And Just Like that, You Can’t Call Yourself a Writer…

Let’s begin with the obligatory cool photo that has nothing to do with the post except that THIS was the amazing sunset nature gave me (and a couple other people) tonight.

Haven’t posted here in a while, have I?

And my last post was (let’s face it), kinda lame. Right? I mean, does ANYONE even use pumice stones anymore?

Ha ha ha.

Hardly. There’s sandpaper and such, for that.

What have I been doing lately? Well, I’ve been stuck writing this BRILLIANT short story. It’s a sci-fi mystery. I mean, who even knew those two genres could be mixed?

But I’m stuck.

That’s right! The secret to writing and finishing books and stories is WRITING. So I’ve been violating my own personal rules about writing. By not writing. At least, not writing enough.

Let’s make this, then a PSA piece. My little gift to you, ME doling out advice about writing. Everyone loves PSAs and advice columns and writing advice about how to become the next GREAT WRITER.

Frame this. Frame it in giant black letters and hang it above your bed or your bathroom mirror and read it every day (I’m saying this because that’s what I’m doing right this minute–I’ve got one finger on my keyboard and one adjusting the level as I measure the wall thingy, nail. Or whatever it is.): WRITE EVERY DAY, YOU BASTARD.

I added “you bastard” in because you know that’s what you’re thinking when you’re walking around your office or your house or whatever, your building, like doing stuff that isn’t writing, and you’re like, “Damn. I still haven’t written my daily quota of 500 words/day.”

“You bastard,” you think to yourself.

Once you’ve written your quota, call yourself an AWESOME BASTARD.

“You got your word count, you awesome bastard.” Also you can insert other colorful descriptor words. For fun.

So basically I’ve been doing A Lot of Other Important Stuff that isn’t writing novels or writing short stories or blog posts. I mean, I’m trying.

But writing a book is like reading a book in certain ways.

Say you start reading a new book one evening, stretched out on your couch with a delicious bon-bon in your hand, and some nice quiet solitude around you. And then in the morning, your kids come back from sleeping over at nana’s, and you have no solitude for a solid week and don’t have a chance to read for 7 days, right? Well, on the 7th day, when you go back to the novel, you can barely remember what you read 7 days prior.

Right? I mean, that happens to you, doesn’t it? Oh. It doesn’t? Oh damn.

So anyway, ha ha, I don’t need to go to the neuropsychologist ha ha. My brain is FINE.

Writing a book is like reading a book. You have to be consistent and you can’t let up. Otherwise you forget the important elements making up the story. And to progress you’ve got to keep reviewing them, every time you spend too much time between writing cycles.

Great. Right? Easy enough.

Also, your imagination needs to be exercised every day. Writing a story does that. It takes practice to get your brain to a good spot when it comes to being able to make it do cool tricks and flips and crap.

I know this. I know this because I’m out of practice.

BUT NEVER AGAIN. I swear it. I’m going to start getting up at 6 a.m. just to get my daily word counts. I’ll totally do that.

New life goal: get up at 6 am to write. 6:30. Er. 7. I can totally do 7.

Here’s a clip from my sci-fi murder mystery (btw, I have no idea how to write a murder mystery. It’s coming out like a crime procedural. This is an experiment):

Usually a giant head wound meant it was murder, however.

Rising again, I dusted off my hands and pen.

I skulked around the room, looking for anything else I might have missed. I took out my own notebook and sketched out the layout of the place and the approximate locations of all the big items, including the big old dead body at the center. The fireplace. The gray-fabric couch. The console table against the far wall, near the door. There was an orrery on it, of Giganto and the six inhabited moons: Kota, Itzcap, Po, Joopa, Paradise, and Helo. It moved like an old clock, on gears that ticked softly, showing the orbital paths around the pale gas giant that filled our sky. The little machines were all the rage forty years ago, when the first trans-moon zeppelins began operation. The vic might have collected old oddities like that. “Something’s missing,” I said loudly to get Meiko’s attention.

Meiko came to stand beside me as I crouched to get a view of the dust coating the table like a light fur. She copied me. “It looks square, the empty spot. Maybe slightly rectangular.”

“What do you want to bet that whatever was right there, was the murder weapon?”

