Selena+

Let’s talk about Selena+Chef for a moment.

Its not a great show. Its not a bad show. Its just a lovely show. Ross and I watch it when we have nothing going on and need a little something to tide us over between episodes of Young Justice or whatever else we’re binging through at the moment.

Selena Gomez started this during lockdown, looking for something to do and a way to give back which is commendable. Listen, she gives money to charities with each episode-chef’s choice-and found a way to add a revenue stream from her house when everything else was shut down. Way to go, Selena!

When we first started watching this, I knew who Selena Gomez was, but I didn’t listen to her music or watch anything she was in before. After watching her though, I would say I am a fan. Not of her songs or her shows but just of her. Throughout the course of the three seasons, I’ve watched her almost cut off her finger. . .multiple times; catch parchment paper on fine; start a grease fire; blend without the lid; break a jar of olives by pressing too hard; burn some shit. There are probably more things that I’m forgetting but those are the highlights of the things I’ve watched her mess up. But we’ve all done those things.

I’ve also watched her learn what Mise en Place means-which had been said and explained to her many times over the course of the first season. She got it by season two.

I watched her learn how to use a knife. There were a few times I was scared for her fingers but over the episodes, she learned how to use a knife properly and which knives to use.

I’ve watched her learn and become more comfortable in the kitchen and with herself in the kitchen.

To be honest, I’m kinda proud of Selena.

Then there’s Raquel.

Raquel is her. . .friend? Part of her entourage? Honestly, I don’t know. She lives in Selena’s house, I don’t know that she has a job other than being Selena Gomez’s friend. She feels the need to be present for every show. Say something all-the-fucking-time. And generally include herself in the interview process which just seems weird. I find her incredibly annoying. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve screamed, “Shut up, Raquel!” the the TV. Is there a place I can write an angry letter to get Raquel removed? All her other friends are fine. Raquel just really gets under my skin.

Anyway, I’m excited for season four. You can watch Selena+Chef on HBOMax.

There’s A Mouse In The House

This week was a pretty exciting week and not because of some great milestone or a windfall. Nope, i’m talking strictly about the events of the week being exciting.

On Tuesday, I got up for work and went about my normal routine of getting ready at the butt-ass-crack-of-dawn to be at my office by 7:30am. I went into my office to get a sweater . . . cause that’s where I keep my sweaters. Don’t ask.

I turn on the light.

I get my sweater and put it on.

I notice that the cat is pacing in front of the window and that the pillow is on the register. I step forward to remove the pillow, cause-you know, I don’t want to start a fire. Considering that my house is always ridiculously cold, I realize this is an idiotic fear, but decades of indoctrination by my parents about the dangers of “putting things over registers” has done it’s job.

I turn to leave the office but the cat cries out. Percy never makes a noise unless he’s unhappy. Oliver, on the other hand, screams at me on the regular to give him a treat. It only works about 30% of the time.

I ask him what’s wrong . . . like he’s going to answer. Listen, if you don’t talk to you’re pets like they’re real human beings, you might be an inhuman monster. Just saying.

It’s at this point that I notice a large thing on top of the curtain rod. In my head, its a crumpled leaf (because I don’t have my glasses on and can’t see shit) and the question keeps running through my head, how did a leaf get up there?

I take a few steps closer and realize, no-it is not a leaf. It is, in fact, a mouse. That’s when I whisper-shout, “There’s a mouse. Get up! Get up! We have a mouse.”

For a moment, all the fun little cinderella mice, despereaux, and all the other fun loving mice from childrens stories ran through my head and I felt guilty for disturbing it. Then i thought about it’s gross little fingered hands and it running all over my house and mentally said, fuck it.

Ross came in and said, “oohh.” I shit you not.

We come up with a plan. I suggest a bucket and we get to work. Ross came back from the garage with a broom, a bucket, and work gloves. He’d learned his lesson from the last encounter he had with a mouse at work where he wore only surgical gloves. Needless to say, the mouse bit him. There were so many jokes. For a straight week, I called him mouse man and waited for him to transform into a mouse inspired superhero. It never happened to my ever present disappointment.

