pegkerr: (Default)
Week 20: Twelfth
Once again, we gather around the table to celebrate the end of Christmas.

Week 20 Twelfth

Yes, yes, this card should be named 'Twelfth Night' But I am limiting my card titles to one word. Not quite satisfactory, but I couldn't find a one word that would substitute (unlike finding "Hogmanay" as a substitution for "New Year's Eve.")
Again, this card was an experiment with different media. The table cloth and napkins are tissue paper, the forks are cut from aluminum foil. And the plates are from the foil wrapped around the Hershey's Kisses we had inside the miniature stockings.
We did indeed manage to gather around the table this year, although it was a Twelfth Night dinner this time rather than breakfast. That's just the way the schedules worked out.

Week 21: Severus
He was the bravest man I ever knew.

Week 21 Severus

This was the week that Alan Rickman died, and I made this card in honor of him and in honor of one of my favorite of his performances. Once I started thinking about Severus, I started making connections between his situation and mine (and not all of them are flattering, to say the least). This gets into personal stuff, so Elinor Dashwood will leave it there for now.
It was the last day of the previous week, January 9, that was Severus Snape's birthday. Rowling deliberately chose that day because it was the feast for the Roman God Janus, the two-headed god who guarded doorways, looking both into the past and into the future. An extremely appropriate choice for the ambiguous Severus Snape's birthday, and an appropriate thing for me to ponder, as I think about my career--where it has been as well as where it is going.

Week 22: iPod
I lost my iPod in the snow and felt helpless without it.

Week 22 iPod

At least by process of elimination, that's where I figured it wound up. I never got it back. I held out a week, gritting my teeth, and then I bought a replacement. Screw the fact that I am unemployed. I need one to organize my life.

Annoyingly, I found out when I upgraded to the next model, that I can't synch it on my iMac. The software on my desktop Apple is too old. Planned obsolescence is pretty damned annoying.

Week 23: Three
There are three things I do to help myself.

Week 23 Three

This was a tough week. Again, Elinor Dashwood will not provide many details. The three stones represent three stepping stones, the sort to keep you above the water you would drown in otherwise (I tried and tried to find an image of three stepping stones, but for a variety of reasons, what I found just didn't work. So I used an image of stacked stones). The stones represent three things I do throughout the week for self-care. The stones are carried by a manatee, and if you haven't found the site Calming Manatee, really, what are you waiting for?

I know what the next card is (Card 24) and I worked on it today, but I had tremendous trouble with figuring out the right fixative to use. I had an image with words superimposed over it. I printed the words on waxed paper, but every fixative I used just smeared or blurred the words. I have an idea for how to fix the problem, but it involves a trip to the store. So I started working on the next card (Card 25), and finished it, too. I worked on the cards OUT OF ORDER! I felt SO GUILTY! And I will not scan and show this past week's card until I finish the card for the week before.

This means we are almost halfway through the year! (It also means it's been half a year since I've had a job--groan). [ profile] minnehaha K. impishly suggested that we could swap decks and I would do the rest of hers and she would do the rest of mine. I firmly vetoed this idea. But then she made the clever suggestion that we would each do the jokers of the other person's deck, one at Week 26 and one at the end. Which I think is a really cool idea.
pegkerr: (Default)
I was sick during our regular collaging time several weeks ago and then [ profile] minnehaha K. was out of town. We finally got together and caught up several weeks at once. I'm still one week behind.

Week 9: Retreat
The Alternity players get together to relax and celebrate.

Week 9 Retreat

The Wordle is taken from a flyer my sister Betsy did that gives directions to the cabin where the Alternity crew had their retreat. I sprained my ankle while we were there, and [personal profile] synecdochic offered me some of her ace bandage to wrap it up. It just so happens that the sign of the Protectorate in Alternity is a green Ouroborus, so I took a sliver of the bandage and put one on the card.

Week 10: Sick
If I never eat another cough drop in my life, it'll be too soon.

Week 10 Sick

Yeah. I got back from the retreat and spent the next several days in bed. Combination of recovering from the sprained ankle and fighting off the crud.

Week 11: Outlander
I swore an oath before the altar of God to protect this woman.

