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Mainlined Showtime's Penny Dreadful yesterday. Verdict: cracktastic. Result: babbling on tumblr, discovering a kinkmeme, and writing this fic, first thing I've written in a year.

Title: Who For Joys Brides Hope To Have
Fandom: Penny Dreadful
Pairing: Vanessa Ives/Mina Murray
Rating: Explicit
Warnings: Pre-Raphaelite poetry. No common triggers.
Spoilers: Based on events in 1x05. Which is a flashback episode, if that makes a difference.
Wordcount: 1272

It was a dark and stormy night.


The air had been still and heavy all afternoon, the clouds building in the evening, blotting out the night sky. "Happy the bride whose sun shines on her wedding day," Vanessa had teased. "We must hope the storm breaks soon enough to be gone by morning, for the sake of your marriage!"


Mina had laughed, but there was no laughter now. She stood in silence at the schoolroom door, as lightning flashed outside the windows, making a frozen tableau of her dearest friend, gasping in lust, pinned to the table by the thrusting hips of Mina's own fiancé.


It could not be called lovemaking. There were no kisses, no caresses: Vanessa arched in frenzy, and Charles gripped her roughly, one hand on her shoulder and the other on her throat, holding her still as he drove into her. There was no love here, only (Mina hardly dared say the word, even in her own mind) fucking.


But it wasn't the sight of them fucking that broke Mina's heart. Or not that sight alone. What made the betrayal doubly sharp was that Mina had found them while the taste of Vanessa's sex still clung to her lips.


They had shared each other's beds since their earliest childhood; they were neighbors, their families visiting each other constantly, and while the adults stayed late in conversation, the two girls were tucked in together, at first under the watchful eye of a nursery-maid, later with only the presence of their governess to supervise their evening prayers before she left for her own bedchamber. Mina could not say exactly when their childish goodnight kisses had deepened into something less innocent, more sensual, but as their bodies grew towards womanhood, their affections did the same. A hand exploring the curve of a budding breast, fingertips stroking the new-found curls between their legs, their mouths opening in unexpected hunger, until they were flushed and shaken, clinging to each other as their passion crested and ebbed.


"Our last night together," Vanessa said as they undressed. No nursery-maid now, no governess to watch them; they were young ladies, and had left such things behind. Nor did Mina have her own maid. No doubt in India she would have native servants to unlace her corsets and brush her hair, but tonight it was Vanessa who did these services, as she had so often before. Vanessa lifted Mina's hair from the nape of her neck, and laid her lips against Mina's throat.


Mina sighed in pleasure. "I shall miss you terribly, you know."


Vanessa laid down the hairbrush. Mina could see her frown reflected in the dressing-table mirror. "And I you. You at least will have Charles; I am to be left here, without you, without Peter, entirely alone." Before Mina could say anything, Vanessa whirled away, throwing herself on the bed. When she sat up, her dark hair tumbled about her shoulders, there was a wild glint in her ice-blue eyes. "Will you miss me? Come and kiss me," she said, in the singsong voice of one reciting poetry.

Mina recognized it. They had read her volume of Christina Rossetti's poems, with its beautiful illustrations, until its covers were nearly falling off and they had the lines by heart. "Never mind my bruises," she quoted slowly.


Vanessa laughed and continued the verse.


"Hug me, kiss me, suck my juices,

Squeezed from goblin fruits for you,

Goblin pulp and goblin dew.

Eat me, drink me, love me;

Mina, make much of me."


Even as Mina came to her friend's arms, suiting her action to Vanessa's words, she shivered as she remembered the next lines: For your sake I have braved the glen / And had to do with goblin merchant men.


The chill passed in a moment, driven away by the heat of Vanessa's lips. Mina tasted sweet Rhine wine; Vanessa had drunk glass after glass of it at the party, more than Mina had ever seen her drink before. Perhaps that accounted for her wild mood. For wild she was; as Mina kissed her friend's throat, slipping her hands beneath Vanessa's nightdress to stroke her body, Vanessa shuddered, lifting her hips entirely off the bed, her legs falling open as she sank back down.


"Eat me, drink me, love me," Vanessa repeated in a whisper.


"I will, my dearest," Mina murmured. She pushed the thin white cotton nearly to Vanessa's shoulders, fastening her lips on Vanessa's nipple. Vanessa made a high, stifled noise; they had long since learned to keep quiet in their pleasure, after Mina's startled cries at the first climax Vanessa ever gave her brought Vanessa's mother at a run, and they had had to swear it was a nightmare that had caused it, no more. Mina sucked harder, moving her hand down over the curve of Vanessa's waist and hip, fingers gripping the flesh of her buttocks. A trail of kisses down Vanessa's belly, Mina's tongue flickering to taste her friend's skin, not covered with the juice of goblin fruit but only scented faintly of lilies of the valley, the scent of her soap. Mina had wanted lilies of the valley to decorate her bride-cake, but her cook had protested. Even if they were in season, Miss Mina, which they're not, I wouldn't do it for the world. They're poison, don't you know that? It seemed unfair, for something so sweet.


Now the scent was not flowers, but a musky ripeness, the taste sweet and salty at once, like the melon wrapped in smoky ham that had been among the savories at the party, as Mina lowered her head to Vanessa's sex, her tongue parting the delicate folds. She cupped Vanessa's mound with a practiced hand, thumb pressing against the pearl of flesh that brought the sharpest pleasure. She probed with her tongue, only her tongue, for they never dared to slip their fingers within each other; it would not do, should a husband expecting a maidenhead find none. Tomorrow Mina would discover at last how that would feel.


Vanessa was panting as her climax approached, whining softly between gasps. She stiffened in crisis, her hands gripping the sheets. As Vanessa slumped back in the aftermath, Mina lifted her head and saw tears trickling down her friend's face.


"Hush, dearest," Mina whispered, stretching out beside her. "No matter how far I may go from you, you'll always be near in my heart."


