lydamorehouse: (Default)
 Like you do.

But apparently, something didn't happen that should have when we donated our last car because we got a tabs renewal notice from the DMV for the old Taurus.  I called the Make-a-Wish people and the woman I talked to was very... helpful/not helpful.  Possibly she could have been MORE helpful if I wasn't half-asleep and had known which questions to ask while talking to her, but all I ended up getting out of our conversation was that maybe there was some part of the sale process that I didn't do.  LUCKILY, Shawn photocopied our original title, so I can bring that and the acknowledgment of sale to the DMV in Roseville (I go there because it tends to be less... soul-dead).  Hopefully, someone there will hand me the right form or be more clear about where I need to go to get the proper form (and/or tell me for sure if anything really needs to be done, because what's especially confusing is that Make-a-Wish has already SOLD my car to someone else. You'd think if I didn't do some part of the transfer of sale, that couldn't happen. But who knows? Hopefully the DMV knows.)

So, yeah, I'm avoiding going there at the moment.

I'm avoiding heading out because it's hard and I don't want to do it, but also I'm  hoping to combine this trip to Roseville with a stop in at the Roseville Library.  A manga volume that I requested has come in and I have a bunch of books that need to go back.  

I'm giving up on ALL THE BIRDS IN THE SKY.  I feel... badly about this.  I know and like the author, Charlie Jane Anders, and worse, there was nothing inherently wrong with this book.  In fact, I really feel like the old "It's not you, it's me" is applicable here, because what would happen is that I would start reading, enjoy myself for however long, put the book down and then forget about it completely for days at a time.  I've renewed the book once already. I could do it again, but I'm going to take this as a sign that I'm just not in the right mood for it. (Or possibly book reading, in general. As I said in my previous post, sometimes my brain only wants to consume graphic novels/manga.) So, it's not like I'm QUITTING the book. More that I'm setting it aside, for now.

You can see how guilty I feel, right?

I have a bunch of other books that I've been moving around the house rather than reading, too.  I'm hoping one of them will finally hit me at the right time/in the right headspace and I'll jump into it with both feet. I kind of hate these periods when they hit me.  I mean, it's not like I'm not reading at ALL, but some part of me still thinks of all the comic books/graphic novels/manga I read as "not proper books." Which is silly because I'm usually the first to jump up and defend graphic novels as REAL LITERATURE, because they are.  And I KNOW this.

Whelp, first day of glorious sunshine and I'm going to go spend it at the DMV. Wish me luck!


lydamorehouse: (ticked off Ichigo)
 For the last few weekends, I've been having crazy experiences with my car.  They involve both really bad car luck and really good... people luck?

First, two weeks ago, on a Thursday, my alternator died.  My wife and I were about a mile or two from home, on the corner of Fairview and Summit.  I was able to pull the car around the block and, just as the heavens opened up and poured down rain, AAA picked up the car and we started walking home.  It was a fairly miserable walk.  We had an umbrella, but it was sheeting BUCKETS.  We were soaked to the bone, laughing, by the time we got home.  We had a houseguest that week, but he's a very chill dude, so the only real hassle was that we had to postpone our trip to visit our friend's cabin in Siren, Wisconsin.

Cue day of the trip.

We're, oh, I dunno, just entering the outer rim of the suburbs, Vadnais Heights to be exact, when we hear a kind of grinding flapping sound and suddenly everything is sluggish and it's hard to steer. We look at the car, but at the time nothing is patently obvious.  We decide to see if we can make the next exit.  Limping along we manage to make Country Road E... and a BP gas SERVICE station.  I go in, fearing the worst.  I start talking to the service guy about our car and Shawn sticks her head in, "I've figured out the problem," she says matter-of-factly, "A belt is broken and some green liquid is dripping out." Service guy follows us out to look under the hood where we can clearly see the shredded serpentine belt and dripping, overflow antifreeze and he adjusts his ball cap and says, "Well, you're not wrong."

But the BP guys get us up and running in 20 MINUTES.  I kid you not.  My crazy-weird not-luck/luck means they not only had the time to do it, but they also had the part in stock.

We get to Siren, and I successfully drive the car both there and back again a couple of times because, as luck would have it, I miscalculated about when my Loft class ran and I had to drive back to the cities for a Saturday morning class and then back to vacation again.  It was actually fine.  Siren is no more than a couple of hours outside of town.

Cue today.

I'm leaving for WorldCON/MidAmerican Con II tomorrow and so I've got a bunch of errands I'm trying to get done so I can leave Shawn and Mason all settled in.  I got kitty litter this morning, did a run to Target, and Mason and I were just coming back from a trip to the library to return some books when we hear that SAME DAMN SOUND AGAIN--the cranky sort of fwap-fwap-FWAP.  I knew without even looking we'd better just stop.

Guess where we were?

Yeah, no, not another BP service station, but that's close.  We were LITERALLY just pulling in in front of our own house.  So I called AAA from the comfort of my own home and had them haul the car off to my usual mechanic. The AAA guy thought that something must be wrong with the mechanism that keeps the serpentine belt tight (he said pulley? but what do I know from cars) because he's NEVER had to have his replaced in 15 years, much less twice in so many weeks.  

In another great irony?  The guy who hauled away my car today?  He's the one who took it away in the rainstorm on that first Thursday. I kid you not.  He recognized me, and visa versa.  

The only bummer of course is figuring out how all this is going to work before I have to leave tomorrow.  Rick at Dave's did not think they'd have much of a chance to look at the car tonight.  Which sucks, but there's not much for it. I'll just have to keep my fingers crossed that they can fix it quickly before, say, noon tomorrow. That would be ideal.

Tiny Cuts

Jun. 7th, 2016 09:04 am
lydamorehouse: (nic & coffee)
It's Tuesday and there's a joke/not joke/tradition in my family that Tuesday are actually worse than Mondays, because with Monday's you're EXPECTING things to suck. Tuesdays always blindside you.

Today is not much of an exception.

I woke up this morning sometime around 3 am and I probably lie awake for a half-hour, which doesn't seem that bad, except it was punctuated by two cat fights and Shawn having several wake-up gasping nightmares.  (Apparently, one of them involved wrestling someone to death on a highway. "Mason, too" she said, in that sleepy way that meant she was falling back to dreamland, and I wanted to say, "Wait, what? Were you wrestling Mason to death or was it that Mason also had to wrestle someone to death?  And... why was it on the highway???" But, you know, nightmares aren't nightmares because they make sense.  They're often the most terrifying because they DON'T.)

Because we are aware that Tuesdays have sneaking-suckage, we've written it into the fabric of our family life that we try to lighten the load by going to Bruegger's for bagels on Tuesday mornings.  EVEN THOUGH we know that the Breugger's on Grand Avenue in St. Paul is chronically understaffed and has fairly poor customer service.  I think we do this partly to ENSURE Tuesday will kind of suck, but also because even though it's a kind of a hassle the bagels are REALLY good.... so it's kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy but with bonus tastiness.

But, before we even left for Bruegger's I opened up my email and checked in on social media and discovered that on a my Facebook feed there was a couple of guys who decided they needed to jump in and comment on something I'd re-blogged.  It was just a funny little poke at the Sad Puppies that said, "Sometimes I want to go up to the people who insist that feminism and progressive values are Ruining Science Fiction and remind them that their genre exists because a teenaged girl was stuck at a house party and decided inventing science fiction sounded more appealing than yet another tiresome threesome with Lord Byron."  Which, admittedly is a very HARD poke at certain people, but yet, somehow, I didn't expect that what these guys were going to argue and get in a snit about was whether or not Mary Shelley was the first science fiction novelist.

