lydamorehouse: (Default)
 Yesterday at work a friend texted me. "Notre Dame is burning."

I called Shawn to confirm, and she said, "What ever you do, don't look at the pictures. It's heartbreaking."

I had intended to follow Shawn's advice, but when I stopped at the McDonald's on Rice Street to pick up a quick, late lunch, they had CNN on a big screen TV (who knew McDonald's even had TVs??). I saw the devastation. At that point the fire was still burning, the spire had fallen. Then, I listened to BBC news on NPR and cried. 

Yeah, I'm one of the privileged ones who has been to see Notre Dame, not once, but twice. I went when I was 16 or so, as part of my high school French trip. My parents took Shawn and I back, some time in the 1990s. We have a picture Shawn took of one of the gargoyles hanging in our kitchen. 

My having been there is NOT why I cried.

I've cried many of the same tears thinking about the library in Alexandria. I've cried the same tears when water leaked in the roof of the Immigration History Research Center. It's not about _my_ connection to the place, it's about the place and its connection to history, to the world, to future generations--not just tourists, either. 

I had a dream last night that I woke up from that I knew was about Notre Dame. Shawn has hired a new administrative assistant at her job at the Minnesota Historical Society who starts today. Last night, I dreamt I was this new employee. In my dream, I was moving into someone else's cubicle, an archivist who'd been working on a number of projects. Of the things I was cleaning of of this space were paper wrapped paper napkins. They were napkins that had advertisements printed on them from the Pillsbury company. When I carefully opened up the package in my dream, I discovered that the napkins--which each had separate ads on the--had been water damaged, the whole package of them, hundreds of individual bits of corporate history, had been fused together. Shawn (who was also NOT-Shawn in the way of dreams) wanted me to see if I could save any of them. I woke up in a cold sweat telling her that these had to go to conservation immediately, as I was afraid of ripping them.

When I woke up, I thought this is what I feel about Notre Dame. 

Small history is as important as big history, what's even more important is that it's preserved. When things are lost, big or small, they are lost. I mourned the napkins with corporate ads on them in my dream the same way I mourn Notre Dame. It's all history. It's all valuable. And, yes, we can rebuild, but things are still lost.

And it's okay to cry over the things that are lost.
lydamorehouse: (Renji 3/4ths profile)
Indicative of my day yesterday, I started a "What are You Reading Wednesday?" post, only to discover this morning that I hadn't finished was still sitting here, in a tab, in draft form, on my computer.


I mean, to be fair, I haven't had much to report in terms of reading lately beyond "my Broad Universe mentee's manuscript," but I did finish My Solo Exchange Diary by Nagata Kabi, which I reviewed here: Thanks to a VERY QUIET night at Maplewood on Tuesday, I also have a bunch of books being pulled for me at the Ramsey County Library from the most recent Locus Recommended Reading List. So, hopefully, I'll have a better list of things I've read soon.  

Yesterday, I was also unaccountably sad to have heard about Opportunity, the Mars rover.  I know it lasted much longer than expected and it's _just_ a robot, but I feel like maybe a person is a little bit inhuman if they don't shed a small tear at its final communication: "Battery dying. Everything is going dark."  Jesus F*cking Christ, NASA. 

Then, on top of that, this morning I turned on the radio to AM950 and heard about the horrific destruction scheduled for the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas, as Trump's bulldozers and border control are seizing PRIVATE PROPERTY with immanent domaine.  I'm planning, on payday, of becoming a member in order to help them fight this, legally... even though I don't have a lot of hope that they'll win. And that's it, the frogs and the butterflies and the tiny little owls are all going to die because we're all a bunch of racist pig-sh*ts.

And, Shawn says to me this morning, "Hey, happy Valentine's Day, BBC is reporting that Taiwan voters rejected same-sex marriage."

It's honestly this sh*t that's going to break me.


In happier news, Mason really enjoys judging debate tournaments. He had one last night, at Washington, and he came home almost giddy with stories of the middle schoolers he critiqued and graded. "I'm SO PROUD of them!" he says to me, beaming. 

Next Monday we go to the informational meeting for PSEO (Post-Secondary Education Opportunities, a program that allows public school students to attend university for free, particularly if there's need--like for Mason, he's exhausted high school math, as of this year. Technically, he was done with the official HS math curriculum last year, but Washington Tech has a "College In Schools" Calc I class that he's in this year.). Mason also talked to his school councilor who is really supportive (especially after his early PSAT scores) of him going full-time PSEO next year. We're still debating the merits and the drawbacks to that, but the idea that Mason could basically be in college next year is kind of amazing. I think it could potentially be really good for him. He's a funny kid. The more rigorous the class, the better his grades tend to be. If he's in any class where there's a lot of busywork that most people would find to be "low-hanging fruit," (ie easily done), he struggles to do it, because he can't see the point. We tease him that he's the only person who get A+s in Calc I, but can barely pass "Independent Living." 

