Monday, July 28, 2014

What Am I Listening To?: Angela Predhomme

Angela Predhomme (seems to rhyme with "freedom") is an incredibly talented and award-winning singer and songwriter from Michigan competent in bouncy tunes, jazz, blues and more. I'm pretty sure she could compose any form of music she set her mind to and write some brilliant lyrics to go along. 

I first acquired her CD Let It Fall from the free item shelf at work. I have since found her other songs on Spotify and I have them on my playlist at my other job. (If anyone recognizes them, they have yet to tell me, but I did overhear someone singing along to the chorus of one song once. I couldn't tell if she had just caught on to the repeated words and liked what she heard or if she actually knew it. Either way, I was pleased.)

When Angela came to Crazy Wisdom's tea room, I was sure to be right up front on the couch to listen. (That is until I had to duck out early, so I only saw the first set.) She has an easy nature and seemed quite comfortable in front of an audience, sharing stories about what inspired her lyrics (such as "Redeemed," which was inspired by an overheard interview with a survivor of the terrible earthquake in Haiti) and how her daughter won third place in the infamous Duck Brand Duct Tape Stuck at Prom competition. (I am incredibly impressed with the outfits the young lady came up with. I'd never guess they were entirely made from duct tape. They're gorgeous, and they glow in the dark!)

It's hard for me to pick a favorite song from Let It Fall. "Life Is Gonna Be Great" (embedded below) is bouncy and uplifting - a good song to start the day. Although "Maybe I'll Sleep It Off" doesn't fit my current life scenario, I have definitely been there, and I use it as mood music for writing certain characters. Actually, I use a lot of her music for characters. It just creates a good creative atmosphere, and Angela's voice really sells the emotion.

Like I said earlier, Angela's music is on Spotify, so you don't have to be in Michigan to enjoy it. There are also a few videos on YouTube (to the animal lovers, I suggest "If I Could Love Like My Dog"), and you can check out tracks on her website. Do so!


Monday, July 21, 2014

Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair 2014

The third week of July means one thing in Ann Arbor: Art Fair. Love it or hate it (and a lot of local really, really hate it), the four individual art fairs that make up the entity that is the Ann Arbor Art Fair is truly an experience. I've only really attended once (the rest of the time I happened to be working downtown at the time and maybe ventured out during my dinner break), and that was in 2011. We only saw about half before being chased off by a summer storm. My then-roommate Kimmy had just moved from Los Angeles and was elated to be caught in a midsummer rain "just like in the movies!" I was less so. 

This year's weather was entirely different with temps in the 60s and lower 70s (it felt much like San Francisco) and I don't think there were any showers, though the clouds threatened the morning my boyfriend Greg and I ventured out to see the DeCamp Sisters perform at 11am by the Fountain Stage at U of M's campus. I was thankful I brought a light jacket with me because the wind was not kind. The dark Americana duo on stage was great, though! Greg and I ended up buying one of their EPs. I thought about getting a T-shirt, but I didn't really have the money for it and wanted to see what the rest of Art Fair had to offer first. 

As we wound our way up and down the crowded streets, Greg and I saw a lot of things that caught our eye. It's a shame they haven't invented a wedding registry for Art Fair (or have they?) because there were a great many things he and I would want for our home if only we had the money or kind people to buy them for us. (That's what weddings are for, right?) I found a cute pair of skull earrings with rhinestone eyes for only $5! So I bought them. I also splurged on a dress for $5 (white) and another for $10 (black). 

On the corner of Main and Liberty, we found our old friend the Violin Monster! He looked quite dapper in his hat and vest, and we noticed there is a new addition to his a case - an adorable wolf cub! The cub has its own little musical instrument, but I think it was too shy to play for us that day.

We also saw that living statue lady that I saw on my dinner break last year and, further down Liberty, a yellow Transformer! I had heard about this from a customer a week or two before: a little yellow car rolling around the street that suddenly unfolds itself into a person. I loved watching the shock on people's faces as what they thought had been a remote control toy turned out to be human. Humanoid. (Whatever. It could have been a real Transformer.)

Greg and I had a delicious lunch at Lena before finishing down Main St, stopping into Crazy Wisdom, then heading home. We spent very nearly the entire day at the Fair! I was glad I finally got to see all of it. And I really did have a great time! Also, we got a close and free parking spot. Sometimes being a local has its perks. ;)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Bumper Cars

As I have mentioned recently, I was in a car accident at the end of June. This was the second accident I have been in, both with this car. Many people have suggested that I sell it and buy a new car because this one is clearly unlucky, but given that the first accident left the car nearly undrivable and the front end had to be completely rebuilt, and this accident requires that the back end be completely rebuilt, I'm not sure it's worth what I owe on it anymore, despite it being practically a new car at this point. 

