Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Misery loves more misery

I am actually not miserable, because I got AWESOME NEWS on the job front. Hurray! Two jobs! Happiness loves more happiness!

But I am miserable because of the stupid heat and humidity. It was 88 yesterday and today with high humidity and a million biting bugs, so you can do the math. = BAD. Do not like!

When it gets super hot, I won't cook, so I don't eat, because I'm not allowed to eat bread or whatever, even though sometimes I totally forget and go eat a lot of pizza, and then I feel like I'm going to die for three days, so then I don't do it again for a long time. When there are no sandwiches, what easy fast cold food is there that takes no effort because I'm not doing anything because it's hot?

Well, today I made a massive salad out of irritation with that lying crook, the attorney general. Oh my goodness. He's a liar and a gaslighter and a racist and a misogynist. Half of those he would admit proudly, too. YUCK. I hate his little pink goblin face.

I was languishing in front of a fan and doing absolutely nothing but watch that testimony when it irritated me beyond endurance and I got up and chopped up everything in sight and made it into a the aforementioned massive salad. Which I then ate up, every bit. Yum.

Salads aren't as good without apples. I really like an apple in a salad. Plus bell pepper, cucumber, chicken, and whatever else is around.

I don't know what I'm supposed to eat before going on the plane. I might make a mess of eggs with horseradish cheese in them, on the understanding that I won't be hungry again for a very long time. (It's true.)

Things I did today out of sheer irritation even though it was too bloody hot to move:

vacuumed the whole house
moved the tv so I could get into the yarn trunk
trawled the yarn trunk for travel yarn
picked out a pattern
took the dog for a walk through tick-infested woods and down the black fly infested road
changed the sheets

Irritation apparently motivates me quite effectively.

I'm having yogurt for a late dinner because I'm still not going to cook anything. Forget it. Though in retrospect, rice sounds nice.

Ever since I took those ridiculously huge doses of antibiotics FOR NOTHING on the word of a nurse who didn't know what she was doing, I've had to eat very plain food like rice or yogurt or fruit or my innards get very upset with me. I hope that things will calm down eventually. Maybe they'll even forgive me for the pizza!

Oh boy, it was good, though. At least the first two pieces that I had for dinner.

Anyway the dog loved our walk and the house looks very nice.

I'm on a mission toward increased fitness, though my mission has to battle extreme desire to do nothing at all physically. I mean I do tons of stuff, just I prefer to be sitting in the comfy chair with an iced beverage while I do those things.

Anyway, that's the plan. Egregious sigh of dismay. I'm hoping to use the pool at school, in my absurd bathing suit with the red and white striped cups and the navy blue dress part. It's not exactly low profile, but it's on MY terms.

So that's my day. Incredibly uncomfortable weather and annoying pests, not to mention the bugs (ha ha) resulted in a tremendous amount of work getting done. For which hurray!

I want a bath, but not a hot bath, and not a cold bath, and also not a warm bath because those are just cold baths waiting to happen. Maybe what I want is a shower, come to think of it.

Meanwhile I keep remembering about job thing and yippeeing to myself. I get these little jolts of excitement. Eep! Yay!

Maybe I can reintroduce my stealth fitness methods to my life, like the rule that I have to do jumping jacks while the kettle boils for tea, plus standing up at my desk. Ugh...I have no desire to do any of those things. Where is my get up and go? Did the antibiotics kill that too? I've been downing tons of probiotics every day, both the gummies (which survive best into the gut) and the yogurt. I suspect my meds need to be tweaked, by which I mean lowered, because I'm mellow to the point of zombification now that the severe pressure is off. MFA is over, training for Online Job is over, I'm hired officially, and now Traditional Job has hired me also.

It still won't be as much work as old Online Job plus MFA. Or like in the past when I worked full time in an office AND did a full four iterations of Online Job, back before they hired me on full time.

A couple days ago I wrote a story about that whole thing blowing up, how that horrible lady made me change my name and manipulated everyone and bullied everyone and then turned vicious on me when I got sick and got the full time Online Job, and got me pushed out early. Boy was she a piece of work. And I mean, from the beginning. All the signals were there. I just pushed past because I needed the job.

I do that a lot! I'll put up with badness for my own ends. It's kind of a form of not listening to yourself. I've been realizing I am super bad about that. I don't know when I'm hungry or thirsty because I learned from a very early age that what I wanted didn't matter. I'm not even aware of those signals. It takes feeling woozy to notice I haven't eaten all day, for instance.

Luckily I have tea! I want tea, boy oh boy. But I have to eat first, or it will make me throw up. So I do eat breakfast. And then I want another cup of tea so bad in the afternoon, so I have to eat again. Dinner, however, often goes forgotten.

I suppose being more active would make me hungrier, too. YAWN. It would be easier if I could go outside, but thirty seconds out there and I'm covered with black flies, whose bites leave insanely itchy welts the size of quarters. Now the mosquitoes are starting, too. GOOD TIMES. Frelling Maine, I tell you what.

Today I wondered why black flies don't live further south of here, like in Pennsylvania. They seem to be a northern thing. Do they not like the heat? If so, maybe we'll be rid of them, because it's hotter here every year.

Though it's lovely and cool right now. 70!

