Monday, January 31, 2011

Ice Storm 2011 and Other Random Musings...

Today was definitely a better Monday than last week. I don’t know if it was the sunshine this weekend or just things felt better but the gloom and heaviness of January seemed to be absent and things were better.

Whatever the reason, it’s nice to go to work, have a good day and feel like I accomplished something which isn’t always the case on Mondays.

Of course, tomorrow may be a different story. We’re supposed to have a ‘crippling’ ice-storm sometime between tonight and tomorrow morning. I’m not sure what a ‘crippling’ ice storm is, really. While I love the beauty of the ice-encased world after an ice-storm, it’s my least favourite winter weather when I have to drive on it. If it’s the type of day where I don’t have to go anywhere, I’m fond of ice-storms. Everything becomes frozen and framed within a layer of ice and it’s just stunning to see.

It’s just horrible to drive on. I’m an ice-wuss. I hate driving on the stuff. Snow isn’t so bad. Ice…well, it’s ice. Once you slide, you just have to let it go. There’s no easy way to deal with it.

My guess as to the word ‘crippling’ is that it’s likely to knock out the power everywhere. This often happens when the power lines get overloaded with ice and they end up snapping or causing problems. In my case, I have to say, at home, at least, I’m not too worried about it. I’m very fortunate in the location of my house in that I live on the street where the fire station and police station resides. Thus, they’re one of those places that really, really needs power particularly when it comes to paramedic and fire calls. Thus, power gets restored to that grid first. That grid is my grid. I’m ok with that.

The things with storms like this is that the weather and media sets them up to be An Event. Right now, we’re on the ICE STORM of 2011. This is not a joke. This is what the local news is calling it. It’s all action stations now with people checking in. Reporters are doing that weird thing where they stand outside and wait for the storm to begin so they can report it As. It. Happens.

I don’t understand that, honestly. Why stand outside during an ice-storm. Why not, say, look out the window and report on it? I always feel sorry for the reporters who get stationed outside during a snowstorm and have to report how traffic is moving and how quickly the snow is accumulating. For one thing, they always look rather cold and, another, they just look…a little silly.

It’s like when there’s a hurricane brewing down in Florida. There’s always the reporters who are waiting for it to begin and then, when it does, they look like they’re having trouble standing up. I suppose to some extent, there’s a sort of thrill that comes from that. Maybe it’s an adrenaline thing. At least for the hurricane reporters.

But what about the snow/ice reporters? They’re basically waiting for it to…start raining/snowing. When it does, every single person within the viewing area can also look out his/her window and see that it is, in fact, snowing/raining. It’s not like, say, a massive bird death where hundreds of bird corpses rain down on them while they’re standing there. Now, if the ice came down like that lake in the Superman movie where he freezes it with his superbreath and then picks it up and flies it over a fire, that would be cool. And don’t judge me for my Superman reference. I used to love Superman. This was back before I got all dark and twisty in my tastes and started to prefer Batman and Iron Man. It was the same period in my life when I was in love with Luke Skywalker. Hey, I was seven.

I digress. So, Ice Storm 2011 has yet to commence. I feel like I’m being brainwashed to think of it as an event, like I should look out the window and say “It. Has. Begun” in an ominous James Early Jones-y kind of voice. I end up sounding more like a terrible version of Gandalf from Lord of the Rings when I do try and say that, by the way. Oh, no judging there either. Who doesn’t like a little LOTR. In my case, who doesn’t love a little Aragorn? I’m digressing again. So, long story short, I think the news is working. They’re making me feel some weird sense of anticipation over the weather. I suppose I should give them some credit for that because I’m a cynic and don’t want to care about the blasted ICE STORM 2011.

It’s the same sort of credit I have to give the band Train for that bloody “Hey, Soul Sister” song. When I first heard it, I was apathetic. Then it started to be everywhere with that “Hey, Hey, Hey-yay-yay-yay” refrain. Then the song popped up everywhere and I began to hate it. Then, I heard it on the radio and my brain said, “Hey, I like this song!” even though I had only moments before despised it. Thus, I now like that song because the radio and every fourth TV commercial tells me I should and my stupid brain believed it. Grr. It’s proof positive when you hear something enough, you just go with it. It’s a little too 1984 if you ask me. Orwell would be quite proud of Train, I think. Them and Kings of Leon who used to annoy me with that “Use Somebody” song because it was EVERYWHERE and then without realizing it, I realized I was singing along which meant I started to like the song.

So, basically, my summation of ICE STORM 2011 is that it’s like that song by Train. I try to play it cool and not care but the more the frenzy builds in the media, the more my subconscious things that after “Gossip Girl”, I should turn on the news to see if it’s raining yet even though I could simply stick my head out the back door and see for myself. I also suppose that the mere fact that I’ve blogged about ICE STORM 2011 means that the weather forecaster’s evil ploy has worked and I’m now anticipating some type of weather Event.

I’m sure I didn’t use to be quite so susceptible to this type of thing. Then again, I never cared so much about the weather either. Does this mean I’m getting old? I did want to yell at Son of Dog Whisperer yesterday for cutting across my lawn.

Oh dear. It is happening. I’m turning into an old person.

Help me!

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunny Weekends...

Sunshine does a lot for the mood and this weekend was full of it. As much as I adore snow, there are times when it's nice to see the sun. I think there's definitely something to that Seasonal Affective Disorder in which depression sets in during the winter months. Spending some time outdoors in the sunshine does wonders for the mood.

It was a little too cold to spend too much time outside but Rory, Sookie and I had a lovely time taking walks around the neighbourhood. We took two each day: One in the morning, one in the evening. I think the pups were pleased to get out. It was a little hard going at times. Even though the sun was slowly melting the snow and ice, there were patches that were a little hard for two little dachshunds and one unsteady human to maneuver. It's not really even snow anymore- it's just snow coloured ice, much like the stuff you see on snowcones.

Yet each time we walked, there was less ice and snow. The grass, flattened and soggy, is starting to show again. The pups seem to appreciate being able to walk on the grass, wet as it is, rather than have to trundle through the snow. I can't blame them- it has to be cold on the feet.

It's been a nice weekend overall. It's the first one I've had at home in quite a few weeks which is probably why I enjoyed it so much. I love going to my parents' because I love seeing them but there's something to be said to having time in your own home to do what you want.

In my case, I took advantage of the time to cook. I now have a fancy KitchenAid stand mixer with pasta roller so today, I spent the day making ravioli. It was relaxing and fun, especially when I put my iPod on my iHome speaker set and had fun dancing while I kneaded pasta dough, made filling and, finally, put it all together in the form of cheese ravioli and butternut squash ravioli.

I even made the ricotta myself. I've seen them do it a few times on the Food Network and Mario Batali kindly provides a recipe for it in one of his cookbooks. It was ridiculously easy and twice as tasty as the stuff you buy at the store. Tonight, for dinner, I'm going to have homemade ravioli with homemade ricotta filling topped with homemade marinara sauce. It's a nice feeling to know that I've accomplished something, even if it is only making food. To me, cooking and making things in the kitchen is relaxing. The only time it's not is when it involves baking becaue I don't find that particularly relaxing. It's ok when I have time but it doesn't help that my oven isn't the best and so baking isn't as easy as I'd like. I do like to bake at my parents' house because they have a nice oven. Also, my dad likes kitchen tools and gadgets and they have almost anything you could need for a good baking experience.

I'm trying to get my kitchen like that. I'm getting there. Yesterday, I bought a fish spatula from Williams Sonoma. My good friend Saz was kind enough to give me a gift card for my birthday so I took advantage of it yesterday. I'm very excited about my spatula. I think I mentioned in my blog a while ago that I thought I might use my gift card for this and it turned out, I did.

I don't know why things like fish spatulas make me happy. It's the same content feeling as having a day where all I have planned is to make ravioli, walk puppies and relax. I think maybe that's one of the reasons I've been feeling blue: I haven't had time to just relax at home for an entire weekend.

Now the weekend is drawing to a close. The sun has set and it's dark outside. I don't know what the weather is supposed to be like this week. I did hear a rumour that more snow is on the way. I don't mind. I never mind snow. It's just nice to separate bouts of it with a little sunshine.

Sometimes, we just need a little sunshine in your life. It chases the Pootle clouds and the January blues away.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

January Blues...

I am ready for this week to be over. I feel as though I’ve been under my "Pootle” cloud since Monday. I don’t know if it’s the time of year or just one of those times in life where everything just seems blah but that seems to be what’s going on.

Work is going fairly well, at least. I like my job because it’s different every day. It’s actually different every hour. Gone are the days when I feel like I’m so bored, I’m going to climb over the walls of my cubicle, wave my arms in the air and tear off running down the hallways screaming “ARRRRG”

For one thing, I don’t have a cubicle. I have an office. All of my very own. Until today, it even had artwork. It was an enormous, framed, slightly tacky poster of Las Vegas. Today, I removed the artwork. I’ve disliked it since I started and the account manager next to me who is a young guy who’s never been to Vegas but wants to go asked if he could have it. Naturally, I told him yes. Now I have a bare spot on my wall but I quite like it. It’s crying out for something interesting. I’m not sure what that is but I think I’ll find it in time. I’m eying the large framed poster of London we got from HQ that’s supposed to inspire us to do our job well enough to have earned enough ‘points’ to go by August. I’m not sure where that poster is going but I have a nice empty spot on my wall where it would fit…

I digress. I like having an office. I like having the variety in my day. I don’t necessarily like that my boss hired a ‘temp’ recruiter to help me and my fellow full-time recruiter out and she’s competing with us more than she’s helping us but that’s up to my boss. We originally thought she was going to help us find resumes for open positions but it seems she’s started recruiting on her own. I suppose that’s fine. I just wish she wouldn’t use my account and call people for my open jobs before I get there. I’m trying to rise above but I know that my fellow recruiter is also getting a little frustrated by her. We’ll see what happens there, I suppose.

