Tuesday, 27 September 2011

What not to do in customer service

I have been a customer of Rogers for years. I can't remember how many (and don't feel like digging out bills to find out) but long enough to qualify for "long term customer" status. Not only am I a long term customer but I'm a good long term customer. I pay my bill, in full every month... often pre-paying several weeks in advance. I have all my services with them as well: home phone, internet, cable TV, and cell phone.

When I originally got my cell phone, I picked out a cheap flip-phone. It had a camera that took relatively okay photos and it made calls; that's all I needed it for. I had that phone for years. After a few years I started getting letters in the mail encouraging me to upgrade the phone, then the letters came complete with lists of the phones I could choose. I ignored them as the phone was working fine.

By this spring my phone was looking shoddy. The silver paint had bubbled off and the screen was starting to break. I decided it was time and headed off to the local Rogers store to see what I could get. I looked around and picked out a great phone for me. It was easy to use, had a full keyboard for texting my daughter, and a 3mp camera for those times I want to remember and don't happen to have a camera with me. I agreed to another 3 year term and headed out with my new phone.

Last Monday I worked until 3pm. As I headed out to work that morning, I told my son that I'd be home before him. Then a lens fell out of my glasses while I was at work so I stopped off at the optometrist on the way home. By the time I got out of the office, son was already home so I gave him a quick call to let him know I was on my way.

I finished the call, tucked my phone back inside my work bag and trudged home in the rain. Got home, put on my pjs and declared I wasn't going out at all for the rest of the night. As usual, when I'm at home, I didn't use my cell phone.

The next morning my Mom called and asked if I wanted to go out shopping with her. On my way out the door I patted my purse and realized my cell phone wasn't inside, then went into my work bag to get it. It wasn't there. Checked my coat pocket... not there either. So I called the phone only to find out the phone was not in service. That struck me as odd. I knew it wasn't off and I'd charged it the night before so it wasn't dead.

I checked around the apartment when I got home and, by the next morning I had to admit it was gone. I walk home along a local highway so chances are it fell out of my bag and either landed in a puddle or got smucked by a car. The ironic thing is, I wasn't worried because when I'd got my new phone, I'd received a slip of paper stating they have a handset protection plan so I knew I was covered.

I went to the Rogers store today to get my phone replaced, totally believing I'd be walking out of that store with a phone in hand. Only to be told, oops, it was too close to my renewal date to get a new phone. Note, not that it was too close to the end of my contract; I just signed on with them for another three years last month. I really only qualified for a new phone in my last 12 months of my contract. And, since it had been less than 6 months since my phone was replaced, I didn't qualify for getting the same type of phone. If I wanted the same phone I had to pay $249... the same as anyone without a contract. Just think on that... being a good customer for years gets you the same assistance as someone walking in off the street WHO DOESN'T WANT A CONTRACT and less help than someone new who wants a contract. The only time they're truly willing to help is when you're almost finished your obligation with them and are able to walk away.

Since the lady at the desk couldn't help she suggested I talk to customer service on the phone in case they could offer more help. Fair enough, I used to work in a call centre and know they have more options (depending on which level you're talking to). I also snagged their pamphlet on the handset protection plan. First I discussed the free courtesy phone I was supposed to receive. Only to find out that the store didn't actually have any. Note, in the fine print it says that you "might" be charged a $50 deposit for this phone. I was told it was mandatory, with the rep saying in shocked tones "we couldn't just hand out free phones to everyone". Note, handing a free replacement phone to a long-term customer (who has to return it to pick up their new phone AND who is already paying a monthly bill) isn't the same as handing them out on the street corner. I dropped that argument as moot since, despite their promise to have a replacement ready at the store, they had none available. No point in getting worked up over a $50 deposit on something that doesn't exist.

I talked to two separate reps on the phone and got told the same things repeatedly that I already mentioned above. It didn't matter how long I'd been a customer, the best they could offer was having me wait until October 14th. That's the magical six month date for how long I've had the phone. On October 13th I have to pay full price, on October 14th I can get the phone for $19.99 (with a three year contract).

