This week, the weather's supposed to be gorgeous, and so far it looks good. The weatherman must be taking his anti-crazy pills for once.  I'm dreading this harbinger of days of sweltering misery, but my dog really loves it.  See?  ;)  (Actually, she was giving the hairy eyeball to a squirrel on the rim of the trash enclosure halfway down the driveway when I told her to lie down for this; she usually doesn't look like she's going to eat you.)

Do I have a topic for this, other than I should be saying something?  Well, not really.

My grandson and his mother are coming to visit at the end of the month here. It's hard to believe he's almost four. Nearly has hard as it is to believe that I have a grandson. That's not something that I associate with my identity when I think of myself, yet.

My Daily Planet job is trundling along. Still embroiled in this project, but now it's actually deploying. It's a slow but sure sort of thing but at least we're moving forward.

In writing news, I got stuck in Logan airport overnight while on the way back from PAX East, and got more done on my parenting book in three hours than I'd managed in the previous three months.  I have a structure that will work enough to organize my thoughts through the rest of the first draft/research process.  Whether it will actually look like that when I'm done is a whole 'nother thing, but lets get the ideas on a page before we make that call.

Been using Pages on my iPad just to see how it works with a real project.  So far, pretty good. I'm not sure it's going to be my writing tool of choice, but it works when I'm out and about and it's fairly simple to get the words out of it and into my usual tool.

Otherwise, the job/real life has been in the way
and I haven't managed to get much done around it.  I've got three first drafts in the works for GWJ. Just need to get one to a decent point.  My guess is the Project Spark on is going to come together first.  In that case, the problem isn't just the words in a row - the actual shared proto-game I've been building should be to a point where I'll put a name to it.

One of my colleagues at GWJ posted this awesome article today, and I wanted to crow about it a bit.  Sometimes it feels like I am the only one who ever thought of these things, and it's great to see when others have similar thoughts.

It was a little different for me. I don't know if it's because I'm a mom and we were in it on our own, or if it's just that I'm a pushy meddler.  ;)

When they were very little, I was a very demanding GM. I designed the game, down to the last details every day.  When they'd leveled a bit I helped them move onto the next realm, School, but I still kept close tabs on things.

Once they were in jr high/high school, I felt more like they were the lead in the game, and I was one of the other members of the party.  The Sir Auron-type older and supposedly wiser person. I tried to stay in their adventures but let them have their quest. I tried to make sure it was a learning experience rather than actual damage, but I kept the healing potions handy. I tried to minimize the times I had step in and make it clear to anything that so much as mussed their hair that it would be very very sorry if it did that again. They have to learn, even when it's heartbreaking to let it happen.

When they were grown, that's when I truly became an NPC.  I remember when my eldest son first left for the Army, and I realized I was pacing the same senseless pattern around the living room over and over, waiting for a phone call.  Those first few years when they all tried their own wings and fought their own dragons were hard.

Now they're marrying and launching their own games.  I still get called in for a cameo now and then, but we'll see where they all fly.
My new dog misbehaving.

That may seem weird.  Let me 'splain.

Since I got her she's been coming down off drugs, scared out of her gourd, and on top of that going through moving to a new place.  She's been cringing at everything instead of the playful, boisterous boxer you'd expect.

Today, she tested a command for the very first time. It wasn't a big deal. She just decided that she didn't want to go on her noon walk so she laid down so I couldn't put her harness on, looked away and wouldn't deign to respond.

It was a total power play. Each dog does it a little different, but she'd played this game with my friend's dogs and down at the dog park, so I knew what I was looking at. We weren't going to do things until she decided we'd do them.

I've been waiting for it, so I was prepared. I hung her tack back up and just started the dishwasher and ignored her right back until she came to me.  She carried it on for a minute, then she gave me the serious evil eye, then she sulked for a minute, and when that didn't work, she crawled over for my attention and did the whole walk picture-perfect but for one squirrel incident that damned near dislocated my right shoulder. Right now she's snuggled up to my foot and occasionally licking my ankle.

