After blowing up social media for 24 hours last week, I got a call from the Enterprise CS rep first thing Friday morning. He was talking so fast and frantic that he was almost incomprehensible, but after I told him to take a breath, was able to convey that someone must have missed the memo, he told me the matter would be handled internally and it 100% would be, he was going to call and email the Damage Unit personally and ensure they know the claim is not to be pursued, he's so sorry about this, customer service satisfaction blah. I thanked him politely. That said, I still got the paper copies of the claim paperwork in the mail yesterday (a week after they were emailed to me), so I left him a voicemail asking (politely) for an email from him corroborating what he'd told me Friday morning "for my records". I may have casually thrown in that since I work for an attorney, I prefer to have documentation. I also called my insurance company and let them know what had happened, and they promised they'd annotate my file accordingly and let me know if Enterprise "tried anything else".

The rest of today's to-do list, aside from work stuff, includes researching refinancing our car loan, since the bank we got stuck with initially has a borked website, a labyrinthine online form to fill out to make online payments, does not allow for automated monthly payments; you have to go through the rigamarole of logging in and confirming every month, and is charging an exorbitant interest rate. I'm sure Capital One or somewhere can look at our sterling credit scores and offer a better deal. I need to call the vet and put a bag of the boys' fancy health cat food on hold, and ask Yeats to pick it up. I need to remind Yeats to check the recipe for tonight's dinner before going to the grocery store. I need to print our Amtrak tickets for Friday, when we will travel up to NYC to see the Tolkien exhibit with friends. I need to congratulate one set of friends on their pregnancy, and another set of friends on their imminent grandparenthood. And I need to pause and send up a profound prayer of thanks that Steff is in remission and doing well, with a bone marrow donor located should that become necessary.

I need a solid eight hours of sleep and to not have to think for a little while.

Oh, and we did a local con this weekend. Decent sales (13 physical copies, and probably that many ebook/audiobook sales, judging by the number of people who asked about those options and took bookmarks). We also spoke to someone who maintains a shelf of regional authors in their art gallery. They weren't real sure about the Paladin books, but as soon as Yeats held up an ARC of Body Broker and said "PI mystery set locally", they were all ears. Getting to do a reading in an art gallery would be neat! We're both really pleased at the advance buzz the new book is getting and how interested people seem to be, and judging by some comments the publisher has made, so is he.

Okay, work. Then lunch. Five more days until I can eat chocolate again. That box of Samoas in the back of the pantry may not survive past 12:05am on Easter Sunday.

Reading Log: The Echo Killing by Christi Daugherty; My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing; A Cathedral of Myth and Bone by Kat Howard; Devil's Daughter by Lisa Kleypas; Courting Darkness by Robin LaFevers; A Dangerous Collaboration by Deanna Raybourn; Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young
Remember how, three weeks ago, I got a voicemail from an Enterprise CS rep assuring me that the "matter" of my allegedly-damaged rental car would be handled internally, how the alleged damage was ambiguous and wouldn't amount to much more than $400, and how my satisfaction as a customer was their main priority?

Yeah, they decided not to go that route. I got an email from their Damage Unit yesterday saying that a claim was being pursued, that the "damages" (which are not at all the type of damage they originally claimed had accrued) will cost over twice that to fix, and that I should inform my insurance company and hope they can pay at least some of it.

Well fuck that. I've left two voicemails with the CS person I spoke to, I'm going to call him every two hours until I get a response, and I have his three-weeks-ago voicemail saved. I've sent another blistering description of "customer service" through Enterprise's website, have yelled at them via Facebook messenger, and am yelling at them via Facebook itself. Yeats is yelling via Twitter, and Aveline has calmly hinted that she can write a Letter on Letterhead if the need arises.

As I was playing Skyrim yesterday (yes, for the twelfth time, sometimes you just need to rampage through barrows, join a thieves' guild, and fight some dragons), Yeats popped downstairs:

Yeats: So I need you to do a thing online for me for my student loans tomorrow.

Me: Okay.

Yeats: I'll send you an email with instructions. You'll need to create an ID and password, log in, and fill out a form.

Me: Okay, sounds easy enough

Yeats: Great! Also, if you don't do it soon and do it exactly right, my loan payments will triple. I'll Gchat you about it Monday morning. Thanks!

Me: ...okay...

My Brain: Please enjoy this multicolored full-detail extravaganza entitled "Here's How You're Going to Mess This Up And End Up Homeless And Alone!". It will be playing on continual loop until you do the thing tomorrow morning, and will have periodic encore performances throughout the next few weeks!

