Book Review: Lovers and Beloveds

Lovers & Beloveds: An Intimate History of the Greater Kingdom (Book 1)As you may remember, one of my goals this round was to post more book reviews… since that was, ostensibly why I started this blog. As I faced the final countdown to the end of my MBA capstone project, all the backlog of my frustration with being kept from my beloved fictional worlds boiled over into a few days of binge reading… when I really should have been focused on other things. Nonetheless: I’m officially done with the MBA, AND I now have time to write about what I’ve read. In this case, a high fantasy novel written by MeiLin Miranda–the woman who’s helped Blurb Doctor some of my own work. Since I discovered she set the first in her series perma-free, and she never requested a review, the fact that I have worked with her may or may not make you think I’m biased about what I’ve read–by way of disclaimer, anyway. In my case, it gave me much greater patience with the first few chapters of the book, when I found it disconcertingly easy to put the book down.

However, the payoff was more than worth it. I kept wondering to myself if this book could be classified as New Adult, since it deals primarily with the stickiness of the coming of age of the heir to the throne of Tremont. Prince Temmin is rightly described by one of his father’s advisers as “callow” early on, which, I suspect, was part of my difficulty in connecting with the first part of the tale. He’s naive to the point of stupidity as the story starts, and even though his arc is satisfying in the end, it’s difficult for me to feel much sympathy for one who is stubbornly caught in the victim-of-circumstance mode, while at the same time not questioning the society that has forced him into that mold.

As an example, it’s his flirty sister at his coming-of-age ball who points out:

“Tem, look around,” she whispered as he offered her a proud arm and they proceeded through the genuflecting crowd. “Notice anything?”

“What am I supposed to be noticing?” he whispered back.

“The young men! Look at them. They’re all trimming their beards to look like you–moustaches and sideburns and no chin whiskers!”

He wonders a few times that his older sister, widely regarded as the most intelligent of the siblings, is not herself a candidate for the throne, and comments that she would be better suited to the job. The interesting thing about the way all this is layered in is the unthinking sexism and unconscious power structure it illustrates as backdrop to the greater and deeper theme of empowerment versus disempowerment.

That motif was what hooked me–and disproved the “young” element of the story. The book evolves into full-fledged eroticism of all stripes and a frank and honest look at all the different reasons people can and do have sex. Playing on some of the real-world “debate” about homosexuality, the conversation about why men would choose to be with men or women with women was a useful counterpoint on the one hand, but a strange perspective that sex with the same sex could still leave you virginal.

The other thread, the almost-immortal Teacher who uses a magical book to instruct the heir on the hidden history of his kingdom–and in particular, the story of one of its previous queens–was a unique use of the frame story technique, that (f0r me) had the subtext of illustrating how powerful well-written stories are in their formation of our intellectual and emotional selves.

Finally, the cast of characters is compelling–and large. The book closes by bringing back to the fore a minor character from the early chapters, and seems to presage another personage facing similar trials to Temmin’s. However, in this case, it also left me vaguely frustrated that the story would end with her rather than the protagonist. I do give the author the leeway of kicking off a series of books in this volume, but wasn’t pleased to feel left at loose ends.

Overall, I would recommend this to those who enjoy high fantasy that focuses on political machinations and coming-of-age tales–but from a very adult (really, almost erotica) perspective. The couple of weaknesses I saw were more than compensated for by the compelling world-building, intriguing magic, and complex individuals relating to what it means to be an adult making one’s way through a layered world. I will be reading Son in Sorrow when I get the chance, which is perhaps the strongest indication of how much I enjoyed my foray into the Greater Kingdom.

School and Life

"The difference between school and life? In school, you're taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you're given a test that teaches you a lesson." -Tom BodettI’m dragging myself across the finish line of my MBA program this week. The euphoria of adding the two puppies to our household has been counterbalanced by several weeks of way too little sleep, too much laundry from too much puppy poo and pee, and too much other scrubbing from those puppy poo and pee mistakes that don’t hit the blankets and beds we’ve spread around the house for our furbabies–on top of my requisite schoolwork. Work got super-busy in the wake of the Thanksgiving break, and this week we’re flying back to Milwaukee to celebrate a niece’s wedding. In other words, I’m being tested both in school and in life, in both the ways Bodett outlines in this week’s quote.