Here’s where the chase began. Did we shut the office door to make sure the mouse could not get out . . . no. No, we did not. However, that becomes an irrelevant fact.

Ross knocked it off the curtain rod with the broom but didn’t manage to catch it in the bucket. The cat, however, thought this was great fun. He chased that damned mouse all over the office and we followed the cat. At some point, Scarlett woke up and came into the office.

“What are you guys doing?” she asked.

I hesitated a moment because I didn’t want to scare her about the mouse. Ross didn’t seem to care and said, “There’s a mouse in mommy’s office.”

My daughter proceded to plop her butt on the loveseat in my office and cheer on the cat.

We chased him into the closet, then behind the file cabinet, then behind the router. And by “we”, i mean the cat. We just followed the cat. It was behing the router, cornered between the wall, the router, and the cat that ross finally got the bucket over him. He slipped a cookie sheet under the bucket and carried the mouse outside into the front yard . . . in his boxer briefs. LOL.

Be free little mouse but beware, the next time-I’ll let the cat have you. I imagine that to be a horrible, painful, and frightening death. Percy’s never caught a mouse before. I imagine quite a bit of torture (aka playing) before death finally comes.

Round Up

Here’s your weekly round up.

  1. Halloween was last week and it went well. We have a shit-ton of candy in the house, both left over and then what she got going around the neighborhood. She got 4 full size candy bars and now I feel like we’re slacking on the halloween scale for my neighborhood. I’m not ashamed to say that the entire family dressed up as Care Bears. My daughter even got a costume change for school the next day; someone from the Descendants.

It rained for most of trick-or-treating and we had been outside which means that those costumes got soaked. we hungthem up onn our closet doors and it looks like we murdered a family of Care Bears. I say “looks” because I haven’t taken them down. They’re still there. LOL!

2. Nanowrimo is going . . . meh. I’m getting words down most days but not nearly close to the 1667 per day average you need to meet that goal. ARGH! We’ll see how that goes for the rest of the month. I’ll keep you posted.

3. I might have a cover reveal coming in the next month or so for Infinite Azure, the ninth installment in The Blushing Death series. Keep your fingers crossed.

4. Since it’s November, we’ve now offiially moved into the holiday season. You might be thinking, wait . . . but Thanksgiving. Don’t forget about Thanksgiving. I’m not. Trust me. I have a load of baking to do for Thanksgiving. But my in-laws combine Thanksgiving and Christmas into Thanksmas and there are presents to buy, wrap, and give which shifts Christmas into a two month long holiday. I’m not sad about it. I LOVE Christmas time. Beside my Birthday, Christmas is one of my favorite days of the year.

Welp, that about covers it. See you next week.

NANOWRIMO

Welp, its that time again.

The end of October always feels as if I’m standing on a precipise and moments away from falling over. Not because of the impending holidays or all the baking i’m going to have to do. Nope. Its the 30 day sprint to get something accomplished for National Novel Writing Month in November. I’m not sure why I feel so much pressure for this. It’s voluntary. I don’t have to do it.

I succumb to pressure this most years when i’m not already bogged down in either editing or finishing a pre-existing book. It’s a good jump start but most of the time, I end up feeling a bit like a failure. I never meet the goal of 55,000 words – okay, once. I’ve done it once. Mostly because this is at the worst possible time of year. Who the fuck picked November anyway. April! April would be a great month for this shit.

Also, they categorize 55,000 words as novel length. . .which is technically true. However, my books run anywhere from 90,000 to 110,000, so that arbitrary number feels wrong but should feel doable. However, since I can’t actually seem to hit that number, it feels doubly wrong with a splash of failure mixed in there. So, that’s nice for me.

So, here we are again. On the cusp of November and I just turned in Infinite Azure for editing and stuff. I won’t hear back from Debby @ Soul Mate Publishing for another month at least. I’m technically free for November. . . I guess. Once again, I have bent under the weight of NANOWRIMO pressure and have set up my project to mock me as I log my pitiful word counts each day.

