post video of the way he runs to get a trim.)

Now, typically… I’m not the kind of person who dresses animals in cute costumes for the amusement of others. This particular photo shoot lasted  about two and a half minutes, from when the costume went on to when I finally had pity on the poor beast and took the wings back off.

He doesn’t actually hate the wings. There’s no biting, chewing, or clawing to get out. Once he’s flopped over on his back, I’m not sure he notices them.

But the fact that he’s lying on his back on top of the costume isn’t all that adorbs-buckets of fun.

(he’s supposed to be a zombie.)

As for me, I still have leftover costume and liquid latex from the writers’ conference this summer. It’s a slightly steampunk, Victorian thing. I should… uhm… probably wear that.

The makeup is a sort of zipper face revealing gears.

And yes, that would probably work at least a little better, if I hadn’t gone all Frida on my hair last week.

No, Really… If you could do anything….

I ran into this TED Talk the other day.

And even though it was nested in among such gems as “Your Vagina is Not a Car,” a highly intellectual search for hidden meaning in Kubrick’s version of The Shining, and assortment of official and unofficial music videos, it stuck with me.

If you ask teenagers what they want to do when they grow up, about 80% of them say they want to be one of three things: Doctors, Lawyers, and Engineers. (Well, I think it said engineers. I’ve dated enough of them that there’s a semi-permanent censorship bleep over the word.)

And if you then ask them No, really, if you could do anything in the whole world you wanted, what would it be?

Uhm… well, about 80% (of the total, not just the Doctors, Lawyers, and whatevers) change their answer.

Okay. So 4 out of 5 people –already, in high school–are planning on doing something other than what they really want to do.

Or maybe… they have no sense of how to get from where they are to where they want to be.

I find myself looking around at the people I know–and people I think of as successful–and wondering which one is the happy one? If I have five people lined up, which one is doing what they actually want?

Remember that lecture from college? Look to your left… look to your right… One of those people won’t be here by spring.

This is more… well, add in the person in front of you… and behind you… and all four of those people will be spending their lives doing second-choice jobs in pursuit of stability and money.

And maybe I am the happy one. Maybe, even though I haven’t reached my goal–the fact that I’m still in motion counts for something.

Maybe the fact that I haven’t arrived at a destination I never wanted to get to in the first place matters more than I think.

And either way, so I’m in a job I don’t love, but somehow, maybe… I’m a little less alone than I thought I was.

After all… if 4 out of 5 people could do anything–anything in the world they wanted–it wouldn’t be what they are doing.

That Horse Trailer Full of T-Shirts

On my way home from work, yesterday, I passed a man selling eclipse T-shirts. He must have had a lot of them, judging from the horse trailer he’d dragged them in in, and I’ve seen him around town before. I stopped to talk, mostly because I was passing within ten feet of him anyway,  and he was looking straight at me. He pointed to the other guy, and said that he had designed the t-shirts and had a bunch made up.

So, yes, that’s more or less how it goes. They made eclipse T-shirts, and then plonked themselves down on the corner of Livestock Equipment and Big Box Store (Also Selling T-shirts) and hoped for the best.

Now, I’m really not sure where you’d go to sell t-shirts in my town, and maybe business will pick up, once the eclipse crowd gets here… any minute now…. any… minute…

But I do think you should have a pretty good idea before you buy a horse trailer full of shirts.

These are… well, they’re shirts. They’re blue, and say “Eclipse 2017” or some such, and have the Homestead National Monument printed on the back. (It’s a hideous picture of a hideous building.)

picture of homestead monument

Told You So. (Courtesy of the Parks Service.)

But there has been a lot of speculation surrounding the Eclipse, and that ranges from people letting out rooms in their house, to people trying to sell eclipse glasses on Amazon (From Utah!)… to people buying a horse trailer full of T-shirts.

And I don’t know how you sell a horse trailer full of T-shirts.

I don’t know how you sell eclipse glasses long-distance, after Amazon bans you for not having enough customer feedback for the number of sales on your new account. I don’t even know how you sell them, when it turns out that the local fast food places are giving them away with meals.

And the bed & breakfast thing? Well, I might just wait til closer, to see if you can get a look at the people in real life. It’s damn hard to get a drunken astronomer out of your waterbed. Especially after he gets out the snorkel.

There has to be more of a plan than just “I’m going over there and I’m going to sell (product).”

As of right now, I have seen more vendors than tourists.

In Motion, Again

I am counting down the days until I start in on a new job. Same company, different department. I know it’s not ideal, but at the same time, it’s an income while I mosey toward the door.

My direct supervisor–who has treated me as if I were disposable at every turn up until now–threw a fairly massive hissy, in which she informed me that things were going to be just exactly the same in the new department, that the problem is company wide, and I’m nuts, if I think anything, anywhere is ever going to be better.

I’m fairly sure it will be better in that she won’t be there.

She has now settled into passive aggressive resignation.

And the occasional, over-the-top comment that just… Well, let’s be honest. This is the first time I’ve ever changed positions to get away from one, specific individual.

