Coming Out of the Dark/General Update (Pictures)

I’ve had a rough few weeks of it. I don’t know if it was the weather, my medicine or what, but I’ve just really been feeling OFF. Definitely not very motivated. Tired and weak, constant headaches (three-day migraines are the suck… big time), depression, and general unhappiness. Not to mention the more than $500 in traffic/parking tickets that I had to pay last week. Not good.

(Did you know that in Chicago, not only can you be ticketed repeatedly for the same offense in the same place on the same day, but you can be ticketed every HOUR for the same offense in the same place on the same day? And they can impound your car even if you never received said tickets because the wind blew them off or something like that? Also, I know someone whose car got broken into. Window smashed. And he got a ticket for it. This city….I don’t even.)

Today, I had a doctor’s appointment. Imagine my surprise when I saw that the weather was sunny and in the upper 50s! Nice weather always helps me feel better, so after my appointment, I went and spent some time downtown, looking around in my favorite stores and letting myself be seriously tempted by things that I want but talk myself out of. I mean, I really don’t need a new Juicy warm up suit now, no matter how comfy and how deeply discounted they are at Nordstrom Rack.

This past weekend was an author-filled one for me. I got to meet Barry Lyga (we even gave him a ride to his hotel!) and Carrie Ryan, and Adam got to be treated like a rock star by middle schoolers. I do enjoy being around authors, and books, and things of that sort. It’s inspirational. I also managed to score an ARC of Linger so YAY. I have a lot of books to read, which is never a bad thing. I’m in the middle of my 50th new book of the year.

The bedroom is a hot, falling down mess. I still haven’t unpacked from our trip to Atlanta (which we came back from weeks ago), and plus, I am not good with hanging up/putting away clothing. I just drop it wherever I am standing, or drape it wherever it’ll fit. Part of the reason is that I can’t get to my closet because all of Adam’s clothes are in the way. And my closet light no longer works–something else the landlord won’t bother to fix. There are BOOKS everywhere on my side of the room. And the sad thing is there is a bookcase in the room–I need to utilize that thing. I can barely move for all the books (and shoes) everywhere.

I met up with an Internet friend a few weekends ago. We’d known each other since 2000, from the Roxydoll boards. It was fun to hang out. And pictures do not do her justice.

Sarah & Me
Sarah and Me

As you can probably tell, I got new glasses. Transitions. Pretty cool.

Aidan got his first “stylist” haircut (after getting homemade ones for years):

Aidan's First Stylist Haircut

He’s also obsessed with Star Wars these days. He’s going to be so thrilled when he sees the huge AT-AT and Rancor that Adam shipped from Atlanta for him to play with. I’m thrilled that I now own Adam’s old stuffed clown named Boji. Boji is sooooo cute. He just has this smile; it’s impossible to stay sad when looking at that sweet face. Boji and Pandernoodle are best friends now. :)

I’ve been worried that I am starting to look my age. My body is changing, and my face is changing, and I even spied a grey hair several weeks ago. I don’t want to look anywhere near my age. I like looking young, because then I can get away with wearing jeans and hoodies or mini-skirts and tights. I don’t want to have to dress all conservatively and MATURE when I really want to wear plaid skirts and goth blouses or Mickey Mouse hoodies or tee-shirts from Old Navy or whatever. Anyway, this weekend, someone told me I looked 16. SIXTEEN folks. That made my weekend. I’m also still getting 24ish, which I suppose is acceptable. I don’t want to look my actual age for at least 20 years.

Girl scout cookies are here! I have two boxes of Thin Mints, a box of Tag-a-longs and some of those Lemon Cremes or whatever. That’s a happy thing. I gotta get those Thin Mints in the freezer. Frozen is the best way to eat them.

I’m cutting back, WAY back, on my pop consumption. There can be nothing good in the amount of pop I was drinking. I’m going back to juice, and then water. I really should cut back on my sugar as well… BUT IT TASTES SO GOOD. Still, I wasn’t happy with the numbers on the scale today. Something needs to be done.

I took out 20 books from the library (3 of them are for Adam). Reading is fun.

