It has, uh, been a while. I keep meaning to post in my usual 'HERE IS THE STUFF THAT HAS HAPPENED RECENTLY' way, but honestly for the last couple of months I've been feeling overwhelmed and blah and busy and tired and just didn't.
Here's what happened, mostly: I worked a lot of hours, I slowly got less miserable than I had been, I started working a lot harder and with more focus on a novel I started a long time ago called Changeling (now tentatively titled The Changelings and the Shadow), I planned a trip to San Francisco, and I had the usual day-to-day ups and downs. There was an awesome Avengers party, there was an awesome visit from my sis-in-law, there was a family reunion, there were probably some other things I'm forgetting, and there you have it.
But I really should have been working harder to journal this week! Because this week I'm in San Francisco! I'M HERE RIGHT NOW! I've been here for a week!
The trip was planned kind of quickly--I've seen saying for years that I wanted to visit California, and a few times a trip would be partially planned only to fall through, and finally this year I said 'I want to take a trip! I want to go somewhere! I want to go to California! I WILL GO NOW' and kind of picked a time two months away, more or less at random. Mom came with me, although we are having separate/together trips--She is staying with a friend of hers in Pittsburg, I am staying with friends of mine in Emeryville, and we have been meeting each other every couple of days for joint activities.
I was very close to finishing Changeling and wanted to finish it before leaving for the trip, but that didn't happen :P I had to choose between writing and packing, and packing won, so I brought my computer so that the writing could continue.
On Wednesday I worked half a day, then went home to pick up my luggage and my mother and we were off to the airport. The flight was pretty uncomfortable, but not terrible, and I wrote 1300 or so words, but then we sat around for half an hour waiting for our gate, and that was awful because I was SO HUNGRY.
We arrived in SF on Wednesday night and were picked up by Mom's friend Sally, and went to spend the night at her house--after searching desperately for an open food place and finally locating a diner where I demolished my giant sandwich. In the morning I figured out public transportation, managing to take a bus to the train and take the train to meet Sharon, who picked me up and brought me back to her apartment, which is lovely and surrounded by ocean! SO STRANGE. Water everywhere! I spent the rest of Thursday kind of recovering and getting things together, and hanging out with Sharon. Jason taught me to play Small World, which is a really entertaining board game--I lost, but not by too much! Then Thursday night I wrote more words.
On Friday we met Mom on the train, and went downtown to visit Britex, a four story fabric store containing all of the beautiful things that are impossible to find at home--suiting fabrics! beautiful wools! silks! a whole wall of buttons! SO MUCH RIBBON! I went around touching everything and cooing over them like a doofus. Then we went out to the Mission District, where we visited Paxton Gate Curiosities for Kids, and Paxton Gate Curiosities for adults (where for $4000 you could be the proud owner of a stuffed unicorn head), and the Pirate Shop, which is mostly a writing center for local kids, but which is required by some building permit/zoning/somethingsomething to be commercial, so they sell 'pirate supplies' in an adorable and interesting shop in the front, and use the rest of the building for the writing center. We also went to Xanath Ice Cream, which specializes in vanilla, and which I want to marry. They give away a vanilla bean with every purchase, and now my wallet smells like vanilla, and everything is wonderful. Friday night I wrote even more words! I banged out a surprising 2000, in fact.
Friday night our friend Mara came over on the train--she lives about an hour away--to hang out and spend the night, and in the morning she made chocolate filled cinnamon rolls, and buttered eggs, and Sharon made bacon, and we had what can best be described as an epic brunch. I took many pictures of it. Then we went to see Brave, which I loved--it wasn't quite what I expected from the previews, but I kind of thought it might not be and was careful to keep an open mind and not be married to my expectations. The preview kind of leads you to believe that there's a lot of action and adventure material, and while there's some of that the bulk of the movie focuses on relationships and there's lots of situational humor--the suspenseful action is a fairly small part of the whole. But if you aren't expecting something else and you watch the movie for what it is, it really is excellent--a great portrayal of a mother/daughter relationship, really funny, gorgeously animated, lovable characters, beautiful music, and hurray, a great female lead! Also, we're pretty sure that one of the animators was in the theatre--a group behind us stayed for all of the credits and cheered at a certain name, and as we were walking out we saw someone in a Pixar t-shirt and a kilt (which apparently all of the people working on Brave wore, because Of Course).
