October 31, 2002
Happy Halloween!!

Whee! Its my favorite holiday!

Dani went out as Blossom, from the PowerPuff Girls tonight. And Ryan we were simple with -- black sweats, little ears on his hat, and we tried to pain whiskers but failed miserably because he kept wiggling.

Both Kevin and I made it to Dani's school for the Halloween parade today -- a rare occurance. It was made easier that Ryan's school doesn't celebrate. While I would rather have Ryan get the opportunity to enjoy holidays at school, it certainly is easier when I don't have to rush from place to place.

Dani was adorable during the parade. Even when the other children were afraid and not wanting to go into the rooms of the bigger kids, Dani just trooped right on in with a big smile. She had a great time, and so did we.

Ryan loved trick or treating. He came back grinning hugely. He didn't have any candy, but he loved it anyway.

Kind of a bummer that I have to take my decorations down later this week. But at least we managed to get the lights up this year.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 09:25 PM
A Life of Pain

Yeah, I think I've mentioned that before, right? My muscles consistently feel wrong, and lately it seems worse than ever. I am constantly aching, feeling like there is something just horribly wrong with everything. Its exhausting.

On the other hand, I saw an add for an interesting product yesterday evening. Its an air-activated mini-heat pad designed for cramps, but I was thinking that it would make a nice way to have a wearable heating pad for fibromyalgia or any other brand of muscular pain. Just got a dollar off coupon for a pack, so I think I'll pick them up and try it out. *fingers crossed* that it actually works.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 08:05 PM
October 30, 2002
Brainstorming

I can't officially start writing the novel until approximately 24 hours from now. BUT... I can start brainstorming.

My mind's been going a little nuts on the topic since the challenge was set. I had to come up with an idea I could run with, something that didn't require a lot of research, or a lot of outlining. Or something that at least wouldn't suffer in the first draft from having neither of those.

The idea is to just WRITE. Forget about making it excellent, or even necessarily good. Just go with the flow and write. Which is how I *used* to write, before I knew outlines were useful and research was necessary. So in a weird way, its returning to my roots.

First line: "What is it?"

Spoken by: Janie, "little sister", 11 years old

Object held by: Mallory, "big sister", 16 (ALMOST 17) years old

As they are observed by: Sean, "the brother", 14 and protective in both directions

They are spending the summer at Grandma Kel's. They are in her attic.

Their mother died three years before. Their father has not remarried.

And that'll be the situation I begin with. I think it has a lot of potential. Yeah, its probably YA. But then, a YA story can be told in 50,000 words and completed. And I read a lot of it, and know what's decent. So maybe I can turn out a decent piece of fiction.

Am I daydreaming about trying to revise it come December, and try to get it published? Of course I am. Realistically, it won't be good enough. But that won't stop me from putting on my blinders and trying anyway. *smiles*

Posted by Deb Atwood at 11:10 PM
October 29, 2002
Did I mention panic?

Its going to be a bad night. Am in the throes of a full-on panic attack brought on by a dizzy spell. This isn't entirely uncommon. Between allergies and the fibromyalgeia I seem to spend half my life dizzy. Right now I can feel the stuffiness arriving in my right ear with a suddenness that is obviously what brought on the spell. And the violence with which it has arrived is the length. But still... losing control over my body like that leaves me terrified, and suddenly I'm shivering and can't seem to get warm. Or stop panicking. And of course, it just feeds itself.

I hate being like this, hate reacting like this. Kev thinks I'm nuts, and a hypochondriac, and perhaps I am. Probably I am. But this loss of control, loss of understanding why I feel things and the sudden knowledge that what I am feeling (dizzy) is simply not normal. NOt what I *should* be feeling. And I don't get why, and hence... panic.

It is slowly settling down, the heart rate calming, the warmth seeping in. I'll be calm again eventually, but still too weirded out to sleep. And that's probably what I need most right now, unfortunately. Perhaps some reading for a while, until I cannot keep my eyes open any longer. And then sleep.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 10:03 PM
Its official -- I'm insane

Why? Check out the Voices to find out...

Posted by Deb Atwood at 05:20 PM
I'm Officially INSANE

It's official, I'm insane.

Official NaNoWriMo 2002 Participant

What is this? Well, click on the link and find out. Chris challenged me (he is EVIL) and I accepted and signed up. Beginning on Friday, November 1, I will be attempting to complete a 50,000 word novel (that's 175 pages or so) within 30 days. Meep!

There is a part of me which cannot believe I am going to even *attempt* this. I must be crazy! How will I ever accomplish this with the kids around? With life? The holidays?

But if I do... oh... wow... it'll feel Sooooooo good. *smiles*

So follow along. I'll try to post daily excerpts after I'm done crunching words for the day, even just a paragraph or two.

But first, I need a beginning. A concept. A where do I want this one to go. I've had novel ideas before. Had fits and starts of somethings. But this time I need something I can really jump in and fly with. Something I can write easily. And something fun. Hm.... at least I've got a few days to figure that part out. Then the fun begins!!

Posted by Deb Atwood at 05:19 PM
October 28, 2002
The System's Broken

I was reminiscing about the darker periods of my life, and remembering a time when I was unemployed and hungry. I had no income, not a real one anyway, and was pretty damned miserable. I was subsisting on $10 per week -- which amounts to some pasta, some butter, some parmesan cheese, and some ramen noodles. Oh yeah, bread. Needless to say, I wasn't exactly eating healthy.