So they're going to make me wait two and a half weeks without a cell phone. Either that or fork out $229 extra (or get a cheap flip-phone that *might* have a camera).

I'm sure, they'll have all sorts of wonderful deals to offer when I tell them I'm closing my account. But that's not customer service. Customer service is treating the customer with respect all the time, not when they're walking away. Customer service is saying, "Yes, I see you've been a valued customer of ours for years. We'll waive that two weeks for you." It's not making a customer sit without service (service I am currently paying for I might add) for weeks. It's not telling them they only qualify for better service when they're able to walk away and choose another provider.

For now they have me by the short and curlies. It would cost me several hundred dollars in early termination fees if I cancelled now. Taking another three month contract on my phone is nothing... it's literally tacking on *one* extra month. But they can consider this my farewell letter. As of October 15, 2014, I'm done with Rogers.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Good news and bad news

So the good news is I'm finally off this plateau. The bad news is it's because I gained weight and I'm now sitting at 180lbs. Okay so there really isn't a good news in this scenario, but the blog's titled "Positive Steps" and I have to work with what I've got.

Yesterday, son asked me if he could take the Wii (and the TV) into his room since I never use the My Fitness Coach anymore. I thought back and realized it had been about a month since the last time I used it. The answer was "no" (nice try though child). I've been slacking off with exercise classes as well. It's too easy to send him off to the Y on his own so I can get some quiet writing time; too easy to say "I'll go next time".

When the answer to "Am I feeling stressed?" is yes, my response invariably is to eat chocolate. Sometimes I throw peanut butter into the mix as well for variety. Note, this response has never, in the past 41 years, actually cured the stress. But it tastes good and I keep figuring that something so tasty might work someday.

This time it worked 8lbs worth.

I dug out the My Fitness Coach and found a Wii remote with working batteries. It's all set and waiting for the morning. Anyone who's got this program knows what the Physical Challenge is. For those that don't, you weigh and measure yourself then measure your resting heart rate and active heart rate (by performing two minutes of jumping jacks). Then you do sit ups, push ups, and stretches. This is what I did this evening so I can do the actual program in the morning.

Dinner tonight is a salad made with mixed greens and some funky tomatoes from the Farmer's Market. Plus I made a mixed vegetable pizza on PC stone-baked cheese flatbread. I'm eating without my son tonight, as I have no idea whatsoever where he is.

A friend of mine called about a half-hour ago and, in the course of the conversation asked what son was doing. I informed him I didn't have a clue. He went on a sleepover last night and I worked today until 3pm. When I got off work, son wasn't home and his cellphone is off. He did turn it on briefly and called to ask if we could go to Blockbuster soon because they have the Nintendo 3DS on for some incredibly low price ($99? $95? somewhere around there). I asked him where he was and was told the 401... so I feel reasonably sure he's somewhere in the Greater Toronto Area.

I assured my friend that son was indeed in a car and not walking along the highway. Then my friend asked what my daughter's doing and I had to say "I've got no frigging clue".

Long silence...

... so you know where your cats are right?

They're indoor cats so I was able to assure him that all three cats were safe and accounted for. See...

Son has since called back and clarified he's in the next town over, still checking out Blockbuster and still with his friends and their Dad. And I can be sure that he'll be home sometime before bed tonight.

I don't claim to be a perfect parent but my goal isn't to be perfect. It's to raise my children so they can be healthy and independent adults. Considering my autistic teenager is currently out comparison shopping for Nintendo products with his friends, I don't think I'm doing that badly.

And, while he's out window shopping... I'm heading across the street for a walk in the autumn sunshine!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

The characters in my novel

This is either going to be cool or it'll make me sound like I've got multiple personalities (or maybe a mixture of both) but I'm going to introduce the main(ish) characters in my novel. Some don't show up until part way through the novel... some are at the beginning.