I will admit it was hard to contain my pride and be properly stern. It's an awesome step forward.
On top of the rest of the reasons I'm really glad I was able to get my new dog away from where she was living, I found out last night that they regularly exposed her to large amounts of second-hand smoke from marijuana and sometimes may have also fed it to her for at least three years. This explains a lot of her behavior when she first got here, and what I'm seeing now, two weeks in.  

According to the vet, it's going to take a while to fully leave her system, but it shouldn't have done any permanent harm. It explains her inexplicable terrors and periods of jumpiness followed by somnolence when she first got here, the bruxism (to the point she's worn her teeth down), the nervous licking of EVERYTHING, and her timidity in general.

I don't have any problems with people getting high, but I have a real problem with people doing this to their animals. For dogs, this stuff is a neurotoxin. They're not high, they're disoriented and going through violent mood-swings.  They are not feeling good and chilling out. They probably can't use their legs properly or balance.  They're not relaxing.  They're sedated.  Eating it, like in a brownie or if they get a hold of a roach or your stash, is dangerous as heck if not treated because they can get to the point they can't regulate their own body temperature or drink properly without choking.

She's getting better every day. I'm starting to see the playful side of her, but the legacy of that fear will take longer to go. She's timid around all strangers, but terrified of men. Once she trusts you, she's a real charmer. Until then, she is literally cowering belly-down on the floor, trembling visibly.

She flat will not leave my side voluntarily, even for people she's known longer and generally likes enough to be playful with, as in my daughter. My daughter watched her while I went to the grocery store last night (because if I leave her home alone even long enough to go to the mailbox she gets so stressed she vomits). When my daughter tried to walk her down to her house, Cleo went joyfully with much butt-wagging and licking as far as my car, then flat refused to go farther and dragged her back up the hill to my place to get me.  I had to take her there and then leave her whimpering with my daughter holding on to her at the door.  

I don't know why she trusts me like this. I got some story that before they got her she lived with an old lady, and maybe she's associating her with me. But since that comes from the person who told me she was only 2 (she's five) I don't know and I have no way of really knowing for sure.  I got her a harness that fits; the one that came with her was way too small and was wearing her fur off and has been that way long enough it's left dents in her skin like the ones where my glasses go over my temples. Have to do a harness because she can slip a collar at will due to the muscles in her neck (she's a boxer).  She's apparently never seen a vet so we need to do shots and I need to find out if she's been fixed.

It's infuriating.  It breaks my heart to see her cowering on the floor because my son came in, and to see her inching towards him when he hunkers down to reassure her. I'm having to teach her how to play with toys. She literally doesn't know how.   

tl;dr: Smoke all you want yourself, but DO NOT GET YOUR DOG HIGH.
I've been thinking a lot lately about my life and where I'm going.

I've heard people say time and again that if you really wanted something, you'd find the time for it. I don't agree with that. Yes, there's a certain level prioritizing that has to go on, but I think that facile comment really doesn't take into account the ever-shifting equation of real life. Yes, I really want to be a writer. So I write and reach out and build. Unfortunately, I really need to be able to pay my rent. Hence the Daily Planet job. Finding a balance between the two of those is not an easy thing.  And when the Daily Planet job goes into bio-break only mode, guess which one trumps.

There are certain bedrock things that transcend the word "want".  It's not "I want to sleep." Whether you really want it or really don't, something like that has to happen. The kids, the house, whatever. If the dog needs to go out, she needs to go out and if that means you find yourself tethered to a peeing dog in the pouring rain at 2am, then that's the way it is. By the time you get down through to the bottom of that list, there's often precious little left for the wants.

You can push it. To try to derive some answer for the day that includes at least some of all of the above I've been going short on sleep for years.
But that trick is very much a young person's game.  At some point, that equation divides itself by zero and you drop everything trying to recover.

So, we'll see. I'm sick of trying to describe these things with the current math. So I'm going to try to be like Newton and invent the life-balance version of calculus and figure out a way to make this all work. Or maybe it'll all turn out to be the scrawls of a crazy prisoner on the walls of her cell.