I gave in and broke my pride and went down to the office for public assistance. I waited in the long line, and met some interesting people. There were people there who were the sort I resented... the ones who believed that public assistance was their right in life and that they deserved it and didn't need to work.

Then there were people like me, or in worse straits, who were doing their damnedest to get out of it. I thought those people were interesting, and enjoyed my conversations. And resolved that I would *get* out, as soon as I could.

It was finally time for my interview, and I went in and sat down. I had filled out the paperwork with all the details -- my rent, my car, my PoS job that barely paid me enough to keep the car going.

The woman took the paper from me and looked it over. "You'll need to sell the car."

I was surprised, and confused. But I needed the car to get a job! Without a car, if I had to depend upon the bus, it severely limited my job potential. She was adamant. The car cut down on the amount of assistance I could receive.

I refused. I'd take the cut in assistance. I needed the car. Every job interview I'd been on had been one that wouldn't take me if I didn't have reliable transportation. And the Capital District isn't exactly famous for its public transportation system.

She looked it over again. "Any kids?" She watched me as I shook my head. She frowned. "Are you pregnant?"

Thank the gods, no, I assured her. She was disappointed. You see, without kids, the amount she could give me went down again. Oh, and the apartment was a problem too. It was in a decent area of town, safe and whole, and well, just cost too much. I had to move.

The more she spoke, the worse I felt. I could feel myself being placed into a small little box, where I was supposed to be living in a scary place, with no transportation and two or three kids crawling around my feet, just so I could get enough money to subsist on. But then I'd have no way to get a job, or pay to care for my kids.

The system was broken. In order to get money, I had to need more... and there she was practically encouraging me to get pregnant to get money. And if I got it, I was in such a bad place I might never drag myself out. I wasn't allowed to keep the few advantages I had and get a little help so I could get the hell out of the PA office and back on my feet.

I had thought that long ago the system was put into place as a temporary stop-gap. I think that was the vision. PA was something that would help people get back on their feet so they could move out of mere basic survival and make something of themselves.

But the system is broken. I ended up feeling dirty and awful and while I had foodstamps for a while and it helped, I found myself wondering if the people that it was designed to help ever did get the help and improve their situations. Or if it made more people rot than it helped.

The blinders had been ripped from my eyes. I had never been a fan of welfare, and it had taken a lot to make me go down to that office. I had to admit that I'd hit rock-bottom. And going there had only made me feel worse, like I was lower than low in the social stratus, and like I somehow belonged there and should be making a more comfortable place for myself... because I was never going to get out.

The system is broken. The real question is, is there any way to fix it?

Posted by Deb Atwood at 11:09 PM
Vampires in Miniature

I woke up this morning to find two neat little tiny scabs on the back of my hand, just below the skin between my thumb and first finger. They are perfectly sapced, like something really tiny bit me. No clue what. But every time I look down, I think of small fnags, like a teeny tiny vampire's been munching on my hand overnight.

Weird, huh?

Posted by Deb Atwood at 10:45 AM
October 27, 2002
What DND Character Am I?

I cannot breathe, I am laughing so hard... and anyone who knows my predilection in D&D characters will laugh as well. Y'see, I play half-elven rangers. A lot. Its my favorite. *nods emphatically* Why is this weird? Well, in every other game I play non-combat oriented really truly relationship oriented characters. Except in D&D I like to play combat people. Go fig.

Oh, and looking at my detailed results, on the race, my next one after Elf was Half-Elf. I had no checks at all in Human. *laughs* Okay, still laughing. Still finding it funny that going through this as well, what I like to play came up with my most common character class. Obviously, I've chosen well for myself in general. This could explain why I had so much trouble playing that magic user lass!

So anyway, the quiz results are...

I Am A: Neutral Good Elf Bard Ranger


Alignment:
Neutral Good characters believe in the power of good above all else. They will work to make the world a better place, and will do whatever is necessary to bring that about, whether it goes for or against whatever is considered 'normal'.


Race:
Elves are the eldest of all races, although they are generally a bit smaller than humans. They are generally well-cultured, artistic, easy-going, and because of their long lives, unconcerned with day-to-day activities that other races frequently concern themselves with. Elves are, effectively, immortal, although they can be killed. After a thousand years or so, they simply pass on to the next plane of existance.


Primary Class:
Bards are the entertainers. They sing, dance, and play instruments to make other people happy, and, frequently, make money. They also tend to dabble in magic a bit.


Secondary Class:
Rangers are the defenders of nature and the elements. They are in tune with the Earth, and work to keep it safe and healthy.


Deity:
Oghma is the Neutral Good god of knowledge and invention. He is also known as the Binder of What is Known, and is the Patron of Bards. His followers believe that knowledge reigns supreme, and is the basis for everything else that is done. They wear white shirts and pants, with a black and gold braided vest, and a small, box-like hat. All priests of Oghma are known as Loremasters. Oghma's symbol is a scroll.


Find out What D&D Character Are You?, courtesy ofNeppyMan (e-mail)

Posted by Deb Atwood at 10:35 PM
Movie Review -- The Rules of Attraction

Wednesday was my annual day for playing hookie. *smiles* I took a half day off from work in order to have a fun date with Josh and go see a movie. Today, the movie of choice was The Rules of Attraction. Neither Liz nor Kevin had any desire to see it, so it was a great choice.

