Friday, November 30, 2012

yeah no

So it turns out writing a novel in November is pretty much the stupidest idea anyone has ever had.

Probably the person who thought it up was some kind of novel-writing savant. Good for you, smart ass!

I wrote a portion of a novel this month, which was fun. It actually really was fun. Whereas the first novel I wrote was like ... oh, I don't know. Stabbing myself repeatedly? While sobbing? It was so difficult, probably because it was too close to home. Which is cliche, I know. Stupid novice novelists writing fictional books that are really about themselves. Go dig a ditch, ya dumb writers.

It really is stupid. But I had to get it out of the way so I could write about other stuff. Like the future and clones and weird technology and outer space. Because I am a science fiction writer now? Sure.

I don't know anything anymore.

In any case, I wrote a lot of words, but I think probably I only wrote about a sixth of what I ought to write in order for it to be considered a novel. I'm going to keep slogging away at it. Maybe it will just be a novella and I'll throw it up on the interwebs for people to download for like 43 cents. That's pretty affordable, right? I think I would need to sell just over 116,000 copies in order to make 50K. No problem. People really enjoy un-edited stories about the future that were written frantically by a person who has never written science fiction in her life. They really love that shit.


Monday, November 26, 2012

for a change

My, but the dental technology that has been invented in the last ten years. Sure, much of a visit to the dentist still seems to comprise lots of scraping and poking about in the gum area, but there have been advances!

Like the X-ray machine that just zips around your head and takes a picture of all your teeth so you're not clamping plastic squares painfully while a technician rushes to press a button. That was nice. Or the machine that can build you a crown on the spot, like that machine in The Fifth Element that put Leeloo back together after she got blasted out of space by ... space pigs or whatever they were.

Space boars.

It had been many years since I'd last seen a dentist. My previous dentist was fine as a person, and positively terrifying as a doctor. He'd tell me my teeth were terrible and then insist on drilling out cavities without using novocaine, because they were just shallow little cavities. Problem was they were never as shallow as they seemed, and though tears would be streaming out of my eyes, he'd still insist he was almost finished and the shot was unnecessary.

It takes a while to grow up and realize you can stand up for yourself sometimes. Well, it took me a while. I mature slowly.

Anyway, it might seem understandable that I would not ever want to see another dentist for as long as I lived. And that was generally the plan until I guilted myself into it. I do believe the mouth is the gateway to a number of health issues in the body, so figured I'd get mine checked out. Considering the train wreck that is my physical health, I assumed I needed a minimum of two root canals and one tooth would probably have to be pulled. There would likely be at least ten cavities.

So when I met my new dentist today I told him straight away that I was scared to death to be there and knew my mouth was a hot mess so to go easy on me. The man is a hilarious chatterbox who talks about practically everything but teeth. So it was a nice distraction. Everyone was generally impressed with the number of teeth in my mouth and the fact that my mouth has room for all of them (I have all my wisdom teeth). It was generally agreed upon that my teeth still appeared to be straight, thanks to two years of braces in my teens. I am apparently not in an advanced state of tooth decay or gingivitis and all my roots appear healthy. I have two cavities on one wisdom tooth. The hygienist earned her keep scraping away ten years of plaque buildup and polishing my teeth and now I feel like ... someone take a picture! These fuckers ain't gonna get any cleaner than this!

Until six months from now, I suppose. Because I made my next appointment, like a good girl. And I'm feeling very proud of myself for checking this little task off the list, even if it is something most normal humans manage to do on a regular basis.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

step 3

I cleaned the house! Murray (who is a cat) helped get the process started by barfing four times, on multiple surfaces, just as I'd sat down to eat a sandwich for lunch. A helpful beast, that one. I did not clean the aforementioned disgusting oven and grease trap. Will have to fit those in today.

Today is all about organizing my recipes, making lists and schedules of things that need to be prepped and cooked today, and prepped and cooked tomorrow.

There are many, many foods to make. I've got eight dishes for dinner, two appetizers, two desserts, and somewhere in there gravy needs to happen. I am a little stressed about the gravy. 

And, most importantly, I must obtain many bottles of wine at some point today. If there's time at the end of the day, I'll go to cardio kickboxing, but in all likelihood I will end up lying on the floor, covered in food spatter, funneling alcohol into my mouth. Priorities.

I'm sure many of you are in the midst of mad preparation, too. Godspeed! 