“Or maybe the vic threw it out. Or maybe it was just a box. And he finally moved it.”

“Unlikely. No one leaves an idle box on a table,” I said, straightening and swiping my fingertip across the empty spot, “and dusts around it.” I showed her. No dust on my finger.

She nodded.

 

How to Use a Pumice Stone (and How Not To)

Back in 2005 when I started my first blog and began dating Stoker, he had a run-in with a pumice stone. And I wrote a mildly decent post about it (linked, if you’re interested in reading the original), because why not?

It still cracks me up, that pumice stone incident. And I confess that I still find the improper use of pumice stones hilarious, especially when it involves Stoker, as an adorable 22-year-old.

Anyway, so apparently people really have a lot of questions about how to use these little chunks of sandpaper, because that post gets loads of regular traffic.

So, I’m revisiting the topic! And I’m also going to do everyone a solid and share new info, like the PROPER WAY TO USE A PUMICE STONE as well as give you the best clips of the old post here, because it makes a great format and I really like great things. Love the great things. Like, a lot.

Let’s get on with it. Let’s really dig into my in-depth tutorial on using a pumice stone! Here goes:

The other night Stoker scrubbed the inside of his elbow too vigorously with the pumice stone. He was taking a bath, reading his book on recording engineering, and he got this itch on his inner elbow. You know, the soft, pale part of your arm just below the bulge of round joint. I don’t know what he was thinking using a pumice stone there. But he did. He’s new to pumice stones, I suppose and didn’t realize that you should only use them on tough, calloused skin like the bottom of your feet and elbows.

  1. NEVER USE A PUMICE STONE ON SOFT SKIN.

    An innocent-looking pumice stone. Should be fine on my skin, like all over my entire body, right? WRONG.

The itch flared up and the light blue, foot shaped pumice stone was resting on the edge of the bathtub, innocently minding its own business. Stoker’s eyes fell on its white flecked beauty and the idea struck him. He grabbed the light stone and scraped it lightly across the tender skin. It felt good. Deceivingly good. With a sigh, he brushed the skin with the pumice stone, effectively eliminating the itch.

2. WHEN CONFRONTED WITH A POWERFUL ITCH, EVEN WHEN A PUMICE STONE IS PRESENT, DO NOT USE THE PUMICE STONE TO SCRATCH SOFT TISSUE. At first, of course you might slide the pumice stone across the skin and find relief. OK, one soft stroke is fine. But as everyone knows, an itch doesn’t often go away with just one scratch. In order to avoid the inevitable scenario of too much pumice-stone-scratching, do not even engage in JUST ONE SCRATCH.

Later, the skin turned red. Raw. That’s when the whole story came spilling out: itch… pumice stone…I scrubbed it and it was great, at the time. But now it hurt. Like a burn. Poor kid. I truly felt bad for him, felt a little guilty for not warning him about the potency of a pumice stone. Though, when you think about it, I’m sure he knew. How could you not? I mean, it’s like sandpaper. No one rubs their skin with sandpaper, right?

3. PUMICE STONE USE SHOULD BE RESERVED FOR PORTIONS OF THE BODY WITH THICK, TOUGH CALLOUSES, LIKE THE HEEL, THE BALL-JOINT OF THE BIG TOE, OR, WELL YEAH, THAT’S ABOUT IT. And you know, just rub the pumice stone on the callous. It’s not rocket science (although, it occurs to me now, that maybe it is, and I’m just ignorant of the highly complicated process of pumice stone operation. Maybe I should do a Google search!).

So, to sum up, this is a bad idea, even for body hair removal [Note: this statement is not backed by any peer-reviewed studies]:

You want to do that to remove all your HIDEOUS BODY HAIR? Fine. Go for it. But we all know this body-hair removing use of pumice stones was started by pumice stone companies looking to have a new way to market their callous-removing tool.

To be safe, reserve the pumice stone for officially sanctioned (by the Pumice Stone Society of America) pumice stone activities. You don’t want to denude the top layer of your skin in some weird effort to rid yourself of body hair. Accept it! You’re a mammal. A beautiful animal that grew hair for a billion biological reasons, and mother nature doesn’t make mistakes (except for when she does, like accidentally).

