Saturday, October 22, 2016


Oh, it's been a month. What the heck, me?

I'll tell you, it mostly has to do with the power cord for the laptop. My work laptop has been using it on the dining room table, while the work laptop one has been in a complicated arrangement in the office. I've been unplugging work laptop and charging this one sort of surreptitiously. But the result is that this laptop runs out of juice all the time and has been dramatically less useful for that reason.

I got it out yesterday and hooked this critter up right by the couch. Coincidence that I'm here now? And that I wrote 5K words of new/old novel? I think not!

This is a page one rewrite of a book I loved that had major, major problems. Starting from scratch, with the story imported more or less intact, such as it was. (That was one of the major problems. Insufficient story.)

Anyway I am very happy with how it's going so far. To the point where I want to fall asleep right here on the couch at quarter to five in the afternoon. It's all rainy and darkish outside but that wouldn't knock me out. Post-writing stupor!

I might also be hungry. I had potatoes and apples for breakfast/lunch, both of them from! my! yard! Awesome! I made apple pie with no crust, and I made this purple potato cheesey casserole thing where you slice up potatoes thin and layer them with grated cheese and cream, except I had no cream and used sour cream.

Maybe I'm not hungry! That was a substantial meal.

I used the mandoline without severing any body parts or even bleeding! Score one for me! At the drop of a hat I will show you the piece of my knuckle that I sliced nearly all the way off but then just stuck back on. Are we entirely sure this is reality? But then Roald Dahl had his nose cut off twice, so there you go. I guess the second time it was smashed in, not cut off, but had to be reconstructed either way.

I couldn't slice up the apples on the mandoline because they had all sorts of stuff that needed to be cut out. Yeesh. Don't ask!

They taste wonderful, though, as do the purple potatoes. Maybe I AM hungry after all! Even after talking about Roald Dahl's nose!

I just read Boy and Solo, his collections of stories about his life. Hair-raising tales! And interestingly bounded by institutions. I'm fascinated by that because I'm writing about a magic school, except that makes it sound fun and awesome, like Hogwarts, but it's more like a terrifying last chance to save troubled youth from themselves by training them to control this crazy power that's burning them up from the inside.

Not quite as whimsical. Dude, I might have to watch the Harry Potter movies tonight. My niece has the first one, but I often skip the first one anyway. It's too cutesy and whimsical for my tastes and spends too much time goggling at the awesomeness instead of telling a story. I see why, and I still love it, but I don't really watch it like the others.

I have a nasty cold, oh dear! I will certainly survive. Though it seems to want to creep into my chest as they always do. You must not! Maybe I should make popcorn with lots of cayenne and chase it out that way. Or does that really work? Unknown.

Anyway I'm a coughing fool and it's not that pleasant. But! It gives me a good excuse not to go out into the pouring rain and nasty tick-infested yard to do all the things I needed to do today! Like replace my brake pads, dig up the rest of the potatoes, rake the leaves, put up the new fence extension, and put in the driveway markers. You know, for when the snow is so deep I can't figure out where the edges of the driveway are? You kind of have to have those here.

I nearly bought a snowblower the other day. Now I kind of wish I had? But I'm kind of glad I didn't. I don't know. Large heavy items of machinery are nice and all, but it's something I really can do by hand, unlike, say, mowing the grass. That would be impractical.

Shoveling is impractical when you have to commute every day, but I don't.

I sort of feel like if I get half way through winter and can't take it anymore, I'll buy one, but otherwise I'll consider it a workout and try really hard to go without. They're expensive!

Humph. I don't even have a garage, though, so it would have to live outside. No way to get things up the steps into the shed. When I finally give up on mowing for the rest of the year, I'll have to use boards as a ramp to get the mower up there. It's not doing so great, that mower. Might just need a belt, though.

The landlord tried to offer me a hundred dollars off the rent per month for five months if I would hire someone to plow, but I don't want to do that. For one, it would cost more than that. For another, again, I don't need to go anywhere any particular time. Which is lovely and rare and wonderful!

Except to see nice kind therapist, who is a genius at taking a situation and showing me other ways to interpret it. I'm so amazed by this ability! It reminds me of the therapists I worked for, one of whom used to listen to disasters that had happened and then say, "But you did all the right things. It's a win!" I used to LOVE that, this reminder that as long as you do the right things, even if the ultimate outcome is terrible, you still did it right and can call it a win.

I totally want to get UNDAUNTED tattooed on my left arm. Also that means no blood donation for a while. Six months? Something like that. It's what my old best friend used to say that I was. No matter what came along, I would just keep charging forward. A trait I would like to regain!

Apparently I'm good at standing up for myself now, though, which is something I never used to be good at in the old days. Stand your ground! I approve of that. Good job, me!

Just recently I figured out why people like boats! I mean, boats with motors. I don't fish so I never understood what people saw in them when they weren't fishing. Like, why? Then I realized that I could go straight down the river to the ocean and drive/motor/whatever verb is appropriate to any island I liked. It would be stupidly fun to boat down to Bucksport, for example, which is a long drive all the way around and across the bridge from here. But it's just across the river and down a bit, really. I mean you could throw a baseball across the river if you had a good arm. A good arm for a Little League pitcher. I could probably throw a baseball across the river, come to think of it. At least at low tide. Heh.

I do not think I will acquire a boat, don't worry. Though it's true they are for sale along the side of the road wherever you go. Which kind of makes me think people don't really need or want boats as much as they think they need or want boats.

There's a thing at the library on Wednesday that I totally want to go to. A captain is giving a presentation on what to do if you ever find yourself suddenly at the controls of a boat! Don't you want to go to that? I know! I'm having dentistry earlier in the day so I don't know if I'll be up for it, but maybe.

I was actually there the last time they gave this thing, but the dog was in the car. I was checking out books when this captain looking guy walked in and they directed him to the community room or whatever. Captain hat! You know I like any opportunity for dressing up in special hats.

I wore my ludicrous but extremely effective rain hat today. I think it's waxed canvas or some analogue of that. Wide brimmed, has a cord that goes under the chin and can be tightened up. I love my rain hat!

