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

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Talk Thursday: Ashes to Ashes

One of the interesting things about Talk Thursday is that I never have any idea what I'm going to do with the topic until I sit down with it. Take this week's topic, for example. Ashes to Ashes. Most people think of death, and since I'm most people, I do, too. But I think about one particular death because of this lyric:

Ashes to ashes, earth to earth
The preacher throws in the first handful of dirt
My little boy asks me, "Does goodbye always hurt?"
--The Raphaels, "Life is a Church"

The guy who wrote that, W. Stuart Adamson, Junior, decided to remove himself from the planet a little over nine years ago at the most importune time possible. I can't imagine he was really trying to cause chaos and disruption for me in particular when he drank himself to death in a cheap hotel room in Hawaii, but damned if he didn't succeed anyway. 2001 wasn't a very good year for anybody, of course, what with buildings falling in New York and an idiot in the White House and the first X-Files movie coming out. Still, for me it was kind of the train wreck that divides my life into before and after. First Joan's mom, who had congestive heart failure and had been sick for years, died. Then a guy in my church choir felt a little sick to his stomach one day, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died a week later. And then--this happened.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Stuart had disappeared about six weeks beforehand. He'd left a note for his teenage son that said something to the effect of "See you Sunday," and then dropped off the face of the earth. Apparently he was at a soccer game (football, if you're on the other side of the pond) with some friends some time later when he got a call on his cell phone. He made some excuse and left early, and that was the last anybody saw of him.

The weird thing is, he didn't really go anywhere. He checked into a hotel near Nashville, where he lived, and pretty much stayed right there, drinking and ordering in food, for most of the time everybody who knew him was going bananas trying to find him. The police were alerted. His credit cards were checked. Law enforcement bulletins were put out. His publicist even raised his voice. His fans, among them me, were emailing his photo around the still-fledgling Internet, the electronic version of knocking on doors and saying, "Have you seen this man?" Nothing. Nada. How he got to Hawaii was and is a complete mystery.

Anyway, he did get to Hawaii, and he did get even drunker than he already was and hang himself from a shower rod. His blood alcohol content was about three times the legal limit, which is basically fatal. And some 7,000 miles away, I was helping Joan clean her mom's apartment. I excused myself because I had to sing at my dead choir member's funeral and I needed to go home and take a shower first. I got as far as getting undressed when out of nowhere, this tidal wave of despair hit me. It was like all the light of the world got sucked into a void. I couldn't stand up under it. I put my shirt back on and lay down, not sure I'd ever get up again. And I stayed there, missing the funeral, as it got dark outside, until Joan came home and asked me if I was okay.

I was not okay.

But hell, what could I say? Hi, everything sucks and nothing will ever be all right again?

Here's the spooky thing. I didn't actually find out Stuart was dead until the following day, when it started getting splashed around the Internet and even made a few newspapers. "Eighties Singer Found Dead," that kind of thing. So here's what I'm thinking. I'm thinking I had a gen-you-ine psychic experience. I think I picked up on somebody else finding out Stuart was dead, and wham, it passed through that person's brain and into mine like a lightning bolt.

I'd love to know who.

Anyway. Ashes to ashes, earth to earth. I kept breathing, and life got better. What's more, I got medication, and it got better still. But I have no explanation for what happened that evening.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mini-Post: Saw My Doc Yesterday

Quick update on the hypoglycemia thing. I saw my doc yesterday and she took me off two of the four drugs that are probably making my symptoms worse. (I say "probably" because nobody really knows for sure how these drugs are actually going to work on each person; there's a whole lot of try-it-and-see that goes on. Ferexample, I couldn't take Paxil. It gave me St. Vitus's Dance, fergodsakes. Yet lots of people take Paxil every day and feel much better. What's really scary is that some of them, the docs and even the pharmaceutical companies who make them don't know how they work at all. "Well, we think they slow the re-absorption of serotonin in the brain." You think? Shouldn't you check on that?) To balance that out, she increased the dose on two of the other ones. So I may feel better and I may feel about the same, or, more distant odds, I may feel worse. We'll Just Have To Wait And See. Meanwhile, she thinks I should stay on the veggies-and-grain-train. POX!! I know, I know. Ten more days.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Whole Grains, Vegetables and Stranger Things

Part of the thrill and chill of being diagnosed with bipolar disorder is what we call "medication management," which is about a year and a half long period (sometimes more) of playing human guinea pig to any number of pharmaceutical substances. Does this help? No? Okay, we'll try that. Maybe we'll add some of this. If that doesn't work we'll add this to manage the side effects of that. Actually, it's less like being a human guinea pig and more like being a witch's brew. Eye of newt, toe of frog, wool of bat, tongue of dog...

