Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Friday, October 17, 2014

STOP THIS IMMEDIATELY.

EBOLA HQ, Texas -- It was the cruise ship that did me in.

Like everybody else on the planet, I've been watching the public meltdown of Texas Health Presybterian Hospital Dallas and just kind of shaking my head.  Presby is a respected institution with a lot of recognized programs, but you'd never know it if you're watching TV.  And honestly, I have seen some BAD PR emergencies in my time, but this is a clusterfuck of such monumental proportions that I've never seen anything like it, except maybe when the Space Shuttle blew up, and I doubt I'll ever see anything like it again.  I mean, it's just astounding.  Every time I think we've hit the bottom of the barrel, it turns out that underneath it is a whole 'nother barrel.  Emergency rooms turning away patients with potentially fatal diseases.  Nurses treating a contagious patient without protective equipment.  Piles of biological waste accumulating because no one knows how to deal with it.  An entire pneumatic tube system possibly contaminated because some idiot sent a sample that way instead of walking it down, per protocol.  Next up I'm expecting a couple of the nurses who treated the poor Ebola guy will get sick. Oh wait, that's already happened.

To some extent, people's fears of catching Ebola are reasonable.  It is, after all, a highly fatal disease (this strain is 50-70% fatal, which is bad, but it can be and does get worse; some strains of Ebola are over 90% fatal).  But  what's infecting Dallas right now is a little thing we call mass hysteria.

Mass hysteria has an interesting history.  In the Middle Ages, a number of outbreaks occurred among cloistered nuns, including an episode where an entire convent full of women began meowing like cats.  In Salem in the 1600s, mass hysteria over suspected witchcraft led to the deaths of 27 people. In 1835, an erroneous news report suggesting that "bat men" had been discovered living on the Moon led to sightings of bat men all over Europe.  More recently, in the United States, pandemonium broke out when a radio broadcast of H.G. Wells's  The War of the Worlds was mistaken for news reports of an actual attack.  And now, in Dallas, we have the Great Ebola Panic of 2014.  Splatter everything you touch with hand sanitizer and don't come within three feet of anybody who might have once been in a graduating class with somebody who once worked at Presby.

As I was saying, it's the cruise ship that did me in.  Okay, an infected nurse who was showing symptoms flew on a public plane.  Yeah, that was bad, and yeah, I can see the people who sat near her on the plane being a little freaked out and maybe wanting to stay at home for a while to make sure they're not sick.  But now we've got schools closing and buildings being scrubbed down with bleach.  We've got people being kicked out of their offices.  We've got elder statesmen howling about banning all flights to and from Africa.  We've got a motherfucking cruise ship, for the love of God, being held off the coast of Belize because one passenger worked as a lab tech at the hospital where the first Ebola patient was being treated.  And the United States Government is going to pay to air evac this person, who is not sick, has no symptoms, and who wasn't really at risk to catch anything anyway.  I mean this is not reasonable, people.  This is insanity.  No, worse.  It's mass hysteria.  Next thing you know all the nurses will start meowing like cats.

I'd like to point out that it's actually rather difficult to catch Ebola, unless you're a nurse or someone else in close contact with the patient.  You have to be splattered with bodily fluids of some kind to be at risk.  This is gross, so I'll decline to elaborate, but shaking hands will not get you Ebola.  Somebody sneezing in your vicinity will not get you Ebola.  Touching something someone with Ebola has touched will not get you Ebola.  You have to work at it. It's not as hard to catch as, say, AIDS, but the science is getting thrown out the window in favor of, once again, mass hysteria.  And the more CNN drones on and on about the same three or four points of fact it's been droning on and on about for the past three days, the longer it's going to continue and the worse it's going to get.  If this continues for long enough, anybody with a cold is going to end up arrested.  We do NOT want to go there.

So.  Everybody take a deep breath.  Let it out slowly.  Very good.  Take another one.  Yep, just as deep as the last one.  Let it out slowly.  One more ought to do it.  Deep breath.  Let it out.

There.  Feel better?  I thought so.

Now STOP WATCHING THE EBOLA COVERAGE.  Just stop doing it.  Turn off the TV, don't listen to the radio, ignore the newspapers and do not, I repeat do not get on CNN and troll the chat boards.  Just don't do this.  It's very very bad.  I speak as one who knows.  In all seriousness, the more the media hypes this thing, the worse it's going to get.  The best thing that could possibly happen would be for all of us to just accept that life itself comes with certain dangers, that probably 99% of us will never have to worry about catching Ebola, that the few who do already know who they are and are probably monitoring themselves, and that the rest of us would benefit hugely if we would all just chill the fuck out.  Immediately.

