the endless To Do

Subtitle: YOU, TOO, COULD HAVE IT ALL!

This has been one of those weeks where it feels like I’ve accomplished nothing, because instead of completing any particular large project, I’ve taken care of the zillion little tasks that keep a household running smoothly. Individually, they seem like nothing. Collectively, my entire week has vanished!

I’m talking

  • School shopping
  • Follow-up questions to preschool because I haven’t done this before
  • Additional school shopping because yup, should have asked those questions earlier
  • Service appointment for Car 1
  • Paperwork and stickers for Car 2
  • Return package to post office
  • Follow up on refund for old gift cards (I want my money dangit)
  • Sort endless home refinance mail
  • FILING CABINET
  • Calk hallway chair railing
  • Touch-up paint on various walls, baseboards, and door trim
  • Several coats of paint on new cabinets
  • Home Depot AGAIN??
  • Grocery shopping AGAIN??
  • Budgeting, bills, meal planning, agh
  • Brief interlude with a rattlesnake on the deck?
  • Brief interlude capturing and releasing a field mouse from under the couch, likely promptly eaten by said rattlesnake?
  • Water the trees AGAIN??

And all the usual cooking and cleaning and bathing and puzzles and arts & crafts required by a toddler and a preschooler, who gamely joined me on all of these errands because their dad is out of town for the week.

ANYWAY I’M TIRED.

Somehow, despite all of that, I managed to do all of my Hugo Award voting, polished a couple of short stories and started their submission journey, and added 3K to my next book. I was hoping for 7K, but the universe had a good laugh at the sound of that, so I’ll have to settle for 3!

I leave you my new nemesis, the snek:

These photos were taken through fence slats and a window respectively, because DUH, I’m not going to be the bozo who dies taking a selfie with a snake.

Alas, I did not get a picture of the couch mouse, because, well, they JUMP.

Also, I think I need to repaint that fence.

Things I Low-Key Want to Learn, Except Learning is Hard

I’ve spent so many years focused on writing and writing-adjacent tasks: reading for research and pleasure, practicing styles, short fiction, long fiction, blogging, getting involved in forums. When I take a break, my hobbies are still very arts & craft: I am happily mediocre at sewing, crocheting, bookbinding, and making cards.

But there is a whole world around me! So many people good at so many things!

Here is an incomplete list of skills I would dearly love to possess, if only I could find the time to devote to learning them:

1) DANCE

I would love to be a better dancer! I always bop to music in public and I am fully willing to deploy my graceless moves on a dance floor, but it is surely embarrassing for everyone around me (alas for them, can’t stop won’t stop).

I also think dance would be excellent exercise. Exercise is INCREDIBLY BORING. Dance is not boring. Dance is fun! And it would work a lot of muscles that do not get any love at my writing desk, let me tell you.

PLAN FOR SUCCESS: YouTube. Only my children would witness my fumbling attempts at rhythm, but they are far too young to realize I look ridiculous.

2) MAKE-UP

That’s right, I’m putting make-up on my list. It’s a skill! It requires a deep knowledge base! And I have neither! I had zero interest in make-up growing up. I didn’t even wear any at my wedding, to the hotel liaison’s clear dismay. And now I kind of regret putting my nose up at this in my teens and twenties, because my thirties are here, and if I want to attend more networking events in the future it sure would be nice to touch up the worst of my fatigue lines. Like a suit of armor!

Also: people do some WILD and colorful stuff, I am JEALOUS.

PLAN FOR SUCCESS: Pure walk of shame. I will have to slink to my baby sisters with my hat in my hands, and ask them to teach me their ways. My baby sisters!! D:

3) SAILING

Wouldn’t that be cool??

PLAN FOR SUCCESS: Haha no.

4) DIY SHIT

Listen, I am a homeowner now. And I get wild ideas for things I want to add to my home, just because nobody can stop me! But you see, labor rightly costs money, and I have two hands and a toolbox, sooo.

