01 January, 2012

January posting challenge - Day 1

The official instructions are to post on Day 01- A recent picture of you and 15 interesting facts about yourself.

Okay. Deep breath. It's me. As I was yesterday, after lunch. Bill took the pic, by the way, so complain to him if it's crappy or inaccurate or breaks your computer. ;)

Yep. This is what I look like pretty much all the time.
Sitting at my computer  and trying to kill bears.

I took my hair out of its customary ponytail - more on me and my hair below in my required list - and removed the red-eye from using a flash, but that's it. I didn't retouch for my Rosacea (which has been doing really well) or anything. Didn't even put on a nice shirt.

Yep. I truly am this exciting. ;)

So. That hard part's over. Now for the somewhat easier task, fifteen things about myself. I don't know if they're interesting or not, but I have to list them.

Fifteen Wild and Fabulous Things About Tam

1. I cuss. Less than I used to but a lot more than I should. Including the F word. It's below, several times, so if that bothers you, stop reading here. Please. It'll save us both some trouble.

2. I am frantic, screaming, insanely terrified of falling. Even from teensy distances. As in accidentally slipping out of the back of my sandals while moving about the kitchen. Seriously. I freak the fuck out. People laugh at me. But, dammit, I almost never fall. ;)

I almost never do anything that might potentially in this or some other parallel universe lead to falling either, like step up onto anything, but that's another story. When I do fall, it's rather dramatic, almost absurd. As if all the little falls and stumbles I avoided have banded together to get me. (one of those is briefly noted in #11).

3. Since we've already mentioned falling, let's talk about Demophobia. I don't think I have a full blown phobia of crowds, but I am not good around masses of people. Especially strangers. Like crowded malls. Meeting rooms. Crammed elevators. Airports. Uh uh, no way. Unlike freaking out over falling, I shut down in crowds, as if I could melt into walls and disappear to escape. I have consistently finished my holiday shopping, should I need any, by Halloween. Because after that... Crowds. And crowds suck. Mightily. I don't even like big family gatherings, unless they're at my house, on my turf, where I can hide if necessary until I'm calm again.

4. I detest airplanes with a deep and festering hate that is nearly crippling. This is likely a combination of items 2 and 3 on the list (crowded plus being waaaaaay the hell in the air? Oh, fuck no!), and the instinctual belief that nothing that big and heavy has any business being that high up. Yes, I understand the physics of flight and lift. I do. Still. Me, crammed in a tin can hurtling miles above the ground while someone else drives? Again, oh fuck no!

Pre-flight, when the airline sadists have their victims sitting around waiting for the inevitable torture of actually being on the plane is, frankly, worse for me than being on a plane. Because I know it's coming. And there's no escape. I have two keys to coping and, they are:

5. My Worry Doll Barrette. It is a thing of mythical power. It will smite your ass, so do not screw with the Worry Doll Barrette. Or me if I'm wearing it.

Behold the mighty, all powerful Worry Doll Barrette.
Songs have been sung, epics written.
Much carnage has been avoided.
Especially within Tambo's brain.

Let's go back to 2003, shall we? I'd just sold Ghosts and had agreed to go to World Fantasy (I believe it was in Washington DC that year) to meet my fabulous new editor and other Important Fantasy Literary Professionals. Because I'd suddenly found myself to be one, too (who'da thunk??) and that's what Fantasy Literary Professionals supposedly do. Go to World Fantasy. It's like a law or secret handshake or something. But, to attend, I had to get on a plane for the very first time and, well, the idea of me on a plane was not, shall we say, going well. I was Freaking The Fuck Out, to put it bluntly, even months before hand, so my husband and daughter brought me a talisman. Probably to save themselves from three months of me and my freaking, but still. They got it and gave it to me, informing me that I could wear it and the worry dolls would not only suck up all those terrified plane-and-flying related fears, they'd keep me safe.

So far, they've performed their duties perfectly. So perfectly, that they set off alarms Every Single Time I've worn them through the anti-terrorist scanners. So perfectly that their faces have been worried away. And I only wear it when flying. Or facing an Extreme Medical Crisis. Like being in a MRI machine as it scans a scary tumor. (see list item #12).

