So my dog tried to kill me this morning.

Well, really, it wasn’t her fault. She saw a squirrel across the street and twitched, thinking to bolt in front of me to go get it. Unfortunately, this was right where I tripped and fell last time. So down I went with an odd sense of deja vu, tore up my hands nicely, jolted my shoulder and my right knee this time. Just to change it up.

We run with the leash wrapped around my waist; I thread her collar and the leash through the handle a few times to make a pretty secure knot. It keeps it short enough that she can’t get far enough away to hurt herself, but it also means that her darting in front of me is a hazard. She’s gotten a lot better about it, true–most of the time I run right through her, not to be mean but just to teach her that she is not to get in the alpha’s way. But every circuit in her little doggy head fuses when she sees one of the little tree-rodent bastards. It would be funny if it hadn’t ended with me bleeding and actually crying from frustration and pain while lying on the sidewalk.

Yes, you read that right. I burst into tears. The pain wasn’t really that bad, but I was running off some frustration from earlier in the day. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. It’s just…some days, a killing spree seems like a good idea just to get things all cleared up and moving. Especially when I get horrendous and frustrating career news and other silly, stupid, complex problems pile up on me before 9AM.

So we ran the rest of the day’s mileage and I limped home, still bleeding but drained of adrenaline. Which has been a boon today, honestly. Other than just one (totally justified, because hey, I was BLEEDING) crying fit, I could have had several and a psychotic break too! Big fun. As it is, I have just taken to calling Miss B “Killer of Joggers” to add to her other honorifics, and she doesn’t care because she enjoys the accompanying chest-skritches and pets and loves. In fact, she rolls over and grins, panting happily, while I scratch her belly and recite her long list of titles, including “Mighty Squirrel Chaser” and “She Who Will Not Eat Dry Kibble.”

And you know, as long as I can still raspberry her fuzzy little tummy, things can’t be all bad. Even if she did try to murder me.

But if you tell anyone I cried, I’ll have to hurt you. *wink*

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So the kids are back in school. Which means I’m getting up at 5AM again, but instead of running on the treadmill, I’ve taken to running outside.

In the dark. With the dog. Which is pretty much how you’d think it would be. If I could fit the dog on the treadmill for my long runs I would, but on that path lies madness. Best just to get out the door, take my lumps, and haul ass through rain and whatnot.

Predawn. Mist rising off the athletic fields at the middle and elementary schools. Miss B trots along beside me, unsure just what we’re doing at this Godforsaken hour, but she’s got her backpack on and it’s obviously time to work, so she’s down for it. (There’s none of this “I don’t want to get up” bullshit from Miss B, oh no. The instant I stir in the morning it’s a cold wet nose to the face and a “SOHAPPYTOSEEYOU, MISSEDYOUSOMUCH, WHATWEDOINGNOW?”)

Nobody out except us and a few people driving to work, and the morning bicycle-riders. (CRAZY. You couldn’t pay me to do that. To each their own insanity, though, right?) The only sounds are my breathing, the jingle of Miss B’s collar, the pounding of my feet. The usual dogs on our route don’t know what to make of us this early; it will take time for them to realize we’re just out running and they can relax.

So, it’s fairly tranquil. Except for (you knew there had to be an “except for”, didn’t you?) the killer bunnies.

You see, someone’s pet rabbits escaped. And, as rabbits will do, they went feral and started breeding. They’re not a neighborhood plague–not quite, not yet. But they’re fluffy and cottontailed, and very fast.

Miss B would loooove to catch herself some rabbit. Mind you, she probably wouldn’t have the faintest idea what to do if she actually did get one. It’s one of the Great Unfulfilled Desires of her life, kind of like Catching A SUV or Fitting Underneath The Alpha’s Bed, or even Getting Her Nose Up The UPS Guy’s Bottom. She’s a herding dog, so she sees something bolt and every circuit in her head fuses. She takes off, dead silent, and the only thing stopping her is the leash tied around my waist. Now, she’s about forty pounds of dog, and I’m *mumblemumble* pounds of human, so those are fun times. Let’s just say that the leash is slip-knotted for a reason, and that I know how to drop my center of gravity and keep going.

Yet another lesson I am very grateful to bellydancing for.

Anyway, when I had the bright idea of running outside before dawn, I hadn’t thought about the fact that right before sunup is when the little vorpel bunnies were going to be out and active. So half of our morning run takes place around an elementary school playing field that is, coincidentally, Grand Bunny Central. It’s like an obstacle course, and also sharpens my night vision. I can tell I’m about to become very adept at bracing myself right before Miss B lunges after Peter Cottontail, who pauses to give her the finger before laughing, sticking his bum in the air, and taking off at warp fifteen.