Jessica: She's the main character and narrator of the novel. She's young, extremely naive, and always tries to see the best in people. Which works out great for her sometimes... not so great other times. She can be a bit sarcastic and is extremely loyal.

She spends a lot of time reading in the novel. The books she reads tend to be urban fantasy with a bit of suspense thrown in. She loves reading women's magazines too.

Chris: He's the other main character, Jessica's boyfriend/husband. He's also young, not as naive as Jessica but a lot more optimistic. He's loyal, hardworking and determined but a bit of a joker. Enjoys playing cards and hanging out with friends.

He also spends a lot of time reading and enjoys murder mysteries and horror. They don't tend to swap books LOL

Darcy: Chris' friend and co-worker. Down to earth and doesn't embarrass easily. He's loyal and hardworking but young as well and still sorting out what he wants to do in life.

Darcy doesn't read much... he'd rather watch a movie.

Pete: Comes in later in the novel. Hardworking and quiet and blushes easily. He's the oldest in the novel by about a year or two but has been fending for himself a lot longer than the rest. Always wants to help others (to the point where he really should learn the word "no").

Pete's been reading too many text books to pick up a book lately. When he's not in school he enjoys biographies (of mostly historical people) and medical mysteries.

There are a bunch more characters in the novel. Some don't have a lot of character, so there's not much point in describing them. Some are only in the novel for a short time. Some characters change too much to really give a description without giving away plot (something I'm trying to avoid LOL). But that gives an idea.

I've got two hours and an empty apartment. Time to get writing!

Sunday, 18 September 2011

More examples of my stellar parenting

or something LOL

Son: I'm going out with my friend on my bike
Me: Okay, where are you going?
Son: We're going to hang out in the parking lot outside Country Style.
Me: Okay, don't get hit by a car.
Son: I'm taking my netbook with me and the cord because it won't stay on unless it's plugged in.
*note he found this netbook beside the dumpster out back*
Me: Sounds good. If it catches on fire, unplug it before dumping water on it.

I covered all the basics right?

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Statistics... but not the boring kind...

I wrote a blog entry this morning and added a link on Facebook. Then I started looking at all my entries and seeing zero, zero, zero, five... Oh yeah, the five responses was when my daughter corrected the spelling of her favourite band and her height. That was how I found out she had a blog and immediately put her on my follow list until she decided having her Mom as her only follower wasn't really cool and took me back off again. Hon, I swear I didn't put a picture of me wearing a glitter wig and dancing on a chair in my blog. I only described it.

The zero replies and lack of comments on Facebook made me wonder if I'm the only person reading this blog. Hello... hello out there... *listens to echos*

Then I noticed a "Stats" link and started fiddling with it. According to Blogger 1,904 people, not including me, have viewed my blog since I started writing this spring. I must be some awesomely super negative person because it was only 1,880-something before they stopped tracking my views. I viewed my page -24 times? Scratching my head.

Most of the views are from Canada and several hundred are from the States. I've also had views from Australia, Netherlands, UK, Germany, Singapore (I love your virgin slings by the way), Belgium (ditto your chocolate), Russia, Ukraine, Kenya, Turkey, and Latvia.

They have come here via searching various things like:

40lb dog
today's positive steps
little girl back stock
preteen girls in school uniforms
running up stairs
steps dealing with stress

I hope the person looking for preteen girls in school uniforms was very bored with my site (which completely lacks both). Same with little girls in back stock. I don't know what you're looking for (my first thought was scrapbooking with little girl silhouettes made out of card stock... which is undoubtedly wrong but I can live with being wrong in this case) but I'm sure you didn't find it here.

And they've come from various sites. Mostly Facebook and two forums I belong to (both of which have my blog address in my signature) but also from my friend Theresa's blog. Thanks Theresa!

So now I know I have people reading my blog. Very shy people but they're there. And now that you know I know you're reading... feel free to reply sometimes so I don't feel like I'm talking to myself.

