Wednesday, January 30, 2008
You know you're strangely drawn to it. Admit it. That song will be in your head for DAYS.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Patry Francis saw the release of her very first book The Liar's Diary last year in hardback. Today the paperback version came out, but unfortunately Patry was unable to promote it. Rather than a book tour, book signings, readings, conventions and conferences, she's busy fighting a very aggressive cancer. Share the love. Support an author who needs a strong start on this book so that when she's kicked cancer's ass, she can take the world by storm when she sees her next book on the shelves. Buy her book! Support popular fiction. Don't be a hater. ;)
And in case my own pleading doesn't convince you to make this purchase, keep in mind such venerable authors as Neil Gaiman, Jennifer Weiner, Jacquelyn Mitchard, Khaled Hosseini, and literally hundreds of bloggers (writers or otherwise). Now you *know* you wanna read it. Go ahead. Buy a copy. I won't tell anyone if you don't want me to.
Monday, January 28, 2008
Not that calling his detailer would necessarily be a good thing. In fact, calling the detailer usually means everything will soon go to shit. However, I'm getting antsy, not knowing what the hell said detailer is planning to do to us. You know, I'd actually love to give the Navy some detailer feedback. I wonder if there's a way to do that. Maybe if we all stand up and say ZOMG He Screwed Us! ... Nah. Navy doesn't give a shit. They'll just reward the detailers, give 'em a bonus.
Speaking of bonuses, I was just thinking the other day about how many times YodaMan has missed out on bonuses. First, he was in the aviation program and fell victim to the NAMI Whammy thanks to childhood shenanigans that caused one of his eyes to become slightly crossed (you can't see it looking at him, but it's there). They bumped him. The very next week, they were low on aviators and took on others who had the same eyeball issues or worse. Bye bye aviator bonus (and why the fuck do they get a bonus? bonuses are supposed to be there to help retention... since when does aviation need help with fucking retention for fuck's sake??? fuck!). He submits his nuke package, and the CO of the base holds up all packages for guys who refused to go NFO (those are the ones who sit in the back seat and don't actually get to do any flying, for you non-Navy types). Bye bye nuke bonus. Surface Warfare nabs him, and he deals with about seven years of angst and evilness as a SWO, whose community motto is Stab, Stab, Look, Stab. Then the opportunity to move into this new community comes up, and he jumps on it. Only SWO gives him the ol' stab-stab-look-stab and screws him out of consideration for a promotion while he's transferring to this new community. Now he's lost lineal numbers on top of everything else. In the meantime, the SWO community has begun losing officers like brain cells from a redneck in the midst of a NASCAR drinkfest. [Not that all rednecks watch NASCAR. Just the ones who do are particularly prone to loss of brain function.] So what does the SWO community do?
That's right. Retention bonuses. HUGE bonuses. Like $50,000. I know. That's a lot of dough. But none of that goes to the YodaMan. Nope. I just heard SWOs are getting yet another bonus. I can't fucking believe it. Why are aviators still getting a goddamn bonus? WTF?
In the meantime, I've been slowly eking out some pages. I only have 25 right now on my new WIP. I have 33 pages of a paranormal romance written, and it got fair reviews from some pretty solid critiquers, so I think with some polish it'll be ready for a few contests. I'd like to see if it's a viable story before I put the effort into finishing it. ;) But first, I have to complete the first 30 pages of my thesis WIP. Five more to go. I think I can handle it. I'd do it tonight, but clearly I'm way too busy blogging.
I did get an awesome idea while watching Finding Nemo with the kids, though. Brothel! I'm so including a brothel in this book. It's an urban fantasy, so brothels wouldn't be entirely out of the scope genre-wise. Plus, teh secks is pretty integral to the plot, and a brothel would fit that particular element. Can I get a woot woot?
Alas, I tried to call my Vegan friend with this fabulous idea that had me all a-squee, and her hubby informed me she was passed out on the sofa.
Clearly *someone* has a husband at home who can take on the sproglet. Must be nice. ::ahem::
My house is wrecked. I cleaned up twice today. Both times lasted maybe an hour. Mew.
