Posted in Blogging, Business, Life, Reviews, Vision and Glasses

My Incompetent/High Maintenance Eyeballs: Take 4, Part 1

I’m breaking my inadvertent year-and-a-quarter radio silence to bring you this ongoing gripe I have, which I now expect will be a thorn in my side forever. But maybe I’ll learn something. Who knows.

I hope you weren’t expecting meaningful content. I don’t have the energy for meaningful content anymore — not that I ever really provided meaningful content in this blog. I try to provide all that over at Seeking Aleithia — which I haven’t updated in a long time. But I want to. Just like I say every time I write a new post after not posting in forever. I’m sure it’s what my readership has come to expect from me.

But it’s pretty obvious I don’t care about readership, so I’m just gonna go ahead with my gripefest, because I’m annoyed and devastated and angry. Not necessarily in that order.

Since having children, it seems my eyes have been getting worse and worse — though not as much my prescription as my sensitivity to materials. Well, I take that back: My prescription is getting stronger year by year (I just renewed my driver’s license after turning 40, and I couldn’t see the line of letters in the light box that determines whether I can drive without my glasses). But it’s getting harder to get corrective lenses to work with my stupid eyes. Or maybe it’s just hard to find a doctor+optical shop combo that a) saves me money, b) tries to find solutions to my vision problems, and c) doesn’t make me feel like an ignoramus because I can’t articulate the problems I’m having.

It doesn’t help that I have difficulty trusting the medical community, in general. But I just had the most disappointing experience I’ve ever had when dealing with an optical business, and am, once again, back at Square One.

If you’re just stumbling onto this blog by chance (apologies in advance; I’m nothing if not tedious), here are Take 1, Take 2, and Take 3.

There have been SOOOOOOOOOOO many (non-glasses-related) things that have happened that were blog- or gripe-worthy between the last post and now (which I might eventually get to in retrospect), but I feel the need to follow up with Take 3 — because what had been such a triumphant experience waaaaaay back in 2012 has just flipped backwards on me and become a massively disappointing experience I really wish I could have avoided by being more relentless and/or organized about information I was getting in the process of trying to find glasses that worked — or getting an optical referral from my doctor, shopping around more, or trying to find something within ten or fifteen miles of home.

I’ve thought about leaving a review on Yelp and/or Google, but I’ve seen this shop reply to poor reviews and turn it back on the customer. Maybe part of the problems I’ve had with them are my fault (am I just too prissy about my vision?), but I’m pretty sure their customer service is what I don’t want to deal with anymore.

After my great experience with Pro-Optix in 2012, the shop grew and moved to a different part of the mall. They now have a lab in the back and manufacture their own lenses. The guy who helped me originally (“Mr. J” for anonymity; I believe he is the business owner, at least) is there infrequently, but his dad (we’ll call him “Mr. G”) is there most of the time and and they have a few very young employees (two of whom we’ll call “Ms. C” and “Mr. D”).

My Target glasses were getting a little old (I guess it’s been three years since my eyes were last checked), and my distance vision just a tad blurry. However, the most immediate signs I cannot ignore for long are frequent headaches and eye fatigue from squinting. I really suck at being proactive about that sort of thing, but having had so much trouble in the past with doctors and optics, it takes a lot of psyching-up (and pain) to get me to finally see to it.

I decided that I would revisit Pro-Optix, because I’d had such a great experience with them before. I walked in one afternoon, got in to see the optometrist right away (I don’t remember his name), and had a pleasant experience with him and the gal (Ms. C) who helped me pick out frames and price lenses. I thought I was going to be able to get a blue-light coating (which I’d heard was quite useful, especially if you’re sensitive to light and in front of a computer a lot), but I wasn’t going to be able to afford the slight magnification at the bottom of the lens that I’d gotten when I went there in 2012.

I should probably just get used to the reality that my glasses will never again be less than $350. They cost at least that much at Target (not including the exam), and I couldn’t get it any lower at Pro-Optix, either (though the exam was free if I bought glasses there). But at least I was getting a little more bang for my buck, with Trivex lenses and a blue-light coating. Right?

