Friday, December 22, 2006

Last Post of '06

Well, folks, I will be offline until after the New Year. Spending next week with the family and not doing anything else . . . no work, no writing, no NUFFIN! :-)

So, in keeping with my "Traditions" theme for the last few days, I'm going to start a new tradition here today. It's a pretty simple one, but it involves you (yes, YOU!) I hereby declare the last post of each year on this blog to be dedicated to simply saying: "Thank you."

Thanks for taking time out of your life each day to read my ramblings. Thanks for giving me a place to vent, rant, and ponder. Most of all, thanks for the support you guys send my way whenever things start to get to me. I really do appreciate the hell out of it!

Thank you.

I hope everyone reading gets to spend their holiday of choice, with the people they love the most!

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to all!

See ya' in '07!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Traditions #5


There is a process to the opening of gifts on Christmas morning. One does not merely dive into the pile, grabbing packages at will and tearing off the wrappings! There is a form to be observed; a formal procedure, and order, in which all packages are to be opened. The traditional method for opening presents in our household is ancient and well-established:

First, we must consider proper placement of all involved parties. The Boy takes a seat on the floor (outside of package grabbing distance!) while The Wife sits up on the couch (wrapped up in a blanket cuz she's always freezing!) with camera in hand and muttering under her breath about how damn early it is. I get the position of gift-giver. I get to sit amidst the gifts and hand them to The Boy one at a time. (Okay . . . "hand" may not be the right word: "throw at" might be a more apt description!) Of course, I always ask him which package he wants to open next, then totally ignore his opinion, giving them out in the order most likely to frustrate him! (It's a Dad thing.) The conversations usually go something like this:

ME: "Which one do you wanna open next, bud?"
BOY: (pointing) "The big one!"
ME: (pointing at the small one next to it) "This one?"
BOY: (laughing) "No! THAT one! the BIG one!!"
ME: (putting hand on correct gift) "Oh! THIS one?"
BOY: "YES!!!"
ME: "Nah, you don't want that one. How about this little one instead?"
WIFE: (sighing and rolling eyes) "Give him the big one, jackass!"
ME: (handing over package) "Yes, dear."

We do only one gift at a time and take a few minutes to examine it in detail, read the back, etc. Rushing through the gifts is no part of the process. Each gift is appreciated as it is opened (and bad jokes about same are freely offered . . . usually by me!) This way, the best part of the day is extended for as long as possible. When The Boy was small, we could spend an hour or more just going through his gifts. Now that he's a teenager, there are far fewer (but much more expensive!) gifts but we still try to make it all last as long as we can. The moments of surprise and joy on each other's face as we open the gifts are what the day's really about after all, so why not drag it out? We always do The Boy's gifts first, with me giving out under The Wife's direction as she takes all the pictures (trust me, you do not wanna let me handle a camera!) After that, The Boy gets his turn at playing Santa. He hands out the gifts to The Wife and I, one at a time. Usually with a look of concern on his face as he looks over the gifts and says: "Geez, Dad, there's nothing here for you!" (Yes, The Boy has inherited my smart-ass sense of humor.) The gifts are usually all done in a half-hour or so now (sadly) but it's still the very best part, of the very best holiday of the year, in our house.

Oh, and let us not forget that there is a use to be made of all gift wrapping! Rolled into a ball, it makes a wonderful projectile for launching at Dad's head!


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Traditions #4


Credit for this bit of familial oddity goes to my Old Man. Strangely, I believe it began the same Christmas as did yesterday's Tradition #3. My Dad read "The Hobbit" before I did. He was the one who gave it to me actually. He loved that book -as do I- but where I am a devoted fan of "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, my Old Man always preferred "The Hobbit". He loved the simplicity of it, he said. He enjoyed LOTR but his first love was the adventures of one Bilbo Baggins and a dozen dwarves. My Dad loved Hobbits. He thought they were the most brilliant creatures ever. Hobbits know how to live well. They know about peace, they know of joy and of humor, but above all things: Hobbits know of food. Simple, solid fare, served in large portions is the very soul of Hobbit life. My father truly respected that. Hence, the tradition of The Hobbit Breakfast.

I pity those of you who have never partaken of such a repast!

Hobbit breakfasts are a five-course (or more!) affair. They take hours to eat properly and the cooking of them is just as much fun as the eating!

