Just to let you know - the blog has moved to eiram.wordpress.com. Also still reachable by ichaseboys.com, provided I don't let the domain expire. :)


I live in fear of putting words on a page now – except I can do it without thinking when it’s for work. A former coworker once warned me of the dangers of getting too comfortable with government writing; he said that if you do, you lose your ability to be creative. I fear that may have happened.

One advantage I can say I’ve gained is a better ability to edit my own work. Even the course I took recently reinforced that – I can go back through my own words and tighten here or adjust there, instead of on the fly like I used to do.

But still… what I want is to have a story to tell, a story that doesn’t involve something goofy one of my cats did today or yesterday. In the mornings, Thena likes to come and cuddle with me after my shower. Sometimes when she’s getting her head rubbed or she’s licking my arm, she’ll look at me with her tongue sticking out. Some mornings, it’s as much as half her tongue – and it never fails to make me laugh.
Sure, it’s a story that amuses my husband, since he knows and loves the cats and finds their antics as amusing as I do, but it’s a two-second story to tell that doesn’t interest anyone else. Even if I had a picture to share, I doubt many of you would be too concerned.

And really, that isn’t the kind of story I want to have to tell. What I want is a novel, an actual story that people want to read and want to continue reading. I read authors like Jim Butcher, Karen Chance, Terry Pratchett (and of course many many more), and I can see the genius behind their words leaking off the page. Sure, with Butcher and Pratchett I can sense the growth behind the stories, but with Butcher and Chance there are hints that are dropped in their first or second books that only come to play many books later. I can’t emulate that kind of genius, and that intimidates the crap out of me. And I don’t feel as though I have a gift for description.

But then again… writing isn’t something that’s supposed to be easy, the way I expect everything to be. I don’t trust my writing when it doesn’t flow, but you know what? Writing is work, just like anything else. Sure, it may come easier to me than to others, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still effort. And it’s a skill that needs to be practiced.

I’m lucky; I write every day for work, so I can sit down and bang out media lines or even a speech without effort. I read pieces written by other people and they don’t make sense, or there are grammatical flaws, or they’re hugely negative in tone – and it’s a gift to be able to edit those pieces so that they don’t have those flaws. And I’m constantly learning from my bosses as to how to write even better.

I sound like I’m bragging, which isn’t my intention at all. It’s really just a brain dump to give myself the courage to try something more than just confessional writing – which I find ridiculously easy to do.

Maybe I’ll never be able to write stories, only derivative short stories and essays or confessional pieces. I don’t really know, but I know I’m going to try. It’s just a matter of making the time to do the work – and it is work. But ultimately, it will be rewarding.


So every now and again I write something of which I'm proud.

I'm currently taking a writing course as part of my work training (and it's the only one I've been able to get away from the office to take this month). We were given an assignment that asked us to turn the intro from the text below to something more entertaining and engaging.

The first paragraph was originally this:

An extremely large number of people enjoy reading murder mysteries regularly. As a rule, these people are not themselves murderers, nor would these people really ever enjoy seeing someone commit an actual murder, nor would most of them actually enjoy trying to solve an actual murder. They probably enjoy reading murder mysteries because of this reason: they have found a way to escape from the monotonous, boring routine of dull everyday existence.

I wrote this:

Last night, I sat back and did nothing as before my very eyes, a man was murdered.

And I wasn’t alone. Dozens of us witnessed the death of this man, whose name we never knew. Around me, I could hear the odd intake of breath as one at a time, we came to the same place on the page – for it was within the pages of the latest Richard Castle novel that we got to vicariously enjoy watching the life of a nameless stranger end.

The teacher said I blew it out of the water, and a few other classmates praised it as well. Now if only the writing assignment we've been given called "Where I sit" holds us half as well...


For lack of anything more exciting to write about off the top of my head, I’m going to steal from a meme and use it to create several exciting postings. And by exciting, I mean I aim to disappoint with how not-exciting these will be.

Day One: Ten things you want to do some day.

I always seem to have a long list of things I want to do some day:

1. Take dance lessons.
2. Take horse-back riding lessons.
3. Go back to school for another degree or two.
4. Finish a sweater.
5. Learn to sew.
6. Write something for publication.
7. Finish the games I have.
8. Finish the books I have.
9. Own a house with a huge kitchen that meets my needs.
10. Get braver.