On a point of personal irritation: Anderson Cooper's been in town for three whole days now, and he hasn't once been to my place for dinner and cheap sex.  The nerve.  I wonder if he's seeing someone else.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

...But No One's Home

Back in the far wastelands of 2010, when the Affordable Care Act hadn't been signed yet and so we had all these different and exciting things to fight about, an ice storm blew into Dallas and knocked out our power for four days.  This was four days in the coldest part of winter, I might add.  I think a couple of nights it got below zero, or very close to zero, and I smuggled in neighborhood cat Orange Guy so that he could sleep somewhere warm. (He was a perfect gentleman, too.)  We kept the house sort of warmish with our gas fireplace, and everybody slept on the living room floor in a pile of cushions close to the fire.  It was dark and cold and altogether not fun.  So you'll pardon me if, every time the power's gone out since, my anxiety skyrockets and I start pacing the floor.  On some level I'm just absolutely convinced it's going to happen again.

And as it turned out, I was right. Last Thursday, a storm blew through Dallas.  It wasn't really that much to write home about; just some rain and a lot of wind.  Fierce wind, but not unusual for around here.  I mean, we do get storms here, people.  We're at the very south end of Tornado Alley, and just because Dallas County's never been hit with a tornado higher than an EF-2 doesn't mean that it couldn't someday happen.  Anyway, 300,000 people across five counties lost power.  Including yours truly and Joan, of course.

I will say, losing power in the summer beats the hell out of losing it in the winter.  No gas fireplace required, for one thing.  We just braced open a couple of windows and got a cross-breeze going.  We still had the gas stove upon which to cook, the hot water in the tank stayed relatively hot (seeing as it wasn't cold out), we packed the refrigerator and freezer full of ice to preserve the food, and apart from a total lack of TV, radio, Internet and Words with Friends, it was a lot more survivable.  But, again, not exactly what you'd call fun.

This time the power stayed off for three days.  I would just like to say, what is up with that?  Once again, we get these storms.  They happen. Trees get knocked down. Power poles lose their moorings.  Why in hell do 300,000 people have to lose power for three days in a situation like this?  I mean, I'd suggest we've learned absolutely nothing from past experience, but I personally had all our trees cut back that came anywhere near our power lines (and had one tree removed altogether).  And people frequently write outraged letters to the editor when the electric delivery company around here, Oncor, comes around and chops off the tops of their trees.  They can do that.  It's their job.  To gauge from these letters, though, you'd think that Oncor stomped onto their lawns, shotguns drawn, whacked the trees in half, spit on the porch steps and mooned the homeowners on the way out.  Honestly.  If it were me I'd be thanking them. The last time our tree service came over and did some major work, the bill was well over a thousand dollars.

(And I could point out that if you take care of your own trees and don't let them get tall enough to mess with the power lines, Oncor's never going to bother you, but I get continually reminded about the utter uselessness of attacking a problem like this with logic and reasoning.)

I'm beginning to suspect that we in this town might have what is known as a hopelessly antiquated electrical delivery system.  Newer cities do things like bury their electrical lines underground, where they're basically immune to falling trees.  (Though I suppose you might find the occasional deep-fried gopher.)  I'm wondering what it would take to get our power lines buried here in Dallas. A miracle?  An act of Congress?  An act of the City Council, anyway, and since that would require spending some money, I'd be tempted to write if off as totally impossible.

I'd also be tempted to get a bunch of my neighbors together, form a special district, apply for grants and see if we can get it done for a fairly reasonable amount of money per homeowner.  Which is something else that might be written off as totally impossible.

Except for one small thing.  I've done it before.

Or something similar, anyway.  Granted, I was the de facto president of a homeowner's association at the time, but I managed to get a heavily Hispanic population of homeowners to pack up all their living beings and move out for termite tenting over EASTER WEEKEND.  You know, the biggest religious festival of the year.  That thing where everybody has relatives over and throws lots of parties.  And no, I didn't pick the weekend.  I just got stuck with having to implement it.  And implement it I did.  Some of them even still spoke to me after it was all over.