Anyway, I do not, under any circumstances, enter an airport with the intent to get on a plane (picking people up is totally different) without The Magic Barrette upon my head. EVER. This is non negotiable and, in fact, Michele (she's item number 6) and I almost had to drive all the way back to Iowa from some God-forsaken east coast metropolis (Baltimore? Saratoga Springs? Someplace full of strangers and totally devoid of corn) because my Worry Doll Barrette had decided to hide in the hotel room and vacation a while longer.

But Michele found it (probably dancing with the mini-bottle of Bacardi in the wet bar) just in time, and we managed to make the plane and get home. And not drive for days. Because that would have sucked, especially since we had non refundable plane tickets. And I'm cheap.

6. I could not do this pro-writer thing without Michele. We've been friends for almost forever (since meeting at a con in 1992 or thereabouts) and I drag her all over the country to various authorial event things. Even ones we've had to drive to. Not only does she ensure that my Worry Dolls are properly placed and motivated, she keeps me from freaking out in the airport, and from ripping my seat apart once inside the plane, especially if the sadists won't let me have a window seat. Which also is a requirement. Please. It's just easier for everyone if I can stare out into the great, open wide, uncrowded, sky and land and anything at all that's not inside a terrifying plane! Like I am!


Anyway, Michele has this innate calmness about her, mostly because she is, well, awesome. And she knows that I'm scared, but she's right there, so everything will be okey dokey. Being middle-ageish women from Iowa, we're both blondish, roundish, and blue eyed - and have several times been mistaken for sisters - but I'm a good deal taller, and definitely more neurotic. She gets motion sick from flying, but, once her little behind-the-ear patch is in place, she takes it like a trouper.

At conferences - when I'm overwhelmed by the crowds and the concept of Shit! Strangers are wanting to talk to me!! WTF!?! - she makes sure I eat, drink, pee, and get 'quiet time' away from the teeming masses of people who know more about my novels than I do. She keeps me on schedule and in the right place even when I'm lost, knows who everyone is when I can't remember their names, and generally spoils me. As a long standing member of Fandom, she knows a lot more about Fantasy anything than I do - she's organized the Art Show at ICon in Iowa City for years and years, plus she's a voracious reader and always is totally knowledgeable about the books up for awards, just for starters - and she has a lot more fun at these events than I could ever hope to. She's one of those sweet, patient folks who get autographs and discuss series developments and she just knows everyone. She considers me dragging her to these events as a free vacation away from job and family (I pay for everything but her souvenirs) but to me she's a life saver and every bit as essential as the worry dolls.

Michele. With a Lego Pirate.
Aarr, ye maties! I totally liberated this booty from her purse, er Facebook page.

She's a great pre-reader, a sounding board, and an amazing friend. The scant few times she couldn't come along, I missed her terribly. Michele is awesome. And necessary. I love her to pieces. (And I think she keeps spare Worry Doll Barrettes in her purse, but don't tell her I know the secret.)

7.  I wrote Ghosts in the Snow to escape my father. A lot of people know parts of this - so I guess it's not a super-new factoid or whatever - but my writing the novel pretty much paralleled his slow decline into the last stages of diabetes and my - admittedly small - part in caring for him. We did not get along and, most of the time, writing the slaughter of castle maids and the chase to catch their killer was both catharsis and escape. I consistently write about abuse for a reason, and since I don't want to wallow in my misery today, let's just stop this entry with that. 'Kay?

8. I have been delightfully married for 23 years despite Bill and I dating a mere three months before our wedding day. Seriously. When you know, you know. And we just knew. We were looking for places to get married while on our second date and, driving up Hickman Ave in Des Moines (right by Living History Farms, I could just about pick out the exact spot) he asked me to marry him. I, of course said yes. Woulda been crazy not to. It's been a great time ever since, despite the crazy ups and downs and all arounds life has thrown at us. He's awesome, and we're awesome together. I thank God every day for my luck in finding Bill, and for our daughter who, too, is awesome. 

9. I like pink. A lot. Most of my shirts are some shade of pink, from baby pink to deep maroon, and I have pink desk accessories, pink bins in my sewing room, pink socks, pink notebooks, and a pink purse. I am drawn to pink, but I am not, nor have I ever been, girly. Also, I haven't made any pink quilts, own pink towels, or ever painted any rooms pink. It's just shirts and accessories. Weird, I know, but here we are. 

