Monthly Archives: June 2008

When Zombies Fail to Attack!

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Seeing as winter is my favorite season, I’ve been in a… a smug sort of mood recently. The heat is atrocious and world is altogether too sunny, cheery, and optimistic, but I know something they don’t: the days are getting shorter, and in half a year, it will be winter. I’m willing to bet on this.

It will be another full three seasons before I have to endure the chipper enthusiasm of spring, with its optimistic promise of new beginnings and love-stricken young couples snogging all over the place. Blech.

And it will be… oh, this is just delicious to realize… it will be another whole year before I have to suffer the wretched heat and general good will engendered my summer. Granted, I am enduring it right now, but I’m trying to look on the positive side, here.

In only three and half months, it will be October. October is a month I can get behind. Cooler weather, fewer tourists, shorter evenings. I like when it’s dark outside. There’s more risk of zombie attack, yes, and vampires pose a bigger threat when there’s less daylight, but generally speaking I prefer stars to sun. Not that I can really see the stars. Too much glare from the lights in the parking lot. I suppose they’re in place for security reasons, but give me a break: A street lamp is NOT going to deflect the undead. I shall have to write a letter explaining this to the management at my apartment complex.

Not much to write about this evening (though I’m glad I took the opportunity to educate everyone about the cycle of the seasons; I’m sure it was helpful and informative for all concerned). I’m afraid I just don’t have much to say. All my creative energies appear to have been expended, somehow….

Yoga, I can always talk about yoga. Remind me to never again complain about Yoga Instructor Jennifer. I have come to realize that she is not the tyrant I accuse her of being. She is positively tame compared to Yoga Instructor Steve, who spent an hour terrorizing us this evening. He did, however, tell me that I have a propensity for Ashtanga style yoga—he actually said “propensity”—so I forgive him. I’m a sucker for praise. He also complimented my shoulder stand this evening, but I wasn’t able to properly thank him, as I had a face full of cleavage at the time.

I appreciate that many of you enjoy having a face full of cleavage, that in fact some of you may actively seek that sort of circumstance, but I assure you, when the breasts in question are your own, it is not really pleasurable, in the least. It is in fact difficult to breath. I do not recommend it. If you insist on breast-to-face contact, please: use someone else’s.

Um. I still have too many projects going on. That hasn’t changed since last week’s post, but since I already covered that topic in mind-numbing detail, I won’t revisit. I am reading R. Scott Bakker’s Prince of Nothing fantasy trilogy, which I recommend, but which I won’t discuss yet, not till I’ve finished it. But there is nothing else going on that is appropriate for this here blog. I mean, I spent four paragraphs talking about the weather. I think that’s a sign.

I should have more interesting news to relate next weekend, after a Cinco de Mayo party. (We don’t let pesky little details such as dates or months stop us from having a good time around here.) Except I shouldn’t have written that. Now everyone at the party is going to be on good behavior for fear of being written up on the blog. That’s hardly fair. How else am I supposed to get material? Shall I just prance out into the night and hope for a zombie to attack?

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Tanked Out

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And a Happy Motherfuckers’ Day to you.

If you’re the sort who is offended by this bastardization of “Happy Fathers’ Day,” then I urge you to leave this site. There will be a lot of swearing today. Moreso than usual, I mean. That’s saying something.

Come to think of it, I should offer a blanket warning to everyone, even those who don’t mind my liberal cursing. I’m in a crappy mood today. You probably won’t want to read this. But here: if you can’t bear the thought of closing the browser without SOMETHING from me—and this is a perfectly understandable state of mind, I really do sympathize—I will give you one tiny paragraph of good news. Then you should probably leave.

Yesterday, I purchased a small top. A small. I’d been maternity shopping (not for me, obviously, but with a coworker who got herself knocked up), and then—after the maternity purchases, and after we’d critically appraised the SF/Fantasy and Graphic Novels section of a bookstore, and after we’d perused the options in two gaming stores—we popped into Hot Topic. Typically I purchase my clothes from thrift stores, but I have a weakness for Hot Topic. My colleague urged me to try on a small tank top. I humored her, knowing full well that mine is not a small body—and yet it fit. I don’t think I’ve fit into a small since I was seven. It throws the gazongas into serious relief, mind, but it fits. And it has the Gryffindor House coat of arms on it. Yay.

Intense kvetching and swearing to commence, now. Here there be tygers. Watch yourself.

I am burned out. The book pretty much incinerated me, leaving only charred flesh and some ashy bits. At this point, my psyche is identifiable only by its dental remains. Mental dental remains. Heh.

And there is no real opportunity for me to recover. I have to write an Author Read-Alikes article by the end of this month on Ted Dekker. Ted Dekker sucks. His prose is absolutely juvenile. Really: I feel like I’m reading a very long story written by an ambitious eleven-year-old.

Also due at the end of this month is a proposal for a chapter I’d promised to write. Have I ever made a bigger mistake in my life? (Yes: agreeing to write an entire book was an even bigger gaffe.) Like the last fucking book I wrote, this chapter will consist primarily of annotations. “Annotation.” This may be the ugliest word in the English language.

