The Gift of Cash

I’ve heard it. You’ve heard it. Giving cash (or often, gift cards) shows you don’t care. You don’t feel like taking the time or trouble to pick out a “real” gift.

Let me tell you a thing.

Once, years ago, a friend had been trying to find something to give me for Christmas. I was in rough financial straits at the time. It seemed silly to give me something useless. I had bunches of books and movies already, and also he didn’t know what I might want. (This was in the days before Amazon wishlists. Or at least, before I had one.) I had just moved from a good-sized house to a tiny apartment, so I had no room for anything more than I had anyway.

Anyway, as the situation dragged into January and he got to feeling worse and worse about it, he finally handed me $50. He told me I couldn’t spend it on bills–I had to get something I wanted.

Friends, I went to a discount home store and bought myself some curtains. My little white box of a living room got curtains, and my new place became much more homelike. My daughter’s room got purple sheer curtains, and I got to stop worrying about how she never remembered to close the blinds before changing. My bedroom got bright red blackout curtains–so I had a pop of color AND some additional darkness for days I got to sleep in. I even bought a little curtain for the …

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For the Feral Children

Two weeks ago it was National Library Week. Coincidentally, I was listening to Neil Gaiman’s “The View from the Cheap Seats” including a speech he gave to librarians.

Neil Gaiman describes himself as a “feral child who was raised in libraries.”* Though I was not lucky enough to get to the library very often as a child, the concept resonates with me. Especially since he also read and loved the Three Investigators series…

My first library, the Franklin Public Library, sounds much like his first favorite library—a large Victorian mansion, the entire first floor full of books. I don’t know about his, but mine was built in 1849, renovated in 1921 to house the library…

Red brick Victorian mansion three stories with multiple chimneys and green shutters

I remember my library card was blue. It had a tiny metal strip in it. My mother’s library card was brown. It meant she could get more books than I could, and from more than just the children’s section.

My mother always had to get some children’s books on her card, as the limit on my blue card was cruelly low.

Walking in the front door of the library, you had to go up three or four steps to get to the library floor. There were also stairs heading down. And a turn of steps going higher in the building. I never went up, but I just knew that wonders lay there. My mother said meeting …

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Editing a Book is Like Buying a House, or: Being a Grown-Up is Terrifying and Exhilarating

I’m forty-seven years old. I’ve had bunches of jobs. More than a dozen, just counting employers and not different positions, or jobs I’ve quit and come back to. I’ve owned eleven cars, and rented fifteen apartments/houses/condos. I’m a mom, a widow, an author, and an occasional college student.

You’d think I could get over the “this is scary holy cats!” carp by now.

And as I type this, no joke, “Eye of the Tiger” starts playing.

I’m working on buying a house. It is, astonishingly, like editing a book. Which, coincidentally enough, I am also doing right now.

What are these similarities?

There’s so much to consider.
  • Two out of three in my household take the bus to work/school. We thought several houses would be in the running because they were close to a bus route that wonderfully runs clear across town, starting near kid’s school then passing near housemate’s place of work. Then we saw that the earliest bus going west (the necessary direction) on that route would not get her to work until an hour after her start time. Suddenly a lot of houses on the east side are out of consideration. Houses on the west end may still work out. Except the kid’s school is on the far east side of town…and on, and on.
  • I’m editing the second book in a trilogy. What did Hiro say about the Watchstones in the first book? Did he know what he was talking about when he said it, …

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Where the Rubber Meets the Road

There comes a time…

When one has read all the books one usefully can, gathering information that mostly won’t be used.

When one has made and consumed an unreasonable number of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and other forms of comfort food.

When one has cleaned the desk, cleared the decks, and even tidied up their browser bookmarks, but is finally stopped in procrastination, daunted in the face of fixing all the Tumblr tags.

When one has collected the maps and timelines, hammered out the myths and legends, and nicknamed all the gods. Gathered up the highlighters and the colored pens and the post-its and the sticky flags.

When one has picked the brains of any and all acquaintances who might be of assistance, luring them near with promises of baked goods and pestering them with vague explanations of half-imagined magic rules to try out options.

When one has spent entirely too much time staring at the manuscript before one, before wandering off to make one more PB&J and ponder the makeup and properties of the human soul over a glass of milk.

When one has done all these things, but especially the devouring of the PB&Js, there comes a time when one must dive in or give up. When procrastination runs headfirst into “There’s no time!” and one must either take the leap, or let the leap take them. (what does that mean? I don’t even know.)

Friends, I am at that point. The pressure is high, the expectations …

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Flame Isfree and the Feather of Fate VII

Once wild magic shattered human civilization. Mage-built cities collapsed, spell-sped galleons sank, airships fell from the skies. Magic-born chimerae turned on their creators, and then their neighbors. The peoples of Awrhee fell into barbarism.

But that was generations ago. Humanity has scraped together kingdoms again, and learned to live without magic. Those who practice spellcraft are eyed with suspicion, as are the old ways, and the old places.

Some, however, seek treasure in the ruins of what was. Knowledge, gold, power—it’s out there. Treasure untold for anyone clever enough to find it, bold enough to take it, fast enough to get away with it.

It’s out there, in the Spell-Wracked Lands.

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Part VI

Flame Isfree and the Feather of Fate VII
A Serial Story by KD Sarge

 

The morning had dawned far too bright, and it was too warm as well, making Flame’s head and stomach hurt as if she’d spent the night enjoying herself. She huddled under her hood, enduring the warmth in favor of shade as they left the Stone Eye.

“Flame, do you really think you should take a hearth-cat into the wild?” Lory asked.

“I’m just going,” Flame said. “He’s the one following.”

