June

Jun. 1st, 2015 03:16 pm
masqthephlsphr: (gc)
Ugh, it's like the weather gods glanced at the calendar and decided today was the day to turn the temperature up to "furnace." After eight years of this, yes, I am used to it, but it's become my daily habit to take a walk at work to exercise my gimp knee and give my back a break from all the sitting. My walk has been pushed back earlier and earlier in the day. Soon, it may not be possible at all, except before dawn, before aforementioned knee and back actually need it.

The up part of the summer is Pluto, Ceres, and Light Sail, among other things. I am on vacation (yay!) in a couple weeks, and D and I plan to drive up to Flagstaff to visit Lowell Observatory, where Pluto was originally discovered, then perhaps venture up to the Grand Canyon where the yearly amateur telescope festival will be going on at the rim. Haven't been to either place (Flagstaff or the GC) since I was up there for our burnin' Buffy ATPo weekend--when? 2010? Eesh.

This is all assuming my back can put up with hours of car travel. Dry run trip to Prescott this weekend to deliver my nephew to summer camp.

Also, there will be writing this summer. I have about three short story WIPs in process, and it's indoor weather from here on out.

Here's some stories I wrote recently:

The Beast
The Book of Barry
masqthephlsphr: (laura)
I am reading a book that's been on the back shelf for years and years, The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. This book has its pros and cons, but one of the most vexing-though-valid concepts in it for me is the notion of the "Artist's Date." This is an hour a week you set aside to let your inner child out and give it freewheel. The idea is, soundly enough, to feed that creative part of you without goal or expectation. To simply play.

But what, for me, is "play"? It's a bit of a family joke that I was born 40 years old. It just took a while for my body to catch up to my intellectually-inclined mind and serious personality. But looking back now, I can see ways that wasn't true. I was a kid, once. I did kid things. I "played" in a way that's difficult to do now.

Is writing "play"? It's my favorite activity, but a lot of time, it feels like work. Cameron's "Morning pages," for example--free writing every day for 15-20 minutes--still falls in the "wait and see obligation" category, and so feels like work. God knows composing a story or essay, or editing same can be a LOT of work. Is "I pretend I'm writing even though what I'm actually doing is looking at pretty pictures on the internet and calling it research" play or work?

Usually when I'm tired at the end of the day and too sore to write, I collapse in front of the TV, or grab my kindle. But many (my momma included!) would say passive absorption of someone else's content, as relaxing as that can be, isn't "play." Play is Active.

When I was a kid, I hated sports and bored easily of bikes and roller skating. I spent oodles of time in my room with the door shut inventing my own planet complete with its own language. That was play for me. Or my brother and I would build entire cities out of blocks and Little People buildings. We'd work hard on our cities, then when bedtime arrived, we played "It's the end of the world!!!1!" and tear it all down.

Nowadays, it would be unthinkable to engage in an imaginative activity that was so light-hearted I'd nonchalantly tear it all down when I was done! No, all imaginative activities must have an end goal! They must be precursors to writing or writing itself. But that makes them work more than play. Letting the imagination run wild for no reason whatsoever….

Sometimes, I tell myself stories without writing them down. I even act them out. That's play, right?

"Play," I guess, is whatever random calming or enjoyable activity I do that makes me feel guilty because "I should be working on something where the goal is productive and obvious." Play may even be all those times I fool around at whim/randomly and even make a record of the results, intending to go back to them and "do something with them," but never do.

INADEQUATE PLAY MAKES NANCY A DULL GIRL.
INADEQUATE PLAY MAKES NANCY A DULL GIRL.
INADEQUATE PLAY MAKES NANCY A DULL GIRL.
masqthephlsphr: (masq)
It has been a while since I've posted. My bout with back pain last fall has become shoulder pain, and the standing and walking I was doing to relieve it have been complicated by inflammation to my right knee. Bottom line is that sitting and typing can be painful, so I have had to save it for work and my writing class.

I have been experimenting with voice recognition input, which is great for one-liners on Facebook, or for making notes to myself, less good for composing, to say nothing of editing. Any tasks which put me in a similar position as typing (sitting with arms bent at a 90 degree angle), such as driving, are also difficult.

What have I been up to? See above re: work and my writing class. I have another short story finished, although it's probably not something I would submit anywhere. The teacher in this class wanted us to write "literary fiction," which apparently means NO GENRE WRITING OF ANY KIND. Not sci-fi, not mystery, not historical fiction (whut), not anything that's actually interesting. So the story I wrote doesn't particularly inspire me. But there are more writing classes to come. I find it a good motivator, and a way to connect with other writers. Just will have to keep my eye out for profs that are tunnel-vision SNOBS.

I have also been spending time at the gym, which has partly helped and partly contributed to my difficulties (exercise smart, not just hard, kids!) I have also been in and out of the pain clinic, getting various shots and procedures to my various screeching parts.

And for those of you who've friended me on Feeb, I am of course following and echoing the latest Solar System antics of 2015.

Now that my writing class is wrapping up for the semester, I hope to post a bit more.

The latest

Jan. 24th, 2015 01:18 pm
masqthephlsphr: (word)
Wanted to thank everyone that gave me feedback on my short story, Home. I submitted an updated/edited version to the Maricopa Community Colleges Creative Writing contest and won an Honorable Mention Winner in the Fiction category. It will be published as part of an annual publication the contest puts out.