James Van Der Beek is one of the three main characters, and Jessica Biel one of the secondary characters. But this is no bright and shiny WB TV show. Nor is it even the studied teen trauma of those shows. If that's what you expect, do not see this movie.

What it is, is a dark story of the confusion of the lives of several college students. There is nothing light about the story. And it is artfully done (although perhaps a bit overdone on the art sometimes).

The movie begins with three mini-scenes. First, Lauren, describing how she was going to finally lose her virginity that night, but somehow ended up getting date-raped on film. Then the film moved backwards, rewinding through her scene in quick jumps to pick up on Paul, beginning at about the same moment in time and moving forward again through his attempted seduction of a man who insisted he was straight, and threw Paul (literally), out of his room. And then rewind again, bluntly backwards to pick up Sean and follow him forward through a hollow pickup at the fraternity party, moody and angry at something we don't yet understand.

And then, abruptly, the rewind happens again, taking the viewer back further and further, to the beginning of the story. At which point it follows the three characters forward, jumping from scene to scene in an expertly threaded story of three people who just can't seem to get it right.

There are questions at the end. Did the three scenes we saw at the beginning actually occur? The film seems to imply that Sean, at least, may have changed his destiny. And the end itself is ambiguous, or at least it was in our theatre -- we suspect they clipped a part of it while editing the final reel. *sighs* If anyone out there has seen it, drop me a note -- I'd like to know what ending *you* saw!

The characters are dry, and almost entirely unlikeable. But that is a part of the charm of the movie. This isn't a feel-good piece. Sean never gets it. Never. He finally manages to figure out that Paul is gay and trying to pick him up, but he never gets the intensity of the situation. And Paul, on the other hand, seems to find a depth of feeling from nothing at all, making that depth seem fake and out of place. Lauren... she goes through the movie with her illusions in place onlly to have everything shattered for her.

There is no happy ending. And there shouldn't be for these people. The ending seems right, seems appropriate.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 10:32 PM
Growing Up as a Family

This weekend we had a new experience. We got together with friends from college, from the 'net, and we weren't the only ones with kids.

Y'see, kids have been a weird thing in our crew. First, there was Sam. He had two kids, the first one a good two or three years before Danielle was born. So for a while, he was the only one with kids. Then Dani came along, and in short succession so did Sam's second, and Brian's three (yes, I said three). So there we were, surrounded by infants... who all moved away. Leaving us as the only ones with kids who we saw on a regular basis.

But this weekend we drove down to see Shawn and Dina, who just moved to the east coast from Texas. Shawn is a great friend, and I have missed him horribly while he was in Texas and I am so thrilled to have them here. We still probably won't be seeing them *regularly* because it is a 2 1/2 hour drive, but it'll definitely be a lot more often than when they were in Texas since there's no *plane* involved.

And Shawn & Dina have a baby. And we have a baby (and Danielle). And our friends Lou & Amasa have a baby. So there we were, with two other couples and Toigo and there were four kids. Weird. It was like a sudden paradigm shift to realize that kids were the norm. Usually its our kids and a houseful of adults (which I think Dani likes because then everyone will dance attendance on her).

But it was cool. It was kinda nice not being the only ones going nuts because the babies just well, weren't entirely cooperating all the time. It was different, too. Usually, when I'm with parents they aren't the people I've known for ten years and knew when I was young and kinda stupid. But these are people I've lived with (I had a sudden revelation that I think Shawn's watching of Comedy Central in the living room in the middle of the night and my room being off the living room and hearing stand up comedians all night might be part of why I haven't liked stand up comedy for so long... kinda like listening to a tape all night and then being unable to listen to it again because of sleep programming...). These are people I've known for ten to 15 years. Yow.

I had the sudden Thirty-Something or Big Chill feeling in the middle of it, like the whole big reunion thing. Then that faded and it went back to simply being fun. Different. And cool.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 09:54 PM
Early Evening

It is 9:30 at night and already the house is silent. Dani is finally asleep, having passed through the hacking cough and into the relaxation that allows her to sleep. Ryan was in bed quickly and easily by shortly after 8pm. And even Kevin fell asleep while reading. My eyes are tired as well, although I refuse to let myself sleep yet.

This is simply the way it is, the first day back to standard time. The hour that we fall back used to be simply taken as an extra hour of sleep. But now, with children, that luxury no longer exists. And so we all rose our normal times, that becoming an hour early, and now in the evening we are all exhausted early as well.

I can see advantages to this -- I could use to simply adopt this new schedule and keep it. *dry laugh* Yeah, right. One night's good sleep and I'll be back to normal, awake until midnight and struggling out of bed at 6am.

But for tonight, I *am* tired. And perhaps I will try to get some sleep.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 09:44 PM
October 25, 2002
101 Things about ME

I've seen other people do this, then Chris did it and well, I decided I was finally inspired to just DO IT myself.

