This Afternoon’s Dream

Wow. I’m totally failing at Camp NaNoWriMo this month. I wrote 267 words on the first and no words at all yesterday.

I have four hours left in the day, so let’s see if I can cook up a couple thousand words in that time.

This morning, Evelyn brought Mila by for the day. She came really early, so I ended up leaving her in my bedroom while my dad and I had breakfast. She barked quite a lot while I was eating, but I knew she was safe and had food and water, so I just waited it out. She stopped barking just about the time that I finished eating, so I stayed at my computer and read for a while before I went back in.

Then the thunder started. Mila was pretty distressed by the thunder, so we stayed in my bedroom. I decided to take a short nap of about an hour or so, then I slept for more than three hours.

This is what I dreamed.

I was living in a foreign country with my dad and maybe Alex. It was a very nice country, with some kind of guy ruling it (a king? a prince? dunno) and everyone seemed to have a good standard of living.

However, U2 (the band) had written a song about how poor and downtrodden some of the people of that country were and so I went to track them down and found a family living in the tunnels by the water main. That water main was their only source of water. They had one of those big wheels that shuts off a water valve, only it was designed to reroute water into a trough that they could drink from. They had tunneled one wall into a room that had three beds in it and was where the family lived and the walls of the tunnel and room were covered with some kind of gray fluffy material that may have been asbestos.

I’m not sure what order things went in. Either I met the king/prince or there was some kind of calamity that destroyed everything.

My home was destroyed and my dad disappeared, presumed dead. He’d left a lot of expensive photographic equipment behind and so I set out to figure out how to use that equipment in order to document the destruction and what was left of the former beauty of the country.

I met some people in . . . a bar? who were helping me learn how to use the camera.

And I went around photographing buildings that used to be beautiful but now weren’t. At some point, a car that was driving in front of me slid off the road and into the water and I was afraid to leap into the water myself because expensive camera equipment. I found some other people just down the river who’d seen the car go in and I offered to watch their valuables if any of them would go in and help. Two men took off their jackets and jumped in and so did a little girl. The men got the people out and the girl emerged with a bottle of something that looked like juice.

This may be when I met the king/prince and he explained that he knows he isn’t a very good king/prince but he’s the only choice the country has. He promised to raise his kids to have good values and judgment and to abdicate as soon as a kid with good judgment and values was willing and old enough to take over.

At some point there was some kind of national superhero and I ended up at Union Station in Los Angeles. My dreams have a pretty good throughline on story but I can’t explain all of them.

Somehow we managed to end up making the country better than it had been before and I moved back to my home, where it turned out that my dad had been evacuated, and he wasn’t dead at all. They also were repainting my living room, which, both in the dream and in real life, is yellow, to have a burgundy accent wall.

We fast forward about twenty years at the end of the dream to where the superhero is flying towards a boat anchored off the coast. I know that the boat contains the current ruler. The hero takes off their helmet? Cowl? and long hair spills out from underneath it the heroine walks over to a sort of covered chaise longue or something, where the current ruler sits. I see that the ruler is a queen/princess and can tell that she’s good and wise and the heroine kisses her on the lips and . . . I don’t know. I don’t really remember much more than that.

When I woke up my first two thoughts where, “What time is it?” and “Why didn’t I suggest some kind of representative democracy?”

The time was a little after 3 pm. I don’t have an answer to the other question.

For today’s Gratuitous Amazon Link, I have the currently-last book Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series, Games Wizards Play. In this volume, there is a worldwide wizarding competition called The Invitational and far from being competitors, Nita, Kit, and Dairine are appointed to be coaches for two of the competitors. I really enjoyed this one and, most of all, this book is how I discovered Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray celery-flavored pop. Nobody else I know likes it, but I love it.

More Language Updatey Stuff

November 30, 2020 3 of definitely-not-going-to-be-8

So. It’s November 30, which means that tomorrow I change languages to Italian for December and January. I suspect this will go more easily than October and November did, simply because I have an easier time reading very, very small Latin script than very, very small traditional Chinese characters.