Thanks for reading :o)

Of colds and blood donations

I donate blood every two months and today is supposed to be my donation day. Yesterday I was foot-dragging exhausted, but I hadn't slept well and had to be at work for 6am, so it was hard to tell if I was coming down with something or simply exhausted. But I woke up this morning with a scratchy throat and have been coughing and sneezing so, congratulations, it's a baby cold.

I guess it could be worse, I could have come down with the cold tomorrow, which would mean I'd gone through the whole donation process just to have my blood thrown out.

The donation process leaves me puzzled every time. I get most of it, I really do, but some parts baffle me. They have a list of questions that you have to answer. Half the list you check off at a booth (similar to a voting booth). It has questions like "are you feeling well" and "have you taken any medication in the last two days". Nice common sense questions, and yes, if I'm bleeding out on an operating table, I wouldn't want to have donated blood with Aspirin in it. The last question in that section asks if you've ever had a job handling monkeys or their bodily fluids and I'm juvenile enough to snicker every single time I read it.

Then come the personal questions which are answered in a partitioned off area. Only you and a nurse are allowed in that area and she (I've only ever had a female nurse at blood donors) asks the questions. And they are strict about it being only the two of you. If you've brought a toddler with you, you better have some toys to entertain your child because they're going to be sitting in the waiting room on their own. Yes, I've been there.

And those questions are, for the most part, personal. Some have to do with travel but most have to do with sex, drugs, and money or drugs for sex. But that's where I get confused. My first inane thought is regarding most questions starting "since 1977". I turned seven years old at the end of July that year so was six for most of it. I'd have to be one heck of a precocious child to be turning tricks for drugs at that age.

They have a question in there (and thank you Google because I didn't have it memorized): "In the past six months, have you had sex with someone whose sexual background you don’t know?"

Now I'm not sure, I thought it was "in the past year" but, as I said, I didn't have it memorized. Let's say it is, in fact, a year. Hypothetically that means I could spend every single night from now until New Year's Eve having carnal relations with a different man. If I stopped as of December 31, 2011, Canadian Blood Services would be fine with me donating as of January 1, 2013.

That would be (looks at the calendar and counts on fingers) 106 hypothetical men... all of them with unknown backgrounds. And as long as I didn't open my mouth and say, "hey, have you ever slept with a guy before", Canadian Blood Services would be more than happy to take my blood. Children's Aid might have some worries but Canadian Blood Services, as long as I pass their blood tests, wouldn't know. I wouldn't even have to lie.

But friends of mine, who have been together for 14 years, can't donate. Why? Because they're men and there's another question (thanks again Google): "Have you had sex, even once, with another man any time between now and 1977?" And that one leads to a lifetime ban.

I don't know about you but if I had to choose between donated blood from a man in a monogamous, long-term gay relationship or blood from a woman who had sex a year or so ago with a bunch of men whom she never bothered to ask for sexual history... I'd go for the man. Canadian Blood Services decided otherwise.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

The beginning of Small Dreams

I keep blogging about my novel but haven't really shared much about it. This is the beginning of the novel. I hope you like it :o)

Chris perched on our porch, knees bent, his back against a rotting beam. He stared intently at something in his hands, and didn’t notice me until I reached the end of the driveway. I winced as he jumped down; our landlord was not known for his stellar repairs, and I half expected the railing to collapse under his weight. It certainly didn't have anything solid supporting it.

“This is for you,” he blurted when I reached him, then he handed me the bag he’d been holding. I took a peek inside. A pregnancy test? I quickly handed it back.

“Chris!” I exclaimed, “Why did you get me this?”

He looked at me as if I were nuts. “You've been queasy all week. You've thrown up twice today alone and your period is late. Why wouldn't I get one?”

“I can't be pregnant!” I replied. “We can't afford a baby!” I could feel tears welling and quickly blinked them back before they overflowed.

