Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Partly Reassuring, Partly Depressing

I started the process of researching child care yesterday. Despite being prepared for sticker shock, it was still a strange feeling to be looking into something that costs more than our rent (for full-time care in a center with all the bells and whistles). After calling a lot of places (both centers and private, in-home care), I found some much more affordable prices. But da-yaamn.

With each phone call, I kept thinking, "Yeah, you sound nice and like a person who would take good care of my son. But, dammit, I want to take care of my son. It was a strange see-saw of reassurance and sadness. The thing I have to keep focusing on is that this is temporary. Mark will be done with his PhD within a year or so after Andrew's birth, which means I only have to work and put Drew in day care for no more than a year, year and a half max. And the scenario that seems most likely is that day care will only be necessary for six months.

But still…. For anyone who knew me in high school and undergrad, this probably sounds a wee bit strange. I was all gung-ho, working mother don't bother me a bit, I'm not going to put my career on hold, etc. Then I met Mark and realized what it was like to actually be in love and want to start a family with someone. And I saw more and more what it would be like to raise kids while both parents were in academic research, and I realized that I didn't want what I saw. I wanted to be at home with the kids, with a job that gave me something to do but that didn't absorb my life and keep me out of the house.

I know that I'll have that. I know that working away from home is only a temporary thing, and that Mark and I are going to do everything we can to minimize the time Andrew spends away from us. I also know that there are some women who have no choice but to put their child in daycare full-time for their entire lives. But I can already feel my heart clutching. I can already feel the tears welling up for that day when I have to put the child I haven't even met yet into someone else's arms and say, "Take care of him."

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Packs a Punch

Last summer, my friend PJ introduced me to the classically trained string quartet that does a techno/rock/pop/classical fusion, Bond. I'm sure there's a better or at least more concise way of describing their music, but suffice to say it's awesome. I've been listening to a homemade mix of my faves on the way to and from work for the past month or so. The music is aboslutely great for thinking about my writing, especially SoD. In fact, there are two songs in particular that have scenes playing out everytime I listen. For a while, it was just one song, Oceanic from the Born album, that did this. It's become the theme for two of my main characters. And then last night I heard Explosive from their Classified album and darn near burst into tears. It hit me with such force that this song represents the finale of my seven-book Velorin saga. I'm getting goosebumps just thinking writing about it now. It's really nice to have music inspire and provide a soundtrack for your writing. Now, everytime I hear Oceanic and Explosive, I'll have images of what I'm writing towards, and how it's going to feel when I get there. Magic.

Have I mentioned lately how much I love writing? :)

Thursday, July 21, 2005

"...an Interesting, If Somewhat Limited, Gene Pool."

I had hoped to get to this post much closer to the SciFi Friday premiere instead of the day before the "Part 2"s hit the tube tomorrow. But, alas, it was not meant to be. Here's the short of what I'm about to post: If you missed last Friday's premieres of SG-1, Atlantis, and Battlestar Gallactica, shame on you! :)

SG-1 was by far the best of the three, but I think it helps having started its ninth season. Still, it was pretty amazing that three, count 'em, three brand-spankin' new characters (with the possible exception of Claudia Black's who appeared in one episode last season) could just basically fall right into an established show without losing any of the amazing story and chemistry that had been there before. And the writers are just having a field day. Hopefully that will continue with bringing Teal'c, Carter, and O'Neil's stories up to date, as we didn't get into them too much in the premiere. I'm especially hopeful that some of the new paths the show is forging will make the Jaffa storylines more interesting. I have no idea what I didn't like about them before, but I always shrugged and found myself multitasking during those episodes.

