seldnei: (converse who white)

Elementary school open house (this is where you go find out your teacher, get set up for before and after school care, all that happy jazz) was apparently not chaotic enough–they decided to add a scavenger hunt this year.  Scott took care of most of that while I did volunteer orientation.  Because I will chaperone the Disney trip again this year, by god (they’re thinking Animal Kingdom this year, which I am all for)!  But we have no dates because half the gifted team teachers had their rooms renovated and that just got finished, like, this week, so everything is chaos.

In fact, Z’s teacher has decided to make the first week of classes into a real-world problem solving project for the class: how should we set up the classroom to make it a good learning environment?  Which I think is a really cool thing to do, and I dig her flexibility in dealing with something she couldn’t control that’s going to affect her classroom.  (Plus she gave us a packet explaining all the different kinds of assignments the kids get, so she’s my hero.  I am a very supportive, involved parent if you tell me what you’re trying to do!)

The school itself has a lot of new stuff going on this year–free lunch for all the kids, ID tags, school-provided and required planners–that looks intriguing.  I am resigned to paying for replacements on the planner and ID card at least once this year, though.
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So I bought pants on my day off last week, and today I put on a pair of the new pants for work. Now, this particular pair, I had noticed in the store, had a patterned cloth on the inside for the pockets. I'd sort of glanced at it because I was more concerned with inseam length than interior-pocket-material, but today I took a good look.

The pattern is words. Affirmations, if you will.

You are gorgeous.

Um.

You are glamorous.

Yeah, see, I don't aim for glamour in my everyday life. Mostly I aim for intimidating as hell and multitasking like a boss.

You are sexy.

Okay, how do you even know? For all you know, pants of mine, I could be wearing you to build a death ray. You could be the pants I chose to wear whilst exacting my bloody revenge on all who wronged me; the pants I chose to wear as I finally put my plan for total megalomaniacal world domination into motion. You could be the pants I chose to wear as I ascended to my ice throne, as I built my magical chocolate factory, as I wrote the music that would make grown people weep even as it rewired their brains to make them better minions. All of this is, admittedly, very sexy ... but you don't know. You're pants.

You are stunning.

Annoying pants.

You are beautiful.

Annoying pants that I will most certainly not wear to build my death ray.
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So in the past 3 weeks, I have had:

--heel pain (probably plantar fascitis)

--jaw pain (jaw clenching at night)

--sinus pain (weather change)

--massive facial breakouts (hormones?)

--heat rash all up my back (as of last night)

I think it's clear what's happening--I am finally morphing into a Silurian.
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I work in a college library, and today has been non-stop ridiculous:


  • computers up and down--both in the power sense and the internet sense

  • printers down

  • unscheduled professors using our classrooms (which is okay, just chaotic)

  • one student assistant out

  • a roach on the third floor (we're having an ongoing bug battle this rainy season)

  • the usual sorts of mysteries from the InterLibrary Loan system


More of these issues than I'd like required me to crawl around on the floor, and I'm really glad I wore pants and not a skirt today, let me tell you.

And my wrist hurts.
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Before I start, let me just say that I did, indeed, drop off the face of the internet for a while.  It's been a helluva summer.

In April 2011, my short story, "Items Found In a Box Belonging to Jonas Connolly," appeared in Strange Horizons. I was, and still am, really excited that they published my story--working with then-editor Jed Hartman was a great experience; "Items" got some really nice response out in the larger internet, and it won the Strange Horizons Reader's Poll for Best Story for that year.

Last week, I found out that a poet named David R. Morgan plagiarized a lot of works from Strange Horizons, including "Items." According to the Guardian website, he was caught plagiarizing from other poets as well, though that article doesn't mention the prose works he's plagiarized.

From what I've been told, since he's admitted to it, apologized, his plagiarized stuff (I hesitate to call it "work," since it's not, in fact, his work) has been taken down (mostly--apparently this is still ongoing), and his publications were in small venues/by small presses, there's not a lot to be gained from legal action. I'm not sure at this point how much further I'm going to look into that--I have very little money, for one thing.

But I am not best pleased. Y'all, I've spent about six and a half years of my life teaching people not to plagiarize. I have heard every excuse out there, quite a few of which Mr. Morgan has used to justify what he did. I've never bought those excuses before, and I certainly don't now.

Because here's the thing--this news is the most recent irritating, obnoxious thing in what has been, quite frankly, one of the most stressful, difficult, and saddest summers of my life. And you know one of the ways I've been dealing with it all? By writing stories--my own stories.