Course, the First: This is the simplest course. It's really just a warm-up . . . a way to get the belly woken up and ready for the gastronomic marathon on which it is about to embark. It consists of Juice (orange, tomato, or pineapple) and some type of bread (usually toasted) covered with butter and/or honey (I prefer both!) followed by a hot cup of coffee or tea.

Course, the Second: The cereal course. This is presented as a wide array of cereals (both cold and hot) for your gastronomic pleasure. Small bowls are recommended for all but the most Hobbitish amongst us, since we still have a looooong way to go on our eating adventure.

Course, the Third: Now my fellow Hobbits, we begin breakfast in earnest! We launch ourselves into a large stack of pancakes (aka: flapjacks, griddle-cakes, johnny-cakes etc.) covered with butter and large doses of maple syrup. Optionally, one may choose to use sweetened peaches and fresh whipped cream. Serve with an additional cup of coffee or tea.

Course, the Fourth: Egggssssess, my precious! Large platters of eggs: fried, scrambled, poached and boiled . . . any way you wish! Of course, one must never serve eggs on their own (Hobbits consider this terribly rude!) They must at all times be accompanied by large servings of bacon, sausage, and ham! At the very least, all these ingredients must be mixed into an omelette and all plates are served with additional helpings of toast and fried potatoes! Refresh the tea while you're at it, won't you?

Course the Fifth: Now we truly see who among us can truly call themselves a Hobbit, and who is merely a little dude with furry feet! Once the clutter of the previous courses has been cleared away, we break out the cakes! Doughnuts, cruellers, crumb-cake, muffins . . . baked goods of every conceivable variety for you to "round off the edges". This course moves quite slowly (as do all Hobbits by this point!) and can be spread across a couple of hours as needed to allow for proper appreciation of the sweets. Tea, coffee, and milk are suggested for sipping as we finish our morning and begin wondering what we might have for luncheon . . .

And THAT, my friends, is a Hobbit Breakfast! (No, I am not exaggerating!)

I will say however that the amount of food served in my house has been dramatically reduced since I was a teenager, living with five animals I called my brothers. Now, we generally use only the first, fourth, and fifth courses . . . often blending them together for a solid big breakfast on Christmas morning after the opening of gifts. The gifts, of course, come first. Gifts are the only things Hobbits love more than food! Even The Boy, who is usually a light eater, eats like a starved bear when we do Hobbit Breakfast. Luckily (for my heart!) we only do this twice a year: Christmas and Easter.

Now do you all see why I'm so damn fat? (I'm not really . . . I'm just a Hobbit!)


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Traditions # 3


Oh, c'mon! After reading my blog for all this time, you didn't think I was referring to The Bible, did you?

Nah, I'm talking about the reading of any good book, but the reading takes place at a designated time and place and with a specific methodology. What is this, you ask? Reading is reading, right? Usually, yes . . . but not so on Christmas! I love this tradition as it is strictly mine, created when I was ten-years-old, adhered to every year since, and (best of all!) has been adopted by The Boy as well.

When I was eight, Santa left me the most remarkable gift ever. A gift set of Neil Hancock's "Circle of Light" fantasy series. I opened the first book "Greyfax Grimwald" on Christmas afternoon, around 4:00 p.m. (after we were all exhausted from playing with all the new toys and all my older rothers were napping) See, I had only recently read "The Hobbit" and Santa thought I would like another fantasy to work through. Oh man, was he ever right! This series had a fantastic feel to it like nothing I've ever read since. It was a kid's fantasy story but it was completely otherwordly! I can still feel the incredible sense of awe I had reading through it. (I really should pick them up again and see how they stack up after thirty years . . .)

Anyway, the book was so amazing that I couldn't put it down. I read right through dinner and on into the night. By the time I thought to see what everyone else was up to, it was past 2:00 a.m. and I was the only one in the house still awake . . . and starving! I rustled up some Christmas cookies and sat back down on the couch, munching and reading. That night of sitting in absolute silence, snacking on the cookies, was one of the most memorable of my entire life. I can't recall ever feeling so content, or at peace with the world, in my entire childhood as I was reading Mr. Hancock's book. I read it cover-to-cover that night and didn't go to bed until nearly 5:00 a.m. It was wonderful. So much in fact, that I did the same the following Christmas, and every one since. Oh, the books change, but the process is the same. I start a book on Christmas night and do not put it down until I have read its entirety. I turn off all TV and music, and just read while snacking on the Christmas cookies and occasionally staring up at the lighted tree. It's still as much fun as it was that first Christmas. there's something so . . . free, I guess, about knowing you are not going to be disturbed out of your fantasy world. No one is going to call, you don't need to go to work in the morning, there's no work that needs be done . . . you can travel to the Realms of the Muse completely and without any feeling of guilt about shirking responsibilities. It's Christmas after all, and that's the gift I give myself each year.