In much happier news, I have a book contract on the horizon.

It's a kind of funny story about how that happened. So, as reported here, Wizard Tower Press has put out an omnibus edition of all 5 of my AngeLINK books. As I was going around posting all the various self-promotion things one does, I came across an email from a fan complaining that she could not get a copy of Song of Secrets a book that Rachel Calish and I wrote together (but which has since been removed by the publisher for various reasons) AND she wanted to know when he heck I was going to get around to publishing that sequel to Precinct 13.

Those who have been following along at home know that i have a large portion of a sequel already written. I was posting it in installments on Wattpad for a while, but then I ran out of steam and never finished it.

WELL. I thought to myself, I wonder if Cheryl Morgan, my publisher at Wizard Tower Press, would be interested in that. Plus, if Cheryl gave me a deadline (and a contract), I might actually get off my depressed BUTT and finish it.  

Turns out, Cheryl was more than willing to send me out a contract... so, I now have a deadline of September 2019 to get things into shape. Should be very doable.

I HAVE NO IDEA WHY I NEVER THOUGHT TO ASK CHERYL BEFORE. Thank you, random complainer! Without you, it would NEVER have occurred to me that I could just see if Wizard Tower Press was up for a new novel by me.

So that's kind of big news. It's not official-Official yet, per se, so I'm not shouting it from the rooftop--but, dang near. I have a draft contract in hand and everything looks very much green to go.

It's crazy, but just having this in the works has lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. I feel like a _real_ writer again.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
The Lap of Love folks have their own memorial page for pets and so I decided to add Ms. Ball. If you'd like to see a bit more about how Ball got her name and came to us, there's a short bit of a story about her under the "about" tab: You are welcome to leave a "candle" there, if you like. (It all appears to be free.)

But, there's no need to make a special effort. I have very much appreciated all the comments left here for her and in support of our family during this horrible time.

In other news, because life goes on, I've decided to take on a rather unusual project for the next year. One of my Solstice gifts was Llewellyn's Witches' Spell-a-Day Almanac. Even though I'm getting a late start, I thought I would attempt to do each daily spell for the rest of the year. I will report on them here, probably a bit like I did with Ms. Ball's update, under a cut, in case my pagan practices aren't terribly interesting to you. But, nearly every year I vow to be "more witchy" and this seemed like a fun project to undertake. Plus, I have long followed the Tarot for Yourself practice of figuring out my personal "year" card, and, by chance, this year I have Temperance.

Aquarian Deck:Temperance

Which, according to Greer (my Tarot book author) means when applied to the year: "Developing health and haling practices, testing and trying out your beliefs and philosophy, creative combinations." (emphasis mine.) Seems like a good year, then, to try something like this.

I should probably put out there, before I begin this, that I'm very much aware that Llewellyn is in the BUSINESS of magic, and so, I will likely be critiquing some of these spells based on how much their ingredients might cost a newbie who might think they need the exact oils, herbs, soaps, etc., and will be offering cheaper alternatives (or practices that involve buying NOTHING.) I have, myself, been practicing witchcraft since the early 1990s, so I will be taking a lot of these spells with the proverbial grain of salt. If there are ones that I feel are ill-advised I will post about why I think so and see if the previous years' almanacs have alternatives that might work better.

But, even so, there's no harm in trying a project like this. I think it will be a fun away to be more mindful in my practice.Test out my beliefs, think about my philosophy. These are good things.

Spell-a-Day Project (Jan. 6) )

Spell-a-Day Project (Jan. 7) )
lydamorehouse: (Default)
A friend of mine pointed out that she's been anxiously awaiting cat news, so I suppose I should catch you all up on it.

You may not want to read this, the news is grim and potentially disturbing... )

So, that sucks.

Yesterday, I skipped being with my usual ladies for our Friday writing gathering to stay home to be with Ball. I let her sleep in my arms while I watched a sappy Japanese soap opera called Final Fantasy XIV: Dad of Light. Its a Netflix original about a young man who tries to reconnect with his dad through video gaming. I ended up reviewing it on MangaKast, if you're interested in reading my take on it.