I fought some dragons with gritted teeth, let's just say. And took some pre-emptive Zzzquil last night, because I have met my brain. Did the thing this morning with no issue, and will be petitioning my brain for a new multicolored full-detail extravaganza, perhaps one entitled "Tom Hiddleston Shows Up At My Door Soaking Wet In a Storm and Needs A Hug".

Reading Log: The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders; Wild Country by Anne Bishop; An Unconditional Freedom by Alyssa Cole; Mister Miracle by Tom King; Fence, Volume 1 by C.S. Pacat; Lady Smoke by Laura Sebastian; Kingdom of Ashes by Rhiannon Thomas
I am looking forward to the next several busy weekends (two cons, the trip to New York to see the Tolkien exhibit, Easter, Balticon...), but I looked at the calendar, and realized that all my scheduled days off and most of my weekends until June are booked. No days to sleep late. Some of those days not sleeping in my own bed. Con weekends, then coming home to still have to do the laundry and the grocery shopping and pet the frantic cats. I'm pre-emptively exhausted.

Oh, and apparently I do have to haul myself down to the DMV, because since I purchased the Fit so quickly, the dealer didn't have time to run it through the DE inspection, and they need the pass certificate before they can get me my title and plates. It shouldn't take long, but because I cannot ask for yet another late morning due to car stuff, looks like I'm going tomorrow after work. Hopefully I can make it home in time for D&D. Hopefully.

Coming down off a rough uterus week, this is probably the lingering malaise. I am happy, all of these things will be fun and exciting. But right now, I just want to sleep for twelve hours straight. And eat a five-pound block of chocolate.

Reading Log: The Restless Girls by Jessie Burton; Band Sinister by KJ Charles; Miranda in Milan by Katharine Duckett; The Cerulean by Amy Ewing; The Grail Tree by Jonathan Gash; The Afterward by E. K. Johnston; Undying by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner; Schooled by Gordon Korman; The Widows by Jess Montgomery; Crown of Thunder by Tochi Onyebuchi; Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid; The Impostor's Daughter by Laurie Sandell; The Cold is in Her Bones by Peternelle van Arsdale; The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson
As some current country song says, it's been a wreck-me week.

All week, been dealing with the BS from Enterprise by being vocally and in-detail angry on social media. I called two different customer-service hotlines, sent detailed emails to two CS websites, made a sarcastic Facebook post in response to a targeted ad, and had Yeats yelling at them on Twitter to boot. This led to one call from a CS person last Friday saying he'd investigate the situation, and a voicemail from the same person this Friday, claiming that while the alleged damage to the rental car was (coincidentally!) almost the exact amount of the deposit I'd been charged when I rented the car in the first place, the alleged damage was "questionable", so they'd just handle it internally, their main concern was my satisfaction as a customer, etc. I left this person a voicemail saying plainly "So there is no claim, I don't have to pay anything other than my two days of car rental, please call back and confirm", and I will nag them until I have either in-person or voicemail evidence of same. Still not using Enterprise again unless I have no other alternative.

The silver Fit (its name is Ashhawk) drives beautifully, the only hiccup is that it shares the same exquisitely sensitive tire pressure monitor as his. Which is to say that my 'check tire pressure' light came on Friday morning, I was late to work because I drove to Wawa to check all four tires in range of an air pump, and found that one tire was perhaps half a PSI off the ideal. Yeats confirmed that his car does the exact same thing (he called it the Princess and the Pea syndrome), and the best thing to do is just keep an eye on things, check the tires every two or three days, and when I go to a Honda dealership next week to get an airbag replaced (a factory recall), maybe mention it. I know what a flat or quasi-flat tire feels like.

Aveline is busy, and exhausted, but happy to be so. Anders is exhausted, because several of his clients are extremely close-contact, "I was in the area and thought I'd stop by to see how far along you are on my case!" people, and I am very tired of saying "Well, I don't think he was expecting you, but let me see if he has availability,". I am especially tired of the custody matter that has been dragging on for years, and a settlement conference ended with his client sitting in my office sobbing "He's just so-ho-ho-ho me-he-he-he-an!" hoping that I would pat her shoulder sympathetically. Nope. You have four kids together, you need to be able to have a civil conversation together. Fake the civility if you have to.

Yeats is going to be at "Balticon over Memorial Day weekend as a local author! We may or may not have a table, but he will be on panels and probably at kaffeeklatches, eager to meet people! We are super excited! I may explode and die at the thought of meeting Elizabeth Bear and Scott Lynch!

Tonight, Yeats made Nigella Lawson's risotto bolognese, which is delicious and makes a ton and I am already looking forward to tomorrow's lunch, and we are watching "Troy: Fall of a City" and snarking at it while still appreciating Odysseus and Achilles and Athena and Alfie Enoch as Aeneas. May your weekends be as relaxing.

