Ch-ch-changes

You knew this was coming, didn’t you? After all, I’ve been in one place for more than a year. That’s right, folks. I’m moving again!

Well, it’s not completely official. Not yet. We’re in the offer/counter-offer stage. For those of you who haven’t been with me very long, I move a lot. Since 2008, I’ve moved four times, not counting now. It’s because we not only wanted to try out several different areas of town, we wanted to rent until we found the perfect place for us, and it looks like we finally have. Now we want to buy.

It’s made me think a lot about the sheer amount of stuff in my life, stuff that I’ve packed and unpacked and now will have to pack and unpack again. There is the desire to just chuck it all and start over, but it’s more than that. Being confronted time and again by the things I surround myself with has actually changed how I see those things. Objects that used to give me joy just don’t anymore. That’s when I had to start wondering, was it just the hassle, or is it me that’s changed?

Take books. I love stories. I always will. And I like physical books (though I also adore my Kindle). I like their smell and their sound when you flip the pages. I like bookmarks and have a small collection. At one time, I collected books and had over 2000.

Now I’ve pared that down considerably, giving books to friends, donating them to libraries or Goodwill. I used to sell them to Half Price, but since that would only gain me store credit, I decided that giving them away was the way to go. I’ve kept those that mean something to me. I’ve kept my favorite authors, but most that I read, I just…let go. It didn’t give me the pain that it once would have if I’d been forced to part with them.

The only other collection I have that rivaled them is my pen collection.

And it's grown since then

And it’s grown since then

This was taken in 2009 or 2010, so the pens have grown considerably. They were starting to take over my desk, and I began to wonder if I care about them as much as I used to. It gave me joy once just to look at them. Now, not so much. So far, all I’ve done is move the bulk of them to a bookshelf, but once I start packing, I think I might go through them, pick out those that resonate emotionally with me, and slowly give the rest away. Maybe I’ll even include them in any giveaways I do in the future.

It’s bittersweet, like most change. I’m sad that I don’t care about the pens or the books like I used to. It reminds me of when I drifted away from toys in childhood. I remember trying to play with them again after I’d lost interest, as if I was letting them down by forgetting them. I tried to summon the joy I once had, but I just couldn’t. Now I’ve started looking at other things and saying, “Do I still love that? Do I need it?” I’m resisting the urge to go hog wild and get rid of almost everything. I’m afraid I might come to regret that. And I’m also trying not to beat myself up if I do want to keep some things that make me happier just by having them around. I still have quite a few journals that I’ve never used, but they’re sparkly and pretty, and I like to stare at them sometimes.

Maybe that’s what I’ll rate everything by. Stare-ability. On a scale of 1-10, how much do I want to just sit and stare at this? Seems as good a measurement as any.

Have your collecting habits evolved over time? Is there any collection you once loved that now you think you can do without?

A public service message about Windows 8 and Word 2013

Recently, I got a new laptop that runs Windows 8. Let me just say that Windows 8 for the PC makes no freaking sense AT ALL. It was clearly made for the Windows surface or phone, and Microsoft didn’t want to make different versions. It is incredibly difficult to run two programs at once on Windows 8 and not have to switch back and forth between different screens. Ross had to actually break the program in order to make it so I can have two windows open at once on my desktop. Seriously, wasn’t that why Microsoft invented Windows at all? Multiple programs running at the same time? Argh! My head is sore from all the times I slammed it on my desk while figuring out Windows 8.

To all PC users out there struggling with Word 2013 (new with Windows 8), here’s a tip about Track Changes. If you were struggling with strikethrough issues like I was (where you want a deleted word to appear in your manuscript after you’ve deleted it, just with a line through it), you can reset Track Changes to be more like the version you were used to.

Look under the Review tab in Word 2013, then find Track Changes. It’s almost in the middle, next to Show Comments. Just to the right of Track Changes, there are three drop-down menu options. The top one is Simple Markup. Click the little drop-down arrow next to Simple Markup and you’ll find a list of options. The last one is: Original. Click that and you’ll find all the reviewing options you’re used to are now back, including strikethrough.

