I Have A Roommate!

So I haven’t posted here in quite a while, but honestly, not much has happened in a while to blog about, until just recently. And here I am now.

So, I reconnected on facebook with an old high school friend of mine, and we were talking about our hometown of Missoula. Neither of us stayed there very long after high school, but both of us remembered it fondly. Life takes you places you weren’t expecting, after all.

Recently, he moved back to Missoula, looking for nostalgia, comfort, and home. Well, they say “you can never go back,” and it’s just sadly true. The old hometown has changed so much, he was deeply disappointed with the place. It has grown too big, there are too many new stores, new buildings, it is too modern, just… too much like California and not enough like Montana. And he’s right.

So I drove over there (I live in Butte, which is only an hour and a half’s drive from Missoula) and “kidnapped” him for 24 hours. I said “Take a look around you at Butte. We’re behind the times. The city is old, it’s falling down, it’s laid back, informal… this city today is like the Missoula you and I grew up in. You might get that nostalgia you’re looking for here rather than in our actual childhood home.”

And it worked. He likes Butte. I don’t blame him. I like Butte, too. People here are friendly, laid back, the place is NOT posh, it’s just comfy and kinda dilapidated. You don’t have to mind your p’s and q’s around here, because everybody’s dirt poor and we all just sort of get it. We’re all in it together. The attitude is officially informal and mellow.

So, I live alone (with my four cats, two budgies and eleven snakes) in a three bedroom apartment because my mother bought this duplex before she passed away, so I would always have a place to live. And I’m a hair’s breadth away from being a hoarder, this apartment is jam-packed to the rafters with stuff (junk or treasures depending on who you ask), but there’s a spare bedroom with a bed in it, so why should it sit unused? I told him to come stay with me, and he accepted.

I was talking to another friend of mine who works at a local pizza place here in town, and she mentioned that they need a day shift cook. Oh? My friend just happens to be a cook. In fact, he used to own his own restaurant. A quick phone call later, and he’s got a job waiting for him when he gets here. It’s like kizmet. The whole universe conspired to make him move here.

Now he’s been here a week. He’s been working for three days, and loves his new job. Came home from work today with a huge grin on his face and glowing report of happiness on the job. And he cooks meals for me, and I hate cooking! He calls himself my housewife, and seems to be blissfully happy about it.

What worries me is that I’ve been living alone for the last twenty years. I’m used to walking around my apartment naked and not worrying about what other people think and always doing my own thing at all times. I’m worried that the stress of having another human being (even a fantastic human being) in the house will freak me out and I’ll drive him away. I’m worried about this because I don’t want it to happen. Having him here is awesome. I think it’ll be good for me, if I survive it. I want it to work. I want to be adaptable and succeed in this whole “having a roommate” thing. It happened so fast, but it feels so right. The original idea was for him to just stay until he could afford and find a place of his own, but now I’m not sure I want to let him leave. I think having him around could be so good for me if I can learn to tolerate another person’s presence. Maybe he can help me de-clutter and get my life in shape again…

And just so we’re utterly clear, there is no romance happening here. He and I are like brother and sister. And he is as gay as a treeful of monkeys, and I have absolutely no problem with that whatsoever. We can ogle men together, even! It’s all good. Please, universe, let this be as good for me as it has been for him. I live in hope!

Advertisements

As Some Of You May Know…

This is a WordPress blog. Well, I mean I’m sure all of you know that. Or could, if you cared to, because it’s right there in the URL. But there’s a reason I mention this.

Stats.

For those of you who do not have a WordPress blog of your own (many of you who came here, for instance, by clicking on the facebook link), you may not be aware that WordPress allows its users to track visitors by geography (well country, at least), and frequency of visit, and which post they read, and when they came by. Other stuff, too. And no, it does not record MY presence on my own blog more than once.

I find those stats fun. And revealing.

