April 1, 2012 Progress Notes:

Light (bad working title)

Words today: 200.
Words total: 3800.
Reason for stopping: That was all blood. And I'm getting hungry.

Darling du Jour: The worst of it, here, was how the wind smelled wrong. It came whistling between the buildings wet as a rag stuffed in your mouth and clogged your ears like strep throat, and even if she'd known the blossoms and smoke it carried, she couldn't have pronounced their names.
Mean Things: I am doing a horrible thing in the story I'm telling right now. I only hope the result vindicates, because otherwise, seriously, we'll need to pass a hat and buy me a new soul.

Research Roundup: The Don River system; flora and fauna of the Republic of Georgia; terrain at Yonge and the 401; a Georgian-language translator. Have I mentioned I'm doing a horrible thing?
Books in progress: Caitlin R. Kiernan, The Drowning Girl.

Things that happened this week:

So today, Above is out in the US. Pre-game show is officially over. Fly free, little book.

Friday was my last day at the Dayjob. I have been quiet about it, mostly because I've been too busy to blog (or think, or breathe, or sleep) for about six weeks now, but I got some arts grants this spring, for two different projects: this one and On Roadstead Farm. And so I am going to be a full-time writer for a year while I write those things.

And then? Who knows what happens?

The third thing: Friday night I was out for celebratory drinks with friends, and I came home utterly weaving drunk and wanted nothing but to write and write and write. And last night I was out at the movies and then dinner and rambling 'til two in the morning, and came home wanting nothing but to write and write, with the feel of close-passing trains rumbling around in my belly.

Finally I've had an edge of sleep, and all I want to do is write.

I'm going to ride this as long as I have it. Or as long as it takes. It's midafternoon and I'm possessed and addled with fiction like I haven't had a chance to be in months. Okay, fiction. Come on in. Hit me.

Happy April. Happy afternoon.
June 4, 2011 Progress Notes:

"The Small Dark Movie of Your Life"

Words today: 2000.
Words total: 7100.
Reason for stopping: My, but it's late.

Books in progress: Terry Pratchett, Hogfather.
The glamour: A lot of housecleaning. A lot of catching up on the sleep I haven't been getting in the last few weeks, what with Dayjob and its busy season (which is over now, thanks). Dinner with [livejournal.com profile] ksumnersmith, and the delivery of a crit for her novel.

It is now officially summer on my personal calendar (as set by the dictates of Dayjob), which means that from now until sometime this fall, when work will get busy and silly again, I have only two tasks:

1) Go to a lot of concerts. No, a lot. Many.
2) Write a novel.

I am not personally responsible for anything else. Okay, probably keeping the apartment clean, which I'm sure Dr. My Roommate and any company I have would appreciate. But really, that's it. All other things I do will be solely at Management's discretion.

Just thinking about this has done wonders for my state of relaxation. Really. You should try it.

Regular updates on both those tasks throughout the summer. Once I finish the novelette here.


Dec. 11th, 2010 02:54 pm
leahbobet: (bat signal)
1) Thus endeth one of the busier months per year at the Dayjob.

2) To celebrate that, saw Broken Social Scene and Superchunk Thursday night with [livejournal.com profile] mykwud, who was gracious enough to take the second ticket on short notice (it originally belonged to Dr. My Roommate, but she is unwell at the moment). This'll be a short version of the usual show report, since I didn't write it up that night and since we left during what we thought was the last song and then I found out later they kept playing until 1:45 in the morning. Oops. But anyways.

Sound Academy is sort of redeeming itself as a venue for me, even though they have a constricted, sad beer selection and it's all the way out in the docklands and you have to walk half an hour in the cold through industrial nothingness to get out there if you don't have a car. Usually when I'm at things there they haven't done anything with the back of the room, and it sort of feels like a long deserted hallway. This time, because it was a BSS show, they had a long merch table, Amnesty International, a whole art display/auction thing from a non-profit that runs arts programs for street kids or at-risk kids (and a lot of the art was really, really good) and a video display thing for another one. They were also taking donations for the food bank at the door. Yes, this is a Broken Social Scene show.

I didn't know the opener more than glancingly (Mike did) but it was a really nice, danceable kind of early-nineties alternative set: kind of in the Limblifter/Age of Electric/Treble Charger sort of constellation of things.

Then! There was Broken Social Scene!

(Leah, you ask, didn't you see this band in the summer and write up a whole squeefaced concert report then? Yes. Yes I did. And next time they do a hometown show I will see them again. And the time after that. And the only reason I didn't go to the second date they played at the same venue last night was because my legs were very, very tired from all the dancing I did the night before and I ended up having to eat THIS MUCH protein and crash into bed early and sleep late to feel normal this morning.)