Here’s my plan. I’m going back into one of my old projects, mostly because I’m sitting on 26,000 words and it’s driving me insane that it’s not done. This project has been the topic of previous Nanowrimo years but I’m going in with a plan this time. I think the reason, this project went nowhere fast the previous go arounds, is because I didn’t have the plot flushed out enough. I’m working on the plot this week so that it won’t be so daunting when I go back in to put words on the page. I don’t think I’ll average 1667 words per day but maybe I can get close. Even if it gets this project back on track, I’ll count that as a win.

Snippet

The Blushing Death Series #9 – Infinite Azure – is coming in April of 2022. I’m excited to share the next installment of Dahlia Sabin’s journey with you. For now, however, you’ll have to be satisfied with this little nugget. Be kind. This has not been professionally edited.


                “It’s fucking cold out here,” I hissed through chattering teeth. No matter how much I willed my jaw to remain motionless, it didn’t listen and the rattling inside my head was driving me insane.

The fire flickered in the pitch-darkness of the Outer Realm, casting an eerie glow across the snow. Beyond the miniscule light of the fire, as large as we dared make it here so we didn’t attract other, more dangerous beings, inky blackness stretched on forever. The oppressive nature of the dark and the fact that I knew it could literally stretch out for eternity, was some cruel realization that I was a very small being in a very large place with creatures that could eat me for the hell of it.

Shaking off my descent into bat-shit-crazy, I considered the first time I’d been here and each subsequent journey. Each time I crossed the divide into the Outer Realm, it got just a bit colder. This time there was a light dusting of snow on the ground with flurries brushing against my exposed skin. I’d dressed for cold, knowing full well how the wind had burned through my cloths the last time. But this was worse. The wind was bitter and piecing as it howled through the trees and my clothes. Beyond the minimal warmth and light of the fire lurked beasties and creatures of every shape and size, and the focus of their eyes on me was a weight I felt in my gut, a tight clench of fear that made me queasy but alert. I fought the urge to run, knowing that I couldn’t outrun any of them. I could fight but I would lose. The Outer Ream was a place where strength was valued, and weakness was devoured. Maybe they were just curious. Maybe they were hungry. I had no choice but to wait and hope they remained in the dark beyond the light of the fire.

                “Make the fire warmer,” Adrik snorted, landing on my shoulder, and rubbing his hands together. The four-inch-high pixie stood close to my neck, soaking up my body heat. He knew I could use my magic to increase the heat of the fire, and I’d considered it, but I didn’t want to give too much away too soon. Bargaining with the fae was a delicate balance of knowledge and doing it from a position of strength was better.

                “I don’t want to burn my eyebrows off,” I said, smirking at the pixie. He rolled his small silver eyes at my obvious lie. “When are they going to get here?” I asked, wanting desperately to be home and warm in my bed. The longer I stayed in the Outer Realm, the bigger the likelihood that someone would notice either on this side or my side of the veil that I was not where I was supposed to be.

Adrik and I had been making small trips to the Outer Realm for weeks without letting anyone know. I was pushing my luck before either Patrick or Dean noticed and gave me hell, at the very least a lecture. Let alone anyone else. After the mountain where I’d killed Rokap but lost Milagra and Konstantin, Dean and Patrick had been different. More protective. More confining. Dean especially. If they knew what I was doing, Dean would lose his shit. Right now, this was better. He didn’t worry and I didn’t have to face his anger. I was being a coward but right now, I was willing to be a coward to keep them safe just a bit longer.

                “The representative should be here momentarily,” Adrik responded.

                “You’d think I’d figure out how to dress properly to be here, but it always seems colder than the last time,” I said, unable to keep my teeth from chattering. The fleece lining wasn’t enough.

                “It is not your imagination,” Adrik answered, his voice rough through the already guttural accent. His English was getting better, but I could still hear the centuries of Russian in the shape of his words.

                “What would make the Outer Realm get colder? Does it have seasons?” I asked, my voice sharp with the unexpected dread filling my middle. I shouldn’t care if the temperature of the Outer Realm was changing, but I did.

                “Magic is leaving or being drawn out,” Adrik responded, “I cannot be certain but the magic in the air seems thinner.”

