*headdesk* x 2

OH MY GOD, HOW AM I OUT OF INK? Where did it goooo? I’ve made like a dozen prints, tops! How can all the cartridges be so low?! Is Mr. Printy II the least efficient printer known to man? Will I be paying through the nose for ink in twice-weekly $13.95 x 8 cartridge increments?

As I was just about to melt down, one of the cats hopped up on the printer to see what I was doing, and planted a paw on the clear-printer button, which, since there was no job being printed, sent it into an ink nozzle cleaning cycle and dropped my available ink levels another notch.

Ah.

Much is made clear.

I jury-rigged a chunk of cardboard over the control panel on a duct-tape hinge, ruining the sleek lines of Mr. Printy II, but hopefully preserving my ink cartridges for the near future.

And then there was the silverware…

Kevin has fairly standard subdued silver silverware. Mine have bright turquoise handles, because my ex-husband had always been sort of chromatically conservative, so after I moved out, I went psycho with the random colors whenever possible.* We hadn’t really planned on consolidating silverware, but then we didn’t do quite as many dishes as we should have, and the turquoise were pressed into service.

The end result of this was that I pulled open the drawer today, gazed in, and said "Kevin, we have a racially mixed cutlery drawer."

"Well," said Kevin reasonably, "you can’t keep them segregated forever. Eventually they intermarry and gain acceptance through forced busing."

He claims that truly vile pun was unintentional, but I have my suspicions.

*Other relics of this era incluse hot pink towels, a bright red couch, and a dishwasher-safe rainbow of Fiestaware.

Whew.

What a bloody weekend.

Moved everything out of the apartment…finally. Thanks to some very good friends, I was mostly out, but there was a truckload that still had to go. So Kevin and I got that out, got that unloaded, massively overestimated our own energy, and were left crawling around the house and whimpering instead of using the truck to take a load to the dump as we had planned. (Kevin has some dead furniture that mine is replacing, as well as some general junk since, y’know, we were going to the dump anyway.)

So today we got everything out to the dump…and massively overestimated our own energy…and were back at the crawl around the house and whimper stage.

So tomorrow, he’s working from home, and we’re getting the rest of the furniture out to the store that takes furniture donations…and then driving the truck back to town…and then, since I have learned how this goes, we will hopefully NOT overestimate our own energy, although we will naturally be left crawling around the house and whimpering.

Against the backdrop of all of this, we achieved a few other notable things:

A) Played the Presidential Debate Drinking Game. We observed four rules–Drink when anyone says "golden parachute," drink when someone says something about Wall Street vs. Main Street, drink when somebody challenges the other person’s facts, and drink when McCain mentions that he was a POW.

Needless to say, we were completely obliterated within the hour. (Also–WHAT is the CNN audience reaction ticker? How do they get those numbers? Is it three guys wired to electrodes or what? Regardless, it was like crack! I couldn’t look away!)

B) Destroyed Kevin’s lawn. He drove the truck over it, and the ground was wet, and then the truck slid all over hell, and then he tried to back it up to the house, and had to keep correcting the angle, with the end result that the lawn now looks like a wallow for a water buffalo. (A single, very small buffalo, with poor traction, but still.) He professes not to much care–we’re at the end of a wooded driveway, so the neighbors can’t complain, and it needed re-seeding anyway, but I feel a pang of guilt nonetheless. I will make it up to him in spring by gardening the front yard into submission.

C) Had a severe allergy attack (or possibly the last hurrah of this minor plague) and spent Saturday night in that special sinusoidal* hell of the post-nasal drip sufferer.

D) As I huddled in the passenger seat of the truck, Kevin got out to move his car so that we could play parking roulette.

Me: "You want me to do anything?"
Kevin: "Guard the truck."

I looked around the outskirts of Pittsboro, crime capital of the world. We were in a cul-de-sac at the end of a road in a rural area filled with horse farms, random cows, and occasional goats. One of his neighbors even practices falconry.** Any square foot not containing livestock generally has a church wedged into it, and any area not taken by either goats or churches has a plaster deer wearing a little seasonal outfit in it.***

"What exactly am I guarding the truck for? In case Leroy’s chicken goes on another bender?"