If you really want to get rid of your arm hair (and stuff), consider a safer alternative, like burning it off with a curling iron, ah! Wait!

New use of curling irons!

Just a second . . . I’ve got Revlon on the phone now . . .

I Can’t Go On . . . I’ll Go On: The Grief of Loss

So, my cat died four weeks ago. Still hard. I still keep thinking I hear the cat door open and close while the other cats are clustered around me. There are just two, now. The house seems empty without Bastet around.

One night I’d been playing Destiny PVP waaaaaaaaaay too late. Like, till maybe 2 am (shhhh, keep it a secret). And I was probably killing it in the Crucible. Because I do.

Anyway, that’s just some slang to show how IN I am in the hardcore gaming world. (I mean, I’m not. Not really.)

So I finally had the willpower to not play just one more match, and I got into bed. When I closed my eyes, all I could see was the heads-up display radar flashing red at me.

That’s fine. I mean, who hasn’t overdosed before on a video game and while trying to sleep has the jitters from holding their arms too close to their body for long periods of time? Common problem.

But as I tried to sleep, still seeing the game in my head in a sleep-deprived fog, I realized that maybe I’ve been immersing myself in the fantasy construct of the game to numb the painful and loud absence left by my old companion, Bastet.

With my eyes closed, I thought of her. I flashbacked to the vet’s office and holding her as the doctor gave her the barbituate.

And I couldn’t get my head around the fucking idea that she’s gone. And that I held her tight in that moment, and now she’s in the ground and what I knew of her has fled–the light that made Bastet, Bastet. The animation. The purrs. The sounds. The fragrance of her fur. The blinky-eye kisses that she’d give me from across a room.

My sleep-deprived brain settled on the grotesque image of her body, a white skeleton in the ground (though yes, I know it will be some time before that actually happens), a strange entity that bears no familiarity to the cat I knew.

And I suddenly understood elephants. I mean, you know how elephants are said to revisit the bones of a departed family/herd member? I GET THAT NOW (it’s not necessarily true, however, see links). I felt like an elephant, in my head, wrapping myself around the rib bones of my cat, keening about my loss.

Do elephants keen? I could be making this up, this info about elephants. Don’t use this as a source for your biology report on elephants.

This is kind of psychedelic and is likely a result of the black maw of sorrow in my chest and the aforementioned overdose of Destiny PVP.

But let’s all be unflinchingly honest for a moment about American culture–there is no built-in method to channel grief. To deal with grief and the struggle to move on when a loved one passes on.

Bear with me here.

We have a funeral. And . . .

That’s it, guys, a FUNERAL. We close the casket or scatter the ashes and boom, that’s it. Good luck moving on, friend. And then those of us least affected by the death do tend to move on well enough.

But if you’ve lost a lover, a child, a cat or a dog (let’s face it because they’re with us as often as humans), how the hell do you deal? How do you get your instinctive, animal-brain around that sudden, malicious absence?

I say that it’s the old part of the brain that really struggles, because I think it is. I’m sure there’s likely research or info out there to back me up, but this isn’t a research paper. This is my OP-ED piece. It’s my opinion. And I’m saying that it’s the old part of the brain because I think the newer parts of the human brain grasp death, in a way. Those are the parts that comprehend time. The past. The future. The present. And they’re all trying to mix and mingle in the middle of the brain, the part where we live.

But death, death is confusing, and it goes against the old part of the brain, where we live in the now. That is the part of our heads that looks around to find our friend, and then the other parts of our brain are like, “Dude, get a grip! They’re GONE.” And we are like, “What does that even mean? How can they be gone? They were just here! I JUST SAW THEM.” None of this is making sense. But consider that it doesn’t make sense because DEATH DOESN’T MAKE SENSE.

In other cultures, there are complicated funeral rites that sometimes last up to 100 days after the death of a loved one. These traditions aren’t meant for the dead, though it’s said that they are–they’re for the living. They’re designed to channel grief into something meaningful, into a roadmap of how to make it the hell out of the valley of the shadow of death to where you can manage to move on without wanting to collapse in a waterfall of tears, implode into a blackhole of rage and sorrow.