Luckily, I know how to keep a proper stopping distance, so when I was unexpectedly hit from behind by an SUV traveling at approximately 30 mph, I did not damage the car in front of me. I am not even certain that I hit the car ahead, but the driver was extremely kind and pulled over with us to make sure everyone was ok and to check the damage to both of our cars. She looked at mine for me because I was extremely rattled. She also made sure I was all right before asking for my permission to leave. What a smart and kind driver! I wish everyone who drove were like that. 

The girl who hit me (and yes, she was a girl, not a woman) approached me after we had pulled off into the conveniently located parking lot next to us and asked if I wanted her name and number or something before she left. I informed her that I was calling the police. This seemed to disappoint her a little, but I don't believe she was trying to get one over on me. She was obviously an inexperienced driver. 

I called 911 because I didn't know what other number to call. When I explained to the operator what had happened and that we were then off the road in a parking lot, she informed me that it was property damage and they didn't send anyone out for that. I sensed she was about to hang up on me, so I yelled quickly that  we were in the middle of the road at the time and had pulled off so we wouldn't block traffic. She paid more attention then and after confirming that yes, we had been in the road and not the parking lot when the accident occurred, she was ready to ask me questions. Most of my answers were "I don't know" because I was hovering on the edge of passing out as the adrenaline slowly seeped out of me. Apparently this meant we didn't need an ambulance, which I didn't think we'd need at the time either. Turns out I was wrong, but I'll get to that later. She did say she was sending a patrol car over. Since we were very much in the middle of Ann Arbor, there was no squabbling over jurisdiction as there had been at the last accident I was in.

When I got off the phone with the operator, I talked more with the other driver. She had absolutely no idea what to do in the case of an accident. This makes me extremely sad. I was the one who had been hit, was shaky, foggy brained, and I had to school this girl on what to do. Great. (There had been a third party involved in my last accident, and he was able to walk me through everything, as well as gang up on the woman who had caused the whole thing who kept wandering around saying, "I just don't understand what happened..." as if saying it over and over would persuade people to believe her. She had run a red light, and everyone had seen her do it. No sympathy.) 

I told the girl that she had to call her insurance company. She didn't have one - she was driving a Zip car. I told her to call Zip, which she slunk off to do while I gathered my registration and proof of insurance for the officers. I also called my boss who was waiting for me at work, and my other boss to get my shift covered that night because I didn't think I'd be able to go in. Both ladies told me I should probably go to urgent care. Filing the accident report came first, though, so I sat in my car and awaited the officers.

When the patrol car pulled up, one officer stayed with me while the other went with the girl to her vehicle to get her statement. Both officers were very nice and could tell right away by looking at my car what happened. After doing the thing they do after taking our credentials in the car with the laptop, my officer informed me that the girl thought her brakes had gone out and that is why she hit me. Funny, she had no trouble pulling into the parking lot and then into a spot and parking. But I wasn't driving that vehicle, so maybe something had gone awry. It really doesn't matter, because I was clearly not at fault, had succeeded in not being pushed into the car in front of me, and had the most damage done to my vehicle. (Sadly, despite being deemed 0% at fault, my insurance has decided to raise my rates. Stupid Michigan no fault.) 

The officers said I could leave, but I figured the decent thing to do was make sure the other driver was all set before I vamoosed. She apologized for hitting me and told me she had to wait there for someone from Zip to come out and get her. Either they did not trust her to continue using one of their vehicles to complete her journey, or they wanted to investigate this brake issue immediately. Possibly a little of columns A and B.

I continued to work because I didn't know where else to go. I failed to get a hold of Greg, and I didn't want to drive my car any further than my job. My boss had me sit down, tell her what all happened, and drink some water, all of which I did. She agreed we had to find a way to get a hold of Greg and had me look up his business online. She called for me and, interestingly enough, Greg picked up, though the number wasn't to his department. His cell phone had died, which is why I couldn't reach him.

I stayed at work until Greg could come out with his uncle. The plan was for Greg and me to go home in my car and his uncle would then take Greg to get his car from his mother's and we'd eat ice cream and watch TV the rest of the night. This is not how it went down.