Kevin gave me a grim look and raised a finger. "Don’t even joke about that."

Even when I am half-dead, PMS-ing violently, have just gotten back from the dump, and my sinuses feel like the place sandpaper goes to die, the man can still make me laugh. This is a good thing.

Meanwhile, Penguin wants twenty more illustrations for Dragonbreath. (I was done! I was DONE! I feel as if I have been snatched from the abyss of victory and hurled into the chasm of defeat.) Still, the reason is at least a good one–the marketing department is very excited, and so they’re doing a big push for it, which is nothing to sneeze at, and they wanted some more stuff to work with or something like that. (And my editor admits that they are indeed torturing me, and they’re aware that what they are asking is unreasonable and cruel. Having them admit that makes up for a lot.) So back up to my eyeballs in work, although I’m continuing to make some good headway on commissions at least, and now that moving and commuting is DONE, I should manage to crawl back into normal productivity at some point…soon…I hope…

Oh, well. You can’t spell burnout without…um….Ron. CURSE YOU, RON, WHOEVER YOU ARE!
 

*I realize that sinusoidal has to do with geometry rather than sinuses, but damnit, it’s a gorgeous word, and I want to use it. My sinuses deserve a good word, after what they’ve been through in the last few days.

** I think the same one with a pick-up truck rusting to death in the corner of the yard. It’s a funny old world.

***The two up by the main road are quite obviously reindeer–one of them is definitely Rudolph–but theywear flowers or easter bonnets during the non-Christmas months. Somebody believes in getting the maximum mileage out of their yard art.

It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

Well, actually I’ve got some kind of minor plague in the snurfle-and-sore-throat variety, but that’s neither here nor there.

The sky appears to be falling on Wall Street, and yet…I am calm.

This is no credit to my mastery of Zen, nor, I hope, does it reflect my failure to understand the situation. Actually, I think it’s neural hardwiring.

I was reading this book a few weeks ago called "The Science of Fear" which was about how we get scared of things. Basically, there’s a little trigger in our brains, from way back in the flint-knives-and-bearskins-days, that determines how scared we should be. It operates by example–how easy is it to think of an example of this happening?

"How likely is it that I will be eaten by a crocodile if I drink at this watering hole?"

"Dude, the crocodile got Ugg last week."  Example leaps quickly to mind, ergo it must be dangerous.

"How likely is it that I will be brutalized by this anteater if I attempt to hit it with a rock?"

"Well…um…uh… Ugg used to say that his great-grandfather got savaged by a hyena dressed as an anteater, but he was never right in the head, even before the crocodile got him." Example does not leap quickly to mind, ergo it’s probably not very dangerous.

(It’s a fascinating book, by the way, in that it claims that this mechanism is what’s making us crazy, because the media is constantly bombarding us with examples regardless of likelihood, so that we have no actual idea of what’s really risky or not–when doing our unconscious risk assessment, we remember the serial killer on the nightly news, no matter how statistically insignificant it REALLY is. This is the sort of thing that keeps us from letting kids play outside because there are evil strangers in the bushes, when in fact evil strangers are vanishingly rare, and they’re in far more danger from people they know and childhood obesity from staying inside all the time.)

Anyway.

To get back to my original point, the sky is falling, the financial markets are going down like an off-color analogy…and I am not capable of being particularly alarmed about it.

Is this whole economic crash and bailout a big deal? Yup. Probably. But when my hindbrain does its little risk assessment trick, it can think of no example of a thing like that actually affecting me. The Great Depression, to my brain, is a historical note, a set of photos of soup kitchens, not a guy getting eaten by a crocodile in front of me. I can’t make myself believe that this is a genuine risk. 

