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

What!

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.

FANTASTIC.

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:

publication!
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!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

St. Sparrow

Ah! I saw this wonderful children's production tonight (because niece was in it) about the mythology of the Penobscot Nation, this one foundational guy in particular named Gluskabe, though I think it's spelled all different ways. It's just the best hero you ever heard about. He came up with all of the different types of hunting and making essential items, and all these ways to take care of his descendants and make sure things were all right for them. How wonderful is that, to have such a practical and benevolent hero? I can't think of a single one in any other mythology like that.

Now I'm all excited because he's from near here, which...I'm very tired right now. But still, I am!

Anyway. Yes! The thing is, I have this wonderful alternate history I want to write. K. knows all about it and I think nobody else? But it needed to be based in the local pre-Columbian culture and of course I knew nada except for some googling about the Abanaki in general.

You guys, the kids spoke Penobscot all throughout this thing. My hat is off to the director who taught a bunch of eight year olds to memorize lines in Penobscot. Fantastic! And even more: the elders of the Penobscot Nation came to the play tonight. And there were kids from there in the play. IT WAS AMAZING. I'm all lit up and glowing from the whole thing.

My niece was in it from her drama camp, that's why I went, which is lovely serendipity.

I'm very excited about this book idea, even though it hinges on overloading the reactor and causing a time slip, or something of that sort, but it's also wonderfully tragic and inevitable and awesome and makes me have hope for humanity somehow. Even though I'm making it up. It still feels like it's out there somewhere once I make it up. I don't know, the saint at the heart of it has started to feel TRUE, like I've read about her as much as some other saint like St. Hilda or St. Benedict or someone as fully three-dimensional as them.

Also, of course, I'm here. So I'm ideally placed to have a futuristic research vessel trundle up the Penobscot and hit that geological fall line at what would definitely not be called Bangor, but that spot, you know.

I always, always, always think that everywhere would be so much nicer without, um, Western civilization, and all that. Exploitation of people and resources. Stewardship instead of exploitation. Caring about the fall of a sparrow. THAT.

There, I'll write the book and it'll catch fire and change the world. Obviously!

It all started with the Fourth Lateran Council....

Medieval historians and also not coincidentally anyone Jewish knows what happened there and all of the huge ramifications it had all down through history, including everything about our lives today. There are crucial turning points in history and that was one of them. So I thought, what if it turned a different way?

And now I have to write the book. But not tonight because I spent all day working, cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, racing around like a lunatic, watching four soccer games (though I ignored one and missed half of another one) and going to a miraculous play where eight year olds descended from all over the world spoke an Abanaki language and acted out the Penobscot Nation myths.

I think it would be the better part of valor NOT to go to the cousin shindig tomorrow, due to the following reasons: social anxiety, people smoking, this one dude who is a real jerk, crowds, driving two hours each way, a massive allergic reaction today that almost sent me to the hospital, social anxiety, exhaustion, a huge writing project due in a week, four more quarterfinal games tomorrow, failure to complete the work I wanted to get done today, social anxiety, and also I don't want to.

I nearly went, though, honestly. Nearly. Who knows, maybe I'll leap out of bed tomorrow full of verve and dash away down south to the thing. I think it would be wiser not to, though. The better part of valor would be getting myself into bed right now, actually. So let's go do that. Books to write!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Beginning, middle, end

Ah! Last night I was flailing about unable to sleep and thinking about how stupid it was that Karen Blixen starved herself to death on champagne and oysters, and also how gross oysters are. If I can't even hardly look at eggs, you know I'm never going to eat an oyster. It's the viscosity. Viscousness. GOO. Slime. No thank you.

Then the word "oyster" started bouncing around in my head, because that's an odd word, admit it. I am a fan of words that end in -ster but I never think about oyster as one of them.

dumpster
teamster

Now I can't think of any more. But I also really like -stress words for the same reason.

seamstress

And again my brain has failed me. I had a three hour nap so I'm as groggy as an oyster right now.