"Will you?" Vanessa breathed. "As near as this?" And her hands were on Mina's skin, knowing and sure, by turns gentle and rough. Her lips sucked so fiercely that Mina feared she would leave marks, and what if Charles saw them? But soon these concerns were driven from her head along with all other thought, as wave after wave of pleasure coursed through Mina's body. Vanessa did not stop until Mina was dazed and almost senseless. As she felt herself drifting off in Vanessa's embrace, Mina heard her friend's murmur: "You are mine, you shall be mine, you and I are one forever." Mina made no answer, for she was sinking into sleep.


She was awakened by a crash, not of thunder but of something toppling over, the sound coming from the schoolroom. It was only as she reached the doorway that she heard Charles' grunts and Vanessa's gasps. Mina could not say what she saw in Vanessa's eyes as they locked on hers: lust, resentment, victory...despair? The lightning flash went dark and the thunder rolled. The storm had broken, but even if it cleared, no sun would shine on Mina's wedding day. After this, there would be no wedding.








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 Going up to Boston this evening to visit [personal profile] anne for a couple of days. Augh, have to pack. Must get kid over to post-run theater potluck for noon. Then over to [personal profile] gehayi 's for assistant-stuff. Plus dishes, and writing, and phone calls...

I'm being interviewed at Elin Gregory's blog today! Go over and have a look.
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 I don't really have a lot to report, because book stuff has been taking up all my attention. Kiddo's performances for summer theater internship are this weekend, and I'm going to see tomorrow's matinee; college move-in is LABOR DAY WEEKEND, holy shit. I'm coming up to spend a couple of days with [personal profile] anne this week and we will tackle Bureaucracy together and watch Pride & Prejudice, all six hours of it probably, as a reward.

I'm still writing guest blog posts to promote Love Continuance and Increasing (look it's on Amazon now! Also on Barnes & Noble) and I swear, I did not realize that writing stuff to promote a historical romance to a general romance audience would turn into something like taking an AP History exam. I keep feeling like I'm cheating by not putting in footnotes.

I made a Pinterest for Julian Griffith. I'm still not entirely clued in about Pinterest but it's there. I figure I can store pictures there as easily as on my hard drive. The follow button is on the Official Website.

I'm about to write a guest post about cooking. Which is hilarious since between the weather and the workload I haven't really cooked in weeks. But it's historical cooking, which is different, right? I get to tell the story of how the first meal in the book is actually food that I ate at Craigie on Main.

At least now I get to call "faffing around on social networks" by the all-too-dignified name of "promotion" now?
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To mark its release, I'm appearing over at Charlie Cochrane's livejournal for an interview, and promoting it over at Mychael Black's website. Thanks, both of you, for having me at your places today!

Length: 77,000 words
ISBN: 978-1-62757-022-0 (print),
978-1-62757-021-3 (ebook)

Cover Art by Lou Harper

e-book $6.99
softcover $13.99
bundle $15.99
Buy it now at Storm Moon Press
On Goodreads: Love Continuance and Increasing

Links for Amazon and Barnes & Noble coming soon! but buy it from Storm Moon because I get better royalties that way

If you'd like me to send you a signed (and personalized, if you want) bookplate, just send me a message with your address, and I'll be happy to do it.
[personal profile] mswyrr made the logo. It's really pretty.

Be sure to subscribe to my website, where I'll be hosting lots of interesting guest authors over the next month, and probably beyond.

*falls over dead*





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I took the plunge and created an actual Wordpress site: www.julian-griffith.com. It's new, so there aren't a lot of posts yet, but I also linked a couple of short stories related to Love Continuance and Increasing, and you should all go look at it and see the GORGEOUS banner that [personal profile] mswyrr made for me. Which I then cleverly put on my tumblr as well, not that anyone ever sees an individual person's tumblr page, because we all read posts on our dashboards, but it's there.

I'm feeling very clever having figured out how to use the Wordpress dashboard and plug-ins and widgets to get something that feels functional.

I'm still creating more blogrolls - I mean to have one for review sites, and another one for blogs of historical interest that I follow, in addition to the ones I already have - and if you want me to link to you, drop me a note. If you have any suggestions for things I haven't done with the site that I should, let me know that too.

But I spent loads of time last night poking at it, and I think it's safe to go live!
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A dark-haired young woman in a white Regency gown looks off into the distance to the right, her hands steepled together in front of her. Two men, one in a British army officer's red uniform of the Napoleonic Wars and the other in the blue coat of a lieutenant of the Royal Navy, gaze back at her, patient and yearning. Below the title bar, there is a seascape with a tall ship at the right-hand side.

It's here! Love Continuance and Increasing is available for pre-order from Storm Moon Press!

Lieutenant William Thorne, of His Majesty's Navy, was a man of humble origins. He knew that his affair with Major Anthony Rockingham of the 43rd Infantry couldn't last forever, not only because the war against Napoleon sent him on blockade duty in the English Channel while the major's regiment trained ashore, but because Rockingham was a viscount, and viscounts must marry. When Rockingham's letter reached him, saying that he'd chosen Miss Caroline Filmer as his bride, it was no more than Thorne had expected.
 
What he had not expected, when he returned home after the Battle of Trafalgar, was to find an invitation to the christening of Rockingham's son. He had not expected, when he met the young viscountess, that he would fall instantly and passionately in love with her. And he had certainly never expected that Caroline would fall just as desperately in love with him. Thorne was sure that their feelings for each other could only lead to disaster, even more so as his love for Rockingham had never gone away. While the war with France continued, he found himself fighting a war within his own heart...

e-book: $6.99 $5.59
softcover: $13.99 $11.19
bundle: $15.99 $12.79

20% discount applies until August 2 release date!

Click here for an excerpt: )
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 I'm interviewed today at Top 2 Bottom Reviews as part of their July Storm Moon Press feature. Go check it out (though use your judgement at work, as there are some naked male butts on the sidebar).

