Wednesday, September 9, 2015

why I'm going bald

Here's the short version, in case you're pressed for time and don't want to read the rest of this post:

     1. Miss H and I went on our trip to the British Isles and Ireland. It was Fun, with a capital "F." 

     2. A couple of days ago I queried Ethan Ellenberg with a 50-page excerpt of New Model Earth, which is the new title I've chosen for Revival, my sci-fi magnum opus.

     3. Miss H and I are moving. We're staying in Henderson, but we're switching apartments.

     4. I'm going bald.

Ready for the details? Splendid:

I told myself I'd write a post for each leg of the trip Miss H and I took to Europe, with oodles of delicious pictures for you to drool over. This is a travel blog, after all. But to be honest, I can't be bothered. There's too much going on right now. We're moving, as I mentioned. And I'm still trying to do three things every day: write, read, and exercise. So far I've been failing miserably, but not for lack of trying. Well, okay, maybe for lack of trying. But not for lack of wanting. So I'll just give you the picks of the litter: 

Black Linn waterfall, near Ossian's Seat in the Scottish Highlands.

I shouldn't have to tell you what this is.

The obligatory Big Ben selfie.

Tower Bridge ain't falling down...

The Titanic's original slipway in Belfast, Northern Ireland. 

Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.

Trinity College Library, Dublin. 

The view from Dundrum Castle, County Down, Northern Ireland. 

The Giant's Causeway, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.

All done drooling? Great. The trip was luscious. Heather and I had a long layover in Miami on July 3, and spent a sultry afternoon in South Beach lying on golden sand and swimming in bathwater-warm seas and stuffing our faces with Cuban food and ducking self-professed heroin addicts on Collins Avenue. The bachelor party ("stag do") in Edinburgh was a blast; the boys and I pub-crawled across town, buying cheese from a bona fide cheesemonger and whisky from a bona fide whisky monger and mowing down while we roamed the streets. I ate haggis pizza and got to try a beer that was 44% alcohol. Jeff and Jenn's wedding ceremony was beautiful. They had a double-decker bus with their names on it, and got married in a friggin' castle, and the reception dinner was just amazeballs (game terrine, beef Wellington, and apple and berry cobbler), and a fun time was had by all. Then Miss H and I walked from one end of London to the other, and then flew into Dublin and did a private pub crawl of our own, and then had an 18-hour layover in Boston that left a fine taste in our mouths (as did the fondue and pisco sours at Stoddard's). And that was the trip. 

It was, however, ludicrously expensive. 

So expensive, in fact, that Miss H and I have been living paycheck-to-paycheck since we got home. 

Our lease is up, and Ventana Canyon Apartment Homes will be increasing our rent. They claimed it was because there was "development" going in next door to our apartment complex and that's upping the property value. The "development" they speak of is the construction of another apartment complex. I was no great shakes at economics in school, but doesn't an increase in supply and a corresponding decrease in demand mean a drop in price...?

Anyway, we selected a one-bedroom apartment at a complex just a mile and a half away, around the corner on Gibson. It'll mean a downgrade in living space, but much cheaper rent. Frankly, the complex is much nicer: a five-foot-deep heated pool, an indoor racquetball court, and a host of other amenities Ventana can't offer. I won't tell you the name of our new complex, however, because I expect to become a world-famous author soon and I'm keen on privacy.

Yes, I said "world-famous author." I haven't been bone-idle since I got back from the UK. I busted my hump, and with the help of a few erudite beta readers, I whipped the manuscript for Mugunghwa into shape. I'm publishing it for the Kindle...well, hell. Maybe tonight. Depends on how convoluted the KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) process is. I've already formatted my novel the way they want it and saved it HTML, and now all I have to do is pick a cover design and set a price, as far as I'm aware. Then it'll pop up on Amazon 24-48 hours from when I click the "publish" button. Fame and fortune will follow.

...but just in case it doesn't, I also prepped my manuscript for New Model Earth (which I shall hereafter refer to as NME) and sent a query letter, a synopsis, and an excerpt off to the folks at Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency. These are the same folks who picked up John Scalzi and published his works, so I have high hopes. 

Before 2015 is out I intend to start writing freelance opinion articles for the Pacific Standard, The Awl, and any other online periodical that likes my pitches. Might as well start working as a freelance writer, especially while I'm waiting to hear how my novel ambitions pan out. 

I've also taken proactive steps to get my flying career in order. Rather than lament my persistent lack of funds, I set up a GoFundMe campaign (click here or see the badge at the top right of this page). I need $25,000. That's to get current, get my high-performance rating, rack up 100 hours PIC and 50 hours cross-country flight, do my commercial checkride prep, take my exam, and then become a commercially-licensed pilot. And hopefully get snapped up by Grand Canyon Airlines shortly thereafter. 

I'm taking this campaign seriously. I've shotgunned it out over Twitter, Facebook, and Gmail, and I've even printed out flyers—actual, physical pieces of paper—to post up at the small airports around Las Vegas (North Las Vegas, Henderson, and Boulder City). I'm doing that this weekend, if there's any time after the move. 

If you really love me, you'll save this and send it to everyone you know. Even that dicktard you have to stand next to in the elevator each day on your way to work. 