And we have nothing like that. We have our shared American religions that tell us our dead friend or lover is living again with God or Christ. But that’s not really enough. Because it doesn’t involve us in doing something that means something. To help us move from the space of catastrophic sadness and loneliness and “I can’t go on” to the place of “I can deal, I can go on, OMG I don’t want to, but I will.”

In any case. That’s all. I’ve been using a game world to find solace. And it’s working.

I think.

But still. I miss her. So much.

She loved cuddles. And playing “kill the bird” with cat toys. She was HUNTING perfected. Yet, incongruently enough, was also a master of the cuddle-fest.

And see, here are these quotes from The Unnamable, by Samuel Beckett, which is how death and grief feel to those left behind:

If I gave up! If only I could give up! Before beginning, before beginning again! (What breathlessness! That’s right, ejaculations! That helps you on, that puts off the fatal hour. No? The reverse? I don’t know.) Start again, in this immensity, this obscurity: go through the motions of starting again – you who can’t stir, you who never started. (You the who?) (Go through the motions? What motions? You can’t stir.)

You launch your voice, it dies away in the vault. (It calls that a vault – perhaps it’s the abyss: those are words). It speaks of a prison (I’ve no objection), vast enough for a whole people, for me alone (or waiting for me). I’ll go there now, I’ll try and go there now.

I can’t stir.

And then this clip:

I don’t know: perhaps it’s a dream, all a dream. (That would surprise me.) I’ll wake, in the silence, and never sleep again. (It will be I?) Or dream (dream again), dream of a silence, a dream silence, full of murmurs (I don’t know, that’s all words), never wake (all words, there’s nothing else).

You must go on, that’s all I know.

They’re going to stop, I know that well: I can feel it. They’re going to abandon me. It will be the silence, for a moment (a good few moments). Or it will be mine? The lasting one, that didn’t last, that still lasts? It will be I?

You must go on.

I can’t go on.

You must go on.

I’ll go on. You must say words, as long as there are any – until they find me, until they say me. (Strange pain, strange sin!) You must go on. Perhaps it’s done already. Perhaps they have said me already. Perhaps they have carried me to the threshold of my story, before the door that opens on my story. (That would surprise me, if it opens.)

It will be I? It will be the silence, where I am? I don’t know, I’ll never know: in the silence you don’t know.

You must go on.

I can’t go on.

I’ll go on.

 

A Paul Anka Mystery (with Peter Cetera!) Song!

Sometime in the late 70s/early 80s (exact date of song genesis unknown), Paul Anka wrote a song called “Hold Me Till the Morning Comes.” And then he proceeded to record about fifty thousand different versions. Since 1997, I have been looking for the version that appeared on a tape that some attractive Marine made for me during the autumn of 1996 (we didn’t last, as a couple).

But around the turn of the century, the Internet didn’t yet have the answer to every single question I might have, because, well, see for yourself:

Amazon literally looked like an unkempt rainforest back then, didn’t it? No wonder I couldn’t find answers!

(cont.) and so I ended up with the crappy version (from the 1983 album “Walk a Fine Line”) that appeared on the album “Body of Work” that came out in 1998. Confused? You should be. Because I was. And have been, for 17 years, apparently. Anyway, that version sounds like this:

The Youtuber who posted this is a marketing genius. Put Peter Cetera on the cover of your vid and get 239,952 views (5,000 of them are mine) vs. the comparison I’ll make later in this post.

And I knew it wasn’t the right version. Because this version just sounds . . . less punchy. It’s almost like Paul couldn’t let Peter have his moment, there, at the end, when Peter is saying, “Would you love me in the morning?” And Paul is like, “Would you lo-ove me?” over the top of Peter’s vocals. Not great.

I mean, I DO wonder what Paul was doing. And what he was thinking, because even if the critics didn’t love him or the album this song appeared on, he was hella successful. I mean, it’s the sort of thing when writers complain that Twilight sucked and why was it so successful? It’s crap! And then some wiser person, for instance, me, responds, “Yeah, it’s crap. That’s why Stephenie is laughing all the way to her bank account. The account in the bank she OWNS BECAUSE SHE’S UNIMAGINABLY RICH.”