One of the fun things about Maine is talking to cashiers about our perfect temperature. We all agree on 65, in my limited survey. I think that's awesome. 65 is cool enough to wear long pants, while 70 isn't. For me. And other cold-adapted life forms.

It's supposed to get down to 52 tonight. Yes, please! And 45 tomorrow night. Oh boy!

Maybe I actually can have a bath. Glory!

This yarn I'm taking with is fine and soft, sage green. I'm going to knit some pretty lace for a scarf. Ooh, must remember stitch markers, thanks for reminding me! I was afraid my knitting days would be on pause because I crushed my right middle finger's last segment (what are finger segments called?) pretty good today putting the lawn mower into the shed. The mower has an end section that tilts up 90 degrees to self-propel. Well, you can lock it, or you can forget it's not locked and use the handle to push the mower up a steep ramp, upon which it will slam down that 90 degrees and crush whatever digit happens to be in the way. It's not broken or anything, and didn't damage the joint, but it sure hurt a lot. I thought it would stop my knitting but that seems to be okay after all. And writing with a pen. Both useful activities!

Stay safe, little bunnies! Eat your salads and drink your water and do your jumping jacks while the kettle is on to boil. I'll certainly try--cue exhausted eye roll--but presumably it'll get easier each time. Oh YAWN!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Oh hi

I weed whacked so much over the past two days (not counting today, a DAY OFF) with my new weed whacker that I can barely lift a leg high enough to step over the edge of the tub. Why does weed whacking use those hip muscles? That seems so weird. But you have to lean over in a particular way to avoid whacking all your toes right off, I guess.

It's terrible out there. It's a very bad year for the black flies, which swarm and bite and get in your mouth and ears and eyes and nose and hair. So even covered down to my wrists, with a hood over my head and a head net over that, in rubber boots up to my knees, I STILL get bitten. Ridiculous.

The lawn is not so very much cut right now. I've been catching up on the super tall areas, but the regular flat part is growing fast. Today landlord came over with extra tomato plants (nooooo!) and I showed him the wiring/switch problem in the front hall, where my new weed whacker also was, which led to a lawn conversation, and anyway I'm going to go borrow my old mower that I gave him and mow the grass properly tomorrow.

Except not the steep parts. I'm sticking with the weed whacker for that. The mower is heavy and wrenches my arms out of their sockets when I have to yank it around on that steep slope.

Good times, eh?

In other news, I have an awesome interview coming up, and I got a rejection notice for a short story today. I instantly (five hours later) went and submitted all the stories I could to all the places I could. Including that one. Bounce them right back on out!

Then it became clear to me that I need to write more stories. Like, every day. I should write a story a day. I wonder how long I could do that? If I made it a huge priority I might be able to pull it off. They can be short, after all. Flash fiction is bananas short.

I wrote my presentation and it's 1776 words. That feels like INDEPENDENCE so I'm unwilling to edit it even one tiny bit. I have a little bit of weird number OCD.

Oh and today I suddenly regained the ability to play fast sudoku. Nothing exciting happened to bring this about. I have no idea.

I keep doing all the weird packing things, like counting out enough vitamin gummies and probiotic gummies to last me while I'm away. And picking out earrings. And hand washing scarves, then neatly folding them up.

It'll be a relief when it's late enough for me to pack clothes. Even though I know I only need like seven days' clothes, I want to take absolutely everything. I pulled a million things out of the closet as part of my psychological pre-packing process. It's enough stuff for a month. Come on, now. It's almost like I don't want to leave anyone behind, though. Nooooo!

And I got the upstairs finally cleaned up and everything (almost) put away. Jeez. After I switched the day bed into the writing room, there was massive chaos. In part that's because I had a lot of clothes in the drawers of the day bed that suddenly needed to go elsewhere. I dealt with all of that last evening. It was kind of hellish, to be honest. It meant moving absolutely every garment in every drawer, reorganizing, refolding everything, storing a bunch of stuff in a Rubbermaid tote in the closet.

Okay, so that's a pretty mild version of hell, I admit it. But my knees and hips were already in agony from the weed whacker extravaganza and it was all kneeling and bending. Oooooof. Ouch.

I hope all these people publish all my stories and then I'm all story-published and thrilled and delighted. I want to be a story publisher person. Write the stories, send them out! That should be me. I can do that. Boy do I love writing stories. Whoop!

Especially since now I don't have to write about dreadful autobiographical material, which was admittedly cathartic, but some of those are definitely not publishable, alas. I cannot send them anywhere. I don't think. Can I? Maybe. I have to think more about it. Right now I don't feel like I can.

So get this: if I wear capri leggings from Walmart ($4!) and a giant oversized t-shirt that I usually sleep in (KMart, men's 2XL tall) then I feel like a million bucks. I feel like I can run and jump and ride bikes and do absolutely anything. If I wear my fancy expensive J. Jill linen trousers, all baggy, which okay I paid $8 for, but they were $80-120 new, then I feel ugly and awkward and terrible and like I can't do anything at all.

What is that all about? Is it just about sporty garb versus frumpy garb? I practically want to put my hair up in a scrunchie in this getup. It's awesome.

I figure I'll stick with the speedy garments. I'm not even packing any of my giant linen trousers. I will dress like an aerobics instructor circa 1985 and be happy instead.