In other news, got done a round of epidural steroid shots on my cervical vertebrae. I have some other interventions lined up for shoulder muscle tension and an arthritic lumbar, so stay t00ned for that excitement.

I joined a nearby gym as part of the Wellness Program at my job and have been working on strength training and stretching with a personal trainer. I am also looking into non-inflammatory diets. OMG, I lost five pounds in the last month just eating healthier. Nothing motivates like PAIN.

I got my new orthopedic recliner finally. It's a good chair, but I still have issues that mean I can't sit all day like I used to. I think having to move around more just for comfort reasons contributed to the weight loss.

Finished the second draft of my novel despite my sitting issues, just by letting is SUCK all it wanted to. I needed to move seriously to working on the plot before I spilled any more pixels on the words.

Happy Birthday, [profile] crimsonsenya!!

Happy Birthday, [personal profile] lakrids404!!

Masq update

Jan. 5th, 2015 02:50 pm
masqthephlsphr: (astronomy)
Had my first appointment at the pain clinic this AM. They have ordered a whole slew of interventions for my poor, beleaguered bod. Not going to get into details, because I don't want to invite the casual horror stories some people feel inclined to share when they read about other people's impending procedures. I am nervous enough as it is.

I did NOT get my new recliner delivered while on vacation, which I am disgruntled about. I had two weeks off to accept a delivery at their convenience, now, not so much. I'll work it out. My stay-cation was very awkward without a good chair to sit in. I got some novel writing done, which is great, but it was not very comfortable.

Now, I am back on the job. Yay?

NYE

Dec. 31st, 2014 07:17 am
masqthephlsphr: (astronomy)
Pretty typical holiday last week. Which is remarkable in itself, I suppose, given some recent personal and family travails. Short explanation, me: pain, and SIL has asked my brother for a divorce, but other than filing the petition and lawyers engaged, the marriage continues in an awkward steady-state for now. Personally, I think she'll find "freedom" more than she bargained for.

I have been on vacation, but that has been awkward due to see above: re pain, and orthopedic chair delayed in delivery. There hasn't been the usual sitting-around-writing or interneting volume I usually do on staycations due to that, because I can only sit for short periods. So I trade between sitting at the computer, doing piddly household things, occasional trips to the gym, errands, and laying about in bed watching TV. Want my new chair now, srsly, guyz.

As for the new year, I have dubbed 2015 "The Year of the Dwarf Planet." Two words: Ceres. Pluto. More on those later. Otherwise, this year, I am skipping my usual long-winded (long-typed?) resolutions. I know what I want to do. Instead, I am taking a page from Yoda's book: "Do, or do not, there is no Resolve to…."
masqthephlsphr: (boring)
...I don't even know where to begin. I guess... a month ago? I started to experience incredible pain while sitting. In my neck, in my back, in my left shoulder. Some of this is arthritis, some is muscle strain from arthritis. I've been experiencing arthritis twinges in the knees, back, and neck for a few years now. But I've never had any trouble sitting for long periods of time. Then the pain got exponentially worse at some point in November, I am not even sure when, to the point where I can't sit and write anymore, at least not comfortably, and I have to do pain drugs from my orthopedic doctor to get through my work day. I can't sit on my recliner (at all), or on my couch/at the dinner table without major neck and back support (or any chair, really). I have an inexpensive ergonomic chair at work that I can sit in most of the day, if I get up frequently and walk and stretch out.

That's the crazy thing. It's more comfortable now to walk than sit. I take walks when I'm in too much pain. At home, I have been reduced to lying down in my bed to do most sedentary things (and you can't lie flat--I mean, everything flat, including your head and neck--and do most sedentary things, it turns out). Over Thanksgiving weekend, I lay down so much, I got a bed rash.

Now, you might say, "Well, all that sitting isn't healthy anyway." But that's kind of like saying the barn door shouldn't be left open after the horse is long gone. I am writer, and a computer programmer. I have been sedentary for a long, long time. All I can do now is try to fight against the tide.

I'm trying to figure out what changed between October and now to effect me so radically (besides crappy genes on both sides finally coming to a head against years in sedentary pursuits). And there's only one thing I can think of. In late October, I went to my orthopedic doctor about my neck arthritis, because it was becoming something of an issue at work. He sent me to a physical therapist, who worked on my neck and shoulders. It was after those sessions were completed I started to have the constant, piercing pain, even when everything was well-supported, and repeated muscle pulls and muscle tenderness.

I made a follow-up appointment with my orthopedic doctor and he took me off PT and had me schedule two MRIs, one on my back and one on my neck. I literally broke into tears from the pain in his office. I was (still am) very fearful I won't be able to do my job anymore. I remember the day--it was my birthday, last month--when the words "going on disability" popped into my head for the first time as a possible scenario.

Now, I am hoping that won't happen. I am working on all sorts of interventions. A new, orthopedic recliner (zero-grav) for home, a new gym exercise/muscle strengthening program with a personal trainer, and then, whatever interventions my orthopedic doctor recommends after he sees my MRI results (I had those done Tuesday evening).

Pain is a strange thing. I always considered myself pretty stoic, but the pain I've been experiencing lately--inescapable, debilitating to normal, everyday activities--has turned me into a harpy. You just discover this wounded animal side to your personality.