Also, I just got the news that my WWII gay romance short story "Lost and Found in the Pacific" was accepted for a Torquere Press charity anthology appearing in September, to benefit Outserve SDLN, a non-profit organization offering legal help to GLBT in the military and their families. I'm proud to be supporting their cause. (Also proud that I knocked the story out in four days and got it accepted!)

I don't have much other news -- just studying for the medical billing and coding exams. Not thrilling.

I should probably start working on my Next Novel.
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 For the most part, the graduation ceremony went well. Yes, it was outdoors and 91F (that's 33 to everyone OUTSIDE the US), but the gathering thunderclouds did NOT open up on the assembled crowd. The senior string trio made a hash of "Appalachian Waltz", but the senior choir sounded just fine, and most of the speakers weren't overly loquacious.

One speaker, though.

ONE SPEAKER.

I understand that graduation is something of a solemn occasion. However, it's also supposed to be a joyous one.

SO WHY WOULD YOU CHOOSE TO BUILD YOUR SPEECH AROUND THE EXPERIENCES OF VICTOR FRANKL IN AND AFTER WWII?

I do not want to be ambushed by the words "Nazi Germany" at my kid's high school graduation speech.

In fact, I would say that if your graduation address contains the words "Nazi Germany" in it, and you are not yourself a survivor or the descendant of survivors, REWRITE THAT THING. NOW.

My foam earplugs did not block it out. <lj user="shadowflyer"> was both merciful and clever, and cued up the Oysterband on his phone, so I could listen to it through earbuds and DROWN THAT SHIT OUT.

Not cool, Dr. List.

Especially in a town with a large Jewish minority.

Very much not cool.
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 I spent a great deal of time today at [livejournal.com profile] gehayi 's. I dragooned my ex-husband into helping shift a giant console television that's probably older than I am. Wonder of wonders, it did fit in my tiny hatchback, but even though the electronics recycling place said it was open 8-1 today, they'd already buggered off when I got there at 12:30, so the thing has to stay in my car until Monday.  The chest of drawers we put the working television on instead (it had been sitting on the ancient one) was smaller, so we had to balance the cable box on top of the TV instead of setting it beside. Since the current TV is still old enough to be a CRT model (with built-in DVD and VHS players), it didn't really balance, so we had to shim it. This involved duct tape and an outdated copy of Writer's Market. Never say I'm not resourceful!

While I'd been waiting for my ex to show up, I'd gone upstairs. You see, when I'd cleared out the china closet two weeks ago, I'd moved the contents up to the mostly-empty master bedroom. This proved suboptimal, because I discovered other things I wanted to move around in there, and dodging potentially-valuable china and glassware wasn't working so well. So I decided it should live in the small bedroom we call "the library". That one has a small desk against one wall and a dining-room table in the center. Which, of course, were covered with books and Random Things, which wasn't really convenient for putting china-and-glass on.

By the time he showed up, I'd cleared the surfaces of not-china, and moved about two-thirds of the china onto them. Then it was TV-shifting time.

Now, you'd think after I'd shifted a giant TV, I'd feel like I was done for the day.

Nope.

I had to come back, finish moving the china-and-glass, and then while I was up there it became IMPERATIVE to move the Stuff on the floor around. So vintage toys & Christmas tat went in one corner, bed/table linens went in the kneehole of the desk, empty boxes went under one window, clothing against another wall... and then there were the books.

First of all, the rest of the outdated volumes of Writer's Market had to go. That made some room on the shelves. Which meant I was able to take the piles of loose books and put them on the shelves. Those piles of loose books contained a great many outdated computer and internet reference works. Those had to go too. Amazingly enough, all the loose books DID go on the existing shelves. The books in boxes stayed in boxes, but they got shoved over in front of one of the bookshelves.

It is now possible to walk around in that room. So I can get AT the clothes that need to come down and be sorted and be tallied for donation. Given that the nonfunctional car in the driveway may not sell for parts, it might get donated, and in THAT case it becomes worthwhile to keep track of the amount of clothing that's being donated to Goodwill & assorted other charities (Big Brothers/Big Sisters, a veterans' charity, whoever else sends flyers around for curbside pickups, as long as they're not objectionable -- just never, ever the Salvation Army) and get receipts. I think it's more than fair to value the clothing at a flat $1/item, as most items in a Goodwill store sell for more than that.

Once I'd managed all that, I felt like I was genuinely DONE for the day. It felt like I'd reached the end of a task.

I do have to go back tomorrow evening, as the 90-gallon recycling bin is half full of really large books, and will undoubtedly be too heavy for [livejournal.com profile] gehayi  to pull down the steep driveway without injuring herself.

But oh, boy, does it ever feel satisfying to have cleared out that much STUFF and created a genuine walking path.

Now I need a shower, and then I'm going to make myself a green salad with homemade blue cheese dressing, because after I did all that I did the week's grocery shopping, and I am DONE.
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 Well, okay. This wasn't CLEANING, like mopping and vacuuming. This was cleaning OUT.

[livejournal.com profile] gehayi 's aunt left her a house and all its contents some years back. Some of the contents - like the living room stuff -- are basically arranged as they always had been, and the only issues are broken-down chairs and the fact that [livejournal.com profile] gehayi 's books are piled on every flat surface. Well, that and the enormous Zenith console TV that's just being a TV cart for the one that works, right now. But the living room is a room. A bunch of the other rooms are, well, kind of stacked and piled. With STUFF.

There's curbside pickup of charitable donations on her street tomorrow. (This round goes to Big Brothers/Big Sisters.) We stuffed two big trash bags full of clothes that didn't fit or who the hell knows what they were doing there. This let me use the coat closet to hold ACTUAL COATS, instead of weird granny housecoats & women's suits from the 1980s. Also, there were twelve assorted umbrellas there. I claimed one of the compact ones to keep in my car, as the one I'd been keeping there was on its last legs.

