la_belle_laide: (Default)
I'd give so much right now to pet Haku again. I would scratch his neck and behind his ears and put my face on top of his head because he always smelled nice. And after a few seconds he would put his nose on my arm or my sleeve and take a big breath with his cold nose. He could twitch his nose to both sides. He would press his head between your knees when he got stressed, we used to say "Haku has to plug in and recharge."

I can't believe he's gone. Every time he had to go to the vet, or had a seizure, I would tell him "I'm right here. I'm with you every step of the way." It was the last thing I said to him last night right before he died.

I had to tell Callum when he woke up first thing in the morning. I watched his sweet little face crumble as he looked over to where Haku's bed used to be. Then he climbed into my lap and cried quietly for about fifteen minutes. He keeps asking me why things have to die, and if we'll ever be happy again.

The well of grief has so many angles, and it just seems bottomless.
la_belle_laide: (Default)
I could talk more about 2016 constantly at the doctor for this that and the other; I could go back into my head and rethink how devastated I still am about Leonard Cohen and Carrie Fisher (WTF? WTF? WTMFF? I'm not over it) or about “President T****” and how much debt I'm still in from Haku's surgeries and this really ill-advised trip to Disney (that I planned BEFORE last year's surgeries) and my own anxiety, and anxiety about leaving the dogs again when we go, or that that the town canceled my summer Hula class (that I was going to get paid nicely for :/ ) and how much I still miss Kung Fu and my friends and, and, and.

But, damn it, no. It's April and this is Dreamwidth and a fresh start, so!

I'm taking my soon-to-be four year old to Disneyworld next month, and how awesome is that? Hashtag blessed, that's how awesome.

It's going to be 70 degrees next week??

There's planets? TRAPPIST-7 exists and that is so rad!

I recently got the most excellent fanart from a fanfic I wrote ages ago.

My book is out on submission! If you had told me five years ago that I'd be the lady who lives by the sea, about to take her 4 year old to Disney, waiting to hear back from her agent about her book that's being pitched to Random Penguin right now? I mean I'd about have DIED, you know?

I've been cleaning the yard – this is good. I haven't done it since before Callum was born, because I just couldn't; there was no time, no way to get it done. But now he's almost 4, and I can take him outside and he'll mostly play with his toys while I cut down vines and rake leaves and shit. It's hard work, I mean – like really super hard, because I let all of this go for about 5 years and it's a jungle of bittersweet and wisteria. I don't mind the wisteria except it eats everything in its path. Bittersweet is an asshole, I straight up plain hate it. So this is a real shit show and it's not even a quarter of the way done. And I have to cover myself and Callum in IR3535 (tick repellent) because Lyme and Powassan and RMSF are super real, and all the crawling around in Tick Country freaks me TF out, and the bending and twisting to get the roots up are kind of hurting my back. But it's not as bad as I thought – and I actually feel better? Like, less pain in other places, idk. I haven't moved in so long.

I really wish I hadn't read this article about a lady dying from an abdominal aneurism while running a marathon, because I was thinking about starting to jog again. I have to do something. I miss Kung Fu. There's a school about 30 minutes away and I talk to the Sifu on Instagram every time he posts something. “Oh, I remember that form!” “Broadsword, my fave!” “I love that drill!” and he's always like “COME DOWN AND TRAIN, WE WANT YOU,” but the money doesn't exist in this universe or any parallel universe.

Someday, though. Really, someday.

It's weird how these days you have to second guess everyone like, “but how awful would it be if I went there and made friends and then found out they'd voted for T****?” This is a real issue. Isn't that terrible?

Well anyway, the weather is about 60 today, and 70s for the next 3 days! I have to work, but that's cool; I can get outside when I come home. Do more yardwork, take some time sitting on the deck with Callum and the dogs, blowing bubbles, listening to music, taking pics. Disney in a few weeks, and then summer and those glorious beach days after that.

And yeah I'm always afraid of what comes next – with two old dogs, negative money, various other dramas. But I used to deal with all of my shit way better, I think. When I look back at my old LJ, like before Gran and Dad passed? I totally dealt with my shit way better. So I'm going to try to get there again for sure.
la_belle_laide: (D)
We got some bad news yesterday. I took Sano to the vet because he seemed a bit off, and a quick, in-house ultrasound scan revealed a splenic mass. It’s probably not benign. It’s still small and doesn’t seem to have spread, but these usually do, within a few months.

Sano is almost fifteen, and with surgery, a mass like this would return in about three months anyway. The vet said we could do a more thorough ultrasound for $400, but A. it won’t really reveal anything we don’t already know and B. I don’t have $400, because Haku’s $8000 surgery is still nowhere near paid off. The only way to know for sure what it is is to do surgery.

So with surgery a few months, and without surgery a few months. Honestly surgery seems like the stupidest idea at this point.

What we can do is some treatments, like TCM and palliative care, to maybe slow it down. Tumors like this generally aren’t painful. He doesn’t feel it and isn’t uncomfortable. 

2016 is just awful.

Lao Shir

Apr. 15th, 2016 03:42 pm
la_belle_laide: (D)
Tomorrow I'm going to Lao Shir's memorial. This is a thing I'd hoped I wouldn't have to even think about for a long time. On the other hand, she fought cancer for ten years, and her prognosis was about 18 months. But, when she wrote saying she was having trouble—CHF--I thought, 'Well, people can live for years with CHF. There's medication. She'll make it.' I guess that no matter when it happened, it was going to be sudden, even though it wasn't. It's always sudden.

It's so hard for me to believe that she won't show up. I know how weird that sounds. I had a dream last night that she did show up, actually. That her memorial was at a college campus (it's not; it's at a restaurant on the water by her home,) and I ended up talking to her about strength training. She was so her in the dream, all her expressions, mannerisms and everything. She was talking about how to do that thing where you balance on your hands, with the rest of your body horizontal, you know the thing? She could do that! And in the dream, she was telling about it, like, how to practice for it and get strong enough to do that. And I was just like, 'Of course she's here, why wouldn't she be?'

Then, in the dream, I decided I wanted to wear makeup. I met up with a girl who used to train with us, we'll call her Jen Di. She was a really tough gal, but her makeup was always on point. I asked her to help me do winged eyeliner. So we went looking for a bathroom. We went around the back of the campus and discovered we were actually in a place like Hogwarts. Excited, we ran to the restrooms, which were crowded, and my cousin was there with her son, trying to get him to nap in a stall. O_O Jen Di got out her makeup, and she also had this huge horse that she was suddenly leading around. She asked me to hold the reigns while she applied my makeup. Looking at the horse, I realized it was the same horse that I knew from when I briefly rode in the 90s: an 18 hand stallion named Nacht Wacht, but who we all called Urbie. He started to move away, so Jen Di tied his front leg so that he couldn't run off.

She finished my makeup, and when I looked in the mirror, I looked completely different. I remember thinking, 'Why haven't I been doing this all along?'

I went back outside to look for Lao Shir, but she had disappeared. Like actually disappeared, turned invisible in front of everyone and gone away.

It wasn't a bad-feeling dream? I woke up missing her, but also feeling like we'd had a nice chat.

I went to PM her on Facebook, actually, because I'd kind of kept doing that after she passed. We had been talking about getting together when she got out of the hospital. I'd sent flowers (she never got them,) and we were also sending music. I sent her “This Girl Is On Fire” and she never answered. I just kept PMing her because, I guess, I just felt like it. But then her sister changed her FB page to “in memory of,” and the messages are all gone now. That made me sad; I'd've liked to have read them again at some point.

Anyway, tomorrow I'll be there with the old Kung Fu group, most of them, at least. It really sucks because we always talked about all of us getting together, you know, like you do. But then it never happens until someone dies, and I really hate that. We used to see each other two or three times a week, it's just weird.

I wonder if we'll be telling stories about Lao Shir. If so, I have a great one. It was the night we went out dancing, just the Kung Fu ladies. The song “Temperature” came on, and Lao Shir hit the floor! I mean, she got low! And then she started throwing all these KF moves into her dance, and people cleared the floor to watch her and cheer. She had just finished her, I think second round of chemo. But I'll never forget seeing her dance to Temperature. She was so happy. That's the story I'll tell tomorrow, if we end up doing that.

It's so weird to be using my Kung Fu tag again, and even weirder to be using it for this.

dog stuff

Mar. 16th, 2016 11:16 pm
la_belle_laide: (D)
Haku's surgery was a success? Question mark? Because A) he made it! And B) the cancer is not aggressive! It's not the one the vets (and I) were all fearing. It could be a GIST or a leiomyosarcoma, but for either of those, the prognosis is pretty good. 1-3 years pain-free, cancer-free, and I'll take it.

However, the morning after his surgery, his bladder ruptured. It turns out he had a bladder infection (which I had him tested for, but it didn't show up apparently,) which inflamed his bladder so much that as soon as one of the vets tried to make him pee, it tore. (I still think she shouldn't have done that.) So, he had to have a second surgery. Another $2000 on top of the $4500 for the first one. And another five days in the hospital which is about $200 a night. Right now? I'm looking at around $9000 for something that was supposed to cost about $1600 at a regular vet.

And then last night he got an abscess, because of the bladder rupture. So, an extra night in the hospital.

And like, I'm just thinking about these bills and in complete denial. That money doesn't exist. It's not going to exist. Even by next year it's not going to exist.

But Haku made it, and that's what I was hoping for.