(In case you didn't know this, real witches [I live with one] don't make witch's brew. Sure, they whip up the occasional potion once in a while for sore muscles or whatever, but that's about as far as it goes. Sorry to disappoint.)

So anyway, at the moment I'm consuming about six of these pharmaceutical substances, not counting an asthma inhibitor, some vitamins and this over the counter stuff I take to manage my allergies. When you sit down and think about it, that's a lot of meds. It doesn't occur to me how much, though, until I'm sitting down on a Sunday morning to fill up my little day-of-the-week pill box with my multicolored assortment. Which I did this morning, of course, it being Sunday and all. Suddenly I had flashbacks to my mother-in-law, who died many years ago, and how every Sunday we'd go over there to clean her place, do her laundry and fill up her little pill box. Hers was a lot scarier than mine, though. She had two day-of-the-week pill boxes, one for morning and one for evening. I had a Garth Brooks moment; I'm much too young to feel this damn old. Yes, I'm bitching, a little, but I practically rattle when I walk.

Unfortunately, despite my bitching, the current medication cocktail appears to be working. I'm calmer, I focus better, my moods don't zoom up and down at the drop of a hat (or a sock), I've mostly stopped hearing my boss add the words "you idiot" to every single thing he asks me to do (he doesn't say it, I just hear it), I'm going to bed at night and getting some sleep even if it's not as much sleep as I'm supposed to have, and I was able to plow through the last six hellish weeks of that revision and line-edit with nary a single craving for excess chocolate or alcohol. There's only one thing; the current cocktail is making my hypoglycemia all kinds of worse.

In case you don't know what hypoglycemia is, click on the link. If you don't have time to click on the link, it's kind of like diabetes except you don't get all the meters and insulin shots and cool toys. In my case it's hereditary. It can also be a precursor to diabetes. Okay? Okay. Moving on:

Here's what happens. I'm at work, uh, working. It's about 10:30 in the morning, or some three-ish hours since I've eaten. I've been in my chair for an hour or more and I need to get up for some reason. I stand up, take a few steps, usually get out of my cube and sometimes halfway to the ladies' room. And then it happens. Wham! Instant vertigo. Suddenly I'm so dizzy I don't know up from down. I have to put my hand out to figure out where the wall is so I don't fall. A couple of times I was sure I was headed for the floor. It always lifts after a few seconds, but they're a few very unpleasant seconds. I make my way very carefully to the kitchen, get something to eat, sit down, eat it. After that I'm fine. But you could see how this might be a problem. I mean, a law firm needs a dizzy paralegal like a circus needs a dizzy trapeze artist (which is, let's face it, what I feel like half the time anyway.)

So I got on the Internet, that font of medical knowledge, and read up on a bunch of the drugs I'm on. There it was on one after another: "May cause hypoglycemia in diabetics. May mask symptoms of hypoglycemia. May cause dizziness. May cause vertigo." Great. Just lovely. Yes, I'm going to tell my psychiatrist about it and yes, maybe tweaking the doses or something can happen. Being a lot stricter about having my meals and snacks on time would no doubt also help. But in the meantime I don't wanna choose between brains and blood sugar, so once again I got on the Internet, that font of quick paperback book fixes, and ordered Hypoglycemia for Dummies side by side with The Dos and Dont's of Hypoglycemia.

