Thursday, July 28, 2016

Burn it up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 22, 2016

Obstacletacular

Well! You know how school was unrelentingly awesome for a full year? That time is past! I'm having a horrible constant battle with my advisor, who has no idea what I'm doing or why I'm trying to do it and keeps being like, "This celery is a terrible cupcake!" And keeps trying to make me read classics, on the theory that I don't know what good writing is, I guess? I assure you, fellow humans. I DO.

The reading list keeps on baffling me. I'm studying X topic. The books are completely out of left field and irrelevant to that topic. Often I've read them before, so again, don't need to be exposed to this material which is not new to me.

And then I get bewilderingly off target notes that get things wrong from the reading, that comment negatively about things I'm doing that she told me to do, and so on. It is EXACTLY like my dissertation experience. Moving goalposts! Failure to grasp even the basic essentials of my project! Lack of understanding in any way of my own background, reading history, skills, or knowledge! Wow!

Add to that a lot of hostility toward the writing I'm working on, a writer I adore, who does brilliant postmodern things with otherwise tired tropes, but of course you would not know that if you had no idea in any way about this genre, especially if you think this genre is unrelenting crap--which you could only think if you knew nothing about it and refused to learn.

Oh, I'm mad, for sure. It's a stupid waste of energy. It's incredibly irritating to get notes on things I've written criticizing what I said where the notes show a basic failure to read the actual text I'm working on. And I don't mean esoteric things. I mean, someone says she's terrified of geese and the dog and the goat. And I wrote she's terrified of the animals. And the note is: no she isn't, she just has to feed them.

Like...where do I start? I picked up another one of the recommended books and started reading it over lunch and that's when my head exploded because it's not even distantly remotely related to my topic IN ANY WAY.

My topic is the use of houses as transformative space in young adult gothic novels. Pretty clear, huh?

This book was about an old guy remembering his life in Hong Kong, where he was a judge. It's an author I really like, in fact I own five of her books, but I don't have time to read all sorts of off topic stuff while I'm in the middle of this research project. Why would someone try to make me read this totally unrelated book and take all of my absolutely essential reading for the subject off my reading list?

I had to call the director of the program and try to figure this out. She basically said just do what you're doing. Write the thing, read the right books, and stop letting this person's off base wrongheaded ideas distract you.

So I'm going to do that. I rewrote the first draft of essay already today, taking out all the extraneous stuff she told me to put in and then complained was in there. (GRRRRRRR.) I'm working on other books to think about adding in, though the essay is already 19 pages even with the excisions out, so I don't know that I even need it. I'll keep adding in this flaky writer stuff all throughout about my own work and how this stuff applies, even though that is academic writing anathema.

Basically I feel like this is a giant waste of time now, but oh well! I'm going to work on my own writing and just keep working on the essay until it says things I'm interested in. I might bring in another one of the same author's books to compare, maybe. There's one that would work. Or I might bring in two, if it won't be annoying. I have them right here!

This is all exceedingly annoying and frustrating and makes me upset. It's bizarre, with my educational history and having read more of everything than any other person I know, to be treated like some idiot who has to be told to read The Great Gatsby because I don't know what good writing is. This is all because my mentor does not respect the books I'm working on, or that author, and thinks therefore, I suppose, that I am also an idiot who only likes lightweight romances from the 60s with ladies in nightgowns looking distraught outside gloomy castles.

In other words, I'm being judged by the cover of a book I want to study. A book which itself is not what the cover shows, but a postmodern flipping of all the tropes of its genre. Of course you have to KNOW the genre before you can see that....

The Great Gatsby, for crying out loud. I'm offended at the implication. Which is: that I don't know anything about literature. Can you imagine?

I should send her my CV. Actually I might do that. Because there is obviously a huge gap of ignorance happening here.

To summarize: person with no idea of my background or resources or experience is trying to show me the most basic literature to educate me and get me away from my shallow bad taste ways.

