You are viewing alicebentley

One AM. I should be sleeping. But I'm not.

after all
And just lying in the bed staring at the ceiling isn't very helpful.

So I tiptoed out to scrawl down some of the many things going through my brian, in hopes that they will all settle down.

Working at the Country Store has really underscored for me how much I love working retail. (I really enjoy it.) It also makes me itch to do more bookkeeping-type stuff, and wonder whether I should look into taking some classes to get a better grounding at that. The shop is not interested in having me do any of that sort of work, but watching what they're doing, and the choices they're making (some of which I disagree with) leads to thinking about the options I had at the bookstore, and what choices I might make if I was to try something like that again.

Then there's the whole "where do you see yourself in 10 years" thing. Maybe it really IS time to think about a move - either back to the midwest where all our family and most of our friends are, or down toward California where at least Mike might find some exciting work. I do like this house, but there are very many nice houses on this planet, and even with having been here for over ten years we haven't truly put down roots. We've made some new friends since coming out, but we see them even less often than the family back East.

In the short term I want to push myself into writing up more about the topics that interest me: costs in publishing, methods of artistic distribution, old snippets of encounters from the bookstore. I haven't managed to actually write any of those yet, but perhaps a tangible reminder like this will help.

Time to try sleeping again.

Chickening out

after all
Several weeks ago I started making a concerted effort to walk to work at least twice a week. I know the exercise is good for me, and the time investment reasonable.

Today was one of the days I would normally choose for this, and it isn't raining. But it's been a very slow-wakeup-morning and (for this area) it's unseasonably chilly (35F). So I'm taking the path of least resistance and cruising social media for half an hour instead.

Tomorrow! Tomorrow for sure.

Shifting focus

north edge
I've learned it's hard to make myself write things, and even harder to post them. But I enjoy reading everyone else's posts so much I'm once again making the try at it.

For much of the last year I've been trying to do many things, and failing at most of them. My head knows how it's supposed to go, and my heart remembers pulling off projects with delighted regularity, but today's reality is I just don't do it.

So this last couple of months have been me acknowledging the things I've said I would do and haven't, and letting the other folks involved know that they need to get someone else in. I'm really grateful to you all for having faith in me, and the grace and generosity you've shown when I fell short of that faith.

For now, I'm hunkering down. My daily energy is being directed at doing the best job I can at The Country Store and Farm. I'm allowing my time off work to be claimed by extra sleeping, reading a book, and light housecleaning. I've already passed on my responsibilities to all but one outside project, and now I'm going to stop mentally telling myself that I'll go to that drawing class, start back in on martial arts, put time into that stained glass project, or pursue any of the dozen new business schemes that bounce around in my head. Better to have no aspirations, and then accomplish some things anyway, than to constantly be surrounded by the things I am failing to do.

That's the plan anyway. Time will tell what works. Thanks for listening.

Rest in peace, my faraway friend Leah

Rock
I haven't been hanging out on the 'net much these last several months, and it was only this afternoon that I read that qtrhorserider, Leah Gadzikowski had passed away on Sunday after a long illness. We hadn't seen each other in decades, but I'll always remember our times together fondly.

Best wishes of comfort and support to Paul and the kids as well as all her many other friends.

Not enough typing

after all
When your dream devolves into two people arguing about the distribution chain for a particular book, it is clearly time to wake up.

Today's contribution to actually writing down (up?) some of the random things in my life.

Emerald City Comic Con

after all
Coming soon to a city near me!
Last year I could only go for a couple brief hours after working all day at the toy store. The years before that I was working the Studio Foglio / Girl Genius booth (which task I loved, but left me out of any part of actually seeing the convention). The last time I was there as a regular attendee was about ten years ago, and while I enjoyed it, I knew I wanted something more involved this year.

At the time I was making plans (October) I had a mid-paying full time job on the island that had weekends off, so I figured I'd splurge and reserve a hotel room for Friday and Saturday.

And to scratch that itch of involvement, I volunteered to be one of the Minions, their vast (~400 to 500) horde of go-fer helpers. It's been years since I last worked a con as anything other than a vendor, but I've always enjoyed it and it can be a great way to meet new people.

Segue to a few weeks ago, when I took a new job working retail at The Country Store. I made getting the ECCC weekend off a condition of taking the job (also Norwescon weekend, when I'll be running the Foglio booth), so the schedule still works. I'll be working all the *other* weekends in the year, but that's OK with me.

So now I'm pumped about the convention coming up, and all the great folk who are going to be there, and realizing that the thing that would really cap this whole experience for me would be if I had other people sharing the hotel room with me. But how best to find someone (or someones) who are planning to come to the convention, but haven't secured sleeping space? A puzzle.