It's pretty impressive how much easier it is to walk around when you're not dodging a coat tree loaded with winter coats. In June.

Some of the clothes were also from one of the upstairs bedrooms. Which I cleared out to give myself a walking path to look for some other things [livejournal.com profile] gehayi thought were in there. They weren't, but there was a perfectly good typing table that I brought down to sit next to her desk and hold reference books and office supplies. Much nicer than a Pile, which is what was there before.

I also discovered a non-working canister vacuum. That's going to the free "electronics and anything with a cord" recycling center tomorrow.

Next week we've scheduled a bulky waste pickup. That'll get at least two defunct stuffed armchairs and a broken swivel chair out of the house, and I bet I'll find some other things that should go. There's currently a lovely new marked-down floor model COMFORTABLE OFFICE CHAIR where she'd been using one of the defunct armchairs as a desk chair. But the armchair's gotta go.

This all started with sorting out her paper files because of taxes. It was pretty satisfying to get them down to a single banker's box of back files and one plastic briefcase-bucket of current year things.

But once I did that I started seeing other stuff.

I may have gotten carried away.

But damn, it's SATISFYING to make that stuff gone!
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 via [personal profile] nonny via [livejournal.com profile] naamah_darling :

Aw, craaaaaaap, you guys, help for friends?strangers to me, [livejournal.com profile] rikibeth , but it sure sounds like stuff that's happened to me before (thinking of a Philcon in the '90s):

"[personal profile] louisadkins[personal profile] omimouse, and Jade are stranded in a small town in Wyoming on the way back to their home in West Virginia. They headed out from our place Friday, made good time on the trip, but the minivan they are driving started flickering with a oil pressure light and then ... pretty much died on the road. They have been able to get AAA to take them to a hotel and the vehicle to a mechanic's shop, but... the sounds the vehicle was making lead them to believe it's an engine failure.

"Which is $$$$. Which they don't have, and they have no way of getting back home otherwise. Louis's paypal is louis.adkins@hotmail.com and anything anyone can spare, bumping the word, passing this around, is much appreciated as time is something they don't have (due to cost of hotels, food, etc)."

Shiiiit. Any help y'all could lend would be GREAT. Spreading the word would be GREAT. Nobody needs this shit.
 
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 I think I've managed to figure out how to handle my Multiple Friggin' Accounts. I was doing it before with incognito windows, but then I learned the trick of multiple Gmail sign-ins in one window, and stopped using the incognito window, to the detriment of my alternate Tumblr and Twitter feeds. Plus the complication of starting a roleplaying Twitter account. (I couldn't resist the chance to be Edrington,)

I have to go back to the incognito method. First window for this, my RL identity. Incognito for [personal profile] julian_griffith . Tumblr/Twitter in appropriate windows. And Edrington by TweetDeck on my phone. Does anyone know if TweetDeck lets you have separate, simultaneous Chrome tabs for each account?

Also, I'm going to try to do a purge on my LJ friendslist. First off, if you have duplicate DW and LJ accounts and crosspost, remind me, and I'll delete you from LJ so I don't see the same posts twice. I'll see if I can duplicate my filters -- I forget if DW lets you make concentric circles within "access granted."

If you have duplicate accounts and don't have me added on DW, please do? I don't want to lose touch with you. And if you use different handles on each but use the same content, give me a heads-up as to who you are.

Second, if you're LJ-only, and I can't remember who the hell you are, I may drop you. I forget if LJ notifies you of this: after I do it, I'll make a public "Purge Achieved" and a subsequent "Locked Test" post. If you don't see the Locked Test post, and still want me to read your stuff and have access to my locked stuff (which I hardly post anything of any more), drop a comment in the Purge Achieved post and I'll add you back.

End of housekeeping. Time to do dishes.
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 But I had a fantastic weekend.

The Bros of Sail (Age of Sail fans on tumblr) had a meetup at the USS Constitution on Saturday. [livejournal.com profile] txanne was coming in from Long Island for it, so I agreed to split a hotel room with her, rather than trying to cast around locally for someone to put the both of us up. Her train got in to South Station on Friday at 3:30PM, and I drove in & parked at Alewife & went to meet her. I was later than I expected, because there was an accident on the Pike somewhere around Worcester, which made a longish backup, but I still got in in time for us to go to the Bromfield Pen Shop in Downtown Crossing, where she decided that the glass pen she'd wanted to replace one she'd broke didn't actually suit her, and then we walked over to Legal Seafood, where she'd offered to buy me dinner. Mussels and fries for her, grey sole in lemon caper butter for me, and a half bottle of Sancerre -- no, we were not being adventurous, but there's a lot to be said for the classic French dishes, too.

Instead of getting dessert there, I pointed out that we should go to Finale. After all, [livejournal.com profile] txanne isn't in Boston much, so I felt obligated to show her Cool Things. I thought we'd share the sampler plate, but then one of the other things jumped out at me - the seasonal cornucopia. There was a coconut cherry rice pudding, roasted apple with cinnamon cake croutons, and... this was the thing that really sold me, and now I can't exactly remember what it was, but the words "cardamom", "pistachio", and "pudding cake" were involved. As Anne was feeling the apple a la mode for herself, we decided that the tasting plate could wait for another time. The pudding cake thing was fabulous. The rice pudding was a bit of a disappointment -- I think rice pudding should be sticky and creamy, and this was more infused separate grains of rice molded into a scoop. I may have to try to make a coconut cherry rice pudding for myself. And Anne enjoyed her apple a la mode. We didn't quite finish it, because SO MUCH FOOD, but it was good anyway.