(Shhh. The upper-ups are sending out feelers to see if anyone wants her job.)

(I doubt they’ll have the option of waiting to replace her much longer.)

(And no, I don’t promote this blog locally.)

One of these days, I’ve gotta figure out what I really want to do with my life. I mean… a day job that matters might not be the worst thing in the world. If I could just figure out the… what do I want to do? part.

I’ve never had the faintest idea about that.

Because, Yes… Quite Frankly… Too Lazy to Eat

I’m always on the lookout for the most convenient, least time consuming breakfast on the planet. Well… at least, I have lofty dreams of finding something I 1.) Want to eat and 2.) Have plenty of time to work on real projects during/after eating. I’m pretty sure the ideal would probably be a gastric tube of some kind. I could type, and nutri-ate at the same time.

I’ve converted my lunch hour into useable time by shoving a bar or two into my purse instead of getting actual food, and now, I’m moving on.

I ordered a case of Soylent off the internet.

Coffiest flavor, for those who are curious.

This is a meal-replacement of a non-weightloss variety. It’s 400 calories a bottle, with nifty vitamins, and well… in this particular version… coffee.

Of a cold and bitter variety.

It’s basically… well… edible.

And caffeinated.

The world around me appreciates me drinking caffeine in all its glorious forms. It’s amazing how much less bitchy my coffee makes them.

We’ll see how my bottled breakfast makes me feel in a couple of weeks. I expect the low sugar (did I mention bitter) and the absence of other sweeteners (bitter!) might make it a good choice.

Oh. You Thought You Were Wearing That?

One of the trends that’s really caught my eye lately is children (usually little girls) who are wildly out of sync with their families. You know the ones. Mom’s wearing jeans and a t-shirt. Dad is wearing jeans and a t-shirt. Three brothers… jeans… t-shirts. Five year old girl? Tea length chiffon cocktail dress with tulle overlay, a clutch of pearls, generally in pink, and patent leather shoes.

Now, I suppose it’s possible that some of these families are just getting a little grocery shopping in, before dropping their five year old off at an evening soiree, and heading for a family picnic in the park… uhm… well… some of them could be.

In my own hazy and fading memory of childhood… dresses like that are actually, literally what hell looks like. If you are bad… if you sass your teacher and throw rocks at the neighbor’s car… you will wear dresses like that while you burn in hell for eternity. They’re uncomfortable. And the tights? Uch. I still itch just looking at them.

Let’s see… An outfit that actually matches. Zipper up the back. Tights. Hideous little buckle shoes… do I believe this child dressed herself? Of course! Every bit as much as I believe unicorns fart rainbows and leprechauns.

Does it make sense that I believe in creative expression (the kid’s, not the mom using the kid as a prop) but I also believe in objectively appropriate clothing?

If it’s 94 degrees and sunny, appropriate clothing means that you are not wearing an arctic snow suit. (or a velvet dress with full, knit tights, btw.) And that Nixon mask? Probably not appropriate for a quick stop at the bank.

There’s safety appropriate–you will wear a helmet while riding a horse or a motorcycle. And social appropriate. You will not wear a party hat to your Great Aunt Thelma’s funeral. (And no, it doesn’t matter if that happens to be the creative expression that occurs to you in the moment.) And–**ahem**–financial circumstance appropriate. If you’re the Queen of the Nile and a bevy of attendants waiting on you, well, fine. Let those clothes get as complicated and time consuming as you want. Otherwise, you’d better be able to dress yourself. (Exceptions being your wedding, stage performances, and living in a care home.)

And–in a horrifying turn of events–I have to mention respect for other peoples’ property appropriate. It is never appropriate to leave a six-inch gash in someone else’s upholstery because you felt the need to wear rhinestones on your ass. You do not get to wear five foot spreading fairy wings into the china shop, either.

Right now–and this terrifies me–the prevailing attitude toward girls seems to be: Have all the creative expression you want, as long as you want to be a princess.

Space Age Shopping

I bought a jar of peanut butter on the internet.

There’s nothing special about it. It’s just a big old jar of Skippy, but it will be delivered to my door, and it will be delivered to my door for exactly the same price that I could have gotten at the grocery store in town.

So, that amounts to the same price, minus the time to go out and get it, minus the time parking, minus the time sidetracked by the latest sales display of fine Hostess products.

Minus the expense and calories associated with the display of fine Hostess products.

Thanks to the miracle of the internet, I can now subscribe to peanut butter, and have a jar delivered every month, with no further action on my part. I can automate the entire grocery shopping experience.

I’m big on saving time.

The other thing–peanut butter aside–that I like about the internet, is that I don’t have to buy the very same things all my neighbors are buying. All those weird tastes you pick up over the years? The born into an immigrant family treats? The spices picked up from a roommate? That recipe you begged a restaurant owner for? Yup. That stuff is on the internet, ready to be delivered to your door. And it’s not at the local supermarket.

We’re still a ways from bread, milk, and produce, but I do think we’re aiming that direction.

And the benefits would be even bigger, if I were living on a farm outside town.