Not really. I'm taking all my nice silky blouses, plus the silky tank dresses that are actually tops on me, which I wear as undershirts to cover my retreat.

I have clothing issues, apparently. I just reread a story I wrote about that. Yep. I have 'em. The part that is weird to me about today's navy blue leggings with red and white stars all over them, worn in honor of the Comey hearings and the defense of democracy against that utter jackass T***p and his abuse of power and all his various crimes, plus the giant navy blue t-shirt, is that clothes have such a powerful effect on how I feel when I never ever actually look in a mirror. Right? Like the received wisdom is that how you LOOK affects how you feel. But nobody sees me. So that's irrelevant. How I dress is entirely about how I feel instead.

These leggings are hilarious. But not as funny as the royal blue ones with the red and white hearts and curlicues all over them.

A lot of my clothes have turned out to be red and black, which mystifies me. That deep glowing crimson, though, I can't resist it.

I even reglued my Adidas Sambas for the trip. One sole was flapping in the front. I should wear them to see whether the glue stays stuck. I have superglue that I can use if necessary.

All those submissions tonight, that was pretty awesome. It was like work, in the sense that it had clear cut parameters and clear beginning and ending points and I could just work through it methodically and then be done.

Heck, maybe I can send out those others. I'm all torn about it. I mean, don't pre-reject something, right? Let them do it. There we go!

I'm craving pizza so badly that I'm in serious danger of going out and getting one tomorrow. I've been in pre-trip no desire to eat mode. Basically it's just been rice and yogurt, though today I made eggs with horseradish cheese and it was utterly delicious. I might make that again tomorrow, to be honest. If I don't get hot food and protein, I get all frazzledy and quietly frantic and then can't focus or do anything.

That is actually the sign of NOT TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF that I'm learning to watch for. I was not raised to take care of myself, or to think that I needed to be taken care of in any way. I'm only gradually starting to figure out that I have the right to want and need things and then get them. No duh, you might say, but it's a side effect of neglect and abuse, so whatever, I'm working on it. You treat yourself the way you have been treated, until you train yourself otherwise. It takes work.

Speaking of taking care of myself, I'm heading to bed. At a reasonable time. New mattress is freaking amazing that way. I can go to bed and just go to sleep. Outrageous! Glorious! Wonderful!

I spent the whole Comey hearing running around the house, cleaning everything up, sweeping, tidying, putting absolutely everything away. That hearing agitated me, even though I think it was the giant push we need to get that orange knuckledragger out of office and gone from our lives. I'm still amazed we haven't seen some kind of idiotic backlash from him. I imagine a team of lawyers actually sitting on him to prevent him from making things even worse for himself. What a jackass.

Comey was impressive, though. I feel like we might be seeing a lot more of him coming up. But that may be because I mistake anything I see on my iPad for fiction.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Embedded

The project isn't complete, because I want to build and then carve a headboard and footboard for the bed. And probably sideboards too, let's be honest. Once I get carving I'm not going to want to stop. But I got a new mattress yesterday after a sudden dawning awareness that all this major body joint pain and a ten year old mattress were causally related. Except then the mattress wouldn't fit on my ad hoc bed that I've been using for a year, the boxy white daybed. So I had to disassemble the daybed and move it into the other upstairs room, the tiny writing room, and build the metal feet/frame thing, which I bought specially because it has bolt brackets on each end instead of just one, and then I had to cut twelve long boards to support the mattress on the bunkie board, which is like a super thin box spring, and THEN I had to put all those pieces together, find the sheets, and finally go to bed.

I know!

I was in SO MUCH PAIN by the end of all that. I'm sick of pain. Get rid of it!

And I'm not even done. It's up too high, so I have to adjust nine screw feet adjusters to lower it down. And there's stuff everywhere in the writing room that needs to be rearranged and get put away. There are bookcases all askew. Also I might need to bank the far side of the bed with bookcases because it feels very precarious not having that extra buffer zone of pillows like on the daybed.

The daybed is a very happy place to sit and write in the writing room now, though. That mattress is fine on the edges.

One odd effect is that now I have three beds in three rooms. The third one is my office. I could have guests! Multiple guests! What is that about? Actually there's a fourth old thin twin mattress in the closet up there, too. And the downstairs daybed has a pull out trundle bed where that could go. So four, four beds! What is that about!

Nobody comes to my house, so I don't know what I think I'm preparing for. Last visitors were...Christmas, when my brother and nephew came over with presents for me. Has my sister even been here since? I don't think so. I think she visited before Christmas.

I also got a proper desk chair, a comfortable one, instead of using those hard flat dining room table chairs as I have been doing. I know! I was just figuring, everything hurts so much all the time, and where am I all the time? In bed or in my desk chair. So those things are fixed now.

First night on the new bed was blissful. I did take ibuprofen because I was in screaming agony after carrying all those heavy things up the stairs and rebuilding the daybed and so on. (The furniture boys brought the mattress up. There is NO WAY I could get that massive thing up those stairs.)

Anyway now I get to think about my headboard and footboard and consider what to carve and how. I had originally planned to make it like the Franks casket. I could do that! I'm not sure whether I want to use one solid board or what. Also it's kind of a long process, carving things like that. But so fun! But hard on the hands, with the hammers and chisels. Last time I had this setup where the board I was carving was blocked in place on my quilting table. I could clamp a longer board down there. Or use the trestles. I probably won't start this until fall, though, because I have to finish the cedar chest first. There's massive sanding to do, which I hate, so I've been putting it off.