Back at the motel (which was in Watertown for budget purposes), I sat Anne down with the "Mutiny" episode of Hornblower. She's read my fixit fanfic, but she's never seen the films -- she's a Hornblower book fan, since fifth grade. So I HAD to show her. And while we watched, we had some arrack-punch -- which I'd mixed up that morning and brought in a sport bottle (with a concealing fabric insulating sleeve). Purely for historical interest, of course! /sarcasm. Actually, with the lime and the nutmeg, it was very tasty.

Up the next morning, and, as the meetup was scheduled for 11 AM, we got to the Deluxe Town Diner before the line got ridiculous. And I got to have biscuits with sausage gravy, which I pretty much never get. Om nom nom!

I was deliberately building cushions for travel time into our schedule, so we got to the Constitution on the early side, even after a quick stop at a CVS for me to pick up a box of Dixie cups, so I could share the punch with the Sailbros. HISTORICAL INTEREST I TELL YOU. Because we were early, we ducked into the gift shop. Anne found a pair of earrings made from copper reclaimed from the bottom of the Constitution's hull, and some postcards to send. I picked up a little keychain flashlight (I'd wanted one anyway) and a packet of tea made by the same company whose tea got dumped in Boston Harbor. When we got back out, [personal profile] o_saya had arrived, and was standing in front of the visitors' center holding the promised sparkly sign (because we couldn't do anything SMART like send each other pictures beforehand so we could recognize each other). We knew [tumblr.com profile] chelengk wasn't going to be able to come, because of moving, and it turned out that [tumblr.com profile] brotherathelstan had to bail at the last minute, but we did get [personal profile] aria , [personal profile] polarisnorth , [tumblr.com profile] hellscabanaboy , and [tumblr.com profile] megcubed , who actually works for the Park Service AT the Constitution! I'd never met any of them before, and I didn't even really know any of them from tumblr except [personal profile] o_saya who's [tumblr.com profile] emir-dynamite who organized the thing, but it didn't matter; they all turned out to be awesome people.

They weren't giving formal tours of the Constitution that day, just open deck, which suited us fine. Alas, they weren't allowing people onto the lower deck where the hammocks were slung (Meg said that was only in the summer), but we had plenty to occupy us. Here's a picture of us all (except Anne, who took the picture) gathered around the gun called "Willful Murder" (it HAD to be that one, as there was also a Willful Murder on the Surprise):

The Bros of Sail gathered around Willful Murder on the USS Constitution

And here we are all (minus me, as I took this one) crammed into the quarter-gallery:

The Bros of Sail finding out how many people could fit into the Constitution's quarter-gallery

Meg was unaware, until we told her, that the quarter-gallery was not merely a private reading nook, but a PRIVY. There was much laughter and repetition of the phrase "seat of ease".

Then we went to the museum, where we spent a bit of time playing with the cannon-firing game, and looking at the ship model exhibit, but MOSTLY going upstairs and playing with furling the sail while standing on the foot-rope, and trying out the HAMMOCKS.

Your humble correspondent in a hammock at the USS Constitution museum

There was a certain amount of discussion of the feasibility of getting two people into a hammock, and what they might be capable of doing if they DID manage it. Dear fanfic writers: if you describe anything more athletic than cuddling or handjobs, don't expect us to believe it! The attempt showed that any two people would have to be WAY friendlier than any of us were with each other.

After the museum, it was time for the tea party. At Taj Boston, which will always be the Ritz-Carlton to me, dammit. But, whatever they're calling it, a pot of Shanghai Rose tea and a tower of goodies that looks like this

Tea goodies at Taj Boston

can never be a bad thing. 

We were all kind of fading after that, so we split up and headed home. Anne and I took a bit of downtime at the motel, and watched most of "Retribution", until it was time to head out for the dinner gathering I'd organized, a Gathering of Light, as they get called when regulars of Making Light get together. I'd called it for Mary Chung's, as I hadn't been there in ages, and made reservations for 8:30, because after stuffing our faces at tea, I figured Anne and I wouldn't be ready to eat before then. That was ALSO lovely, and I introduced Anne to suan la chow sow. Om nom nom.

Because we were RIGHT THERE, and because I was still doing the Showing Off Cool Places thing, we all walked over to Toscanini's after. Anne and I could only manage microscoops, but it was worth it for salted saffron and goat cheese brownie ice cream. Then back to the motel, and finishing up "Retribution", and showing Anne the RELEVANT bits of "The Frogs and the Lobsters", which is to say any bits with Edrington or Archie in them, and then SLEEP.

Not ENOUGH sleep. Because Daylight Savings Time. And because Anne had an early train back home. But the earliness meant we could get to Sound Bites when there was practically nobody there, and Anne could try the Boston's Best Blue -- a split and grilled blueberry muffin spiced with cardamom is not lightly to be missed. I had corned beef hash. Then I dropped her at Davis, so she could get to South Station, and I drove home.

So I had a fabulous weekend, and met awesome people, but I don't think I'll need to eat for a week.

 



rikibeth: (Default)
 As big storms go, it could have been a lot worse. We didn't lose power or internet, and we stayed safely home -- even if the governor hadn't declared a travel ban at 4PM yesterday, we had no plans to go out.

However, we got a LOT of snow. How much?

when I tweeted this, Subaru of New England favorited the tweet

It was up to the bumper of [personal profile] eternaleponine 's Subaru wagon.

I think this counts as Snowed In

She had to use her full body weight to open the door.

the corgi thought it was awesome

The PLOWED half of the street was still covered to more than the depth of a corgi.

Natasha says this is why it's useless to invade Russia in the winter

And Storm Team Delta tried to get a measurement, but their ruler wasn't big enough.

[personal profile] eternaleponine  and I have put in two one-hour bouts of shoveling, and we're nowhere NEAR done. The front walk and sidewalk are clear, but her car couldn't clear the driveway. Even if it could, she couldn't go anywhere, because the STREET isn't plowed.

We're about to give it another go. Wish us luck.


rikibeth: (Default)
 The gym membership comes with one "fitness assessment" with one of their personal trainers. It said "$80 value" on the big standing poster thing, but, whatever. If they're offering it, I might as well use it, right? Mine was with a guy named Sean.

