Saturday, January 30, 2016

Pride and Prejudice

I don't know why but in my reading commentaries so far this semester, Pride and Prejudice keeps on coming up. Okay, I know why. The first book I read was The Virgin Suicides, which is an anti-version of P&P for sure, whether intentional or not, but I kind of have to think it's intentional. Then I read an essay, so never mind that one. And then I Capture the Castle, which refers to P&P directly and then is totally about that whole marrying for money or love kind of thing.

The result is that I keep on blathering on about P&P when I haven't even read it in ages. I should read it! But not by tomorrow, when all this is due.

I made ENORMOUS progress on the whole outline/backstory thing this week, such that I actually feel pretty good about it. At least, I do right now. Once I look at it again, I won't. But the progress will still be there, thank goodness. I thought it out, I wrote it out, so even if it immediately falls out of my head (quite likely) it will still be there for reference.

Yes, I wrote this draft one million years ago--when did I even write this originally? I have no idea. But it was never finished. It was one of those things I thought was an awesome story, and it's full of awesome parts, but as a whole it was a complete disaster. It never hung together or made sense and it was full of parts that repeated, parts that contradicted other parts, and of course that utter lack of an ending. I had added in more and more over the years despite my complete inability to keep any story straight, which didn't help. NOW I KNOW WHAT HAPPENS.

No wonder I was so scared of the outline, is all I can say now. How do you outline a story that a) you can't grasp, b) you can't remember, c) is full of contradiction and repetition, and d) isn't finished. Oh and e) is based entirely on this epic family history that I never actually thought out, such that there are, for example, "grandparents" who are not the grandparents of the main character and wouldn't be even if her whole life wasn't a lie. Which it is.


I'm tremendously relieved to have that all figured out. I feel an actual book coming on, you guys! I have to delete a whole ton of stuff, but that's okay because it was dead endy and kind of sucked. But all the good stuff gets to stay. And I ADORE the good stuff.

I feel that glorious feeling, wherein this could become a book. An actual book where you go to the store and you're like, "I want to buy this book," and then you hand over your hard earned dollarses and you get in return a book. It will be a book worthy of your dollarses! Because reading it, you will go, "I want the thing to happen! But how can it possibly happen, because of all these other things?" And then through complicated routes, the thing happens, and you go YAY!

See? Like in books! I know!

School is super good and I'm learning a tremendous amount, but what never ceases to amaze me despite teaching for 20+ years is that we learn things we didn't know we needed to learn, because of course we didn't know those things, so how could we know we needed them yet? See what I'm saying?

I might have practically wigged out when V.L. told me to write the outline for this giant sprawling mess of a draft--in two weeks, no less--but it was such a perfect thing to do. And now I know my favorite ancestor character really well, her anger, her reasons for running off to hobnob with expatriates and pashas and Karen Blixen, and all of the glory thereunto appertaining. And I really get the main character a lot better, too. I'm a lot older than her now than I was when I first started the thing.

Must look up when that was. I have drafts going back to '09, but I feel like it was longer ago than that. Wasn't it? Surely?

ANYWAY. Imagine how much trouble I have keeping incompletely imagined fictional characters' sprawling family sagas clear when I don't even know that, eh? In fact, I can't really remember where I was living when I wrote it, which is usually a good way to figure out when things were. Like I know I wrote the witch girl novel when I lived in Orrington. I know I wrote most of Tethys during lunch breaks while temping in Glendale. I know I wrote My Fiance From Hell in my kitchen office in L.A. that January when I was laid off. Actually I wrote that in 24 hours, didn't I? Quite dramatic speed! I wrote the twin sister thing in Salem the fall before last during NaNoWriMo. Need to finish's quite good.

And my first time fully articulating Perfect Monster will always be memorably located in The Smokehouse! I could tell you which table. I had fruit and cheese!

That probably means I'm blocking it out and should let it go, ha ha! Actually, that's probably true. Hmm.

Well, anyway, I've learned some massive things from this process and now I'm going to lay them out for your edification:

1. Keep working on the thing. You just aren't done yet!

2. If you can't outline the story, you don't know the story yet, so outline the flipping story, jeez. Even if it's going to change in the writing.

3. If you have to write an entry for the Dictionary of Literary Biography to figure a character out, then for goodness sake, do that. Do whatever. Do it!