Reading Log: The Wicked King by Holly Black; Body Broker (ARC) by Daniel Ford; The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green; Circle of the Moon by Faith Hunter; French Milk by Lucy Knisley; Unraveled by Courtney Milan; White Trash Zombie Unchained by Diana Rowland; Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild; Creatures of Want and Ruin by Molly Tanzer
So last night as I was driving home (my new car is great!), I got a voicemail from Enterprise asking me to check in. I tried to call them back, but they closed at 6:00 and I just missed them. I figured it was just some closing-out-your-rental details.

I called them back this morning. I was informed that the rental car, which I left at the dealership Wednesday night and was returned to Enterprise on Thursday morning, had scratches on the door bumper panels. They'll be keeping my $400 deposit while they assess the damage, and I should probably call my insurance company, by the way, my deductible is...?

I am LIVID. That car was in the exact shape I received it in when I left it at the dealer--possibly better, I filled up the tank and everything. I did not scrape, dent, ding, or do ANYTHING to hurt that car. Also, it was a tiny Ford Fiesta, I would have had to work to scratch a door. I emailed the dealership, just to ask if possibly an employee had been careless when they returned it, and the gentleman who sold me the Fit responded, saying that he drove the Fiesta back to Enterprise himself, checked it over beforehand, and watched the Enterprise people pick it up when he returned it. He agreed that there were no scratches on the bumper panels, and is going to call them and have a word. An online check reveals that a fair number of people who have used this particular Enterprise have had issues with claims of scratches post-return. It seems to be a habit of the staff there.

Well, I have the gentleman from the dealership on my side. I have Yeats tweeting pointedly at @EnterpriseCares, and my credit card company is going to fax me dispute forms to fill out and have ready when the pending charge on my card goes through. I am also quite ready to call corporate and be icily polite.

I was more than willing to pay for three days of car rental and for the cost of refilling the tank. And if I had scratched the Fiesta, I would have been willing to admit it and pay for it. But this? No. It's been a hell of a week, this is the last straw. You could have had a loyal future customer, Enterprise, and now you've made an enemy.

Tuesday. I reserve an Enterprise rent-a-car online, and call as soon as they open to request a pick-up. They pick me up, and I have a zippy little Ford Fiesta and am on the road to work within ten minutes of entering the Enterprise office. Work chugs along (at least I didn't miss anything serious on my unplanned day off), with periodic update texts from the dealership mechanic. Around 3pm, I get the news I was afraid of. The transmission is utterly borked. There's no fixing it, the most they can do is replace it, and that's $6K, give or take a few hundred. Yeats and I agree that for that amount of money, we could more or less purchase a new-used car, and we reluctantly inform the dealership that we don't plan to pursue repairs. The dealership promptly puts me in touch with a sales rep, who asks me what make, model, year, and style of new-used cars I prefer, and says he will start making a list. Yeats and I plot out a budget, and I manage not to cry myself to sleep.

Today. Zippy the Fiesta gets me to work with no issue, and Aveline and Anders are super sympathetic and agree that of course I can leave at 4:00 so as to meet with the sales rep at 4:30. Yeats sends me several links to pre-owned cars at the dealership, I send the ones I like to the sales rep, and he agrees that he can have three of them on the lot this afternoon when Yeats and I come by. Upon arrival, we test-drive three cars, a little silver Fit, a vivid aquamarine Focus, and a TARDIS-blue Mazda. The Mazda is magnificent, but once all the math is done, out of our price range. The Focus is fine. The Fit drives smoothly, I feel comfortable in it, and having driven and lived with Yeats' red Fit for several years now, I trust the model. Between Yeats' book royalties (if anyone is waiting to purchase any volumes of the Paladin trilogy, or considering whether or not to preorder Body Broker, now would be a great time to do either or both!) and the small amount they were willing to give me to scrap my Acura for parts, we were able to pay for about half the Fit up front, and have a very reasonable payment plan for the other half. My insurance is adjusted accordingly (with savings!), and the dealership should have my title and plates ready within a couple of weeks. Since Enterprise is barely a mile from the dealership, I left the rental there, and they will bop it back up the road tomorrow morning, returning it a day earlier than anticipated. All I have to do tomorrow is give my old title to the dealership.

We came home, ate leftovers for dinner, and split a bottle of wine. Please, little silver Fit, be as good to me as Yeats' Fit is to him, and last at least eight years. Ten-plus would be even better. I promise I'm easy to please, just get me to and from work and the library.