Saturday evening we all went over to the loft apartment of some friends of Sharon and Jason, who were grilling ribs and having a kind of casual assemblage of friends. Mara made French onion soup (which was absolutely killer. I mean. I could have eaten it forever), there was a cute dog, an adorable baby, a gorgeous kitchen, it was really nice. We didn't eat until ten, though, and after dinner I was pretty tired :P I went and curled up on a couch until Sharon came and got me so that we could leave.
But I didn't sleep! Once back at Sharon's apartment, Mara went to sleep and I wrote words! I stayed up and wrote words until I got to the end, and then I stopped. Because I'd finished the first draft of Changeling, four and a half years after writing the beginning. That sounds like I spent a long time writing this novel, but it actually isn't--I wrote the first 50,000 words during November of 2007, then barely touched it for four years, then wrote the rest of it in the last few months. The final word count of the first draft is 115,616. Significant re-writing is going to be needed, I'm sure, and the ending may be redone entirely, but I am waiting a while and letting it sit before I re-read and start messing with it again. I plan to do another draft of my other novel* before starting re-writes on Changeling.
After finishing Changeling I told all of the internet about it, then went to sleep, then got up and went with Sharon and Jason to their lovely church, and then we all--including Mara--met my mom and Sally for lunch at Sol Food, a Puerto Rican restaurant, which was delicious. The food, I mean, not the restaurant. From there we drove to Muir Woods, and a comedy of erros ensued--Jason's GPS directed us to the park itself, where we discovered that the parking lots were full and ended up parking on the side of the road at least half a mile away. Sally's GPS must have directed her to the parking lot for the shuttle that goes to the park, because Mom texted me that there were signs saying the lots at the park were full and should we take the shuttle? but I didn't have a signal and couldn't reply and finally there was nothing to do but hope that we found each other. We hiked from the car to the park--the hardest part of the day! and waited and hoped. Fortunately Mom and Sally had decided to just hop on a shuttle, and found us, and we all went in to the park together.
Muir Woods was gorgeous--it's home to the very tall redwoods (not the ones that are enormous in girth, but the ones that are extremely tall. I am too lazy to look up the proper names). It was cool, but not cold, and the light was beautiful, and I have never wanted so much to be a wood elf and live in the trees. I took a million pictures, none of which captured the actual look and feel of the place. We saw a mother deer with her baby, only ten or fifteen yards away from the path. It was a beautiful walk down the paths and through the trees.
After Muir Woods we drove up a hill where there was a great view of Golden Gate Bridge from that side, with the city behind it, and I did the goofiest word count victory dance ever in front of it, to celebrate finishing Changeling. When I say goofiest ever, I mean EVER.
...further accounts of what I did in SF later! I do not want to overdo it on the massive walls of text :P
*written for NaNoWriMo 2010
...except I don't really have time to say anything because it is suddenly bedtime, and I promised to go to bed on time tonight :P
So tonight was fun. Awkward conversation with my mother in which she tried to understand what triggers my unhappiness (answer: no one knows, it’s kind of like entropy) and what helps me (answer: also unknown, although there are things that help, like spending time quality time with people I trust, and creative productivity). We talked about the fact that I truggle to build relationships because I feel like I need a lot from people and can never give them enough back, and that trying to give to people and deal with other people’s emotions exhausts me so that my instinct is to be increasingly withdrawn.
We talked about the fact that right now I don’t know what to do with my life because I don’t feel like I have a calling or a purpose.
And then I realized that my life is basically Avenue Q, sans the R-rated puppets and catchy songs.
All in all this feels very similar to the place I was in five years ago, but at least this time I’m a lot more self-aware instead of neck-deep in denial?
Anyway. Just some things going on.
