Thursday, August 22nd, 2013
Our office does a quarterly(ish) junk swap, where staffers can bring things they’d like to get rid of – be it books, clothes, gadgets, etc. The basic rule is bring stuff that is still usable, take stuff if you want, even if you didn’t bring stuff. At the end of the day, anything not claimed by someone else gets packed up and donated to our local Goodwill.
Slowly, I’ve been going through some of the final tote bins, books and piles o’clothes at home and bringing them in for the various swaps. It’s been a not-so-easy task, thanks to the fibromyalgia, but last night, I got motivated (I think it was the caffeine) and I loaded up a grocery roller cart* full to the brim with books, clothes and bags. Lots and lots of bags.
Some of the bags came from conferences. Some were purses or backpacks I’d bought over the years. I’d been leery of opening the tote bin o’bags, simply because I knew it would be tough for me to part with some of them. The nostalgia! The utter usefulness of some of them!
I was ruthless.
In went the awesome bag from Left Coast Crime in Monterey, CA more than a decade ago. In went the nifty blue bag from Lone Star Con. In went the black leather backpack/purse that I hadn’t actually seen in at least a dozen years.
After a couple of hours and a Tramadol, I was done. The rolling cart was full.
This morning, I rolled it down the hall, into the elevator and out through the lobby, somehow managing to get through the building’s foyer without help. Unpacked the cart into the back of Phil-the-car, then repacked it when I arrived at work.
The swap starts this afternoon at 3 p.m. – Normally, I’d be a little anxious…do I really want to donate X item? Maybe I’ll keep it for a little bit longer.
Not today, though. I’m relieved–happy that more stuff is going to find good homes and perhaps even delight someone else.
Is my changed attitude because I’m getting older/wiser? Is it just the semi-annual burst of “OMG, I need to declutter?”
I don’t know.
All I can say is that I’m taking advantage of that urge and going forward.
Years ago, I could fit everything I owned into one small truck. I don’t know that I’ll get back to that point again, nor would I want to, but hanging on to stuff just because I can is silly and makes no sense.
Maybe I am growing up…just shy of my 55th birthday.
* the cart stands about 3.5 feet tall at the handle and is nearly 2 feet wide.
Monday, October 1st, 2012
And this is where I’ll be Friday, thanks to the Cheshyre Cheese club at San Antonio College and Professor Jane Focht-Hansen, one of my oldest friends (we’ve known each other since my senior year at Trinity University). What a great way to return to San Antonio!
The Cheshyre Cheese Club is pleased to announce that on Friday, October 5 at 10 am in the Longwith Auditorium, Maria Lima will discuss her experience becoming a novelist.
At 2 pm in the SAC Writing Center, Lima will present a writing workshop. Limited to 15 students, the workshop is provided at no cost to participants; contact Jane Focht-Hansen 486-1436 for information.
Monday, August 20th, 2012
Wow, has it really been a month since I last posted? I guess it has. Dealing with life these days is definitely a one-day-at-a-time proposition.
So this happened:
* The futon frame on which I sleep broke. At first, I thought a leg bent, but then I realized, it was a metal frame piece that had completely broken. Oddly enough, some years back when I first bought this along with the chair version at IKEA, the initial chair frame was broken in that exact same spot. IKEA sent me a new one. Must be a manufacturing defect or something.
* Kit, in his infinite kitty wisdom (or something), managed to puke up all over my white comforter. Even the comforter cover didn’t help. It soaked through and it’s pretty much ruined. He also managed to ruin a pillow.
I’d been considering doing some reorganizing of furniture–an urge I get now and again, especially as the sun begins moving into Virgo, my birth sign. I want to clean up, clear out and make things look different. Which, if it weren’t for the ongoing fibro flares, might be easier. I’ve got a feeling that the universe is trying to tell me that since I wanted things to look different, it would create a situation whereupon I had to do something – like buy a bed and new comforter.
I’d thought about just replacing the frame with the same IKEA frame – after all, the mattress is still in excellent shape. Only, after thinking about it, I realized that this might happen again in a few years. Instead, I’m going to buy a real bed, instead of a futon…something I’ve not done in nearly 15 years.