As a barely-related side note, I can totally whistle the Pink Panther theme. ;)

10. I used to hate my hair, but I now really like it. A good cut makes a huge difference (thank you, Dawn, for taking such great care of my curly mop!) but growing into and accepting my natural curliness has helped a lot, too. When I was young and trying to at least be within sight of 'in style' (oh, the folly of youth), my hair was awful, just awful. It's naturally curly, with a mind of its own, and, well, that mind did not want to be straight. Or feather its bangs. Or, well, behave and be stylish. It's a tousled, curly mop, always, in its own, odd, dishwater blonde color, but since I've decided to just go with the curl and stop trying to change it, we've gotten along a lot better. I now get it highlighted from time to time (it makes it look even curlier than it is, plus covers some of the gray) and I love the color, the texture, everything. People ask me pretty often where I get such a great perm, but I have to tell them it's just my crazy hair. :)

As much as I really do love my hair, I get rather picky about things touching my face (blame the Rosacea), so it's usually in a ponytail so it doesn't get in my eyes and make me aggravated.

11. I've never hesitated to tell anyone my age. I know a lot of women - and some men - get all twitchy at revealing their ages, but I never have. I am 47, will turn 48 next summer, and I've earned every gray hair and wrinkle. I've also earned my creaky knee which is caused by my bad heel (broken about 20 years ago during a slip/fall down a flight of stairs, talk about terrifying!! It's a wonder I didn't have a heart attack in the process!) and flaky eyesight. I did cry over a birthday once, but not because I turned some arbitrary number. Nope, I cried because no one remembered it. Not even my mom. Was a very sad day, but age is still just a number. I was born in the summer of '64, the year of the Beatles invasion, and I am happy to admit it.

12. Despite my age and plumpness, I am generally healthy. Except for Rosacea, factory reject sinuses (see number 13) and the occasional Truly Weird Thing. I get all the weird things. For example, back in 2007, I had a bone tumor in my wrist. Now one would think that a bone tumor is bad, bad, bad. Well, for me it was primarily a PITA because we were fostering our three nieces at the time and, well, I was insanely busy, okay? Too bad, Tam. Gotta take care of the damn tumor. So we added in too many doctors and so many x rays I thought my wrist would start glowing, but, in the end it was not cancer, not even close, just an enchondroma. Totally harmless - other than screwing up the bone - it was also about the size of a walnut and was about to obliterate the surface of the joint. Once we learned it was nothing more than a pocket of gunk, Bill and I deemed it my bone zit. We finally found a specialist who would tackle my bone zit and one step along the way to the surgery ward was an MRI. My first and hopefully only MRI. The Worry Doll Barrette and I endured the claustrophobia of the machine pretty well (it was really COLD in there, though, and a movie would have been nice). Then, my bone zit was opened up and refilled with ground up cadaver bone. So now it's a zombie zit or something.

It's all healed, no harm done, but do have a cool scar and people kinda freak out when I explain it's from my bone tumor. Other people freaking out is always a plus in my book. ;)

Another example. Last winter, I broke my butt. Specifically, I strained and possibly tore a teeny little muscle called a Piriformis. I'd never heard of such a thing before - let alone someone straining one - but it took months to heal and I now know how to stretch it so it doesn't happen again. Imagine, if you will, being unable to sit without severe pain. For 4 months. And you're a writer. Yep, a strained Piriformis equals super fun times. ;) No one freaks out over a broken butt, though. They just laugh.

In my last nod to my medical harmless-but-odd happenings, part of normal aging for near sighted folks like me is a separation of ocular fluid from the retina. Happens to most every near-sighted person on the planet when they hit middle age, but, for me... It tore off a blood vessel that filled my right eye with blood and partially blinded me. But, like my bone zit, the problem was very scary yet quite harmless and temporary and was all better a month later.

13. I have constant respiratory allergies. I also have cats. Yes, I know one causes the other.

My physician, Nicole, who has guided me around all sorts of odd medical tripwires, prods me every year about my chronic sinus issues and goes through a list of potential allergens. Whenever she gets to cats I reply, "Five. And I'm not giving up my Puufy."

Nicole then closes her little note book, writes me a scrip for some other sinus med that does nothing to help, and we go through the same dance the next year. 

Would you give him up just to not sneeze so much?
I didn't think so.

