Settling in


Gustave Doré's illustration to Dante's Inferno...
Gustave Doré’s illustration to Dante’s Inferno. Plate XXII: Canto VII: The hoarders and wasters. Oh yes, there’s a place in hell for the likes of me.

I spent all last week cleaning my bedroom.  A week, you ask in horror, imagining a scene from “Hoarders?”  Well yeah, and there’s a reason why.  Several, really, that I’ve been thinking a lot about as I schlepped and dusted and mopped and sorted.

I’m coming up on the five year anniversary of moving here.  Before that I’d spent about fifteen years caring for my parents in a home that became increasingly cluttered due to… well a lot of things.  They were in the antique and resale business for more than 50 years, and kept quite a lot of wonderful stuff for themselves (and me.)  When Dad retired, a lot more stuff came upstairs, got stored in the basement or out in the garage. (I don’t even like to think about the fact that I walked away from a full garage and a half-filled basement when I moved.)  And as their health deteriorated, we added a lot of home health clutter to the mix.

Housework became an exercise in simply keeping up with the increasing mess, keeping critical things like kitchen, bath and bedrooms clean and relatively neat.  Dementia, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression and a host of other, more minor ailments are not tidy afflictions.  You don’t cough delicately into a lace hanky and swoon on a velvet couch.  There are pills, and ointments, syringes, bandages, adult diapers, walkers, hospital beds, oxygen concentrators, canes, gait belts, commodes, and more dirty towels and garbage than you can begin to imagine. There are the useful gadgets to help with routine tasks and the not-so-useful gadgets that waste time, money and emotional energy.  There are piles of magazines and newspapers, piles of laundry and mail, stacks of games and toys intended to, if not improve cognitive function then at least slow the loss. We even had some sort of machine that was supposed to help Mom’s hip knit. (The bone never solidified.  Or something. What I recall of those days is imperfect.)  In short it’s a long, messy business and once it’s over there is a fantastic amount of stuff left, in this case on top of an already fantastic amount of stuff.

All of which is to say nothing of my own clutter, all the stuff I had, all the stuff I bought to make myself feel better.  (Bad habit.  Working on breaking it.)  When my folks passed I was left with a over 4,000 sq. ft. of stuff piled on stuff.

I promptly got about as sick as I’d ever been in my life, and while I was in a decongestant-induced haze I had a dealer come in and take what amounted to about 1/3rd of the stuff to sell. The money stopped coming a year or so ago, so I assume it all sold or has been given to charity. I sold a bunch of stuff on eBay.  And when I moved I still had about 4000 sq. ft. of stuff to move into about 2200 sq. ft. of space.  So for five years I’ve had boxes of stuff

Caddy looking down at his momstacked almost everywhere in this apartment.  Why? Well chalk some of it up to being lazy.  And depressed.  My family was gone and about eighteen months after I moved, my beloved Caddy died, too.

But I also think that some of this reluctance to get on with living here was because I simply didn’t know how or even if I wanted to.  It was an enormous change that I never really wanted to make.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I did, all things considered.  But the whole process was something I never felt ready to cope with.

Our Alter Egos

Little by little I’ve been easing into this new place. We have a garden, and every time we plant a rose bush it’s really an act of faith.  The basement is finished.  We’ve gotten to know our neighbors. (Many of whom we both love to pieces.)  I’ve got a couple of rooms painted.  And last week I got everything in my bedroom squared away.  (Okay, to be fair, I still have one tote to empty, but it’s the odds and ends of cleaning. And the room needs painting.)  I’m building a sense of belonging that I desperately need if I ever want to feel at home here.

I love this place.  I don’t ever want to leave.  I think if I ever needed to leave it would kill me.  I suppose that would solve the problem, wouldn’t it?  I just need to let myself feel like it’s home.

This is what helps:


Glinda and the bathtub full of coffee
Glinda and the bathtub full of coffee (Photo credit: Tracy Rowan)

Christmas 2012






The Vampyre’s Revenge has a release date!

I just got a release date for novella “The Vampyre’s Revenge”  It’ll be published by Dreamspinner Press on February 13th.

Podgy fanboy Frank Vogel lives a dead-end life. He’s addicted to pop culture, Internet porn, and fantasies about Rebecca Hansen, a Buffy-like cheerleader from his high school days, but he yearns for something more. When he finds out Mrs. Carlson, his sweet, elderly landlady, is a vampire, a whole new world opens up to him. Blinded by dreams of sexy, mysterious vampires, Frank begs Mrs. Carlson to turn him. Against her better judgment, she does.

Unfortunately, Frank’s life doesn’t seem much different afterward. Then he runs into his unwitting nemesis, Will Chase–former high-school football team captain, former boyfriend to Rebecca–and makes gleeful plans to destroy him… until he discovers that he and Will have a lot in common.

This story was a lot of fun to write.  I don’t really remember where I got the original idea, probably from a conversation with my friends — most of whom are fans — about how maybe the world needed some vampires who weren’t broody, sexy, got-it-together bloodsuckers or shambling revenants.  What I wanted to write was a regular guy, a fan, someone smart but not happy or successful, who becomes a vampire almost by accident, and ends up finding love, also by accident.

I think it’s a sweet story.  I hope you all will, too.

Little vampire

What cost Glamour? What cost Allure? $15 a year. Each.



Seriously, why do people have to go through things like this? Over a YEAR ago I was in Ulta and when I checked out they said “Would you like a couple of sample issues of magazines?” Didn’t tell me what magazines or anything. I think I mumbled something about “I don’t know, maybe.” and apparently that was enough. I started getting Glamour and Allure in the mail. Yeah me getting Glamour and Allure. Stop laughing.

Anyway they showed up at various intervals and after looking at the first ones I started tossing them out, figuring they’d stop when the trial was over. But they kept on coming on and off all through 2011. I started giving the copies to my mail carrier when I thought about it. Then in December I noticed I’d been charged for subscriptions. $15 for each magazine. I called AmEx right away and disputed the charge. That was the last I heard.

Until today when I opened my mailbox and there was Glamour staring at me. So I phoned the customer service number and was told that when I mumbled “maybe” at Ulta I had authorized a free subscription (Never told that.) which would automatically renew on the credit card I’d used (Never told that.) after the free period. I got the magazines stopped and told the CS rep not to worry about the refund because I thought American Express would take care of it. However I went to the AmEx site, discovered that the dispute was marked “closed” and that the entire amount had been refunded to my account.

NYC - Times Square: Condé Nast Building


So now I’m really pissed off with Conde-Nast because that kind of marketing just sucks. I’m pissed off with Ulta for not making sure that I knew it was a subscription and not just samples (The reason I remember all this is that I thought she’d put the magazines in my bag and when I got home and they weren’t in there I thought she’d forgotten.) and I’m wondering if AmEx is eating the cost of the subscription. I’m not worried about them, I know they have more money than God, but it chaps my hide that they might just settle it like that rather than making C-N own up to practices which I think border on deceptive.

Auto-renew should be an opt-in thing, not something you need to opt-out of.  The burden should be on us to say “Yes, keep this coming” instead of “Hey, I don’t even LOOK at your damn magazine; stop sending it to me!”  I just wasted half an hour making phone calls, checking websites and being really, really irritated.

This is ridiculous.