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

thanksgiving: step 2

Sometimes when I am having trouble falling asleep, I just remodel my whole house in my imagination and it makes me feel very peaceful. My house needs so much work ... it's pretty much reached a point of ridiculousness. For example, the hole in the ceiling in the hallway, from when the furnace was replaced two years ago.

We operate in fits and starts around here. It goes something like this: 1) Embark on enormous home improvement project. 2) Complete 3/4 of home improvement project. 3) Abandon home improvement project.

All that has very little to do with Thanksgiving prep, except that I'm always a bit ashamed to have people over who've been over before and they're like: So those holes in the walls are still there, huh? Yup. Thankfully we are loved for our endearing personalities and not our house.

Yesterday I completed Step 1 of Thanksgiving prep, which was to go to a couple stores and acquire approximately half a million dollars worth of food. Things I still do not have: wine, ground mace (WTF is that anyway), ammonia (where can I get this?), shampoo & conditioner (why is Yes To Carrots always sold out?), decorative gourds (yes, this is necessary to distract from the holes in the walls), and canola oil. The stores are already packed, dudes. It's only going to get worse. Last year the day before Thanksgiving I had to go to THREE stores just to find cream cheese (why is it always cream cheese?!) because two of them had sold out. I was having a major first-world-problems moment.

Today = Step 2: Cleaning. Oh lordy laws. Dusting and vacuuming and fluffing and mopping and washing and scrubbing and oh man I hate cleaning. Things I have recently realized need to be cleaned: The disgusting grease trap over the stove vent. Oh god. It is bad, dudes. Also: The kitchen cupboard doors. I need Mandy to come Windex those bitches for me. And I guess I should take the cooler out of the bathtub. And perhaps the living room curtains should go in the wash, since they look like they're growing their own pubic hair (THANK YOU CATS).

The oven needs to be cleaned in the very worst way you can imagine (last thing I baked: a smoked pizza. Smoked from the crud on the bottom of the oven that caught on fire), but I just realized it's not a self-cleaning oven (yes I have lived in this house for four years) and I will need to clean it with my hands. Which: WTF. I now understand why "self-cleaning oven!" is always listed in the specs for homes that are for sale. That always seemed so silly to me, but if you could see my oven now ... you would understand. It looks like 42 roast beefs exploded in it.

In any case, cleaning is my fate today. Time to embark on this ill-fated adventure.

Monday, November 19, 2012

unwashed masses

It's time to play a little game I'm going to call: "How many times will I need to go to the store before Thanksgiving because I forgot something?"

I've got a list as long as my arm and I'm heading to the grocery store today for all of my Thanksgiving accoutrements. The meal has been planned carefully, and my list has been quadruple-checked. Still, it never fails that I will miss something. And I will probably not realize it until I'm elbows-deep in some recipe, and will then need to run to Safeway at 1 a.m. for cream cheese and some greasy teenager will sidle up to me in the parking lot and ask to use my cell phone and I'll be like I WILL KILL YOU. This happened recently, is why I'm saying that.

The plan is always: Make The Holidays My Bitch, but mostly what ends up happening is I become the holidays' bitch. It's inevitable. Perhaps I should embrace it and just run, laughing maniacally through the malls. I could wear fair isle sweaters and tell strangers to have a wonderful Christmas. If I weren't a hermit who hates everyone. "You hate everyone. That's kind of your thing," my husband says, fondly. He is, of course, my polar opposite. Loves everyone. I just say, "Yes. It kind of is my thing." Mainly I just hate strangers who get in my way while I'm looking for canned pumpkin and bags of cranberries, and I really hate the cashier who shouts at me DID YOU FIND EVERYTHING YOU'RE LOOKING FOR even though I should probably have more patience with her because she might have some kind of mental disorder that causes her to act like an asshole and shout at people.

I knew this girl who was very zen and said to me she assumed that everyone who was driving erratically was desperately trying to get to the hospital. That was very generous of her. Because the fact is most people are driving like dicks because they're dicks. Which has nothing to do with the asshole cashier.

This is really just procrastination at this point. I've got to go out there soon. There's a turkey with my name on it behind the butcher counter. GO FORTH AND PROSPER. Make Thanksgiving your bitch, my friends. 






Friday, November 16, 2012

confessions

I appreciate when the internet comes up with my posts for me and I just have to fill in the blanks. Thank you Sarah for the idea!





1. Today I ruined a manicure (that I paid for)15 minutes after it was finished because I just NEEDED to break into a bag of chocolates.