Most of the time, for example, a blog post will have, say 12 visitors with 14 views. Which means that twelve separate individuals visited the blog, and two of them came back to view it again. Or possibly one of them came back twice. And yes, I will sit, camped out on my blog after posting something new, refreshing the stats page to see if I’ve gotten a hit, and whether they’ve commented. You devastate me when you read and leave. No comment. Not even a like. Sigh. I’m not able to track your locations, or who you are, or anything that fancy, don’t worry. I’m no cyber-sleuth, and frankly I don’t care that much. Stay in the shadows, oh ye stalkers! That’s fine by me. Read and leave. See if I care. Don’t comment. I’m fine here. Alone. Sucking my thumb. I don’t live for your comments. I don’t care what you think.

On the day I posted my rant against 9/11, I got fifty-eight visitors and sixty-eight views. Because tags work. Brought in a lot of visitors. Musta pissed off a good number of them with that post, too. Not one comment. No one even stuck around long enough to tell me what an un-American, scum-sucking pig I am. Betcha a dollar most of ’em didn’t finish reading the post, even. Same thing the day after: 14 visitors and 17 views.

Anyway.

Sometimes, my stats will change. Take, for example, my last blog entry, about boobs. BOOBS! Oh, people, you LOVED that post, didn’t you? Now, now, no point in denying it! The stats don’t lie! The day I posted it? Six visitors, thirteen views. Y’all came back to read it again, dincha? The second day, seventeen visitors, twenty-one views. And today? Oh-ho, today! Four visitors, fourteen views. Four of you. FOURTEEN views. Somebody just couldn’t believe what they were reading, could they? Had to come back and read it again. And again. And again. Don’t bother denying it now, the stats don’t lie. You were here. Of course, I have no clue who you are. But you were here.

“Ethel, you’ve got to hear this! She’s talking ’bout her titties! I gotta bookmark this one!”

I can just hear it.

You amuse me, phantom readers. Whoever you are…

Why I Hate Urban Fantasy

Um… I don’t know, to be honest with you. I just know that I do. But I’m more than willing to spend a blog post breaking down the curious fact and looking at it.

For those readers who are unfamiliar with the term, “Urban Fantasy” is fiction with fantasy elements (magic, monsters, etc.) which takes place in the modern everyday world. It’s a pretty popular genre. I just can’t stand it for some reason. Well, let me elaborate.

See, the thing is, it really depends on the format. In movies and on television, I adore urban fantasy. I love vampires and zombies, even the occasional werewolf. But books? Fergeddaboutdit. For whatever reason, I have just about zero interest in reading about these things. I will watch almost any zombie movie, but zombie books just leave me cold. I am an avid fan of Buffy and Angel, but vampire books, unless they’re pre-industrial-revolution, are snoresville. So I love *some* Anne Rice books, others make me cringe.

And if we remove monsters from the equation, and just deal with humans, just ordinary fiction, you might as well not even write the book. Not if it’s taking place in the real world. Like, ordinary fiction. If your character can pick up a telephone, get on a computer, or drive a car, I won’t even read your book. I read to escacpe from reality, thanks. I don’t want to read about people who could be my neighbors, or who could be me. I already know about the real world, there’s nothing interesting here, that’s why I’m reading a book. It’s called “escapism.”

I can tolerate it for a short time. Like the Chronicles of Narnia, stuff like that. “Crossover,” I believe the term is. As long as we end up somewhere else, I’m okay with a little bit of real-world stuff. As a vehicle to get to the interesting part of the story. But not as the focus of the story. Not a page turner of any kind. Don’t care if you’ve got murder, mahem and bloodshed. Supernatural stuff left, right and center. Celebrities, royalty, magic. Nope. Makes no difference to me whatever. Not if it’s happening in the real world. Not the world I’m living in.

Why should this be? I love history books. Eat that stuff right up. I love to know what actually happened once upon a time right here. But I don’t want my fiction to happen here. Not now, not ever. I’m not even really comfortable with biographies or autobiographies for some reason, because most of them take place within the last hundred years or so. That particular genre didn’t gain much popularity until recently, you know. But I also tend to think of “history” as meaning “everyone who experienced this is dead now” which means that the American Civil War is recent history, and WWII is still (though just barely) current events. I take a very loooong view of the word “history.”