In no time I had a cute little three-week program to follow to alleviate severe symptoms. (HFD, page 42; try this for 20 days, and if you feel lots better, you're probably hypoglycemic.) All I had to do was ditch practically everything I've been eating on a regular basis since, oh, birth, and replace it with some pretty strange characters known as vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and legumes. I mean I'm not kidding when I say this program is beyond strict. No refined sugar of any kind (which is not easy to do, considering it's in practically everything, either as itself or as its evil twin, high fructose corn syrup). No white flour and nothing that contains white flour (in short, if it's white, don't eat it). No caffeine. No alcohol. No fruit, for God's sake. Whoever heard of a diet plan that didn't include fruit?! Well, on caffeine I refused to bend; I get up at 4:30 most days, and I need that first cup of coffee. And for a quick breakfast on the way to the pool, there's nothing better than a slice of basically tasteless whole grain bread with old fashioned sugar free peanut butter. But seeing as one of these days I'm likely to pass out on the floor in front of my cow orkers, who would no doubt panic and call an ambulance or something equally embarrassing, I figured the rest of it was worth a shot.

Besides, I'm in OA. OAers believe we can figure out how we're supposed to eat and then ask our Higher Power to help us eat that way, every day, one day at a time. If we don't actually believe that, we can fake it till we make it. (I am a very cynical person. I would never put up with any of the smarmy sayings that get bantered about in OA if the program didn't work, which, unfortunately, it does.) So I told my sponsor I was embarking on this little venture, she was cool with it, she wished me luck, and off I went.

That was a week ago, and for the most part it hasn't been as hard as I thought. It requires a lot more planning than I'm used to (you have to cook whole grains in advance, for one thing; you can't just eat them out of the box). The list of stuff I used to grab for snacks and can't at the moment is getting longer every day; quesadillas, granola, pizza slices, bowl of blueberries with soy milk and a little Equal. On the other hand, I've met and am enjoying the company of several new vegetables; cucumbers from my garden, summer squash (which is not spaghetti squash; Joan and I had a little mixup about that, and it was pretty funny, but it's not exactly germane to the tale, if ya get mah drift), red bell peppers (you can eat 'em like they're apples if you avoid the ribs) and radishes. The people at my office think I have embarked upon some new and exciting diet to Lose Some Weight, and I'm just letting them think that because it's easier than explaining. (Remind me to do a blog post, or maybe a whole anthropological study, on Dieting as a National Sport in the American Office Environment.)

But here's the thing. It's working. I've gone from four or five dizzy spells in a day to one, maybe two, and yesterday I didn't have any at all. Which is, besides cool, utterly terrifying. If it's working, then it's probably what I should be doing. What if I have to eat this way forever, like the rest of my life forever? Because, seriously, the first thing I wanna do when the three weeks are up is head straight for Braum's and have myself a small Mix with chocolate and brownie bites. Course the book says instead that one should re-incorporate small amounts of other foods (which, in my case, would be fruit. Geez, what is wrong with these people? Fruit is vital for a healthy Jenster. I eat four or five pieces of fruit a day.)

I know, I know. One day at a time. Let go and let God. Yesterday is a memory, tomorrow is a vision, worry about today because today is a bitch. But seriously? No Braums mixes? That was not what I signed on for.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Talk Thursday: So I Have To Ask...

This week's Talk Thursday topic practically cries out for me to ask all those questions that I never get answers to in the real world. It's also a great way to procrastinate if you're finished with your line edits, the 'script is more or less ready to go except for those thorny subreferences to the New England Patriots that you can't decide if you should cut or not, but you somehow haven't quite mustered the courage to type up the query letter and send it to the editor who asked for it over a month ago. (Hey, I'm only three weeks late. I'll have it out by the end of July. To do anything else would no doubt incur the wrath of Aunt Sally. Or worse, Jackie. Shudder.)

So, anyway, here's my question du jour to which I won't get an answer in the real world: Why is Texas the homicidal-mother capital of the United States? I mean, lots of parents must go berserk and murder their offspring, but why is it always the Texas cases that end up on CNN? Andrea Yates (drowned five, not guilty by reason of insanity, stuck in a mental hospital for the duration). Dena Schlosser (cut arms off of her infant daughter with a carving knife, not guilty by reason of insanity, same story as Andrea Yates.) Darlie Lynn Routier (stabbed her two boys to death, guilty of capital murder, on death row). Deanna Laney (bludgeoned three sons to death with rocks, not guilty by reason of insanity, stuck in a mental hospital for the duration.)

I'm asking this question because we had two (count 'em, two) homicidal mothers this week in Texas, which is probably some kind of a record. The first one was an Irving mom who strangled both her kids, allegedly because they were autistic and she wanted normal children (you can bet that 911 tape gets played in court a few dozen times). The second was the mayor of Coppell, a bedroom community north of Dallas, who shot her 19-year-old daughter in the head and then killed herself. The first case was just your garden-variety tragic. The second one was downright weird, and keeps getting weirder as the tangled skein continues to play out.