Week 11 Outlander

Fiona and I have been getting together to watch 'Outlander' and I've got her reading the books. The bicycle is a reference to a pretty fraught and revealing dream I had that week that tied into Outlander. There is a long explanation that ties this card together very tightly, but it's pretty personal, so Elinor Dashwood isn't going to explain.
pegkerr: (Deal with it and keep walking)
Peg's to do list for the next several weeks before (and possibly after) Rob is out of the hospital:

•Finalize the kitchen repairs bid and pick paint colors Edited to add: The numbers are still a little squishy and may simply depend on what they are able to accomplish before Rob comes home.
•Contact bathroom contractor about coming back to do the tile work in the kitchen
•Speak with kitchen contractor about turning utility closet in the kitchen into a pantry. Spoken with him. This still needs to be done. Edited to add 11/24/14: The contractor is going to be doing this today.
•Buy new blinds for the kitchen.
•Determine what furniture to add to the kitchen (drop leaf table? Possible new center island?) and what, if any, should be taken out (coat box? Microwave cart?) If I decide on new pieces, try to find them for a reasonable price. Edited to add: Have ordered microwave cart--already received, which I need to assemble--and kitchen island. Coat box has been moved to the garage, and I have an interested buyer; just need to decide upon and let her know the price.
•Call Open Arms of Minnesota to notify them I need to cut my delivery in half since Rob is hospitalized.
•Get Rob checked into the hospital.
•Go to work. Pay ALL the bills. Including the ones that Rob usually pays.Edited to add: Ongoing.
•Move stuff wherever possible so that the kitchen repairs can be completed. (Into the den? From one end of the kitchen to the other? Um...)Edited to add: OMG, so much moving around and shuffling of boxes. It feels like it is neverending, but my sister and mom came over and achieved superhuman work, shifting stuff around and paring and organizing. My guest room is now nearly finished. We can actually walk through the dining room now.
•Cull stuff from kitchen cabinets Edited to add: Ongoing.
•Contact the carpet installer and have him put the new carpet into the den.
•Contact the carpet installer again to let him know he left a carpet sample behind and leave it for him on the porch for him to pick up Edited to add: I've contacted him several times. He still hasn't picked it up.
•Contact bathroom contractor and ask him to remove trash receptacle from my garage. It is preventing me from parking my car inside the garage. Edited to add: I have attempted to contact him several times. Maddeningly, he still hasn't picked it up so my car is still outside. Continually being covered with frost and snow.
•Move Rob's car for street cleaning of autumn leaves
•Move Rob's car to Fiona's apartment building garage Edited to add: This has been delayed because we had to get the fob back from one of her roommates' mother. I desperately hope I can get this accomplished before Rob gets home from the hospital. But it takes coordinating schedules with me, Fiona, and someone who can drive me back after I drop the car off. Have been too busy to arrange. Edited to add 11/24/14: Done! And I forgot the handicapped tag from the glove compartment. Fiona has the fob but doesn't have Rob's car key. She is going to get the key from Rob on her next visit, get the handicapped tag, and return the key and tag to him.
•Pay the contractors when jobs are done. Update the spreadsheet and keep track of the receipts. (Ongoing)
•Set date and send out invitations for Garage Tetris work party.
•Pick up pallets from Best Buy for the garage reorganization Thanks for providing transportation, Dave M.
•Reorganize the boxes in the garage so more can be added (work party).
•Take the bookcase out of the garage and use some the contractor's paint to paint it. When it's dry, it'll go into the dining room and be restocked with books. Edited to add: Had hoped the kitchen contractor could do this, but he may not have time before Rob gets back. Now it looks as though we will use some of the paint left over from the kitchen and do this ourselves. Edited to add 11/24/14: Bookcase is now in the kitchen. Contractor has agreed to do this and hopefully will complete the project today or tomorrow
•Delegate some people to take certain objects out of the garage to possible new homes. Top of barbecue to scrap metal dealer. Old bicycle to nephews for parts? See if anyone can take the task to see if the ebay store in Edina would accept Rob's law library books to try to sell on eBay. Edited to add Partially done. My nephew is now doing a blog about the process of stripping down and rebuilding Rob's old bicycle.
•Take boxes in Fiona's old bed room and move some to garage, and the rest to the den.
•Turn Fiona's old bedroom into guest room. Rearrange the furniture, including the new futon. Rearrange the closet in there, and put sheets and towels in the dresser, clean out old medications, and set it up to be a medications/first aid only cabinet. Buy lamp for corner table. Hang artwork. Edited to add: Fiona still needs to go through some things. I still need to file some things. One piece of artwork is hung, another needs to be put up. But it looks much, much better.
•Text girls regarding various objects: keep or discard? Are they willing to take them? Ongoing
•Visit Rob in the hospital (ongoing). Take him his mail, bring home his dirty laundry. (Dirty laundry which must be washed SEPARATELY due to nasty chemotherapy drugs). Bring clean laundry back.
•Return Rob's books to the library. Pick up the book he had placed on reserve and deliver it to him.