Tonight is Wednesday. Sunday night actually midnight Monday, Sano jumped up and started crying—wailing, really—and running around the entire house like he didn't know where he was. I couldn't tell if this was some kind of anxiety thing, or if he was in pain, or a seizure or what. He did it again Monday morning around 9. I drove him right to the vet. The vet was concerned because, what we thought to be vestibular last week, with this added symptom, might be a tumor. Or it could just be senility with manic attacks. Either way – not good. Nothing about it is good.

He's been on Xanax since then, and it does seem to be helping? But knock on wood? He is still an anxious mess, but he's always an anxious mess. This thing that happened to him was like nothing I've seen. It was actually kind of worse than Haku's seizures, because at least I know what those are.

I know I can't complain. Sano is 15. But that doesn't make it any easier. I'm looking into some meds and maybe some alternate diagnoses that might fit better than “tumor.” IDK. He's lying beside me now because he's so anxious and I won't let him put himself to bed like he usually does, because that's where the first freak-out or whatever it was happened. I have to pet him for about a half hour every night now.

The other option is that he is just losing his mind because he doesn't know where Haku is. He did tear up Haku's bed the night before then. He's always torn up beds though, and tried to dig through the floors. This was different.

I'm totally rambling. This is so much to process, all of this in three weeks, and now I have to go into the meager college fund I've been putting aside or Callum since before he was born. Because IDK, I can probably, over the course of many, many years, pay back into that. It's not like I'm going to charge myself interest (although I should.)

It's just, you know, that's money that I had and it was for something and now it's gone. And it's not even half of what I need to pay off this debt.

This whole thing is so ridiculous and I should really stop writing before I get off track.
la_belle_laide: (mantis)
Every year I like to post about the first time I hear the tree frogs. It was tonight, although others have said they heard them earlier, being out in the evening. (I was coming home from teaching Hula tonight.)

Also, there was a thunderstorm. Only a few days till Spring!

There's more to tell, but this is a happy post and I don't like to spoil it.

Neurotica

Mar. 11th, 2016 03:15 pm
la_belle_laide: (issues)
When I started writing this, it was still March 10th. Ugh how is it past midnight. I'm going to have to go to bed and finish this tomorrow.

I'm having a moment, because my FB memories came up today and showed that it was this day in 2009 that Haku had his first surgery. And of course it was, because he had that first seizure around March 8th, the day my Gran started to go downhill really fast. I remember that day—that minute—so clearly because, looking back, it seems like my entire life split into two sections the moment Haku jumped up and had that first seizure. Then he went into the hospital. Then Gran went into the hospital and then she died in April. And then my Dad died in August.

And I've been reading all of my old LJ entries from that Spring and Summer, trying to see if there were any signs, or if I had any intuitions that would have told me just how drastically things were going to change. And the disturbing thing is, I feel like I did. Because a few times I wrote “I wonder what will be different this time next year” and “I wonder who will be new to me and who will be gone (no one, I hope!)” or variations on those themes.

And that day started the entire Trauma Conga Line, where everyone in the family was like, “Okay, enough – that really has got to be the end of the bad stuff, right?” And it wasn't, and then my Dad died.

So, now Lao Shir has died, and Haku had surgery on the same exact day that he did in '09, and I am sitting here losing my mind thinking, “This is how it starts.” I can't stop imagining that, a few years down the road I'll be reading this entry, tsk'ing over my clueless past self who had no idea how bad it was going to get.

Doesn't that sound neurotic? It does, but here's something I wrote shortly after my Dad died:

It's real hard going back and reading journal entries from even just a few weeks ago, harder to read the ones from a month ago. I can hardly fathom that I was happy back then; that I had no clue whatsoever what was right around the corner. Still sad for losing Gran, I was also getting on with it, doing my schoolwork, excited about writing, getting ready to go to China, doing Hula shows with my friends and having a spectacular summer.

I always knew—and feared—that life turns on a dime. But knowing something is entirely different from living it. When you live it, you come to see the world differently; someplace that is not safe, where the worst possible scenario is indeed around every corner and behind every door. You start to expect nothing less. I sort of knew it ten years ago when Grampa died suddenly and with no warning, and I always dreaded it ever happening again, but this illogical part of me thought, “Well, that already happened once. What are the chances?” I thought that the fears I always had that every phone call, every noise, every slamming door was the worst thing I could imagine were irrational fears and I was neurotic. But I wasn't neurotic; I was correct.


“I wasn't neurotic, I was correct.” That's how I feel now, like I'm right, and it just has to keep getting worse, until something unthinkable happens. There's that part of me that's like, “Well, now that I've put it out there, it can't, right?” And the other part that says, “OMG, now I've put it out there, that's like inviting it.” There's the rational part that says, “Don't be a twit, you literally have no control over anything,” but the rest of my brain tells that zen bitch to take every seat in the house, because that's exactly the problem.

(Of note: I realized while peeing today that my novel is pretty much about this fear. Main Character is so much of a fearful f'ing control freak that he can't accept that some things are out of his hands. He takes it to the extreme and changes things on a like, 4th dimension level because he has lost the ability to can when it comes to reality and death. Oh my god. he is my fantasy of my most fearful and most powerful self. Jeez.)

And yes, I know that I should probably be talking to someone about this, you know, someone who is not LJ and who is a professional, but the one therapist I contacted, though she seemed nice, worked out of a clinic that got into huge trouble because the main doctor was dealing drugs out of there, so. And like, what is a therapist going to tell me that I don't already know? It's not in my control. The intrusive thoughts aren't rational. Blah dicker blah. But are they really irrational? Because past experience says “No, you're on the right track here, and terrible things are about to happen.”

What also sucks is that I feel like I'm short-changing Lao Shir out of the mourning she deserves, because I'm too busy being afraid of how much worse things are going to get, that it's overshadowing how much I actually miss her. Right before she died, we were FB messaging about how we were going to get together for lunch once she was out of the hospital. I asked if I could send her anything: books, music, a gift card for some movies she could watch on her phone. But she said that, with all the tests she was having, she hardly had time to read or watch anything. But that she would love some flowers. So I sent her flowers, the kind you can take home and plant. (They got lost in the mix and she never got them.) A few days before she died, I sent her a link to the “Girl On Fire” video because, I said, it made me think of her. She never answered and I started to worry.

I had called Gold Dragon to tell him she was in the hospital (he's not on FB) and he kept saying, “It's terrible she's in the hospital, but remember, she's the strongest person we know. She's beaten everything else, and she'll beat this, too.” When I called him to tell him she had passed, he was honestly thunderstruck. And angry. He really thought she was coming home. We all did.

One time, Gold Dragon and I were talking about Lao Shir, one of those times when the cancer had returned, and he had just seen her for lunch a few weeks before. He said he knew she was going to beat it again, because, “it's the light in her eyes, or something about how they shine. Her eyes are really bright.” That really stuck with me. I told her, next time I saw her, of his comment, and she was so pleased. After that, we called her Alohilani: Heavenly Light. She thought that was delightful.

And now we're talking about what to wear to her memorial, since we're going together, and maybe Empress too – should we wear our Kung Fu clothes to honor her? Should we be formal? Do we bring food, who else will be there, who else will show up in Kung Fu clothes, do we bow like in class? Or what? And it boggles my mind—and my heart—that we have to consider these things now. She was supposed to come home. She was going to go back to teaching T'ai Chi.

This was maybe coming for a long time. She had multiple myeloma, diagnosed ten years ago. Usually with that, you get about a year, maybe two. She got ten. But in those ten years, I think we all thought, “Obviously she keeps winning the battle.” It was heart failure, though, this time. At 60, so, you know: very young.

* * *

Okay so I wrote that last night, and I'm trying to see if, by the light of day, this looks any different. Kind of, maybe. Like, rationally, I realize that Haku has actually had 8 surgeries, and only one of them (the one on March 10th) was followed by that entire “life falling apart / death and mourning” year. All the other ones were just bank-breaking. Thinking of it that way really doesn't make the anxiety up and quit, but it takes the edge off, I guess. I'm always, always worried about losing my Mom. And since having Callum, thinking of that kind of thing is a place I really bar myself from going. My brain kind of can't – but it always lurks there like background radiation. For any parent, I guess.

I know that Haku doesn't have a long time after something like this. I visited him today and talked to one of the vets. While all the others were like, “Well, let's wait to see the biopsy,” she said, “Yeah, we're pretty sure it's cancer.” It remains to be seen if it's the really aggressive kind that only gives you a few more months, or if it's the slower kind. It's so obvious to me that it started last July. I kept bringing him to the vets every month, but his blood tests were consistently awesome and no one could feel anything in there. Except me; I felt it all the time, every time I pet him. No one else did, though.

And Sano is 15 ½. So like, I get it; I know my dogs won't be around forever or even for a few more years. That time of not having to think about it is over.

So I don't know, this whole thing has me so anxious and depressed. I'm reading back through all of my 2009 entries, when Haku and Sano got sick, and Gran died, and my Dad died, and my one brother got sick and my uncle died and then my other brother got cancer (but he's better now.) (Although, sadly we don't really talk anymore.) And I just kept saying, “I wish something good would happen!”

And like, so many good things did happen, and it's not like I didn't notice them. I mean, HUGE things happened, like Callum, and getting an agent that I like; things I've wanted since forever have happened in the last 3 years. So I'm not ungrateful, I just wish I could kill this anxiety that the worst possible thing is around every corner.