As I said in response to their malarky, this is not a debate I usually see.  Mary Shelley is fairly well recognized as the first science fiction novelist and thus its "inventor."  (In fact, when I linked to the Wikipedia article entitled "the history of science fiction" her picture showed up!  I didn't even know it would!)  

There may be, as I said, other people who dabbled in writing science into their fiction, but who the f*ck has heard of them?  Frankenstein is a book that EVERYONE knows, to the point that they think that's the name of the monster.  Therefore, Shelley is the default inventor.  I mean, if we want to quibble then people need to stop saying that Eddison invented... well, pretty much anything people think he did, because what he did was PATENT things. To the victor go the spoils. This is, after all the argument women have to put up with all the time when there were women in the shadows or as support.

One of the commenters seemed to want to discount Shelley because he wasn't fond of Frankenstein.  That's not how it works.  

So, yeah, that rilled me up. Then I got stuck in about six different traffic jams due to construction I didn't know about, including one on Maryland Avenue where I swear to god the "go/stop" sign guys were just randomly assigning which lane of traffic got to go by some arbitrary means rather than looking at the HUGE LINE OF CARS in my direction and the fact that there WERE NO CARS COMING IN THE OTHER DIRECTION.  

It was, quite frankly maddening, the lot of it.  The people on my Facebook feed reminded me of climate change deniers.  They were denying something that every one else finds REALLY F*CKING OBVIOUS and not able to come up with an answer to "Okay, who then?  Who else wrote something this influential BEFORE Shelley?"  And, that's really the key.  I mean, it's a matter of influence as well.  

AARRRRRGGGGH.

Oh, yeah, and I almost forgot. In preparation of our once-every-other-year (bi-annual?) trip to Bearskin Lodge on the Gunflint Trail, I took my car into Dave's. So, I'm stuck hanging out at the Dunn Bros. coffee shop in Roseville.  Again, none of these things that happened this morning were THAT big of a deal, but I kind of feel like I'm suffering from a thousand pinpricks, you know?

And... screw you deniers, Mary Shelley invented SF. Full stop.

Oh, but I was going to say, I have a couple of things I should tell folks about.  1) I will be signing books at the Mall of America's Barnes & Noble on Saturday, June 11 as part of their B-Fest Teen Book Festival.  (Here are a few more details: https://stores.barnesandnoble.com/event/9780061787270-0) 2) I was gathering up things to DO while up in the land of no Internet and I discovered that I've nearly finished the PLOT part of UnJust Cause, the book I was posting as a work-in-progress on Wattpad. So, I cut and pasted all the chapters into a Google Doc and then printed it out.  My plan is to revise the book while we're up North so that I can have a really good start on finishing it and turning it into an e-book.  So, if you've been patiently waiting for the sequel to Precinct 13, it's coming very, very soon!  
lydamorehouse: (ichigo irritated)
 My car is in the shop. Again.  Although, at least, this time, it was voluntary.  There's been a very annoying squeak going on with it for some time now, and today it changed significantly.  My whole family was very uneasy with the new sound. Personally? I could have let it keep squeaking until it stopped, permanently, but that's not very responsible, (apparently.)  I really, REALLY wanted to wait until Thursday to take it in, because there's no school on Friday for St. Paul and, if the repair was major and they needed to keep working on it for more than a day, that would make things easier all around.  

But... well, life won't always wait for the most convenient times, will it?

Just listening to my litany of symptoms, the mechanic figured that the problem had something to do with the water pump.  That can be expensive, but we've never replaced anything terribly major on this car before.  Maybe the starter coil, once?

I mean, really, if you don't count INCONVENIENCE, this car really hasn't been that bad of an investment.  It is at the shop A LOT, but we often leave with very reasonably priced bills.  So, I can complain, but not too much.  It's still much, much better to keep repairing the car than to go to the supreme hassle of buying a new-to-us one.  

We'll probably never buy a new, new car.  That's just not on the list of things I value.  I want my car to be safe, but I'd rather be mildly inconvenienced from time to time, than to take on the massive expense of monthly car payments.  Honestly, I want my occasional latte WAY more than I want a brand-new car.  Because 'brand-new' is no more a guarantee than anything else, not really.  There are plenty of people who drive a new car off the lot right into a car accident or some other repair expense ON TOP of their monthly bills. So, no thank you.  I'd rather limp along with Steve (our car's name).  He's a good car, for the most part, even if he's starting to jettison rusty bits on the road as I'm driving.  (Shhhh, we don't talk about that.)

But, so that's how my Monday started.  I should probably be grouchier than I am, given that I also ran out of minutes on my cell phone AND had to hoof it to the bus/train in order to get home.  And, yet?  I dunno, it was a pleasant walk this morning.  The sun was shining. The weather is nippy, but not insanely cold (and I was dressed for it).  I wandered up to the Caribou Coffee on Snelling and bought myself a giant mocha, which I got a dollar off of, because I'm a Caribou Perks Member.  I only had to wait three minutes before a bus came lumbering along and it was, surprisingly, not crowded, given that it was just the beginning of rush hour.  I always carry my Go! card, so I didn't have to scrounge up change.  The bus driver was super-friendly and didn't mind my not knowing where to 'beep' the card, and even asked as I was leaving if I knew where to go to catch the train.  So, that was sweet and restored my faith in humanity in a small, but real way.  The train, of course, always makes me feel like I live in a big city, and so I enjoyed that brief ride.  The cats were happy to see me when I got home and immediately settled in to snooze on my lap.

The only continued annoyance is that, for some reason, even though I have the receipt in my in-box, the Tracefone people have yet to credit me my new minutes.  Which... yeah, that's frustrating, because Dave's could call at any minute.  But, when I tried to get them to help me via my landline, I couldn't even get a person... the automated response told me that they were processing a transaction for me and that I should wait fifteen minutes.

Which I guess is fair enough, but I swear it's already been fifteen minutes.

Even so, first world problems, you know?  I'm just not in the mood to get to cranky about any of it, not with the sun being all shiny and my house being warm and friendly.  

We'll see how long it lasts and how much other crap Monday decides to throw at me.  :-)

-----
EDITED TO ADD: Car repair bill?  50 bucks.  I kid you not.

Monday, I take back everything I've ever said about you.  You're inconvenient, but you don't suck.  (Not entirely, anyway.)
lydamorehouse: (Renji 3/4ths profile)
 ...but my car repairs were free.

I kid you not.  Despite the hassle, and me getting progressively cranky as the day slipped by, once they finally looked under hood it was determined that the part that failed was one they'd replaced not that long ago. The starter coil? F*ck if I know.  All that really mattered to me was that it was under their personal warranty and they replaced it at NO CHARGE.

All of the hassle suddenly seemed like nothing.  I even apologized to Dave's for calling them every two hours wondering when they'd get to looking at my car. TBF, the guys at Dave's apologized for taking so long too.  I guess it was a bad car day for a lot of people the last few days. Dave's was swamped to begin with, and then all of a sudden they had three other cars (including mine) towed in.  

But, free!  Did I mention I got my car fixed for FREE???!!!

In another weird turn of events, I slept pretty well last night. I think it was due to the fact that when I thought we might not have a car over the weekend, I decided a hike down to Whole Foods for some milk (and a few other minor essentials) would be a good idea.  It's a longish walk if you're not a walker, but walking is one of those things for me.  I spent a lot of my European travels walking everywhere, because it's a free and easy way to see a city.  So, walking several miles is not terribly daunting to me. I can get pooped out, but I when I walk at my own pace, I feel like I can go forever.  

But, so on the walk home I decided that I should let the bum side of my body bear the weight of the grocery bag.  It wasn't really heavy, but just heavy enough to pull down on the muscles.  