I don’t know what the town will look like, after we all shift toward that kind of convenience and selection. Another empty store front, but that’s nothing new. And more people leaving, because even the crappy jobs are going somewhere else.

If I were going to start a business here and now, what would it be? What would stay?

And From The List of Things That Are None Of My Business…

I subscribe to the Ex-Boyfriends R Us newsletter. It’s one of the unforeseen pitfalls of dating people you or people you know actually have things in common with. You might be able to get rid of them, but you can never liberate yourselves from the shared-interest newsletters.  From now on, it’s dates from the union of actuarial scientists, sewage reclamation specialists, and embalmers for me.

So, I was sitting at the table, minding my own business and eating a sandwich today. Flipping through a copy of Ex-Boyfriends R Us. (Actually, the newsletter for a charitable group we’re both involved with.) And yup.

Somebody gave him a full page.

With pictures.

Why would anyone do that?!!

Because he’s raising money for the poor starving orphans with sufficient zeal to merit it.

Oh, well, there is that.

Well. All right. Fine. I already knew he was a better person than I am.

Did I mention I’m writing a book?

The thing is… I was pretty happy with the idea that he was happy. Well, you know. That feeling of relief when you see that someone you care about is being taken care of.

He is not being taken care of. He looks miserable. And I’m not crazy about the health-aspect there. (**Fantasizes about thyroid testing and blood sugar.**)

It’s like finding out your dog didn’t really go to live on a farm, and he’s not chasing rabbits.

I should mind my own business. And in the long run, I probably am going to mind my own business.

But I still thought there’d be rabbits.

Death of a Mustard Yellow Fridge

Time has now murdered the charming, 1970s era refrigerator in my somewhat mustard yellow pied a terre, so I spent most of yesterday and a good chunk of today shopping for replacements. You’d think that wouldn’t be much of an issue. After all, it’s a refrigerator. All it has to do is keep things cold. It doesn’t have to match my shoes or my purse, or–horrors!–the rest of the mustard yellow kitchen.

But… it does have to fit.

There’s a space for it between the cupboard and the wall, and back in the dark ages, when the space was new, it must have seemed enormous.

It’s not quite deep enough for most refrigerators anymore… not if I also want to be able to use the door… and it’s not tall enough for some. (Admittedly, those are shiny space-ship type refrigerators which are mostly out of my refrigerator budget.)

Did I mention it was a balmy 94 degrees here yesterday?

So, a quick trip through local refrigerators turned up nothing. I have specific tastes apparently.

Something that goes in that hole is going to look like a laboratory refrigerator, no question. But will it go in that hole?

The refrigerator is being delivered tomorrow morning. And it doesn’t look too much like a laboratory refrigerator. It’s black. And it doesn’t have a Far Side cartoon scotch taped to the door.

I’m thrilled.

Hobbies For Serial Killers… and Writers.

One of the things I like to do–as a point of interest, not as a career path–is to take the information that people hand out without a second thought, go to the internet, and see how much more I can come up with. It’s a holdover from my time writing thrillers, and the truth is, everyone should probably take a step back and think about how much information they really want to give strangers.

The correct answer?

I don’t know. I mean, I have a blog, don’t I? A Twitter account?  I post information on the internet, and for the most part, I don’t get a whole lot of negativity. I’ve never gotten any trolling, or threats. Of course, I’m also not really advertising to a full cross-section of the world, either. My blog focuses on readers, writers… uhm… mostly not homicidal maniacs.

I still believe you should think about what kind of information you’re giving away… particularly if it connects to minors.

There’s not a whole lot of advantage to giving away personal information.

So, the game goes like this. You see a stranger. It could be one of those SUVs with the stick family on the back, or it could be that Booster Club Mom with the giant buttons with her kid’s picture and the Sports Team T-shirt. Anyone, really. The goal is to get from watching their car drive by to knowing enough to get them to believe you know them. (I’m not actually suggesting that you act on this.)

You are not allowed to talk to the person, or to communicate with them in any way. No asking for more information,  no hinting, no introducing yourself in hopes of hearing the person’s name, or getting them to chat about their high school glory days.

You take the information they hand out freely, and you go from there. Is their kid an honor roll student at Herbert Hoover Middle School? Does Dad have one of those license plates that lists his ham radio call letters? (You can pull up radio license information, and usually a home address with one of those.) Those nifty Team/sport/name/JerseyNumber bumper stickers are suddenly weirdly creepy.

Because people really do give away a lot of information on their cars, sometimes on their bodies. Hobbies. Interests. The number of people and pets in the family. Do you really want people walking by your car to know you own an attack cat instead of a Doberman? Do you want them to know that your daughter’s name is Chelsea, she goes to Franklin Middle School, where she plays volleyball, and then goes to dance at Baby Ballet is us? Would you like that same stranger to know what her brother’s name is, and what kind of car to tell her broke down?

And yes, one of my villains does wind up choosing victims based on the bumper stickers on their cars. It’s not as detailed as this, but… well, it’s the kind of thing that gets a girl to thinking. Be safe out there.

What do you think? Where do you draw the line on giving out information?