Fryday

Nov. 14th, 2014 09:05 am
masqthephlsphr: (shane)
I don't have to post today, since my thirty days was up yesterday, but I am so glad it's Friday. Loooong week. We had a national user's conference at work, and I had to commute to Phoenix for the first three days, then I had an early AM blood appointment yesterday, so I have gotten little writing on the novel done this week. Some of that has to do with I am SO THROUGH with my La-Z-Boy recliner, where I do my writing (and reading, and TV watching, and everything else). Currently shopping for a more ergonomic replacement.

Today is my 7th anniversary of working at this place.

OTOH, check out my original fiction short story.

Also distracted by a robot landing on a comet (a bunch of times).
masqthephlsphr: (ev0l)
This was on the internets today, mocking me with its personal relevance:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/killer-chairs-how-desk-jobs-ruin-your-health/

In my writing class this week, we had to do a meditation exercise to learn awareness of our bodies (good writing involves being in the body, doncha know) while sitting down. I was a rebel. I lay down for it instead.

Earlier, on Wednesday, my PT asked how my level of pain was. I think he meant "between now, and when we started a few weeks ago." My answer was, "Well, it depends."

"On?"

Well, (1) which part of my body are we talking about? Oh, and, (2) my chair, (3) my chair, (4) my chair, and (5) my chair…..

I am in the process of chair shopping for both work and home, but actually helpful chairs are customized, and customized costs bucks. It is not something you purchase lightly.

I am a computer programmer by day, and a reader and writer by night. I do watch a little TV, but TV is hardly the problem when you are going to sit in the same chair anyway to work on a story, or read the internets, or read a book.

Of course, there is wisdom in getting up every once in a while from these activities--especially if your chair isn't custom-built for comfort--and stretching out all those muscles, and doing so for more than just a brief piddle-break or to grab a snack. On weekends, when I can spend an entire day in my chair writing, I find myself off fiddling, several times a day, on household projects elsewhere in the house, or in the garage. It's like I have to get up and do something, and that's probably a saving grace.

At work, it's more complicated. They want you, you know, doing your work, and at work, when I'm in my chair, I'm often pinned down by a jury-rigged set-up of lumbar pillows, blankets, multiple heating pads, foot rest, neck rest, lap desk and the half dozen other things I need so as not to get sore within fifteen minutes. Standing up and getting settled back down becomes, therefore, a very complicated affair.

Oh, plus, taking my shoes off and having to put them back on every time.

I shudder to think, though, what my body would be like now if I'd stayed in teaching. My dear old dad, who was in retail for forty years, was in pretty bad shape by the time he retired at 63.

But yeah, all that aside, I really need to get off my ass more, esp at the work place.


Scene countdown, 11/7/14: 89 24%
masqthephlsphr: (trubel)
(1) Had my first PT session for my neck/shoulders this AM. I was at the therapist for about an hour and a half between early arrival, paperwork, interview with the therapist, and actual therapy. Therapist did heat therapy and a massage, which was great, but also pressure point testing to find tender spots ("Ouch, there's one!") and of course taught me some "exercises to do at home" which while good for the shoulders/neck, did not make my back happy.

(2) New Grimm season starts tonight! There is something not to be grim about.

(3) I wrote another short story, 2,974 words. Class busy-ness makes me insane, but... story!
masqthephlsphr: (shane)
I have arthritis. In my knees and my back, and now my neck. For years, I've watched both my parents become increasingly disabled, and I know I am d00med. D00med. Last week, I went to my orthopedic specialist who could instantly whip me into an X-ray machine and have pictures of my skeleton popped up on the back-lit board fifteen minutes later. But diagnosis is easy. Intervention, that's harder.

Physical therapy is always their first line. Last year, I learned a series of exercises to strengthen my back. The clinic offered me a nerve-numbing procedure, but it was too expensive and painful for something that might only last six months, so I nixed that. This week, I'm returning to PT for my neck.

I'm doing what I can to change my environment. I recently got a new, ergonomic chair for work, and one of those neck-supporting pillows for my bed at home. But the chair I lounge and write in at home has GOT to be replaced. I've jury-rigged pillows to fit under my knees and under my neck and under my lumbar, all in an attempt to compensate for the chair being arthritis-unfriendly, but what I need, since I use that chair constantly and for long stretches, is something genuinely ergonomic.

Only problem is, ergonomic recliners are also mega-expensive. I am perfectly willing to spend the money on a chair that will work for me, but I have had bad experiences walking into stores, trying out chairs that seem all right on the show room floor, and then are killing me two weeks later and can't be returned (usually, because they're customized in some way).

I will ask the physical therapist for recommendations about how to buy a good ergonomic recliner, but really, I'm not optimistic.

To top that off, somehow I also managed to pull a muscle in my shoulder, and that's making sitting and turning my head even more of a pain. Will mention it to the PT.
masqthephlsphr: (groovy)
I have not been posting lately, except for the onslaught of September birthday greetings. Things are just kind of all happening at once around here.

(1) My novel writing stalled out. I realized I had too much material for one book a while back, so I decided to plan for a trilogy. But then I didn't outline books 2 or 3, and lately, I've found all the stuff I should have moved out of book 1 creeping back into book 1. So I am taking time out to outline all three books. In the meantime, the novel 1 second draft ground to a halt. Trying to get back to that.