Aidan will be here in 8 days. Only 4 more days until Spring. And 160 days until Mockingjay is out! New Elizabeth Scott book is out NOW, and so is The Princess & The Frog on DVD/Blu-ray. And New Moon on Friday! Lots to keep me entertained.

I need to go home. I need to see my friends and family, and I need to be in a city I’m not scared to drive in, and in a state that doesn’t put sales tax on its groceries. I don’t know when that’ll be, though. Seems like something comes up to keep me from booking those tickets, but I have to soon, or I think I shall lose my mind.

Life really is good, even when I’m feeling down in the dumps. But I’m climbing out. Slowly, but surely.

P.S. I just realized it’s my 2 year anniversary of moving to Chicago.

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Random Fried Bullet Points (Pictures)

Aidan Gives Me A Kiss!

· Aidan’s in town. He flew in Friday night (YAY) and has to go back this evening (BOO). Never seems to be enough time with him. Even if we’re not interacting, just having him in the house is nice. He doesn’t have his two front teeth anymore. My little boy is officially a snaggletooth! :D

· Aidan’s in love with Star Wars. Darth Vadar’s his favorite. :O

· Claudia Gray (who is super duper awesomesauce with cherries on top) has gotten Adam and me (and indirectly, Aidan) hooked on Doctor Who. I’d never seen it and felt that I couldn’t be a proper geek without having done so. We have a TiVo and Netflix and Dr. Who is on Instant Q. We watch many episodes a day. Adam wants to turn our closet into a TARDIS. And he wants the coat that the 10th Doctor wears, but it’s $300. I told him to get it anyway. You really can’t be too cheap when buying coats for a Chicago winter. But he’s being smart and frugal.

· When I read to Aidan before bed, I read each page in a different voice, determined by Aidan. Tonight, I read him HIPPOS GO BESERK, and I used the voices of Laura and the dad from The Fuccons, Spongebob, Patrick, Squidward, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Pluto, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Doctor Who, and Rose.

· I am reading POP PRINCESS by Rachel Cohn again. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve read it, but it blows me away every single time I do read it. Wonder’s voice is like no other. I feel the same way about Audrey’s voice in AUDREY, WAIT! by Robin Benway.

· Cover and title released for the latest Hunger Games Book!!! YOU SHOULD ORDER IT FOR ME! I mean, you should order it now!

Can’t believe there are still 190 days until it’s out!

· I went to the library last week and checked out 18 books. I’ve already read several of them.

· This Saturday, I am going to Anderson Bookshop’s 8th Annual Children’s Literature Breakfast. I’m really excited. Last year, I got to meet Meg Cabot, Sharon Draper, and Peter Yarrow. This year, I am ashamed to say I don’t really know the speakers, but there will be plenty of local authors there to chat with. And bacon to eat. And librarians to schmooze.

· I’ve been half-heartedly entertaining the thought of going back to school. I don’t know if I could get a Master’s–my college GPA wasn’t the greatest. It just seems so much hassle and there’s the money issue and the homework. But the learning and the advanced/extra degrees seem so appealing. I just don’t see how it can happen, though.

· Because I’m still really not sure what I want to be when I grow up. When I worked in advertising, I LOVED the work. Absolutely LOVED the work. I’m still running across ads that I’ve worked on and feeling a bittersweet pang of accomplishment and also missing it. But the pressure. The atmosphere. It’s just too much. When I did my Schawk stint again, the long days in the office about drove me mad, but again, I loved the work. And I especially enjoy my Loyola work, because I get to do what I love, but from home. They send me the work and some instructions and a due date, I do the work and send it back. Easy-peasy and also very inspiring because I’m reading MARKETING brochures for heaven’s sake so OF COURSE I want to go back to school. Their writers are very good! So, I love proofreading/copy editing and I’d love to be able to stick with that somehow. I’m also passionate about books and reading, so it would make sense for me to do something with reading/books/literacy/reading recovery, right? I am not sure if teaching would be the answer, but working on materials to encourage literacy–like the stuff I did at Zaner-Bloser–would be amazing. I also love children’s books and teen novels. I feel like my calling is to be some sort of proofreader/editor for a book publisher where I am working on novels, but those jobs are in New York and hard to come by. *sigh*

· I wish I had more unique talents or skills. Writers, proofreaders, secretaries…people with skills like me? We’re a dime a dozen.