•Buy a love seat for the den (We've picked one at Ikea. And no, I am not going to drive to pick it up or assemble it myself. I will PAY to have someone do that).Edited to add: shout out of thanks to my neighbor who has volunteered to pick up and assemble this once we purchase it. Done!
•Buy a single sleeper futon for Fiona's old bed room/eventually my office (several relatives have volunteered to come from out of town for caregiving, and we have no guest room). Fiona asked me to have her come along since she had plenty of painful experience with Bad Futons and can hopefully help me avoid them. Edited to add: As mentioned above, futon now has been picked up and is in place.
•Finish research and buy an air purifier. Edited to add Mom bought two hospital grade HEPA air purifiers for me, and I've been running them. My asthma is already better. Thanks, Mom!
•Buy a medical alert bracelet for Rob.
•Contact my nephews and arrange time to put furniture back in the den. Edited to add: This was done by the Garage Tetris Party work crew
•Put up the floor-to-ceiling bookcase in the den and replace all the books. Edited to add: Okay, some of the books. What do I do with the rest?
•Put up new cases for media Edited to add: Garage Tetris party did this.
•Do my best to set up Rob's electronics in the den Edited to add: My nephew David got a start on this.
•Move the large screen TV into the den, which is where it has belonged all along.
•Contact someone to do duct cleaning Edited to add: I contacted a company to arrange this. I had [ profile] naomikritzer come over and help me disassemble an entire bookcase because it was standing on a cold air return. The bookcase and sixteen boxes of books were put out on the front porch. But when the duct cleaners arrived today, they said they couldn't clean our ducts because we have an old octopus-style furnace, and forcing air through the duct system would simply blow asbestos into the air. Not what we want, particularly with someone immune impaired. They suggested I cover the outflow vents with cheesecloth. And buy a new furnace. That latter bit of advice, especially, was not very helpful. And it was maddening that we had taken down that bookcase (and put it back up) for nothing. But look at it this way: I saved $400.
•Buy cheesecloth. Cover the vents. (maybe we won't need to do this until we reach the stem cell transplant stage.)
•Steam clean the carpets upstairs My sister Betsy did this; thank you, thank you.
•Dust everything everywhere (ongoing) Edited to add 11/24/14: Much dusting was done this past weekend.
•Put the garden to bed Edited to add: Alas, a premature snow storm may have rendered this moot.
•Figure out where family thanksgiving will be held (not my house, obviously).
•Figure out whether Rob can attend (probably won't know until that week). The doctors say he can.
•Figure out how I am going to get the items I received from Open Arms of Minnesota for Thanksgiving (frozen turkey, pie, other Thanksgiving fixings) to my sister-in-law who is going to be cooking the Thanksgiving dinner. Done! Ingredients handed off.
•Figure out how to get Delia home from the University for Thanksgiving if I can't leave Rob alone. Perhaps she can grab a ride from someone, or perhaps she will stay there and have Thanksgiving with her uncle and aunt? Some other arrangement have been made, and Elinor Dashwood is not talking about it.
•Set up 24/7 caregiving schedule for Rob (through Christmas)? Edited to add: Uh, I know who the caregiver is for the first week.
•Christmas shopping. Probably entirely on line.
•Buy a new electric blanket (ours is old and grotty and therefore unsafe for the immune-suppressed) and new sheets (we have only one set, and they have to be cleaned/changed frequently when he comes home).
•Buy pillow protectors for our bed and a mattress cover for when guests use the futon. Done!
•Buy a throw rug for the entrance to Rob's den/mancave. Done!
•Arrange to have new smoke detectors installed Done!
•Arrange to have new doorbell installed Done!
•Arrange to get the light over our bed fixed--pull chain got pulled out of the overhead fan. Done!
•Pick up chain extender for pull chain for the light. Done!
•Pick up Rob's glasses for repair because the nose piece snapped off and get them back to him. My sister Betsy picked them up and got them repaired and handed them off to me, and I got them back to Rob tonight.
•Clean EVERYTHING in the kitchen once doors are rehung. Counters, floor, appliances, inside cabinets. Edited to add 11/24/14: The contractors are back today doing touch ups, so more cleaning may be required.
•Buy a new flatware chest for the good flatware kept in one of my kitchen drawers, since my old one is falling apart and the part that holds the knives is flopping over the other pieces. (Stopped at Bed Bath & Beyond yesterday, but discovered the piece I wanted was online only. Will do further research).
•Lay down new shelf paper and repack the cabinets, pulling the kitchen back together. Done! At least as much as can be done until the pantry is finished and the kitchen island is assembled.
•Pick which items will go in the new microwave cart once it's assembled, pack it, and put it in place. Get rid of old cart. Done!
•Arrange with Betsy and GregLuke and Julius to pick up the kitchen island from my workplace once it's delivered there (they are going to take it to their home here to assemble and then deliver it to mine). Put it into place and fill the cabinets.
•Buy stools for the drop leaf table at the kitchen cabinet.
•Send out holiday cards and letter (already purchased).
•Speak with visitation pastor at church about coming to give me communion. I won't be able to go to church until Rob can be left alone--I'm not planning to arrange caregivers for the weekend Edited to add: I've spoken with him, but we haven't set a time yet.