Learning a second language

after all
It's something I've never managed. I took a year of German in school, and achieved my goal of sufficient vocabulary to read Einstein's Theory of Relativity. But never managed even partial conversational ability.

I love the Japanese language, and have poked at learning it for more than 30 years. I have a *wonderful* set of books and guides, and took classes from some great teachers. Pretty much none of it stays in my head for more than a week or so.

A couple of years ago my son became interested in Norway. (Norway?) I can only guess that it's related to knowing that his maternal grandparents came form there, but who knows. He's interested in learning Norsk, but not in traveling to Seattle every week to do so. So now I'm thinking maybe I'd like to learn Norsk, and we could both go, and it would give me someone to practice with.

I am, however, well aware of the challenge:
http://www.itchyfeetcomic.com/2013/09/view-from-top.html?m=1

A link collection

after all
Random tab-closings that I know I'll never find again if I don't put them somewhere.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QdoTdG_VNV4
Glass harp of Sugar Plum Fairy (or, what to do if you're bored at the wedding reception).

http://messagewithabottle.tumblr.com/image/26033919046
Advice most often missed by time management self help books.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/12spent/zeppeldrome-a-humorous-hazardous-dirigible-rally
A kickstarter for an interesting-looking board/card game that I can't decide if I'm going to pledge or not. Deadline Feb 16th. If I do, I want to be at the $29 level. But since my income dropped from $2K a month to about $100 a month, I'm not that comfortable pledging to things right now.

http://amazingstoriesmag.com/2014/01/pushing-fannish-buttons-chi-fi-vs-westin-river-north-hotel-chicago/
Actual investigative reporting on a topic of interest to me. It gives me hope for the future.

I may not be a good at-home worker

after all
I wouldn't have thought this would be a problem. I always have a bazillion projects I'd like to do, ideas I get really passionate about. And I have a history of following through on tasks, whether it's helping out at conventions or doing housework.

But the last week of post-holiday, still-unemployed has been one of my most unproductive times ever. All right, massive loads of paper have been sorted, stored or disposed of, but the instigating piece of paper was not found, and there is still an equal massive load to store or trash. It really brought home to me that I have NOT in fact been doing a good job on the housework. Just having things not be dirty in not sufficient.

This very moment I should be posting mercilessly on eBay, as I have towering stacks of cool things that I wish was in someone else's care, and an oncoming train of a bill that needs to be paid next month. But I delay, and read FaceBook, and make some lunch, and putter about. I'm not like this when I'm at a job, or when I was doing the bookstore, and I'm not sure what has changed. The methods I can think of to change back aren't really an option. Get someone else to come in and work with me would do - but this isn't Chicago where I can think of five good options without effort. This is Vashon Island, home of no one else we really hang out much with.

So here's a post to share my quandary, and hopefully nudge me into getting things done.

Tales from Ye Olde Dayes

after all
There are several conversations that recurred with almost alarming frequency back at the bookstore. We're talking 1988 here, so no big chains (there were some pocket-sized Waldenbooks and the beginnings of Crown), no internet (Arpanet was old, universities and many companies had email, but it would be years before we faced Eternal September) and verbing nouns was not yet a thing.

Any question booklovers had was likely to come up over and over again, to the point where I had some streamlined answers just as useful as any sweeping generalization is when discussing complex situations. (That is, not very, but can be amusing.)

How to Get in Touch with an Author
Unless they were that rare breed that regularly showed up at conventions and socialized, the most commonly successful method was the Three Envelope system.

Innermost is a friendly and professional letter from you to the author, briefly covering what your interest was (invite to a convention? request for an interview? set up a signing? help with your homework (more common than one would think)?). Alongside it is a Self Addressed Stamped Envelope so that if the author chose to reply and didn't want to phone they could easily do so.

Those both go into an envelope with proper postage, and the authors name, but the address area left blank. A polite note goes alongside this, requesting the publisher to complete the address and send the envelope on its way.

Those go into the exterior envelope, which is addressed to the publisher of the author's most recent books, or one you feel will be likely to pass the package along.

This method was by no means foolproof, as the outer parcel sometimes never made it out of the publisher's hands, and the second envelope sometimes just joined the drifts of unopened mail at the author's house. but it worked more times than not.

That was back when there were about 15 publishers producing speculative fiction, and perhaps 100 to 150 titles per month on the outside.

These days I have trouble estimating the number of new titles coming out, and the pool of authors to contact is at least orders of magnitude larger. Thank goodness for the internet.