I need a maid. And a therapist. Maybe I can find a certified counselor who likes to tidy. And babysit.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Apparently, the Today show reported findings that raw fish contains high levels of mercury and other contaminants, enough so that more than a single tuna roll (sushi, that is) per week could exceed EPA health standards for mercury.
Naturally, there's a resulting firestorm of OMGWTFWe'reAllGonnaDie!!!!!111! If you read the article, you can see the whole OMGSUSHI bit is misleading. You can't get rid of mercury by cooking it (duh), but there's a slightly lower risk of consuming high levels by trimming the fat and skin and by cooking off any additional fat, where the contaminants collect. Okay, we can all breathe a sigh of relief and watch our fish consumption, mixing it up each week, holding pregnant women and children hostage from overconsumption of contaminated fish, etc.
My first reaction is what. The. Hell? All of a sudden it's okay that we're eating fish contaminated because we have neglected the environment to such a degree that it's -gasp- coming back to haunt us?
Why are we so obsessed with avoiding too much contaminated fish? Why isn't our focus on getting rid of the pollution that causes the goddamn contamination in the first place? Oh, I keep forgetting. We're in the End Times, and global warming is a myth. Riiiiight.
You know, we wouldn't have to worry so violently about the safety of our food if we could just learn, somehow or another, to be responsible citizens of this planet.
Unfortunately, considering the yahoos in public office and the industries to whom they are beholden for their power, I don't hold much hope that we'll ever see our world recover. I think Mother Earth will kick us out long before she's able to heal the damage we've done.
And continue to do.
I've already made strides towards living a cleaner existence. I purchase as much organic food as I can and weed out any products I would buy that contain high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, benzoate preservatives (which apparently turns to benzene - that's right, a carcinogen - in our bodies), etc. Yeah, organic is a little more expensive, but first, prices won't drop until more people are buying, and second, when I don't buy the chemically drenched prepackaged crap and make the food myself, it's hella less expensive on top of being healthier. In addition to the clean food, I've moved towards natural cleaners that aren't toxic to my family or to the earth. I make my own furniture polish now, and it's way less expensive than the crap on the store shelves, works better, and is full of wonderful, natural goodness. Oh, and if my kids decide to crawl under the counter and throw back a few furniture polish shots, it won't kill them. They'll probably yak everywhere, but they'll live to see my lecture.
And before I hear the lecture that organic food hasn't been shown to be any healthier for us than pesticide-laden produce is, let me remind you that our health is tied to the health of the environment (exhibit A: the mercury-infested fish issue), and when we produce food that is organic, it means that we are using sustainable practices. In other words, we're not raping the earth to lower the bottom line at corporate headquarters. Land is healthier, food has more nutrients, we live to see Mother Earth recover.
What more can I as an individual do to support making the earth as clean as my body and my house are becoming? First, I can hope that others will read my diatribes on the environment, sustainable living, and healthy eating, and I hope that someone out there, just one, takes the challenge and tries something green on for size. Make one change. Just one. It'll have an incredible and lasting effect on the world around us.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
This morning, I haven't even turned on CNN. The thought of accidentally catching a report about my husband and his few-thousand brothers- and sister-in-arms departing for months at a stretch makes me antsy. I can't tell if I'd end up annoyed, teary, or pissed. I just know it won't be very positive, so why bother?
I won't watch national news coverage of soldiers kissing their families goodbye and then piling into a bus or walking towards a plane. It just feels completely voyeuristic and wrong to watch people enduring one of the most stressful and painful things they can deal with in a lifetime, and many of them have already done it at least once before. How can the interviewers shoving microphones in their faces, asking inane questions ("How hard is it to say goodbye to your husband/daddy?" WTF??), and intruding on an intimate family moment.