In terms of my Songs I Like bingo card, I got most everything but Major Label Debut (below) and All My Friends, and danced until my legs didn't work (as above). Highlights: original-style version of Almost Crimes, nice long Superconnected, string-and-horn-filled Anthems for a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl (made me cry in the good way; always does), Sweetest Kill, which is a song I now have a lot more appreciation for, and on the top all-time list, Lover's Spit done just piano and voice by Kevin Drew, with the entire rest of the instrumentation coming in halfway through on the bridge. And the crowd singing most of it. And...oh. :)

It's actually entirely possible they played Major Label Debut later; we had an agreement that when it looked like the last song before the encore, we'd go get the coats, because otherwise you spend an hour in the coat check line. And then we ended up not staying for the encore because we were both hungry and exhausted and wobbly and had to still walk half an hour back to civilization to catch the streetcar, so we staggered back through Scary Industrial Desolate Lakefront Toronto, passing a vitamin water and a bag of Sunchips back and forth, jaywalking indiscriminately, and being ridiculously hyper. Little did I know until the next day that they played until 1:45 in the morning. Yes. You heard that right.

I'm a little miffed about that, but to be fair, I was legitimately tired and out of go and had filled up the concert tank more than adequately. And had to work the next day. I am old, I am old, I will wear my trousers rolled etc. etc. whatever.

Have samples:

This is last night's show, not the Thursday show, but it's the same song and the same venue and you get the idea:

Yes, the crowd sang along on my night too. :)

Oh, here's the one I was at. I'm a little back and to the right there!

...so that was Thursday. :)

3) Back in our everyday lives that aren't actually all about Broken Social Scene, the fantabulous [livejournal.com profile] csecooney interviewed me about Ideomancer for the Black Gate blog. It's mostly about this issue and the process of making it, as well as my own personal history with the magazine, but there are some bits about what we look for if you are the sort of person who cares about such things.

4) [livejournal.com profile] stillsostrange's second novel, The Bone Palace, came out this week. I picked it up on Thursday and am, so far, about two chapters in. Amanda can write like whoah. You should read it.

5) While I'm in the Amazon links thing, Chilling Tales, the anthology which "Stay" is going to be in, is available for preorder at Amazon. The release date's March 1st otherwise. It has a cover that looks like Nick Cave's bald guy mullet, true, but it contains some of the brighter lights of Canadian horror fiction and will be well worth your time. Apparently there are going to be some events for it when it comes out too, at World Horror Con and around town here. Stay tuned.

6) A new episode of Shadow Unit came out this week too: "Uniform". It is 30,000-plus words of WTF goodness and a bit of stunt-writing besides.

7) My brain's still chewing on that short story I mentioned a bit back. Don't spook it.

8) I am going to the circus tonight. I would say "If I get everything done here, I am going to the circus tonight," but this would fool nobody. I'm going anyways.

Such is the week that was. And now to send slush, answer e-mail, and go to the circus.
Cleaning house today, in preparation for the inspection they're going to do tomorrow of what needs to be fixed in here before I move out. This would have been easier if I'd had water this morning, or yesterday night, or Friday morning, but we do what we can with the tools that we have. Also: the way the pipes in this building suck goats, rocks, and something vegetable will shortly no longer be my problem, because I am moving, and so there.

Otherwise? It is sunshiny here in La T-Dot. The horrific busy season of the Dayjob ended officially on Thursday, and I have had more sleep and fun and nutritious food in the past three days than I've had in the past three weeks. I feel stupidly, wonderfully better for it. Have, since Thursday afternoon, been to Mother's Dumplings (nom), hung out with the horror types at CZP's summer titles launch party, saw Cory Doctorow at the Merril, walked home at midnight in the kind of light rain that's nice and not icky, had fresh-squeezed lemonade, embarked on a shopping expedition for ridiculous sparkly things with [livejournal.com profile] ksumnersmith, saw Splice (predictable movie, but not bad movie) and had Vietnamese with [livejournal.com profile] theshaggy, and most importantly, slept in.

It appears to be summer.

I also have a colossal sunburn on my back from going out to the island for the Dayjob Annual Staff Picnic on Friday and getting sunscreen everywhere but said back. You can see the exact line of my sundress painted out in red on my back. It doesn't actually hurt at all, so I don't mind too much, but we may revisit that opinion if/when it starts peeling.

We wandered off from the picnic in the afternoon and took a walk through Centreville, which for the non-Toronto types is a little kid's amusement park and zoo in the middle of Centre Island. They have a lot of giant aggressive ducks in Centreville. Take a look at this mean bastard and the squint in his eye.

