Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Week in Review

Once in a while, we all do really dumb things. Like just a few minutes ago. I decided it was time to finish cleaning/packing my bedroom closet. So I open the door and start taking out a few things. Pick up a bag of bubble wrap without looking at what may be resting on top of it. And a glass plate falls smack on the top of my foot.

Much cursing ensued.

So now I'm back to sitting at my desk with ice on my foot, hoping it's just really, really sore. And I'm sure it is just really, really sore. And eventually, really, really frozen.

Sometimes I wonder if moving closer to my parents is really such a good thing. Instead of 3.5 hours of travel, I'll only be 45 minutes away. Good in some ways. Bad in that they are having some...uh, issues, and my mom seems determined to put my sister and I right in the middle. But Sister had a good point the other day: they are the parents, and parents don't put their problems on their children. (Sister is a therapist, dontcha know?)

I saw the house we're moving into. The downstairs is frickin' huge! I mean, the dining room is as big as half our apartment. Berlin, MD is a cute little town. Very small, very old. We're literally right off Main Street. Lots of quaint little shops and restaurants. The drive to Salisbury (where my current job is waiting) isn't too bad. It's a straight shot up the highway, just sort of flat and boring. The sort of drive made for books-on-tape, only my mind tends to wander and I miss stuff, so that's out.

Also got to see The Dark Knight again. Loved it just as much the second time. It was fun to pick out all of the hints and foreshadowing this time around. I also realized just how amazing the musical score is. But when two giants like Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard team up, you can't get anything short of amazing. I'm listening to it right now, and loving it all over again.

On the book front, we've heard back from one editor so far. She liked it (yay!), but wasn't sure it would find a home in today's market (boo!). Still, liking it is encouraging, even if it is a pass. Jonathan's awesome, in that he emails even to say he's got no news.

Well, the good news is the foot isn't swelling. Only a tiny bruise so far. I gotta be more careful.

But at least I didn't drop this one on my head! As is my tendency to do. Sofa, table leg, iron skillet....yeah, I have a hard head.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Updates and Downers

So my novel's officially been out to five editors for nine days. Nine days. The funny thing is, my life is so chaotic and topsy-turvy right now, I haven't had a chance to sit down and fret. No fingernail biting, no worrying. I have a whole slew of other things to deal with right now, so why spend energy stressing over something I cannot, in the long run, affect?

I'm almost ready for Saturday's yard sale. Four of us are doing it together, so it's going to be huge and fun. I'll drop a load of stuff off at the house tomorrow, and then bring the rest (melty things like candles and makeup) on Saturday morning. I hope I can unload some stuff and put some money away. A good friend coined a new phrase I've become fond of: The Hannah Debt Relief Fund. My pretty kitty would be so proud.

I still can't believe I'll be out of here in twenty days. I've lived in this apartment for five years and four months. It's familiar and comfortable. But it's time for a change. Even if the change isn't what it was supposed to be (sordid story involving some of those aforementioned stresses), and not all parties are participating as they agreed. We'll muddle through. For the last two years or so, Mel and I have been *talking* about moving. Well, no more talking now. Circumstances are different, but we're still moving, dammit.


So say we all.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Dark Knight

If you haven't seen it, then don't read this entry. SPOILERS ABOUND.

WOW. Just wow.

I had all kinds of expectations for this movie, and it met every single one of them (and even blew a few of them out of the water!). The movie was how long? Didn't feel like it, and that's always a bonus in my book. I didn't want it to end!

Sterling performances from the entire cast. Christian Bale, Morgan Freeman, and Michael Caine were top notch, as always. Gary Oldman was excellent, especially in the last scene with his family. Heath Ledger was, of course, genius as the Joker. Posthumous awards are definitely due, and it's a terrible tragedy we lost such an amazing talent. And I why, oh why couldn't they have had Maggie Gyllenhaal in the first movie? Sooooo much more believable as a lawyer than Katie Holmes.

But the most underrated member of the cast was definitely Aaron Eckhart. I've been a fan of his since Erin Brockovich, and he just nailed his role as the tarnished White Knight. I don't know much about the comic character of Harvey Dent/Two-Face, but the symbolism of this character was, in many ways, the heart of the movie and its core themes. In my opinion, Eckhart deserves a few more accolades than he's gotten for such a great balance of good and evil.

The supporting cast was like a who's who of TV genre character actors! Holy cow! We had Nestor Carbonell (Lost), Eric Roberts (Heroes), Ron Dean (what hasn't he been in?), Anthony Michael Hall (The Dead Zone), Keith Szarabajka (The Equalizer, Angel, Profit, etc...), William Fichtner (Invasion, Prison Break), and Tommy "Tiny" Lister (The Fifth Element, former wrestler named Zeus).