1. My name is Deborah Elizabeth Allen
2. It used to be Atwood
3. Then I married Kevin
4. We have two children
5. Danielle is the older one
6. Ryan is the younger one
7. I was an only child
8. Some people call me D-Singer
9. Or D.
10. No one calls me Deborah - its Deb
11. They'd better not anyway
12. I play roleplaying games
13. And write
14. There are lots of people in my head
15. I like it that way
16. I have a very vivid imagination
17. I am afraid of death
18. I am a pagan
19. My husband is Catholic
20. My children have been baptised Catholic
21. Not all of their godparents are Catholic
22. Or Christian
23. I want my children to have faith
24. I do
25. I drive an automatic
26. I'd rather drive a stick
27. I hate that they don't make many family cars with a standard transmission
28. I am overweight
29. I am obsessive
30. I am trying to use my obsession to diet & exercise
31. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't
32. Sometimes I like to escape into reading
33. I read a LOT
34. I don't write as much as I'd like to
35. I've been published by Circlet Press
36. Just one story though
37. And its erotica
38. I wear mostly dark colors
39. I find bright colors to be de-energizing
40. Sometimes I do wear bright colors to surprise people
41. I like to keep people off-kilter
42. I look like a mom
43. Most of the time
44. I refuse to grow up
45. Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional
46. There is a huge difference between understanding responsibility and being boring
47. Or bored
48. I am a programmer
49. I got into programming because I thought it was fun
50. Once I thought I would be a geneticist
51. I like to know what makes things tick
52. Once upon a time I wanted to make androids
53. Now I make user interfaces
54. I'm not always organized
55. I'm often pretty scatterbrained
56. I try to care a lot about my friends
57. Sometimes I screw up
58. Big time
59. I can be too self-centered
60. I can be very giving
61. The two are just SO different
62. I don't always talk a lot about myself
63. But I can be very easy to get to know
64. I talk about the things that are easy to talk about
65. There are things I'm not supposed to talk about
66. I'm not very good at keeping secrets
67. They drive me nuts
68. But I do it because I'm supposed to
69. Writing is a way to work things out
70. So is roleplaying
71. That's why I do them sometimes
72. I am not addicted, I am connected
73. At least, that's what I tell people
74. I'm lying
75. I like to read romances
76. I like to read sf/fantasy
77. I like to read YA novels
78. I would like to write all of the above
79. I have panic attacks
80. I don't sleep well
81. I have fibromyalgia
82. I live with pain and will for the rest of my life
83. I come from an obsessive family
84. I used to be afraid of becoming alcoholic
85. I'm not, thankfully
86. I make jewelry
87. I used to draw, but I wasn't very good
88. I collect art
89. I love gardening
90. I love to cook
91. I want a house with a bigger kitchen and a bigger garden
92. I like to make up recipes
93. And generally I'm pretty good at it
94. I'm really good at making ice cream
95. I try to be a good mother
96. I try to be a good wife and a good friend
97. I don't have time to just be me
98. I daydream
99. I live for music
100. I make mixed tapes & CDs
101. I used to write lyrics

Posted by Deb Atwood at 10:55 PM
The light of Faith

Kevin's mom sent us pictures from Ryan's baptism. After the way Ryan tried to help Father Ed conduct the mass, I found this one particularly interesting...

ryan-light-thumbnail.jpg

Click thumbnail to view picture

Posted by Deb Atwood at 03:43 PM
October 24, 2002
Mini!

Okay, so I still think the "Mini" is a pretty weird car. I mean, especially when compared to my minivan it seems like a toy. And a small toy at that. But I'm starting to get used to seeing them around, and hoping I don't inadvertantly step on one.

But today while stopped at a red light I saw one that really caught my eye. It was small (of course) and a sort of burnt orange, and looked older. I blinked a couple of times and realized that no, it wasn't one of the current run of Minis. It was an original. A "real" Mini, so to speak.

And then its light turned green and it went down the road past me and I realized... the driver sat on the right hand side of the car. Cool! Not only was it an older, real original Mini, but it was British to boot. Now that was neat.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 11:15 AM
October 20, 2002
The theory of Blogging

Once upon a time, when I first started blogging, everything else fell to the wayside. My PBEMs? Waited. Balancing my checkbook? Waited. IM? Waited.

This would be an example of my extreme obsessiveness, which well, happens often when I find a really neat cool new thing. I obsess over it to the point of ridiculousness, and then suddenly realize I've broken everything else and have to rush off and go fix those.

Somewhere later I realize that I've managed to lose track of the thing I was obsessing over, at which point I re-evaluate that thing and decide whether it deserves all that time, no time, or has to be fit into a proper slot in my life.

Yeah, this would explain my sudden headlong rush into blogging.

Have no fear -- blogging will indeed remain a piece of my life. In fact, of late I've been really disappointed in myself that I can't devote near enough time to it. I have missed blogging so many little things. Like Ryan's new sneakers (and more steps). Or Dani reading to me in the car -- about half the words without any prompting. I had no idea she recognized the word for mouse!!

All kinds of things slipping away without being immortalized.

Is this a journal online? Hell yes. Yeah, sometimes the stuff I talk about is incredibly mundane. But then, that's life. Its not always exciting. I mean, I find the new redesign of my site to be one of the more exciting things I did today. *chuckles* Rack that up with a birthday party Dani went to and Ryan walking more and more. Yeah, that about defines my day. The biggest excitement was convincing Ryan to go to sleep on time for the second night in a row!

What I'd really like to be able to do is get some more time for blogging. If I can get Ryan going to bed on time, that gives me alot more time available right away -- when he's up I can't even want to be online -- he attacks my laptop. Plus, I'd rather spend time with him and Danielle when I can't. But then they can go to bed and I can be online happily. If I just can manage to organize the time better (and schedule my children so they actually get some sleep *smiles*).

Posted by Deb Atwood at 12:00 AM
October 17, 2002
Pet Peeve Week

According to WEQX's morning show, this is National Pet Peeve Week. Every day they've been asking callers what their pet peeve is (or are, if they have more than one).