· How much do I love the show Modern Family? I mean, hello. The amount of talent on that show blows me away. I watch Make It Or Break It, and I enjoy it, but I can tell most of the people are acting. I am aware that I am watching a TV show. But Modern Family? It flows so well. I feel like I’m looking in the window of someone’s house and seeing the families interact in real time, but not in a “reality TV” sort of way.

· How lucky am I that I am able to connect with former Mousketeers on Facebook or through their blogs? I mean, seriously. I know I’ve gushed about them before, but they really were a huge part of my high school years and to be able to exchange messages with them is simply awesome.

· *Sigh* I was sleeping but I was awakened by certain noises coming from above. And a wicked case of heartburn. So here I am, 4am, awake. *Double sigh.*

· My appetite for chicken has been REALLY weird lately. I don’t want any kind of teriyaki chicken, or citrusy chicken, or Asian style chicken. Fried chicken (like legs and wings) sound disgusting to me. But chicken nuggets seem OK. Or chicken parmesan (but not grilled, has to be breaded). It’s driving Adam crazy because he always wants to make chicken and my stomach immediately says NO WAY.

· Crunchy tempura shrimp sushi rolls = YUMMMMMMM!!!!!! And saki, too. Mmmm sushi. I decided to try some different stuff this time around. I didn’t care for the octopus and red snapper, though. Next time I’ll try eel. Maybe. :O


· The word “underpants” is funny.

· And finally, a question: Do you ever find yourself recalling some unpleasant event from the past… something that hurt you but you thought you were over… you recall this event and you get all upset again? I hate that. Sometimes I have some really mean thoughts and I don’t like it. :( I don’t want to put negativity in the world anymore. I like being happy.

And that’s all for now. ‘Til next time!

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Banana Butt Jones (Picture)

Don’t even ask about the title. I’m going on about 5.5 hours of sleep here, and I’m barely sleepy now. Insomnia anyone?

I didn’t get to bed/sleep until about 730 or 8am. Then I slept until about noonish, and I took a 20 minute nap at about 9pm, which I think was a mistake. Not good. I’m going to go to bed anyway and try to read myself to sleep, but if I am not asleep by 230 or 3, I will give up and head back out into the living room.

I have a list of things I need to do this week.

1. Take down Christmas stuff. *sniffle* It’s getting to the point where I am getting tired of it, so it’s time to go to ordinary time for real. Blah. I’ll probably do that tomorrow/today.
2. Hunt down the mildewy smell and GET RID OF IT. Seriously, I cleaned out the fridge, Adam took out the trash twice, and I located the source of the bad potatoes. All of that is gone. I cleaned out the litter boxes. Nothing should be smelling bad. But something is still driving me crazy in here. Same scent as last night, and I think it’s the standing water that collects in the drain where the hot water heater is. Should the landlord have fixed this when we reported it a year ago? Why yes. Is it against city code for standing water to collect in a residence? Oh yes. Do you think the landlord gives a flying ice cream? If so, you’d be wrong. So, every week or so (more often now for some reason), Adam has to open the closet and pour water down this drain to get out the old stinky water that blows through the vents when the heater is on. He just did it Sunday, but he’s going to have to do it again sooner than later because the scent of standing water is nasty. This is only one of the things that have been reported and never fixed, and only one of the things that’s against code. TMG Management can suck it.
3. Clean the living room. Once I put away the Christmas stuff, I have to make it look like normal again.
4. Take a bath. I haven’t had a nice, long hot bath in weeks. It’s been showers and showers and showers. And the last bath before that sucked because the drain wasn’t properly secured so most of the water ran out, and by the time I realized it, there was no more hot water. It was a quick lukewarm bath and you know how much those suck. So I’m ready for a nice, hot steaming bath. And some tea. So that will be my reward for taking down the Christmas stuff. :)
5. Revamp my FarmVille farm. That’ll probably happen this weekend.