Another thing I keep noticing in those entries is how much Kung Fu helped me. Like, so much. Kept me sane on some days. I miss it unbearably, and nothing has come along to take its place. (And I can't afford to join any program either, anyway, so.) I mean, I miss my KF family and I really wish it could be like that again, all of those people I loved and still love (and still see, semi-regularly, too. But we're not together 2 times a week, like we were.) It's not like i'm the only one who left the kwoon, and I can just go back, even if I could afford it. Everyone left. There's no one left there out of our group. I keep telling Gold Dragon, “Please decide to teach Kung Fu, please open a school!” only half joking. But, you know, real life.

Whew, what an entry. I hate that I just dumped all of this out. This is not what I wanted for my LJ, so much angst.

And as usual, I really should wrap this up because it's about time for Callum to get up. Well, 3:30 or 3:45 or so, but I still have a few things to do while he's sleeping.

So yeah, sorry for popping on randomly and spilling nothing but neuroses!
la_belle_laide: (D)
Since it's so hard to write this all down again, about Haku, I'm just going to copy and paste the latest update I've posted to his fundraiser.

Today's update is both good and bad. The good is that, thank the universe I decided to get a double cavity ultrasound instead of going right into surgery, because this is not a splenic mass. The bad news is that it is still a mass. It's possibly intestinal, and / or possibly lymphoma. Neither of those has a good prognosis. With lymphoma, there is no surgery, just chemo and palliative care. If it's intestinal cancer, surgery would be palliative, so that he can continue to eat and be comfy for however long he wishes to stay with us.

There is a small--SMALL--chance that the mass isn't cancer, in which case surgery would be curative.

Haku's grandmother had lymphoma, so I wouldn't be surprised.

There is some good in this. His heart looked good. The rest of his intestines looked good. The surgery--if it gets done--is less risky, and could be done at his regular hospital, which would save some money. And the other bright spot, if you can call it that, is that this mass will not rupture and bleed out suddenly, like a splenic mass would have done.

We'll know more when the biopsy comes back, but, either way, this will be either surgery or chemo. So, once again, I want to thank you all for contributing and sharing. And, please help keep this fundraiser going, if you can!

MAHALO SO MUCH.


And hey. If anyone wants to pass on that fundraiser, or can contribute? That would be so wonderful of you. The surgery cost will be less now, but by "less" I mean "less than the originally estimated EIGHT THOUSAND DOLLARS." The ultrasound, and diagnostics alone, up until today, have already been about a thousand. We're looking at at least another few thousand, no matter what comes next.

Mostly, I have to say that one thing that has made me so happy, is how much everyone seems to love Haku. People out there, people I've never even met in real life, really want him to be all right. And I mean, he's not. He won't be. I'm trying to come to terms with that. No dog in the world is "all right" for that long. We're so lucky if we get them for fifteen years, and that's so rare. (I'm grateful that Sano is fifteen. Sano, BTW, was at the vets yesterday for vestibular. I had to "borrow" some of Haku's fundraiser money for him. Two hundred, just about.) But what I mean is, it makes me happy that people are cheering Haku on.

IDK, this is really hard. But it's so lovely to see all these people, even strangers, coming out to help him.

bad times

Feb. 27th, 2016 02:41 pm
la_belle_laide: (D)
Yesterday morning, I found out that Lao Shir (my first Kung Fu teacher and longtime friend,) passed the day before. Long ago, I talked about her illness, when it first began. There's no denying that she lived well beyond her initial prognosis. But she was still young, and cancer is still total bullshit.

An hour later, I had Haku at the vet because he'd been picky about his food for about two days. I can't really get into it; it's too hard. A quick ultrasound showed a really bad kind of cancer.

I can't actually go back and read all my Haku entries. I'm just not ready for this.
la_belle_laide: (issues)
I know I know, it's taken me forever to write this, and there are a hundred other posts I keep meaning to make (mostly I really want to keep track of all the funny things that Callum says, because he is growing up so fast, but, that kind of ties in with this?)

It's almost a month already, but I really need to write this whole thing down about the passing of David Bowie and Alan Rickman, particularly so close together. For some reason I really, really need to unpack this right now.

And it's so strange that I need to write all this down because, in my 20s, I had the most out of control crush on Layne Staley. We used to email, I'd send him little gifts and he would thank me, keep them in his room or hang them from the rearview mirror of his car. He was so nice to me. I worked for his landlady back in the 90s. We actually chatted and I crushed on him so hard. But when he died, I guess I expected it. I felt so sad for him, his whole life a tragedy, and I was gutted for his poor Mom and sisters and little nephew. But I didn't dwell on it like I am with this. It's just weird, and it's making me feel really stupid and awkward.

When David Bowie died, I addressed it on Twitter with a kind of short version of how huge he was to teenage!me. Same goes with Alan Rickman. I don't even know where to start with the whole thing.

But I guess I can start around 1989, which is when I met my friends Rachel and Jolyn. I went to high school with Rachel from 11th grade on. We met in Chemistry class, trying to cheat off each other's papers. Rachel was married at the time. She'd gotten married at 16, because she wanted to. And she introduced me to Jolyn. I introduced her to my other best friend Jeremy, and my cousin Celia. Soon, the five of us were always together, and nearly all of our time revolved around David Bowie. If we weren't listening to him, we were talking about him.

I never went anywhere without a cassette player and walkman, so, during all of our family trips, everyone had to listen to David Bowie. In the summer of 90, right before I started college, we used to get together a few times a week and go swimming. We'd swim all day and into the night, listening to Aladdin Sane and Diamond Dogs, mostly. But all of us, we had all of his music. All of it. The obscure, non-released stuff, and let me tell you, that was really hard to find back then before there was an internet. We had to drive to record stores, and some of them were like, an hour away.

We even had a recording of Baal ffs, do you know how hard it was to find that back then?

There was a period of about three months when his cover of “Wild Is The Wind” was my favorite song to the point where I would get to the end of it, rewind, and play it from the beginning. Over. And over. And again. For hours, while I was cleaning, or writing, or whatever the hell I did back then before the internet. That song, the way he sang it I guess, was my idea of perfect romance. I loved them all, but there was something about that one song. I had a boyfriend at the time, actually, my first real boyfriend, you could say. I never felt “Wild Is The Wind” about him, though he was a really good person. So good-looking I'm still not sure how I landed him, very kind, but we totally weren't creatures of the wind, LOL. We're still friends, though.

Oh, jeez, and I was also obsessed with Cygnet Committee. Late at night, after everyone was in bed (Celia lived with us back then,) I'd drag out the video camera and set it up on the tripod. This was 1990, okay, video cameras were HUGE back then, and it was a big deal to load up that tape and all. But I'd set the camera on a tripod, I'd play Cygnet Committee, and I would act the whole thing out on video. Just, like, flailing, dancing, acting out every nuance with the kind of drama you can only manage when you're 17.

But, the biggest thing: Rachel, Jolyn and I were writing a book about David Bowie.

Okay, so, we were kids, here. I was 16-18 when this was all going on, Rachel 17-19, Jolyn 19-21 during these years. And we were basically writing a real person fanfic. Thank god there was no internet back then. I mean, honestly, I am so thankful every day that there was no internet when I was a teenager. This David Bowie story was an epic, three-book series, written by hand and on a word-processor. Each week, Rachel, Jolyn and I would get together, having brought different parts of the story, and tie them together.

The fic (for that's what it was,) was a David Bowie/You fic, and “You” was a Mary Sue. There were also two other named women, and all of them had the best aspects of ourselves, plus all the SUPER POWERS that come with being a group of Mary Sues.

The plot was that David Bowie was a vampire, about two hundred years old, and we were the three teenage upstarts in the vampire world. Of course, David Bowie could not help being completely impressed with us, and we all lived with him in his Vampire mansion in England.

There were other famous vampires too, of course. Basically anyone we were really into. For instance, the head vampire, the king of the entire vampire world, was David Gilmour of Pink Floyd. And like, of course they were going to have to “get old” and “die” one day, so that they could go back to living in obscurity for a few hundred years, before resurfacing as an artist in a different medium, and getting famous all over again. (Vampires could use a Glamour to appear old.) Oh yes, and David Gilmour was 2000 years old, and was David Bowie's secret father. And David Bowie's secret Brother was Phil Lewis of LA Guns. (Celia really liked him, so he made it into the fic, too.) (Imagine how we all dropped dead when LA Guns made an album called “Hollywood Vampires” lololol.)

In 1991, “Robin Hood, Prince Of Thieves” came out. And holy shit, we all went insane for Alan Rickman. I mean, for Christian Slater, obviously, but hugely for Alan Rickman. The five of us went to see that movie in the theater nine times. That was more than we'd gone to see Bill And Ted (seven times.)

Naturally, Alan Rickman got written into the story. He was so charismatic, so much fun, and so hot, our allegiance even shifted a little. Our Mary Sues started spending more page-time with Vampire!Alan Rickman than with Vampire!Bowie. I think one of our Mary Sues even moved in with him.

And, naturally, we all hunted down every last one of his movies. Truly madly Deeply. Closet Land. Quigley Down Under. We would have watching parties, and then go and write some more.

By 1993 I was sort of more into T Rex, Syd Barrett, that kind of thing, and I was buying things on CD by then but could not afford to replace all of my Bowie stuff with CDs, so it remained (and still remains) on cassette, sadly. Over the years, I downloaded the odd Bowie song when I could find it. Just the faves, mostly, figuring, you know, if I ever really, really felt like listening to Please Mr Gravedigger, I'd break out that old cassette player. It's not like the music was going anywhere.