So I started thinking... what's my pet peeve?

Well, there's lack of tolerance for one. People who walk through life with their blinders on, refusing to see any more than one side of a story, or in some cases, refusing to see the whole story, drive me nuts.

Then there's the silly one -- I hate people coming up behind me and looking over my shoulder. This drive me nutso at work, especially the people who decide to start pacing because they're bored or something and are actually *looking* over people's shoulders. *grumbles*

Another one is people who refuse to learn. I'll explain something once, then again. If I get to the third time and the person hasn't been listening and actually learned, then well, I start to get peeved.

So, I'm curious... drop me a comment -- what's your pet peeve??

Posted by Deb Atwood at 03:26 PM
Boy Meets Boy

Thanks to Chris for turning me on to a new web comic, Boy Meets Boy. It is self-described as "The gay odd-couple, only sexier" or something close to that anyway.

I started reading last night, and didn't want to stop because well, it entertained me greatly. I kept bursting into laughter, and seeing people I knew in the characters. It also caused me to remember all the things I adore about Chris and miss him even more. *little sighs*

Posted by Deb Atwood at 10:45 AM
October 11, 2002
That didn't come out right

Just looking at what I wrote earlier regarding my review. I sound grouchy, don't I? That wasn't really what I meant to sound like, which means my writing obvious suffers today.

I really wasn't upset by the review. Its more... it made me upset with *myself* for not really paying attention to my blog and taking a good look at what it looked like. I didn't really do what I wanted to do with my site, and it suffers for it.

The review liked my writing, and I am SO proud of that. That's really the thing I'm here for -- to convey myself through my words and my thoughts. So that part has me really feeling great.

And it got me all thinking about the design of my site, which is awesome (that it got me thinking, not that the design is awesome). And it got me working on an alternate. Gotta get that finished up. *smiles*

Posted by Deb Atwood at 09:50 PM
I need an opinion...

Okay, all, I'd like an opinion on my proposed new design. If you're up to offering one, please take a look. I'm still futzing around with it for a bit, but I've got it mostly settled in, at least in the big parts. Now I'm figuring in the sidemenu and stuff like that. So, thanks...

Posted by Deb Atwood at 09:26 PM
I've been Reviewed!

I have been reviewed by The Weblog Review. It... wasn't a great review. Am I disappointed? Yeah, of course. In the review? No, not really. I'm more disappointed in myself.

The review has me really looking at some things on my site.

The reviewer liked the writing, which honestly has me very happy. Writing is one of my focuses in life, and even though I know this is all certainly not among my best work (it is far more casual than most writers out there who endeavor to make their sites more literary) it is a pleasure to hear a complement. I know I certainly haven't been focussing on the blog lately -- not nearly enough to make it something "real" -- and I do hope to change that in the future. But that's a topic for another time. *smiles*

The biggest dings came in the design of the site. The lack of About page? Interesting thought... I think, for some reason, that I somehow expected that the reader would just come to know me magically through my writing. And I suppose that indeed *is* true. If you read it long enough you will know more about me than I would ever put on a static page. There are things that come through in my writing that I simply don't generally say outright when I'm just listing off "this is who I am". Sometimes its because these are things I would rather discuss than use as a definition. And sometimes its because well, I try *not* to define myself. I try to just *be* myself. Of course, that could all also be said on an About page. *smiles*

Which means that I may well try to add one.

But the layout, the design... yeah, that's where I'm REALLY feeling disappointed in myself. I know what look I was going for, and I know where I came from, pre-blog. And I know why I'm unhappy with it all.

I couldn't keep the original look. It was cluttered, not to mention really scattered. My site, before blogging, was a mishmash of original pieces. When I first started, every area of my site had a very different look and feel, with lots of background images. I now know so much more about webdesign, and to be honest, as "pretty" as background images are, they are truly a pain in the neck. Hard to read against, mostly.

So I decided to just clean everything out and start fresh. Go for a very scaled down, cleaner look.

Obviously, I went a little too clean.

And I knew this. I knew what I wanted to reflect (er, pun intended) as an image (also intended) and I knew that what I had done hadn't captured that at all.

This is The Hall of Mirrors. Once upon a time, my site had this great introspective background that looked like reflections up reflections. A great statement too about looking at yourself in the mirror. I liked that. But I gave it up because I couldn't read a bloody thing against the background.

The grey was my attempt at a "metallic" sort of look. The idea being that the whole site is a mirror, reflecting myself and the readers in different ways. But instead, it looks dull and boring, and not mirrored at all.

So I'm playing with some ideas over on a test site -- feel free to take a look if you're curious. With any luck, I'll come up with something new that I really like and can use here. I'd like something a little splashier. Of course, then I have to redesign the Voices section, which should look even a little more different, too.

In a way I'm glad this got me thinking about redesign. I'd like to end up someplace with my site that's a lot more... me...

Posted by Deb Atwood at 09:23 AM
October 08, 2002
First Steps!

Okay, so he walked those few steps weeks and weeks ago. And then he refused to do it again, unless he was holding onto something.

Until tonight.

He was standing just a few feet from me, and I called his name and he turned and walked right to me! It was four whole steps, and then he did it again and again! He's still not got the strength to walk all over the place, but he's doing an excellent job. He's willing to walk, sometimes, when he sees something he wants and its the quickest way to get there.

So that mobility phase is coming SOOOO quickly!!