It would be nice, but I'm not sure I'll get to it:
•Contracting for electrical repairs
•Contract to get an iron hand rail installed for the steps up to our house Done! And installed.
•Buying new towels and rugs for our newly refinished bathroom
•Thank you notes Edited to add: I've managed to write a few. Otherwise I'm relying on heartfelt, short emails.
•Keep up with Alternity


Sep. 11th, 2014 09:44 pm
pegkerr: (I told no lies and of the truth all I co)
I may have been sorted into Gryffindor on Pottermore, but today I am not nearly as brave as I need to be.

Edited to add: After I wrote this, this was the first thing to come up on my playlist

Dark and Difficult Times Lie Ahead

I need to make an icon like that: Dark and Difficult Times Lie Ahead.

*adds to the list*
pegkerr: (Deal with it and keep walking)
My family has utterly reached--nay, surpassed--its reasonable yearly quota of unpleasant surprises. Future ones arriving to rip up our peace before the end of 2014 will be returned to sender immediately. Postage due.

Perhaps I'll say more later on, but we are first going to exert every possible effort to undo today's little bombshell. That is all for now.

Wish us luck.
pegkerr: (Default)
As I've mentioned before, I've really detected a lifting of my years-long chronic depression. I talked with my psychiatrist at my last med check about this, last October. Could I decrease my medication? He suggested that since I'm prone to seasonal affective disorder, I wait until the light starts increasing.

This seemed reasonable to me. Despite a lot of stress that Elinor Dashwood is not talking about publicly, my mood continued to be, well, not exactly burbly/cheerful. But neutral. Even good.

Wow. Is this what most people feel like all the time?

Now I've started to decrease the antidepressant. Interestingly, once Rob noticed I wasn't putting as many pills in my daily pill box, I started getting tremendous pushback. He did not approve. At all. "Why do you want to lower your medication? You tried to lower it once before and it didn't go well. You were told you'd probably be on it for the rest of your life. This is a big mistake." etc, etc.

Never mind that I consulted my doctor and I'm following his advice. Never mind that I'm not experiencing any ill effects so far from the lower dose.

After one too many carping comments about it, I finally hit back.

"I am following my doctor's advice. I have made my decision and I want you to respect that. But more than that, I have the right to imagine my life as good and to live it without depression."

That shut him up. We'll see if that will end the subject.

I certainly hope so.
pegkerr: (A light in dark places LOTR)
Maybe it's giving up a writing career and then giving up karate and not knowing what, exactly, will replace it.

Maybe it's that, after thirty plus years of daily faithfulness, I no longer write in my paper journal.

Maybe it's the unseen daily struggle, the stuff that Elinor Dashwood does not think seemly to hash in this online journal. It takes up what feels like maybe seventy, eighty percent of my brain space, and yet so much of it I do not feel at liberty to disclose (it involves other people's stories rather than my own, and why would I want to vent about such dreary, depressing stuff anyway, and oh, Peg, aren't you just sick of the self-absorption of it all?) And so this journal has been quiet.

I keep thinking of "To Room Nineteen" by Doris Lessing. I'm definitely feeling haunted by it. Don't misunderstand me: I'm not saying that I'm feeling suicidal or anything; I'm definitely not. But the similarity of that protagonist's situation to my own situation niggles at me, like a tiny yet fierce sliver under the skin. The children have grown and are moving into independence, and now...what? She sits in a room, silent, with nothing to say, trying to find her way back to herself.

What happens if she can't?

There have been so few comments on my posts lately. Is it because I'm disappearing, because I truly have nothing left worth saying?

I need a new purpose. I don't know what it is yet. There has to be some point to my life from this point on other than falling into silence.

It would help if I didn't have to deal with all this other crap in my life, that weighs me down, burdens and exhausts me emotionally.

But I suppose wishing for that is pointless.
pegkerr: (A light in dark places LOTR)
is having a very difficult night.