Kudos to the writers for killing Rachel, too. I always liked Batman more than Superman, because Batman didn't always win. The people in his life die (Robin II) or get seriously injured (Barbara Gordon). Batman loses once in a while (Hello, Bane!). It shows the human side of the character. You can throw bullets and cars and thugs in clown masks at him, and he keeps pushing through. You start killing the people he cares about, and you really hurt him.

I liked Batman Begins, but I love The Dark Knight. I think this one's going to bump its way up into my Top Ten Favorite Films list.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Pitch Day

It's quite odd, really, how things right now are so bittersweet.

A week ago today, Hannah died. Only a few hours after, I got the editor list and final draft notes from my agent. Bittersweet.

Today, a week after Hannah left us, my agent will begin pitching my novel to editors. Bittersweet.

But I suppose a lot of things will be that way. At least, until we finally move out of this damned apartment. She's everywhere. On my bed, in the closet, on the back of the sofa, scratching at the bathroom door. Moving Days are tentatively August 14 and 15, which is one month from now. So much to do, so little time.

I'm someone who doesn't handle big changes well, at first. All of these crazy things happening at once (Hannah, my book, moving, changing jobs) is driving me nuts. Adding on the stress. Making me freak out.

Chocolate. Need chocolate....

The Steampunk Archetype Test

I admit, the most steampunk I've been exposed to was in the film The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I found the link to this test in an AW post and found the results quite amusing.

I am an Aetherist Bodger.

The aether carries the information, the aether is information. You are one of the few who know the ins and outs of Aether Terminals. You can access information across the Aethersphere, tapping into the Aetherpipes of anyone you want and stealing the information stored in their datatanks. Some think of you as a myth, a legend created to scare people. You are no myth or legend, you are quite real and you are currently reading the Queen’s AetherMissives.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Having a Foundation

Once again, Shore Leave 30 has come and gone. I'm always a little melancholy afterward. It's a trip I look forward to every year, it lasts two and a half days, and then it's over for a whole year. But I had a great time. Listened to some very entertaining actors, sat in on a few good panels. Attending a few about writing, as well. I'll post some pictures of the actors as soon as I get them from my roommate (my digital camera does well with close-ups, but sucks at taking good distance shots).

I wanted to mention something else, though, from the con. I was in a writing panel Saturday afternoon, and one of the writer panelists (Howard Weinstein, FYI) was discussing discipline, which led one of the attendees to mention "inspiration." At which point author Michael Jan Friedman made the following comment (and I'm paraphrasing from memory here):

"Many people liken inspiration to a lightning bolt from on high. Something that comes down and strikes you. But what most people forget is that lightning comes from the ground, not the sky. The ground is a solid foundation. Instead of waiting for inspiration to drop down on you, start with a good foundation."

He went on, illustrating his point that a foundation in discipline, mechanics of writing and storytelling trumped waiting for that inspirational strike from above. And I happen to agree with him.

Inspiration is awesome, but it can also be used as a crutch and an excuse. "Oh, sorry, the Muse is on vacation, so no writing got done today." "I don't know how to get Max out of the Dungeon of Doom, so I'm going to drink a latte and wait for inspiration to strike." Um, yeah. You could be waiting for a week or more. This is where the discipline part of that foundation comes in handy. By putting your Butt In Chair, no matter what, and writing something, no matter how dreadful or delete-worthy, you are giving yourself the discipline to finish something.

Rewriting is okay. Revising is always necessary. But you can't finish a first draft if you let yourself off the hook with, "I'm waiting for inspiration." Discipline yourself to write through the trouble spots, and you won't have to wait for inspiration. I'll be there waiting for you when you sit down to write.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Some Much Needed Shore Leave

It's that time of year again. Time to pack up and head out to Hunt Valley for Shore Leave 30. Adam Baldwin was this year's big draw for me, but he had to cancel due to a scheduling conflict. Still, we've got George Takei, Malcolm McDowell, David Hewlett, and Jewel Staite on the menu, plus whatever programming comes out way.

I'm mostly looking forward to a few days away from this apartment. I hear a rustle of paper, turn around, and expect to see Hannah beneath my chair. Or leaping onto my bed. Or jumping onto my desk to block my monitor from sight. *sigh*


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Death in the Family

My baby girl passed away this morning. They couldn't keep her BP up, her red blood cells stayed too low. They had to go in and drain fluid from the surgical site (enough from one side to be notably bad). The seizures were lessened by Valium, but they couldn't be sure there was no underlying neurological problem. Even if they continued transfusing her, kept her on the BP meds, and started new therapies, there was no guarantee she'd had a full recovery.

We sat with her when she passed at 9:30 am, so quietly. So unlike her. But with her trademark scowl on her pretty face.

