Ramblings from the Gryphon Rose

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Writing a cure

I was having a crummy day today.
I’m still getting over this bloody cold I got last week, for one thing. It’s mostly gone, just a little coughing and blowing my nose left, but I still feel pretty rundown. I’ve felt this way all week and haven’t been able to get much done at home because I just collapse after work.
On top of that, work has been insane. A lot of books are out to strip soon, so we’ve been getting mad rushes on all these final corrections. And it seems like I get to deal with all of them—at least whenever I look at the worktable it doesn’t look like anything’s been removed since I last took something. I feel like it’s all on my shoulders, and despite trying not to I feel responsible for all of it. Not just my share but all of it.
I can’t keep up with the projects right now and it’s really frustrating, esp. since it’s one of those situations where when you do keep on top of things no one notices but when you fall behind everyone immediately gets upset. I’m behind on my own work as well, so I’m frustrated both at work and away from it.
Yeah, a crummy day. One of those days where you look up and realize it’s lunchtime and you’ve already been working for hours but you didn’t notice because you were just too busy.
So you know what I did? I wrote. Over lunch. I worked on my latest novel. Didn’t necessarily get a lot done—revised the prologue and first chapter, added a bit to it, tightened it up. But it felt really really good. I haven’t been writing this week because of the blahs. And I’ve noticed before that when I get too down to write it only makes things worse.
As I just posted to a friend’s LJ, I always get a rush when I write. I dread opening the file and starting to type but as soon as I do I feel better. And then I’m jazzed for a while afterward, esp. if I’ve hit whatever goal I’d set for myself.
It really is an addiction, at least for me. But one with no downsides I can see. If I don’t write I get irritable, lazy, depressed. If I do write I get energized, upbeat. And then I want to write more, which makes me even more jazzed.
What’s not to like?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Over the years

Got this from [info]jendaby, who got it from [info]qadgop

10 years Ago I was:
* living in Lawrence, KS
* working on my PhD in English Lit
* teaching freshman English
* beginning to break into the RPG industry as a writer
* one year into my relationship with [info]jendaby.

5 years ago I was:
* living in an apartment in Queens
* trying to pick an engagement ring for [info]jendaby.
* working in corporate graphics
* writing a lot of RPG books
* trying to break into fiction

1 year ago I was:
* about to move into my first house
* recovering from my 35th birthday, our second wedding anniversary, and from celebrating my daughter’s first birthday
* celebrating the recent contract for my first novel
* settling into my new job at a children’s book publisher
* still reeling from the death of my mother

Yesterday I:
* went to work (same job as a year ago) and worked on a lot of books
* stopped by the store on the way home
* spent time with my wonderful wife and daughter
* finished up some RPG revisions
* emailed a novel pitch to a publisher

5 snacks I enjoy:
* baby carrots
* Planters salted peanuts
* peanut butter and celery
* rock hard peaches and nectarines
* chocolate chip cookies

5 songs I know all the words to:
* "The Sound of Silence”
* "Scarborough Faire"
* "Alone Again, Naturally”
* "Turn the Page”
* "The Lady in Red”

5 things I would do with 100 million dollars:
* Pay off our mortgage and those of our friends and family
* Set aside money for our kids’ educations and for eventual retirement
* Renovate the house
* Take my entire extended family on a really cool vacation trip somewhere like Israel or Japan
* Endow some libraries

5 places I would run away to:
* Japan
* Edinburgh
* Australia and/or New Zealand
* Venice
* Las Vegas

5 things I would never wear:
* a toupee
* women’s undergarments
* vinyl
* a dress
* a chicken costume

5 favorite TV shows:
* Lost
* The Tick, the animated series
* Deadwood
* Veronica Mars

5 bad habits:
* worrying over things and not talking about them
* putting projects off to the last minute
* refusing to walk away when I should
* running my fingers through my hair and over my head when I’m tired.
* refusing to take medicine when I should

5 biggest joys:
* My wife
* My daughter
* Reading a good book
* Hanging out with friends, with or without gaming
* Hearing that someone enjoyed something I wrote

5 fictional characters I would date (were I single and looking):
* Kaylee Frye from Firefly/Serenity
* Willow Rosenberg from Buffy (but only before fifth season)
* Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice (preferably the Kiera Knightley version)
* Kitty Pryde from the X-Men (preferably from Astonishing X-Men)
* Jordan Cavanaugh from Crossing Jordan

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Three years ago today . . .