That is all.
pegkerr: (Default)
I'm having terrific troubles with my computer, which has been fritzing out and crashing repeatedly (which has been driving me up a wall), and I've been excessively distracted with all the end of the year stuff and Other Stuff Elinor Dashwood Does Not Mention. I'm afraid I have been very spotty about responding and may have missed some things. Leave me a comment here if you need to yell to get my attention for something. I do not usually feel like such a ditz, but somehow I am this week (Exhibit A: my last entry).
pegkerr: (Default)
I have been thinking about this.

My family has some problems that have just seemed absolutely intractable. Some of these problems I talk about in public. Some of them Elinor Dashwood is talking about in smaller locked groups on this blog on Livejournal and Dreamwidth. Some I talk about only in person, to just a handful of people.

We are trained to want the happy ending. Let's face it, happy people and winners are culturally preferred. Everyone appreciates a winner.

People in pain? People who can't get it together? People who continue to hurt, even when the people around them, the people who love them, keep trying to help them find their way out of the morass that surrounds them? Not so appealing.

I don't know quite what to do when I can't report the happy ending, both to myself, to my family and friends, and to readers of this journal.

I'm ashamed in a way. I am rather scrupulous at self-examination, and this is what I have been mulling over lately.

One of my soul collage cards is a Committee card (i.e., an aspect of myself) called The Bearer of Burdens:

The Bearer of Burdens
The Bearer of Burdens - Committee Suit
I am the One who is dependable, who bears the unbearable weight. I keep moving forward steadily through the desert that no one else can cross. I carry all that I need with me using my own inner strength. I can carry the burdens of others as well as my own.

I have been thinking lately that when I started walking across this desert, I had no idea that the journey would be so long. You keep going and going and going, reasoning, okay, this can't go on forever; sooner or later you have to get to an oasis, and you'll be able to lay this burden down. But I haven't been able to do so. And after awhile, you start to feel like a fool and a sucker for continuing to trudge forward, but what is your alternative when all around you all you see is a sandblast of desolation? Who else would pick up the burden? And if you stopped now and try to go back, who's to say whether or not you wouldn't end up just walking farther than if you just keep going in the direction you're going? There is no one to tell me. No one.

I lost one of the most important relationships in my life, I think, because the other individual, for reasons that elude me even now, said, "I'm not going to stick around any longer with you on this journey because I'm just tired of waiting for you to get to the oasis." Look, I'm tired of it, too. But I can't find any other way out of this desert than to keep walking.

I would never have believed, three years ago, that Rob would STILL not have a permanent job. I never would have believed some of the other things are still going on that I am struggling with. I can't believe I'm still walking through this desert, and the fear keeps stealing up that it looks as though I'm on the brink of dying of thirst. But what the fuck else am I supposed to do? There are no maps. No vehicles swooping down to pick me up.

I am sorry. I have no idea how long it will take or whether I will ever find the cool waters and restful shade I long for, or whether I'm even destined to get out of the desert at all. I might die of thirst out here all alone, but I have no idea which ending will happen. If only I knew. If I knew that it wasn't going to work out, I suppose at least I could put the burden down and just rest as I waited for the ending.

But I don't. If there's any chance I'll ever see the end of this desert, there isn't anyway I'm going to get out of it except under my own power.

So no, I cannot report the period of unemployment has ended, the marital and mental health problems have been solved, the house has been cleaned and the financial picture is more stable. I'm sorry, and it's getting downright embarrassing, but I just can't. The future may involve foreclosure, bankruptcy, homelessness, hospitalization, divorce. It may involve none of these things.

I don't know how this will end. But I can't see any alternative but to keep going.

(Edited to add: The ironic thing is, I am also actually on both sides of this divide, within my own immediate family.)
pegkerr: (Default)
I have been thinking about this.

My family has some problems that have just seemed absolutely intractable. Some of these problems I talk about in public. Some of them Elinor Dashwood talking about in smaller locked groups on this blog on Livejournal and Dreamwidth. Some I talk about only in person, to just a handful of people.

We are trained to want the happy ending. Let's face it, happy people and winners are culturally preferred. Everyone loves a winner.

People in pain? People who can't get it together? People who can't seem to solve their problems? Not so appealing.

I don't know quite what to do when I can't report the happy ending, both to myself, to my family and friends, and to readers of this journal.

I'm ashamed in a way. I am rather scrupulous at self-examination, and this is what I have been thinking about lately.

One of my soul collage cards is a Committee card (i.e., an aspect of myself) called
pegkerr: (candle)
I screwed up a couple days ago and posted an entry publicly that should have been locked to a very few. If you saw it for the few minutes it was up (until someone kindly alerted me to fix it), you know that our family is going through a tough time. A very, very tough time.