First thing they do, they weigh you. This was not especially stressful for me, though I know it's a giant stressor for lots of people, with good reason. There are such unrealistic expectations built around those numbers! I remember, it's got to be fifteen years ago now, being in an online RPG where I was deliberately playing a character who wasn't skinny -- she was a panther shapeshifter, and I wanted to give her a realistic body mass to match a full-size panther. And I was cool with that, until someone else described her character as something like 5'10" and 110 pounds and I had a hissy fit all over the game list, because I'm 5'4", and I was about 110 pounds in high school, and I was pretty damn skinny-looking (seriously, a 1980s size 5, and cheekbones forever), and I was like DO YOU REALIZE YOU HAVE DESCRIBED A COAT HANGER? Because I had envisioned my character as being solid and curvy and maybe even plump, but compared to those numbers, I was worrying that the other players would envision a freakin' hippo, you know? So even though I only get numbers stress by proxy, I know it's there.

So anyway, I got weighed, and my Mathematically Useless And Irrelevant BMI came in as "normal", and then he had me hold some sort of futuristic gadget with electrical sensors at arm's length that claimed to measure my body fat percentage, and that came in at the high end of "normal", and then we went into one of the offices to have a health-history and goals chat.

I was upfront about the bipolar and about wanting to use exercise to help me keep my moods even. And about how motivation was one of my big challenges, and especially my period -- because I'm sidelined with pain for the first two days of my cycle, and then I feel like I've broken my streak and I don't pick it up again. And also how I don't mind physical labor, but most exercise for exercise's sake is so distasteful to me that I'd rather clean the cat box, and classes make me feel clumsy and stupid, like gym class, and how the mere sound of a gym whistle will send me into a low-level panic -- I told him about the Wii Fit and how the exercises themselves in the calisthenics section weren't bad, but the whistle that told you when to change freaked me out enough that I couldn't bring myself to do them. I wanted him to know that I was going to be pretty stubborn and resistant!

When he asked about goals, I told him I didn't really care about the numbers on the scale. If I built muscle and they went up a little, I wasn't going to flip out. I told him about the C25K program, and the 100 Push-Ups and the 200 Sit-Ups programs (and how the apps felt like toys, so I was more willing to use them than other stuff), and that I was more interested in building up strength and stamina, and if I could flatten my stomach in the process, great. He asked if there were any occasions or dates that I wanted to look a certain way for -- reunions, weddings, that kind of thing. I said "nah, not really. My parents have a beach house, and I wouldn't mind wearing a bikini on the beach this summer, but I'm gonna rent a surfboard anyway, so I'll be wearing a wetsuit, so it hardly matters." He laughed, and said "everyone looks good in a wetsuit!" I said, "You know what one of my main goals is? I know it sounds silly, but I'm serious about it as a motivation: the first defense against zombies is cardio. I'm training so I can outrun the zombies." He didn't look like he understood that at all. But, I mean: zombies! The C25K app even has a setting with a zombie voice for the instructions! Well, if he doesn't take that into account, he'll be sorry when the zombies attack, is all I'm saying.

So then we went up to the weights room on the top floor. I got a chance to look at my form for push-ups, and boy, did it SUCK for classic ones -- years of computer work have left me round-shouldered, and I can't get my back flat enough. I can do it on an incline though (using an aerobics step with about three risers on it), and the number I could manage was the same as the self-test I did with crappy form on the classic ones, so I don't have to change the setting on the app. My form for crunches is fine, and I can do squats holding a 10-lb ball (those are OK, they're like modern-dance pliés, and I liked modern dance in high school), and then he had me try bridge-ups. I didn't know that's what they were called; I thought of them as the Jane Fonda butt-lifts! (I used to do the Jane Fonda workout in high school, and I was good at it then.) He was all "how is it feeling?" and I said "I could do these all day." He said "okay, try this" and had me put my feet on a medicine ball. I got my feet on it, and immediately said "oh no. No. No way." He said "It makes you work harder, and builds stability." I said "It makes me feel like I'm gonna fall on my butt, and I'll never do it." He said "okay, try pointing your toes up and resting on your heels." That worked; it made the butt-lifts feel harder, but I didn't feel like I was going to fall over.

Then we started getting into stuff that sucked. He had me try doing push-ups on a squishy hemisphere. Once again, I couldn't get my back flat, and the way I looked in the mirror was depressing the hell out of me, so I just said "no. I'll do the inclined ones." He left it at that, and went to free weights. Bicep curls with a 10-lb dumbbell? Nope. For one thing, it was too heavy, and for another, I just don't like them. They're boring and they make me cranky. Next? Next was even worse. He had me lie face down on a bench and try to pick up a couple of discs and lift my arms out straight to my sides. YUCK. That one failed the cat box test by a LOT. I told him that I didn't like it, and could we try some machines instead? He said, "Free weights are better, you know. They're more like real life, and they burn more calories." I told him, "Screw the calories. I'm not in this for calories. And an exercise isn't better if I'll never DO it. I need to find ones I'll do." He made a face like he was disappointed, but you know what? I didn't care. Hanne Blank's awesome book helped me remember that I was 43 years old, dammit, and that this was NOT gym class, and I wasn't getting graded, and he was working for ME, not the other way around. So I ignored the face, and he brought me over to the machines.

I like weight machines. We never had them in gym class. The first time I ever saw them, I was about nine or ten, and my dad's office had a weight room with a 1970s Universal thing with brown upholstery, and I sometimes got to play with it, and the stations felt like a more complicated jungle gym. I didn't know jack about how to use them then, so I just fooled around, seeing how much I could do with the leverage, and it was a toy. I like toys. Even when I was older and had opportunities to use them properly, they still felt like toys, and that's good.