                “I don’t understand,” I said, rubbing my hands before the fire attempting to get the feeling back in my fingertips.

                “The Serpent’s power is growing weaker here. Either by design or another reason, I canna say,” a voice answered, from beyond the fire and still hidden in shadow responded, his words resonated with a depth that rumbled the logs in the fire.

Friendship Manifesto

This may be a short blog. A manifesto if you will but I think everyone needs to take a step back and look at their relationships every once in a while and decide if those relationships still work for you in the place you are now.

I’m 43 years old. I’m the type of person that’s always had a lot of aquaintences but not a lot of real friends. I generally have a handful of people that know me and are ride or die kind of people.

Covid changed all of that.

I realized that I was doing all the work for some of these relationships. I was the one making sure we had meeting times. That when we could go back to meeting in person, i was the one setting everything up. I was the one reaching out. I can’t do that anymore.

The added wrinkle is that because I’d been functioning in this role for so long, it was second nature to me until I stopped. I’d trained them to act this way, that I would be the one to set things up, to send that first text message. I will no longer be making that first move.

I am worth more than this. I will not be the one to do all the work for these friendships anymore. I would love to hang out with you, but you will need to reach out to me. I cannot be the only person making an effort in our relationship. It’s not healthy for my emotional health and I will be taking better care of myself from now on.

I highly recommend taking a hard look at your relationships and the role you play in them. Does this role still suit your needs? If not, its time to make a change.

Hereditary Magic is Free

Brittany Hughes is the most powerful witch of her generation but at twenty-one, she lacks the control of more mature witches. After a vampire attack that killed several people, including her mother, Brittany is abandoned by her coven and set adrift into the preternatural world. But she’s not alone. Brittany has earned the respect of the vampire colony and the werewolf pack. Everett Cooper has named himself her werewolf protector and friend.

As people start dying around Columbus and threaten to make the world of magic public, Brittany and Everett are lead down a path of gruesome bodies, tested friendships, and magical discovery. In their pursuit to stop the murders before more people end up dead and a full-fledged panic ensues, Brittany is drawn into a world of magic, mirrors, and the impossible becoming possible.

DC Rabbit Hole

I have gone down a rabbit hole. When we signed up for HBOMax at the beginning of 2021 . . . I think-we had HBOgo before that-I uncovered a whole world of DC media. Yes, of course the movies were in there but those all suck. God, why can’t DC get that shit right? However, the wealth of content is actully in the animated stuff. There’s so much there and it’s really good.

First, Ross and I rewatched all of Batman the Animated Series. It holds up. I will to this day argue that the BEST Batman/Bruce Wayne is Kevin Conroy. Change my mind. Top tip, you won’t.

Then we moved onto the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. There are several things I learned from this. Hawkgirl is basically DC’s version of the Hulk. There were many times while watching this that Ross or myself would call out, “Hawkgirl smash”. This was fun, like a drinking game only with tired, grown-ass-adults with nothing better to do. We also are still doing that everytime Batman uses his grappling hook. Calling this out each time is theraputic for some reason. I also find it really cute when Superman acts like he’s in charge. We all know he isn’t.

Also, I just find the fact that Batman is a father delightful. Justified that Batman/Bruce Wayne is the WORST parent on the face of the planet and makes extremely questionable parenting decisions, like taking children out to fight crime (for one). This did, in fact, get one of the Robin’s killed. So, let’s keep that in mind but watching him try to be a regular parent is hilarious.

I can’t watch this enough. This is just plain hilarious. This will never stop being funny.

We should move on to one of my favorite DC characters. No, its not Wonder Woman. I personally find WW a bit one dementional like Superman. No, my favorite is not a hero (although Batman and Damian Wayne, really ride that hero/villain line). Of course my favorite is a villain. I LOVE and I mean in an obcessive kinda way, Harley Quinn. I own a Harley Quinn blazer for fuck’s sake. Its amazing. I wear it to work. I give zero fucks about fangirling hard at work. I’m also glad that DC realized the wonderful asset they had in Harley Quinn and Margot Robbie. That character might be the only reason people are still watching Suicide Squad. Again, prove me wrong.