Example: My husband and I are building a window seat. And we drew up some messy plans for how to build one from scratch. But then we realized: what if we bought some unfinished kitchen cabinets, and CHOPPED THE TOP OFF TO MAKE THEM SHORTER?

Do you see why we can’t be allowed to make decisions on our own? I need woodworking skills, stat!!

PLAN FOR SUCCESS: YouTube.

5) HORSEBACK RIDING

I want to sit on a living creature and be its friend and respect that it is a powerful being that could crush me but is carrying me around good-naturedly instead. And I would pretend that it is olden times, and I live on the road with only my loyal steed at my side, and we’d share something, a bond beyond words–except for the words I say when I’m riding, because I think you say stuff, right? I’m not sure. It sounds very romantic, even though it probably also smells.

PLAN FOR SUCCESS: This one only hinges on time and money. I.e., not in the near future.

6) ARCHERY

This one would be great, except somebody would definitely die.

PLAN FOR SUCCESS: I’m not joking.

IN CONCLUSION:

I think I’ll be sticking with YouTube dance videos and eyeshadow for the time being, and everyone in my life can thank me for showing such restraint. 😉

SDCC 2019!

Every year I intend to tweet more from San Diego Comic-Con and every year I just get absorbed in what I’m doing and forget about it. So here is my annual round-up!

This year my husband and I nabbed Thursday/Friday/Saturday badges. I did not have the energy I usually do. My feet hurt! My back hurt! I kept getting air conditioning headaches from the weird hotel room lighting! Is this my mid-30s acting up??

On Thursday I hit a fun Tor authors panel with my sisters, then met my husband downstairs and poked around the exhibit floor a bit. There are always excellent photo opportunities, of course, and this year I saw a marked uptick of videos/gifs and motion posters as well!

gif of sam riding a mariokart car

ITSA ME BITCH

Here I am very determined to seek justice after my friend, the Pink Ranger, was beheaded:

sam's head on power ranger cardboard cutout

Alas, poor Kimberly, I knew you well

I spent the rest of the afternoon in panels. I was DETERMINED to make it into the Farscape 20th Anniversary panel at 3pm, so naturally I insisted we get in line at noon. BECAUSE THIS IS SDCC BABY! Over the next half hour, the line ballooned behind us and extended outside the building, so I think I made the right choice.

Hubby and I got into the room at 1pm, and sat through two panels before mine. First, a Stargate: Atlantis 15th Anniversary panel (fun! I haven’t watched that one, but hubby is a major SG-1 fan, and the panelists were entertaining). Then a panel on the crowd-funded movie studio Legion M, which was… fine. I’m looking forward to a new documentary on Alien coming out later this year.

And then! Finally! Farscape!!! Claudia Black had to drop out, which was very disappointing (oh no, my faaaaave), but Ben Browder and Gigi Edgley were there, as well as Brian Henson and Rockne S. O’Bannon. There were a lot of fun set anecdotes, a great sizzle reel, and hints that the show might be coming back to life!

actors ben browder and gigi edgley in front of audience

AYYIIIIIII!

On Friday we tackled some of the outdoor entertainment. This year’s FX lawn was pretty great. We got there first thing in the morning and got immediate time slots for both activations we wanted to try: the What We Do in the Shadows vampire house, and an American Horror Story haunted cabin.

sam posed in front of painted vampire bat wings

BAT FIGHT

panorama of interior of vampire house

There were several vampires present but they do not show on camera

gif of sam transforming into a vampire

LEAVE ME TO DO MY DARK BIDDING ON THE INTERNET

American Horror Story didn’t let us take any photos inside the haunted house (naturally) but did make us acknowledge an intense waiver forgiving them for quite a list of potential threats:

list of warnings including being struck, wet, attacked by other attendees

Am I about to be punched in the face?