Nope. I got a call from Pro-Optix while I was on my way home. Apparently, Ms. C messed up when ordering my lenses (quote: “She’s new and doesn’t know the system”), and the blue-light coating was only available on a higher-index lens, which would add another $250 to my cost (I think — or the total cost of the lens would go up and add whatever the difference was. Whatever it was, he didn’t explain it). But I could have plain polycarbonate with an anti-reflective (AR) coating for the same price as I’d already paid. Um, okay. It seemed steep, but I guessed that must have been the price of going to a larger, independently owned boutique.

This was Mistake #1: I did not fully research the added costs at Pro-Optix vs. what I normally got for free almost everywhere else. Mistake #2 was not keeping the guy on the phone and getting a full breakdown, and warning him thoroughly that I have had problems with polycarb in the past, and I will most likely be darkening their doorstep to let them know something is wrong shortly after receiving my glasses and trying them for at least a week.

Which I very well did.

They were done nearly three weeks later, and I picked them up whenever I managed to make it back there (Mistake #0.5 was going to an optical shop 30 miles away from home). I guess their lab was not functioning at the time, or they sent lenses out to get coated — I don’t remember, I just know they had sent out for a new left lens because there was a flaw in the AR coating. It wasn’t somewhere that obscured my vision, so I could still wear the glasses; they would just replace the lens when it came in. I believe sometime in that time-frame I went in for a pressure follow-up, because it was elevated in my first exam (probably due to sinus pressure that day; I’d had cluster headaches at near-migraine levels the day before, and was still fighting the tension in my neck). But the doctor did not recheck my prescription.

I wore the new glasses for several days. At first they seemed clear. There was a little distortion that threw off my depth perception, but not as much as problem lenses I’d had in the past. My right eye hurt some (that’s the diva eye, though I believe the astigmatism is actually worse in my left), and lights were extra bright with starbursts around them (which, if I’d recalled correctly, the AR coating should have reduced). But I didn’t have the wacky, looking-through-aquarium-glass rainbow effects I had the last time I’d dealt with polycarb, so maybe I just needed to adjust. I stuck it out for a few days, but soon had trouble focusing and was becoming fatigued much earlier than before the new lenses. I knew something had to be off. The clincher was when I was trying to read something I should have been able to see from about six feet away, and it was blurry. I took off the new glasses and put on my old ones, and could see clearly.

Sure enough, the new glasses were goin’ back — the first of several times.

* * * *

I’m trying a new thing, where I break up super-long posts into parts, so I don’t take days to write one, and you don’t have to take an hour to read it. I really need to go do something else now, so at least I can post something before I abandon yet another draft for a year or more. Blogging used to be so easy! But, then, I didn’t have kids or as much distraction as I do now. Since I was actively keeping up an online journal in 2004, blogging has become synonymous with meaningful content. I’ve already told you how I’m managing with meaningful content. So maybe I’ll just go back to my old blather, and not care what people think about it — but I have to cut it into chunks, or it will never get done.

Anyway.

Part 2 should be done soonish.

If you want to continue reading, here is the saga so far:

Posted in ADD, ADHD, and EFD, Anxiety and Depression, Blogging, Children, Life, Mommyhood, Organization, Pediatric Feeding Disorder

January 2017

Oh, look, it’s January! Time to make resolutions I probably won’t keep! Time to renew my commitment to a mental facility to do more writing, especially in my long-neglected blog!

This time, I have incentivized myself. I’ve purchased the domain “coffeeandlollipops.blog” AND made calling cards with that info, and the forwarding email “deltasierra47@coffeeandlollipops.blog”. (It’s clunky, but it’ll serve for now. Especially since I’ve already printed cards. But if you want to contact me, use that address!)

This is in anticipation of launching a big plan to, among other things, document my struggles, failures, and successes in helping my kids learn to eat. I’ve mentioned before that they have feeding issues, but it’s kind of long past “issues” now into “disorders”. As in, I feel safe diagnosing them both as having “SED” (Severe Eating Disorder), without the need of a medical professional to do it for me. Granted, SED is an umbrella term, but one that is becoming more widely known and accepted, as “SPD” (Sensory Processing Disorder) and “Autism Spectrum” have been.

