"I'm a nun - I'm a penguin!"

(no subject)

I think most of you who read this know about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) by now. I attempted that once (7 years ago, holy crap) and failed miserably. Well, since I finished my first draft in July, I'm going to spend this month editing so I'll have a second draft to send to my critiquer victims. I'll post little progress logs here.

11/1: Started out the month doing absolutely nothing for my novel. But I attended Madhur Jaffrey's lecture in Pittsburgh, and it was pretty good.

11/2: Not only did I vote, I actually edited two chapters. These were mostly minor edits, because I've edited those chapters a zillion times over the years, but hey! Two chapters in a day! There is one short dream sequence that isn't working, but I put a sticky note on the page so I can come back to it when I have a clearer idea of how I want to change it.

The draft I printed is unformatted, single spaced, 66k words, and 116 pages. Today, I edited 19 pages (just on the printed copy, I haven't incorporated the changes yet). I probably won't edit that many pages per day, because I'm relatively content with the beginning of the book, and the later chapters haven't been edited a bunch of times yet. I think Chapter 3 will be a breeze to edit, because I've edited most of the scenes a few times, so maybe I'll get through 3 and 4 tomorrow. The thing is, I only divided about a quarter of the novel into chapters so far, so I may have to do some more dividing tomorrow. I'm also hoping to bump up the word count by about 9k words, but I have a couple scenes I want to add, so that shouldn't be a problem.

The thing that might be a problem? My laptop's backspace key is being moody and will only delete if I press it a certain way. I'm wondering if a good air blast will fix it, because I'm sure my keyboard is brimming with cat hair.

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"I'm a nun - I'm a penguin!"

Writer's Block: How old is too old?

Are you ever too old to go trick-or-treating? Is candy for everyone?

I went trick or treating when I was 23. I still would, but I have to give out candy now or risk having my house egged. Candy is for anyone who can eat it in moderation without any digestive/allergic reactions. YAY CANDY! But I liked it when people would give out chips or drinks, because it was nice to eat something salty to balance the sweet, and fluids are always appreciated.
"I'm a nun - I'm a penguin!"

(no subject)

I put together a playlist of songs I associate with my novel, so I figured I'd share it, along with any associations.

Characters referenced:
Annie - a pre-Christian minor British goddess specializing in bad weather, she's half fairy, very childish, and mildly insane
Andhi-Loakua (AKA Andy) - a former Pacific volcano deity who exiled himself for thousands of years after an eruption killed his twin sister and most of his people
Maggie Cunningham - a nerdy mortal girl (age 17-20 in this novel) who gains a few elemental powers after Annie saves her life
Leo - Maggie's college friend (age 19-20), they have a rather ambiguous friendship

Garbage - Only Happy When it Rains (Annie)
Dar Williams - It's Alright (Annie)
Jimmy Buffett - Volcano (Andy's past)
Tori Amos - Bouncing Off Clouds (how Annie feels about Andy)
Eric Himan - No Urgency (how Andy feels about Annie)
Michelle Branch - All You Wanted (Annie and Maggie's friendship)
Madonna - Like a Prayer (all the friendships, in a way)
The Bangles - If She Knew What She Wants (Annie and Andy)
Dar Williams - The Beauty of the Rain (Maggie and Leo)
Evanescence - Bring Me to Life (Andy and Maggie before they meet Annie)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show - I'm Going Home (Andy's choice)
Tori Amos - Dragon (the volcano scene - sadly, there is no actual dragon, it's just a metaphor)
High School Musical - Breaking Free (after facing the Council of the Gods)
ABBA - When All is Said and Done (the fairy feast)
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Moccasin eating spaghetti

20 reasons kittens are awesomer than babies

1. You don't have to get pregnant to have a kitten. No morning sickness, doctors, or pushing a bowling ball through your crotch!

2. You can pick your own kitten to suit your personality and lifestyle. With babies, you're stuck with whatever nature gives you, whether you like it or not.