There's a nearly done quilt I could work on today. Should I do it? I need to press open a set of seams, then make a sandwich and baste it all together. It's the quilt made of my old flannel nightgowns and flannel sheets. I know, right? Utterly cuddly and snuggly. I'm in the process of turning vast quantities of fabric that a friend gave me into 4"x4" squares which will then get made into lots of quilts. I don't know how big a number of quilts.

Well, think how big that would be. Each square when sewn up is probably 3.5"x3.5" so 225 of them makes a quilt 52" square without the binding, which would add at least four inches for 56 square. 20x20 is 70 inches without the binding which is too big for a lap/snuggle quilt. 17 is probably about right. 17x17 takes 289 squares.

So maybe not that many quilts after all! Wow! 18x18 is 324. Goodness me!

Of course, I have no idea how many squares I have beyond A WHOLE LOT. It will be extremely fun to sort them out by fabric and then organize them by color and tone and all that, and then figure how which ones go together the best. Oh yes. That's the payoff, I tell you what! SO FUN.

Right now I'm pretending that I don't have spots of pain on the right side of my chest from the lung thing. Maybe it's just pain from coughing! Maybe it's just coincidence it hurts right at my bronchii! Ugh, I'm so susceptible to bronchitis. So hurty! If it gets to being snap crackle pop I'll go to urgent care because that's pneumonia, but right now it's not nearly that bad, thank goodness. I'm taking Mucinex all the time to keep it that way.

What else is going on? Goodness me! Everything! I went whale watching a week ago, so flipping awesome. I did a ton of work for school, though there's still a ton to go. Hopefully today's writing will be part of that. I've been hanging up pictures and shelves and making the house more livable. I still need a bunch of those cubbyhole bookcase things for, like, everything. There is nowhere to put anything away around here! I'll get them one of these days.

I'd have gotten them when I was out buying fencing and not buying a snow blower the other day, if I had remembered. Wish I had thought of it!

Also I read some of the most awesome books you ever saw this week. I already knew Andrew Smith was brilliant, but his books Winger and Stand-Off are AMAZING. Especially Winger, which just wrecked me. I can't stop thinking about it. Stand-Off is amazing too, though. Both are well worth a read. They're what's best about YA, seriously. There's a point in Winger where the main character sort of visibly grows up as a person, like his ability to see and understand other people develops in complex ways, almost like a cell dividing and multiplying. It's something I've never seen done quite so well, except maybe in We Have Always Lived in the Castle, by Dodie Smith. (Another Smith! Coincidence??? Um, yeah, I would think so.)

I've been sitting around gazing enraptured at Ellsworth Schist. By the way I just saw Manhattan Schist for the first time (online, not in person) and it is deeply inferior. Pah! But I would like to go see it for myself and then I'll know for sure.

I get to see one of my buddies from school and one of my buddies from work next month! Yay! Yay yay yay! I might be an idiot for doing both school and work online and from a long distance! No wonder I'm a basket case of bananas. All the stress and effort, with none of the other people's birthday cakes and going to lunch and assorted goodness. Well, it's all in service of getting back to that eventually. As is publishing my dang book!

I'm going to work on finishing that beauty, the old one, in the next couple of weeks. I can do it! Undaunted! Raaaaaarrrrrrr!!!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Travel gruel

Such a short trip, but so grueling! I think it was more the staying up super late drinking lots of wine that was grueling, though. I'm back home now with my beloved animals and my couch and my stuff (and have already been back to work because I always work Sundays) and had an accidental nap on the couch with the dog, too, whoops! Very very tired!

My dog was insanely happy to see me and pretty much screamed with joy, making these high pitched barks like someone had stepped on his paw. Which I did not! The caretaker ladies both said they had never heard him make a sound like that before. I only have when, well, stepping on his paw! So happy the dog!

I had the most amazing conversations with my friends. These were my tight group of friends from high school, most from junior high, though actually I think four of them have known each other since kindergarten. But we only turned into a group of friends starting in junior high when three of us started chess club together. I know! Proto-nerds!

There's an amazing amount of frontloaded information with people like this, so that when I described one situation to one friend, he was able to respond with forty years of knowledge about my life and family and background. I swear he saved me about 800 therapy visits in one quick conversation because he had so much pre-existing insight into the situation. Well, and he's just a super smart guy with a lot of learning in the area.

Actually, our families have a lot of commonality, but he's been able to get past a lot of that, very consciously, and told me what he studied and how. See, it certainly helps that for example I shared a stand with his mom in the community orchestra for ages, right? I know stuff. He knows stuff. All of us know a tremendous amount. It's amazing!

So I'm pretty thrilled to research that material he told me about and figure some stuff out. I took notes!

Jeez, I so want to move back to where they all live and see them all the time. I mean, like, tomorrow. Almost all of them live within a few hours distance of each other. Actually as I was looking at the town where the farthest of the close together bunch live, I noticed it's just about 40 minutes north of where my long lost grandfather lived.

And my friend who's out west, the one with the brilliant ideas mentioned above, he's going to come to my graduation next year! Yay!!! I was already practically in tears this past summer at graduation when I realized that nobody was going to be there with me. It's a thing where everyone has family come in and we all have this lovely dinner on tables out under the trees on campus and it's just lovely. Except for that knife to the gut realization that certainly my siblings or mother would definitely not be showing up. (I mean, I asked later, and the answer was for sure no, too--I'm not just assuming this.)

But this friend and his wife and another friend who lives an hour south will be coming and I will have PEOPLE and it will be AWESOME.

I had to try to explain to everyone that things have been so sucky since I left L.A. (until two years ago when I got my current wonderful job) that I didn't want to see anyone because everything was so awful. It made sense at the time, certainly, but looking back, I'm like: what were you thinking? Anyway.