We then made further rounds on the exhibit floor and I bought some exclusive pins I’d had my eye on. We even found a secret mezzanine level that I’d somehow never been to over the last seven years. It had a nice view out over the floor!

overhead view of exhibit floor packed with people and booths

And that’s only one little slice of it, eek!

On Saturday we had one main goal: get into the final panel for The Good Place. It was our favorite panel last year, and we wanted to see everyone one last time before the show ends. ;_; It was hilarious as usual, with many tearjerker moments. I dressed up as Good Janet and my husband dressed up as Shawn, and there were SO MANY EXCELLENT COSPLAYERS. We did some group photos in the aisle. Um, Good/Bad Janet combo?! TINY BABY MICHAEL??

large group photo of attendees dressed as Good Place characters

Photo by @leleana on Twitter! (shared with permission)

Ahhhh, good times.

All in all, it was a mellow year. Fun, but nothing outrageous. A low-stress SDCC? I’ll take it!

Mrs. Cat gets away from it all

Mrs. Cat has been pretty busy since her adventures with moving and couch-surfing last year, and she sorely needed a break from endless New House fixer-uppering and painting with small children underfoot and learning how to network in a brand new field after decades of toiling secretly behind a computer screen at home.

My friends, Mrs. Cat needed a vacation.

Cue: the third annual Book Club Getaway Weekend!!

I’ve met up at least once a month with the same glorious set of reading-and-drinking-loving ladies for the last seven-and-a-half years. Most of us mostly read every book! But mostly we like to hang out, so our activities quickly expanded to numerous book club field trips, including an annual Friends of Book Club croquet match, boating, painting–

And now a mountain cabin retreat. I missed the first year because I was nearly nine months pregnant. I went last year, but brought my breastfeeding infant, so it was a ton of fun but not exactly a retreat.

This year, however! Oh, this year is on in full force! There are trees! There is a hot tub! There is a basement game room!

And Mrs. Cat is having a lovely time.

mrs cat in mountains

Mrs. Cat enjoys the view from our deck

mrs. cat in living room of mountain cabin

Mrs. Cat especially enjoys reading in the great room

mrs. cat in a hot tub

And the hot tub is especially pleasant after dark!

All in all, this has been a much-needed break, and I even managed to force myself not to do any work (other than a couple of emails and this blog post, of course, but email is an immovable force of nature, it Must Be Done).

Now I have breakfast waiting for me, and a couple of hours of quiet reading before the drive home. Farewell from the mountains, and see you on the other side!

mrs cat on a shuffleboard table

 

a week in the life

This past week has been a bit of a roller coaster.

I sold a short story to Escape Pod. Woo!

My husband had to work 24 hours of overtime and the kids get wildly insecure when he’s missing. Boooo.

I was solicited for a super cool reprint anthology. Woo!!

I’m sick for no good reason. Boooo.

The medicine is giving me hilariously neon orange urine. Lol woo??

Today is the 18th anniversary of my high school shooting. Boooo, booo, extra boooo.

I’m feeling… contemplative. I wrote about my weird lingering feelings last year, so I won’t rehash that. But my kids are approaching school age, and I’ve been trying not to think about how that will make me feel. My older sister only sends her kids in twice a week and home schools the rest of the time. Another sister, my mother, and both my sisters-in-law work in schools, plus yet another sister and four more nieces/nephews are in elementary.

The dissonance of knowing what can happen and actively just pretending it won’t ever touch our lives again is very real. It comes up once a year, when my community collectively says, “oh man, has it been X years already?” And that’s not even accounting for, you know, every other public space in America. That’s not even mentioning how we wave hello to the police snipers positioned above Comic-Con every year, or Pride. It’s not including the fact that I attended active shooter training at my last job because I worked in *gasp* a museum in a large public park.

I’m mad. I can’t understand why you wouldn’t be.

2018 holidays: CONQUERED

I’ve done it! I survived the 2018 Holidays! Oh, it was not easy this year, my friends. After moving the week of Thanksgiving, everything afterward was a long, chaotic flume ride through Christmas Day.