Reading Log: A Lady's Code of Misconduct by Meredith Duran; That Ain't Witchcraft by Seanan McGuire
I got up this morning expecting to check in with the garage when they opened at 9am, get a call summarizing what was going on with my car between 10am and 11am, and hopefully be able to work a half-day.

The mechanic did not answer the phone until 9:30am, but assured me he was about to start checking over the car.

When I didn't hear back by 11:30am, I called the garage again. The mechanic said "Yeah, this is...really weird,", and asked me to call back in an hour.

I called back at 12:30. Nobody picked up. I emailed Aveline, Anders, and Yeats to let them know I'd be taking a personal day.

After a couple more calls where nobody picked up, I finally got the mechanic again at 2:00. He said it was definitely the transmission, but he wasn't sure what was going on with it, since no warning lights had come on and there had been absolutely no sign anything at all was wrong. He said he was going to run a full diagnostic and would call back in an hour.

Having heard nothing by 4:00, I called again. The mechanic assured me that he'd run the diagnostic, switched out the transmission fluid and done some tinkering, and that he'd driven the car around the big industrial park for about 20 minutes and had no issues. Yeats agreed to skip his Monday gym routine, come straight home from work, and we'd go right out to get my car.

We picked up the car at 4:30pm and paid $250 for a day's work.

At 4:45pm, as I was driving down the road to our development and Yeats was behind me, the car started to jerk and slow in exactly the same way as before. I was able to pull off into a small shopping center and park the car, Yeats keeping an eye on. I waited a moment, shifted the car into reverse, and tapped the accelerator. The car jerked back a couple of feet, leaving me half-out of the spot, then stopped dead. The motor revved, the car did not move. I shifted into neutral, Yeats pushed my car back into the spot so the impatient person trying to pull around me to park at the sub shop could get by. I indulged in one primal scream, then called AAA again.

My car is currently at the Acura dealership that fixed it up so nicely back in December. They will be able to look at it sometime tomorrow, but couldn't set me a specific time because we had it towed in after usual repair hours. They do not have any loaner vehicles currently available; fortunately, there's an Enterprise just down the street. I will be able to go to work tomorrow, assuming Enterprise lives up to its website promises and can send someone to pick me up.

If the cost to (we are assuming at this point) replace the entire damn transmission goes above a certain number, we may just start looking at new/used cars for me. I was enjoying three whole months without car-related issues, too.


Reading Log: The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan; Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee; Hero of the Empire by Candice Millard
Today, I drove down to Maryland to have High Tea with Kel, Queen Liz, MiL, and Kel's BFF from college. It was a lovely tea, the tea shoppe knows its clientele, and Queen Liz was as delighted with her lemonade (served in a teapot) and chocolate-chip scone as I was with my almond tea, selection of sandwiches, and key-lime tartlet. (I have given up chocolate for Lent again. I know this will get harder over time, but today, key-lime tartlets were a viable substitute.)

My car drove fine the 45 miles down to Maryland.

My car drove fine the 45 miles back up from Maryland.

My car drove fine on the side trip to the used bookstore, where I netted five books I have been on the hunt for, and one unexpected bonus romance novel.

Then, 1.5 miles from home, literally within sight of the turn towards my development, the car started to jerk a little. And slow down. Unsure, I eased my way onto the shoulder, parked, turned on my hazard lights, and waited. The motor continued to run smoothly. I waited a couple of minutes, then shifted back into "drive" and tapped the accelerator. The motor revved, but nothing moved.

"Crap," quoth I.

I called Yeats to let him know I was fine. I texted my MiL, to let her know I was almost home safe. Then I called AAA. They were there within a half-hour, and it was agreed that my car would be towed to our mechanic's shop, we would leave a note on the windshield explaining the situation since they were already closed, and hopefully we could arrange something on Monday. As we were getting the car off the AAA truck and settled at the garage, the mechanic pulled up and said "I was passing and saw you in the lot--what's up?"

So honestly, if this had to happen, it happened in a good way. It did not happen on 95, somewhere in the wilds of northeastern Maryland. The mechanic knows my car is there and knows the situation, and will look at it first thing Monday morning. I can hitch a ride to the garage from a friend, or call a quick Lyft. And according to Yeats, who did some Internet research before coming out to the garage to get me, it's probably something related to the transmission, which can either be easily fixed with transmission fluid, or...less easily fixed with money. Which we can afford right now, thanks be to God.

I am home. Yeats poured me a beer and made comfort omelets for dinner. I do not have to go anywhere tomorrow, and can use Yeats' car if I do end up having to. And if I need to take a personal day to wait at the garage on Monday, this is why I have them.

Still, I may just sit here on the couch and emit a few therapeutic Tina Belcher groans.