And watching Daniel and the two Farscape kids interact is going to be great. I'm still on the fence about Ben Whazisname's character, but I think that's mainly it's way too much fun watching Daniel and Claudia Black's character (I'll get the new char names down eventually) to notice what the other folks are doing sometimes. And Beau Bridges plays such a great blend of Hammond's professionalism and O'Neil's relaxed goofiness. Excellent actor pick, excellent character building. And they even made me interested in watching something that had to do with Arthurian legend, which is a hell of an accomplishment as the only Arthur story I enjoy is Monty Python's version because it makes fun of the whole mess of medieval tripe. (Really, I wish I knew why I get so annoyed with the Arthur stuff. Something about it just bugs me.) Now I just have to wait patiently to see where they're going on the enemy front this year. My money's on that mysterious fourth race that was mentioned alongside the Nox, the Ancients, and the Asgard way back in season 1 or 2. And I wouldn't have come up with that if they hadn't mentioned the race again last season in that great episode featuring Dan Castelleneta. (C'mon, is the Season 8 DVD out yet or what?? :))

Atlantis is still in that shaky first couple of seasons ground, hitting just enough of the good spots to make you stick around, but overall leaving you a little confused or disappointed or unsure of whether you're going to want to stick around for a whole lot longer. Having Skinner as their interstellar backup is a neat addition, and I think they need to do some more with the allies thing this year. Because they set up one hell of an enemy in the Wraith and really wrote themselves into a "we can't get out of this on our own" corner. And that's very tedious to watch as it makes you wonder why you spent a season getting to know the characters if they're hopelessly outmatched until the cavalry shows up just in time all the time. I mean, wouldn't you rather take the time to get to know the cavalry? I'm still on the fence about the whole Aidan Ford thing. Could be a change for the sake of change, could be a good storyline. I'll have to see what shakes loose. The best part of Atlantis in the premiere was the Asgard they've got on the Daedalus. Not the best sign, but again, not one to make you go running away from the show. Damn that just-starting-out limbo.

And then there's Battlestar Gallactica, which I will watch regardless of the storylines as long as they keep the same actors for Apollo and Helo. Hey, I'm allowed to have my girlie moments. The only thing that will keep me from watching this show is if they spend more time on medical procedures. It's really, really, really jarring to watch all this cool futuristic technology and then the next scene will show you the same medicine we've got today. I have a faith in humanity that, if we can figure out faster than light technology, then we can figure out how to cure breast cancer or fix a bum knee without months of prolonged pain and recuperation. At the very least, I would love an explanation as to why such an advanced society is stuck in 21st century medicine (and not really even then because we're getting close to doing more cool things with artificial limbs, cloning, genomic sequences, etc). But I've ranted on this before. And Battlestar Gallactica has such a curious blend of SF and fantasy elements, that I'm usually pretty riveted.

So that's my take on SciFi Friday. By the way, the title of this post comes from SG-1 and had me rolling. I like it when writers have fun with their work.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Half-Blood Writer

I finished Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince last night. Excellent, excellent read. None of that Angsty Harry we had to suffer through last book. A refreshing lack of overly used adverbs and "Snape sneered"s. Hell, Harry even came across as a competent, dare I say even confident, wizard. I don't know how much of all this is my evolution as a reader and writer myself or improvement (whether intentional or unintentional) of Rowling's writing. Probably both on some level.

And, I'm very happy to report, I was right about the direction of Harry's love life. There were a few hints in Order of the Phoenix, and I caught them and guessed accurately. Of course, I was totally wrong on who the Half-blood Prince is, but can't get 'em all. The story was very engaging, well-crafted, and smart. That is to say that the kids actually talked to the adults about things and we still had a story, which wouldn't have happened in some of the earlier books.

I'm definitely looking forward to Book 7, although it seems like we got a wealth of info in Book 6 that might prevent things from being finished in just one more book, but that could just be the epic fantasy writer in me talking. That was actually the hardest thing about reading this book: I had to go to work the next day instead of diving into my own epic seven-book saga. Some writers get discouraged after reading a phenomenal work, thinking that their work stinks, that they'll never finish, that they'll never have that talent/success/whatever. I get inspired. I think, "I know I can do this too." And I want to start proving it. Immediately. Makes the reality of being trapped in a crummy job to pay the bills all the more frustrating to deal with. (Translation: After finishing Book 6 last night, I sobbed because I had to go back to work; then that of course snowballed into my sobbing even longer because--barring our miracles--I have to work potentially even only 6 weeks after giving birth to Andrew.)