Italian is great. I love Italian. I love Italy. I’m going to do Italian for Duolingo and my games and go back to ChinesPod in the car (because I always work on Chinese in one way or another). This dovetails nicely with my current cookbook, which is Italian, and the next cookbook, which is also Italian.

It’s the language I’m going to do in February and March that’s causing me some consternation. I don’t want to go right from Italian to Spanish, so I’m looking for a language for between them. When I looked for a low-corruption country to maybe consider specializing in, I ended up mostly in Northern Europe. Okay, I thought. Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Swedish. I can work with those.

Only apparently I can’t. It’s my phone. I can set my phone on each of those languages, only at this point, Android is only slightly compatible with them. I set my phone on Danish, with Spanish secondary and my phone ended up being this kind of disturbing combination of the two languages. The same thing happened with the other languages.

So. I guess that’s not going to help me decide.

Maybe I can do a non-European language next, though. and leave the Northern European languages for later. I think I have a pretty convincing case for Vietnamese in February and March. I wonder what apps will come out in Vietnamese if I put that first on my phone?

Ooh! Android likes Vietnamese! Let’s try my other apps. I know that neither Wizards Unite nor Design Home are available in Vietnamese. No on Pok√©mon Go. Not Candy Crush, either. Also Kindle. Well, Samsung Health is available in Vietnamese. Babbel’s a no, too. Duolingo has Vietnamese for English speakers.

That may end up being what I do.

For our Gratuitous Amazon Link, I’m doing yet another Discworld book, this time a Witches one: Lords and Ladies, by Terry Pratchett.

Argh!

November 30, 2020 3 of 3

It’s 10:30 and I need to get to bed soonish. I’m also 15 words short of hitting 30,000 for NaNoWriMo.

As a result, I will be just blathering more than usual. I realized that I posted a lot about my Goodreads account, but not much about the books I read this month. I guess that’s because it was a lot of comic book rereads and such and not really something I really had much to say about.

I’m rereading The Glass Sentence (yay for germane Amazon links), which I recall really enjoying when I first read it five years ago, but not really the details. I guess I could write about that once I get away from “I need words and I’m panicking!” mode.

I have made a nice habit for myself of sitting down to write every day. I hope to continue that, maybe in a more considered way for December and January.

I’m already two weeks ahead on posting at one post per day. If I can keep this up, I should stay two weeks ahead, which will be nice if/when I catch COVID. I’d probably be out of commission for two weeks at that point.

I’m going to continue reading and come up with more content creators to feature in posts and we’ll see where we are when my first practice NaNoWriMo for 2021 hits in February. Maybe I really will make it to 8 posts a day then.

Or maybe not.

What’s for Dinner Tonight?

November 30, 2020 2 of definitely-not-going-to-be-8

Tonight’s dinner is going to be a pretty short one, probably. Tonight we’re having what Alex and I refer to as “Election Night Chicken.”

Back in the early 2000s, I worked as an election clerk. It was pretty good money for one day’s work. I’d work the entire time, from 7 am until the last voter left and we’d packed everything up, so maybe 12.5, 13 hours. At $10 per hour, that was pretty good for one day. I also got to know a lot of my neighbors that way, which was nice.

I didn’t take a lunch hour those days, more like a lunch long break. I’d buy chicken legs and stick them in the freezer. Then, the day before Election Day, I’d stick them in the refrigerator to thaw most of the way through, and then at noon, I’d run home, throw the chicken and 1/3 of a cup of Liquid Smoke into the Crock Pot (I can use the brand names for both because I was using the brand names of both), set it on low, then go back to the election.

At about 6 pm, Alex would start checking the temperature, and when it hit 165, he’d turn it down to warm, and wait for me to come home.

After a while, Alex decided it needed a name so that we didn’t have to keep calling it “chicken in the Crock Pot with Liquid Smoke.” I believe the recipe I stole this from was originally called something like “Faux Barbecued Chicken” and was more complicated than we made it, but since we pared it down to just the Liquid Smoke and the chicken, we decided to just call it Election Night Chicken, since we had it on, well, Election Night.

Gratuitous Amazon Link time. I though we were getting close to the end of the Discworld books, but it looks like we’ll still be there for a while. I do have a break from them today, though. Our book right now is Generation Why, the second Ms. Marvel compilation by G. Willow Wilson, Jacob Wyatt, and Adrian Alphona.

