Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas mayhem...

Well, my family, as wonderful as they are, have managed to put a crimp in my typically last-nanosecond (hey, the tree only went up yesterday, haha) preparations for the big event. Because my sister's son and stepsons will be celebrating on Christmas Day with their "other" families (oh, divorce, how you complicate matters), our family celebration--complete with turkey dinner and at least a portion of the gift-unwrapping--will be done Christmas Eve. This means I have ONE DAY to finish all the shopping and wrapping, instead of two. And I work at 5 on the 23rd, wheeeeee! Should be a fun day. :)

I haven't even counted the gifts I've managed to get for each kid (they should each have an equal number of presents under the tree, even if I have to wrap socks and underwear, dammit), so I'm not sure who I even have to buy for in the morning. But I did manage to get a few things I need for myself to wrap and put under the tree, so the kids won't feel I've been completely left out on the big day. (I'm usually ruthless about denying myself material things, but hey, it's freaking Christmas and I could use some nice, 300 thread count, 100% combed Egyptian cotton sheets, so what the heck. Hang the expense.)

This will be my first Christmas here in Edmonton in over a decade, and I can't freaking wait. But as much as I like having family around, the weather has been brutal. I think temps have averaged out at about -15C for the last six weeks or so, and my car is covered in crud and salt from the roads. Lugging stuff in from the car to the house leaves me hypothermic, my fingers stinging from the cold, even through gloves. Lugging it back to the car, all wrapped and nice, just to lug it into my parents' condo won't be fun, either. But it will be worth it. :)

Frankly, a turkey dinner cooked by someone else, with the dishes going into someone else's dishwasher? I can't even imagine what that's like. And we're having ham at my sister's on Christmas Day, too, even if we'll be three kids short. Two evenings of wine and comfort food, family and Christmas spirit, and no mess in my house...that's freaking priceless.

Next year is soon enough for me to have everyone over to my house. I still have renoes to finish in order to make this place liveable (oy), and I'll hopefully be in a better position to dictate days off with my employer by then. And maybe next year I won't leave everything to the last possible moment, too. But I don't think so, lol.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

busy busy busy

So I was out all morning yesterday, but my amazing 15-y/o daughter fielded the delivery confirmation call from Leon's, gave the guy directions to the house, reviewed the invoice, and had her older brother sign for the bunk beds that arrived while I wasn't here. (Yet somehow she can't manage to throw her granola bar wrappers in the trash, even when the trash can is 4 inches from the table where she's left the pile of wrappers. Hmmm.....)

So now I will spend my day moving furniture, lugging the rest of the scrap from the wet bar out onto the back patio (to be carted away in the spring when the condo board brings back the "big bin"), and putting the boys' bed together. And working at 5, as usual.

Also spent my morning sorting out my money, trying to figure out how to juggle bills and stuff from my 4 bank accounts at 3 different banks (necessary, between rental income, debt payment and my US income, but annoying and a little confusing to keep track of, all the same).

My daughter's computer finally died the other day, so now I not only need a new one for my oldest (his planned x-mas gift, to replace the one he's outgrown), I need to look into a laptop for her if I ever want to get 5 minutes on my own computer again. So Christmas will be a little more pricey than I'd thought--but still essentially workable.

My sofa looks awesome, and I managed to fit it into the available space without having to rearrange everything in the room, which is cool. And it had a little bit of damage on the upholstery, so I called and they gave me a 15% discount on it--preferable to having another one delivered, and then having my kids end up doing the same amount of damage in the space of a week, no? Nicest thing about it is the lack of squabbling over couch space, though I'm sure they'll find something else to pick at each other about soon enough, lol.

Now that the wet bar is out of the way, the amount of space downstairs is HUGE. At least compared to what it was. The old sofa should fit there perfectly, and I'm planning a built-in computer desk that will serve all the kids. It should be a nice place for them to hang out when it's done (drywalled and painted)--less like a squat in a condemned building and more like an actual, you know, room. And finishing it will up the value of my sister's place, which will make me feel better about her giving me a break on the rent.

I'm getting lots of shifts at work--more than I really want or need--but at the same time, I do need to get a pot together for Christmas, so I'm letting that slide a bit. It's going to be busy over the next few weeks, but I'll manage. :)

Monday, November 29, 2010

too much to do...

It's been a while since I blogged, and I thought I better let you all know I'm still alive.

So here's the update: still alive. Might want to ask me again in ten minutes, just to make sure.

I changed jobs not too long ago--just after returning from what I hope is my last trip back to the soggy reaches of North Vancouver Island for a while--trading in my gig at the 24-hour egg and pancake house for a less hour-intensive job at a rib joint. I like it much better--I still work mostly evenings, and it's still 5 days a week, but the shifts are shorter and the politics are a bit less obtrusive and frustrating. The money's not quite as good, but it's still plenty, and a fair trade-off for having an average of 3 hours more every day to get other shit done.

I've been dating a fair bit, too. It's been hit or miss for a while now, though at the moment things seem to be more hit than miss. Fingers crossed and all that.

I've been undoing some of the renovations done by the guy who lived here before my sister bought the place. The guy didn't actually finish anything, his taste is abysmal (think appalling 1980s nouveau-riche), and his workmanship shoddy at best yet built to last--half of it's still bare plywood, none of the joints meet properly, nothing's level or square, but the 9000 nails he used has made demolition positively grueling. Nothing like getting it all wrong AND making it next to impossible to change, right? It's been fun...NOT.

I went out furniture shopping a couple weeks ago, and bought myself a sectional sofa and some bunk beds for my boys. The sofa arrives tomorrow, and I have to spend today before work figuring out how the hell it's going to fit in my tiny living room, heh. Wish me luck--full-sized sectional in a condo-sized living room? Oy.

My 40th birthday came and went without any huge, hideous emotional crisis. Sure, it ain't great to be officially middle-aged, but it's not so bad when you neither look nor feel it.