Back again....


I know it's been a long while. There have been a lot of changes, but a lot of things are pretty much the same. 

Is too long.  Let me sum up.

My elder daughter just got married.  My younger son is going to go to school to be an underwater welder. My elder son works in facilities maintenance at the apartment complex, and my younger daughter is still happily married to her high school sweetheart.  They all live here in the same complex I do. My mom's cancer came back, and she's finishing up a round of radiation and chemo.

As for me, I still work in the same place, but I've been working on a project that basically took all the time there was since February (note the date of the last post. ;)  )  I won't say that it's totally responsible for my shortchanging this place, but it certainly didn't help.

Now I'm trying to get my life going again after the holidays, the wedding, and getting Phase 1 of that project shipped.

As far as writing goes, I opened my yap and have to put my money where my mouth is. I made a comment on several current popular novels and basically was challenged to see if I could write something better in the same genre. So romance and vampires it is.  No sparkles, though. It's actually been an interesting challenge. The tropes are easy ones, and in some ways writing it has felt more like taking dictation. We'll see how it goes.

So now we start again. A new look, a new year, and hopefully a better track record for posting. 
For a set of reasons that are long and illustrious, I ended up digging through the archives of my former blog to find something, and as a side effect, sort of found something else.

The thing in question was a recipe I'd written up in 2003. It was relatively easy to find. But it was bookended by some others that brought back a lot of memories.

2003 was a hard year. It was the year my ex went to jail, with all the attendant misery. The kids and I were truly on our own. It was some of the hardest times my younger son had. I didn't know whether to scratch my watch or wind my backside most of the time.

Reading it, I could hardly recognize that poor girl. But I could feel it. That sick sense of not knowing what to do, barely making it through, and in the end the only thing she could say at the end of most days is at least they were all fed and mostly unaware of the currents flowing around under the surface.

Now that they're grown, my problems are different. I wonder how this blog is going to read 10 years down the road?

Being on the internet is not like real life.  I saw an article where some psychologist was decrying that recently.  

But in her rush to point out the isolating effects of technology, she gives it's ability to truly connect us very short shrift.  I agree that those who just sit there mashing the refresh button on Twitter waiting for someone to say something have a problem. But if someone was of the sort to isolate themselves, they would do it with or without the presence of technology. There are many other ways this same technology helps us connect on a deeper level that is often impossible any other way.  

My corporeal life is a killer; between work and kids I have been under the hammer for a very long time.  I realized recently that there are people I've known for over a decade that have never seen me when I wasn't an exhausted mess.  Not just acquaintances -- I mean good friends. And because of that, they have a view of me as a person that is far from accurate (at least I hope!).  

I'm not saying that knowing that my life needs a "Report Abuse" button for me to press repeatedly most days is a problem.  I'm saying that it's often hard to see past that to the actual person that I am.  But when I'm writing online in my chosen venues, you don't see it. You just see my words. Or even if I do go on about whatever ate it's shorts in the meat world today, the effect is secondary to the facts and what I'm trying to say about it.  The meaning of "my day sucked and here's why" is not always just that it sucked.  There is more meaning to me than whining, and conveying that helps me get a better handle on that perspective.

That "chosen venue" part is the most important bit.  If I was trying to manage that sort of connection solely through the good offices of 140 character hunks of Twitter and a couple paragraphs here and there on Facebook I'd be working with both hands tied behind my back.

And I think that over time, the line between the different kinds of interaction will continue to blur and blend.  I wrote an article about this once here. I wasn't suggesting that we should throttle back; I was just pointing out that things had become a little more complicated than they used to be and we all need to take a look at how we deal it.

Reading that makes me a little sad, though.  The older lady with the prayer cards (and her Presbyterian buddy) are both gone now. I've lost corporeal friends, electronic friends, and corporeal friends I've met through electronic means over the years. They all hurt.  I get very angry if someone suggests that the years I knew Robespierre through his writings on Slate's "Fray" were somehow less important than the painfully few physical meetings we had before he died.