It’s not that I don’t want to–I think this probably is a serious situation. For all I know, I’ll be in a soup kitchen line this time next year. But the hindbrain doesn’t believe it. You ask me how likely it is that your apartment will be broken into and your printer stolen, and my hindbrain screams like a kicked seal, with the end result that I lock every door in the house, despite living in bloody Pittsboro* and have seriously considered padlocking Mr. Printy II to the wall. But how likely is it that we will be plunged into catacylismic economic depression? Hindbrain can’t grasp that. Neurobiology fails me. It’s not real to me.

I believe in cats and beagles, in leftover pizza for lunch and a pencil sharpener that screams like the unquiet damned, in black tea and repainting My Little Ponies so they look like tapirs, in birdfeeders and duck decoys and webcomics and blogs and a lot of fairly unlikely things. But I don’t really believe in Wall Street. I’m sure it’s there, I’m sure it’s important, I just don’t really believe in it. It is a vague nebulous thing that exists somewhere in New York as far as I’m concerned. $700 billion might as well be sixty quadrillion-jillion–they’re not REAL numbers that I understand. (I don’t know if economists can understand these numbers either, or if they’re like astronomers using scientific notation–the math says that’s what it is, and nobody worries too much about the inability of the human mind to REALLY comprehend a number like that.) 

So. Just keep on keepin’ on, I guess. If the sky is falling, so be it. My worrying about it won’t do a damn thing to help the situation, my congressmen are well-informed of how the constituency feels about the matter, I certainly can’t avert it single-handedly. You can tell me to panic, and I will nod and say that yes, this is a terrible failing on my part that I am not panicking, but still, there it is. Hindbrain simply isn’t able to freak out about it.**

And the art still needs to get made.

*Crime rate .0001%, and that was when Leroy’s chicken went on a bender and held up the 7-11 for corn money.

**Feel free to text me while I am in the soup kitchen line and say "See, I told you so."

Autumn

Well, it’s officially fall.

I went out onto the back deck to try to get the beagle out–a failed attempt, he hates wet grass. For a supposed hunting breed, with the brain power of a warm ice cube, Gir can be a real prima donna. But as I was standing out there, despite my rather snurfly sinuses, I smelled leaves being burned somewhere in the distance. The smell went into my brain, and clicked all the little relays over, and I went in and put on fuzzy socks.

It’s fall.

The calendar had said so, but now it’s really true.

Alas! It looks like the stress of moving has kicked poor Ben into another flare-up of kitty herpes. I called the vet and left a message…hopefully we can get some meds for the big lug. (Mind you, he seems to enjoy the chance to eat all the cheap stinky catfood he can gobble down, which is one aspect of the treatment.*) He seems to be adapting pretty well, all things considered, but of course it’s a major system stress moving to a new house with dogs and strange cats and occasional kids.

*sigh* Even though I know what it is, and that it’s going to be fine–and that there’s really nothing else that one could do–I still feel the obscure pet-guilt of "I should be able to make this better!"

Still, I had to move. Kevin told me yesterday that he’d heard from a cop friend that my area apparently had some fairly significant gang activity and there had been a number of break-ins, which I’m kinda glad I didn’t know when I was living there as a single woman and feeling reasonably confident about my safety.

Although it DID suddenly make one thing I’d wondered about come clear…there were a couple of cars and trucks in the neighborhood painted a truly objectionable shade of kelly green. I mean, the WHOLE CAR. Hubcaps and all. It was an intense kelly green that was not at all the sort of color you’d normally paint a car. And come to think of it, the guy on the ten-speed who tried to pick me up–the one with the cornrows and the blinged-out teeth*** had been wearing a football jersey in the same godawful shade. I had chalked the prevalence of kelly green up to a bizarrely consistent lack of aesthetics, but gang colors might also explain it.

(It must suck to be a gang when that shade of kelly green is the only color you’ve got left. Then again, I suppose blue and red and black and silver were already taken by the bigger kids, and the pastel shades are…maybe not so much what you want. But kelly green? What do you call yourselves? The Limes? The Fightin’ Veggies? East Side Asparagus, represent!)