He asked if I'd ever tried circuit training with "active rests" between the machines, like jumping jacks. I said "oh HELL no, that sounds horrible." He didn't push it, and just showed me how to use a bunch of them, and adjusted the weights until I could manage a set of 12 on each one.

I asked if he was writing them down. He said "no, we don't do that." I explained that I HAD to write it down, because I wasn't familiar with the names of the machines at ALL, and with my ADD as strong as it is (and it's pretty strong), I'd forget which ones I'd used in about five minutes, and just saying them to me wasn't going to help me remember. We went back and forth on this a few times, but finally he let me get my phone and make notes of it. I was silly and didn't get my reading glasses, so I got some mistypings in there, but here's my list:
  • Leg press
  • Lat pull
  • Seated row
  • Inclined chest press
  • Rear (self?) back fly
  • Arm curls
  • Seated dips
I'm doing all of these with pretty wussy weights, but you know what? Just like my body weight, it's not about the numbers. It's about working my muscles. I can still lift a 50-lb bag of flour, or a full copy paper box, and I very rarely have to make more than one trip with the groceries, even if I have more than four bags. So what does it matter what the numbers on a bunch of toys say?

All in all, I think it was a pretty productive session, and I'm damned proud of myself for insisting that he find me a program that I would DO, rather than me agreeing to do what HE thought was best ,while knowing that I'd loathe it and quit after a week. And I'm indebted to Hanne Blank for reminding me I could DO that.

Today, even though I was feeling kind of sore from C25K on Monday and Wednesday, and the training session yesterday, I dragged my sorry ass out of bed and went to the gym by 8AM, so I could do today's C25K on the treadmill before the snow started. I now feel very virtuous.

And if the zombies attack, I'll be ready.
rikibeth: (Default)
 so, y'know, skip it if you don't want to read about that.

Today was another C25K day. I wanted to do it outside, again, but I totally failed at getting up early enough for that, plus there was a dusting of snow on the ground, which, while it was pretty trivial in the New England scheme of things, did not seem like the best idea given my propensity to turn my ankles.

So I figured I'd see how compatible the program was with the treadmills at the gym.

Turns out, not half bad. I put the machine on the manual setting, and just changed the speed whenever the app told me to -- 3mph for walking, and 4.5mph for running. The treadmill has a timer on it, and a distance-covered display, and it measures your heart rate by the grips. I may have been kind of ambitious with the 4.5mph, because it got my heart rate kinda high, but I felt okay doing it, so I stayed there. The treadmill even has a five minute cooldown pre-set on it! And this time, I got the app and the audiobook to play well together, and my chapter finished with one minute to go, which I thought was convenient. I re-did day 1, though, because of how messed up Monday was.

Tomorrow I have the "fitness assessment" that you get with one of their trainers, as part of the deal. I think mostly I want to know what weights I should start at on weight machines if I use them.

I've also started playing with the SparkPeople diet-and-exercise tracking app, not especially because I want to lose weight (I told it I wanted to lose five pounds, because I'm female and American and this is practically a default) but because I wanted to see if I was eating WELL, and not putting my body into famine mode from eating too little (which happens, as my Lamictal kills my appetite), and getting enough protein and so on (important for me, because with the PCOS I should be eating Zone-style 40/30/30 lower carb). And [personal profile] eternaleponine 's been using it for quite a while now, and has entered the nutritional values for Things I Cook, so she shared them to make it convenient for me.

Things I've discovered: the barcode-scanning feature for entering new items is The Best Toy, I've been getting woefully little protein (so I had tuna for lunch to fix that), and Panera bagels have about a zillion calories.

Seriously, though, the barcode-scanning is awesome. That tuna wrap I made for lunch? I scanned the tuna, the Greek dressing, the store brand tortillas, and I tried to scan the romaine but nobody else had, so that one, I entered the info by hand.

Obviously the key to getting me to pay attention to this stuff is to make it all seem like toys. Toys are good.

Likewise, the "reminders" gadget is better than the "to-do" gadget on the iPhone, because it has tickyboxes.

eternaleponine suggests Greek yogurt as a solution to the not-enough-protein issue. I think I'm going to have eggs for breakfast instead of oatmeal. I like them better than oatmeal anyway.

If this stuff continues to feel like playing with toys, I might even be able to stick with it.


rikibeth: (Default)
 Back in December, I signed up for Hanne Blank's 100 Days of Body Practice challenge. She even had a post that said Have a body practice goal? Win a book! This was my goal:

My body practice goal is to faithfully use the Couch to 5K program three times a week, because I’d like to have more stamina and better breathing.  And I want to feel positive emotions while I’m doing it. I don’t insist on “runner’s high,” but I’d like NOT to feel bored, or frustrated, or angry. Happiness, contentment, even smug self-satisfaction will do, just so that I don’t feel the USUAL emotions I feel when exercising for exercise’s sake, which are basically “I would rather be cleaning the cat box than doing this.”  Music doesn’t tend to alleviate it, because I wind up associating the music with the exercise and coming to hate it. I’m hoping audiobooks will help.

Considering that I actually won the book -- The Unapologetic Fat Girl’s Guide to Exercise and Other Incendiary Acts  -- and it was terrific -- I figured I'd better follow through on it.

I didn't start on February 1, when the challenge did, because, first of all, I find it a lot easier to start three-times-a-week things on Mondays, and, for another, last week was a really bad week for brainweasels, and just getting out of bed was a challenge. But I started today.

It didn't go perfectly. First of all, it was COLD. Below-freezing cold. And I sort of misjudged things; I had a nice new pair of workout tights, but I should have put the windbreaker pants on over them. And I couldn't find my neoprene face mask -- a thing I seriously need for cold-weather outdoor exercise, because one of the triggers for that not-asthma breathing trouble I was having last year? Cold. I tied a scarf over my nose and mouth, but it was bulky and awkward.