2. I am terrible at keeping house. The worst. It's just that every time I spend more than 20 minutes on any household task, I start to get really pissed off because I keep thinking about all the awesome things I could be doing instead. Like watching a Real Housewives marathon. 

3. I haven't been to the dentist in, like, 10 years. I know, dudes. I know. I have an appointment about a week from now, at which I fully expect to hyperventilate while being told I have 64 cavities and need 14 root canals. 

4. I never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever wash my car. Ever. (I realize I am beginning to sound like a truly disgusting human being)

5. I think physical newspapers should freakin' die already. I know. I am a hypocrite, because I was a reporter for several newspapers. But facts is facts, man. The only people who would miss the real newspaper are hella old people.

6. I haven't cut my hair in god knows how long and now I look like a witch. I think it's maybe been two years. I don't even know who I am any more.

7. I believe I was about 100 percent funnier and smarter ten years ago than I am today. Now I am old and boring. 

8. I CANNOT STAND IT when people back into their parking spaces. It makes me inexplicably ragey. 

9. If I could get married all over again and do it exactly the way I wanted it, I'd elope. 

10. I am extremely judgmental. It's a problem. That said, I will rarely let on to someone that I am judging the hell out of them. Being two-faced: I haz it!

Ok, that's it! Feel free to hop on the bandwagon and fill out your own confessions ...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

trust no one

Any old The X-files fans out there? Oh, man. I was really into that show.

Anyway.

A little story for you today.

There was this woman who used to sit outside the Target I go to. She'd be there all day, every day, collecting money for a shelter for battered women. She was there for years. She made friends with tons of the customers. I'd see people chatting with her, hugging her, and of course giving her money.

Last night one of our local news stations ran a story about her because it turns out she is an enormous fraud. She and some guy named Willie have been pocketing the cash. Which explains the BMW she drives. 

I have an inherent distrust of anyone soliciting for a charity I've never heard of, so I've never given this woman money. But I always felt guilty walking out of the store and shaking my head "no" at her. She would tell me to have a good day, and I'd wonder briefly about her role at the purported battered women's shelter.

Now I feel vindicated, of course.

During a discussion about this on Facebook, one friend mentioned that she has to jump through tons of hoops with stores for get permission to sell Girl Scout cookies or solicit for the Salvation Army. If the store doesn't allow it, then they are technically not allowed to solicit there. The problem is the stores are unable to prevent solicitors who don't jump through the hoops. Anyone can set up camp outside a store entrance, claiming to be legitimate, and there's nothing to be done about it. In San Jose, the police don't have the staff to show up for these kinds of calls, so it goes unchecked.

So this is just a little tale for you and I to remember next time someone outside a store asks us for money. Unless it's for an organization you know is legitimate, it's possible it's a scam. Let's not be falsely guilted into giving money to these jackholes anymore.



Tuesday, November 13, 2012

oh brother

Whose brilliant idea was it to make November the month we would all sit down and write a novel? It's just like the worst month ever to write a novel.

Well, second worst. December would be worse.

Anyway, I estimate I have completed 12% of the novel. This is a very scientific calculation. Don't ask me how I came up with it. Ahem.

In any case, I should be 40% done by now, if the aim is to actually write a novel in 30 days. Which it is. I've been a very, very bad novelist.

And now, back to noveling. Toodles.

Friday, November 09, 2012

quit it

Oh, dudes, there are some ignorant people out there.

And there are also people who need so, so much attention.

And then there are ignorant people who need a lot of attention. And they are the friggin worst, you guys. And you know what makes these people like five quadrillion times more problematic than they already are as their own friggin ignorant-ass attention-needing selves?

The friggin internet.

Twitter, specifically, is Ground Zero for stupid-ass ignorant mo-fos who won't shut the hell up. Followed closely by Facebook.

And oh lordy, how we enjoy railing against these demented bastards. Except by "we" I mean tons of people other than me. I'mma tell you about that in a sec.

Here's the deal. There are certain aggravating people, with aggravating-ass personalities, always spouting their ignorant-ass opinions to whoever will listen. I'm convinced a lot of these idiots don't even believe the stuff they're writing; they're just writing it to get a rise out of people. And it works! We give them the exact thing they want: attention.

I'm gonna draw a comparison for you.

Have you ever heard of or seen that TV show called Bait Car? Cops outfit the things with audio, video, and GPS trackers, then wait for some idiot to steal it so they can arrest him. Which is just about the stupidest thing I've ever heard of.