I couldn’t necessarily recap the whirlwind within these experiences other than to say that while my heart continues to glow at the small accomplishments our furbabies are managing, I am obsessively counting down the now seven days until I turn in my final coursework. (Kou, this morning, actually barked to let us know she HAD to go… unfortunately, that seems to have been limited to the first morning eliminations and all the rest were back to guesses and waiting games.) After 27 months without a break, the end of what have felt like pointless class requirements is an almost unfathomable release from what still feels like a ridiculous burden.

However, the lesson I’m choosing to accept from this schoolwork experience is that I have the perseverance and capacity to organize my daily existence to achieve things I never expected. While I wasn’t able to manage the cross-country move, the long-distance relationship, work, AND school this year to also allow for fiction-writing time on any kind of reliable or consistent basis, eliminating the third of those four barriers in the next week (and allowing for some decompression and recovery time!) should mean I’m able to retake the reins of my writing career in the new year and meet the goals I choose to set for my passion projects.

Nudging me in that direction, hubs this week emailed an article with tips on how to manifest reality from your visualizations. I’ll be practicing as soon as I’m not exhausted by my responsibilities.

;)

In the meantime, feel free to visit my ROW80 cohorts, and bear with me as I face the biblical fat man through the eye of the needle experience this week. I’ll catch you on the flip side–likely next Monday instead of next Sunday, since I don’t think there will be wifi for our last night in Milwaukee. Wish me luck–and sufficient sleep to remain coherent.

Finding Love Again

Love is a sacred reserve of energy; it is like the blood of spiritual evolution.The watchful among you will have noticed I missed last week’s update… An 18-hour day will do that. A week ago yesterday, we drove 500 miles one direction to the breeder who had sold us Natasha four years ago to pick up KouKi and Santino. We got home at midnight, after hitting the road at 6AM. Because Kou is now only 9 weeks old, we’ve been having to deal with short hours of sleep and general discombobulation as she lets us know (or doesn’t!) about what she needs and when she needs it. It was lucky I had a short and slow week at work to be able to help settle in the two new ones as much as I did.

But let me tell you… There is no focusing on anything other than the adorability of new furbabies (and their messes). For anyone considering adding the love and joy they bring, please also remember:

  1. You will only sleep in no more than 4-hour chunks while they’re growing up;
  2. You will look like a prize fighter on the wrong end of the battle from the needle-sharp puppy teeth and claws;
  3. You will be cleaning up pee, poo, and vomit from off of all your most prized possessions;
  4. You will need to disrupt your social calendar to make sure someone is always available to take care of your babies;
  5. You will have to invest in baby gates, crates, toys, chews, and vet visits–and still be anxious about whether they will be as healthy and happy as you can help them be;
  6. You will watch all that preparation be tossed aside in favor of destroying your clothes, shoes, and furniture while they learn what’s right and appropriate to chew;
  7. You will lose your heart to each and every one of them, even after you’ve lost your favorite possessions to their growing pains.

All of this to say, when I saw the picture above, the caption resonated. For as tired as we are, we’re keeping up with the baby, and even Santino’s zoomies have so far been contained either in our back yard or the circular path through kitchen, dining room, living room, and entryway. They’re both OK with being in their crates while we’re around and they can see us, and they’ve learned to “settle” while we’re eating dinner, so they can become the same kind of refined Hunines as we’ve raised in the past. And the way Santino comes looking for me or hubs when we’ve left the room just melts my heart. Even Kou comes running, wiggling her whole body, when she’s at the end of the extendo-leash and done with her explorations, and is ready to rejoin her pack. The love they’ve brought us truly is a sacred reserve of energy, and has evolved our family in all the best ways. We’ve been taking regular breaks to play and laugh and walk–though most of the time I don’t have time to set up my app anymore to track exactly how much we’re doing. For the ones I did track, I know we walked at least 5.9 miles over four days, but I suspect that’s about half of the actual total. And it doesn’t even matter much to me what the numbers are, because it’s just a time of happiness. And counteracts the Disease of Being Busy, as so eloquently stated by Omid Safi and shared by a Facebook friend who struggles as much as any of the rest of us with not overcrowding her calendar.