However, I like virtually everything else about my new office. I like my coworkers. I like that I can leave if I need to as long as I tell someone. I like that I have sick time and vacation time. I really like that my boss doesn’t care if we go on Facebook during the day as long as we’re doing our job. At my old job, they blocked Facebook except for lunch time. This was a bit of a nuisance for the staff who were expected to maintain the company’s Facebook page during their workday. It meant…they couldn’t. It was a bit daft when you think about it. Besides, what companies don’t realize is that the majority of people have Smartphones and if they have a Facebook account, they have it on their smart phone which means you can block it all you want on the PC but it won’t stop employees from accessing it, commenting and posting regular status updates throughout the day.

So, I think I’ve established that my job isn’t the reason I’m under my 'Pootle' cloud. I don’t even lie in bed with the puppies thinking of ways to avoid going to work. This is actually a strange feeling. I spent almost two years feeling that way with my old job so to get up each morning, detangling myself from puppy bodies and paws, turning on Fox 19 Stormtracker Weather and following the rest of my morning routine doesn’t feel at all like a prison sentence. It’s quite nice.

I think it’s just a state of mind. As I said in my ‘chubby day’ blog yesterday, I’ve been feeling unhappy with myself and my clothes. I’m wondering if it’s because winter clothes feel so lumpy. So many of my big, warm sweaters make me feel blobby, I’m wondering if I need to replace them. Some of them need it. I have a fondness for chenille but I’ve discovered that no matter how careful you are when you wash chenille, inevitably, it wears away and you’re left with bare spots on the garment.

But what to wear when it’s below freezing outside and your office isn’t the warmest either? It’s an interesting dilemma. Any suggestions on that?

I’m hoping that this weekend, if I take some ‘me time’ and just enjoy myself, I’ll lift myself out of the doldrums and feel better about everything. I’m feeling the need for something ‘new’ in my life. I don’t know if that’s a new novel or a new boyfriend or simply a new friend. I think I just need to shake the January blues. Even though February is a little too ‘pink’ in my mind, it’s short and sweet and doesn’t come on the heels of a major anticlimax as the holidays end and the world is grey and cold. I like the world when it snows but lately, we’ve just had the remnants of the last snowstorm sticking around and making everything look messy. I’d rather have a nice fresh covering. I even wore my snowflake pendant today. (Please don’t kill me, mum!). I’m hoping it’s good luck charm will bring on the snow this weekend. Then I can have a lovely self-enforced snow day. That sounds like a treat.

Next week I promise to be less ‘grey’ and more upbeat. Thanks, as always for reading!

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Nuisance of "Chubby Days"

There are days in life when you just feel blah about things. They are days when you go to your closet and look at all your clothes and wonder what on earth you should wear. Sure, you have a bursting-at-the-seams selection in front of you but nothing jumps out. You feel as though everything you put on will make you feel like an enormous blob because you’re having a ‘chubby day.’

If you’ve never had a ‘chubby’ day, you’re very lucky. I’m not sure if men have ‘chubby’ days or not but I know that I, as a female, have them far too often.

In my case, a chubby day means that you realize you no longer have the fabulous metabolism that you had when you were 18 and could fit into size 2 jeans. It means that you have to wake up and realize that as much as you enjoy the taste of French fries, butter-sauced food and lots and lots of cheese, you can’t always give in to the urges. Instead, you find yourself looking up ways to make a healthy dinner that’s tasty.

Chubby days also mean that you look in the mirror and feel unattractive. You know you’re not and that you don’t look like a drag queen or Arnold Schwarzenegger when he dons that woman’s disguise in “Total Recall” and, can't help but feel like you do.

Often, when I'm feeling like this, my strategy is to make sure I wear something that makes me feel good or attractive. I try to spend a little extra time on my makeup, make sure my hair looks right.

Sometimes this helps. However, there are occasion chubby days where nothing makes you feel that great and even when you try to look nice, you feel like you don't.

I know it's all in how you feel about yourself that counts. I'm pretty sure people don't look at me and say, "wow, she's quite chubby!" There might be people who remember my 18-year-old metabolism who would say, "wow, she's gained some weight" but, in the grand scheme of things, it's not that bad.

It's all in my head. I know it. The fact that I think I have nothing to wear when I have a closet full of clothes is definitely a psychological block rather than a physical one. It's just that my sweaters make me feel bulky. If I wear something that isn't a sweater, I'll freeze. It becomes an issue of common sense vs. vanity. Vanity often wins. Then common sense laughs at it and says, 'told you so,' when I'm sitting in my office, hugging my tea mug for warmth.

I usually try to fight chubby days by trying to eat a little lighter or healthier and make sure I'm doing at least a little exercise. That way I feel like I'm doing something about that which is bringing me down. I might dwell on a problem for a while but eventually, I always find a way to deal with it. In the case of chubby days, I can attempt to fight them. Or, more realistically, wait for them to pass and try again tomorrow.

Perhaps I should pick out my outfit for tomorrow now. That seems logical.

Except that by the time I get up tomorrow morning, I probably will have changed my mind.

Hopefully I'll feel less 'chubby' tomorrow.

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Remake Rant: Taking Offense to "Skins" (But Not for the Reasons You'd Think)

Well, today was definitely not a Monday. It was one of those days where you’re so busy that you don’t have time to stop and realize that you were busy. You just happen to look up at the clock and suddenly, it’s almost five.

Days like this are nice and much more preferable to Mondays.

I just feel bad. After all, it’s not really Monday’s fault that it’s a Monday. There are some good things about Mondays. Well, sort of good things. After all, when they’re done, it’s a nice feeling that you’ve got one work day under your belt and there’s only four to go. I’d say that it’s a good night for TV but, alas, since “24” has been cancelled, there’s really not much to watch. I do watch “Gossip Girl” because, well, it’s trashy fun and after a hard day at work on Monday, it’s nice to turn your brain off and watch over-privileged teens try to out-scheme one another.

Last week on Monday, I gave that new MTV series, “Skins” a try. I’m a big fan of the original version that was made over in the UK. For those of you that have never heard of it, it’s an ensemble show about a group of teens in their last year of school in a UK town. There’s drugs, sex, violence and a lot of other things that parents pretend teens don’t do/know about. It’s pretty compelling because each episode is from the viewpoint of a different member of the ensemble and while the story moves forward, you feel like you’re actually part of the group because you know everyone so well.

I have to admit, I was a little disturbed they were remaking it for a U.S. version. This goes along with my puzzlement as to why they’re remaking “Being Human” in the U.S. for the Sci-Fi channel when there’s a perfectly good version on BBC America. And, if you’re wondering why I didn’t spell “Sci-Fi” the way the network does- SyFy- it’s because I think it’s stupid and I refuse to cater to the need to abbreviate something that was already abbreviated, let alone spell it badly.

I simply don’t get the need to remake British shows. It’s one thing if they take a concept and Americanize it. “The Office,” for example, works brilliantly because while they adopted the concept of a humdrum office with a bad boss from the British version, they didn’t try to take exact same characters, plot and situations. Instead, they took ideas from the original version and made it work for an American audience.

I can’t speak for “Being Human” because I haven’t seen the U.S. version. I have, however, seen the British version and it’s very entertaining. In short, it’s about a werewolf, vampire and ghost who live together in a house in London. Here’s what I don’t understand: If it was a French show or a Japanese one or even one from Sweden, I’d understand the remake. Dubbing is a nuisance and it’s nice to hear actors actually…act in a language that the audience can understand without subtitles.

However, last time I checked, English people…spoke English. Certainly the cast of “Being Human” has British accents but that’s the only difference. So, why the remake? This is exactly how I felt after watching “Skins” on MTV. Truth be told, I turned the pilot off 20 minutes in to the episode. I suppose it’s because I was hoping that like “The Office,” they’d take the concept behind “Skins” and Americanize it.

They didn’t. Instead, they changed the names of some of the characters, turned a gay male character into a gay female character and then pretty much blatantly copied the British version. The acting was, for the most part, absolutely terrible. The dialogue didn’t work because an American boy calling his girlfriend “Nips,” because she has weird nipples is just not the same as when a British boy does it. Also, last time I checked, most high school kids didn’t say, “I’ll ring you up,” or “let’s smoke a spliff.” They do in the UK but not in whatever generic East Coast city they in which the U.S. version of the show was set.

In the UK version, they primarily used amateur actors. The main actor in the first two season was the only ‘famous’ one- he was played by Nicholas Hoult who was in “About a Boy” with Hugh Grant. His Tony was a slick-talking, slightly sociopathic charmer who mostly cared only about himself. Yet you could see why his friends were drawn to him and why he was able to get away with everything. In the U.S. version, the Tony was just…awful. He was stilted and ‘pretty’ and overall bland.

I’m picking. I know it. I shouldn’t pick because I only watched 20 minutes of it. It’s just after realizing it was going to be mostly a copy of the British show, I couldn’t help but think I’d rather go back and watch the original episodes which I enjoyed rather than watch a second rate version on MTV.

What’s interesting is the uproar that the show is causing with parents and, as a result, advertisers. Parents don’t like TV shows where teenagers have sex all the time, smoke pot, swear and drink too much. I get that. As a parent, I probably wouldn’t want my younger teens watching something that glorified a partying type of life style. Yet, for the older kids, I’d like to think that, as a parent, I’d raise them to have their own minds and that they’d be able to watch something like “Skins” and not suddenly feel that their magical peer pressure button was being pushed and thus, they, too, had to suddenly go out and hunt down a joint.