Then I have to write the fucking chapter by the end of August, while finding the time to revise my fucking Women’s Nonfiction book (final draft due in August, too), while finding the time to prepare a good presentation for my talk in Kansas-or-Missouri next month.

I have not had a non-working week of vacation since August of 2006.

All this work, this incessant devotion to all things library, and what do I have to show for it? Here’s a hint: the relevant word here is “library.” I love libraries. I love working in them. I can’t really see myself in another profession, unless I figure out how to earn a living by writing. But this is not a high-paying profession. Even with my fulltime job, even with all my side gigs…

Let me put it to you this way: I have precisely $65.15 in my checking account. I can tide myself over till my next paycheck by putting my expenses on my credit cards (which I pay off in full every month, thanks for asking), with one exception: The power company takes its money straight from my checking account. So now I have my fingers crossed that the power bill doesn’t go above $65.15. I would appreciate it if you would cross your fingers, too.

In trying to keep the power bill down, I have the AC set at eighty-six. I am dripping in sweat, have been all weekend. Have I mentioned how cranky I get when I’m hot?

I’m bummed about money, I’m bummed about working all the fucking time, I’m not happy with where I am in my life, and the hot weather is going to continue through August, maybe September. I don’t like where I’m living, I have a lousy social life, I want a fucking vacation. The one element of my life that I am thriving in, my professional life, is currently dissatisfying because I’m just so sick of it. I need balance. I need something other than my job to occupy my mind.

But I look awesome in this tank top, there’s that.

Jessica abhors a vacuum

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If you live anywhere near this part of the country, you’ll have heard a variation of this conversation about ten times per day for the past week or so. Forgive me for repeating that which you may already know, but:

 

Christamighty it’s hot.

And then I have to follow that with the very important corollary:

Christamighty it’s humid.

 

The AC is running nonstop, not because it’s set at a delightful 65, or a typical 72, or a responsible 78, but because I have it at 86. Canada’s looking better by the day.

I do not do well with heat. I get cranky. I’m less productive. I turn into a puddle of useless, overheated skin and wilted bone. And if I have it bad, just think what it’s like to wear a permanent fur coat. Poor kitties. No wonder it took me a whole hour to vacuum on Sunday. (That, and I hadn’t done any housework in a really, really long time.)

Despite the heat, I’ve been walking to and from work. Or rather, I’ve been walking to work in the cool mornings, and bumming rides home with Persepolis on the really scorching afternoons. I’m still driving on those days when I don’t get out of work till nine, and I am most assuredly driving during those weeks when I go to the library that is ten miles away, as opposed to the library that is two point five miles away, but still. It’s saving me some gas—and now that I have the luxury of spending my time as I please, I can afford to get up thirty minutes earlier.

With all this newfound free time, I’ve really been living it up. You already heard about the hour of vacuuming. I could also tell you, in excruciatingly tedious detail, about my Tuesday evening at the laundromat (nearly thirty dollars in coins, that was), or about my trip to the recycling center. All those chores I’d been delaying had finally come due.

Conclusion: Don’t go two months without vacuuming, even if you have a book deadline. It’s not worth it.

But rest assured, I’m back to my old tricks: I’ve read two books this past week. Thomas H. Cook’s Master of the Delta, consumed primarily over my lunchbreaks, was an utter waste of my time. The blurb in the front flap made it sound so good, but it turned out to be this predictable psychological thriller/eerie setting nonsense. I love gloomy psycho-thrillers, but it’s so hard to find anything good. Maybe I should just reread Koestler.

Mary Roach’s Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, I am pleased to report, was very enjoyable. Mary Roach takes bizarre topics (death, the afterlife, and now sex) and studies the science behind them. There were some laugh-out-loud moments that would have been embarrassing if anybody but the cats had heard me.

Amongst the things I learned: The first little spermies of an ejaculation aren’t going to cause conception. They’re too eager, too immature. They get an A for effort but they’re just the vanguard. The crème de la crème comes in the middle. And the last part of ejaculate? Why, that’s a spermicide, designed by nature to kill off the competing sperms of any males who come after.

(“How long does this spermicide last?” we asked at work. Of *course* we asked. Unfortunately, we failed to find an answer. You try googling for “natural spermicide” and see what you get… Come to think of it, I may be getting some unexpected hits on my blog, due to the nature of what I’ve just been discussing. But I’m used to that.)

If you chanced upon this website in the hopes of finding naughty discussions, I’m sorry to disappoint. Perhaps I could interest you in some book reviews?

Speaking of book reviews, I’ve got an article due in to NoveList at the end of this month. Sigh. Will give me something to do while I’m waiting to find out what revisions I need to make to the first draft of the book.

But it’s not like I needed something to do. The third book I’ve started readomg this week, The Darkness That Comes Before, is taking up a good chunk of time. It is the first Big Fat Fantasy in a trilogy of Big Fat Fantasies by R. Scott Bakker, exactly the sort of thing I was hoping to indulge in upon finishing the manuscript draft. It’s pretty good, despite not having any dwarves or orcs, but I’m going to wait a bit to tell you about it, since it’s kind of slow on developing the plot and the characters. By “kind of slow” I mean “glacial.” Give me time.

