Glad to Be a Librarian

Sometimes you take a look at your life and realize how happy you are to be where you are and to be doing what you’re doing. That can happen when you have something come across your regular life that just is so right, it reminds you how great you’ve got it. It can also, of course, happen when you do something so far out of what you normally do, and it makes you realize how much better what you normally do really is.

For me, this kitchen renovation has been more of the latter than the former. I am very glad there are people like my contractor who are so good at looking at a space and knowing what needs to be done to that space to turn it into the space you’d like it to be. Not just that, but they’re able to make that happen.

I am not one of those people.

Everyone I’ve talked to about kitchen renovations has commiserated with me about how difficult they are, and I appreciate it. That said, there are multiple elements to this renovation that have made it more difficult than perhaps even a normal kitchen renovation.

  • We’re renovating the oldest part of our house. Built in 1841, when we’re moving some of these walls around, we’re dealing with huge beams, not 2×4’s. More like 8x8s or 12x12s. The floor hasn’t known a straight day in its life, and the walls have only a passing relationship to level. When you’re trying to put normal, modern elements into a kitchen like that, it’s difficult to say the least.
  • The kitchen is over the smallest part of the crawlspace in the basement. Probably about two feet of clearance, and you’re crawling over piles of brick, fieldstone, and dirt, with plenty of spiderwebs, spiders, and the remnants of decades of rodents. I don’t like cramped spaces. I’m not full blown claustrophobic, but I lean in that direction. Yesterday, while I was down in the bowels of my house and had just cut open my hand with a sawzall, I definitely wasn’t hoping to do renovation work for the rest of my life.
  • Our contractor is awesome, but he’s just one guy. We don’t have a team of construction people showing up to git ‘r dun. Because a lot of the work on this project needs another set of hands, that other set of hands has been, typically, me. I’ve taken multiple “days off” to work on the kitchen. Except each day I “take off” just means I’m falling behind on actual work, which means once I’m done with construction (or in the middle of it), I have to jump on a Zoom call or answer emails, or work on grading papers.
  • This is a big renovation. Totally replaced one wall. Tearing down two walls. Combining three different slightly different floor levels. Moving the fridge, sink, oven, and dishwasher. Moving baseboard heat (which we thankfully contracted out). Swapping out the floor and the ceiling. You name it.

And then, above all, is the fact that this has gone on for sooooo long. Between first thinking of the renovations three or four years ago to finally getting around to it, I am so ready for it to be done. Ready to stop the days of getting up and starting construction work first thing, and then continuing that work after my contractor has gone home, to try and get through this quicker. 12 hours a day of construction is enough to remind me that yes, I’d much rather be a librarian.

However, we now have a sink that has running water, even if it doesn’t always drain. We have an over where it belongs, and it works, even if it doesn’t have a range hood yet. We have a fridge that’s plugged in where it’s supposed to be, with a waterline attached to it that doesn’t leak, even if the fridge isn’t quite ready to be put in place. And we have a dishwasher next to the spot it’s going to go, with electrical and water already hooked up next to it.

The ceiling is mostly done. The drywall is . . . halfway finished? We only have one wall left to tear down. We are making progress, even if I’m too tired to recognize it.

I am so looking forward to going back to just being a librarian and author. Stick to my strengths.

But hey: at least I’ll have an awesome kitchen once I get there.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking this PERFECT PLACE TO DIE Amazon link. It will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Wheel of Time TV Series Thoughts

I did not expect to like the Wheel of Time adaptation on Amazon Prime. I think I was gun shy right from the beginning. This is a series that I have been invested in for decades, ever since I first saw Eye of the World in the library and picked it up for two basic reasons: I thought the cover looked cool (a group of travelers in fantasy garb, up against a full moon), and it was very thick. I loved it, and I was hooked for the whole journey, waiting impatiently as the books came out over the years, culminating in them being finished by a good friend.

How in the world would a TV series be able to do them justice? Getting my hopes up seemed like too much to ask, so I just sort of let the series progress in the background, and when it actually was released I went into it expecting disappointment. You can’t be really let down if you’re planning on it, right? Surely the effects would be terrible. The acting would be off. I wouldn’t like it.

Except then I watched it, and instead of disappointment, I was just flat out excited. Excited to see the opening scenes with the Trollocs attacking Two Rivers. Excited to see Shadar Logoth. Excited to meet Thom for the first time. And as all of this unfolded and unfolded well, I got even more excited. I started to think about what might lie in store if this series keeps being successful. Seeing these characters grow. Seeing more of the world. The Stone of Tear? Dumai’s Wells? Yes, please!