Besides embezzling from the City with her municipal credit card, Ms. Peters was evidently about to lose her house to foreclosure. Her husband had died the year before, she was behind on a number of bills, and her daughter thought she was going to UT in Austin. I say "thought" because even though she told all her friends that she was going to UT, there's no record of her ever applying, much less enrolling. This kid was apparently under the impression that her mom had filled out the college applications for her, found her a post at UT and was paying for everything. Uh, not so much.

But wait. It gets even weirder. Ms. Peters gave her daughter a new car to take to college with her. Where did she get the money for the car? Uh, she didn't. It was a rental. That's right, Mom rented a car and passed it off to her daughter as a gift. Hands up who thinks that's pretty weird. Yep, I see a lot of hands. I mean, this whole scheme had to unravel sooner or later, right?

Well, apparently it did. They're both dead, after all. But things get weirder still. All the newspapers and most of the TV news channels are running stories on this whole deal like it's just a "senseless tragedy." Uh, hello. It was a MURDER. Sure, the murderer killed herself right after the crime, but that doesn't change the fact that a mom killed her kid. Why are people going on and on about how troubled she must have been, how she should have sought help, how she must have felt all alone in the world? I personally don't give a ripe fuck how alone you feel in the world. Killing people is not cool. It violates the First Precept, fergodsake, and it's the First Precept so you won't forget it. (Nobody ever forgets the first item on a list. They forget the fourth or fifth item. There's been studies.) It's like the whole state of Texas, home of the phrase "hang 'em all and let God sort 'em out", the only state in the Lower 48 with an express lane in front of the gas chamber, has just sort of gone out to lunch on this one.

And I don't get it. So I have to ask: If Andrea Yates had killed herself after offing her five kids, would we have lowered all the flags in Houston to half-mast? Or do they only do that if the homicidal child-killing maniac is the mayor?

Here's the weirdest part of all: The family threw Ms. Peters and her daughter, Corrine, a joint funeral. Gotta love that. Just for the record, if somebody knifes me to death, I want my own fucking funeral. I do NOT want to share it with the knife wielding psycho, even if it is my mom. (Incidentally, hi, mom! Been around any sharp objects lately?) I'm just sayin'.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Talk Thursday: Respect in the Morning

Hi all! We're introducing a new feature here at Buddhist in the Bible Belt for our legion of screaming fans. It's called Talk Thursday. Y'all might recall my four days in New Orleans and the much weirdness that ensued. Well, part of it was meeting some really cool people. Among them, JulieAnne and Kent. They're from Utah, my former haint (and for lots of reasons it's best that I'm not living there anymore), and they introduced me. So blame them.

Talk Thursday is a round robin of blogging. A topic gets introduced sometime between Sunday and Thursday. By Thursday, you're supposed to have your post up, so I'm kind of pushing it here. Luckily there are few rules. Just write something, check out what everybody else is writing and enjoy! Them's good rules.

So this week's topic is respect in the morning. I'm not sure what one is supposed to respect in the morning, but as somebody who's been hauling her sorry self out of bed at about 4:30 to Get the Fucking Revision Done for a month, I have no respect for mornings. They're cold and unpleasant and dark and even the CATS don't want to be up at that hour. Normally you get up, cat follows you into the kitchen, expecting to be fed. Nope, not these three. They crack a sleepy eyelid, yawn (I think they're really saying "Turn the light off, you crazy hooman," but we'll call it a yawn anyway) and go right back to what they were doing, which is to say, sleeping. Would that I were so lucky.

Ah, but here's a question. Do mornings have respect for me? They do, after all, show up with predictable constancy, right around the same time every day. So they are at least reliable. I can count on them not to abandon me after a night of wild partying, which at my age consists of maybe reading a few pages of Thich Nhat Hanh's "Happiness" before I pass out from exhaustion. Further, it's very quiet in the morning around our place. The a/c doesn't start chilling everything out until about six, Joan is still asleep, and frankly it's rather pleasant. If it just took place later in the day, I could get used to the idea. Maybe. Possibly.