By the time I got home I felt like I was almost walking like a normal person (instead of hunched up with my head bowed). It felt so good, I quickly made up a grocery bag of approximately the same weight with the intention of using it as a kind of physical therapy in the mornings.  I suppose a normal person would carry weights (and I might even have some in the house somewhere,) but this was an easy thing to put together.

If it works?  I don't care how stupid I look carrying a grocery bag around my house.
lydamorehouse: (ichigo irritated)
Last night was a tough one.  I didn't sleep terribly well.  The pain woke me up more than once, as did a desire to roll over.  Thing is I normally don't sleep the whole night on my back, but, instead, curl up on one side or the other. Staying on my back is tough and makes me restless, I think.  Also I can't tell if things are getting better or not because mornings are always the WORST. I felt pretty worn down and discouraged this morning because of it, too.

But... we got Mason to school via the train and bus.  Shawn has loaned me her Go Pass and you can use it to pay for more than one person.  The only thing that's weird about it is that you don't get a physical ticket (or at least I couldn't figure out how to get one) and that made me nervous.  Nervous enough that I just went ahead and purchased a ticket for Mason, so I may have inadvertently given MTC an extra couple of dollars today.  

Mason really wanted to use our lack of car as an excuse to stay home today.  He was VERY grumpy on the way to school.  He's not fond of that sorts of things that I've learned to classify as "adventures."  He much prefers a map, a compass, and a schedule, complete with a list of unexpected events, if you know what I mean.  And, he really, really hates the fact that I'm the sort of person who says, "Oh, here's a bus, let's see if it's going the way we want to and hop on!"  He particularly hates that my breezy, laissez faire attitude usually works out in our favor 9 times out of 10.  He was especially annoyed as we got off the 62 bus a block from the street that led to his school and we were there about ten minutes earlier than we usually get there by car.  He gave me a sour look and sighed, "Cripes.  We should do this every day."

Poor baby.

I wish I'd managed to instill in Mason the ability to enjoy the 'off the road' moments in life, but he's just not that sort.

It's so hard to realize that our children are not copies of ourselves, no matter how hard we wish they would be.  

I told him to day that I think he's a new(er) soul--that he hasn't been this way much before--and that's why it's hard for him to roll with the punches. But then again, maybe he _is_ more pragmatic than I am (which is what he usually tells me). He might be right because I have a tendency to believe that most things will work out--at least the little things in life. I used to believe the big things would, too, but that was before Ella.  Losing her made me a lot less trusting in the universe.

Which is probably part of why I'm having such trouble with my slow recovery. I don't entirely trust that it WILL get better.  Maybe I just need to think off all this as an adventure in pain.  :-)
lydamorehouse: (Default)
Remember how I was looking forward to having a thought beyond, "AaaaaahhhhhHHHHH"?  

Well, today, our car broke down.

I'd finished dropping off everyone, decided to stop at Claddaugh on 7th, and then... somewhere on the way up St. Clair, right after where there's a community garden, the car started to seem to have trouble getting up the hill.  I had to give it more and more gas to get it to go.  I stopped to see what was going on, and also because there was a gaggle of turkeys walking around and I wanted to watch them for a bit.  Then when I tried to get going again it was all sputter and kick and knock and WTF.  

So I pulled over again and tried to take a look.  All I really know to do is check for gas (filled yesterday) and oil.  I thought the oil looked kind of low, so I hiked over to Randolph to the BP gas station there and bought a couple of containers of oil.  I put them in.  Hoped for the best.

Still no joy.

But the car ran.  So limped it home and called Triple-A from the warmth and safety of my house.  Then, I set about calling the car repair people and letting Mason and Shawn know about alternative plans for getting home.  (Mason will catch a ride with a friend; Shawn has a transit pass.)  So, it sucks and is inconvenient, but it's not the end of the world.

Yeah, yeah, it's probably time for a new one.  I know.  But, this is the great conundrum of the poor/not-so-well off.  It's exponentially more expensive to buy a new (or even new used) car than it is to continue to get it fixed.  True, true, I've probably spent the cost of a new/new-used car on repairs for this one, BUT, thing is, we're talking about a hundred bucks here or two hundred there.  I've actually got that to spare, whereas I don't have a thousand extra bucks of month to spend on a new car payment.  Right now, I pay zero a month for the car.  Our insurance is pretty low, too, since I only insure against collision.

In other news, my shoulder still hurts.  I guess it's probably recovering because I do feel like my ARGHWHATWHY moments are shorter in the morning and it gets to a dull sort of ache a lot sooner.  But, wow, I have no patience for this.  I'm not used to having to wait to feel better.  (I know.  Your sympathy for me just dried up.  What can I say?  I was previously fairly indestructible and had a Wolverine style healing factor.)

My birthday month is starting out pretty poopy.  I hope this means that the ending will be somehow be the opposite.  
lydamorehouse: (Default)
I thought I was taking the car in today, to Dave's. It's been sputtering a bit, acting like maybe the timing belt is off or maybe the fuel pump is wonky (I don't really know, but I know it's idling rough and sometimes it feels like when I press on the gas, I'm not getting pick-up.) So, I called last week. But, see, I talked to Tor not Rich, so I didn't get on the official calendar. When I showed up ready to spend the day at the library, Rich told me he was swamped and could I come Monday? I could, of course, but this throws a bit of a wrench into our weekend plans, which was supposed to include a super-long drive down to Shady Acre's farm near Chanhassen.

Which, we don't really want to do, if there's a high possibility of getting stranded in the middle of nowhere.

On the other hand, I have a chance to continue to work on cleaning up the front room of the basement, which we've been preparing for the eventual arrival of my grandmother's free standing floor loom. We've made real progress, but the hold-up currently is some of my files in my file cabinets. I need to box some things up and such, because we'd also like to take the opportunity to paint the walls to cheer the place up a bit.

So, I have that feeling of being slightly out of sorts that you get when you're expecting to do something and then you don't.

Last night was Wyrdsmiths and I managed to hand-out a short story. It's a flash fiction piece (technically at the moment it's 600 words over) that I'm hoping to send off to a Biblical horror anthology I found. Because I was talking to my students about ralan.com, I decided I should check it out myself and ran across a group of anthologies that I thought were closed some time ago that have reopened. If nothing else, it's good to have written something potentially for publication again.

Go me!

It's been raining here a lot, so our gardens look amazing. Here's my Japanese garden, currently:



I'll post some pictures from Mason's ball game tomorrow. Have a great Friday!
lydamorehouse: (crazy eyed Renji)
What better day to schedule an appointment with the Tax Guy, than a Monday, eh? Yeah, well, it shouldn't be too painful. I made some money writing this year thanks to Audible.com and trickling royalties, but I was also having the government pre-take-out taxes on all the work I did for the Library. Between that and the money Shawn paid quarterly, I suspect we overpaid and will be getting a refund, as usual.

The only reason we go to a Tax Guy (this should be a title, like Captain, so I am capitalizing it A. A. Milne style) is because I don't want the headache of figuring out all the things. We have a child, we have a house, I have, like, at least three jobs (if you include my teaching) so it just makes sense to pay a little money to avoid tears and possible arguments. I think of the money we pay Tax Guy as money that we DIDN'T have to spend on couples' therapy.

The other trauma in my life is that our blinker on our car has become utterly RANDOM. It's not just blinking fast or suddenly quitting in the way that would make me think "Ah, I must replace a fuse" but RANDOM. Like, works some times/doesn't work at all/blinks twice and then quits. As Mason points out that makes our car one giant moving violation, so I'll be taking it into our friend Dave's Auto in Roseville tomorrow morning. Honestly, I suspect they'll find a whole bundle of wires that have been damaged by water or squirrels or something because I also have a very RANDOM (which I think should just be all-caps because it's deeply frustrating and random seems like a thing one should respect by shouting) engine light that pops on and off, as well as other dashboard Gremlins.