But I don’t mind. Because of Phred.

So this morning we hit Grand Bunny Central, we’re about a mile and a half in, things are warmed up and going nicely. Miss B starts acting a little funny. I can’t quite tell what she’s getting the scent of, but apparently it is FANTASTIC. If her tail wasn’t naturally docked, it would be wagging itself right off her rump. In any event, she’s trying to wag so hard her back end is skipping around, which usually means she’s seen another dog and wants to make friends. I don’t know how she can run an 11.5-minute mile while her back end is doing the Funky Chicken, but some mysteries are not meant for mortals to solve.

There’s a tawny-gray flash out of the corner of my eye, there and gone. Miss B is almost hysterical with joy. Something is in the neighborhood, running roughly parallel to us. It veers away through a passage between two houses, and I forget about it. Maybe a stray, maybe a cat, who knows? It was too big to be a bunny, that’s all I could tell.

We make the hard left turn into the park near the elementary school, and Miss B is unwontedly eager. Still, we haven’t hit the three-mile mark, which is when she usually calms down. So we’re going along, and all of a sudden there’s that tawny-gray flash again. Four legs, running low. It stops, ears perked high, and Miss B pleads to be allowed to go make friends.

ME: Huh, that’s odd. It’s canine…pretty small to be shaped like that, though, wonder what breed–

MISS B: NEW FRIEND! NEWFRIEND NEWFRIENDNEWFRIEND!

ME: And that’s a strange color, too–HOLY SHIT GET IN THE CAR IT’S A COYOTE!

MISS B: CAN WE PLAY NEW FRIEND NEW FRIEND, OH PLEASE OH PLEASE–

ME: NO IT PROLLY HAS RABIES JESUS STOP IT LET’S GET OUT OF HERE!

PHRED THE COYOTE: Chillax, you guys are scaring the rabbits!

Yep, you read that right. A coyote. In the middle of the neighborhood. He probably comes down from the hills to hunt wabbit. I don’t know if Miss B has ever seen a coyote before. She certainly wanted to make Phred’s acquaintance, in a big, big way. No barking, but that back of the throat ohpleaseohplease whine she uses when she just wants to play with another dog. And me, grimly running onward–Miss B and I, we could probably take anything short of a pack of hyenas, but she is looking like she’d be no help. Plus, if Phred is going to put a dent in the rabbit population, he’s welcome to go about his business.

See, I love crows and coyotes and seagulls. I love the omnivorous trash animals, the ones that creep around the corner and do Nature’s dirty cleanup work. They’re usually smart as hell and interesting to boot. So as long as Phred keeps to his bidness, we’ll keep to ours.

He just better not come a few streets over and start messing with cats instead of bunnies. Because then, shit will get real. I will sic Neo on him.

Speaking of Neo…but that’s tomorrow’s story.

See you then!

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Jul. 22nd, 2011 10:39 am)

It is just way too bright and sunny today. And it’s a good thing I’m damn stubborn, or I would have quit after three miles today and not had that awesome endorphin-kick runner’s high. Not to mention the drift of honeysuckle, the cheerful “good morning”s from other runners–I content myself with a “Morning!” in return, because I can’t be cheerful while struggling to stay upright and moving. I would have also missed having the shaded park all to myself for a few glorious circuits. That was nice.

So, announcements!

* If you’ve ever wondered how Selene returned to Saint City, you can read the brand-new Selene and Nikolai story, Just Ask in the upcoming Mammoth Book of Hot Romance.

* Also upcoming is Reckoning, the final book in the Strange Angels series. The end of August will see a bindup of bboks one and two, Strange Angels and Betrayals with an all-new, lovely cover.

* November will also see the final Jill Kismet book, Angel Town.

* You can now buy all five of the Dante Valentine novels in one smoking-hot omnibus. (Personal demon not included, sorry.) Also, Graphic Audio has released parts one and two of Working For The Devil, I believe part 1 of Dead Man Rising is also available.

* I will be attending SpoCon in August. Not quite sure what my schedule will look like, but I’ll be there on panels etc. I will also be at the Cedar Hills Crossing Powells annual SF/F Authorfest in ?November?, more details on that as it gets closer.

* There’s an interview with me up over at the Gatekeeper’s Post.

* I can’t really talk about this yet, but it’s up on Amazon. Tempty tempty.