That’s Paul Anka. He had some hits in the 50s, then made a series of business-brilliant moves and even if his voice is “slight” and “a little hard to hear” with “all that talent surrounding it” {link} HE DOESN’T have to be as impressive as Peter. Paul’s smart. And he did a lot of genius crap and now he’s reaping the rewards.

But I digress. That version, where Paul is like, “I will not let you steal my spotlight! I must dub my own vocals over Peter’s shit because he’s the BACKING vocals and I’m the main act!” It’s a crap version.

Amongst the weird vocal blips at the end, there are other instrumental differences as well, which I noticed and didn’t like. Plus I could obviously compare it to the track that was on the tape Matt the Marine made for me, because back then I still had my double-cassette tape deck. It looked exactly like this random image of the precise make and model of the stereo I had back when Matt made me that tape:

This puppy was for sale in Canada for $40. And now that I have no way to listen to cassettes, I obvs. wish I would have known. I could have bought it! And then proceeded to live in the past, where everything is sunnier and warmer all the time.

So, despite years of obstacles and insurmountable blockades by record labels looking to repeatedly release new albums full of bad versions of old songs and not reissue Japanese 45s, the Internet in 2017 wins. Because while it didn’t have the answer to every life-long mystery back in 1999 . . . . {drum roll}

IT HAS THEM NOW. Here is the BEST VERSION of Paul Anka’s hit “Hold Me Til the Morning Comes” (featuring Peter Cetera on backing [backing, dammit, backing!] vocals) :

Here’s that comparison for you: the above version of the song only has like 500 views, because unlike the other Youtuber, they didn’t put Peter on the cover. Or in the title. We need to get a marketing team on this, because it would be great to get that crap version of the song out of circulation!

And for your reference, here is the version I found before I found the version from the Japanese 45, which also features a hilarious (I just have to be honest about that) Euro-version at the end. I guess that one is supposed to be for the discotheques.

https://youtu.be/NTbKlJceLYk

TL;DR — It took me 17 years to find a version of a song that I first heard in 1996. The Internet saved me, finally, from taking the complete mystery to my grave.

A Letter to My Cat Who Died Monday

Screen Shot 2017-01-18 at 9.19.39 PMMy cat, one of my oldest friends, died Monday. She had a fast-growing cancerous tumor in her mouth, which I basically discovered in December. It was kind of sudden. Yesterday I wrote her a letter. I want it out there, in the universe, circulating. I don’t know why, I guess because maybe she’ll be reincarnated as an awesome human who will–through a genetic/atomic mutation (possible? Thank you Brandon Sanderson for giving me this idea via Legion: Skindeep), she’ll remember she was once my cat, and she’ll be able to read this letter, and know how much I loved her and how hard it was for me to put her to sleep. I’ll never forget that moment, and how difficult it was. I’ve never felt such a deep grief, and I hope I never have to feel it again, for a long long time.

Maybe I’m a huge wimp–totally possible. But I’m still recovering from her being gone so suddenly. I usually don’t post confessional stuff on my website . . . or anywhere, for that matter. I guess I’m sort of Victorian like that. I don’t know. I tend to feel ashamed for my strong emotions.

Messed up and kind of weird. I know. I don’t even get it, because I was raised Mormon/LDS, where crying at the podium as you talk about your feelings about God and the Mormon church is totally normal.

But feeling this sad and grief-torn and then posting about it online . . . isn’t. I guess. No idea. Anyway, this is raw and real and could definitely be considered sharing too much information with the world-at-large. Read at your own peril.

So. I hope this post finds Bastet wherever she ends up.

Bastet,

My heart is so, so raw.

I keep feeling like I betrayed you. I don’t think I’ve ever made a more grueling decision in my life, being faced with your suffering and what to do for you. I would have kept you alive forever, if you could have done it without suffering and I had that kind of power.

I keep telling myself that I killed you. That I let the vet kill you, but I know that the cancer was killing you, slowly, agonizingly. You couldn’t eat. All day long you drooled and could barely bathe yourself. You hid under my bed, scared of everyone and everything.

I keep replaying yesterday over and over in my head. I told myself Sunday night that you might be okay and that I wouldn’t take you into the vet on Monday, because you ate almost half a can of albacore tuna fish. So maybe you were ok!