Before anyone worries that I’m one of those WebMD parents who thinks they know better than doctors, I want to remind or inform you that my kids are not toddlers or speshul sneauxflaykes. They’re eight- and six-year-old boys who have been eating five foods or less since introducing solid foods, have been to a few years of OT and feeding therapy (with small progress), and who would rather starve themselves past the point of feeling hunger rather than try to learn to chew anything, including treats like Jell-O, ice-cream, or cookies.

If that doesn’t convince someone of the severity of this situation, nothing will.

They do love lollipops, though. I daresay it’s the only solid food my six-year-old eats. So there’s hope!

In addition to blogging here, I hope to start vlogging, as well, and might set up a separate blog the boys can contribute to in the far future, which will feature their own videos. I bought them an inexpensive action-camera set-up for Christmas so we can create cooking videos. I homeschool them, and realized that cooking classes would be a great way to learn all kinds of concepts, and my eight-year-old mentioned that it would be fun to put some of our cooking exploits up on a YouTube channel. (He’s been angling for a YouTube channel for months; this is one way I can cave to his request while also making it educational and limited in scope. If it were up to him, he would post videos of himself rambling on about everything and nothing, pacing back and forth in our cluttered living room, and I just can’t let him do that. I’m a mean mom for promoting meaningful web content. 😉 ) So watch this space for kitchen antics!

Before that can happen, though, I have to address another extremely severe issue in our house: Ridiculous Overabundance of Clutter (and dog hair). It has gotten so out of hand, I could ALMOST make it on the TLC “Hoarders” program. Yes, really. I am not exaggerating.

I’ve always been a messy person. I know now that it can likely be attributed to a level of ADD (and OCD, but not the clean kind) I’ve always had, but got out of hand after I had kids and lost my ability to keep up with it. Now, I fight fatigue and motivation every day, and can just manage to stay on top of most of my outside commitments, making the kids’ food (for home and travel), doing the dishes, and emptying the trash. This is compounded by the fact that my husband is on a nine-month deployment (Army, someplace that rhymes with “Little Beast”), and it’s winter, so depression and anxiety are at their highest, too. I admit I haven’t really done much school with the boys this year, even though it’s the first year I’ve had to declare to the school district that the eight-year-old is homeschooled.

I’m a hot mess, y’all.

Which is why I need to blog — or, rather, “document” — my journey back up the downward spiral I’ve been on for awhile. In about a week I’ll be leaving for the Feeding Matters Pediatric Feeding Conference, which I managed to talk myself into going to this year. I’m really looking forward to it, not only because it’s in Phoenix, AZ, in the middle of January. 😉 I’m hoping I’ll be able to network as well as learn some new things and gain more advocacy for our situation. I wasn’t happy with what I’ve had available to us in the past, but I’ll address that in a later post. For now, I need to go make lunch.

Here’s to a successful 2017! 🙂 Feel free to post your own resolutions, struggles, recommitments, etc., in the comments. Please refrain from advice at this point, however, though well-wishing is welcome. Soon I’m going to write a more comprehensive post about feeding disorders and the issues we’ve had to deal with, and why conventional advice for “picky” children just cannot work for us.

Thank you! See you again SOON!

Posted in Children, Diet and Nutrition, McDonald's, Mommyhood

Confessions

My kids don’t eat “food”. My oldest son has eaten oatmeal, with few variations, for every meal (for, not with) since he was a year old. He’s eight now. My youngest doesn’t chew; he drinks a nutrition shake for every meal. This presents all sorts of issues I will get into eventually, but that’s not what I’m actually going to post about this time, ’cause that’s just gonna get depressing.

No, what I’m confessing this time is my unabashed love of McDonald’s cheeseburgers and French fries. Apparently, I was a little picky as a toddler and went through a “crackers and French fries” phase, and I am still a very big fan of both. McDonald’s fries aren’t really all that special when compared to the flavor and cut of several other competing chains, but they’re always hot, extra-salty, and crispy — not to mention nostalgic and probably laced with crack, or something. The same goes for their cheeseburgers. They taste like childhood. And if that’s wrong, I don’t wanna be right.

Seriously, my kids don’t know what they’re missing.