4. Deadlines are your friend. Even when they scare you to death. They are your scary, scary friend.

5. Finishing things: NOT OPTIONAL. You have to finish things. If you're not finishing them, figure out why the heck not, articulate whatever is holding you back, and demolish that thing.

6. Use the Stefaniak method to rewrite your giant sprawling mess of a draft. That means: break it down into scenes, and save each scene as a separate file with a descriptive file name. Then once that's totally done (it takes forever and it sucks, but it's so utterly worth the work) figure out what has to come first, then what comes next, and so on, IN ORDER. This forces you to take it apart and really see if the pieces fit together. Which, P.S., they don't, or you would know it.

I don't know what comes after that because I'm still elbow deep in the guts of this thing. But I have an outline to follow, at least, so I can put everything together like an Ikea bookcase. I have to write about a full third of the book still, I figure? Based on the outline. And throw away whole reams of pointless blergh.

I'm giving myself a deadline of the end of August to have a completely constructed version of it ready to send out. I hope that's not overly generous. I mean, if it turns out to be overly generous, it'll be for some horrible reason like I get laid off (which heaven forfend, because I love my job) and have a ton more time.

And so, dear readers, I'm in love with my MFA program even though half the time I'm running around screaming and clutching my face at the impossibility of doing the things I need to do. Which right now should be finishing my reading commentary of I Capture the Castle. It's nearly done! I stopped to eat, and then somehow it was 8:00, and now it's 8:30. But I'm actually OFF today and tomorrow and Monday.

Yes. I've been ON ever since I got back from Oregon. Utter madness. Being sick and flying around and all that stuff made me exhausted and inefficient, but my work still had to get done, so I ended up working every day that first week and up until yesterday. Today is OFF though. I got everything done by means of working super hard. I'm pretty worn out, though. And I got to engage in delicious sloth today, including brushing the animals, randomly snuggling them at arbitrary intervals, and sitting around watching Vlogbrothers videos on my phone and eating caramels left over from Halloween.

I don't know why, but that last one seemed utterly decadent. Lying all Roman senator-esque on the daybed with the dog curled against the backs of my legs, drinking tea, unwrapping caramels and dropping the wrappers into the empty teacup, watching as many Vlogbrothers videos as I wanted! Nobody could stop me! I could do whatever I wanted!

That's a sign of being ON for far too long. Two weeks at school then another two weeks, almost. Well. I consider being ON things that you might not, such as going to the grocery store, flying on planes, and generally any time I have to be around other humans. It wasn't all work, but it was all ON.

I very nearly went out to the closest used book store to procure items on my reading list, but then realized that was the last thing I wanted to do today. I wanted to stay home and be slothful. So let it be written, so let it be done.

I'll just finish up that reading commentary now, and write the cover letter that I always forget about until the last second, except not this time! And tomorrow I'll be clearer-eyed and can go over that outline and edit out any flippancy and/or abbreviations that don't make sense to anyone but me. And generally fix it up all neat and make it sound good. Stuff like that.

After tomorrow, you know what I get to do? Work on the actual writing! I know! Awesome! I get to enact all the plans I've been making. Whoop!

I ate far too much jasmine rice tonight and started riffing on casting myself some uncles, so it's possible I've actually spent too much time alone lately. Is that a thing? I know it's a thing when people start looking weirdly like tall bald monkeys because I've spent all my time among the decently furry and four-footed and horizontally oriented beings like the dog and cat. I realize that I too am a tall bald monkey, but I don't see myself, do I? Like I look in the mirror! I only do that to part my hair crookedly. Well, my nose is off center, or something, I don't know. I always do it the same, centering it on my nose, and it's always exactly the same amount off center to the right. The dog and cat don't have this problem, do they? I know! My nose is actually not that straight, come to think of it, after being broken three times. Okay, I found the problem. See, this is exactly how outlining works!

Look, it's a picture of me and Gawain dog! Dodie Smith who wrote I Capture the Castle also wrote 101 Dalmatians, did you know that? It's true. Both excellent books. The part I remember best from 101 Dalmatians is when the puppies, all covered with soot for disguise, sleep over in a warm church, and the vicar is mystified in the morning by the one sooty circle in the center of each of the kneeler cushions. Perfect!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Hulk nap!

I picked the exact right day to refill the anti-smash medication, or rather to pick it up, since they refilled it like a week ago but I haven't been out since. I had it in my hand and was just waiting to ask the pharmacist some questions when I got the supremely annoying text.