Anyway, I dropped off YodaMan last night. Awesomest friend EVAH came over and sat while the sprogs slept upstairs, then sat with me until WAY past our bedtimes and talked. It was nice not coming back to a quiet house after that. Oh, and get this brilliance: The parking lot was cleared yesterday to make room for folks to drop off their loved ones, do the kissy-kissy bit, cry and wave, flip off the ship (my favorite part) as they drive off, etc. But when we got there last night, the lot was closed off. We couldn't even hug. Had to do a quick kiss over the gear shift and yell "bye" while he dashed through the drizzle to the security stand. Note to the incredibly intelligent folks at NAS North Island: You suck. Don't quit your day job. And I hope, one day soon, you have to deploy on... The Regan!!!! ::dunh dunh dunhhhhhh::
Hey, how about some opinions on this - how do you guys feel about the goodbyes? Are they worth it to you to do the nearly-public hugs and kisses, or do you save it for the house and then play the this-isn't-happening-I'll-just-drive-away-now thing once at the departure point? And how do you feel about the airtime deployments get? Do you enjoy or dislike the show the media like to make of these moments?
Edited to add...
I went to the dentist today to get the teeth cleaned, and apparently they have some of my personal life written up in my file from past conversations.
"How are your kids?" "How old are they again?" "Your husband's military, right?" Etc.
So I talked about all the latest and greatest, the newest sproglet behavior, their love of flossing (which comprises taking long strands of floss from my spool and licking the minty flavor off), walking around with their toothbrushes and conveniently tucking them in various hidey holes for the highest level of mommy annoyance, etc. And I mentioned that YodaMan left again this morning.
"Oh, he's on the Starship Enterprise*!" they said. Which they could only know because... they watched it on the news. "Did you go this morning to see him off?" "Do you meet his ship when he comes home?" "Have they gotten you on TV?"
I was ready to be really annoyed about this, only not obviously so since I like the staff. They're all really cool. But just as I was thinking, "I'm SOOOOO blogging this!!!111!" my hygienist, bless her heart, offered to watch the kids for me anytime.
I thought, how nice! That was a sweet lip service to make, dangerous since she never knows if I'd actually hold her to it or stalk her for backing out on it, but nice anyway.
And then she gave me her phone number and insisted on getting mine so she could call and check on me - and renew the offer. I was really stunned. How incredible of her!
When we were done with the cleaning, she walked me up to the front. When she mentioned to the staff there that YodaMan left again, the response was, "Oh! I didn't know he served on the Starship Enterprise!"
I smiled, less annoyed because I *know* they mean well. Then the office manager says, "While he's gone, if you ever need a sitter, give me a call!"
Then they gave me free coffee.
Could you get a better dentist's office??
Anyway, I told the manager how nice everyone is there, and how much I appreciate their offers, and her response was the coolest thing ever, turning my pet peeve completely on its head. She said what so many high-level officers like to say, but she. Meant. It. "Well, you know, you guys sacrifice so much for us, it's the least we can do. Nobody really thinks about what the families deal with."
*Name of the ship changed to preserve anonymity, though apparently some have already found me out. :)
Monday, January 21, 2008
I knew YodaMan would get screwed. He told me when he put this job on his dream sheet that they'd deploy, but he would be part of staff and therefore wouldn't be on every underway.
So I buckled down and survived the endless underway schedule followed by the insane 6 month deployment. All the while, I was thinking it would end soon enough, and we'd be able to act sorta kinda like a family again.
Mid-deployment, a sneaking rumor was confirmed - there would be a surge deployment. And now we're on the cusp of that deployment. I'm trying not to psych myself up, thinking that "it'll only be four months, and then we can act sorta kinda like a family again." Because that wouldn't be true, either. Because detailer and YodaMan decided June would be perfect timing to start an IA to Afghanistan. Which means, at the earliest, it'll be next February before we can sorta kinda act like a family again. But I'm done holding my breath. Because as soon as I think things will finally get better, the Navy will remind me.
They own my husband's soul.
They have all the carrots and the most durable sticks, and no matter what I dangle in front of YodaMan's face, the Navy Carrot will always trump.
Since I've chosen to be married to him, they own my ass, too. Unfortunately, the poor kids are getting stuck in this equation, and they never asked for this pathetic excuse of a family. What kind of life is this for them? They never see their dad. I'm run ragged with the work of being a single mom on the opposite side of the country from my family. They're stuck in a shitty house in a skeezy neighborhood surrounded by the most egotistical, sexist, and low-class lazy pieces of crap neighbors that ever existed. How do they deserve this?