So it would be glorious to be near them, but on the other hand I just took the dog out and looked at the Milky Way from my driveway--with the porch light on, even!--and of course my little niece and nephew are here. And the heat down there is brutal, even now. I have no tolerance for heat at all. Friday it was 88 and humid, while here it was 64. I like 64. It's probably 64 inside right now! With the heat on. It's so cold, I had to turn it on. Whoops, there's the downside of Maine!

Well, we shall see. I have a lease until the end of April. I feel like events will probably precipitate a crisis before that time, to be perfectly honest. There's nothing like getting together with a group of friends all the same age to realize our parents are dropping like flies. Several of them have had severe health crises and several have up and died. At least two are teetering on the edge right now. It's awful.

So that was completely amazing. I'm so glad I did it. It's funny, the flying was the part that I dreaded the most, of course, not so much being there as getting there. I managed to fly down without xanax, which is close to miraculous, though I was so obviously flipping out that the person I was sitting next to asked if I wanted to hold her hand. Awwww! And how embarrassing! But then it turned out she was a therapist, ha! I asked: "Are you a therapist?" because she was so awesome and kind, and of course she was.

Then on the way back today it wasn't even an issue. I wasn't even scared. I almost missed the plane, to be honest, which I think is why--the very worst part is getting on and sitting there in that cramped space with everyone blocking the aisle. That's the secret, huh? Just board last! I'm seriously going to do that from now on. Last one on the plane!

Also, talking with one of my friends who is terrified of flying, I realized that I don't care about the flying part myself. It's being shut into that little space with no way out. I'm claustrophobic to a fairly alarming degree. That was sort of an interesting revelation, anyway. So in future, check bags, go on with just a backpack, and get on board last.

That was actually very funny. I finally got to my gate, after being dropped in the wrong place by the rental car bus. I had to take another shuttle back there. And when I got to the gate, there was nobody there at all except this gigantic man who was sitting there with his arms across the seat backs, looking at me. I looked all around wondering where everyone was, and he said, "Are you [my name]?" Aaaah! I said yes, and he said in about two or three minutes I'd have been late for the plane. Jeez!

Then I just sat on the plane and read Glory O'Brien's History of the Future the whole way and tried to pour water down my gullet to make up for our middle-aged wine fest debauchery of the night before. Though I was very good about drinking lots and lots of water throughout all of the wine quaffing.

I'm going to call and email my friends all the dang time now, I'm serious.

It also occurs to me that if I live in an area with a bunch of friends, with a support system, I'd be so much better off, and better able to become a foster parent if that's what I decide to do. Of course my writerly imagination immediately put me 40 minutes to the south of my one friend, and then provided distantly removed cousins as foster children. My grandfather's father's family was gigantic and sprawling from what I can tell and basically populated this whole region. Googling people in that area with our last name is kind of futile because you get a zillion hits.

It's also not that uncommon a last name.

It's too bad my third cousin or whatever in Germany with the genealogical bent is only on my father's mother's side of the family. He sent me incredible records going back centuries for that side, including a Hessian soldier who fought in the American Revolution as a mercenary for the British. Ha! Not necessarily a point of pride, eh? Not cool to start with, and they lost!

The records are all in German but of course I read German. Which sort of loops around in my head. Of course I read German, because my dad learned German, because his mother's family was German, so of course I can read our genealogical history because it goes back to Germany....

I mean, I also read French, though.

I have to travel again in like two months, then two months after that. Oh dear! I'm going to be okay though! No worries. I have this! The dog and cat manage fine now. Well, kitty stayed home. My brother and the kids came to check on him and feed him and whatnot, which was very nice. I think that cat is a stress eater because he still almost ran out of food in his bowl.

The three of us had clam chowder for dinner. It's one of those family meals we all like, along with tuna. I share! I'm pretty sure I moved that clam chowder here from the house at the coast, so it's good to get it eaten up.

Upshot, yay for me for overcoming terror of seeing old friends and flying on planes and boarding the dog and sleeping in strange places and all that kind of stuff. Good job!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Thirty seconds, thirty firsts

It doesn't mean anything. I'm tired and my brain is playing with words, without involving me in the process.

I moved a lot of furniture around today, which is both progress toward a perfect organization of objects in space and a way of coping with work I was having trouble tackling. But now I've both tackled the work in many bouts during the day and put all the furniture where I think it needs to go.

I put those big plastic red/blue/yellow/green shelving units together in the middle of the kitchen, being an island. Very useful, this kitchen desperately needs an island. I'm just not sure this is the island it needs. But it works very well for now.

The living room curtains were inside out. So now they're right side out. I'm not even sure I would have noticed if I hadn't been standing on the furniture to take down the plants to water them. But surely now the universe resonates at a slightly better frequency?

I cut out so much fabric that my right hand is already kind of numb, so it's going to wake me up by falling asleep all night long. Very annoying. But I'm on this weird fabric cutting tear. I cut out a million 4x4 squares, then lay them out on lightweight fusible interfacing so they stay put and get sewn together straight. And then, apparently, I never quite finish the quilt making process. There are two all put together and sewn and pressed, one of them even quilted, but I haven't finished making them into finished quilts with bindings and stuff.

Really I should bring the sewing machine downstairs to the table and just get it done. I should have done it in the past, to be honest. Because things are about to get busier. Ack!

Oh, I'm not really writing much lately, but I have been rewriting. I think I'm about to get back to writing new material. These obstacles in my head! It's annoying. I have to do thing x before I can do thing y, in my mind, even though it's nonsensical and there's no earthly reason. But think x is now done. It had two parts. I'm pretty happy with the work, I guess? I'll work a lot more on it tomorrow, though.

One fun thing I did was print out a lot (but strangely not all) of the pieces I've written since summer. It's pretty mind-blowing to see all of these things stacked up. I definitely have to spend some time with the research and figure out what to send where. I'm utterly clueless about that, but I have a reference work to get me started. You honestly cannot Google this type of thing when you have no context and no way to know which ones are more desirable publication locations than other ones.

It's the time of year when I wish I had long hair. But I have hats! The leaves are changing and there was a moose or deer out honking across the way tonight. I don't know what that's called, when they make that loud honking noise? They holler somehow. It didn't sound like a deer at all, bigger and louder and deeper, so maybe it was a moose, I don't know. I mean, they're everywhere! It's moose city around here! But this particular one, I don't know.