* A big “welcome home” shout-out to TP, back from the wilds of Europe. *evil wink*

…I’m sure there’s something I’ve forgotten, but I haven’t even finished my coffee yet, so forgive me. Off I go to find a name that means “a hunter” for a wooden garden-boy. He wants Calhoun, but I’m not sure he should have it. He’s not the protagonist, so he doesn’t really get what he wants as far as names.

Damn characters. Over and out.

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Jul. 4th, 2011 11:27 am)

Today’s post comes to you courtesy of Reader Kassandra A., who asked me:

Long shot here to get a response from you but still worth it for me to try. ;) I am going to attempt to start running. I am a 34 year old mother of two who tends to delve into my enormous TBR pile of books to escape the reality of life more times than is most likely healthy. *shrug* The way you have talked about your running routine has brought an already (although very dormant) existing interest in doing the same for myself to light. If you have insight into how I can get started (and keep going) I would love to hear your thoughts. (from email)

I got this email and thought, but why would you ask me? I’m not a professional or anything. Then I sat down and looked at my running journals. They’re year-long sort-of-diaries (I like this kind) where I can note mileage, my route, speed (if applicable) and notes about how a particular run felt. I’ve been running for almost three years now, keeping a log for about a year and a half. So, maybe I do have something to say, even though I’m not a professional.

Read the rest of this entry » )

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Ring the bells and pass the ammunition, I’m running again!

Seriously. I was out of bed like a shot at 5 this morning, into my running gear, and on the treadmill before you could say “ankle sprain BE CAREFUL.” Warm-up, cooldown, and a half-hour at a very slow and gentle pace. My ankle wasn’t happy, of course, but what part of one’s body IS happy when one’s running? It felt so good. I wanted to keep going and put in an hour, but I’m being a good girl. For now it’s half-hour runs, nice and slow, for the next two weeks while my ankle adjusts to the load. I feel calmer and more centered than I have in weeks.

Add to that the robins I can see pecking in my front yard, and it feels like spring is just around the corner. Of course, spring here in western Washington only differs from winter in that the rain is a few degrees warmer and the trees are leafing out. This year I’m ready for the renewal. Most of my life I’ve been like, “Eh, spring, whatever. Just another season to be miserable in.” Now, however, I am doing the Snoopy Happy Dance and almost wanting to be cheerful with absolute strangers.

Almost. I wouldn’t want to injure anything else.

If you missed it yesterday, my first attempt at a podcast is here. Twelve minutes of me rambling; answering a couple questions about combat scenes and other stuff. It’s a good first effort, I think; next time the levels will be better and I probably won’t sound as scared. I also won’t treat the microphone like it’s a rattlesnake that might strike at any moment. Stay tuned!

Now I’ve got to go stamp all over some flaming revisions. Good thing I’m wearing my boots. Catch you later, Readers.

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Jan. 10th, 2011 09:31 am)

Oprah was in my last dream of the night, the one I remember because the alarm went off in the middle of it. This is particularly odd because I don’t watch television. At all. I haven’t for years, and when I have the opportunity to, I end up passing because it bores me and the ads stress me out. But apparently my subconscious decided Oprah was a good symbol.

I’m baffled.

Anyway, welcome to Monday. Monday mornings are usually slow for me, not in an objective sense (it’s the same routine as every other weekday, up at five, run, make lunches, harry the kidlings into eating and getting ready, kisses and homework checks and finally the schoolbus heaving into sight) but more subjectively, because Sundays I’m not allowed to run. After a more than a year of running mostly-six days a week, my body’s grown to need that endorphin rush. I’m addicted to the damn treadmill, and Sunday evenings I’m usually a bit itchy. I know my body needs the recovery time, but jeez. I get mildly cranky, and Monday mornings my body bitches very loudly at me that it’s missed a day’s worth of endorphins and what the hell am I doing to it now? It takes three miles or so for me to settle into the day.

Anyway. Look, medieval steampunk, sort of! Heh.

I do have a rant in mind, but I want to give it another night’s sleep to marinate in before I decide to say anything. (This is my attempt at maturity. We’ll see how it goes.) Today is for Revisions, Revisions, Revisions, so I’d best get started. Deadlines wait for no-one, and all that. I’m actually glad to have this mountain of work ahead of me. Hard work I can handle. Being out of work I don’t like one little bit.

Hope your Monday is tranquil and productive, dear Reader. Or at least, passable.

Over and out.

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Sep. 16th, 2010 11:18 am)

Okay, so I now know why that one day was so quiet.

The squirrels were training their Neo.