But back to Urban Fantasy. What is it about UF that grinds my gears? I wish I knew, because I don’t like not understanding myself. But I know that I pick up UF novels, start on them, and put them down out of sheer boredom. I can’t get into them. I can’t care about the characters. The writing can be top-notch, highest quality, and I’ll just drift away from the book and not even remember it because it’s so dull that nothing sticks in my mind. I’ve had some UF books recommended to me over and over, and I’ve tried to read them, and nothing comes of it.

The Mercy Thompson (or Thomas… something like that) books come to mind in particular, because Patricia Briggs is a relatively local author who comes to MisCon every year, and I’ve seen her many times, met and spoken with her a few times. She’s a really nice lady, I like her. She has lots of fans. They are nice, intelligent people whose opinions I respect. I’ve picked up a few of Patty’s books and tried to read them without success. I just don’t give a flying fig about Mercy, who apparently is a shapeshifter and also an auto mechanic. Why don’t I care about Mercy? I should, by all rights. I just don’t. I can’t even remember anything about any of her stories, except that she works in an auto repair shop, I think… and that’s because I put effort into it.

I like my fantasy in a fantasy world. Narnia. Middle-Earth. Prydain. Pern. Okay, Pern is sci-fi, but it reads like fantasy because there’s dragons in it. I even got mad at Katherine Kurtz because in her completely fantasy world, the religion was perfect Catholicism. Why did that bug me? Because at one point, they referred (I think it was at a Christmas Midnight Mass) to when Christ was born in Bethlehem. I got so mad, I threw the book across the room. No, I’m not exaggerating. I snarled, “Bitch! Fucking show me Bethlehem on your fantasy world map! I fucking dare you, cunt!” I was so mad. She broke the fourth wall completely. Shattered her own story’s credibility from within. WHY? She had created this beautiful fantasy world, with so many great details, then plopped Catholicism in it like a lazy bastard. Couldn’t be bothered to make up her own religion for these people. I was so pissed. Yeah, she researched medieval Catholic rituals and ceremonies, and the detail was exquisite. She’s a member of the SCA, and did the research for historical accuracy, it’s beautiful. But it has NO PLACE in a god-damned fantasy world! Make something up, for fuck’s sake! Make something the fuck up. Oh, that still burns me after all these years. Obviously. But if you can overlook the religious parts, her stories are really good.

Maybe that’s why I don’t like UF. It’s half-assed. Maybe that’s it. You can come up with a story, but not a world to put it in? Laaa-zeee….. Invent a universe, already.

I dunno. I’m gonna hafta give this some more thought. Because I’m perfectly aware that sometimes, the whole point of the magic, or monsters, is the shock of it being right in the ordinary everyday world. Shock value. So it needs to be in our world. Why wouldn’t I consider that valid? Why don’t I like that? Yeah, that’s not a good enough answer. I can’t accept that answer, Josie. Judges say “No.” Okay, so that’s not it. Why, then?

Again, I love the movies. Zombie movies are my favorite genre. Can’t get enough of the gore and the horror. I was even IN a zombie movie! One of my best memories! Fan-friggin’-tastic! I’ve got a couple of zombie books on my Kindle, and they are sooooo dull. I cannot understand what would drive anyone to write such drivel. Wow. Big attitude difference going on there. What’s up with that? Where is the reason, the sense, the logic? I love logic. I don’t like that I’m not making sense. It makes me uncomfortable.

Journal Jar #1

I found a small jar at a secondhand store the other day, labelled a “journal jar” and inside it was scores, if not hundreds of tiny slips of paper, each with a writing prompt on it. The idea is that if you write one of these ideas per day, at the end of the jar you’ll have an autobiography of sorts that you can collate and show people. Well I’m not sure I wanna do anything so mundane as write my autobiography, but having writing prompts is probably a good thing, so I am going to use some of them to make some entries here in my blog. But even more than that… As a writing exercise, and to get myself back into the swing of things, I am going to answer these prompts as best I can in one of my main characters’ voices over on my Author blog! Yup, two answers from one prompt, one here and one over at my other blog, which can be found at josielebeau.com, my new Author website. Hope you enjoy them both!

*************

Question: Describe a trip downtown as a young person. Describe walking down the main street.