That show is hella popular among a certain crowd: ignorant-ass mofos who need a lot of attention. They watch it and familiarize themselves with what bait cars look like and then they go out and steal one and get arrested just so they can be on TV.

Here's another comparison: those idiot chicks who go on Maury Povich and line up five different dudes for DNA testing because any one of them could be the father of her child, and then it turns out none of them are the father because chica boinked like 17 other guys, too. Dudes. You can buy DNA kits at the drug store. Or frickin Amazon. These people just want to be on TV, even though it's for the completely wrong reason. They need the attention.

Here's what I'm getting at. These ignorant internet trolls, some of whom are verrry wealthy and famous, need to go bye-bye. But that will never happen if we keep giving them the attention they so urgently need. Why should we justify their ignorance with a response? We should not. The only way to win against stupidity is to shun the hell out of it. That's my opinion, anyway. I don't follow those idiots on Twitter, I certainly don't respond to them, I completely ignore any references to them on the Internet, and it makes me ragey when I see them mentioned on TV, particularly when they have no legitimate reason to be involved in certain discussions.

I have to be vague about this because I refuse to mention certain people's names or even hint at what they might be involved in. This blog alone gives those blockheads WAY more attention than they deserve, but I had to write it to tell people to please stop giving the imbeciles attention. You're just stoking the fire.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

when you eat

The election is over, and praise be. My phone is silent and the wasteful fliers I was receiving in the mail (and dumping into the recycle bin without a second glance) have ceased. I trust the nasty commercials are through as well.

It doesn't matter how I voted or what I think of most of what happened last night. Politics are extremely divisive and people on both sides behave very badly. Neither side is able to understand their opponents' views and neither wants to try. Facebook becomes a battleground. Uncomfortable discussions occur around the dinner table at family gatherings. It's over, and I don't want to talk about it any more.

Except for one thing.

In California we had a proposition on the ballot that would have required genetically modified foods to be labeled as such. I supported this, despite claims from opponents' scientists that there's no proof GMOs do us harm. I tend not to trust American regulatory agencies because they've proven in the past they're not looking out for us (consider BPA and certain pesticides, off the top of my head). They're always about 20 steps behind other countries in enacting safety measures for the American public because they're in Big Industry's back pocket.

Take a look at this Q&A from the World Health Organization site, if you're wondering whether or not you should care about GMOs in your food. It's not exactly reassuring. It shows that Europe heavily regulates the use of GMOs and in some cases bans them. As far as health implications, they admit further study is needed.

My opinion is we don't yet know if GMOs are harmful, and we won't know for some time. Personally, I'd like the option of removing them from my diet.

The proposition failed, likely thanks to dollars poured into the campaign against it by the likes of Monsanto and Hershey. Oh, yes. All those delightful miniature candy bars left over from Halloween are comprised of GM ingredients. And Monsanto ... well, if you've read The Omnivore's Dilemma or seen the documentary Food, Inc., you're aware of what they're up to. Put succinctly, they're not in business for your health; it's the money, baby.

They don't want to be forced to label the foods that include GMOs, and it has nothing to do with the cost of labeling. It's because if they labeled them, we'd discover nearly everything we eat contains genetically modified ingredients. And then people might really freak out.

Anyway, Monsanto and Big Business win again, but maybe we'll go to battle again another day. In the meantime, let's talk about how to avoid eating GMOs. Here are a few tips.

- Corn is the single most genetically modified crop out there, and corn is in everything. I'll refer you back to The Omnivore's Dilemma for more information. So basically, a huge amount of processed food has GM corn in it, and one study has shown rats that eat this stuff grow tumors (although some say the study was flawed). Best to avoid processed foods altogether, unless it's labeled non-GMO. Same goes for conventional meat and dairy, since the animals are fed GM corn. Buy beef that's 100% grass-fed or pasture-fed, and other meat and dairy labeled 100% organic.

- All organic fruits and vegetables are non-GMO. Fruits and veggies are also often labeled with a PLU number. If it's a four-digit number, it's conventionally produced. If it's a five-digit number beginning with an 8, it's genetically modified. If it's a five-digit number beginning with a 9, it's organic.

- Most canola, cotton, and soy are GM. Look for non-GMO labels. Personally, I think everyone should avoid soy if only because it's an estrogen-mimicker. There are already plenty of hormones floating around in our food and drinking water; no need to introduce more.