Must stop putting it off!

Sanding kills my hands. Anything where I have to hold tight to something like that is excruciating. Good times!

I got my printed and bound copies of my thesis this week and positively squealed with delight. I hope I get to keep one. I think I will. I think both get signed and then I get one. Oh boy!

Actually I have to go mail the box of those right flipping now so they get there in time. It might cost a fortune. But they'll charge me $25 for a bag that's over weight anyway and this way I won't have to carry them.

Yes, travel prep--horrendous. I hate it. I hate leaving my house anyway, but traveling is the worst. But after this residency I won't have to do this again. No more dorms, no more cafeteria, no more planes. I mean, we'll see about the planes, but I managed to avoid flying extremely well for many years. It's just so unpleasant in every conceivable way.

Having to leave the house and be around people means of course that I suddenly notice that I have no sandals (remedied) and no summer shorts except those cut-offs (have acquired capri leggings) and no sleeveless versions of the giant long silky undershirts I've been wearing all winter (have acquired slinky rayon tank dresses that are like tops on me, and camisoles) and so after that visit to Walmart (yes) I'm all comfortably outfitted. Plus linen capri pants at Marden's.

Those clothes are alarmingly cheap. Like the silky camisoles are $3. I almost got a bunch of the white linen pants to wear while painting because they were $8. I never want to get paint on any of my actual clothes, no matter how old or funky, because that's a line that can't be uncrossed. Once there's oil paint on something, it's there forever.

It's funny. Why not just designate one of the existing pairs of linen pants as painting pants? But that would cross that line. They'd be gone from the rest of the world forever! I don't know where this comes from because I'm not exactly a snappy dresser, and it's paint, not baby vomit or something--I mean, it's not gross. But still.

I have the same problem with shirts. Though probably I can allow paint on my ancient black t-shirts at this point. I don't wear them out of the house.

I really, really want to paint, so something has to give here. Every day I'm like: okay, but not in these clothes. And then I never do.

Mostly I'm busy writing BOOK. New comfy chair of lack of pain makes an enormous difference in how long I can sit still, at least physically. It doesn't do much for my psychological need to get up and run around. Physically not being uncomfortable is a game-changer, though. Same with the bed.

So now I expect great things! Sleep! Writing! Great things!

And finishing of lingering projects: the cedar chest, the flannel quilt. I will get them done.

I should be starting New Job soon, which is very exciting and will set my mind at ease. I'll have to buy a monitor for that since my laptop screen is so small and the site is fixed width, but that's okay. I want to make massive progress on all three things, cedar chest, quilt, and BOOK, before that starts. So we shall see. I also have to put pockets into my shorts and such things. This morning I ripped out the seams in the fake pockets. That was the hardest part. I'll use some muslin or whatever to make new pockets and sew them in and voila! (In which "voila!" means "several hours of careful work.")

One of these weeks I'll get my mower back from the shop and then I can cut down the jungle growing all around the house. I've only been keeping this one patch in front clear and now the rest is too tall for the push mower. I could try to figure out and gas up the weedwhacker and cut it all down, but I would not hold my breath on that one. Who knows, maybe I'll do it! I *should* do it. But so far I never *have* done it.

Anyway. To the post office! Except not the one in town because I mailed a box to my mom priority mail and it took ten days to get there. I don't know what happened, but that's not going to work for this situation. I guess the next town up is my best option. They seem to be more on the ball.

Happy summer, and happy comfortable places to sleep and write!


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Dr. Crusher

What an odd name to give to a character. Beverly Crusher. Dr. Crusher. I wonder what on earth lies behind that name? Bet there's a story in there.

I have to go see Dr. Crusher or maybe Dr. Squeezer on Friday. Or more like Dr. Tortilla Press. I've been making lots of corn tortillas lately so I feel like in some sense I've brought this on myself. (Not actually true. But I do see the parallels.)

At any moment I'm going to have to leap to my feet and run outside to grab the laundry and bring it in due to imminent rain. Maybe it won't, though. Maybe it will!

The black flies are so bad that it's torture to go for walks with the dog, so he's not getting walks unless we go to parks or places like that. My niece's school, one day when we picked her up, for example. But our usual walks down the road are horrible, even when I'm drenched in bug spray, so nope. Even going out in the yard is not much fun with the bugs.

The grass is super tall everywhere except the front flat part which is reasonably easy to mow with the motorless mower. But today I got the trailer onto the car and the mower onto the trailer, so I'll take it in tomorrow and get it fixed all up. Soon, I hope. I mean presumably the rush is over, right? I did my best and took it all apart and cleaned it and replaced bits but that thing is beyond me. Off to mower camp!

I have to go to writer camp and the boys have to go to dog and cat camp soon. DON'T WANNA. Though I am hatching a plot to drive down to Crater Lake, somewhere I've always wanted to go. It's only 4.5 hours away but you can't take dogs, so I never managed it, because: always dogs. It was too far to go and leave him home, and I couldn't take him, which means I didn't go. Same with previous dog, obviously.