Boy, howdy, are beds expensive or what? I don’t want anything fancy, just a frame and mattress/boxspring set. I live in a studio, so a smaller footprint is the key. Even for a full-size bed, to get a decent mattress, I’ll be paying close to $800.
I guess it’s a good thing that I recently got a small stipend check that will, after paying estimated tax, comes close to covering that expense. Oh, well. The universe giveth & then taketh away. A friend of mine posted today on Facebook that she’s had unexpected expenses due to vet bills & suchlike, but got a very gladly received small windfall today. So I guess it all balances out.
Still, I’m happy that I do have the funds to do this. So many people don’t.
In other news, still working on audiobooks. Blood Bargain is now available at Audible.com and at iTunes. I’m hoping to finish up Blood Kin by September end, depending on the vagaries of my health.
Friday, July 20th, 2012
I have no excuses, just that my life is a series of busy-ness, dealing with health issues and all the usual stuff that makes up, well…life.
The great news, I finished recording Blood Bargain, and it’s now for sale as an audiobook via Audible.com or iTunes.
Soon, I’ll start recording Blood Kin, for your listening pleasure. ::g::
A lot of folks have been writing me, asking me about the fate of the Blood Lines series. I’m afraid that at this point there are no more books as Pocket isn’t continuing the series. I’m concentrating on the audiobooks right now and am contemplating various options after that. I’m actually not sure at this point. There is always the direct-to-ebook option and I have not discarded that idea at all. I just need to focus on the recordings first and then move forward.
I’m extremely heartened by these emails, though. It’s wonderful to hear from my fans and know that they love the books. So often, we writers send our work out into the aether and don’t get much feedback outside of our editors. It’s lovely to be able to correspond with our readers.
I hope you’ve all been having a great & safe summer!
Wednesday, June 6th, 2012
I have so much I want to say, yet the words are lost in sadness. One of the masters of words, the inimitable Mr. Ray Bradbury died today. He was 91, yet gone far too soon.
A lot of people cite his Fahrenheit 451 as his most seminal work…or at least, the most remembered. For me, it’s the sheer poetry and lyricism of Something Wicked This Way Comes (the opening line of which I quote in this blog post title) or the brilliance of the collection of short stories that introduced his work to me: The Illustrated Man.
Who can forget The Veldt? The Long Rain?
I first read The Illustrated Man at age 10, as a fifth grader at Holy Family Elementary in Parma Heights, Ohio. Though a Catholic school, we had a lay teacher, a young man, who not only wasn’t Catholic (the horror!), but was Greek and all of 23 or 24, fresh out of college. Mr. Koutis (yes, I remember his name) exposed our small class to all sorts of great literature, including that of Mr. Bradbury.
These stories changed my life. The richness of the prose transported me. Reading Bradbury was like sitting down to a ten-course meal composed of everything awesome.
I never had the privilege of meeting him in person. I am so very, very sorry he is gone.
My sadness knows no bounds.
Wednesday, May 16th, 2012
John Scalzi wrote an awesome post entitled: Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is.
I highly recommend you read it – including the 800 comments.
Scalzi’s post struck a strong chord in me (who, according to his game metaphor got the hardcore setting, thanks to being female, Latina, queer).
I find it fascinating and not a little disheartening to see the same old “stop blaming me”, “what am I supposed to do about it” comments from so many straight white males. As an adjunct to that, a lot of “but my life was anything but easy because [insert reason(s) here].
Dudes: you are missing the point by miles. I don’t know if my analogy will help, but here’s an attempt: (and all my points are based on US/Western Culture)
Imagine there’s a pile of cards in play for the game called Life.
The objective is how you play during your journey, not some vague “winning” of the game, since the final outcome is the same for everybody.
Each card represents points a person can play throughout their personal journey. Points can be translated into real world advantages (jobs, money, opportunities, etc.)
At birth, each person gets 1 card to play based on the fact that s/he lives.
If you’re white, you get a second card, if male, yet another. If you are heterosexual, you get another.
Based ONLY on these criteria, at the start of the game, straight white males already have the advantage in having more cards.