So go read this great book, and then let it inspire you.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

One Dream Down, Two More to Go

I didn't win the American Icon grand prize. Didn't win any prize. But I had a lot of fun--even despite the fact that the thing lasted four and a half hours instead of the two to three I was expecting. And, of course, it was educational, which was probably the biggest reason I went. Gotta learn new things in this craft, always. Not just to stay fresh, but that's part of my passion for writing: the idea that you're never done learning.

The winners were actually people who didn't really introduce their characters or the novel's premise really, but gave humorous anecdotes or intense action sequences. That was the most interesting thing to me. The judges all told me that they were most definitely intrigued and wanted to read more. And I'm thinking, "Sweet! I just did what I'm supposed to do when pitching to an editor!" But I didn't even get one of the fun, gimmicky awards. I think it has to do with the nature of reading something aloud vs. the editor reading from a sheet of paper. The winners may have changed if it wasn't a reading aloud contest.

And I discovered how difficult it is to breathe while nervous, pregnant, and undergoing Braxton-Hicks contractions. I had planned to look up at the audience and the judges while reading, but all my energy was focused on clearly reading while getting the oxygen I needed into my system. That was fun.

The really great thing about this was almost all of the readers were excellent readers, so every reading had its own level of entertainment. And there wasn't really any bad writing in the bunch. Good craft all around. There was no wincing to be had, although when the judges praised something I couldn't stand about a piece, I did gag a little. But, tomayto, tomahto.

All in all, it was a good night, and I spent it with good company from my local critique group. We traveled the farthest to get there, and we even didn't get snarled up in rush hour traffic. Well, not enough to make us late, anyway. I do highly recommend the experience if a similar opportunity presents itself to any of my writing readers out there. Definitely a good learning experience, if nothing else.

So that was the dream I was chasing down to let me stay at home after Andrew's born. Didn't get it. Now it's up to Mark's poker skills and his fruit flies.

Friday, July 15, 2005

No, NOW We're Having Fun

OK, so my uterus has been rock hard since Tuesday. I knew it was Braxton-Hicks contractions, and I'm supposed to lay down once something like that starts happening and see about timing the contractions. Hard to do when you're swamped at work. Since I wasn't feeling any pain associated with the contractions and had none of the other potential warning signs of preterm labor, I didn't call my OB.

Then I started having some serious lower back pain yesterday. Time to call the OB, and, of course, they hauled my butt in for observations ASAP. Hooked me up to a monitor that measured my contractions for a good hour and a half, checked out my cervix a couple of times. (Thus begins my campaign to get used to everyone sticking their faces and fingers where they ordinarily don't belong. I've seen "A Baby Story" on TLC. I know that delivery is going to mean at least three people staring intently at my nether region.) While I was certainly having rather frequent Braxton-Hicks contraction, nothing was happening in the whole birth canal area, and Andrew certainly wasn't reacting as if my bod was getting ready to push him out.

BUT, and here's why we're having fun, it turns out that I have a UTI. Which means I now have to mix meds. Two anti-virals five times a day, one anti-biotic twice a day. Nothing should be affecting Drew adversely, or so they tell me. It's just so strange to be on so many meds at once while pregnant. I can't remember the last time I was on two different meds before I was pregnant. It's been a while.

On top of all the crazy pregnancy stuff, I have to juggle a couple of things for tonight. A couple of weeks ago, I thought I would be spending tonight at home, watching all the cool SciFi premieres and getting lost in SF television bliss. Then the American Icon thing hit, and I decided to do that (the rides and timetables got finalized about an hour ago, by the way). And since we'll be back in town around 11 or so, we're going to make a night of it and crash the Harry Potter party at the local Borders and pick up our reserved copies. It's a good thing that we had to cancel our trip down to Denver to get Mark's telescope fixed and meet up with friends for dinner tomorrow. I'm gonna need my sleep.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Are We Having Fun Yet?

Just in case the Neverending Root Canal Saga and the car accident weren't enough (not to mention my dizziness resurfacing to make life interesting every now and then), I found out this morning that the strange rash I developed last week is shingles. Anyone still need to catch chicken pox? I'm your gal. About the only good thing to come out of this is that Andrew will be immune to chicken pox. Supposedly. We'll still test it out at an appropriate time in the future, of course. And now I have to take 2 anti-viral pills FIVE TIMES a day for the next week. And go back in for yet another non-routine check-up next week to make sure the shingles are going away and responding to the meds.