I've got this shirt on today that is just completely enormous. I have no idea why I've never worn it before. There are a couple this sort of color but one is smallish, so I think I conflated them. I wouldn't wear a smallish shirt so I skipped this one too, I guess? Anyway it's delightfully vast in the acreage and I'm pleased.

It's worrying me how I'm going to dress for the hideous heat out among people at writer camp. I hate that part. I have a fantasy of sewing lovely soft knit camisoles by hand. I mean, it's not a far-fetched fantasy--it's perfectly possible--except that I have no energy or motivation at all lately, so I haven't taken the slightest steps to make it happen. Yawn!

I did buy twelve more boxes of tea out at Marden's in my old town yesterday, though. Cool! There's another year of tea in the bag! They had it for half price so I'm thrilled. I'd have preferred to get all of them and just back the car up and shovel them in, but for some reason I felt a little constrained after twelve. Like twelve is okay but twenty-four would be weird? Or forty-eight? That's only four years' worth of tea, you guys.

I would love to have the shelf of this closet all totally stacked up with boxes of tea. How great would that be? Of all the things anyone could hoard, tea is the most reasonable. She said, realizing that saying that makes her sound completely daft. But listen! It keeps perfectly well, it's light, it's non-perishable, and it's the thing I would miss the most if civilization fell apart, after my various meds. Possibly more than my various meds.

Boy, I really need to wash this window that I really needed to wash a year ago. It hasn't gotten any cleaner. How weird.

I hope the TSA doesn't mind that I'm bringing an inflatable bed and a pump in my suitcase. Not in my carry-on, so they shouldn't care. Also a box of tea (ha) and an electric kettle and sheets and a mattress pad and who even knows what else. I can't imagine anyone would care, but then again, they probably do care. Then again I just read that some vast percentage of actual illegal items that should be screened out get missed, like 95%, so maybe my camping equipment is okay.

I've been chopping away at the forest of weeds that is my book all day long, making excellent progress, but it has come to my attention again that this B story needs to be developed because without it the whole thing falls apart. So I'm working on that. Villains! Creeps! Jerks! But they feel so aggrieved and unfairly done by. Nothing makes people less sympathetic in my mind than that when it's not true. Good times.

Since I was out in my old haunts, I went back to that TJ Maxx and got more delicious smelling liquid soap and shower gel etc. for baths. Which is why I reek like a rose today in case you're wondering. Which you're not. This time I used what I learned from last year's collection. No citrus, no rosemary, no basil, no coconut. Go for flowers, anything sea breeze flavored, lavender, bergamot even though technically that's citrus, ginger, roses, spice. The Crabtree and Evelyn sweet almond kind is just the most delicious smell ever. Mmmmm. I also found incredible bottles this time, the prettiest things you ever saw. And some came in blue glass bottles that will be keepers for sure.

That is my bath bubble acquisition adventure for the year. Pretty thrilled! It took ten minutes. Read, sniff, into the basket.

Later this week I get to go pick up my printed and bound thesis and see whether Gaiman's law holds true. Supposedly the first time you open up a printed work, you see a typo or other mistake. I hope not! Maybe it doesn't count if you only printed and bound two copies.

Here's hoping that Dr. Crusher doesn't find anything amiss and life can go on as planned without major upsets. We do not want that! My friend far away is also going through exactly the same thing, only different, so we're lab rat buddies. It sucks! But hopefully it'll all be okay.

Character traits to write into these villainous types because these are things I dislike the most: greed, malice, jealousy, callousness to the sufferings of others, clannishness, cruelty. That should be plenty to go on with.

I realized my book is short on EVENTS. And when there aren't any EVENTS happening, nothing is really happening, which is weird and strange and why? So I'm working hard on EVENTS. People doing stuff! And then because of that, they have to make choices and decisions!

Personally I prefer when nothing happens ever, but I'm discovering that's not ideal for fiction. NO DUH.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Do everything all at once ah!

Isn't it odd? I feel like I get nothing done and I move around in slow motion and everything is excruciating all the time. Also every little thing feels monumentally huge and insurmountable and impossible to accomplish. And so doing things is unnecessarily fraught with difficulty and drama.

Today I did some things, though. I mowed a bunch of the grass. I can't really estimate how much of it because it's all in different sections, plus some are insanely hard due to slope, but not large. Anyway. Some. The part in front of the house. That felt most important to get done.

I hoed part of the garden so I can plant my potatoes. It's so odd, the ones grown from eyes have turned into awesome whole plants, while the ones grown from whole little potatoes are much slower to come along. I have a big plate in the sun in the kitchen with a paper towel on it and water on that. There are some onion bottoms turning into new onions also. And some carrot tops that I stuck on there because they were growing a whole little forest of frilly leaves anyway, so why not?

I have to write this presentation, so I keep going over it in my head, except it's not very happy material and it kind of gets me down thinking about it. Obviously that's something I need to fix also! Because making it a giant downer will not get my audience thrilled about life. Well, I do have a terrific way to go through to the end, don't worry.

The whole thing is called This Way to the Egress because one thing I figured out with this spring's writing was that in the worst times, even as a very little kid, I always managed to find a way to tell a story that made things better. I think that's awesome. I never realized I did that until I had to write out all these things.

I also never realized that I only use the simple past and not more complex forms. That's really just part of my dialect somehow. Obviously I read the more complex forms all the time, but I don't use them in speech, and neither do my brother and sister. It's very odd.

