Friday, March 24, 2006

Wacky Week

First, a bit of a promo announcement for those of you in north Texas/southern Oklahoma. Everyone else can skip ahead. I'll be speaking at the Plano Book Festival on Sunday in downtown Plano. My panel is from 3:30 to 4:30, and I'll be signing books immediately afterward. The event is free (though you do have to buy the books. They're not free, though there might be booths where people are giving books away.), and there's a lot of other stuff going on, so if you like books and are in the neighborhood, try to drop by and say hi. Here's their web site for more info.

This has been a weird week, not because of anything in particular that's happened, but purely because of me. I am the source of the weirdness.

For one thing, I got my days all mixed up. I went through most of the week thinking it was a day later than it was. Even when I realized my error and reminded myself, it still felt like that later day to me. Fortunately, when you work for yourself, work at home and don't keep regular hours, you don't get depressed when you spend the day thinking it's Friday, only to find out that it's Thursday. You relax a little because that means you have more time to get everything done. It's still a bit disconcerting.

But mixing up days is nothing. I managed to mix up years. I was at the post office, and when I saw their sign mentioning that you can get passport applications there, it made me think of an article I read recently about some changes to passport policies. I vaguely recalled something about how it was beneficial to renew your passport before it expired instead of letting it expire and then having to get a new one. That sent me into a minor panic because I thought I remembered that when I got my passport, it was good for ten years, and mine was either about to expire or had even already expired because I got it for a trip where I left on April 1, 1997. It wasn't until I got home that I realized that it was currently 2006, not 2007. In my defense, I'm working on a book for 2007 publication, so part of my brain is already a year ahead.

Meanwhile, I starred in my own lightbulb joke this week (how many authors/Norwegians/red-state yokels does it take to change a lightbulb?). On Sunday afternoon, when I turned on the light in my bathroom, the light over the bathtub blinked out. It must have been a good bulb, as I've had this house for nearly eight years and haven't had to change that bulb. I wasn't even sure how to change it because it's in a recessed fixture. By standing on the edge of the tub (don't worry, it's a garden tub, so there's room to stand comfortably), I was able to play around with the fixture enough to figure out how to pull the facing away so you can access the bulb. I got the info on the kind of bulb, then stopped at Target the next day to pick up a replacement. They didn't have exactly the same thing, but what they had seemed close enough (it's a spot bulb and they only had floods), and it was the right shape, size and wattage.

Then the fun began. The person who designed my house is a sadist. In addition to the light over the tub, there's also a strip of vanity lights over the mirror, and both are controlled by one switch. It's an interior room with no windows. So if you don't want to be playing with a live socket while changing a lightbulb, you have to turn out all the lights in the room. I managed to get some light by turning on all the lights in the adjacent room, keeping the door open, and lighting one of the candles on the vanity. It took a little contortionism to get the old bulb out of the recessed housing and get the new one in, but I did it eventually with only a few cuts and scratches on my hands. Then I went to flip the light switch -- and nothing happened. I took the bulb out and put it back in. Nothing. Maybe the flood vs. spot thing was actually relevant. Or maybe, in a worst-case-scenario, it wasn't the bulb that burned out. What if something went horribly wrong with the electrical system? There's a similar fixture in my entryway with a flood bulb, so I took it out and put the new bulb in there, and nothing happened. I took that to mean I had a bad new bulb. I found the exact bulb match at Home Depot yesterday, and it went in perfectly and worked, so all's well, but for a while earlier this week, I was starting to feel like I was too clueless to change a lightbulb.

Meanwhile, I've been really busy with work. I don't know how authors with full-time jobs manage. It's not the writing itself that takes so much time. It's all the little business type stuff you have to take care of. I'm spending my business-day hours doing all that, and any writing gets done in what would be my "free" time (not that I've managed to get much done this week). I suppose if you have a full-time job supplementing your writing income, you can afford to hire people to do some of that stuff, but you still have to give input and make decisions. In fact, a lot of the stuff I was dealing with this week was outsourced, and I spent much of my time giving input and feedback, making decisions, following up on status, etc. For other tasks, like counting out stacks of bookmarks and stuffing envelopes, I suppose I could hire clerical help (like one of my neighbors' teenage daughters), but giving instructions, supervising and then making sure it got done would probably end up taking more time than just doing it myself, and I'm not sure I'd be able to accomplish anything else while someone else was around doing another task.

Now I have a few more errands to take care of, then an author party tonight, which means putting on nice clothes and acting human temporarily.

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