Update on the November Nutshell Vomit and Drama Episode

1. I haven’t yet received the medical bills. But Mr. Demonic will send them to the BF’s mom, as soon as…

2. My daughter writes her an apology letter. She’s still working on it.

3. The two are still together. They are only apart on Facebook.

4. My husband refers to him as “Doofus” very likely thinking of  “That ’70s Show” when Jackie’s father called Kelso the same. I sort of like that term of endearment.

5. BF is driving Ms. MiniD up to San Francisco on Saturday. This is because the cheapest airfare I could get back to this Frozen Tundra (and believe me, it IS NOW) was for her to leave from San Francisco instead of LA. Don’t ask me, I manipulated the dates on four different browsers before I was satisfied with a plane ticket that wasn’t going to cost us an arm and a leg. (She’s a darling girl, but hardly worth an arm and a leg.)

6. Ms. MiniD recently went through alcohol counseling at school. You may remember that I emailed the Dean. Well, she talked to the Dean and several counselors. They discussed how alcohol works in her system and the steps she should take to lessen the effects. She said they thought she had a high tolerance, and therefore didn’t feel buzzed until it was too late. (I don’t know about this, I’m just reporting what she told me. Sounds crazy.) Ms. MiniD wasn’t at all mad that I ratted her out. Using the safe drinking tips (!) given by the school, she was able to party last weekend at the beach and not throw up! I would say progress has been made, but that would be nuts.

7. Ms. MiniD arrives home Sunday morning. I put her on a red-eye, and she has to be able to catch the connecting flight in Minneapolis. Hopefully, she won’t sleep through the boarding call.

8. Ms. MiniD has prepared a menu of possible dinner items. This is all stuff I normally make, but back then in her high school hey-day, she thought my food was “weird” and so she never ate any of it. Oh, how a semester away changes a person…

9. I’m not looking forward to the partial filling of my empty nest. (The other one has a temporary JOB! Yes! and a wedding to attend to next month.)

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A Diversion from the November Nutshell: Charging the Hostess Stand

Many people know me as a fine, upstanding citizen, someone who is basically laid back and mellow. Oh, sure, I used to have quite a temper in my younger days. I would like to think that was the result of my genes, you know, crazy Greek meets similarly crazy Asian. Age and wisdom have diluted my temper, thank God. However, put an obstacle between me and my food, and you might as well declare war.

I love good food, fine wine and new experiences in the gastro-sexual. Yes, I liken my love affair with outstanding cuisine as very close to orgasmic. When Mr. Demonic and I have chats, it’s usually regarding the memorable lunches and dinners we had. There have been many. We oooh and ahhh over the lunches in Napa, French dining in Chicago, big honking steaks in Colorado. Mmm…

Those who know my real last name will know that there aren’t many on the planet with the same last name. We are all related by blood and marriage, my husband’s family coming from a Bohemian background in what is now western Czechoslovakia. Many decendants are still in the other Tundra city, and some in Chicago and northern Indiana. (Those are from my huband’s great-great-uncle who supposedly killed a man.) Some of those Chicago-ites moved to Palm Beach and the Left Coast, so now there are contingents in Florida and California.

There were two times where standing in line waiting for a table got to me. One was at an Outback Steakhouse about fifteen years ago. They were trendy and few and far between, so we took a trek into another city to try it. The other was a local steak house, one that was southwestern in theme and made the best margaritas I have ever had the pleasure of inhaling.

Both times, we sat at the bar and waited for well over two hours. This is because both places refused to take reservations. If you as restaurant owner keep serving me margaritas for two hours (I ingested three), then you get what you deserve. Back then, there were no paging devices, and the hostess would call your name, and not always over the loudspeaker.

Like I said, I’m normally mellow, but I can get pretty cranky when I’m buzzed. Both times I charged the hostess stand and asked “what the hell?” while Mr. D cowered in the dim barlight and hoped no one noticed we were together. Both times, someone answered to the call of our last name.