(Except it did. I sold or donated most of my cassettes before I left for Seattle in '94. Because by then it was Pearl Jam and NIN and Soundgarden and all of that.)

(And honestly? I'm writing about David Bowie because he died - if I'm being completely straight here, I've always actually loved David Gilmour pretty much more than god. My world is going to come crashing down when he dies; god I don't even want to write those words; I can't bear thinking of it. To this day he is my biggest rock-star crush, I think he's absolutely beautiful.)

So anyway. The five of us as teens, we were really serious about David Bowie and Alan Rickman, and by “serious” I mean “obsessed with,” and don't think for a moment that we didn't sometimes believe our own bullshit. Like...that maybe we were onto something. Maybe we would meet David Bowie and Alan Rickman. Maybe they would never get old and die.

Here's where I could talk about all the “years go by, Celie has four kids, Rachel lives in Washington, blah blah” all the things that have changed for all of us, or do the ole' Stephen King “We never again felt the way we did for those few years, like anything was possible” and such. I don't think that's true, at least for me, because I still think that great things are possible. Like, truly, our big dream for that book? Was to get it published. Which, looking back is so cringingly hilarious and awful, and thank god, thank GOD there was no internet for us to put it on. But we did want to publish that stupid book (which, oh, by the way, it was called Sandcastles, because it was a book about vampires so why not call it ~~Sandcastles~~ because isn't that so special?) and we knew nothing about how to get anything published. Query letter? Editors? Agents? WTF, it's 1990, we are in high school / off to college ffs. Besides, no one would ever have to edit our work of genius; it was obvs so perf as it stood.

But anyway, none of that, I guess. Right around this past Christmas, I had my iPod on shuffle and Cygnet Committee came on. I was cooking dinner for Meghan (23 year old cousin, lives with us while going to college,) and Callum. And I found myself telling Meghan about how I used to record myself acting that song out. Like, I thought it was so deep, and I was so deep, because I got it okay, and other people just couldn't understand all of his references, and man, if David Bowie ever saw my interpretive dance of that song, he would obviously hire me on the spot to be in all of his videos. And we just had such a huge laugh over it, over how dramatic you can feel about a song when you're seventeen.

(Although, let's not lie—and I said this to Meghan, too—I really never lost that overwhelming emotion I can feel over certain songs. I still get the music frisson, I still want to act that shit out. Although these days “act it out” means more like, use it as character inspiration, and like that.)

So then David Bowie died and Alan Rickman died, what, four days apart? And of course the bunch of us were on Facebook with each other just reeling over it. Like, why them, why both, why so close together? That kind of thing.

It was always weird to me to see Alan Rickman in the Harry Potter movies. I was happy, really, that the next generation was as enamored of him as we were. He deserved it; he was such a king.

So the day after Alan Rickman died, we were all still all over Facebook, posting our thoughts, movie clips, music videos, just like everyone else, you know. And then Celia posted “Wild Is The Wind.”

IDK, for some reason, that was kind of it for me. I had completely forgotten that song existed. And like, how could I forget the song that got me through being 17 and starting college? That one song that defined how I felt about things like love, and romance, and which I used to listen to on repeat to the point where the ending of the song sounded like the beginning of it, you know what I mean? Callum was napping when she posted it and I listened to it over and over again like when I was a kid, and I was just crying like an idiot.

Then, when I went to wake Callum from his nap I was still crying because it was so weird for me, suddenly, to have a kid. I mean, it's 2016, I have a child, I forgot that song existed, and David Bowie and Alan Rickman have both died. It was such a weird emotion, it was part, “That poor little 17 year old girl and her friends, nightswimming in the summer, biggest worry in the world is 'will it rain tomorrow' and 'is there enough cheese for pizza muffins?' How would she feel about this, she would be so crushed.”

And the other, really weird and kind of unexplainable part had to do with Callum. I can't figure out what it was or why that was making me cry so much. Something to do with that song in particular, how strongly I felt about it, I guess, and maybe wondering what sort of 17 year old he would be, and which of his childhood idols would die someday when he's an adult with a kid of his own (if he decides to, of course.) “You're Spring to me, all things to me.” He's so innocent.

And then also, David Bowie's daughter is around the age I was when I was so into him, and she just lost her Dad. I mean, I lost my Dad at 36, there's never a good time for it to happen, but 16? That's awful.

But that's not even really it. I can't actually explain it. I actually feel really stupid even posting this, like that overly dramatic 17 year old who takes everything way too seriously. But like I said, I had to unpack all this nonsense.

The weird thing was, David Bowie's death was easier for me than Alan Rickman's, maybe because he remained such a beloved part of modern culture, with Harry Potter and all of that. In some oddball way, his death seems way less real to me, more of a shock, and harder to understand.

(Then, let's not get into the spiral of panic that came after it. Them both being 69, and my Mom is going to be 70 in a few weeks and you get the whole “But they were so successful and had access to the best tests and the best care, and if it happened to them...” You know how anxiety starts to talk to you.)

So I needed to write about this, but I also kind of don't want to dwell on it? My other favorite Bowie song was Lady Grinning Soul: another one I forgot, played again after he died, felt sad for a bit, and then remembered that we thought at first he was saying “She'll lay the beef on you,” and cracked up laughing.

And then I remembered me and Celie sharing a hotel room in Florida, her trying to fall asleep, me listening to my walkman and singing out loud: “You're face... to face... with the man who sold the world” and her yelling “NO, YOUR FACE! Now shut up and go to sleep!” For years after, we'd greet each other with the call and reply “you're face” “to face...”

And how in Diamond Dogs, Rachel and I both thought he was saying “Come out of the garden, baby, you'll catch your dick in the phone,” and each time we had to talk on the phone, we'd warn each other of this potential danger.

But, okay, I wrote it all out and even though I feel like an idiot, I'm glad I put it into words.

Wild Is The Wind

Cygnet Committee

Lady Grinning Soul
la_belle_laide: (D)
God, end of year memes! You'd think I'd've been back on LJ before now, but you know. Callum takes a nap, I write. (Or, let's be real: sometimes just go on Tumblr. It's so low-effort.) But this year I gotta do the memes. It's been a big year. So, thanks for reminding me, [livejournal.com profile] spatterdash !




1 -What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before?

THE BIG ONE! I signed with a literary agent. :) I mean yeah, that's the one thing I've always been on about in these year-end memes, right? And this year, I did! And it's been crazy fun.
2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I tend not to make them, IDK. It's like I always say: If I want to make a change, I'll do it when I feel like, not in January.


3 Did anyone close to you give birth?

My cousin did, although, it kills me to say it, we're not close anymore. We were the absolute best of friends. Then she moved away and she's not on FB too often, and we hardly ever talk. No one in her family even knew she was pregnant until the baby was already born. So, that makes me sad, that we are so distant now that I didn't even know she had another baby on the way.

My ex-boss also had her second child.

4- Did anyone close to you die?

My ex-boss lost her Mom suddenly a few months ago. I didn't know her Mom, but it was shocking. I'm always hesitant to answer this question, because this anxious part of me feels like it's a curse if I say “no.” I used to always say “no,” and then my Gran and Dad died so suddenly within a few months of each other. I know this has ZERO to do with reality and cause and effect, but honestly, that kind of stuff messes me up.


5- What countries did you visit?

I wish.


6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?

I super lacked money in 2015. It's so cheesy to say something like this, but in almost every other way, I don't feel like I lack much. I have a beautiful family, home, a job I enjoy, and a literary agent! But my job has been really slow. We got sold and bought twice, and almost went under. This year, I'd just really like to make some money. And whether that's from just having more clients, or getting to teach some classes where I work, or a book deal? (Although, I understand that debut authors don't really get much in the way of an advance, so I'm not expecting that!) I'd just really love to have enough money to not worry, and to get a few rad things.


7. What date from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Two of them. July 2nd, the day I got my first offer from an agent. And July 14th, the day I got a second offer, from the agent I ultimately signed with. July was HUGE for me.


8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

See above! And not only that, but writing a whole new novel, too. I mean, I've had all these Blueshift novels for years, with prequels and sequels and side-stories and such that I always wrote and wrote and wrote, but never really did anything with. And then SCADS of fanfics, too. But then I went for it and wrote something completely different. As I was writing it, [livejournal.com profile] spatterdash was writing her new novel, too, and we traded critiques, sometimes even a few times a week. The experience was amazing. She kept me motivated, and I also got to read her WIP – which was so good, it made me want to be a better writer.


9. What was your biggest failure?

I didn't work out. Or dance, or really move, like, at all. I've gotten really weak and out of shape, and I'm super disappointed in myself for that.

10- Did you suffer illness or injury?

I had such a bad sinus infection or something over late summer and fall that I thought I had a brain tumor and ran off to the doctor. And my TNJ dysfunction got really bad, like so so bad there were a few weeks when I couldn't move my jaw more than a few inches. Then last week, I got COXSACKIE of all damn things and had such a swollen lymph node in my neck that it was plain gross. And these seem minor and they are, but anxiety ramps everything up to eleven.
What was the best thing you bought?

I have to say the trip to Disney. Aside from books and some work clothes, I didn't buy anything else.


12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

A great many of my family members. And some of the people I worked with this year, for really just hanging in there, trying to make our place beautiful and functional again.


13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Conservatives. And a family member, but I don't want to discuss that.

14- Where did most of your money go?