This is something I wanted to put up here for my own reference--it started as an email to Jenn, Angela, and Nia (we often exchange email chains during the day) in which I tried to answer a question Jenn had asked: "Do you think there is a difference between feeling valued & feeling loved? How are those expressed to you personally?"
re: Jenn’s question about feeling loved vs. feeling valued, they go hand in hand (I mean, if someone loves you it generally means that they value you?) but also I think that to me personally there’s a slight difference. Love is something that people give you, sometimes regardless of whether you deserve it. This is a great and wonderful and also humbling thing, and maybe that’s why it’s sometimes hard to accept. Being loved doesn’t always make me feel intrinsically valuable—if I’m feeling self-hating it doesn’t comfort me to be told that my parents will love me no matter what, because they’re my parents, of course they’ll love me, they are contractually obligated to love me. They would love me if I had the IQ of a cabbage and spent all of my time fingerpainting the walls. This tells me that my parents are awesome, but not that I’m awesome.
Being valued is something that you earn yourself, it’s the result of you already being valuable and other people noticing. It means you have something to contribute and offer people and that you deserve to be valued. And this doesn’t necessarily mean just valuable skills etc., but also being valued for things like making people laugh, or being able to make people feel cared for, or having a room-lighting smile, or whatever. Those things also count as intrinsically valuable. Basically I mean that being valuable means that you have some quality that makes you unique and important in/to the world (something good enough that it counterbalances the negative things about you) and being valued is people recognizing your importance.
I’m definitely not saying that this is the correct way to view the world :P I’m just saying that this is apparently how I feel about it and have just never thought through before and also maybe this is at the root of some of my issues, come to think of it.
....these two things are not unrelated, I think.
Anyway, yesterday I went to Scarborough with Jenn! Oh, Scarborough Faire. So many years of happy memories. So many years of unhappy feet. Seriously, footwear is a problem, and I always leave the fair footsore (that one time I wore boots with heels? THE WORST). This year I decided to wear my Birkenstock sandals, which aren't broken in, and this was a mistake. First because they weren't broken in, and second because flip-flop style sandals require walking with a mostly flat foot, which is not good for all-day walking. My shins say that they don't approve of my life choices.
But the fair itself was lovely! Jenn and I got there late--we both slept late, then I took forever to be ready to go, and forever braiding Jenn's hair (shockingly it stayed up all day, though), and then we got to the fair and hurried in to meet Angela during her lunch break. Because Angela is working at the fair this year! It's so strange, really. Usually Angela and I go to the fair together (with varied arrangements of other people, but always the two of us), so going without her what weird enough but going when she is there but as an employee is super weird! We found Angela, and her lunch break handily coincided with the parade, so we watched that (hello, cast members that I recognize!), then escorted Angela back to the booth where she sells drinks. Then we stood around at her booth and chatted with her while her co-booth-worker did all of the work :P
We eventually wandered off to see the human chessmatch--eh, it'll be much better later in the season when they've done it more often, it always is--and saw Smee the Singing Executioner, then wandered back and chatted with Angela some more, and then wandered slowly off to the other side of the fair to see the joust. The joust wasn't actually for another two hours, but we gave ourselves all that time to get there, because we both felt incredibly lazy and uninterested in getting anywhere quickly. Meandering, that's what we like. We strolled around, killing time, people watching, window-shopping, costume spotting. After seeing several people with funnel cakes, I decided that I really wanted a funnel cake, and got one. Mistake--usually if I get a funnel cake at the fair it's split between four people. After half of the funnel cake I realized that I had only wanted a quarter of it, and also that funnel cake is disgusting :P DISGUSTING! Maybe I will remember this for a whole year until the next time I decide that I really want funnel cake.
We did more strolling, more watching, we wandered over and (quietly, from a distance) heckled the people at the archery booth (which was more crowded than usual, I think, hmmm I WONDER WHY ARCHERY MIGHT BE HAVING A SURGE IN POPULARITY it is a mystery), and then finally went to get our front row seats for the joust.
Guys, full contact jousting (which Scarborough had last year) is cool and all, but I have to admit that I really kind of prefer the theatrical joust. I like having an evil knight (and cheering for him! CHEAT TO WIN!) and a good knight (boooo!), and a big, choreographed fight--I'm pretty okay with knowing that it's not real, if the theatrics are entertaining enough, because I will tell you a secret nothing at the fair is real or has much in common with actual history and that's totally fine. It's all 100% pageantry, and y'know, in many ways that's in the spirit of historical entertainment. Also, Sir Roderick is cute. Also also, there is a new night, Sir Corwin, who dresses like Tam Lin. I kid you not. I failed to get a picture but when I go again in a couple of weeks I'll be sure to get one.
