Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Question or Two with Terrence Russell, journalist-- and more importantly, my kid!

Today's Question or Two with... interview is Terrence Russell, a freelance journalist covering consumer electronics and entertainment for publications like WIRED and Fast Company. When he's not busy chasing down stories, Terrence also works as a contract copywriter, copyeditor, and researcher. But most importantly (because it reflects on ME), Terrence is my second-born son. T-bone, as he is known in family circles, was born during the launch of the very first Space Shuttle, Columbia, and his rise has been meteoric ever since. *groan*   I invited Terrence to answer a  question or two about his career and here's the result:

1. Can you give us a synopsis of the "Life of Terrence Russell," thus far?

There's not much to tell, really. I started writing a teen advice column for AOL's now-defunct Digital City: San Francisco around the age of 16. At 18, I was working as a staff writer and copy editor for my junior college newspaper. A few years after that, I was a disillusioned UC Davis drop-out working for Verizon Wireless.

Serendipity got me back in front of a word processor; Wired.com just happened to be looking for writers to cover the mobile space, and I just happened to have the right contacts and product knowledge at the right time. The world's fascination with the initial iPhone (and my ability to write about and around it) definitely helped things along too.

With that said, my writing is much less product-focused these days. I'll still do the occasional review for Wired Magazine/Wired.com, but a lot of my attention in the last year has been focused on entertainment reporting and behind-the-scenes filmmaking. I'm just now starting to work on my own screenwriting projects too, but it's a little too early to go into any meaningful detail.

Otherwise, I'm enjoying life as an acerbic 30-year-old living in a mostly-riot-free Oakland.

2. Do you attribute your brilliance to having been raised by me? *grin*

No. I personally believe that a person's path in life derives from a number of influences. Some are conscious decisions made on the part of the individual, and others are more passive influences like the role of a parent.

I'm unquestionably grateful for the pragmatic, middle-class-military upbringing gained from my parents. However, I'd argue that my current station in life is more a product of the good/bad decisions of my 20's.

(Also, claiming there's demonstrable proof of my own brilliance is just begging for a brutal fact check. I'm not going to invite that level of scrutiny.)

3. Do you consider yourself a writer, journalist, blogger or ? Are distinctions between those types important? Do they affect what or how you write? What you are paid?

This week I might be a journalist. Next week I might be a writer. The week after that I might be a contract copywriter. People seem to get the gist of "journalist," so I stick with that.

I find that the actual titles are mainly useful for letting people know what you’re trying to accomplish in any given assignment. My personal rubric breaks down accordingly:

Writer - A person holed up somewhere typing out the next Misery. Or On The Road. Or Transformers 4: The Transformining. These individuals are creatively-driven, and quite possibly financially insolvent between works.

Journalist - A person creating newsy, analytical, or servicey content that follows the traditional news cycle. Fact checking, asking “why” before publishing, and fulfilling editorial demands now is the norm for a journalist. Pay varies greatly.

Blogger - An individual devoted to a compelling retelling of the news, with a fair bit of opinion and armchair analysis thrown into the mix. Speed, contrarian opinions, and snappy copy are valued over heavy research or measured analysis. Pay is dismal unless: A) You’re blogging for a huge outlet, B) You’re crooked, or C) You’ve built a solid brand for yourself.

My typical week is that of a journalist and occasionally a writer. Things are relatively modest on the income front; a handful of journalistic assignments typically pays all my living expenses for the month (including leisure). Any income past that is typically funneled back into upcoming work expenses. Being a freelancer definitely isn't cheap, but I manage to live comfortably.

4. How prepared are you for the coming zombie apocalypse?

My secret preparation tactic? Try to be the best looking person in the room. Can’t swing it? Then find a new motley crew of survivors.

If Hollywood has taught us anything, it’s that the suspiciously handsome are the only ones slated to survive a zombie apocalypse. A spot in a bunker alongside Johnny Depp, Scarlet Johansen and Gwenyth Paltrow is a death sentence for most of us.