Also, they have peacocks. Which are beautiful, and have a cry that sounds like a small child yelling "Help!". This is maximally freaky, especially when you aren't expecting it.

It was hot out. We couldn't find ice cream, which is what we'd gone wandering looking for. But we were on the beach, and the lake was warm, and so.

I cannot explain to you how good that felt.

And these are the fables on my street.
leahbobet: (gardening)
Back to work yesterday (god, it was only yesterday?) and around that, cleaning/decluttering continues apace. My desk is no longer messy and a touch gross, inroads have been made re: the kitchen, and a couple things I didn't want to just donate randomly are going to new homes tomorrow.

It is surprising how much crap you can fit in a one-bedroom apartment and still have it look half-empty.

Lots of change going down around here, monkeys. Sometimes all you can expect of yourself is just to hold on while everything else reorganizes itself around you.
leahbobet: (milk?)
...ah hey, why not? If you wish it, send me an electronic, secret, coin-operated Valentine. Like [livejournal.com profile] tithenai says, I've been leaving them for others, so may as well.

My Valentinr - cristalia
Get your own valentinr

In other news, my dinner tonight is sole stuffed with spinach, red peppers, and asiago and vegetarian mushroom risotto (taste test in advance of work potluck tomorrow; I still prefer it made with chicken stock, but it nonetheless passes muster). The House is back in session next week and I am trying to beat into my head that the food I cook and bring with me for lunch is cheaper, better, and more fabulous than the food in the cafeteria. There are a lot of vegetables in my fridge at the present moment.

So if you do not want to leave a valentine, or if you want to leave something better than a valentine, what's your favourite work-lunch recipe?
All right, kids, buckle up. I'm going to ramble a bit.

[livejournal.com profile] matociquala posted last night on her workweek and how long it takes her to write a book. What this post is actually about, although it comes clearer in the comments, is another aspect of the question that spurred it: The perception of authors as overpaid, spoiled, wealthy, greedy or...maybe just indulged members of our society. The perception, in short, of art as a class of work valued less than other classes of work.

I tangle with this thing a lot.

I am a working writer. No, I am not a writer who has a novel in print (and we'll get into the hobbyist perception that goes with that another time), but I am a writer who has been writing for eatin' money since early 2003 or so, which is when I started being reliably paid for stuff. Trufax: in second year I regularly paid my phone bill with the dribs and drabs of money from poetry sales. Writing still composes a non-major, but non-trivial part of my household income: My support staff and moderation gig at the OWW helps me keep chipping away at my school debt, and Shadow Unit, while not even remotely paying for the time we put into it at this juncture, kicked me enough cash last year to cover a month's worth of groceries and (non-rent) bills.

As [livejournal.com profile] truepenny has pointed out this week it's very hard to make ends meet as a writer. So unlike Bear and Sarah, I am also the proud possessor of a full-time Dayjob with really solid benefits.

My Dayjob is in the public sector, which is another place with some class-of-work issues.

There was a point early last year, when I was still fairly new to the job and quite blissful about it (I have a truly great office full of truly awesome persons) where I got very upset about my inability to communicate to people outside government that I really liked my brand new job. Any enthusiasm I had about my work would be automagically translated into Well, must be nice to have it that good and not have to work hard. You're having fun? Is that my tax dollars at work? The base assumption was that because clearly all public servants are spoiled and lazy and sheltered by the hand of a government employer, the enjoyment I got out of my job must be from lying on the couch and eating bonbons instead of pounding steel all day like real manly men doing actual, real work. It couldn't be that I had a good boss, good co-workers, and interesting, intellectually stimulating work; it must have been that my work was not legitimate, not demanding. To this day, I quite literally cannot talk about anything fun that happens in my office -- silly water cooler stories, lunch table anecdotes, nothing -- in mixed company without getting some form of blowback. Period.

I've learned to work around and weather the thing since, but it was actually quite hurtful. I couldn't share a good thing about my life anywhere but with my most trusted friends. It was like trying to show someone a butterfly and having the thing -- and your hand -- pissed on and then set on fire.

So basically I get shafted coming and going on this one. Of the 60+ hours of work I put into an average workweek, none of it is considered valued or legitimate work outside of my various insider circles. I have one career where I have to step carefully if I want to express the most basic pride in my work, and one career where I have to step carefully if I want to utter the mildest complaint about it.

And that means I'm sort of fascinated by the psychology behind perception of work: Why and how do we decide which fields of work are more "real" than others? How have we somehow accorded legitimacy to some -- totally necessary -- functions in society and yet routinely disparage other -- totally necessary -- functions? Why do normally right-thinking people open their mouths and drop these assumptions onto the floor every day?