Then after the joust we walked the five million miles out to the car. Well, I walked five million miles, then I waited at the halfway point for Jenn to pick me up, because I am a whimp and also my shins and feet were going 'WE ARE NOT PLEASED WITH YOUR LIFE CHOICES'.
Back at home, I decided I wanted to go and see Mirror, Mirror with Melody before she went back to Denton, and so off to the 9:15 showing we went. I was surprised by how much I really liked it! From the previews I thought that I would probably see it for the costumes (which are RIDICULOUS AND OUTRAGEOUS AND AMAZING), but it looked pretty silly and thanks to my prolonged childhood exposure to The 10th Kingdom a lot of goofy fairy tale retellings strike me as...well, redundant. 'Yeah, that's cute, but it was cuter the first time I saw it. When it was called The 10th Kingdom.' It wasn't until I saw one of the actors (whoever it is playing the Prince, who is super cute and has an EXCELLENT coat, but who is not cute enough to motivate me to go look his name up on IMDB right now) talk about the fact that it's really the director's Bollywood interpretation of the fairy tale that I went HOLD THE PHONE you had me at 'Bollywood fairy tale'. And that's exactly what this movie is--yes, it's goofy, but it's not silly. It doesn't take itself particularly seriously. It's a movie that is having a really good time, and it's colorful and extravagant and entertaining and I really, really liked it. And the princess makes a point of saving herself and the prince makes a point of letting her and it's awesome.
And it has bonus Sean Bean in it! And he DOESN'T DIE.
Our online journals are little filters that we each see every one else's lives through, the parts others choose to share with us. That said, we all think we are close, but really we seldom know *a lot* about each other. So ask me something you think you should know about me. Something that should be obvious, but you have no idea about. Ask away. Then post this in your LJ and find out what people don't know about you...
There's more to it than that, of course. It's really their ceiling fan because it's their house, but it's in my room, and they got it because I have a lot of trouble sleeping during the summer. When I'm relaxed, I generate a lot of body heat, which means that I get too hot really quickly at night. When I'm too hot I can't sleep, and I hate to sleep without covers, and I hate to sleep with the door open...I'm, frankly, a hot mess. I had a fan in my room, but it started to make a horrible rattling sound. I suffered through most of last summer, and talked about getting a ceiling fan a few times, but it never happened. Now summer is approaching again, and I am dreading it. I hate summer. Summer in Texas is not a fun filled time of outdoor activities. Texas summers mean that the walk from my car to my job leaves me sweaty and gross and doing anything that involves being outside saps my energy in minutes. It's awful.
But today my parents decided to look at ceiling fans, and decided to buy one, and it was halfway installed in my room when I came home. I should rewind and mention that I didn't get much sleep and I was tired and really grouchy from work and the fan was a total surprise. And it just means a lot to me. I've been feeling kind of weird and lonely--the internet was making me feel overwhelmed and isolated, so I've been trying to pull back a little but then I feel lonely and isolated and I want to run back to the internet yelling 'NO I'M SORRY PLEASE GIVE ME ALL OF THE AFFIRMATION NO ONE LOVES ME', because I really long for affirmation all the time. And not just general praise, I go around aching for sincere affirmation of my value--I don't just want to know that people love me, I want to feel like I'm somehow worth it. This is a hard love language to want, because I think it's a really difficult and rare love language for people to give. I know I struggle with verbalizing that kind of thing--I'm more likely to give people gifts, and when I do verbalize with people I immediately feel cheesy and stupid, however sincere I'm being. Most of my family has either gifts or acts of service as a love language, which can lead to communication barriers when they do something for me that I don't even notice, because I'm busy wishing for some kind of affirmation to hit me in the face.
Anyway, long tangent aside, I have a ceiling fan now and it makes me feel really cared for and watched over and I really needed to feel those things.
Now I will tell you about how my week didn't suck!
My birthday got off to a rough start...on Tuesday night I had a lot of things I wanted to do, but all day I'd been thinking about this book I read once. I swear that once upon a time I stumbled on the one tolerable romance novelist and read a couple of her books and quite liked them. I thought I remembered her name and that it would be easy to look her up and find the book I was thinking about, and I thought I'd sit down for just fifteen minutes and hunt it up.
