Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Year in Review: 2017

It is time for my annual year in review post. (Here's last year's post if you want details... you can click through and read earlier years from there.)

I don't think I wrote enough this year to pick my usual two to three posts per month. So instead, I'll just summarize the year and share a few posts.

Obviously, the political situation in the US was a big part of my year. The post I wrote the day before Trump's inauguration summarized how I felt at the start of the year, and it is still accurate. January also featured the release day for Caresaway.

In February, I ranted a bit about how angry all the lies in our political discussions make me.

In March, I wrote about why I don't think we should worry about immigrants "assimilating." And I found a great recipe for pizza dough. It is easy enough to mix together in the morning that I think we can continue our Friday night pizza dinners even when I am no longer working from home on Fridays!

I found 2016 and the ugliness around the election to be much harder on me as a woman than 2017 was, but I know that for many women, 2017 was the year when the anger about all the extra crap we've had to deal with broke out. I do have at least one post relevant to that: some thoughts I had after having lunch with an old friend in April. I also wrote about our spring break trip up the coast to Santa Barbara.

The headwinds I was feeling in May eventually combined with some other factors to make me decide to go back to "regular employee" status... which led to all the drama I've been posting about recently (and will summarize below).  I also wondered how much further down we'd go in terms of bad behavior by political leaders. I'm sad to say, I don't think we have found the bottom yet. But I had a good birthday!

June brought the release day for Hemmed In, which is my best performing Taster Flight to date. I also wrote about trying to figure out how to keep Pumpkin challenged and happy at school, and got some good suggestions in the comments.

We took our vacation at the end of June and beginning of July. It was a road trip around some Western states, and it was wonderful. We saw many wonderful things, and you can go click around to find all the posts about them. I also wrote about some political observations from our time in Utah.

I didn't post much in August, partly because I had a week solo with the kids as Mr. Snarky flew to New Zealand to surprise his father for his birthday.

In September, I wrote about what I learned from my mid-life crisis. A lot of those lessons figured into my eventual decision to go back to being a full time employee. I also released Water into Wine.

I finally finished up my posts about our summer vacation in October: here's the last post. And I wrote about my theory for why we have mid-life crises.

November brought the release day for The Burning, and since I was struggling with a cold and then follow on illnesses that in the end wiped out my entire month, my announcement about my decision to go back to being a regular employee came as part of a Weekend Reading post.

And that brings us to December. There was a release day for Both Sides of My Skin, and then I lost the old new job and got the new new job.

All in all, 2017 was a tough year, but one that my country came through better than I feared we would at the start. There were some great times for me and my family, and some tough personal decisions. I felt like I reaped the benefits of the some hard personal work I'd done in the previous few years, so I guess that's a plug for not putting off that personal work. I had no way of knowing that in sorting through some of my old buried issues in 2015 and 2016 I was making it easier for me to get through 2017... but this year, I was really, really glad I'd dealt with those old issues when I  did!

So in that spirit, I plan to spend some time over the next few days thinking about how to be ready for the challenges I think 2018 will bring, both in terms of the wider political situation and in terms of my own personal situation. I may write about that, but that will need to wait until another night. For now, I'll just thank you all for reading in 2017!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The New New Job

I said I'd write more about my new job after Christmas. Now that I've sat down to do it, though, I am not sure what more to say.

I guess I can explain how I was able to land a second new job so quickly when the one I'd just started suddenly went away. A friend had contacted me about a potential job right after I accepted the first new job, and I'd had to tell him I wasn't interested. So, when I found out that I was without a job, I emailed him to say that now I was available. To be honest, I was mostly joking, a sort of "ha ha, joke's on me" sort of thing. I didn't expect the job he'd contacted me about to still be available. And it wasn't. But another job, reporting to the person who'd taken the job he'd originally contacted me about, was still open. He told me to send my resume, so the day after I lost my job, I spent a few hours reworking my resume for the new job and sent it in. I had a phone interview soon after, and then went in for an in person interview... and then I got a job offer and accepted it.

Since I'd recently surveyed the job landscape in San Diego, I knew that I was likely to have to take a job less senior than the one I'd just lost, which made it easy to make the decision to go ahead with this new job. It is definitely less senior, but I'll be learning some new things and there is room for growth. So I think it is not a bad career move, and the pay is enough that I can afford to take the less senior position.

The new new job is also a lot more flexible than the old new job would have been: I'll be able to work from home a bit, and they are happy to have me accept the occasional offer to give a seminar. Also, it will be a shorter commute, and the new location is quite close to one of the YMCA locations that I can use my membership at (we have a family membership because that makes the kids' programs cheaper). So I think this job will fit my life really well, and is a good fit for my skills and interests. I start the job in about a month.

