A Quick Birthday Break

By the gracious generosity of Wes’s parents, Wes and I were able to escape our children this weekend so that we could embark on a series of capers in celebration of my upcoming 32nd birthday. Examples of said capers?

  • Bowling (I scored two strikes in a row my first two frames, then began missing the pins entirely for the rest of the game. No, I don’t know why.)
  • Arcade games (There’s an arcade near the bowling alley that has a Terminator game for two in it and Wes and I freaking DOMINATE that game together. We have a system and everything. To my lukewarm annoyance, however, Wes was still a more accurate shot than me even with a broken gun. {Although I did score more points at the basketball dunking game, which made me happy.})
  • Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 (Which we freaking LOVED! Even though it made me cry big fat tears at the end, I still thoroughly enjoyed watching that movie. Go see it.)
  • Shooting range (We rented a 9mm 1911 {but we can’t remember what brand} and emptied two boxes into a big green target. It was loads of fun! Wes is a MUCH better shot than I am {again. Duh.} but I think I did okay. Here’s a picture of the target after my first round of shots:Not too shabby, right?
  • Clothes shopping (for Wes, who has lost a bunch of weight and is now in desperate need of a pair of jeans that actually fits his smaller body. We didn’t end up finding anything {boo} but we did see Michael Bennett {a Seahawk} at Old Navy. He was very polite, and he was with a friend who may or may not also have been a football player. I actually ran into a rack of clothes in front of said friend, who smiled and said, “Better you than me,” to which I couldn’t come up with a reply because, outside of the context of him being a professional athlete, why better him than me? When Wes explained that he was likely a football player, too, I felt less confused but more embarrassed, because, you know, clumsiness.)

The weekend went by in a blink, and before we knew it we had to go pick up our kids again. What a fun break, though!

A Moon Shaped Post

Radiohead. Santa Barbara Bowl. April 11, 2017.

What does this have to do with anything?

I was there. So was Wes. We were there, and it was awesome.

Not too shabby, right? The place we stayed at was freaking GORGEOUS.

It all started in February. Radiohead had just announced an additional bunch of tour dates, most of which were along the west coast, and I emailed the link to Wes as a kind of, “Ha ha, wouldn’t this be amazing?” thing. Radiohead was coming to Seattle, and while it most definitely would have been awesome to see that show, I knew tickets would sell out in an instant so I figured it would go nowhere.

Wes is not a going nowhere kind of guy, so he plotted. And planned. And prepared. The moment tickets were available, he worked his magic and actually managed to score a pair of tickets. In Santa Barbara.

When he called me to tell me he’d achieved the impossible, I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know what to think. The importance and significance of Radiohead’s music in my life can’t be overstated. I gave birth to my first child while listening to Hail to the Thief on repeat. “How to Disappear Completely” helped me survive election season last year. I more of less wore out my copies of OK Computer and Amnesiac in high school as I drove the hour-long route to and from school.

If I’m ever stressed or scared or anxious or happy or calm or introspective or relaxed, Radiohead is my go-to. Every time. This band means something to me, but they’re so immensely popular (for good reason) that I’d resigned myself to the likelihood I’d never get the chance to see them perform live.

But Wes doesn’t accept impossibilities when it comes to me. He knew this would be the trip of a lifetime, so he made it happen. I was so nervous before the band came out, Wes says I was shaking a little. I couldn’t talk. I could barely remember to breathe.

I took this of us while 15 Step was playing.

And then there they were. And the music was even better live, if you can believe that. They played the song Wes most wanted to hear (“15 Step”), and too many others to name, and then left the stage.

I was crestfallen. As much as I loved the songs they’d played, they hadn’t played “Nude,” my favorite of their songs.

The show, it turned out, wasn’t over, and they ended up playing “Nude” during one of their four encores. The feeling when the song crested and then receded was indescribable, which is really saying something because I describe things for a living. The closest I can come to explaining how it felt is to say overwhelming, searing joy, the kind that consumes you and leaves you in a daze afterward.