His face quirked into a little half smile; one I usually found endearing, and he pressed the bag into my hands. “At least take the test. If you're pregnant you'll need to see the doctor. If you're not you'll need to find out why you're sick.”

He held the front door open then we quietly headed upstairs. I could hear our roommates, Ann and John, laughing and talking in the backyard so I knew we had the place to ourselves. Luckily Ann had been cleaning so I could no longer smell the liver she’d fried that morning. Unluckily Ann had been cleaning so all I could smell was powdered Ajax (only 79 cents a can at Bargoon Land, Jessica) and some heavy duty, catch-in-your-throat industrial floor cleaner. I tried to breathe shallowly.

Chris shuffled his feet awkwardly. “I’ll, umm, wait out here while you take the test.”

I nodded, too nervous to speak. As soon as the bathroom door was shut, I took the test out of its box. It looked easy enough to use but I read the instructions three times first. Then stood in front of the sink and stared at the test. The first line popped up right away and almost instantly a second line appeared; the pregnancy line.

I started to cry as I looked around the bathroom at the chipped paint, grimy windows, and cracks in the wall. I looked at Ann’s hairy razor and the rust stains in the tub and felt sick at the thought of bathing a baby there.

The bathroom door opened a crack and Chris slipped inside. He picked up the test gently and stared at it in amazement. His expression said it was Christmas and Santa just showed up with a Porsche. Then he looked at my tears and his smile dimmed.

“You don't want the baby?” he asked forlornly.

I rubbed the backs of my hands across my eyes before replying. “It's not that,” I protested. “What are we going to do with a baby? What sort of life can we give it? Our bedroom is tiny and looks like it held a war.”

“Could you imagine bathing a baby in here?” I gestured around the bathroom, “Or feeding a baby in the kitchen with Ann glaring at us and John's dog growling through the door?”

“We won't live here forever,” Chris solemnly assured me. “We'll make a better life for us and our baby. Things will turn out; I promise.”

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Juggling words

I'm still deep into revising my novel and it's hard slogging. One issue is I have too many similar days, so I've been combining a bunch of them.

At one point I worried I'd made my main characters too perfect and threw in a fight. I've spent ages trying to make this fight sound like two people who simply got frustrated and snapped at each other. But, instead they sound like bad actors following a script. Walk in, fight, and walk off. So now I'm scrapping that whole section. Which means the tail end of that section, where they flip through the baby name book and choose names, has to get shuffled to another part of the novel. That's what I'm doing now; rewriting an entire conversation to fit a discussion on baby names.

That part has the main characters hanging out with a friend of theirs named Darcy. I figured it would be appropriate for Darcy to give some baby naming advice, that begins and ends with "don't name your baby after someone famous because he or she will never hear the end of it". The thing is, while I know there's a character named Darcy in a famous old book, I can't remember which old book. I really love Google, I don't know how many times it's kept me from looking like a complete idiot. And I'm sure it'll step up adequately again. Thank you Google! "Darcy character novel" brought up Pride and Prejudice. So I'll be doing a bit of online reading. Maybe I'll have Jessica read the zombie novelization of the book, she reads a lot.

I feel like my novel is going the same direction as my diet. Each time I think I've cut out a page, it comes back. I don't have nearly as many pages as I did when I typed my last sentence and thought "there... that's done" but for all the editing I'm doing, I keep finding myself constantly hovering around 444 to 447 pages.

I wanted to head out for a walk today but my son's making a working elevator out of lego and I figured this is a good time to write. Hopefully I'll get across the street for a walk after dinner.

And I'm back to writing again...

Friday, 9 September 2011

Icarus Revisited

This is the first poem I've written in years (the background photo was taken off our balcony a few evenings ago)...

Monday, 5 September 2011

A decade ago...

I've been reading a lot of "a decade ago" comments in the past few weeks. Most are aimed at the tragedies that occurred a decade ago next Sunday.