Pretty sure I can set up date stamps on the next rounds of these, so I can even set them to publish over the next few days!


The other day after work, I undertook the fun that is returning clothing -- some that I had bought myself, some that I had received for Christmas.

First order of frustration -- a few weeks before Christmas, I went in to the Gap with the intention of buying a pair of jeans. I had recently bought jeans at the Gap, and found the style and length that I liked and that fit me fairly well. Of course, by some awesome stroke of luck, everyone in the world with my short stature and wide hips had been in the Gap that week and had bought up my size.

So, I had no less than three different employees encourage me to order the jeans online. This was after the last clerk who helped me in my original jeans rampage encouraged me to try on all the pants I picked out, even if they were the same size and style, as there can be variations. This is not my anger issue.

I found a pair of jeans that worked and later went online to browse the sales. I found some overdyed dark jeans in the same style and size as what I'd had before, ordered them and a t-shirt, and went on my merry way.

When everything arrived, big surprise -- shirt was too small (acceptable), and seemed of cheap quality (less acceptable), and the damn pants were too small and too long. I take ownership of the too long, but the too small pissed me off. Had I tried the damn things on in the store, I wouldn't have had had to either return them by mail, or toddle off to the store to return them in person.

However, since I had to do another return -- this one from Christmas -- it was no problem to me to go to the store. Especially since that way, I know the return is being processed immediately and nothing can get lost en route.

Now, pause break in this boring narrative to explain why this second part bothers me the irrational way it does. For as long as I can remember, I have hated returning gifts. Even as a kid, when my grandmother would buy me something I didn't like, it pained me to go to the store with my mom and find something to substitute in its place. And my grandma saw me once a year, so it's not like she was super-dialed in to the vagaries of the 8-year old me's so-called "tastes" in clothes.

Furthermore, I am fairly loyal to particular stores when I consistently find clothing items there that I like and that fit me well. I like Laura, Reitmans, Smart Set for some thing, Gap for some things (which is really only a recent addition to the shopping list) -- and that's usually about it. I have a very hard time finding clothes that I like and/or are willing to spend money on in most of the other stores, so I don't waste my time.

Now bear in mind again that this next part is irrational and I realize that completely. This makes no sense to me, so I don't expect it to make any sense to anyone else.

But I get really irrationally upset when people buy me clothes that aren't my style (and to some extent my size, though that's more forgiveable by far) but especially when they come from stores I *never* shop at.

Several years ago my other grandmother bought me some dress pants from the Gap. In a size 14 - when at the time I think I was still in 8/10s. Not only did these pants not fit, but when I belted them on in an attempt to make them work, I somehow had a giant square butt. Fortunately I was able to return them, but I was then left with a gift card for a big chunk of change to a store that I never shopped at that took me about two years to eventually spend, if memory serves. And that was only when my mom basically dragged me in to get new jeans, which I balked at spending $60-$70 on.

My mom is also guilty of this; she's bought me clothes at Mexx, which I never shopped at -- I did manage to make one work and returned another, but I still have on hand a sweater I have yet to wear, because the other half of my neurosis is an inability to throw out or give away clothes that someone gave me as a gift, that I didn't return because I thought I'd wear it, that I never wear for whatever reason (too fitted, weird style, too bright a colour, something).

I got hit with this again this year -- for some reason lately, my sister has been insistent on trying to buy clothes for the DH and me for Christmas. She bought me two "sweaters" (I call them that because though they seem to be made from some sweater-like material, they are lighter and thinner than t-shirts, not to mention incredibly shapeless), and a blouse. The blouse worked well enough, but the sweaters were simply not going to be worn, so I had to go and return them. Because of the nature of Jacob stores (leotarded), I had to find a "boutique" one and return it there. And because of the aforementioned leotarded policies, I now have in my possession a gift card to a store that I think I've set foot in twice (now three times) in my lifetime.


My family likes to give gag gifts on occasion, and they're all well and good, but the frustration I run is the neurosis about hating to give away gifts, coupled with the loud voice of my DH about how much junk I own. He focuses mainly on my books, but I feel that way when I look at the things I've received as gag gifts -- at what point is it acceptable to get rid of something for which I have absolutely no use? I can appreciate the sentiment and the humour behind it, and not everything I receive is useless, but sometimes it just is.

