Comic Books and Thanksgiving at the Hi-Way Diner

After four or five generations of togetherness, the “Family Thanksgiving” finally exploded a few years back. Nothing horrible ever happened. It was more of an old woman who lived in a shoe arrangement. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, cousins’ spouses/significant others/crypto-others and their children. And if you’re doing math, that’s roughly two busloads full of people crammed into one three-bedroom house, where some poor woman who thought she was marrying well will try to seat and feed them all in a domestic kitchen. She will do this with less and less help, and more and more people, since not so many of the girls are learning to cook. (What? You mean I have to put my hand inside a turkey?)

Collapse was inevitable.

Even so, it somehow managed to survive for long enough that my legs and back are permanently contorted to fit at the kiddie table. (Yup. I’m the young end of the cousins.)

So, eventually, the obligatory invitation–and the equally obligatory acceptance–simply stopped coming. It would have been warmer, and fuzzier all around, if someone had had the sense to stop it years earlier (or break it down into the individual families at the generation that was doing the actual work.)

But there you go. It collapsed. It’s dead, and I’m glad it’s dead.

I took my happily child-free butt and went to the Hi-Way Diner. 24-7, and the only minor who’s gonna get near me is the one taking my order. I had a Ruben sandwich. My mother had an omelette. Nobody had to eat turkey, or Aunt Thelma’s Pinch-of-Salt Cookies. No one had to die so that I could finally inherit a big-people chair. Nobody asked me if I’d like a left-over straw of donor sperm. It was awesome.

Then, I came home and downloaded a couple of comic books. Because the sales really are amazing. And because my quest to read all of the Hugo&Nebula winning novels in the world needed another distraction.

And as soon as I’m done with the next chapter in my revision, I’ll read them. Right now… well, the scene’s perfect. Except that neither of the characters who are in it belongs there. And it’s in the wrong setting. And the motivations are completely off.

Other than that it’s perfect.

Should be done in no time.

NaNoWriMo Day 9: The Artemisium Has Arrived

After a long wait–and a shipping mistake–and another long wait, the Artemisium Absinthium that I’ve been waiting for finally arrived today. And it barely made it into the house, because, well… an ounce of dried leaves, another ounce or two of ear-wrap, and a manila envelope don’t do all that well in a stiff autumn wind. I had to fish the package out of the bushes.

But, it’s here.

Now, let’s be honest. This is an experiment, not a commitment, and as such, I ordered the smallest possible package from Amazon. As it turns out, an ounce of artemisium absinthium goes a long, long ways. A serving is half a tea spoon to a tea spoon, and this… well, it’s a lot of volume. Probably about two decks of playing cards worth. (Some bending would be necessary.)

And my first response is that this stuff smells really, really good. It smells like something you’d put on a turkey. In the neighborhood of sage for the smell.

So, double checking what the always reliable sources on the internet say, we have half a teaspoon of artemisium steeped in about a cup of boiling water.

For five to fifteen minutes.

Yes, I had to read that part twice.

Okay. So, I aimed at five minutes. I’m not saying I’m cautious with drugs–dewormers or otherwise–but let’s go with the lowest possible dosage of the thing for starters. Five minutes, half a teaspoon of artemisium, and fingers crossed.

On the low end of five minutes, I tasted it.

And it does not taste the way it smells. Well, maybe it does, but my first impression was that it was like drinking very, very watery ear-wax.

A couple of sips later, when I had not acclimated to the stuff, I added some splenda. Well, it’s the only sweetener in the house, and I’m pretty sure you’d lapse into a diabetic coma, if you tried sweetening this stuff with real sugar.

I’m not–in general–all that squeamish about bitter. I mean, I actually like aspirin (poster child for accidental poisonings here) and I’ve been known to chew acetaminophen or caffeine when I’m just too lazy to get a cup of water.

Just so you’ll know what I mean, when I say “This is bitter.”

As in slightly more bitter than the stuff you use to keep the cat from chewing on things. (And guess what I’m doing with the rest of it).

The splenda helped, but there’s still an aftertaste that seems to get caught between your tonsils.

The after-after taste (read burps) is actually more or less what I would have expected from the original sniffing of the artemisium.

I did not make it through the entire cup, and I’m fairly certain there’s absolutely no measurable affect (although I do maintain that I do not have worms.)

I am also in a fairly upbeat and positive mood.

I doubt we can attribute that to a few sips of wormwood tea, but the new experience was well worth it. I may, at some point, try it again, using some of the fabulous pointers that I completely ignored, this time. Then again… I’m having trouble envisioning a little licorice tea as being that sweet.

Do I feel more creative?

Maybe just from having confirmed that I am, in fact, the kind of person who tries new things.

Me, Too: The Thing About Thinking

Does the world really need another “Me Too” post?

At this point, I want to believe the ball is rolling, and that things will get better. I mean… if Hollywood looks like it’s about to clean house… Well, I think we all knew Hollywood’s a cess pool.

But somewhere along the line, I ran into someone who was saying–loudly, and angrily, and probably to some guy who accidentally stepped in the shit–that it is a big deal, and if he doesn’t understand why women are upset about it, it’s because every woman he knows… EVERY SINGLE ONE… has been the victim of sexual assault or attempted sexual assault.

But that EVERY SINGLE ONE thing made me start thinking.

You know that moment, where you start looking at your friends, and counting on your fingers?

That thing where you… didn’t really consider yourself a victim. I mean, you were lucky… and well… you were lucky.

So, I started thinking about the women around me. The ones closest to me, actually. You have to be… pretty close to someone before they’re going to tell you those stories.

Do I have to tell you how this turned out?

Is it EVERY SINGLE ONE? I don’t know. But it comes close.