Not only was I apparently wrong about which author it was, it wasn't any of the other romance novelist names that I vaguely remembered (this one summer I stayed with my grandmother for weeks and had nothing to read but romance novels from her vast collection. Most of them were pretty awful, although several were pretty hilarious), but I was sure that if I just kept looking for a few more minutes I'd definitely find the right book! And that's how I spent several hours reading romance novel summaries. Guys, romance novel summaries are horrible and hilarious. They're like train wrecks. But, long story short, I was up late, and then when I tried to go to sleep I couldn't sleep, and I had to be at work two hours earlier than my usual shift, and so I got about three hours of sleep.
When I woke up in the morning and hit snooze one too many times, and woke up (again) with five minutes to get out the door. Except I needed a shower. 30 hours is about as long as I can go without a shower, and if I went a whole day without a shower it was going to be bad, plus I was going to the dentist and he was going to be all up in my space. Poor hygiene was not an option. But our hot water takes a really long time. Like, three minutes.
I didn't have three minutes. I turned on the water and plunged straight in, and let me tell you it was the fastest shower of my life. I was SO AWAKE after that, too. I got to work and shuffled through my half day, then left just before 1 so that I could hustle over to my dentist appointment, where I was relieved of some tooth decay and a fistful of cash, and then I went home.
At home there was my nephew! Now, I should mention that my nephew is 7 months old and I've only been around him a handful of times--like, maybe 6. And all of those times there have been a ton of other people around. His parents bring him over fairly often for Mom to watch him, but that's always during the day when I'm at work, so I never see him. But I had him practically all to myself! for a couple of hours! and I actually got to spend time playing with him! And I made him laugh a lot.
I went to the store for ingredients, and then I spent the rest of the afternoon making myself a birthday pie--a chocolate cream pie, in fact, which wasn't hard to make but which was a little time consuming. And I loafed about on the internet, and ate pie, and put a SPARKLER in it, and my parents gave me my own lovely Gingher sewing scissors (a super nice brand--my mother is extremely protective of her own pair!).
The next day I meant to do things...but mostly I relaxed. I celebrated the Battle of Pelennor Fields Day by flooding my Tumblr with Eowyn art and writing a long post about why I care about commemorating the anniversary of a fictional battle (which I meant to also post here and then failed to actually post here, sorry LJ) and staying up very late, and it was so hot that I had to go and take a cool shower before going to sleep. That evening Mel took me to see Young Frankenstein (the musical) at Bass Hall, which was extremely amusing--I still like the movie better, but the musical was fun and we had awesome seats, because Mel is magical like that.
On Friday we went to the zoo! We went to the zoo because Travis wanted to go to the zoo, to look at gorillas. Because he'd been thinking about whether he could take a gorilla in a fight. Yeah. Jenn got us discounted tickets at her office and came along, and as always watching Jenn and Travis walking around kept me amused all day. The zoo was really crowded and it was hot and muggy, AND at the end of the day the tiny train wasn't open (NOOOOOO TINY TRAIN!) but we saw all the animals we had come to see and then some, including the exciting gibbons, who are like small furry Spidermen, and the otters, who are my favorite on principle (SO ADORABLE). There was also this red/pink bird that I forget the name of, but I was totally fascinated by the color.
After the zoo we left Travis and home and the rest of us went to Angela's family's garage sale, where I bought ALL THE THINGS. No really, I left with a bunch of stuff, because they were getting rid of things that I had always liked! In particular they were telling a table that I've always coveted, and although the sticker said $50 they sold it to me for $30 because they love me ;) So I went on to buy a book and some glasses (with cobalt blue rims! they don't hold much so not good for drinking, but I think will be good for flower arranging) and a shoe organizer and a canister (blue also), and I was going to buy a pair of Birkenstock sandals that Angela had found uncomfortable but which fit me nicely (and are already breaking into be really comfortable and conforming to my feet), but instead Angela game them to me for my birthday, hurray!
And Mom did not even flip out about the fact that I bought a table. My plan is to put it in Mel's room and use it as a writing table, since Mel will be in Colorado for the entire summer.
Friday night I baked my birthday cake, but Moops was in the kitchen, making a mess of everything! I don't know what was going wrong, but neither batch turned out the way they were supposed to--still edible, but not as fluffy as they should have been. It was very annoying and I was up until 4.