- Rice, pasta, and beans are believed to be safe. (although there is thought to be some GM rice out there)

- Most foods labeled as organic are believed to be safe, but there's no guarantee in the U.S. It will be labeled "100% organic" if it's GMO-free.

- Aspartame contains GMOs. So your diet sodas and sugar-free gum ...

- Realize that even if you are shopping at Whole Foods or other natural/healthy stores, they still sell products containing GMOs.


So, look. It's virtually impossible to avoid eating foods that contain genetically modified ingredients. I certainly eat them all the time. You'd have to quit eating out altogether and buy almost no packaged goods. But at least if we know which foods are GM, we can try to avoid them when possible.

And maybe in the meantime we can work on getting a similar proposition on the next ballot. And next time, let's win.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

civic duty

This morning I walked half a mile to our polling place to drop off my husband's mail-in ballot (we rarely mail them in although I managed to mail mine this year). It was at an elementary school and kids were running around, eyeballing me like "Whose mom is that?" I blame these awful mom jeans I'm always wearing. Plus my big mom hips. I'm always tempted to yell something inappropriate at groups of kids. Like: I'm your worst nightmare! 

I didn't, though.

It was a very quiet polling location, no lines. Just a few elderly people standing in the voting booths. A woman took my envelope and gave me FOUR stickers. So I basically win at voting today.

Then I yelled at her: I'm your worst nightmare! And then ran out of there.

Just kidding. I graciously thanked her and walked back home, where I sat down to a bowl of cereal and spread out my stickers so I could fully admire them.


Monday, November 05, 2012

brain

A woman who's been dead for more than 20 years once taught myself and my fellow elementary schoolers a number of songs we will never have a single use for other than to become lodged in our brains every now and then, preventing anything useful from happening until said song can be dislodged with, say, The Macarena or My Sharona. (feel free to add to the list of music that gets stuck in your head, whether good or bad)

Which is to say I have had Crawdad Song stuck in my head for two days and it doesn't seem to be leaving any time soon. Why were there so many songs about people going fishing in the old days? Anyway, do you know this song? It's something like: You get a line and I'll get a pole, honey. You get a line and I'll get a pole, babe. You get a line and I'll get a pole and we'll go fishing in the crawdad hole ...

As I was chewing my toast this morning I wondered if this song might be a little dirty, with all its talk of poles and holes. Dirty, dirty southern old-timers. And all us kids sitting on the cold tile floor of the cafeteria, following along to lyrics about Clementines falling into brines and chewing gums losing their flavor. I wonder if the alternate meanings of these songs ever occurred to Mrs. Henry.

This is all really just a distraction, because I have no plot for my novel. I'm making it up as I go. Which is how life kind of is, I guess. Sometimes we err, sometimes we succeed. Sometimes Crawdad Song gets stuck in our heads for two days and nothing productive happens.

Friday, November 02, 2012

unoriginal bastard

So I'm writing my new book for NaNoWriMo, when I suddenly have a realization.

This book has already been written.

It is called Fahrenheit 451.

That could be a problem.

Thankfully I'm not so far into it that this is a problem, but obviously my plot is going to need some tweaking.

It's quite all right, really. I've already replaced books with another object of mystery. It's a little cliche, but I'm still finding that having an original idea is damn hard. I'm not sure such things exist any more.

So far I'm finding the writing of this novel easier than my first novel. Obviously the experience of having written one probably helps, but I think it also helps to have less of a vested interest. I'm not overly concerned with character names or the plot. I've already killed two people. The object seems to be just to finish the book. Whether it is horrendous or not is of little consequence.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

out there

After a little thought (not much) I decided to go with science fiction for NaNoWriMo. I love reading it and I'm obsessed with apocalyptic books and movies so why not just write my own?

The only issue is coming up with a story that hasn't been told yet. When it comes to futuristic stuff, it's pretty much all been done. And mine does, of course, have to include healthy doses of LOOK WHAT THINE NEGLIGENCE HATH WROUGHT ON THE ENVIRONMENT, like many futuristic/apocalyptic books do. But it's so true. Yello, Hurricane Sandy anyone? Although seriously dudes, it's irritating that we needed to have a hurricane before people were like, Oh yeah, global warming! I totes forgot that was a thing!

It's a thing, dudes. It's a real thing.

Anyway, I'm writing this new book, and whatever. It's gonna be very weird and out of my element and probably super-cliche and wrong, but that's all ok. I'm enjoying it and thinking creatively, so it's a good thing.

So tell me: What would you include in a book set in the future? I am totally going to steal your good ideas.