(2) Wanting to write other stuff besides aforementioned novel, I decided to take an online writing course through a local college. It started September 3rd. I am trying to keep my A-student, decades-of-writing-experience ego out of this, because it's been a LOOOONG time since I was a student, and the main challenge for me in this course is finding the student mindset again. Learning, not teaching, getting assignments done instead of bitching that I don't have the time. And courage, courage to let other people read my writing while it's still raw, and without the very act of making it public change what I write about. These have all been problems in the past for me.

In other words, my goal is just to pass the class, not get an "A." I am hoping writing classes will push me to be more interactive and social with my writing, allowing more feedback and motivation for more small projects unrelated to the Novel that Won't End.

(3) I recently got a new dentist, who insisted on fresh x-rays. So this fun week, I had a root canal on Monday, after which the endodontist said he would not give me a permanent crown until after I had the wisdom tooth next to it (the cracked one) pulled. So this morning, I had that tooth pulled. It was quick and non-eventful, except for the pre-procedure jitters and the--ouch, damn!--local anesthetic injections.

(4) I'm getting really tired of eating soft foods. I've been doing that all week. I think if I see another mashed potato, it will end up on someone's face. Still, pasta and apple sauce and soup's still the food plan for at least another three days.

(5) On Monday--yes, the same day as the root canal--the Phoenix area had a record rain storm, most of which landed squarely in the Tempe/Guadulupe area. In other words, my stomping grounds. I have been putting off a roof recoating for months because it never rains in Arizona. Monday, I had leaks in at least three windows and two roof lines. So now I have a wee-hours appointment next week for the roofers to inspect it and give me an estimate.

Dentist bills. Home maintenance bills. Tuition bills. And the giant Time Suck of Everything. Please to be stopping the world, I want to get off for a day or two? Thnks.Bye.
masqthephlsphr: Halt and Catch Fire (girl geek)
About two years ago, I paid a good peck to get my author website professionally designed and hosted. The woman was really easy to work with, and I chose her because I was impressed with other author websites she'd done, so I had high hopes for the site. But when she presented the design draft to me, it was kind of a patchy-looking eyesore. I gave her repeated suggestions for cleaning it up, but finally spent my design sum, gave up, and let the site be.

I didn't like visiting it, so I wasn't motivated to add new info to it, and had I been so inclined, I would have had to send in any changes (even a font color change to one word) and pay for them to be updated.

As a result of all this, my website sat there for two years unchanged and unpromoted.

I went to a professional to begin with because my previous attempts at doing a website myself ended in equal disaster--I'm no designer. But I do have two ounces of computer programming saavy to rub together, and I am familiar with the job of running a website.

About a year ago, I started playing with Wordpress, which already hosted my public blog, adding static pages to a mirror of the blog site. Finally, finally, this past week I was ready to launch a website that I have hands-on control over:

NancyEShaffer.com


Favor? Can people hop by there and make sure all the pages and images load, and the links work? I tested everything, but sometimes internet cookies will fool you.

Cookin'

Jan. 27th, 2014 04:21 pm
masqthephlsphr: (food)
I don't know how to cook. I never learned. I have a HUGE mental block that kicks in whenever I see a recipe that requires I put more than two ingredients together. And a disgruntled impatience with the idea of a meal taking longer to prepare than it does to eat. The origin of all this, though, was growing up in the 70's, when women's lib was blossoming full flower. It was a matter of principle to me not to prioritize traditionally female skills. And my mom, who was more interested in law school than cooking herself, didn't worry too much about this gap in my education.

For the record, I was equally disinterested in my father's attempts to teach me how to change the oil in my car. I was an intellectual.

When Mom got busy in law school, my dad took over the cooking duties. Before he got married, he was a cook in the National Guard, so you can imagine the sort of stuff he made for us. He didn't bother to teach me to cook, either.

How did I eat once I didn't have the college mess hall to feed me? It helps not being a fussy eater, but lots of ways, really. You wouldn't believe what comes in cans and boxes and takes a couple minutes to nuke in the microwave. Later, there were girlfriends who cooked (I always dated women who could cook). And when I lost twenty pounds a few years back, it was in part because my mom had been on a crockpot cooking kick the year before.

I occasionally ate meals out, although I rarely relied on that. It was fattening. I did learn how to prepare a few things myself, like pasta, and my father's French Toast (which gave me heart palpitations, so I didn't make it very often). But see above re: two-ingredient cooking.

As I get older, though, I am wanting to take more charge of what goes into the food I eat, and that means learning a skill I never learned. "Never learned" is a sweeping generalization, I've found, though. Earlier this month, I decided to try my hand at Actual Cooking with a 17-ingredient beef stew. I actually knew quite a bit more about what I was doing than I imagined I did. You don't get to be [bleep] years old and not pick up a few tricks here and there.

I'm not saying the stew is particularly good, but I think it's more the recipe than me. Next time, I'm leaving out the onions, tomatoes, and oregano. But it was improved with some chopped chili peppers thrown in. And in the effort expended vs. outcome received department, I made a dozen portions to finish up.