But my favorite part is when someone who for whatever reason had sort of fallen off the radar comes back.  In a corporeal relationship there is often a bunch of baggage, but in the case of the online experience there are times when a person needs to step back. Their corporeal life is too much to handle and they have to focus there, or they just grow beyond that connection.  If you're in the right venue, that's not a problem.  

A person whose writings and person I respected a great deal decided to pull back from the forums we frequent for several personal reasons a while ago.  While I was sad to see him go, I hoped he found what he was looking for. But he came back, and in a way I've been pivileged to come to expect on those forums he was welcomed back with open arms.
Whoah. That was more fun than any grown human should be allowed to have.  I just spent most of the last month in "bio-break only" mode at my Daily Planet job, and then then the last week has been spent in trying to catch up on everything else that got forcibly shoved off my plate for that.

It'll be good, once I get through this. Just time for it all to hit the fan again for the Holidays.

No rest for the wicked.  Not even the EXTREMELY wicked.  ;)
My younger son, the king forever of good decision making, brought home a drunken friend last night, with the predictable results.

My favorite part was when she raised her head from the toilet and said, "Wow. I did not expect on this."  I didn't say more than aiming instructions, but I had other things crowding behind my teeth.  

Why wouldn't she expect this?  She did the same thing just about every Friday night for years, starting when she was 15 as far as I know of, and probably well before I knew. At least she's old enough now she's not breaking the law on top of everything else. It's not like she didn't know the consequences of that much Jack, especially on a body that had been dry for over 6-months.

She'd already told me why she wasn't thinking, so I didn't need to ask that. Why did she think that this was the proper response did come out, but her answer was mostly lost in retching and sobbing.

Why do I do it? I get asked that. I don't know. What do you suggest I do?  Throw her her out?  I've known this kid since she was in the girls' 3rd grade class. She's been wandering in and out of my house since then. I've told her she was making bad choices, and even helped her get into rehab before.  I can't do it for her; she has to want to do it and keep it going by herself.

Mostly, I do it because over the years with all of them I've realized something. When you're presented with a situation like this, you have three choices -- to help, do nothing, or make things worse.  I could have shouted at her, thrown her out when they presented myself at my front door at that ridiculous hour of the morning. I could have just pretended I didn't hear them "sneaking in" and carefully not heard or seen anything was amiss until she was gone. Or let her sleep on my couch, clean her up, and try to make sure she goes off into a better situation then the one she came here from.

The trick is figuring out what is actually helping, or what is making things worse. There have been times when throwing them out was the helping choice. And while I'm not constitutionally suited to the do nothing choice, I have done it before so I could choose a better time for a word about what they're doing.

She's on her way home, wrapped up in an old work-shirt of my son's that has seen better days and I actually hope she doesn't bring back. She's had a cup of tea that stayed put, washed off the blurred and streaked makeup, and combed her hair. Her AA partner picked her up, and I imagine that's going to be a pointed conversation. Hopefully they can help her realize that failing once doesn't mean you give up, and help her get back on track. Just on general principles, I'm not going back into that bathroom until my younger son has scrubbed it until it shines like the top of the Chrysler Building.

Now that I'm writing this, I realize maybe she meant the part about me helping her clean up the mess she made of my bathroom. I guess that's different. I'm not screaming foul language at her loud enough to melt the walls like her mom used to when they lived upstairs from us.  Her mother is a self-righteous hypocrite who has modeled this behavior herself all the girl's life, from the drinking through the night and it's accompanying stupid decisions right on through to the next day's penitent crawl a hundred times. But instead of helping or getting help herself, she would pray and shout and wail her way from binge to binge, and then punish her daughter for doing the same even when she was the one who gave her the alcohol.  I haven't seen her in years. I haven't heard anything awful has happened to her, but I don't know how she's doing.

I don't know. If someone has another suggestion as to what to do in this situation I'd be interested in hearing it.