She also keeps insulting my favorite author, at least three different times, which just annoys me no end. I had to ask her to stop that. Because it's just rude. But also because if she can't have the most basic respect for the work I'm studying, then we can't work together, obviously. She denied ever doing it, so add gaslighting to the issues on the table. But also if she doesn't respect genre, and I'm writing genre, what the hell are we supposed to do about that?

This celery is a terrible cupcake!

Anyway that is the no good very bad awful experience I'm having. I had qualms early on, and then soon after that had major qualms, but decided to press on. But now, hoo boy. Qualms do not even begin to touch it.

I'll call the director again tomorrow and see if I can find someone who gets it. I don't even know if that's possible, to switch, but surely this can't be the first time?

Maybe I'll send my CV *and* my incredibly erudite first academic publication. And a new reading list that actually makes sense for what I want to do. Bury them in materials, that's one approach. I feel like there's an enormous lack of information on the other side, so maybe burying her in materials will help. I bet I can find my PhD comps list, too. I did an oral defense on that giant mass of information as well as a written portion.

Ooh, also the fridge self-destructed over the past week. My ice cream melted! It was terrible! And my produce all froze. The temps have been up and down and all over the place in the freezer and the fridge, but most of the time the freezer was too warm and the fridge was too cold and neither one of them would stay put anyway. Today I got a new fridge, hurray! And then I learned how to swap the doors so they open on the other side. There was an extra screw left over but I'm sure it's not important or anything, right? Surely?

Once I'm sure it will settle down and be a fridge I might go buy more produce because I'm nearly out of fruit, horrors! I do have a baby watermelon left, though. Mmmm, watermelon. Who told me to soak watermelon chunks in tequila for a weirdo margarita?

Today with all of this, the meltdown after lunch when I realized the new book list items were completely off the wall and also weirdly condescending, and the landlord had brought over the new fridge and left it in the middle of the hallway so that I had to move my dining room table a foot and a half away just to get to the bathroom, well, I called the doctor's office. And I told them that the medication they put me on last week, the Elven thing, made me unable to control my limbs and eventually even my eyes were going in two different directions and would not track. I fell off the couch, the toilet, and the bed. There was no possible way I could drive.

It's weird because it's not even a large dose, unless the pills are not what the bottle says. That seems unlikely. Also apparently it's prescribed as an anti-depressant! I have never taken a more potent depressant than that pill. Maybe it was the combination with something else I'm taking, huh? I don't know. I'll ask the pharmacist.

Because the state of meltdown I've been in all week with this advisor situation is not really acceptable or productive. I mean, get irritated, make changes, do whatever, but I've been up for two nights in a tizzy about it. I should be okay tonight because I finally took a xanax this afternoon when I could not stop flipping out about it.

Humph!

I sure enjoyed being all mellowed out, though. I made about forty phone calls with no stress at all. I was just like, Oh, time to do that, and did it. Usually that's a xanax situation right there.

Discussing it with a friend I realized it wigged me excessively because it hits a whole bunch of my sorest buttons: gaslighting, condescension, denial of what the person said when obviously they said it, derision, rudeness, insulting the things I care about, dismissing my enthusiasms as trivial, treating me like an idiot, insisting despite the evidence that I have no idea what I'm doing. In other words, that's my mom right there, the narcissistic emotional abuser of your nightmares. Whee!

Anyway, yes, let's see if I can get out of this situation and get adopted by someone else for the rest of the semester. At this point, my advisor is not speaking to me, so that's super awesome. And also really seriously not listening to what I say, except to be defensive about it. Communication: not happening.

I never know what people are trying to accomplish when they do things like that. Why would you be rude about someone's favorite author? Why would you act like that at all? Insecurity, maybe. Not something I'm super interested in, alas.


The new fridge is super nice, though. It's all pristine! I have to figure out which of the many magnets and things I want to put back up there. And then I'm excited to make food. Like, maybe a lasagna or pizza or something extravagant and delicious. Mmm! I do have pizza makings, though I suspect not enough flour.