Yes, we were ripped off!

Now, I would never think to do that to anyone, but why someone would acknowledge being the owner of our last name, I don’t know. Oh yes. To line jump into a better position.

In one case, while I was giving the hostess a piece of my mind, another patron half in the bag walked up and asked where he was in the line, to which I said, “Back off, Dude. We’re next. We’ve been sitting here three hours!”

To which we were next.

For my size, I can be pretty scary.

That’s why I like the local seafood grill. (Just don’t go there for Thanksgiving.) It’s small, cozy, and not many people eat seafood. More people prefer steak. They will also save the same booth for us every Friday night, and always seat us on the same side of the booth. (After all, it is date night.)

Thinking about having our reservation scammed twice is making me ornery. And fiesty. I haven’t been in a minor scrap in a long time.

Maybe tonight we should go to a crowded steakhouse and see if some idiot scams our place in line.

November in a Nutshell Part Deux

A funny thing happened on the way from October to December.

November.

(I always wanted to write something like that. 🙂 )

As many might remember the dim recollection of the US presidential campaign coming to a screeching halt around November 4, so do I. By November 1st, I was way past my tolerance for any more news coverage on Barack Obama and Sarah Palin, and purposefully tuned in to Turner Classic Movies to avoid the news. (Let’s face it, the race was all about them, not the other two guys. Who are they now?)

Election Day turned out a nice day, warm and sunny. In fact, later that week, I picked the last of my tomatoes, and the last one is finally red on my windowsill today. On Election Day, I had to drive my husband, the Dear Mr. Demonic, to the airport at 5:30 a.m. (He did the absentee ballot thing, a very smart move.) He was outbound on a plane to Las Vegas for his annual convention. By the time I returned to my little, soon-to-be frozen city, it was a quarter to seven, and the polls opened at 7. I thought to myself, who the hell would be up this early? And, I’m up and about anyway, might as well vote.

The polls for our precinct is located in a nearby community college. It’s the same college we threatened to send our daughter to, because she could walk to it and it’s a lot cheaper than the private, Catholic college in California that she is attending. The college is basically a courtyard building, where the hallways make a large square and in the middle is some greenery. The hallways are connected. When I entered the building, there looked to be about 25 people in line, which seemed promising. In and out, that’s what I wanted. Still, I knew a record turnout was expected, so I brought the book “How to Get a Literary Agent” by Michael Larsen. (Excellent reference, by the way. I strongly urge all writers to read it.)

My estimate as to the line was wrong. Way wrong. The people in front of me were the first 25, who had already been cleared and were waiting for ballots. Behind them was the rest of my precinct. No joke. I wandered down the first hallway of a hundred or so people, hoping to find the end of the line. When I made the turn to the second hallway, there were another hundred or so people lined up. At the end of that hall, I made another turn, and there was another line, then turned into the final hall, where I finally found the end. There had to be 500 people in line ahead of me.

I settled down to reading my book (standing up) and waited as we slowly proceeded. It took about an hour before I got to the short line, but that was okay, because I managed to almost finish the book. Then it took another fifteen minutes before I got to vote. My ballot was at first rejected by the counting machine, and I had to go back and clean it up. It wasn’t messy. In fact, I am a master at FOSDIC circles, and being a former art major, can color within in the lines with my eyes closed. (Well, at least with my glasses off.) I think that perhaps the machine did not like my choices, so it spit my ballot out. Nevertheless, I returned to my little stand and darkened the circles as prominently as I could. They were so black that they glistened like onyx jewels.

Then I went home and turned off the TV. I avoided newsstands, and refused to talk to anyone. It was obvious who was going to win, and I hadn’t voted for him. (If you must know, I voted my conscience.) If you know me, you know I hate news anyway. Journalism has taken the mucky path down sensationalism and is of the yellow kind these days. Luckily, with my husband off for a week in Vegas, I used the opportunity to make a huge dent in my NaNo efforts. In fact, that week is where I made the most progress.