I think about this a lot. I tangle with it a lot.

I think it's something to do with a class of products or services that, to people without expert knowledge, seem to self-create or self-maintain; that we feel have always been there. It's to do with the nature of work where, when it's done right, the worker isn't even noticed.

Let me go into that a bit.

People get pissed off at customer service or restaurant wait service if it's obtrusive. People only notice that grocery store stockpersons exist when something's not on the shelf. People only remember the existence of the Ministry of Transportation when there's a pothole. People get pissy at subway repairs because the inherent and subtextual expectation is that while of course subways need to be fixed, the fixing of them should be invisible. We should never see it happen, or it has essentially failed.

People only notice the author in the text, like the waiter or subway repairman or stockperson, if they feel something has gone wrong.

If we do our job right, the logic goes -- and I'm not getting into whether this is right or wrong today -- the reader shouldn't even see us. One paragraph at the back of the book saying general things about our pets, maybe where we live. Standard words at the front about who made this book possible; all very much to the forms. Look at the emphasis that creates, just by inference: the important thing is the book. We, the authors, should be completely occluded, completely obscured by the text itself.

When I pull off a good story, a paragraph that crunches into someone's chest like a wrecking ball, the book's there in their vision and it's fifty feet tall, bright as noon, eating up everything and roaring like a cannonball.

I'm not.

I'm invisible.

Here's the problem with that notion of successful art -- a notion that okay, I can't really argue with. The notion of text that lives head and shoulders above its author, text that takes on a life of its own and forms a relationship with the reader that the author really has no part of is really kind of glorious. I think a lot of us crave it a bit: making something that's bigger than us.

Thing is, it gets really hard to assert the personal or financial rights of invisible people.

This is why the argument against writing fanfic of works whose authors are uncomfortable with it never gets anywhere. This is why things like arts grants, book prices, royalty statements, financial need are considered faintly distasteful topics in a lot of writing circles, or why we talk about them in lowered tones or prescreened company. This is why it's such a big deal when an author "goes nuts" and engages readers who criticize their book, their lifestyle, their looks, their person, and why that behaviour is stomped on and stigmatized so hard. This is why reactions such as that which occurred on the Kindle forum about this Amazon kerfuffle happen. To the greater reading public, authors are invisible people. We don't exist, and therefore neither do our needs.

The question becomes, then: how to create fiction that stands like a pillar of fire in someone else's brain, to not get between my fiction and its reader, and yet, keep myself firmly in existence?

That one's for you, team. I am sadly out of answers tonight.
Is normality writer-announcements and sitting around at 4:00 in the afternoon on a Sunday knitting, watching Ghost Hunters, and eating bonbons*, all in pajamas? Why, yes. Yes it is.

Niall Harrison at Torque Control reviews "Miles to Isengard", continuing the tradition of American reviewers disliking this one and British reviewers liking it. Which I, of course, find to be a really interesting pattern and would love to pry into a bit.

Six months later, "The Parable of the Shower" continues to get some love: a rec from [livejournal.com profile] raucousraven and one from [livejournal.com profile] dsudis. I have given up on figuring this out. I think that present tense, second person in the language of the King James Bible is maybe just an inherently funny thing.

And finally, I have personal verification that the February issue of Realms of Fantasy is out, containing "Mister Oak", which is a Wildean fairy tale about a tree and the girl he loves. I saw it at the bookstore's Christmas party yesterday afternoon, and when we left there were at least two copies standing unclaimed. [livejournal.com profile] slushmaster, who's now the art director, had assured me a few times that I was really going to love the art he got for it (from Gary Lippincott) and...wow. I do indeed. It's kind of desperately, breathtakingly wonderful.

They're offering the February 2010 issue as a free pdf on the website, so if you are not near a bookseller of your choice or just want to take a peek, it's linked off there.

I'll hopefully further reestablish some normality with a big honking public accountability list and some regular wordcount this week, since the Dayjob exited the crazy busy season with fifteen bangs and a whimper (mine) on Friday afternoon, but now I am expected at my parents' house for holiday dinner, and I must lay down my pajamas and bonbons and trek up to the 'burbs.

*Okay, it's not technically bonbons, it's Green & Black's.
I am home from work, tired, angry, and in need of fifteen professional hockey players with respectable and yet unprickly hockey stubble to cuddle me and make it go away. Barring that, I'm ordering takeout, but it means I have sadly got nothing here and all you get is a meme.


If I came with a warning label, what would it say?
December 4, 2009 Progress Notes:


Words today: -200. Yes, that was progress.
Words total: 11,800.