Anyway. I do want to thank Ira Lightman for digging through Mr. Morgan's book and finding all the work he plagiarized from the Strange Horizons site, and Ansible for making sure to mention Strange Horizons in their report. The editors at Strange Horizons have been keeping their authors updated, which I also appreciate. There are good people on the internet, and it's nice to see them in response to this sort of thing.

(If you go and look at that list I linked to, also go read the original stories and poems. I know I feel like the only bright side to something like this is the idea that maybe someone will go track down the original work and read it; I hope that might be a balm to some of the other angry authors on the list, as well.)
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Why did I click on that Facebook link to the 1919 bungalow in Tampa? The one with the hardwood floors, two bedrooms/baths, the sun room, the bonus room, the finished attic room?! Why does it have a huge yard with a gorgeous tree? Why does it have a huge screened-in porch?

My freaking dream house, and I had to see it. Dammit.
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So that was a long, godawful weekend.

On Friday, my dad went into the hospital because he was feeling short of breath and kind of odd in one arm. In the end, it turns out his heart went into a-fib, so it wasn't pumping enough blood, or not pumping it properly, or something like that--it was weird, and not good, but it wasn't a heart attack and the doctors all felt it can be controlled with medicine and diet change.

The "best" part of this was that he and Mom had the Zweeble that night, because Scott and I were at Jason's birthday dinner. However, the Zweeb was a champ about the whole thing. He usually comes through when you need him to, though seeing Pop hooked up to a whole bunch of machines made him a little uncomfortable, so he asked to go to the car to get his stuffed animal. That was when we arrived. And if you think that drive from Sarasota to Englewood was fun, I'd have to inform you otherwise.

Saturday was spent here, awaiting word. Overall the word was good, but I was working with about three hours of sleep, so after a certain point, everything seemed like hell on earth anyway. Jason came over, though, which made things much easier to deal with. I'm not sure how many crises he's been here for, now, but it's more than one.

Dad came home Saturday, and everything looks good. He feels fine, he's on the new meds, he has doctor's instructions for what to do if he has another episode, so good on that.

Sunday was a not-so-unusual rough day with the five-year-old, but when you add it on top of the rest of the weekend, it really sucked. Though we tried out some new ways to deal with him that seemed to work, overall, so that's a good thing.

Ugh.

Also in there was Jason's birthday dinner, which was fun (especially his "no, really, I think I'm going to turn around and leave" surprised face), and my contract from Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and cake, so the entire weekend didn't totally suck. This morning is a mental health morning.




And again I see reports of LJ's eventual demise ... although I sort of think it's not going to die off, per se, so much as become an all-Russia/Singapore site at some point. But whatever, it's the internet, nothing lasts forever (well, it's all cached, but people are lazy so it's the same sort of thing). I seriously hate Facebook, though. I think, if LJ dies off, I'll go be the oldest person on Tumblr. It's pretty, and posting photos is easier. :)

But I suppose I'm here rearranging the deck chairs 'til the bitter end.




Now, off to read and read and read until it's time to go to work. Mental health morning, away!
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Today, we got the official notice as to which elementary school Z. was assigned. It was one of our three preferred schools, but the one we ranked third.

Have I described school choice? )

Now, I know how I can be about stuff like this, so we went into this process with the plan to find three or four schools we liked pretty much equally, so that as long as we got one of them, we wouldn't be upset or worried. We ranked them, more or less, on distance from the house because every school seemed to have the same basic programs and such.

Still, though, we were both a little weird when we found Z. was assigned to our third choice school. Despite the fact that we liked it. Despite the fact that, in our notes, we wrote how awesome the art and music rooms were, how we liked the classrooms, and so on.

This idiotic ranking scheme threw us off. We forgot that #1 was not #1, it was just one out of three.

Thankfully, my friend K., who has lived here forever and whose mother knows everyone in town, has been very vocal in her love for this school, so when I texted her she sent me all sorts of excited replies. And slowly, perspective began to reassert itself. (Though we're both still annoyed that, even with the stupid location weight in our favor, Z wasn't assigned to the school that is, literally, two minutes down the road. He was, in fact, assigned to the farthest school from us, out of those three.)

Apparently there is a waiting list for each school. Z is 6th on the list for our first ranked school. Scott and I talked about it, and if they call us about a vacancy in the next month or so, we'd probably take it--two minutes from the house would trump all--but if it's later on and he's all prepared to go to this school, has been to orientation, or is (not kidding) two weeks into the school year, we're going to say no thanks.