Hmm… I wonder what that means???

November in a Nutshell Part I

I’ve had to chop this up, since November was such a huge month. So expect my life in nutshell installments over the next couple of days.

NaNoWriMo = a success. I told myself that I was going to use the month of November to get the lead out of my shorts and write a substantial amount of words for the novel that has been gathering dust in my brain. It took me a year and a half to write 70K words. It took me 29 days to write 50K. Yes, I am lazy. But that’s progress. If you’re a fledgling author, I would highly recommend the NaNo route for you next year. If you are highly motivated, as I was, you will automatically reserve a certain amount of time each day to write. I am hoping to continue with the regimen, but it’s hard to say. I have some personal issues that I must address shortly. (More on that later.) Plus, I’m lazy.

I used my real work time to play, so that I wouldn’t have to play once I started writing. This means I was on Facebook during the morning playing Scramble. For those who don’t know, Scramble is very addicting. If you like words, don’t go there; it will be hard to extricate yourself. Depending on the day, I would either leave the office at 1 p.m. or 3 p.m. and go home and write. Silence works best for me. Weekends, I wrote in the morning. Most of the sessions were at least three hours long, but I did have a few days where I marathoned about six hours.

The thing about NaNo-ing is that you have a lot of cheerleaders in your corner. Not only did I have trusted friends online urging me on to victory (like the Little Fluffy Cat, Rochester, Dr. B, Corina and others), I also had some real people giving me some good advice. I reached out and did some research, which got the people I spoke to excited for me. They actually want to read the story now, even though my novel is quite chicky and these are old guys. (Well, a little older than I am.) I needed to know how much a guy like this would make if he had an office and agency of a certain size, and they were very helpful. These two guys were actually very funny. I told them that my protagonist had a son who went to school in San Francisco. I told them about the no-good husband, and warned that he wasn’t my real husband, the dear Mr. Demonic. Then they asked me where the family lived, and I said “in my house.” They thought that was hilarious. Research is a good thing, especially if you’re clueless like me. Well, I knew about the story lines, the emotions. Being a mom, being a daughter. But the technical jazz, yes, I needed help. The NaNo people also send you emails to cheer you on. This was beneficial.

I think I have about ten chapters to go before I can wrap this puppy up. Yeah! My character is making a cross-country trek to California. She’s in Colorado now. She must go deep inside herself to find herself, after trauma. It turns out her son has to do the same thing. All ends well in San Francisco, which is where all should end well.

While thinking about the mom-son relationship, I got to thinking about the mom-daughter relationship. So, guess what? As soon as this book is put to bed (and the crazy novella I’ve been working on that just needs an ending), I’m starting another book. It will have a grandma, mom and teenage daughter, set in my northern Tundra town.

Oh. I’m so excited about that.

How I Proposed to My Husband (or Got Him to Propose to Me)

Although it seems rather gauche, women have been proposing to men since the beginning of time, and I don’t see any change in the situation. My son’s girlfriend proposed to him. I’m a little leery of a couple of twenty-somethings getting married before either has a college degree. If one or both had a full time job, that might sway me. However, I’ve been a daughter-in-law before, and I can tell you from experience that the man’s mother should not say a word. So I’m not talking.

The girlfriend’s mother is here in San Francisco. She flew all the way from Japan to meet my son and see his recital. The girlfriend’s mother doesn’t speak much English, but I got a lot of information out of her anyway. She thinks the marriage is a bad idea. She wants her daughter to go home after graduation. I doubt that’s going to happen.

I started thinking about how Mr. Demonic and I got together. I asked him out in the beginning. I insinuated myself into his life soon after. (Not unlike Mr. D Jr.’s girlfriend.) The difference was that after the first month of dating, Mr. Demonic moved 750 miles away from me. Despite the distance problem, we managed to maintain a long distance relationship for two and a half years. I’m not saying it was easy; there were times where I thought we might not make it, but in the end, love prevailed.