Yesterday I was on the treadmill. It was the last five minutes of a five-mile run and, true to form, I had a side stitch and a serious case of wanting to be just about anywhere than where I was. I kept running, because, well, what the hell, it was the last five minutes and I knew I’d feel Victorious and Vindicated and all sorts of other words when I was done.

Then it happened. Well, not it, but the precondition for the utterly ridiculous I am about to relate occurred.

I saw a squirrel.

He was a big one, too, and he sauntered out into the middle of the yard in a few graceful, authoritative leaps. My earbuds were in, so I couldn’t tell if he was chittering. I do know he was scanning my yard like he expected an army to appear at any moment.

No army appeared. However…one of my cats did. The sweet, stupid tuxedo kitty, who I adore. Of all three, he’s most my cat. He thinks he’s a hunter, too, and sometimes leaves birds (and when we had the field out back, often mice) on my front step. Of course, he totally ruins the effect by being scared of them once he’s killed them–when I pick them up he runs and hides.

So anyway, he was going to get himself a squirrel snack. What I was thinking was, You idiot, that could have rabies! What came out, since I was running and couldn’t get any breath, was a version of “MMMmmmmrph AAAARGHNOOOOOOOO!”

That was when it happened, and I realized this was the Morpheus!Squirrel’s saviour. This was The One. (This probably makes my cats Agents.)

Anyway, the squirrel watched the cat bounding for him, and I could swear there was a moment of kung-fu pose before the cat leapt, all graceful authority, tail held out and claws most probably unsheathed. It was beautiful. It was flat-out gorgeous.

It was, however, doomed.

Neo!Squirrel jumped at the last second, did an amazing flip, and I swear to God he kicked my cat in the head.

No. Seriously. He kicked my cat in the head.

In the head.

My kitty landed in a heap, Squirrel!Neo chittered and zoomed away. He leapt five feet up, caught the trunk of the plum tree, and fricking vanished. Vanished. I hit the stop button–by this point, all five miles had been achieved and I was having visions of a dead cat to deal with–ripped my earbuds out, almost ran into the sunroom’s glass door, and got outside just in time to see my tuxedo kitty zoom under the fence, tail held low and ears back.

I don’t blame him. He was kicked in the head.

I stood there, sweating and cursing, and the phone rang inside the house. For a moment I seriously thought it was Squirrel!Neo calling with a declaration of war.

It was a telemarketer. Thank God. (And this is the only time you’ll probably hear me say THAT.)

My tuxedo kitty seems none the worse for wear, just a bit shaken and embarrassed. He came back in after lunch and spent a long time grooming himself and beating up on the other two cats. (To assure himself of his masculinity, I guess.) It was with no little trepidation that I climbed on the treadmill this morning.

Halfway through my run, Squirrel!Neo sauntered out into the yard. He spent a long time pretending to dig, but then he hopped up on one of the patio chairs and eyed me directly for a disconcertingly long time as I ran and tried to ignore him. Beady little eyes, big fluffy tail, and kung fu. Jesus.

I can’t wait to see what’s next. I just hope that fuzzy little bastard doesn’t think I’m after his girlfriend. And I also hope he can’t get his paws on any weapons

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Yesterday I did my very first three-mile run. I’m informed that three miles is the breakover point–once you reach three miles, you can pretty much train for any distance effectively, or something like that. Everyone was cheering me on–funny, running is so solitary, and yet my Twitter and Facebook blew up with “Go Lili!” “You can do it!” “Those miles don’t stand a chance!”

I was so grateful for the cheering, you guys. It was like I had a whole crowd urging me for the finish line.

I did finish. I stood there, sweating and victorious, and actually yelled, “HA! I GOT THE KNIFE! NOW TURN ON THE GODDAMN LIGHTS!” (That is one of my favorite movies…)

Since I was doing this at home, the only thing I accomplished was scaring two cats and laughing like a loon while I folded up the treadmill. The cats eventually forgave me once I’d taken a shower and refilled their food bowls. (They’re like that.)

So. Three miles. When I started this a long time ago, I would walk for six minutes and run for one minute, and I dreaded those single minutes with a passion. I did that for two solid months. I took everything else in similar baby steps–walking for five and running for two, walking for four and running for three, all in two or three week (or even month-long) increments. Then came twenty-minute runs. Twenty-two minute runs. Adding a couple minutes every couple weeks. Then two-mile runs, upping speed; two and a half, two and three quarters.

And now, here I am. Running three miles. I did it again this morning.