Try it . . You'll never miss a Christmas-night-read again!


Monday, December 18, 2006

Tradition #2


I am a big fan of the cookies. (Hence the ongoing battle of the paunch!) Generally, I am too lazy to make them myself (Even the warm-n-serve variety often seems far too much effort for someone at my level of laziness!) so I most often make do with the packaged variety but Christmas is the yearly exception. On the day of Christmas Eve (think about it - it makes sense.) The Boy and I bake Christmas cookies. It's a father/son thing. Yea, I know: doesn't sound particularly manly, but we enjoy it. The Wife wants no part of the process (she cant' even stand to come into the kitchen while we do this. The mere sight of the mess we make gives her heart palpitations!) We bake us up some chocolate chip, sugar cookies, and a large batch of butter cookies (The Wife's favorite!). We put on Christmas CD's (Boy's choice) and spend a good 3-4 hours destroying the kitchen (We DO clean it up! Well . . . we do, but The Wife cleans it a second time, muttering under her breath about useless males . . .) The sugar and butter cookies are rolled, cut into Christmas type shapes and decorated by The Boy.

Of course, as each sheet of cookies comes out of the oven and is placed on the cooling rack, it is very important that we both sample a cookie while it is still warm. (This is strictly a quality control issue!) Large glasses of cold milk are required as palette cleansers between each round of delectable munchies! Once cool, the cookies (that are left!) get placed into our special air-tight Christmas Cookie jar, which serves no other purpose within our home for the remainder of the year (cookies just don't last long enough 'round here to warrant placing them in a jar!)

No, we do not share out these cookies with anyone else. They are strictly for In-Home use. (And they serve a very important function in our home, which will be covered in my next post! Tune in for more geekiness, loyal readers!) My mother-in-law does the major cookie baking for family distribution, so we don't want to compete. Of course, since we ARE using her cookie recipes, the additional package she gives us each year is just a lovely extra buffer, lest we run out before the New Year!

It's a small tradition, I know. Doesn't seem like much, but to me it's one of the highlights of the season. I look forward to that day all year. I enjoy the hell out of just hanging with The Boy and telling bad jokes and stories as we mix up cookie dough. We almost always wind up talking about family history and what Christmas was like for me and The Wife as kids. It's a good time to pass along some of the things that I found important to my son.

Plus, it's just a helluva lot of fun!


Friday, December 15, 2006

Traditions #1

Well, let us begin the tale of my lameness with that most obvious of Christmas Traditions:


For starters, I'm one lazy SOB (I know, you're shocked!) I go for plastic over real, for the simple reason that it means a hell of a lot less work. I'm lazy to the extreme of having purchased a pseudo-tree wherein the electric lights are permanently fixed to the branches, saving me yet one more level of Christmassy frustration!

We begin our tree-trimming adventure with the obligatory basement-crawl, wherein your favorite blogger (No, not HER!!!!! Me, dammit!) fights his way past a year's accumulation of junk to find the large vinyl bag wherein that treasure of consumerism is hidden. I then lug it up the narrow stairs (Banging shins, hands, and various other body parts while roundly cursing the entire way) and into the living room where same shall be assembled. At this point, The Boy pops Frank Capra's immortal "It's a Wonderul Life" into the player so that I can feel all mushy and "seasonal" while fighting the vinyl-covered wire branches into something approximating the shape of a pine tree. There will be several breaks for tea and cookies during this process (Earl Gray, of course!!) as well as numerous stops to partake of key moments in the film (" . . . I'm your Guardian Angel, George!" "Yea, wouldn't surprise me a bit!") The Boy helps me unfold and fluff the branches, and the whole process usually only takes an hour or so.