Unfortunately, I haven’t yet discovered how to make this the default and have to remember to turn it on every time I start Word 2013 if I’m marking up a manuscript. I never realized before how much I depended on strikethroughs to tell me where I (or anyone critiquing me) made changes in the manuscript. Like most Windows 8 changes for the desktop, it doesn’t make any freaking sense.

Why change Windows from the ground up EVERY SINGLE TIME they release a new version? And this version of Windows is worse because you can tell they are just catering to tablet users. Are there really more tablet users out there than lap or desktop users anymore? And you can tell by their commercials that they aren’t even pretending they give a damn about anything but tablet sales. Though I did notice that the Microsoft commercial about the Surface where people are dancing across what is probably a campus doesn’t feature anyone actually USING the tablets. Maybe they hate it too, and the dancing is actually people writhing as an agonized unit. The only commercial I’ve spotted where someone uses it is where the little girl draws and shows pictures to her absent dad. Who knows where he is. Prison? For flinging his laptop at someone in Microsoft?

Stop trying to be hip, Microsoft. The kids won’t fall for it and the older people have money. I had to import the old version of solitaire just so I could play it AND have a chat window open at the same time.

Sorry for the long computer rant. I’ll have more writerly news soon as well as updated schedules for when you can come and meet me, and we’ll rant about Windows 8 together. If you have any other hot Windows 8 tips, Word 2013 related or not, send ’em on to me. We’ve all got to stick together on this.

IWW: It ain’t always easy

Perhaps you’ve seen this in stores?

It’s a firefighter and police officer, though I use those terms loosely. (Where ARE the sparkly-skirted police officers?) The separation of the pants is supposed to convince you that you’re getting more for your buck. But as it comes, it looks like you’re getting the saucy firefighter:

"Who's first to be rescued, lovahs?"

And the short and sparkly skirted police officer,

"Perpetually bendy arm would be great if I had a gun!"

who’s probably chasing this woman:

"MARDI GRAS!!!!"

Best money I ever spent.

Halloween 2011

I really like the Barbie “I can do…” series, but they’re cutting a lot of corners here. Taekwondo Barbie is pretty complete. She even comes with accessories.

"Come at me, and it'll take a surgeon to remove this water bottle from your ass."

The diver, however, lacks some essential gear.

"The mask and weight belt are all I need, right?"

And the astronaut is a little shortsighted.

"Kiss my ass, radiation."

It’s a race to see what kills her first.

For firefighter Barbie, even if I put the Mardi Gras pants on her, she still looks like a bad costume.

Is anyone else seeing Michael Jackson circa Thriller?

Belly shirt, pleather coat, and culottes. I’m pretty sure all firefighters wear this. Or at least, the sexy ones do.

At least there’s paleontologist Barbie. She’s pretty complete.

SPARKLY BONES!

Still with action culottes, but what are ya gonna do?

Whose with me for Halloween 2012? I call sexy firefighter! I hate pants anyway.

IWW: The Love Triangle

Action movies take three to tango, a wild dance of hero/villain/captive culminating in some serious high-wire fighting over pits of rabid crocodiles.

Am I right?

The villain has more style, loves a shiny, jagged knife (because she wants that shit up close and personal), and has a pet that’s cooler than yours. Not a dog or a cat, something more…MORE. Like a baby panda.

Also, she builds her lair beneath an active volcano

Nailed it.

The hero’s in black ops, which I assumed meant she wore lots of black. She’s ex-CIA, ex-military, ex-coast guard, and an ex-librarian because I like to read. She uses a gun because killing from a distance is somehow humane.

Doesn't need to see the light die in your eyes

But because we’re hard fucking core, we can’t use weapons to hurt each other. That shit’s for babies who don’t KUNG FU.

Ditch gun!

Lose knife!

Battle royale under an exploding volcano…full of crocodiles (not pictured, but trust me, they’re down there)!

Body slam with pithy comment!

Mind if I drop in?