I've been trying to buy proper brassieres that fit and don't torture me, but good golly, these people who are selling them are not good at fitting them on me. So far they've sold me two and both are varying degrees of horrible. And I don't just mean, oh, it pinches or it chafes. I mean they literally don't fit, which you would think would be a basic requirement of fitting. Jeez! I tried a new one today and have nasty gouges from the pointy sharp ends of the wires. Ugh!

I'm seriously sick of going into that place (twice now) because I didn't even want to go in once. And they won't stop helping me, even though they suck at it, so it's all weird and awkward. Like I will say that a certain type of thing doesn't work for me, and then they insist that I try it anyway, and lo! It does not work! What a shocker!

I also got a case for the replacement phone that's coming. It feels like it won't stay together, but it's super blue, so I got it anyway. Except I was like, "This feels like it's just going to come apart," and the guy was like, "It needs the phone in it to stay together," which sounds like a big lie to me. I was dubious and asked again but he was all, pfff! No worries! So I fully expect that when the phone gets here, I'll try this case on it and it will fall apart right away, and then I'll have to take it back. Awesome!

It's really wonderfully intensely blue, though. Seriously.

New phone is super huge, like hilariously huge. But I can hardly see, so it should be better for that. Also this very old one that I replaced many years ago because it sucked? It really doesn't work very well at all. It keeps having seizures, both small and large, and just, like, ceasing to work for various periods of time. Bad old phone! Bad! Well, good for backup for a while, but otherwise seriously not in good shape.

I cannot even believe the painful lesions those stupid underwires gave me today. Ridiculous. I really don't think that corsetry should cause visible lasting damage to a person. It shouldn't hurt at all to begin with, and then it definitely shouldn't cause actual harm. First do no harm, stupid brassieres!

They seem so comfortable in the stores, but then once you spend time with them, they suck so bad.

Anyway. I guess I have to rewrite everything else, too, rather than just going LALALALALA and pretending it doesn't exist. Rewriting is hard because you have to look your own work in the eye. Who wants to do that? But I really like the results. You know, things that are more or less finished? More finished? Heading toward the finish line? Better? Improved? It's all a mystery to me, but I'm working on it.

The pumpkin growing on the volunteer vine is completely ginormous but also deep, dark green. When will my pumpkin turn orange? Is it just going to be a green pumpkin? I have questions.

I also have to dig up all of my purple potatoes in the next few weeks and eat them up, because frost is coming fast if it hasn't been here already. Ah! I have too much to do! I still have to finish stripping the rust off the trailer and painting those spots! On a non-rainy day! And I have to get rustoleum spraypaint for the meshy parts. Gaaah! And then tarp that puppy all up for the winter. Winter! It's coming fast, I tell you what. It feels exceedingly imminent here in the frozen arctic northland, where we are north of some parts of Canada, dude!

Wait, I didn't even tell you my amazing theory about how eating protein cures anxiety! Wait, come back! Tiny little steaks grilled on that little baby grill thingy that closes down on itself so it grills from above and below! Everyone else knew about these ten years ago or whatever! I am IN LOVE with having a little steak. It seems to go directly to my anxiety centers somehow and soothe them right the heck down. Why? What is that? But if that's what it takes, boy, I will cook a little steak every day of the week. They are delicious.

I also learned to boil zucchini instead of sauteing them, which is much less messy and then they're not bitter. Jeez! Why did I only learn this today? So good. I bought stacks of squash and spinach bricks, so there's some handy veg to be had.

Oh boy, so much to do. That's a good feeling, though, right?

Friday, August 26, 2016

There is a balm

I cannot keep from singing "There is a balm in Gilead" all the time. What is going on in my brains? I was out building the basketball hoop and running into issue after issue, getting bitten by mosquitoes, putting each part together the wrong way first every time, and I kept on singing it. Must have been funny to behold, all scarlet-faced and sweating buckets, and singing over and over, "There is a balm in Gilead that makes the wounded whole..." I like the second line because of the pleasure of saying the words: "There is a balm in Gilead to soothe the sin-sick soul." Soothe the sin-sick soul! That's awesome!

Tonight I kept on whistling the Star Spangled Banner except with no breaks, because I can whistle on the inhale, too. Can you do that? It's such an odd thing to be able to do. I should list it among my skills.

I've been having survivalist tendencies lately, buying up all the siege supplies and whatnot, and then while I was mowing the grass yesterday I kept thinking about how I would write a survival manual, but not for regular perfectly capable people who can already hunt and fish and stuff, but for nerds like me. Survival for Nerds! But then I kept needing to refer to those perfectly capable people and I thought of Sarah Brown's no-shirt cousins, all of whom were somehow named Travis, so I named my capable military vet 4-H hunting fishing guy Travis and his sister with the same exact skills Jolene. Then I was IN LOVE with Travis and Jolene as characters. And then I started writing about Blue and her boyfriend Crescent going to the barbecue over at Travis and Jolene's. And then...I wrote a whole chunk of book.

It was kind of an accident. I have at least two other books I wanted to write first. But what can you do!

Then I went and rewrote some stories for my next packet. Because that's who I am now, I just have piles of stories and stories-in-progress just lying around, all la la la, whatever! Remember how in what, May? May. April? K. would know because I was talking to her about my Dreams of Publication. Oh, I can check. No, June! Early June. That's when I was like, I need to get published, and then realized: novels take a long time, both to write and to get out there, and so I need to write short fiction except oh no, I have no idea how!

Yes, early June. Gosh that's recent!

And then at residency W. showed up and I suddenly started writing them, wrote a bunch of them there, and came home and kept on writing more. It's fun! La la la! I guess you just do it after all? I still don't actually know how it works. It's like you will it into being or something. Or else ideas hatch themselves in your brain and you have to go along with them. Was I fighting them before? Maybe. Maybe I thought they had to be novels and that's a huge commitment. No commitment with these little short stories!