There’s this list that I keep in my head. It’s a List Of Things I Never Thought I Could Do, But I’ve Done And Actually Kicked Ass At. I think everyone needs this sort of list. Most of the time, it’s filled with things that I never thought I could do and I did only because I bloody well had to, it was That Kind of situation. I do very well thrown into the snakepit, apparently.

Every time I think something’s going to knock me down or out, I mentally get out that list. “If I can _____,” I say grimly, “then I can do this.” It’s amazingly effective, at least for me.

Anyway. Also today I got a bunch of spiderwebs tattooed on my back, bringing together all the pieces I had before. The web are about three-quarters done. Soon I’ll be going in to get them finished. Grayscale work hurts, and the long lines the webs depend on, ouchie! So I spent a significant part of today clutching my hands together, breathing through it, and thinking if I can run three miles at a time, I can get through this.

It worked like a charm.

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Feb. 15th, 2010 11:58 am)

Spin me right round, baby right round

I’ve gone from being barely able to run for two whole minutes without gasping and feeling like I was being tortured…to running for almost an hour at double the pace relatively easily. I’m glad I’ve looked back at the original contract I made with myself to exercise, because it reminds me of how far I’ve come in baby steps. Breaking up a goal into bite-size chunks and methodically working through those chunks isn’t glamorous, but you do eventually get to a place where you look around ad realize, holy crap I’m doing X when before I could barely do Y! It’s a great feeling.

I won’t be signing up for any marathons soon. For right now it’s enough that I know I can do these things, and feel the effects in my much-smaller-now body.

Anyway, today is President’s Day and the kids are home from school. We’re heading out to OMSI with our friend H. and her son. Another great thing about fighting my way back from the abyss–I have energy to do cool things now! I am fun again! *rolls eyes at self* But really, that’s how I feel. Like I’ve plugged back into the socket that is my awesomeness.

Tomorrow night, my awesome fellow Razorbill author Suzanne Young is signing out at Cedar Hills Crossing. The Princess loved her book, The Naughty List, and Suzanne is a ton of fun. If you can, go out and show some love! I don’t know if I’ll get out there, but I’ll be there in spirit cheering her on.

Oh, and my Valentine’s Day date-with-myself has been moved to Tuesday. It just worked out better that way. I’m going to go see The Wolfman. Yeah, it might suck. My expectations are pretty low, I’m just going for the escape, the costumes, and Benecio Del Toro’s lips. (The man pouts like Mae West and I LOVE IT.) Plus I’m going to buy myself popcorn, because I am a Good Date.

I can also say that I’ve finished the latest round of revisions on Heaven’s Spite and am flipping back to Dru 4 and a short story. No rest for the wicked, and I’m getting to like it that way. So I must bid you a civil adieu. Regular blogging will resume tomorrow.

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News! I’m over at Book Chick City, talking about why I write urban fantasy. You can win a signed Strange Angels or Night Shift, too! (Sorry, US residents only.) Also, I’ve updated the Strange Angels and Kismet pages with new information. You may also want to check out the forum, too.

I hear about these wonderful, mythical things. Days off. The very sound slips past the lips–the sibilance in the middle, the “f” at the end sliding between top teeth and bottom lip. Oh, what a magical phrase.

Today is my “rest” day from running on the treadmill. Which means I only have to shovelglove, and I decided to go through the Wii aerobics stuff. After unlocking the 6 and 10 minute Super Hula Hoop, I decided to try the Basic Step, and felt like I was stumbling around in a new dance class. Finally my feet caught the groove, and I can tell I’m going to be doing it again. Persistence pays off in more than writing.

That’s just the beginning. There’s schoolwork to supervise, a trip to buy a new toilet seat (don’t ask, it’s kids, they jump on things, we’re just lucky nobody broke a leg) and another difficult scene in the WIP. I want to do some skateboarding on the Wii later too.

Shut up. It’s fun and it makes me feel better. Exercise is nature’s antidepressant, dammit.

It’s raining, too, a fine thin mist like a silver veil. The pine needles outside my window are full of filigree, and when the slight breeze touches them they let loose a shower of watery sparks. It’s the kind of day I put my spectacles in my pocket and go walking on. Maybe after dinner I’ll get a chance to, but by then it will be dark and wandering around in the dark without my spectacles is a Bad Idea. I suppose I could wear them anyway. It’s not like they don’t wash off.

I’m on the third day of the luck journal. Changing one’s habits is hard work. (I’ve heard it takes 90 days, which makes me think maybe I should extend the luck journaling.) The only salvation is that it will get easier the longer I do it, and soon I’ll have a new crop of habits, healthier ones. Or at least less-destructive ones.