Do I miss being the de facto president of a homeowner's association?  No, I do not.  I'd rather be dragged naked through flaming walls of rabid rattlesnakes.  So don't worry, I'm not going to start signing up homeowners tomorrow or anything.  But this is an ongoing problem and I don't see it getting any better.  What's worse, it's a big problem. The kind you need other people to help solve. I do not want to go through another three-day blackout, no matter what time of year it is.  Besides the niceties of existing in the 21st century when you're powered for the 19th, there's the joy of driving to work through traffic caused by flashing red traffic signals. It took me an hour and a half to get to work Friday morning.  And it's only a frick'n 20 minute drive.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Mini-Post: 3bdr, 2ba, No Pool

It's official.  Yesterday it was two weeks since I've been in a pool full of chlorinated water, swimming back and forth and doing my thing.  I've been on dry land so long my gills are starting to recede, and if this continues I'm pretty sure the webbed skin between my toes is just going to dry up and fall the heck off.  If I don't smell like chlorine, am I still me?  Actually at the moment, I and everything I've been in contact with for the last 24 hours smell like Sweet Pumpkin Spice body spray.  Which spilled in my work bag.  Does anyone know how to get the overpowering reek of body spray out of a work bag? Or should I just throw it out and get a new work bag?  I've washed it in the washing machine twice now. The work bag, I mean.

Anyway, I've been really sick.  It started off as an ear infection.  I get those once in a while (see above re: swimming).  Then instead of getting better, I got worse and what had been an ear infection took over my whole head, and my chest.  I'm on my second set of antibiotics and I don't think they're doing a lot of good.  I mean, I am getting incrementally better, but I think I'm fighting a war of attrition, not one of nuclear weapons.  Usually two or three days on antibiotics and I'm fine, or at least a lot better.  It's now Day 16 and I'm still wheezing and coughing.  It's hard to swim when you can't breathe in the first place.

Not-swimming is probably one of the worst things that can possibly happen to me.  Not just because of the not-swimming part, which sucks plenty, but because it throws the rest of my routine all to hell.  If I'm not swimming, then I'm not getting up at the right time of the morning.  If I'm not getting up at the right time of the morning, I'm sleepy on and off all day.  If I'm sleepy, I'm not getting what I need to do done in the evening; I'm just going straight to bed.  So the house is a mess and I'm kind of a mess and I'm not getting any writing done and did I mention everything I touch smells like Sweet Pumpkin Spice body spray?

Oh, and a guy in Suriname tweeted his undying love to me earlier this morning.  Not quite a Twitter marriage proposal, but close.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Why Haven't You Heard From Me?

Lily: I'm in trouble with this damn play, and you don't care.
Dash: Lily, it's your first play.  It's not like anybody's gonna miss ya.

--Julia

If you've been hanging around here long enough, you've probably wondered why I haven't written a book, or a play, or Something Of Substance.  If you've really been hanging around here long enough, you know that I've actually written three of them, thankewverymuch, and that's not counting one I self-published that sold about twenty copies and another one that I wrote, uh, basically for my mother.  (Everybody writes stuff for their mother.  Just ask Elvis.  Oh, wait, you can't, Never mind.)  Three of them even ganged up on each other and formed a trilogy.  (Ah, trilogies.  The word sounds like a lost Asian nation, doesn't it?  "Hey stlanger, wercome to Trilogy!  You be here long time, yes?"  Oh God, somebody smack me for being a racist.)

Anyway, they're called Mindbender, Spellbinder and Soulmender, and they're still hanging around my house like lazy post-adolescent children, too fond of the free food and the clean laundry to move out and get their own place.  Which is to say, they're not published yet.  I had a literary agent once, but he quit the business to run for Congress and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.  (He didn't win, either.  Actually he didn't have a chance, and the only one who didn't seem to know that was him, but never mind.)  So I've been kind of orphaned ever since.  I'm looking for a new agent, which means I've been writing lots of goddamned earnest letters to total strangers asking them to take me on as a client for their eighty-hour-a-week mostly unpaid job convincing some publishing house that I'll sell like Suzanne Collins when in fact I might sell more like David Moody.  And if you haven't heard of David Moody, well, that kind of makes my point, doesn't it?  (To be honest, I'd love to sell like David Moody.  Hi, David!  How's it going?)

So anyway, I've written all these letters, and I haven't really gotten anywhere, although I have had some responses, so it's apparently not hopeless.  I just need to keep on writing these darn letters until I get a yes.  Considering that I have anxiety the size of a large nervous T-rex when I'm writing one of these things, that is no small feat. (For more information on all the fun I've had writing query letters, click on the label "angsty query letter crap", below.  Yeah, and meet Scaley and Fang, my dinosaurs of anxiety and sudden panic.)