Where does this come from? "Compared to him, oysters suffered from frantic verbal diarrhea."

It was English, as in British, because I remember that last word was spelled with those extra oe options. Probably a Joan Aiken book.

Then I remembered a terrible, terrible temp who worked with me when I was also a temp, except she was just astoundingly incompetent to the point where I thought she should be weaponized against the enemy, which is where this story I just wrote about someone named Edith Oyster came from.

Actually that idea first came from an outrageously incompetent cake decorator I worked with, one of those people who wrote on cakes like this:

Happy birth-
day

I know!

I can't remember her name now, but I can remember the way she had of staring off into the distance longingly. I suppose she was longing to be somewhere else, where she could do the things she was hired to do. I mean, I couldn't either when I started, but you learn things or you lose your job, no?

I'm a fan of Edith Oyster. She's the immortal goddess of discord and serendipity, but she doesn't know it. Or does she? Hard to tell much about personal self-awareness with the immortals.

I've been wanting to write a lot of modern gods for approximately one million years, so it's very fun to get to put all these pieces together. This story has a beginning and a middle and I think I know the end.

See, I got this assignment yesterday: write me 5000 words by the 21st. Which of course I can do on my head, but writing 5000 awesome words is something else entirely. What should I write? This? That? Snakes? Stop it with the snakes. Rocks? Obsessing about rocks is sort of interesting to watch from outside it (even though I'm inside it) because what the hell is going on with picking up the rocks and why can't you put the rocks back down, seriously though, they are not food, they are not useful, they are not even especially interesting most of them, so what is that compulsion? I need to know!

But while that compulsion is kind of fascinating to watch even as my hand is going to pick up another rock that I'll have to carry home in my pockets even though my shorts are already falling off from all the other rocks, I don't think it's a story. Maybe it is! Some day.

The secret I learned, like, last month, or was it June? was to FOLLOW A THREAD. In fact it's a lot like the rocks. Something makes you go, "Ooh," just for a moment, and you pick it up carefully and discover it goes on, so you follow it along.

I guess you can't make up things by having a structure first and then figuring it out. You just have to follow that thread. At least, when I follow the thread it's AWESOME and when I do it the other way it's dead stuff. So!

This is why my phone is full of notes that make no sense but are just reminders so that the next day or whenever I can look at them, mostly when I'm in the grocery store trying to remember what I need to buy, except I can't even see the list because I don't have my glasses on, which is why I forgot butter today, I can go, "The goddess of discord worked as a temp. Edith Oyster." And then over by the cat food (also forgot, because of the lady with the big curly gray hair and the sad eyes with dark circles, who smiled at me and was right in the way) I'll start going, "Edith Oyster, Edith Oyster," and then I go home and have a three hour nap and clean up the house some and put the rocks that are all over the floor into baskets, at least, and then I write a story about the goddess of discord working as a weaponized temp.

Her manager got my manager's old office. Claudia? Cynthia! Cynthia was awesome. She had an art exhibit at a community center in Burbank and a bunch of us went. She was so nice. I feel bad for putting the goddess of discord in her office and making the particleboard bookcase fall apart!

Now I know where the target office should be. That place I worked in Glendale, obviously. I have to think more about what they do and all that, I guess? I mean I ran out of thread. That's when I stop.

I have to tell you: this couch is fantastic. I LOVE this couch. The dog and I had a nap on it today and we both fit perfectly well. This morning I was sitting on the center cushion working and the dog was on one side of me and the cat on the other. It was PARADISE.

My computer isn't doing well with the wireless since the tv came along, not sure why, so I have to be connected with an ethernet cable, which means I have to be in the living room. I kept losing a phone connection. It's much cooler and quieter in the office but I'm out here until I can rewire the house a little bit, switch the cable connection in the office for the internet cable down in the basement.


Upshot: work on the cozy comfy couch with my lovely boys one on each side of me! Yay!