Is the show a carbon copy of the source material? No, but I know if it was, then it wouldn’t be successful. Film has different strengths and weaknesses compared to books. To be successful, it has to change. And I’ve really been satisfied with the changes they’ve made so far. The story clips along at a fast pace. The characters are introduced and established, and there’s a driving sense of urgency to the whole thing. The effects aren’t perfect, but they’re very well done.

Honestly, I have few gripes at all. I was initially concerned they might try to Game of Thrones it, throwing in more extreme material than the books had, but other than a random bathing scene with Lan and Moiraine, and more physical romance with the main characters than was present in the book, they haven’t. (And some of that stems just from having the main characters be 4 years older or so when the series starts.) It sticks to its TV-14 rating, and that feels like a good place for it.

I know it hasn’t been universally loved, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s been super so far, and I look forward to more of the same. What have you thought?

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking this PERFECT PLACE TO DIE Amazon link. It will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Our New York City Thanksgiving

I’m back from vacation! And while I’m still up to my eyeballs in kitchen renovations, it was very nice to get away from it all for a few days and head off into Someplace Different. The vacation was, overall, a success, though of course there were some highs and lows. Among the lows was the reminder of just what it feels like to be around that many people. There were a lot of people in the city over the weekend. I’ve never been a huge fan of crowds to begin with, and I’m out of practice, which has only made that worse. Still, I made do.

Here’s a quick rundown of what we did and how it went:

  • Wicked: Seeing a Broadway show again was a blast. I had seen this production back with the original cast, but it was still fantastic, and a great introduction for my kids to Broadway. MC has been listening to the music ever since, and they all really enjoyed it. The sets, the costumes, the production value: all of it top notch. (Though again, the audience was a bit of a different story. There was a kid a few rows away from me who was sniffling loudly, constantly. It’s not a fun noise to hear at any point, and even worse in a pandemic.)
  • Restaurants: We went to three. First was Tony’s Di Napoli for Italian. It’s right in Times Square, and it’s delicious. Family-style, with huge portions. Next was Thanksgiving dinner at Beauty & Essex, which was a bit of a ways away, but very cool. (You enter through a pawn shop, and it has a very speak easy sort of feel to it.) The portions were very small (because it’s that sort of restaurant), but the food was fantastic. Daniela loved it. We also had kebab at a chain restaurant called Naya’s. It was good as well. Oh–and we got bagels at a place called Joe’s Bagels, down by the 9/11 Memorial. Yay for eating different food. Especially good food that didn’t have to be made in my “kitchen.”
  • 9/11 Memorial: Speaking of which, this was my first time making it down that far in Manhattan. We didn’t do the museum, but the memorial itself was very touching.
  • COVID precautions: I loved how NYC was handling everything COVID-related. Anywhere you went that was inside, you had to be masked and you had to provide a picture ID and vaccination card. And they didn’t just wave you through. They checked each and every card and ID. I didn’t see anyone object or throw a tantrum. It all worked smoothly, and it helped me not mind the crowds as much.
  • The parade: After much thought and consideration, we skipped going in person and watched it on TV instead. Warmer, and definitely more comfortable. Plus, we were already doing a ton, so I think adding that on top of everything else would have been a bridge too far. I’m at peace with the decision, and I think we made the right one for us.
  • Empire State Building: We went Thanksgiving afternoon. We got down to 34th street soon enough after the parade that everything was blocked off to traffic still. I was surprised by how few people were around then. The streets were fairly empty, and the line for the ESB wasn’t bad at all. (Not sure if that’s because you need reservations now, or just because it was Thanksgiving afternoon.) The views were fantastic. It was a clear, sunny day. I was surprised to find that I’m much more averse to heights now than I remember being. I wasn’t a huge fan of being that high up, and I had low level anxiety the whole time. But I still had fun.
  • Night Cruise: We went on a 2 hour boat tour around Manhattan on Friday night. This was very popular with the whole family. Great views of the city, and a great tour guide. We got there early enough to be one of the first ones on the boat, so we had very good seats. Definitely recommend it to others.
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Good as always, though I’ve decided if we were to do it again, I think it would make more sense to split into smaller groups. It’s hard when some people want to breeze through a display and others want to meander. And then later on it’s the opposite. Smaller groups would alleviate that problem.
  • Walking: We did a ton of it. 11 miles on Friday. My feet and back were very unhappy with me. That was less fun.
  • Central Park: The first time I’d been through the park in a long time. Fun, but see my earlier comment about walking . . .
  • Driving: We had traffic both ways down, which wasn’t great. It actually took about 9 hours for me to get home on Saturday. (It didn’t help that I got pulled over for speeding, which is another story.) Still not a fan of traffic, but who is?
  • Hotels: The stay in Jersey City was great. I preferred the Courtyard, simply because it was so close to the PATH train. The Doubletree was maybe a bit nicer, but a farther walk. (And full size beds instead of queen size.) If I could have found a place that slept 5 for a reasonable price in downtown Manhattan, that would have been better, but this worked well.
  • The Subway: Easy peasy. No problems at all. On time and straightforward. I’d been a bit worried about riding it with kids late at night, but my fears weren’t justified. Definitely a great way to get around the city.