Questions to pharmacist: "So I went off this medication and I know it's for nightmares but after a couple of days the nightmares really stopped, but then I just got so short-tempered, I was in a rage all the time and wanted to strangle everyone." Illustrated by making strangle hands around an imaginary neck. "So anyway I wanted to know if this medication keeps you from wanting to strangle people, or is it just for the nightmares?"

Pharmacist: "Ha ha! Yes, well, I would not recommend going off this medication suddenly that way. Ha ha!"

And then she explained that it's not addictive or habit forming and yes, makes you not strangle everyone, so please do go ahead and keep on taking your anti-Hulk pills, thanks!

And so I did. And then I got the most enormous splitting blistering headache such that I had to lie around snuggling my dog and whimpering and groaning. Dramatic! Although that was probably just as much from the terrible stupid news, which is to say: the landlady is selling my house.

That does not mean I'm going to be put out or anything, honestly. It just means I have to deal with realtors and keeping the place super neat and having potential buyers come through. See, that all sucks a lot. I suppose there's a long shot that someone might buy it, but probably not, and probably not soon if they did. Like, summer. BUT STILL. I would never rent a place that was for sale because of the utter annoyingness of it all. And, of course, the possibility that someone will buy it and I'll be out.

Incidentally I've been doing both hardcore house hunting and hardcore math. Just last night I decided I wasn't going to try to find a place this soon because I don't want to have to pay double rent, so I ordered a treadmill. That is the heaviest, nastiest thing to have to move! Today I cancelled the order, but I'm not sure it cancelled. I mean, it might have been too late--even the place it's coming from wasn't sure if it was already too late or not.

I also seem to be having massive chicken pox, or an allergic reaction to who knows what that looks exactly like it. It's not chicken pox. It's just a lot of hives all over my face and hair and neck. Who even knows what that's about.

So to fix all those things, I took two ibuprofin, one benadryl, and one cup of tea, in case it was a caffeine headache caused by not having my second (or third) cups of tea today.

I still look like someone grated my face. What on earth is causing this?

And I watched Avengers. yay! I'm still trying to watch it, actually, but with fifteen minutes to go, my ipad has decided to play only 1-2 seconds at a time and then stop. CUT THAT OUT! But apparently the anti-smash pill is doing its trick because all that rage has cooled right down.

I'm not making any sudden plans. But I might go see some places in a week or so. And I'm definitely going to start packing as soon as my work and school work are nailed down. It just so happens I'm the busiest I could possibly be right exactly now, so it was a bad time to lose much of a day to a complete Hulk tizzy.

I'm wearing my purple jeans tomorrow, though, I can tell you that much. And a green shirt. Just try to stop me.

Friday, January 22, 2016


I seem to be off all kinds of the sauce! I ran out of my PTSD drugs that prevent nightmares, which had the effect you would expect, but it's okay, because Eliot Spencer has been fully present in my dreams, rescuing me. Eliot! I love that.

Not all of them, not at first, but later on he showed up, and then last night when I kept drowning and suffocating, he kept saving me. He was always right there and always knew what to do. I wish the real world had people my subconscious believed in as strongly as it believes in the wonderful Eliot Spencer. Goodness!

It's like, no matter what happens, no matter how bad things get, he's there and knows what to do. That's just fascinating to me psychologically, because it's in dreams.

Anyway I keep having drowning/strangulation/suffocation nightmares because I'm still not breathing from the stupid bronchitis. It's worst at night, as soon as I lie down. I even drank Theraflu last night! Usually that knocks me out like a club to the head, but last night it didn't and I kept wheezing and coughing and getting agitated and freaking out and ended up getting up to take a benadryl and a xanax. Which...don't do that. Because I didn't wake up until one in the afternoon.

I should have that withdrawal or bounceback or whatever out of my system soonish. I hope. Because I dread the bed.

Flannel sheets with moose and polar bears and I think wolves on them. Cuddly warm dog snuggled against me. Moonlight on the snow outside the window. Honestly, it's amazing anyone can stay awake in those conditions. Come on, brain!

Remember when I was too terrified to go to school last summer and watched the entire run of Leverage three times in a row and then they all showed up in my dreams? And at first they would solve the terrible problems that would happen, and then they'd just help me, and then I'd be able to solve the problems myself while they cheered me on. And then at the end, Eliot would just be there watching and nodding and smiling, beer in hand, like he totally knew I could do it all along.