However, if you’re huddled in the dark with Mickey Rourke, Gary Busey and Steve Buscemi? My math says a lack of facial scars and a properly buttoned shirt should see you through.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Book review: Sunset: Pact Arcanum by Arshad Ahsanuddin & Craig Payst, illustrator

Sunset: Pact Arcanum: Book OneSunset: Pact Arcanum: Book One by Arshad Ahsanuddin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wowsas! I didn't see this one coming. I read about Sunset:PA in a Goodreads forum, where it was described as a "gay vampire romance." Well, this book is that, but so much more! Sure, there are vampires, and there is gay romance (very understated, though), but it's also a sci-fi/cyberpunkish/sword and sorcery hybrid, too. There's an epic battle between good and evil-- except the good guys frequently err on the side of not-so-good and the bad guys often find a measure of redemption. Sunset is action-packed and violent, but also has a really tender side, too. It has all the elements I like in the books I read for pure enjoyment.

Nick Jameson, a popular musician,  unexpectedly drops in to save Los Angeles from a nuclear threat, perpetrated by terrorists during a widely televised public event.  In doing so, Nick reveals the existence of metahumans-- vampires (Day- and Night-Walkers), Sentinels (magic users, represented by Four Winds: Earth, Water, Fire and Air), the Armistice,  which consists of the Triumvirate (a council of leaders that govern the assembly of Free People), Armistice Security and The Hidden Cities where all these metahumans tend to congregate. The terrorist incident is just the beginning of the political intrigue as different factions are vying for power and continued existence-- especially now that the cat is out of the bag and humans (rightly so) feel threatened by all these supernatural beings.

Ok, I'm not one for summary and this story is so complex, I'd completely make a mess of it, anyway. Let me move on to a few important points. Sunset's worldbuilding is amazing. It is very detailed-- this is a speculative fiction dream, where we see a highly technologized  world, a couple of decades from our present time. There is teleportation and extensive space travel, and it is the age of  intelligent machines that have moved beyond early 21st century human-computer interactions to realizing their own agency (which may or may not have much use for humans). Yeah, yeah, we've had this before in other books, but somehow Ahsanuddin makes it all fresh.  There is much here to keep geeks and gamers enthralled (some of the descriptions remind me of the setups of role-playing games, and the art throughout the book is reminiscent of RPGs and comics). If technogeek isn't your first language, you may be a little lost in the beginning, but I feel it's worth hanging in there, as Ahsanuddin has created a highly imaginative, but accessible, world (repeatedly referring to the introduction, which gives a run-down of factions and players, helps immensely).

There are a lot of characters in this world, which isn't surprising, considering the number of factions involved. Nick is always central to the action-- as he becomes more than a musician, but a leader within the Armistice. And frankly, almost all the romance in the book is tied to Nick in one way or another-- I began to think of Sunset as "Everybody Loves Nick." Oh, did I mention that Nick is gay? This is not only a vampire romance, but a mostly-gay vampire romance (there are hetereos in the story-- apparently in the future all kinds of love can coexist!). Even as flawed a hero as he is, Nick practically has a harem of admirers-- and he even has his own unrequited love obsession. You might need a scorecard to keep up with who wants to zoom whom, but after awhile you get it. One thing I really like about Sunset is the various flavors of love-- brotherly, unrequited, unconditional, more-lust-than-love, happy-for-now-love, eternal love. All that love motivates most  of the main characters, in one way or another,  and the reader can't help but feel all wrapped up in it, too. You begin to root for different combinations of lovers (at times, the possibilities seemed limitless) and you can't help but empathize with the broken-hearted. The actual boot-knocking takes place off-screen, so if sexy, gay warriors getting it on makes you queasy, you shouldn't feel too uncomfortable, because it never gets graphic.