3. Kittens are significantly cheaper to adopt, feed, and raise. If you have a baby, you have to get a bajillion expensive things for it, but kittens really only need a litter box, some food, and a few vet trips.

4. Kittens come in a zillion different colors and patterns. Sure, babies come in a limited spectrum of colors, but have you ever seen a tiger-striped baby?

5. It's much better for a teenager to have a kitten than a baby.

6. If you choose not to have kittens, society won't care, and your family and friends won't pressure you to "settle down" and become a cat lady/lord.

7. When your kitten grows up, it will never be too embarrassed to sit on your lap or snuggle in bed with you on Saturday mornings.

8. Kittens are so much cuter and fluffier.

9. If your kitten is bad, you can lock it in the cold, dark basement for a few hours.

10. When kittens grow up, they're still cute. But most grownup humans... not so cute.

11. If you accidentally step on your kitten's tail, it will glare at you and run away but forget about it in 5 minutes, instead of crying about it to their therapist 40 years later while blaming you for all their problems.

12. If your kitten barfs, it will probably end up on the floor, not all over your shirt.

13. Babies and catnip aren't very entertaining.

14. Kittens don't need diapers and are litter-trained when they're only a few weeks old.

15. Having a kitten won't turn your life upside down and require you to get up for 3 AM feedings, get a second job to pay for it, or question whether you should stay home with it or pursue your career.

16. You can cage your kitten for trips to the vet.

17. You can leave your kitten home alone while you go to work, and if you have to go away for a day or two, you can just set out extra food and water.

18. Kittens don't scream and cry all the time, and it's ok to ignore them if they meow constantly.

19. Having three or more cats is less crazy than having three or more children.

20. You can spay/neuter your kitten!
I love my hand!

Thoughts on Bullying

Recently, the media has been focusing on the many negative effects of bullying, especially in the wake of several young suicides. Several celebrities have filmed "it gets better" videos, and articles about bullying are popping up all over the place. So, I figure it's a good time to throw in my own two cents.

Bullying sucks. Everyone knows this. I'm sure most kids are bullied at some point in their lives, and pretty much every fictionalized kid/teen world includes the dreaded bully, whether it's the yellow-eyed redhead terrorizing kids on their way to and from school, the snobby popular girls, or the classic big kid who steals lunch money every day. Bullying is everywhere, regardless of age, region, socioeconomic class, and even species. Many people say it's just a part of life. Well, it is. But that doesn't mean you should put up with it.

It does get better. It may not go away completely, but things do improve with time. Kids can be rotten little jerks, and unfortunately, many parents don't teach their kids how to be nice, respectful individuals. Many parents even bully their own kids. In many ways, being a kid really sucks. You have little power and control over your situations, and older people boss you around and expect you to do what they say just because they're bigger than you. And then there are all the little snots out there who decide it's their job to push other kids around. It's horrible, but it's reality. It happens everywhere. You are not alone. There are millions of people who understand what you're going through. There are people who can help you if your parents and teachers refuse, or even if you're too scared to ask for help. Bullying tends to fade away once you're out of high school (though it still manifests in different forms, such as discrimination), so there is hope. But don't despair now, and don't wait to get help. If you confide in an adult and they won't help you, find someone who will. In this age, you even have the internet at your disposal, and you can join message boards and email lists with people who understand and can offer good advice.