But then Monday morning, you came downstairs and I put out some of the Feline Greenies treats that you love, and you didn’t eat them. That never happens.

And my heart shattered. I went upstairs and held you for a long time, even though you didn’t want me to. I wrapped you in the red plaid blanket that you always loved and listened to “Songbird” on vinyl and I cried and cried. “For you, there’ll be no more crying . . . For you, the sun will be shining.” I tried to wipe up all the drool on your fur and I brushed you, and tried to make you feel clean again.

I hate myself, in a way, for betraying you, because I know in some way only a cat-owner can understand, that it wasn’t fair of me to take you to the vet and release you from your body like that. But who should I be mad at? Myself? Or the universe? For making us live. And then suffer. And then die. Why the hell are we even alive anyway? Out of some perverse electrical accident?

You found Stoker and me so long ago, calling out to us as we swam at that pool in Mesa. And I saved you then, from the kids who used to throw you in the pool. And then I saved you again from those stupid people who lived next door to us and adopted a million cats, but then left all of them behind when they moved. They were the worst. I hid you from my landlord and then drove you across the country, keeping you safe, feeding you and loving you. I protected you and you gave me so much joy, and that was why it was so hard to let you go yesterday.

My heart has been raw since I first saw you drooling in December and the vet said it might be a tumor. I used to imagine how hard it would be to let you die when you were younger and healthy. My life and heart were bound up in you from the moment that boy at the pool in Mesa told me the kids would throw you into the pool and laugh. I knew I had to shelter you from the cruelty of the world, but I couldn’t protect you from the flaws written into our genes.

Yesterday was one of the most awful days for me. Ever. Before I took you to the vet, I kept having this vision of you going to sleep with your name on my voice, echoing in your ears. I don’t know what is beyond death. But I hope that you awoke, bodiless, without the pain of cancer, still hearing me speak to you, telling you how much I love you and will miss you. I hope so. I hope there is a “me” molecule, that carries us into the light, that lets us live again in another beautiful form, and that we do not forget, entirely, who we have been.

I held you as tight as I could, and you laid there, trusting me, as the vet injected your tiny arm with the barbiturate, and I didn’t even know you’d gone, until he stopped, and listened to your heart. You were gone. And then I howled in pain. My girl, I’ve never lost someone so close to me. A constant presence in my life. A little friend, who I communed with daily, crossing the boundaries that separate us as different species, bridging the distance with love and cuddles. You vocalized for me all the time, a thing that I have read cats only do for their human companions.

I hate it that time will heal this wound. I hate it that the memories of you will grow faint as I move away from this time and place. I hate it, but I need it. Because I feel like I can barely go on. I feel a despair at the futility of loving anything and trying to make any kind of mark in this world, because time erases everything. You gave me a reason to live, and you are gone now, and I could never explain to you how much you meant to me, and how hard it was to make the decision to let you leave your body. Did I even have that right? I am human, and I am an ass, and I made it anyway, because I thought it best for you, rather than the slow death of starvation.

Fuck cancer. Fuck the universe.

I have to leave you behind, though. I have to let time move me forward, and I have to let you stay here, in my past, because my heart can’t take the pain of reliving how your body felt in my arms that moment you left me. Your tiny gray body, helpless in my arms. Oh my girl. My sweet Basty.

I hope you are somewhere out there still. I hope you became a beam of light. I hope you haven’t forgotten me.

Losing you, seeing you destroyed by cancer, has been so hard. I have been so despondent and crushed. I’ve struggled to know how to move on and keep wanting to live. Grief has been eating me alive. It’s hard to not want to give up. It’s been difficult to see why trying to keep living is even a good idea. But I realized last night, in my darkest moment, the answer. Why should I keep living? Because of the living. Because of the people and friends who are still with me.

Death is primitive and scary and inexplicable. Our animal brains can’t grasp it. We are as confused by it as an animal whose best friend simply vanished one day, leaving no body or trace behind (like for Polly, your cat-sister). I know you are gone. I saw the shell you left behind. And it still makes no fucking sense, that you were here, and now you are gone. And I can’t touch you or talk to you or see you.