My next experiment this past weekend was more successful: a black bean veggie wrap. I still strongly resent the time expenditure. As for Ingredient Overload, I try to concentrate on one line of the recipe at a time to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Next up, baked fish, I think. And then [personal profile] mamculuna's Dharma Shala Soup.
masqthephlsphr: (alias will)
January talking meme, Jan 21. From [personal profile] cornerofmadness: what draws you to the urban fantasy type of story lines?

I am drawn to urban fantasy stories because I like stories that show a secret supernatural world existing in what is ostensibly the mundane, scientifically skeptical world we all live in, and characters who lives are recognizable to the average reader, who are nevertheless part of that supernatural world.

Stories like BtVS, Harry Potter, or Dresden Files, make it easy to imagine that the supernatural exists around me in the world I see everyday. Stories like this allow me to think, "Underneath all this drab, dreary mundanity is a fantastic world full of excitement and magic." All I need is the right book/movie/TV show to reveal what's hidden all around me.

And that makes the mundane world I see outside my window seem just a little bit more magical.

Take Buffy, for example. As I understand it, the BtVS/Angel world is supposed to be our world. Not an alternate universe or anything like that. It's our world, but what most of us don't realize is that magic is real if you know how to tap into it. Demons exist, just hope you don't run into one.

Why do I have this need? I guess because I'm an agnostic, and an empiricist, but what I feel compelled to believe is not the same thing as what I wish were true. "Urban" fantasy lets me step away from that for an hour or two.

This is the reason I am not drawn much to High Fantasy (e.g., Lord of the Rings). High fantasy stories are set in completely imaginary places that aren't Earth, nor even historical Earth. They often contain humans, dogs, oak trees, and other earthlike things to make them more accessible, but the resemblance to our world is usually a pseudo-resemblance to some historical era I have little connection to. I don't mind fantasy or science fiction set in a historical period on Earth, as long as the historical period is genuinely drawn outside of its supernatural elements.

So the "on Earth" is important to me. As is the "secret." I want a story world where the supernatural is considered debunked and its delights and dangers lurk in the shadows, only known to a select few. For this reason, I also don't care much for urban fantasy where the supernatural elements of the story are out in the open (e.g., Charlaine Harris, Laurell K. Hamilton). Partly because the supernatural being "secret" makes it easier to pretend all this really is going on all around me. But also, I have always had a kink for "the big secret" that only select characters know and the rest of the world is oblivious to.

Music

Jan. 11th, 2014 12:10 pm
masqthephlsphr: (art)
January talking meme, Jan 11. From [personal profile] ann1962: What band that you enjoyed in your youth has held up the best today, to you, and doesn't sound dated?

Okay, first off, this question assumes I know what contemporary music sounds like, compared to which earlier music would sound dated. I SO don't. I don't have cable TV or listen to the radio, and most musak in stores is oldies--have you ever noticed?

What contemporary music I have heard doesn't sound all that different to me than stuff I listened to back in the '80's. In fact, I've been surprised by how *not* different it is. If someone is doing ground-breaking new sounds out there, I am not aware of who that is.

That said, there is clearly a "sound" to some music genres in particular decades that us unique to that decade. '50's rock sounds very different from 60's rock, which sounds mildly different from 70's rock. Contemporary Hip Hop has clear roots in 80's Rap, but a different sound at the same time. "My music" was late 70's-early '80's Punk and New Wave, and a LOT of that sounds dated now. Especially the peppy, shallow stuff and anything that used a lot of synthesizers.

Favorite bands:

Queen: hardly sound dated at all, but that's either because their music was purposefully vintage even for the time (e.g., Bohemian Rhapsody), or has become so ubiquitous it can't get dated (e.g., We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions).

Depeche Mode: Early DP *does* sound dated, but see above re: peppy, shallow stuff. Later (late '80's) Depeche Mode doesn't, to my ear.

Ultravox: Okay, yeah, big synthesizer band. But you know, stuff you listened to, like, a MILLION times is so familiar, it's hard to judge.

Roxy Music: Not so much, but they did a lot of deliberately vintage sounds.

Echo and the Bunnymen: They don't to me, but my ear, not the best judge. These guys might fall into the "Extended life via the Goth movement" category.

Elton John: KindOfYeah. But some bands/musicians are so closely equated with a particular decade, they're going to sound dated whether they are or they're not.

Japan: These psuedo-punkers were not mainstream enough to have a trendy sound, and also did a lot of deliberately vintage work. But some songs do sound punky-dated.

New Order: Dance music always sounds dated after ten or fifteen years. It's a thing.

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark: Early OMD falls in the same category as early Depeche Mode. Too trendy for its own good. Later OMD less so, but still.

Peter Gabriel: Most early PG has become classics, too ubiquitous to sound dated (to me). His later pop stuff sounds more dated. Word to the wise: being trendy means being forgotten in five years.

Siouxsie and the Banshees: God, I just can't tell. Maybe?

The Smiths: See above re: too closely associated with their era to ever sound anything *but* dated.


Music I associate with the era and so inevitably sounds dated: Devo, Oingo Boingo, Tears for Fears, U2, X, Yaz, Visage, Thomas Dolby, Spandau Ballet, PIL, Eurhythmics, The Cure, The Clash, Adam and the Ants

Other artists who have continued to be played and so don't sound as dated: Joan Jett, Sisters of Mercy (saved by the Goth movement!)
masqthephlsphr: (az)
From [personal profile] chaos_by_design: How do you cope with living in a state filled mostly with Republicans?