My Goodreads Account — OMG

November 30, 2020 1 of 8

Every once in a while, it hits me — I have a shelf full of Ranma 1/2 manga and a couple of Naruto ones. I’ve read all of them, but can’t remember when.

It’s the 30th and thus the end of NaNoWriMo. I’m definitely not going to make it to 50,000, but 30,000 is looking good. And so I don’t really *need* to keep going lockstep through all of my comics compilations, graphic novels, etc.

But I really probably should. I am, after all, going to try to take another stab at writing 8 posts per day going in February, 2021, so I may well need the additional books some day.

Or maybe not. I was going to do the words “Ranma 1/2” above as a not-gratuitous link to the first volume of the series only to find that you can only get $14 used copies of volume 1 right now. So, I guess it’s going to be Gratuitous Amazon Link time. Today we have Small Gods, which is a standalone book. I get a kick out of how it is currently titled at Amazon: Small Gods: Discworld Novel, A, like the computer finally figured out how card catalogs worked and is going a little nuts with it.

NaNoWriMo Update

November 28, 2020 3 of 8

It’s 6:27 pm on November 28, and I’m not even to 30,000 words yet. I think this is definitely a personal best for me, as the last time I registered at the website, I only got in the 15,000s, but I’m not going to make it to 50,000.

I also have 16 scheduled unposted posts. I was scheduling them out a week, and then for some reason, I did several days of scheduling for November 30. So I just spent half an hour straightening out my future schedule. I think they’re technically out of order, but I’m pretty sure that I have Alex’s suspected COVID case (his test was negative) in order, so there’s that.

Now since I have 16 unposted posts, I’m too far ahead to schedule them for a week out without messing up my schedule, so I’m scheduling them for Christmas now. This is scheduled for 1 am on Christmas. I’ll go in later and move it to the . . . 8th, I think?

I was also going to start socializing with the other WriMos, but that never worked out either. Variable work schedule, stress from Alex moving out this month, COVID, Thanksgiving. Yeah.

I think that writing a bunch of posts in a row and scheduling them ahead of time will work pretty well, though. I don’t think I can do an unofficial NaNoWriMo in December or January, but February might work. I may have to go back in and spread my scheduled posts out to one a day or one every other day to fill in the blanks of December and January, though.

Now for our Gratuitous Amazon Link. We’re back to Discworld today with Reaper Man, a book featuring Death.

About To Hither and Yon

November 28, 2020 2 of 8

At the beginning of November I said that I wanted to write one perfect introductory blog post that I could pay Facebook to promote and see if I could grow my audience.

This is that post. Or the first draft of it, at any rate.

My “name” is Olivia (not my real name, but I hate my real name, so why not take a pseudonym, right?). Olivia actually in some way relates to my real name, but . . . anyway.

The original plan for this blog was to blog about travel. Places I’d been, places I wanted to go, places I was when I wrote specific posts. I’d post my favorite pictures from each location and then monetize it with a goal of making my hobby of travel self-perpetuating. Travel -> post -> cash check -> do more travel.

It has never quite gotten to that point. At first, I didn’t want this blog to look like a *total* cash grab, so I held off on attempting to monetize it. Then, I began posting Amazon Associates links (if I can’t find a book germane to the topic, I refer to it as a “Gratuitous Amazon Link”). By the time I felt comfortable enough to think about putting ads on the pages, Google had canceled my ads account from lack of activity.

So now I just have the Amazon Links, which are not exactly making the dough roll in.

Since I haven’t been able to use this to do the travel I needed to make content for the blog, my focus has broadened. First, I added book blogging, which seemed to be a good fit with the attempted monetization through Amazon. Then I began talking about a project I’m starting where I will be working my way through my cookbooks. That is still book related, but also cooking-related, so there’s that.

And, occasionally, I post about my life and what’s going on in it. I spent November doing what’s called National Novel Writing Month, where you attempt to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I’ve done better this year than in any year before, but I’m not likely to actually reach 50,000. In order to hit that point, I’ve started talking about medical topics and also Internet content creators that I enjoy (kind of like book blogging, but with YouTube). I don’t know if those will stick around after November.