I guess I lost some ground, but I'll get it back. I'll get it back! I did watch all of Leverage at least one and a half times in December, though. I've been watching Community lately but they're super messed up, obviously! Not that the Leverage people aren't, but Leverage always manages to solve impossible situations and Community just takes everything to ridiculous extremes in wonderful ways.

Nightmares! All the greatest hits! There's one where I'm running through some massive gray metal shelving Buffy prop storage facility, being chased by werewolves and vampires. They catch me and rip me to pieces. Lots of blood. There's one where I'm trying and failing to do research in some mile high library of stacks like ladders where you have to clamber up and around the piles of teetering books and there are suits of armor and leather peasant smocks and actual medieval people all grubby and scornful and hard at work with hoes, and I can never find that one volume from 1172 that I need. Always 1172. Why on earth that year? Infuriating. Generally I fall and die in that one. And there are lots of others.

Today I took the sudafed and was able to take the dog for a walk and do some stuff. Yay! But now it's worn off and my chest is rattling and whirring again. It's non-drowsy but there does not seem to be such a thing as drowsy sudafed. I looked yesterday. Thoroughly. The closest I could come was Theraflu, so I'll take that again tonight.

Guess what: difficulty breathing is TERRIFYING. I am TERRIFIED all the time that I will choke on the rubber cement produced in great quantities in my lungs and breathing apparatus in general and totally die and stuff! NOT OKAY.

Look up the Vlogbrothers video about sock puppet theater humiliating moments if you have a chance. It's awesome. I came across it by chance while eating my pepper jack and avocado quesadilla for supper. Glory!

I use John and Hank for grounding when I'm feeling all flippy outy and at loose ends.

Then I up and wrote a short story. The whole thing. What a weird thing to do! I keep asking people how to write short stories and what on earth they're for and all that kind of unanswerable question. Show me how to like short stories, I say! What are they for! Grrrrr! Is there a purpose other than making the reader feel like crap?

Anyway I wrote one so that's cool.

I read The Virgin Suicides which is like a voyeuristic death cult Prairie Home Companion except awesome. I keep trying to read it again because my borrowed electronic copy is going to expire in like two days but there's a lot else to do.

For example, logging into my desk phone ten million times a day because it keeps logging me out, but I think I solved that problem finally, and without recourse to a brick! Amazing! I was feeling the rage with that, let me tell you.

Now I have new readings from awesome mentor person to work on so that I can keep going on this outline that is trying to throttle me from the brain outward. I gave my brother a plush facehugger one year and a plush chestburster alien another year. Well, Sunday night when I stayed over there, the chestburster was on the bookcase right by the sofabed where I slept. Ack! I keep thinking this book is like that. All coiled up inside me and going to burst out of my chest at some point, leaving me bleeding into the blue milk. But that could be the withdrawal talking, eh?

This winter has been the time of going off all the medications. It's good, really! I do feel infinitely more like myself now. And infinitely more able to get things done, which I suppose is like saying more like myself, because I am a Doer Of Things. Get excited and make stuff! That might as well be my motto since forever. 

Since I got home Monday, I took apart both day beds and switched them so that the new one is in the living room and the old one is in pieces, ready for the move. That also meant moving and re-storing all the stuff stored in the drawers. I moved the big old semi-broken armchair that belongs to the house into the guest room, where no guests can stay now because there's no day bed. Sorry, guests! I moved all of the boxes of books back against the wall next to the fireplace, because that's an outside wall and it was utterly freezing without them there. Books = insulation! And put all the movies and tv on dvd on top of those.

I think I did about sixteen hundred other things, too, but I can't remember what just now. All of it was accompanied by coughing to beat the band and gagging and choking and trying to use my inhaler but not being able to hold my breath long enough. Sometimes I have to use it four times before I can really use it, if you see what I mean. I should get started now so that I'm wheezing less by bedtime.

Also I got set up with an appointment for a new doctor person, but not until like two weeks from now, by which time either the bronchitis or I will have conceded defeat. And I'm going to win, I tell you what! Stupid bronchitis. You suck. Eliot Spencer will take you down! Pow!

So that's the story here. I'm working on this giant outline that's trying to kill me. I'm reading amazing things and writing up my commentaries. I'm working plenty. I'm coughing so hard I pass out, like ALL THE TIME. Sit down to cough! (I do.) I just did it now, in fact, coughed until I passed out. Blackness closes in, then I come back. It's a blood pressure thing, apparently, not even uncommon.