Reason for stopping: It's late, I'm still exhausted, and I have to both do groceries and go to a thing at the Merrill tomorrow afternoon and can't just sleep until two.

Darling du Jour: N/A.

Things Yet to Cough Up Their Names: The band name Zeke and Gregory have been gigging under; the somewhat tragic singer of Gregory's old band; the name of Gregory's old band, for that matter; some song titles penned by Zeke.
Mean Things: N/A.

Books in progress: Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl.
The glamour: Finding out that next week at the Dayjob could possibly -- yes, inconceivable as it may sound -- be worse than this week. Oh lordy.

Luckily, I could dose myself with leftover Indian takeout and two hours of sustained knitting before I did harm to myself or others. Just think of it as reaching the antivenin on time.

So here's the reason why you read and keep the negative reviews too, not just the positive ones.

Sometimes the negative reviews accuse the story of something that you, when you look back on it (having vaguely not liked that story anymore for years anyway, but not having thought much of why) find to be not without merit. And then turning it over in bed while you're having your awful sinus-headache stress-induced insomnia like we did this week, you idly wonder how you'd treat the topic now, if you were coming at it again. And realize that you have a backburnered novel project that's dealing with that topic now. And some things start to make themselves clear, and then you have to hop out of bed, fumble for your glasses, and scribble a page of notes in the dark at two in the morning so you don't lose all that good stuff.

Or, short version? The damnedest things can be super valuable to building a stubborn, moody book.

So. The structure telescoped back in for me a little while back; the thing I thought was the end is very possibly the beginning of the middle. Come to think of it, this always happens. But it explains a lot about why I was having so much damn trouble shoveling enough dirt into that black hole where the plot was supposed to live.

With that information in mind, I think I found in earnest where I took the wrong turn here: basically, yeah, I still held the Royal Commission on the Plot, just under suppressed circumstances, and there's a lot of explaining things to myself in this chapter and consequently, going the wrong way in search of some plot. So once I got sufficiently over wanting to kill and eat people because of the Dayjob, I started trimming and moving stuff around and recasting and such.

I'm not going to say I'm officially working on this again. Frankly, I am still way too busy right now and I still like "When Your Number Isn't Up" more and I still have to finish "Closet Monster" and turn it in before I can really commit myself to anything else consistently. But I will noodle. And we will see.
Headache, exhaustion, and Dayjob insanity continue. Send pain meds and rescue dogs.

I do have reviews for you, though:

[livejournal.com profile] cassiphone at [livejournal.com profile] lastshortstory does a year-end of Shadow Unit, and has kind words for Sugar.

Rich Horton's also done a Shadow Unit roundup.

[livejournal.com profile] ase is decidedly unfond of "Bliss". Actually, it shocks me that that anthology is still kicking around, getting reviews.

Now I must clear some stuff out of this inbox even though my head hurts, because the Fountain Pen Hospital catalogue came tonight, and I promised myself that if I was good I could take it to bed with me (bow chicka wow wow).
November 22, 2009 Progress Notes:

"The Closet Monster"

Words today: 1000.
Words total: 2100.
Reason for stopping: This is not really how I meant to spend my afternoon, and I need to fix some dinner.

Books in progress: Emma Bull, Territory.
The glamour: Nothing! I wrote when I was supposed to kitchen-clean and cook ahead for the work week! I am clearly a bad person and a shirker who will be eating cafeteria next week if she doesn't shape up.

Okay, this weekend could stand to be two days longer at this point, for one thing. I haven't managed to get over last week yet, and my apartment is still messy and sleep debt still extant. Stupid murderous last few weeks of legislative session.

In other news, the mob has spoken and I will probably make the Nebula post. It was pointed out to me by a couple people that yes, there is a difference between putting it out there and walking away to do something else and award-whoring, and while I'm still somewhat conflicted on the topic, it's likely preferable to not have Nick Cave remember you as one of the ones who died for the lack of it. I'll get to that tomorrow, then, if I have time for it.

Okay, cooking. Cafeteria food must be avoided at all costs.
Apparently it is Borrowed today, my very favourite holiday, which actually always does seem to come around the same time of year. Maybe November is the month when things break and I have to go out and replace them.

The thing that broke was my work shoes, little black Mary Jane things that admittedly, I've had for four years and have been wearing pretty much every day. One sole was kinda split in half and the other one paper-thin, and the water that cheerfully poured into my shoe yesterday morning was, ah, unpleasant. So off I went to the mall after work today to fight with shoe stores.*

After winning that battle one pair of new, better-made, more comfortable black Mary Janes** and one pair of surprisingly comfortable and Montreal-stylish black suede ankle boots later****, I decided I had been Very Brave (tm) and already spent a bunch of money anyways, so I might as well hemorrhage a little more without feeling too guilty about it, and got myself a cute black crocheted shrug, the DVD of Mystery Men, and three (3) Godiva truffles too.