I wrote at least one entirely on my phone, in the Notes function, without my glasses on.

W. reminded me today that one super great tool in my toolbox is that I write REALLY FAST. Like, lightning fast. That really is an amazing skill to have. No doubt all of this here bloggery has contributed to that, right?

I am getting good feedback, like, someone believes in me kind of feedback. Not that before they were like, "Ew, what is this, creamed spinach?" when I'd turn in writing, but it was cautious and positive in a sort of way like you might just be encouraging the way you're encouraging to everyone, know what I mean? I sort of was just like, "Okay, whatever," but now I'm hearing it. It's actually sinking in.

One weird side effect is that I'm not eating, at least not reasonable food in proper quantities or at appropriate times. I keep getting deathly ill from not eating and then wondering why my innards are trying to kill me and then remembering, oh, I have barely eaten today, whoops, or yesterday, or the day before, come to think of it, whoops. And I'm kind of agitated in a positive way. Like anxiety only positive? What do you call that? Excited! That's the word.

Seriously, I forgot the word "tailgate" today for the piece on the back of a truck that folds down so you can put your couch in there. J. had to tell me. Other J. Not original J. You know what I mean! 

Usually that means I've burned up too many words, though it was only around 3200 where I forgot the word "tailgate" and I know I've written up to 10,000 in one day before, though that's rare. 5000 is not that rare. I really miss writing first drafts, where you just get to write and write and write! It's glorious! I've been rewriting for ages now, except for the shorties. But novels give you much more scope and room to spend time in one scene or sequence. So fun.

Also there's a Wayne. Remember the Waynes? I worked in the office of the maintenance section of the casino. On my first day the manager took me around and introduced me to everyone. The first guy was named Wayne, and so was the second guy, and so was the third guy, so that I was pretty sure he was pulling my leg with the whole thing. So many Waynes! So then I developed a theory that all competent capable guys who can fix everything they come near are named Wayne. Like in the Handmaid's Tale, the way there are Marthas. They were Waynes.

Now I want to write that, except the first line would be "Once were Waynes." You know I can already hear my advisor's delight, right? Brain wheels are turning...put it together with "Bad Loser" and it's turning into something. Turn, wheels, turn!

I finally ate made jasmine rice and ate it just now, after midnight. Seriously, self. I've been feeding myself the same way I feed the animals: one bowl of food when we get up in the morning, same as them. Of course they spread it out over the whole day. They don't snarf it down and then starve the rest of the time. They are sensible creatures!

I was going to engage in a leisure time activity tonight and watch some Community DVDs but guess what? My DVD player doesn't have the same jacks as the tv, for crying out loud. It also doesn't have the same jacks as my antique tv. It only has the five-wire connections, no co-ax. Come on! So I did not watch any Community, oh well.

I've been mainlining all these John Oliver videos and wanted to see his Community episodes again, especially the claymation one where he's the Christmas Wizard. I adore that episode!

Anyway that's the excitement around here. Good times, good times. We're in a break time from work where we're supposed to focus on our professional goals and that's exactly what I'm doing, putting tons of time and energy and might into getting this thing done. Glory! It's thrilling! Whee!

Saturday, August 20, 2016


I'm done! Lalalalalalala!!! Actually I think I might redact two poems from my packet because why the heck did I put poems in a fiction packet? But then I'm done. I could replace them with one or more less awesome short stories. Should I do that? What do you think?

I am done, though, like in terms of writing things and putting things together and writing a flipping annotated bibliography in which I groused aplenty about stupid Maddaddam. I still have a lot of unaired complaints about that stupid book! Sudden miraculous pig telepathy is just the beginning!

I like those poems, but I'm weirdly reluctant to let anyone else read them to say which journal to send them out to, which I have to do because of urgent publication reasons. Must acquire publication! Must publish the things! Which is a much better place to be than I was a few months ago, when I was like, "How the hell am I supposed to publish the things when all I have is a lot of nearly finished novels?"

Good things are coming of all this. I am certain. Which is also a nice feeling.

Today was the Olympic men's final, which I was SO EXCITED for, seriously, like I got up and dressed in my yellow shirt and royal blue shorts for Brazil because I sure do love the international soccer cosplay. Which reminded me of the day last year? The year before? The year before. When I dressed up as Diego Forlan for the Uruguay game in the men's World Cup. I even had that white band for my hair just like he always does. And the mailman or someone came to the door, someone from a soccer culture. It took him a few moments to recognize the color combination of sky blue shirt and black shorts and white headband and then it was like his eyes focused and I could SEE him thinking: Diego Forlan. It was AWESOME.

It's glorious to have your relatively obscure enthusiasms recognized and appreciated, don't you think?

The game was so stressful, I got on the treadmill, and then that was too loud, so I got on the exercise bike and road two miles, which is a lot with my knees, alas, and then I did hand weights for as long as I could, and then I got on the trampoline and jumped up and down. Then when I took a break, the dog, who was agitating for his walk because the game went into extra time, climbed up onto the trampoline and laid down on it, eyeing me the whole time.

Dogs do not understand why I need to watch the whole medal ceremony. But my boys! They were so happy! Did you see the end of that game? It was insane! Penalty kicks! The worst! But everyone made them, and then they got into sudden death and the Brazil keeper saved one. That's the ONLY way that PKs can seem good at all--not if someone misses, because most of the time they make them, so missing is awful, but when someone saves one, because it's practically impossible to save one.


Earlier in the day I had gotten all of my work work done and turned in, oh what a huge relief! Why has this particular iteration been so difficult? I guess the Olympics plus school and all that stress and new deadlines and stuff. I read a ton of books this week for school--well, all those Oryx and Crake ones. Three fat books and some skinny ones too. Ah!

And so now I'm all emotionally wrung out from all the Brazil boys crying their eyes out after winning. That's the best! Oh! The Germans were all grim and stoic from losing but Brazil was just wrecked from winning. What a satisfying ending to that whole thing, I tell you what.