A little bit of concentration, and I was remembering a lot of stories.

How many? Enough that I’m starting to believe maybe it is every single one.

Which brings me to my story. My stories. Because, of course, there are stories. And the only ones I’m going to tell are my own. And I didn’t know that this was my near-miss rape story until months after the fact.

I was living in a new city. I hadn’t made a lot of connections, but I had jumped head first into the dance scene.

Now, to be clear, I’m talking about the ballroom/historical dance scene. The mostly tea-totalling, discipline and practice dance scene. So, you can imagine what an orgy that was.

And I was taking a couple months’ worth of Balboa lessons in this kitschy little bar. (When dance is popular, bars always want dancers. Then, they find out we don’t actually drink while dancing.)

So, I’ve made a few friends–not close, enduring friendships, but buddies. You know how that common-interest thing works–and we’re palling around in this bar on some off-night. Tuesday, or Thursday. Not a big-crowd night.

Round about closing time, the owner–who, by the way, I’ve never seen before–appears, and starts mixing mudslides. Free mudslides. For anybody and everybody who wants one. He’s giving away more alcohol than he sold all night long. Big, enormous, syrup-y mudslides.

And I’m sitting there, drenched in sweat–because dance is a workout–and holding the beautiful, icy-cold bottle of water I’d bought about three seconds before last call.

Mudslide doesn’t even look good.

But I say “no thank you,” and “thanks, I’m good,” and he offers a couple more times. Made real sure I knew it was free. Kinda reminds me of the way an old aunt pushes a slice of pie.

And I kept drinking water and cooling off.

The party winds down, and I walked out of there.

And I kept going back.

Absolutely nothing about that night tripped my alarms in any way. I didn’t feel unsafe. I assumed the guy knew someone in the group, or maybe that he was doing it to keep his bar in the good graces of a pretty talented DJ who happened to dance with us. You scratch my back…

There weren’t any more free drinks, but then… who really expects that?

I didn’t have any idea that anything was wrong until the bar closed suddenly, and I heard why on the evening news.

The owner had been arrested on multiple counts of first degree rape.

And the victims had been drugged. Taken up to the VIP room and raped while they were unconscious.

The bar never reopened, and eventually, the building was sold.

So, here it is. The thing about me, too. I was lucky. That’s all. Just luck. I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t save myself. I didn’t know there was anything to save myself from.

And I know there are women out there–women who weren’t lucky–asking themselves what they missed. And I’m the one who can tell them. Nothing. You didn’t miss anything.

My friends and I sat in a room with a serial rapist who was laughing and pouring mudslides, and generally being a good host. A dozen of us. And not one of us saw anything.

Off to Splash Water on My Face

It is two-thirty in the morning, and the wonderful Fitbit informs me that I slept for three hours and six minutes. That’s more or less average. I have the thing set to “sensitive” because it was telling me that I’d slept soundly all night long on the “normal” setting… you know… even when I know perfectly well that I was awake and reading a book.

So, now, it tells me how many minutes I was “restless”—there are a lot–and still misses chunks of time where I was awake. (I’m debating a different brand of fitness tracker, once this one dies.)

My schedule varies these days, and today, I am on the short end of morning. Just enough time to convince myself I’m awake and grab a bottle of breakfast before heading off to work.

I have a stack of papers waiting to be typed into my Manuscript, and more that’s supposed to be being written, but… wow, morning comes early some days.

My Editorial Diversion

Later on today, I should finish the last of the scenes that were not on my original revision schedule.

I’ve been having a lot of fun with them, at least in part because I’ve been getting a lot of OH, so that’s where that goes! Some of the things that just seem to fit, now were things I had generally envisioned having to cut entirely.

I’ll be getting back to regularly scheduled revision, and more or less on time for the month.

This month, I’m also working on a short story for the Storytime Blog Hop. It should be something Halloween-y, which is always a fun theme.

Has anybody but me noticed that when you have an hour, you actually use it, but when you have a whole day, you watch YouTube videos until it’s all gone?

I’m so very guilty of believing that my regular wake-up time is absurdly early (because it is.) and that I deserve another fifteen minutes. And then, that fifteen minutes turns into the rough equivalent of sleeping til noon. (If, you know, I woke up at a decent hour in the first place.)

I cannot get it through my head that sleeping til 4 or 5 is actually sleeping in, now.

Oh, well. Somewhere, there’s a glass of water that’s destined to resurrect my Kreb’s Cycle. I just know there is.

Any tips for keeping a schedule, even when you work a weird schedule?

Longaberger Baskets And Absolutely No Other Antiques

Not so long ago, a friend of the family showed up for a few days, and started talking about Longaberger baskets.  Now, to be sure, I had gone a full long time without having the foggiest idea what a Longaberger basket was, or–actually having any interest in baskets of any kind.

These would be the Rolls Royce of baskets. If one breaks, you can send it back to the factory, and they will fix it. (My impression was for free, but you know… baskets.)

You know. The pinnacle of basket making.

Well, they are pretty nice as baskets go. I can’t say I’m crazy about Americana, but then… well, let’s be honest… Any time someone says anything about an art, a craft, or a hobby being profitable, I’m right there. I could make baskets.

Okay, well, maybe I could learn to make baskets. Do they really have underwater basket weaving classes? I could be a performance artist/basket weaver/mermaid.

Oh, yes. I know all about baskets. These ones are square.

Based on some things that were said during the Longaburger love event, I take it that all of the above were very reasonably priced.

(Longtime readers will be interested to know that this is the same antiques mall that my dear deceased friend “lives” at. And I’m not showing pictures, until all the new antiques-y baskets-y normal people love me enough that they don’t mind the occasional cadaver.)

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.