Posted by Deb Atwood at 08:37 PM
October 07, 2002
Foot!!

It wasn't a good night tonight. And when it was all over, I felt like a horrible parent for not figuring out what was wrong much, much sooner.

Kevin got Ryan all ready for bed tonight, gave him his bottle, and settled him down. It took some work, but then, the past few nights Ryan just hasn't wanted to sleep. He fusses, whimpering and unsettled, making unhappy noises for about ten minutes, and then usually he nods off.

Although last week we had to resort to the car once. We hate doing that -- we certainly don't want to get him used to taking a twenty minute drive in order to fall comfortably asleep.

But tonight... tonight it just wasn't happening. Got him settled, started watching Angel from the Tivo. Ryan fussed. We paused Angel, and gave him more of his bottle. He settled. Kevin laid him down. A few minutes later, he started fussing.

So fine, next step is to try to let him cry it out. So Ryan continues to cry, while we are downstairs, finishing up Angel. And with every cry my head has a knife plunging into it again and again, as my sinus headache echoes with the sound. I can't take it. It makes me ready to just curl up in a corner whimpering. Then add in a healthy dose of guilt because my son is just getting utterly hysterical over something and I don't know what it is.

Kevin goes upstairs with the bottle, but Ryan doesn't calm down. I can hear Kevin getting more and more frustrated, so I went upstairs as well. I took him, and for a moment Ryan was calm -- mommy was there. But then whatever was bothering him didn't go away. And he started screaming again.

So we figure, maybe he's too wound up. I growl about not being able to drive (I can hardly see straight the pain's so bad -- I hate these headaches) so Kevin packs him into the car and takes him out. Twenty minutes later he's back, and Ryan's asleep. He settles him into the crib.

It lasts all of a few minutes. Tops. And then the whimpering... then the shuffling of a little boy sitting up in bed, and then the all out screaming.

I go upstairs again and scoop him up. I sniff him, and then decide that even thought I smell utterly nothing, I'll change him. There was a time once when we pinched a small bit of very tender skin in the fold of a diaper -- maybe that's happened again.

I start to take off his pajama bottoms when I realize that his foot isn't properly into the footy part of the PJs. His toe is stuck, pointed up slightly, and probably godawful uncomfortable. I quickly pull the PJs off and massage his poor little red toes. As I touch them, the screaming intensifies. This, then, is most definitely the problem. And neither of us had seen it.

But to make me feel guilty, my memory scrolls backwards and I realize I *did* see it. I noticed it when I saw Kevin putting the PJs on him, and just kind of discarded it, automatically assuming it'd get fixed as Kevin smoothed out the PJs. But Kev didn't notice it had happened. And Ry didn't start crying right away.

Poor guy. I felt really really badly about it. Once I got him settled this time he went right to sleep with just some backrubbing. But I still feel really badly about it. Its so hard when they can't just say what's bothering them.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 11:31 PM
Thinking about books

I just took a glance at the new "Archives Index" page. I've done 13 book reviews now, and those reviews cover a total of 17 books (the second Wen Spencer wasn't explicitly reviewed, and the four parts of the Dalemark quartet shared a review). I've got one book still in the queue to be reviewed that I finished over the weekend. So that makes 18 books read since roughly 3 1/2 months ago or so. Not a bad total! If I can keep up at that pace I've got a chance of reading through a quarter of my to-read pile in the next year.

I really shouldn't put it that way, should I? Yowch! Thank the gods I read fast!

Posted by Deb Atwood at 11:14 PM
Book Review -- The Mediator: Shadowland

The Mediator: Shadowland
by Jenny Carroll
paperback from Pocket Pulse 2000

I collect Young Adult books. Generally genre fiction, although some non-genre fiction does creep in as well (and I still have all the books I've bought over the years, including those from when I *was* a Young Adult myself!).

I'm not sure where I picked this one up -- whether I picked it off of Glen's table last Boskone (Glen Cook always has such *good* YA books to buy on his table in the dealers' room) or whether I just bumped into it on my own. Its the first in a series, and according to Amazon, there are a total of four books out so far. I can't tell by just looking if its an open-ended series. But I do know I plan to buy more of them.

This isn't a kids book written for adults. Most adults probably wouldn't have the patience for the writing style, although the style is one of the things I like about it. The book is written in first person vernacular, like Suze is talking to the reader directly. Its the style I use, all too often, and I have a fondness for it. It reads like I could be reading it out loud and I can hear her voice in my head. I like that.

The style of the book definitely trades on the popularity of Buffy. There's this girl -- Suze -- and she's a Mediator. That means she can speak with the dead. Hells, she can talk to them, touch them, and even "kick ghost butt" when necessary. What she's supposed to do is help them find their way to the other side. But Suze (rather like Buffy) has gone all alone for the first 16 years of her life. She had no help, no one to teach her how to deal with this gift. So she's developed her own techniques.

Now she's moved from New York City to San Jose, because her mother has gotten married. And suddenly there's a priest at her school who knows exactly what she is. And three step-brothers becoming involved in her life. Not to mention Jesse, the *really* cute ghost with the amazing six-pack who just happens to reside in her room. Suddenly life is different for Suze, but the ghosts are still there. And Heather, who died not long before Suze arrived at the Mission school, can't stand her.