It helps living in Tempe. This is a college town with a residential population that skews rather liberal for the area. During recent election years, for example, I saw more Obama/Biden signs in yards and windows in my immediate neighborhood than the Other Guys. During a recent mayoral election, the son of our ex Democratic Congressman Harry Mitchell won over the Republican candidate strong in old business ties to the city. Also, the way electoral districts are carved up puts me in a district that tends to vote Democratic. We elected the outspokenly liberal openly bisexual Kyrsten Sinema as our congresswoman in 2012.

The other thing that helps is my family lives here. I would not be living in this state at all if my parents had not retired here. My mother and brother are both very liberal. I have to avoid my brother's Facebook page sometimes, though, as he likes to post and rant a little about the right-wing nuts in this state.

In fact, I have to confess that my primary method of coping is just to avoid the media: local news (heck, national news as well), local television in general, newspapers, magazines, etc.

And of course, the Biggie: don't read the bumper stickers. It's almost a reflex, when you are sitting at a traffic light and a little bored, to look at the bumper of the car ahead of you. Tip: Just. Don't.

Avoidance is not always possible, of course. The worst time for the avoidance strategy is during even-number election years, when all the placards go up on street corners. Some countries and states have laws that limit the number of weeks those signs are allowed to be up. Not here. In an election year, they go up in the early Spring and often are still there weeks after the election is over in November. And they can be really, really nasty. Coping strategy: just drive, and keep your eyes ahead. But not on the bumper of the car in front of you.

Things

Dec. 10th, 2013 05:02 pm
masqthephlsphr: (A very Congel Christmas)
I am looking forward to some parts of Christmas--spending time with my family, eating good food. But the gift-giving parts, not so much. Not that I have a problem spending a little dough on my loved ones. But this year especially, I am not looking forward to being on the receiving end.

Back in January, I made a New Year's resolution to declutter one item a day for the entire year of 2013, and I am pleased to say I've kept that resolution. A lot of it was finding ten things to tie me over for the next ten days, then ignoring the resolution for a week and half. And sometimes, I would count four identical items as one day's item, while other times, I'd put the multiple identical items I wanted to ditch on different days, depending on how likely it was I'd fall behind in my resolution.

But yeah, December is a third over, and I'm finished for the year. You wouldn't know it to look at my place. I kept all my crap tucked away where no one could see it, so visually it hasn't changed all that much. But if you were to walk into the Good Will down the street from my place? It would be, like, House of Masq.

What really has changed is my feeling about "stuff." I don't want "stuff" for Christmas. The thought of it just viscerally turns me off. I want tickets to a show, or a gift card to a spa, or something else experiential. Enrich my life, don't clutter my house. My sister-in-law, bless her heart, got me some random stuff for my birthday that sad to say is going to end up in the Good Will box. I just have no use for it whatsoever, but I don't want to insult her by saying so. If I must have stuff, the annual trading-of-the-Amazon-gift-cards is A-Okay with me. I will purchase eBooks.

This may suck some of the fun out of Christmas. The Sculptor and I always play Santa for each other and fill each others' stockings. How many of her stocking stuffers ended up in the GW box after last Christimas and/or on the kitchen counter at work for other people to eat so I could maintain my girlish figure? Yeah, I'm kind of Scroogey that way now.

Not sure I will play 365 things next year. I was actually stunned I could always find stuff if I looked hard enough this year. I probably could find 365 more things if I put my mind to it, but it can be exhausting at times. What it did do was change the way I look at the importance of "gotta keep this in case I need it" and "gotta buy this!" And it makes me value the stuff I hung on to all that much more. So I'll carry one thing into 2014: a new attitude.
masqthephlsphr: (alias will)
Good birthday weekend. Saturday, the Sculptor and I had our usual Saturday night dinner and teevee. We've been watching Alias, and had finally got to one of my favorite moments of Season 1, when Will finds out about Sydney's secret life. We also had a dry red wine from our Sonoita trip that has a distinctive taste of chocolate in it (Wilhelm Family Vineyards, Karyl's Creation, if you are curious).

I tried to spend most of Sunday relaxing since I am still not feeling one hundred percent, and stabbing at NaNo. I kept telling myself, "Take a break, it's your birthday," but NaNo is what it has always been--the poorly-timed writing marathon month that takes on a life of its own. It's no wonder I get flu-ey every November.

Sunday evening, D and I took my family to Top of The Rock, a Tempe restaurant built into the side of one of the Valley's many ant-hill rock "mountains". It has a fabulous view of the central Phoenix area outside the window and fancy (although simultaneously casual) food. I may regret the bit of over-indulgence later this week. ; )

There was an amazing full moon.

After dropping my mom back home (she is waiting for the DMV to process her doctor's sign-off on her vision and her license reinstated), I settled in for this week's OUAT, which was something of a game-changer. The show has me as "Hooked" as ever, which makes it frustrating that I am not bonding yet with OUAT: Wonderland, though I continue to watch it.
masqthephlsphr: (az)
(1) Took the Sculptor down to the Arizona wine country for her birthday. Yes, Arizona has a wine country, and makes the wine thereof, and it's not half bad. We bought several bottles during our trek (all red, butofcourseisthereanotherkind), one of which tastes like drinking chocolate (without actually containing chocolate, mind you). Fun was had. No limbs were lost.