Bills, really. Paying off that vacation. And honestly, just groceries. How boring.*


15- What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Signing with my agent! And writing; boy, I got super excited about writing again. Like, really fired up in ways I hadn't been in years. That critique exchange was like a stick of dynamite to the ass.

And the Kenshin movies, oh my god. I haven't fangirled that hard in years, it was beautiful. And the new X Files coming out.

And Star Wars! Which I haven't seen yet.


16- What song will always remind you of 2015?

Uptown Funk, GOD it was everywhere, and my son loves it. And also, Take Me To Church. That sucker made me write an entire character.


17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

i. happier or sadder?  The same, I think. I'm a happy person in general; I tend to even out.

ii. thinner or fatter?  About ten pounds fatter. :/

iii. richer or poorer?  SO MUCH POORER.


18- What do you wish you’d done more of?

Exercise. And LJ.




19- What do you wish you’d done less of?

Stressing about dumb things.



20. How will you be spending Christmas/New Years?

Christmas proper: First opening gifts with Callum and my Mom, then having dinner at my cousin Chrissie's house with her fam, and doing some Xmas over there. The day after that, seeing OTHER cousins Spence and Meg, also at Chrissie's house. And then Third Christmas, with all the cousins and my Mom and my high-school pal, since everyone is off work that day. New years? Nothing. Ehh.

And then after New Years, honestly, I just huddle down and wait for Spring.


Anyway, here's another one!

1- Will you be looking for a new job in 2016?


I hope not? I like my job and I really want us to be successful and stay afloat. I'll be teaching some classes, though.




2- Will you be looking for a new relationship?

Nah. Ain't nobody got time etc.



3- What will you do differently in 2016?

Dance more, I hope. Eat less, I also hope. Stress over stupid things less, if I can. Get a therapist? Definitely find a dentist.




4- What will you not be doing in 2016?

Tom Hardy, IDK. Sadly.


5- Any trips planned?

None planned, but I will probably stupidly go to Disney again.


6- What’s on your calendar?

Like, picture-wise? I always get the Llewellyn calendar, the zodiac one. I'm still really superstitious about doing important things during the void-of-course moon.


7- What can’t you wait for?

I can't wait for my book to go out on submission! But, minor things: I can't wait for X Files. I can't wait to see Star Wars. I can't wait for stupid SPRING to get here.

But in other ways, I don't want time to go too fast. Now that I have a kid, it's always a little weird saying, “I can't wait for this and that!” Because every day Callum is a little bigger, a little smarter, a little more grown up, and it's just going too fast. Getting bigger shoes for him just kills me.



8- What would you like to see happen differently?

In the world? I'd love to see people being less dickish and violent. I'd love to see some sane gun control in the world. I'd love for there to be less (or—gasp!--NO MASS SHOOTINGS!) But I think those are crazy fantasies.



9 - What about yourself will you be changing?

Hopefully I'll lose the weight and some of the stress.



10 - What happened in 2015 that you didn’t think would ever happen?

IDK, nothing, I think. I sort of always had faith that I would get an agent I loved. It's the world. Anything can happen.



11- Will you dress differently this year than you did in 2015?

Sort of? At work, we all wear black now. In the last few years, I was getting back into my colorful, swirly skirts and froofy shirts and that kind of thing. But now we wear black and that's also fine. I can't afford new clothes tbh.


12- Do you expect 2016 to be a good year for you?

It's really hard to expect anything. In some ways yes, in other ways no.


13- How much did you change from this time last year till now?

Not much, I don't think.



14- Wish for 2016?


My wish is always that no one I care for will get sick, or will die, or will be in any pain. But I'm always afraid to straight up wish for that kind of thing; it seems like asking too much.

My wish for the world is just less violence, you know? Less guns, less shouting and bloviating, less right wing conservative nonsense. I wish for a Democratic president. I don't even really f'ing care which one. I get so nervous in presidential election years.

My low-key, realistic (?) wish is to get a nice book deal. But I'm not sure how realistic that is, because we're not even done with edits yet, and I know this submission stuff can go on for ages. So while I do wish for that, I won't be sitting here holding my breath!



* ETA: Where did most of your money go? Actually, most of my money, not even kidding, went to Haku's vet bills. We're talking, like, a thousand a month sometimes, nothing left over for food - those kinds of bills. His seizures got really bad this year, and we made lots of vet visits and did lots of bloodwork and new meds. Haku is my baby, what can you do?
la_belle_laide: (issues)
I have some kind of sinus infection or something, but here's the thing: I've spent the last three days, while Callum is napping (and sometimes even when he's not,) googling, “sinus pressure brain tumor” and “ear pressure brain tumor” and “head pressure cancer” and the usual, “twitching ALS.” And then sitting there crying, thinking that I would have to make videos for Callum to watch as he grew up without me. That kind of thing.

All that free time, when I could have been doing anything else, like reading my writing-buddy's revised manuscript, which had actually been taking my mind off my own nonsense? Yeah.

Then last night I said, “boy, that's really stupid,” and instead I started to google local therapists that deal with anxiety. :P So maybe I have a few leads, some people I can scope out to talk to.

Even though I completely recognize how ridiculous I'm being, there's still that part of my brain that thinks that this will be that entry I look back on, wishing it had been something minor. Because you read those stories, you know? About the stuff that started out so innocuous, and ended up being the beginning of the end. Those stories are all over the internet, and they are by real people, ones who thought and hoped they were overreacting and being silly. It almost always starts out that way. I really try not to get sucked into reading them. But that doesn't help either, because those stories are reality.

When I was doing Kung Fu, I still had some anxiety, and health anxiety, too. I always have. My Mom does, too, though not as much as she used to (she got help.) Kung Fu gave me focus and made me feel relaxed. Also, I was really strong, and didn't have the aches and pains I sometimes get now. I wish I could still afford it. If I had any kind of money, I would find a way to get there. I'd bring Callum or something. I'd figure it out. I just don't have that money. And part of it was the friendships I made there, too, because we were all a little messed up, and we could laugh about it. But now, I only know one person who trains there anymore. Everyone else has left. I don't know if it would be the same training somewhere else, or even in a different style of martial arts. Kung Fu was my jam.

On the other hand, if I'm not worrying about myself, I'm worrying about Callum, or my Mom. I took Callum to the doctor two weeks ago, halfway sure she was going to tell me that he had neurofibroma, because he had these little tiny bumps from mosquito bites. Last year, Callum's doctor told me, “When you find yourself getting sucked into that panic over him, try to remind yourself that it's not HIM, it's you. These are your issues.” Which is really super advice. And I try to follow it, except that sometimes kids really do get sick.

And that's the thing I can't get past on my own. Most of the time I'm dandy. My default setting is still “happy.” I'm really SUPER AWESOMELY LUCKY that I don't have depression, because I know how tough that must be. I just can't seem to get out of that vortex of panic on my own anymore. And it kind of sucks, spending the whole day going “but what if? What if? Wouldn't that be the worst thing ever?” It's a waste of time, and I want that time back.

Oh, nuts, I just heard back from one of the therapists I contacted. She doesn't take insurance. Ugh! Well, that blows. If I had a few hundred bucks a month to spare, I'd find a kwoon (or a dojo or ANYTHING) and train again, jeez.

Onward!
la_belle_laide: (mantis)
Wow so here I was going to revitalize my LJ, and really keep on top of updating it, and then I just let it sit for another few months. Sorry about that.

Anyway so yeah. Signed with the agent I really liked, waited for the revision suggestions to come in, and then got right to work. She sent them right before we went to Florida, but I got a good chunk done before, and finished up the rest the week after we got home. The week I came home, my agent moved from Sterling Lord Literistic to Donald Maass. I think that's pretty great, actually. Well, both are great, and like I told her on the phone, I was looking for an agent more than an agency.

I tried to send my revisions four times over the last week, but my email is for some reason effed up, and I had to drop box them to her yesterday. So now she has the revised version, and for some reason I'm sweating that more than when she read the manuscript for the first time. Because, what if I made it worse? What if I did the revisions and she reads them, and they're essentially first drafts of new chapters? (Well, not chapters, but a section here and there.)

So nervewracking.

But yeah, in the meantime, we did go to Florida, too: Me, my Mom, Callum and Meghan. We stayed at Port Orleans and we didn't rush anywhere or have to do anything specific and it was super nice like that. I mean we did have some fast passes, and it does limit you to which park you're going to be at any given day. I do sort of miss the times when you could be like, “Ehh, let's go to Epcot today instead,” but if you do that now, you miss your, like, ONE CHANCE to ride that ride you want to get on.

Callum went on his first rollercoaster! It was Barnstormer and he LOVED it. Laughed the entire way through, starting from when it begins its climb to the first drop. But then again, he loved the stupid airplane, too. Giggled and shouted “WEEEEE!” through the ascension. He kept looking at me and saying, “CAM-CAM!” Like, “Look, it's ME, Cam-cam, going way up in the sky!” In fact, a few weeks ago he even told me, “Cam-cam gonna go to work.”

“Work?” I said. “You have a job now?”

“Yey-uhh. In a few months.”

“I see. And what are you going to do at your work?”

“Cam-cam going to drive the airplane.”

Not even two and a half and he wants to be a pilot. He woke up this morning and said to me, first thing, “Cam-cam on the airplane. Way high up up up in the sky!” Which I guess means that he's still dreaming about it. So weird, toddler brains.

But yeah, he went on Barnstormer and he loved it. He loved all the rides, even the Haunted Mansion, and the parade, (“Woooow Mommy-and-Grammom-and-Momo, wook at DIS!”) but was less than thrilled with the characters. Which, I'm not too wild about those, either.