The subtopic this week (sometimes there are subtopics) is Odds and Ends. So here's a bunch of stuff about which I will simply lose sleep if I don't tell you:
  • I'm at Afrah, the world's greatest Middle Eastern restaurant, eating a kafta sandwich that is just to die for.
  • I've read three quarters of The Girl Who Played With Fire and it's not as good as Dragon Tattoo but it's still pretty good. The Swedish film is playing at the Angelika and I might go this weekend (since too much Swedish ultraviolence is never enough).
  • I started taking a new and exciting med this week. Much to my annoyance, it seems to be working. The anxiety level is definitely down and I seem to be more sociable.
  • Because, honestly, as it is I almost rattle when I walk.
  • I ordered some slacks from Lane Bryant and they're a bit snug but I'm keeping them anyway. Hope springs eternal and all that.
  • I'm gonna have leftover pita bread and baba ganouj. Love that.
  • There's a certain weirdness to going to dinner at Afrah right before an OA meeting. But hey, we all gotta eat.
Okay, that's going to have to wrap it up for now. Here are the other Talk Thursday blogs. I strongly encourage you to go check em out. Tell em Jen sent you:

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

So Our Kitchen Range Kind Of Blew Up...

It all started so innocently. Mikey the exterminator was here ("Call Mikey! He'll kill anything!") spraying around our kitchen to take care of some weird little black beetles that have had the run of the place for the last couple of weeks. I happened to notice that the rangetop clock was off. No nice soothing green digital numbers informing me that it was precisely 10:19 on a Sunday morning and all was right with the world. I turned around and noticed that the refrigerator was also off (some brilliant electrician back in the 1950s thought it would be just fine to have them both on one circuit; no idea why). So I dutifully went over to the switch where the range was plugged in and pushed the little red reset button. The black button popped out, then immediately popped back in, shutting off the fridge and the oven before they even had a chance to fire up. I tried it a couple of more times. Same result. The electrical outlet was not cooperating.

Not to be deterred, I went outside to the circuit breaker to see if anything untoward was going on. Didn't seem to be. All the switches were set to "on," everything looked copacetic. Just one annoying plug in the kitchen kept resetting itself. Strange.

So I went back inside while Mikey sprayed the yard and unplugged the range. This time when I reset the plug, it stayed on. Joan, intrigued by the mystery at this point, brought in a small appliance and plugged it in to the suspect plug. No problem. It switched on, buzzed contentedly, didn't disturb the fridge at all. In case you're not keeping score, that's Plug 1, Range 0.

It occurred to me we could plug the range in someplace else. Not that there's exactly a convenient spot apart from the plug that was designed for the range to be plugged into, but beggars can't be choosers and all that. I ran an extension cord from another plug across the kitchen to the range. Problem solved. At least for the moment.

(Joan will probably insist at this point that I mention we had a grounded extension cord with a triple surge protector, and that she had suggested, nay, strongly suggested that I use this for my electrical experiment with the temperamental range. For some reason, when the time came to actually plug in the silly thing, it flat out didn't occur to me. Instead I used an ordinary extension cord that Joan took to college with her some thirty years ago. This was probably not wise.)

Some time that evening I was down here on the computer, much the way I am now, typing away at an email, much the way I am now, when loud popping noises sounded from the kitchen. And Joan screamed. And there were more popping noises. And Joan screamed again. And I, lost on Planet Jenster like I usually am in the evening, just assumed that there must be a spider in the kitchen (the popping sounds, of course, being Joan's attempt to stomp on it).

I got up and went into the kitchen. Holy guacamole. The extension cord was jumping around on the floor like a snake. Sparks were shooting out from underneath the range. Joan was still screaming. The smell of ozone was prominent in the air. And the popping noises, complete with firework accompaniment, continued. "What do we do?" Joan asked. I had not one clue. But it did occur to me that if we could unplug the range, it would have less electricity with which to wreak havoc in the kitchen.

And so, completely ignoring everything I learned in Girl Scouts and first aid classes about how to deal with downed power lines and other electrical weirdities, I grabbed the extension cord and yanked it clean out of the wall. (In retrospect, it occurred to me that I'm kinda big for a girl, and 120 volts probably wasn't going to kill me. And, heck, Joan was right there with her cell phone.) As soon as the plug let go of the cord, the snapping, sparking range was silent. It stood there, looking ominous, its clock face once again blank. The smell of ozone seemed to take a long time to dissipate.