A: Well, I’m going to set this in Missoula, MT, since the majority of my youth was spent there, though not the entirety of it. When I think of myself as a young person, I always picture myself in Missoula. I can’t really picture a specific “main street” that stands out from the others, more of a “downtown” general feel. There was the library, that was always exciting, and I never came away from the library empty-handed even though I never had any money.

See, the main thing that springs to my mind about “downtown” is that it is a shopping district in most cities, and the thing about my youth is that I didn’t get to shop. So the two concepts don’t really go together all that well. So for me, “a trip downtown” as a young person would consist mainly of sitting in the car with one grown-up while another grown-up went into a store and did paperwork or purchased something they needed or accomplished something else important to a grown-up. It doesn’t incite any feelings of nostalgia or excitement in me, it was just a question of behaving until we got home, and maybe, if I was lucky, they’d need to go to the bank. If I was really good, and they went to the bank, and they remembered I was there (so well-behaved, but not invisible), then maybe I would get a lollipop.

Nowadays, the idea of downtown Missoula is quite thrilling. There are bookstores, coffeshops, herbalists, an import market, etcetera, that make it all a fun, entertaining day. But I’m not a kid anymore. As a kid, the exciting part, I’d have to say, was going to the library, because the bank was only sometimes, and only a maybe. The library, on the other hand, was always a treasure trove, jackpot, and gala celebration all rolled into one. I couldn’t get enough of the library. I saw a meme recently that talked about every book being a TARDIS (Dr. Who’s time machine, for those not in the know): it’s small and modest-looking on the outside, but on the inside, it’s much bigger, and can transport you anywhere in time and space. It’s really true. I love books, and always have. I have a Kindle, yes, but that’s just for convenience. There’s something special about an actual paper book that just can’t be replicated.

The Taj Mahal, when it was first built, was built with perfume, did you know that? They put perfume right into the mortar they made the bricks with. Truth. The whole building was scented. Now, it may have been a bit much at the time, I don’t know, wasn’t there, but I do know that smell is the most evocative sense we have for memory. Scientists have studied that, and I have no reason to doubt it, having experienced it empirically. Anyway, the reason I bring this up is that I think before they ever made the first Kindle, they should have Taj Mahal’ed it. They should have found a way to capture the smell of an old, musty paper book and mixed that scent right into the plastic case of the ebook. People would have paid ten times as much for it, I betcha. “NOW with REAL PAPER scent!”

I want a paper perfume. That would turn me on. They have “Old Navy,” why can’t they make “Old Library”? My mind just comes alive when I smell book. Yes, that’s the memory of my youth, and of “downtown.” The Public Library, which to me is as sacred, if not more sacred, than any temple or church.

Thank you for reading, and please be sure to stop by my Author website, which is now live, though it still has a few pages yet to be built, the main body of the site is up and running, and the blog is very much live. I have answered this same question from the perspective of my main character, Morgan on the blog over there, so please come and read and tell me what you think! josielebeau.com/wp is the place to find it! Hope to see you all there!

Well, it’s been a while…

Since I blogged anything, which is sad, but hey – it’s a habit I’m attempting to build, not a promise I made to anyone. I’m working on building the habit, and will not castigate myself for occasionally not being perfect. Because who is always perfect? Boring people, that’s who. Screw that, I don’t wanna be boring. I like being me much better.

So here I am, blogging. About what? Anything, for now. Just to force myself back into the writing habit. RIght, writing. It’s NaNoWriMo, and I’m not participating. Why, you may ask? Because I tried it once, and it just isn’t right for me. I don’t do well under pressure. In fact, I usually crack really fast under pressure. Especially if it’s self-imposed pressure. So forget that. For some people, NaNoWriMo is a blessing and a boon, and they even do it more than once a year (because you don’t have to wait for November to do it, you know…). But for me, it just makes things worse. You have to play to your strengths, and NaNoWriMo pushes all the wrong buttons for me. So for those of you whom it helps, God speed and blessings be to you, and best of luck with your writing! Don’t judge me for not joining you. Only I know what’s best for me.