It also rained and stormed every day. In fact we got stuck in tropical Storm Erika's path, and our landing when we came in was delayed for like 3 hours. We had to circle Orlando forever before they decided to land us in Tampa, and then take off again to go to Orlando. That was the beginning of The Trip Of Wait, because every single day another thing went wrong where we got held up doing this or that. They even had us in the wrong hotel room when we got there. :/

But even with all of that, it was still such an excellent trip. So now we're actually thinking about going in on a Disney Vacation Club kind of dealie thing. You pay monthly for 5-10 years, and you get allotted a certain amount of points per year, and you can use them to stay in the villas. You also get discounts on annual tickets and dining. Getting it via resale saves thousands of dollars. And like, I know, those thousands of dollars we'd still be spending could be going in the bank, but honestly, now that I have a kid, I can't see just saying “Well, we're not going to Disneyworld anymore.” We're all pretty much going to keep going. Like, Meghan is 23 and Spencer is 26 and they've been going since they were 2, and they're also not going to stop. Same with Chrissie and Timmy and the kids. And every few years, you save up enough points to use a big villa where the entire family can stay; sleeps up to 12 or something. IDK, I'm thinking about it.

Well, tomorrow is Autumn, and I have to say, it's been such a beautiful summer that I'm anxious thinking that something has got to go wrong. (Well, to be fair, Sano and Haku got mad sick from their food, starting the day before we left for Disney. Tons of meds later and they are both fine, though the food wrecked their delicate intestines so much that they are on Tylan powder for life now.) I mean yes, something always goes wrong and nothing is ever perfect, but sometimes it feels so perfect that I'm like, What's going to happen to balance this out? Every week this summer we went to the ocean. I have this awesome little kid and an awesome literary agent and a job I enjoy. Isn't that just too much good?

But yeah, Autumn, though. Every year I'm always so sad when summer ends, but then I love Autumn, too. It's really just winter I can't deal with. Well, really just January and February, and that's only because we've gotten killed the last three years, with blizzards upon blizzards. I can't even deal with that. And having to stay in the house at night instead of going on a long walk and then sitting on the deck, enjoying the last rays of sun until 8 PM. God, winter is so hard! Ugh.

Here are some things I:m looking forward to:

Getting the next round of revisions done and going on submission. Rad.

Teaching some Hula classes at work. In Florida, I spent some time with Auntie Kau'i and she was like, “Are you dancing and teaching?” I told her it had been a while and she said, “You have to get back to it. Start over and don't stop again.” And I really, really want to, but it's so hard to find a space where you can just get a group of people together and dance. Now I have that opportunity at work and I can't wait to start.

Halloween, naturally. And the holiday season after that. I'm one of those fools who really loves the stupid holidays. All the lights and music and crap. I can't get enough of that.

Umm, and new TV shows. Isn't that awful and so dull of me? But I really like Sleepy Hollow.

And after that, next Spring, LOL. Winter is just long, dark, boring, depressing and pointless. And frigging cold and frustrating and icy.

Hmm, I don't want to speculate on anything else. In 2008 I cheerfully wrote in my LJ, “I wonder what will happen this year, and how much will be different next year!” And in 2009 my Gran and my Dad both died. Which I know has nothing to do with how I effing phrased things for pete's sake but anxiety is a bitchass!

Well, now I've still got about 45 minutes left of Callum's nap, so I'm going to sit down and read the new version of [Bad username or site: ”spatterdash” @ livejournal.com] 's wonderful novel.

And then wake Callum, take the dogs out, and IDK, go out for pizza. Maybe a walk later with Callum, Mom, Momo, Chrissie and her boys. (Oh wait no, I tell a lie, Momo gets home late tonight. Walk tomorrow then, when she's off from school.) And perhaps a bar of ice cream later.

This summer has been one of the best ever, and I'm going to miss it. Here's to an Autumn that's just as rad.
la_belle_laide: (Default)
I've really been meaning to write down the story of How I Got My Agent since the day I signed the contract with Caitlin McDonald of Sterling Lord (July 16th) but then, every time I get my 90 minutes of the day, I've been writing other stuff. (The new manuscript, the one that [Bad username or site: ”spatterdash” @ livejournal.com] is eyeballing as I'm writing it, to be specific. The working title as of now is “2 Blue Balls.”) And then I was gonna write it all out last night, but then all sorts of craziness happened in the neighborhood as I wrote in a locked post and it got me all mentally turned around and weirded out.

But anyway. So! Now that I've signed, I'll unlock my other posts (or at least some of them,) about the first offer, the one I eventually declined.

What happened was—for anyone who doesn't know how this goes down—I got an email from one agent, saying she'd like to talk about my work. Usually—not always, but usually—this means that an offer is coming. We had a really great phone conversation on July 2nd, and she did make an offer. I figured that was it, done deal. All that remained was to send a “nudge” to other agents who had my queries, partials or manuscripts, tell them I'd had an offer and give them a chance to jump in. Most of the time, the other agents say “thank you and good luck.”

And I didn't have many outstanding queries, tbh, because I'd been spending most of my time working on 2 Blue Balls. But, I did have a query out with my top-choice agent. I'd actually queried her last year, but we'd talked on Tumblr since then and I had asked if I could re-query her after some edits, and she'd said yes.

To my utter pants-peeing surprise, she really liked the edits, and asked if she could take the standard two weeks to look through the entire manuscript. Pee in a dazzle, I sent her the full. Again, I'd read that agents are usually “reading for a no” after a nudge. But I still had the sneaky suspicion that she might actually like it.

Two days before my deadline to sign with the first agent, (July 16th,) she made an offer via email, and said we could set up a time to have a phone conversation.

July 15th was HOT AS A DAMN CROTCH, which, I usually just breeze through days like that because I absolutely love the heat. But I was on the phone with Caitlin from just after 2 till around 3 or so, and by the end of it, I was sweating so much that I had to go change all my clothes, LOL. I just liked her so much, loved her ideas, loved what she was talking about in terms of edits, and it all made so much sense that I didn't want to say the wrong thing, stutter too much (I do, a little, in situations like these,) or ask the wrong thing or forget to ask any of the right things. She was very understanding and patient as I went through my list of questions.

I liked both agents, particularly because both of them are very pro-fandom, and both were all right with me having been really involved in fandoms and still having fanfics up around the web. I liked both agents because they both really loved my manuscript and were enthusiastic about it.

The deciding factors were a few, though: The first agent, though she personally really loved time-travel stories and loved my manuscript, also didn't think she could sell a time-travel as a debut novel. She wanted me to finish 2 Blue Balls (you know that's LOL right? Like I'm not actually going to call it 2 Blue Balls*) and we would pitch that one to editors first. Which, I would have been all right with that to a point, because my brain is filled with 2 Blue Balls right now and I could probably bang the rest of it out pretty quickly if I had to.

But Caitlin has confidence in Blueshift; she really got the idea that time travel was sort of secondary to the plot and that there were other things going on in it: concepts about reality and such. She said she really loved the way I wrote the science, which is like, WHOA, the coolest thing a SF writer can hear. And she loved my main character, which also whoa – boy, do we writers enjoy hearing that.

What's more, she pinpointed exactly the two scenes I'd always, always struggled with, and put her finger on why they didn't work. That cleared up so much for me, you don't even know. These are edits I can now handle really easily.

We talked about fandom and fanfic for a while, too; she is extremely cool with all of that. And we also discussed other things I might write later, down the road. I mentioned I had another manuscript in the works, but that I'd also had scads of work done on sequels already, and she said, “I was almost feeling a prequel” and I was like, “OMG I HAVE THAT TOO.” In mind, I mean. Sketched out. When I say that this book has been with me for about ten years, I don't mean just this book; I mean I've been dicking around in the world of this book for about ten years. I've got about 500K words in sequels, prequels, side-stories, junk I wrote for fun, and you know, I never really did anything with that stuff. It's just sitting there in a folder, waiting for me to think about what to do with it.

Another big deciding factor was that I talked to one of her clients, one who is actually in the middle of her book launch, and she had such wonderful things to say about Caitlin. She said, “You won't ever regret signing with her.”

That filled me with such confidence; I knew as I talked to her that I'd already kind of made my choice.

So, on July 16th, Caitlin sent me the 3 contracts to sign, and then sent me her signed contract as well. And as of last week, I'm repped by Caitlin McDonald of the—let's be honest here--historic Sterling Lord Literistic agency.

What's next? She re-reads the manuscript and takes notes. Then, sometime in August or so, she sends me her notes, which are going to be her ideas for revisions. I'm pretty certain that I'm going to agree with her edits, because of the way she totally nailed what had always bugged me about those two scenes in particular. Then, I revise, and send it back to her (also including some of my own edits we discussed.) Then we discuss those changes, and if we both think they're fine, we move onto line-edits, which is another thing that I'm pretty chill about.

Once we're both happy with those final edits, then the book goes out on submission, and we start to discuss what I'm writing next, as we wait for someone to hopefully pick it up.

I haven't thought much beyond that. She did mention some editors and publishing houses she had in mind, which were SO RAD, but I'm nowhere near there yet.

So in the meantime, I'm just going to keep working on 2 Blue Balls and see where that takes me. That one might end up sitting around for a while, depending on where Blueshift goes from here.