Flying kick with lamer comment! (The villain is always cleverer than the hero. See: Schwarzenegger, Arnold.)

Sorry, I've got to take out the trash!

After several death defying jumps over lava crocs, the hero wins, saves the captive and either kills the villain or leads her away in cuffs.

Let's get this panda back where he belongs!

Scene.

But…I’m disturbed. My three-way tango? Not so much. You see this?

Sigh

That’s not a tango-er, that’s a helpless muppet. It’s more like a love…line, than a triangle. All the conflict, all the passion is between the hero and the villain. This thing hanging behind them could be a giant plastic pear for all the ways it drives the plot.

The villain may have tried to seduce him. The hero may have realized that she wanted to live/retire/random epiphany because of him, but in the end, he’s a tool, in more ways than one. He’s a plot device, not a character, as replaceable as they come.

Let's get this panda untaped from this pear

And in the movies, that was always a woman.

What the shit? I didn’t want to be hanging in the villain’s lair under the volcano. I wanted to be swinging by my whip and cutting fools with my light saber. I wanted to kick ass on my own time, my own way. I’d already started on the path to writing strong female leads, and Barbie was going to help.

Did you ever put yourself in movies or television? Which role did you covet? (It’s all right if you wanted to be rescued. ^_^)

Quickie part a million

Just a quick post to tell you I’m still here. I’m working on another IWW (I Write Women) post for Friday with more battlin’ Barbies.

In the meantime, I’ve heard from my troll again. Letty said, “Methinks Barbra has bo idea what she is talking about.”

Where do I begin? With who uses methinks? With the misspelling of not only my name (which is in the banner) but the word no? Seriously, Letty, I’m losin respect for ya here.

OMG, aren’t we all busy right now with one thing or another? I haven’t met one person who doesn’t feel run off her feet. And how many people think we’re absolutely going to die this summer because it’s so mild right now? Maybe we’ll freeze, instead.

You’re not so busy you can’t leave me a line or two of comments, right? Tell me what you’ve got going on.

IWW: Origins

Today is the first of a series I hope to get many miles out of, my I Write Women (IWW) series. It’s the story of how I came to write adventure stories where women stab the shit out of things.
To help me write about writing women, I’ve enlisted the help of my fav toy of all time, Barbie:

"Happy to be here! Can't wait to stab shit."

I never got the whole, “little girls will grow up with unrealistic expectations of what their bodies should look like.” I remember someone telling me that I shouldn’t expect to look like Barbie someday. No shit. For one thing, my toes aren’t one high-heeled piece.

These are very useful for kicking, however.

She’s freakishly disproportionate. She’s made of hard plastic and wasn’t huggably soft like a real human being. As a child, I wondered if this common sense was hard won for the poor deluded soul who told me I couldn’t look like Barbie. I pictured her horror when she tried to speak to Barbie and realized that Barbie would never ever speak back.

I loved adventure stories, fantasy/sci-fi or otherwise. And even though most of the adults I knew were women, there were very few women in the stories that I loved. And if there was a woman, she was almost always captured and had to wait to be rescued.
But I didn’t see this as a male/female thing. I saw it as an odd-man-out thing. The lesser represented gender gets captured. Got it. Well, I had fifteen Barbies and one Ken.

It just made sense.

Did you notice skewed gender/race/sexuality roles in the stories around you as a kid? Did you change them in your play? Maybe you just preferred matchbox.

What we hide

On January 2nd, the Bloggess posted this little gem of a blog post about depression, both with a bang and a whimper.

It’s about depression, about how people struggle with it silently, but survive. It’s about how when folks overcome depression, they feel they can’t celebrate because they’re too ashamed they were depressed in the first place.

I celebrate you everyday, Jenny. You’re my goddamned hero, which is so much better than being a regular hero. You put yourself out there , and you’re funny. Among the trolls of the internet who do anything they can to bring someone down, you have the balls to get out there and tell jokes, to lead a war on William Shatner and to net a giant metal chicken a gazillion facebook followers.