Because of the chaos, I’m lumping everything into one post this year. Mea culpa!

About a week after Thanksgiving we hastily threw Christmas decorations around. I’ve got an actual mantle now! Too bad I couldn’t hang the stockings till Christmas Eve cuz my baby is tall as hell and wanted to rip it all down…

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Er, the weird glow is Christmas tree lights, sorry…

Our tree is still pathetically weak on dork ornaments (though I got some good ones as gifts to put out next year). MOST IMPORTANTLY: My traditional facehugger and chestburster decorations were at long last joined by Ripley in a power-loader. Hallmark…. Hallmark you done good, she’s amazing, I love her, there will never be a finer figure upon my tree. :’)

DSCN1990

Get away from her, you–!

I somehow managed to squeeze in a day of cookie making. I only made four varieties this year (maple cream sandwiches; cherry/orange; oatmeal coconut raisin; and tollhouse cookie bars) but it was more than enough for parties and workplaces.

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Santa sternly questioning my decisions

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Santa sternly approving of the leftovers

And I managed to set aside ANOTHER day to make my 2018 Christmas card, which I once again RECKLESSLY designed with a cutout on the front. Meaning, I had to cut out 40 Sauron Santas, paste on 40 Sauron Santas, paste in 40 insert photos, write out 40 greetings, write out 40 signatures, fill out 40 envelopes…. one of these days I’ll learn my lesson.

But, what was that first thing? Sauron Santa, you say?

EXTERIOR

DSCN2132

INTERIOR

card insert

Previous cards:
2012-2013
2014
2015-2016
2017

Many forces conspired to sabotage my actual family Christmas party (car breakdowns! flus! earaches! miscommunications re: RSVPs!) but it all came together, albeit with one sister having to Skype in. And because this is Southern California and it doesn’t get cold till January, we got to eat out on the deck, and then bundle up inside for a truly raucous and foul round of Loaded Questions. Whether you were there or not: you got roasted. As it should be.

MUCH LOVE FROM HILL HOUSE! And so long 2018, you certainly were…a year.

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emergence (and Thanksgiving 2018)

The pit was dreary, my friends, and deep.

For 22 days, I moved. For 22 days, I unloaded, unpacked, organized, painted, culled unnecessary old things, bought necessary new things, spent hours at Home Depot and Target, went back to Home Depot again for one more thing, went back to Home Depot again for one more thing, threw a slightly subdued Thanksgiving party, gave up on Christmas shopping and just ordered a bunch of toys off Amazon, handmade 40 Christmas cards, and decorated, decorated, decorated.

For 22 days, I didn’t write! At all!! D: D: D:

I haven’t had a writing gap longer than a couple of days since the dark month after my second child was born. That was about a year and a half ago. I always stumble in November because of holiday commitments, but the move really kicked things into high gear.

I know that once I start a project, it’s painful as hell to bounce in and out of project mode, so I decided to buckle down and finish my New House To Do List as quickly as possible, rather than spend months of weekends doing one piece at a time.

Anyway, it took 22 days.

But I’m back, baby! In approximately two hours one hour, naptime will begin, and I shall finish reducing the word count on a synopsis I wrote a month ago, and then I shall very grimly contemplate how to next prioritize my time.

Knock out some short stories, because I have lamentably little on submission? Or dive into research for 2019 Book in order to fill in the outline? Or dive into the outline in order to suss out what I need to research?

Wish me luck!

And finally, a couple of subdued pics from subdued Itsa Me, Thanksgiving!

mario thanksgiving

Itsa me, Italian stereotype!

thanksgiving dinner

Itsa me, Thanksgiving lasagna!

We had already planned a lasagna regardless of the theme. I know what you’re thinking: it’s supposed to be a Christmas lasagna! To which I say: nah, nah, Christmas is for fish.

Now, away! I have naptimes to exploit!