Harley Quinn series is amazing. The Bane jokes alone are worth the watch.

The weird, long forgotten villains like Condiment King (cause why was this ever a thing), Kite Man (yes, this is an actual villain in DC), and Queen of Fables (so weird that someone not only thought this one up but that it was actually a thing) make appearances. God, no wonder they keep using Darkseid. Most of DC’s villains are just so fucking dumb.

If you haven’t watched Batman and Harley Quinn, please do so. I have never cackled so hard as when Harley farted in the Batmobile. OMG, I wanted to die my stomach hurt so much. I’ve plopped the trailer in here for your enjoyment.

We couldn’t watch Batman Beyond. I just couldn’t deal with it. Although, old and craggly Bruce Wayne was a pleasure. Even in his dotage, Bruce Wayne is a complete and utter asshat. I love it.

We’re currently working our way through The Batman. it was on cartoon network a while ago and I can’t figure out why everyone was drawn with GIGANTIC finger tips and faces that look like they’ve been punched in. Now, I don’t even refer to it by name. I just ask, are we watching Punchy Faced Batman? Also, why is the Joker barefoot? WHY? I’ve included the intro.

Ross keeps making fun of me that I’ve disappeared down this rabbit hole. I’ll be honest with you, considering my last post and the shit shows I deal with everyday, I can’t deal with heavy drama at the moment. I like knowing that Batman is always going to kickass and that the bad guys will get what’s coming to them. Superhero cartoons make me happy at the moment. I’m sure I’ll get tired of it but right now, its just hitting the spot.

Emotional Labor

Let’s talk about emotional labor for a moment.

For those of you that don’t know what that is: “Emotional labor is the process of managing feelings and expressions to fulfill the emotional requirements of a job. More specifically, workers are expected to regulate their emotions during interactions with customers, co-workers and managers” Wikipedia

I carry this burden alot, at work, at home, it doesn’t seem to matter. And for those that know me personally, it’s not like i’m sitting on a whole lot of my own emotions – I basically have two (tranquil and pissed) . . . let alone having to feret out and/or deal with others’ emotional shortcomings. Existing in this whirlwind of turbulent emotions is fucking exhausting, which is why I try not to do it.

I get it, as a manager, that’s part of my job. I listen to my employees vent, express their frustration and concern, offering possible solutions, plans of action, or a desired outcome. However, I’ve found myself managing-up quite a bit over the last year and a half. And by managing-up, I mean that i’m doing the same work for those that are above me, guiding their decision making, massaging their overwrought emotions, and fixing the problems created when they can no longer deal with the shit-show of COVID fallout. Altough this isn’t the specific definition of managing-up, there’s an element of doing my job well so that my boss’s job is easier. Since this was always the case, the situation has evolved to something much more demanding on me, where I’ve become the support both managerially (with guidance to deal with situations), disaster recovery (fixing problems that arise from bad decisions), and emotional support. This puts me in a particularly lonely and isolating place. . . somewhere in the middle where everyone has the support they need but me. I have become all things for all people and I’m not entirely sure how that happened.

This past year and a half has been hard on EVERYONE, we all admit that fact. However, the same people that carried you through the beginning, middle, and now this weird lingering end of the pandemic are burnt-the-fuck-out. All we ask of you all is that you pull up your big girl panties, be adults, and FITFO (figure-it-the-fuck-out)!

That’s currently where I find myself, sitting in the eye of a hurricane where everyone has come to depend on me to be the stable, steady one that they can come to but there’s nowhere for me to go.

At home, I’m helping my daughter work through her big emotions and not have her immediate response be a crying fit if something goes wrong. Talking her through all her steps and having the hard conversations about how things make her feel on a fairly regular basis is intense. She’s six and again, I don’t have that many emotions so, this is particularly difficult for me.

So, last week, I found myself at the end of my rope. I couldn’t be polite. I was snapping at everyone. I got up each morning and dreaded walking into my office to discover what new nightmare of idiocy I would face. By thursday, I had had enough and decided to take Friday off as a mental health day. I did all of the things thursday night to prep. I let everyone know, again – taking care of everyone else so they wouldn’t be inconvenienced.