And of course we get the letter on the day we buy and set up the big boy bed. Because I need to be beaten over the head with the fact that my kid id growing up.
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I am thinking about Tumblr.

Because I need another thing to read on the internet.
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I'm writing this in the hope that doing so will exorcise the last remnants of my crankiness on this issue.

So, I play Echo Bazaar. And in Echo Bazaar, you choose an ambition and work toward it as you play the game. I chose the one where I'm trying to find a card game that will, if you win, grant you your heart's desire. It's taking forever; the biggest obstacle I had was gathering a bunch of antique coins (you can't buy them; you have to have them given to you). Somehow--long enough ago that I don't remember exactly how--I wound up with more of them than I needed, and whammo! I breezed through a bunch of the steps toward my ambition.

Next obstacle, I needed a patent scrutinizer. Now, I thought this was a person, so I went on my merry way, becoming a spy, romancing the gentry, fighting duels, joining the University, and seeking Knowledge Man Is Not Meant to Know. I lost my soul, got exiled for a while, probably died at least once. I also amassed quite a fortune in stuff I can sell.

Last week, I was browsing the Bazaar--the store area--and found out that a patent scrutinizer is, actually, an object you buy. Color me embarrassed. I buy it, move along two steps. Now I have three options, only one of which is open to me, and requires the deluxe patent scrutinizer.

I sell just about EVERYTHING I OWN, including some of the leftover antique coins, and buy the thing. Go back to my ambition ...

... I SOLD TOO MANY OF THE BLOODY COINS AND AM NOW BACK AT THE STEP OF GATHERING THE DAMNED THINGS.

I know, right?!

If you are still reading this, feel free to laugh. It's funny. It's just a game. My desire to throw the computer off the roof is totally overreacting.

That said, I haven't been able to bring myself to play the game since.
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I don't think you can call what I am right now "awake." But my eyes are open and the body is functioning, even if the brain is a bit hazy.

We are officially in "head down and barrel through" mode for work--lots and lots of papers and homework to get through, then exams next week, and I need to have it all graded before I head to Michigan for the Wedding of the Decade. It's cool; I can do it. I have it all scheduled out in my planner, and so far I'm actually a bit ahead. It's going faster than I expected, really (knocks wood).

I also scheduled writing time, so I don't feel completely irritated when all of this is done.

Sometime this week I need to get some stuff for the wedding--stockings, that kind of thing--and I'm hoping I can maybe get a couple of new shirts and tanks when I do. And we have a wooden chicken to hang in the back yard, which needs to get done because I'm tired of seeing it on the kitchen table.

Yes, a wooden chicken. No, I did not buy it. It was a gift. Trust me, a gift is the only way we were ever going to own a wooden chicken. Technically, it's Z's. And it'll be going off to college with him.

And now to answer the eternal question: do I wrassle the kid into clothes, or do I just watch Scott and hide my laughter?
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Oh, Orson Scott Card. Really? Really?

I have so many, many thoughts here. The first one being how sad and angry it makes me when the author of a book that made me love science fiction (that'd be Ender's Game) turns out to be a giant, rampaging homophobe (this is not new, but it makes me sad and angry over and over).

Hey, guess what? Gay people aren't evil! And while there are some things I can shrug off and be like, "Oh, well, sometimes people are jerks," this isn't one of those things. Those are actual people you're demonizing, there, Mr. Card, and (let me repeat) they aren't evil.

Then--who said Hamlet needed to be rewritten in general?!* On top of that, it looks like a badly-written, homophobic mash-up of A Thousand Acres and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. Which, you know, the whole world has been waiting for ... right.

Really, I'm offended as a person and also as a lit geek.

As for the rest of my thoughts, the review I linked to above pretty much covers it.

Ugh.

*ETA: Not re-imagining, or playing with, or noodling round the edges of--I'm talking about re-writing--fundamentally changing, for example, how a character behaves/speaks/reacts, or how the story ends, or any number of things. From the review, it seems that Card is rewriting large portions of the actual text while also "re-imagining" it. Which is not the same thing that Tom Stoppard or Jane Smiley did, as examples.
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I read this article from the Wall Street Journal about how YA lit is too full of darkness and horror and Bad Things, and this can't be a good thing For The Children. And I've read (and agree with) a lot of the responses it's getting from YA authors and editors--which is, basically, seriously? Are you kidding? The world is a dark place sometimes, and books that address that help us, kids and adults. They help you if you feel you're alone, they help you understand what other people may go through, they give you a safe space in which to explore things that are scary and, all too often, real.