Next, we move on to the actual decorating part of this adventure! This is the part I like best, because I ain't the one who does it! This is The Wife and Boy's job. My participation consists of sitting on the couch, making helpful (and totally ignored) suggestions about bauble placement. I also take the initiative to arise from my seat and switch out "It's a Wonderful Life" for "Miracle on 34th Street" when it's time. (Both in their original B&W of course. Colorization is an evil, awful, thing and the rat-bastard who invented it should be horse-whipped!) The pair of them do a remarkable job each year of turning the plastic leviathan into a tree so lovely, that no one who comes into our home ever believes it's fake. We finish the tree off with a lovely Angel, holding a single candle, that The Wife purchased for our first Christmas together. She actually does the placing of the Angel (Cuz, the tree's like 8 ft. tall and The Wife is like: Gi-normous!) My short, pudgy, ass can't reach that high! Next will come dinner (usually simple -ordered- fare like a pizza or subs) followed by a long evening of watching Christmas cartoons (umm . . . and more cookies and candy!). We usually do "The Year Without a Santa Claus", followed by "Rudolph" and/or "Frosty". We've got damn near every one ever made, on DVD, so we get to watch when we wish. I do love me some Christmas cartoons! You ain't lived until you've had the chance to see me and The Boy doing our rendition of the "Snow-miser" song!

"V-V-V-V-V-V-V-V-V-V-V-V-V-V . . . . TOO MUCH!"

Putting up the tree takes most of an afternoon and the evenings are just for hanging about and being silly together. See, to me: that's a GREAT tradition. Stay tuned for more family-geekness in my next post!


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Closing in on Christmas

Much crazy running down to the Christmas holiday. Seems like every night there's something to do. Work, of course, has been going non-stop with the end of year deadline rushing. Don't know why, but all engineers and architects MUST have everything (that they've been dragging ass on for eight months!) done before the end of December. Emergencies, problems, deadlines, and general idiocy are blooming everywhere.

At home, we're trying to get the very last of the construction stuff done this weekend, so The Wife is staining trim like a mad woman (Ya know: a little madder than her usual!) so I can install it all Sat. morning, while she and The Boy are at a charity Christmas party for her workplace, and before our friends show up at 5:30 or so for a get-together. Sunday, we're heading out to my Mom's (A 1-1/2+ hour journey into the sticks!) to take her and my brother out for the afternoon. Should be nice: we don't get to see them all that often because of the distance and conflicting work schedules. Of course, The Boy has yet ANOTHER school project with a friend that we'll have to shoe-horn in there somehow as well. I am really looking forward to Christmas. I'm a huge fan of the holiday in general of course, but the best part is the week after, where I stay home and do NOTHING (except read, eat, watch movies & play video games with The Wife and The Boy!) With a little luck, the house will be done and I'll be able to sit comfortably in my living room, with a nice blaze working in the new fireplace, flipping channels on my new 50" plasma TV, as I lounge -with book in hand- on my brand new over-stuffed couch! Sweet, eh?

I think the Christmas shopping is all done at this point (yay!) so maybe next week we'll have a chance to relax and get more into the spirit of the season. I really want to have the nights free so we can relax and do some of our Christmasee type stuff. One thing I really want to do is our annual reading of "A Christmas Carol". We had to skip it last year because of the contractor mess but I wanna do it this year. We are supposed to trade chapters, each of us reading one out loud every night in the days leading up to Christmas, culminating with old Ebeneezer's conversion on Christmas Eve. Somehow though, I always wind up doing most of the reading. The family says they like the way I do the voices (What? You don't do voices and accents when you read aloud???? You don't know the fun you're missing!) The Boy does a pretty good cockney tone himself, so I think it's mostly laziness on their part, but that's alright. I enjoy the time with them, so I'll do the reading if that's what they want.

Don't know how many posts I'll get in between now and the holiday, but I think I'm gonna post about our Christmas traditions. Ya' know: the dorky things that we love to do but will make you all shake your head at our silliness. Yea. I like that plan.

Geekiness shall ensue in my next post!!!!


Monday, December 11, 2006

Monday Meltdown

Monday has fallen upon us once again; it's viscious fangs rending the hope from our souls, devouring the warmth of all human kindness, laying waste to the dreams that once harbored safely within our hearts . . .

Too melodramatic?