Reading Sunset: Pact Arcanum will take some effort on the reader's part, but I feel there's a very satisfying dividend. Arshad Ahsanuddin  is an amazingly gifted writer, which I find surprising because he is a physician in his day job (I love the idea of hematopathologist writing a vampire tale!). I am thrilled that the story continues in several more books and novellas, because there is much more to learn about the Pact Arcanum world. I highly recommend this book

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Book review: Sauntering Vaguely Downward by Nessa L. Warin

Sauntering Vaguely DownwardSauntering Vaguely Downward by Nessa L. Warin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Bitch Factor 10 rating-- 4.2

note: I received this ARC of SVD through NetGalley for review

Sauntering Vaguely Downward is a sweet love story about two convention-going geeks who make a love connection at Dragon*Con. For the uninitiated, Dragon*Con is the "largest multi-media, popular culture convention focusing on science fiction and fantasy, gaming, comics, literature, art, music, and film in the universe!"-- or so says their website (http://www.dragoncon.org/). I have a friend who has attended Dragon*Con in the past, so I was already familiar with the conference, and I do have a desire to attend in the future. Yeah, I'm geeky like that!

I think that it is very fortuitous that our main characters Dylan and Brendan are able to find each other, especially given all the distractions of a four-day, full-on CosPlay-mageddon. Personally, I've never hooked up at a conference or convention-- and believe me, I've tried! At least these two have some interests in common-- particularly being fanboys of the works of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett (to which the title subtly refers). The small conflict there is in this love story has to do with whether or not these guys can sustain a relationship once Dragon*Con has ended--especially given that they each live 4+ hours away in RL (real life, for you non-virtual-world people). You'll have to read for yourself to see if Dylan and Brendan work things out.

Ok, this is not a book for everyone, but if you're the kind of geeky person who plans out your con makeup, wardrobe and sick days months way in advance, then Sauntering Vaguely Downward is the aw-cute, gay romance book for you!

Ps. I'm glad I didn't see the cover before downloading this one, because that would have deterred me from reading this-- yeah, yeah, book by its cover, etc. etc.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Andrea Speed Day at Bitch Factor 10

We have a special treat today with a visit by Andrea Speed, author of the Josh of the Damned series. Andrea has graciously provided a guest post, answers to a Question or Two an excerpt from her latest release, Peek-a-boo and a contest! Here's a little bit about Andrea before we jump to her post:

Andrea Speed likes to pretend she's mythical, so if you could support that, she'd be grateful. She occasionally writes reviews for CxPulp.com and is still arming the lemurs, even though they still haven't quite grasped handling firearms. Down with the Mole Men!

Andrea Speed Guest Post

Congratulations on choosing Quik-Mart Industries as your new work away from home. We are proud to have you (insert name here) as part of our ever growing family of convenience and quality. Do you have what it takes to become one of our special team members? Take the quiz and find out.

All questions are theoretical, but please take them seriously. Think before you answer, and be honest.

1) A zombie comes into the store, but his clothes are decayed rags. What do you do?

A) Find the nearest weapon and attack it.
B) Hide and call 9-1-1
C) Point out the “no shoes, no shirt, no service” sign, and refuse to serve him until he gets better clothes.

2) A customer reports that rather large dogs are chewing up cars in the parking lot. What should you do?

A) Grab the nearest weapon and go out to take care of it yourself.
B) Call animal control.
C) Ask your supervisor about using special anti-wolf silver brooms to move them along.

3) A lizard man is shopping quietly, when a human customer comes in and sees them. The customer reacts negatively to seeing it. What do you tell him?

A) “I hate the freaks too, but they pay.”
B) “Lizard Man? What lizard man?”
C) “Oh, didn’t you know comic-con was in town? Awesome costume, right?”

4) A strangely beautiful woman comes in and asks you where you keep the blood. What do you say to her?

A) “Die, vampire!”
B) “We don’t carry blood. Maybe you should try the blood bank ..?”
C) “Gatorade is in aisle three. Full of electrolytes, it’s almost like the real thing.”

