Alexandra Duncan

Science Fiction. Fantasy. Feminism.


Between work, studying for the GRE, and finishing up a short story I'm currently shopping around, I haven't taken a day off to do nothing in a while. Well, not nothing, but fun frivolous stuff, like going to the movies or attending to my personal grooming.

I was supposed to take the GRE the Monday before last, but we had a big snowstorm that left Jeremy stranded out near the airport overnight (cue ominous music) and scared the local testing center into closing for the day.
I drove through the icy streets  in my two-wheel-drive Toyota and boot-skated down the slippery parking lot, only to find a group of cold, slightly soggy, and obviously miffed women waiting outside the test center.

"Are you here for testing?" one of them asked.

I glanced from the darkened windows of the test center to the dry and slightly dusty decorative fountain outside. "Yeah."

"They're closed today."

I stood at the bottom of the stairs, feeling awkward and hoping it was all a mistake and someone would show up so I could get this damn test over with and get on with my life.

"How far did you drive?" asked the first woman.

"Not too far," I said. "I only came from the other side of town, but it took me 20 minutes to get here in the snow."

"We drove two and a half hours," the woman said, folding her arms and clearly feeling slightly better after trumping my harrowing 20-minute journey. She and her traveling companion exchanged glances. "Well, I guess we'd better head back."

The two intrepid travelers left, and I sat on the fountain ledge next to another woman who was in as much denial about the center being closed as I was. We called the hotline number again, and then waited around talking about fish and work and snowplows until our appointment time was long past. I called Jeremy out near the airport and we commiserated about how much we hated the snow. By noon, pretty much all the ice and snow had melted. By Wednesday, I had a new test appointment.

All of this left me with an awful, unresolved feeling that made me cranky for the rest of the week. So when I opened my mailbox this past Monday and found a letter from Asimov's rejecting the story I submitted to them earlier this year, it didn't do wonders for my mood. I wandered around for a little bit, trying to cheer myself up by thinking things like "At least they sent the rejection back in a timely manner!" and "They're a big name. You weren't really expecting them to want your story in the first place." (Note to self: I probably shouldn't be in charge of cheering anyone up.) I didn't actually feel better until I typed up a new cover letter, printing out another copy of the story, and sped off to the post office to send it to a different magazine.

All of that is to say, that I've been in a funk lately, and I needed a couple of days off to de-funk myself. I'm incredibly lucky to have a job that allows me to take paid days off, so I found a substitute for myself and decided to take two days to clean my house, study, and finagle my brain into cheering up. Behold, my six-part plan for de-funking myself:

Phase 1. Haircut
If you've been reading this blog, you may have noticed my haircuts are so few and far between that I sometimes devote an entire blog post to informing the world when I've gotten one. Call it a public service announcement.

This morning I accomplished phase one by going down to the haircuttery, where Amanda, possibly the nicest and best hair stylist I've ever met, lopped off four or five inches of my hair and dyed part of it cherry red.
Behold her masterwork!
I had forgotten how nice it felt not to look like a shambling sagebrush.

Phase 2. Tacos!
Last week I was reading this book called Absolutely Maybe, by Lisa Yee, in which the main character takes a job on a taco truck in L.A. Naturally, Yee describes the steamy, sizzling tacos in loving detail. And even though I was fighting off a stomach virus, it left me with an insatiable lust for authentic, savory tacos. Jeremy, ever the expert in situations like this, suggested we go over to Taqueria Fast for a plate of delicious, authentic, corn flour tacos. I completely destroyed five tacos autenticos, including several full of really tasty carnitas (shredded pork), and probably could have put away several more if it weren't for my fear of decimating the local taco population. I declare phase two a success!

Phase 3. Movies in 3-D
After Jeremy and I had stuffed ourselves full of delicous tacos, we went to catch a matinee of Coraline at a local movie theater. The parking lot was almost empty, and after a brief moment of confusion, during which we had to clarify that we were not there to see the Jonas Brothers Concert in 3-D (don't ask!), we were issued some really fancy 3-D glasses and directed into the nearly-empty theater. I was expecting our 3-D specs to look like this:
The theater was charging an extra $2.50 for all 3-D movies, and we wondered why until they handed us our glasses. Apparently, 3-D glasses technology has come a long way since Jeremy and I lucked into seeing The Creature from the Black Lagoon at the local second-run theater a few years ago. Here I am in my fabulous new specs:
They make me want to sing that Weezer song. You know,
Wee-ooh, I look just like Buddy Holly,
Oh, oh! And you're Mary Tyler Moore.
I don't care what they say about us anyway,
I don't care about that!

(What? Can I help that I was a teenager in the '90s?)

Which, all in all, makes me think my funk is lifting. And Coraline was pretty awesome, too. Phase 3: accomplished!

Phase 4. Reading
Jeremy is sleeping off all the taco and Coraline excitement, so I'm going to curl up with a good book and some fruit snacks, and spend the rest of the evening in our papasan chair. Phase 4: check!

Phase 5. Coffee
I think this one is self-explanatory.

Phase 6. Cleaning
At Christmas, I was talking to one of my relatives about writing, and they asked me how I found time to do it.

"Our house is an absolute wreck," I said.

Which is so, so sadly true. Everything but the absolutely necessary cleaning usually winds up last on my "To Do" list, so once or twice a year, I'll take a day or two off and actually clean my house. Tomorrow is going to be that day. I won't stop with shoving books on the shelves or washing laundry. Oh no. There will be vacuuming, mopping, and shredding of old bills. Jeremy will probably tell you that I'm cranky while I'm cleaning, but once it's done, I feel so much better about my life. Like I'm not an absolute slob, and even if Asimov's doesn't want my short story, at least my living room rug is finally free of cat hair.

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