Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Apartment, and other things

I have officially begun the process of moving things into the new apartment. I also took some photos:

The kitchen:


 And if you turn around, the living room:



Also, to show you how far out in the boonies I am, here's the town:
with the pub with the best name ever
and here's the surrounding area.



Currently, my biggest dilemma is purchasing a shower curtain and a rod to hang it on. Sounds simple, right?

WRONG.

There are too many choices. Currently browsing Amazon for something cheap but not so cheap that it will disintegrate in a month, and pretty much everything has 50/50 great vs. awful reviews.

Speaking of reviews, I have received my first book review accusing me of being a racist.

Not gonna lie--at first I felt kind of offended. The reviewer's tone was a little nastier than necessary, but I do concede he/she has a point, and it's something I've thought about before. Something I've thought about a lot, actually, and said thoughts usually lead to the same question. 

I write mostly for the 10 - 13 age group, and I would love it if kids from all social/cultural backgrounds could read my books and enjoy them. But at the same time, I recognize that the vast majority of my characters are middle class white people.

I grew up in middle class white-dom. Sure I knew a few kids from other cultures and races, but the town I grew up in had LITERALLY one black family. The Asian kids I knew in school were all Korean (all 3 of them), and from what interaction I had with them, all I really knew about them was that their number one priority was school work and getting straight A's. Am I saying that was the sum total of their personalities? Absolutely not. But I didn't know them well, so that's all I saw.

Which is exactly my point. How do I include other races and cultures in my writing, as main characters, when I have pretty much zero knowledge of what it's like to grow up as anything other than white middle class? In a series of books I've been working on over the last couple years, I have one black main character. I think he's a pretty well-developed character, but he's in a post-apocalyptic setting where I've never had to write about his life before the apocalypse, outside of a short conversation with another character about being the only black kid in their grade. Because I don't know what it's like to grow up in whitewashed suburbs while not being white.

I also feel like if I just throw in a couple non-white characters just for the sake of being racially diverse, it's going to be superficial. In other words, it's just going to be garbage. Just another Politically Correct™ piece of rubbish completely devoid of anything remotely interesting.

One of the first things my college professors always told us was to write what you know. (That's why so many of us writers have ADD--we encounter a roadblock in the form of a subject about which we know nothing and go out and try to acquire knowledge about it, which eventually leads to the whole jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none problem so many writers have.) But the knowledge of what it's like to grow up a different race is not really something I can just go out and research. I mean I can research it to a point, but that's one of those things where the experience trumps any research I could ever do.

So that's what's been frustrating me for the better part of the last seven hours.


I don't know. What do you guys think?

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Joys of Moving


It's insane how much rubbish you can accumulate in less than two years. Someone gives you something you don't really need or want, but you take it because hey you don't turn down a gift from a friend. You bring it home and you toss it on your desk or your dresser or on the counter or in the closet. After some time goes by, you have accumulated lots and lots of  .. ...I don't know how to spell the Irish word for knickknack (pronounced die-sheen, RUBY HELP ME OUT HERE), but yeah things from friends and family that you don't want or need, but now it's time to pack up your shite and move and you've got a ton of crap to get rid of.

Some of you have been with me long enough to remember my older hoarding habits. The fleas in the old apartment mostly cured the hoarding tendencies, but I've still amassed a couple small mountains of stuff I really don't want.

So far I have managed to box up about 50% of the stuff on my desk (and like 50% got thrown out). I have until next Friday to pack up the rest of my belongings.

Now that my living space has filled with boxes, the Simple Cat's level of Concern is at its peak.



Harleyquinn, on the other hand, does not care in the slightest. Yesterday when one of the movers came to give me an estimate (a reasonable one, finally), HQ followed him around like some kind of supervisor. She does that with anyone who comes to the house--plumbers, the cable guy, Mumsy's cleaning lady. She's also the only cat I've ever met who goes running TO the door when strangers come over instead of running away to hide under a bed.

I've no other news........... have a good weekend y'all!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

I'm going to complain now, Episode 71


Where the hell is all of our money going when it comes to health care? My friend just had her appendix out (because appendicitis can, you know, kill you) and her health insurance is refusing to pay for the surgery and hospital bills because her appendix hadn't exploded yet.


As in, "Sorry, that's not covered because you weren't actively dying."