Yea, you're probably right, but I really don't like Mondays, ya; know? Seems that no matter how things go over the weekend, or how light the workload is, or what good things may happen (yea right!) on this day of the week: I'm still depressed as hell on Monday. It's the whole "working for a living" concept. I have a very deep seated hatred for the status quo of modern society. It's got to be some type of imbalance in me or something. The Wife seems fine with it. She is fine with the idea of working for the next thirty years in a decent-paying, semi-comfortable position that gives you exactly 10.8 hours of accrued time off each month. The idea of working 50 or so hours each week, for people who would replace you in a moment if ever you dare to step outside the parameters of "good behavior" as outlined in the 365 page H.R. Manual, wherin you signed away all your rights on the back page the day you began work there, doesn't bother her. Doesn't seem to bother a lot of folks actually. Just me. The whole system seems wrong to me. Am I the only one who needs a purpose to my life? The Wife stares at me like I have three heads when I start ranting about it but I can't seem to help myself. Is this all there is? Did some omnipotent being create my soul and hand me a body so that I could generate green pieces of paper for a faceless corporation that has no appreciation or regard for my efforts? Am I nothing but a cog in the machine; a mere data bit in the vast computer of economic efficiency? Or perhaps I was not created at all . . . perhaps I'm nothing more than the infinitely improbable collusion of unrelated circumstance that has combined in the eternal ether to create consciousness. Am I the the grand winner of the most valuable and immense galactic lottery ever imagined? Did I just happen to hit the big number on the grand roulette wheel of eternity? If I am, then should I fritter away that prize by sublimating myself in the pursuit of monetery stasis, and a reliable mode of transport to best enable my puruit of said stasis? Shall I trade my status as a winner of "life", against infinite odds, for the hope of a few years -when I'm too decrepit to appreciate it- wherein I may sit about and do as I wish? Assuming I do not wish anything beyond the median of my limited accumulation of wealth? Shall I sell all the viable years of my life for the dream of a gold watch and a rocking chair in which I may comfortably await my demise?


Oh well. Anyway, it's Monday.

I don't like Monday.


Friday, December 08, 2006

Senile Christmas

The weekend is almost upon me . . . YAAAYYY!!!!

It's been a long, crazy, week at work. Training seminars, meetings, problems . . . hell, I even actually had to TALK to my boss! Luckily that only happens every 2-3 months (yea, that's pretty cool!) I will say it's nice to have a job where nobody messes with me. I do what I want, when I want, the way I want (ya' know: usually!) so I shouldn't bitch (and yet, I still do!)

Been working on the revisions for "Fish" the last few days. It's going pretty well. The edits (so far!) aren't as extensive as I thought they were. The book moves quicker than I remembered, with a nice mix of human insight and action. I'm liking it.

On the homefront: The Boy is hurting my head. Keeps getting himself grounded by doing things he flat-out knows better than to do. If he keeps it up, he'll be grounded through the entire holiday season! He's already made it from Thanksgiving till now, with only two days of freedom before he tanked it yet again. OY! It's gotta be the age . . . the whole puberty thing has to be short-circuiting his brain. Right now, his girlfriend, friends, and cousins are ALL pissed at him because his punishments keep killing all the plans they've made together. C'est la Vie!

Did I mention I did me some woodworking last weekend? I made up a mantle for above my fireplace and caprails for some knee-walls and such. It's the first time I've ever used a router or did any kind of detailed finish work like that. It was fun! I can see how folks take it up as a hobby. Lot of coolness there. The Wife's been staining all the stuff I made this week (done that before: not so much fun!) so I can put it all in this weekend. That's the goal: to get the bulk of the trim work completed so that the place will look pretty well finished for Christmas.

Speaking of Christmas, the upcoming holiday has managed to highlight my advancing years for me. The Wife asked me what I wanted for Christmas last night and I opened my mouth to answer, only to realize I'd completely forgotten what it is I want. Been rackin' my head all day to recall, but no luck. Shame . . . it was a really cool thing to0! Damn, it sucks getting old! My brain (what little I started with!) is rapidly turning to mush. I figure by the time I hit fifty, The Wife will have to spoon feed me and put me on one of those kid-leashes when we go out so I don't wander away. (Mwahahah! That will be my final revenge upon her!) It's bizarre though, I mean: who the hell FORGETS what they want for Christmas? I'm thinking there's a bit too much chlorine in my family's gene pool, ya' know?

Okay, I know what you're all thinking: "Damn, what a dull post!" Well . . . okay. I did warn you though that December was my zero-stress, zoning out month. Hard to rant when you're being all Zen and shit. See, now that's funny to me . . . mixing words like "Zen and "shit" in the same sentence tickles my funny bone. I'm a little odd that way. Okay, I'm a little odd in a lot of ways . . . but it was very rude of you to point that out! I mean, I may be getting senile but I've still got feelings here! Don't laugh at the crazy old man . . . especially you, SRH! You ain't that far behind me son! ;-)


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Oddity of Love

I'm in an odd place today.