On Saturday I woke up late with an atrocious headache. I kind of fumbled around the house, trying to pull myself together, so we were much later to my great-uncle's memorial service than we'd planned--it was a come and go affair, so it was okay, but we missed seeing some extended family. My head was still hurting, too, so I wasn't feeling very social. I left with Mel and Travis, picked up Chinese food on the way home, and then started getting ready for PARTY TIMES!
I put a pavlova in the often, ate my food, Jenn and Angela arrived (my friends bursting in the door yelling 'THE PARTY IS HERE' is kind of my favorite thing), and I started putting together my cake. I'd made four layers of white vanilla cake and I had a batch of vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream in the freezer that I thawed and rewhipped. Sous chef Angela made whipped cream and we added some strawberry and blueberry jam (just a little bit from the bottom of the jars), and put those in between the layers, then I used half the SMB to crumb coat the cake and put it in the fridge. I divided the rest of the icing into four ziploc bags and added colors, hoping to cut down on mess, but it would have been easier to mix the colors in bowls. I iced the cake and Angela and I peppered it with silver nonpareils and it didn't look too bad!
By then we'd started watching The Two Towers: EE and recording a commentary (does anyone want to hear these commentaries? we recorded two for Fellowship--once with Angela, Melody, and me, and once with Angela, Jenn, and me, and now The Two Towers has mostly Angela and Jenn for the first half and mostly Angela and me for the second half, and it mostly consists of 'Oh noooooo everything is baaaaaaad why is it like thiiiiiis'), which was very amusing.
After the first disc we had an intermission, and topped the pavlova with whipped cream and kiwi and strawberries and a little paper airplane suspended on a string, because it was Jenn's Good-Luck-in-Thailand pavlova! Yay! also pavlova = delicious gluten free dessert.
Then we put sparklers on the cake and tried to light them. This was extremely amusing. First, sparklers are hard to light--it takes a while for them to catch, and the first sparkler was out before we got to the last one! Also we set off the fire alarms, so in case anyone has been concerned let me assure you that the fire alarms in this house are all fully functional. Not to be deterred, we opened the windows and lit MORE sparklers, although we still didn't get a full circle of lit sparklers onto the cake all at one time.
Then we ate cake and pavlova and said bye to Jenn (although we said bye, then my dad distracted me, and then suddenly Jenn had vanished! And no one actually saw her leave! She just went POOF!) and then we finished watching the second disc of Two Towers and oh man, by the end of the movie I was going 'IS IT OVER YET WHY IS THERE SO MUCH MOVIE' which is recorded for posterity on my computer in our commentary.
Then Angela went home and I stayed up for a while telling everyone how tired I was, and eventually I went to bed. And then my alarm for church went off, and I remember it going off. I do not remember turning it off and going to sleep, but I must have because I woke up again several hours later, still feeling exhausted. I don't know what is with all of this feeling exhausted nonsense that is going on--I have no energy! it is annoying because I have STUFF TO DO! I have an order for 8 dozen sugar cookies for next week (aaaaaaaaaaaaah) and in three weeks a wedding cake!
Also somewhere in the last week I read Entwined by Heather Dixon, which I highly recommend to anyone who enjoyed Shannon Hale's Goose Girl or Gail Carson Levine's Ella Enchanted. It's a retelling of the 12 Dancing Princesses and I thought it was lovely.
Anyway. I have barely posted at all in February, so let me sum up: Nothing happened. The daily grind of my not-actually-painful-but-painfully-tedio
I read the Hunger Games trilogy. I really liked the first two books and the first 2/3rds of the third book, and then things kind of fell apart for me. I have a lot of Opinions and Feelings, mostly consisting of dissatisfaction and frustration because I thought that the end just felt wrong, like it jarred with everything else that had built up over the course of the series. Maybe I'm just not good with endings? I had a similar feeling of dissatisfaction with the last Harry Potter book (but not outright frustration and emotional trauma), and the last Dark Tower book was, imo, a complete train wreck. On the other hand, I read most of Mockingjay in a marathon that ended at 4am, and I spent the next day at work on four hours of sleep struggling to process all of the post-book FEELINGS and it was very distracting. A few days later I still feel that the end seemed off-kilter and arbitrary and I am not particularly pleased with it, but I'm not so wound up about it :P I'll be interested to see if I react differently to the movies (since I didn't get interested in reading the books until I saw the trailer for the movie, because anything with the word 'dystopian' tied to it is usually a pass for me).