It really was a true fan’s show. Many of the songs they played were obscure, and there was even a song that I think was completely new that I’d never heard before. It was pure magic. A perfect show in a perfect location with a perfect man by my side to enjoy it with.

Are there any other Radiohead fans reading this? What’s your favorite Radiohead song?

Return of the Auntie

At long last, I have returned from my adventures in the sunny wilds of southern California. I spent a lovely week taking care of my sister in law and brand new nephew which, if you’ve ever taken care of a newborn, you know means hundreds of tiny tasks that don’t seem like much and yet, somehow, still take up an entire day. The fatigue didn’t catch up to me until Sunday afternoon, when I quite simply ran out of gas and had to collapse into bed for a two-hour nap.

My husband was incredible in my absence, however, and managed to work his full-time job while also keeping our children alive and on time for school. I came home to a house that was freshly vacuumed, swept, and scrubbed. The laundry was done, the trashcans were empty, and my car was washed, vacuumed, and full of gas. It was the absolute best way to come home, and I felt truly loved. Those of you who know me well know that I’ll take a clean house and car over flowers and chocolates any day.

Somehow before I left, I was able to submit the final edits to my editor for Take the Bai Road, and I’m thiiiiiiiiis close to finishing the short story I’m submitting to the anthology that’s coming out in the fall. Good thing, too, because the deadline for that is on Friday.


In other news, my book cover designer is almost done with the cover for Take the Bai Road and it is sweeeeeeeeeet. Oh man, this series is looking pretty darn slick, if I do say so myself. I’ll share it as soon as she’s put the final touches on it and hopefully we can start offering pre-orders.

Stay tuned!

Updates and Appearances and Anthologies, Oh My!

I just got back from a quick trip down to CA to visit family with my two children and these are the things I learned:

  • CA gets crazy flooding when there’s a monsoon-style downpour.
  • Dramamine makes my children almost catatonic.
  • In N Out is still delicious and the best thing ever.

I seem to have caught a cold while I was visiting, however, which is kind of a bummer because I’ve been invited back to do a guest lecture for the Writing for Publication class at Northwest University and I have this weird feeling like I’m going to need my voice for that. I’m getting really excited about it.

I had the chance to do this a couple years ago and it was a blast. There’s something invigorating and inspiring about discussing the craft of writing with other people who are as passionate about it as you are, and I fully expect to have a fantastic time (assuming, of course, that I have use of my voice and will not have to conduct the lecture via semaphore).

From one of my favorite Monty Python sketches, Wuthering Heights by Semaphore.

I’ve also recently applied to participate in the LitQuake Festival in San Francisco this fall, so fingers crossed for that, and I’m most likely doing a book singing on Bainbridge Island at the Eagle Harbor Book Company in late July as well. All told, 2017 is shaping up to be a very busy year, which is great because there’s almost nothing more frustrating than trying to get the promotional wheels spinning only to have nothing happen.

Oh! And I almost forgot the coolest thing that happened last week: I got invited by my writing buddy AC Fuller to participate in a thriller anthology that’s coming out in the fall! How cool is that?! Doing an anthology is on my writer bucket list, so I’m delighted the timing worked out for it.

I’m submitting a short story about what happens when Bai goes home to visit his parents after the events of Take the Bai Road. Hint: stuff happens. Lots of stuff.

I had a blast writing the story, and I think it’ll be a fun amuse bouche for those of you looking for something to read in between Take the Bai Road and book number three, which will be called Bai Treason. (Oh, man. Bai Treason is GOOD. I can’t wait to get started on revisions for that one after I finish Take the Bai Road and the anthology short story).

All in all, things are looking busy in a good way. Full steam ahead!

Post-Vacation Opinion Dump

Raise your hand if you’re as confused about this whole December business as I am! How’d that happen? And why am I never prepared for December? No matter what I do, I always end up feeling like December was waiting around the corner to steal my lunch money. Given how expensive Christmas shopping can be, that’s actually not a half-bad analogy.