I could also spend a whole post going on about how fantasy/horror and post-apocalyptic novels allow us the chance to deal with very real emotions in a way that feels safer than directly dealing with them, and how they're just good stories without all this extra added stuff, but my point is actually something else entirely--

Did you see the books they suggested?

Okay, apparently we shouldn't let our kids read the Hunger Games books, about kids being sent to kill each other in an arena battle. No, we need to give our kids True Grit, about a 14-year-old girl who travels with a middle-aged alcoholic, whom she has hired to kill the man who killed her father. There's a lovely scene where she falls into a rattlesnake infested pit that I found, you know, charming and lighthearted when I read it.

Let me see, we also have post-peak oil America, dead dogs, autism, adultery, book burning, World War II, World War III ... and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (which, I admit, I haven't read, but that apparently deals with attempted rape).

Don't get me started on the stereotypical gender roles that are strongly implied by the books suggested for "young men" and "young women." (Here's a hint, True Grit is not for the girls.)

Now, my point is not that kids shouldn't read True Grit, or A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, or any of these other books listed--really, that retelling of Hamlet might be something I want to read. No, my point is that ... well, for one, that this list is pretty hypocritical all the way around, but also--there are no books out there for anyone over the age of 5 that do not involve something dark or scary. (Seriously, look at the list--they couldn't find them, either!) Why? Because you need conflict in a story or you don't have a story. You have a diary. And a boring one, at that.

The question is, does the book tell you the truth?

The end of Mockingjay was not what I wished it could have been, because it told the truth. (I wanted the pretty lie, but I also deeply appreciated not getting it.) Things happen, and they scar you forever. But scars mean you survive. (Harry Potter--oddly, not on the list--tells you that, too, pretty much in chapter 1.) And that's a good thing to learn. That's something you need to learn, whether you're dealing with abuse, or being bullied, or just not feeling quite like you belong where you are.

ETA: Kyle Cassidy hits some points I did not, but that are really solid, too. Seriously, this article is flawed in a lot of ways.
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So let's see.

Today I got my wedding attendant's dress. It fits, but may be a bit too big in the bust. (This is not usually an issue for me, how refreshing.) The material is way lighter than I was expecting, which is good in terms of being able to wear it again down here, but will require some undergarments and a sweater, for sure, for the wedding. That said, I could actually use a fancy-schmancy cardigan/wrap sort of thing ... well, I could use an excuse to buy one, anyway. :)

I definitely want to wash and press it before trying it on again, as it's a little stiff right now and could use a good ironing (it's not wrinkled, but the pleats aren't crisp at all). And I need to find out what sort of stairs we're looking at for this loft I'm hearing about, because the black heels I have look cute with the dress, but their four-inch heels are not going to work if I have to climb stairs. (That's me personally; I'm sure other people can climb stairs in four-inch heels.)

Today I also got a phone call from someone apparently pretending to be from a shady collection agency. That's right, some scam artist was trying to snooker my by pretending to be part of a collection agency that's being sued for bad practices. Lovely. Way to go there, buddy. You're living the dream.

The Zweeble spent the day in and out of a giant bucket. It's a container we got to put his toy cars and trucks in, and it's really big. He put the toys in a clothes basket and played in the bucket all day.

Yesterday was his annual checkup, and he is healthy. He's 40lbs and 42 inches tall, which makes him only two feet shorter than I am. He also got three shots and was completely outraged at the injustice of it all. I tried to explain why we get shots, using the example of when I was in second grade and had the chicken pox (you know what makes me feel really old? The chicken pox vaccine), but all that resulted in was his telling me that once upon a time, he had rhinoceros pox.

And now I have to go and clean up while the Zweeble gets a bath. But I will leave you with three ZQOtMonth:

At the grocery store; Scott has just picked him up and put him in the cart because he ran away from us:

"YOU'LL PAY FOR THIS!!!! I'M A TEENAGER!!!"

Scott has been playing a video game. Z climbs up into Scott's spot on the couch and grabs the controller.:

Scott: Hey, are you hijacking my game?

Z: I don't know what hijacking is. I just want to play it for a little while.