For me though, I'd never been to New York or Washington. I know no one who was personally involved with the events of that day. It was a tragedy but it wasn't the defining point of that year for me. I ran into the father of one of my daughter's classmates yesterday and, while reminiscing about what they were like in grade one, it struck me what my memories of that year were.

2001 was my first year as a single mother; my ex husband and I separated permanently in January. It was my first time taking my children camping. My first time lighting a campfire (I found out later all the wood was wet... clouds of smoke weren't the only blue streaks wafting around that site). It was the year my little boy started school and my little girl went into grade one. We also started attending our local Unitarian-Universalist congregation that September.

Their first day of school pictures show a lot about what both kids were like. Daughter's first day of grade one came first. She picked her favourite pretty outfit and fretted for a month in advance about what school would be like. Would she find the washrooms? Would she know her classmates? When I said she was going to school every day, did I mean weekends too? Was she was going to sleep there overnight? Son bounces along beside her, a bit confused about why he wasn't wearing a backpack too (he didn't understand my explanation that he was going to school that year but on a different day than his sister). Daughter carefully holding his hand to keep him safe.

Son couldn't wait to get to school. He'd prepacked his lunchbox several weeks earlier with about a dozen Fruit to Go bars and half a dozen cheese sticks (I repacked for him) and he couldn't wait to finally get inside the classroom. He'd been trying to get into school for two years, sneaking into the lineup while daughter and her classmates tattled on him. When he was let into the classroom for the first time, he stared at the teacher then looked around the room in amazement with the biggest grin on his face. No one had kicked him out... he could stay!

When you look at the picture, take note of son's feet then look up at his forehead. That beige patch above his eye is a huge bandaid. Not two days earlier he'd tripped over his own feet while running and cracked his head off the sidewalk. I spent the next day teaching him how to hold his hands up when he fell. Apparently he somehow missed that instinct. Note his arms are up in the shot. He was a fast learner when it came to learning how to keep his head from contacting with the ground!

Back then it felt like my whole life was raising two small children. Like it would always revolve around playing in the backyard, bath time with lots of toys, multiple bedtime stories, and listening to piping voices talk about their day. Every day much the same as the day before.

But a decade has gone by and the little changes day by day have added up. Son just started high school this week. His voice is deepening and he stretches taller every day. He's currently about 5ft 9in and in mens size 11 shoes. I'm expecting that to change within weeks. Bob the Builder and Thomas the Tank engine have long since faded away. Now he's fascinated by YouTube, especially instructional videos. Yesterday he informed me that our desktop couldn't go online because our firewall was blocking it. Then proceeded to fix it.

Daughter also towers over me at about 5ft 7in. She's now in grade 11 and trying to figure out what she wants to take for post secondary education. She's long out of Barbies and listening to "Mommy's music without words". These days she's got blue hair, multiple piercings and listens to groups like BlackVeil Brides. She also volunteers at the local Humane Society.

And here I sit, feeling not much different than a decade ago, looking at the two of them and marveling how quickly time has flown by. So while everyone else looks back at all the people who died and the heroes who rushed in to save them; I'll be flipping through that year's photo album and remembering the year our lives changed.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Dinner time!!!

So I worked today then came home and realized that tomorrow's a holiday. And unless we and the cats want to eat canned tomatoes and leftover soup until Tuesday, I needed to go grocery shopping.

I did my usual glance through the kitchen and headed out. Started down the frozen food aisle and noticed our grocery store is now selling President's Choice Vegetarian Scallopine. Which looked like breaded frozen soy something or other and take 20 minutes to bake. They were also $12 a box and I didn't have a clue in the world what "scallopine" is or what I'd serve it with. So I bought a box (I decided two might be a *little* extravagant).

I got home and my son asked if we were having hot and sour soup for dinner tonight. Fair question as it was 5pm by then and he's been wanting it for three days now (note I haven't made it for three days, he's just wanted it). I said, "Sure, I'll make it right after I go online and check Facebook". Son got himself a bowl of chips and settled down with a movie.