(2) Rounded day 21 of my Second Draft WriMo this AM. Hit 50K on day... 18 or 19, I forget. No matter, most of the scenes aren't done. Took the weekend off from it and jumped back in today.

(3) My cholesterol level has been steadily rising in the past year for no good sane reason. My diet hasn't changed, and is healthy, all things considered. My mom informed me the same thing happened to my dad, and it's genetic. My brother has been on meds for it for ten years now. Okay, so fine. I went on generic Lipitor shortly after I returned from my vacation and Have Not Been Able to Lose A Pound of vacation fat. I just wiggle back and forth between Unmentionable Weight A and Unmentionable Weight A+1. Up down, up down. It's kind of a bad joke.

(4) Considering using this LJ to post some poetry and original short fic. Looking to eventually get it into shape for submission and/or posting on my writing website. Yes, I have a writing website. But I'm not fond of the design and am currently working on moving it over to WordPress and overhauling the design.
masqthephlsphr: Halt and Catch Fire (girl geek)
... but I know why.

First, a rec from the man behind Wesley Crusher:

http://wilwheaton.net/2013/07/nothing-to-prove/

I have only been aware of this misogyny-in-geekdom problem in the past year or so via LiveJournal links and posts on the topic. I've been a girl geek all my life )


So, in conclusion:

"Geeky is just shorthand for enthusiastic and enlightened" --[personal profile] scrollgirl
masqthephlsphr: (Emma)
Coming back from a vacation is rough. East-to-west jet lag, unpacking, getting back into routines. Of course, my routine prior to vacation involved a lot of lying around after work watching The Vampire Diaries, so this should be a piece of cake, yis?

Except for that to-do list over there of stuff I said I'd do after my vacation this year.

Blurgh.

On the upside, we are discussing Episode 6 of OUAT S. 1 over at [profile] 2ceuponatime: http://2ceuponatime.livejournal.com/2484.html.

*Smack*

Jun. 25th, 2013 09:14 am
masqthephlsphr: (CrankyHarry)
That's me, officially hitting The Wall. The Wall of six plus months solid of work with only a couple three-day weekends, two plus months solid of taking care of my mom while she was in the hospital, rehab facility, and now in home healthcare, who-the-hell-knows how many years months solid of banging on a novel whose plot and World still continue to elude me in many ways and...

well, everything else.

I am sick, and I am tired.

I took one sick day earlier this month to "shake" this off, and then I had to do it again yesterday.

So totally, totally should have scheduled a real vacation earlier than I did. Of course, my idea of a "real" vacation is a two-week long staycation with a recliner and Netflix and a computer on my lap, still banging on that novel. I don't know how to take a break from it. I keep going back to it, whether the work I do on it is productive or not. I know it's my control freak tendencies. Which I get from my mother. And if I didn't know this before, I do now. She has been cut off from the usual avenues of daily life of late, and so she keeps needling me to take care of all the things she can't control--my elder nephew, a late bill that somehow didn't get paid, people she needs to contact, etc, etc.

And my vacation, when it comes, doesn't promise to be any sort of break from responsibility. There are trains to catch and tours to get to and most of that is left up to the Sculptor and me instead of a tour company. I think I have every detail worked out, 'cause that's what I do.

But right now? Stop the world, I want to get off for a bit.
masqthephlsphr: Halt and Catch Fire (girl geek)
Part II of the OUAT flashbacks in chronological order, featuring my boy Baelfire, Jiminy Cricket, and young Geppeto:



In other news, less than a month until my fab Netherlands/Germany/Switzerland vacation. The Sculptor and I are making plans with [profile] zargon10 for our Amsterdam jaunt.

In the mean time, I am having a brain-fried time at work, I am squeezing in daily hours on my novel, and I officially cancelled the lumbar medial branch block+radiofrequency ablation procedure, at least for now. I may revisit them in a year down the line, but I want to try just going on physical therapy exercises for time being.

Oh, and I got a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1, which I am wrestling with as I learn how to use it.

And my mom is being discharged from the extended care facility next Monday.
masqthephlsphr: (muse)
I've been having to text lately. Certain family members and acquaintances prefer it. My cell phone, though, only has a number pad, not a keyboard, so texting is a major hunt-and-peck operation. So I'm thinking, smartphone. But here's the thing. The main things I would want a hand-held electronic device to do for me are:

(1) composition. For when I have an inspiration for writing I need to jot down, or a to-do list item. Right now, I have a writing pad for that, but really, I end up jotting stuff down on random post-it notes and envelopes or whatever's handy.

(2) It'd be cool if the above was voice-to-text, *and* was easy to download to Word on my computer.

(3) texting, of course, since I finally have actual use for such a thing.

(4) e-reader, for storing and reading books

(5) device for storing MP4, particularly TV shows for playback on the device.

(6) Maybe emails, too.

(7) Oh, and a calendar.

Not of this spells "phone" to me. More like iPad/PDA. Right? Any suggestions of such a device?



34621 / 100000 words. 35% done!

LJiversary

Apr. 29th, 2013 10:48 am
masqthephlsphr: (masq)
Today is my 10-year Live Journal anniversary.