Mason is currently at the robotics kick-off. (He's the one in front second from the right with the gray hoodie and dorky smile.)

robotics brainstorming

He had to chose between work and robotics today, so that was tough--especially since work was team kick-off. So it was robotics first day or first day with his new work team. He handled the choice well (doing all the due diligence about informing his team leader, etc.) and I think, ultimately, this was the right pick. Work will be there. Robotics season is temporary.  Both are worthy STEM projects, so....

I should try to eat lunch.
lydamorehouse: (ichigo freaked)
Ms. Ball is sick... and recovery is extremely iffy.

The doctor isn't a hundred percent sure what's wrong with her, but he's worried that it may be bladder cancer.  They did radiographs/ultrasound today and the vet could clearly see that the bladder wall was thickened and lumpy. Combine that with the fact that her weight decline was lightning fast and a urine test showed abnormal amounts of "transitional bladder cells," the prognosis is poor and points quite strongly towards cancer.    

Until we get some more information--radiographs are headed to the University of MN and should be back on Wednesday--the treatment plan is prednisone for anti-inflammatory/cancer inhibition, anti-nausea pills and appetite stimulants.  

But, it's never a good sign when the doctor's notes end with "At this time we can make her feel better with medications."  You don't have to go very far down the internet to find out that transitional cell carcinoma in the bladder is not only fatal, but it's fast-acting.

So, that sucks. Not the news any of us wanted on Christmas Eve.  

lydamorehouse: (ichigo irritated)
 I'm not even sure what I'm planning to make as the meal that goes WITH the oatmeal bread I just started, but, I don't know if you've noticed, fellow Minnesotans, but it's [bleep]ing COLD out there.  The cold weather always makes me want to hunker down and bake bread.  Oatmeal bread seemed especially hearty. I've made this recipe before. It isn't overly sweet. Maybe I can just make tunafish sandwiches or some such.

Mason is home sick today.  I think that, while he does have cold/flu symptoms, he's run himself down.  His schedule has, as has been reported, is pretty grueling. I'm not surprised he feels like crap. He needs way more sleep than he's been getting.  

The big thing on my list of things to do today is decorate the porch. Of course, today would be the day that the windchills are -2 F / -18.9 C.  The last thing I feel like doing is futzing around on the unheated porch for several hours.  BUT, I do love the lights once they're up, so I'll just have to bite the bullet. 

I finally got FB to work so here's a picture of our tree this year:

traditional looking Christmas tree

We put up a combination of a lot of Solstice ornaments (birds, the Solstice spider, the sun, an orca, several fish, etc.,) and classic blown-glass. Our newest cat, Buttercup, is fairly convinced THOSE BIRDS are for him.  This morning we discovered him "gutting" and gnawing on a pine-cone nested bird ornament.  When we took that one away, he tried to get another bird.  So, I found a sacrificial bird (ironically? A white dove) to give him.  Hmmm, yeah. So. The symbol of peace has been mauled in 2017.  TELL ME THAT'S NOT SYMBOLIC.  Especially since I foolishly offered it to him, knowing what would happen.  :-)

Work was good.  Apparently, I was sent to North Saint Paul's library because Mondays are their school visit days. So, when I arrived to this very tiny suburban library, it was filled to the brim with countless screaming argonauts (as They Might Be Giants might say.)  I spent the first hour catching them up on their shelving, since the staff has to spend a lot of time corralling the youths. But, as soon as the waves of children was over, North Saint Paul settled into its usual quietness. I found a manga for when I finally finish all 21 volumes of Nana.

While I was pulling this new one (it's called I Hear Sunspot, about a hard of hearing college student,) I got to chatting with one of the patrons who was sitting in the YA room (at North Saint Paul the teen room is very isolated, and a lot of people end up using it as a quiet room during the day).  He's moving into the neighborhood and was looking forward to making this little place his new library. Maplewood is just a little out of the way for him, though he liked it a lot, and I asked him if he'd ever been to Roseville.  Turns out? His girlfriend DIED after falling down the stairs there.

What's especially weird about this is that I remember coming in the night, maybe two years ago (?), when everyone at Roseville was really shaken up because a woman had fallen down the stairs.  She had left there alive, but, according to this guy, she developed complications because she was on some medication or other that thinned her blood. Worse, because he was only her boyfriend and not a relative, even though she'd called for him, they apparently wouldn't tell him everything that was going on with her.  (This gave me flashbacks. It never happened to us, but I used to be terrified of being denied access to Shawn before we were legally married--which is why we always had a medical power of attorney in our back pockets.)  But, anyway, it was heartbreaking story.  I felt so bad for him. But, being an awkward Minnesotan, all I ended up doing was saying how sorry I was.

What else can you really do?