All in all, things have turned out remarkably well, and I'm feeling very fortunate.

And so is Petunia. Hr first question after I got off the phone negotiating the job offer: Does this mean we still get to go to Disneyland? Yes, it does!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Weekend Reading: The Coming Out of the Whirlwind Edition

So... I have verbally accepted a job offer. The paperwork should arrive soon, but given the fact that most people are taking time off right about now, I might not get it signed and formalized until after Christmas. Still, it is a done deal, so I can tell people about it.

I will try to write a little more after Christmas about the job (a good fit work-wise, paying a little less than the last new job but with more flexibility and in a better location for me) and the weird experience of the last few weeks. For now, I'll just say, wow, that was a whirlwind experience. My December involved: starting a new job, losing that job along with all my colleagues, interviewing for a new new job, and getting that job. My head is spinning a bit.

But, let's get to the links!

In self-promo: if you're looking for a last minute gift, may I suggest an ebook gift card? I sell a printable gift card for all the Annorlunda Books via GumRoad. You select "Gift Card" as the purchase option, and download the gift card file instead of the ebook files. You print and fold the gift card into a cute little card with the book cover image on the front and instructions for how to get the ebook inside. You wrap up the card in a nice box and there's your gift!

Here's the blog version of a thread I did on who'd like each of the Annorlunda Books as a gift.

And now for the other links:

Josh Marshall's take on the new tax bill rings true to me. I honestly don't know what will happen to my taxes beyond knowing that this is certainly not a simplifying "reform" for me. I have tried a bit to figure it out, but I think I'll just have to wait and see. I think that because we are itemizers that live in a high tax state and have a pretty big mortgage, we'll end up paying more overall. But we'll never know unless we take the trouble to figure out our 2018 taxes under the old and the new rules, because of the change in my job situation.

We'll be OK, though, so my concerns are less for my own personal finances and more for the fact that we're already hearing talk of cutting Medicare and Social Security to "fix" the deficit that just got ballooned in the tax bill. I'm also worried for what the loss of the individual mandate will do to health insurance markets. I am feeling like I made the right decision when I decided to go back to having a "regular" job and the benefits from it.

A Mother Jones story about the hacking of climate scientists that looks a lot like the hacking around our election.

Rebecca Hamilton on the limits of "naming and shaming" and why some survivors of sexual assault and harassment choose not to publicly name the guilty.

This is a good post about the difficulties around discussing what actually happens to women.

Dean Winslow on how speaking his mind about our gun situation cost him a government position. For what its worth, I share his opinion that we should allow people to own and shoot weapons like the AR-15, but only at a gun range. I wish we could take up discussion of a sensible idea like this in our Congress. Instead, voicing an opinion that our current situation is ridiculous got Winslow's nomination put on indefinite hold.

Here's something I want to read but haven't had time to read yet.

Well, those are all downers. Sorry. Go read some nice fiction to feel better! Here's one of the stories recommended in the Inbox Stories that came out on Monday. It is sweet and happy and will make you smile.

Funny... AND a bunny!

And here's another bunny:

That's all for this week. Have a wonderful Christmas, if you celebrate! Enjoy the end of "Christmas songs in every store" season if you don't!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

A Walk on the Beach

I've been feeling a bit out of sorts. I know why: even though the new job only lasted for four days, I had a whole bunch of plans and hopes for what it would mean, both professionally and personally. It is only normal to mourn the loss of those. It is just inconvenient to be doing that right now, in the middle of the holiday season, which is so busy. Also, I am quite fortunate to have a good lead for another job already, but that has also made me busy, so that I haven't really had time to process my feelings about the lay off.

So last Thursday, I decided to take a walk on the beach. I didn't go in thinking I'd pick up shells: I was mourning, not celebrating. But there were so many sand dollars on the beach, I couldn't resist picking some up!

And then I realized, I did have things to celebrate. I'd released Both Sides of My Skin, and I'd gotten Inbox Stories up and running. Just because my plan for keeping my little publishing company running without ruining my family's finances didn't work out, that doesn't mean I shouldn't celebrate the successes of the company! So I picked up shells with abandon.

I wish I had more time to sort through my feelings, but right now, I don't. The kids are out of school, and we canceled their registration in the camp we'd planned to have them attend this week. They'll be home with me, except on Tuesday, when I have an interview (!) so Mr. Snarky will work from home to keep an eye on them.

I may not get the time to wallow in feeling sad about the lay off, and maybe that's for the best. Shit just happens sometimes, and there's nothing much to do but try to shrug it off and find a good plan B.

But then again, any excuse for more walks on the beach....

Friday, December 15, 2017

Weekend Reading: The Somehow Very Busy Even Without a Job Edition

I spent my week getting organized for my job search, and following up on a really strong lead. Oh, and trying to get ready for Christmas!

