Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Evil Bosses and Bad Dates

I seem to have broken through the latest creative block, so chapter two is now done. I think if I take the computer with me this weekend when I go to ApolloCon and get any work at all done, I might be able to get back on track. Unfortunately, the hotel does apparently have free wireless Internet, and I just discovered that I actually have that capability in my computer (who knew?). Maybe I won't figure out how to work it, so I won't have the distraction temptation (though having access to e-mail this weekend would be nice).

One of the most common things people say when they write me, other than "when's the next book coming out?" is that they recognized Mimi, the evil boss, because they'd worked for a Mimi. Well, if you've got a good Mimi-like story to tell, there's apparently a contest to find the worst boss. Check it out. (Thanks to Alana Joli Abbot for the heads up.) There's probably a statute of limitations to prevent me from entering with my tales of the folks who inspired Mimi and Gregor.

Which just made me realize: I've now been in my current "job" longer than I've ever worked anywhere. I worked for 4 years, 4 and a half months at my first job out of school. Then I was at my next job about 3 years, 8 months. I worked 3 years, 3 months at my last job before I got laid off. I've now been self-employed for nearly 4 years and 5 months. I've sort of done a variety of "jobs" within that time as I progressed from making most of my money from PR/marketing writing while getting my fiction rejected to making most of my money from writing novels, but I guess you can consider it the same job because I've worked at the same place with the same "boss."

While I may no longer be eligible to gripe about my boss, there's another contest that should be all mine to win. Beth Orsoff, author of Romantically Challenged (no, it's not my biography), is holding a Best Worst Date contest. I don't think a statute of limitations applies there, even though it's been a while since I had new material. My only challenge is deciding which of the bad dates really is the absolute worst one, considering my experiences were in general bad enough for me to pretty much give up dating because I wasn't seeing the cost/benefit ratio working out in my favor. It was a lot of stress and misery for very little happiness in return. I guess my other problem is that it may not have been the dates themselves that were so bad. It was the follow-up that killed things. I've run into a lot of Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde guys, where the guy was nice on the date but then turned into some horrid person who became furious if he called me on Friday afternoon to ask me out and I'd already made plans for the weekend, or who acted like he was trying to catch me in a lie when I turned down an invitation because I already had other plans. I may sometimes need a keeper, but I don't need a warden, and you've got to do a lot more than buy me dinner before you get to start dictating my life (and yes, these things did happen with men I went out with ONCE. One date, and they already thought I should drop everything else in my life). Or I had a lot of what I started calling The Incredible Disappearing Men, the ones who acted really into me on the date, talked about getting together again and even mentioned specific things we could do together on our next date, and then never got in touch with me again and didn't respond if I contacted them. I totally get that in guy-speak "I'll call you" means "Have a nice life, I'm not that into you." But if you don't plan to call, you don't have to go so far as to list ideas for the next date. Maybe they're onto us figuring out about the "I'll call you" thing, so they have to keep escalating to keep us off-guard. Next thing you know, even a marriage proposal won't be a good sign that a guy wants to see you again.

My latest dating pitfall seems to be that I inspire "Marian the Librarian" fantasies. I'll admit that I'm pretty conservative when it comes to relationships. It takes me a while to get into a comfort zone with a person, I'm very cautious (largely because of the Dr. Jekyll/Mr.Hyde behavior and the disappearing acts -- I don't want to go too far before I'm sure whether or not a guy is a controlling jerk or if he's going to vanish), and I have some pretty strong personal beliefs about physical intimacy (in addition to being just plain picky -- to quote the movie Clueless: "You know how picky I am about shoes, and those only go on my feet."). For a while, I seemed to attract the men who thought that the fact that I was a writer meant I must be a free-spirited bohemian (in other words, easy), and then they acted like I'd led them on when it turned out to be just the opposite. So I started being pretty up-front about it. I manage to mention that I am quite literally a church choirgirl very early in any getting-to-know-you conversation. But then they seem to take that as a challenge. I'd thought it would weed out guys who weren't willing to take things slow or who didn't have similar beliefs, but instead it only attracts them more, and they seem to think that I'm actually repressed and desperate (when I don't believe I'm either. You can be cautious without being repressed), and therefore if they keep pushing or get under my guard they'll discover my inner wild woman and will have scored a major victory in getting me to succumb to their charms. There's something very patronizing about it, like they think I'm not smart enough to figure out what they're up to, and little do these guys know, but I'm very clear on my personal boundaries, and when I say no, I mean it. Not to mention the fact that this attitude is a total turn-off and can take me from 60 to 0 in a split second, no matter how much I thought I liked the guy before.

But that would be kind of hard to convey in 500 words, so I'll go with a plain-old miserable date story. I can't decide if I want to go with the one where the guy didn't bother to find where and when the movie he'd invited me to see was playing, so that we ended up spending the evening driving from theater to theater (in my car because he had a bad tire), or the one who'd rented a convertible on an evening when I wore my hair down (and it was waist-length at the time) and had on a wrap skirt, and then he announced early in the dinner conversation that he would be totally happy if he never had to do anything but eat and watch TV -- and he didn't even watch the same shows I did. That was the high point of the conversation. It lagged from there. Oh, and he also didn't know when or where the movie he'd invited me to see was playing.

I'd claimed I was going to take October through December mostly off after getting this book done, but my schedule is already filling up. I've got my class reunion in early October, then I'm speaking at a conference in late October. The World Fantasy Convention is the first weekend in November, and I just got invited to participate in a book signing during a huge Junior League event in Tyler the following weekend. I was going to apply to be a featured author at the Texas Book Festival, but that's in Austin the weekend before the World Fantasy Convention (also in Austin), and I'm not sure I want to be traveling that many weekends in a row. Not that I'd stand much of a chance of being selected. I'm a bit on the fluffy side for their taste, from what I can tell. Serious literature only. Besides, I suspect I'll like the people at the fantasy con better, so I might as well focus my energies there. I'd thought I'd take an actual vacation during the fall, but I may be longing for home and hearth instead of wanting to indulge my wanderlust.

Speaking of World Fantasy Convention, if you got the awards nomination ballot, Enchanted, Inc. would be eligible for consideration as best fantasy novel. Just sayin'.

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