14. I love to cook. I kinda geek out over it and I have a lot more cookbooks than writing books, and frequent more cooking sites (and have recipes that come right into my inbox) than anything writing related. But I'm a homey kind of cook, nothing fancy schmancy here, just good, yummy food. I can do anything from vegetarian nummies to kick ass pork chops and gravy. I even have a cooking blog, but I mostly use it to post simple stuff so that I - or anyone else - has a place for easy, quick, yummy recipes that can be done most any time. And I don't have to dig through the pile of cookbooks and printouts to see how much vinegar I need for broccoli salad. I LOVE broccoli. Gobs. It's my fave! Nom nom!

15. Not only do I make a lot of quilts, I am a batik addict and have more than 150 different batik fabrics in my stash at last count which was, well, before we moved here almost four years ago. 

About 2/3 of my batik fat quarters, sorted by color.
I have more. Many more. But they're not sorted.

I probably have somewhere around 300 different batiks now, but most are smallish pieces - fat quarters, 18x22" - because I primarily make scrappy quilts. It's a compulsion, and my quilts, too, have their own blog.

Now that I've finished my list - which it took longer and ran longer than I expected - I'll sign off and see you all tomorrow as we learn about why my blog is named how it is. Hopefully that'll be simpler. And shorter. ;)


Maripat said...

Thank you for sharing all that, Tammy. Truthfully, I hate crowds. I almost went nuts standing in line at a mall while I was in San Diego. Yeah, I know. Why would I go to a mall during Christmas? But I needed something special for my daughter in law. The things I do.

I have gone to mallls since I was a kid, but this place was HUGE and PACKED with people. And their dogs. Dogs on leashes in crowded malls should be outlawed.

Tammy Jones said...

I totally agree about the dogs. I like dogs, but they aren't humans and shouldn't be allowed where humans clump up, especially if they're shopping and carrying things - and dealing with stressed kids, etc.

We had a big stink locally when dogs were banned at the downtown farmer's market (which was mostly craft vendors). The dog people were UPSET, but I sided with the city and vendors. Some people are scared of dogs, dogs pee/chew on things, kids and dogs don't always mix, and you never know how a dog will react to strange people/noises/smells.

If you want to shop, keep your dog at home. It's just better for everyone, including the dog.


Anonymous said...

Holy Crap! You are me with the exception of Michelle, loving pink and the barrette! Thanks for sharing Tammy. I just posted mine as well. I feel nekkid now! LOL

Kat BM said...

we might have had this convo b4, have you tried a netti pot? I swear by it! I've only had 1 ear infection in the last 4 years, and it's due to the netti pot clearling out my snot before it backs up all of my sinisus, and when my sinisus back up I end up with ear infections ( and sometimes the sinsius infection also) anyway, netti pot, most walgreens carry them for 10 bucks, best 10 bucks you will ever spend! (and no, the netti pot retailer's association have not paid for this endorsement)

Tammy Jones said...

Yep. We have one. It's another one of those Weird Tambo Medical Things.

Netti pots BURN. Like some flaming devil has peed within my skull. Face on fire. Omg, omg! The burning!!

It's awful.

And, yes, with warm water and saline. Bill LOVES it. Me, I'd *much* rather stay sniffly if the cure means setting my sinuses on fire from the inside.

Null said...

On #13, have you ever read this book? http://www.amazon.com/Natural-Cat-Comprehensive-Guide-Optimum/dp/0452289750/ref=dp_ob_title_bk

I haven't read the newest version, but the old one had a cat diet that the author bragged was so effective, people with cat allergies would visit her house and not even realize she owned any until one strolled by. It takes some time and money, but it can help, as can a raw food diet, kitty style. Might be worth it to get rid of the nose thing.

My father also swore by snorting salt water, and did so daily. Sure enough, I never saw him with any sinus issues. I have not personally gone that route (I grew up by the ocean and have snorted PLENTY of salt water in my life, it burns), but a couple other people I have spoken to backs that it works. If your nose is raw from constant sinus issues, it will burn for a bit, fair warning, but I am told it gets better with time.

I've had allergies all my life, so I sympathize. :P It's especially bad when you're allergic to things you love (we never got rid of our pets either).

Null said...

Uh... "Null" again, apparently. Kat, actually. Now I need to go find out why Google is calling me "Null." *boggles*