I got books from the library. It's revolutionary to try to think about what I like to write like and then go looking for books like that. I came home with some Neil Gaiman, Roald Dahl's short stories (wicked), Margaret Atwood's spec fiction, I don't even know what else. What a come to Jesus conversation that was. NOBODY has asked me any questions like that about my writing since my students back at Willamette, who were like, "Why do you write this relationship blah blah blah when you're so funny? You should write funny things." And I was like: GONGGGGGGGG ringing in my brain.

I did write lots like that. Tethys is all like that. I think this current book is like that, too, just trying to make my siblings laugh the whole time. Yes: the secret of my writing is that I'm trying to make my siblings laugh, which is my job in the sibling dynamic and my original best skill. Also trying to make J. laugh, that's part of the same thing. And I want to write things that K. and K. would want to read and would think are awesome!

I looked all over my bookshelves this morning and pulled out a) Kleinzeit, the original book that made me stand on a chair and yell "WHAT IS THIS? I WANT MORE!" and all of my Joan Aiken short stories, which blow your mind with their fabulousness, the weirdness and off-kilter worlds, the lovely crazy language, the wild things that happen in them. Fairy tale logic and loony karmic retribution and true love and every kind of glory.

Return to your imperative indeed! Joan Aiken's short stories were the first things that really grabbed me with their power and magic and awesomeness.

I read one over dinner: "Smoke from Cromwell's Time." It's just the best thing ever. Do yourself a huge favor and go read her books of short stories, that one (same title) and The Far Forests. You're welcome!

I wonder if there are more neglected gods that I need to write about? Must think about that. I was also going to bake pumpkin bread, or possibly chocolate zucchini bread, but I forgot to buy butter, remember? And it's too dang hot. I'm in that hopeful state of summer where I always think, "Maybe it's the last hot day of the year!" It could be. This is Maine. It starts snowing in October, I remember quite clearly.

Today I was doing math to figure out how many boxes of tea I need to buy so that I don't absolutely need to go out again until spring. Let's see, I use four tea bags a day and there are 100 in a box, so 1.25 boxes per month, and the ice doesn't get off the lakes until May....but I can wait until September to stack them up, really. I have one box left and whatever's in the daily use jar....

Because what would compel me to go out in snow when otherwise I wouldn't? Only lack of dog food, cat food, or tea. Must stock the shelves! Strategic tea reserves! I love how I always approach winter like I'm going on a transatlantic voyage in a wooden ship. And I start in August. Yay!

Laptoppery!

When have I ever spent this much time with this laptop recently? Never is when! I got inspired.

I have a lovely new advisor who was like, "You write this sort of thing and it's AWESOME. So DO THAT. That is a GIFT."

This is someone who thinks in caps sometimes the way I do. There was a meeting of the minds! In fact it was a huge jolt and reminded me what I do and why and what I like the most and why and why I do this thing at all! Holy crap!

RETURN TO YOUR IMPERATIVE. You guys!

I wrote a thing and it was like, eh, and I remembered thinking about what I used to write here in this venue, how that was, so I went and read a bunch of it and it made me burst out laughing at the sheer awesomeness of it.

Life was not bunnies and roses back then, but you kind of can't really tell how bad things were. Like, I had just lost my job, because it was temporary and it was ending. I was in a very bad health situation with the breathing and on lots of expensive medications that ate up all my money. I couldn't really get around too well because I couldn't breathe.

But what is all of the writing about? Bones DVDs I was watching! Horatio Hornblower! Knitting hats! Making Christmas presents! Doing fun stuff that I loved! Funny little glimpses of my daily life that I'd totally forgotten about!

Anyway, living here in isolationsville is not good for the mental health, don't I know it. I'm going to try this again. I'm just going to jump in and yammer away any time I need to cheer myself on.

So let's talk about this book I'm finishing, huh? It's awesome, except for its major issues. Ah! I have to rip out a big chunk of it. Not tonight, it's after midnight. But starting tomorrow. And then I need to write the ending. And I already started (thanks to K.) rewriting the great-aunt, who was sort of flat and not a real character, but now gets to be very ill and cranky and have fever dementia. So great!