Sometimes I get gifts because someone felt they had to give me a gift (like a family friend I happened to see on my birthday, who gave me something very generic that would've been old 20 years ago). I appreciate the thought behind it, but it went into the donation bin that same day -- and my DH gave me a hard time about it. Huzzah.

So sometimes the same people who give me a hard time about owning too much stuff or being too sentimental about things are a) contributing to it, and b) being just as guilty of hanging on to things out of sentimentality as I am. I do make some harsh calls sometimes – like throwing out the needlepoint wall-hangings my aunt made for me when I was a baby – but it needs to be done. I still have the teddy bear that she made me when I was a baby, and that’s more important to me.

Anyhow, I know so much of this sounds so very ungrateful of me – but I’d really rather get nothing as a gift than something that was just purchased because you couldn’t find anything else (like the etch-a-sketch). Really, I’m not that materialistic, and I don’t think I’m that terribly difficult to buy for. Especially when I had a short list of DVDs I’d have liked.

Just watch; next year I’ll be lucky to get a “Merry Christmas” after all of this whining!


Welcome, interwebs.

My red shoes - I won!

I have written so many posts in my head over the last bazillion or so years, but somehow sitting down in front of a screen and keyboard to make them come to life for you has just not happened. I have so many excuses, but the one that seems to stand out as the strongest was a vignette I saw on one of the Castle DVDs from season 1 -- short version, that what often creates writer's block is the fear that what you put down on paper won't be perfect.

It's a feeling I can understand all too well. When I'm at work, I'm not afraid to write -- I know that whatever I put down will be vetted and reviewed by many different sets of eyes, so if it's not perfect, someone along the way will catch it and change it. And I have no ego attached to that -- I'm completely fine with it. Admittedly, there I'm not writing for myself and putting my thoughts and feelings out there, so it in some ways carries much less risk, but at the same time, it's my career and there is a great deal of risk associated with being a constant screw-up. Fortunately for me, I'm not one (at least not at work), so there you go.

Anyhow -- I thought about sitting down at the keyboard on January 1st to make some big poignant retrospective and make it somehow more meaningful, and as you can see, that didn't happen. So here we are.

I know it's common for people to write their looking-back pieces, so I thought I might do the same.

The year 2010 brought for me marriage and turning 30 -- in that order, thankfully. Maybe just barely, but it still counts.

The wedding day went well, with only minor hiccups -- one of the DH's uncles made our cake, and he got lost on the way to the venue, so he only just finished setting up as I was about to walk down the aisle, and therefore he missed the ceremony (as he had to return to the hotel to get his wife and daughter and also change). The hotel gave away our photographer's room, so noises were made and great concessions were received. A few people's comments about the lack of cleanliness of their rooms got back to me, but just as third- or fourth-hand comments -- not as problems to fix. One of the DH's second-cousins heckled my dad during his speech, but it would appear someone told him to shut up, as he calmed down. My mom stepped on my bustle before my first dance, but my maid of honour and my bride's man's girlfriend helped do a repair. The groomsmen didn't put the wedding favours on the tables, but the DH and I were able to use the handing out of the favours as our excuse to circulate amongst the tables and thank everyone for coming.

Here I am, signing my life away

On the whole? Problem free. I spent more time socializing and less time dancing than I thought, but that wasn't exactly a bad thing. I was able to time the changing of the daughters during the father-daughter dance well -- fortunately I didn't wait for the keychange as I had considered, as that happened right towards the end of the song and wouldn't have had the same impact.

All in all, it was a great and yet weird day. The DH and I both said that it felt as though we were at someone else's wedding, but for the fact that we were the ones wearing the fancy get-up. My dress was a huge hit with everyone. It did get somewhat uncomfortable towards the end of the night, and I loved that first big breath I got to take after I removed it -- and the even bigger one after the damn strapless bra came off.