It was glorious. I read a book from cover to cover on Friday. Thank you Lisa KleypasDevil in Disguise was fun. I didn’t check my email, workday, IM, or Slack. If shit was going to burn down, I was going to let it. In fact, one of my employees said she was proud of me for going off grid because even on vacation, i’m never truly out. I have to approve shit or business just stops.

So, I come into work on Monday morning, feeling better but not great, and am greeted with this conversation that is honestly, too early in the fucking morning for this shit.

Boss 7:59 AM
Are you free at 2 pm?

Me 7:59 AM
until 230

Boss 7:59 AM
OK, great – let’s Zoom at 2 then.

Me 8:00 AM
what about?

Boss 8:00 AM
Did your weekend restore you?

Me 8:00 AM
meh

do you have a link?

Boss 8:00 AM
I wanted to check in on what was going with you Thursday evening, specifically, though I think in general, a mental health day was a great thing to do!

Me 8:01 AM
I don’t particularly want to talk about that today. If that’s the only reason we’re zooming, I would prefer not

Its at this point that my good mood starts to decline into anger. Like, what the actual fuck? The only time EVER that I say I need a break and the first thing on Monday morning, i need to report why? I wasn’t capable of being nice. I tried for diplomatic but I think I probably failed MISERABLY.

Boss 8:03 AM
OK, I guess you can come to me when you’re ready to talk.

Here’s the thing, I’d been voicing my frustrations all along. In my mind, there wasn’t anything left to talk about. Plus, i’m not a big talker. I don’t want to talk my feelings out. I want to be left the fuck alone.

Me 8:05 AM
Do i need to explain it, because that’s what it feels like. you are asking me to justify my need for a break. I carry a lot of emotion labor in this department and i needed a day where i didn’t talk to any of you

There it is, just laying it out there. No sugar coating. No diplomacy left in me. Plus, I have the sneaking suspicion that she needs me to tell her that my mental health day wasn’t because of her, which is again, more emotional labor.

Boss 8:06 AM
No no no no no – I agree, I’m just trying to figure out how to support?

I leaned on you a LOT last week, and I wanted you to know that I am aware of it, I don’t want to wear you out, AND I want to shift the things that most need to change.

I can’t with this one, as if my reasoning was because I had too many reports to run.

Me 8:08 AM
i need us to follow the policies we have. I lose both credibility and authority when decisions are made contrary to those policies

Part of the issue here is that we have these policies, they’re in writing and publically available. Then someone comes along and is like, but this extenuating circumstance, boo hoo. And we don’t follow the policy becasue feelings. Then I have to deal with the fallout of those breaks in policy and then people circumvent me to go to her because they won’t have to follow policy. Then I have to make her feel better for making bad decisions when she doesn’t understand why people keep acting they way they do. No matter how many times I remind her that its because they get what they want, it doesn’t seem to sink in.

Boss 8:09 AM
Is this about the visiting scholar issue? specifically? or other things?

Me 8:09 AM
culmination of 6 months of this. Name with held, the scholars, etc. I don’t feel like the ground beneath my feet is solid.

Again, me just laying it out there. I’m honestly, not sure how there is any confusion.

Boss 8:11 AM
OK, got it. So let’s just put a pin in it and I will check back in in a month to see whether things are better.

This one leads up to the message from 8:06. The answer about how its going to be better is that she stop leaning on me for everything. And to support, she has to actually carry her own weight. Putting a pin in it, isn’t going to make it better if behaviours do not change.

However, this whole conversation leads into another queston for me; Why does something have to be wrong for me to need a mental health day? Maybe i’m just burnt out. Maybe I have anxiety. Maybe I have depression issues that I haven’t made public. Or a myriad of other reasons. None of that is anyone’s business but my own. The pressure to have to explain myself still pisses me off, even if it was five days ago.

So, here we are. I had to take a mental health day to recoup from all the emotional labor and then come back to the need to pick up someone else’s emotional health before the office is even open for regular business hours.

For all those people out there who are picking up the emotional labor at home, at work, with your friends and family – on top of everything else – I see you.

Kickass Women, Saving the World

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