At least this explains why I have been a tad more tired than usual lately. Funny how something like fighting off a viral infection will poop you out. I still managed to write a whole bunch this week (see new and improved word count for SoD). So that was good. And at least the shingles don't itch too much, though they don't feel very comfortable either.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Home Makeover

We cleaned out a couple closets, shuffled some furniture around, and freed up space for Andrew's crib and other assorted nursery furniture. Of course, we don't have said furniture as yet, but it's good to know we have the space for it. The one unfortunate consequence of all the reorganization was having to put this computer, our on-line computer shoved up in the corner of our bedroom right next to my side of the bed. Doesn't look all that grand, but it fits, it allows Mark to play his poker on-line whenever he wants without having to time it around Andrew's naps, and did I mention it freed up a lot of space in the study/nursery? Sigh. We'll get used to it. Afterall, it's still a lot better than the strange partitioning and furniture arrangements we had in the studio we first lived in together. Of course, I'm just eager to start filling all that great space we freed up with Drew's things. It's sort of the last domino to fall in realizing that, yes, I really will be a mother with a newborn in a few short months.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Book Meme *Grumble*

I thought I was going to avoid getting officially tagged by the dreaded book meme that's been running rampant throughout all of blogdom. Alas, Joel was kind enough to end that hope. :) I tend to bow out of most of the memes I see as they are either very long or very repetitive or make me come up with numbers and such that I just don't want to do, as is the case with this one. But here goes anyway...

1. How many books do you own?
I honestly have no idea. Somewhere on the order of 200 or 300. It would be more, but I didn't read too much growing up unless it was school-related (translation: I didn't read anywhere near as much as I do now), and the books I did read have long since found there way into garage sales, boxes in my mother's garage, or used book stores. I guess it's rather impressive that the 200 or 300 books I do have are the result of only two or three years worth of buying and collecting. Does not bode well for bookshelf space in the future.

2. What was the last book you read?
Just finished Holly Lisle's Last Girl Dancing this morning. Good, quick read. A book you can read while you're sloggin your way through a larger tome, like I am. I did enjoy it, even more so because I figured out the whodunnit pretty darn early. Been a while since I beat the MCs to the solution by a good twenty pages or more. Nice to feel smart while my brain is finding new ways to blonde out on me during pregnancy.

3. What was the last book you purchased?
Also Last Girl Dancing. The next book will be Harry Potter. The book before LGD was MJ Rose's The Halo Effect, read that one during my trip out to Chicago in airports and planes.

4. Name five books that mean a lot to you.
To Kill a Mockinbird by Harper Lee--came face to face with my first real, live bigot in my ninth-grade english class because of that one, taught me a lot.
The Ruins of Ambrai by Melanie Rawn--my first fantasy read, during my first summer on my own after college, completely pulled me into that world.
StarDoc by S.L. Viehl--my first SF series that I started and completed, with the possible exception of L'Engle's Wrinkle in Time books (can't remember if I finished those); those books taught me a lot about what SF could be and how I wanted to write it.
The Cell and Virology--academic books by various professors whose names I'll never remember even while staring at the books, talk about unlocking the cool and mysterious present in and around us every single day (yes, I'm a geek)
The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron--I highly recommend this book for anyone struggling with creativity, it's amazing and really helps you reconnect with what's important to you.

5. Tag 5 more people.
Seeing as how I'm probably one of the very last bloggers to do this, I'm not going to bother. I'm pretty sure that all the blogs I read have already done this one, and I'm the sort of person to stop chain letters because I don't want to bother anyone else. :)

Seriously, the meme has been in my mind for a while, making me think about all the books I've read and how I organize and handle the ones on my self, etc. Good stuff for an aspiring author to ponder now and again.