Odd in a good way, I mean. For some reason or another I've been thinking a lot about the folks I love lately (must be the season.) I've been thinking about what real love is, how to identify it, and why it's so important. I've got something about it bouncing in my head right now (no idea why!) and I think I need to run it down, so this here blog seems like a fair enough place to do so. Fair warning though: I don't know what I'm about to write, so it may come out as ridiculous drivel. Read on at your own risk!

My life is not like other folks. I watch folks who are always calling each other "sweetheart" and "snuggle-bunny" (YAK!) and I have to shake my head. I see them being overly polite to their loved one ("Honey, can I get you a beer? Can I wash your car for you?") and I keep saying to myself: "That relationship is doomed." Yea, I know . . . Dr. Phil says your supposed to be kind, caring, loving, and solicitous of our mate. Well, after eighteen years of marriage (20+ together) I can say with some practical authority that the man is full of crap. Lemme tell ya' about how The Wife and I work . . .

Like most couples, we have our own terms of endearment for each other: she calls me "asshole" and I call her "bitch" (The Boy made fun of us for it last night. Something about the joys of growing up in a dysfunctional family. Kid's a smart-ass! Funny . . . but a smart-ass!). If she ever offered to go get me a beer, I wouldn't drink the damn thing cause she'd likely put arsenic in it. She explained to a co-worker the other day that if I ever bothered to send her flowers, she'd know I was screwing around. Our idea of a romantic evening together is laying on the couch, under a comforter, watching "The Lion in Winter" for the 53rd time. (Ya' know: similar relationships!) People who meet us for the first time are usually horrified at the insults we hurl back and forth. They're usually waiting for us to end up in divorce court any day. Folks who know us well just laugh and tell us to shut up. The Wife and I aren't much for affectionate displays. We love each other desperately but it's not said in the ways most folks think of when talking about love. It's more subtle.

See, we never pass each other without touching; a hand on a shoulder or a squeeze of the butt cheeks . . . whatever. When we're in a crowd, our eyes always find each other and we'll stick out a tongue or just smile. When we walk together, we always hold hands (and we know the only comfortable hand position for both of us to do that!) When it's just the two of us, we can go for hours at a time without talking to each other and still be "together". She'll never fetch me a beer but if she's getting a glass of water, she always brings me one too, no questions asked. Love is spelled out in the little things. Oh, we both say "I love you" fairly regularly and that's an important thing, I guess, but for me the silly things mean a lot more. After twenty years, I can still make her laugh so hard she can't breathe. She can still smack my ego down with dry one-liners that are pure brilliance. Best of all: when we talk about the big things we'd still like to do with our lives . . . all the sentences start with the word "We". Oh, don't underestimate that word! It seems short and insignificant but it's the most important word in the language. I believe that all those charming couples I spoke of smother each other with their tender regards. They overload each other with the vapid romance crap until they are desperate for a little "me" time. They have to get away from their: "Widdle-Choochy-Bear-Of-Wuv!" before they die of asphyxiation! They run away, trying to find the "me" they lost before they have to put a bullet through their skull. Here's some romantic math for ya': Me + Me = We. Whereas: Us x 2 = Divorce.

Love is about being yourself, alongside someone being themself, and the both of you genuinely liking that other person. that's it. No more, no less. Let me tell you a little tale about The Wife that will sum up how our relationship works. When I was growing up I had nightmares every night of my life. Nasty, horrid, waking up in cold sweats, unable to move a muscle from fear type of nightmares. Lived with them up till my early twenties, when they mysteriously went away. It took me years to figure out why. It wasn't until a few years ago that I noticed that I still had the nightmares, but only when The Wife wasn't in bed with me. See, whenever she's really sick (ya' know: or royally pissed at me!) she will sleep in the guest room. That's when the nightmares come back. When she's there, I'm fine. I'm safe, and warm, and happy. When she's not . . . I'm all alone with the nightmares again. During the day, when I'm upset or sad, or whatever . . . she'll put a hand on my neck as she goes past me to do the laundry, and I feel better. There's a definition of love: when someone can make you feel completely warm inside just by being close. The romantic passions and drama are worthless. Find someone who sleeps on the floor beside your bed after you've had all your wisdom teeth pulled, or someone who will drive you 50 miles to work (one way!) in their pajamas every morning because you can't afford a car, and you've found real love.