At the playground, explaining the pretend dinosaur bones on the jungle gym to a little girl:

"This is the Tyrannosaurus rex. He was the biggest living thing ever. He roamed the earth ... in a *day.* Now he is made into plastic."
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I once knew something, and that something was: Never ride your bike for more than ten minutes (ie, to the corner store and back) between the hours of 11am to 4pm, in Florida. (Exception: you might be able to get away with it from November until March, but don't push your luck.)

Failure to follow this rule leads to overheating, exhaustion, the shakes, and nausea.

Granted, the last time I was regularly riding my bike was pre-Zweeble, and you sort of forget things over the course of five years, and let me just add for the record that 40ish pounds of wiggling preschooler does not make the experience any better.

And the crazy thing is, people up north are still getting snow or snow warnings?! Lord, no wonder you're all down here, still.
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So apparently the Russian government is DDoSing LiveJournal?

Well, hell, man, now I'm definitely not going anywhere! Bite me, anti-freedom of speech jerkwads!

I will, however, be backing up my journal as soon as the stupid site will let me. :)
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So I saw this thing today about how the zodiac is all off now, so we're not actually the sign we thought we were. So I click on it. 37 years of being an Aries out the bloody window; guess what, I'm a Pisces.

What?! I don't really buy into astrology, but I've always liked being an Aries. Then again, I love the water, so well ... okay, I think, let's go check out what Pisces is like.

Allow me to recreate the moment for you:

Web site: Pisceans tend to be weak-willed and malleable, easily led ...

Laura: (sputtering) Weak willed and malle--that's it, I'm still an Aries! Bite me! ... Er. Yeah. Heh.

(Apparently, the zodiac is actually based on the time of year and the equinoxes, not so much the constellations, so it was all a false alarm anyway. No need, as one of my friends said, to go get all new gold jewelry.)
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So I got some Christmas money, and, silly me, I thought maybe I could find some clothes and some bras.

Wrong.

I found a sweater, a pair of shorts, and a skirt.

I returned a number of items after a giant check-out snafu at Old Navy, with the thought that I didn't like the stuff all that much, anyway, so why would I want to jump through fifteen hoops to keep it?

And I am reasonably sure that when I was measured at Victoria's Secret, I was measured incorrectly ... cut for discussion of bras ) So I returned what I could and waited a couple of days for my refund to hit my gift card.

I have no desire to shop for more clothes. I hate shopping. I think I'm going to ask for clothes money and a shopping companion for my birthday, which is probably enough time to make me forget how much I hate looking at stuff and trying it on and heading back for more. Because I do need clothes, but right now I don't care.

So that left me with money. And a bad attitude. :) Which is how I would up with a bag I really don't need, and an iPod speakers/dock/clock radio for the kitchen.

I really don't need the bag; I have the Girl Adventurer Bag and a bigger tote bag thing that I bought at Target for travel that works really well when I have to carry more stuff. I mean, I can rationalize it as the G.A.B. is a trifle too small, and the Target tote is kind of too big, for my every day needs, but that is totally ruined by the fact that I have no idea if this new bag will fall somewhere in the middle like it would need to in order for the rationalizing to work.

So, yeah, screw it: I bought a bag I don't need! AND I'M PROUD! (WELL, I'M NOT ASHAMED, ANYWAY!)

I did seriously think about the iPod speakers, though. But there are times when Z. is playing on the computer while I clean the kitchen or the living room, and music would be nice. Since our music is pretty much computer-based, now, when Z. is hogging the computer I tend to be out of luck. Being able to listen to some NPR would also be nice, because I am becoming one of those public radio hippies. And then there's this whole audiobook thing I've been hearing the kids talking about ...

I also asked Scott, and he agreed it would be a nice thing to have. He'd use it.

So I got one today--some Memorex alarm clock thing--set it up, and we spent dinner time listening to music. The sound is actually quite nice for a clock radio, and I realized that for the first time I can listen to my David Tennant Much Ado About Nothing without static! Woo-hoo!

And thus, Laura does her part to shore up the American economy. Yay. Now if I could get my head into a reading space again, we'd be set.
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1. Royal Assassins
2. Guul Draz Assassins
3. Icy Manipulators
4. Twiddle
5. Twitch
6. Alluring Sirens
7. Sleep
8. 1 or 2 paired with any of 3-7.
9. Not having a Serra Angel.
10. Not having Wrath of God.

My winning streak is over, dudes. 3 of 3, all to Scott and his ... ahem ... Oedipally-inclined assassins decks.

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Laura E. Price

September 2017

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