No, this doesn’t mean that their entire journey through Life will be easy, simple and without roadblocks, only that they get more cards to start with. Some folks will get extra cards along the way (for money, education, other aspects of Life that affect their journey). That’s a given.
What Scalzi was pointing out that, at the start, straight, white males have more cards to play. What they do with those cards and how many other cards they get are variable.
So, we’re not blaming you for this, it’s just a statement of fact. You (the straight white male) have more cards at the beginning. You can choose to use those cards to lord it over others, or you can choose to stop, think and be inclusive.
It’s up to you.
For those of you who asked “what do you want me to do?” – I will repeat Scalzi’s answer (from the comments) – What do you want to do? It’s not my call. I am not the captain of your underpants.
If you want to sincerely know what you can do to level the playing field, I suggest you start by increasing your awareness–of your surroundings, of the language you and your friends use (do you laugh at homophobic, racist jokes or do you stop them?), of anytime you can reach out a helping hand to someone who is not a straight white male. Small steps lead to bigger ones.
Some other thoughtful posts on the same topic:
(Please note, discuss as you wish, however, like Scalzi, I have the Crossbow of Courtesy primed & loaded…aka, don’t be a dick or I shall have to shoot down your comment.)
Thursday, April 12th, 2012
All the cool kids are doing it:
I’ve heard that Jim Hines is going to do it over at Reddit.
So, since I’ve had blog-block for awhile, let’s turn it over to you all.
Feel free to ask me anything: about writing, food, fun, frolic–whatever strikes your fancy. Your questions don’t even have to be about me.
Go for it!
Wednesday, March 14th, 2012
This isn’t about Team Gale or Team Peeta or anything of the sort. Why? Because for me, and I suspect for Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games trilogy isn’t at all about the relationship triangle.
In fact, until the recent spate of movie publicity and subsequent hype, it never occurred to me that anyone could see this as any sort of romance-oriented story. Sure, there are relationship issues, but they are as far from a standard romance trope as one can get.
For me, the books are about:
- doing what you must to survive
- making the hard choices
- the overpowering presence and influence of mass media
- the corruption of the few, the over privileged and their willful ignorance
- becoming the hero – however reluctantly
- accepting reality and doing one’s best to make it work
The series is bleak, troubling, with no fluffy happy ending–which made sense to me considering the established world.
That’s actually one of the things that bothered me the most about the Harry Potter books. As much as I loved them, the epilogue was too pat, too perfect. Where was the PTSD? The consequences of having been fighting/at war since age 11? I know that this is part of the reason I read Harry Potter fan fiction, to satisfy that need in me to see more.
I don’t need to read fan fiction with Hunger Games, because Suzanne Collins fulfilled my expectations. It wasn’t a happily-ever-after, but a “we’ve survived and it’s good” ever after. I’m okay with that. In that world, I think this was the best possible outcome.
Here’s a fabulous web comic from Faith Erin Hicks that encapsulates a lot of my feelings. Note: the comic does have spoilers!
Will the movie reflect what I think is important in the story? I hope so. I really hope they didn’t choose to emphasize the Gale vs. Peeta aspect of the overall plot. It’s important, yes, but IMHO, only as it impacts on Katniss’ ability to make the correct choices for her own survival.
What are your thoughts?
Wednesday, February 15th, 2012
A friend of mine passed away yesterday. We weren’t especially close, in fact, she was more friend of a friend. But it hit me hard. Right in the virtual solar plexus, like an unexpected punch.
E was my age. Evidently, she developed some sort of infection over the weekend and succumbed. (She was dealing with an autoimmune disease, but that was well managed). More sadly, she’d retired from nursing to care for her brother (who is in hospice) and her mother (who is in assisted living). Only it’s her that died.
She was vital, full of life last time I saw her (ages ago). Strong, passionate, vibrant. She told amazing stories of her time spent in cardiac ICU. Of her troubled past. (Single mom). I based a lot of my character Bea on E.
Life is too damned short.
I am sad.
Tuesday, February 14th, 2012
Call me Scrooge – or whatever the equivalent is when one dislikes a holiday that is, by its nature, exclusionary. For those people unpartnered, it’s a day filled with reminders of how you’re not the expected norm. For those who are partnered, it’s nothing more than guilt/shame/agony wrapped up in spending money on stupid heart-shaped crap.