Yes. Such is my sybaritic luxury.***

That closes out Borrowed for this year (and hopefully means I won't have to buy shoes again for at least umpteen months) at higher expense than some years, but at a maximum of efficiency. And now I am going to make a pot of tea and put on my new movie and knit, because after this workweek? My brain is too tired for too much else.

*I wear size 11. Most shoe stores stock up to size 10. 'Nuff said.

**A shoe store that stocks sizes 10-13 was located. Booyah. I'm just going there first next time.

***Although it is not Muskokan sybaritic luxury.

****I still technically do need a good pair of sneakers, but we will seriously leave that for another paycheque.
November 17, 2009 Progress Notes:

"When Your Number Isn't Up"

Words today: 350.
Words total: 750.
Reason for stopping: Trying to achieve bed a little earlier tonight. Today was sort of long, and I could use it.

Darling du Jour: It was thirty years past grand, and its business was forgetting. It had winked once at poker parties and homebrew and too-large grins; it still brushed off the slide of thin syringes and the sound of wedding rings slipped into scuffed coat pockets. Its wood had lost its polish and the stately red velvet of its chairs was slowly balding, but the St. James remembered gunshots, and its vaulted Georgian ceilings whispered them through the three a.m. quiet 'til it landed loud as a bomb.

Mean Things: A bad fall; a whispering, faded haunting.
Research Roundup: Art deco interior architecture; leaded glass windows; the Stanley Hotel, for photo references.

Books in progress: Nicole Kornher-Stace, Desideria.
The glamour: Unexpectedly busy day for me at the Dayjob. Nothing that couldn't be (and wasn't) handled to satisfaction, but it meant not even putting away the laundry happened tonight. Eh. Words are probably better in the long run, and they are good words. This is the right beginning to the story, differentiated from all the wrong ones by how it just slaps you upside the head with the immediate knowledge of its utter rightness.

This is my good little victory for today.

Goodnight, folks.
November 16, 2009 Progress Notes:

"When Your Number Isn't Up"

Words today: 250.
Words total: 450.
Reason for stopping: I have to get to bed. Dayjobbery demands it. I'm already up too late.

Darling du Jour: Niklas Shevchenko had been a dockman before the St. James lost its night porter. He still moved like one, wide and swinging, black shoes blurred against the patched burgundy of the hall carpet. Jake Beaton had been a junior welterweight, and he wasn't even that anymore. The bad leg dragged behind him like a body out of the river.

Mean Things: Physical exertion; bloody hands; terrible, terrible beauty.
Research Roundup: Slavic surnames, boxing weight classes, first use of forensic fingerprinting, dried blood. By the way, don't image-google that last one. Hello, war atrocity photos.

Books in progress: Nicole Kornher-Stace, Desideria.
The glamour: Today was the dreaded 11:00-7:00 shift, which meant I came home, ran some laundry, had a frozen pizza for dinner, and then the day was already pretty much over. This is not, shall we say, my favourite shift in the world.

The second I put mini chapter breaks in this, it proceeded to maybe not put out like a charm, but at least cooperate grudgingly. I'll consider the implications of that tomorrow, I think.

I will also stop worrying about whether I'm cannibalizing other projects, picking the wrong voice, being historically inaccurate, not having enough to say, pushing it, not pushing it enough, avoiding what I'm supposed to be working on, or producing crap, and just love the fucking bomb already.

After I go to bed.
This was one of those afternoons/evenings where I was an Awesome Freelancer. This is what we call those days where, if I was this productive and sharp and motivated and clever all the time, I'd actually be able to go freelance and not starve and it'd be fun and not just stressful. I get about four weeks' worth of those days in any given calendar year.

So I will just share with you that today I finished another mini-project for the Great OWW Home Reno (a self-directed site-updating production by Yours Truly), shovelled non-insignificant amounts of workshop support mail, dispatched a whole bunch of Ideomancer second reads to their various dooms, managed to get back in touch with two authors I'd lost touch with about their stories, wrote a book review for the December issue, tidied my apartment a bit, and blocked out my schedule for this week, since I appear to actually have a social calendar going this month.

There are five actionable e-mails left in my inbox, and two of them are easy. Mwaha.

The other thing I have to do tonight is this post.