Something I HAVE taken up is a 12-month challenge to get published. Yep, seriously. It’s through Dream!Play!Write!, and the idea is to have a finished novel at the end of one year that is ready for publication and to actually publish it. That’s gonna be me. A published author this time next year. I’ve been working on some of the steps for that, one of which is setting up an author website, complete with a blog. That’s still in the works. It’s a WordPress blog, but I’m having trouble setting it up because it’s WordPress.org instead of WordPress.com, and it’s self-hosted instead of free, and so there are some complicated technical jiggery-pokery details I still have to iron out. It’ll happen. I am serenely confident. I already have the novel written, after all. I just need to polish, edit, and promote. The way I look at it, I’m 1/3 of the way therenow, having done the actual writing of the book part already. Yay, me!

See, even telling you all that, that’s part of me promoting it. So I’m actually working on the publicity right this very moment, which means that today I worked on my book-publishing goal. How awesome is that? You now know about it, and if I’m lucky, you’re a little bit curious. When my author page is finished, there’ll be a big announcement here, and hopefully you’ll all click on the link and come see the new page, and the new blog, and follow me on my new blog as well as here. The new blog will be dedicated solely to my writing, of course. Well, and everything to do with it, my opinions and views on stuff, guest author blogs, you know, the writerly type of blog that writers have. Perhaps even someone reading this blog today may be willing to do a guest blog on a topic of mutual interest over there. I think it’d be dandy.

Drop me a comment, tell me what you think, ask me questions, anything. I’d enjoy hearing from people more than getting likes. I’d love to start conversations about the craft, the pros and cons of doing it this way or that way, etc.

Ghost Stories

I don’t like telling people I believe in ghosts for a couple of reasons. Firstly, belief implies faith, which implies a lack of proof – and I’ve seen and experienced enough proof to last several lifetimes. Secondly, the term “ghost” is so vague as to be nearly meaningless. One person thinks it means one thing, another person thinks it means something else, so when you say you believe in ghosts, you really have no idea what you’re telling the listener (or reader). What I will tell you is that I have experienced phenomena that often fall under the heading of ghost. I do not “believe” in them any more than I believe in grass, or cars or trees. They are simply facts of life. You don’t waste energy believing in the existance of grass, do you? So why would I waste my energy believing in ghosts (or whatever-they-ares)?

My mother, on the other hand, she believed in ghosts. My mother was a “ghost repellent.” She deeply regretted it, too. She believed me when I said that I saw and experienced things, but never saw them herself. For example, once when an actual “haunting episode” (for lack of a better term) was in progress in my current home, I went to her house (she lived right next door), brought her over to my house to show it to her, and while she was there, it disappeared. As soon as she left, it resumed at full force. She always wished she could see and experience what I was seeing, but she never could. Even I couldn’t see the ghosts when she was around. But she wasn’t an angry disbeliever. She wanted to see. Never did.

Many, I’d even go so far as to say most, of the things that get called “ghosts” are simply what I refer to as tape recordings. As many people have pointed out, we are all made of energy. It does not disappear, you cannot destroy it, so where does it go when we die? I has to go somewhere. When a traumatic event happens in a location, that energy can often imprint like a tape recording on the environment which then plays back occasionally. Those are no more sentient than characters on a DVD. They can manifest as hot or cold spots, a scent of perfume or decay, a feeling of dread, or a visual or auditory playback of the event. The whole “lost soul” kind of ghosts that you see in movies are actually incredibly rare. But there are a lot of different causes for a range of phenomena that all get lumped in to the category of “ghost.” The word is so nebulous (like a ghost, you might even say), sometimes I just gloss it over by telling people I don’t believe in ghosts, not because they don’t exist, but because the term is too vague.

I’ve seen, touched, spoken to, been spoken to by, fed, banished, smelled, been terrified by, been comforted by, and laughed with different “ghosts” over the years. Some of them were malignant, some neutral, some good. Some sentient, most not.