Yeah, I really, really hate it. Did even when I was partnered.
Why is there a day to (supposedly) celebrate romantic love? Shouldn’t that be every day? Perhaps I’m jaded, but a ridiculously expensive box of candy isn’t going to signify that you love your partner more or less than yesterday or tomorrow. Buying a gift because it’s expected is less meaningful than an obligatory dental visit.
Why not pick a random day a month to do something special for your loved ones – not just romantic love, but anyone you consider family. Send a fun note, a card, post something mushy on their Facebook wall. Unexpected acts of kindness and love seem more special.
I don’t begrudge florists their revenue today, but I do hate the artificiality behind it. Same with Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc. Material goods don’t say “I love you” – everyday actions do.
I’m going to spend today trying to ignore/avoid the hype. Yeah, I’m a grumpy mcgrumpypants. That’s how I roll. Maybe tomorrow will be better. Oh wait, then I’ll have to look at early Easter displays. At least there will be Cadbury Mini Eggs.
Monday, February 13th, 2012
It’s Monday again – a week since I last blogged. So much for the every single day goal. Oh well.
This past week has been a lesson in learning to cope. Small things, really, but adding up to one tired me. I’ve been having issues with the CPAP mask. If it sits properly on my face, it’s brilliant. I sleep well. I breathe well. All is good. Only, it doesn’t sit properly on my face, it slides. Up, down, whichever direction doesn’t matter. Only a tiny bit, but that bit is enough to break the mask seal and cause eye leaks. (Air blowing up into my eyes).
On Thursday morning, I went in for my 2-week check-in with the sleep tech. She saw the problem immediately. The mask is a teensy bit too small. The medium size of the same mask is too big. (They measure from bridge of nose to mid-chin). When I described the problem, she noticed that even just sitting there in her office, the mask began to slide. Solution: try other kinds.
After some trial-and-error, we settled on the Mirage Quattro, an older style mask with a forehead band. It looks more uncomfortable than the Quattro FX (the mask I have), but it feels a ton better, more secure. Sadly, as with all this kind of equipment, it has to be ordered via the durable medical equipment company, who will then provide it to me. I’m hoping they call me today.
In the meantime, I’m still using the machine & the FX mask and spend a great deal of time fussing with it. I discovered that I can (and do!) adjust it in my sleep. It becomes part of whatever dream I’m having. Definitely weird.
I’m also hoping that once this mask situation gets settled, I’ll have better sleep–e.g., less fraught with worry about the leaks.
Coping with this type of situation is tougher than I thought. It’s the same realization as being diagnosed with sarcoid and trying to wrap my head around the understanding that this is forever. It’s not going to be cured. It’s not going away. I will always have to use a CPAP…every single night. Sure, I know intellectually that it will become force of habit, just like I got used to putting my night guard in my mouth when I go to bed. But now, it’s still new, different, odd. Just another thing that makes me feel not normal.
As I was watching episodes of Private Practice via streaming, I began to notice how, in this show, as with most others, though we see patients coming into the picture with illnesses, conditions – there’s no reflection of regular characters having something chronic – sure, Addison has fertility issues, but that doesn’t impact her day-to-day functioning. Gabriel Fife was in a wheelchair – but you never learned why. Plus, he wasn’t a regular character. When these people go to bed at night, they don’t put in a night guard. They don’t use a CPAP. Heck, not a one of them even take medication on a regular basis. I love the show, but as with most TV, even though they try to bring in the “different”, the characters we see in each episode are pretty much perfect physically.
I get it, I do. The prevailing opinion is that no one wants to watch people who aren’t pretty and physically perfect. Only thing is, that definition varies from person to person. Plus, wouldn’t it be nice for once to see someone who does have a chronic condition that doesn’t result in being in a wheelchair? Something that nearly 1 in 15 Americans suffer from? It doesn’t have to be the focus of a “very special” episode–how about just showing us one character that has to hook up to a CPAP when they go to bed? To deal with it as just a regular part of life?
Frankly, I think I (and others) might learn to deal a little easier if we could see those like us reflected in our popular culture.
What’s your take?