Note to parents: If you think a TV show will influence your child, you might be right. However, it has to have something to work with in the first place. If your kid watches “Skins” and then goes out and gets drunk, I can almost guarantee…it’s not the first time. Sorry but that’s the way it works. I was a teen once. I was a boring teen because I had good parents. The worst thing I ever did was steal a small “River Greenway” sign from a bike post along a walking trail when I was 15 with my friends.

Then, I felt so guilty, I went back and returned it. That’s a true story. Yes, I was pathetic. My friends and I used to go buy a two liter of Mountain Dew and a box of ice-cream sandwiches and then go eat/drink at the park. That was our naughty indulgence. Have I mentioned that I was a pathetic teen? Then again, I didn’t have shows like “Skins” to influence me.

Anyway, long story short, while I understand parents finding the content of “Skins” offensive, there is a thing called a remote control that changes the channel. Also, make sure your kids have enough common sense to not want to replicate the behavior on the show. I’m sure there are surveys that show that overprotective parents end up with more rebellious children than parents who have a little more trust in their kids. Of course, I may have made that up but it seems like common sense to me.

Besides, to me, what’s more offensive is the bad remake of a perfectly good show? Also, I’m offended that MTV found something offensive about the Britishness of the original show and thus felt they had to remake it. What’s so bad about the Brits, huh?

I might be taking that a little personally. I’m also ranting. My apologies.

But I feel better now.

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Nonsensical Ideas in a Non-Sensible World

Today was, without a single doubt, a Monday. I think I’ve mentioned that I find some Mondays more Monday than others. I think, actually, Monday should become a noun as in “I feel very Monday today.”

I think everyone would know what you mean. Real Mondays are gloomy. For me, they’re days where I wake up groggy because I slept badly the night before. The day is grey and unsettled and seems indecisive about what it wants to do so it just stays grey. The sun doesn’t come out. It doesn’t rain or snow. It’s just…grey.

Mondays at work are days when no matter how much you like your job and enjoy what you do, you don’t want to be at work. You feel fuzzy headed because of the lack of sleep and you feel like you’d be better served going back home, flopping back under the bed covers and being lazy. Then, when you did finally get out of bed, you didn’t HAVE to do anything, you could simply do…nothing.

I’ve often felt that it would be quite beneficial to employers to allow employees to have one three day weekend a month. It would be nice if the three day weekend always included the Monday. That way even though the Tuesday of the week would become the ‘Monday’, it still wouldn’t be a true Monday.

Ah well, that would be in a more sensible world, wouldn’t it? We don’t really live in a very sensible world. If we did, there would be things like a three slice toaster. I invented that in my head. It would be a triangular shape with toaster slots on each side and a warmer in the middle to soften the butter. It’s always been annoying to me that butter is often too hard to spread on toast without ripping it up.

I take my toast very seriously. I put a lot of thought into my Tri-Toaster. Well, about ten minutes, anyway. I also invented the solar road around the same time. This would use solar energy to heat the road in the winter for colder climates. This way, there wouldn’t be much need for snowplows. Granted, it would be expensive but in the long run, think of the manpower it’d save in having to deal with bad roads. There’d be less accidents as well as less corrosion on cars.
The only problem is that I’m not a scientist or an engineer. I’m a writer. Thus, I like to make things up…like inventions. I come up with the ideas. I need a scientist/technical-type person to actually make them a reality.

Of course, I’m not even sure my inventions are possible. In fiction, if you don’t know how to do something, you make it up. Thus, if I was writing a story that included solar roads, I’d invent a miraculous bit of technology named something like the Solarium Sprocket that made it possible to harness the power of the solar ray, amp it up and pump it into a special complicated underground system of chambers. These chambers not only allow the energy of the sun to be stored for centuries but also distribute it to a central point (The Ra-Eye) on each major highway so that all roads within a cold region would be thermalized.

Granted, once I invented that technology in my work of fiction, I’d then think of all the evil ramifications of such a nifty system and it would end up turning toxic and create particles that became evil beasties that destroyed human life but, hey, the technology would be interesting, right? This is probably why I like to make things up rather than actually invent them. Also, the physics behind it would make my brain bleed because my brain is not humanly capable of doing complex mathematics. Also, I’m not smart enough.

What was I saying? Oh, yes, the world isn’t sensible but it should be.

The only problem with that is that I’ve just proven that even if the world was sensible, I’m not always the most sensible person. I try. It’s just that sometimes, my imagination goes a little wild. Also, I can be a little, um, oblivious. Case in point regarding my obliviousness: The first time I wen t on the “It’s a Small World” ride at Disneyland, I had an epiphany mid-ride as to the nature of the ride. You see, I had thought it was going to be all about miniatures or something. We’d already gone through half the countries before my poor, oblivious brain figured out that it was a small geographic world we were seeing.

There. I don’t tell that story to everyone because it makes me look like an airhead. I’m not. I just have these moments of pure ignorance and then, bam! I get it. And everyone around me looks at me like I’m an idiot. I’d say that I feel like an idiot at these moments but, actually, I don’t. I feel quite elated that something that was previously a bit of a mystery has been solved. It took me quite some time, for example, to realize that Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio was named after the Wright Brothers. I knew that the Wright Brothers were from Dayton. It’s just I didn’t put two and two together. That would involve maths, you see and, well, I try to avoid to avoid maths.

I can, however, be quite sensible about some other things. In general, I’m mostly quite sensible. I have common sense, at least.

I just have this horrible habit of tuning out of reality once in a while and letting my brain have some peculiar thoughts. I find they make life more interesting. They also help you come up with some nifty inventions. Now, if only they’d supply the knowledge of how to make the inventions happen.

Ah well, as we’ve established that would happen in a sensible world. A sensible world would probably not have Mondays.

This is clearly not a sensible world.

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Notes for Bad Winter Drivers...

I've come to the conclusion that it's quite impossible to have a weekend that doesn't fly by. It's just a fact of life that time moves much more quickly on weekends and during vacations than it does during a regular workday.

My weekend is already drawing to a close. On the plus side, Rory and Sookie are home and I'm ridiculously glad to have them back. I think they had a lovely 'holiday' with their 'grandparents' but they, too, seem to be quite happy to be home. They're currently sitting on the back of the sofa, watching out the window to see if any interlopers come by our house. This is Sookie's favourite hobby. At my parents, she sits on the back of the couch and looks out at their back yard. She enjoys bird watching there.

Now we're all home, there's a sense of completion about the house. I've had the dogs for almost a year now but it's hard to remember life without them. It certainly was far quieter, that's for sure.

I think for the next few weeks, we're all going to stay home. I've had a great December/January spending time with my family over the holidays and visiting for my birthday and dropping the dogs off/picking them up but my house is in desperate need of some attention and I'm going to make sure it gets it over the next few weeks.

I'm also quite grateful to not have to drive for a while. I'm actually a big fan of driving in general. I love the alone time and listening to music or an audiobook. I'm just not quite such a fan in the winter. While I love snow, I'm definitely not a fan of it blowing on the roads or the ice that follows the snow after the sun's been on it all day and it refreezes at night.

Nevertheless, even when the roads are bad, they're manageable. The only thing that makes them really bad are the other drivers.

I've written blogs before about bad drivers. Nevertheless, bad drivers in the winter are a lot different from bad drivers in the summer. Thus, I have been gathering a list of complaints towards some of the Midwestern drivers on the roads in the winter.

1) If it snows, please clean off the roof of your car. While I know that it takes time and is a lot of effort, it's severely annoying to get stuck behind you and constantly be pelted with rather large chunks of snow because you simply couldn't be bothered to take a broom and brush off your roof. Yes, I know I can say that because I have a garage but even if I park outside and snow accumulates, I brush it off because it's annoying to other drivers. Also, it's dangerous to you because it also slides forwards and temporarily blocks your vision.

2) If you're on a two lane highway and there's five cars in front of you all stuck behind someone who is going 45 miles an hour, it doesn't do any good to ride my bumper. You see, I'm only one car ahead of you and I'm also stuck. It's not going to make me go any faster because I can't. I'm stuck. Just like you. When you're so close I can no longer see your headlights, that's just stupid. If there's a little snow on the road and you're still doing that, it's just plain moronic. Get off my back.

3) If the road is covered with snow and the only road visible in in tracks made by other tires, I'm going to go quite slowly. I have a Toyota Corolla. You may pass me in your big old SUV if you like but when you fishtail and swerve as you pass me, I'm going to laugh at you. I sincerely hope you don't hit the ditch but, if you do, the mean girl in me's first reaction is, "Uh, that'll teach you, won't it?" There's a reason I'm going slow. You see, I value my life and those of my dogs. I'm going to take it as slow as I need to in order to make it safely to my destination.

4) If you have salt on your window, I feel your pain. I have it too. However, if you're in front of me on a windy day, I don't appreciate you cleaning your windows as you go 60 miles an hour because your windshield fluid blows back and freezes on my windshield. I don't like that very much. Wait until you get to a light. Please.

5) If it's snowy and the roads are not nice, please don't talk on your cell phone while you drive. Please do not talk on your cell phone and make a left turn to pull out onto a highway without paying attention so that you end up cutting someone off. It's not easy to slam on your breaks when the roads are slick and it's dangerous. Put the stupid phone away. Please.

I'm sure I could come up with a whole list more but in the past few weeks, all of the above have occured on my drive. The cell phone talkers are the worst. I had a lady run a red light today to turn left and it had been left for a while. Fortunately the roads weren't bad and I was able to avoid her but do you think she even noticed? Nope. She just carried on talking into her phone.

Ah well, I made it safe and sound. I've just learned the art of defensive driving. With my precious canine cargo in the backseat, I've found I'm even more cautious than before.

Now we're home, thankfully. The heat is on, the pups are relaxing and it's time to let the weekend draw to a close in my favourite way: Snuggling on the sofa with two dachshunds, a blanket and a glass of wine.