So, you’d think that having two children who do not eat McDonald’s fare and cannot be bribed with food would keep me from falling into the temptation of using the Golden Arches as a reward or incentive — but you’d be wrong. 🙂 When I bribe my children with McDonald’s, it’s not because I’m going to fill them with junk food and let them act like monkeys in the Playland while I play on my phone and ignore them for half an hour. It’s because I’m going to fill me with junk food and let them act like monkeys in the Playland while I play on my phone and ignore them for half an hour.

I will have paid less per person to have access to a covered, air-conditioned play environment, compared to the age-limited, expensive indoor playgrounds we have around here. And I’ll get food I didn’t have to cook for myself. What’s not to love?

More importantly, I’m not having to buy them each a Happy Meal or something else they are not going to eat, that I would only end up eating in addition to my own meal — because one does not simply waste delicious McDonald’s food. I watch the other moms and dads in the Playland, coercing their child into eating just one more chicken McNugget, or take another bite of their cheeseburger before they can go play. (For the record, I was that kid, too. Mom would tell me I had to eat my whole burger and at least half my fries before I could go outside — there were no covered play areas when I was a kid — but I liked to eat all my fries first. And then I had no room for my whole burger.)

Now that I’m an adult with aliens for children, I’ve realized there’s not much point in begging them to just tryyyy a French fry. I simply feed them at home, then buy the Happy Meal for me. I get to satisfy my junk-food craving with very small portions of the yummy food I love there. I mean, have you seen those cute little fry boxes? It’s, like, half a small fries off the adult menu. It’s probably less than they served in Happy Meals when I was a kid. Instead of a small soda, though, I get a juice box and apple slices with it. Boy 2 gets the juice box, Boy 1 gets an order of small orange juice, and I order a medium drink for me. If the Happy Meal contains a kind of toy I might want (like My Little Pony) the toy is MINE (what? I’m a fan; don’t judge). But if it’s something they like, I’ll just buy an extra toy. I have, in the past, ordered two Happy Meals to avoid questions from the cashier, but eating two Happy Meals while my kids play seems a little too indulgent, even for me. An extra toy costs less (in money and calories) than another Happy Meal, so it just makes more sense, overall.

After that, they go play in a covered, air-conditioned (albeit ridiculously loud and germ-ridden) Playland while I eat and don’t do the things I brought with me to do…because phone.

Win-win, right? 🙂 Tell me you’re not jealous. And if you’re not, turn your thermostat up until it’s 85°F in your house and tell me how much you look forward to cooking for yourself, and how much you don’t wish you could get into your air-conditioned car and go to an air-conditioned place where your crazy children can get their energy out and you can sip iced-tea and not sweat. Because that is what summer is like in our house, and it is miserable.

Honestly — why suffer? McDonald’s has more seating than any of the playgrounds in our area, and it’s fully covered so I don’t have to bake in 85° sunshine because the postage stamp-sized covered area is packed with a bunch of moms who want to socialize. I do not go to the playground to socialize (with the exception of the few times I’m meeting a friend so our kids can play together, but none of my friends down here homeschool). Often, I’m taking my energy vampires to the playground for a break (from them — so they can feed off someone else for an hour or so). But if it’s 85° in my house and 85° outside, the playground is not a break — it is torture. I wrote an entire post that didn’t end up getting posted (I don’t know why, and it was stupid-long and I’m kind of glad it’s too out-of-date to post now) about adventures at a playground, including no seating anywhere and having to wait for the porta-potties to be washed out before Boy 2 could go pee (with help, because I have nightmares about my tiny boy falling into one of those) — and sometimes that hassle is just not worth it.

Besides, I don’t feel like I can be as readily judged by other McDonald’s parents. We all know we’re there for the junk food and leisure time. High-five, McDonald’s Moms! Now leave me alone.

BONUS:

I’ve been itching to blog more. (Yes, again. I know, I say it every time. I really do mean it this time! Probably.) I have more content that isn’t stupid day-to-day stuff, and a lot of crap to work through, especially where it concerns my children’s eating habits. We’re also staring Real Homeschool in the face this year, and as much as I’ve been looking forward to it, I’m terrified. McD’s might very well become my office and the boys’ recess some days.