All I know for sure is that I am SUUUUPER happy with my choice. I feel so lucky! And I'm really excited, and I just wanna WRITE ALL THE WRITES








*I might call it 2 Blue Balls tbh.
la_belle_laide: (yanyan)
Today is July 4th, and I took the dogs to the beach, set up the pool filter (again) and tried to see to it that it'd be swim-ready at some point before September. (Even though it's like, 60 degrees today.) My Mom is off from work today too (it's a Saturday; I usually work mornings / afternoon, but we're closed for the day.) Callum picked some peppers from his garden and basically walked all around while I cut back bittersweet and such. Haku came outside, but Sano heard fireworks and just cowered by the door until I let him back in.

La la. But it's really July 2nd that I want to talk about, because that's the day I got THE CALL and I want to write all of that down!

So, we set the time to chat at 2:30, and of course I sat there pissing myself until that very second, when she called at 2:30 on the nose. I told her up front I was nervous on the phone and she said that was all right. I was like, “Haha nice day today, haha *sweatdrop* what lovely... weather and all, haha... hahaha...”

With The Call (always in caps like that, seriously,) sometimes it's an offer of rep, and other times it's “I like this and that aspect, but can you edit it hugely and send it to me when it's done, so I can consider it further?” and sometimes, “I like your style, do you have a different book I can look at, and you can email me when it's done and I can consider that one?” So I was pretty unsure where this was going.

She asked, “Do you want me to just launch into my thoughts on Blueshift?” and I said, “Please do.” She said, “First of all, I am really into time travel...” (“Oh, cool! Me too haha, haha, hahaha!”) “And more importantly, I love this book.” (“Oh! Wow! Thank you so much, hahaha, hahaha!”) “I really liked the world you built.” (Silent relief; I've alternately heard “too much world-building” and “the world is too vague” from other agents. This stuff is truly subjective.) “The beginning could use some tightening up; it's rambly here and there, a few scenes don't seem to have much of a purpose on the first read. I understood their meaning after I finished it, though. But it could still use some tightening, close a few loose ends, things like that.” (“I can totally do that.”) “There were no entire chapters that I would cut – just minor things.” (More silent relief.) “The ending was my absolute favorite part. That's when I really couldn't put it down.”

Which surprised me, and totally delighted me, because I have always LOVED my ending, but have been told that it's too open-ended, and you can't leave it like that because people want definite answers, and / or you have to have a happy ending. I was really pleased that she was into that. She said she loved the entire second half.

“Make those two lead characters hotter for each other in the beginning, though. I wasn't buying their relationship until close to the end. I felt like they were more like best friends, or just loved each other as people. It needs more heat and passion.” (“I can do that, for sure.”) (This also clued me in to how astute of a reader she is, because in fact, in the first draft, the two characters were related and she completely picked up on that. I was like, “Damn, she is good.”)

I asked her if she had thought of any editors or publishers while she was reading it, and she gave me the names of two editors she had considered, who are also into this sort of thing.

Then she said, “I do really like the book—I would not be on the phone with you right now if I didn't—but time travel stories don't do well as first-releases, so I also wanted to talk to you about anything else you might have?”

So I told her about the one I did for NaNo, which is an extreme first draft right now, and although it has a beginning, middle and end, and a plot, with characters, and subplots, but that I hated the ending, had left two characters sort of blank so far, and had to completely re-draft it. I had written down my short pitch for that book, too, which I had planned to read: “Blue Sphere (working title): a medical examiner, her physicist associate, and her psychic best friend survive a neurological epidemic and invent a machine that can hold a person's consciousness after death. With the help of a disillusioned cop, they have to escape the corporation who are willing to murder them to get their hands on the machine. “

But it sounded so clunky as I started to read it that I just sort of wandered from it. “This medical examiner and this physicist, these two women—I haven't really fleshed out one of them yet—they invent this machine out of synthetic neurons” etc. I went a little more into the plot than just that little blurb thing up there.

And she said, “That's what I want. I want the lady scientists. Here's my idea: Let's finish that, and pitch that one, first.”

(Thank flipping GOD I wrote that book, god damn!)

Me: “Yeah! Sure. That's cool. I have that one on my mind, actually, so I can dive right back into it. I have a really great critique partner. She does not hold back at all. She tells me the absolute truth about her thoughts, and she's an excellent writer; she has an agent of her own, in fact, and a book out on submission.” (“That's what you want in a critique partner,” she said. "Keep her.")

So by this point, I was thinking it all sounded good, but I wasn't entirely sure if this was going to be a “get back to me when you finish it” kind of thing.

But then she said, “Just to be clear, this is absolutely an offer of representation.”

Me: *voids bowels* “Oh! Yay! I'm so excited, hahaha, how wonderful!” (I actually said “yay.” >_< )

She went on to say that she is really excited about both books, but really wants to lead with the “lady scientists” one. (“After that one comes out, then it will open the doors for the time travel one.” I liked that “after it comes out” part, like, a lot. Made me feel really confident in that.)

She is an editorial agent, so she said that she would be more than happy to offer critiques as I wrote it, once I was comfortable with sending it to her. She said she understood that a lot of authors were protective of their first drafts. I said that I wasn't protective of it, exactly, but that, let me be clear: it's just not good right now. I explained that it was a NaNo, that it was a sprawling mess at over 100K words (“I like a first draft to be too big rather than too small,” she said,) and I was scrapping the ending and re-writing the last 4 chapters or so from scratch.

She said, “That's okay. I'll wait for that one. I'm not offering to rep just one book, like, Blueshift or nothing, and that's it. I'm offering to represent you as a career author.”

So, there was no, “get back to me when you're done” or anything. It was an actual offer, like, “let me send you the contract in case you have any questions” offer.

My deadline to accept is July 16th. I've sent out my “nudge with offer of rep” to other agents who have queries, partials and suchlike. You sort of have to wait for them to get back to you before diving into anything like this – it's only polite. But I really, really liked what she had to say. I am so stoked that she loves Blueshift because the truth is, so do I. I love that stupid book. I had a blast writing it. I think other people should read it. ^_^ I loved the ideas that she had and I was so stoked that she was into the “lady scientists” book. So it really looks like I'm going to sign that contract on the 16th.

I hope it's not bad luck or bad form to share this. It links to my FB, but I mean, my FB is private, so. So I hope this isn't jinxing anything. I am just so, super excited and I wanted to put this all down.

And now! Once Callum wakes up, then I'm going have a shower and go over to Chrissie's house for dinner, so the kids can play together for a bit and she, Mom and I can chat away.

I need to stop worrying about what can go wrong, and start being happy with what is going right! For once, I'm going to do that!

ADDENDUM: I also told her, full disclosure, hey, I was a pretty prolific and semi-well known fanfic writer across various fandoms. She asked, "Oh, which ones!" and as I was listing them and got to Final Fantasy, she was like, "OH WOW, I probably read those!" She said it was perfectly all right to have fanfic still out there, that as long as I was comfy with it, so was she and so was the agency. (This agency is extremely pro-fandom. So yay!)
la_belle_laide: (WWJD?)
Two days ago I wrote this really loooooong post about how I was so frustrated with querying and writing new stuff, that I was about ready to just give it up and go back to writing fanfic for good. Why bother, if I wasn't getting anywhere and never getting any better? The post was full of angst and this really hopeless self-doubt about my writing. I read it back and thought, Wow, that is super angsty, hold back on posting that so you don't flounce out of something and then change your mind and feel stupid later.

Yesterday I got an email from the latest agent I queried, to whom I had sent first a partial, then the full manuscript. She is really interested, and wants to talk to me about the novel, and anything else I have lined up for the future. Our call is set for 2:30 tomorrow afternoon.

SO.

So now it's my turn to tell other authors to not give up/ :)

Of course, you know, it might not work out. Maybe we'll talk on the phone and have completely opposite visions about what to do with this book, or different ideas about my career or writing in general, or maybe we won't click. But, I did get referred to her by another agent, one whom I like very much and she thought we'd be a good fit. So, I'm hopeful.

I mean, hell, I'm way more than hopeful right now; I'm peeing my brand new Target shorts as we speak, have been peeing since last night and will not stop peeing, IDK, probably ever. The Call, you know? It's kind of huge! It gets capital letters when writers talk about it.

So now I'm writing down a list of questions and things to say. If I like her a lot and she likes me, then I'll have to email other agents who have partials (and who have queries, too? I'm not sure?) with a nudge, tell them, Hey, I've had an offer, JSYK. It's the polite thing to do. I have massive phone anxiety, especially with important calls. I stutter and say really dumb things sometimes (and then freak out about the things I said sometimes years later.) So having a list will help; a little cheat-sheet.

And like, work has picked up and we got some good news about a kind of partnership (sub-letting) that I think is going to go really nicely. I might start teaching classes again soon, and hopefully Hula, which will just be even radder.

Gonna try to hit the beach tomorrow.

Going to Disney in about 7 weeks.

Am I going to be this lady sitting by the seaside on a beautiful day, an agented author with a beautiful little son, a nice job, and getting ready to go on vacation? What's next, Tom Hardy is going to come and marry me?

This makes me worried. Doesn't it seem too good? Doesn't something have to go terribly awry now?

(Okay yeah, not all perf, I did lose my car insurance because TWO FENDER BENDERS IN TWO YEARS OMG and because I got side-swiped and made a rather large claim last year. So that's an annoyance and, yeah, a huge chunk out of my finances. And yeah, I wish my Gram and my Dad were here for this, and that's never going to change.)