The ending of a weekend isn't so bad, after all.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Being Grateful for the Good Things...

We're having rather a huge snow storm out there. Since early this afternoon, the snow has been coming down so fast, the plows can't keep up with it and the roads are covered.

Naturally, being the snow-loving Monkeypants I am, I'm not unhappy about it. I am, in fact, rather grateful. If this snow had come one day sooner, I would be stuck in Chicago, thinking about how much I wished I was home, snowed in and enjoying the snowfall.

So, here I am, somewhat snowed in and loving every minute of the snowfall. I had to shovel my drive when I got home from work and, unfortunately, chances are, by the morning, I shall have to shovel again but for now, I'm comfy in my house.

The only bad part about the snow is that it's going to be a bit of a nuisance for weekend travel. I need to go get my pups from my parent's house and with the snow being as bad as it is, it looks like I won't get to go tomorrow evening as planned. I'm hoping it'll be safe by Saturday. Last weekend when I left to drop off the pups, I thought the roads would be fine. However, it got quite windy and the highway that I was on for ten miles before I got to my parents' had blown over with snow and you couldn't tell the road from the ditch.

Needless to say, it was rather scary. It took every ounce of focus to make sure I stayed on the road.

Thus, I don't really want to have to do that again. I'll just have to play it by ear. I have this secret fear that my dogs will no longer want me when I pick them up, that they'll have had such a great time with their 'grandparents' that they won't like me anymore. Either that or they'll be so furious that I 'ditched' them for a week that they'll have disowned me.

I hope I'm just being silly.

I miss the girls being here and watching them run and play in the snow. It feels strange not to have to get up and open the back door for them every five minutes or have them come in, their bellies saturated with packed snow and their noses covered with the white stuff from where they've been digging.

We're creatures of snow, my dachshunds and I. I take so much pleasure in the fact that they enjoy it and don't have any qualms about running out into it, even when the drifts are as deep as they are. They boldly try to stand on top of them but slowly, their legs start to sink and, with enormous effort, they dolphin their way across to the next drift. It's adorable and it makes me smile because they're so determined.

Tonight, they really would have to have been determined. I think they would have had a hard time getting through the snow. Not only is it deep but it's still coming down, fast and furious. My boss let everyone leave early today. He's nice like that and I appreciate it. It was a little sticky to drive home on and shovelling my driveway took time but there's something tremendously satisfying when you drive into the safety of the garage and know that you're done for the evening and you don't have to go out anymore.

I'm just glad that I'm home, not stuck at an airport wondering when I might be able to get home. It just goes to show, as I said yesterday, that even under unpleasant circumstances, things can always be worse. I find if I look at things that way, it makes me incredibly grateful when good things happen.

I could be stuck at an airport, getting angry because my flight is delayed, delayed, delayed and then...cancelled. I could be on the phone at the airport, venting to my mother about how frustrated I am. I could be having to find a hotel room because there's no way I'm landing in Cincinnati tonight.

But I'm not. I'm home, in my comfy sweats, appreciating the snow. I'm very grateful for that.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Lessons From Business Trips...

The trouble with travelling is you're never guaranteed an internet connection. This is why I haven't blogged all week. I had no internet. It was a nuisance.

However, I'm back now. Unfortunately, my brain is a wee bit fried having just arrived home a short while ago. Thus, I won't be too deep tonight. In fact, I'm going to be a little bit of a cheater. I'm going to simply make this a list of things I learned on my trip this week.

1) Flying sucks. This is NOT a new revelation. It is, however, a renewed one as it inevitably is whenever I fly. My first plane was cancelled. I was supposed to be rescheduled the next day. Fortunately, I got rebooked for a short while later than my regular plane. Unfortunately, this led to a 3 hour delay in Detroit and arrival at my hotel room six hours later than originally scheduled. However, two of my coworkers who flew out on the morning flight I was originally rescheduled on ended up having major engine trouble. Instead of landing in Chicago, they had to be rerouted to Milwaukee and then were driven down to Chicago in a bus. Moral of this story? There's always someone far worse off than you.

2) A bistro is a cool little cafe. They belong in France, really but you can find nifty bistro-type places all over the place. A bistro is NOT a vending machine. Sticking a sign over a vending machine that says "Bistro" does not make a vending machine anything other than a...vending machine.

3) Travelling with a 23 year-old-coworker is rather like travelling with a child. I had to check him in because he didn't know how. I had to guide him around the airport and tell him what to do for security. Then I ate dinner with him and watched as he drank several long-island iced teas and a beer. I'm glad I'm not 23 anymore.

4) It's nice to like 99.9 percent of your coworkers, including ones from all the branch offices of your company. The .01 % is a woman who was a wee bit intense, scary and very much "LOOK AT ME, I'M FABULOUS" in all of our sessions. Also, she had REALLY scary eyes as in "I'm going to focus on you now and make you think I'm fascinated by what you're saying but, really, I'm planning on how to rip out your heart and eat it."

5) When you're served a five course Italian meal, it's actually relatively easy to avoid eating like a pig. Family style helps because you control the portions. Also, if you don't keep scarfing the appetizers, that helps. However, it's really nice to go out to dinner and have a five course Italian meal.

6) No matter how much I learn, how nice the people are and how comfy my hotel bed, I still miss my dogs.

7) When you're in a hotel room and the TV in the bedroom doesn't work, that sucks.

8) When you have another TV in the hotel room (because it's a suite), that's nice. However, the sad thing is that once upon a time, staying in a hotel room with a flat screen and cable TV was a luxurious treat for me. Now, I have a TV similar to those in hotels and I now have DirectTV. Thus, hotel TV is just...normal. There's something sad and jaded about that.

9) Having an Amazon Kindle makes air travel fabulously easy. It's just a bit of a nusiance to have to turn it off for takeoff and landing but it's a small price to pay for having a ton of books in one handy little gadget.

10) I have to do my job really well this year because if I meet a certain quota by the end of August, I get to join the company all-expense paid trip to London.

12) Even though a hotel claims to offer "free wireless", when you have to pay $14.95 for 12 hours of usage, that's not really free, is it?

13). Meetings in Chicago in January...not the best idea. It was freezing-raining and ice. When you have to wear 'business casual' which includes high-heeled boots, that's a bad plan. Note to my company: Next time, can we have a 'casual' attired affair? Snowboots, chunky sweaters and jeans are way more practical and comfortable for sitting in a room for eight hours and learning stuff.

and, finally...

13. There's not place like home. When you land at your home airport and know your car is only a short distance away which will, in turn, take you home....there's something lovely and comforting in that. Absence makes the heart grown fonder and so does travelling on any airline...

I'm sure there's a lot more things I learned but for now, that's all my brain will allow me to type. It's back to work tomorrow, as usual so I'll be back to my regular blogging schedule. Thanks, as always, for reading!

Happy Thursday!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Puppy-less House for the Week

My house seems very quiet tonight. Without the two little warm bodies of my puppies running around, I'm feeling rather alone.

Sookie and Rory will be spending the week with their 'grandparents'. I have to go to Chicago tomorrow for a business trip and won't be back until Wednesday night. My parents are kind enough to pup-sit for me which means I don't have to stress about finding a boarding kennel and leaving them with strangers.

Nevertheless, I still had to leave them. I'm glad they're in safe hands but I've never left them overnight before and I'm feeling the quiet already. I think I'm going to feel it especially when I go to bed and I don't have a dachshund curled up under the covers on either side of me.

Ah well, distance makes the heart grow fonder...right?

And I do get to go to Chicago. I find it rather amusing that I've been at this job three months and I'm already getting to go somewhere. I never got to go anywhere for my last job. While my former coworker got to go to meetings all over the state of Ohio, I was left alone at my desk, staring at a computer screen.

So, naturally, I'm rather excited to fly somewhere. Well, I'm not actually excited about the flying part. I'm so over flying anywhere. I'm jaded and I've had some horrible travel experiences. I'm now waiting for teleportation to become an option.

I get to stay in a hotel which is always rather fun. I get to go out to a nice dinner. I get to meet coworkers from other branch offices. I get to sit in on some training sessions.

So, puppy-seperation anxiety aside, this is going to be an interesting week, I think. Business trips are always fun because you're getting to travel and you don't have to pay a penny for it. I used to have a job where I travelled a lot. That job took me to London, New York, San Diego and Los Angeles when I was still living in Indiana. That was a lot of fun. Well, except for the fact that I worked for a crazy lady, it was fun. The crazy lady was generous though and would always take us out to super fancy restaurants. It's just that you had to deal with her and she was a bit of a drinker. Several times when I travelled with her, I had to take the keys from her rental car and navigate us back to our hotel because she'd had several glasses of wine too many.

There will be no driving on this trip. We get to be 'chauffered' around. I have a strong feeling there will be some drinking although not too much from me. No matter how relaxed I feel around coworkers, I have a little rule about making sure I don't drink too much because I still have to go into the office. I'm not the type to be standing on top of a copy machine waving my underwear around after having a few cocktails.

Perhaps life would be more interesting if I was that type. I'm not sure I'd want to be, however. For one thing, my underwear isn't very exciting and, two, I don't really like waving it around in the air. It's bad enough when Rory gets hold of a pair of my underwear from the laundry and drags it outside to the back yard. I'm not likely to be tossing any of mine around in near future. At least, I don't plan on it.

No, I have a feeling this business trip won't be that wild. If it is, I shall be a spectator rather than a participant. We do get to play and inter-branch game of "Family Feud" during our meeting on Wednesday. I have to admit, the nerd in me is quite looking forward to that. I'm rather competitive and I really enjoy board games and trivia types of games. That's the sort of thing I think makes meetings fun.