Otherwise, life continues apace. Shawn is fully recovered. She says she still gets weird twinges just after eating, as though the phantom gallbladder is trying to do its thing, but otherwise she's as good as new. I'm especially happy to report that she's taken back over laundry duty which is a huge relief to me personally.

Mason and I also recorded our MangaKast podcast: The Ywach Puppet Show

Having given up 200+ pages into THREE BODY PROBLEM, I'm currently reading a book that's up for a Lambda called AFTERPARTY which I absolutely adore.... except for one weird problem. The main character's name is... Lyda. For real, Lyda. Lyda Rose, no less. And, I know that most people have to deal with this all the time, but I NEVER come across a book with my name in it. NEVER. Add on top of this that the Lyda of AFTERPARTY is also a lesbian and is hallucinating angels. It's like someone wrote an alternate universe, real-person fic about me.

Honestly, in my head, I've just been switching to Lydia. That makes it all better.

I will say that I ended up having to reach out to the author, Daryl Gregory to tell him just how eerie it was to be reading about a Lyda who has so many similarities to myself and I got a Tweet back from him:

tweet from Daryl Gregory

Which was just perfect. I am now rooting for him to win the Lammy (sorry Alyx!)
lydamorehouse: (Default)
 It's Tuesday, so I've got some more Alex on tap for ya.  In this installment, now that Valentine is gone, Alex is feeling like a total failure as an adult.  As if on cue, Mac shows up to call her out to play with the wolves... "A Wolf at the Door."

Today it shaping up to be a writing day.  Several weeks ago, on my way to Wyrdsmiths, the ice was slick and I slid very hard into the curb at a stop sign. Ever since then, to go straight, I've had to cock my steering wheel at a very sharp angle.  Even though the car has been drivable, I decided I should take it in.  My usual shop, Dave's in Roseville, has been super-busy with everyone getting ready to travel for the holidays, so I finally made an appointment for today.  I dropped off the car at 7:30 am and walked across the street to Dunn Bros. Coffee.  This is the coffee shop that's attached to the Roseville Library, so it's got good wifi and a lot of comfy spaces to sit.  Once the library opens at 10 am, I'll probably relocate and hang out there for the day--or however long it takes them.

Rachel Gold and I have decided to try to get our School for Wayward Demons into shape as an e-book/book, hopefully in time to sell it at MarsCON this year, since I'll be guest of honoring there.  Part of what I plan to do with the time I have to today is finish editing the stuff we have written in the first part and then start re-jiggering it to be less serial and more book-like.  

Wish me luck.  I suspect that's going to be a big project.  

But, it'd be nice to have something out for MarsCON and something out as Tate Hallaway again.

Anyway, if any local folks feel like dropping by the Roseville Library for a chat, I'd totally be up for company.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
Mason and I giggled our way through this week's MangaKast, 21: Zombies Lose Their Sh*t.  In this one, we discussed our usuals (Bleach, One Piece, and Toriko) and talked about how far Mason has gotten in Fairy Tale, the new anime I start watching (Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun), how Hourou Musuko inspired a cross-dressing dream, a shout out to our love of Bleach List Girl, and random silliness.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy, if you listen.  Mason and I had a tremendous time recording this morning even though our day started out in the crapper.  My car (alternator?) died.  Shawn was pretty mad, but honestly, it could have been so much worse.  I was able to pull the car over at the end of our block and, because we were leaving so early (practicing for Mason's school's new starting time), the tow truck came quickly and Shawn was able to hop a bus that took her directly to MHS's front door.  I can't say we were lucky, since the best luck would be for none of it have happened at all, but in the great scheme of things--well, I guess I can't complain.

We'll see if my feelings change when the bill comes.
lydamorehouse: (more renji art)
It's pothole season here in Minnesota and our car has developed a very disturbing new rattle. I took in into the garage this morning and am now sitting at the library waiting to find out what might be wrong (and how much it might cost.)

Sitting at the library is only a little awkward now that I work for the Ramsey County Libraries. I keep seeing people I trained with and there's a lot of "Oh, what are you...?" But, that's okay. I mean, I'm not going to stop using the library just because I work here, you know?

I'm thinking, however, of packing up right now and walking up the street to Subway to get some lunch. I COULD just eat at Dunn Bros' but.. a sandwich sounds better and the sun is shining so the walk might be good for me.

Okay... while I was writing this, the garage called. The rattling was caused by two things 1) a clamp that held the exhaust system in place. They'd hoped that would solve it, because very simple and cheap. But, it turns out I also need a new sway bar in the back, a bunch of the things holding it in place are coming loose in a bad way. But, the damage doesn't seem too awful (only around $180) and they can fix it now. So, yay! Eventually, I'm going to need new breaks, but one thing at a time.
lydamorehouse: (more renji art)
Susan yet lives.

In fact, she's staring at me right now, just hanging out on the substrate, as loaches do.

I'm actually beginning to have hope that maybe, just maybe the 30 gallon tank could have LIFE again.  Plus, damnit, Susan just has SO MUCH personality. Check her out:

IMG_8773

IMG_8774

Yes, she's "standing" on her fins in this picture, mugging it for the camera.  She does that.  I always used to wonder about that evolutionary moment of the fish crawling out onto land because I never realized JUST HOW MANY fish actually use their front fins this way.  Answer: a lot.  Loaches do it all the time.  There are others, too, who seem to prefer this method of locomotion.

I had no idea.

In other news, you may have heard that Minnesota got hit with "a little" snow.  I don't know what the final tally was, but they'd predicted 10 inches.  I'd believe we got close to that, because trying to get the car over to the other side of the street (for plowing), I managed to get so stuck around the roundabout, that I think I brought the entire neighborhood together to push me back out.

Also, who was the idiot who decided it was a good idea to try to go to work last night?  That's right: Moon-Moon, aka. me.  Getting there wasn't too bad. The roads were mostly slushy at 4:30 pm.  But, by 9 pm?  There were winds that gave me moments of intense white-out, particularly when I drove past the fairgrounds.  Worse, when we were doing "pros and cons" of ima calling in "sick," Mason "helpfully" calculated that, after taxes, I make about $30 a NIGHT.  As I was driving through the blizzard, I thought, "What? This for a measly $30??"

What was even stranger to me?  HOW MANY people looked out the window and said to themselves, "You know, I should go to the library right now and play some Grand Theft Auto on their computers."  Seriously, when I was shelving upstairs I saw easily a dozen people doing their library things, and I thought: "Really, your copy of Nora Roberts couldn't wait for a day when you might not DIE driving home???"

On the other hand, the bosses were happy to see me.  I think they expected a lot of people to bail.  I hope I get some brownie points for it, because my training days are over.  I now have to rely on need.  So I'm going to have a LOT FEWER hours coming March!

It's funny because that's already a good deal/bad deal.  I have to say it's easy to get used to the income.  Since staying home to write and take care of Mason, Shawn and I have always lived... tightly.  We have savings, but we've had to dip into it a lot recently, and with the little extra, we haven't  That makes life a lot less tense, because money is just one of those things, you know?

Plus, I actually secretly ADORE the work I do at the library.  None of it is particularly hard and I actually like helping people get library cards, renew books, and all the stuff I do at the front desk.  I also love getting a chance to see what people request, when I'm filing those, and browse through the non-fiction when I'm shelving that... I mean, I've come home with such a broad variety of books thanks to this job.  And libraries, like the university jobs I've had in the past, attract a very interesting crowd.  My colleagues are all smart and interesting and READERS.  Chatting with them is a highlight as well.

But, of course, not working means more writing... so... yeah.