Therefore, I’m embracing my new tagline in the banner: “I am the very model of a major modern-mother fail.” Not that I think I’m a failure, but I’m a failure at modern mothering. I love my kids and they’re great, but sometimes I love them more when I don’t have to pay attention to them. Anyone who thinks that’s bad parenting doesn’t have kids. Search your heart; you know this to be true.

Meanwhile, I’ll be at McDonald’s, ignoring my kids. 🙂

Posted in Blogging, Identity, Writing

Rebranding Time?

I’ve neglected my blog forever. There are many reasons (the biggest one because I’m lazy), but one of them might be because I created it with a niche mindset. “Oh, I’m a mommy now, I should blog about my life with kids!”

Bleh. Other people have kids, too. I spend all day with the kids, and they probably spend all day with theirs. I need a blog more oriented toward life in general. Absurd life. Ridiculous life. Stupid things that run through my head that don’t make sense to anyone but myself. Stories. Jokes.

So, welcome to Coffee and Lollipops — a place where stuff doesn’t have to make sense to be funny. I can observe the ridiculous that tickles my funny bone and it doesn’t have to have anything to do with my kids.

Except that they both like lollipops. It’s the only solid food my three-year-old will eat.

Oh, there will be kid-related stuff here, too, because they ARE part of my life — and they are ridiculous on a grand scale — but this isn’t a “mommy blog”. It’s a ME blog.

I always have big dreams for blogs. We’ll see how I do with this one. 😉

Posted in Blogging, Writing

“Liebster” Award! I Has One!

My dear, sweet friend and writing buddy, Joy, nominated me for a Liebster Award! Near as I can tell, it’s a sneaky way of collecting more readers and getting to know other bloggers (I’m not saying she’s sneaky, though — I’m quite honored, and it looks like fun!).

I don’t know that there IS an actual award (though I think there are buttons you can steal to add to your sidebar, or something). Being the curious person that I am, and an incurable Googler, I found someone who had already done the research. Here’s her post about it.

I’ve heard it described as a blog chain letter. It also resembles the MySpace quizzes I used to fill out by the dozen, especially when I was bored while my husband was deployed. I’m not judging, because I loved those quizzes. That is, until an ex-boyfriend became miffed over one of my answers and Huge Ugly Drama ensued (it had been bottled up for nine years, so it was probably time, anyway). And then I chose Facebook over MySpace and became too paranoid for quizzes. IRONY.

Where was I?

SQUIRREL!!1!
SQUIRREL!!1!

Oh, yeah: The challenge is fun, but the cake is a lie. 😉

ANYHOO… The rules (the current ones, anyway; they’ve changed quite a bit over time) are thus:
1. Write 11 facts about you.
2. Answer the questions given to you by the one passing on the award.
3. Come up with 11 new questions that you will pass on to your nominees.
4. “Tag” 11 blogs that have under 200 followers (preferably ones you like and follow, yourself).
5. Leave a comment on your nominator/awarder’s nomination post so they can come see your answers!

I guess there can be an award amongst the pool of nominees if you read everyone’s answers and pick your favorite? That’s not specifically in the rules, but the rules have changed a lot over the years, so it probably doesn’t matter if you add your own flair!

BUT I DIGRESS! Whew! This is already long, and I haven’t even started yet… Story of my life, I guess.

FACTS ABOUT ME:

1. I’m longwinded to a fault, and love telling stories with dramatic, often humorous flair. It’s possible you noticed this if you read my blog posts. Or even the first part of this blog post. 🙂

2. I’m only 35, but my hair is already going silver in the front. It’s my Rogue streak. Even though it was brought on by mere genetics, and not some crazy mutant power drain (unless you consider pregnancy and children to be that power drain), I think it’s cool, and it makes my husband — who has very few white hairs, himself, despite the Army — jealous, so I’m not likely to dye my hair to get rid of it.

3. I am the queen of the almost-but-not-quite run-on sentence, preferring a challenging, complex use of commas and other punctuation to pack as many ideas into several phrases as possible before the period shows up. #2 has a fine example of this. I also have a tendency to punctuate with emoticons. 😉 (I DO know the proper use of a semicolon, though; I don’t only use them for winking.)

4. I like cheap wine. Not TOO cheap; I’m a connoisseur of the middle shelf, and rarely pay more than $10. I prefer reds, generally, and am going through a zinfandel phase right now. Cheap beer, on the other hand, is suspect. Often, if it’s not a microbrew, I’m not interested.