Especially this week, when we were in the mad rush of preparation for family visitors for Thanksgiving, and as we’ve had to again take one of our own to the emergency room, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the number of responsibilities we’ve taken on and face the challenge of not over-scheduling. So I keep reminding myself, at least for me, some of those responsibilities will fall off my plate in the next few weeks. By the end of the year, I can return to the “normal” of “merely” working my day job and writing at night. But I have seen too many examples of burnout and breakdown in the past year not to take to heart that post on the disease of being busy. I’m thinking my goals are going to have to evolve to include just heart-to-heart sacred time, veg-out relaxation time, and actual unscheduled time. While I work that out, feel free to visit the other ROW80ers to see how they’re progressing on their goals.

And the fitting postscript for those of you who want the awwww moment of seeing our new pack’s configuration:

IMG_4151.JPG

Natasha, KouKi, and Santino

Finding Balance

Find BalanceAs anticipated last week… it’s been a crazy week. The vague tickle in the back of my throat became a full-bore sore throat this week, and culminated in a few days first of a patchy voice, then being reduced to being the whisperer. Given that I had to lead a multi-hour Scrum-planning meeting Friday… I didn’t have time to stay home and rest, nor the ability to avoid talking. It’s made for an exhausting set of days. It even made the predictability of crying at the end of La Boheme last night slightly more painful, as the emotional lump in my throat competed for space with the illness-generated soreness that already existed.

For those of you who know me at all… you won’t be surprised that I retreated to book-world to give myself some mental space and quiet time. I read Curtsies & Conspiracies Friday, and Be My Love this morning.

Of course, I’m thrilled I’m finding time to read again, but it also meant I was rushing to complete the 5-page paper due at midnight.

.<

Ohwell. At least it means I’m down to four more weeks of assignments. I’m not sure I’ll make the time to post any more reviews before the end of my MBA program, but I’m building up a nice back-log of books that deserve them for December, when I will… at least, according to the goals I set at the beginning of this round. We’ll see whether I manage three in the week between the end of class and the end of this round.

:D

Mostly, at this point, I’m giddy that in six days we get our newest furbabies. Natasha has started responding to questions about her brother and sister by going to find toys or going outside to look for them, so she’s about as impatient for their arrival as I am. She was also happy we did our 2.7-mile circuit three days in a row early in the week; not so happy that was it for the week, though, since weather, exhaustion, and schedule conflicts made more walks too difficult.

The most interesting and challenging thing about being voiceless this week has been the realization of how much my relationship with hubs relies on regular and consistent conversation. It was frustrating to both of us to want to say things, but to be constrained by the hoarse squeaks and noises I could manage. In the light of that realization, the link to an article a friend posted about the elements required for a lasting relationship were particularly illuminating. We’re more dependent on words of support for each other than we had realized, so while it’s been nice to have hubs delivering tea, not being able to properly appreciate the things he’s done has felt like a gap.

I need my words.

So I’m very glad my voice seems to be coming back, and I won’t be taking its strength for granted again any time soon. Until next week, then, use your words to appreciate your loved ones, and go visit the other ROW80ers to cheer them on, too.