They cancelled school today, which is no trauma for us, because Mason is still off school and will be for another week.  Hopefully, with all this snow, we'll get some more chances at sledding.  We also have movies to watch and games to play.  I've been working evening hours, so my days have been free.

I think that's all the news... oh, no wait.  I wanted to point people to this lovely review of Resurrection Code: http://booksfantastic.wordpress.com/2014/02/13/resurrection-code-angelink-universe-by-lyda-morehouse-mad-norwegian-press-paperback-isbn-9781935234098-14-95/

And to point out that, alas, Norwegian Press has put this book out of print.  So, if you want one, you'll have to contact me (best way? lyda.morehouse@gmail.com).

Also, I have a lot of up-coming appearances.  Here's the list from my web site:

MARCH 2014

On Wednesday, March 26 from 6:30 to 7:45 pm, I will be the Speculations readers at Dreamhaven Books and Comics. Dreamhaven is located at 2301 E. 38th Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55406. You can get more information about the event by calling 612-823-6161 or visiting: http://dreamhavenbooks.com

APRIL 2014

On Saturday, April 19 from 1:00-2:00 pm I'll be the Loft's "First Pages" instructor for "Read to Write" a program for teens at the Chanhassen Library. The library is located at 7711 Kerber Blvd., Chanhassen, Minnesota.

The program description reads: Can reading The Hunger Games teach you to be a writer? You bet it can! By reading as much fiction as you can get your hands on, available right here at your public library, you can become the writer you’ve always wanted to be! Come learn what Harry Potter can teach you about world building in fiction; what Neil Gaiman can teach you about creating memorable characters; and what Veronica Roth’s Divergent series can teach you about plot! After this 90 minute session you’ll be inspired to write your own mind blowing fiction.

For more information call (952) 227-1500 or visit:https://www.carverlib.org/SitePages/chanhassen.aspx

MAY 2014

On Saturday, May 3, 2014 from 2:00-3:30 pm I'll once again be the Loft's "First Pages" instructor for te "Read to Write" program. This time it will be a little closer ot home at the Roseville Library (where I work as a page!). The library is located at 2180 Hamline Avenue in St. Paul, MN. The program description is the same as for Chanhassen. For more information call (651) 724-6001 or check out: http://www.rclreads.org.

JUNE 2014

If students sign up, I'll also be teaching a course called "More Than the Zombie Apocalypse: Writing the Sci-Fi/Fantasy Novel" for 15-17 year olds as part of the Loft's Young Writer's Program. The class is currently scheduled forJune 16 - June 20, 2014, from 1:00-2:00 pm.

The course description reads: What do Hunger Games and Dr. Who have in common? They're both science fiction! Did you love fantasy novels like Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief or How to Train Your Dragon? If writing stories with zombies, robots, vampires, fairies, (or even unicorns!) is your thing, then this might be the class for you. We’ll discuss the difference between science fiction and fantasy, learn how to build believable worlds, and make readers rip through the pages of your short story or novel. We will play story games and have idea prompts with a science fiction/fantasy edge. If one of your goals is to break in and get professionally published, we will also discuss strategies that can make that happen!

For more information check out:https://www.loft.org/classes/about_youth_classes_6-17/!

lydamorehouse: (more renji art)
As I was driving Shawn to work today, we were idling at Lexington and Summit at the stoplight there when all of a sudden a plume of white smoke came up from under my hood. I've had so many problems with that particular sight I no longer go into super-panic mode, ie, "Ai! Car on Fire!!"

Instead, I calmly finished taking Shawn to work, bought a few groceries on the way home, and then told Mason, "Looks like a library day!" My new auto repair guy is Dave's Auto's in Roseville, which is directly across the street from the library, so when the car is stuck in the shop, I (or Mason and I during intersession) sit in the coffeeshop/library awaiting news/a rescue. (The Roseville Library has an Dunn Brothers attached that opens at 6:30 am, so that's super convenient). I've spent an entire day at the library and the only hardship is knowing I can't really go anywhere else. But, with the coffee shop attached it has EVERYTHING I NEED, in order: wifi, books, coffee, food and water and shelter. And, of course, a bathroom.

Anyway, when I pulled into Dave's and explained the situation to the guy behind the counter, he said, "Well, let's take a look." We walked outside together. He popped my hood and inspected everything in that way only a car mechanic can. I mean, I look at all those hoses and bits and think, "Huh. Car," and wouldn't be able to tell you if the engine was missing, but this guy sees all the signs. He opens up my steering fluid container and says, "I think this is over filled. Look here how it's spilled over onto the top. See how your engine has a wet spot? I think we found your culprit."

Then, he goes back into the shop and gets an HONEST TO GOD TURKEY BASTER and pulls out some excess fluid and pats me on the back and says, "There you go. Fixed."

AND IT WAS FREE.

I am utterly and completely in love with Dave's Auto and every single person who works there forever and for all time and I might have accidentally told them that as we left.

But, since Mason and I had psyched ourselves up for an all day adventure and it looks like rain, Mason and I decided, "Screw it, let's have a library day anyway," so I drove over to the library parking lot and we're now sitting in the coffeeshop waiting for he library to open.

Meanwhile, in unrelated news, my friend [livejournal.com profile] empty_mirrors point me to this: http://nrrrdy-grrrl.livejournal.com/580483.html a nice link salad of slash resources for those of us who ocassionally feel porn challenged, like myself. I've been told I write okay sex (slash commenters lead me to believe I ocassionally hit the mark into "hot,") but the writing of sex scenes is always a struggle. It was/is a struggle in my day job as a romance writer, too.

Anyway, the library is now open.
lydamorehouse: (more renji art)
http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-6489.html THIS is why I'm not bothering with real hakama for my cosplay at Detour this year. My favorite part of the first entry? The several steps that are simply: "cry."

Also, my car is a moron... or, as the nice guy at Dave's Auto Repairs in Roseville explained: "A Ford." Apparently, all the coolant I've lost in the last several days can be explained by this fact. Ford, in their ultimate wisdom decided that plastic would make an excellent coolent overflow container. Why? Because of course it will split its seam at several points during the lifespan of the car, which I think they intentionally intended to be no more than HOWEVER OLD MY CAR IS RIGHT NOW.

Mother[bleep]ers.

On the flipside, I'm quite contentedly sitting in the Dunn Brother's attached to the Roseville Library directly across the street from Dave's, sipping a Very Large mocha and surfing the internet. In a few minutes, I'm going to settle in to write and hang out here however long it takes to get everything done on the car (and possibly the novel, depending on how long the previous thing takes.)

Also, Minnesota, what's with the freezing rain? Did you not look at the calendar? It's April now. You know, the one with the showers that bring the flowers? Just so you know: SNOW ISN'T ON THE AGENDA!!!

I have to say that I've been very proud of myself. I have resisted complaining about the weather until this week, but the other day when I was shivering inside my house, I broke, okay? I can't take it any more. I was actually happier when it was 30 degrees and sunny, because at least the sun was warm on my face. Now it's wet and miserable and COLD.

In fact, I'd been hoping to take advantage of the neighborhood Dave's is in and walk up to HarMar Mall and hang out at the Barnes & Noble and maybe stroll over to Michael's craft store to see if they have the body paint I need for my cosplay tattoos. But considering how I nearly froze my a$$ off walking across the street, I think I'm going to hunker down here for a while... at least until I can feel my toes again.
lydamorehouse: (more renji art)
I was doing pretty well with all the crazy-car stuff yesterday until, while waiting to hear back from the mechanic, MY WIFI WENT DOWN and it would NOT come back up. Thus, I had to spend the entire afternoon completely cut off from the world. Previous to that, everything that was happening was a super-duper hassle, but I could sort of see how it would all make and awesome story later, you know?