I've been kicking around the idea of really resuming the writing thing in the New Year. Looking at it like a job, rather than an avenue for self-expression and a little extra income. I should really be doing that right now, but there's too much to do with the holidays coming, and all the upheaval of rearranging my house. We'll see.

But that's my life as of Nov. 29, 2010. Pretty boring, really. Aren't you glad I filled you in?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

new story

Okay, it's not ten thousand words in one of my many WIPs, but at least it's SOMETHING. I've posted a new short story on my website--a very short one (just a little over 1000 words)--that I wrote today when I was supposed to be vacuuming my living room (sorry, mom).

It's a little more...intense than most of the other stuff I've written. So I'm going to post a little disclaimer about the content. It's not only dirty, it's kind of uh..."caveman" and might not be everyone's thing. I'm not expecting that it will upset most people, but survivors of sexual assault might find it triggering. Just sayin'.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Coming out...

It's National Coming Out Day in the US (Turkey Day for us Canucks), and I thought I'd post something more relevant than "Happy Thankgiving!"

For me, coming out as a bisexual was kind of easy. My parents have always been supportive and accepting (even of the stupid things I do), my sisters, kids and extended family are pretty liberal-minded, and frankly, half the strangers I encounter would probably suspect I dig women, anyway (the short hair and comfortable shoes give me away, lol). There was no drama in me going from closeted admirer of girls to open admirer of girls, no cutting me from any wills, no shunning or freak-outs (at least not where I could see them), and if there was any Othering or bigotry going on in regard to my being attracted to both men and women, well, most if it hasn't been directed at me so much as the concept of bisexuality, and what I've encountered has come from within the GLBT community at least as frequently as from the wider population.

Coming out was easy-peasy, all things considered. Gotta love Canada and our progressive ways of thinking.

But I've recently had kind of a light-bulb moment in regard to my gender identity. I've always considered myself a bit queer in that regard. Kind of an amalgam of male and female squashed together in my psyche and heart and not exactly getting along most of the time. My sexual feelings for men have always been very yin, and my sexual feelings for women have always been rather yang, so to speak. And like Lianon, the protagonist of some of my books, I've always felt like the trappings of femininity--jewellery, dresses, floral prints, long hair, lipstick, high heels, pretty much anything girly--are not just a costume when I wear them, but a misrepresentation and an undermining of who I am.

So there I was at [insert franchise name here], picking up an application, and I'm looking at the servers--all of them in tight, short, low-cut dresses, heels, and tarted up to look like "Escort Barbie"--and I'm thinking, "I can't work here! Shit, even if I could trick myself out to look like a 20 y/o hooker (and I probably could), I'd feel ridiculous. Beyond ridiculous. I'd feel like I was wearing a sandwich board that said, 'I'm pretending to be something I'm not!'"

More than that, I'd feel weak. And oddly sexless, if you'll believe. I love being a woman--wouldn't trade it for anything--but my femininity is best expressed through a masculine screen. I show off my female curves, but wear clothes that emphasize my female body from within a masculine context. My hair is short, but pixyish--if it looked butch on me I'd find another style. I wear make-up that emphasizes the femininity of my face, but in an understated way.

I feel my strongest and sexiest and most sensual and most confident in that uniform. And yet, I've always been left with the feeling, insidious and disheartening, that this being, this...ME, is somehow not a proper woman.

It comes from a lot of different places. From my (soon to be ex) husband, who told me that my short hair made me look like a man (it doesn't, but long hair is a strong enough icon of femininity that it mattered to him). From men on dating sites who ask if there are any pictures of me with long hair, or wearing a dress. From men who tell me I'm hot, but man, if I only put on a tight skirt and heels, I'd stop traffic. From lovers who've purchased lacy lingerie for me and then complained when I didn't wear it. From men in bars who look at me with open admiration and desire, then hit on the less attractive girl in the lacy purple camisole with the teased hair and ballet flats. Even from well-meaning friends on shopping trips who pick out floral-print, empire-wasted tops for me to try on.

The implication has always been that what I am at my core--and what I love most about myself--is somehow defective. It's like a black person constantly confronted with people who say, "If you can present as a little more...ah...white, you're hired," or, "I love you, and because I love you I'm willing to accept that you're not a blue-eyed blonde--you don't mind if I imagine I'm fucking Jennifer Aniston when we do it, do you?" or, "you'd look a lot more attractive if you de-emphasized your African features."

In the past, I've sought out very masculine men for relationships, because they make me feel feminine in comparison. I've resisted relationships with women because of my fear that my masculinity will take over somehow, and I'd lose sight of my femaleness altogether. And I didn't even really realize I was doing it.

Until I walked into IFNH and saw those botox girls in their stilettoes and little black dresses, and thought of the one man who didn't make me feel like I was not a "real woman". It was a brief relationship, but one that helped me learn all kinds of things about who I am and what I want. And what I want is for a man to tell me, with his words, with his actions, with his eyes: "You turn me on." Full stop. None of this, "You turn me on, but you'd turn me on even more if you put on this frilly bit of something and some thigh-highs. I know it makes you feel silly and inadequate, but it would make you more attractive to me."

That man told me things like, "I love your hair, OMG, short hair on a woman just does something to me." "Those paint-stained jeans are the sexiest thing I've ever seen you in." "You're so hot, you're like a stalking cat, lean and strong and so fucking sexy." He even called me "hyper-feminine" once. Who knew! He never once asked me to wear a skirt, or if I owned anything lacy. Never once implied, through word or look or action, that he might be more attracted to me if I presented myself in a more feminine way. He wouldn't have changed a single thing about how I express who I am at my core.

And for that, I'd like to thank him here. And I'd like to come out to everyone as ME, unusual, a little queer, somewhat extraordinary, but at my essence, a real woman.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

my bad...