The book reads quickly, and I can see the episodic nature (meet ghost, fight or fix with ghost, get them to the other side) and the relationships forming. There's Jesse, the ghost. Her step-brothers (I rather like Sleepy, even with the little we've seen of him, and I especially like Doc). The not so popular kids at school, and the popular ones. Yes, very reminiscent of Buffy. But in a good way, and enjoyably done. Now I just need to go get the rest of them.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 11:11 PM
October 06, 2002
We bought what?

When we were getting ready for Albacon this year, I warned Kevin that we hadn't been on a real big book buying binge since Boskone in February. Oh, he'd bought a few books for us in March, and I'd bought us a few used books over the summer while on walks with Josh, and there was the time we went out and bought the Hugo nominees we didn't already have.

So I looked at Kevin and tried to warn him. And afterwards I had to say -- "Am I allowed to say I told you so??" He said I could. *laughs*

We spent a lot on books. I won't go into detail on the costs, but suffice to say we probably came home with about 50 or so new books. We finally counted our to-read piles, and Kev's got 99 books in his, and I've got 205 in mine (yowch!). The best part is that there are a lot of books in each of our piles that we BOTH want to read. Yeah, there's some stuff in each pile that the other person has already read. But we bought a lot of books for both of us. So that means that as we read, the total over 300 number doesn't really go down very quickly at all!

I was going to talk more about our books, but well, I'll leave that for another day -- when I get Kevin to bring home the digital camera so we can take pics of the books. And our "library". The images are just necessary to the true udnerstanding. *laughs*

Posted by Deb Atwood at 09:36 PM
October 05, 2002
May I borrow...

May I borrow a cup of internet?

So I'm here, in the hotel at Albacon, and enjoying the convention. But its Saturday, and while I've got my BlackBerry (and therefore have been happily reading my mail since I've got an amazing signal for once) I've still been dying for a connection. Okay, yeah, so I'm addicted.

Add in that when my hard drive died over the summer I never remembered to add back onto the rebuild any of my Earthlink access numbers, and suddenly I'm really stuck for a way to get online. I could use the high speed internet access in my room, but at $10 a day that's pricy. Eek! I usually do the simple 75 cents a dialup which is over all simpler.

So I am borrowing a cup of internet. *laughs* And wow I'm feeling just SO much more relaxed.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 10:18 PM
October 04, 2002
Friday Group Therapy 1.15

I haven't done a Group Therapy in a really really long time, mostly because I haven't had the time to. But I'm having a peaceful quiet day, and I really felt like answering this one, even though I suspect this is one of those topics I'm not supposed to publicly share on.

My really close friends already know most of these answers. Anyone reading this from work might be a little surprised. I don't lie about my religious beliefs. I also just don't always go into them where people can bother me about them. Or where friends might be bothered by them. *smiles*

1. What is your religious background?
My mother is Catholic, my father is Congregational. I have been told I would have been baptised in a Catholic church, except that the one my mom took me to wouldn't do it because she didn't officially belong to the parish. I couldn't possibly have known this, since I was far too young and didn't hear the story until about 4 1/2 years ago, but I get the feeling this somehow set the tone for my religious life.

My grandparents would take me to church when they visited, or when I visited them. I also went to church with friends on occassion, or learned about Judaism from my Jewish friends (Natick was a very Jewish town). So I wasn't uninvolved in religion. In fact, I rather treasure the way I grew up because it gave me a real overview of organized religion -- I learned a little of everything as a child, and it taught me a very big lesson about religious tolerance.

2. What belief system do you currently follow?
I call myself a pagan. I was 22 when I finally started reading up on paganism, at the recommendation of one of my close friends. I had to get past the gut instinct I've been raised Christian so this must be bad feeling that I had and just read about it to find out that basically, paganism is what I've been all along. Its the religion I chose for myself.

And I'm solitary. This means I do my own thing, by my own belief system. I don't belong to a coven, and that's really not the way I do things. I'm a pagan because of *what* I believe in, but not how I worship.

And I do have faith. I have a very strong faith, and that's one of the things that keeps me going somedays. But it isn't the same as everyone else's faith. And in my opinion -- that's okay. Faith should be personal, not dictated.

3. How often do you attend a place of worship?
Rarely. Was just there a couple of weeks ago for my son's Baptism. Sometimes at Christmas. For funerals & weddings. That's about it.

4. How firm are you in your belief system?
I have strong faith.

I'm not into organized religion. To me, my beliefs and an actual organization are two different things. As I said above, I believe faith should be personal. So I have no difficulties with someone else believing in an organized worship manner. In fact, I encourage it -- everyone should have some sort of faith and most people feel more comfortable in a standard organized religion. Basically, find YOUR niche and go there. Be happy.

Er, I digressed. I suppose the best way to say is it that I am firm in my faith, but I'm not sure that translates into a belief system. *smiles*

5. Do you pray? If so, how often and for what purposes?
I talk. Its not prayer -- I'm not asking for anything, not even tolerance really, except occasionally please gods let me get through this day/drive/flight. But I talk to the gods around me -- the world, the air, the earth -- and I figure they're listening because they listen to everyone. Sometimes I feel like they answer, just because of things that happen.

I figure this kind of dialog keeps me in touch all the time, not just the "right" times to do it. Faith is always.

6. How do you react when someone invites you to their place of worship?
I go. Like I said, I have no problems with someone else's religion as long as it isn't harming anyone ("a man's right to swing his fist ends with another man's face"). I've been to baptisms, christenings, baby dedications, holidays, funerals, weddings, etc. I've got friends who have invited me to things designed to convert me, or at least teach me more about their organized religion, and those I will politely decline. I will celebrate their faith with them, but I will not subscribe to their organization. We agree to disagree, and I've really found that this works.