So after Joan stopped cursing me to my seventh generation for not using the grounded extension cord, we called an electrician. He showed up the next day and, surprisingly, pronounced both plugs solid and undamaged. The range, however, is "fried." As in, don't plug it in again, you moron. That way lies madness.

This morning at about 8:30 I got my pay check. This morning at 9:00 half of it went to Sears for a new range, setup, delivery, tax, title, license, dealer prep and options. It's being delivered on Saturday morning. But even the magnificence of a nifty new appliance is kind of dwarfed by the fact that A. we have to pay for it and B. somehow we've got to clean out all the gunk that fell between the counter and the range over lo these many years. I don't suppose Martha Stewart covers that in any of her books, does she?

Incidentally, I finished the revision of the Mindbender manuscript, only ten days past deadline, go me. 27,000 words bit the dust, which is a frick'n miracle. I've been physically and mentally wiped for the last three days, but I'm planning to have a go tomorrow morning at getting one of the packages ready for the agents who expressed interest at the Pen to Press retreat. That should be fun. Expect the return of Scaley the Paranoid T-Rex and all the happy go lucky days that will follow.

Also incidentally, we need a new water heater. I hope the old one doesn't blow up until next month.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Week Past Deadline And She's Writing This?

Playing in the background: The air conditioner, punctuated every so often by the tympani roll of thunder in the background. It's going to pour like a sumbitch any second.

So where have I been for the last two weeks, you ask. Well, firstly, rumors of my having a bad cold have been greatly exaggerated. In actual fact I've been (gasp!) working. Not just at the ol' law firm, that would be too easy. I've also been working on the manuscript. It's been a massive time sink, but progress is being made. And, yeah, I was supposed to be done by July 1, but Rome wasn't built in a day and even if it was, my manuscript ain't Rome. Herculaneum, maybe.

Remember that writer's conference I went to? The one where I was in New Orleans for four days, having spooky coincidences left and right and hanging with F. Paul Wilson? Oh, yeah, and learning all this stuff about commercial fiction? Well: I left with a set of marching orders. Go thou home, take thy manuscript, go over it with a fine tooth comb, take out every single last darn extraneous word (like how I put four of em in this sentence just for effect?) and then send the thing to the literary agents who expressed interest. All three of them. (And one editor. We liked the editor actually. He was cool.) I also had the task of getting the thing down to something remotely resembling a normal word count. Like something under 120,000. I won't tell you how much over 120,000 it was, but let's just say it was up there.

So how does one take a manuscript one's been working on since roughly two ought ought six and make it into a salable product in two ought ten? I started out by reading over all my notes and typing them up. Hey, I'm a paralegal. It's what I do. I take notes and I type them up. I've tried not taking notes and I've tried not typing them up and believe me, they're both highly unnatural, to say nothing of overrated.

So I typed up the notes and I read them over and came to believe that I had not one, but two things to do here:

1. Take a look at every single scene and decide if it's actually germane to the tale.
2. Line edit - that is, take a look at every sentence in the manuscript and decide if it needs to be there in that exact configuration, with that number of words, and in that very spot.

All together now: "That sounds like a lot of work!" Uh, yes. Which is why I'm a week past deadline. But I can see the end from here. I know my screaming fans (both of them) are getting impatient, but it Just Has To Be Done.

See, I've kind of been in the habit of lackadaisically editing whatever I felt like editing. Starting on page 305 and just going backward and forward until I got tired. I've never actually sat down with a piece of work and gone over it with a certain methodical, scene-serial-killing callousness that I've now come to believe is essential. In short, I used to edit like I wrote. No. Can't do that no mores. Writing is writing. Editing is editing. Editing is hard. But it has to be done.

I will say, though, that line-editing is possibly the most tedious, frustrating, unrelievedly dull work I have ever done in my life, and I'm including my stint as a CSR at Bank of America's credit card division. But here's the thing. It's working. My word count is down by almost 25,000. That's not only significant, it's a freaking miracle. So I'm not begrudging the extra week (though I'm bemourning the lost sleep).

All right, I have to get back to it now. Everybody remember where we parked.