At first, we would take turns flying to the other’s city. He was a big shot, I was making good money at the federal agency, and plane tickets were under $160 round trip back then.

After a year of this, I decided to make a move. It was obvious that he never was going to do it. I didn’t pop the question, per se. Instead, I took the roundabout approach. During each visit to his Rust Belt city, I would make appointments for interviews with the local offices of my federal agency. I was looking for a transfer.

Transferring wasn’t going to happen. My ex-federal agency was hard to transfer around in. You’d think that they’d want to keep the natives happy, but it was a matter of the union. Going on job interviews gave me something to do when he was working. Mr. Demonic didn’t know this. He thought I was serious. (I was only partially serious.)

This caused the first major rift in our budding relationship. He told me not to make plans to move. I was adamant. He told me I’d have to find my own place. I said fine. I wasn’t fine though. I was pissed off.

After that, there was a cooling of ardor. I decided to concentrate on my own life in my own section of the Tundra, and took a couple of steps back. My new life consisted of going to parties and hanging out with friends, male and female. Oh, I still deeply loved Mr. Demonic, but I was done with the pursuit.

I applied for airline positions. I decided to enroll in a travel agent class. (HA! That would have been a bad move. Now everyone is their own travel agent!) I quit my federal agency job and got one working for the university. One cold January day, I was running late for work. There was an ice storm and my alarm didn’t go off because we had a power outage. I disembarked from the university bus, and began to run in the crosswalk toward my building.

I never made it. I was wearing clogs (a bad choice for winter in the Tundra) and fell down in the street. (Yes, I’m very uncoordinated.) I couldn’t get up. Students were passing me by, and I couldn’t get up. Eventually, after a few light cycles, a police car pulled up and threw me into the back seat. They took me to the hospital where I learned I had broken my leg.

Mr. Demonic found out, and had me discharged and sent for me. Thus began the long plane trip with my broken leg in a cast up to my hip. He wanted to take care of me. I thought, “Isn’t that sweet?” but also thought it was nuts to go 750 miles to be taken care of.

Sometime after I had arrived and was safely dispatched to his apartment, loaded down painkillers, he told me we were going to get married.

And we did. About six months later.

Damned Squirrels

I went to the Strybing Arboretum yesterday and a pack of damned squirrels followed me around.

They’re absolutely fearless. They come right up to your pant legs and start pulling on them. The beggars.

You can’t feed them (supposedly, there are signs warning against it) and I didn’t have any food on me at all, not even a stick of chewing gum. I don’t know why they followed me. They should have taken the hint that I hate squirrels.

I guess they’re not well-versed in telepathy.

My Trip to San Francisco, or the Travails of Travel

I’ve just arrived, but it’s been the longest several hours of my life. I’m waiting for my son to call me once he gets out of class, and then go to dinner, because I’m starving!

First of all, after dodging mega-construction projects all over the metro area (when you live in the Tundra, those last few weeks of fall are full of last minute projects before the permafrost sets in), I arrived at the airport with scant minutes to spare. While checking my bag, I was informed that my one piece of luggage would cost an additional $15. Why they couldn’t have mentioned it at the time of reservation, or even yesterday as I checked in online, I don’t know. Luckily, I had the money.

Since I had only seconds to spare, I didn’t get a chance to go to my favorite Japanese restaurant in the airport. This made me quite cranky. I knew that the pickin’s on the plane would be slim and grossly overpriced. I couldn’t see paying $5 for a snack box that I could assemble at home for $1.50. Besides, I wanted sushi, damn it! And miso soup that would warm anyone’s heart. (That’s the other thing – it was cold out today!)