So, since I’ve talked about the Gratuitous Amazon Link in the text above, here’s one so you can see how it works. I guess that since this is not in the regular continuity of the blog, I will go outside the continuity of my Gratuitous Amazon Links for ideas. What book have I given the highest rating to on my Goodreads page and that I absolutely love? Hm. Let’s go with No Normal, by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona, the first compilation of the adventures of Kamala Khan as Ms. Marvel. I’ve loved comics since 1974 and this series is especially wonderful.

What Did We Have for Brunch?

November 26, 2020 Part 2 of 8

I spent my dad’s whole brunch-eating period writing a post on headaches. I’m almost done with my food, and Alex got a start on his then had a dinner appointment somewhere else.

So I guess I can use the past tense, since 2/3 of us are done-ish.

Anyway, since COVID is still a thing (and getting worse — we had over 1,000 cases per day for the last couple of days), we ordered Denny’s in as a sort of faux Thanksgiving brunch.

I got an Ultimate Omelette (for Easter, I somehow ordered it without the sausage or onion, but couldn’t figure out how to do it this time, so I pulled them out as I came across them. It was still delicious, though), Alex has a ham and cheese omelette, and my dad had steak and eggs.

I’ve finished my omelette, half of my toast, and about 1/3 of my hash browns. My dad has eaten everything and is taking a post-brunch nap. Alex is still not feeling 100% so he ate some of his hash browns. His future roommates are having a big dinner starting soon, so he’s there right now.

We started having brunch for every holiday when Alex was little. Well, maybe before then.

Let’s see. My mom always wanted to go to a champagne brunch on Easter and when I was a teenager or young adult, we noticed that the nice hotel on Halsted Street — I think it was a Hilton, maybe? (cue short break to see if that hotel is still there (I found where it was, and it’s a vacant lot now because of course it is*)) had a champagne brunch. Now, if I recall, my mom was more interested in the decadence of the champagne part, but since alcohol has always tasted nasty to me, I was more into the brunch.

We continued Easter brunching once Thomas and I got married and moved to Texas. We went to Easter brunch at the Hyatt Hill Country hotel for years. After a couple of years, we added Christmas brunch (we were still going home to Chicago for Thanksgiving at that point) at what was then the Adam’s Mark hotel downtown. Eventually, the hotel changed hands and those brunches stopped.

When we had Alex, we expanded to brunch for every holiday. Alex was an awesome baby who literally was only cranky when he was tired. When he was a baby, we’d put him in his clothes while he was still half-asleep and by the time he woke up, we were there. He was nice and rested and cheerful for the duration, then, with a full tummy, he’d nap for a while and be cheerful and rested for the rest of the day.

After Thomas and I split up and my dad moved in with us, we kept going to the Hyatt Hill Country for a few years, but then my dad decided that we should go to a hotel closer to home. The brunch isn’t quite as nice, and they don’t have waffles with strawberries and chocolate chips, like the Hyatt Hill Country used to have, but it is nice (and also less expensive!).

We generally go for Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, but this year they aren’t having brunch, because, well.

So we did Denny’s for both Easter and Thanksgiving. What will happen on Christmas? Probably Denny’s again.

Maybe we’ll return to real brunch at some point in 2021.

*I later found an article saying that they were plans in late 2019 to put a casino at the southwest corner of the intersection between Halsted and Interstate 80, which is right there. I’m not sure if it’s going forward, what with COVID and I’m not sure if it’s going on the brunch hotel side of 174th or the other side, though.

We begin the Discworld’s “Industrial Revolution” storyline in today’s Gratuitous Amazon Link Moving Pictures. I’m not sure if I’m crazy about this arc. I really was in the beginning stages of Discworld fatigue by this point. It seemed odd that Pratchett was going to skip from the late middle ages/Renaissance to the 19th/20th Century like this. I know, the books are more social commentary than anything else. I don’t know. I guess maybe someday I’ll pick up the project again and see what I think. I’m not at the end of my spate of reading the Discworld books — I still have 12 books before I finally had enough of marching lockstep through them, but we’ll see what we get when we get back to the books someday.