Instead, his uncle insisted we go to urgent care, which took far too long to get to because of road construction. My neck had been starting to hurt more and more as time went by, and as I tried to massage my stiffening muscles, I was able to pinpoint a spot on my spine that hurt like hell. (This happened in the last accident, too, and nothing had come of it.) The urgent care doctor also found this spot and I was put in a cervical collar. This actually felt great because I no longer had to hold my own neck up and could relax a little! 

He also called an ambulance to take me to the ER for a CT scan. Well, shit. Farewell, ice cream!

I'd never ridden in an ambulance before, so I thought that might actually be exciting. I have been stuck for hours in an ER before, and I was definitely not looking forward to that part. The EMT who rode next to me and I had some great conversations, mostly lamenting how stupid most drivers are nowadays about emergency vehicles (hardly anyone slows down anymore, let alone pulls over like we're supposed to), and how especially stupid pedestrians are around Ann Arbor. 

"I can't tell you how many times we've almost run people over while speeding someone to the hospital because they jumped in front of us," he told me.

"Who does that?" I answered rhetorically.

"A sad amount of people," he sighed.

The ride was quite cozy, as was being wheeled around on that nifty bed. And that is where the excitement ended. There was a whole lot of people watching, though, since I was parked in the hallway. Greg and I were both struck by the number of attractive people working in the ER. It was like being in a movie or something in its surreality. (Yes, that's a word. I just looked it up.) Is that just where they stick all the young, attractive people fresh out of/finishing up medical school? "Sorry, you're too pretty for critical care. It's the ER for you, kid!" Other people I have mentioned this to agree with me, and not all of them were at this same hospital, so I can only conclude that this is a thing.

I mentioned to two people that I was hungry as I hadn't eaten since breakfast and was told there was nothing they could do about it. I wanted to send Greg out after food, but he didn't have his car with him. After getting the CT scan around 10pm, I was released with the all clear after 11pm. Greg's mother drove Greg's car out and met us at the hospital. We took his car to my car, then she took his car back and Greg drove us back to the apartment, his mother following behind, then her boyfriend drove her back to her house in his van. (It was probably all more complicated than it needed to be, but it all worked out in the end.) I was exhausted, sore, and super hungry. Greg went and got us Wendy's, one of the only places still open that late. We got Frostees, so I did end up with ice cream in the end. I was so tired, though, that I could only eat half of it before calling it a night.

All of the doctors told me that I was going to be in a lot of pain the next day and maybe unable to move my neck. I took a muscle relaxer before going to bed, and I woke up feeling surprisingly good. I ended up only missing that one shift because I needed the work and there really weren't many people to cover for me last minute. I didn't work until that evening, so I was able to rest most of the day. I have been experiencing some back spasms and a sore neck ever since. (And my ears have been hurting, but I am not sure that's related.) 

Since getting my car fixed requires being without for a few days, I have scheduled that for the three days we'll be on vacation at the end of July. Aside from some really unhappy, creaky noises while in motion, the car is hanging in there and I continue to drive it. I really hate driving, and these two accidents have only fueled my resolve to move to a place where I do not have to rely on it for earning money. I tried to figure out a way to dive less, thus cutting down on fuel costs, since my car insurance (already out of my price range) is going up (to even more out of my price range). I have considered selling my car - and I actually love my car, just not the reliance I have on it - but everyone I have talked seriously to about it has informed me the car is not worth what I currently owe on it, and I simply can't afford to continue making payments on a car I would no longer own. 

If only I didn't live in the sticks where public transportation is some fancy shmancy liberal luxury. Sigh.

Friday, July 4, 2014

"Valves & Vixens" Out in eBook

A bit late, maybe, but here I am announcing that my story "The Waiting Future" is officially available in eBook format in the wonderful steampunk erotica anthology Valves & Vixens(Here is the Amazon USA link if you must - go Hachette!) 

If you'd like to read a bit of what inspired me to write "The Waiting Future," I was invited by the editor Nicole Gestalt to write a blurb about the story and why I wrote it to be featured on her blog. Check it out now

The forward to Valves & Vixens was penned by Professor Elemental, which really has me excited! I was disappointed when we missed seeing him at Steamtopia. This was an unexpected consolation prize to be sure. If you also like the Professor and want to read this sexy book, Nicole Gestalt is offering a giveaway! (Scroll to the bottom for details.)

Not only am I working on another piece for Valves & Vixens volume 2, I have roped my writer boyfriend into writing one of his own! Things could get interesting...

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Postponement

Just letting any regular readers know that the update will be late this week. Spent most of yesterday in urgent care and the ER. I have a lot of phone calls to make and not enough time to update the blog at this time.