“He came from the wild,” Kessa said. “He probably doesn’t want to be a city cat. Do you?” She scooped up the cat and cuddled it. “Him doesn’t want to be a …

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Clearing the Decks

My daughter has more than fifty stuffed animals. As far as I can recall, she has never willingly parted with a single one.

She’s eighteen and she has clothes that last fit her when she was twelve. You can’t tell her she’ll never wear them again–she is quite certain that she just needs to lose a little weight. Those clothes are absolutely not lost to her wardrobe forever.

Her room, as you might guess, is a bit of a mess.

Of course, I’m not innocent. I have nearly every notebook I ever wrote in. Every file of course, but also at least one printout of most of my stories. Some of the book-length manuscripts have multiple copies. And, of course, just about every book I ever loved.

I have a similar issue with furniture–especially handed-down furniture. I like it. I like possibilities. I hate to let go of something so useful (and expensive to replace!) as a decent piece of (free) furniture. I move desks around, change shelves, rearrange rooms, trying and trying to find the best configuration… For years, my entertainment center was a baker’s rack someone gave me. It worked! Ugly as hell, but it worked. It’s still ugly, but at least it’s in the kitchen now.

This past weekend I had a much needed clearing-out. As I argued with my kid about a box of stuffed animals she hasn’t opened since we carried it off the moving truck nearly three years ago, I told her, “You have …

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Perils of an Echo Chamber (Not Actually About the Election)

So in case you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last 12-18 months, I’ll explain that here in the US, we’re coming to the end of a long, painful election process. (Not that the US is the center of the universe, but I do know people are watching. I’ve heard opinions on the candidates from friends around the world, thus the hiding under a rock assumption.)

As far as I’m aware, all my friends hold the same strong opinion as I do on which candidate will make a better president. Everyone in my Twitter feed, everyone whose blog I follow on Tumblr–we’re all agreed.

But obviously someone out there thinks the other nominee is a better option. That’s how one becomes the nominee, after all–people vote. Lots of people voted for the other candidate to be nominated, and a whole lot of someones are planning to vote for that other candidate in the general election, according to the polls that have me checking in several times a day. (Just after typing that, in fact, I ran off to fivethirtyeight.com to check in.)

Only one of those other-candidate voter-someones wanders through my Facebook timeline sometimes. That one person is family. If we were not related through my daughter, we never would have met, let alone become Facebook friends.

echo chamber: any forum for communication in which all members agree with everyone else. See also preach to the choir. ~online slang dictionary

In some ways, social media being an …

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New Horizons

Did you hear about Elon Musk’s plans, outlined yesterday at the 67th annual International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico?

He wants to go to Mars. Not just a billionaire taking a jaunt, but he wants to build a colony there. Put a bunch of stuff up there, engineer reuseable ships so they don’t have to build them again and again, send out teams every time Earth and Mars are close… He believes with SpaceX’s new rockets, they can make the trip take three months.

Musk isn’t the only one. Mars One had 78,000 hopefuls in the first two weeks they were accepting applications. Mars One, I should point out, doesn’t plan to bring its people back from Mars. Their idea to cut costs is to make it a one-way trip. They plan to raise the money doing reality-tv stuff, as their astronauts train and learn to live and work together.

These scientists think it’s better to send older people if it’s one-way. Apparently the thinking goes that 1) older means they won’t be having babies after the radiation exposure and 2) they won’t mind going there for the rest of their lives, since they don’t have much time left. I guess.

NASA is thinking about where to start.

I love the idea of going to Mars, though I can see the point of someone in my Twitter feed yesterday, who said we had no business taking and mucking up another planet instead of fixing what we’ve …

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Walls Never Work

So a certain figure currently in the news keeps talking about building a wall. (Don’t worry, it’s just an oblique mention.)

Whenever I hear about it, I make the comment “Walls never work. Haven’t these people seen Pacific Rim?”

I mean, look.

Tonight I was reminded of this, as the “play pen” cage I’d purchased for kitten-containment was breached in less than half an hour. First they climbed it. I fortified it, making climbing impossible. So they jumped it. Two foot high pen, two month old kittens, and both were on top of it before I could even get it properly assembled!

We’re fostering two kittens for the Humane Society. They get the kittens socialized and growing up in a home, not a shelter. We get two energetic and adorable furballs that we don’t have to pay to support get to give back when they grow up a bit more.

This is Sunset. The mighty hunter. Her royal highness.

“Your nightstand? I think you mean the royal bed.”

This is Stormy. AKA Flo-Jo and/or Usain Bolt, because this kitten is fast.

stormy

AKA Piranha, because if the food offered is not to her liking, she is quite willing to explore living food sources. After all, I don’t really need ten toes and ten fingers, do I?

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See the Positives

Two weeks ago, I spent $560 on my car. The intake manifold was leaking, among other issues, and I had to get through emissions to register her–so I had a  a deadline.

I barely got her back, and the AC went out. In case you haven’t heard, it’s a really bad time to be without AC in my neck of the woods. That cost me $322—and they’re not confident they fixed the problem, as they’re not sure how they got it working.

Last week Erin talked about what it’s like, living mostly without pain. Putting nearly a thousand dollars into my car over the course of a month has made me think about what it’s like, having a life without lack.

People like to complain about their jobs, and their bills, and how their paychecks are gone before they even hit the bank account, and I think it’s important to get that frustration out. I also think it’s important to remember that jobs are good to have. Lots of people out there would love to have a job. Though most of us would love not to need a job, until that awesome circumstance comes about, it’s good to have a job.

Bills are good to have. Bills mean (probably…?) you’ve received something you wanted.

I whine a lot every summer about my electric bill. When summer hits and we start running the AC all the time, my electric bill quadruples. See above link to the weather.

But you know …

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