The other day I got a letter from a self-proclaimed fan of my work, gently (very gently) scolding me for not writing more. Telling me that he and my other "adoring fans" had waited patiently for my next book long enough. He was effusive enough in his praise for my work that I hardly recognized it for the admonishment it was, and honestly, it made me feel really flattered to know there are people out there who enjoy my work enough that they're getting frustrated waiting for me to release another title.

And it didn't get my back up at all, because he's right. I do need to get to it. Word-counts on my works in progress have moved little enough that it's not worth the bother of even updating my word-meters.

I keep telling myself (and the rest of you) that I simply don't have time to write, but that isn't it. I have time, lots of it, because my kids are pretty self-sufficient and I don't particularly care about keeping my house gorgeous (and haven't been doing it in any case, as anyone who tries to navigate across the legos and assorted detritus on my living room floor would tell you). Sure, I've been working a lot, and dealing with some serious logistical crap in regard to changing provinces, but I've got 4 hours a day with nothing that NEEDS to fit into it.

I just haven't been in the right frame of mind to do it.

I've been through an emotional ringer a few times since November over relationships that didn't work out the way I wanted. Black moments galore since February, but no climax to counter them, no sweet denoument into the land of happily ever after. My love life, it has not been romance of late. It's been lit-fic of the worst kind--the kind where unrequited love stays unrequited, where the hero gets screwed over by circumstances, the villain (or villainess) is victorious, and the heroine ends up alone yet again.

Add to that the fact that I spent my last year in BC angsting about even surviving, staring into a future where I'd indefinitely be making my mortgage payments with my credit card (actually, not indefinitely, because it would max out eventually, heh), where no matter how many thousands of dollars I handed to my lawyer he couldn't seem to help me, and struggling with the understanding that moving with my kids under the circumstances could have serious legal repercussions.

And when I'd finally concluded I had no choice but to relocate or be completely and irretrievably ruined by the status quo, and had put the process in motion, my stepson died. Right in the middle of that already difficult transition, a sweet, loving, soft-hearted kid I could only have felt closer to had he lived with us full time, just...gone.

And even now that things are less stressful; now that I've mostly weathered the loss of my stepson; now that I've accepted that me moving at what turned out to be the worst possible time for everyone--and the terrible pain it caused others--was simply unavoidable; now that my kids and I have the help and support we need from my family; now that I'm not scrambling to make my bills or facing decisions like "will it be milk or bread, because I can't afford both"; now that my divorce is finally looking like it will be over and done with and might not send me to the poorhouse after all ... well, there are other worries moving in to replace all that.

My divorce may be almost dealt with, but in order to settle it, I'm taking on a huge amount of risk. In a couple years I might have a nice sum of money to spend on tuition for my kids. But if property values don't recover in the hideously depressed community where my house sits, or if I can't keep it rented out, all I may end up with is a shit-ton of regret, more debt, and three kids who aren't going to college after all.

I'm staring ahead two months toward my 40th birthday, and feeling like I've wasted a lot of my life on nothing special. On struggling and putting up with things, instead of living. And it's been hard to put myself in the shoes of characters who do more than just struggle to make it from one day to the next, who fight for what they want--happiness, love, a feeling of belonging--and get it because it's what they deserve. What everyone deserves, when you think about it.

But you know what? That's no excuse. None of it is, really. I told someone I love recently that you get the life you choose, and it's true. Sure, outside circumstances have their way with us, but it's up to us to choose how we react to them, whether we opt to just settle for what the universe dishes out, or whether we work around the situation, or climb over it, or bulldoze through it.

I told someone else I loved recently that for my last year in BC I felt like a rat in a maze, wandering around looking for a way out that would be easy and uncompicated, but the only way out was blocked by lawyers with baseball bats, so eventually I had to kick a hole in the wall. It was difficult and costly in so many ways, but it was worth it.

And I can sit here and angst about everything I'm still dealing with and get nothing real accomplished, or I can put all of that angst aside. If there's nothing I can do about it, there's no point in worrying, is there? Just get on with things, put one foot in front of the next, one word on the page after another. Accept that even though things still kind of stink in some parts of my life, they stink a lot prettier than they did a year ago.

Words on the page, in life and in fiction. And I might not have that god-like power over the universe in real life that I get to exercise in my writing, but I still get to write some of my own story.

And maybe it's time to rev up that bulldozer. I think I'm done with kicking holes in things, though. My foot still hurts from the last time, lol.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

I am not quite dead yet...

Yes, it's been forever since I blogged. And forever (okay, a little more than a year) since I released a book. And incidents of my misbehavior in other people's internet houses--heck, I'll admit I can make a pest of myself at times--have dwindled to almost nothing. Sad, I know.

Work, sleep, dishes, bills, kids, laundry, shopping, nagging my divorce lawyer, wrestling with bureaucracies...that's my life these days. Nothing much exciting happening, and no time for anything but the mundane.

Then I stumbled on this post today, over at EREC, which indicates that on a per-title basis, erotic romance ebook sales have pretty much "flattened out". This jives with the traditional wisdom that ebooks often sprint out of the gate, garnering the majority of sales in the first month--often the first day--they're available, then fizzle.

But you wouldn't know it to look at my royalty statements. I haven't released a book in over a year--haven't sent anything to my editor since March of 2009, in fact, when I shot off my finished manuscript of The Chancellor's Bride. And yet over the last several months, my royalty statements have seen a serious upswing. My statement for July '10 was topped only by that of July of last year, the month The Chancellor's Bride (my sole foray into m/m/f) released. And though almost half of my last cheque was from sales of that title, the other half consisted of sales of my first two--Crossing Swords and Healer's Touch (both m/f with f/f), which released wayyyy the heck back in March '08 and August '08 respectively.

In fact, Crossing Swords sold more copies last month (or my royalties for last month reflected more sales, because not all vendors do their accounting on a monthly basis) than it did in its month of release. And Healer's Touch did the same--more sales on this statement than in its first month on the market. And the vast majority of those sales are coming from Amazon.