I brought cookies. I have brought cookies. I had brought cookies. I would have brought cookies. Maybe that last one, in the form of "woulda brought," but otherwise, only the first one. It's so odd to discover this absolutely unconscious speech habit at this late date.

In other words, we don't come from educated, articulate people, and all the education in the world can't erase those roots from our speech.
 
I'm a happy articulate speaker, though, so I expect the presentation will go fine, if I can stop being hyperaware of this particular tic. I love an audience, especially a bunch of writers. It's odd because I will have to talk about how I can't really deal with people, but people in an audience are at a nice safe distance, plus I'm in charge, so that's fine.

I don't even know where these talks are, because I never went to any in the previous two summers. (I have not ever gone to any? I feel like an alien.) It would help if I could picture the space. I suspect it's going to be in this giant echoey awful linoleum and folding chairs room.

It'll be fine. I once had to defend a paper to the entire Princeton history department while they were in hostile blood in the water mode, so I'll manage. I still think of something one guy said, though. He questioned my use of the word "stylized." What exactly do you mean by "stylized?" I still think that was an idiotic question, since I was using that word in the dictionary definition and there isn't really a lot of wiggle room there. Did he not understand the word? (Answer: he was Princeton faculty. He understood the damn word.) Was he just being a dick? (Answer: he was just being a dick.)

Also, that is an insanely difficult concept to articulate on the fly. I should have asked him to define it.

"Depict or treat in a mannered and nonrealistic style." Yes! Thank you, the internet. Guess what, there really isn't any other way to use that word, so shut up, Princeton professor guy in like 1999.

That experience was a little bit like I imagine the Salem witch trials must have been. For the witch.

So anyway, a nice fluffy presentation about this spring should be cake, except that the material is so fraught. I imagine the committee defense thing should be all right too, unless anyone decides to be a Princeton style dick, in which case I will use my laser eyes to incinerate them right then and there.

My biggest concern is making sure my potatoes will be watered while I'm away.

I did so much today that I'm sitting in my comfy chair going ow every time I move, or even when I don't move. I made roasted veg, cleaned out the fridge, washed all the dishes, worked on the gas mower, failed to make that sucker work, did the aforementioned mowing and hoeing, took the compost out, took the cat litter out, put away two baskets of laundry, folded up and put away all the sweaters, changed the sheets on my bed and the guest (cat) bed, folded up all the blankets, made every conceivable phone call, wrote for hours and hours (though not fiction), moved a bunch of books upstairs, AND SO ON. Like after I had a bath to soak out the ouches I went on and made a huge batch of refried black beans, and then washed all of those dishes, too. And cleaned up the kitchen utterly. I ran around putting things away a lot, too, and assembled a bunch of stuff to take to writer camp, like sheets and inflatable bed and inflater and mug and lanyard.

It really does sound like camp when I list those things.

I guess it could be fun? I have major social anxiety dread about the whole thing right now, from the plane to being there to graduation and friends coming to saying goodbye to everyone.

Also I have a powerful conviction that a dreaded event will happen exactly during my presentation, but we shall see. Hopefully not. I'll turn off my phone in any case, so I won't know until after.

What am I gonna do tomorrow?

I started reading Strange the Dreamer but it made me miss Karou something fierce. Like the writing is awesome and all, but where is my friend? Where is she? Though I am a big fan of Laszlo and looking forward to seeing how his story plays out. I'm on the fence about the blue people, though you'd think I'd be all on board, but where I am so far, they seem like lazy whiners, so we'll see.

Tomorrow I expect I will have to loll about going "oof" and "ow" because of overdoing it today. I will write books! That is a sitting still activity. I have to warn you, though. I'm also probably going to plant some potatoes, which means both digging and raking, so. We'll see.



Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Balmy

It's all balmy out! For Maine levels of balmy. That means it's like 72 and not actively trying to drown us. Hurray!

I have to get the dang mower fixed. It's possible I broke it by strapping it down on the trailer across a delicate spring, which I couldn't see because the whole thing was covered by a tarp. Anyway all the gas falls out through the air filter when I start it up. And then it stops. Something is amiss!

I won't be able to get it fixed until the end of the month-ish which means I've been mowing with the old-fashioned push mower, the kind with no engine. It works, more or less. I mean the lawn is walkable again, but sort of patchy. That thing requires shorter grass to work optimally. When the grass is too long it just pushes it over.

We'll fix it. But it's going to take some time.

Today I was puzzling and puzzling over the green stripe on the dog's paw until I remembered that we were over at my brother's on Sunday and my nephew was simultaneously playing with markers and melting down. So I have my suspicions about what may have happened there. He probably used erasable marker thinking it would wipe off. Dogs are not erasable, though!

My brother denies the possibility but the circumstantial evidence is very strong. I do own markers, but haven't had them out in years. Except the odd Sharpie to label a fez or whatnot. But those don't sit around with their lids off and if they had, they'd be well dried out by now. Anyway. GUILTY! Nephew is GUILTY! Of a totally minor and harmless thing, of course.

Today I found out I didn't get the job from last week's interview. It was sort of a long shot. It's okay. I had qualms, but just because it was going to start part time and ramp up to full time by December. What happens between now and then, see?