But enough about you. Let's talk about me. Yes, I used to be bullied when I was in school. Since kindergarten, I believe, when a group of older boys on the bus would pull my backpack and continuously pester me. Fortunately, I grew a thick skin very quickly, and I never let their comments get to me. I knew they were just doing it because they were jerks who had nothing better to do than pick on people to make themselves feel better. They bullied a couple of my friends, too, but I was the main target. I've always been unusually short and weird, and my neurological system is rather off-kilter. They saw me as an easy target, so they went after me a lot. The bus driver never did anything about it, but I know that some of the parents did. I remember one time, my friend's mom came on the bus and yelled at the kids, and another time, one kid's parents made him come over to apologize (I was in the shower, so I missed it), but that didn't really do much in terms of stopping the bullying. This continued for years, and took different forms as I got older and went to different schools. When I was in third grade, one kid in the lunch room would always say "I didn't know third graders looked like kindergartners!" every time he saw me. I would retaliate by blowing raspberries at him. Well, I did until one of the cafeteria aides caught me, and I was the one who got in trouble. So I just avoided the kid after that. The bullying took a disturbing turn in junior high, when many kids discovered sexual harassment, but then the bullying mostly faded away by the end of high school. I think by that point, the bullies were old enough to realize that their actions didn't bother me like they wanted, and they saw that I wasn't afraid to stand up for myself. Of course, I had also come up with a few ways of warding off bullies that wouldn't get me in trouble. In my 10th grade gym class, there was this girl who randomly decided to pester me. She and some of her scumbag friends had made the national news the previous year when they had beaten up a couple younger girls, and the principals had merely suspended the bullies and encouraged the victims to switch schools. She never touched me, but she'd come up and say mean things, ask really personal questions, try to get me in trouble with the teacher and other classmates, etc. So I decided to mess with her. Whenever she called me crazy, ugly, weird, or whatever, I would agree and then say something really bizarre back to her. After a few months, she started avoiding me, and I overheard her telling someone, "that girl SCARES me!" Mission accomplished.

While I never let the bullying get to me, that wasn't the case with some of my friends. In junior high and high school, I befriended several other kids who didn't fit in for whatever reasons, and they had also dealt with bullying, some more serious than my own experiences. We understood each other, and we accepted each other. Interestingly enough, I think being really short has made me very tolerant and accepting of others. I have friends of every shape and size, I'd say about half are somewhere on the GLBT spectrum, and some of them have physical or neurological issues. Most of my friends are funny-looking nerds, and they're all awesome. But a lot of them were bullied in school, and some of them bear deep emotional scars because of it. I know several people who were driven to serious depression (among other issues), and a few even attempted suicide. I didn't really know how to help them other than just being there to listen, but I did what I could. I sometimes regret that I didn't stand up for them enough, and I really regret that I was a jerk to some people in 7th and 8th grade, but the past is the past.

We've all moved on, and we're all stronger. You'll move on, the bullying will fade, and you'll be stronger in the end. Once you get out of high school, those nasty kids will disappear from your life, and you'll probably never see them again. In college, people are much nicer and more accepting. Sure, there are still plenty of jerks out there who will harass you about being fat, gay, or whatever, but once you're legal, you have more power to stop them. So hang in there. Find a good teacher, counselor, or grownup friend you trust (they're out there, I promise), befriend your bully's other favorite victims, and look forward to graduation day. Once you're out of school, you're free. It's a great feeling.
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"I'm a nun - I'm a penguin!"

(no subject)

Ok, what is it with random deities popping into my dreams in the last few months? They just seem to appear in my dreams, without me even thinking about them lately, as if they're just there to say "Hey, sup?" And this time, it was titans.

In last night's dream, I was buying another house, only it was my friend's house (but didn't actually look anything like my friend's house). I don't know why I was doing it, because I don't really want to move or have two mortgages, but I remember looking around the house (which was bigger and nicer than mine) and feeling a little sad that the place would soon be a horrible mess. In the next part, I was in a different house, and I was cooking. I was apparently trying to create another sun (not in this solar system, but zillions of miles away). I was talking to either Oranos or Helios (I don't remember which, specifically, but both their names definitely came up in the dream... maybe both), and they were giving me cooking instructions. They weren't there, physically, but I was talking with them somehow, perhaps through telepathy. I was supposed to boil water and then stir it so there was a whirlpool in the center. I had a casserole dish full of tomato sauce and mushrooms. I was also supposed to add in a dead squirrel and something else, I don't remember what, but I had both ingredients with me. I got the water boiling and then added some more water, and it stopped boiling. I was getting really confused and was worried that I was doing it wrong, I think I was boiling water in a rectangular glass baking dish, which was a very bad idea. Andy was there and suggested using a big glass bowl, which was apparently safe for up to 500 degrees. I was convinced I was going to screw up the whole recipe, and launching another sun into the universe would fail miserably, and then I'd have to start all over and find another dead squirrel. Sigh.
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"I'm a nun - I'm a penguin!"