All in all, probably lucky to get out with nothing worse than some lost electronics and a sick cat. Otherwise I’d have made a smartass remark to the wrong person and they’d send me to sleep with the avocados.

*The mouth lesions tend to make him kind of stuffed up, so he can’t smell as well. Cheap soft food–and tuna, and canned mackerel–stinks enough to get through the haze, and he’ll eat it.**

**And by eat it, I mean "plant his face in it, snorting like a little piggy."

***My thought was "Aww, poor guy, he had to get some really severe adult braces. That’s gotta suck." Kevin explained to me, very gently, that no, this was actually a fashion statement. Who knew?

I got a LOT done today, and I feel good!

Also, it looks like there’s gonna be a major changeover with Digger at some point in the not-too-distant future…details on that, as it happens!

So much to do, so few braincells…

I’m feeling a bit like the Red Queen at the moment–no, not the "Off with her head!" bits, the bit she tells Alice, about having to run as fast as you can, just to stay where you are.* The seriously packed state of everything isn’t helping, the existence of my old apartment, still with some stuff in it, just plain depresses me, and the huge pile of print orders to start getting through (although I really can’t complain about THAT, since y’all’s kindness paid for Mr. Printy, and hopefully you’ll bear with me while I get the printing re-up-and-running, and start getting these orders out over the next coupla weeks.) 

Plus Dragonbreath needed twenty more illustrations, (for which they are paying me, but of course they wanted them yesterday) plus there’s so much work still to be done on the house, plus I’m getting these commissions worked on this month if it bloody well kills me, because it is More. Than. Time.

And I haven’t gotten any art done. My Deviantart gallery is gathering dust. Well, I mean, there’s a painting, but my scanner hasn’t arrived yet, more’s the pity.

Thing is, I realize in my heart of hearts that this is probably where I’ll be for the rest of my life–overloaded with projects and upcoming cons. (I hold out hope that someday I will be unpacked, though!) This is both a depressing thought and a weirdly uplifting one–I ALWAYS feel like this, so it does’t mean that I’m any deeper in the hole than usual, feeling like this. (Okay, a little deeper. There’s the unpacking, anyhow.)

Still, it won’t get done by blogging about it, so back to work!

*There’s actually an evolutionary theory called the Red Queen hypothesis, based on this principle in competition.

I performed fellatio on a summer sausage, and then I won an award. The two are not related, I don’t hink.

So I’m doing the Burlington Carousel Festival with Mckenzee and Jamie of the NC Webcomics Coffee Clatch, and lord, I’m tired. My feet hurt. Still, it was fun! We’re not exactly in our normal milieu–we’re between a home-made apron booth and a booth selling doggy bandanas, and across from a taxidermist. I’m not sure if anybody quite knows what to make of us, but the Heroes Haven comic shop very kindly set us up there, and it’s been a good time. (Plus they gave us free summer sausage. Hopefully the photo Mckenzee took of me eating the summer sausage rather suggestively will never hit the web,  although I rather want to see the still-life with sausage with little paper umbrella stuck in it.)

And of course, just when one starts to wonder just how out of place we are, the festival commitee shows up and gives me a first place ribbon for the art part of the show. "It’s for the frog piece!" they said, once I had finished stammering and thanking them.

"Um. Which one?"

There followed some hurried discussion, whereupon it was revealed that the commitee had apparently not been specific in their accolade, so it could have been one of a dozen or so frog pieces. But hey! I’m not complaining. It was very nice of them anyway.

Tomorrow, back again, and then I sleep the sleep of the just…

A day of general goodness! Got the cover for Dragonbreath done (hopefully!), the new printer arrived (still no paper, but at least it’s here!) and My Little Tapir survived baking and is now awaiting sanding.

The REAL good news, however, is that the forensics people actually managed to get some prints from my apartment, so they’re checking them against the criminal databases now. (Obviously it’s most likely that they’re prints from me or Kevin, but still…I hold out hope that poetry will be served, and Money Frog will wind up cracking the case.)