I could not even watch the women's gold medal match. I got back from my post-apocalyptic supply run just in time to see the last ten minutes of it. I did not enjoy it and didn't stick around for the medal ceremony because who wants to see Germany win things? Not me! It's unpleasant. I must have some nasty prejudices there because who cares? But so it goes.

Fascinating how none of the rest of the usual European teams were in, no Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, and of course no England. England doesn't go to the Olympics. It's Great Britain. Which you'd think would be stronger, but they don't seem to be, don't know why.

Anyway, now it's all over. Is it over? Is there closing ceremonies or something? The parts I care about are over. I'm DONE with three things all at once!

I'll just jump in and take out those poems and slot in maybe that thing about the testicular cancer guy or else the weird magical painting one. Actually I'll have to check word count. We were talking about how ridiculous it is that everyone always turns in material right up to the word count limit, and I kept saying how dumb that is, and then my materials came out to exactly the limit of 5000 words, which cracked me up.

Slight terror because I think I have to revise and resubmit within a week or something, I don't know. It's all unknown terrain.

I'm all sweaty from exercise and all tired from working flat out (except my marathon puzzle session) for weeks and weeks, so maybe I'll go have a bath or something and maybe, like, read for fun? What is that about? Madness! To celebrate, I ate some strawberries. They were very good.

I still have to store all of the massive apocalyptic famine supplies properly. And make up an inventory with expiration dates, so I can rotate stuff out, or it'll get wasted. That's no way to survive the apocalypse!

Yes, I'll do that tomorrow, inventory my apocalypse supplies, and then make a list of what else I still need. Like canned fruit. I forgot the canned fruit. It's so weird to be going up and down the aisles in the grocery store and looking at things and thinking, "No, not that. Wait, what if I'm in my house and there's no more interstate commerce for however long and I'm wishing I'd bought that particular thing, whatever it is." Instant lemonade was the thing. It's a ridiculous item, but then, I can totally imagine being so glad to have it. Did not acquire.

It's all silly considering that if I stop taking my large doses of thyroid medication I will turn into something similar in shape and activity level to a beanbag chair. Or, who knows, maybe the peril of imminent demise will jumpstart my thyroid, even though I think that's actually impossible.

Let's think of all that stuff as ice storm supplies, in that case, eh? The power stays on! But the roads get blocked and we can't get out for food! There. Okay.

The Writers' Market book should arrive Tuesday or thereabouts. And I should have feedback on that packet of stuff fairly quickly, like I think Monday. This would be a GREAT time to get an acceptance for that one story I sent out before everyone in publishing went on vacation, huh? Say yes to me! Throw flowers in the air and give me ice cream!

They gave me free ice cream at the hardware store again, I do not know why. I bought a shovel to replace mine that is falling to pieces. I think it's only twenty years old, too. Sheesh! And some other stuff, like I got spare keys made finally, and replaced my broken headlamp, and of course got a whistle because it was on a blue string. (I do not know, don't ask.) But it was totally fun to catch up with Ice Cream Girl who got to go to New York and see musicals. We were amazing the other ice cream girl (lower case) who is not obsessed with Hamilton like some people and doesn't cry every time certain songs come up in shuffle like some people. She said she was glad she saw me again before she went back to school so we could catch up. Awwww!

I fixed the landline phone, too. And cooked all this food. Really I'm feeling remarkably Productive and Pro-Active and I don't know, adult and stuff. Do you know I'm down to owning only the shorts I actually wear? It's a start. Now I just have to deal with t-shirts, dress shirts, dresses, shoes, blah blah blah.

I'm developing a theory that every big black trash bag of stuff you give away makes you lose ten pounds. At least that's how it's working for me so far. I wore my seaweed and turtles dress yesterday and my golly it's huge on me. Last time I wore it was the end of the school year concert. It was not huge. It fit just right. I was kind of swimming in it yesterday, which I prefer, but had not realized I'd lost weight particularly right up until that moment. Cool!

Apparently all that exercise and sensible eating has some effect. What the heck, you guys?

What's up next? I feel I should make Concrete Plans.

1. polishing and readying work for sending out
2. sending stuff out, with spreadsheets to keep track of what's where.
3. finishing that novel, seriously
4. finish unpacking and stuff, for crying out loud
5. hang up more little shelves and stuff
6. cull more stuff and send it away forever, never to be heaved from house to house again
7. mow the grass, like, tomorrow. It's overdue.
8. read many awesome things!
9. watch those DVDs I got last Christmas, heh
10. take the dog fun places, especially if there are cool rocks

Plans! Concrete plans! I like them!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Which is why my dog does not like puzzles

Last night I was being weirdly rebellious against the 24/7 work/school cycle, even though I voluntarily put myself into that situation, hello! Work and school! I like both! But sometimes I'm just a little aggravated that this is ALL there is ever time to do. So instead of doing the writing I should have been doing last night, which I was just digging into tonight when there was a motorcycle crash outside the house, I sat up for ONE MILLION HOURS working on a puzzle of a rose.

It was a wild night. I ate two lemon Oreos. Two! And drank a glass of cranberry juice. I know! It seems very tart to me, but that might be the Oreos. And I worked on that puzzle seriously for like eight straight hours.

No problem, right? Except that when I'm not doing work or school I am left alone with my THOUGHTS. Which are not always salubrious or healthy or whatever. I know it's a big part of that whole mindfulness thing to just watch your thoughts go by like leaf boats on the river, and just accept that there they are, thoughts, just thoughts, but I'm not adept at the mindfulness AT ALL yet, you guys.

Also I put on the music from my phone, on shuffle, plus this is my old phone, so it's full of all sorts of things I haven't heard in a while. I don't know why they aren't moved to the new (now defunct) phone. Anyway.

I'm super association-driven, which is one reason it's so exhausting to be me, and why I spend so much time reading or watching the same TV shows over and over, trying to turn down the association machine or drown it out. Nothing really works except reading, though DVDs can overwhelm it with sheer volume.