A while back, a gentleman from Golden Moon Tea dropped me an e-mail asking if he could have a link on the website (yes, sadly neglected right now; I'll get to it, I promise). I don't make a habit of linking things on the personal website that I don't actually, well, like and use; longtime denizens of here will probably have picked up that I am not really hot on advertising in general and prefer to have it blocked from my life whenever possible, never mind not being huge on being a conduit for it. Also, having been a bookseller for four years and change, I'm...in some ways a touch sensitive about my credibility when it comes to taste and recommendations: when your taste in something is being used as a barometer, positively or negatively, for people to decide which books they're going to buy, you get really hardcore about giving honest, unbiased evaluations of things and not recommending something unless you mean it, so as to not lose that customer's trust. I told the nice gentleman this, and he offered to mail me some samples.

Okay, thought I, mulling over whether this constituted selling out or not, and when they arrived, I brought them to work to share with [livejournal.com profile] ginny_t, who is among other things my Dayjob Partner in Fancy Tea Snobbery. We drank the tea over the past few weeks and Had Opinions on the matter.

Therefore, this is my tea review.

Sugar Caramel Oolong

This was okay -- not too sweet, not too tannic -- but really, really, really light. [livejournal.com profile] ginny_t noted she is not an oolong drinker habitually for just this reason; I have it sometimes, but also tend to prefer something stronger. I'm a Russian Caravan kind of girl. This is really light. So, kind of struck out on grounds of personal taste.

Honey Pear black tea

Okay, now this one was really awesome. Gutsy and sweet and sort of smooth, the way things involving honey are, and smelled and tasted distinctly like real pears. The balance was really good -- not too sweet -- and all elements were in there as advertised. I would have this one again. Nom.

Coconut Pouchong

I was feeling a little sicky the day I had this one, which may have spoiled my objectivity on the matter. What I do recall here was that the predominant taste was young coconut: if you've ever had coconut water or juice, it had that same strong, sharp mid-tongue kind of flavour. This decidedly did not taste like fake coconut, but it tasted a lot like coconut and in some ways not enough like tea?

I do like nice long pouchong leaves though. Pretty!

Nepalese Afternoon Tea

Advertised with "notes of honey, lotus, and fragrant sandalwood." While obviously a good-quality black tea, it didn't really strike me as fancy or awesome among black teas. It was there. It was there nicely enough, but mostly it was just there.

Tippy Earl Grey

This, though, was nice. There is a certain degree to which earl grey is earl grey is earl grey, but you can tell the good stuff from the mediocre stuff very easily, and it's to do with the balance of bergamot flavour to black tea ballsiness to other. This one apparently has lavender in it, and you can spot it there both in the nose and when you taste it. It really added something, and it was subtly different enough to make the whole thing interesting without taking this out of the subgenre of earl grey. Bergamot was light and not cloying and tasted oddly fresh. I'd possibly go back for seconds on this if I had to get specifically earl grey (not my favourite, although I'll drink it).

I split this one with a different coworker; [livejournal.com profile] ginny_t doesn't like earl grey and Other Coworker needed tea badly that morning, and knows my desk is where it lives. He gave good report.

So, general verdict?

1) I'll probably buy some of that Honey Pear sometime.
2) I probably won't actually link this tea place on my website, since I can only vouch for one unqualified win here out of five; otherwise, while it was good-quality stuff, I wasn't head over heels. That's maybe not enough to place an ongoing recommendation on the wider internets.
3) I find myself not opposed to people sending me free tea. I suspect it's not hurting my popularity at the office either.

This has been your first and hopefully not only Tea Review. Good night and good luck.
Today I am off to scenic Minesing, Ontario, a place without even its own wiki entry (although apprently with both a public school, a slo-pitch tournament, and a swamp) for my first offsite committee with the Dayjob.

I'm leaving in 20 minutes to make the bus on time. And it is still pitch black out.

Terrible things I do for this Dayjob.

Also, an interim book report:

This year's books, so far... )

#57 -- Emma Bull and Steven Brust, Freedom & Necessity

This started somewhat slow, and I wasn't sure about it, and I kept reading anyways because sometimes you just do. And once the plot kicked in? It was like a Jane Austen novel married a spy thriller and had a baby, and then the baby saw its parents gunned down and became the Batman.

So ostensibly this is a period epistolary slightly-magical spy thriller. Really, what I think it is? Competence porn. It's getting to watch people be stupidly competent at things and/or on the learning curve to such without getting that feeling of Suedom, and the great thing about competence porn is that when you really have it going, the stakes matter. The stakes are everything.