As you can imagine, all of this—the financial woes, the incredible credit card debt we racked up in England, the upcoming move, my burning eagerness to become an agented, published author, my yearning to get my flight training and career off the ground, and the damnably incessant heat (it's 103 degrees out there; c'mon, Mother Nature! It's September already! Give us a break!)—has been wearing me thin. We've had some nagging car troubles too, Miss H and I, and I've been forced to borrow money from my folks for repairs. Humiliating, even though it was willingly and lovingly given without hesitation or question. Our air conditioners don't work, either, so we're subjected to cloying, suffocating heat and Nevada's insane drivers during our morning and evening commutes.

I'm surprised I still have a hair left on my head.

I noticed that I was losing my hair way back in September of 2014, and even before. I went on something of a crash-diet after Miss H went home to the States and I moved into a oneroomtel to finish out my contract at Sejong University. Okay, it was borderline manorexia. I just...didn' I'd have a can of peanuts or something before bed, and that was all. And I walked something like ten miles a day, to Jamsil or Oksu or along my beloved Jungnang Stream. I lost 20 pounds in four months. I wasn't getting as much protein as I should have, or a lot of other vital nutrients besides. So my scalp started thinning the ranks. Follicles were emptying themselves faster than stomachs on a turbulent flight. 

Matters finally came to a head (so to speak) when I went to the barber for the first time after getting back from England, just a week or so ago. I got the short-back-and-sides look with the No.4 razor head attachment, and the top was left longish. I didn't like the way it looked when I got home, so I stuck a No.4 attachment onto my own personal electric razor and shaved the longish part off. When I'd finished, I looked like this:

Don't ask why I'm topless.

Disgusted, I took the No.4 attachment off of my razor and shaved all my hair off. Buzz-cut, baby. Haven't done this since the late nineties, in the sweltering humidity of a Tennessee summer. I figure I'll let it all grow back out the same length. And I'm determined to grow it back out. I'm not going bald. I went to the grocery store and grabbed eggs, sardines, chicken, salmon fillets, smoked oysters, canned mackerel, and other protein-laden foods. I went to the Vitamin Shoppe and bought saw palmetto, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acid supplements. I am now on a high-protein, high-fiber, high-good-fats, low-stress diet. And I'm trying to exercise more, and relax, and maybe do yoga or meditation every now and then, and just generally giving myself a break to go Xbox or screw around on my phone, which I used to guilt myself out of doing. And I'm doing insane things like pouring raw eggs over my bald head in the shower, which is way more fun than I thought it'd be.

Speaking of fun, Miss H and I are somehow still managing to have some, in spite of all our worries and tribulations. I bought some Groupons ages ago: one for an open-top Big Bus tour of Las Vegas, and the other for dinner at Osaka, a hibachi restaurant in the upscale west Vegas neighborhood of Summerlin. We did the bus tour last weekend. We got out in the (broiling-hot) sunshine, saw lots of Vegas's hidden nooks and cranniesand crooks and tranniesand had a fab-yoo-luss lunch at Pampas Brazilian Grille. That was the first time she or I had ever sampled rodizio dining, and oh man...the succulent smoked ham, the bacon-wrapped chicken, the tender sirloin, the melt-in-your-mouth tri-tip! And that salad bar was the best I've had anywhere, bar none. I'm still dreaming about it.

Anyway...that's the news. I'm about to move to a new apartment, I'm waiting to hear about the results of my query to Ethan Ellenberg, I'm publishing Mugunghwa for the Kindle very soon indeed, and I'm about as poor as poor can be. I can't even afford to buy beer. And I'm sweating my balls off on top of it all. 

But hey, my Jeep is still running, I have Miss H to buoy me up when I get down in the mouth, and I have smoked oysters in the cupboard. And Jurassic Park Builder.

Yay me. 

Monday, May 25, 2015

announcing the British Isles, 2015

Hello. I've been gone a while. You might have noticed some ch-ch-ch-changes since I was here last.

First, take a look up there in the location bar. You might notice that the Vaunter finally got himself his own URL. Yep. The Sententious Vaunter isn't just a smug moniker anymore, it's a web domain. I've got my own webpage now. Bought it from Google for $12 a year. This is part of my attempt to clean this blog up, pare it down, develop it into something useful and timely, and (perhaps) make it more profitable. I want a travel blog that'll pay me to travel, not just a corner of the web where I bloviate. As soon as I figure out HTML (I got an account with one of those free web design sites, but it was so long ago that I don't even remember which one), I'll revamp TSV, give it a shiny new overhaul, and it'll actually be its own webpage instead of a Blogger template. Time to hit the big leagues. Time I actually started a travel/sci-fi writing blog in earnest.

Speaking of travel...

If you've been with this blog from the beginning, you probably remember Jeff and Jenn, the Canadian/English couple I've bummed around with on two or three continents. They're getting married in July. In England. In a castle. Miss H and I were invited. We're going. And we're making it a three-week tour of the British Isles. Manchester, Edinburgh, Birmingham, London, and Dublin. With long layovers in Miami and Boston. 

It's gonna be epic. 

I'm so excited, not just because this will be Miss H's first venture onto European soil, but because it's a chance for me to redeem myself. I saw Edinburgh and London and Dublin for the first time (with Jeff at my side, actually) but only for the briefest of moments. I was in London for an overnight layover and I had a scant 72 hours in Edinburgh and Dublin, respectively. This time around we'll have as much as five to six days in each location. Maybe not enough to explore their every nook and cranny, but enough to see the major sights, get to know more than one neighborhood, and drink as much beer and cider in pubs as I can hold (and then some).

And did I mention that the bachelor party is in Edinburgh, Scotland? The whisky capital of the world?

Hell yes it is. And you'll hear every gory detail here on TSV

Stay tuned...