So, for me, tomorrow, it's off to Chicago. In the meantime, I'm trying to keep myself busy so I don't miss my pups too much. Even though I've had them for less than a year, I can't remember life in my house without them. I've already taken the opportunity to clean the house a little bit. It's nice to be able to run the vacuum cleaner without them cowering on the sofa or, when she's feeling brave, watching Sookie run after it, boldly giving a yip as though she's going to attack it but then running off every time it moves even the slightest bit nearer.

Yet even that makes me miss them. Ah well, it's only five nights that I'm away from them. I'm sure they'll be ok without me.

I just hope I'm ok without them!

Happy Monday!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

To Sleep...Perchance to Dream

Have you ever had a dream that’s so vivid and clear that, when you wake up, you’re disorientated for a brief moment and find yourself wondering which is the real world?

I’m sure you have. I’m sure, at some point, everyone has a dream like this. After all, if you watch the movie “Inception,” that’s pretty much the entire premise.

It’s amazing the landscapes our slumbering minds can create. We get to go places in our dreams that we’d never be able to go in reality. Reality is twisted and distorted and everything is possible.

I had one of those dreams last night. I won’t bore you with the details because our dreams are never as exciting to others as they are to us. I think it’s because while we’re dreaming, we feel like it’s real and, when we awaken, we still have the sense that something happened, even if it was just the makings of our subconscious mind.

The hard part about dreams is that they slip away from us. We can try to hold on to them but, over time, though we remember the main component of what happened, we don’t remember the tiny details that made it so vivid that we woke up feeling strangely exhilarated and as if we’d actually experienced them.

I try to write down dreams like this. I do it as soon as I can after waking so I can remember as much as I possibly can before it fades away, a distant whisper of something we dreamed but never as alive as it was upon waking.

The interesting thing is to go back and read about those dreams a few years later. I actually had a dream journal where I tried to capture the essence of the most vivid of my dreams. I read it recently and rereading them, I’m often amazed at the things my sleeping brain devised. I might remember having the dream but reading the details amazes me.

The one I had last night was like that. To some people, it would be alarming. To me, it was fascinating. Essentially (and without the too boring details), it involved an apocalypse, a Beast, me selling my soul to Satan in order to become a powerful demon who was immortal.

The thing I remember most is the detail of the dream. Even now, I can pinpoint the moment in the dream where I made the choice to sell my soul. It sounds weird and twisted but I’m fascinated that my subconscious was able to make it so realistic and actual. There was panic in the dream, mass chaos and lots of fear. Then there was an otherworldliness to the Hell my brain created and the exhilaration of feeling power and control.

(Note to people who know me: I promise I’m not contemplating a change in faith or becoming a satan worshipper. My brain is just a bit odd when I sleep. And when I’m awake. But that’s another story).

Granted, if you’re familiar with my book, The Reluctant Demon, demons and Hell aren’t exactly a stretch of my imagination. Since I just finished the sequel, Emmy Goes To Hell, it’s not even a surprise that I can visualize Hell since that’s entirely what composes the framework of that book.

However, the Hell of my subconscious was far scarier and, dare I say it, than the Hell my sleeping brain concocted. The demon I became was nothing like the demons I made up in my book. There were processes in my dream Hell that were surprisingly logical: I had to get baptized into the name of Satan, eat some form of offal and have dinner with Satan himself.

Naturally, as a writer, I’m quite fascinated. It’s like my brain wanted to write a new story, something darker and creepier than the comedic effort I just composed. If I had to analyze it, it’s probably due to the fact that I wrote my demon books to try something lighter and new but I’ve missed the dark and twistier tone I usually use. This was my brain’s attempt to reconcile what I actually did with what I subconsciously wanted to do.

This is not to say I don’t like the books I wrote. I do. I think they inject a little darkness into the chick-lit genre while still keeping a somewhat light tone. My heroine has trials and tribulations but she’s intrepid and determined and is never really in any danger. It would be a different book if she didn’t make it out of Hell but got stuck there forever. It definitely wouldn’t be a romantic comedy, would it?

It’s just that, well, danger is exciting, isn’t it? It’s thrilling and it makes things interesting as long as it ends well.

I think my next book needs to have a little more danger and darkness. I think my dream was my mind’s way of reminding me that while it’s fun to create fluffier things, what I really enjoy is a dark and twisty tale where my heart pounds a little and I never quite know if my hero/heroine will make it out intact.

Whatever the reason, I have to admit, I was disappointed to wake up this morning, even if it was to a puppy frantically trying to wake me up so I’d let her go outside to do her business. I felt a strange let down because I would never find out the end of my dream-tale. Dreams are not like DVR’s where you can resume the spot in the TV show where you left off and they’re not like books where you can bookmark a page and jump right back into the story.

Instead, dreams are an amazing place that’s always different and you never, ever know where you’ll end up when you lay down to sleep.

You just go along for the ride.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Confessions of a Chronic Worrier

One thing I’m learning in my job is that no two days are alike. Yesterday was one of the slowest days ever. No one was returning calls or emails and I sat at my desk waiting for something to happen to give me a lead. Instead, I hit dead ends time after time. I blamed the bad weather- a lot of companies shut down yesterday because of the snow.

Today was a different story. People called me back. I was able to talk to candidates and submit them for positions. It felt like something was going right. Now all I have to do is wait to see what happens next. Ideally, the companies to where we submit our candidates will like the resumes and want to schedule interviews. That would be a nice thing.

My boss likes to give us incentives to get people in jobs. He’s very good like that. Sometimes it’s a monetary bonus. Sometimes it’s taking us all out to dinner. This month, if we meet his quota, he’s taking us all out to Benihana. Most of you probably know what that is but for those of you that don’t, it’s one of those Japanese steakhouses where the chefs cook at your table and use fancy showmanship. They even flip veggies in your mouth. I’ve been to one of those places exactly once. It was interesting but I don’t particularly like having veggies flipped into my mouth so that I catch them. Mostly, it’s because I’m horribly coordinated and I can’t catch. However, I also have a fear of swallowing the object whole and choking.

I know, it’s not likely but one of my special gifts is being able to find something to worry about. It’s not a good thing, believe me. However, if you ever want someone to come up with a worst case scenario, just ask me. I’m good at thinking of bad things that can happen while doing everyday things. This is one of the reasons my car has wind down windows. I have this irrational fear of driving into a lake and not being to get out of my car. At least with a wind-down window, I’d have the chance of getting it to work without having to worry about the electrics shorting out.

I also worry about my puppies. Each day when I leave, I utilize my own slight case of obsessive-compulsive disorder and make sure that the bathroom door is shut so that the puppies don’t break the lids off my cleaners and accidentally drink bleach and whatever else I have in there. I also double-check that the back door is securely latched behind me. This is in case the puppies find a way to open the door and escape because I’ve left the garage door open. This, naturally, leads me to triple check that the garage door closes behind me. I confess that I’ve driven around the block to pass by my house just to make sure it’s shut.

I know. This is all rather irrational. After all, the puppies don’t have thumbs. They can’t open doors or break the tops off bottles but it’s hard to tell my over-worrying mind that because it’s already imagined it and, therefore, it could happen.

I’m a worrier. I admit it. It’s my nature. I have a friend that tells me not to worry so much about everything but that’s rather like telling someone with an addiction not to be addicted. It’s just not that easy. There are ways I control it. I laugh at myself; that’s the easiest way to stop me from going too far with my worrying.

But I still worry. Sometimes, it’s about silly things. Currently, it’s bedbugs. Here in the Midwest, there seems to be a problem with bed bugs. My coworker is obsessed with them and is always afraid she’s going to bring them home from some public place. Thus, I, too, began to worry and found myself going home to check to make sure I didn’t have bed bugs at home.

You’ll be happy to know I don’t. I didn’t really think I did but I had to check. It’s just one of those things. Just like when I lose something and I become completely obsessed with finding it. I can’t focus on anything until I a) either find the lost object or b) finally resign myself to the fact that it’s lost and I stop looking but begin obsessing about when I last saw it and where it could possibly have gone.

That obsession is not my fault. It comes from my parents. My mother does the same thing. I think my dad probably would too but his solution is to blame my mother for losing it and so she feels compelled to look for it. I think it’s my dad’s lazy way of not having to look for it himself. My older brother does the same thing. It’s just a weird family thing. Rather like the obsessions.

I’m sure my worrying/panicking is actually not that unusual. I’m sure I’m not the only one with imaginary worst case scenario's in my head. The way I look at it is as long as they stay in my head and I don’t let them really get in the way of my living my life, it’s ok. As soon as the worry become debilitating, I’ll…start to worry.

It’s a vicious cycle.

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snowy Sort of Days...

It snowed a lot today. It started right before I got up and hasn’t stopped since then. Driving to work wasn’t too bad because the snow hadn’t been falling that long. Driving home from work was another story but I’m fortunate to live only a short distance away so at least I didn’t have to have white-knuckles for too long.

Unfortunately, the bad weather meant that I couldn’t make it home to the puppies at lunch. I left them uncrated all day because I had a feeling I’d get stuck. I hate not being home to let them outside but I think it’s far better for them to be stuck inside without being stuck in a crate for outside. They were very good, considering the length of time I had to leave them.

Of course, I think they were more perturbed to have been stuck inside all day because they were missing out on the snowfall. Before work, they spent almost the entire time it took me to get ready gallivanting out in the snow. They came in covered with snowflakes and as happy as larks.