But without wifi my world turned dark and grim. It suddenly felt like everything in the whole world was broken!!

And then I found out that the mechanics *wouldn't* be done in time for me to pick up the car before having to get to school to pick up Mason. I'd been feeling fairly competent and cool and in-control because, knowing that the afternoon could be tight, I thought to start diner early (I pre-cooked Swedish meatballs), Suddenly, without the Internet my brain froze! How will I get ahold of anyone? Do I even have [livejournal.com profile] naomikritzer's cell phone number somewhere not online, so I can call and try to desperately beg for a ride?? And, if I can't reach her or she's busy, how do I figure out what the city bus schedule is like?

Ultimately, I will say that it all worked out. [livejournal.com profile] seanmmurphy had Naomi's number and, after I left my panicked, probably incoherent message, she called me back to say she could help. There was a little extra crazy involving a standing date with one of Mason's kuk sool friends because I could not get ahold of his mom (even though I had actual paper and pen notes about phone #s), but even that turned out fine in the end. A little crazy, but no one cried, not even me. So that's a WIN.

And as soon as everyone left, the car was home, and diner had been served the internet spontaneously returned--as if to say, "Okay, yes, it's all officially all over, and you can go back to your regularly scheduled LOL cats."

There are only a few lingering side effects.

This morning I woke up with a sore calf muscle. I realized it was from all the slipping and catching myself I had to do yesterday. My butt is somewhat sore, but considering how often I fell on it, I feel pretty okay about that. One knee has a small bruise, but, again, given all the acrobatics I unintentionally performed on ice, I'm feeling like I got off easy.

Ironically, there is still a rattle in the car. The back end is noticably improved, but because that part is smoother it accentuates the wheel bearing problem in the front. *SIGH* But, I've stockpiled all sorts of recommendations for good mechanics, so when we finally decide what to do about that I will try out some new places and hopefully have a better experience. I suspect I'll miss being able to walk home, but possibly I'll discover the joys of waiting at a library or taking the city bus.

One thing I did managed to do yesterday despite the chaos was go to Wyrdsmiths. That was a great deal of fun. After we critqued the one very short peice that had been handed out, we fell into our usual fun chatter. Someone brought up (possibly in relation to the new Pope) gay marriage. I don't know if you've been following Minnesota politics, but all of a sudden there's a bill(?) headed to the House floor to legalize gay marriage in our state. It passed the Senate House committee hearings and, like a ninja, has jumped out of nowhere to send my dear, beloved partner into a bridal tailspin.

As I may have mentioned here some time ago, Mason, when he was very young, made Shawn and I SOLEMNLY SWEAR that if gay marriage were to become legal that we would get married so he could have a proper family. Since he had been in tears at the idea we didn't want to "ape the patriarchy," we both quickly agreed thinking: "Ha, that'll never happen!"

Well.

In the middle of the night the other day, I get an elbow in my rib. I blink awake and Shawn is leaning over me asking, "Did we REALLY? Did we REALLY promise to get married?" I assured he we had. When I was able to pin point exactly where we were when Mason asked us, she finally nodded seriously. I thought, okay, I can shut my eyes and go back to bed. Another poke. "So... do you have any thoughts about what kind of wedding you want?"

One thing that's always been true about me is that, even before I realized I liked girls THAT WAY, I was never the girly-girl sort to pour over Bride Magazine pictures and moan breathlessly about the perfect wedding. So, I said, "Not really. You?"

She told me that she'd decided on a minister.

At which point I fully woke up.

Keep in mind that this is pretty much how it happened that we started planning to have a baby. Shawn percolates ideas quietly (sometimes, it turns out for YEARS,) and when she speaks them out loud, it's a kind of final decree because it has the commitment of time and often a great deal of research. I remember doing the dishes in our old apartment on Girard when she turned to me and said, "I want to have a baby." It took us a while to figure out some of the mechanics, but, obviously, what Shawn wanted, Shawn got.

This prouncement had that same kind of final ring to it. A minister had been chosen. We were getting married.

So, I had to wake up and pay attention. We talked about ceremony details. Neither of us, it turned out, was at all interesting in anything resembling a Church wedding. There was talk of just having a ceremony and a party at our house. But, then I confessed that my favorite thing about other people's weddings is getting to DANCE. If I wanted anything, it was a big dance hall, music, and any friend I've ever had that wanted to be there to be able to come and whoop it up with us.

Honestly, as I told Wyrdsmiths, while fighting back the tears: it only seemed fair. SO MANY amazing and wonderful people braved their own misgivings and fears and who knows what to stand with us to bury Ella. We should give them all a chance to smile with us, too. To be happy for us. And DANCE.

Shawn is looking into dance halls. We can apparently become members of the Czech-Slovak Association and get affordable use of their hall. I'm at least Czech, though Shawn wondered if they'd really want to host a gay wedding reception. I figure anyone will take our money.

My job, should I chose to accept it, is find out if LEGO Land has a wedding regestry.

Car Update

Mar. 14th, 2013 12:05 pm
lydamorehouse: (more renji art)
I don't normally post twice a day like this, but OMG.

Here's how my day started. At 6:00 am, I woke up and discovered that the flat tire that the lady told me about yesterday had reappeared. Luckily, I thought to shuffle out there in my PJs and take a look, so I could be on the phone to AAA by 6:05 am. They got a driver out here by 7:00 am, and he'd filled my tire for free by 7:15 am. I'd gone to the trouble of hauling out the spare for him, but it snowed. Were we expecting this? And, anyway, the AAA guy said he'd seen a bunch of spin outs on the highway, and thought that, if I didn't have to, since it was clearly a slow leak, I should just drive on a REAL tire instead of "that doughnut" he kept calling the spare.

I was feeling good about this, because everyone got to school and work on time.

I drove right to the tire place next and was EXTREMELY pleased that my tires were all under warranty still. So, I got a brandnew tire FOR FREE.

While waiting, I walked up to Target because they have a Starbucks inside and I thought: I need coffee (I really hadn't had much time to make my own.) I ran into a friend of mine that I went to college with who was working as a barista there. She introduced me to her co-worker as "a famous author." I never know what to do with that moniker, because to me, fame requires that someone has actually HEARD OF YOUR WRITING. I don't mind being introduced as a writer or even "a published writer," but that addition of "famous" is always embarrassing. At any rate, I told her that while I appreciated the sentiment I really thought fame was a fickle mistress and I didn't think of myself as ALL THAT.

Car done, I got home. As I noted below, my back end has been clunking. It got significantly worse yesterday when I hit one of those huge potholes on Fairview. It was so loud that it was freaking out Shawn. So, I agreed to consider going straight from the tire shop to the car repair shop. I didn't exactly do that. I came home for a while, squeed about Chris (see below) and fed the cats and took out the recycling and the garbage and called the repair shop. I was curious how long struts (if that was the problem) would take. They said they could get me in right away and that it would only take a couple of hours.

A trip to the car shop requires a rather long trudge back home in the snow. We only have one car. And, while buses can get me to the car shop, it actually takes a kind of crazy route that involves three transfers. The repair shop is on Wheeler (South), but it's literally a straight walk back to my house with a two block detour around the highway.

This is normally a pleasant experience. Even in the dead of winter, I find the walk to be pretty breezy and not terribly hasslish.

Today, thanks to that light dusting of snow and the warm/cold snaps we've been having, I must have slid on hidden ice A THOUSAND AND ONE TIMES. I counted. I went down on my a$$ FIVE times today. And, while I'm grateful for the opportunity to show off my amazing kuk sool wan ability to do so without suffering a concussion, I am officially DONE WITH THIS SH*T. What annoys me in particular is that *I* got up and shoveled this morning. Yes, my sidewalk has become a somewhat narrow strip, but it's still completely ice free and passable. What I want to know is when did it become socially acceptable not to bother to shovel a mere quarter inch of snow? ESPECIALLY when there's hidden patches of ice underneath?