Then there was the app. It's set up so it'll run with music in the background, but somehow when I started the music I paused the app without realizing it, and so I spent a good bit longer on the "warm-up" (brisk walking, in my case) than the program intended. And then when I re-set it I managed to have the music player in the foreground and the C25K app behind it, so it only vibrated in my little arm holder instead of beeping and talking to me when I was supposed to switch between walking and jogging, and I may have gotten them reversed. Between the elongated warm-up and the confusion, I was too tired to manage the jogging part on the last three signals, so I just walked. I did get back just as the "cool-down" started. And I did some long-held lunge stretches so hopefully I won't mangle my knees the way I did the last time I tried this. I also mostly used the nice new flat and even sidewalks that they finally finished on the main drag, so with luck I won't turn my ankles on uneven pavement.

In terms of emotional state? I do have to say that listening to Richard Armitage read the audiobook of Georgette Heyer's The Convenient Marriage  was an enormous help. Richard Armitage's voice runs probably a close third favorite of mine right after Paul McGann and Samuel West, who are actually tied for first, and that's my favorite Georgette Heyer novel, at least on alternate days -- the other one is Friday's Child. The audiobook is abridged, and I know the novel so well that I can spot some of where they've abridged it; they left out the monkey! And that Horatia's shoes pinched her, at an important moment. And a particularly catty line that the Earl's former mistress said. None of those were really important, but they also left out half an exchange between the Earl and his mistress right at the beginning, and it would have been better to leave it in, for the parallel structure, and for what it said about her. But, anyway, the intense familiarity of a favorite book plus the lovely voice worked a lot better for me than music to keep me from flat-out hating the exercise.

Because of the difficulties posed by nasty weather, I also broke down and joined a $10/month gym a few blocks from my house. You don't get free classes unless you sign up at $20/month, but that's okay with me, because I HATE classes. They make me feel clumsy and inadequate. They do offer you a free personal training session, which I'll take, because I don't know how to use all the equipment or how much weight I can reasonably lift if I use the weight machines. I think that at first I may just use the empty classroom so I can pay attention to my push-up and sit-up form in the mirror. and ask the trainer how to set up a cycle that matches C25K on the treadmills. There's also a pool, though I'm not sure that's for me, and a steam room, which is definitely not for me because guess what ELSE triggers my breathing trouble? And the locker room feels kind of grubby, so before I even consider showering there, I'll need to pick up a cheap pair of flip-flops or shower shoes. But, as it's only a few minutes from my house, there's no reason I can't shower at home.

I figure, if [livejournal.com profile] eternaleponine can go to taekwondo classes six days a week, I can certainly get my butt out the door and onto the sidewalk or into the gym. I had thought about joining the one that's right next to her dojang, but it's a lot pricier. $10/month is about what I'm willing to deal with.

And maybe, just maybe, I'll have fewer attacks of the brainweasels without having to change my meds.


rikibeth: (Default)
 Had a great time.

Pictures can be found at my tumblr, tagged "arisia".

Still recovering brain.

Have a video:


it's the Naughty Nurses skit to promote the blood drive. Which I am in. As Loki. In a corset and boots and a green cape. Loki, Frank-n-Furter, what's the difference really?

hope the rest of you had as great a time as I did.

rikibeth: (Default)
I know, I know, I hardly ever post here any more.

But I'm off to Arisia! If you want to find me, I'll be at the Naughty Nurses table from 11am-1pm on Saturday and 1-3pm on Sunday. Otherwise, look for Bellatrix Lestrange on Friday night (don't expect me before 7pm), and either fem!Jack Harkness or Idris the TARDIS most of the rest of the time. Sunday after 3, it'll DEFINITELY be fem!Jack.

If you want to find me online, you're more likely to catch me at [livejournal.com profile] julian_griffith (either LJ or DW, I crosspost) or either of my tumblrs: auntiehornblower or juliangriffith. I ought to remember to use the @rikibeth and @julianxgriffith Twitters more.

The reason I'm doing so much more as Julian Griffith is because I'm so damn excited about MY BOOK COMING OUT IN AUGUST. I haven't started the editorial process yet (end of January), though I've filled out the cover art questionnaire, but Love Continuance and Increasing is going to be a REAL BOOK, you guys. So I post there, though it's mostly writing stuff.

See you at Arisia!

ETA: At [personal profile] regyt 's request, blurb for the book below:
Lieutenant William Thorne, of His Majesty's Navy, was a man of humble origins. He knew that his affair with Major Anthony Rockingham of the 43rd Infantry couldn't last forever, not only because the war against Napoleon sent him on blockade duty in the English Channel while the major's regiment trained ashore, but because Rockingham was a viscount, and viscounts must marry. When Rockingham's letter reached him, saying that he'd chosen Miss Caroline Filmer as his bride, it was no more than Thorne had expected. What he had not expected, when he returned home after the Battle of Trafalgar, was to find an invitation to the christening of Rockingham's son. He had not expected, when he met the young viscountess, that he would fall instantly and passionately in love with her. And he had certainly never expected that Caroline would fall just as desperately in love with him. Thorne was sure that their feelings for each other could only lead to disaster, even more so as his love for Rockingham had never gone away. While the war with France continued, he found himself fighting a war within his own heart...
Also, An Unexpected Gift, a Christmas-themed short story featuring Thorne and Rockingham, appeared on the Speak Its Name Advent calendar this past December.
rikibeth: (Default)
Possibly of interest to some of you:

Groupon Goods is offering a KitchenAid UltraPower Stand Mixer for $199.

They claim it's 45% off list price. I don't know about actual shelf pricing and store discounts, but that's about what I paid for my low-end KSM90 20 years ago.

So if you've been coveting one, it might be a good deal.

I can't figure out how to make it give me Groupon bucks for referring you to this specifically, but if you don't have an account, and you use this link to sign up, I get $10 to spend on Groupon offers, which would be nice.

Free shipping and free returns.

This has been a public service announcement.

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