Kind of like the time I went for x-rays and the place charged me for a hospital visit ($350.00) instead of just charging me for lab work ($12.00). How is this place getting away with insurance fraud? They're Officially associated with Englewood Hospital, so they can charge me as visiting the hospital even though I didn't. The same thing happened to Bossman a few years ago. Also at a place associated with Englewood Hospital.*

I didn't pay. I let it go to collections first so at least those a-holes aren't getting the full balance because now they have to pay the collection agency a chunk of it.


Bossman pays something like $2,600.00 a month for three of us to be covered on the health insurance. That's about $866.67 per month if I had to pay it. I couldn't afford that even if I had no other bills to pay. Oh and that doesn't cover dental issues (which is why I have a wisdom tooth sticking out the side of my jaw) or eye care (which is why I will never get the new stronger glasses that I need to see things that are far away).


In other news, trying to find a moving company that doesn't charge a small fortune is proving difficult. I tried using the guys we became friends with after Mumsy's move to the condo, as they gave me an amazing deal on getting my belongings from the Pod to the condo. Now, however, they quoted me an estimate of $1,100.00 for the move to the apartment, which I definitely cannot afford. Trying a different mover, and keeping their job to moving only the large pieces of furniture. I'll deal with everything else myself one bit at a time.


Out to dinner with Big Sis#2 tonight. I think this will be the first time I've hung out with her without Niecey G and Useless-in-Law in..... .................... wow. Years. 

In all honesty that's the reason I wanted to get her alone. Something is up in that house and it's been getting gradually worse. I've been after Big Sis#2 to have dinner, just the two of us, for like a year. The few times she agreed, she ended up cancelling at the last minute. Fingers crossed she doesn't do that again.






















*Pro tip: for anyone in this area of New Jersey, stay the hell away from Englewood Hospital and anyone associated with them. They will drain your wallet.

Friday, May 20, 2016

You can see the sea! It's over there between the land and the sky.

There are some things you should never look at on the internet at three in the morning.

a bag of cereal marshmallows


Because you will buy them.

I've gotten into a pattern of posting on or about Monday and Friday, so I figured I'd keep up the rhythm even though I have zero interesting things to say.

I am winning at orchids.


I have also revived the roses.


Turns out they needed more sun than they received on my window. I'm attempting to grow forget me nots, but so far there are just two tiny, sickly-looking leaves poking out.

I might try getting a window box or something for the apartment.* I'm tempted to try indoor plants again, but the kitties ate them last time...

Lil Bro#1 has left for Buffalo for a summer job, which is depressing. Lil Bro#2 is home for the weekend, but then he goes back to his Uni for a job until September, which is also depressing. I'm trying to console myself by collecting free furniture. So far I've got a hope chest that will be used as a coffee table, a small kitchen table with 4 matching chairs, and possibly a glass-fronted china cabinet. The hope chest is wonderfully battered, so it will perfectly match my sofas, which have become the Simple Cat's favourite scratching posts, despite my many attempts to get her to use the actual scratching posts instead.


I seriously tried everything.


The spray bottle was the least successful, because instead of running away like a normal cat,


The Simple Cat will just shut her eyes and wait for you to stop, then go back to scratching the sofa.

I don't really care though. I always thought that if you're the sort of person who gets bent out of shape over pets ruining your furniture, you probably shouldn't have pets....


Have a good weekend, y'all!


















*YES I GOT THE APARTMENT, moving in first weekend in June I hope.

Monday, May 16, 2016

kitten overload and some other things that happened


Friday afternoon, Lil Sis graduated from the Rutgers business school with so many honors she could barely stand up.



Saturday morning, Lil bro#2 graduated from Houghton college.

  
A photo of him in his ruff was Houghton College's facebook profile pic for most of the weekend.

Saturday afternoon, Mumsy effectively ruined my weekend (again) via text messages, telling me I'm a horrible person because I should have gone back to Lil Sis's apartment after the graduation to hang out with them instead of leaving for the 5+ hour drive up to Houghton.

Had I left Rutgers much later than I did (4.45 PM), Lil Bro#1 would have been asleep and therefore unable to guide me to the camper when I got to the campsite, which would then have resulted in me sleeping in my car. But noooooooooooo because I posted a pic of Lil Bro#2 in his ruff on facebook before I posted any photos of Lil Sis, OBVIOUSLY I'm a shite sister and I love Lil Bro#2 more, which means I love Dad more than Mumsy, which means Mumsy loses the game only she has ever been playing since their custody battle started in 1986.

(I drank quite a bit on Saturday night.)