Reading Log: Don't Tempt Me by Loretta Chase; Gold by Gemini by Jonathan Gash; The Heart of Valor by Tanya Huff; Something New by Lucy Knisley; Not Your Villain by C.B. Lee; Fear the Drowning Deep by Sarah Glenn Marsh; When I Cast Your Shadow by Sarah Porter; Intrusion by Charlotte Stein; On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
Lord have mercy, it has been a long dang week.

--Both Aveline and Anders have clients who need to hear from them every single day. Aveline's client emailed her today, and the last sentence of the email was essentially "please call me and tell me everything's okay, I really need some assurance right now". Ooooookay, she can do that, and then she will charge you for it. You need someone you can talk to. Or maybe a bottle of wine and some chocolate. Either of which are less expensive than Aveline holding your hand and saying "there there", instead of, y'know, working on your case.

--Aveline also has a big hearing coming up, and so there's her client panicking on average of once per day, the usual pre-hearing hustle of copy this, make a folder of that, check this date, plus the super-fun involvement of Stupid Opposing Counsel, who (to all intents and purposes) just passed the bar last week and alternates between sending Aveline pitiful emails asking her "Help me, how do I attorney?", and sending her officious emails decrying her morals and insisting that their client will "find justice as is meet and right" at the upcoming hearing. Yeah, I'm sure. You emailed me last week asking how to open an attachment. As a bonus, it might snow next week, and if this hearing gets rescheduled, Aveline may explode, and I will have to deal with Stupid Opposing Counsel for at least another month.

--On a side note, it snowed two inches today, March 1st. It may snow two to four more inches this Sunday/Monday. To whom to I complain? I want March to come in like a lion or a lamb, not a polar bear.

--One of the fluorescent lights in my office has started doing the buzzy flickery thing that means it's going to burn out soon, and it is driving me maaaaaaaaad. I have notified the building folks, and the bulb will be replaced first thing next week, but I have come home the last three days with a gently pulsing headache behind my left eye, and this cannot continue.

--And my uterus is being stroppy (I'm 40 now, you know that, right? This can cease and desist at any time), and I am dead, leaden, worn-out tired every night and dragging into the following morning.

There are good things ahead. Yeats is having a fantasy baseball brouhaha next weekend, which means I get a Sunday afternoon all to myself, which means pink wine and takeout Chinese. I am also going to have High Tea with Queen Liz, Kel, MiL, and possibly one of Liz's friends at a tea shoppe, which will be tasty and fun and let me see how she's doing (she's eleven. How???). Yeats has a local con and a book fair imminent in April, and we are also going to venture into the wilds of New York City with friends to see the Tolkien exhibit, because this is a chance not to be missed.

Speaking of Yeats, here is the Amazon link for the newest book. Please add it to Goodreads, and accept my assurances that this is not a gory-bloody murder mystery, there are no serial killers, I am referenced (briefly) in the text, and if you decide you like Jack Dixon, he has more adventures forthcoming.

This post brought to you by a fairly large bottle of fancy vanilla bean stout, which Yeats decided I had earned. Also, for those of you with access to Trader Joe's, find you some of their new Milk Chocolate Pecans with Honey Toffee. I am consciously restricting myself from eating an entire bag, they are that good.

Reading Log: Watcher in the Woods by Kelley Armstrong; Tiger Striped by Jennifer Ashley; King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo; A Case of Possession by KJ Charles; The Queen of Sorrow by Sarah Beth Durst; Deep Roots by Ruthanna Emrys; Pennterra by Judith Moffett
Had a lovely long weekend (Friday through Tuesday) with Firiel in TN. I drove to and from the airport MYSELF (which is probably nothing to everyone else, but I have weird travel/driving anxiety), found long-term parking and located my car in long-term parking when I got back, and managed to pack everything in my trusty blue bag and a large purse, meaning no checked luggage. \o/ My parents treated us to dinner, then Firiel spirited me away to her apartment, and we proceeded to behave like we always do--snacks, tea, chatter, and lots of media consumed. She had somehow not seen the "One Day at a Time" reboot, was hooked within the first ten minutes of the first episode, and we mainlined two-and-a-half seasons over two-and-a-half days. We also watched "Widows" and "Bohemian Rhapsody", and I provided all six hours of "The Night Manager" miniseries, because there is no more bonding experience than sighing over Tom Hiddleston. For my belated Christmas present, Firiel paid for my ticket to a Walk the Moon concert, and we bounced and sang and cheered and shut-up-and-danced. Having no experience with WtM outside of that one single, I was delighted by how much I liked almost all the other songs, and the band was palpably joyful and having fun.