. . . the most wonderful woman in the world married me. It is one of the finest days of my life, both for itself and for all the joy that has resulted from it.
I love you, [info]jendaby. Happy Anniversary.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Ain't what it used ta be

Yesterday I got an email from a friend. I’ve known him for years and he’s in the game industry. Or at least he was—the email was letting me know that he was just let go.
This is the second friend I know who’s been let go by a major game publisher in the past two months. And I’ve got two other friends who both decided to walk away from the industry within that same period. Three of them are people I’ve worked with. All four are people I like and respect. [And no, I'm not going to name names.]
I’m not sure what this means. I know that several companies have been tightening their belts lately, which includes letting some employees go and consolidating workloads. I suspect the two who walked voluntarily saw this coming and figured they’d at least control their own departure rather than having it thrust upon them. I can’t help but feel it’s a bad sign for the industry to lose such talented people, and so many all at once.
Meanwhile, I’m still waiting on one company to publish a book I wrote six years ago, and am hopefully close to closing a deal on a book I wrote two years ago for a company that has since folded. I’ve got at least one other project in limbo while the company it was for sorts things out internally.
On the other hand, I recently got a letter from a company letting me know they were still around and working to resolve old debts and get back on their feet. I wrote several pieces for them a few years back, and one of those was just released.
I also know some people are reconsidering their place in the industry and modifying how they do business—not getting out but restructuring to cut away parts they think are no longer worthwhile and trying different business models.
Strange. I wonder what the industry will look like in a year’s time, and whether I’ll still recognize it—or know many of the people in it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

I'll take three dozen

As of forty minutes ago (12:40am) I am thirty-six years old.
I’m not really doing anything for my birthday itself. I had considered seeing Serenity but most of my local friends are busy tonight. We might try again next week, which isn’t that belated—hell, last year (or was it the year before), David and I jointly celebrated our birthdays (both 13s) more than a month after mine and two months after his. But we are gaming tomorrow night and there will be cake, so that’s cool.
I like to look back over each year and see what I’ve accomplished—not competing with anyone except maybe myself but I like to know I’ve spent my time in a worthwhile fashion. So, since I turned thirty-five I:

Bought and moved into my first house—the wife points out that I’ve also been doing manly things around the house, repairs and whatnot
Contracted and wrote my first two novels
Made arrangements for my next three novels
Spent quality time with my wife and with our daughter
Conceived a second child
Completed my first full year at my day job—my first full year at any full-time salaried job
Hung out with friends
Saw some movies, though not many
Traveled a little
Organized a bit and actually got rid of some things
Set up my LiveJournal

I’d say it’s been a good year. Now on to the next dozen!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Family Fun