I blew a blood vessel in my eye from coughing during the residency. That's a good look, let me tell you. Pow!

Honestly, I'm getting better. Truly.

In the short story, some people kill this guy I knew who went to high school with the guy who plays that character I keep talking about. I just remembered that I killed him off in a movie I made once, too. Corn syrup and Ivory dish soap plus red food coloring made a big puddle of blood on the parking lot. I wonder where that footage is? (In one of the boxes I just moved against the outside wall, actually.) How come this guy keeps getting offed in my fiction? How come he grew up with that actor who plays the character who keeps saving my life in my dreams? They have the exact same accent. I mean, obviously. They grew up in the same town. It catches my ear as much as Argentine Spanish does.

Must go look up 1172 and see what the deal is with that year. Happy weekend!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Wheezy McSneezy

So coughy and wheezy and rattly and also completely ludicrously delirious that I went to the ER this morning. My goodness gracious me. I didn't really realize how bad it was, because of how bad it was, if that makes sense. I kept not understanding what anyone would say, for one thing. "Do this," a medical personage would say, and I'd be all confused about which what where when how.

Anyway now I'm on lots of steroid and therefore exceedingly hot and energetic, which is good news for my writing work, but also means I have to have the window open. SO HOT.

I just got chilled and went to close the sliding glass door and could not figure out how it worked. Where did it go??? All there was was this screen! How did the door disappear? Yes, you have to open the screen door in order to get to the glass door and then slide that closed.

Why I had the screen door closed in January anywhere north of Kansas is beyond me. Bats, maybe? I have rescued any number of bats in my time and don't wish to do so again. Especially not hopped up on goofballs as I am right now.

I may have found a house to rent. It's too early to start looking, or renting one, or paying two rents, but then again I'm not sure whether it might not be worth it, or something? I don't know. I couldn't figure out a DOOR so definitely do not need to be making financial decisions. Regardless, my brother will go have a look at it once the massive nor'easter calms down. Whenever that is. It's lovely not to have to worry about it.

Yes, so to recap I'm super sick. I have that bronchial pneumonia that nobody else ever seems to get, where fluid collects right at my bronchial tubes such that when I inhale, I cough violently to get it out, and then I can't breathe because I can't inhale. That happened last night. It's such a powerful physical expulsion cough that it's impossible to stop coughing to inhale, and it goes in waves, like coughcoughcoughcoughcough with no break. Also I cough so hard that I throw up and/or pee my pants, which is delightful. I did laundry today, and also bought some of those incontinence pad thingies. WHAT A THRILL.

I've been sick basically the whole week (I've been here a week, right?) but got much, much worse over the last two days. Trouble with reading comprehension type of sick. Yay. Failure of good sense sick. Like I went for a super long walk on the beach in a driving rainstorm and then sat around the drafty lobby for an hour waiting for someone to show up to go get hot toddies with.

I'm missing all sorts of things today. It's the worst since of course there's no way to make that stuff up. Guh! Blah! Fortunately some absolutely lovely people helped me out. They drove me to the ER and back, and to the Safeway to get my prescription filled and for Coke and spicy soup and other essentials. And then another lovely friend went out and got dinner and brought it back and we talked all evening. She's probably having a Silkwood shower right now. I would be, in her shoes.

I partly like the house I found because a) it's awesome, b) it's on a dead end road, c) it's in nowheresville, my favorite!, d) it's not far from the University, but far enough that I wouldn't have to deal with it. See? I have to find out whether it has DSL capability, though. Non-negotiable. I didn't see a dish in the pictures, which is a good sign. It's also right on the big river. See? All kinds of good.

I can't really see paying two rents for six months, though. Right? I mean that would be completely insane.

Taking a massive amount of steroids makes me completely bananacakes so please don't let me rent a house or anything, okay? I sort of vaguely remember that it keeps me awake all night the first couple of nights, too. Humph. I'm sure that stress eating these pink, silver, and red Hershey kisses won't make that any worse, either. Noooooooo.

Massive doses of steroids give me insight into why people take drugs, actually. I still have not the slightest interest, though. Eh.

I had a chest x-ray (of course) and was like, "What is that weird gray thing above my heart?" (it was my aorta) and "What is that huge black thing?" (it was my liver) and basically kind of freaked out the poor radiation tech. Like there was a big plaque on the wall with her picture and so when we walked past it, I said, "Hey, that's you! You're famous!" Oh ho ho!