5. I’m an inveterate perfectionist. You wouldn’t know it by looking at the state of my cluttered house, but I struggle with the all-or-nothing philosophy of cleaning: If I can’t do it all, and do it right the first time, I’d rather not do it. I don’t recommend this philosophy.

6. Caffeine makes me anxious, but I am and addict. I make an 8-cup pot of 1/3 caff coffee in the mornings. I’d given up coffee for a long time due to stomach issues, but I have little boys who wake up earlier than my brain does, and coffee is more substantial than tea most of the time. If I have a good supply of milk, I’ll opt for Earl Grey or Lipton. Also, my husband’s coffee tastes better than anything. I don’t know why; it just does.

7. I have a rather irreverent sense of humor, and I love a good parody. Overall, I try to be positive (emphasis on “try”) for people who don’t find my version of funny quite as satisfying, but sometimes a well-placed, witty remark about reality feels more appropriate than a silver-lining hope statement. Sometimes, I’d rather laugh than float, know what I mean? 🙂 That said, I don’t like making fun of people without a REALLY good reason. I even have trouble with trash-talk, until I’m comfortable with a person. Even then, I say “just kidding” reflexively, so they know I really am just kidding. I never know if someone’s going to take things personally.

8. Two of my favorite subjects for discussion are religion and politics (I’m non-denominational Christian and a conservative with libertarian leanings, respectively). I’ve taught myself to be diplomatic, though, so I still have friends. 😉 I have to bite my tongue a lot to keep from being a little too #7 when I see something that really needs it, and ad hominem attacks are right out. Seriously, if you can’t argue without attacking the intelligence of the person you’re debating, you will never, ever win a discussion. A good, reasoned debate or deep discussion is like steak: Rare enough to be enjoyable but tough enough that it takes a little work to sink your teeth into. Ad hominem attacks are the nasty gristle that totally ruins the experience.

9. I’m a visual learner, for the most part. If I listen to something, I don’t have as good a chance at remembering if it’s not paired with a visual, I’m not taking notes, or I don’t have a really good analogy to visualize. I love analogies, as evidenced by the end of #8. 🙂

10. Two things I’m good at: Writing and singing. But I’m not a song writer. Not yet, anyway.

11. I like posting to my blog, but it takes HOURS to write an installment. Often, by the time I’m done, I either have neglected kids (and husband), or the hours have become days, and the post is no longer relevant. That is why my posts are so few and far between. I have a LiveJournal from my pre-children days (started in 2004), which I used to update all the time. It’s a Twitter aggregator, now. 🙂 (For further illustration, I started this post last week.)

QUESTIONS FROM MY NOMINATOR:

1. You’re stuck on a deserted island with a vacuum cleaner, a bowling trophy, and your jerk ex-boyfriend, what do you do? I’d build a raft — with or without his help — and tell him to go find someone to rescue me. He could take the bowling trophy to use as a signal if he runs across a ship. In the meantime, I would enjoy some peace and quiet, using parts of the vacuum to build things I’d need to survive on the island. Either way, we probably couldn’t get along in close proximity, so even if he didn’t want to take the raft (and I’m not gonna; I get seasick), he would have to live on the other side of the island and find a way to trade sincere apologies for vacuum parts.

2. If money were not an issue, what would your dream career be? Or would you even have one? Would you just lounge around in a hammock drinking Mai Tais all day? While lounging in a hammock drinking Mai Tais all day sounds SOOO fantastic (and definitely on the list of things I would do on a tropical vacation where money was not an issue), I would be a full-time, market-be-darned writer. I would take regular mini-vacations (by myself!) to write and get my head on straight, and then I’d come home and write in a real office. Or a recliner; since I’m dreaming, my house would be big enough for one. And I would have a professional organizer, decorator, and housekeeper. Maybe even a nanny. 🙂

3. What is your biggest pet peeve? Inconsiderate people, especially drivers. I don’t mean accidentally inconsiderate, either, but people who spend their lives making other people angry, miserable, or uncomfortable, because they can’t be bothered to be polite, acknowledge the rules, or be selfless for a minute.