A reasonable person might very well ask why bother, anyway.  Literary agents take on something like .001% of the people who write to them as clients.  By the time I'm in the right place at the right time with the right letter on the right day, I could be a hundred years old (or maybe even dead; by the time I die I'm sure that querytracker.net will  be able to send query letters for you in perpetuity, pursuing the dream of publication beyond the physical realm.) Well, it's like this (and here comes the Buddhism again): Being published, or not being published, isn't anywhere near as important as writing.  Writing is everything.  Publishing is business.  It's a good business if you can get it, but it's still only business.  Sooner or later you have to leave business and go home and eat some fresh butter-flavored tortillas from the Kroger Bakery.  And then you can write something.

Another way of putting this is an old OA saying:  "I'm chairman of the planning committee, not the results committee." I do the right things.  I write a lot. I rewrite a lot.  I read a lot.  I hang around with other writers a lot.  I go to seminars, I show up at open mic events (though I've never actually said much more than "Good evening, and this is so and so."), I've even been to the occasional conference.  In short, I live like a writer's supposed to live, minus the alcohol binges and the frequent trips to rehab (that's the Buddhism again).  The fact that nobody's paying me for it doesn't make it any less important.  The fact that I have a "day job" doesn't make it any less important.  The fact that I"m not where I wanted to be by now doesn't make it any less important.  The only person hovering over me with a stopwatch is, uh, me.

That is to say, I had constructed this whole theoretical timeline, based on nothing more than conjecture, of What I'd Be Doing By The Time I'm Forty-Five.  I got plenty annoyed with myself when I failed to meet just about every conjectural deadline.  Which was ridiculous.  Plenty of people don't produce stunning masterpieces that change the face of fiction for all time by the time they're forty-five, and no harm comes to them.  (And plenty of people who do come to bad ends.  Look what happened to Truman Capote.  And he wasn't even writing fiction.)  The point is, I'm responsible for the process, not the outcome.  I'm not responsible for how long the process takes.  I'm also not responsible for getting paid.  Some of those things we just need to leave up to God.

Yes, I know I don't believe in God.  But I do believe in something.  So sue me.  And if you know a literary agent, send him or her my way, willya?  Thank you.  And have a nice day.  

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Jen's List of Ten Influential Books

There's a thing on Facebook right now where you're supposed to list the ten most influential books you have ever read.  I'm not sure why this is a thing, but I'm sure glad they're books instead of, say, movies or video games.  So I guess I could have just put this on Facebook, but I figured, why waste a perfectly good blog post on Facebook when you could stick it on your blog and beat your Thursday deadline by almost a full forty-eight hours?  (And boy, are they ever strict about those deadlines around here.  Last time I missed one they threatened to cut my salary in half.  Eep.)  Anyway, here they are, in no particular order except for the last one. 

Very Far Away From Anywhere Else by Ursula Le Guin.  Really, if you haven't read it there's no way I can explain.  Pick it up and give it a read; it's only about 70 pages long, and if you don't cry at the end, there's something wrong with you.  

I Never Promised You A Rose Garden by Hannah Green.  Read it at least 40+ times and I get something different out of it every single time.  (Like the John Calvin vs. Thomas Hobbes for custody of the child in the middle third--didn't know that was even in there, did ya?)  And yes, it's dated, and some of its theories have since been proven wrong, but it was the Sixties, and things were different then. Go back in time and experience them. 

God's War by Kameron Hurley, and its two sequels to a lesser extent.  Best Muslim space western sci-fi shoot-em-up ever.  And possibly only.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - not because it's a great story, although it is, or because the author is so good at building characters, though she is, but because it exploded the boundaries of YA fiction in a way that had never been done before and made the series that came came after (Divergent, Wasteland, the Matched trilogy) not only possible but plausible.  

Columbine by Dave Cullen.  Yes, it's about the high school shooting, and no, it's not pleasant reading, but guess what? Almost everything you know about Columbine is wrong.  A series of popular myths has grown out of Columbine and other school shootings, and those myths need to be addressed with the actual cold hard facts.  This book goes a long way toward doing that--if we're willing to listen and put some of our Robin Hood fantasies down.  

Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey.  Hey, they said most influential, not Most Scholarly and Serious.  This was my introduction to Anne McCaffrey, and it blew me away (though unfortunately, a lot of the later ones in this series didn't).  But here we have a rather simple tale about a girl nobody understands, who turns out to be one of the most important people in the world because of something she--sings.  How can you not like a story like that?  And the old "be yourself, and do what you have to do no matter where it takes you" message isn't that hard on the old subconscious either.  