Overall, a fun time was had by all. I hope your Thanksgiving was a good one, too. Now, back to kitchen renovations . . .

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking this PERFECT PLACE TO DIE Amazon link. It will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Making Progress

It’s been a bit since I updated you on the kitchen progress. (Actually, it’s been a bit since I updated you, period.) Somehow, we keep moving forward, even though at times it feels like there’s no way we’re going to be able to get anything actually done. The drywall is up, electrical is in the process of being done, we’re working on switching the heat for the room, and we actually have cabinets in place now. Some of them.

Of course, each time we get something done, I just remember all the many many other things we need to do. But I’ve been taking pictures and video from each day, and it’s been helpful to go and look at the earlier videos and remind myself just how much has actually happened. I mean, the floor might not be in yet, but at least I’ve ordered it, and it’s on its way. The lights may not be done, but it’s the same for them. And insulation is largely in.

The problem with big projects like this is that it’s so hard to get to a place where you finally say to yourself that you’re finished. There’s the ultimate goal, and until you get to that goal, it can feel like you’re nowhere close. In this case, I know the kitchen won’t be finished until January or February. They’re coming to measure for the granite on a couple of weeks, and then it’ll be the new year before the granite is installed. However, my hope is that we’ll have at least a usable kitchen well before then.

What do we have to do before we can use the kitchen? Plumbing and electrical. If those are done, then the oven’s back online, the sink will work, and we’ll have a dishwasher again. Those are huge steps. And the good news is that I don’t think we’re that far from being there.

In the meantime, it’s time to take a break from all of it and head down to NYC. Thank goodness we weren’t planning on doing Thanksgiving dinner in our house. Maybe we’ll make a turkey once all of this is over. I will miss not having the traditional meal, but it’ll be good to be somewhere other than my house for a while.

Anyway. Hope you all have a lovely break, and I’ll catch you on Monday!

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking this PERFECT PLACE TO DIE Amazon link. It will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Don’t Go to Sleep Copyedit: Done!

Not much to say here other than to pop in and let you know I finished the copyedit for my next book: Don’t Go to Sleep. That means that the books is pretty much locked in and good to go for its publication next summer. It’s a book I’m particularly proud of at the moment. I wrote the bulk of it during the pandemic, and getting through that writing and doing it all on time wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve done. (The past while, my writing has pretty much shut down as I try to just barrel through the next few weeks. I’ve never taken a break this long from writing before, so that might give you and idea of just where my headspace is right now.)

The book has come together very nicely. If you didn’t know, it’s based on a series of unsolved axe murders in New Orleans during the 1910s, and it takes place at the height of the Spanish Influenza in the city in 1918. I didn’t pick the time period because of the pandemic, though it was April of 2020 when I settled on it. I only realized the overlap once I was into the writing. But as I wrote it, it was a good way of dealing with the current crisis: looking back at how big of a crisis the country went through a hundred years ago. Very surprising to see how much stayed the same between then and now. Technology may have changed a great deal, but people still are people.

It was also a nice switch to be able to write about something historical, but which has many more holes in the history. When people have criticized The Perfect Place to Die, it’s usually been around the fact that they knew who the murderer was before they picked up the book. (I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I tried to approach that book like James Cameron approached Titanic. We all know the ship goes down at the end. What ends up mattering is how the characters interacted with that tragedy. They didn’t know the ship would sink, just as the people in Chicago back then didn’t know the identity of a mass murderer.) With this next book, no one knows who committed the murders, so there’s more room to explore. (Also, the book isn’t so much about finding out the killer’s identity as it is about stopping them.)

I’ve seen the cover and the back cover description, and I think you’re really going to like them. I can’t wait to share them, but for now, I’m just happy that I’m still on target with the book, despite COVID’s best efforts.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking this PERFECT PLACE TO DIE Amazon link. It will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

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