Right. So. On a happier note, I think I will check on my bread and decorate the porch. I should at least try to get the lights strung. 
lydamorehouse: (ichigo being adorbs)
Last year, my friend and fellow writer, Sean M. Murphy decided he needed to stop calling himself a writer.  This morning, I woke up and discovered that another dear friend and colleague is considering doing the same.

This is heartbreaking to me.  

I want to blame something for this, but there are, frankly, too many options.

It seems to me that it's far harder to break-in to pro markets (magazine and novel) than it was when I first started writing. A lot of people are jumping straight to self-publishing these days, and, while that seems to work well for many, it's no more a guaranteed road to success than any other.  Personally, I find trying to motivate myself to write for self-publication much, much harder because of all of the extra work you have to take on yourself in order to get a finalized product out there.  This why the first of my self-published books is going to be the collaboration I'm doing with Rachel. (She just went over our proofs, because I have to head off to work in about fifteen minutes!  Thank gods for a co-writer!!)

But most of us struggle alone.  Even Sean, who was part of a writers' group, was ultimately alone with his own sense of 'being a writer' and all the myriad ways a person can fail at that.

That's the other thing I really want to blame.  Because, I think everyone realizes how hard it is to break it (and how hard it to survive once you do,) but I think we all underestimate how easy it is to undermine ourselves. Ultimately, I think Sean hit the nail on the head when he said 'writers' write' and that that should be the defining quality, but that's still a trap.  Because how OFTEN does a writer need to write in order to call themselves a writer?  Every day?  Every week?  Once a month?  Once a year?

My answer is that I think we ought to expand this definition a little, give ourselves a tiny break.  A writer is a writer if they have written, if they want to write, and if they write, but not necessarily all those things all the time, every day.  Some days, the best we can manage is that we wanted to write.  Sometimes, especially after some hard writing-related news (the publisher doesn't want to renew your contract, say,) it's enough to say, "I have written" while you take time to recuperate.

Of course, it's maybe easy for me to say.  I have books on the shelf with my name on them. 

But, damn it, my friends, I don't want to lose any more of you.  Cut yourselves a break.  You are a writer because you WILL write.  You're a writer because you HAVE written.  You're a writer because you WANT to write.  Courage is measured in that voice that says quietly, "I will try again tomorrow."

lydamorehouse: (Default)
Because I forgot to come back and post our podcast link, "30: Still No Aizen" and my link to the Gangsta manga review: Gangsta by Kosuke, A Review, you are now inundated with the linky-links.

Also, today is a new Tate chapter. I'm rather proud of the opening line this time. It goes like this: "After being told I was off the case, I did what any well-adjusted grown-up would do: I sat at my desk and sulked." You can find this gem (and others) in Part 27: With a Little Help from Friends.

Later today, there will also be a new School for Wayward Demons chapter for you, but I think that Rachel has those set to go up around 1 pm. If you go there, be sure to check out all the little improvements we've been making around the site. We have a lovely new Table of Contents page, which you can go to to check out any chapters you may have missed (or want to re-read!) We also have link to our Patreon page, so you know, if you feel like supporting our work, you should go for it.

I support you supporting us.

In other news, I'm starting to get excited about Yuletide. I checked out the Sign-Up Summary and I found out that someone actually requested that funky little food manga I adored called, "Kinou Nani Tabeta?/What Did You Eat Yesterday?" and I'm super-duper hoping that I get assigned to write that one.  But, seriously, OMG, if I don't get this one, I'm SO writing someone a treat in that universe.  Because: food!  Because: gay men! Because: ridiculously boring slice-of-life.  IT IS ALL THE THINGS I LOVE.

Yesterday, as Mason and I were headed to school about a zillion police cars raced past us on Rice Street.  An ambulance raced up and then back down the street, faster than I have ever imagined an ambulance would go.  Police had blocked the road off near school, and a cop directed traffic.  It was crazy.  We speculated about what might have happened as we made our way to school.  Only once I was home an scouring the new sites did I find out that a boy, 11 years old, was hit by a car while walking to Mason's school.  I spent much of the day yesterday worrying that it was Mason's friend Donte, who I've written about on my LJ, because he's a frequent guest for sleepovers.  He walks to school every day, along that exact same route.  I was briefly relieved to find out it was not, but then I spent the rest of the day feeling sad about this recent Napali immigrant who has yet to regain consciousness and who wants to be a policeman when he grows up. (Please, goddess, let him grow up.  Because there but for the grace of fate... go we all.)

So, yeah, Monday kind of sucked.

Here's hoping today will be better for everyone.

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