Now granted, the numbers are still pretty small compared to those of other Samhain authors. That f/f tag in the content warning still repels a lot of readers. But Amazon has a larger customer base than MBaM, for sure, and I always had the feeling my brand of f/f books might turn out to be slow-starters. The Chancellor's Bride has a readership that is vast and avid, but already very well-served in the market, and it's followed the traditional pattern of most erotic romance ebooks--the first ten days of sales were great, then the next month...not so much. The readership had moved on to the latest batch of 100+ m/m and m/m/f books that were new and shiny and exciting and ready for action, and promptly forgot about my little book.

But f/f books (even in the context of a m/f romance) have to get in front of the eyes of a readership that is both small and elusive (and pretty damn picky, too, the way I am when I read f/f). That readership is not necessarily going to be well-represented among those early adopters of erotic romance ebooks--the women who turned to the internet for the content they craved (largely super-dirty het romance and m/m). Women who would NOT be repelled by that slash-tag in the warning weren't likely to be hanging out in their thousands at MBaM just waiting for the one title in 100 or 1000 that gives them what they want. But a growing number of them apparently own Kindles, or have a Kindle app on their iPhones.

It seems between decent reviews, solid word of mouth, availability on Amazon and the mainstreaming of the Kindle, my books are finding their readership. It may always be a small segment of a more mainstream one, and that's okay with me. F/f in whatever context is what I love to write, and I'm good at it. And I've said it before: I'd rather be a big fish in the small girl-on-girl pond than a small fish in the vast m/m ocean. I still feel the same way. I'd rather be one of a very few who write f/f with a bi/bi-curious slant--and do it well--than one of countless hundreds or thousands who write het and m/m. Because as the market for f/f makes the transition to ebooks, readers won't have to sift through thousands of titles to take a chance on one of mine, will they? And if they discover they like the way I write it, my name will be on a very short list of authors, and easily remembered.

And I'll take a moment to express here and now how grateful I am that my publisher has a decent contract with entities like Amazon, and offers some of the most author-friendly terms of any epublisher regarding second-party sales. Because sales are awesome, but only if they earn you some scratch, baby.


Monday, June 21, 2010

my feet, they hurt...

OMG, I worked 12 hours on Saturday. In new shoes. My old ones--which I've been wearing to work for three years--are at the shoe-repair getting new soles. Yes, they're so comfy, I'm paying to fix them. And honestly? The uppers are still in really good shape considering the odometer reading on them. But for the last three shifts, I've been forced to wear a new pair I bought--same brand, different style, and just...ow. And I was still stuck in those torture devices yesterday.

And last night, well, it being Father's Day, we got hit with a late rush. My manager (much though I adore him) was shortsighted enough to send the hostess home at 5 because it was dead, and then we got slammed at 6. The parking lot was full, and between two servers we did $1800 in sales, about 3/4 of it between 6 and 8.

On the bright side, my awesome manager (whom I have dubbed "Superguy") cleans tables, runs food, fetches drinks, seats people, takes payment, and generally does whatever it takes to help us out. And afterward, he took a few minutes to tell me how much he likes the way I work--said he really likes that even when it's busy I don't show my stress to the customers, I'm always still smiling and joking with them.

And when my last table--an old lady and her handicapped son (who were admittedly a major PITA), got up to leave, he told me she ALWAY complains and demands a discount every time because she's unhappy with the food or the service or SOMETHING.

I said, "well, she was a pain, but she didn't complain about anything to ME." He laughed and said, "Hah, you can take payment, you'll see," and hid in the kitchen (the bastage). The other server bursts out laughing and says, "Yeah, you take payment, haha," and hurries off to pretend to be busy elsewhere. And the old lady just hands me the bill and her money, says, "Hey, lovely lady, thanks for everything. It was wonderful," and leaves.

Apparently, that's the first time she hasn't had a laundry list of grievances when she gets up to the till. Hah! Take that! Superguy was stunned. The other waitress just stood there and gaped.

Of course, now this means Superguy is probably going to seat all the problem customers in my section, sigh. But bring it on. I can take it.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

getting settled...

Well, it's official, and I can now come right out and announce to you all that I've moved from the dismal, depressing rainforests of coastal BC to the alternately frigid and scorching wastelands of central Alberta. Despite the vagaries of the climate here (mosquitoes, how I loathe you), and the fact that I now have to contend with actual traffic (where I was before, well, we didn't even have a four-way stop sign in town, and if there was a single car within sight on the highway, I was cursing about having to deal with jerks who don't know how to drive), I am so very pleased with the move, because:

1) my parents are here, and they're the most pitch-inny parents ever. They help with the kids, with the housework, with the shopping, with lugging heavy stuff, with reminding me to do important things (I'm a chronic forgetter). They offer to take the kids places like McDonalds or the mall. If I need someone to stay overnight with them, or pick them up from school because I'm delayed at work, well, all I need to do is phone. I have promised myself I will not abuse this privilege, but it's soooooo tempting. Plus, they love me and they're nice to me and they're the kind of parents you can actually talk to about stuff without feeling judged. Mom and dad, you are totally, totally blammo.

2) my sister is here. I don't see her as often as I see my parents, because she has her own blended family to take care of, but the two of us installed a new toilet in the downstairs bathroom the other day and it went perfectly. Go team! I'm renting a townhouse she owns, and she's letting me have it at a huge discount to help me out, because that's what sisters do. And it's just really nice to be able to hang with her and talk to her about...sister things. Sis, you're some serious awesome.

3) I'll get to see my other sister (and her awesome hubby and kids) more often. They live way the eff across the country, but they certainly come out here more often than they ever managed to make their way to the sopping, isolated reaches of Middleofnowhereland, BC. She's also totally blammo, IMO, but I expect she knows that, lol. Can't wait to see her!