I think it’s time to scrap the story I have been working on. I am stuck and have been stuck on the same part for two years now. If you’re stuck after two years, it’s time to shelve and move on. The fact that I dread trying to write this book is a sign that it’s not the one I should be working on. I may use what I have for parts, or rework it, but for now, it’s done. There is no point in working on a book for free when I’m getting no joy out of it and when nothing of it is coming. The characters are still there, they just need to be used differently. HOW, I don’t know. But whatever.

This has been kind of a whiny post, so here is something yummy. My kitty, Helena, has gotten really cuddly lately. It started shortly after we switched the cats’ food from Meow Mix to Iams. Both cats are super soft now, and Little Lena’s been so much more affectionate. She hops up and sleeps on my feet just about every chance she gets. When she’s in our room at night, she doesn’t really jump on our feet anymore. She lies there and sleeps. Adam and I have taken to picking her up and putting her on my lap, because she rarely gets up on her own. Not sure if she’s waiting for an invite or what. She’s not exactly a lap cat yet, not unless I have a blanket on my lap, but once she’s on my lap, she’ll move down and lay her head on my ankle. Such a long cry from the little wild thing she was when we first brought her home!

Here’s a picture of me from New Year’s Eve:

Dressed Up for New Year's!

My mom got me the dress for Christmas. I need to get in shape and I don’t really care.

Blah ditty blah blah blah.

I feel like Eeyore.

That’s all for now.

(Originally published at Anywhere Is…)

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Well, Fartknock (Blah Blah Whatever and a Picture)

Here I am, my night owl tendencies taking over again. I should be sleeping, but I can’t seem to ever crawl into bed before 4am unless something crazy happens like I get only 3 hours of sleep the day before. Downright inconvenient, that.

Because I was supposed to do some things Monday/today like WRITE (for God’s sake WRITE), play Playstation 2, play some Wii Fit Plus, and start reading WHIP IT. But I’ll probably sleep until 1pm. And then A NEW MAKE IT OR BREAK IT COMES ON ABC FAMILY oh yeah baby!

Spent Sunday in Naperville again. I do like it out there. It’s seems familiar. Like Columbus, with the strip malls and restaurants like Applebee’s and Outback Steakhouse. Don’t get me wrong, Chicago has great places to eat, but sometimes, I just want a $15 steak, not a $398379852948798 luxury steak from Morton’s. Not that I’ve ever HAD anything from Morton’s. Ever. But just sayin’.

I saw The Princess & The Frog. It was magnificent. I was freely crying at the end, but tried to hide it, of course. It was the magic of seeing a 2D Disney film on the big screen again, but also… the story was so much fun. And how hot is Prince Naveen? I thought the movie was very nicely done. I don’t know if Aidan could handle certain scenes and I KNOW my mom couldn’t, but I loved it and look forward to getting the Blu-ray whenever it comes out. Lots of fun Disney Easter eggs to look for.

Every time I go to Anderson’s Bookshop, I am filled with this amazing inspiration to write. By the time I get home, I just want to play Cafe World or something. I wonder if I take my laptop to a bookstore if I’ll feel more inclined to write, or if I’ll just close the computer and start reading books off the shelf. I guess I’ll just have to find out someday.

Right now, my excuses are:

1. I have a headache (but I’m writing this so what a lame excuse, eh?)
2. The smell from the trash can is driving me CRAZY. Trash needs to be taken out ASAP… except it’s 9F outside.

I am so lame. I should go to bed. I’m feeling a bit down because Christmas is coming down all over the place. All the pretty decorations are coming down in the stores. My tree is still up, but I can tell Adam is ready for it to go away until December of this year. I’m not looking forward to taking down all the decorations because then I’ll have to face the fact that we’re back in ORDINARY TIME. Because December is SO big for me (my birthday, Aidan’s birthday, Christmas, New Years–basically the last two weeks are a non-stop party for me and Aidan), the letdown is even worse.