The house I live in now is “haunted” by at least two entities, one of which is a cat I call “Spook” who just hangs around and does normal cat stuff and is completely unaware of me or my living, corporeal cats. Both I and several of my cats have seen him, though. He’s quite harmless. The other “whatever-it-is” in my house is malignant, but usually dormant. I’ve seen some nasty flare-ups on occasion such as burning smells, objects moving when no one touched them, choking one of my friends, and a hot rather than a cold spot. I don’t believe that it was ever human, so I don’t like using the term “ghost,” but it gets lumped into that category by the careless. I believe it was invited in by a previous tenant.

And yet I have to say that I consider myself a skeptic. If I hear a story of a haunting, I tend to want evidence rather than anecdotes – mostly because I have seen evidence in the past, and therefore know that it IS out there to be seen, and therefore I expect it. I’m willing to see it, mind you, I’m very open-minded about that. But I do rather want something a little bit better than someone’s word. I don’t expect you to believe my stories simply on my word. Why would you? Just because I am telling the truth doesn’t make my word proof. After all, I could have been delusional when I experienced all those things. I don’t think I was, but then, it’s all subjective, right? One man’s ghost is another man’s hallucination. You can only judge based on your own empirical evidence, as can I. In my experience, “ghosts” exist. Your results may vary. And that’s fine.

Road trip… postponed

Was supposed to take a road trip up to Helena today – in a few minutes, actually. We can either go later today, or tomorrow instead, because I have a doctor’s appointment at two o’clock. Aah, my sister has agreed we shall go at three o’clock. This is acceptable. We shall leave at three (well, soon after three) and be up there by four-ish. We can find the location of her testing center (the official reason we’re going there), maybe hit a secondhand store before five if sis is not too grumpy, then back on the road home by, oh, six or seven. Should work out just fine. No time for visiting, though. Sorry, Harmony.

I hope it’s still raining when I get back from my doc’s appt. I love driving in the rain. Just a few minutes ago we got a HUGE lighting strike not far from here, the thunderclap rattled my big picture window most forcefully. Very impressive.

I’m skipping the Kiwanis luncheon today… either that or I must go right this minute, and I’m not dressed yet. Also, I’m blogging. So ppphhhbbbbbttttt to that idea. Besides, I just had breakfast, I’m not hungry.

Kitten is blending in well with all the other cats. I spent last night sleeping in my recliner in the living room so that I could let the kitten spend the night downstairs too. Didn’t want to leave him down here with the big cats all alone, of course, but wanted to try him out overnight with them. Sleeping in my recliner is no big deal for me, I do that half the time anyway. My bed upstairs is the kind that adjusts into a sitting position – I sleep sitting up no matter where I sleep. I cannot sleep on a flat bed, I have a bad back. So the kitten spent the night on my chest. Henry came and laid down on my lap a few times during the night, hissed at the kitten once or twice, but only took a whack at him once. It’s the first sign of any violence from any of the cats, actually. They’ve all been remarkably well-behaved around Baby.

Of course, I woke up with a big wet spot on my belly. I think the kitten didn’t want to leave me long enough to visit the litter box, although I set one up for him last night and showed him where it was, and even left the light on in that room so he could find it more easily. Got peed on anyway. Oh well, that’s what having babies is like. No harm done, it’s just pee. Got up, changed my nightshirt, went back to bed. This is not my first kitten.

Last evening Jack and the kitten were on my lap and Jack actually reached out and started grooming him. So I mean everything’s gonna be okay in the long run. Henry may still be a bit fussy, but if Jack can accept the New Kid, it’ll all work out fine. Now he just needs a name, the little bugger. I can’t keep calling him “Nuisance” all the time.

I lost the Mid-Week Blues Buster. I have to admit, I’m actually kinda shocked. The winning piece was kinda blah in my opinion. I know my ego’s all wrapped up in it and all, but still – wtf? THAT won over mine? I’m signed up to be the judge of this week’s contest, so I won’t be writing one this time. Maybe I should, just for the practice – no, scratch that. If I write one, I’ll be comparing all the entries to my own, and that’s no way to be a judge. No writing for the MWBB this week. I can certainly write for something else though. Must come up with something to write. Ugh. I hate writing. This here, this writing this blog thing here, is a chore. I do not write for fun. But then, that’s why I’m blogging. To get me back in practice. Don’t wanna: gotsta.