Month: January 2009

Tagged, Bagged, and Flagged

Fine. Here’s that 25-Things-About-Me meme.

1. When I was a kid, I was fiercely allergic to cats — I’m talking swelling eyes, closing throat, whole nine yards. This crippling allergy evaporated somewhere around puberty, thank God.

2. Orange is my favorite color, sort of. I have a lot of favorite colors; they tend to rotate. But lately, it’s been orange. I don’t know why. Up until a few years ago, I hated it. It looks terrible on me, so I don’t have many orange clothes, but I tend to buy orange accents for my home.

3. I am an excellent parallel parker. It is my mutant power.

4. I really like bugs, but I really hate roaches. They’re the only insects I’ll squish or spray without a second thought; everything else gets a gentle capture and release, even spiders, bees, and Unidentified Antennaed Objects — but not roaches. Growing up in Florida (and coastal Texas) with the palm-sized mofos will do that to you.

5. I am an equal-opportunity animal lover. Not just all things four-footed and furry, but also reptiles, birds, fish, and everything else. Roadkill breaks my heart.

6. I wish I had a garden. I don’t have the greenest of all possible thumbs, but I like to grow things and I do all right with plants. During the spring here I try to grow some herbs and lavender and the like, but I have a hard time keeping them alive when the weather turns again.

7. I’ve become a little bit of a neat freak, which makes my parents laugh. But I absolutely don’t care if other people aren’t neat freaks. This is a neuroses that is limited to my own personal sphere of control. The fact that I’m thrilled to scramble around in filthy abandoned places underscores this.

8. I have never before had an eating disorder, nor do I have one now; but I’ve been “investigated” for one many times. I’m skinny. It runs in my family, that’s all. That’s all it’s ever been.

9. I can’t wear high heels anymore, at least not for more than a few minutes at a stretch. I’ve always had comically flat feet, but as I’ve gotten older, they’ve become a real problem when I want to wear trendy or sexy shoes.

10. I am fascinated by transformation of any kind. NBC’s “The Biggest Loser,” infomercials for cleaning products, architectural renovation, home makeover shows, you name it — I love a good Before-and-After. Even if it’s just my own bathtub.

11. I like old things better than new things.

12. I have never been outside the United States (though I’ve been all over the continental 48), and I don’t even have a passport. Yes, I plan to fix this.

13. At heart, I’m probably more of a country girl than a city girl. I’ve lived in plenty of cities, and plenty of rural places, so it’s not a matter of the grass being greener anywhere. There are many things I enjoy about living in a city; but the older I get, the more comfortable I am when I’m out in the boonies.

14. I have nerve damage in my mouth from a surgery performed on me as a teenager, and I can’t feel anything in my gums above my upper left teeth (all the way from front to back). One of my cuspids was lodged in my sinuses, and it was extracted the hard way.

15. Speaking of teeth — I’ve had a grand total of eleven pulled, with three rounds of oral surgery (between the sinus-lodged tooth and other things) and five years of braces. I now live in utter phobic fear of having anyone or anything touch my teeth. I haven’t been to a dentist in over ten years; nine of those years, I had no insurance and no money, so I had an excuse. Now, I have insurance — and no excuse except abject terror.

16. I do not play any musical instruments. I had piano and flute lessons as a child, but not a bit of it stuck.

17. I can’t whistle. Can’t sing, either. I am a total musical dud.

18. But I can draw a little.

19. And I’m a competent photographer, if not a great one. I love taking pictures of people, especially their faces; and I could die happy as a wildlife photographer.

20. I doubt I’ll ever feel like Seattle is home, but I’ve learned to find it interesting, at least — and I’ve made some wonderful friends who’ve made all the difference.

21. I own a frankly ludicrous number of novelty tee shirts. I blame my dad, whose collection is probably larger than mine. Granted, I keep feeding his collection with tees from science fiction conventions, but still…

22. Sometimes when I watch Antiques Roadshow, I am sad because I don’t own anything that will be worth anything to anyone in a hundred years. Then I remember I’ve got a bunch of signed books, and some signed artwork (prints, mostly), and I think … well … maybe some of my stuff is interesting enough to pass on. And then I hope that my brother or sister will hurry up and have some kids so I have someone to leave all this stuff to.

23. I put ketchup on vegetables. For that matter, I put ketchup on everything EXCEPT: That which is served cold, that which is sweet, anything Mexican, or anything Italian with red sauce. Don’t start pushing me/quizzing me, trying to find more exceptions. I’ll only disgust you.

24. Against all genetic odds, I have really great blood. I have very low bad cholesterol and lots of healthy good cholesterol, and exceptionally good blood pressure. Quoth my GP, “You can’t buy this kind of bloodwork.” This, against the ominous backdrop of heart disease, high blood pressure, repeated heart attacks, and high cholesterol issues that plague my family. One of these days, I’ll die of something … but by the looks of things, maybe not that.

25. My blood type is A- , and the only other person I know who shares this type is my mother.

Of maps and missions

I spent most of my day at the Seattle Public Library — trying to navigate the peculiar (but interesting) architecture, and rifling through 120-year old maps. The “Seattle Room” is on the tenth floor; and there, I found a local history collection where I was assisted by a very competent librarian to whom I did not even need to explain “steampunk.” Indeed, we did verily converse about Bioshock and China Mieville, so score one for the library system and its damn fine hiring practices.

The point of this excursion was to acquire a close-view map of 19th century downtown Seattle — preferably one that was drawn before the fire in 1889. This map would then be totally deconstructed and given some of the place name highlights from Boneshaker; so I didn’t necessarily need to find absolute perfection or anything — just something from which to work.

A convoluted series of events followed, culminating in the aforementioned super-cool librarian emailing me some hard-to-reach PDFs … and finally, I had what I needed in an 1884 municipal survey. And there was great rejoicing! I’ll noodle around with it tomorrow and see if I can’t make the events of Boneshaker fit some kind of reasonable visual pattern.

God, I hope this works.*

* And you never know — it might not. Anything can happen. But I’m really loving the idea of a cool little map in the start of the book.

A day of natural disasters

This is the town where my dad and stepmom live, in Kentucky. I talked to Dad earlier today; they have a gas fireplace, so they have heat — and now they have a generator too, so there’s will be power in their future. By the sounds of things, half the neighborhood is camped out in their house.

If you’re in the area and you can lend a hand (or a generator, or gasoline, or a truck, or a chainsaw) … Leitchfield sure could use it.

Edited to add helpful phone numbers:
(Keep in mind, some phone lines are down; some places are operating on generators and have phone service.)

Leitchfield fire department: (270) 259-6376
Leitchfield city hall: (270) 259-4034
Leitchfield Police Department: (270)-259-3850
Grayson County Emergency Medical Center: (270) 259-9601
Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center: (270) 259-9400
Leitchfield Humane Society: (270) 230-8839 (You can bet they’re in trouble, too)