My great-uncle Les passed away in his sleep yesterday, at the age of 86. I wasn't terribly close to him--I'm not terribly close to any of my extended family, simply because we always lived so far away that they weren't a big part of my life--but in the last few years I've enjoyed seeing him at all the family gatherings. He was a sweetheart. He would settle into a chair and drink black coffee and have a smile for everyone, and wait for people to come visit with him. He read mystery novels by the armful and didn't like TV. He had a beautiful collection of carved ivory pieces that he'd accumulated when he was younger. He was sharp as a tack, despite his age and frailty. He was a wonderful man. I liked him a lot. And I'm really troubled about him, because when his wife died (quite young) he rejected God because he refused to believe in a God who would let that happen, and as far as I know he never changed his mind. It's not something that he ever talked to me about, though, and I have no way of knowing what was in his heart at the end, so.
My car--originally named Galahad, now known as StupidCar--is making dreadful squawking noises (not the engine or the breaks), and the air conditioner seems to be broken. By the way, it is February and it has been so warm in Texas that I tried to turn the A/C on in my car and I am at this very moment sitting next to an open window.
Tomorrow I'm getting my hair cut.
Next weekend we're going to Austin for my cousin's wedding and I'll get to stay with Brad & Cecilia, who have, shall we say, Great Expectations except that is a secret (except most of you don't know them so I am not spoiling their chance to make a big announcement so it is okay for me to go around waggling my eyebrows here).
The week after that is my birthday. I have created a menu for my birthday, which is on a Wednesday and which is also Pi Day, and it is all pie things and goes like this: Breakfast - quiche, Lunch - pizza, snack - Reese's cut in wedges, Dinner - chicken pot pie, Dessert - Chocolate cream pie with a sparkler with Einstein's face on it, because by the way it is also Einstein's birthday.
Then I'm taking the two days after my birthday off of work, to get a four day weekend, and I plan to use it as a one-woman writing retreat and freaking finish the Changeling novel. FINISH IT. And then have a 'birthday party' that's really just my girls coming over to MST3K The Two Towers and have cake (WITH SPARKLERS because candles are for other people) and hang out with Jenn before she goes to Thailand. The tentative plan for this was the 17th, but by the way this may be subject to change, depending on Uncle Les' memorial service scheduling.
And somewhere in here I have to make a practice wedding cake, because in a month I have to make an actual wedding cake, and oh man oh man oh man I am freaked out about it now. This was a terrible idea, why did I tell this poor innocent woman that I could make this cake? What was I thinking? And what have I done with the cake topper that she innocently handed to me? She doesn't seem to realize that I've lost my mind and can't be trusted. Ack.
What else? Oh yes--I am determined to become a letter writer again. I haven't written letters since my first year of college, when stress (and probably depression) started keeping me absorbed in dealing with my immediate surroundings. But here are my thoughts on the subject: The internet is a wonderful way to connect with a lot of people all over the world, but it's also like being at a crowded party. There are people you know and like at the party, and people that you'd love to get to know, and there's always that one person who wants to go around the room and deliver a speech about their opinions on whatever. Sometimes you get caught up in the party and you feel like part of a whole and you're having a really marvelous time.
And sometimes you end up on the far side of the room from your friends, and you can't hear anyone over the noise, and you feel lost and faceless and unacknowledged, and you aren't enjoying the party very much. That's where I've been lately--at the wall, away from the action, feeling unacknowledged as an individual, and feeling too...something (stressed? depressed? blah?) to give individual acknowledgment and affirmation to other people.
But what's more individual than a letter? Short of physically being with and focusing on someone, a letter is the best way (I think) to give them your undivided attention. An exchange of letters is like two people taking a break from the party and going out to the porch to have a real conversation. So. Letters. I miss them, I need them, I want to give my undivided attention to other people and get theirs in return, and so letters there must be. If you want letters, make sure I have your address, and we'll see how well I do! I'm pretty rusty on the whole business, and that's the truth, but I'm determined that there will be letters.
And that's all the news from Lake Woebegone.