Living

"To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all." -Oscar WildeIt’s felt like an impossibly long week–mainly because Wednesday I had to be in Bethesda for work and got an unanticipated date night with hubs (along with a 2-hour commute home!), Friday was family dinner night again after a 2-week hiatus, and yesterday we took my brother and his wife to a long-promised treat to thank them for the invaluable help they rendered in our insane move. It occurred to me today, as we trekked 45 minutes south to take advantage of a great deal on more bookshelves, that this whole month is likely to turn out this way… Next weekend we have planned a family outing to introduce the nieces and nephew to opera, via La Boheme. The weekend after that is the long-anticipated crazy of driving to Tennessee (and back) to bring the two new furbabies home. Then it’s Thanksgiving–which we’re now hosting at our place because of the new furbabies. Then November has completed its crazy march of time, and two weeks later… we’re back in Wisconsin for another niece’s wedding.

I’m not sure when I turned into this kind of social butterfly, but I suspect I’m going to need a break from the whirl come January.

:D

Luckily for me, I’ve been getting more reading time, too. One result of which was Monday’s review of Just Girls. In case you missed it… well worth reading. I’ve also gotten a few other ARCs from NetGalley, so I may even make the book review goal I set myself at the beginning of this round.

For the rest… With as much as we were out and about, I only got two walks in this week. But despite a family emergency that took up my whole evening tonight, I managed to turn in this week’s paper on time–even if it means I’m blogging way past my bedtime.

The nice thing about all this: It means we’re finding our footing in our new home, and moving beyond the mere existence from Wilde’s quote above. Those bookshelves mean a good portion of our remaining boxes will be properly emptied and stored this week. I’m finding time to remember 25 years ago, when the Berlin Wall came down–during my freshman year of college, when my mom called to tell me the news because I had no TV or Internet connection in my dorm room. Given that I had lived on the Eastern side of that edifice from 80-84, and its figurative presence felt so permanent as to weave its way into my dreams to create the basis for my Red Slaves series, it’s been an emotional remembrance.

Until next week, then, remember to support all the other ROW80ers, and remind yourself that even the most seemingly permanent things can crumble in the face of ephemera like candle-lit vigils. And remember to live.

Book Review: Just Girls

Just GirlsI signed up for this review tour through the Novel Publicity group two months ago, when I thought I’d have more time… And I’m still feeling like I wish I had more time to re-read and really digest the meaty topics Rachel Gold tackled in her book, Just Girls. The blurb was intriguing enough I decided I needed to learn a new perspective:

Jess Tucker sticks her neck out for a stranger—the buzz is someone in the dorm is a trans girl. So Tucker says it’s her, even though it’s not, to stop the finger pointing. She was an out lesbian in high school, and she figures she can stare down whatever gets thrown her way in college. It can’t be that bad.

Ella Ramsey is making new friends at Freytag University, playing with on-campus gamers and enjoying her first year, but she’s rocked by the sight of a slur painted on someone else’s door. A slur clearly meant for her, if they’d only known.

New rules, old prejudices, personal courage, private fear. In this stunning follow-up to the groundbreaking Being Emily, Rachel Gold explores the brave, changing landscape where young women try to be Just Girls.

As a cisgendered woman, I’ve long reveled in my femininity, as well as loved confounding expectations about what I, as a woman, might be able to achieve. This book takes all the conversations I’ve had on the topic and turns them inside out by addressing the feminist perspective through the LGBTQIA lens. The things Gold has her characters say about finding strength in femininity through feminism resonated strongly for me–even though I’ve been lucky enough to live a heteronormative life.

Most of the time I know that Emily’s more of whatever a woman is than I am. She actually likes femininity, and isn’t that the basis of feminism anyway? Not just making the world safe for women but for femininity so it’s seen as something powerful and not artificial. I mean, don’t you ever feel like people don’t take you seriously because you look like a girlie girl?

In the shadow of Emma Watson’s speech kicking off her position as UN Goodwill Ambassador, this book crystallized the many different populations who would benefit from the kind of equality she so eloquently argued for.

The book is told from alternating first-person and third-person perspectives, which, while a subtle structural underline to the gender duality that is the central theme of the book, had me flipping back and forth in the early chapters to figure out why I was confused. On the other hand, the writing was elegant and evocative so that when I turned the final page my overwhelmed response was “wow”.