My heart is still broken. The good news is, I’ve come to a place where I’m seriously considering that it might be for the best. I am finding positive things about being alone on that level–I can find out who I am without pleasing another person, cleaning up is easier, I no longer have to feel “less-than” or be afraid that someone is going to leave me. The worst (for my heart, that is) has happened, and I’m still alive and reasonably OK. Ambulatory, getting things done, still with a great deal to feel lucky about. Best of all, this pain truly is temporary. Everyone who told me it was, over and over again–because hell, you need to hear that when you’re in pain, you need to hear it over and over again because HELLO? YOU’RE IN PAIN!–was right. Each day is a little better than the day before. Sometimes only marginally, but I’ll take it. Sometimes, often, more than marginally. I haven’t had a step back yet.

That’s not to say there won’t be setbacks and stumble. But all in all, I can see I’m moving forward. I’m not going to feel this way forever, because the tide of pain is retreating. It still hurts, but it’s manageable now.

Thank God.

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lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Oct. 20th, 2009 09:32 am)

Before breakfast, and I’m groggy. Am glad I got a sunlamp-type thing, because seasonal weirdness is very much alive and well in this house.

But enough of that. I have a confession to make.

I bought a Wii.

Look, it was on sale, okay? And while we don’t watch much telly, the kids are completely enchanted with video games. They both need exercise, and Coyote Boy could do with some too. And I won’t lie, I wanted the yoga portion for Wii Fit for myself. Unfortunately, the poses I love in yoga aren’t really featured, or if they are, the electronic “trainer” gives incorrect feedback–like telling me to put a lot of my weight in my arms in Downward-Facing Dog, instead of keeping it in my legs. Eh.

But last night we had a Family Bowling Night with the Wii, and it turned out pretty fun. Everyone was happy. The kids love the sports games, especially baseball. I like the balance games, including a skateboarding one I’m not so terrible at. (Still can’t ride the rails, but oh well.) I’m also going to try the strength training games. I could use a little strength.

If we can manage to do this consistently, the damn thing may end up being good for our health. Of course the kids are lobbying for Super Mario Brothers and Zelda. I’m holding firm. For a couple months, at least.

I finished The Luck Factor last night, did more exercises, and have numbered pages in the blank journal I was using for the exercises 1-30. It’s a luck journal–at the end of every day, I write down what’s been good-lucky. 30 days of thinking about it may help make a habit of regarding my luck the way lucky people do. It will be good practice, because my next reading assignment is a book that isn’t half as cheerful. Ugh.

Oh, and the book? I got past that critical blockage scene. Now it’s a slalom. Hopefully. In any event, got to keep slogging. The book may get written slowly if I poke at it, but it won’t be written at ALL if I avoid it. And considering I’m under deadline, that would be Bad.

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First, check out Nathan Bransford’s excellent post on tropes and originality. This is why I tell new writers “be honest and the originality will follow”. The ring of absolute honesty will shine through a tired old story and make it new again; when it comes through your uniqueness as a filter it will be unique.

If you’re bored with posts about weight, body image, and food, you might want to skip this one. Just warning you.

Last Labor Day I started an exercise regimen. Slowly and carefully, I’ve dropped almost five sizes. I’m shooting distance from a size 16; 14 is my eventual healthy goal. It’s taken me months, mostly because I don’t want to yo-yo. I want to steadily get into the habit of being healthier and more fit. And because, well, I love food and see no reason to set up the nasty boomerang of denial and binge. I have enough to feel bad and guilty over, I don’t need binge to add to it.

I suppose that I could cook low-fat. I really could. But why? Real butter, real vegetables, real cream, all these things satisfy in a way ersatz doesn’t. A very small bit of the “real” will satisfy more than a ton of the ersatz. For example, a small square of high-quality, very dark chocolate will satisfy me more than three or four Snickers bars. A small serving of pasta with this roasted red pepper sauce made with heavy cream (Oh. My. God. Worth the work, I SWEAR) will satisfy me more than a pound or two of fettuccine alfredo from that chain Italian place down the street. The real may be chock-full of Bad For You fat, but I end up eating less–and less chemical preservatives, high fructose corn syrup, etc. etc.

But this is only working, I suspect, because of the other half of the equation. It’s hard hauling my ass up on that treadmill every weekday. The weeks that I get in five whole weekdays of workout are few and far between. I get three or four days in every week, and my energy level has risen to the point where I’m also getting in a lot more playing with the kids and going for longer evening walks. Five days a week of treadmill and shovelgloving is the goal–but like the Pirate’s Code it’s more of a guideline.