This weekend was good but busy.
My dad came up last Wednesday and came over Thursday so we could unload the twenty-five boxes of books and what-not he’d brought for me from North Carolina. My room there is now essentially empty, and I have all my belongings in one place for the first time since about 1992. Whee! Didn’t take us long with the boxes, either, thanks to Mook and Peter who came out to help. We even managed to take a few boxes out of hte family room and bring down the filing cabinets that had been in the dining room. Afterward we went out for dinner, where my daughter demonstrated her manual dexterity by repeatedly using her spoon to steal bits of my dessert.
Friday night we spent cleaning and prepping for the party. My youngest sister arrived late that night and we were all up pretty late.
Saturday was the big day, my daughter’s second birthday party. Despite the crappy weather (constant rain—and I do mean constant—all day and still warm and sticky) we had a great time. Lots of people came, including my middle sister who flew in that morning. Much food, many presents, and a great deal of good conversation. Thanks to everyone who attended for braving the rain and helping to make the event a success.
My daughter had a great time once she adjusted to having so many people there, and was all smiles throughout the day. My wife was happy, too, especially when she saw people exclaiming over the salad she’d made and devouring the cake she’d created as if it were the only food they’d had in months. Yes, it was that good.
The funniest bit, however, was everyone searching for the phone for a good fifteen minutes, using the Pager feature on the base to call the handset, and me eventually realizing it was in my jeans pocket. No wonder I could hear the page clearly wherever I went!
It was around seven when the last guests left and my dad, my sisters, my wife, my daughter and I just collapsed on the couches. We went to bed around10:30, we were all so tired—my daughter was in bed at around 9:30 and sacked out almost immediately despite her aunts being there.
Sunday we got up moderately late, around 10, which was good. My dad came back out and picked us all up and we drove into the city and down to Chinatown. Located the spot where my youngest sister would catch her bus back to D.C., then went and got lunch—we found a hole-in-the-wall Chinese place and had excellent food. Walked over to the bus, put my sister on it, found a bakery across the street and ran back over to surprise her with bubble-tea for the trip, then headed back to the house. Hung out for an hour or two, nibbling Chinese pastries and leftovers from the party, before taking my middle sister to the airport to catch her flight. Then went back home, just my wife, my daughter, my dad and I, to hang out a bit more. Didn’t do much that night, really—a little nibbling, a little cleaning up, a little watching baseball. Got to bed around my usual time so that I could get up and go to work today.
It was all very nice, and good to see everyone on Saturday and my sisters over the weekend. Our daughter is thrilled with her presents, though she was even more excited to see and spend time with her aunts and very sad when they had to say good-bye. My dad’s still here tonight, at least, so it won’t be until tomorrow that she really gets depressed. But at least she’ll have all these new toys to distract her.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Happy happy birthday

My little girl is two today.
My wonderful wife [info]jendaby did a good job of posting about it.
I have little to add beyond this: until my daughter was born I thought “the light of my life” was just a phrase. It is an absolutely accurate description, however, of the joy and focus our daughter has brought both of us.

No longer telephonically challenged

On Monday I did something I should have done a long time ago. I called AT&T to find out about installing new phone jacks in our house.
For those of you who haven’t been reading along since the beginning, our house has an . . . interesting phone arrangement. It had three jacks when we moved in: one in the master bedroom, one in the second bedroom, and one in the dining room. The first two were the old four-prongs, the dining room jack was more modern. We also had a weird Jacob’s ladder-esque object on the laundry room ceiling, near the back door, and no normal outside phone box.
We went with AT&T CallVantage, a digital phone service, which has been excellent. But the way it’s supposed to work is that you plug the broadband router into your computer, then plug it into the nearest phone jack as well. You disconnect the outside phone line, and now all your jacks connect to the router because it’s a single circuit with only the one input.
Yeah, not in our house. First off, there’s no phone jack in my office—where the router is. Second, we don’t have an outside phone box. Third, the three phone jacks we do have are all on different wires, though they do all connect to the monstrosity in the basement.
The result? For the past ten months we’ve made due with two phones—one corded and one cordless—both plugged directly into the router and sitting in my office.
Well, no more! Communication Technology Services—the company AT&T uses for service and repair—came out yesterday. They installed jacks in my office and in the family room, updated the ones in the two bedrooms, and tied them and the dining room jack together. Now we have one phone in my office, one in our bedroom, one in the basement, and one in the dining room. Ah, freedom!
This may not seem like a big deal. But we’ve had to carry the cordless phone up and down with us whenever we left the office, to make sure we had a phone somewhere nearby. And, because it’s an older cordless and its base was on a different floor, the sound was never that clear. Now we don’t have to deal with that. Plus our cordless in the dining room has Caller ID and tells us when we have voice-mail. We are quite pleased. I’ll probably get a regular corded phone for my office again, and we might move the one in the family room to a different spot, but it’s so much better than it was.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

WHY don't we need a license to breed?