Not sure why I needed to get that out, except 'Tis the Season and all that. Like I said yesterday, I'm focusing on my family this month and I'm not letting anything stress me out or distract me from that. Time is moving far too quickly for my liking and I'll be damned if I miss any more time with them than I absolutely have to. The Boy is heading for high school and already thinking about colleges and careers. The Wife and I are discussing retirement and how we'll live out our golden years. Too fast, folks. Muuuuccccchhhhh too fast! I'm taking the moments I can get, while they're around for the gettin'! I suggest you do the same.

Thanks for being patient with my rambling. Maybe tomorrow I'll make more sense.


Monday, December 04, 2006

Stream of Consciousness

Great Googa-Mooga, it has been a long couple of weeks! Sorry for the extended absence folks, but life was busy placing large boot to wide ass of your's truly!

For starters, the whole family's been sick on and off for the last three weeks. Beyond that, life has simply been crazy. Every night after work we've been running somewhere, every weekend has been a scheduled event or working on the house (or dying under a blanket with a fever!) Work . . . shit, it's just been one more level of insanity! Problems, nightmares, trainees . . . the usual BS.

Well, I did not make my NaNo goal this year (though I did churn out 35, ooo words which ain't too shabby!) I was a little behind because of the screwed up counter I was using, then the holiday and other crap hit and that was all she (or in this case: "HE"!) wrote. I'm not too upset with it actually. NaNo is a way to help you learn to write regularly and I'm fair-to-middlin' about that as it is. 30k a month is about standard for me anyway so it's not lack of AIC (Ass-In-Chair) that's holding me back. My real stumbling block is still the business end of things. I am NOT working hard enough at getting the novels edited and into the hands of agents/publishers. I write fairly regularly (though it'd be a lot more if I could do this full time!) I just have a feeling sometimes that I use the act of writing as a cover up for not submitting. I can tell myself I'm too busy "writing" to revise or submit. Gotta stop that. I can write a hundred novels and it won't mean crap for my career if I never get them out the door, now will it?

It is now December and I have made myself a promise: I ain't doin' a dam thing this month! The year has gone by in a blur and I intend to spend the last month of it at home, with my family. I ain't doing meetings, running, volunteering, working late . . . nothing! I need a break. I need some time to sit with The Wife and The Boy and just relax for a bit. I'll work on my house and do the Christmas shopping thing with them, but that's the only stuff that will get my ass out of the house for the rest of the year. Anything else . . . I just ain't a-gonna do 'er!

I'm going to continue working on "Tears" and I'm looking forward to finishing off "First" (hopefully before the end of Feb.) but beyond that I will not begin a new novel until I have completely revised and submitted all the ones I've already written. This is what I have as of today:

1. "Knights" - My first completed novel. Not publishable, but a good learning experience. Was supposed to be start of a series but . . . (shrug)

2. "Slayer" - My second completed novel. This is the one I've been querying on. It's 100% done and I've gotten some nibbles on it but I'm worried it may not be quite good enough.

3. "Fish" - First Draft done and better than 1/2 way through edits. My best work so far. I think this is probably my best shot at landing a contract so it's being bumped to top priority.

4. "Clans" - First Draft done but the idea of edits is daunting. Very long book (180k) and it's only book one of a series. Needs a LOT of editing but it's got some pretty original fantasy ideas (I think, anyway!)

5. "First" - The First Draft is about 90% complete but it's running long (already at about 120k). It will need a good bit of editing. It's also book one of a series. I like this one. It's not "cutting edge" fantasy or anything but I think it's got a good voice and plenty of action.

6. "Tears" - My new work for this years NaNo. Contemporary fantasy (sort of) that may be completely out of my league. I'm about 1/3 of the way through the First Draft.

I'm not including the other three novels I started, that died out at about 40k or so, or the dozens of short stories, etc. I've written (two published in paying markets, thank you very much!). All totaled though, that's a lot of writing for very little show. I will finish these last two novels and work on getting everything (except "Knights" of course) published. If none of them fly . . . well, I have to imagine that if I'm not publishable after close to a million written words, then I never will be. I won't be starting any new works until I have at least one of these published. There comes a point in any endeavor where you have to acknowledge your own limitations and admit that your talent doesn't match your dreams. I'm not at that point yet . . . but I think I see it hovering out there on the horizon. We'll see how it goes. Anyone wanna come along for the ride? :-)