Ok, fine. We weren't on another planet, but there was a Space Needle there.

Ok, fine. We weren’t on another planet, but there was a Space Needle there.

As for Wes and myself, we opted to spend the first few days of December in hiding to celebrate our anniversary. Sort of. We were actually in Seattle, but as far as real world things went, we were off the map. Incommunicado. Unreachable. We went dark, in intelligence terms, and, while we weren’t far away from home in distance terms, we may as well have been on a different planet while we were gone.

You take two driven, somewhat intelligent people, turn their phones off, and tell them to go relax, and you know what’s going to happen? RELAXING. At one point, Wes shook his head and said, “I was just thinking that I feel kind of tipsy, but I haven’t had anything to drink yet today, and I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me until I realized I was actually relaxed for the first time in forever.”

Given the ease with which we slipped into a life of leisure (one day, we watched Game of Thrones in bed until 2:30 in the afternoon), we’ve decided we will be very good retirees someday.

dinnerSo what did we do? A little bit of everything. We started at the Salish Lodge, a very nice hotel on top of a huge waterfall. Once there, we turned our phones off and got some massages. After that, we lazed around until dinner, which we ate at the Dining Room on the main level of the hotel.

Now, you might be asking yourself why Wes is wearing a casual video game t-shirt and mussed hair in the restaurant of a very fancy hotel. The answer is that he’s doing those things because they honestly do not care what you wear there. It is so liberating. Wes wasn’t even wearing shoes in this picture. He called the restaurant and told them he was too mellow to put on shoes and they were like, “Lolz, that’s ok we don’t care.”

Once we were satisfactorily chill, we left Snoqualmie for Seattle. The Hotel Monaco in downtown Seattle, to be specific. Some friends of ours recommended this hotel to us last year and we loved it so much we simply had to come back.

One of the things we love about it is how it smells. The lobby smells freaking amazing. Plus, we always stay in December so everything in the lobby is all roaring fireplaces, sparkly Christmas decorations, and comfy places to sit.

We didn’t stay indoors the whole time. We went for walks, spent one afternoon walking around in search of the perfect martini (needless to say, that was a fun afternoon!), and even managed to catch a show at both Teatro Zinzanni and PNB’s The Nutcracker.

This may have been after our afternoon sampling martinis. We regret nothing.

This may have been after our afternoon sampling martinis. We regret nothing.

My two cents? Teatro Zinzanni is excellent, as always. I’ve seen their show three times in fourteen years, so I’m far from a regular, but we have so much fun every time we go. If you’re in town and want to spend a few hours being enthralled and entertained, it’s definitely worth the money.

Especially if you enjoyed The Birdcage. Then you should definitely definitely go see it.

As for PNB’s The Nutcracker? Eh, this is a tough one. I love ballet. LOVE it. Could watch it all day. I only saw the previous iteration of PNB’s Nutcracker twice (the Stowell/Sendak one) and I was absolutely enraptured by it. The way to tree grew, the grown-up Clara, the heart-breakingly beautiful pas de deux at the end. Absolute perfection.

The new one, with choreography by Balanchine and set design and costumes by Ian Falconer, was hit and miss for me. The sets and costumes are remarkable and amazing, but the growing tree effect was kind of underwhelming compared to what came before.

Likewise, there were some dances (The Waltz of the Flowers is almost worth the price of admission just by itself) that were breathtaking, while other parts of the show that left me yawning. The whole first act is almost entirely danced by children who are acting out a Christmas party which, while adorable, is kind of a snoozefest. If I’m paying to see a professional ballet production, I’d like to see professionals doing incredible things, you know?

So anyway, those are my two cents. Should any of you be planning a visit to Seattle in the near future, I hope you find my post-vacation ramblings somewhat helpful. As for me, I’m going to try to remember how to balance a writing career with the needs and wants of the young people in my care. I reckon if I get overwhelmed, I can just remember that, no matter what, Seattle is out there, with all its martinis and hotels and good coffee and nice people.

That ought to do it.