5) A fight has broken out in the parking lot, and it appears that none of the people involved are human, and this is a fight to the death, where even innocent bystanders are in danger. What, as an employee of the Quik-Mart, should you do?

A) Grab the nearest weapon and join in.
B) Call the police and hide in the storeroom.
C) Lock the doors, hang up the “Closed” sign, and wait quietly until dawn, when the problem should take care of itself.

If you answered A …. everyone likes a pro-active go-getter! But there’s a time and a place for such things, and this is neither of those things. You won’t be a member of the Quik-Mart family for long if you act so hastily. One way or another.

If you answered B … you are pragmatic, which is a positive quality that should serve you well in life. But in these cases, it’s not helpful, and may cause further, unintended problems. Sometimes being reasonable can have unreasonable consequences.

If you answered C … congratulations! You have the perfect combination of can do attitude and logic that we are looking for. You think on your feet and consider all the angles, including what is best for yourself and the Quik-Mart. Welcome to our team!

Note: Successfully filling out this questionnaire does not guarantee you a job with Quik-Mart industries. This does not take the place of a resume, interview, background check, and/or drug test. Also you are not to discuss this questionnaire with anyone. Questionnaires are property of Quik-Mart Industries. No copies, scans, or photographs allowed. This is not a joke.

Note 2: Quik-Mart Industries only exists within the world of the Josh of the Damned series. Successful completion of this form would only help you if you were a fictional character within the series. Even then, it might not be a job offer you’d want to pursue unless you really like cleaning up after werewolves. Seriously, they pee everywhere, and there isn’t a garbage can left standing within a mile of those things. And don’t get me started on the shedding! You could make quilts from the hair they leave behind.

Author’s note: You think your job is hell? Welcome to Josh’s world, where he literally gets to wait on a variety of monsters who all want something different from him. Most times he’s lucky, and they’re only after frozen burritos and beef jerky. But sometimes they’re not, and that’s when the trouble starts. With help only from his hot vampire boyfriend Colin, Josh has to serve humans and monsters alike. At least it’s not the end of the world … yet. But with a portal to a hell dimension right behind the Quik-Mart, Josh is a significant player in what could be a  retail showdown for the fate of the world. Or, you know, just a two for one sale. Too bad there isn’t a section in the employee handbook about what to do about horny yetis.

Excerpt from Peek A Boo (Josh of the Damned #2):

Josh’s first impulse was to scream, but he bit his bottom lip instead. It seemed like a slightly less girly response to the bloody animal corpse on the counter. “Um . . . yeah.” He pointed up at the sign above the cash register while looking up at the seven-foot-tall monster in front of his check stand. It was covered head to foot in shaggy white hair, with two dark holes for eyes peering out from the fur, and a black-lipped mouth full of jagged ivory fangs. It was oddly adorable and oddly frightening at the same time, though it smelled like a wet yak that had been frolicking in a pool of Axe.
The sign on the wall behind him read American dollars only. It said it in English, Spanish, what might have been Chinese, and several languages that looked like graffiti, a child’s scribbling, and precisely-thrown monkey poo. In fact, Josh was fairly certain Mr. Kwon had put up that sign solely to fuck with him. But now that Albino Bigfoot had slapped a dead skunk on the counter, he didn’t know what to think.

