Tuesday, January 17, 2006

By Popular Demand

A year ago, when I started this blog, my first entry mentioned an idea I'd had for a novel. I began that one and made some good progress, as you might remember. It remains to be finished. Then National Novel Writing Month came along, and I started the book I'd been meaning to write for several years. It's still not finished, either, but it's a lot closer. Some of you have asked for an excerpt, and I've finally worked up my courage to post the first page, in which we meet the main character.

Baltimore Crier

Rrrrrrrinnnng! Rrrrrrrinnnng! The woman on the exercise bike removed one earphone to listen, but made no move to answer the phone. Puffing a wayward ringlet of chestnut hair out of her face, she kept pedaling, her eyes firmly fixed on the middle distance ahead. Despite her unchanged manner, she could feel her heart rate increase much too quickly—too high, too high.

Stupid, stupid, stupid. It’s stupid to feel this terrified of a stupid phone call, she told herself. Biting her lip, she revved up her pedaling speed, adding a little more tension for challenge. And, she chided herself, I make a living with words. I ought to be able to think of at least half a dozen more interesting words for “stupid”…


Need to remember to turn on immediate pickup when I’m actually home… she mused. OK, how’s this? “It’s completely asinine to be afraid of a meaningless phone call from an idiot.” More apt, anyway.

Click. “Hello, you’ve reached Thessely and Smedley. We can’t come to the phone right now, so leave a message…” Here it comes.

“Thessely? Are you there?” She stiffened visibly, then pedaled harder. “It’s me, Thessely. You know, your husband.”

Her face purpled and twisted into a snarl. “EX husband, if you don’t mind.” Whir-whir-whirwhirwhirwhirwhirwhirwhirwhirwhir! went the bike as her legs pumped more viciously with each word.

The voice continued plaintively, “Why do you still have my name on your answering machine? Do you want me back?”

“Idiot!” she roared. “Can you clean the wax out of your ears long enough to tell the difference between Smedley and Jerry? Geez, what a wet sack!”

“I don’t know why you won’t take my calls. I can't believe how rude you are!”

“How about ‘cause you’re a psycho stalker who doesn’t know when to SHUT UP.” Whirwhirwhir…

The voice wheedled on. “I just know that you’re only avoiding me because you still care, and you’re just afraid of your feelings…”

Whir-crack-zip-zzzzzz…. “Ouch!” She yelped and jumped off the bike, rubbing her injured calf where the pedal had smacked it. “OK, that was pretty funny there, Jerry,” she groused, half-laughing through the sting of the growing welt. “When I said ‘psycho’ I meant psychotic, not psychiatrist, you know.” She made a face to the world at large. “Jerk. Loser. Wannabe. Cretin.”

Still muttering, she rolled to her feet and headed to the bathroom. The voice droned on, alternately protesting undying love and hurling vicious epithets at the unfortunate sufferer. Bright gold eyes watched the proceedings from under a chair.

“You’re lucky, Smedley," she addressed the chair. "You don’t have to worry about weddings, divorces, emotional troubles, jealousy, or the other ugliness of human relationships.” She winced as she rubbed alcohol on the scrape that adorned her left calf. “With cats, it’s just ‘wham-bam, thank you ma’am’—or whatever.” She fumbled with a sticky bandage, then, feeling much better, she headed for the computer desk. “Some days it would be so nice to be a cat.”

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Mixed Bag

Well, rats. The great job didn't pan out, which has its good and bad points, and now things are getting tight. I've actually been doing freelance work lately-- which means I'm making even less than usual with this unemployment thing. This is how it works, apparently. One job I got paid for up front and spent the money before Christmas, and the other one I won't get paid for until February, but I report it all to the Unemployment people when I do the work, and they take out the amount of money I would be paid for that amount of work. I know it all evens out in the end, but this month is slim anyway because we're not getting the money for The Man going to school. So I can pay my mortgage, car, insurance, credit, health, and all other payments on, what, $600? Sure I can. And don't talk to me about the utility companies! Our gas bill alone more than doubled in December. Bother.

And just as a little aside, I finally went to the doctor this week. I had to stop using those nifty little patches because they were giving me welts (and besides, they cost like $10 apiece). I had to stop the anti-inflammatories because they made my stomach sick, so all I had left was the Percocet. This is lovely stuff of course, unless you have to do grownup, responsible things like, say, drive or hold down a job. It was OK for the month that The Man was out of school, but now he's going back and I need something else. 'Cause it turns out that under all that lovely painkilling stuff, there's still a lot of pain. Hmm. So I went to the doc and explained my situation. He gave me another prescription to try, but I think we're scraping the bottom of the barrel. This pill might give me a fatal seizure, but it's safer for driving than the codeine-based stuff? While I was there, he asked what else he could do for me, and I mentioned the numbness and swelling in my hands and feet, respectively. In about a minute, he had diagnosed carpal tunnel (yes, I really have it) and (worse) probable insulin resistance. He says when I get health insurance again (if ever), I should have myself tested for sleep apnea. Oh joy. Well, that would explain a lot. I didn't even mention the tendonitis in my right arm. At this point, it's a minor irritation in all its inflamation. Besides, I know I've got a brace around here somewhere...

Good thing this all makes for interesting story fodder. And so far, we're surviving.

Friday, January 06, 2006

A Quick Update

Sitting by the phone, waiting for the ring that will tell me whether I get a third interview for a very cool job. In fact, at this time of year, it's positively Arctic. Location: Omaha. Good grief. If this wasn't the best job in the country right now, I wouldn't be after it. But after all these months of burnout and shell shock, this opportunity has me interested in having a career again. Interested enough that I'm actually considering how to pull off a move to Nebraska. And liking it. I don't need to go into the complications of the whole situation, I'm sure. You remember what happened when we tried to move to Utah last year. This time we have a bit better chance, seeing as how it's survival and all. But it's still pretty dicey.

Sigh. And on a completely different note, my adorable little redhead, wearing a pirate hat and brandishing a sword, just grinned at me and said, "Shiver me timbers! We must have taken a wrong turn at Bora Bora!" Hee. More later. Must take video.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Picture Time!

We finally got our photos from developed from this past fall and early December. Somehow they ended up out of order on the blog and I'm not patient enough to try and sort it out at this time of night. But I think they're darned cute. What do you think?

Monday, January 02, 2006

Pirate Boy and his adoring fans. (His official fiancee is not in this picture, however.)

Ah, the buccaneer goes a-piratin'. Halloween 2005. Arrrr.

These handsome fellows are ready for their first day of school.

Pirate Boy prepares for his Winter Program. How beautiful is this guy?