But cherophobia is stupid, so I'm also going to sit here and worry about what simply must go wrong now, instead of enjoying what isn't wrong. And what could potentially be totally right. Isn't that awful of me? Stop it, anxiety. Stop being a thing.

Oh my god, how did it get to be 3:30? It was just 2:30 a second ago. Better post this and run.
la_belle_laide: (whatever YOU want)
They are remaking FFVII! I mean, you know, I've actually made posts like this before (“ARE THEY? THEY ARE HINTING...!”) but it's always been like, another stupid sequel or side-game or dumb commercial or thing with Gagkt/Genesis in it. But this time it is for real and I HAVE LOST ALL MY CHILL.

WITNESS MY ANCIENT LOVE FOR THIS GAME. (And witness me totally whitewashing Sephiroth and even the Turks to a point, LOL. I'm kinda over it? Maybe?)

By the time the game comes out, shoot, my son will be old enough to understand that Mommy is excited over a game. He might even be in school. O_O (Leaving me with some time during the day to play it. :D ) It's so weird, the way that turns out.

Umm. I can't think of anything aside from FFVII today.

Haku had a seizure this morning, though. So that is uncool.
la_belle_laide: (D)
My either/or for most of last month (and all of this month so far) is either write in journal / do anything else OR do manuscript critiques with my good friend [Bad username or site: ”spatterdash” @ livejournal.com]. And the critique trades have been SO STUPID MUCH FUN that I've just gotten so involved in them. Can't stop won't stop. (Fun fact, I still think of “spatterdash” as “d_r_o_n_e”.) This is the most fun I've ever had trading crits. It makes a big difference when it's something you look forward to—reading the other person's work, as well as getting feedback on your own—instead of dreading it.

But I should write a few things down, too, like about this past few weeks in general.

It seems like so many of my close friends are having massive anxiety / bouts of depression lately, all at once. And this kinda includes me, too, with the anxiety. Some of the things I can laugh about (like the other day, I read something about how the shape of certain toddler's heads can cause intra cranial pressure and brain damage and I FLIPPED OUT, went nuts for a few days, called the doctor, the whole shebang, doc told me to basically chill,) and other things are really sticking with me, like the way that Medicare only lets women over 65 get one checkup EVERY TWO YEARS WTF, and how dangerous that is? Major issue sticking to the inside of my skull right now!

Here's a thing that pissed me off and worried me, too. So last week, a friend of mine wrote a post about how important it is to keep your cats indoors for various reasons. I totally agreed, seeing as how I, at the time anyway, had a tiny baby oriole who'd been attacked by a cat. (Oriole—which Callum named Siba—later died. :( ) And also because cats take dumps in my yard, I don't want cat turds in my garden, and dogs eat the poop, which, you know, makes them very ill. This happened to a good friend of mine recently.

So then another gal comes along, and I've been sort of HitRECord friends with her for about five years. Not super close, but like, we used to chat all the time in TinyChat, on Facebook, whatnot. So, she comes along and replies that she keeps her cats indoors, but not because she cares about the stupid birds or my gross f'n dogs, like why would she care if my stupid dogs or some dumb birds died?

And now I'm like... Wow? How do you say that about someone's dogs, right? I know a lot of people don't take pets, or pet-owners seriously. I get that to a lot of people we're considered a little flakey or whatever. There's lots of stuff I don't particularly care about, but I wouldn't say that to people I knew who did care.

So I felt like something else was up, and I messaged her like, Dude, wht the hell? Why would you say a thing like that? Is something wrong? Because I totally thought we were okay. I always made nice comments on your art, the pics you post of your cats, have always supported you on hR, and, you know, sort of pathetically, I thought we were kind of friends?

And she wrote back, “I don't owe you anything just because you liked a few of my things, THAT'S NOT HOW I ROLL, so just unfriend me or whatever.”

And I say, “Well, I've always felt that the only thing you owe someone who is kind to you, is kindness in return. That's how I roll, so, you know. And I have to say, I will miss our chats, if that's how it's to be, because I always did like you.”

And do you know what she replied? “You are honestly no loss to me.”

Okay, what the hell with that? And let me say that this is TOTALLY out of the blue. And logically, I'm going, “Well, obviously, she is an asshole of gigantic proportions, so let it go.” But the irrational part of me is going, Did I miss an episode or something? Was I evil to her in a way that I didn't realize? And then I start freaking out, thinking, do OTHER people feel that way, too? Do all of my other friends kind of secretly dislike me, or just put up with me or something? Who is gonna do that next? Someone I'd really super hate to lose?

This kind of stuff doesn't end after high school, you know? Goes on and on well into adulthood and comes from the most surprising places.

But anyway. So I'm trying not to dwell on that too much. I mean, I know whatever is up is her problem and totally not mine anymore, I'm just stuck thinking about, “But what if everyone else...?”

Aside from that. Yeah, so I had that oriole, who was a little beauty but didn't survive, and I also have a little baby crow, who Callum named Matu. A really good little crow.

Callum named them Siba and Matu because lately he's been making up his own words and using them in songs, and then dancing along when he sings them. “Siba, mati, matu, YAY!” “Siba, mingo, mango, mingi, YAY!” And he does these moves like the Maori Haka, which he's never seen, so what even.

He actually did something hilARious last night, had me in tears laughing, but it's TMI and I would hate to put that out there but OMG. So funny.

Callum is really into birds in general, as I think I've mentioned. (How could he not be?) But now, aside from knowing all the kinds of birds in the yard, and all their calls, he also knows their babies' calls. “Mahh mahh beebee grack-ow. Ree ree beebee stee-ling!”

And today, he actually told me the story of what happened to him in the morning: “Gram-gram work. Things to do. Guy-guy Gram gram! Wah-hah-hah. Cam-cam blue truck, fire truck, yay! Guy-guy truck! Wah-hah-hah. Gram-gram cookie. Thankee gram-gram. Wah-hah-hah!” Which basically means: “we went to visit Grandma at work, but she had things to do so we said bye-bye, and I LOST MY CRAP IN THE STORE BECAUSE I WANT GRANDMA. Then I played with some cars and trucks in the store, and I had to stop doing that, too, so I FLIPPED OUT CRYING. Then we saw Grandma again and she gave me a cookie, which I had to stop eating once I got in the car, so I CRIED THE REST OF THE WAY HOME.”

And he's actually awake now, which is like fifteen minutes too early for him to be awake from his nap. And I didn't even get to check Tumblr one last time. But I did send out my email/story section to Spatterdash, so that's a huge achievement for a day like today. :)

STFU, me.

May. 19th, 2015 01:49 pm
la_belle_laide: (Mappy)
Okay, one less stressy thing down. I got my test results back from the doc and they said everything is great. (Well, I still do need glasses though, boo.)

There's that cherophobia thing though, where now I'm like, “BUT! It's times like THIS, when you think everything is peachy, that the worst things happen!” STFU, me.

I just wanted to make a note of this. And now I have to get to writing and some beta-ing. ^_^
la_belle_laide: (mantis)
Callum's birthday was another gorgeous day, even if it started out dreary and pouring. It cleared up by around noon. I invited everyone over from 11-11:30. Jeremy and his Mom got there around 11:30, others around noon, and Meghan closer to 1. By then the sun was shining, and we went outside for lunch, cake and presents. Callum was just happy that Meghan was there, LOL. She's “Momo” to him and once she's in the door, nothing else matters.

He straight up loved all of his gifts. It was neat, this year, because he's old enough to understand things, and have things he likes and is really into. Today he went through all of his new toys and clothes, and was still interested in all of them. When I asked him who gave them to him, his answer was “Momo” for everything.

Callum and mason both had to have naps in the afternoon, but Spence, Natasha, and Meg stayed around, and Gavin also stayed to play Skyward Sword. After naps, everyone came back, and then Uncle Don and Jen came for dinner. Spence and Natasha made mashed potatoes – like, actually boiled and mashed and seasoned the whole thing. They are great. :)

And then, of course, Callum was so wired after everyone left, and still wanted to play. He wouldn't sleep until around 9:30.

Today is just gorgeous! About 80 degrees, I think! We had originally planned a walk to the beach with Chrissie and her two boys, but Gavin didn't feel up to going out. So I took Callum to the bay. He couldn't wait to get into the water. Literally couldn't wait; like, went in before I could take his socks off. (I expected it to be chilly at the beach, hence the socks, but nope.) He walked right in with his crocs and socks. Eventually I got them off and let him wade into the waves. He was picking up those jingle shells and throwing them on, so I started to sing Pearly Shells in Hawaiian, which is what I always do when we're at the beach.

As I'm singing, this couple walks by and the woman stops and goes, “Are you singing in Hawaiian?” I told her I was, and she said she had grown up in Hawaii, but had moved her when she got married. She said, “If you ever hear Hawaiian music in the neighborhood, it's from my house!” I laughed and told her we always had it playing, too, because I'm a Hula dancer. She asked if I was Hawaiian and I said, no, but my son is. She said, “He's a little Hapa boy!” Then we talked about Hawaiian bands and such, when they came to play in NY and all.

I mean how neat is it to meet someone who grew up in HI, out here on the beach on Long Island? That's pretty funny.

It actually just inspired me to go look up jingle shell art ideas on Etsy, because I have thousands of those suckers. Yeah, like I have time to do anything like that. ha. I also just found someone on Etsy who sells just straight up jingle shells. Err, okay, wow. Maybe I should do that, too. Huh.

Okay, so now I've sat here rambling and effing off on Etsy for long enough. Should get the laundry done while Callum is still taking a nap.

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