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Good Omens takes Douglas Adams' general wackiness and runs with it at a speed I would not have thought possible.  You cannot get through a page without laughing out loud, and it confirmed some of the things I always suspected but didn't know for sure (like, for example, the truth that any cassette tape, left long enough in a car, will somehow morph into Queen's Greatest Hits no matter what it started out as).  Especially in light of Sir Pratchett's failing health, I'm glad we have this gem among gems (his Discworld series is pretty awesome, too).

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote.  Lots of authors write lots of books about lots of things that really happened, but not very many of them invent a whole new subgenre while they're at it.  To Mr. Capote, inventor of what's now called "narrative nonfiction," I give a bow.  And to In Cold Blood, which is a dark and brooding tale that well deserves every single award it ever won, a salute.

Batter My Heart, Three-Person'd God by John Donne.  Okay, it's a sonnet and not a book, but it so perfectly captures my problem with religion that I just couldn't help but include it here.  Look, if you want me to believe in your God, your God is gonna have to steamroller me to get my attention. That's exactly what John Donne said--only much better, and much more wistfully.  In about 1618.  So Google it, it's long since out of copyright.

And finally:

The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson.  

This is my favorite book of all time.

Of. All. Time.  

If you haven't read it, what are you waiting for?  Yeah, you know how it ends, but still, give it a try. Again, it's about 70 pages long. You can read it in an hour, even with all that highfalutin' 19th-century prose.  The way that Stevenson sets up his final shocker is masterful; we start with Mr. Utterson, the lawyer, follow him around for a while, then he exits stage left right around the time another character enters from stage right, and then we get to follow him for a while.  Dr. Jeckyll, himself, doesn't show up as a character until almost 2/3 of the way through the book, and by then you're not sure you can trust anything he says even though you desperately want to know what the hell is going on.

I could go on for decades (I'd make this book my master's thesis, if I were going to grad school, which I am not) but I'll just stop with this:  This is not only the scariest book I ever read, it's one of the most important--heck, maybe even the most important.  And if the idea of your subconscious leaving your body and walking around on its own, developing a personality, meeting your friends, taking your stuff and just maybe going on a murder spree, doesn't scare you, my friend, I suspect not very much will.  For other versions of this story I'll give honorable mention to the movie Mary Reilly, which documents some of the same events and is one of Ms. Julia Roberts' best performances ever, and the BBC series Jeckyll, starring James Nesbitt (who was robbed of a Golden Globe for his performance here).  

So that's it. My list of ten influential books.  Hm, nothing by Hemingway or Big Steve.  That's interesting.  Maybe I'll do this again in a year without looking back and see if anything changed.  In the meantime, happy reading, kids.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Hangin' In Austin With The Smart People

I've been known to sneak out of town from time to time.  Not out of the state very often, because Texas is a big state and it's pretty expensive to go anywhere (thank  you, American Airlines), but there are some places in Texas that are pretty  darn nifty  and  not very expensive.  One of those places is Austin. Seat of  government. Source of the political oil that runs the good ol' boy network. And named after six million dollar man Steve Austin (okay, not really).  Seriously, Austin is out favorite Texas city. If we could find jobs there we'd move here in a heartbeat.

Last weekend, another bunch of smart people gathered for an event called the LoneStaRG. (RG means Regional Gathering, in case you did not know that.)  So for three days we ran around around to presentations on astrophysics and genetic testing and logarithmic equations.    Okay, I'm kidding. The last presentation I  went to was about an interactive haunted house right outside of Georgetown that raises money for charity.  And which also sounds totally cool and I'm trying to figure out how to get back there in late October to check it out (though I've been turned off by haunted houses the last few years.  I was going through one, and something particularly bloody and disgusting came along, and I suddenly asked myself, "Why am I doing this, anyway?" which is often a kind of fatal question for whatever it is you're doing.  But I'll make an exception here.  It's for charity.) We also dove into a movie trivia game, and first prize was a giant thingy of Jelly Bellys. Actually, the Jelly Bellys were somehow involved in the movie trivia. Did I win? No.  but who cares.  Anyway, movies and jelly beans. What could be better? Maybe a bottomless reserve of M and Ms. Oh hey, they had those too. Awesome.