I feel like your ghost is following me. I saw my mom’s cat sitting on the bed in a dark bedroom after we buried you under the cherry tree in her yard, and I thought it was you, looking out at me with your owl eyes. I thought you were trying to play with Polly last night as she and I played with the yellow feather toy. I keep accidentally calling Polly, Basty. I hear a noise that sounds like the cat door shutting, and both Sobek and Polly are sitting with me, and I look up, expecting to see you trotting into the living room.

It still feels like you’re there.

Fuck you, Universe. Fuck you, Cancer. Fuck you, Time, who takes everything away in the end.

Basty, I will find you again someday. Even if I have to find a way to stuff my conscience into a single molecule when I die, and hitch a ride back into the time-stream in the body of another human. I’ll surf the waves of time until I find you. Look for me, girl. I’ll be looking for you.

“Program Red” on Patreon

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December’s story is up on Patreon! I feel like it’s one of my favorites. Ever. Although, as we all know, feelings can be deceiving.

But whatever. I still base all my decisions on my feelings *sarcasm*.

So, as usual, check it out on Patreon. For a mere pittance, .99 cents a month, you can have first access to all my stories!

Thanks my old and new patrons. I love you guys. Big time!

“The Sky Blue of Jupiter”–November’s Patreon Story

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A huge journey through space. I mean, when is that necessary, and why? Would there ever be a good reason to travel to Pluto and then back again?

I mean, yes. But you’ve got to read this freaking amazing story I wrote to find out why. Check it out on Patreon and say hello, because I love talking to new people.

Yours–

Nicole

 

“When Giants Crumble”–October’s Patreon Story

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Friends! Lovers! People who have never met me or heard of me!

Let’s chill.

Also, in case you’re looking for new stories to be in love with, I just put a new one up for October. It’s called (creatively), When Giants Crumble. And I am in love, myself, with the protagonist. As is very typical of me, I think I love him and will have to discover more stories with him in them. And write them.

Check it out. You can read it for a measly .99 cents a month, when I put out a story (if I don’t, patrons don’t pay for that month).

As always, big {{{hugs}}}!

Blue Hearts of Mars Is Free Till Wednesday

Blue Hearts of Mars Final 2

Blue Hearts of Mars is free on Amazon until Wednesday, the 19th. Click here to get a copy!

Additionally, my short story that was Patron-supported (via Patreon) “The First Post-Android Buy-Back Program” is also free until Wednesday. Click here to download it!

Below, I’ve included the covers to some of my recent Patron-supported stories! Eventually, I release these stories for sale on Amazon. But if you follow my work and want to contribute as little as 99 cents per story (no more than once a month), you can have them as soon as I release them to my fabulous supporters–every Patron gets mentioned on the first page of the story in the acknowledgements.

Thank you so much for being in my life and reading my work! <3<3<3<3

–Nicole

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“Godslayer” was September’s story and is one of my longest short stories (in some ways it doesn’t even qualify as a short story).  Click the image to go to the Patreon page to get this story for 99 cents!

 

glitch: charles bridge, 2004
“Glitch: Charles Bridge, 2004” was August’s story and is one of my shortest short stories! Click the image to go to my Patreon page to get this story for 99 cents!

Just Released: A Free Story Via Patreon

Occasionally I think: I need to get a job. This being a parent all the time gets a little . . . unfulfilling. Don’t shoot me. Please. The thing is, I absolutely ADORE my kids (I have two wee tykes–5 and 2), but you know, the only time they REALLY appreciate how awesome I am as a mom, is when I leave them for a few days.

And then they get all weepy and realize, “My hell, my mom is EVERYTHING to me. WHERE is my anchor? My ballast!? Where are the harboring arms that keep me safe amidst the storm of playground bullies and pecking-order battles that I always lose?! And . . . and you know, those gym-daycare ruffians who threaten to knock me down with giant fort-building cushions? Who will protect me from them?”

Those are the exact thoughts that run through their little fast-developing brains. Or so I hear.

Anyway, so the only time I’m appreciated is when I take off for a few days, like just recently, when I hopped down to Tucson to help my youngest sister (the doctor, my pride and joy) move back to the mother-land (SLC).