I'm always relieved to see x-rays since clearly if something big and nasty was growing in there where it shouldn't, someone would say, "Hey, something is amiss here, let us catch and eradicate it Before It's Too Late." And then the day would be saved!

I'm also always relieved not to have some big mass of pleural consolidation. No, it's the doorways into the lungs that get into so much trouble.

This is the most awake I have felt in WEEKS. Since going off my meds, come to think of it, ha ha. Oh. Right!

So many excellent stories keep inventing themselves in my head. For instance yesterday we had a happy hour that happened to coincide with the happy hour of a police convention, so we were all in this sort of cafe area together. And I couldn't help thinking about what fun would ensue if anything were to happen, like...anything! A roomful of cops and writers together, how would that even work? They were all rectangular and clean cut and built along similar lines, and we were all fat and skinny and tall and short and bewildered and intense and anxious and laughing our fool heads off.

In other news, I MISS MY ANIMALS SO BAD!!!!!


Also reliable internet. This system is crap. Most of the evening you can't even use it at all. Also herbal tea, which I inexplicably forgot to get today.

I really like housekeeping coming around every day, though. And I love not having stuff. Seriously, I'm going to pack everything and label it properly and forget about it. It's a plan. I probably shouldn't have even tried to unpack in that place. It's just not built for stuff. Nowhere to put anything, no cupboards or shelves or anything.

I love not having stuff, but I also love getting stuff, and I hate letting things go. So that's a tricky thing, eh?

Anyway, it's almost a decent hour for sleep, so I'm gonna give it a try. Sugar really helps the convulsive coughing, but probably anything other than chocolate would have been a better choice. La! Alack!

Guess what, if you tell someone you haven't been on a date in seventeen years, they know right away that something is wrong with you! I should open with that from now on!

I can't stop listening to that Ingrid Michaelson song called Girls Chase Boys. It's the octave jump. Catchy!

I met someone--when? where?--who had a watch that had notes in 5ths instead of numbers. Like 12 was C and one was G and so on. He showed it to me and said, "Can you figure out what it is?" and I looked at it and started playing fifths on the invisible piano of the table before I could articulate what I meant.

Yesterday I was eating dinner with these people and some guy started telling us this ridiculously horrible bullying stuff that he says to his wife, but from his perspective he was totally right and standing up for what he believed in and stuff, only hello, room full of feminists, so it was insanely awkward because how do you call someone out on that gracefully, know what I mean? He was so proud of his beliefs and so firm in his feelings about how life should be. I wonder if he even know how gross and abusive it was, or if he even knew how we were all reacting? I just about ran out of there. It's so interesting to be having a great conversation and then, wow, you really think it's okay to treat people like that? Seriously? To make people do things against their will like that? What the hell, dude?

Also, gosh, if I were in a room full of writers (and I sure always am these days!) I'd maybe watch it with the polemics. The absolute certainty that you will end up in someone else's work should play at least a little bit of a role in self-awareness.

I like the cops and writers happy hour the best for sheer potential hilarity, though. Yay!

Or suddenly there's a fire (or how about a terrorist attack) on the street, so they have to relocate their offices. Make them share a building, across the hallway from each other.

What if both their bars close, so they wind up having to hang out together in a third one? The writers have to move their AA meeting to the bar. The cops get self-conscious about how their butts appear hanging over their bar stools because someone draws a caricature of the row of them. The writers keep asking the cops questions about how real world stuff works for their writing projects, in this supposedly casual way, and driving them up the wall. Plus writers are super paranoid at the best of times so that would be fun. Toughness! Emotion! A million stories!

Remind me later since obviously the massive dose of steroids means I won't remember one single thing about this, even though I was roaming the hallways in my socks (and all of the other obvious garments--just not shoes) tonight, clutching my prescription and some loose herbal tea bags a friend gave me, and ended up talking to this cop by the elevator. I mean, these guys aren't in uniform, but they sure don't need them to advertise, either. Boy, how do cops ever go undercover? They might as well stand there and scream their job to the world. Then I had to justify using the elevator to go up one floor. "I have bronchial pneumonia! Otherwise I'd take the stairs!" It must be fun to have your very presence cause people to leap out and confess things and try to justify their behavior.

Don't steroids make me chatty? La la la la la!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

No stuff

I'm sick enough and coughing so hard and so often that I stayed home from the readings to give everyone else a break. Suffice it to say, nobody ever has to wonder where I'm sitting in the room. Cough, cough, ouch.