One of the big draws for me at these events is always the game room.  I love puzzles and games.  This particular gathering had an evil puzzle.  Truly, this thing had a demon or something.  It was a thousand-piece puzzle of an oil painting of Canadian geese, and all the pieces looked like they were roughly the same muddy brown.  Of course there were different shades of ruddy brown, but try sorting shades of muddy brown into groups sometime and you'll see how tricky this is.  About ten of us worked on this puzzle on and off most of the weekend and only finished it late Sunday evening.  Somebody suggested that for our next trick we should set it on fire.  But no, that'd only make the demon mad.

You guys who love games, check this one out:  The Duke, by Catalyst Games.  If you like chess you will love The Duke.  Imagine chess where you're playing along and suddenly instead of moving only up, down or sideways, a rook can go spinning across the board diagonally.  Or a knight, instead of jumping up two squares and over one, can take out another piece from two squares away without moving at all.  And the Duke, himself, instead of being restricted to a single square like the king in chess games, is one of the most powerful pieces on the board.  Don't worry, all the pieces are preprinted with their permissible moves, so you don't have to memorize them.  But it helps.  And if the standard rules aren't complex enough, there are additional optional rules and expansion packs.  I mean, two people could play this game a million times and never have it come out the same way twice.  At our last gathering this game won the Mensa Select sticker.  It's also a Kickstarter success story.

So that's the sort of thing I get up to when I sneak out of town.  Games, puzzles and M and Ms.  You can tell what an exciting life I lead.  But hey, it's clean living and I don't have any wrinkles yet.  Cheers, all!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Other Duties As Required

I don't write a lot about work these days.  Mostly because work is uneventful, and not a whole lot happens in a small law firm to really justify the use of precious blog space.  (I mean, these inches are not cheap, people.  Why, just last year, they had to double my salary to keep me from leaving for Wordpress.)  But the last few weeks have been, at least, interesting.  We moved the office. Yep, from one place to another place (two doors down.)  In case you've never done this, moving an office is at least as much fun as moving a house.  Maybe even more fun. No, you don't have kids running around playing in boxes (well, yes you do actually; remind me to get back to that) but you do have certain grown-ups acting like kids, in the whiny, grumpy sort of way that so endears me to kids on airplanes.

(Which, when you think about it, isn't really their fault.  I mean, they're kids.  Somebody has to bring them there, put them on the airplane, mess up their schedules, keep them awake through naptime and tell them they can't play with all the new things that keep coming into their tiny frames of reference as they go from check-in to boarding gate to actual airplane.  If I were three years old, I'd start howling too.  And you see a lot of much older kids howling on airplanes.  55-year-old men, sometimes.  Flight attendants should get a big raise.)

Anyway, there were a large number of files that needed to be disposed of before we could leave.  Like, a really large number of files.  We called a shredding service and they came and hauled away (get this) 360 boxes of old files.  That is a Lot. Of. Files.  Some of them dated to the mid-1980s.  I don't think I can actually conceive of how many boxes that is, but let's just say they filled up an entire room.  That room is empty now, which is pretty cool.  I don't think the carpet's seen daylight since, well, sometime in the mid 1990s at least.

Our neighbor attorney was also cleaning out his office (the whole building was sold, so everybody had to go). His family came to help him out and one of his kids promptly disappeared into a box.  I never saw the kid again, but this box kept walking around and bumping into things.  A laugh and a little bit of levity that were very much welcome as the air conditioner failed, the heat climbed into the 90s and somebody asked me for about the fifth time was I sure I wanted to do such and such.

(And best of all, I never saw a single silverfish. I. Really. Hate. Silverfish.)

We're in the new space now and it's time to unpack it all.  Well, what's left of it. (360 boxes into the shredder, remember?)  I've locked myself out twice, gotten in trouble for leaving an office chair outside once (we were moving, okay? Sheesh) and had to talk my boss out of firing one of the helpers three times.  A coffee table disappeared, never to be seen again; stuff got left behind and had to be fetched; a big ugly dust mouse (more like a rhino, actually) formed around a Milk-Dud and made its way into one of the boxes, from which it promptly fell into my lap.  So I'm pretty tired, and I'm pretty stiff and sore, and I'm pretty much ready to be done with the whole thing. But, I got a new office chair out of the deal, I got myself a cushion so it's much more cozy, and it's possible the sore muscle in my hip will finally start to heal now that I'm not running up and down the stairs every five minutes.

But dang, those stairs were good for my knees. On some level I will really miss them.