If the housing market hadn't tanked here, I'd be packed up and headed home for the next year. There's no point in staying. I have awesome friends here, but they have their own families, their own lives, their own obligations and priorities. I need to be surrounded by people who are required to help me because of an accident of birth.
I've spent so much time expecting the best and preparing for the worst, I'm fried. I'm done. I'm unable to move forward. I'm already exhausted, already frazzled, already on the cusp of a hysterical crying jag.
And I have a year. A year minus some time between deployments, less than a month, to get my bearings. Part of that will be spent in Pennsylvania at my second residency. I'll come home in time to kiss YodaMan goodbye before he heads to Afghanistan. I'll come home fried, frazzled, exhausted, and past the cusp, fully immersed in a crying jag.
I have days. I can even count it reasonably in hours at this point. I felt myself closing down emotionally last week. I can barely think about sex now. How can I, when I'm going to be denied anything for - basically - a year? How can I be interested in anything right now when the harness of responsibility is settling over my shoulders with about a hundred pounds pushing it down? How can I want to do anything but sleep and cry and try to avoid motherhood when I have a year of doing it all, 100%, 24/7, for a freaking year, and I haven't even recovered from the last three?
Three years, Shrub! Three solid, horrible, stressful, on-my-own years with only punctuated points of presence from YodaMan. Three stinking years. And now you're about to take a whole year from my kids and me, a whole year without any punctuation. No commas for me. No periods of rest. No exclamation points from those awesome moments alone with my husband. Nothing. Just one incredibly long run-on sentence of life.
Here we go again....
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Okay, so I'm a writer, and I started my writing career in the romance genre. If you haven't heard, there's drama afoot. Apparently one of the unfortunately numerous hack writers in the genre (tons got a foot wedged firmly in the door back in the 80s, when NY was desperate for any stock character in any stock historical setting getting their bodice ripping on, and unfortunately, it takes a bit of effort to flick those particular boogers off our fingers even as the market has closed as tight as Fabio's butt) will henceforth be known not for the hundred "Savage Mantitty" books she's churned out in 25 years but for the rampant plagiarism therein.
These were all discovered at a fantastic romance readers' blog called Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Books and it seems like every day another Cassie Edwards book is outed for being seven parts shitty writing and three parts stolen. Needless to say, there's a reason Edwards has sold 100 books - apparently, there are people out there who love reading shockingly bad writing that denigrates the Native American societies they're supposed to be glorifying - and those rabid fans are showing up at Smart Bitches to lay out some smackdown.
Needless to say, it's been great fun reading about the fall of a thieving 'zatch and the incredible back-and-forth between fans and people with taste. ;) Kidding. Anyway, the best thing ever was a post by one of these Edwards trolls calling out Nora Roberts of all people (and if you've been under the romance novel rock for several years, Nora was the victim of some pretty rampant plagiarism by Janet Dailey, who somehow or another suckered Kensington into buying her stuff, which is incredibly insulting and unfortunate IMVHO). Nora, for whom I worked at a literacy booksigning event, is about as classy as you can get and very down to earth considering the prolific and successful career she's had. Nora has stepped into this discussion and has unfortunately taken some heat and dings for standing up and declaring Edwards out of line.
The best EVAR was when that Edwards troll laid a big "shame on you" on Nora. Nora's response, following post after post of eloquence and professionalism in the face of some pretty heinous comments, was about as perfect as I can imagine: Bite me.
And I'm not the only fan of this comment. Another poster, Charlene Vickers, came up with the winniest win ever:
In other news, still no news from the detailer, and the natives are getting restless. [Get it? LOL! I'm so damn witty. Ha ha! Ha.] End snark. No further comment until we know what's up. But I tell you one thing: If the shaftiness gets any more shafty, I'm pulling out a hex on that detailer, and then I'm letting the darlingest YodaMan know exactly where I stand..... :/
Thursday, January 10, 2008
My brain hurts. In spots, it's sore from info-spasms. In other areas, there are calluses and strains from forcing those wee ganglia streeeeetching to make connections they never considered....