Josh shook his head, and his stomach roiled as he caught the stench of dead animal mixed with the weirdly sweet stink of skunk musk. “We don’t accept that. That’s not currency to us.”
The mop monster shook its head, mimicking Josh’s movements. Damn it! He never knew if any of these monsters understood him. Weren’t they supposed to be, like, missing links or something? Shouldn’t communication be easier? Josh pointed at the dead skunk, and wondered if he was gonna be able to keep from barfing. If he threw up, would Bigfoot throw up too? “No. That’s not good here. We only take cash.”
Sasquatch pointed at the skunk like Josh was doing, shaking its head and making little grunting noises that might have been an attempt at mimicking his words. He just wasn’t getting through to the walking shag carpet, was he? “Okay, we’ll take credit cards. Hell, I’ll settle for a geode if you’ve got it, but I don’t want roadkill. Okay? Get it out of here.” He began making shoving movements with his hands, which the ambulatory area rug simply mirrored. Christ on a pogo stick, it was like talking to his one-year-old cousin.
Josh looked around behind the counter and found the broom, which he used to push the corpse off the checkout counter. Not his silver werewolf broom, just the everyday kind he used to sweep up after lizard guys who couldn’t navigate the cereal aisle without knocking the Cheerios off with their tails.
The rug monster caught the corpse before it hit the floor and tried to put it back, but Josh shooed him off with the broom. “Take it outside!” He pointed vehemently at the door, and finally Shaggy seemed to get it, stomping off outside and carrying its carrion with it.

 Contact info for Andrea Speed:

Andrea Speed Giveaway

Question for the grand prize:
What two things does the yeti try to give Josh? Simple, but you'll have to have read the story.

The Grand Prize – The Infected series ebook collection

Send the answer to the question to aspeed2@gmail.com
Put "Bitch Factor 10"  and Contest Answer in the subject line.

More of Andrea Speed  in Question or Two

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Book review: The Immolation of Eve by Helen Fields

The Immolation of EveThe Immolation of Eve by Helen Fields

My Goodreads rating: 4 of 5 stars

My Bitch Factor 10 rating-- 4.8

The blurb for this book suggests that The Immolation of Eve is a "scorching fantasy romance" and "the start of an epic adventure of seduction, loss, love and revenge." Ok, I'll (mostly) buy that description-- it is well-deserved (my quibble is with this being an "epic" adventure). Fields writing style is disarmingly understated, which seems at odds with the thriller undercurrent of the story. Eve McKenzie, a British solicitor, has lived through a harrowing experience when the train she is on wrecks while she is investigating a Krakow rape case. As Eve, the sole survivor of the crash, tries to reassemble her life and work she discovers that there might be a connection between the train wreck, the rape investigation and a recent discovery about her parentage. Eve's quest for truth and a need to quench her sexual desires take her to many unexpected places-- from San Francisco and Carmel to a demon world where everyone is not quite as them seem.

The Immolation of Eve was a page-turner for me and raptly held my interest-- almost to the very end. While most readers will be happy with the ending of this paranormal tale, I wanted a few more easter eggs pointing to a sequel-- any indication of this was far too subtle for me to pick up, but this in no way detracted from my enjoyment of the book.

I highly recommend The Immolation of Eve for paranormal romance and fantasy readers.

View all my reviews

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Random tandem: Kresley Cole booksigning- Austin, Tx

Kresley Cole/Lothaire bus-- I want one!

Last night I left Fort Tejas (my little ranchette in the country) to go to Barnes and Noble in Austin, Texas for a Kresley Cole book signing. Cole's Lothaire debuted on 1/10/12 to healthy reviews and sales on Amazon. This wasn't my first time attending a book signing, so I kinda knew what to expect. But this one was way more laidback then ones I have previously attended.

Kresley Cole entered the book signing with a smile on her face. She is just as gorgeous in person as she is on her book covers. She has the most radiant smile. And, Cole was funny and personable-- I like to see that in an author (so many of them seem to take themselves far too seriously). I also like that Cole's editor was there and gave us a peek into her work relationship with Cole. I'm endlessly fascinated with the process of writing and publishing. Oh, and Nix may be getting over her Mike Rowe crush, but Kresley Cole still has one! hehehe.

 In addition to signing books (and not just the ones bought at B&N that night at  the event!), Cole took pics with the fans and did a Q&A (there will be at least 3 more books in the Immortals After Dark series, yay!). If you're going to attend a Cole book signing in another city I recommend you brush up on your IAD trivia, because that's how you can earn IAD swag.