Then I have to figure out the damn house. It really is a big problem. I'll get it! Filling in the missing spots in a book is totally fun. It's like when a puzzle is all finished except this part that's murky shades of blue, and then you start to become an expert in those murky shades of blue and see the violet-blue and the blue-violet and the slightly redder one and the lighter and the darker, tiny differences that were invisible at first.

I think so. Yep.

What else? My sister is coming to stay Saturday, so that's good. I think I'm nearly ready, except buying food, and of course one last run through with the vacuum and mop. But not until, like, Saturday. These boys! They shed the fur! The fur of the boys! And somehow we track dirt around even though I leave my shoes by the door.

Today I made some black beans for burritos again, so good. Everything smells like spices for a while, but in a good way. The hood fan works very well, but the thing is, you have to remember to turn it on. Aha!

And Olympic soccer is charging along. It's not like the World Cup, where they broadcast every game, not at all. I think I've seen about a third of them. Elimination is almost over and there are whole teams I've never seen play. Goodness! But that's okay because of WORK. Much work to do! I'm making excellent progress this week and am even ahead of schedule, thank goodness. Because of visitor this weekend, see. Must be done early so I can go around and pick up all the rest of the clutter.

Or not, we'll see. Mostly it's rocks. Rocks!

I do need to buy food, though. There's like: spaghetti, cans of clam chowder that I really shouldn't eat, and cans of beans. I think there's one can of peaches. Not enough butter to bake a lot of things, or I'd just do that.

Someone resists going to the store, huh? I was going to go today after the Phone Call of AWESOMENESS. I grabbed the dog and ran out into the yard and started running around and jumping up in the air. The dog played a little bit and then he was like, "Okay, but are there any more peas?" We've been picking and eating the snow peas off the vine. I mean, I pick them, and we take turns eating them. If I'm too slow, he'll bite off a piece of the vine itself and look impatient. Funny dog.

Then I was going to go to the store except I did math and discovered, not surprisingly, that I have very little money, after buying a couch and a tv. And a filing cabinet and ottoman. Yep. I mean, it's fine, but better to wait and go to the store later, when I'm not EUPHORIC. Euphoria can lead to poor grocery choices.

We went for our walk and the dog kept picking up acorns and rolling them around in his mouth and then kind of laughing because I'd yell at him to drop them. He doesn't want them, he just thinks it's funny to pick them up and get told to drop them. I tell you, he's a funny dog. Good boy!

He's all laid out on the couch next to me, with his head and shoulders on one of those curly cream colored pillows. Like a dog of luxury! On the chocolate couch!

Having a tv is pretty great. It's bizarrely smart and capable and can do weird things like watch Netflix inside itself. And it can run apps, which blows my mind. Are you a phone? What are you? So sometimes I'm watching soccer games (well, they're on in the background) through an app on a tv. I don't know, welcome to the future, I guess! It's fabulous, but it's a long way from the cathode ray tube tv from 1994 that I just stuck up in the box room again.

Right now the tv's over there all implacable, but you just know it could do all sorts of amazing things if it wanted. Like, it can watch cable, without the cable box. I am unclear how, but it can. It's like having a spaceship in the room, or something out of Star Trek. I'm in awe. Also now I can never move because it's too big and fragile. Okay!

Here is a list of awesome things:

the tv
tv in general
soccer
international soccer
soccer in Spanish
los juegos olympicos!
crying soccer players
joyful celebrating soccer players
soccer players hugging each other
black bean burritos
that faker Brazilian lime/sugar/rum drink I made to celebrate tonight (also to watch the Brazil men's game)
banana bread
having all the dishes done, however briefly
eating all the snow peas right off the vines every day
cool nights
this book I'm writing
riding that dang exercise bike in front of the tvsitups with a bewildered dog between my feet
giving more clothes and stuff to the local homeless shelter
standing up for myself
fixing what's not working
writing new stuff every day

Yeah!