Got back Tuesday night, had one more unexpected day off when we got four inches of snow dumped on us on Wednesday, and now am almost caught up at work. Also nursing a very sore strained shoulder, because I am 40 years old and slept on a couch for four nights, and maybe I shouldn't do that.

Reading Log: Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson; Little Women and Me by Lauren Baratz-Logsted; The Magpie Lord by KJ Charles; Period 8 by Chris Crutcher; The Cursed Sea by Lauren DeStefano; Steel Blues by Jo Graham and Melissa Scott; Mary Russell's War by Laurie King; The Good Neighbor by Maxwell King; The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan; My Life Among the Underdogs by Tia Torres; Vultures by Chuck Wendig
Had a comfortable weekend with bonus snow day, since our weatherfolks were again quite wrong, and "one or two inches, intermittent snow showers, might make the roads a little slippery" actually turned out to be "five inches of heavy wet snow, snowing for 18 hours solid all over everything, oh look, now it's all freezing". Yeats' school called off with bad grace, and Aveline sanctioned my staying at home, since apparently the mile of side and back roads I take to the office was not even considered by the plows and salters until sometime yesterday afternoon. We watched "One Day at a Time", we snuggled on the couch with cats and books, we drank the last bottle of mulled holiday wine leftover from Christmas. I tried to drink a glass of gew├╝rztraminer as well, but the wine (which is usually quite good from this particular winery) tasted like I was drinking one of those rosewater-flavored gummy-gooey candies. NOOOOPE.

Yeats has today off as well, but I am catching up back at the office, while Aveline is wondering why she even bothered to come back from vacation. Two more days, then I am hopping a plane to Tennessee, where I will see my BFF and possibly expose my naked wrists to the air.

Reading Log: The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty; Powers of a Girl by Lorraine Cink and Alice Zhang; The Judas Pair by Jonathan Gash; The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand; Ice Wolves by Amie Kaufman; A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna; Paperback Crush by Gabrielle Moss; The Other Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn; Connections in Death by J.D. Robb; Taken by Charlotte Stein
Hector decided he wanted to be fed at 5:00am. Thus, Yeats and I have been awake since 5:00am, because Hector is a pill when he wants to be fed, knocking things off tables and yowling, then scampering expectantly to the stairs if someone gets up. If we feed him, this will just encourage him to keep doing it whenever he gets hungry. If we pick him up and put him on the bed, he hops off in five minutes. If we shut them out, they whine and claw at the carpet.

Thus, I am tired. Yeats is tired. And Hector and Westley have been shut out of the bedroom all day, because sleeping on the bed is a kitty privilege, not a kitty right. He was sitting mournfully by the door when I left, trying to figure out why he got no goodbye cuddles. Maybe by the time I get home tonight, he'll have learned?

Aveline is on vacation, Anders and I are holding down the fort, and I have already had two (!!) clients ask to talk to her, be told she was unavailable, demand her personal phone number (hahahaNO), try and email her anyway ("I got an away message...I guess she really is gone") and finally grudgingly agree to a meeting when she gets back next week. Clients, you are the reason she's on this vacation.

I think tonight's plan is dinner, watch last night's Drunk History, sleep.

Reading Log: The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden; My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite; The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye; Outside the Gates by Molly Gloss; Puddin' by Julie Murphy; A Conspiracy of Truths by Alexandra Rowland; Sweet Agony by Charlotte Stein; There Before the Chaos by K.B. Wagers; How to Fracture a Fairy Tale by Jane Yolen
Something winter-weather related is going to happen tomorrow. It will either start dripping freezing rain, or the temperature will plummet to Eff This levels, everything will freeze, and then snow will commence. Most of the local weather reports are leaning into Option A, blithely promising minimal-if-any accumulation and mild discomfort. One forecaster is basically saying "After about 6pm tomorrow, just...don't go outside". Given that our local weather people have been incredibly wrong regarding our last three snow/winter events, I'm going to trust the one guy, and ensure the fridge is full and the electric blanket is ready to engulf me.

Dear Newly-Hired Attorney for the Opposing Party, I have been Aveline's legal assistant longer than you have been a practicing attorney. I remember when you were sending letters to literally every firm in the county with your resume and a long explanation of how you don't look good on paper, but have a drive to succeed and to put your past behind you, please please please. If you send me one more condescending email about how I'm not attaching documents correctly, or that maybe I'm "unaware" of procedure in a case like this, or "please remind Aveline that...", I will conveniently lose your email address.


Reading Log: Diamond Fire by Ilona Andrews; Small Spaces by Katherine Arden; Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood; Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore; Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee; Born a Crime by Trevor Noah; A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas
I did not sleep well due to nightmares, and I'm coughing and grumpy, so my tolerance is extremely low today. It's probably a good thing we have no clients scheduled to drop in. Which, granted, has never stopped a couple of them before...