A bonus of last night's book signing was the presence of Paul Marron, the simply gorgeous guy who graces the cover of Lothaire. *swoon*  Marron was there in the flesh -- and yeah, that flesh was standing right in front of me for a significant part of the event.

Paul Marron signing Lothaire for a lucky audience member

I know it's hard to believe, but I refrained from jumping on him (unlike some of the other ladies present at the event, hehehe). I like that Marron was friendly, graciously autographing copies of Lothaire and chatting with attendees. When he wasn't taking pics with the droolers, he was standing there with the shyest smile-- but point a camera at him, and he struck a smoldering pose. And yeah, I could feel the heat from my seat-- and it wasn't just those smoking red contacts he had on, hehehe. I didn't eavesdrop on conversations Marron was having last night, but I am curious about what's behind the pretty face-- what interests he has, political stances, yada yada. Sometimes I'm just too busy oogling to jump in with questions-- must remedy that!

I thoroughly enjoyed getting out  last night and meeting other Austinites that are enthusiastic about paranormal romance books. You don't know how often I've groused about not having any locals to discuss my bookloves-- many library patrons tend to give you the look of horror when you truthfully answer about what you're reading. Next time I attend an event like this, I'm going to be more prepared for networking. Book signings are terrific places to pic up new readers for a book blog. Doh!

Oh, yeah, and I need to remember to take a real camera with me next time so that I can take some decent pics-- sheesh!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Book review: Teacher Plus Two by Valentina Heart

Teacher Plus Two (In the Eyes, #2)Teacher Plus Two by Valentina Heart

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm not sure what possessed me to get this ARC from NetGalley. But I'm glad I did. I wasn't sure in the  beginning, because I was under the mistaken impression that Orrin (a Teacher who is tasked with educating sexually inexperienced captives on a slave ship) was about to deflower a young boy, Fai. It was a relief to find out that Fai, while child-like in many ways, was an Adult. Whew! It's my own issue that makes me look at a diminutive cuddler as a kid, but Heart does a convincing job of convincing me otherwise.

Many other reviewers have so eloquently reviewed Teacher Plus Two, that I really don't have much more to add. I loved the world-building in this book and want to know more about its politics. I really want to know how slavery came about in this world and how the slavers are getting away with this crime. Certainly some of the worlds of the missing are searching for their kidnapped citizens? I'm sure greed has everything to do with it, but I want to know more about universe with such an extensive slave trade.

My greatest delight with Teacher Plus Two is the description of the different species in the story. Orrin is human, but his violet eyes tell us something more about how humans have evolved (well, the eyes, and their sexual habits). Hara reminds me of Patrick Duffy as the Man from Atlantis (yeah, dating myself , there) and the leonine Fai was too cuddly for words. And then there's Kamari who is black and white, but turns out in shades of gray to my mind, as I both sympathize with him and want to spurn him for commoditizing his love (obsession, really) for Hara. Oh, and the interspecies loving? Hot, hot, hot (and yeah, if tentacles are ever involved you have my rapt attention, hehehe).

Any misgivings I might have had in  the beginning of Teacher Plus Two were quickly quelled. This book was much more complex than the first pages implied. I found myself riveted until the end, and I can't wait to find out what happens in the next In The Eyes

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Sunday, January 1, 2012

A year of Let It Be

Please excuse this indulgence-- this is a letter to myself. You can run away now, if you like.

A year of "Let It Be"

2011 was a year of snark. Oh, and I had all the snarky fun I wanted.  I poked fun at books, and people who read books...and people who wrote book. Not that I did this because I thought I was superior-- for the most part. Snark is in my blood. It's how I cope with the ridiculousness of life. And to my way of thinking, much of life is ridiculous. Not that I'm usually in a hurry to leave this life. Usually.

