Today I go in for a pap smear.

Words cannot express my excitement.

("Close your eyes and think of England!" a friend of mine advised. Let me say for the record that I’m getting awfully suspicious of all the time England seems to spend associated with my crotch! Seriously, England, I like your accent, but I don’t think we’d suit.)

On the bright side, yesterday while out with Otter for our weekly sushi-and-fish-store jaunt, we hit a thrift store, and I got a wonderfully loud batik shirt. I am a sucker for batik. The shop had paired it with white slacks, and while they looked good together, I do not own any white slacks, because on some level I am unshakably convinced that if I ever put on a pair, I will immediately and spontaneously get my period, regardless of time of month and strict chemical controls. Despite a remarkably cavalier attitude to menstruation these days–"Oh, look, the Red Army is in town,"*–the ghosts of the fourteen-year-old that I was have never been completely laid to rest.

*Personal rating system includes "The Red Army has sent scouting parties," "vanguard of the Red Army," and "Valentine’s Day Massacre." All that lite-flow-days crap seems like a waste of a good metaphor.

Slice of Disturbing Life, Offered Without Comment

URSULA: So! You want to watch a movie, or are you gonna work on something?
DRUNKEN KEVIN: I’m gonna work on the website. I’m kinda feeling it…
U: Cool.
DK: I’m so feeling it.
U: Okay.
DK: I’m feeling it up! I’m feeling it down!
U: Um.
DK: I’m getting a hand up in there and grabbing hold!
U: …I’ll be in the studio.
DK (yelling down the hall after fleeing Ursula) I will be fisting your website tonight!

Oh! Also! The thing I was going to mention and forgot!

I have a book signing tonight at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh. Actually, I and another author will be addressing a group called "The View From Tuesday" which is a sort of book club about what’s going on in children’s literature at the moment, mostly with teachers and librarians and whatnot, but everybody is welcome to attend, totally open to the public and all. There’ll be a booksigning thingy afterwards, it’s at 7pm, they’ll have copies of Nurk, etc. (Honestly, everybody’s probably gonna come out for Deborah Miles, the other author, but hey, a signing at Quail Ridge is nothing to sneeze at.) 

One of the weird mental things about publishing is that the delay completely breaks my brain (and I suspect, a lot of other authors.) Nurk seems like something I wrote a thousand years ago. I can remember writing it, sitting in that colorless house in Raleigh in 2006, and yet I’ve written so much since then, it seems odd sometimes that that’s the book I’m still signing. Dragonbreath has been done for so long in my head that it blows my mind a little that it still isn’t OUT–June 11th is both almost incomprehensibly distant and terrifyingly close. And that leads to another problem–I sorta feel like Ninjabreath is a superior book, and I squirm a little, going "No, wait! Read THIS one!" except that it won’t be out until next spring.

(Part of the problem with–oh, holy crap, there’s a spectacular black snake in the front yard, eighteen inches at least, just cause a glimpse of him undulating across the driveway–anyway, part of the problem with Dragonbreath is that I’m actually starting to hope a little. I blame Wal-Mart. They ordered a bunch of copies. That sort of thing is potentially career-making, and despite my protective pessimism, I’m actually hoping that Dragonbreath might do well…maybe not bestseller, certainly nobody thinks it’ll be the next Harry Potter, but I can at least aspire to "seemingly infinite series that small children nag their parents about" which is a perfectly respectable niche in which to spend my thirties.)

And I got off track again, but anyway, Quail Ridge Books! Tonight! 7pm!

My days of post-book R&R are finished…time to get to work on Book 3. Fortunately, it’s already approaching the neighborhood of halfway done, and writing is less grueling for me than art–I can get in a groove and knock out a quarter of the book in an afternoon (these are SHORT books.) whereas even my best grooves on art can’t yield anything like that.

And I just saw a blue jay! Which doesn’t sound that exciting, but this is the first one I’ve seen in the yard, and I’m pleased. He’s a nicely vivid contrast to the flocks of goldfinches and the fat, ubiquitous doves. Perhaps St. Azul is blessing me with his presence (my offering of half-dead liatris bulbs has been accepted!)

On the down side, I just spilled tea all over my lap, when the much-repaired handle on my mug decided it was done for the day. The tea is called "Iron Goddess of Mercy" and I bought it entirely because of the name at the Asian grocery store yesterday. (Well, the name, and in the interests of science!) Unfortunately, it tastes like burnt hay, so my experiment is largely unsuccessful, and I am not that sad that most of it is on my bathrobe.

And a loud crashing noise just came from the other room, so I had better go investigate what the cats have wrought this time…

Crazy busy weekend, cleaning like mad, family stuff with Kevin’s relatives, meeting with Clatch tomorrow, but I am equal to the challenge! The amount of energy I suddenly have now that Ninjabreath is done is astonishing. I’ve spent the week cleaning the deck and yard, finally getting all my plants in the ground, (Kevin now has a kitchen garden on the patio, somewhat to his surprise) replacing bird feeders, scrubbing toilets, and generally Doing Stuff.

Did I always have energy like this? Is this relief, or is this my normal energy level, suddenly free of the book?

Either way, have a painting.

Saint Azul, Patron of Bulbs

Is That A Sweeper Tentacle In Your Polyp, Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?

More fun with the tank!

Another micro-brittle star came in on a frag yesterday, which I discovered while acclimating everybody. This led to two interesting lessons learned–A) a brittle star can MOVE (seriously, you don’t think of starfish as speed demons, but that thing could haul pentacular ass) and B) the grip of a panicked brittle star is stronger than the turkey baster.

Since the star wants nothing more than to get itself into a rock hidey-hole, and I was going to be spreading super-glue all over the rock it was clinging to, I wound up having to stick the whole frag in the tank and shake vigorously, (not recommended for corals more sensitive than the soft-bodied and incredibly hardy zoas) whereupon it finally came off, was washed partway around the tank, managed to snag a chunk of rock with one arm and immediately vanished into his new rocky home. So I have another micro-brittle star now, somewhere, who is having as much of a heart-attack as something with a primitive sea-water based circulatory system can have.

Unfortunately, I also have a new pest. Two digitate hydroids came in on a rock frag. These are bad. Think like a jellyfish with only one tentacle that sits on the rock and fishes with it, and stings like a bastard. And in some tanks they don’t do anything and in others (and nobody’s quite sure WHY, except maybe too much protein in the water) they spread like crazy.

Not wanting to take any chances, but unwilling to dispose of the rock they were on (which is a spectacular frag covered in beautiful brown-and-green palys) I went to work. One of them has been brutalized into temporary submission, (i.e. I ripped most of it off in a panic, and now I have to wait for it to grow back to see where the heck it IS) the other one I slapped a blob of marine epoxy over. Hopefully that, combined with inhospitable conditions, will kill ’em. (Swear to god, this tank is so half-assed looking. Epoxy and super glue everywhere…I can only hope stuff will grow to cover it in time.)

Speaking of things that sting, my candy canes (which may actually be trumpets–the distinction is narrow and based mostly on density of growth habit) had their sweeper tentacles out this morning! See those nubby round bits on the ends? Yeah, those sting. They’re so short, comparatively, that they’re nowhere near anybody else, so this is a pretty reef-safe coral despite that, and it’s very pretty. They mostly come out at night, according to the internet, but I’ve had the lights on for an hour and the biggest one is still idily waving a few around. The torch also has those, much more aggressively, but I’ve never actually SEEN one.

I just have YET ANOTHER reason not to stick my hands in the tank without gloves on…