The fact that you can admit something you’re ashamed of can only make me love you more. And I know you know, now more than ever, that you’re not alone, but I’ll say it again. You’re not alone. Never will be. I for one will stalk you forever. Comforting, huh?

And to everyone else, no matter what secret battles you’re fighting, you’re not alone either. Even if I don’t share your personal pain, there is someone out there who does. You’re all my heroes, the silent masses who struggle with depression, with self-harming, with eating disorders, or with what I went through when I finally admitted to myself that I find women just as attractive as men. (That may come as a surprise to some of you, or not, but I’ll just throw it out there. If it means you don’t want to be my friend anymore, we probably should never have been friends in the first place.) <–See? That's what I'm talking about when I'm talking about shame.

It all comes down to shame. We don't let our pain out because we're afraid of what people will think. When I finally admitted both the above struggle and my issues with food, I was amazed at how wonderful and supportive my husband is. If you don't have a support team, I support you. I'm with you. And if you do have a support team in place, I'm with you still, one more voice helping out. One more voice telling you that you're not alone. I see you. I hear you. I am you.

We're all gonna get through this together.

Post-holiday blurgh

I think we all have the blurgh right now in the US. Holidays are mostly over. We’re really tired of people clogging all the stores and movie theaters, and we ate entirely too much candy.

Or maybe that’s just me.

I have a gripe today about ordering online. I got most of my husband’s presents from Thinkgeek, with their handy dandy ordering system. I’ve never had a problem before. Now, I shall never be ordering from them again.

The items I ordered came in a box much too large for them. The one strip of inflatable packing pads seemed to have been thrown into the top rather than wrapped over anything. I know this because it was close enough to the opening to get caught in the tape. It stayed in place while everything else rolled around in the box.

So, all the packaging for my items looked as if it had been through the war. Several packages had come open and one item was broken. When I called Thinkgeek, they apologized sure, but also tried to calm me down with, “This is the holidays, and we’re very busy.” I know what time of year it is, and you didn’t just cut corners, you cut off whole sides!

To make matters worse, they promised a replacement of the broken object, but instead of doing that, they refunded my money without even telling me. I didn’t know the replacement wasn’t coming until I checked my statement. I had to run out for a replacement gift on Dec 23rd when I’d already done my shopping well in advance.

I’m well and truly irked. And I’m going to show my irk by never shopping there again.

I know this is a small problem in the world we live in today. It also happens to be a problem I can do something about by telling everyone.

Other than that, I had a safe and happy holiday. I hope you did, too.

Anything giving you the holiday grumbles?

p.s. to Maria. I’m so glad your puppy is doing better!

If I can just rant here for a little bit. I hate organizing food for a big group of people. There, I said it. I love having people over, but I hate deciding what we’re all going to eat, especially if we all have to decide on what kind of take-out to order.

Everyone is talking and happy, and with forced cheerfulness, I have to say, “What’s everyone want to eat.”

Dead silence. A herd of deer in headlights, if that. Many ignore me. At best, I’ll get shrugs.

No one wants to answer this question. No one wants to be the first to stay, “Chik-fil-a!” or what have-you and have their suggestion shot down. For some reason, in my experience, people tend to take their restaurant preferences personally. You didn’t fry the chicken, but if someone else thinks it’s gross, that’s like a kick in the gut.

So, since no one will speak, I have to, I have to have all of my preferences shot down. Worse than that, sometimes people will get that look that says they hate chicken, but they’ll shrug along with it anyway, just so no one gets upset. As a fairly picky eater, I hate when someone tries to force food one me, so I make it a goal not to force food on anyone else. This includes making someone eat take-out that doesn’t really appeal to them. I can read it in their faces.

Do you hate this too? Are you ever stuck at a party saying, “Pizza? Chicken? Veggie burgers?” and having no one speak to you? Or having everyone violently disagreeing on what should be had? I’ve pretty much had enough. Tonight, I said, “Let’s everyone do their own thing and meet-up back here for boardgames.” I’m hoping it works out. Wish me luck. ^_^