2012 is going to be altogether different for me. It will be a year of "Let It Be." I'm changing tactics. I have been chasing after things and people for so very long, in the mistaken belief that you have to go after what you want to get anything in life. I believe there is some truth in this-- just not for me. My goings-after have rarely yielded the best results. There have been a few triumphs-- like starting college at 32 and continuing on to my Master's degree...oh, and pretty-single-handedly rearing 4 spectacular sons. But every success was quite expensive, in my case. Other people seem capable of accomplishing some of the same things I have-- but with far less stress. 

My inclination has been to dismiss a great deal of my misfortune on circumstances. It's certainly has eased my mind to do so. I just seem to be unlucky-- even though I don't place a lot of faith or belief in the concept of luck. I seem to have more bad things happen to me than those around me-- so what do you call that? Anyway, it's not that I haven't wanted to closely examine my issues and own up to them. But there's only so many ways you can look at contracting an chronic (and most probably, terminal) illness and fault your actions for it. I do not believe, as my former friends do, that I have end-stage renal disease because I stopped believing in God. On the contrary, the disease started before I had left the Church. I do not believe that my unexpected illness is punishment for being bad. I certainly don't think that it's a reward for being good! It is, what it is. The researchers who have looked into my case believe my ESRD has a genetic link-- and there isn't a damned thing I can do about that. Yep, circumstances, on that one.

But what about the abysmal showing in a dozen other areas of my life? Relationships, career (what career?). My track record hasn't been the greatest in those areas. Let's start with easier of those two. Career. I don't have one (I consider motherhood a Vocation, not a vocation). It is quite puzzling to me that I not only don't have a career-- I don't really have a job. A "real" job, anyway. I work at a library for less than 20 hours a month-- that's almost counts as volunteer work. I work for an online SEO firm for less than the 20 hours I get at the library. I occasionally pick up $20 here and there from selling plastics of one kind or another-- dildos or food containers, it doesn't seem to generate much income either way.  I was under the impression for the longest time that all I needed was more education, and I would find the perfect career. But  two degrees (and 70k in student loans) later I am still under-employed. I have chased after work in the clerical field, working as a receptionist, a file clerk for a law office and a hospital. I got my real estate license and chased after home owners and buyers for a couple of years. I worked as a janitor, and at Target and a couple of fast food joints. I interned at several museums, libraries, a university archive. I volunteered at churches and with various community organizations, often serving in a leadership capacity. I networked my ass off at each and every turn. But all that getting didn't really get me much more than stressed out. I seemed to be following the conventional wisdom-- and doing what seemed to work for everyone else. But, none that seems to work for me.

Ah, and relationships. Romantic ones, platonic ones-- it really doesn't matter.  That's been a tough row to hoe, too. Not that I ever expected relationships to be easy. I guess I just envy the people who are effortlessly loved and adored. Um, and maybe some people have all the right moves that attract lovers and friends. Me, I seem to repel people, and if I really look at myself I can probably come up with at least half a dozen reasons why. I would imagine that keeping my big trap shut would go a long way to making-- and keeping-- friends. I can always be more kind and considerate. Maybe the biggest change I need to make is to give up on trying to make friends, and just letting it happen as organically as possible, though a part of me sees a long, lonely road ahead if I do that.

I don't know, I guess as I approach my 50th year I feel like I need to try a different tact. I have been feverishly trying to accomplish so many things, and failing miserably. I'm going to experiment this year with doing the opposite of what I usually do. I'm going to stop spinning my wheels, and just let it be. Who knows, maybe the perfect job will find me once I stop frantically applying for every job that seems even a remote possibility. Maybe I will finally make some consistent friends in Austin, by letting them find me, instead of seeking them out. And just maybe someone will take an interest in having sex with me more than twice a year-- oooh, now that would be something to write home about. The possibilities may be endless, but just doing... nothing-- or next to nothing.

Ok, now I'm really excited. A year of doing less, and getting more? I'm willing to give it a try. I'll start by saying less in blog posts-- I'm sure that'll be a relief to my readers, hehehe.

So um, yeah, let it be.

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