Of course, my seat assignment was the second to last row of a very crowded airplane. I don’t know how anyone gets the first couple of seats next to the door; I never do. I didn’t mind, as I knew where I was going once I got there and didn’t have to make any connections. All went well at first, as I settled in to read Steven King’s “On Writing.” (I had a shamelessly fluffy romance novel should I be quick enough to finish the King book. I was.) I prefer to get a window seat, and like to look at the landscape below me, clouds permitting. I’ve flown back and forth so many times now, I can pick up the major cities and rivers, mountain ranges and high desert. I know when we are over Lake Tahoe, it’s time to pack up my personal belongings and raise my tray table to its full and upright locked position.

Today’s flight was less than blissful. During the flyover of the Rocky Mountains, the turbulence was so strong that I actually held onto the arm rests with both hands and prayed. As it turns out, it was a good thing I didn’t eat, because I have a feeling my lunch would have ended up as chunky finger paint over my seat mates.

During the flight, there was a medical emergency back in my section, the last two rows. The flight attendant went on the intercom asking for any doctors or nurses to turn on their overhead lights. Right away, four different lights went on in our section of the plane. It was comforting to know that if we were going to crash due to turbulence, there were so many doctors in the house.

The plane was just a little late because of the strong headwinds (thus causing the turbulence), and so it took a while to disembark. The flight attendant had taken my bag and put it in a Super Secret Spot since the overhead bins were all full. She had forgotten all about it, until I, as the last person on the plane, asked her for my bag.

On the way to the rental car building, travelers must take the AirTrain. This is quite the handy mode of transportation. However, to take the train, you have to get to the platform, which involves going up two sets of escalators. On my second set of escalator, my suitcase (which was packed full of motherly treats like freshly canned tomatoes and weighed at least as much as a Yugo) got caught in a step. On my other arm was my computer bag, which is also heavy, and my other hand was carrying a bag full of freshly picked super steak tomatoes. (Hey. I might as well have picked them before the real frost.) The combined weight of all these bags in concert with centrifugal force sent me tumbling backward. That’s right, I fell backward on the escalator with my bags dragging me down.

I know some might think this is really embarrassing. (Or funny.) I didn’t care about that; I just didn’t want to die. Lucky for me, I landed on top of a very thin Japanese businessman. However, since I was outweighed by my luggage 2 to 1, I couldn’t right myself and there was nothing I could do but scream. It was fortunate that the Japanese businessman had a friend who was a couple of steps above me. He ran down and extricated me from my predicament.

Of course, I apologized profusely. In English. I am learning Japanese, but didn’t know the right way to say “I’m sorry.”

Finally, I made it to my rental car. Of course, being me, I walked over 300 stalls in the wrong direction before I realized that Stall #7 wasn’t going to be next to Stall #386. As luck would have it, I backtracked and there was my little Chevy Cobalt, only steps from the original door I had departed from.

There were some bright spots in my hectic day. Usually, I make the wrong turn when leaving the airport and end up on the 101 heading right for downtown. I don’t want to go there, as my motel of choice is by the ocean, the exact opposite side of town. I can’t tell you how many times I took the wrong exit in the past, even though I know this place just as it were my own home. This time, miraculously, I took the 380 to 280, which is the right way to go. However, I missed the Super Secret Shortcut from Highway 1, and ended up taking the long way over to the Sunset. For some reason, even though it was rush hour, the long way didn’t seem so long.

After unpacking my quart jars and wrestling the rest of my belongings up two flights of stairs (remember, I said “motel” not “hotel”) I am taking a brief rest before I go outside and look at the ocean. After surveying my body, I see I have escaped with scrapes over my left hand, a badly skinned left knee, and I think what is going to be a very bad bruise on my behind. Oh, well… It’s all worth it.

Oh, yes. It’s glorious here. Hot, bright, sunny, very typically NOT San Francisco. My son says October is the hottest time of the year here, and he is right.

The sky is so clear. You can almost see Asia if you look hard enough.