The other thing this is so far (I'm not yet finished) that I'm really appreciating is a book where a Dangerous Man (tm) is clearly infatuated with and interested in the protagonist, but it's because she is so freaking competent. He keeps looking at her and shaking his head like, "Geez, does everyone underestimate you or am I the only idiot in the house?" instead of looking at her like a Dark Highlander does some kind of prey. And this? Makes the Dangerous Man/Our Heroine romance trope actually believable, for once in its life. It makes me respect the heroine, consider that the Dangerous Man is worthy of respect (after all, good reason to have a crush, man) and feel the legitimacy of the potential romance.

That's cool. More books should do that.

And now, I'm off to Minesing.
1) Losing in overtime is still a much more gripping hockey game than just losing. And that way, you get a point.

2) I am now officially a Soulsavers fan. I picked up the album before last today and it? Also awesome, although I still think Broken holds the awesome all-time title. Case closed.

3) All goes well and the creek don't rise, I will be picking up my glasses tomorrow. Pictures of my creeping hipsterism will follow shortly thereafter.

4) There was a little reception at the Dayjob tonight for some visiting Queen's University students put on by Queen's alumni at the Dayjob as well as the head of the press gallery. An intrepid coworker and I nosed down there after work to see if there was any food (chilled shrimp, pita, brie wheel and veggies FTW) and ended up staying for an hour, being asked eagerly about After Graduation (tm) and working life and government/political jobs and all that by a bucket of polished, friendly, extremely pleasant Queen's University poli-sci undergrads.

I felt...old. And actually, kind of glad to be useful.

God. It's only been a year and a half since I graduated, y'know?
Alas, today I have failed a bit at Adventure.

Got up this morning around 11:30, just too late for breakfast, which was fine; I needed the sleep after my *cough*-o'clock bedtime the other night and just in general. So I had a cup of tea and plotted what I could do this afternoon: the Museum of Civilization, or a tour of Parliament Hill. Both of these were in the same direction, so I grabbed my tiny umbrella and headed out.

First thwartation: Although the nice security man told me yesterday that yes, there would be tours on today at Parliament, when I got there everything was fenced off and there were about fifteen million protesters/rally participants/whatever on the lawn. I managed to inquire (shoutily, since they were up on a terrace) with other guard types if the building was closed, and it was. I admit to some small grump about this, because as far as I know, even when we have buses and buses of protesters on our lawn at work, tours still run. So, hmph.

Being thwarted in that, I decided that my feet were wet and my stomach was empty and I didn't like this, so I went into Byward Market to have lunch. There was a lot of that, and it was good: pears with prosciutto, tortellini in a gorgonzola cream sauce, creme brulee. Being full, warm, and with my socks half-dry, I decided, well, I liked that. And that my feet hurt from yesterday. And that I was kinda sleepy. So I totally bailed on the museum and came back to the room (through yes, more puddles) to flop on my bed, watch Mythbusters, and knit some on my Coachella.

After that, though, [livejournal.com profile] sevenravens called, and we had a nice cup of tea down the street, and that mitigates things a lot. So now I am back here, and since (as previously noted) everything in Ottawa shuts down early to save you from the wolves, I think I will call it here and go back upstairs to the knitting and maybe some hockey and all that business.

Train leaves tomorrow around noonish, so I should be home with wrapup and pictures (!) in the evening.

This has been your Trip Report.
1) This afternoon after lunch I, wearing my cute little black and white polka-dot dress and with my blue hair freshly touched up, sat down at my cluttery Dayjob desk, which was all scattered with potted plants and work things and pictures from [livejournal.com profile] ginny_t's Cute Overload calendar on the walls* and a half-finished pot of Azteca Fire, put my headphones on, cranked up Violet, and commenced proofreading petitions to the Legislative Assembly. While headbanging.

I was totally Penelope Garcia today.

2) Apropos of very little, I was thinking in my nice hot bath tonight about how you hear these constant stories about writers who assume that editors, agents, writers who are a little further along, writers who are a lot farther along, benighted workshop admins (okay, that one's from personal experience), and basically anyone who can tell them "No" in any capacity are somehow in it for the diabolical power they can exert over said poor, trembling writers. I mean, okay, I know this is a projection reaction: people feel like others have power over them, and therefore assume that others' motive is to have power over them; that they're doing it on purpose. Screwy logic, but it's one of those pretty basic human kinds of screwy logic.

But the thing I was thinking in my nice hot bath was, well, geez. If I could choose to have diabolical, sadistic, puppetmasterish power over a class of persons? Writers would not be it. Seriously. What're writers good for? We're always poor, we have no skills, and trying to even get a half-dozen of us out to dinner is like herding freaking cats.

Now, nuclear scientists or off-the-grid homesteaders? Now we're talking.

*We have a bit of a deal. I get the puppies.

November 2016

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