There were a bunch of teaching moments throughout the book–but not in any heavy-handed or preaching way. I finally understood the reason it’s disrespectful to ignore an individual’s self-identification as being transgendered–and it has everything to do with how easily women’s own boundaries are disrespected in our society. I have to own up to my confusion about how to name/refer to an old HS friend, and vow from here on out, he is a he. The introduction of an intersex character was even more philosophically challenging, but all the characters were so intelligent about what drove their motivations I couldn’t help but think any one of them would be a wonderful friend–mostly because of the strength of character it took to live their convictions.

I would unequivocally recommend this to anyone who’s interested in learning more about what it’s like to be at risk of being targeted by hate crimes, anyone who’s interested in watching complex characters evolve through the first phases of their new adult status, and anyone who’s interested in understanding the broader perspective of feminism. As I mentioned, there are many teaching moments in the story, making it wholly appropriate for a well-rounded curriculum in sexual identity.

Tour Prizes

You could win one of two $50 Amazon gift cards or an autographed copy of Just Girls! Here’s what you need to do…

  1. Enter the Rafflecopter contest
  2. Leave a comment on my blog

That’s it! One random commenter during this tour will win the first gift card. Visit more blogs for more chances to win–the full list of participating bloggers can be found HERE. The other two prizes will be given out via Rafflecopter. You can find the contest entry form linked below or on the official Just Girls tour page via Novel Publicity. Good luck!

Rachel001AuthorPhotoAbout the author: An award-winning marketing strategist and author, Rachel Gold also spent a decade as a reporter in the LGBT community where she learned many of her most important lessons about being a woman from the transgender community. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English and Religious Studies from Macalester College, and a Master of Fine Arts in Writing from Hamline University. When she’s not “translating English for English-speaking people” or working on her novels, you can find Rachel online checking out the latest games. Connect with Rachel on her website, Facebook, Twitter,or GoodReads.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What I See

"It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see." -Henry David ThoreauClass started again, for the final time this week. What I had thought would be “merely” a matter of writing a complete business plan for the capstone project turns out to include weekly discussion boards and all kinds of other requirements that have blown up any possibility that I might be able to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. Again. And have meant that I’m now under the gun to figure out work-arounds for the weekend we’re going to pick up the new puppies and the weekend of our niece’s wedding–essentially, having to get those assignments done early.

I spent a few days beyond pissed–and even more so with the nodding “oh, she’s just sick of school” looks I was getting from supportive family. Sure, I am sick of this MBA program. On a deeper level, though, I’m sick of having to deprioritize the things that are important to me for the sake of getting this to-do item ticked off some ephemeral recruiter’s must-have prerequisite list. Don’t get me wrong: I value my day job career. I just don’t feel like the MBA gives me anything more than a piece of paper proving what I already knew all along, and that’s frustrating on profound levels that have everything to do with what’s wrong about the superficiality of assessments in our current society.

Which only proves that Thoreau was a double-edged genius with his quote: “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” I’ve been forcing myself to see that there remain only six more weeks of bloviation, and that there are only three more weeks before we bring home our new furbabies. I can see our progress in getting healthy, and see a future in which I don’t have to let my life be dictated by asinine school requirements.

:D

I can also see that despite the number of things I’m having to do for class, spread out over many days of the week, I do still have more time in a week than I used to. I got to read last night. And you’ll get to see the first of the book reviews I promised for this round, because of that.

We also managed our walk schedule, and completed 4, for 9.6 miles–and one even at the average pace of 16:35 minutes/mile. We’re not doing too badly for all our congestion and coughing.

As in all things, focus remains important. And I find it truly fascinating that biologists are beginning to prove a truth my hubs suspected from very early in his Oriental Medicine training: That human energy does draw from the quantum level, and that there are far more “spooky actions at a distance” involved in basic biology than had previously been acknowledged. It gives me hope that maybe someday alternative medical practices will drive more healing than current western practices do.