But I can see. On the horizon, my future is visible, and it ain't half bad. If I can make it through this year, I just might be able to survive my husband's career. And if I survive this year, I'll make it to graduation, and then, then, then I get to have my very own career.
And portable at that. W00T!
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Riddle: A man and his son are driving along and get into a bad car accident. The ambulance shows up and takes them both to the hospital. The son is rushed into surgery. The doctor who will perform the surgery enters the operating room, but as soon as the doctor sees the patient, the doctor says, “I can’t operate on this boy, he is my son.”
How is this possible?
I love this riddle on so many levels. I've used it numerous times to point out assumptions, especially patriarchal assumptions, among friends and family, and it never fails to shock to the person I asked to solve it.
What does it have to do with the military? In my experience, it's the same assumption. It's getting better as more sailors deploy on ships, as more higher-ranking female officers add warfare pins to their blouses, and as some of the sexist population slowly trickles into retirement.
Granted, I've never been an officer. I've never been enlisted. The closest I ever came to selling my soul was a two-year stint in ROTC (one of the best and worst experiences of my life), but even there, I could see the double standards and the false assumptions. My favorite incident was a mixer. One of the sororities was invited to our unit to have a freakin' mixer with the ROTC midshipmen. It annoyed me, so how did I handle it?
That's right. I showed up. And when there were no ice-breaker nuts or screws (each group was to have one or the other, each different sizes, in an attempt to find someone whose screw fit a corresponding nut - I know, ha ha ha, soooo hilarious and cute), I got to stand on the periphery and razz my fellow midshipmen as they schmoozed and tried to find some easy entre into the world of dating. On the one hand, I felt for them since the ratio of men to women in my class alone was 7 to 1, but on the other hand, it pissed me off that we as a unit were socializing with other campus groups as if we were all-male, and it pissed me off that my sisters-in-arms were playing into that.
These little nuggets of sigh-dom have recurred as I sit on the sidelines, watching my husband's cohorts continue to fight the assumptions even as they were being surrounded by more and more female sailors.
Alas, I don't see even an attempt at an inclusive point of view from civilians. Take this calendar for example. And while you're on that site, look at some of the gear they send for care packages. Don't get me wrong. I'm very aware that the majority of soldiers (and non-Army individuals impressed into service over there) in Iraq are men. I know that. But I have to wonder what it's like to be a woman there. How do they get along with sexy babes, toilet-humor guys (don't get me wrong, he's teh funneh, but in a totally zomg-where's-his-brain-oh-yeah-permanently-injured kind of way), etc. making the tours? Of course, and I know this from experience, when you're surrounded by the warrior mentality in a predominantly male population, it's easy to just not notice or to share atypical interests.
I'd like to know if anyone sends female needs care packages. Probably not, but if some were sent, my bet is that they became a huge joke if not a means of insulting someone. "Hey, Smith! Here's a tampon. Quit whining like a girl!" I know not all women are into girly stuff, so I'm not assuming any of them would want or need a girly care package, but how often do chick lit, romance novels, or feminist literature end up in a box of care package books? I bet not often. Because we assume everyone scratching the sand in the litterbox regularly stands up to pee.
I told YodaMan the gist of this post, and he says I have created for myself a golden volunteer opportunity - to put together female care packages for our female warriors. I love the idea. But the last thing I want to do is to make their position any more unstable... or even to make them more vulnerable... in what has to be an uncomfortable position between masculine warriors and the NFL cheerleaders come to "energize the troops."
ETA: Since writing this post, I've been digging, and I've found a fantastic site that supports troops, whether soldier, sailor, Marine, male, female, or I bet even "other." They have contact lists for troops who have registered to receive care packages, and they even have pre-made packages to entertain or attend to the hygiene of any service member. Go AnySoldier.com!
I've found that you can, indeed, send a care package to a female service member, but put "For a Female Soldier" on it so a burly Marine doesn't get a handful of tampons (though I did read a fascinating retelling of a Marine's life being saved after he was shot - and his comrades used tampons to stop the bleeding!)