4) Sunday family dinners. I often hear people bemoaning such obligations as the big weekly or monthly family get-together, and sure, my own family is far from perfect. But after 16 years away from "home", I now revel in the assorted kookiness (my uncle still asks me what I learned in school today when I walk in the door, heh) that is my extended family. In a couple of months, I hope to have my house sorted out enough to host a dinner of my own, yay!

5) my kids get to go to schools that offer things like actual computer graphics courses (with computers that run more recent versions of Windows than 98), IB programs, and advance placement. When they're done high school, they might even get to go to college, too, because there are several within public transit distance--had we stayed where we were, they'd have had to live on campus, which we'd never be able to afford.

6) there is fast food. One of my friends from back in Middleofnowhereland, BC told me once, "I would kill a thousand cows for one bucket of KFC," and well...yeah. But now I don't have to kill any cows, or drive two hours to get my fix of the Colonel's eleven herbs and spices, or the drugs he puts in it to make you "crave it fortnightly"*. I can just drive three minutes and I'm elbows-deep in a bucket of original recipe, yay! And if I have pizza delivered, it doesn't cost me the shirt on my back, either.

7) there is work. Oh, there is lots of it. And it's lucrative. Even when business is slow, I'm earning what I earned on a typical "good night" at my old job. When it's busy? Double that. Or triple it. And if, heaven forefend, I decide I don't like this job? There's another one just down the block.

8) there are big box stores. Walmart, Canadian Tire, Home Depot, Superstore, OMG Ikea. And freaking Costco. There are two Costcos I can shop at--one five minutes away from my home, and another just a few blocks from work. And malls with actual clothing stores, not just those crappy discount chains or the ubiquitous small town boutique where a pair of jeans will cost you your firstborn son.

9) dating options. In an isolated town of only 3000, well, the women hang onto their men because they know 99% of the local single guys of an appropriate age are likely gay (closeted or not), players, assholes, or weirdoes with more guns and dogs than teeth. Here, there are lots of single men, hence lots of women who think the grass is greener and ditch the good ones because they slurp their soup, or won't buy them a new flatscreen TV, or don't earn $100k/year or whatever. And yeah, I'm sure there are plenty of closeted gays, assholes, players and weirdoes, but hey, at least the pool is bigger.

10) I get to wear sunglasses. In fact, I have to wear sunglasses, because there is this thing in the sky (maybe you've heard of it? It's big and yellow and I've been told not to look directly at it) and it comes out more than every 15 days or so. Even in the winter!

11) no provincial sales tax (or more recently, the dreaded and much-maligned "BC Harmonized Sales Tax"). This makes everything from gas to shoes to light bulbs cheaper than they are where I used to live. And the fact that I'm now in an urban area instead of way the heck in the sticks, well, I didn't quite realize how much more we paid for things like milk and bread just because we lived so far from anywhere big. My grocery bills will likely be $2-300/month less just because of the move.

12) competition. From gas stations to cable/phone/internet providors to food stores to restaurants to schools, there are no monopolies here. That means better service for less money in almost every instance.

Yeah, it was hard saying goodbye to my friends (because they're some of the best people ever), and I was even saddened at the thought of never going back to sling chow mein at my old job (as thankless and frustrating as it often was). There were things about living in a small town that I absolutely adored. But I'm still so freaking happy with this move, and the kids seem to be settling in fine. There are things they miss about their old home, but there are things they love about where we are now, too, and the adjustment has gone even smoother than I could have hoped.

I just long for the day when the novelty of the escalator at the mall eventually wears off. I feel kind of like a tool taking Blammo up and down that thing several times just for fun whenever we go, even if I secretly find it kind of fun myself...

*from "So I Married an Axe Murderer", and still one of my favorite lines from any Mike Meyers movie. It's funny because it's true.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

been a crazy couple of weeks...

My life, it has been a little....squirrely for the last bit, hence I haven't been around much. But lo and behold, the Purolator lady came with another box of books for me--for my May print release and sole foray into hot guy on guy on girl action, The Chancellor's Bride. I'd post a pic like usual, but I can't find my camera. At the moment, I can't put my hands on my toothbrush. I THINK I might know where it is, but we'll see...

Anyhow, if any of you would like to leave a comment here, I'll have my 7 y/o random number generator, Blammo, choose one lucky person to win a free copy.

And if you can come up with any suggestions as to where I might find my toothbrush (I've already looked in the deep freezer, heh), I'd be much obliged. And if you lead me to that elusive instrument of dental hygiene, you get a free copy, too!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Two bedrooms (sort of) down....

Wahoo! The master bedroom is finished. And I mean finished--not one more thing left to do in there. Despite some difficulty getting the queen boxspring upstairs (we had to take it outside, around back of the house, and haul it up onto the balcony and in through the balcony doors because our inside stairway has an inconvenient bend in it, grr...), the bed's now in there, plus two nice antiquey dressers, an old steamer trunk of my grandmother's for a night table, and a lovely bench for the foot of the bed. Blammo will bunk with me on a little mat on the floor until we move, and when it's time to show the house his blankets will go in my bench, and the mat will go in the closet.

Other than a handful of pink stains that won't go away, the carpet looks nice. It didn't smell too great in there at first--after sitting wet for a week, well, there was a swamp-like redolence even after it had mostly dried--but I bought some baking soda carpet stuff and it stinks real pretty now (overpowering wildflowers, oy, but better than the reek of a bog in early spring).

The downstairs bedroom ceiling is now repaired. We'd been suffering from drippy ceiling-butthole syndrome from a leak in the tub drain upstairs, and I had to cut a piece out so the plumber could work. I managed to apply spackle in roughly the same pattern as the godawful popcorn on the rest of the ceiling, and now we just need to paint it all. The walls are done, the furniture's in, and I've even stuck a stereo in there so it looks like a typical teenager's room (only without any posters of Megan Fox or Marilyn Manson or whoever, because the kid who puts even one hole in any of these walls is the kid who will find himself gruesomely murdered by multiple thumbtack stab-wounds and then buried under the astilbes in the yard).