It's like reading an article where every single word has two dozen links. Every song has all of those, every time I've heard it before. It plays this Sinead O'Connor song and I remember driving up and down that massive highway from DC to northern Virginia and belting it out at the top of my lungs, singing with the cassette in the nanny family's Audi, and then I remember all that other stuff associated with that time, how horrible the family was, how unbearably awful the situation was, how terrible it was to basically live in pediatric oncology for a year with all the kids dropping dead left and right around me.

And then it's on to another song, with another whole boatload of associations, some good, some bad, all of them exhausting. And I could not stop! Finally the phone ran out of juice around 4 a.m. and I finally went to bed. Good grief.

Probably the mindfulness people would say I should do that every single day, get familiar with and comfortable with my memories and all that junk, let it slide on by like the leafy boat, instead of resisting it and fighting it. There's just so much badness, though! I don't want to relive the badness. Because of BADNESS.

Really there's a lot of awesomeness too, but I don't get tortured by that, so I don't mind it, obviously. If only we had filters so we could only get those good channels, huh? I know!

Anyway that was fun, in a sense? I mean I like puzzles. Not this particular one so much, which is all shades of pink and is a rose and is scented with fakery rose scent that gets on my fingers and does not smell good at all, to be honest.

It's a good thing that broken ankled motorcycle accident guy did not take my offer to come into the house and rest, because I just noticed there's a whole drying rack of underwear right there between the kitchen and living room. Whoops!

It was nice to meet all these neighbors, I guess? Except for the terror and the crying and the fear and the darkness and broken glass all over the road. And the memories of that time a motorcyclist got killed right in front of me. And then because of that guy, when my friends Rob and Mat got a motorcycle and fixed it up, I said, "No, don't, motorcycles kill people!" and then of course Mat died on it. So. I wish I was staying up all night tonight instead is all I'm saying.

Sound really carries on this road, huh? There were people coming out from all over. I got there first, even though I had to put the harness on the dog and everything. I'm glad someone was there to put an arm around the panicky crying girlfriend and tell her she was all right and he was all right and everything was going to be all right. I just realized I'm like mom age to them. Huh. Well, good for comforting. Plus, upholstery, that always makes people feel more comforted when you're upholstered.

That sounds like a euphemism for drunk but it's a euphemism for fat. I'm definitely hitting the xanax tonight, though, because I'm already having nightmares and I'm still awake. Jeebus.

This hill is so dangerous, I tell you what. People go way too fast and there's no visibility. I was hoping maybe it was a deer they hit. I still can't believe I harnessed up my dog and got my phone and a flashlight and went out there, knowing I might see people smeared all across the road all mangled and dead, but I HAD to go in case they needed help. I couldn't hear anyone else out there so there you go, I was on the job.

Where were all the old people who live around here? I guess they were asleep already, or watching tv that drowned it out.

That's twice this week I've been glad not to have tv drowning out noise from outside. The first time was Extra Dog's person out calling for her.

Fear! Danger! Manglement! Do not like! Where is the comfortable upholstered person to put their arm around me and make me feel better? Oh, it is my dog. GOOD BOY.

A very nicely dressed man in one of those astonishing starched white shirts stopped his truck and helped the motorcyclist run his motorcycle up the side road, so it was out of sight. I really don't know anything at all but given how the dude was adamant and pleading that none of us call the police, something was probably amiss somewhere, whether beverage related or license related or warrant related, unknown. Anyway I haven't heard any sirens (AND I WOULD) so presumably nobody else did either. I didn't see the accident, in any case.

Also I was afraid maybe Luna dog got out again and got hit. Yay that it was neither Luna nor that nice old lady on the motorcycle! Yay that this young idiot was mostly okay except for his broken ankle, which he really should not have been walking on! Yay for all the people who stopped or came out of their houses to help!

How do men do that, with the starched white shirts? I would rumple or sweat or spill immediately. It's amazing. They're secretly aliens, aren't they? I knew it.

Now I think lemon Oreos are, like, Harbingers Of Awfulness, because of that nightmare eight hour reliving of every difficult memory ever (not true, there were a lot that were not included because the shuffle didn't hit those songs) and then tonight's Scary Motorcycle Accident Scary Times.

Usually Gawain dog makes me stop doing a puzzle long before that time has elapsed. He will start breaking every rule, like bringing me my shoes and making it clear that he could chew on them if he wanted, don't test me, human! Stop that right now! It's making you unhappy!

This puzzle is going after I get it done, I tell you what. That's the other way associations work. I get mad at the puzzle because all of that entire truckload of bad associations from last night are now attached to it, see? It's like that pink gunk in The Cat in the Hat Comes Back.

Here's my positive spin: good job, me, for harnessing the dog and going out to help, even though it obviously turned me into a mushy roasted eggplant and now I have to be drugged into oblivion or I'll have screaming nightmares and night terrors tonight. (I can get that from seeing something like that on tv, or from any of my favorite triggers, which is why I DON'T WATCH TV.)

Shoot, and I had all this stuff I was going to write about the apocalypse and why I think I should get a new shovel just in case interstate trade shuts down. I'm not even kidding, I have big fears about this fall when the election comes down. I'm making plans for what to have in the house for the winter anyway. All those MREs are very good to have, for sure. I used up the instant rice trying to resurrect my swimming phone, though! Well, I'll think about it.

Maybe I can find good stuff over at the crazy militia survivalist store, where I wanted to go anyway for topo maps. That will be one of my fun time off things to do, between mini semesters, when I'm not putting all my time and energy into PUBLICATION which is going to be a THING that I am going to WORK HARD ON. YES.

Let's make a list:

topo map
go for walks with dog
go kayaking
acquire survivalist food supplies
also book on foraging

I'm already ordering the Writers' Market book. Remember those? Very useful. And of course I bought replacement cables for the printer, so I can actually mail those old fashioned white rectangular folded paper items with the teeny printed picture in the corner. Whoa!

Ideally I'll get done with this association laden rose puzzle and send it on its way to the great beyond, or Goodwill, I mean.