We are getting help. Fortunately. Because OMG we need it. Badly. It's a little hard to know what to say, other than this. Sometimes families go through crisises, and they can let other people know so that their friends can rally around with love and prayers and covered casserole dishes. Sometimes, due to individual privacy preferences, things are kept more undercover. Icebergs under the surface, Elinor Dashwood and all that.

We are still getting casseroles, fortunately. But I just wanted to put out this vaguer, more general message, too. We could really use your good thoughts, your prayers and a lit candle or two. Think of us, please, as we go through this.


Feb. 6th, 2011 06:04 pm
pegkerr: (Dark have been my dreams of late)
I have been wafting around the house today like a restless, irritable ghost.

I went to church today...and walked out again after ten minutes. I went down for the adult forum and saw the stuff on the board about the church's ministry committees, and I sat down and all the stuff Elinor Dashwood has been thinking about lately welled up and I just couldn't bring myself to stay. So I asked Fiona if Mitch would drive her home, and I split. I just don't do that sort of thing.

I went for coffee with [ profile] naomikritzer. I started three different books and can't get into any of them. I've been pacing around, between my computer nook, and downstairs in the kitchen, where I peer into cupboards and the refrigerator, trying to come up with something for dinner, without any success.

I want to go out for dinner. Frankly, I haven't wanted to cook for over a month. Maybe longer. Weariness with coping with my family's finicky demands, and the paucity of ingredients in our budget-constrained larder have made cooking a loathed chore rather than something relaxing I look forward to doing.

I don't know what to do tonight. This is extremely unusual behavior for me; I'm rarely ever bored, but I'm really not fit for anything tonight. There's no karate, I'm too restless to watch a movie or do much on [community profile] alternity, I'm sick of reading. I was in the bathtub for over four hours yesterday, and I figure if I did that again today, my skin would fall off in flakes.

I want to shut off my brain grutching at me.
pegkerr: (Default)
And to be blunt, that's because my family is going through a hard time right now.

A really hard time.

I've enjoyed blogging here on Dreamwidth and Livejournal, and I do appreciate the opportunity for honesty that blogging has given me. But my family has problems that aren't just my problems. I have to be mindful that I have the right to tell my own story, but they have the right to tell theirs. And my life lately has been all but consumed by difficulties that aren't mine to reveal.

It's hard, sometimes, the reticience that Elinor Dashwood must cultivate. If it were just me, I would be more open, more honest.

I miss being honest. I miss it a lot.

I will try to make more of an effort to talk about other things at least, so that I don't recede into remoteness and get lost entirely.

Prayers, lit candles, and good thoughts, if they are your sort of thing, would be very welcome.
pegkerr: (Default)
Re: my last post where I mentioned picking up a book by Diane Gabaldon...Diane Gabaldon...oh, yeah. She's the one who wrote a rant against fanfiction that set fandom on its ear about a month ago. Sorry, my right brain and my left brain have not been in synch for awhile. I forbore to comment at that time 1) so many others were doing so well, 2) I wasn't familiar with her work at all and 3) my own personal life at the moment was incredibly something that Elinor Dashwood is still not talking about. I did read a fair amount of the commentary, though. (Fandom Wank writeup here). I'm now not approaching the book as quite the tabula rasa that I was before.

*goes back to read, this time a tad more...doubtfully*
pegkerr: (Default)
Although both of my novels have romantic elements, I've never considered myself someone who generally reads romance novels myself. There are a few exceptions. Jane Austen, of course, is the most important one. I adore Jane Austen, as long-time readers of this blog know. Interestingly enough, it was a science fiction writer who got me to read Jane Austen, when I was (I think?) somewhere in my late twenties or early thirties. Eleanor Arnason made an off-hand comment at a panel at a science fiction convention (or perhaps it was one of our one-on-one conversations afterwards; my memory is hazy) that one of the best Iago-like depictions of evil she's ever read takes place in the opening chapter of Sense and Sensibility. Fanny Dashwood cleverly leads her husband, step-by-step, to repudiate the promise he made to his father on the latter’s deathbed to support his sisters. She gets him to agree to a little, and then a little more, and a little more, until by the end he is actually congratulating himself for his generosity for resolving to behave in totally dishonorable and miserly way to the women his father commended to his care. I was intrigued by her description of the passage and so read the book--and I was hooked. It's curious, that my introduction to romances was due to my writerly curiosity about how to write an effective villain.

Of course, Jane Austen wasn't considered a 'romance writer' in her day because the marketing category simply didn't even exist yet. Even today, I think that people who dismiss her as a mere romance novelist (often without reading her) are missing the point. She wrote about love and marriage, true. But she was hardly a wild romantic, but more of an Augustan realist with a very keen sense of the absurdity of human nature. When it comes down choosing between the worldview of Marianne or Elinor Dashwood, I think Miss Austen would clearly side with Elinor.