The hole in my daughter's bedroom wall is now mostly fixed (one more pass with sandpaper and drywall compound and no one will ever suspect that the plumber broke half the pipes while trying to replace the tub faucet), and tomorrow we start sanding and priming over the big, colorful flowers she and I painted on her walls a few years back.

In addition, my mom spent much of today weeding my mess of a garden. Due to the lack of an actual "winter" here, the weeds grow year-round, and every spring you have to break the land from a wilderness state like a bloody pilgrim. She got maybe half of the job done during the five hours of sun we had this morning and early afternoon (we're back to rain again now, and for the next week, according to the Weather Channel).

Dad drove out onto a logging road to dump the yard waste (not the bags, though, of course), and tomorrow we'll borrow my friend's truck to haul all the recycling and old carpet and broken hoses and crappy old furniture and dry garbage that was cluttering up the carport to the dump/recycling depot.

Next on the agenda: finding curtain tracks for the closets (I'm not spending a fortune on doors for the kids' closets), and then hemming the $6 queen size sheets I bought into curtains for them. I also have to call the local guy who owns the little baby back-hoe that will fit through my gate, so he can deal with the drainage problem in the backyard, and send my papers into the nearest EI branch so they can start processing my claim.

Oh, and call my lawyer to find out what the eff is going on with the clusterfuck that is my divorce negotiation. Busy busy busy...

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Okay, for someone who thought she'd removed one of the stressful things in her life (I've taken a doctor-recommended leave from my day job--my last day was Sunday), today is shaping up to be one of those days where my head goes all explodey and showers bits of skull and brain matter all over the place.

I made an appointment for a pro carpet cleaner to come do these hideous carpets this morning. Last night, Firstborn and I lugged all the dressers, desks and assorted stuff out of the upstairs bedrooms, and this morning I finished up by removing my daughter's bed. All this stuff (more furniture than should reasonably even be in two bedrooms, really) is now piled in the middle of my living room, (and kitchen and dining room), which is also full of assorted toys (legos and bionicles everywhere, OMG). It's quarter past ten and I'm wondering where the guy is, so I phone. He's fucking sick in bed. Can't even get up. But couldn't call last night to let me know he was really sick and had to cancel, apparently. Aughhhhh!!!!!

There is no other pro carpet cleaning outfit in town, and the people in the next town aren't answering their phone. "We're probably out cleaning someone's carpet" the message says.

To add insult to injury, my parents arrive tonight. Yes, tonight. And Firstborn has been sleeping on the sofabed downstairs (where my parents sleep when they visit), and Blammo has been sleeping on the couch in the living room. The couch is now buried under a mound of bedroom stuff, and the boys' beds are stacked in the family room, which leaves no floorspace for "camping out" there and so basically, there's only two usable beds in the house--the sofabed and my bed. And two extra people looking to sleep here tonight.

I suppose I could leave a message at the other place, but I have a feeling I'll be waiting all day to hear back, only to be told no, they can't come out. So now I'm stuck renting a Rug Doctor and hoping beyond hope that it works 100x better than the home-model Bissell my friend loaned me.

I swear, I could kill something right now. Like, kill, kill, kill.

On top of that, my ex's lawyer has missed yet another deadline (Monday), and MY lawyer, courteous, non-litigious guy that he is, is going to phone his office to double-check that no response is forthcoming before he sets a date for a case conference. Dude, am I going to be married to this guy forever, or what?

I think I need a drink. It's gotta be past noon somewhere in the world, right? I mean, screw the whole 5 o'clock saying--as long as it's afternoon, it's fine, right? Right?

ETA: Okay, so I rented a Rug Doctor, and yeah, they're a LOT better than the home-model I was using. Way more suction, and the brushes? Holy cow, you can hardly hold onto the thing, those babies are shaking so hard. I'm 1/3 of the way done the big, huge room, and it looks good so far, and the carpet doesn't go "squoosh" when I walk on it, either. So I'm hoping that the blammo suction that's pulled all that moisture out, well, maybe it's pulling more crap out too, and I won't end up with ugly brown patches as it dries. I may go over it twice, just to be sure. Oh, and it might even be dry enough to put some of the stuff back by tomorrow.

AND, I had some bacon-wrapped chestnuts (my toaster still works since the power surge, it just doesn't get quite as hot as it did), and I'm having a glass of wine, too. Just a little one.

AND my mom phoned to say they'll be here early--like dinner time--and did I want her to get me a bucket of KFC on the way up? Holy hell, yeah! Nice, salty, greasy, KFC smothered in a gallon of KFC gravy? And that way, dinner's taken care of too! So I'm feeling better. Yay!

ETA II: So I'm 2/3 done the big room, and the brushes stop brushing. Ack! I felt the top of the machine, and it's really hot, so maybe it just needs a rest? I hope? If not, I'll have to return it and get another one. Bluh.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

you know you should shampoo your carpets more often when...'s the fourth pass on the "heavy traffic" setting and the waste water you're pouring down the drain is still dark brown sludge. Bluh.

I borrowed my friend's Bissel to do the former boys' bedroom, which is really the master bedroom, and I'm absolutely amazed (and revolted) at how much crud can build up in a carpet in a kid's bedroom, even when you vacuum fairly regularly. The more I think about it, the more disgusting wall to wall carpet seems to me. I suppose it might get cleaner faster if I was using some harsh, heavy duty, stinky chemical solution, but I went with an all-natural product because I don't need to spend the next few weeks in a VOC-induced stupor, thanks.