So, I’m back to cheerleading others on their fiction-writing, and hoping some of my ROW80 cohorts are making better progress than I. I’ll be checking in again next week, one week closer to many good things, and hoping that gives me sufficient positive energy to keep up with all the things I have to do.

p.s. – We made the release date goal on Frost & Bothered, so for all you UF fans out there… Go pick it up–it’s a great one. :)

A Girl with a Book

"Extremists have shown what frightens them most: A girl with a book." -Malala YousafzaiI seem to have lost a week… I know I’ve managed to stay on top of an editing freelance job and been productive at the office, but without specific deadlines for school papers hanging over my head, and with hubs fighting a terrible flu… I think every day was a Monday, until it was the weekend, and I woke up in the middle of the night last night thinking today was going to be Monday, too, and I’d forgotten to set my alarm.

This is not boding well for my NaNo dreams. It doesn’t help, either, that NetGalley recently made Gail Carriger’s Etiquette and Espionage Finishing School series books 1 and 2 available for reviewers. Carriger sucks me in every time, but in light of Malala Yousafzai’s historic achievement earlier this month, I’m not sure my kind of being a girl with a book quite measures up–even if the age groups do match up.

;)

I love the sentiment of her quote, regardless. I could certainly match extremists for rage, should anyone try to pry books out of my hands, or words from my grasp.

Tomorrow I find out for sure what the requirements are for my capstone project. I halfway suspect the unknowns of that are part of what stressed me out this week. So last night, rather than do anything productive, I curled up with hubs and watched our first movie selection from the backlog of the past two years: Men In Black 3. We’d started it because we’d figured it would be the same kind of light-hearted sci-fi silliness its predecessors had been, and were surprised by the depth of the ending. If you want to see an example of how a franchise adds emotional weight to the story arc its characters have followed over the course of a series, this is a great example. Naturally, that meant we sat up half the night watching the extra features, too. No wonder I’m leery of movie nights: with those bonus elements… a 2-hour movie can turn into a 5-hour marathon. Still worth it.

Because of weather and illness, we also only managed three walks for 7.4 miles this week. Not bad, but not my goal, either.

So, we kick off a new week, my final week of new coursework requirements, and the final week before NaNoWriMo begins. I’m trying to help Gayla meet her Friday release deadline goal for Frost and Bothered, so I’m not sure there will be any fiction writing again for me this week, which means I’ll be jumping into November’s start cold, if I do. Strangely, I have a good idea about the structure and even how I want to start my NaNo offering… Maybe that’s my excuse for not working on my other WIPs–I seem to do best if I focus on one thing at a time. Either way, I’ll report back next week on my progress, and hope you check out my ROW80 cohorts‘ successes until then.

The End – Part 1

"It's your road, and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you." -RumiIt’s an interesting challenge, coming to the end of an overly long slog: The finish line is so close you can taste it, but the weariness of having crossed all the previous hurdles makes it difficult to actually dot the last I. Over the weekend, I discovered that this semester my “end-of-week” due date has actually been Monday at midnight rather than Sunday at midnight–as it had been for all previous classes. Given that general sense of mental fatigue, and the fact that I have actually completed three of my four assignments, and have mostly completed my final paper… I’m going to count my schoolwork goal as having been met once again this week. For the penultimate time. I’m so grateful that a couple more pages of a strategic plan and a capstone project are all that remain of this 2+-year death-march to an MBA. It’s been my road for long enough, I’m grateful there have been people who’ve tolerated my presenteeism, so Rumi’s quote this week spoke to me.

Apparently I need a few weeks of indulging my fictional escapism, or maybe a few movie nights with hubs to clear my palate of this academic bloviation.

:D

Not that that is going to happen. Marking these milestones off the calendar means we’re that much closer to picking up our puppies. Going from a 2-dog to a 1-dog to a 3-dog family in the space of two months is something we’re all going to have to adjust to. At least Natasha is enjoying the return of the cooler fall weather, and has figured out that the whippet next door will chase her up and down the length of the fence between our two back yards for at least some kind of canine interaction. She’s more than ready for the new furbabies’ arrival.