Thursday, July 07, 2005


This morning, very groggy, I turned on the live coverage of the Tour de France. The very first thing out of Al Trautwig's mouth was something about our hearts being with everyone in London. All of a sudden, I felt like it was the morning of September 11, 2001 all over again. That morning, my hand paused in slapping the snooze button when the DJ said something about the traffic being OK despite the airport being closed. I thought it was strange that the airport would be closed, hit snooze so Mark could catch a few more Z's, and went to the TV to investigate. And that was when I saw the Towers. This morning, I immediately switched from OLN to NBC just to see Bush's somber face denouncing terror. Switched to CNN to finally get the lowdown on what had happened.

It's strange coming into news like this when things are just old enough that they aren't repeating frequently the basics of what happened, but just new enough that they don't have a whole lot in the way of details. Gives you the feeling of being very, very lost. You're watching a tragedy unfold, you have no idea what it is really, why it happened, and you just can't seem to connect with it in any logical way that let's you move on for even a few seconds to get the day going.

Are the London bombings a sign that the war on terror is working or failing? Will we ever figure out what our yardstick is for this thing?

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

These Dreams

There are a few long-shot possibilities that would allow me to not have to work after Drew is born. And I do mean long-shot. On a whim, I decided to write down those possibilities. It's one of those visualization things. You know, one of those 'if you build it he will come' kind of things. (By the way, I despise that movie; not as much as It's a Wonderful Life, but damn close.) Our chances at living the dream of stay-at-home motherhood are as follows:

1. I get a publishing contract
2. Mark wins a poker tournament
3. Mark's research moves flawlessly and quickly toward a super finish and he gets a scientist position before the end of the year

We actually have the least control over the last one, if you can believe it. Mark's doing everything he can and more to get his thesis project to the finish line. Now it's just a matter of things going the way they're supposed to in test tubes. And I know all too well how fickle science can be.

While I don't have anything near ready to send out for an agent or publication, I will try my luck at an "American Idol" spoof that a local writers org is putting together. Three minutes of reading aloud followed by Simon-esque critiques from a panel of experienced/in-the-buisness judges. Grand prize gets a special look at their work by Donald Maass. Not a publishing guarantee, and even a publishing contract would have to be at least a $15,000 advance (possible, if it comes in the form of a 3-book contract at the rate of $5,000 per book--a plausible scenario for a first time author with a series to pitch) in order to give us the dream. But the only risk to me is the $15 entry fee and a possibly bruised ego depending on what the judges say. These are not new risks, and it's not like I'm going to have to spend gobs of time writing something or preparing something. Just got to polish a scene from SoD, practice reading it aloud, and steel myself for an unknown reaction.

Mark had been planning to start looking into the actual gambling websites now that he's done very well and learned a ton with the free poker sites and the local gambling town. He's very savvy with money and knows exactly what he can afford to risk without affecting Drew's savings, the rent, and the bills. And if not having movie money for a month means that Mark can win a big pot and let me stay at home and raise our son, I say bring on the evenings at home!

Of course, if there's a benefactor out there looking to off-load a big chunk of change, we certainly wouldn't be adverse to that either. Just be sure to put "Drew's Parenting Fund" in the subject of the email so I don't delete you as a spammer. Or perhaps "Drew's Daddy Warbucks" would be a more appropriate subject? I'll be checking my email every hour for those generous donations, oh wealthy philanthropist. :)

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

My Son the Altimeter

Andrew knows his elevations. When we went up to Blackhawk (Elevation 8056 ft) a couple of weeks ago, Drew slowed his kicks and punches to the 10 movements in 2-4 hours the pregnancy books tell you is normal. A few days after we returned, he resumed his usual 10 movements in 5 minutes that is his normal.

So I guess I should've expected that going to Chicago this weekend (Elevation 500 ft) would slow Drew down too. This time, his normal activity came back within hours after we landed in Denver (Elevation Mile High, give or take). Unfortunately, his decrease in movement meant that my mother wasn't able to feel a whole lot of kickin'. She'll just have to settle for seeing Drew kick those legs when he's finally free of my holding pen.

On a related note, I've discovered the joys of swollen ankles. They looked particularly disgusting this weekend as too much activity and a lower elevation through my body out of whack. Now is the time of evenings spent with my feet propped up. I'm very happy I have a laptop.