Spending My Inheritance

Surprise! It’s me again. Siri Paulson is taking a well-deserved wrist break, so we’re switching spots.

Last week, I posted about my wonderful grandfather. I would talk about him more, but I don’t need another cry right now. So I’ll talk about the fun he and Grammy (they plotted the inheritance together) gave me.

Friends, for the first time since I lived in a studio apartment where my bedroom was my living room, I have a TV in my bedroom. I bought a TV and a blu-ray player, a new keyboard (because my other new one is driving me up the wall and round the corner) and a new set of PC speakers because only the right one works of the current pair.

I also bought my daughter a TV for her room. She can now play videogames in her room and stop rearranging the furniture in the living room which she never then puts back so no one else can use it! I mean seriously, when you walk into the living room and the couch is a foot from the entertainment center…!

Ahem. TV in my room. It sits on top of the hutch of my desk, so I won’t be terribly tempted to watch it when I am trying to work. My neck would start hurting pretty quickly, I imagine. It sits perfectly for me to watch it from my comfy, awesome new bed, though. Last night I snuggled up with my eighteen-year-old cranky teenager and watched Moana.

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Still Fixing My Car

My grandfather gave me my first car. It was 1990, and the car was a 1970 Ford Custom 500 Galaxie. It was seventeen feet long, and it had fins. It had over 200,000 miles on it. It was in pretty much perfect condition.

That was my grandfather. When you spend money on things, he believed, you take care of them. He had a truck that was older than my car. His car, the one he preferred to drive, was their “last new car” when my grandparents bought it in the eighties. It still looked in great shape when I parked in his driveway last month, paying what would be my last visit to a 94-year-old man.

My grandfather stormed the beach at Normandy. I can’t tell you much about that–I am learning now, as I knew I would one day but I was always meaning to do something about it “soon,” that I did not pay enough attention.

Grandpa worked at the Joy manufacturing plant in my hometown, building huge orange mining machines until he retired. He and Grammy ran a farm too, and raised four kids. Grammy worked sometimes, when it was convenient, so she would be able to get Social Security too. Then they moved from Pennsylvania to Arizona, and ran a four-trailer mobile home park in their retirement.

Historians call them “the Greatest Generation.” For my family at least, I know they certainly rose to the challenges of their lives.

I was there when my grandparents celebrated …

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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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