We played this for like 3 hours, and most rounds resulted in us laughing until we cried. Then me and Lil Bro#2 tried to teach the 16-year-old German exchange student (she's staying with the cousins who came up for the graduation) how to play baseball, because she wanted to learn*.

When I woke up Sunday morning, it was snowing.

The snow persisted for most of the drive home, then turned to rain when I left Pennsylvania and crossed back into New Jersey. Because I was still pissed off at my mother, I took a detour.


Laur was doing some spring cleaning, so she basically just put me in the kitten room and left me there for like an hour.



They played for little while. Tyrese went into their bed after a few minutes to nap. 


Nugget and Niblets eventually joined Tyrese for a nap. I let Lord Byron chew on my hand.


He got very cute and snuggly.


Then he fell asleep purring.


I want to steal all of them.


June 1st I can move into the apartment. I am counting the days.





















*Lil Bro#2 and I do not know how to play baseball. A very bastardized version of it will be returning to Germany.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Would you mind telling me then what those four years of college were for? What was the point of all that hard work?

How do families with twins handle college graduation if the kids are at schools on opposite sides of the country and have their college graduations on the same day? Does one parent go to each? And how do you decide? Do you flip a coin? Finally admit that you have a favourite and go to theirs, and send the other parent to the other college?

At least in our family with its multiple sets of parents, no one had to make that decision this weekend.

Except for me and Big Sis#2, who have the good fortune of being related to both graduates.

Lil Sis's graduation ceremony for Rutgers Business School is tomorrow (Friday) morning. Lil Bro#2's graduation from Houghton College is Saturday morning.


Lil Sis also has a second graduation ceremony on Sunday morning, which I had not planned on attending because no. Turns out I couldn't have gone anyway, because President Obama is the speaker for that graduation and now each student may only have 3 family members attend. I'll be staying up at Houghton in the RV because that town has only one motel, and the motel has only 3 rooms.

I bought Lil Bro#2 one of these:


He has agreed to wear it over his graduation robe.


I have packed pretty much every piece of clothing I own because our weather is at that awkward stage where it's freezing in the morning, 80 degrees by the afternoon, and then cold again at night.

I think I may be almost finished writing the YA novel I've been working on for like 5 years. I'll be looking for guinea pigs to read it soon.......

Friday, May 6, 2016

Next time I have an idea like that, punch me in the face.


Cat hair really sucks. Especially when you get cat hair on your face.



Because when you wipe that one hair away



you get more cat hair on your face, and when you try to wipe that away



you may as well just give up because it's never coming off. It's not coming off the bed either, or the sofa, or your clothes, or out of your cup of tea. 

In fairness, some of that is my fault. I probably shouldn't use the Simple Cat as a vanity table every morning. 



Oh the joy of having cats.




I had my DNA tested when Ancestry.com had a sale for St. Patrick's Day. Got the results this week:

I'm a lot more English than I thought I was. 

It's been cold and raining for like 10 days; I think my Irish relatives sent me their weather.



Hope y'all are having a nice start to your weekend. Here's a terrifying picture of Winnie the Pooh:



Monday, May 2, 2016

Mondaaaaayyyy

Howdy, friends. 

I had a pretty good weekend. I rounded it off by taking a *sick* day today, and slept until 2.00 PM. 

Saturday, Lil Bro#1 and I went to visit the kittens. Their eyes are open and they're walking now--albeit a bit drunkely--and we managed to spend over two hours playing with them without realizing how much time had passed. 

Lord Byron is the biggest and most active:




To get an idea of their size, here's me with Nugget:



Nugget is super adorable, with big bug-eyes that make her look permanently surprised.



Niblets is almost identical to Nugget, except she doesn't have the bug-eyes:



Tyrese is the second largest and second most active:




Here's a cuter photo of him:



There is really nothing like a bunch of tiny kittens to make you feel better. 

Sunday, Stepmom and I went to visit the apartment again. 

She loved it. 

I'm just waiting for the landlord to send me the lease now. I'll probably move in around June 1st. Stepmom wants to paint and have the bedroom closet redesigned for maximum storage space. The landlord said to send him the receipts for any and all things we do as far as painting and redesigning the closet space, and he'll take it off the next month's rent. 

And in case you haven't met your quota for feeling adequately disturbed for the day, here's some music Lil Bro#2 sent me:




In his words, "It's good music if you want to blow your brains out but also still get work done."