Thanking my lucky stars the carpet is a glue-down--no underlay to collect mud during the shampooing process, only to reimpregnate the carpet with filth as the fibers dry and wick the dirty moisture up. Before I installed laminate in the living room, I made the mistake of shampooing the carpet before my inlaws came to visit. There was one patch I went to town on every day for over a week--kept looking clean, then ten minutes later I'd turn around and holy crap, the dirt's back. I eventually gave up, and had to deal with having them judge my housekeeping skills by the ugly brown stain on the floor in front of the sofa.

If, when I move, there is any amount of wall to wall in my new place, I'm totally investing in a steam cleaner. I'll do the whole floor every month or two, just to not have to look at the filth in the waste reservoir.

On the bright side, with the exception of two small stains (from strawberry-flavored fruit roll-ups, I think), the spots are coming out. I pre-treated them with a spot remover--Folex--which comes in a very lacklustre spray bottle that was virtually invisible next to all the TV-familiar brands on the shelf. But reading the label--no petro-chemicals, no VOCs, no obnoxious scents--won me over. And it worked really well. Smells like...well, like nothing, which is good for someone with chemical sensitivities.

And if you all are as grossed out as I am by the thought of kids playing legos on a floor completely saturated with filth, all I gotta say is moderately unsanitary conditions build healthy immune systems. My kids? Their immune systems must be super-human--but then I figured as much when the Swine Flu visited our house and didn't even cramp their styles. My coworker, who practically lives in rubber gloves and bleaches her whole house weekly? She and her kids were down for three weeks.

Yup, it's Sophistry, but it works for me.

Monday, March 22, 2010

what the...

Okay, so I just brushed my hideously shedding dog, and the pile of hair I got was bigger than the dog. And yet she still has hair on her body. In fact, she looks no smaller and no less fluffy than she did before I brushed her. WTF? How is this possible?

In other news, due to two power surges yesterday, my toaster oven is...uh, toast. Wonder if I can find an el-cheapo one at the local bargain store? If not, that's the end of my bacon-wrapped chestnut addiction for a while. But at least the fridge (my beautiful new fridge, OMG), which issued some seriously disgruntled noises when the lights flickered, seems to have recovered and is chugging along nicely.

In other other news, next Sunday is my last night of work at the local Chinese joint--doctor's orders. And strangely enough, a lot of old, favorite customers, some of whom hadn't been in in over a year, came in to eat last night. It was like revisiting my past or something. Surreal, and kind of sad, but at least with one less thing to angst and stress and obsess about, I won't end up committed anytime soon. Probably. Maybe. Hopefully... Heh.

I've been plodding along on the upgrades to the house, while at the same time trying to tame the heinous mess my kids leave in their wake--which is all the more heinous because it's migrated from the bedrooms I'm working on right into the middle of my living room.

Oh, and I posted a new story on my website. It's been on my hard drive for a few months, but I was feeling lazy and unmotivated and signing into my webhost is just SUCH a bother, lol. Standard disclaimer applies: it's dirty (like you all didn't already know that). And Mom? Don't look.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Okay, the little, teeny-tiny cracks forming in the paint on my bedroom walls? Well, they were everywhere, scattered patches of little hairline cracks all over the place. So I tried touching them up, and nope. Still there. Shitty, crappy, cheap builder's paint--three damn coats to cover the blue in the room, and then it's all for nothing anyway.

So today I went and bought a 5 gallon bucket of Sico paint (hang the expense), tinted to a really nice buff off-white. I primed over the worst patches, and then threw one coat of the new stuff on and yay! Looks damn fine. Just one more wall to do tomorrow, and then I can shampoo the carpet and start moving my furniture in there (it's the master, but Firstborn and Blammo were sharing it). Then, while there's no furniture in the downstairs bedroom, I'll patch the ceiling, paint that sucker, and then finish the walls.

I'm going to grab one of my daughter's dressers to put in the master bedroom, move her computer and desk downstairs, and then I'll have enough free space to paint in her room too. Then the stairwell, kitchen, living room and bathroom (including the bathroom ceiling).

Then I have closet doors to install, baseboards to nail in, tiles to grout, light fixtures to change, laminate flooring to trim out, toilet seats to replace...

Oy. Every time I think I'm almost done, I realize how much I have left to do. Bloody hell.

And I haven't even begun to think about dealing with the yard--which is in an advanced state of "naturalization" and if something isn't done about the drainage problem soon the government will declare it a protected bogland and I'll be screwed. Where's a big strong man with a back-hoe when you need him?

Think I'll leave the gardening to my mom when she comes. She lurrrrrves weeding. Really, she does. It gives her the warm fuzzies. Fresh air and sunshine and back to nature and all that. Honest. And ever since she moved into a condo, she hasn't been able to slake her demented garden-lust. So I'm doing her a favor, really, when you think about it.

And I think my dad has been jonesing to try out that power washer he bought me a couple years ago. 3000 psi? Subaru engine? A nozzle that can cut through solid granite? Boo-yah! Gotta keep an eye on him, though, or he'll start taking pot-shots at passing teenagers just for giggles. Not that I'd mind...dang whippersnappers always throwing their Slushie cups and Red Bull cans on my lawn.

Yup. Busy as heck and stressed out of my mind, but at least I'm accomplishing things. I'll post pictures as the rooms get done, just so you all can see how awesome I am.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Getting busy...

Not writing, so much, though I have been trying to find an hour or two every day to devote to finishing my many stalled WIPs. We'll see how that works out, heh. My editor hasn't heard from me in so long, she's probably gone through all seven stages of loss and accepted I'm gone for good. I can imagine seeing something from me in her inbox at this point would be as likely to induce severe myocardial infarction as pleasant surprise.

Mostly I've been trying to get my house in order--cleaning, washing walls, patching drywall, painting, getting the plumbing sorted out (the guys who built this place were clearly stoned, and according to my plumber, not overly concerned with legalities, either), getting ready to fork over some serious cash to deal with the drainage problems in the backyard, and summoning the will to trim out my laminate floor and grout my tiles.