This morning I took my usual route to work—walk to the Woodside stop, catch the 7 to Queensboro Plaza, take the N or W to 57th, walk one block east.
As I’m getting off the 7 there’s an N across the platform, doors already opening. People are waiting three or four deep so I figure I’ll wait—I’m rarely in such a hurry I feel the need to play human sardine.
While I’m standing there I look around and see a woman two doors down. She’s trying to push her way on, even though it’s already packed, and yelling at people to move. This is nothing unusual. Except that her hands are holding something in front of her.
The handles of a stroller.
Finally she gives up and steps back onto the platform, taking the stroller with her—WITH HER LITTLE GIRL STILL IN IT!!!!
The girl, who looks to be about four, is screaming her head off, and for good reason—she was very nearly squished to death by a rush-hour throng. The mom looks pissed off. The train leaves.
For a second I wasn’t sure who I was more angry at: the crowd of *sshole straphangers, not one of whom was willing to move aside and wait for the next train (which showed up three minutes later, btw, and was far less crowded) so a mother and child could get on; or the f*ckwit mother who thought it a good idea to use the stroller—AND HER CHILD—as a weapon to force a spot on an already jam-packed train.
Yeah, I’m over that now. It was an easy decision. Sure, someone should have moved for them. But she never should have tried that in the first place.
When we take the subway, my wife and daughter and I, we usually bring the stroller—it’s a ten to fifteen minute walk to the station from our house. But once we reach the station we collapse the stroller and carry it. Why? Because it’s large and awkward and easily shoved around, and we think it’s both unfair to other passengers and unsafe for our daughter to try wheeling it onto the train. One of us carries her and one of us carries the stroller (okay, lately because of the pregnancy I carry both, at least up to the platform), and if we can get seats one of us holds her on our lap and the other holds the stroller in front of us, still folded. If it’s a little more crowded my wife can still usually get a seat—eventually someone gives up the “no, I don’t see you right in front of me” game and moves for the pregnant woman—and she holds our daughter on her lap while I stand and hold the stroller. It’s a little awkward, sure, but not that bad. And a lot better for everyone than the alternatives. The only time we do in fact have the stroller open on the subway is if it’s WAY off-peak, like midnight.
So yeah, this woman was crazy. And stupid. And selfish. But it was the little girl who got shoved around as a result.
I was half-tempted to walk over there and make sure they—or at least the girl—got on the next train safely. But I decided against it. I knew that I’d probably wind up yelling at the woman instead, telling her she needed to pay attention to her daughter’s safety instead of just worrying about catching a train.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Stripping as I go

This weekend was good—a bit more laidback than the last two, which involved a birthday party and an apple-picking, respectively..
Friday night we finished our Amber game. Much fun, and a good conclusion, peppered with many entertaining moments. We played this one for ten months, all told, and it was very good—kudos to my lovely wife, who ran it. Now we just need to figure out what to play next and who will run it. Might be me, might be [info]qadgop, might be someone else—we’ve got a week or two to figure it out.
Our friend [info]heliograph came out to visit on Saturday afternoon, bringing with him some of my Clockworks books. Anyone need a copy of Chosen? I’d already cleaned out the garage for them and done a little more work stripping the sideboard. We moved the boxes into the corner, then spent the rest of the day and night hanging out. He took off the next morning and I did more on the sideboard.
That’s taking forever—this is one of the pieces covered in latex house paint, which is proving to be more of a pain than I expected because it doesn’t come off in strips but instead turns to glop. I actually dragged out my dresser and started working on that because I was so frustrated with the sideboard and wanted to see if stripping a properly painted piece was easier. Boy, is it! I’ve already got the dresser almost finished and it looks great. My goal now is to have both the sideboard and the dresser done by the time my dad comes up later this week so he can help me carry them in. I’d originally hoped to have the hutch done as well but it’s got the same paint as the sideboard and that one’s going to take me a while.
In other news I turned in the rest of my first Warhammer novel last Monday, right on schedule. Now I’m starting to outline the second one. I’m also working on a new RPG, details to be announced but it’s not for Clockworks, and revising some pieces for a supplement, and waiting for some final details on a few other things. I have a big project that I need to be writing right now but it looks like I’m going to have to start it before getting a contract, which I hate. Still, it’s a reputable company so it should be okay. Busy busy.
My dad will be up this week, and my younger sisters this weekend, for our daughter’s second birthday party. We figured we’d do a whole family thing because it’s the last time she’ll be an only child on her birthday. Should be fun. My older sister has declined to attend—more on that some day when I feel I need to rant.
We’ve also been hanging up more pictures, which is cool. Only took us 10+ months. Now we’re discovering that we don’t really have much art and several of the pieces we do have need to be framed. That’s what happens when you decide thumbtacking posters to the wall isn’t good enough anymore.