Rory, in particular, enjoys snow. For some strange reason, she can often be found rolling in the snow. I’m not just talking a casual roll- I’m talking a full on, writing on the ground with joy and loving every minute of it roll. You can almost see the grin on her face as she does it. Her other favourite hobby is ice chewing. She particularly likes it when I knock the icicles of the roof and toss them away so she can go get them. Generally they’re too heavy to actually carry but she tries. She can also often be found lying on her tummy, contentedly trying to chomp away at a mound of ice on the frozen ground. Sookie enjoys the snow too but in a different way. Being my little huntress, Sookie enjoys the clear landscape for birdhunting that snow provides. Without too many objects to disguise her prey, she enjoys the tease of running up to birds as they land briefly. She hasn’t caught one yet but she’s trying. She’ll bound across the garden from one side to another in order to catch a bird. Of course, when the snow is deep enough, she tends to swim across the garden but she doesn’t seem to mind too much.

The trouble with dachshunds is that they’re low to the ground. This means even with a shallow fall of snow, the undersides of their tummies catch the icy substance and they come inside dripping underneath. There’s nothing that gets you on your toes quite as much as a dachshund who comes in from outside and jumps on your lap, dripping with snow.

Still, I’m pleased that my girls like snow. It means when I go outside, they come with me instead of shivering and quivering inside, afraid of the cold. Instead, they frolic as long as they can outside, come inside to warm up and then proceed to go back out. I tried putting their coats on them but they just get them soaking wet which defeats the purpose.

I enjoy the snow too. I don’t particularly like to drive on it as I’ve mentioned before but once I’m home or when the roads are clear, I find it rather a treat to have the world surrounding me be a blanket of white.

The only part I don’t like is that while kids in snowy areas get snow-days from school, the adults around them still have to go to work. It’s not that I can’t get to work when it’s snowy. It’s more that I want to stay home and pretend I’m snowed in. There’s something wonderfully liberating about not being able to drive far. It forces you to stay inside and do things like puzzles or sewing or cooking or reading. Since I enjoy all these things, snow days are definitely for me. I just don’t get them very often. Actually, unless it snows on a weekend, I don’t really get them at all.

Still, even when I’m not truly stuck inside because of the snow, winter allows us the time to relax and not feel like we have to do very much at all. Or, if we do, it’s not at the busier pace of the other seasons when there’s things to be done outside. Also, the snow is covering my lawn which means for the next few months, it won’t grow which means I won’t be able to mow. Since I dislike mowing rather a lot, this makes me happy.

Ah, snow….I love you! Happy Wednesday.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Happy Birthdays...

Today is/was my birthday. It’s been a good day so far despite falling on a Monday. I had no expectations, in all honesty. Having a birthday in January has never guaranteed a smooth, fun-filled birthday. Too many times, my birthday has fallen during a period of horrible weather and it’s been hard to get out and about. As a child, people had a hard time finding gifts to give me because my birthday falls in that period after Christmas where stores are clearing their shelves of the crap they couldn’t sell.

Still, thanks to friends and family over the years, I’ve had some good birthdays in spite of bad weather and the time of year. Thanks to Facebook, I’ve found my birthday is more acknowledged. Some people find it tacky that people use Facebook to say happy birthday. Me, I find it flattering. All those people who posted on my wall took the time to acknowledge that it was my birthday and to send me a little message. That means a lot even if it doesn’t take much time. Given that my brothers forgot my birthday this year- which isn’t really that unusual as they’re not really very good with birthdays anyway- it’s nice that friends both close and casual do take the time to look and see whose birthday it is and then take the time to send their good wishes your way.

Those Facebook messages were fun to get at work. They came throughout the day and it was nice to feel ‘special’ as I read every greeting. My coworkers were also very thoughtful. They got me a very cute birthday card with dachshunds on it which made me smile the minute I saw it. That’s the type of card that was chosen specifically for me and I appreciated it. I also appreciated my boss taking us out to lunch to celebrate. At my last job, we did birthdays very casually- always a group of us would take someone out. It was never my boss who would initiate and invite. So it was a pleasant change when my entire office acknowledge it was my ‘special’ day.

And of course, the nice thing about birthdays is that they come with gifts. I got some nice ones this year, even if they were a little unexciting. My parents gave me a drill/screwgun. It doesn’t sound exciting but having my own house requires tools and the next time I go to IKEA, putting the furniture together will be much easier. Granted, I’m sure having cool tools won’t stop me from putting it together backwards the first time as I inevitably seem to do but at least it’ll mean I can get the screws/bolts out a little more quickly when I have to dissemble it.

I also got a lovely thoughtful gift from Saz who gave me a gift card to Williams Sonoma. As a budding cook, Williams Sonoma is one of those stores I love to peruse but when it comes down to it, it’s hard to justify wanting a fish spatula/turner for $15 when there are more necessary things I should buy such as groceries and dog food. However, with a gift card, I now have the power to buy that fish spatula with zero guilt. It may seem like a weird thing to want to buy but if you watch as much Iron Chef America, Top Chef and Food Network as I do, you start to realize that there is a significant difference in spatulas and there’s a reason there’s a special one for fish. Either that, or I might buy the chef’s knife I’ve been wanting for a while. The possibilities are endless. Gift card=power. I love that.

It’s not just about the gifts, of course. It’s about having one day a year that’s yours, that makes you special. Ok, so there are other people born on that day but within your inner circle, that’s your day. It’s the one day of the year that gets to be your celebration day.

The only problem with birthdays as you get older is that they’re far less exciting than they were as a child. When you’re a child, birthdays are a big deal. I was never the type of child to want a huge birthday party. I always thought I did but when my birthday came around, the idea of having that many children around just didn’t really appeal. I much preferred the alternative- inviting my friend over to ‘tea’ and being able to have whatever we wanted.

I inevitably always wanted fishfingers and chips. That’s fish sticks and French fries to you American readers. It may sound rather an odd choice for a child but when I was a child in the UK, fish fingers and chips was the equivalent of hot dogs or pizza in the U.S. nowadays. In other words, it was child-friendly food. My mum would make chips and we’d have them with peas and fishfingers. Malt vinegar was, of course, a big player in the meal. For ‘pudding’ (translation: dessert), we’d have ice cream and jelly (translation: Jell-O) or we’d have little tea-cakes and Viscounts. Tea cakes are these cookie like things with a layer of jam with a mashmallow filling on top of that and the whole thing was encased in a thin layer of chocolate. They were my favourite. Viscounts were mint filled cookies covered with chocolate (of course) and wrapped in a foil wrapper. They were a big deal to a child because we only had them on special occasions.

That was it, really. Now I look back, I realize that even as a young ‘un, I never really wanted to do anything truly exciting for my birthday. When I got older, I got to go to a movie and/or dinner. That suited me fine. I had a surprise party my first year in college thrown by my roommate and our next door dorm neighbour. That was so much fun because I had no idea they were planning anything. A few years ago, friends took me out to a fancy steakhouse in L.A. That was a good birthday because I didn’t realize I was being taken out and it was a wonderful treat.

This year, my friend took me out to dinner. We didn’t go anywhere fancy- just the local BJ’s Brewhouse. Yet it was fun. I ordered fish tacos which, really, when you think about it isn’t a far cry from fishfingers when you stop and think about it.

It just goes to show that no matter how much you think you change, in some ways you stay the same. That’s not such a bad thing. In fact, it’s rather nice. Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Naughty Pups and Fast-Flying Weekends

It's another one of those weekends that flew by too quickly. I'm having trouble believing that it's Sunday evening again. I was talking to my mother this weekend and we were talking about how time moves so much more quickly when you're an adult. As a child, it's measured by school days, vacations and weekend. A day seems much longer when you don't have any obligations other than school.

For adults, at least adults who work, time is measured by evenings and weekends. It becomes blocks of time. The blocks must account for errands and responsibilities as well as relaxation time. For every free evening, there's laundry to be done, groceries to be bought, dogs to be walked. I'm sure with children, there's even less time.

Weekends just fly by...that's all there is to it though, I suppose, when I was in school they always went by too quickly so I suppose some things don't change that much when you become an adult.

Still, I can't complain. I had a nice weekend. I went back to my parents just so I didn't have to spend the weekend by myself. My parents took me out to eat on Saturday. Unfortunately, it was one of those bad server experiences where our waitress forgot to put in our order. Thus, we ended up waiting almost 30 minutes for our entrees to arrive. In the end, we got our meal for free which was very kind of them but after you've sat there for 30 minutes getting more and more frustrated, the food never tastes as nice as it would have normally.

The pups always enjoy a trip back to my parents or their 'grandparents' as I refer to them. Sookie, especially, enjoys her visits. My parents have three dogs of their own. My dad has always taken pleasure in disturbing the dogs peace by winding them up and getting them excited by chasing them and playing with them. One of my parents' dogs, Oscar, a yorkie, is a yapper. He barks at EVERYTHING. My dad takes great pleasure in getting Oscar to "shout" at him which basically means Oscar chases him around and barks. A lot.

My dad has recently been playing with Sookie. She's always been a bit more vocal that Rory but it seems that thanks to my dad, Sookie has discovered her bark. She absolutely loves it when my dad winds her up and gets her to woof her little heart out. It's fun to watch because Sookie has so much fun.

The only problem is that it's very hard to get Sookie to turn off her bark. Thus, when we come back home, Sookie likes to continue to woof. She's starting to join in the chorus of the Dog Whisperer's beasts. She now barks anytime anyone walks by the house. She's just enjoying the sound of her bark.

It's hard to tell my dad not to play with her because it's clearly something Sookie loves and I love to see my dogs happy. It's just a little hard to find a way to get a dachshund to understand that it's not so ok to bark at her own house.

I'm going to have to figure out a way to do that. Either that, or curtail granddad's habit of getting her wound up and barking.

She's not my only problem child. My number one, mayhem-maker, is Rory. As I've mentioned whenever one of the pups is doing something she shouldn't, it's always Rory. Rory's the one who wriggles under the toolshed to catch a bunny when she can squeeze through a gap. Rory's the one who squeezes through the tiniest gap in my parents' fence to go running out in the field next door. Rory's the one who burys her head in the snow, comes out looking like an eskimo-dog and then gets an ear infection. She's the one with mud on her nose, leaves attached to her underbelly and cobwebs on her ears.