I have so little stuff with me and it's all the most awesome stuff that I've already decided several things that are set in stone.

1. When I get home, I'm packing for my move next summer.
2. I'm going to label all the fezzes and stage them in one of the other bedrooms.
3. I'm either altering to suit me or giving away any clothes that aren't working out, like all those great colored but TOO SHORT tops.
4. I'm going to keep on looking for good clothes that I like, because it is ridiculously awesome to wear nice things that look good every single flipping day.
5. Packing everything up should help enact No Stupid Distraction zone, another thing I want to enforce.

It's lovely beyond my ability to express it to have such limited stuff and options. It's a very very very good thing and I want to do it a lot more. Of course I know I can't give away 90% of my crap, but I absolutely can PACK 90% of my crap, and label the fezzes such that when I realize I do not actually NEED or WANT that 90% of my crap, I can easily give it away without that awful thing where you look at each shirt and have to decide yes or no.

See how that works? I like it.

I'm really hoping that this respiratory blech will go away soon, too. As of this afternoon I got myself the wheezy chest that whirs and a fever that does not seem to want to drop. In so many ways it's the best circumstances to be super sick, because there are lovely interns to take me to the doctor if I need to go and all that sort of thing. I'm all cradled in their academic arms. I love it.

I'm working on plans for extreme awesomeness for this semester and OH BOY do I ever want to make a raging success of it, the kind with a book contract and lots of nice zeroes and things like that. I dream of finishing things. Yesterday the most lovely friend asked how many finished novel drafts I have and I actually had to count for the first time ever. My dear self, you must get off (or rather on) your posterior and achieve FINISHEDNESS OF THINGS and no mistake. Which is why I'm here, exactly, but also: HUP HUP.

I still have not bothered to go see the ocean except the first night, when it was--you will be shocked to hear--too dark to see it. I feel like going out there and going, "Hey, we totally have something in common! I live by the other one!" Like making small talk connections. I will for sure go stick my hand in the ocean as soon as I remember to wear shoes that are not mary janes, which fill up with sand when you walk on the beach, see.

I actually get the tiny house people now, though I want lots and lots of space, just no more stuff. Unless it can be tidily placed on neat shelves and therefore never worried about again. Maybe it's just stuff that can't be shelved that must go.

The lights in the ballroom are made of blocks of dozens of what look like upended drinking glasses suspended from chains. All I can think of is what would happen in an earthquake, all those glasses swinging and cracking and smashing and showering shards down on everyone. That's what I think about when I'm not taking lots of notes or coughing or trying not to cough.

Inspiration! I'm absolutely soaked full of it. I love it.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Diurnal with stuff

I blame the stupid sinus infection that makes it impossible to sleep normally. I am awake most of the night and then sleep half the day. Stop! End now! I hate this! It's been two weeks, seriously. I was awake at five a.m. STILL awake at five a.m.

Yesterday I cooked all the smelliest foods in the world because that's what's left in the fridge. Oh boy oh boy. I baked leeks in butter. It's probably the most delicious thing in the whole world, but everything reeks of leeks. Leek reek! Eek! And I made eggs for breakfast because I'm running down the contents of the fridge. I hate eggs. I do. But I needed to use them up. The thing I hate most about eggs, besides everything: the smell.


Leeks smell wonderful but you don't want the sweater that you're going to be wearing practically every day for the next two weeks to reek of leeks. No! Two week leek reek!

I suppose it will wear off? I just washed my sweaters and had them hung over the baseboard heaters to dry, not thinking AT ALL about the pervasive leekage that was about to transpire.

At least I didn't eat any onion sandwiches. Oh, but I almost had herring in cream sauce for lunch today, which features lots of onions.

Anyway. I am clearly freaking out in the crazycakes bananapants realm of running around frantically doing things but somehow accomplishing very little, alternating with long hours of slumping on the couch.

It's my one day back at work between break and my other big thing, but my computer kicked me out so it can reboot. It was QUITE insistent about it, too.

Yes, I am not sleeping, which is counterproductive. I'm also being incredibly unproductive, which is directly counterproductive. Sheesh. I have to make big plans about how to block off certain rooms and corral the cat. I have to pack.

I got this gigantic blue suitcase and filled it utterly twice. After the first time, I made a list of what I want to take and took out everything not on the list. Then I added a ton more stuff. So I have to get in there again and take out half of everything. The thing about a giant suitcase is: it's going to be big even if it's empty. However, the other thing is: it's kind of difficult to lift right now. Heh heh. I only have to lift it about four times but still.