I stayed with her for nearly an hour after as we finished the paperwork and made "burial" decisions. Her ashes will be spread in an apple orchard in Maryland, and I love that idea. It sounds peaceful. Serene. A nice place to rest.

It was so hard to walk out that door. To kiss her ears for the last time. To pat her back and touch her paws. But I did.

It seems so unfair. So much money, so much effort, and my baby died anyway.

Monday, July 07, 2008

An Unhappy Holiday Weekend

So the actual 4th of July was fine. I worked all day (time and a half, so no biggie), came home to yummy chicken kabobs, and watched a movie. No, it started Saturday afternoon, and it hasn't stopped.

I got the call that anyone who's ever been owned by a cat fears: "There's something wrong with Hannah."

This is Hannah:

My roommate had rushed her to the Emergency Animal Clinic down the street after Hannah walked into the kitchen, flopped down panting, and mewled in a way she never wants to hear again. The vet was with her, but she didn't know anything else. Being at work when I got the call, I naturally rushed off the sales floor and started to cry

The second call came maybe fifteen minutes later. Hannah had a hernia in her lower abdomen, which was smooshing her kidneys, liver and intestines up into her chest, thereby compressing her lungs and heart. She was using about 20% of one lung. The injury, the vet said, was consistent with animals hit by cars, but Hannah's an indoor cat. The only explanation was that she had jumped from a great height and lost her balance. She needed major surgery to repair the damage done and put her organs back into place.

Then the really bad news fell: it would cost between five and eight thousand dollars, and her chances of survival were 50/50. One thought ran through my mind and fled from my mouth: "We can't afford that." Without it, though, she was going to die. Good thing I was in the back office, because I lost it. Completely. I was convinced I'd just lost my baby.

Once I got to the ER, I was able to talk to the vet. They had credit plans. We were shown her X-rays (which were scary). With moving in August, the added expense was daunting. It made me hate rich people, who never had to let a pet's life come down to money. But in the end, we had to give that little girl a chance. We applied and were approved for the credit, so we agreed on the surgery. We saw her for a few minutes, and then went home to wait.

The surgeon called us around 8:30pm and told us she was going in. Called back a little after 11pm when they were done. Seems Hannah had two hernias. One was older, maybe from an injury as a kitten (she's six now). The new one was what was causing her problems. They fixed a broken blood vessel in her spleen, put her organs back in the proper places. Turned out she hadn't been using her left lung at all, so it was miniscule and they worried about profusion injuries as it re-expanded. But she survived surgery, which was a major hurdle. The surgeon was very friendly, answered every question in great detail, and even said we could feel free to call the clinic for updates at any hour (they're open 24 hours a day).

Which roommate did at 4 am. We visited her around 9:30 Sunday morning. She was awake, but not moving (and very, very stoned on pain meds). By mid-afternoon, they had weaned her down to about fifty percent of her blood pressure medication. She was still on potassium and fluids to get her electrolytes back to normal. She was raising her head.

We saw her again this afternoon around lunchtime. Not good news. While they had successfully removed her chest tube, she was back on her BP meds. Her calcium was low. She'd had another transfusion to keep her red blood cells up. She was oozing from the incision site. She had developed a jerky twitch, which the vet said could have been the result of a mini-stroke (though she had no other symptoms of one). Her potassium still wasn't up. She wasn't where she should have been. We agreed to an EKG of her heart, to check for problems there. Specifically undiagnosed cardio-myopathy--a complication she did not need.

Needless to say, it was a long afternoon spent crying and wandering aimlessly. We called for an update at 6pm. Her heart was fine (yay!). Her potassium and electrolytes were finally normal (yay!). Dr. Barnes had asked a neurologist to stop by for an unofficial consult, but that doc didn't think the jerking was indicative of a stroke. It could have been her way of dealing with the pain, or reaction to the noisy, unfamiliar environment (another yay!). Dr. Barnes had a plan for adjusting her pain management meds, and was also going to try another combination of blood pressure meds, to see if her BP would stabilize.

Unless there's a problem overnight, we were told to call again between 6-7 am for another update. So here's hoping the phone stays quiet, and there's more yay-ness in the morning.

She's a stubborn kitty. I have to believe she'll pull through this.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Don S. Davis 1942-2008

He had one of the funniest bit scenes in Con Air, but he's probably best known for saving the world from disaster time and again as General George Hammond, on Stargate: SG1. Actor Don S. Davis passed away yesterday from a heart attack.

A full article, including a message from his wife to fans, can be found at GateWorld.

I'm a casual fan of SG1, but Don's supporting role was as integral to the show as the lead cast. Hammond was a father figure and a born leader, and Don gave him that strength. The character left the show several seasons ago, and they lost something when he did. Hammond couldn't be replaced, even by someone as experienced as Beau Bridges.

The SF community has lost someone special.