Now, Rory has taken to ice-skating. My parents have two fish ponds out back, connected by a deck and with a waterfall. My dad took the time to put nets over the ponds to deter the puppies from walking on the frozen surface. Unfortunately, Rory doesn't care about nets and if you don't watch her, she's found to be standing on the frozen pond edging closer and closer to the unfrozen part near the waterfall.

I don't think it's likely the ice will give way. She's only 13 pounds and the ice is pretty solid. More, I'm worried she'll skid or fall and end up falling into the unfrozen part of the pond. Thus, my new hobby has become watching-Rory-When-She's-Outside-To-Make-Sure-She's-Not-Up-To-No-Good.

Rory is often up to no good. It's in her nature. She's just that kind of dog. She doesn't mean to be naughty. She just is. It's just her personality.

She's currently asleep on the couch. Sookie is curled up next to her. It's times like this that I realize that for all the trouble she causes, I wouldn't trade her for the world. It's those big brown eyes and the tilt of her head that gets me; she looks like she's actually listening when I talk to her, even if I'm telling her off.

Of course, she currently has a huge splodge of mud on her nose but, well, if she didn't, I'd probably be worried.

Happy Monday

Thursday, January 6, 2011

January Needs a Holiday Too!

Some days just don’t go the way you plan. Mine started out well. I was sorting through emails, finding candidates for jobs and all the usual sort of thing that make my day go well. The morning past quickly and I felt productive. Then, the afternoon came along and everything just…stopped. My first recruit who I placed in a job proved to be a problem child for his employer. He ended up getting fired today because he simply couldn’t just learn the job and do it but, instead, followed people around and tried to get them to tell him exactly what to do. That’s not good when you’re supposed to be a manager.

Aside from that, the afternoon just turned out to be…a blah one. I can’t explain the blahs but if you’ve had them, you’ll know what I mean. Nothing seems to be working out, everything just seems to fizzle to a full stop and you find yourself looking at the clock too many times in an hour.

By the time I got home from work, I was tired and cranky. It didn’t help that I had to take down my Christmas decorations either. I’m going back to my parents’ this weekend to celebrate my birthday so I won’t be around to take them down then. As much as I love Christmas and the trimmings, there comes a point after the holidays where the tree suddenly feels out-of-place and the room begins to feel cluttered. Christmas music is no longer as fun. The smell of cinnamon and pine cones seems a little stale.
All in all, sad as it is, it’s time to take the decorations down.

The room looks empty without them. The bright coloured lights made the room feel warmer and without them, there’s just the usual d├ęcor to fill the space.

This time of year is hard. It’s the start of a new year but the end of the revels that salute the holiday season. Winter is still gaining its hold but is dithering about whether it wants to bring snow, rain, sleet or ice. The landscape is yellowed and sad and there’s still a lot of weeks before the green of spring is allowed to show through.

I don’t mind the winter. I’ve said that in several blogs. I love the fact that winter is the dormant period allowing nature to rest before it starts all over again. I enjoy the snow it brings. It makes the world a different place.

I just don’t like the “in-between” feeling you get during the first weeks of the year. There’s no real holiday or occasion to mark any particular occurrence in January. Prior to that month, you have Labour Day in September which gives way to Halloween which leaks into Thanksgiving which is often overshadowed by Christmas.

Then January rolls around and the escalating holidays come to a crashing halt. I think everyone feels it. People get the blues because not much is happening. Around these parts, it’s too cold to spend time outside and so even those of us who are happy homebodies start to feel the itch to get out and do something.
It’s a strange month, January. Theoretically, being the start of the year, it should be a time for new beginnings but sometimes, it’s hard to find the motivation. The winter clothes are now starting to feel bulky instead of cosy and you feel a little weighed down.

I don’t know what the solution is, honestly. Experts, whoever they might be, say that we need to get daylight or we get depressed. They recommend exercise and hobbies as a way to counteract the blahs. There are countless articles on how to cook healthy, how to incorporate workouts into your daily routine and how to fight the stress of every day life.

All of these are nice. Some of them work. It’s just that no coloured lights, candy canes or pumpkins to take the gloom out of the air, January has a challenge in trying to get people excited to do….things.
It’s not January’s fault. It’s just where it falls on the calendar. It’s the start of something. It doesn’t have time to develop its own personality before February so rudely snatches the reins and floods the worlds with the slightly irksome pinks and reds of Valentines Day.
Perhaps we should give January its own holiday. One that celebrates the Januaryness that fall upon us. One that lets us replace our Christmas wreath with something specific. Maybe something with bright colours and light that celebrates celery or carrots or something that counteracts the effects of the holiday treats.

No matter what it is, I think January needs…something. Even though it’s my month of birth, it’s still not that exciting to me. It probably comes from the fact that as a child, my birthday was too close to Christmas and people were fed up of celebrating by then. It’s nice to have a birthday but I’m not much of a party animal and never had the personality where I felt like it was ok to throw a party for myself.

Still, maybe it’s not really about the month. Maybe it’s about our attitude. Maybe if I don’t let myself fall into this pattern of blahs, it won’t happen.

Of course, it would help if my people didn’t get themselves fired from jobs that I’ve worked hard in which to place them. Ah well, I'm sure there's a lesson in that somewhere.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Every Point of View is Different

You might be interested to know that more birds fell out of the sky yesterday. This time it was in Sweden. It’s being blamed on more fireworks. What I’m finding interesting is that people around the world let off fireworks quite a lot during the year but you don’t usually hear about them being followed by it raining birds, do you? Ah well, who knows. Maybe birds have become more sensitive. There could be any number of reasons but I’m telling you, if any more mass clouds of birds plop out of the sky, I’m going to get a little more suspicious.

I learned all about the Swedish bird plopping from MSN today at work. I love my job because it allows me to be productive but also lets me do a little surfing during the day. It’s usually when I’m waiting to hear back from someone. Sometimes, I have to wait to hear back from a first choice candidate before I can move forward with other candidates.

In addition to the birds, I read an article on MSN about “What your restaurant servers don’t tell you.” In it was a list of ten things that restaurant servers find irritating. This ranged from being irritated when someone tries to help you clean off their table because they have a ‘system’ for clearing to people who linger long after their meal is done. Also, they complained about not getting enough tip, how people don’t know that the evening’s ‘special’ is really just leftovers and how many people actually touch the celery on your buffalo dip plate or the lemon in your drink.

I find that later idea a little unappealing. I’d like to think that if that many people were touching the lemon wedge that’s bobbing in my glass of water, being that they work in a restaurant, they must at least wash their hands regularly, right? I’m choosing to believe that in that restaurant kitchen there are multiple bottles of hand sanitizer that are used whenever anyone walks by.

It’s interesting to read the complaints of the servers. My experience as a server has been limited to the odd catering gig in my earlier years as well as the occasional party in college. I worked in retail and offices rather than restaurants.

I’m sure the complaints of the servers are valid in most cases. After all, every job has its pet peeves. Annoying patrons must be at the top of the pet peeves list. Customer facing jobs are always a pain at times because they involve people and people are unpredictable. Their humanness allows for the fact that no two days are the same. If you’ve read my blog since I changed jobs, this is one of the harder lessons I’ve had to relearn after having worked with computers and software for a while. People are pains because they’re indecisive, sneaky creatures. They can be selfish and rude. Yet they can also be kind, generous and fun to work with. This is why I will always prefer a job that works with people over a job that works with machines. For every bad candidate I get, there’s a good one who knows how to be polite, say thank you and know that you’re trying to help them.

So, I can sympathize with restaurant servers. For every table of good tippers, there’s going to be several bad ones. There’s going to be tables with people who want everything “on the side,” or ask for a meal that is completely different to the one that’s on the actual menu.

Yet, as with every job, there’s a flip side to the story. As a patron, I could provide my own “what patrons don’t tell restaurant servers” article.
Given that the holidays have just passed, I ate out far more than usual because of the holiday get-togethers, lack of time and sheer desire to just eat badly. In one week, I ate out more than I cooked. This is very, very unusual for me but it did give me plenty of chances to reflect on what makes a good server and how we, as patrons, respond to their service.

Let’s start with tips. I know that servers make very little in actual wages. Most of their pay comes from tips. Thus, the server-point-of-view, a patron who doesn’t leave a tip is rude, undeserving and just plain mean.

However, from a patron point of view, that tip, generally, is based on service. I tend to try to tip well because I know that it’s part of the servers income. However, if I have a server who disappears for twenty minute periods, forgets half my order or doesn’t bring me silverware even after I’ve asked, it doesn’t seem right that I should leave a tip which indicates I’ve had good service. As the server article on MSN pointed out, if a server is busy, it’s irritating to be flagged over by someone when, clearly, they have their hands full.

However, if that table of patrons was seated twenty minutes before and has not yet even been asked if they’d like something to drink, maybe they’re flagging you down for a reason. Or, if they’re a group of people and everyone has their food but one person and that one person has been sitting their foodless for a good ten minutes, again, maybe they’re flagging you for a reason. There’s nothing more uncomfortable than everyone else feeling like they have to wait to eat because not everyone’s got their food and then, when they do eat because they’re food is getting cold, nothing is more uncomfortable than being the person with no food.

It’s not always the servers fault. I get that. Sometimes the kitchen is behind. Yet a restaurant is supposed to a be a cohesive machine. The servers are the ‘public’ side of the restaurant. They’re the ones that communicate with the patrons. If there’s a problem in the kitchen, tell the patrons. If you take the time to tell patrons that their food will be a while, at least the patron feels like they’re important to the server, that they’re acknowledged. I find it incredibly frustrating to be in a restaurant where you’re being ignored because it makes you feel unimportant and less than those who are being served. Then it begins to make you angry and you start getting snippy when the server does finally approach you with the food that’s taken forever to cook.