Leaving behind those wee faces seemed to rip my heart out. I’ve never been so messed up in my life except back in college when that bastard boyfriend broke up with me (for the fifth or sixth time). Yes, LEAVING MY KIDS, it was an experience in separation anxiety (who knew adults could have it?!) to leave them. At first.

I was certain my plane would crash. Or that a continent-shifting earthquake would ravage the Wasatch Front and an enormous rift wold open up and swallow my family in my absence.

These sorts of vain imaginings are part of the reason I’m a writer. I think.

So anyway. At first it was hard. And then when I woke up in Tucson with the clouds and monsoons and the desert mountain range outlining the horizon, and, you know, I was able to just chill with my sister, and walk around without kids hanging off my legs in some kind of hilarious (they think) grocery-store game, I was pretty damn OK. And I could Facetime with my kids, when they needed me or I needed them.

And I could feel my body kind of separating from a concept that had consumed me, from that dominating identity of MOM. No one was screaming mom or mommy 24,000 times in one day at me. And without that non-stop reminder, for a bit, I could just be: ME. Like, the writer chick, the indie-music obsessed chick. The gamer girl. And a bunch of other cool/geeky things that I am. Insert an awesome one here: the/that ______ chiquita/girl.

I’ll give you some words to choose from: curly-haired, hilarious, sci-fi-loving, easy-going, funny-as-hell, fun-as-hell-to-be-around, self-deprecating-in-a-good-way . . .

Ok, so my adjectives are getting a bit unwieldy. If you can’t think of some good ones on your own, maybe . . . maybe we shouldn’t hang out anymore?

KIDDING. I will always love you.

So anyway, as my other identities separated and got a bit more opaque, it was all kind of nice. Bittersweet. The usual fare of life, the kind of sustenance that makes it interesting and challenging and makes you feel as though you’re really SUCKING the marrow out of the bones of life.

Delicious.

All of this to say, I’ve been busy. Applying for jobs. And I was offered a few. And when I was applying and interviewing, I sincerely wanted the jobs. And when the offers came, I again weighed the costs of daycare and the potential emotional costs and potential collateral damage of daycare, and the possible monetary gains, and I decided to wait again, to enter the corporate world.

Where was I going with this? Oh yes. I sometimes think I’ll go get a job and go back to work just to feel like I’m accomplishing something. The end-rewards of parenting aren’t immediately visible. I mean, my kid will say “thank you!” and I’ll die a little from happiness that he’s such a polite kid. And then he’ll turn around and punch his sister (this happens very rarely) and I’ll go through a momentary crisis of “WTF AM I DOING WRONG?”

So it’s hard to experience the rewarding sense that I got the job done! Or feel like someone appreciates my awesomeness, besides me. I always appreciate it, true, when I see it. But yeah, I mean, who else does?

Wife/Mother, the most under-rated profession in the actual world. I mean, the world that’s quantifiable in hard currency. I can price out a photographer, or a software engineer, or a teacher, but can you price out a mom? No. And don’t quote Dave Ramsey at me.

Because if we could estimate the monetary worth of a wife/mother, then when I submit my resume and there’s a five-year gap in it where I wasn’t maintaining my editing/writing skill-set, no one would give a damn. They wouldn’t say, “Explain this five year gap.” Or “Hmmm. You’re obsolete.” Not that anyone said that. I managed to convince people I’m still valuable, which is a skill. A very marketable skill. Haha.

Anyway. Sometimes it would be cool to just have someone give me a freaking report card on how awesome I am as a mom. I mean, I’m sure there are areas where I could improve, duh. But I need some damn positive reinforcement occasionally! Which is why I sometimes get this itch to get a 9-5 job.

Finally, if you’ve been missing me, my friends, I’ve been missing you too! Trying to fit writing and social-mediaing into the tiny cracks of free-time in my 24-7 job (yeah, it’s not 9-5!) and while I remember to put stories up on my Patreon account and post vlog updates, sometimes I neglect the blog-updates.

Also, just released this gem [“An Unnatural Equilibrium”] for free on Patreon. Just click on the cover to check it out at Patreon. The others (the covers below it) are also available for paying patrons. Still trying to tie everything in Feed together and get that shit organized. Stay in touch. Find me on Twitter. Find me on Instagram. And don’t forget that I definitely post stuff a lot on Patreon!

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