So purty

Weird things about wedding get-up? Spanx (or at least the set I bought and didn't wear) aren't meant to be worn with underwear, as there is simply an opening that you pull aside to do your business. Yours truly was not comfortable with that idea, and so ended up wearing a different pair of stocking-shorts that she had in stock. Oddly enough, my mom was fine with the idea of me going commando on my wedding day, but didn't like the idea that I might be braless -- it was her that insisted we go shopping for a "proper" bra. Since I don't have any strapless bras from this millennium, that wasn't a huge problem, though I'm pretty sure the damn thing had more padding than me in there. I was able to stash the hotel key in the bra and some kleenex in between, though, so that was convenient. I offered the kleenex to the DH during a tender moment in the ceremony, which changed his tears to laughter.

Our cake topper - which I made. Fuck yeah.

I had another moment I had in mind to mention, but it's passed now. I feel I'm racing against a clock, as my computer wants to do an automatic update that it won't allow me to postpone, and it's past my bedtime. Of course, as I've been sleeping from 2 or 3 until 11 the last many days, I doubt I'll be asleep anytime soon.

Lots of people have asked me if I feel any different post-marriage, or how married life is compared to pre-married life. I think I've probably asked my friends that same question, as it's an ice-breaker of sorts, and the truth is, I feel no different, grand-scale. I think it's probably because I'm short and chunky and the DH, while taller than me and definitely not chunky, is still shorter-ish for a guy, and so in my head I think we're both still kids -- so many of my married friends are tall and seem grown-up, and I'm pretty sure I'm still a 16-year poser.

In truth, I do question some more of my behaviours than I did before, which tells me I have some preconceptions about what it means to be married. I've read that where many marriages fail is where couples have expectations that things will change once they're married -- that the husband will no longer have poker nights with his buddies, or that the wife won't take girls-only overnight trips, or things of that nature. I asked the DH before we married if he had any of those expectations, and he said no, and I felt the same way -- and we both happen to like the evenings where the other is out, so it's not as though either of us would suddenly expect those activities to change. If anything, he tries to get me to leave the house more often than I do.

But behaviours -- I do sometimes question whether I should be cuddling with this friend that I've cuddled with for the last 7 or 8 years, or whether I should stop flirting with that friend that I've flirted with for the last 10 years, or whatever. Even some of the things that I talk about or have talked about -- should that suddenly stop now that a second ring is on my finger? The truth is, I only think they need to stop if they're creating problems in my relationship with the DH, and until he tells me they are, I see no real reason to change.

Other peoples' thoughts be damned. And I'm lucky that my friends are, on the whole, fairly open and understanding (well, the ones I'm closer to, for sure). We cuddle, we flirt, we understand one another -- and those in open relationships have their own boundaries, and don't expect those in closed relationships to change their own boundaries just because. Though all of that's another matter that came up a little while ago. Separate post for another day.

So yes, I do sometimes look at the lines I'm approaching and try to decide for myself and my marriage if they're being overstepped or are too far, but I think that's a constant negotiation, and that's not a bad thing.

Otherwise? I'm still the same person I was this time last year. Even the last name hasn't changed, despite what other people might want or how they might try to address me. While Mrs. DH isn't my legal name, I will generally respond to it -- it's not exactly something I feel the need to make a federal case over. But I'm still Jen X, and that's just fine with the DH -- as well as the kitties, not that they've noticed any change either.

I'll try to edit this tomorrow with a photo or two -- I just don't have them on this computer, and I have less than a minute left on the Windows timer (not to mention it's long enough -- and not entirely what I originally meant to cover).


As you may have heard, we had an earthquake here today. As my parents are out of town, I decided to drive over to check on my mom's cat and the house in general -- plus just to visit with Big Fat Shadowcat, since she loves company and she's a complete and utter sweetheart.

Here's the email I just sent my dad following that visit:


Well, the good news is that the house seems fine and Shadowcat also seems fine. She was very happy to have some company, and barked at me from the kitchen while I patrolled the house (didn't check out your bedroom, though). She got lots of pats and that made her very kitty happy.

The bad news is that because you have the thermostat set so high, you might come home to earwigs. I was setting up my coffee maker chez moi when an earwig fell from my shirt on to the counter, so the cats got to watch as I freaked out. By the time I'd grabbed something to kill it, it had disappeared, despite my patiently waiting for it. So now I've set my kitchen on fire and I'm not going back in there, Moe's whining be damned.

Also there was a rabbit in your front yard, so I said hi to it and apologized for not having carrots with me.