Eventually I wandered into the kitchen and started making peanut butter pudding. We have one pot I use to make the pudding and needed it for the soup as well. I figured it made more sense to have the pudding chilling while the soup cooked than to start the pudding when the soup was ready to serve. Plus I wanted pudding more than I wanted soup. As I was mixing the dry ingredients I remembered I'd used the last of the pureed garlic several days earlier and needed it for the soup. I use it instead of soya sauce. The recipe calls for four tablespoons of soya sauce as well as soup stock, which is a bit on the mouth puckering side so I substitute all the soya sauce with garlic.

Since I'm not quite talented enough to make pudding at home AND run across the street to the grocery store, I sent my son instead. I explained to him it was urgent and he had to run now. So he wandered into the washroom then came back out a few minutes later wearing one flip flop. "I am hurrying", he explained. I don't think we're using the same dictionary.

A few minutes later he called from the store...

Son: Where's the garlic?
Me: It's in the produce section over by the lettuce.
Son: Huh?
Me: Produce... you know the boxes of lettuce I buy.
Son: Huh? You mean salad dressing?
Me: *facepalm* No lettuce... boxes and bags of lettuce.
Son: Oh, I think I'm there.
Me: Do you see the garlic. Jars of garlic.
Son: I don't know.
Me: You've bought them before; several times. I'm not there, if you can't find it ask for help.
Son: (to someone else) I need garlic
Me: (prompting) Pureed garlic
Son: Parade garlic
Me: *facepalm* PUREED garlic PUREED!!!
Son: (silence) Oh, PA-RADE garlic
Muffled sales clerk: We don't have that anymore
*any more? does this mean they sold it before? Mental image of garlic marching down the shelves*
Son: There's other garlic here Mom, it's in little bits.
Me: I don't want minced garlic, it needs to be mushy for the soup.
Son: We could just put it through the blender.
*obviously he's not the one scraping the garlic out of said blender or washing it afterward*
Me: No way... I'm not putting a tiny container of garlic in a blender.
Son: But they don't have it.
Me: Oh for the love of god child, it's garlic, they've got to have it. Tell him it's white and mashed in a jar.
Faint voice in the background: I think he's saying pureed garlic, I can show him where that is.
*angel voices start singing*
Son: The other worker knows where it is.
Me: (fist pump) Yes! Go get it child!

So I go back to making the pudding and son comes home. By this time the store is closed. I reach into the bag and pull out a jar... of minced garlic.

That's why we're having vegetarian scallopine for dinner tonight. I'm still not sure what to do with it but I'm topping it with leftover rose sauce and calling it good enough.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Bonus day...

I woke up this morning and was surprised to see sunshine as the forecast was overcast and rainy all day with the occasional thunderstorm to brighten things up. Just how I enjoy my day off :o/

After breakfast I pulled my son out and we took the bus to a nearby hiking trail. It was quite muggy out but we still got in a good walk. I didn't take any pictures but the trail looked the same then as it did today LOL

I was feeling really bad about my novel yesterday. It didn't help I'd spent the last several days wading through the first 50 pages, changing almost every single sentence. By the time I reached page 50 I was thinking "This is complete and utter crap... what on earth was I thinking when I wrote this". Last night I didn't want to edit a single page so I went back and re-read and it was fine. The revisions made sense, the conversations sounded like people talking, and the main character is cracking a few jokes. So this afternoon I've been slogging away again.

Son is outside running around the neighbourhood. I'm not exactly sure where he is but I'm sure he's being a lot more quiet than the kids currently hanging around in front of our building. They make me wish some hipster would turn muzzles into a fashion trend. Fifteen minutes ago they held a screaming contest. I'm not sure who won... the kids or the person screaming for them to shut up. I think it was a tie.