My other job, New Online Job, is still in the unpaid training stages, but OH OH OH, I love this place. It's better in every way than elsewhere. Philosophy, training, everything. I'm such a fan. I hope it starts up fast and becomes super awesome and turns into a lifelong partnership and adventure.

Meanwhile, I'm under orders (mine) to write more short stories and rewrite/finish book(s). Today short stories started bubbling up in my head again, which is very nice because there was no real bubbling for a while there. But I turned in my thesis yesterday (yaaaaayyyyy!!!) and so I am feeling giddy with possibilities.

And much less giddy in general. Did I mention giving up ibuprofen? Did I spell it right? Well, holy wow, I'm totally off it and feeling better than I did when I was on it, in terms of pain and general wellness and stuff. And my eyes have returned to normal. I can't even tell you what a relief that is. For one thing, I can read. For another thing, I'm not terrified that I'm going blind or something.

Don't take NSAIDs as a regular thing, even if your doctor prescribes them, like mine did! Of course this doctor (not a doctor) was an idiot. I'm not even kidding. She's very very bad at her job.

The first thing that happened is that all the extra drug-induced fluid in my body jumped ship. That was an interesting night with very little sleep. The second thing was that everything hurt like hell. The third thing was that I had to push through and exercise (mowing the grass with the analog mower) anyway. And the fourth thing was that I had less pain after all that than I did before all that and my eyes came back. Madness! Except I knew this, intellectually--pain meds are only useful in the short term. But sometimes we can be dense, eh?

Yum, stroopwafels. Stroopwafels in the breadbox! I had totally forgotten about them and then yesterday remembered out of nowhere. I wish I could have been recording that moment on video.

Oh! And I cut bangs again. Because my hair looked terrible without them. It's growing in gray around the edges up top but the gray is also sort of curly. When it was pulled back, gray was all you saw. And it just was not flattering one bit. So I watched videos and learned about how professionals cut bangs, because I'm me and I never do anything without preparation, and then I think Saturday I did the deed. And I look so much better!!! I even took selfies that came out awesome. Woohoo!

Experiment over, thank goodness. I hated looking in the mirror and trying to take a selfie for work purposes was a nightmare because they all suuuuuuucked. Now I look like myself again. There I am!

I guess it's been kind of a dramatic week, huh?

This morning on the radio the BBC announcer said, "And now more on American President [you know who,]" except when you say "more on" it sounds like, um, "moron," which made me laugh out loud in the car.

Then I went to the book sale at the library in the next town and got all these great books. 501 German Verbs! 501 Spanish Verbs! 501 French Verbs! Teach Yourself Chinese! A bunch of Bloom County books I didn't have! And various other things. Good stuff!

There was a funny moment because there was a book from one of the authors in my MFA program there, so I got all excited, and then remembered: oh yeah, I had two, so I donated that one to the book sale. Not actually even a coincidence!

This is the nicest library in the whole world, honestly. It's a private mansion someone donated to the town, on a lot of wooded land, up on a cliff over the river. I should ask them if it's okay to walk the dog around there on the paths on the property. There are benches and all, so people are okay, but you never know about dogs.

Especially the kind with one green stripe down one back paw.

I made coffee for my meeting this morning as kind of a high-octane option, but forgot that the coffee is decaf, whoops! Why don't I label these things? Sleepy. Also I was up late finishing Mockingjay. That book is a mess. It has no storyline. It's a jumbled series of events, loosely connected. The structure clearly comes from the previous books, as it's the same, but that structure doesn't work with the story of this book.

Also I know I've said this before, but the way the author chokes in the clinch of the second and third books really bothers me. Write yourself into a corner, good, yes, but then find a way out, a way in which the heroine has agency, without knocking your heroine unconscious and having her removed elsewhere to be cared for by a team of professionals.

And don't even get me started on the epilogue.

Overall Mockingjay is exceedingly disappointing just as a coherent novel. I guess it's probably good if you're just desperate for more of those characters. The choose a boy thing got old super fast for me, though. It made sense in the first two books but felt shallow and fake in the third. And nobody else had any depth either. Yes, a problematic book all kinds of ways. Needed another round with the editor and some more rewriting to determine the actual throughline.

Easy for me to say, haha. But I've been rewriting a lot lately and it's how I see everything. You know what is tightly written? Community. At least most episodes. There are a few that sort of come loose and unravel a bit, but mostly they're super tight.

By which I mean: all the pieces have to belong where they are. All the pieces have to be necessary for the story. Nothing extra to mislead or distract. The beginning leads logically and inevitably to the end based on the overarching premise.

I just got more ideas for how to fix Book so I have to go do that right now.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Maps!

I finally unfurled a roll of giant nautical charts that Penn State was giving/throwing away back in like 1996. Oh boy! I think I might have had some of them hung up ages ago, but not for a really long time, if ever.

If you can't remember whether or when you might have hung up your maps, then maybe you never hung up your maps.

They are AWESOME charts. Oh boy! I vaguely remember picking them out by coastline. As in, the deep parts of the water are white, and the land is white, but the shallow parts by the coastline are blue. Coastlines are lovely and crinkly and full of edges. And so now I have charts of the coastlines of Sudan, Korea, and many other wonderful places. Ah!

Also Mt. Desert Island! Oh boy!