And, worse, on my slippery, trecherous walk home I got the call from the shop. Yep, it's the struts. It'll cost you neary $800 bucks.

I think they're ripping me off. But, you know, I called them back after Shawn did a quick internet search and asked them about the price. They made a pretty good song and dance routine about rust and missing bolts and how the whole back end needed repairs that I ultimately BOUGHT. But, I'm going to have to have wheel bearings done in the front soon and I'm shopping around, damn it. I hate the idea, because I've been faithfully going to this shop (Wheeler Grand Sinclair 1) for YEARS, since before Mason was born, in fact. So, really over a decade.

But, damn. Crap like this is going to break us.

I think I could have coped better if I didn't end up falling on my butt so often! Anyway, fingers crossed that they'll actually finish up before I need to pick up Mason from school.
lydamorehouse: (more renji art)
When I was five years old and people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always answered with the pat and expected response, "A lawyer or a doctor." Even at five I knew that these were professions that were valued by our society. Of course, this was also the mid-1970s so the idea that a girl would even dream of such things was worth a pat on the head of approval.

But, what I really wanted to be when I grew up was a comic book artist.

I loved superhero comic books as a kid. I still do. I stopped reading some time during college because I couldn't afford all the titles I wanted to read. My cousin Laun was the big collector. He had the classic basement full of titles and we used to pretend to be Superman (him) and Aquaman (yeah, whatever--in the 70s he had cool hair;) Cyclops (him) and Angel (me); Captain America (him) and Hawkeye (me); and Spider-Man (him) and Johnny Storm/Human Torch (me.) I kind of had the sassy side-kick/BFF thing down. I did ocassionally branch out and play more tough-guys like Mon-El and Lightning Lad (from the Legion of Superheroes) but I tended to fall for secondary characters with good hair and attitude.

Hmmmm, a trend?

At any rate, at age five... and frankly, at age forty-five, I had no idea how a person even went about BECOMING a professional comicbook artist (or, now that I've discovered a secondary talent for writing, which overtook my first,) a comicbook writer. Even at an early age, my cousin and I realized that PEOPLE did this work. We knew because there were always letters in the back of comicbooks that were answered by Stan Lee himself or whomever was writing or writing/drawing a particular arc/series. We even had some early favorites Jack Kirby (of course, though Laun was a far bigger fan of Kirby's blocky style), Mike Grell, John Byrne, etc.

But, like with writing, there's no clear career path for a comic book artist. Probably I could have found one. I did, eventually, figure out how to sell my writing. But, I was lucky in that, in the Twin Cities, there's this place called the Loft where a person can take classes on the how-tos of not only CRAFT, but also the business of writing. I entirely credit the Loft class in science fiction/fantasy for my first sale. John Hartnett, my instructor, was exceedingly useful in showing us how to find markets and how to submit to them. All that seemed hidden behind a cloak of invisiblity when I was first starting out. That's part of why, even now, I ALWAYS include a how-to sell-that-stuff-you-just-wrote section in my class.

So, you know how, for a lot of people, published authors are rockstars?

Well, for me, comic book artists/writers are the REAL rockstars!

Which brings us to the story I want to tell. Last year when I was a guest at CONvergence, there was a Marvel movie panel that rocked the house. One of the people on it was Christopher Jones. I just remember walking off that panel feeling almost HIGH, because we were all just in-tune and the audience seemed likewise and it was just, just... AWESOME. Recently, I got a chance to reconnect with Chris at MarsCON when we were on the "Women in Comicbook Fandom" panel. To say we hit it off would be... one of those understatement things. We hung out in the downstairs bar/lounge with a few of my other friends and I think several times I looked around to see glazed over eyes when Chris and I would be still going on in loud, excited voices (he tells me we weren't "yelling,") about super-geeky comicbook moments and/or references.

At any rate, the con ended with the traditional exchange of business cards and a promise to try to connect outside of con. I thought, possibly, that that would be the end of it. I'd have a new Facebook/Twitter friend and lah-tee-dah. But, no! Chris actually got ahold of me and we MADE PLANS!

In fact, he offered to show me his studio and to share some ACTUAL SCRIPTS written by REAL comic book writers.

I pretty much thought I'd died and gone to heaven. Because do you even KNOW that Chris has DRAWN NOT ONLY FOR MARVEL BUT FOR THE AVENGERS????!!!!

He's probably better known for his work on DC's Young Justice and his four year long stint on the Batman title... and locally, you're likely know Chris as the designer and artist of Connie, the robotic interface of CONvergence. But STILL... How f*cking awesome is he??

Answer: SUPER-f*cking awesome.

Here he is, in situ, in the "Riker pose" (he will probably hate me for having chosen this one, claiming the pose is not flattering, but I think he looks cute.)
studio 002

We talked for a couple of hours ostensibly about how a person becomes a comic book writer (because, hey, why not?) and how the process works from script to final product. He showed me the cool old way that people used to have to color individual panels and showed off some work of his. We looked through scripts and talked about what kinds of things a writer needs to think about when composing a panel in their head and other mechanics of his job. I'm pretty sure I sat there were stars in my eyes and only managed to make happy, babbly sounds, but did I meantion he DRAWS FOR MARVEL AND DC AND OMG, OMG!

Go check out his art here: http://gallery.christopherjonesart.com/

So, I don't know what I'm going to do with all this information. I'm not sure, at the moment, I have any ideas that would easily lend themselves to a comic book/graphic novel format, but, damn. I could hardly pass up an opportunity to hang out with a rockstar comic book artist and pick his brains.

I'm really hoping we'll have a chance to do it again, because, even without the rockstar cred, Chris is a nifty guy. In fact, we had a blast talking about the insider gossip on all the upcoming Marvel movies and fantasizing about various possible storylines.

This is all tempered by the fact that yesterday, as I was driving to pick up Mason at school, a really nice lady pulled up beside me and informed me I had a flat tire in the back. I thanked her profusely (and may have accidentally called her 'hon') and was able to pull into the gas station at the corner to see what was going on. I filled it up with air and listened for a massive blow-out, but, since it seemed to hold pressure, I drove both Mason and Shawn home on it (and took it to martial arts.) This morning, I went and checked. Sure enough, it was a slow leak and the sucker was flat again at 6:00 am this morning. I called AAA and they were out and filled it up for us by quarter to 7:00 am. I got everyone where they needed to go and had replaced the tire at Discount Tire by 9:00 am. Now, I'm taking a quick break before deciding if I need to deal with the clunking (which the AAA guy thought was probably struts) still TODAY or if I should just wait until tomorrow morning and take it to the shop first thing.

I was thinking of a compromise--that I'd go off to shop and see how busy they were today and ask them about how long they thought it would take, if it turns out to, indeed, be the struts. Probably that's what I'll do. Tonight is my writers' group and I'd like to go, and that'd be harder without a car. I'm sure one of the St. Paul Wyrdsmiths would offer a ride if I asked nicely, but I'd rather drive myself IF I CAN, you know?

Okay, that's all the news that's fit to print. Until next time, True Believers!
lydamorehouse: (more renji art)
For those of you following along on the car saga, I am happy to report that things seem to be finally all fixed. It turned out that the problem was NOT a blown head gasket as I'd feared, but something somewhat cheaper called a "timing cap." That little operation, however, was a six hour job, so I actually picked the car back up on Tuesday afternoon and took it back in for a full Wednesday treatment. The only hassle with that was that I had to beg my dear friend [livejournal.com profile] naomikritzer to help me pick up Mason from school and poor Shawn had to (cue music: duh-duh-DUN!) take THE PUBLIC BUS home.