Motivation! I'm ready to go!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Burn it up

On the advice of awesome friend K. I'm finding ways to burn up the extreme annoyance in recent weeks by giving all of it to a character I've been having trouble with. It works! It works amazingly well! Especially with our heroine's reactions to the completely arbitrary anger coming at her.

It's amazing how putting things into the third person (even though I'm writing in first--but it's not me, it's a character) changes everything. Suddenly I'm exceedingly aware of how irrational and awful a way that is to behave. And it reminded me of the dementia symptoms I've seen in others. Have you seen this? Where someone has no memory of anything they say, and then they get enraged when you question them? My mom does this all the time. I can't believe I didn't recognize it before!

It's a very fun thing to write, if not to experience, because of course on paper we can see that X person said X and can even flip back to double check. But in X person's mind, they aren't thinking that now, therefore they certainly didn't say it before. Even though they did.

I just read Howards End and there's a wonderful description of that there, in Mr. Wilcox. Once he changes his mind about a thing, that's how it's always been. So if he likes a house and then decides he doesn't anymore, then he never really did. It's a great way to avoid ever being wrong about anything, as long as nobody calls you on it.

I ADORE the moment when Margaret Schlegel calls him on it, when he gets adamant and unforgiving about Helen doing something that he once did and was forgiven for. He's not even able to see that they're the same thing, because (yes) that would involve admitting he was wrong. Forster is so good with people. He even shows us Mr. Wilcox rearranging his memories so that the wrong he did to his wife happened before they were married, and therefore was not a wrong done to her at all.

Suffice it to say he's the villain of the piece. Well, and his son, who's the same only worse, a violent greedy bully.

Wonderful book. Wonderful! What's wrong with people? Well, he nails down what he thinks is wrong with people and it plays out beautifully.

I never think to do this myself, to have Big Ideas like that, which is why he's E.M. Forster and I'm me! At least I'm right now me. Later I'll be later me. Presumably having learned much by being right now me. Like how to take big ideas and fold them into character. Education! It's so good! I mean, the whole book is big ideas getting tossed around, even by characters in the book, and then they act on them and that's what causes everything to happen, so it's not like the ideas are external or anything. Must consider.

It's all soggy and boggy here, gross. And I can smell absolutely everything. This would not be the superpower I would choose! Every tree smells different. Every patch of the yard. The tomato plants have that tomato plant smell. The pea flowers and the potato flowers smell different. I can smell the mint by the stairs as I go by. What is going on?

I wonder if it's the sudden cessation of allergies or something like that, making all the smells seem turned up to eleven. I did wash all that fabric. Maybe that's helping. I would easily believe that the quilting fabric was wafting vile spores everywhere. That's the stuff that got wet when I was moving into the ocean house and then of course I dried it but it was still weird smelling and so I just washed it all this past weekend and dried it and then I've been ironing it to make it usable. And also sorting it into baskets by color. That is a BIG JOB. And tedious! And my arm might fall off from ironing so much. But then: quilting! Yay!

My teeny tv is down here now, in the living room, in front of the treadmill and exercise bike, as if I'm going to do anything inducing more sweating when it is full on sweatsylvania around here. Gross! But when it cools down, I'm ready. Go ahead, cool down!

Also whatever has been biting my knees could knock it off. Jeez. Why my knees? Granted they are *delicious.*

Today I made feijoada because I had bacon to cook, then threw an onion in the bacon grease and added black beans and spices to that. It smells weirdly fruity to me. But who knows what that's about. I'm sure it's fine. I can't take the smells, jeez! I didn't eat any yet because I had the bacon and made BLT for lunch, my favorite thing, with nice fresh crispy bacon still warm and room temp wonderful tomatoes with all the seeds and watery goo cleaned out. I'm just saying. That's how it's good. And the parts of the lettuce that froze in the great fridge debacle of 2016 all cut off, so I only have the good lettuce, mmm. BLT on toast with light Miracle Whip. You could bring me out of a coma with that thing. But my dog snuffling my ear would work even better. Then we can share the BLT. Good boy!