I have a whole blue box of maps and sewing patterns, but where is it? I think maybe in the closet of the sewing room, but who knows? Anyway once I find that, I'll put up a lot more maps. More maps!

I will not put sewing patterns up on the walls with thumbtacks, though. Why does that seem so Silence of the Lambs?

Boy howdy...I'm a little addled by stress these days. I just got SO CONFUSED about why my weekly pill box had the days backwards. Like Sunday was on the right! And then Monday came before that! Yes. It has a row of AM and a row of PM days written opposite each other, as in, upside down to each other. Everyone already knows that I had it with the PM side facing me. Boy was that confusing, though.

Why so stressed? Halfway through a massive online training thing! It's awesome. Waiting for a big deadline thing to come up Friday. Another big important thing Friday. Monday I go get the pillage refillage. And Monday I turn in all of the last and final assignments for my MFA. Wooooooooo!!! From now until Monday I'm going to keep on revising and reworking and la la la! Make it good! Make it the best it can be!

No pressure or anything but I have to get it printed up and BOUND into HARDCOVER and all that. Dude! Actually I have to hustle on that.

And I have to buy a plane ticket for Oregon, except I'm waiting on this money to come in and I don't know if it'll be here before my rent is due, so I don't want to spend the money on the plane ticket just in case, see. So I'm on tenterhooks and the upshot will probably be that it will arrive in time anyway and I will have to pay way too much for a plane ticket I could have bought for much less.

Ooh, I'm also toying with the idea (terrible idea) of driving out instead of flying. See, it's a terrible idea. I told you it was terrible. But also awesome, because: road trip! Mattress in the back! Snuggle with the dog! Board the dog out there! But that is exceedingly unlikely to the point where there's no real reason to think about it except it's fun and I love a road trip.

 Also toying with flying out of Portland or Boston. But as I wrangle the math, it's not sensible. It doesn't save any money. It costs more by the time I get down there and pay for parking. Here my brother fetches my car so I don't pay for parking for all that time.

Anyway that's what's happening around here.

I'm having a TERRIBLE time with my eyes, and to a lesser extent my sense of balance and my legs. I haven't quite fallen yet but there were many close calls last week with a little stepstool. I have no idea which way is up. Most of the time that's okay because I'm sitting at my computer, doing my online training thing.

But oh, my eyes are killing me. I haven't been able to read for a week, which is torture. You know I usually read a book every day. I just have to buckle under and download some audiobooks from the library or something.

I'm not doing anything different, obviously. I went from working on my laptop all day to working on my laptop all day. Hello. It's just that usual neurological firestorm I get a couple of times a year. It'll pass. Meanwhile I'll use handrails and walk carefully and generally be a careful person. Audiobooks! Yes. And I have a cane in case I need it. I've used it plenty in the past.

Stress can set that off, I know. Last week was about the most stressful time in forever, it's true. This week I've kind of just settled into it and decided that I'm going to make things okay no matter what, which is a useful skill to acquire belatedly. But last week was my birthday, and I had literally six dollars in the bank, and all these huge bills coming up with no way to pay them, and this and that and the other thing, plus starting that new training and another whole thing and blah blah blah. It was a rough week! And then my body quit working, which made it even more stressful in a lot of ways.

My eyes are by far the worst of it, though. I should go get an eye exam, huh? I will do that as soon as I can.

Once I get the MFA work done, I suspect my stress levels will plummet exceedingly. Oh BOY do I want that to be good. Then I can worry about the talk I have to give, which, no big deal, really, and the books I'm writing. Books are good! I like books. I like having binders with full drafts in them so I can grapple with the manuscripts pen in hand.

This is always the story of my life. Things get hectic and stressful and insanely difficult, and I'm all baffled by why I'm so stressed out. Oh, you left one job and started two new jobs in one week when you were broke and couldn't afford to pay any of the bills, in the thesis-writing portion of the last two weeks of a two year long degree program? Why should that be stressful? Sheesh. I also chipped a tooth. Wonderful! It's one of my front teeth.

So I'm being very kind and gentle with myself and making myself meatballs and palak paneer and reminding myself to drink lots of water, because when I get stressed out I totally forget. And now I'm going to go get in the bath and maybe read some middle grade books or something because they have nice big print. No, wait, I will not be able to read. I can't see long enough. Like I could maybe read for five minutes before my eyes quit. I'll probably put Leverage on the iPad and listen to that instead. I'm super cold right now so a hot bath sounds wonderful!

Wait, let's look into the library's audiobooks right now! It's a good plan. I adore audiobooks. They make me very patient, I do not know how.

Oh! I just read that taking lots of ibuprofin every single day (three times a day in fact) hugely increases risk of heart attack. So I skipped one dose. We'll see how well that goes. I'm not sure what will happen to my busted up hands and knees if I quit entirely. It's for osteoarthritis. We shall see!

The funny thing is: what's easiest to do is write. I don't have to see to write! I could write with my eyes closed, gosh. The only issue would be if I had to edit or rewrite or otherwise have to see what's on the screen. I've been managing so far with the training but hoo boy am I not in great shape with this, you guys!

Anyway I should know a lot more this Friday about what's going on and when and all that kind of thing. We shall see! It will all be all right. Yes, it will. And I will write many awesome books and stories! And it will be awesome.