Yet, as I said, for every bad server, there’s a good one. There’s the waitress who notices that your server has abandoned you and you’ve been sitting there with empty plates for 20 minutes so she comes to your rescue. There’s the server who’s nice and smiles and makes you feel that she’s glad you’re in her section. There are the ones who tell you, honestly, which of the specials they’d really recommend and which one they don’t like. This is the reason I leave tips based on service, not necessarily out of obligation. I always leave a tip but whether it’s the traditional 20% or more or less depends very much upon the type of service I receive. I know lots of restaurants pool all the tips and divide them evenly among the servers so, in the long run, I’m not having a great effect but for me, it makes me feel better and it sends a small, significant note to my server how I feel about their service.

It’s all about point of view. Everyone has one from where they’re sitting. One of my favourite things to do is try to put myself in other people’s shoes and see what they’re seeing. Sometimes I can, sometimes I can’t but it’s interesting to try. I’d like to think it makes me a little more aware of how I’m acting so that I’m not one of those patrons who’s constantly beckoning my server for small, irritating things or who doesn’t even say thank you when my food is brought to me.

It’s still interesting to read about things from the opposing point of view though because I think it helps us become more aware overall.

It’s just nice when it works both ways.

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Falling Birds and Floating Fish...

Things are picking back up after the holidays, it seems. Today, people actually returned a few of my calls and replied to my emails. I take this as a sign that people are coming back to work both mentally and physically.

It’s unusual outside for this time of year. Normally, we have some form of ice or snow on the ground. On New Years’ Day it’s not unusual to have several inches already. This year on New Years’ Day, it started out as a 50 degree day. All the snow and ice melted and it seemed positively balmy. Since then, it’s got colder but it’s still snow/ice free out there.

It’s strange to look out into my backyard and see the yellowed, flattened grass which, prior to my leaving for my parents’ for the holidays, was covered with almost a foot of puppy-trodden snow. Now, the grass is completely clear although you can see the marks where I dug a path for the puppies as well as the paths they themselves made to burrow through the snow.

It’s strange especially as I know they had snow in Southern California yesterday and the day before. Now that’s an interesting thing. During my time there, it got cold. It got rainy but the only time I saw snow in L.A. was when I drove up to the mountains. You could see it glittering on top of the mountains from a distance but unless you drove up there, you didn’t actually feel the cold of snow. Thus, it’s weird to think that my friends in California are having weather that’s more like ours and we’re having weather that…is not like ours.

Of course, that’s not the only odd thing that’s happening. I’m currently intrigued by the state of Arkansas. According to the news, 5,000 birds literally fell out of the sky shortly before midnight on New Years Eve in Beebe, Arkansas. This was preceded by about 100,000 fish showing up dead in the Arkansas the day before only 125 miles away from Beebe. According to MSN, yesterday, another 500 birds fell from the sky just over 300 miles away from Beebe in Louisiana.

I don’t know about you but I’m intrigued. The scientific theory on the birds is that they had a mass trauma. Since it occurred before midnight on New Year’s Eve, scientists are stating that fireworks were being set off and this terrified the birds.

My question is this: Aren’t fireworks usually set off after midnight on New Years’ Eve? Also, what about the fish? That’s a lot of fish.

Naturally, with this kind of weirdness comes the non-scientific theories. The, uh, ‘crazies’ are declaring it as a sign of the apocalypse. Me, personally, I’ll wait for the four horsemen and the locusts to show up before I start worrying.

Seriously, more than anything, the writer in me is jumping up and down with her hands raised saying, “Let me try! Let me try!” and then my brain begins to come up with scenerios that could mystically cause the death of the birds. The easy solution is aliens. I hate aliens. I’m fed up of aliens. If something weird happens, after people start thinking it’s an apocalypse, the aliens are blamed next. It’s an easy way out.

Also, I find aliens a little boring. I mean if they were responsible for killing birds and fish, I find that a slightly dull thing to do to another planet. Granted, I suppose that’s better than any of the following scenerios which are cultivated by the Hollywood idea of aliens:

* They have no water on their planet. Thus they need ours.
* They come in peace to study us.
* They come to destroy us either in retaliation for something or because they’re aliens and according to Hollywood, they don’t really need a reason.
* Their planet is dying and they need ours.
* They’re bored.
* They like earth so they decide to take over it.
* They get stuck on earth because they’re spaceship abandoned them/broke down.

I’m sure there are plenty of other alien scenerios from Hollywood but those are the ones that come to mind.

I don’t want to think aliens are killing our birds and fish. I’d prefer to think of it as something more…exciting. Maybe the fish just had a suicide pact. Maybe theirs was a fish cult and they all drank the fish equivalent of Kool-aid because they were fed up of being bottom feeders (note: the fish were ‘drum fish’ which aren’t usually caught for food). Maybe the birds dropped out of the sky because they ran into a strange, invisible wall that only appears every 2011th New Years’ Eve. Or there was a skyquake which we didn’t feel because humans don’t have wings.

Who knows? My ideas are silly but it’s interesting when such phenomenon’s occur. They’re the kind of news stories that pique my interest because they’re not the normal depressing tales of murder, mayhem and tragedy that often bookend the news. They’re unusual. As a writer, they get my imagination flowing.

It’s just interesting that this is how the new year begins. I’m sure in a few short days, we’ll have someone who’s done the math based on either Nostradamus or Revelation and they will declare that 2011 is predicted as the end of the world. Then they’ll start infecting people who formerly were only a little paranoid and turn them into ‘crazies’ who start buying books called, “2011: YEAR OF THE APOCALYPSE.”

People fascinate me. Mass bird deaths and fish deaths fascinate me. I know this makes me slightly twisted and disturbed but, well, if you read my blog regularly, I make no apologies for that.

I’m going to be keeping an eye on the news. In the meantime, since I’m looking for story ideas, if anyone out there hears of any other interesting news stories (or “News of the Weird”, as it’s called), pass it along. I can always use ideas.

Oh, and if you spot four horseman riding by, let me know that too. Now that would REALLY make for an interesting story. If there’s time, of course.

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Waiting for the Next Idea...

It’s always hard to go to work on a Monday but after over a week away from work, celebrating the holidays and generally being rather lazy, it’s extremely hard.

It didn’t help that it was a very quiet day at work. It was one of those days where people aren’t returning phone calls, everyone is feeling sluggish and not much gets done, even if you have the best intentions.

For me, it felt a little torturous sitting at my desk when, just yesterday, I’d been finishing up a week off by reading, doing puzzles and playing with the pups.

Now it’s time to get busy again. In my case, this means starting to brainstorm ideas for a new novel. I finished my sequel to The Reluctant Demon just about two weeks ago and while I’m editing it, I want to start something new that isn’t quite so frivolous and silly.
That’s a hard thing as a writer, especially because I’m the kind of writer that I am. I’ve tried techniques before of coming up with ideas by diagramming stories, using notecards…all of the things you read about in writing books.

However, now I’ve written ten novels, I’ve learned that the only thing that works for me is for me to sit down and just…write. All I need is a glimmer of an idea and then to create a character who ‘speaks’ to me and thus, a novel is born.

I’m just waiting for that glimmer.

The problem is, I want my next novel to be good. This is not to say that my past efforts have not been good because I know most of them are, at least, very decent. I mean to say that I want the next book to be really good- the type of book that means something to people.

That’s a lot of pressure. I wonder if when some of the great writers of the past sat down to start a book, they intended their novel to be studied and read for generations to come.

Of course, I’m not sure that’s the type of good I’m looking for. Mostly, I want the type of good that, when I write, I can’t wait to get back to it, to see where my character is going to go and what will happen to him or her. My last books were fun. They were great ways for me to use my imagination and envision what a view of Hell would be like from someone who was only there to rescue her demon lover.

So, I’m beginning my New Year by trying to come up with new ideas. Now the holidays are behind us, it’s time to focus on the path ahead. For me, this means writing. This past year was my slowest as far as writing went. Usually I finish two books in a year or, at least, finish one and get another one halfway done. Last year, I only wrote one. Granted, I published one as well but as far as the writing process went, I allowed myself to be lazy and procrastinate. I could blame my procrastination on a number of things. For most of the year, I was in a job which I increasingly hated with each passing day. I finally did something about it in October. Now I have a job I enjoy that I find rewarding. I also adopted two puppies. They’re not as much puppies anymore as they are dogs. They just turned a year old on December 28th. I had to buy them dog biscuits as opposed to the puppy ones. That was hard because it was a concrete reminder of how things don’t stay the same.

I still think of them as puppies though. They still act like puppies and I have a feeling that, in my eyes, they’ll always be puppies. They’re more self-sufficient now than they were a few months ago but they’re still available for cuddles and love whenever I need it. At the moment, poor Rory has an ear infection so she’s needing a little more babying than usual.

Aside from puppies and work, my slump in writing can be blamed simply on me being trapped in my own head. I’m my own worst enemy- I get down on myself and start believing that I’m useless and a fraud. This year, I’m vowing to not let those thoughts overrule me. Instead, I’ll look at what I’ve accomplished and simply be happy that even if my wildest dreams have not and might not be met, it’s still ok to be happy with what I do and what I’ve done.
I suppose you could consider this a New Year’s resolution though I’m not so sure I want to call it that. It’s ok to make resolutions but I think that we shouldn’t use the New Year as an excuse to do so. Instead, we should make them when we realize we need to change regardless of the calendar date. Still, I can’t help but use the new year as a reason to try to improve. It’s a convenient starting point.

I’m excited to see what the New Year brings. Even if it does mean it’s time to get back to work.

Happy Tuesday!