Shutting my bedroom window, turning the fan on high (to drown out the little charmers) and going back to revising.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Another writing day

I'm going to branch out a bit with this blog. There's only so many entries I can make about healthy eating; so I'll write about what's going on in my life. Right now I'm editing my novel, Small Dreams. I have been working on this novel for a really long time.

I've always loved writing but focused on poems and short stories all through school. When I started writing my novel, I was 25 years old with a newborn. I read you should write about what you know so I took some aspects of my life... fairly young, broke and starting a family then modified it. The novel is about a young broke couple named Jessica and Chris. It starts with them realizing Jessica's pregnant and follows their lives through her pregnancy right to the birth (with an epilogue at the first birthday party).

When I started writing I wanted the novel to be "different" so I wrote it in diary format. Several months later I decided that wasn't working and changed it into a standard first-person novel. I worked on it during nap time then put it aside after my son was born. The kids are 22 months apart and I found writing a novel tricky with a toddler and a newborn.

Several years passed, my husband and I separated, and the kids started school. Suddenly I had a bit more time and remembered the book I'd started. I took a hard look at the book and realized it was way too unrealistic. Other than Jessica's abusive family, everything was pretty much perfect. They found a gorgeous house for rent where they paid several hundred dollars less than market rent and had landlords that were more like grandparents. All their issues ended up like this. A problem would occur and something even better would instantly fall in their laps. Life was pretty sweet for the two of them. And it was boring as hell.

There was an apartment we viewed when I was pregnant with my daughter although we never looked seriously at it. It was in downtown Oshawa right near several bars and there were a gazillion and one stairs to climb. But the apartment was a good size and quirky and stuck in my mind for years, so I wrote it into the novel instead. It wasn't perfect but it was convenient and honestly cheap. The sort of place a young and broke couple could find easily and turn into a home.

Of course an unfinished novel doesn't bring in money. I went back to school, full time, while working and raising two kids. The novel went on the back burner... and stayed there while I worked full time, went back to school again, then got a new job working 45 hours a week.

Several years later my work hours changed dramatically leaving me no real option except quitting. The other option was leaving two preteen children, both on the autism spectrum, home alone from after school to bedtime every weekday. Yeah, really not an option. For the next year, until I found a new job, I blitzed on the novel. Then it was done. I typed the last sentence and thought "what do I do now?".

I emailed it to a friend who told me I needed to cut out at least a hundred pages. Silly me, I'd been worried the book was too short and had been padding it to make it longer! I revised for a while then got an idea for a second novel... then alternated between revising and writing.

That was when I realized something was wrong with my computer. I'd spend several hours editing my first novel and cut out several pages. Then I'd open the novel later and I'd be back to the original amount of pages. Some work would save and some just disappeared and there was no way to tell what saved until after the novel was closed then reopened. It didn't matter if I saved to a memory stick, email, or an external hard drive... the spotty saves happened with all. And I couldn't afford to get the computer repaired or replaced. Writing came to a complete halt and didn't start up again until I bought a netbook this summer.

Right now I'm editing the beginning of the novel. It's the oldest and has some obvious glitches. It was originally diary entries and any dialogue had simply been Jessica's memories of what had been said. When I turned it into a first person novel, I went back and turned those memories into conversations but there were still a lot of spots where conversation should have been happening and she's sitting around describing the situation instead.

The second issue was the beginning was boring. Which is a pretty weak selling feature for a novel LOL. I'd made a calendar as a timeline for the novel and got it into my head that I *had* to write about what they did almost every day. There wasn't a lot of description and there were a heck of a lot of days. They find out about the pregnancy at the end of August and it wasn't until November that I realized I could not write about every day for the whole pregnancy. A lot of days have been hacked out. You can assume that Jessica and Chris worked those days then came home, cooked dinner, and farted around the apartment until bedtime... doing whatever newlyweds do... without me detailing every single day of it. You're welcome :o)

And, if I'm going to get two hours of revising in today, I better get this saved and pry myself off the internet!