Snow looks beautiful when it’s on ever green boughs and adorned with red bows and white lights. And I’m not going to lie, I like it when it’s the kind when you can see the individual snowflakes. They’re so pretty! (And Aidan was amazed when I pointed one out to him the other day.) But in grey January, it all looks stark and lonely. And when I think of months of these bitter cold temps with no epic holiday to look forward to, I get down. I know that I’ll recover. I deal with this post-holiday letdown every year. Other things to look forward to always come up. Book releases, visits from Aidan, the change in seasons. Maybe another trip to Disney World this summer. I’ll be OK. But for now, I just have to muscle through.

‘Til next time….

P.S. Check out my little Booknerd in Training:

Booknerd in Training

(Originally published at Anywhere Is…)

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Hibernation (Rambling, Long, Pictures, Survey)

The holidays are winding down. Aidan will be going back to Ohio soon. :( And all that’s left is the cold winter months. Is it any wonder that I feel less inclined to go anywhere or do anything except curl up with a blanket, an electric heater, and a large stack of books and read and sleep? Ack.

Today is Aidan’s birthday. My little boy is seven. Last night he told me he wouldn’t stop cuddling with me until he turned ten. So I guess I have three years to soak up all the cuddles and cheek holds. Right now, that little guy who was just a tiny newborn is now sitting beside me playing Lego Star Wars on the Wii and loving it. He’s a night owl just like I am, and he is a funny eater like me. We both latch on to something we like and we can eat it over and over and over and over without getting tired of it. He’d prefer to wear pajamas and hang out all day than run all over the place. He reads like a maniac. He loves Disney. And spaghetti. He’s such an amazing, incredible child.

We had a wonderful Christmas! We spent the week leading up to it trekking to the UPS store to pick up many packages, and we got our ham from Honey Bear Hams. It was amazing and delicious! Holy cow it was good! I got two pounds, and I am freezing one pound while we plow through the rest. It’s expensive but SO WORTH IT. Guess what I’ll be getting for Easter! Yum. When we got to the store, the bear was out waving, and the place was so festive and bustling. The owner gave Aidan a free stuffed Honey Bear! They had samples out and snacks. It was a fun trip. Christmas Eve, I made chocolate-cherry truffle cake, sugar cookie cutouts, and chocolate chip cookies.

Christmas Cookies! Chocolate-Cherry Truffle Cake

I also made part of the Christmas dinner so Christmas day would be more about relaxing than rushing. AND IT WAS! We didn’t have to go anywhere! Adam was the first one up, then I got up about 830 or so. We had to get Aidan up at 930 because we were too excited! Aidan was so excited and happy with his presents!

Aidan on Christmas Morning
Still a bit sleepy, though.

We had a good Christmas. I got Planet Earth on Blu-ray Disc™ (oh yeah!), The Boondock Saints, and Sleeping Beauty as well. Wii Fit Plus, gift card to Barnes & Noble, shirts and sweaters, more Wii games, pots and pans, The Sims 3 World Adventures, Kit’s Desk (American Girl), The Game of Things, tea from Lupicia, the new Enya CD, a Proofreading Exercise book, so much stuff that I’m not even remembering! But the best was that my little boy was here with me!

The food was yummy and seems like making Christmas dinner was way less stressful than making Thanksgiving dinner. Maybe because I did some of it the night before. Hmmm.

Anyway, the rest of break has been relaxing. Reading a lot (for my birthday I scored $75 in bookstore giftcards!), hanging with Aidan, cat sitting, all that good stuff. The other day, we lost Helena! I’d thought she’d gone in Aidan’s room to sleep, but nope. Crookshanks was pacing and wailing like his cat world was ending. That’s when I realized she was missing. Snowball was out and about, which should have been my first clue that something was off. She’d been mostly hanging out in my room under the bed. We figured that Helena was hiding (there are a lot of hiding places here) from Snowball and that she’d come out when she was ready. Then I heard a big catfight from above and instantly knew that Helena had somehow gotten upstairs with Stinky and Stinky was unhappy about it. I found her hiding behind a counter and lured her out by banging a spoon on a can, picking her up and bringing her back downstairs where she ran back inside her true home. Silly kitty.

Little Helena

I don’t know when I’ll get time/inspiration to journal again, so I’m gonna do my 2009 Wrap Up stuff here:

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