Some days I hurt. Some days I’m sick or there’s an Event or some kid is throwing up or having a Bad Day. Some days it’s the story burning up inside my head. Some days I just plain don’t wanna.

But most days, I do. When I’m ill and I can’t get the exercise in, I feel it. I suppose I’ve reached the point of being addicted to running. And addicted to swinging a sledgehammer around for fifteen minutes or so.

Now, I am never going to be a supermodel. I love food far, far too much and I have a sedentary job. Besides, have you seen supermodels these days? They look like shit.

I’m sorry. I really am. But “starvation” is not something I find attractive. I like a girl with a little flesh on her, just like I like easygoing men with a little flesh on them. And I have all sorts of problems with the persistent message from mass media that women need to starve themselves to paper-thinness. Our place in the world is already small enough, for Christ’s sake.

The more I don’t watch television, the less I find I have in common with a lot of advertising. I never realized how pervasive this crap was until I took a year and a half off the telly (way back when I was first dating the Muffin, lo those many years ago) and found I didn’t miss it. Not only did I not miss it, but my sense of proportion (ha ha) came back in a big way.

Another thing that’s dropped by the wayside: fast food. Cheap fast food…isn’t. In terms of community cost, health cost, and my pocketbook, cheap fast food isn’t. Once in a great while I’ll take the kids to a local burger chain, and the little dears are always very excited. But burger-and-fries doesn’t taste as good, and even the fries–I have such a weakness for fries, you would not believe–don’t move me the way they used to. It’s like soda–once I was off it for a long while, all I could taste were the chemicals when I tried it again.

This is turning into a foodie post instead of a weight post. Which probably means I’m avoiding the subject.

So, I’m spitting distance from a size 16. Dropping steadily through clothes sizes has meant getting new clothes, which I absolutely hate. If there’s anything I hate with a flaming fiery passion it’s clothes-shopping. Just the thought of it makes me shiver. I will buy six of something at a time just so I have a “uniform” and I don’t have to pick clothes every day OR shop for them again. I mean, why spend time on that when I could be reading? Or cooking? Or playing with my kidlings?

Along with the steady weight loss has come an unpacking of hurtful assumptions and trauma from growing up. Food has been an anodyne most of my life, and grazing on trash-cooking full of preservatives and corn syrup was the only thing keeping me reasonably sane during a large proportion of my young years. Food didn’t mock and it didn’t judge, and when I felt empty inside it provided a type of fullness. Like any substitution, though, it had to be paid for. And I did. Over and over again.

I’m also beginning to unpack the sense of security having a fat layer gave me. You can hide inside a mass of yourself, you know. For a girl who equated fisticuffs with attention and any attention, good or bad, with the only approval I could get, the extra poundage was a blessing. It absorbed much more than punches.

Which means that, as I’m slimming down, I’m having to face parts of myself and my life I frenetically ate to avoid. It’s probably no accident that I’m writing YA through all this and really remembering what it was like to be young. On the one hand, I wouldn’t be between twelve and twenty-five again if you PAID me. There isn’t enough money in the world to put myself through that again. But on the other, I can’t hope to achieve any sort of peace within myself without looking hard and long at these things and Dealing With Them. Dealing is better than Drugging Yourself With Food or Frantically Avoiding Dealing With Things By Chopping Off Bits Of Self Or Engaging In Crazymaking Behavior.

I console myself with the thought that the most awesome and stunning people I know had Bad Young Years and didn’t Find Themselves until their late twenties. Being forced to find resources within yourself pays off, if you survive long enough and intact enough. The layers of fat were a survival mechanism, one I am trying to teach myself not to need. It was good while I needed it, but now I don’t–and the price of poor health, acceptable while I needed the fat to preserve some kind of psychic integrity, is no longer one I can continue paying.

It was a good cocoon. It kept me safe and it kept me sane, and I’m grateful. But now I’m almost out of it, and spreading those papery, wet wings. Sooner or later this girl is going to fly.

That, dear Reader? Is the very best revenge at all. I wish I was a bigger person and didn’t need that for motivation. But I realized a long time ago that I wasn’t. And I’m taking what I can get. There’s a certain amount of freedom in recognizing that you may not be a bigger person, but you’re going to do what you can with what you have.

Over and out.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

lilithsaintcrow: (Default)
( Mar. 24th, 2009 12:11 pm)

A short run today–I’ve worked up to running five days a week, but two of those days are going to be short 20-min sessions (not counting warmup and cooldown). I was considering leaving the house today, but after yesterday’s cook-a-thon (we had MakeMe and her boyfriend over for dinner) I’m kind of nixing the notion. Besides, I need to get revisions out of the way so I can write, both on contracted stuff and on the New Shiny Project. After a long bout with revisions, all I can think of is creating anew.