And November is right around the corner. I’m still not entirely sure I’ll have the mental capacity to turn on a dime from academia to scifi, but I have such a shiny plotbunny, I have high hopes. Plus, even though it’s been one of those mentally exhausted weeks, I did manage 429 words on Jasper’s Tale. I know doing NaNoWriMo the way I’m supposed to (new story, from scratch) means I’m leaving two others half-done, but I figure if I can harness that inner competitor who likes to compare progress against others to re-establish a daily writing habit, I will finally reach the end with those stories sooner than later as well.

On the other hand, we have gotten back into the swing of things with our walks. We took four, for a total of 8.3 miles. I think part of this is because hubs found an article about the important components of self-love. That whole finding a happy place? If I’m not reading, taking a walk and watching Natasha’s antics as she thrills to the sniffs she finds out in the neighborhoods and parks we traverse are an important piece of my peace of mind.

Part of making sure I’m taking care of myself stems from a life-long view of body as temple, but almost 20 years ago I ran across the experiments Dr. Emoto was running on the impact of what I’ll call “intent vibrations” on water. His book and pictorial evidence painted a profound image for me of the power of our words. I was very sad to hear of his passing this week, and hope there will be others who carry on something many may consider a fringe branch of science, but for me, underlined yet another component of my inner call to writing and words.

Until next week, consider the impact your words have on yourself and those around you, and visit some of the other ROW80 participants’ blogs to see how they’re managing. I’ll be back then, to report on my own progress.

Lessons

Sometimes you have to be really honest and ask yourself: How many times do you have to learn that LESSON Missy??Arriving home Tuesday night after last week’s fun with Gayla kinda threw off my rhythm for the week–and the long day of airplanes and airports means I’ve been battling something that’s trying to be a cold ever since. It also means that what could potentially have been a productive weekend has been mostly about sleeping… and being distracted by excited about the shiny reality that we’re going to end up with TWO new Huskies in November, rather than just the young puppy we had been planning for. In an odd and unexpected way, this has stressed us out, as we consider all the escapist tendencies Huskies are known for, and try to mitigate for our current yard’s fencing weaknesses well before they might be tested.

All this means: I was down to the wire on school work, even though I know how much better my school weeks are when I finish those assignments at least a day before they’re due. So this week’s Zen to Zany image struck my funny bone, and was entirely too appropriate. Pushing my bedtime later is no way to get over my incipient cold, either.

:P

Given that I flew through Dallas, where the one Ebola death the U.S. has seen so far occurred, hubs and Gayla’s family inundated me with both jokes and warnings about protecting myself from that infection. Interestingly, I found out about an effort to collect and aggregate Ebola resources into a wiki once I got home. It will be interesting to see whether this effort yields any useful analysis in the long run, but in the meantime, it is feeding me further plotbunnies of the Big Brother kind… Not something I really have time for at the moment, but I can feel those eyes on me…

As for my goals… well… that head cold stuffiness has held me back, though I did manage 386 words on Jasper’s story early this week. I also only tracked two walks, though chasing through airport terminals should count, too. Either way, not enough exercise, really. Mostly I’m grateful the annoyance of the stuffy head and scratchy throat haven’t materialized into anything serious, and I’m down to the final week’s worth of assignments for my final MBA class. I’m also laughing up my sleeve at the possibility of pulling an academic prank like the one I read about today. I’m just… getting anxious about what the requirements might be for my capstone project, now, and wondering whether, between that and the new furbabies, I’ll be able to make any significant headway on NaNoWriMo in November. I’m still crossing my fingers on that one.

I’ll be checking out what my ROW80 counterparts have managed one week into the new round, but have to recognize I’m still in baby-steps mode myself. We’ll see whether next week is any better, given I have both a final paper and a case study paper due.