Writer's Block: Do you want to know a secret?

How do you think personal relationships would change if people could read minds?

The human species would last about a week. People would kill each other over thoughts, breeding would come to a screeching halt (you want to do WHAT to my mother?!?!?!), and most friendships would suffer, if not dissolve. I don't want to read anyone's mind, and I don't want anyone to read mine. Thoughts are really the only 100% private things you can have, and people would be shocked if they could read the thoughts of others, even those closest to them. Now, if mind-reading came with privacy settings, it might be a different story, but reading minds would have a terrible impact on the species.
"I'm a nun - I'm a penguin!"

(no subject)

In a rare fit of productivity, I cleaned the basement today. Well... not by myself. I cleared out everything, and then my mom vacuumed and mopped the floor. I scrubbed the heck out of the cat boxes and moved them down there, so I can rip out the carpet in the green room and convert it to a library/guest room. The cats weren't allowed in the basement before, so they're a bit confused about this new arrangement. They were hesitant to go down the stairs at first, because they're used to me chasing them back up when they make a break for it. But they eventually decided that it was ok to explore, because their boxes were down there and I wasn't running after them. I don't know if Hagrid has been down there yet. He's very obedient and has never tried to dash down into the basement, so he never went past the top step when I was encouraging him to come down. But I suspect that he'll go exploring when I'm not there and find the boxes. I did leave a temporary one in the green room, in case they forget (or I forget and close the basement door). I have a kitty door to install, so I can keep the door closed, but that can wait for another day.

Sometimes (or rather, quite often), I fail to distinguish between reality and my own imagination. Sometimes I'll invent products and then become convinced that they actually exist, and then I'm confused when I can't find them at the store. When Yarmulke tore a big hole in my window screen, I figured I'd just go to Lowe's and get a stick-on patch for it. For years, I thought that there were screen patches with adhesive on one side, and I went looking for one. Apparently, they don't actually exist, and I just made them up. But you know, they should make those. I bet there are tons of people whose pets (and kids) tear holes in screens, and they'd rather just stick on a patch than replace the whole screen. I was talking to my neighbors about it, and they thought it would also be cool if there were patches in different colors and shapes, so instead of a plain, boring screen patch, you could have a yellow star or pink heart or something.

I should totally pitch my idea to a window screen manufacturer. Watch, in two months this product will actually exist, and then I can sue the "inventor" and cite this post as evidence they stole my idea.

*5 minutes later*
Ok, so maybe I wasn't making it up. They do exist, but apparently they either don't sell them at Lowe's or I wasn't looking hard enough. But still, the multicolored shapes would be fun...