I am waiting with bated breath for my next issue of Cook’s Illustrated. The kids love Scientific American and I like it too, but there’s just something about CI that makes me so so happy. I hear the next issue has a chocolate-chip cookie recipe. You can guess what I’ll be baking soon.

Someone asked me about cookbooks yesterday, so here we go. The first one–the one that started this whole thing–was Baking with Julia. After I actually started producing good bread, I got a couple other bread cookbooks too, the best of which is this one. Then I got Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking, which actually goes into the chemistry of foods and why they behave the way they do. Just like CookWise and BakeWise, which I consider essential.

This was a revelation to me. I had viewed cooking as some weird alchemical art whose secrets were only given to the few with the proper handshake, kind of like some people view getting published. And after being told over and over again that I was no good at it, the way I was no good at anything practical because “your head is always in the clouds”, I’d given up.

But “cookbooks” that tell me WHY food behaves the way it does, and how to tweak recipes? ZOMG. The idea that I could learn how food reacted so I could put recipes together and get consistent results was a complete and very gratifying shock.

If I had to tell someone one cookbook to get, I’d recommend the McGee even though it isn’t technically a cookbook, because understanding how and why food behaves the way it does is way more useful than a list of ingredients. Then I’d recommend CookWise and BakeWise; then this vegetarian cookbook (since the UnSullen tends toward vegetarianism). With those you’re pretty much covered.

I do also occasionally rely on my faithful old red-plaid Better Homes and Gardens, and my old Joy of Cooking when I’m looking for something kind of fancy-dancy. And now I’ve started branching out–I did a cheesy-chicken-rice thing from leftovers the other day that vanished in a heartbeat. If I’d had sour cream it would’ve gone even more quickly.

So there you have it, my list of “essential” cookbooks. Still, all the cookbooks in the world won’t help without the willingness to get in there and make mistakes, experiment, and have some fun. (Just like writing. Okay, I’ll stop flogging that point…for now.) The kids love watching and learning and helping to cook, a valuable life skill that will contribute oodles to their adulthood. And I don’t eat out as much as I did now that I’m enamored of the process of cooking itself. Quelle disastre, right?

Right. All that money I’m saving is probably going to go toward some Le Creuset. I keep telling myself it’s quality cookware that the Princess can have after I’m gone, therefore it’s an investment

ETA: Thanks for telling me about the broken code. HTML, she is trying to keel me…

See? I’m hopeless. Completely hopeless.

Posted from A Fire of Reason. You can also comment there.

Page 133 of 335-or-so proof pages eyeballed. They're nice and clean so it's just the brute work of rereading and thinking very carefully about some of the issues that were raised last time someone went through. I like to make these things intentional.

The workout was effing hard this morning. But I am breaking barriers--at the end of my run today I went for two whole minutes at four miles an hour. This may not sound like much, but considering when I started this whole thing out I could barely run at 2mph for a whole minute, I think it's awesome. I'm settling into 40-minute runs, which I think will be about my limit. I'll up the speed/intensity from there, but I really can't afford to spend more than that on the treadmill. I'm adding a nice slow walk in the evening and getting pretty good at the shovelgloving, too.

When the zombies attack, man, I'll be ready.

For those of you wondering, the dye job came off perfectly. My hairdresser babe has been bugging me to get rid of my roots for a while. "Blonde roots with black hair just are SO NOT HAPPENING, Lili. And you're using the wrong black, it's got a blue undertone and makes you look jaundiced. Look, just let me fix it for you. SIT DOWN AND LET ME FIX IT."

It's funny--when I started working at an optometrist's office I started noticing people's spectacles. As a massage therapist, I was always looking at how people were moving and where they were holding their pain. ("Look, just sit down here for five minutes and let me fix that for you...") Now as a writer I start flinching whenever I see misspelled signs, or misused apostrophes. I guess beauty-school students are the same way.

Anyway, my hair is now a neutral black instead of the blue-black, and there is a half-hidden blonde streak (very close to my natural color) at my right temple. It's an amazing job, and Hairdresser Babe (aka Make Me) was very pleased with the results. "Now for Christ's sake we'll do up your roots in a month or two. DON'T ARGUE."

It's nice to have friends.

Anyway, there's errands to run today and laundry to fold, and the rest of those proof pages to get through.

I'm thinking the laundry ain't gonna get done. Anyone want to take that bet?
.

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