Anders is sick, he is not in the office, and all your pleading will not make it so. I do not appreciate being yelled at like it's my fault, and I also do not appreciate your demand that I take down your update for him over the phone (because apparently you can't take five minutes to send him an email, but you can spend fifteen minutes dictating to me while I type it out one-handed in shorthand), an update which can be summarized in one sentence as "My kid is mad because we're getting divorced".

Aveline has not answered your email because she has no updates for you, your petition has not yet been served and nothing has happened on your case. I mean, if you want, I can ask her to call you and tell you this. Then you'll be charged for the phone call, and I will get yet another call from you complaining about legal fees.

Our initial consult fee is not random money extortion. It is one hour of one-on-one attorney time, time which they could be spending on their current active cases. The consult fee is non-negotiable. Oh, you live seven hours away? We can do a telephone consult. Oh, but you're not sure if you need an attorney? Hopefully this consult will give you more clarity on that, and if you decide you don't, then you've only paid a small amount rather than the four or five digits attorney fees often run to. Oh, but it's just a couple of questions? It's never just a couple of questions. Aveline and Anders' time is valuable. It is not my fault that whoever referred you to us claimed we offer free or discounted consults. We don't.


Reading Log: Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful by Arwen Elys Dayton; The Disasters by M.K. England; Zero Sum Game by S.L. Huang; Becoming Jane Eyre by Sheila Kohler; Making Up by Lucy Parker
The sun is out and the sky is blue. However, it has already dropped thirteen degrees since walking up this morning, and is forecast to drop at least fifteen more. The high for tomorrow is foretold to be twelve degrees.


Which is why Yeats and I made a quick grocery store run first thing this morning, and now have no plans to leave the house for the next forty hours or so. There is stock simmering on the stove, to be transformed into French onion soup later, and tomorrow we will try out Nigella Lawson's recipe for lamb chops in rosemary-port sauce. We have beer, we have wine, and we should probably quality-test the bottle of cheap port to make sure it's suitable to make sauce with. Westley is dozing in Yeats' lap, and Hector is a furry puddle snuggling with his mommy the electric blanket. My to-read stack beckons.

Come at me, Old Man Winter.

Reading Log: Zoo City by Lauren Beukes; Likely Stories by Neil Gaiman; The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula LeGuin; In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire; Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan; Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd; Pulp by Robin Talley; Exit Strategy by Martha Wells
Our gaming group is starting up a new game! Yeats discovered Adventures in Middle-Earth, which works with fifth-edition D&D rules, and has been jonesing to play it with our local gang (a remote game played via Google Hangouts on weekends has bogged down a bit due to RL). Since Yeats is a Tolkien fanatic, we all know he'll run it beautifully and keep it true to the source material. So we quest! It's our usual group who've been playing together for nine years now, plus New Guy and our friend Tall, who participates via Hangout due to work and distance. Highlights of the first two sessions include:

Me, Asantir the Mirkwood elf: I attempt to sneak up and survey the bandits' hideout.
Yeats: Roll stealth.
Me: *rolls* That's a natural 1.
Yeats: You forgot that your magical headdress is still set to "glow".
G, Rivendell elf: I always knew you Mirkwood elves were airheads.
Me: I tear it off and jam it beneath my cloak!
Yeats: Too late. Roll initiative!

Yeager, hobbit scribe and healer: I'm not entirely sure what to do in this situation.
Me: You could write the bandits a sternly-worded cease-and-desist letter?
Yeager: Arrows keep hitting my writing desk! This is an heirloom!

*Bandits having been subdued, we are taking three of them back to Bree for justice*
Yeager: Behave yourselves!
Evaristo, dwarven fighter: Aye, we have wicked punishments in mind.
Tall, Dunedain ranger: We will...make you listen to the Rider's stories!
A, Rider of Rohan who failed a Charisma check early on and has made it a character trait: Now, my uncle--this would be Aethelforth the Third as opposed to Aethelfred the Fourth--was hoping to gain grazing rights to the Western side of the Eastfold moors, which as you know has excellent forage for horses, just the right balance of grass and--
Bandits: Please submit us to Bree justice, we beg of you.

Yeats: In the bandit camp, you find some coin, lots of looted and stolen goods, and travel supplies such as rations, rope...
New Guy, Dunedain fighter: Rope! That was originally why I came into Bree, seeking to purchase rope.
Yeats: Well, now you have some.
New Guy: MY QUEST IS OVER. Bye guys, have fun killing the bandit overlord!
Tall: Write if you find work!
G: I hope you and the rope will be very happy together.
New Guy: I do an '80s fist-pump against the setting sun with the rope in my hand.