In a week or two when the weather turns, I'll call my parents (otherwise known as the Fifth Elite Domestic Viking Brigade) in to help me haul a shit-ton of stuff to the dump and thrift store, get the lawn, flower beds and rock walls looking nice, and help my kids prioritize their belongings into two piles: 1) can't bear to part with this, and 2) pitch that shit in the dumpster.

Then it's time to stage the place and hopefully unload it before BC's Harmonized Sales Tax (11% on house sales and realtor commissions? yikes!) and new mortgage regulations for first time buyers (possible 20% down payment? double yikes!) get together in an orgy of fiduciary devastation and send property values plummeting.

So no, I won't be around the internets much, either here or elsewhere. Not that that isn't much of a change from the status quo, mind you. It's just that instead of moping, obsessing and contemplating the gruesome demise of the men in my life (except for my plumber, who has proved himself both useful and not a turd-ass), I'll be actually doing something constructive.

And if any of you all know how to slap paint on a wall or use a nail-set, you're welcome to come over and help me out. I have beer and sandwiches. :)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

I am NOT in the mood...

CAUTION! Downer post ahead:

Ever read in the news about that family whose house burned down Christmas Eve, three days after someone broke in and stole all their kids' presents?

Ever hear about the guy who won millions in the lottery only to have his wife leave him and a con artist filch him for every penny two months before he dies of terminal cancer?

Ever imagine the sound of a phone ringing on death row delivering a pardon from the governor, two minutes after the executioner pushed the plunger?

Ever see that episode of King of the Hill, where Peggy leaps from the airplane yelling, "I feel so freakin' alive!" just before her chute malfunctions and she hits the ground at terminal velocity?

That's what this Valentine's Day feels like for me. And granted, it would feel like that even if it weren't Valentine's Day, but the irony of the day is almost enough to make me start writing depressing litfic about nice guys who finish last (or not at all), and villains who get cookies instead of comeuppances.

When I think about all the good deeds I've been depositing into my Karma account for the last year or more, and the steaming rain of shit I've received as a return on my investment, I can't help but wonder if maybe--just maybe--I've been prepaying the consequences for that one really, really, really bad thing I'll be able to do and get away with. And frankly, there's no shortage of ideas in my morbidly creative mind as to what that really bad thing will be, nor a shortage of candidates vying to be its recipient, heh.

I'm currently trying to write the prequel to The Chancellor's Bride, the story of Collin and Harral's first meeting. It's a story of one man placing all his trust in the hands of another, taking that huge leap and just knowing the man he loves won't let him plummet and end up a proverbial pancake on the sidewalk. And even as I write it, every fiber of my being is screaming, "Don't be an idiot! WTF, are you crazy??!! He is not going to catch you! You're setting yourself up for an ironic tragedy!" Which tells me I may not be in the right headspace to be working on this particular WIP, lol.

I'm pretty sure this feeling will go away eventually, but maybe I should concentrate my efforts on Lianon and Rhianna's story for now.

In the interim, I'll just say this: If you have a Y chromosome, I reserve the right to hate you for no reason. Not that I WILL hate you, I just reserve the right to. So be warned.

And because I don't begrudge others the joy they find on this day or any other, I'll give you all a heartfelt Happy Valentine's Day. I really do mean it. Unless you have a Y chromosome...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Blue collar guys...

Don't know where this post came from, but it's something I've been pondering of late as I do my best to hurl myself back into the sexual marketplace.

I don't know about you all, but there's just something about a blue collar guy that turns me on. Say what you want about a well-groomed man in a Hugo Boss suit and expensive shoes--for me, there's nothing sexier than a man with a little dirt under his nails, a man with forearms defined by weilding nailguns, screwdrivers, sawzalls, wrenches, a man who knows how to assemble a carburetor or fiddle with a timing chain, rewire a house, solder a copper pipe or fit the perfect mortise and tenon.

Maybe it derives from my youthful days as designated coffee-fetcher and flashlight-holder for my heavy-duty mechanic dad as he worked on the cars? Mechanic by trade, he was handy in myriad ways. I remember him finishing our basement from bare concrete and naked ceiling beams--he did all the plumbing, wiring, carpentry and tiling himself (with a little "help" from us kids), and I'll admit I picked up a certain flair for creative profanity from him as I got older and he guarded his tongue less.

Maybe it comes from the occasional trip to pick him up at work with my mom--the teenaged me waiting in a lunchroom where every inch of wall and half the ceiling was plastered with posters of naked women, indelibly associating sex with the smells of diesel fuel and motor oil in my already half-way bent mind.

Maybe it's because a man who's good with his hands when it comes to laying tile or installing a bathtub faucet or cutting the perfect dovetail joint makes me think he'll be good with his hands when it comes to...other things? Maybe the roughness of sweat and physical work translates into visions of roughness and sweat in other contexts in my subconscious?

Whatever the reason, seeing a man with a streak of black on his forehead, a dozen little cuts and scars on his hands, grime permanently imprinted into the whorls on the pads of his fingers, and flecks of paint or silicone caulk on his t-shirt just...does it for me. Holy hell, does it ever.

A blue collar guy doesn't need the body of an Adonis to impress me (although the ubiquitous plumber butt-crack is maybe not the hottest thing ever, heh), he doesn't need a face like David Boreanaz or Clive Owen or Brad Pitt. All he needs is to be reasonably attractive and have the ability to take something that's broken and fix it, or take something that's nothing but a pile of raw materials and build it, and I'm drooling. Drooling, I tell you.

How about you guys? Any of you ever get the hots for your mechanic, or want to jump the bones of the guy who came to install kitchen cabinets?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The sky is not falling...

...or is it?

With all the general panic about Macmillan moving to an agency model for book sales, I thought I'd toss my two cents into the debate.

Go. Read. Feel better. Or don't, I guess, if you're convinced I'm full of hooey.