Yes. Okay. Taking steps to avert the post badness panic and nightmares. Step one: took a xanax. Step two: put on that incense that gives me an atavistic peace and calm response from using it forever. Step three: work on the packet some more because it's not any less due, is it? Step four: bath on the way to bed, unless I'm asleep already. We shall see. There, we got it figured out, eh? Okay!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Is a write

Oh! Am doing many things. So much working! Today I also watched two very unsatisfying semifinal soccer games. Ugh! PKs are stupid and awful, of course. And they make the game all about individual failure versus group achievement. In other words, they take away everything good about the game and leave only personal mistakes on the worldwide stage. Do not like! And now the final is going to be Germany versus Sweden, where both are playing very conservatively, which is to say: an exceedingly boring game.

Well, tomorrow is the men's semifinals so we shall see how those go. Maybe they'll be more putting themselves out there instead of hanging back. I hope so!

Then later there will be the bronze medal games and the gold/silver games. Right now I can't even remember who's still in it, in the men's tournament. Hmm!

My sister was here all weekend, so that was fun. I'm exhausted from company. And I have not yet vacuumed up the black fur all over. But since things were exceedingly clean and neat before she got here, I think there's some time for that.

I'm working on this longer short story, set basically at WB in Burbank, so that's very fun, having all those details pop out of my brain, like what you could see from Cynthia's window and what it's like to walk along the streets near there in the evening, that hot baked dust smell, the blank walls, the shadows as the sun goes behind the hills, the way cars go way too fast and come blinding out of nowhere. And it's all about serendipity and chaos being two sides of the same coin.

I don't know, I'm very tired! I stayed up half the night reading Oryx and Crake and the next one about the flood and then today I read the third one in the series. Maddaddam. They are awesome books but there was a certain element of everyone playing big roles in everyone's lives all along and we are just finding out now, and also all the important people miraculously surviving the apocalypse and finding each other, that's sort of, hmm, I mean I know why, but my improbability sensor was off the charts by the end.

We always talk about how it'd be great if humanity thinned itself down a lot what with how there are too many of us for sure, but of course OUR favorite people would somehow survive the culling. And so it was in the books. It could have been explained much more awesomely by saying they all had to take massive doses of genetically engineered antiretroviral blah blah blah to work at the place and then they insisted on dosing their friends too, and that's why they all survived, out of everyone. See? It was too improbable.

I'm okay with hyperintelligent pigs who hold funerals and communicate telepathically, but you can really stretch my credibility when all the cool people somehow miraculously survive a worldwide extinction level event. It's a different kind of suspension of disbelief. One works, one doesn't.

I sure loved those books, though. I listened to Oryx and Crake possibly on the drive west to Oregon the first time, on audiobook. Though it may have been the drive to L.A. I think Oregon though.

In other words, writing is going well. It's doing that thing where I write as much as there is, and then in the down time the story fills up again and I have a lot more to write down next time. Sometimes that's a matter of half an hour. It's pretty great. Odd to write something long but short. It's supposed to be 5000 words of stuff, though I think that could be a couple different things. Well, right now it's 2K and some. I don't mind sending a couple different things. I feel like a range gives more realm for useful conversations.

The reading of course is all for school. I'll read Kleinzeit again, and whatever else grabs me. Those Joan Aiken short stories that are so crazy and glorious and wonderful. Maybe Isabelle Allende. I sure like her!

The Oryx and Crake books made me frantic about survival in case of apocalypse again, unfortunately. Like I want to go out and buy supplies. I need a bean bunker! And cans of peaches! And olives! I have a ton of peanut butter and jam already, and baked beans. I know, I know. But it helps somehow. Now I want a crank radio and a ton of matches, though I have a magnesium thing for sparking so that's redundant. I mean, I have a ton of water purification tablets. And a gallon of bleach. You need very little bleach to sanitize water. I always have a gallon of bleach around.

I wish I had a wood stove. But then you know I'd be cutting and stacking and covering wood, and wondering how much is enough. (There is never enough.)

Anyway I went and hoed the garden, so there's some positive results from the survival panic. Hoeing is like magic when you normally pull weeds and grass by hand. Tool-using magic!

So tempting to write that post-apocalyptic novel of my own again. I mean, the world-building part is very tempting. There is just no way you'd run out of stuff any time soon in a world suddenly ravaged by a pandemic where nearly everyone died. You wouldn't be dressed in bed sheets, you guys. There would be infinite stuff available, just in stores alone. There was some seriously inconsistent world-building in these books.

Anyway I'd want to write a time of increasing scarcity, so that everything really does run out, but we're all still around. That's interesting, what that does to people and the choice they make. The whole sudden death of nearly everyone scenario isn't nearly as interesting, because what choice would we have but to struggle on or give up? Exactly.

It's much more interesting to see what people would do as interstate commerce slowed to a stop. That's like a blizzard is coming, but it never leaves.

Did you read about what happened in JFK? People were cheering for Usain Bolt, and then a panic started somehow and thousands upon thousands of people panicked and stampeded through the airport, out onto the tarmac, into every possible space, falling down, hiding, getting shunted here and there by guards who had no idea what was going on. Imagine if there really had been a shooter! Jeez! It could easily happen any day of the week, obviously. There's security inside, past the TSA, but before that is a whole world of people and crowds and chaos.

Terrifying thought. I think I'd go to ground, not start running. Like, go into a restaurant, then go into the back and into the walk-in fridge or storage room or something. Running is insane. I know it's human nature, fight or flight, but crowds terrify me at the best of times.

We are having rain rain rain rain. It's wonderful! I made potato salad, because it's cool enough to boil a pot of water without having it feel like an outrage against the goal of cooling.

Tomorrow I'll get a ton more work done. Today was the nuts and bolts easy stuff to get out of the way, which there is a lot of, plus the lengthy tedious part of downloading and saving as and uploading, which doesn't sound like much but literally takes hours to get done.

Off to bed, to write more on this story tomorrow, probably finish it, then see about working on some of these others to put them together to send off on the weekend. Some are ready, but some aren't. Must get them ready! And especially finish Steve and Not-Steve. Yes!