The car seems to be in full working order now. There was still a bit of a smell of antifreeze this morning, but I'm going to chalk that off to "stuff burning off" from the repair process until proved otherwise.

...

OH, and it looks like I just got plowed in. M*therf*cking St. Paul.

You know, we DID get the email they sent about their crazy north-south/east-west business, but wouldn't you know it? I JUST got back. And NOW they flipping come. So, yeah, they had to plow around my car... and ALL the cars parked on our street because WHO THE F*CK GETS THE EMAILS? And it's not like they made a robo-call like they did last time (which still only hits people with landlines.)

*sigh*

..

Okay, enough of all that. I've been talking to a friend of mine, [livejournal.com profile] empty_mirrors, about a fic that someone recommended to me. I ended up sort of unintentionally reccomending it to her because I really wanted to talk to someone about how reading it had put me into a strangely bad mood. It wasn't that the story was sad or that terrible things happened to the characters, but more that just reading one chapter had hit all the things that I dislike about my favorite character. Renji has a bit of self-loathing in canon. Or, at least, there's a moment that could be read that way. He says the words: "I hate myself" (and then goes off and kicks BUTT.) I actually never read this as actual self-loathing. I read this as a moment of kicking one's self before deciding on a radical departure from status quo--if Renji were in need of recovery, this would be his "bottom." A LOT of fanfic writers really want to write about the "I'm not worthy" Renji, however. It's an angst-rich place, and angst is one of those favorite things for fic writers. I don't fault anyone for enjoying that, but it's not my thing.

And, I, perhaps obviously, have a lot of FEELINGS tied up with this character.

But, our discussion about the particulars of this fic and what bothered us about it led to a discussion of story and fanfiction in general.

One of the reasons fanfic is, for me, so addictive is precisely one of the reasons this fic failed for us. There's really NO NEED for story in fanfic. You could (as I nearly have) write an epic, sweeping soap opera that's about nothing more than a favorite character wandering through the landscape. No PLOT REQUIRED. Why? Because fanfiction isn't like real fiction. You don't need to go anywhere UNLESS YOU WANT TO. Kubo-sensei (or fill in canon-writer of your choice) already wrote the plot. S/he did it better than I ever could, so I have no real desire to rewrite it for him/her.

And, for myself, when I'm writing fanfic, I don't really want to bother with the kind of conflict that makes for really GOOD original fiction. Plot is hard, Barbie. And, I write fanfiction to play. I write it precisely because I want to spend some time inside the head of my favorite character wandering through his day and admiring the set peices in his world that are particularly shiny to me. I write fanfiction because I want to do ALL THE THINGS. I could, as a fanfic writer, spend an entire chapter just brushing Renji's teeth, combing his hair and getting dressed. In fact, as a fanfic reader sometimes that's exactly what I want to _read_ too, because those are all the parts tht the canon-writer left out. I just want to hang out. Relax. BE the character for all the boring in-between the action days.

Sometimes I get "thinky-thoughts" about set peices or world-building aspects of the world and I write something to explore those things. Those are the fics that actually tend to get fewer hits, in my experience, because they're actually ABOUT SOMETHING (or, to be fair, also often gen fic, which just isn't as hot/fun for a lot of readers). I still tend not to go full-on plot-y in those "exploratory" fics when I write them because I still don't want to work that hard for my playtime.

This is why, however, I think that I'm so very picky with the fanfic I like to read. I go to play with a character. So if any of the character notes are off in any way (for me), I'm done. I often don't judge as critically the story elements as long as the characters behave in a way I enjoy/expect. I'll read the craziest plot (or pairing) if the characters are good and hit the things that intregue/interest me. They don't even have to be similar to "my" versions of the characters, so long as canon could imply wherever the writer goes and she pulls it off well, you know?

I'm not saying all fanfic is like this. In fact, a lot of people put in a tremendous amount of time, energy and effort to write a really EPIC STORY. But, sometimes, I bounce off those as well, because I find that to do that well a lot of times the writer has to take the characters completely out of canon--into an alternate universe or a canon divergence. Those can work for me, but the writer usually has to be *very good* (nearly or completely professionally so) to pull off all the things required to make an AU work, and world-building is often the very LAST skill that a fic writer has honed (for the obvious reason that we are playing in someone else's universe from the get-go).

I think, too, this is why it's sometimes hard to just scrape off the serial numbers on a fic and sell it as professional work. Obviously, people have or we wouldn't have FIFTY SHADES of Anything. But sometimes in fic we don't feel as compelled to put our chracters through an emotional ringer (which good conflict will do to them), because that's not what we came to fic to do.

**

Damn plows just came through AGAIN.

**

It's no fun to torture beloved characters, but that's what original fiction demands of us. You have to murder your darlings not only in terms of lazy writing habits, but also you can't just flirt around the edges of a thing--you have to put your character THROUGH HELL. Because we read original fiction to go to hell and back again, to come out the other side changed for the better, so that we can have hope that life is like that--meaningful and important.

Fanfic doesn't have to be any of those things. It can be silly and fun and full of day to day life in Edo period Japan.

Ooooh, I should go research Edo period toothbrushes! SHINY!
lydamorehouse: (more renji art)
I decided that I probably should let someone who knows something about car stuff actually look under the hood. So, after dropping my family off at their respective places, I took the car to the shop. I have an excellent mechanic. I use the Sinclair folks on Grand, just behind the Whole Foods. When I first started going there, the franchise was owned by a guy named Ben. Ben was my age, kind of a slacker-dude, but extremely competent and had an eye for fixes for people like me (cheap with used cars they don't want to invest their life savings in.) When I first decided I loved them was when the latch on my trunk decided to go wonky and I couldn't get it to close. I pulled in and begged someone to come out and see if they could do something quick about it. Ben shuffled out, used a tool (said some magic words, I SWEAR,) and it was fixed instantly. I tried to give him money and HE REFUSED.

Yeah, that's right: the first one was free. Now I'm hooked.

Even though, several years ago, Ben and his wife had a baby and now Ben isn't even associated with that Sinclair any more. But, they're still cheap and they're kind-of-almost-mostly within walking distance of my house. By walking distance, I'm not talking about normal walking for a normal American. I mean, two or three miles. But, I can hoof it back from there to my place in about 20 minutes if I'm talking to myself (plotting fic or fiction) or listening to music.

So, we'll see what they have to say. I have a very, very bad feeling that the words "blown head gasket" will be mentioned, as I dutifully used the Googles last night and thought, "damn, there's some real possibility here."

Ah well. This is the trauma of having only one car. It's the car we HAVE to spend money on.

The other thing I decided while walking back through the piles of snow that NO ONE SHOVELED is that fussy gay people really ought to be given the keys to the kingdom, as it were. Every house that had a shoveled walk? Rainbow flag! I kid you not. And, of course, I shoveled my damn sidewalk first thing this morning, because that's what you're supposed to do, people. Apparently, I and my fellow queers are ruining YOUR MARRIAGE BY SHOVELING MY SIDEWALK.

/rant

Sorry, but seriously, what is up with St. Paul and not declaring snow emergencies? It's because [livejournal.com profile] naomikritzer now lives in St. Paul, right? And she's had to put up with me yacking on for YEARS about how awesome the St. Paul plowing system is. Well, no more! They didn't plow yesterday and there's no word about a snow emergency being called yet. ARGH. This is how an inch of snow can shut down cities. The reason Minnesota doesn't collapse when we get several inches of snow is because we have snow plows! So get out there!!

/real end of rant.

All right, back to my life now. I should probably makes myself brunch and see if I can salvage part of this day before I have to walk back and fetch my car from the shop.

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