I also read Georgette Heyer's novels, which were recommended to me by a friend. I loved them and reread them almost every year. I had a couple Joan Aiken and Jane Aiken Hodge romances, which I picked up because I read Joan Aiken's children's books, and because Joan Aiken wrote continuations of Jane Austen's works.

Last year I picked up the Sons of Destiny novels of Jean Johnson ([ profile] ladyofthemasque) because I'd read and enjoyed some of her fanfiction. These were fantasy romances. Magic+sex=fluffy and fun.

But last month, I did something I'd never done before. I'd just finished the Jean Johnson books and when I got the bookstore gift card from my family, I went into a bookstore and headed, somewhat uncertainly, to a section I'd never hung out in before: I think I'll buy a romance. Any romance, I don't care. Um, well, a good romance. But which one? No recommendation. No knowledge of the author. Could I pick a romance up off the shelf and just read it cold?

I didn't know and I had literally never tried doing such a thing before. I have a sense of a slight preference for type (I was gravitating toward the historical romances, particularly regency) but I have no idea who popular romance authors are. As a genre, I had a little idea of how the marketing works from reading, of all things, Elizabeth Peter's Die for Love, a marvelously snarky and fun murder mystery set, of all places, at a romance writers convention. Yeah, Elizabeth Peters was right. The covers of romance novels ARE embarrassing. I thought about Joanna Russ' essay "How to Suppress Women's Writing" as I browsed the lurid covers. Here was writing by women, for women. It's wildly successful, but I'm embarrassed to pick it up. I thought a lot about that as I browsed, but yeah, I was uneasy about being seen carrying a book with those stereotypical clinch bodice-ripper covers. How interesting. Was I buying into the disparagment of the genre without thinking about it?

My first two picks were okay. Fun and pleasantly salacious. I enjoyed them well enough that I went back last weekend and picked up four more, again, picking cold. OMG. This last attempt was much less successful. I squirmed at the egregious errors, in history and voice. It was like biting into a bon bon, hoping for some delicious chococolate, and encountering plastic. Well, that was a waste of money. The cover blurbs were useless and "New York Times Best Selling Author" is no guarantee of quality, believe me. The historical errors irritated me, and the cliches were a turn off.

Well, what do other people think are good fantasy novelists? So I googled "Best romance novels" and picked a book that came in #1 on several lists: Outlander by Diane Gabaldon. There are over sixteen hundred reviews on the Amazon page, so I guess a few people have read it. I was interested to discover, when I got to the bookstore to pick up a copy, that although it was considered a rather groundbreaking book when it came out, and won the best novel of 1991 from the Romance Writers of America, it is now shelved in "Fiction." Not Romance. No clinch on the cover.

So I'm diving into the book, and so far it's certainly gripping my attention. No taste of plastic in my teeth so far. I'll keep you posted.

MyCharityWater Campaign Report:

91 people served
42 donations
29 days left

The Charity:Water blog posted about this campaign, and I felt more than a little envious. He raised more than $25,000? What fundraising mojo does he have that I don't have?

Then I realized he is one of the co-founders of Twitter.

Oh. Guess that answers that.

(Only 29 days left! There's still time to make the goal!)
pegkerr: (Default)
Worst Monday morning start.

Neither Fiona nor Delia wanted to go to school. Both were underslept and grumpy and Fiona's fighting a cold. We were hard-asses and sent them anyway, and shall we say it was not all love and kisses when they finally made it out the door.

I tried to resume bicycle commuting today. It was a spectacular failure. I hadn't gone eight blocks before the chain jumped off the derailler no less than four times. WTF? I stopped each time, unpacked the bike, pulled out my rubber gloves, wrestled the chain back on and tried going on. The fourth time, I said screw it and called Rob to come to pick me up and drive me to work.

I'm throwing in the towel. I have enough going on in my life right now (the stuff Elinor Dashwood's not talking about) and I've decided I'm going to resume driving to work. I feel as though I'm copping out, but there are some things I need to simplify in my life right now, and this is going to be one of them. I feel guilty but relieved.

In the scramble to get the bike and everything into the Jeep, I left my keys in the car, which I discovered when I got out and Rob had already taken off. (Rob has a meeting with the census late afternoon so he can't pick me up, which means I'll have to bus home.) The girls will be home from school when I get there so they'll be able to let me in at least. Still, it was a scare at first until I confirmed that Rob had them (did I leave them on the street or something?) When I finally reached him, he noted that I had also left the garage unlocked. Argh, just a terrible start to the morning all around! I'm going to go watch Daniel Powter's "Bad Day" again.