I saw this article recently in my writing blogs:

http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/are-blogs-the-new-journals

It's been ten years since I kept a "proper" journal. You know, the kind you write long-hand into a private (note)book? Actually, I was in a journaling slump even the early '00s, so it's been more like twelve. I've kept a journal since I was fifteen (even earlier than that, but in a fit of teenaged angst, I threw that earlier one away). So I believe with conviction that blogs are not the new "journals." A contemporary form of ongoing letter-writing correspondence, perhaps, but not a contemporary form of the journal.

If any blogging platform comes close to journaling, it's Dreamwidth/Live Journal, which in my experience is more intimate than your average blog. People talk more about their personal lives, their highs and lows. But blogs and "online journals" are social media. They allow you to interact and form communities. I remember when I first heard about Live Journal from some ATPo friends ten years ago. I was flabbergasted. They keep their journals ON LINE? It seemed the height of exhibitionism to me.

Because at the time, journals were, for me, a private space where you wrote your innermost thoughts, didn't censor, poured out emotions you wouldn't reveal any other place, engaged in self-indulgent naval gazing, and kept the metaphorical pressed flowers of your daily life preserved for later nostalgia or mortification. Assuming you could even pick up that volume 20 years later without wanting to kick your younger self in the shins.

Journaling isn't better or worse than blogging, it's just different. You blog for attention and validation, in part, and you risk criticism and rejection. It's the school yard, the neighborhood coffee clache, the backyard barbecue. A journal, on the other hand, is just You, and sometimes Your God (my mom, forex, thinks of her jouraling as a form of prayer. Self-indulgent whining at God kind of prayer, but cathartic for that very reason).

There is a gray middle ground, of course. I sometimes write private entries in my Live Journal that are more like my old journal than a blog entry. But I do censor myself in those entries a bit in the paranoid fear some security bug will sweep through LJ and make them public ever so briefly. But I don't often just journal with a notebook and a pen like the old days anymore. The only time I still feel compelled to write in a notebook that is totally disconnected from online blogging and emails is when I'm hiking and feeling kinda spiritual. Computers and the woods don't mix for a lot of reasons.

News

Apr. 17th, 2013 12:10 pm
masqthephlsphr: (ms)
My mom is in the hospital with anemia that is making her quite ill. Good thoughts would be appreciated.
masqthephlsphr: (OUAT)
I know several of my friends are going in for MRIs in the near future (or already had them). I just got back from my MRI follow-up with my orthopedic doctor. No spinal stenosis. I have arthritis of the facet joints in my lumbar area that is causing swelling that pinches my nerves. He gave me a referral for an injection at the pain clinic next door to his office. Hoping that will counteract the pain in the back I get whenever I stand or walk for more than 15 minutes. I have some very important "walking tours" during my vacation this summer.

31 Things

Feb. 1st, 2013 11:22 am
masqthephlsphr: (lost6)
One of my New Year's resolutions was to clear out Stuff I Don't Need from my living space. To that end, I resolved to get rid of one thing (or set of things) every day this year.

So far, so good, although I suspect January is easy because there is more junk around at the beginning of such an exercise. One thing I noticed is I really didn't hunt down one thing per day. I gathered multiple things on more motivated days and distributed them forward for the coming week or two. The result is the same, though.

My January list does seem to be a colossal pile of junk, but I think that's the point here. Items were donated to Good Will, recycled, or, in one or two cases, trashed:

31 things )

My weakend

Jan. 28th, 2013 10:47 am
masqthephlsphr: (don't fuk)
Saturday afternoon: I bought a new car. 2012 Prius C Two. The Scion Xa is being transferred to my brother today. Lots of errands run Saturday morning to make sure the financing was covered. Stomach in knots all day. Spent Saturday evening with the Sculptor trying to drink away buyer's shock.

Discovered my brother ran off with my garage remote control.

Sunday morning: Went to see the Hobbit, finally. Cute, but too much filler, and not enough girls. Read more... )

Sunday afternoon/evening: during an attempt to reset my modem and router to set up Netflix streaming, aforementioned modem and router both died. Lost all power. Had to drive around to many stores to replace them. Discovered that my car-buyers shock had mellowed out to cautious excitement. Bought upgraded versions of the modem and router I probably needed anyway, being an internet-only gal now with no cable TV.

BUT THEN, I could not get the new router set up on my Macintosh despite many attempts to do so. It works on Macs just fine, but you can't use the Easy Set-up Wizard on a Mac, and the backdoor set-up instructions are uselessly vague. I sat hunched over on the floor for hours attempting the set-up and my back was in mortal pain. And of course by the time I was ready to call their customer support hotline, it had closed. Tried again anyway. And again. Thought I had it working and after 15 minutes, the wireless network disappeared.

By then, I was tired and cranky and could not sit up straight my back hurt so much. So I doped myself to the gills with sleeping meds, ibuprofen, and Xanax, stuck an adhesive 8-hour heat bandage to the spot on my spine that always seems to take the brunt of my stress, and went to bed.

Called the router hotline this AM. Good thing about not being in the Eastern time zone--hotline opens at 6:30 am here. Somehow, I created three wireless networks yesterday, only one which actually works, thanks to getting talked through the backdoor set-up process by the hotline guy. Now need to figure out how to delete unwanted wireless networks.

After that, i called up Netflix customer support to get streaming going. Got it going just as it was time to get ready for work.

Novel research: Did none, of course.

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