It really is big, too. My clothing list is awesome. I figured out all the outfits down to tights and whatnot. But life is not that simple! Half the time you end up with tights that have a big hole, or you spill on that one sweater that was supposed to cover four days, or that skirt turns out to crawl right up to your waist if you have leggings on. I don't even know. Why are clothes so difficult to predict and plan for? Why did I pack (wait, let me count...) eight sweaters for ten days? See. No, nine, I forgot about the red one.

I have to get in there and take about four sweaters out of that bag. No, ten! I put my giant handknitted (by me) one in the carryon. It filled it all the way up. Sheesh.

Must unpack again, I know.

I have this terror that they'll lose my suitcase completely. Having a brand new one full of new clothes seems to make that extra likely if you ask me. Not that it would get stolen, though I suppose that's a possibility, but just that IRONY or something would conspire to take it away from me. I will totally put old underpants right on top to help prevent this. Maybe the leek reek will help, too, come to think of it. The bandit with the black mask will go, "Oooh, thrift store sweaters and a whole lot of voluminous J. Jill seconds and returns! But it smells so delicious. I pass."

The Mardens (or is it Marden's?) near me turned out to have actual mountains of J. Jill seconds and returns IN MY SIZE for super cheap, which is just about as fabulous a find as there could possibly be in my shopping life. J. Jill is my favorite! Though they have this amazing way of making plain, soft, loose clothing look all designery and elegant. Then when I'm wearing it, I realize it also looks like sweatpants. J. Jill is the place that made me sew skirts, because they had all these utterly unshaped skirts, just two squares or two rectangles sewn together, for like eighty dollars. I snapped! Eight dollars of fabric later, an identical skirt.

Skirts are really flipping easy if you don't mind about tailoring.

The sweaters and tops I got are all giant loose comfortable stretchy things. The tops are probably too sheer and need camisoles.

I packed this giant suitcase and realized (of course) that I would probably be exactly as happy with one sweater, two pairs of jeans, and a pack of men's 2XL beefy tees. I could pack in a shopping bag. But no! Probably finding all those awesome fancy clothes made it impossible to do that because I absolutely have to wear them now that I'll be out amongst the other humans and not just home with the cat and the dog.

Anyway all I want to wear really is long silky tunics, sweaters, and these soft corduroy leggings I have. And boots. If I were a cartoon character right now, that's what I'd be wearing, with a great big fabric scarf whooshed around my shoulders. Sometimes the tunic is a little longer and is a dress. That's it!

That's what I packed. Tunics, dresses, leggings, some skirts in case the new tunic tops aren't quite long enough to go without. Sweaters. Tights.

And two pairs of jeans because...because...I don't even know. Why? Never pack jeans. That's a rule of mine. I won't wear them, most likely.

I totally feel like taking everything out and packing a smaller suitcase just to make myself not take all the extra stuff.

I mentioned the crazycakes bananapants situation, right? THIS IS IT. Packing hits me right in all the issues! Plan ahead! Bring what you'll need! But nothing extra! You'll have to replace it if you don't have it! But don't bring too much! But bring everything!

Fine, I'll take the giant handmade sweater out, but if I get cold, it's on you! It's there to be a coat, really. And it's in my carryon because no way am I trusting a sweater I knitted myself to airline baggage and connections. My SHOES are in my carryon. My expensive corsetry! My scarves!

I wish I could only go with a carryon, to be perfectly honest. I wish I were the kind of person who could go away with one pair of shoes and one sweater and an assortment of tops and leggings. And socks. And underwear. And a raincoat. And boots. Shut up!

Really the whole thing is just an encapsulation (with time limit!) of all of my stuff issues in life. Hence the bananas.

Packing is the worst because you have to face who you actually are (bring all the stuff just in case!) while trying to be the person you want to be (just some leggings and long silky tunics! minimalist!) and then you're committed to that for the duration of the time period.

Except of course you're not. There are stores at the other end. I'm not going on the shuttle to the moon.

Anyway. I suppose my computer has rebooted by now, eh? I should eat something today so I can drink my tea. And maybe take a xanax, because seriously, if it's annoying to read about, imagine what it's like to live inside it, eh? ALWAYS PACK LIGHT. That's the answer. I know it. Sheesh. Okay!