7. What are your thoughts on life after death? (Heaven, reincarnation, etc.)
I hope there is something. I am a realist, and for this reason I am terrified of death. I get the shivers thinking of there being NOTHING except decomposition. I know why there is belief in life after death, and I don't know if I have that sort of belief. But I do have hope.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 01:22 PM
October 03, 2002
Was it THAT long ago??

Today I was talking to Josh about the old X-Men comic books and X-Men: Evolution. We've been talking about the plotlines, and I've been hoping they'd do some of the older ones. I'm actually very happy with the cartoon -- despite all the changes they've made to the canon, they've still done an excellent job with it. And I just adore getting to see Kitty Pryde in one of the cartoons. I've been hoping they'll do some of the Illyana plotlines, and I think, with some of the setup that's been done, that there is a good chance they will (yay!).

So as we're walking, I think to myself that they're doing the stuff from the early 80s, when I started reading (I was 15 in 1983) and I blurt out, "They're doing the stuff from 20 years ago."

Then I stop. 20 years? TWENTY years? Eep! Damn, its hard to realize that I can now refer to my high school life as 20 years ago.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 04:09 PM
October 02, 2002
On the subject of naming

Names. When you start a character, its one of the first things you need. Okay, its one of the first things *I* need. I find the name, in part, defines the character. It sort of defines how they *sound* in my head. How I see them.

I was looking at the sidebar and remembering one truism. There seems to be a pattern to names. Sometimes you get stuck on a letter, and it seems like every character you create begins with that name. Like the year at Ambercon when I had just created Adrienne shortly before it, and then followed her up by adding Amery and Aileen to the roster. And looking over at the list, there're Kale, Krystol, and Kylie -- but they were all created at different times.

G and D are two of my big ones. Although its hard to see that here. Oh, and J and when G sounds like J. For one campaign I had SO many major NPCs that began with J that I swear I started to lose track. There was Jordan and Jared and Jade and um... okay, I *did* lose track. Some of them were Josh's fault because they were the other three aspects of him, so they HAD to start with a J. Jordan and Jared were my own fault though.

And then there is the meaning of a name. I've named people sometimes because it sounds interesting. Kale is a seaweed after all, or a vegetable. Or, then it becomes Kayleigh or K. Leigh or some other name. Which works, since if you asked her the name she was born with she couldn't tell you.

Damara was a name I made up, or so I thought. Its really the name and styling of an NPC in another game I was running, and I borrowed her for a PC. I miss Chaos Theory (her campaign) right now... its sort of on hold and its really hard not knowing what's happening since we were so close to the end. A part of me wonders if Damara is dead and I just don't know it yet. If she made a mistake and got herself killed. It'd be depressing... I worked so hard on her, and she's tried so hard just to get to where she's at. But I do wish I knew.

Anyway, her name. I really did think I made the name up when I used it. I did it by sounds. Later, I looked it up, and have found various meanings for it. "One who is like a sheep" or "gentle girl" or "who walked here" which is the meaning for a tribe of people named the Damaras. My Damara is far from gentle -- she is a warrior girl -- and she is no sheep. But she is certainly well-traveled.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 11:46 PM
Book Review -- Desire

Desire
by Amanda Quick
paperback from Bantam (Historical Romance) 1994

Okay, so I'm on a romance kick for the moment -- you'll need to either put up with it or just skip over these book reviews if you find romance novels disgusting. *smiles*

I discovered Amanda Quick (a pen name for Jayne Ann Krentz) a few years ago, at the recommendation of the owner of Flights of Fantasy. Yes, the bookstore does cater to SF & Fantasy, but it also includes other genre fiction, such as Horror, Myster, and yes, Romance. Why? Because she likes them. And that's one of the reasons I love that particular store so much.

So I've read some of Krentz/Quick's work, and now when I bump into them in the used bookstores, or on a discount rack, I snap them up. And then when I go on a romance binge (like now) I really enjoy tucking into one or two of them.

Amanda Quick writes romances that have heroines with guts -- no simpering ninnies here. The story revolves around the Lady Clare of Desire (that being an island) and Sir Gareth of Wyckmere (The Hellhound). After Lady Clare's father dies, she soon realizes that she cannot protect her island and its valuable perfume business alone. And that her overlord will expect her to wed. So she sends a "recipe" for the perfect husband to him.

What she gets is The Hellhound -- too large, too serious, but he *can* read, thus fulfilling one of her three requirements. Of course, there is intrigue, there are dangers, and eventually, there is (surprise surprise) love. Yes, it is a romance novel, and yes, in many ways it is predictable.

But the characters are fresh and alive, and the conflicts are enjoyable. There is nothing that sets my teeth on edge, grating against my sensibilities (as so many heroines in romance novels do) and there are no saccharin coated phrases (heaving bosom anyone?). It is a pleasant story, enjoyable, and entertaining. Enough so that I'm happily reading another Amanda Quick book now to follow it up.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 10:34 PM
Family

"Its like a family. A backstabbing weird one... but if you don't have anything else..."

from Haunted 10/1/2002

They're talking about the underground music scene, not Amber, but y'coulda fooled me. *chuckles*

Posted by Deb Atwood at 09:55 PM