Except, hell, when am I supposed to find time? Now that I’m back to vacuuming sort of regularly, and now that I’m walking to work and writing articles again, I’m feeling crunched for time. I could really use a vacation. (NOT, mind you, that I am complaining about this present state of affairs. Compared to the misery of writing a reference book, I’ll take this any day.)

We also have to consider that next month I’m giving a talk on Street Lit in Missouri. Or possibly Kansas. Definitely one of the two. Have I begun to prepare for the talk? Well. No.

And then… Got an email yesterday from my editor. Not my book editor. Not my NoveList editor. My other editor, the one who nicely asked if I would be turning in my chapter anytime soon.

Readers, I kid you not: I had forgotten about this chapter. Whichever little wrinkle in my brain that had been assigned to remember had merrily smoothed itself out. Some time back (like… a year ago maybe? Dunno. It’s all hazy), I had agreed to write a chapter on fantasy for a readers’ advisory text. So that’s on my plate. Or rather, it’s been on my plate, but I had done a lovely job of ignoring it.

But it’s only a chapter. I can handle a chapter. I’ll get around to it whenever I’m not vacuuming.

And with an hour and twelve minutes to spare!

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C’est fini.

The euphoria hasn’t quite kicked in yet. Actually, I think I’m in shock. This may actually be true. I think I may be in shock.

Oh readers, it has been painful being away from you these weeks. I missed the chance to tell you about the Tick That Would Not Die (followed the next day by its two companions, The Bride of the Tick That Would Not Die and Revenge of the Bride of the Tick That Would Not Die). I didn’t get to tell you about the Mouses That Would Not Die Who Had the Audacity to Invade Us at Work.

I wasn’t able to give you a blow-by-blow account of how many pairs of clean undies I have left. I haven’t had time to do laundry since April 5th. I was getting nervous toward the end there, hoping against hope I could finish the manuscript before I ran out of underoos. Everyone will be delighted to know that I have three clean pairs left. Now these are the boring, ugly, unflattering underwear that no one should ever have to see, but then again that’s not really a danger these days so nevermind.

Incidentally, I’ve been coming up with some REALLY creative outfits for work recently.

Can’t do laundry tomorrow. Yoga tomorrow. Tuesday, though, it’s gonna be me and about five hampers with a good book at the laundromat. Does that sound like a fun time or what?

So: the ook-bay. Except… gee! We can talk about it now!

Ahem: The Book. The first draft is complete. Finished at 10:48 p.m., a full one hour and twelve minutes before the date of the deadline. I was never worried for a minute.

Been working on this thing for, oh, ten months now. Evenings, weekends, certain early mornings, and eighty fucking hours of vacation that I’ll never see again—all of that has gone into the creation of 622 pages, seven chapters, six hundred annotations, God-knows-how-many secondary annotations (seven hundred? eight hundred? I don’t feel like counting), 371 subject headings, an appendix, a book introduction, seven three-part chapter introductions, seven two-part chapter conclusions, and a bunch of mid-chapter subgenre introductions.

I am now ready to resume interacting with human beings. It is quite conceivable that I will start replying to emails again, I should be able to communicate in person without yelling, and—as we can so clearly see—I am ready to start writing lameass blog postings again. (You missed them. Don’t lie to me. You missed them.)

In conclusion, I present a spoof of my own book, so you can get a feel for the sort of drudgery I’ve been toiling over. This is the kind of thing I wrote, six hundred times over:

Kennedy-Rockefeller, Jessica.
Women’s Nonfiction: A Guide to Reading Interests. Westport, Conn.: Libraries Unlimited, 2009. 331pp. ISBN 0123456789012.

In this fascinating, thought-provoking annotated bibliography, renowned librarian Kennedy-Rockefeller introduces us to an impressive six hundred Women’s Nonfiction books. With her insightful, nuanced, frequently witty observations, Kennedy-Rockefeller discusses the titles, illuminating the appeal factors that will speak to various types of readers. In thematic chapters such as “Women’s History” and “Feminism and Leadership,” she explores current, popular, accessible books that consider women from a variety of backgrounds, from lesbians and racial minorities to working women and political leaders. Both fun and informative, this is essential reading for anyone interested in the emerging genre of Women’s Nonfiction.
Subjects: Women’s Nonfiction – Reading – Annotations
Now try: Those interested in the broader area of nonfiction would do well to turn to The Real Story: A Guide to Nonfiction Reading Interests, by Sarah Statz Cords. In fact, we may as well admit that Kennedy-Rockefeller emulated Cords’s book in every conceivable way possible. Readers may also wish to turn to Read on– Fantasy Fiction: Reading Lists for Every Taste which, believe it or not, is a really funny and entertaining book. Seriously. Also, the author, Nebuchadnezzar, is the father of Kennedy-Rockefeller’s cat.