I’m Going to Be Keeping Busy for A While

November 28, 2020 1 of 8

So. Alex is moving out in a few days. I’m totally not ready for this. I mean, he’s 21 and that’s a perfectly appropriate age to leave the nest.

But I feel that there’s a whole bunch of unfinished stuff. We started an audiobook series for our road trips, and now we’ll probably never take a road trip again. I bought a bunch of food for dinners that we’ll never have.

I’m, quite frankly, mourning.

And as a result, I’m going to be doing a lot of introspection into my own life. What do I want? What do I need? How can I make a new, Alex-less, life for myself?

I mean, I’ll hear from him a couple of times a year. I still have his college fund. But will he go with me when I can face scattering Phobos’s ashes? What about our annual national park trip? I’d decided on four close by ones that I wanted to do with him (Big Bend, Carlsbad, Hot Springs, Jean Lafitte). Additionally, those four would take care of our next four audiobooks.

When I was mourning the end of my marriage, I used the anger part of it to get a bunch of work done around here, including painting my bedroom. Can I use the anger part to end my current inertia and either find an audience for this blog or find another alternative source of income that will actually pay me income?

Can I use it to get the things together that I need to do to make the career changes I need?

Can I use it to finally pick a foreign language and get the stuff I wanted to do to prepare for that degree (getting familiar with a *lot* of classic literature in my target language)?

Can I intentionally spend most of my time in “anger” and “acceptance” and ward off “denial” and “depression” entirely? What should I do about “bargaining”? Can I somehow bring that into play? Like when Thomas and I split up, I didn’t really do much bargaining. I made the offer to try counseling and when he turned me down, I washed my hands of him.

Depression hit really hard, though. I went to see a counselor on my own, and I was so scattered that I required a standing appointment. The counselor said that the only other time a patient had needed that, the patient was in end-stage dementia. So. Yeah.

Alex keeps telling me that if I text him, he’ll keep in touch. But I know myself. I have. Er. Had a really good friend whom I’ll call Catherine. We saw each other every two weeks or so for about four years. Then she started dating a guy that she really liked, married him, and they had a baby. She disappeared from my life after the wedding. Suddenly it was all about her in-laws. They had so much stuff going on that she didn’t have time to call me, or text me, or meet me for dinner or anything. I got tired of trying to find a way for us to see each other, and so I just let her go.

Basically, I feel forgettable. Once people aren’t looking directly at me, I feel like I might as well never have been part of their life. I’ve always assumed that friendship is not perfectly, but almost like that game where you have two strings and each string has a handle on both ends. Threaded on the string is a ball. and the game is that the players each spread out their arms by turns, which sends the ball to the other player. I don’t expect it to be perfectly my turn-their turn-my turn, but I do expect to have the ball come back my direction occasionally. And if the ball doesn’t, well, eventually, I figure that the other player has stopped playing and I’ll put my handles down and walk away.

And that’s what happened with Catherine. And it’s what I’m terrified will happen with Alex.

New Updates on Goodreads Account

November 24, 2020 3 of 8

I’m not sure what to make of this. When I first started these blog posts for this month, I’m pretty sure I had 270 read books on my Goodreads account.

I’m now up to 304.

I mean, I know I’ve added some new books, but 34?

I’m going to go back over my books, which are in date read oldest first order right now (to make it easier to find (a) books I haven’t read yet and (b) the longest-ago read ones for my Gratuitous Amazon Links) and rearrange it to date added, newest first just to count them up.

Oh! I figured it out! I hadn’t put any of my FoxTrot books on there, and with the ones I haven’t reread yet and so are in my currently-reading queue, and also the non-FoxTrot books I’ve added, I’ve actually added 47 books. I still have 13 FoxTrot books unread.

Wow.

Next up in Gratuitous Amazon Links, we’re back to Nancy Drew. This time it’s The Bungalow Mystery, by Carolyn Keene. I wonder why I didn’t read these strictly in order. I seem to recall checking ebooks of them out of the library, even though I still have my childhood hard copies. Maybe I got them in whatever order they were available? It was three years ago, so the answer is likely lost in the misty depths of history.