So this is going to be a short set of links, because despite being without a job, I was surprisingly busy this week.

In self-promotional links: I wrote a thread about giving the books I've published as gifts. Here it is in a news post form.

Monday, the second Inbox Stories newsletter comes out. This week's story is a great old story about a woman sea captain and a feud she ends up in. I also have two recommendations for great new stories, both of which feature strong women and magic. The recommendations link to the stories online, so even if you subscribe to the free edition, you'll find two great stories to read!

In other links:

New rule: read anything Rebecca Traister writes, particularly about gender. Her piece about how the "Weinstein moment" is more about work than sex is really good.

Jamelle Bouie talked to some Black voters in Birmingham, and it is worth your time.

Giant penguins!

My favorite podcast of the week: Majority 54 on public education.

Gen-X giggle:

This is really cool:

Stern bunny:

And that's all I have this week. I'll try to do better next week!

Friday, December 08, 2017

Weekend Reading: The Still Processing Edition

I'm still processing my sudden transition back to being an independent contractor... now with no contracts! I have managed to be somewhat productive today, but slept poorly and will be glad when this day is over, to be honest.

The worst part of yesterday for me was telling my kids, and having Petunia ask if this means we won't go to Disneyland. I had to tell her I didn't know. A Disneyland trip is really expensive, so it can only still go forward if I have a solid source of income by February.

I do have some leads already, and have started working on those. But I don't really have a direction for my search yet, because I need to do some thinking to come up with that. So I'm very much in a reactive mode, not a pro-active one.

Anyhow, enough about that. Let's have some links.

In self-promo news of the week: Both Sides of My Skin, by Elizabeth Trach, came out.

In other links:

Before I was laid off, I was planning to buy some gifts from the lists people submit to The Bloggess. Maybe we still will. We're still very fortunate and maybe it will help with my flagging Christmas spirit.

Jeet Heer on the weaponization of outrage is quite good.

Michael Tomasky on how out of touch Republicans are with "Blue America" rang true to me. I am tired of being made to feel like I'm not a "real American" whatever that is.

I have a lot more interesting looking articles "liked" on Twitter, but I never got a chance to catch up on reading them and I think I'm just going to let that go.

In podcasts:

I'm still listening to The History of English podcast, nerding out about history and linguistics. This episode on the origin of glossaries is particularly fascinating.

I've also started listening to Jason Kander's Majority 54 podcast, and his episode on Islamophobia, in which he interviews the man who was his translator in Afghanistan, is particularly good.

I'll probably have fewer podcast recommendations for a little while, since I won't be driving anywhere now. Maybe I'll start listening while folding laundry or something.

In Twitter:

Click through and read this whole thread. It is amazing, in a not good way.

I do find the phenomenon of extremely partisan Republicans arguing against Franken's resignation... interesting.

This is so pretty:

Bunny! BIG bunny! (And a dog)

And that's it for me this week. Here's hoping next week is better.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

An Unexpected Turn

So, that new job I started on Monday? It went away today. I don't think the details are public yet, so I'll keep it vague and just say it wasn't anything that was my fault or the fault of the people who hired me, and it wasn't just me who lost a job. And I have a decent severance despite only working there for four days... so all things considered, it could be worse.

Still, it was completely unexpected and I'm reeling a little bit. Thanks to the severance and some seminars I thought I'd have to turn down but can now accept (silver lining!) I'm in good shape financially into February. That gives me some time to figure out what's next.

The reasons I decided to go back to full time employment still remain, but the really good fitting job is gone. Should I take it as a sign to try harder on the independent route? Or should I settle for a less good fit in a job? I have some thinking to do.

But the deep thinking is for another night. Tonight, I'm going to pour a beer and just... chill.

Also, it seems like a good night to remind people of the various things I still have available for purchase!

Of course, there are the books published by Annorlunda Books. Also, books make great gifts!

T-shirts also make great gifts, and my Etsy store is still up.

I'm not sure a recorded seminar would make that great of a gift... but maybe it would for the right person? Or you could get a head start on any New Year's resolutions to get better at time management or start planning your transition out of academia.

You could also just treat yourself to a subscription to Inbox Stories, my latest project! I've got a fun story about a woman who is a sea captain scheduled for December, and it is a story first published in 1919. I picked it because it is a nice reminder that there have always been strong, interesting women, we just haven't always listened to their stories.

Tungsten Hippo is no longer updated, but all the Amazon links are still affiliate links.

And now, it is time for me to unplug and have a beer and be thankful for all the many good things  in my life, and also for the fact that there aren't currently any fires burning near my home. (I'm thinking of you North County, LA, and Ventura friends! Here's hoping the winds stop blowing so hard soon.)