The teeny tv has a screen the size of a legal pad. It's fine as long as you're pretty close to it and already know what happens, like if you've maybe seen the show one million times. One day I would like to get a reasonable sized tv and get cable or whatever to go with it so there's soccer again. Ah! No real rush. Wait, the Olympics. A rush! Dude, that's like two weeks away. Maybe I'll do some research or whatnot.

I pretty much feel like going to bed right now. I caught some bug, or got flesh eating bacteria in my sinuses from snorting up lake water, or something. Probably germs from my niece and nephew climbing all over me in the lake. They are little amphibious children, my goodness, just jump into the lake and play there for hours and hours. I was all honored that my brother left them in the lake with me supervising until I realized he was up in the house in the chair by the window watching the whole time. Heh. It was super fun to swim in the lake all that time. My dog even sat in the water near the edge or walked around the rocks trying to get closer to me. Then he figured I wasn't going anywhere and went and laid under a chair with his chin on the crossbar. Good puppy!

We are supposed to go to a bog tomorrow. No dogs allowed. I hope my supersmelling powers will abate somewhat. I can imagine a bog is supremely odorful. Also of course I associate them with pickled Bronze age people, so the whole time I'll be imagining them climbing out of the bog water all leathery. With that one Germanic side/front topknot hairdo, or that string skirt of the Danish girl, or the wonderful peplos dress I'm totally going to make one of, see if I don't.

Bog people. See, I want to take my book and show my nephew but he gets scared of stuff so I won't. It would be like when they explained the Holy Spirit to me in church when I was like four and I got completely terrified of the nave, like falling down screaming unable to walk or function terrified. It took me years of fierce bullying to get less scared of the nave.

Church has such good words. Narthex! Font, alb, platen. Chrism! That's a good one. If I didn't know for absolute certain that people would mob me in a friendly way I'd go to one here, just to go, because I was basically brought up in churches and libraries and the main library in Bangor is under construction and a strangely uncomfortable place to be because of it.

I have not been to the library in my town yet. What if someone already has the book out? It's much smaller than my house, put it that way.

The house is getting larger or at least less cluttered as I'm giving stuff away. Do not worry, there is plenty left! But I hit some kind of wall about the clothes and gave away a ton of them on Monday or whenever that was. I have another pile ready to go. I'm being realistic about clothes instead of idealistic. Realistically I never want to move another fez of clothes I don't actually wear. Heh. Realistically if I suddenly do fit into that size again I can get more clothes. Or supposing civilization ends or something, I can sew things. I mean, come on.

So that's lovely, clearing things out, going out of here with big black trash bags full of clothes and giving them away. I love making things gone. You realize I never, ever, ever have to deal with those old shorts and things again? How amazing is that? You so rarely get to say "never" and have it actually be true. Wonderful.

The library book sale might get the benefit of that fairly soon too.

Apparently there's a Zadie Smith book that's about or somehow in reference to Howards End? Must look into that. I have a stack of library books I should be reading right now, but I was looking at the MLA job list just out of educational curiosity and a) there are no jobs right now because it clears out August 1st and stays down until the new list comes out September 1st, and b) I remembered that writing jobs want you to have an MFA, yes, but more important is publication. Therefore I'm working on that novel I've been writing and massively reconfiguring and rewriting all the first year of school. That's where the crankypants dementia stuff comes in, though the character merely has pneumonia and a high fever. Dang, I have to look that up. Do you always get high fever with pneumonia? Maybe it's a secondary infection on top of it. As I know to my peril, that can definitely happen. Yech.

Right, so, big brown couch, that palette shaped computer desk I got at the Burbank Ikea's as is sale area lo! these many years ago, dog on the rug, cat on the couch, dinner already made in the fridge if I want it, but I probably don't because that BLT was surprisingly filling. It's not even ungodly hot for once! Conditions are optimal! Except that I'm sleepy as heck. Anyway: write yer book!