*Fighting the bandit overlord*
Me: I roll to smite a mook with my sword. *rolls* That'll hit!
Yeats: Roll damage.
Me: Lessee, one D8 plus one D6 for sneak attack plus four...17 points of damage!
Yeats: You sidle up behind him and slit his throat with one graceful gesture, and his fellows watch in horror as red spills from the gaping wound that appeared out of nowhere.
Yeager: I vomit discreetly into a corner.
J, hobbit treasure-hunter: Oh, she's that kind of blonde.
Me: What, it's, like, hard?

Everybody is having fun so far, and it felt really good to smite some evil after a couple of frustrating days at work.
It's winter! I hate winter! At least, I hate winter when I have to go out in it, and scrape an inch of frost off my windshield every morning (one of the very few things I don't like about our house is that there's no garage, just street parking), and layer myself up, and walk carefully across still-icy patches to the office door. Yeats' wendigo came early, the careless "maybe an inch or so, no big deal" forecast for the weekend turned into about four inches, and left us pleasantly snowbound on Sunday and gave him a bonus two-hour delay Monday morning. There will be more snow this Saturday and Sunday, with the high on Monday a balmy 25F. Time to make stew and hot mulled wine, drag the giant electric blanket out to swaddle myself and a gleeful Hector in, and remind myself that the sun always comes back.

New dining room table did arrive before the snow, and we used Letgo to give our old table and chairs to a couple who just moved to the area and were in desperate need of furniture--a situation Yeats and I remember well. May they use it in good health! The new table is bigger than the old one, more sturdy, has a leaf we can add in if we need even more room, and is high enough (chairs too) that Hector has not even considered jumping onto it, and Westley is miffed that his routine breakfast cuddles (he would hop into my lap while I sat at the table and drank my morning coffee) have been nixed.

I booked tickets to go see Firiel in TN right before it became apparent that 45 is going to hold his breath and turn blue and keep the government shut down until he gets to build his hateful wall. Please join with me in prayers that this stupid situation will be resolved in one month's time, as I want to see her and have a Galentine's weekend. Violent revolution would also be fine, of course.

Reading Log: Treason of Hawks by Lila Bowen; The Girl with the Dragon Heart by Stephanie Burgis; Terra Nullius by Claire Coleman; The Children of Jocasta by Natalie Haynes; Bright Ruin by Vic James; Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee; Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) by Lev Rosen; Curses and Smoke by Vicky Shecter; Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri; Afrofuturism by Ytasha Womack
Took the tree and all the Christmas decorations down yesterday, which is always a slightly mournful thing--especially for Hector, who loves his BFF the tree. Still, this means we now have a lot more space in the living room. And the tree is still present, in the sense that I am still finding drifts of dry needles in unexpected places.

We had belated Christmas with Bro and Kel and the kids on Saturday. The kids all loved their gifts, and so did we. The kids decided I needed a Ravenclaw shirt (Liz to me: "Of course I know you're a Ravenclaw! We Ravenclaws have to stick together!") and Yeats needed a Best Uncle mug. And Bro and Kel's gift to us was...a 15-pound Spanish ham, complete with its own carving stand. We are discussing whether to have a Ham Week at some point this winter, or do a broad social media post advertising a Ham Party at our place and seeing who can come. We have also used part of our Christmas monies to buy a new dining room table, since the one we've been using is mine from my very first apartment, is 18 years old, seats four people if you don't mind bumping knees, and has had to be balanced with cardboard shims the last couple of years. It'll arrive next weekend, and will look so lovely in our kitchen. The main challenge, once it's inside, will be keeping Hector from leaping curiously onto it.

Also saw "Into the Spider-Verse" yesterday and loved it with all my heart. I friendship Miles and Gwen (tiny babies, don't make them have a romance yet!), fully support Peter B. Parker's quest to get out of his slump, laughed for a minute straight when I realized who was voicing Spider-Man Noir, and would really, really like to know why Aunt May gets to call Dr. Olivia Octavious "Liv"...

Back to work. No snow on the horizon yet, just cold. Yeats says if the snow can hold off for two weeks until finals are done, he will personally do a snow dance and summon a wendigo.

Reading Log: The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo; True North by Jill Ker Conway; Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton; Bluecrowne by Kate Milford; The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrels Fall Like Dominoes by Ryan North; The Devil and Winnie Flynn by Micol and David Ostow; Voyage of the Dogs by Greg van Eekhout; Princeless: Get Over Yourself by Jeremy Whitley
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