5. Who is/was the most influential person in your life? Probably my dad. If you’ve heard me tell a joke or make a pun, then laugh my butt off while my audience groans, you’ve just seen my dad’s sense of humor in action. I have his same way of speaking, same thirst for knowledge, same sense of humor, same favorite foods, and same ability to fry in the sunlight. I wish I could have inherited his work ethic and organizational skills, too, but I can’t have everything.

6. Who is your favorite horror writer? If you don’t like to read horror, who is your favorite author? And why? I don’t read much horror, but R.L. Stine’s Fear Street series has a special place in my heart. I devoured those books when I was a teenager! However, I’d have to say my favorite author is Lois McMaster Bujold. I love her turn of phrase and the characters she creates. She writes deep, emotional plots that have lots of room for humor and action. I want to be just like her when my writing grows up!

7. What kinds of things inspire you the most? Visual cues (abandoned or empty buildings, dark forests, people-watching); vivid, emotional dreams; old RPG characters who either got some time in a fun campaign, or not enough time to live up to the backstory I took hours creating; tragic “what if” scenarios I mull over to entertain myself on boring stretches of highway; and really great music that invokes my emotions or imagination.

8. What scent or taste reminds you of your childhood? Why? Ooh, this is a hard one. I think seasonal smells are the strongest: Cut grass and dust remind me of summer vacation, the sharp bite of a frosty morning reminds me of going back to school, roasting turkey and cinnamon-laced desserts remind me of Thanksgiving and Christmas, and there’s a certain smell of humidity and sun-warmed vegetation that reminds me of summer car trips to Louisiana and Florida with my family (as well as the smell of the cool of the early morning as we’re packing up for the next leg of the trip). Perfumes and colognes bring me back, as well. My dad wore a certain cologne on Sunday mornings that I could smell from my bedroom before I got up in the morning (waaaaayyy long time ago) and Mom always wore perfume. Windsong was my favorite. She still wears perfume, but not as much the ones that trigger childhood memories.

9. Determined Dexter the Diplodocus was walking home from work one day and he happened upon his arch-nemesis: the evil Doctor Mumbado. What does he do? He steps on him. What’s the use of being fifty tons if you can’t throw it around once in a while?

10. What is your favorite memory of your parents? My mom: When driving cross-country without my dad (he was either about to deploy on a submarine, deployed, or coming back in and would meet us at our destination), I got to ride shotgun and be Mom’s navigator. We’d play trivia games, especially “name the state capital”, and the Alphabet Game. In the hotel or at my grandparents’ house, we’d play cards. “Spite and Malice” was our favorite; I had at least a chance at beating her. I tried to teach her “Speed”, and she wiped the table with me every time — even the round where I was teaching her. My dad: Just about any time he was coming home from sea. Also, the day he shaved off his beard, which he’d had forever, and scared my little brother, who didn’t recognize him at first. That is hilarious, even now.

11. “Excuse me, madam. Do you have the time?” Always. I can’t go anywhere without my watch. Managing it is a completely different story.

12. What happened to number four? It’s looking for the cake.

Now I’m supposed to come up with 11 questions for the 11 people I tag. Um. I don’t have 11 people to tag. I have just one, and I don’t think he’s going to do the challenge, but I’ll tag him anyway. He’s my Sweetie, and he’s an 11. 😉 I’ll try to make his questions fair, at least, so he doesn’t feel like I’m giving him the third degree, and I’ll make them generic enough that I could tag someone else with them later.

1. What is your favorite dessert?
2. Who is less of a pansy-whiner, young Anakin Skywalker (Ep II & III) or Luke Skywalker? Why?
3. What is your favorite holiday?
4. If you had your choice to live anywhere in the world, where would you, and why?
5. The last two jobs on earth are being an IRS agent and cleaning swimming pool filters. Remarkably, they pay the same. Which would you choose, and why?
6. “I think, therefore I _______.” (Fill in the blank)
7. Do you believe in supernatural phenomena?
8. If you had to be too hot or too cold, which would you prefer?
9. You’re stranded in a desert and find a genie in a lamp. He offers you one wish. What would you wish for?
10. What is your earliest memory?
11. “Why don’t you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?”

Until I find more to tag, I tag my Sweetie, Sigspace.