Updated to add: Sheesh! I forgot to mention my children's books. The Zebra Said Shhh and Petunia, the Girl Who Was Not a Princess! And my first short ebook Taming the Work Week. I knew I'd forget something in my distracted state.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Release Day for Both Sides of My Skin

I feel like I should be writing a post about what my first couple of days back as a full time employee have been like, but there isn't much to tell. Monday night, Pumpkin asked me how my first day was, and I told her it was good. Then she asked what I did all day, and I said I sat in meetings... and then she stopped asking questions, because clearly I wasn't going to say anything interesting!

I will tell you the same: my first couple of days have been good, and I've mostly sat in meetings. This is as expected and not a bad thing, really. If you're going to be in charge of the management of a bunch of projects, the easiest, least annoying way to get up to speed on them is to just go to all of the meetings for awhile. After a month or two, I'll know which ones I actually need to be at, and some space will free up in my schedule.

Anyhow, that's all I want to say about going back to work. Maybe at some point I'll write about the "sit in all the meetings until you know which ones you belong in" method of taking over management of an existing team over at my real name blog. Or maybe that sentence is really all there would be to the post. I'll have to think about that.

What I really want to tell you about is the latest Annorlunda Books release day! It is release day for Both Sides of My Skin, by Elizabeth Trach. This is the last release I scheduled before I knew I'd be going back to being full time employee, and so it is a different sort of release day for me. I can't obsessively refresh the sales numbers, which is probably a good thing. But I also will have to wait until lunch or break time to share out any reviews that come in... 

But you can buy the book now! I loved these stories when I first read them. They felt so refreshingly real in how they portrayed the early days of motherhood. I am delighted with how the book has turned out, and am excited that now everyone can read it.

The ebook is $3.99, from all the usual places:
The paperback is $8.99:
If you're near Newburyport, MA, if is also available at The Book Rack.

And it is available at Overdrive if your library uses that. I think it is also available at Baker and Taylor, but I've never been able to figure out how to search and link there, so I have to just take that on faith. Also, I sell all my books DRM-free, so any library that manages its own ebooks could buy from any vendor.

I think any book makes a great gift... but this one would make a particularly good gift for a mother, particularly one still in the baby/toddler years. But don't take my word for it! Get a copy and see for yourself.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Weekend Reading: The Uh-Oh, I'm Out of Time Edition

Well, this week sped by disturbingly fast. Today was my last day as a contractor. On Monday, I'm a full time employee again. I think I got through the things I absolutely, positively had to get done before Monday, but oh boy, do I have a long list of things I wanted to get done and didn't. Thanks, cold/bronchitis/sinus infection. Also thanks, computer that decided now was a good time to stop working well and backup company whose "more reliable" download and unzip tool fails to unzip things.

My shiny new computer is super fast, though, and as soon as I find the correct monitor cable, I'll be fully set up on it. I think I can work a bunch this weekend to try to finish off my "really should do before December 4" list, and everything else I'll just have to squeeze in when I can. It is not like December is a busy month or anything. (sob)

Anyhow, how about some links? I don't have that many today, because I haven't had a lot of time to read this week.

Self-promo links first: I posted the cover reveal for the first Annorlunda release of 2018, Tattoo, by Michelle Rene. You can also sign up to be an advance reader!

And Both Sides of My Skin, by Elizabeth Trach comes out next Wednesday! Sometime this weekend, the GoodReads page for that will appear. (Yes, that was on the portion of the "do before Dec. 4" to do list that I haven't gotten to yet....)

In other news:

Today, in things I can't believe my tax money gets spent on: Settling a wrongful termination suit against Trey Gowdy and settling a sexual harassment suit against Blake Farenthold.  And of course, golf cart rentals, with the money for those going to Trump, Inc.

Here's an update on what San Diego is doing to try to end the Hepatitis A outbreak we're having, which is centered on the homeless population. I am hoping we'll also take this moment when people are actually paying attention to our homeless population to try to educate more folks about why we need to get past our NIMBY instincts and build more housing in the central part of our city, which means increasing density.

Ezra Klein's podcast had an interview with Rebecca Traister, and it is wonderful and you should listen to it. I'd just listened to her interview with Ana-Marie Cox on With Friends Like These, but there is surprisingly little overlap in content between the two interviews. Also, I learned Rebecca Traister is working on a book about female rage and I cannot wait to read it.

This so perfectly captures how the 2017 Congress feels to me:


I cannot explain why this delights me so much, but it does:

Bunny! With the most adorable nose!

That's all I have this week. Maybe next week I'll have more. Maybe next week, I'll actually write one of the posts I've been thinking about... hope springs eternal.