I had this dream a week or two ago that sort of took place at Pennsic. I say sort of, because there were a bunch of gods there, and it was like Pennsic for the gods. I was seeing from the perspective of Annie, my story character. I was walking up a road with Athena. In my dream, she was a pretty young woman (maybe early 20s) with light brown hair tied up in a ponytail. I think she was wearing a loose white tank top and something like shorts or a skirt, with a belt in the middle. I think she might have been carrying a weapon, like a bow (though I would associate that with Artemis, not Athena). We went up to a crossroads, and she turned and said somethingorother to Annie/me, then walked away. I went to what was apparently Annie's/my camp, only it was a pirate ship. Ok, maybe it wasn't really a pirate ship, but it was a huge boat-like tent on the edge of the water. I think we were trying to rotate the canvas cover, so I untied the ropes on one corner and heaved them over the side into the water. I walked into a "room" inside the big tent, and a couple gods gathered outside. One was this big, burly man with wild dark, curly hair and a beard, and he looked like he was about to attack me. So I yelled something like, "it's against the rules to kill another god!" He said he wasn't going to kill Annie/me, but I guess he was going to injure me because I was friends with Athena, and he wanted her out of the camp for some reason. Then Andy came out of nowhere and did this amazing high kick to the guy's chest. It was supposed to be god-Andy in the dream, but I guess my brain got confused, and instead, hobbit-Andy was there. So he did this totally badass kick to the attacking god, and the dream ended. After the dream ended, I was convinced I had to incorporate it in my novel, but upon actually waking, I realized it didn't make sense.
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"I'm a nun - I'm a penguin!"

Writer's Block: The table has turned

The answer is: Because it was interfering with my love life. What's the question?

Why did you cut off your husband's penis, Mrs. Bobbit?


Yes, I'm still alive. I haven't posted in a month, mostly from laziness. So here's what I've been up to:

- Pennsic was a lot of fun but way too hot. I enjoyed hanging out with almost everyone in Bork, my neighbors, and some other random people. I met a few new friends, and Andy and I finally finished my yurt. It was a lot better than sleeping in a tent, and it kept most of the rain out (I had a tarp underneath, and the edges were rolled up, and the canvas wasn't completely covering the tarp in one section, so some rain did puddle in there one night). I got some throwing axes, learned how to do naalbinding, and entertained the kids with my "drunk person" impression. I managed to avoid getting a bunch of blisters this year, but I did get sunburned again, so now I'm not so pasty any more and have interesting sandal tan lines on my feet.

- I've been playing ridiculous amounts of "Age of Mythology" again.

- Saturday night, I left my window open because it was hot, and when I woke up, I saw a big hole in the screen and wondered how long that had been there. Bouncer jumped on the window and poked her head out the hole, looking around, and I became suspicious. I heard a pathetic little mew, and I looked out the window to see Yarmulke sitting on the awning over the kitchen. She had apparently clawed the hole, squeezed through, then either jumped or fell onto the awning (maybe 5 feet below). She couldn't jump back up, and she wouldn't climb down the tree-sized bush next to the awning, even when I opened a can of her favorite cat food, so I lowered a stepladder onto the awning. She climbed onto it but still sat there mewing at me, so I got a slightly taller ladder and lowered it. After an hour-long rescue mission, she finally jumped back in. I woke up Monday morning with a very sore back, and I spent two days trying not to move because it really hurt (it felt like someone was stabbing one of my vertebrae repeatedly), but it feels a lot better now.

- I'm going to Vermont over Labor Day weekend. Yay!

- My coworker who sits at the front desk has been in and out of the hospital the last couple weeks (something about really high blood pressure, and she had a seizure at one point), so I've been covering the front desk. I hate doing it, but there are usually only 2 or 3 other people in the office, and the phone rarely rings. This one project we've been working on sent us almost nothing all summer, so there wasn't much to do, and then when I'm the only one there, they send tons of stuff and give crazy deadlines. Sometimes other people come in, but sometimes I'm on my own. Anyway, I hope my coworker gets better soon.

Yep. Life goes on.
"I'm a nun - I'm a penguin!"

(no subject)

Well, the weekend was pretty fun. Confluence was entertaining, as usual, though several of the usual suspects didn't show up. I think the writing exercises went fairly well (though I was dead tired on Sunday), and I enjoyed Wen's talk (she's hilarious). I managed to avoid buying anything, and I got Tammy and Bill to sign the first draft of my novel for good luck. I was really sleep-deprived and exhausted on Sunday, though.

And now, to prepare for Pennsic...
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