May. 15th, 2010 06:15 pm
pegkerr: (Elinor Dashwood)
All the stress has caught up with today. Finally.

How unpleasant.


May. 13th, 2010 11:41 am
pegkerr: (Elinor Dashwood)
I'm entering another period of 'Icebergs Ahead!' To wit: most of what is preoccupying me in my life is not going into this journal. But believe me, there is ever so much going on under the surface.

This is really frustrating to me, because I'd like to talk it over with people (because OMG the stress!!!). But for various reasons (I'm dealing with things other people than myself prefer remain private) I can't/am not allowed to talk about it.

I'm still here. I'm sorry I've been quiet. But that's why.
pegkerr: (Default)
My hands are extremely painful, with cracked dry skin.

I hurt all over today. I went back to karate class yesterday (I'd intended to be going to two classes a week by now, but I've missed two weeks of classes due to all sorts of conflicts, plus depression). I'm using this knee brace, which works pretty well, and gives me good support, and keeps it warm, but of course, it prevents me from chambering my kicks very tightly.

It's so hard not to get discouraged. This knee problem, I've decided, seems to be a permanant injury. It still hurts, hurts, hurts when I do a full squat, even fourteen months later. I still can't do slow kicks on the injured side without holding the bar--my balance on that side is entirely shot. I have no more balance on that side than a green belt. I'm in the class below my belt level, and it still just seems so hard. And I'm not even going back to sparring class yet. After sparring class on Monday night (I was waiting because Fiona was attending), I joined the class to do the killer abs workout (the dreaded Ab Ripper DVD) and that's making me even more sore today. Alarmed by my physical deterioration, I've re-started the leg exercises I'd been doing when I was going to rehab, and so my hips and butt are sore, too. Gah. I WANT the black belt, but I just have a hard time believing I'll be able to accomplish it. Fiona is trying to buck me up, and I try to cheer myself by reminding myself that even if my side kicks seem lousy to me, there are very few women I know my age who can do a side kick at all.

Fiona is testing for a section star this Saturday (her second of three she needs to begin the screening process for black belt second degree.) She's doing the bo form, Soishi No Kang. She looks absolutely great doing it, except for one fault that just drives me crazy: her back heel pops up off the ground in almost every single one of her front stances. It's a bad habit she's had since she was a purple belt. I'll try to get a video of her doing it when she does the test this Saturday.

The girls are very difficult to rouse in the morning. Delia, poor thing, has to be out at the bus stop at 6:50 a.m., and she is downright snarly when I go in to wake her up (the alarm clock doesn't work for her. I have to rub her arms and legs for five to ten minutes every morning before she reluctantly surfaces). And Fiona has been incredibly groggy lately, too. We usually can't get her out of bed for as long as forty minutes after her alarm goes off, and then she attempts to dress, eat, and get out the door in ten minutes. The results are not happy.

The garage door is cracked, making it extremely difficult to close.

Cooking has been...interesting lately, mainly because I've been depending more on whatever we get from the food shelf. (Thank heavens for the food shelf. It's been just a God send for us.) It's different than shopping for yourself; instead of going to the store for what you intend to buy, you take whatever they happen to have on hand and then try to figure out how to use it. Often, stuff at the food shelf is distributed right before the expiration date, so sometimes its a challenge to use it in time. Rob's been volunteering there on Tuesdays, so we're entitled to two visits a month. At church this week (our church is one of the ones supporting this week) they said that food shelf visits are way up. They distributed 5,000 pounds of food last week.

We've been working on cleaning the house, in preparation for starting to cull stuff so that we can rearrange two and possibly three rooms. As I mentioned, I am giving up my office to give Fiona a bedroom. I'm viewing this as a temporary solution, until she goes away to college, but it's very difficult emotionally. We are trying to work out a way to carve out at least a small space for me, either in my bedroom, or in a room downstairs. The process of all this rearrangement will take us quite a while.

Rob has started another short term job with the Census. He's pleased because they went to more than the usual amount of trouble to call him back and promote him to a higher position. He's also gotten a call back for a legal editorial position. This means he's cleared the first hurdle, but he has to pass a test and, of course, battle with a bunch of other candidates for a limited number of slots, so it's useless to get hopes up yet. Still, it's more movement on the job front than we've had for months.

I'm really really really angry at Congress over the loss of a chance to pass health care reform, and I'm pretty ticked at Obama, too.

There is stuff that Elinor Dashwood isn't talking about (isn't there always). It's been preoccupying me a lot lately, which is why this journal has been quiet lately. I'm still here, though, still battling to keep my family together, moving forward through this tough time.


pegkerr: (Default)

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