Wait! I forgot the awesome thing about the old fridge. As soon as the landlord tilted it up on a hand truck, many, many pounds of dog food came pouring out of it, old dog food, many varieties, definitely not the kind my own dog eats. It was completely hilarious because with every bump or jolt, another shower of dog food would pour out of the thing. I guess some mice were thinking ahead for the winter! But apparently did not need their dog food stash, because it was all still there. Gone now, mice! Actually the fridge is in the yard because his trailer is full of wood, so I offered mine. Partly to get the fridge out of the yard.

Good times, good times.

I'm off to bed, in hopes that I will actually sleep tonight, unlike the past two nights. I really desperately need quite a huge amount of sleep very soon, uninterrupted, and very satisfying, please. I'm a wreck! Maybe tomorrow I'll get good news from the doctor (ha) and good news from the program (I have hopes) and I'll get my absolute mountain of work done for work (oh dear) and then go to the library and make pizza and in every way have a totally good day. Right? It could happen!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

My invisible elvish Marine

I'm currently in a happy stupor due to new banana meds, except not stupor so much as...what do you call it when you're not freaking out? You're not in a panic like you just saw a mountain lion coming down the hallway? Like that. Like, not freaking out. It stuporescent to me because I'm always having a case of the frantics. I keep thinking that if I hold still I'll fall asleep, because I only associate not freaking with being nearly asleep. But I don't.

So far so good. I mean, I've only taken the thing once. They can change a lot as you get used to them, or they get used to you, or you get used to each other. We shall see!

I went to the doc and said I was not doing good. Those are words that doctors actually perk up their ears about, did you know that? "Not doing good." Apparently vets use it as an actual term. NDG, not doing good.

So that's what I said, not doing good without the last, non-workable option. I'd actually told her two months ago that the last non-workable option was non-workable, but they don't always HEAR YOU when you TALK is the thing. YOU HAVE TO USE THEIR KIND OF WORDS.

Anyway I'm all blissful due to that. And on the way home from the doctor's office I went to the one furniture store in town (there are maybe six stores total in town, counting pizza places and restaurants) and looked at the couches, so I'd have a ball park sense of how much they cost and could plan accordingly. And lo! 40% off sale! I looked around, sat on many couches, and kept going back to one. I could even afford it right away. So I bought it. Couch!

It is lovely dark chocolate brown, so the fur of my blond animals shows up very well (hmph) but on the other hand, tea stains do NOT. And fur vacuums up.

It looks like sand dunes seen from space. Only, you know, brown, not sand dune colored. But that shape. And it's so soft soft soft. I can't stop touching it. It's lovely to touch. And so utterly comfortable, sitting any kind of way.

The one thing you should not do is throw yourself on it, with your head landing on the arm, even though the arms are very low, because guess what, there is WOOD inside those soft squishy arms. So I gave myself a concussion doing that. It feels very ooky and weird when your brain goes bounce off the other side of the inside of your skull. And it hurts so much, especially later, like the next day. Headache so much bigger than my actual head.

Today I worked on the couch all day and kept trying to articulate how big and warm and swimmy my head felt. In the end I came up with a giant water balloon full of lukewarm miso soup. Yes. That's what my head feels like.

I'm a little bit alarmed that my essay isn't written yet. I mean, also surprised. I guess I'm just procrastinating at this point, which is not like me, for real. I might procrastinate on dumb things like finding the bow string, which is in an ammo box with a bunch of knives, which is in a closet behind a large heavy chair and under some other things. But, see, that's super annoying and tedious and also far from urgent.

The essay, however, needs to be done very soon. Hup hup!

Work got super busy, so there's that. Like double busy. I've been doing all my reading for school, irritating though it be. I mean, I read The Great Gatsby and Turn of the Screw. Ew! Gatsby at least is really well written, if hateful and dispiriting and miserable and soul-sucking. People are awful, says Gatsby. Every kind of people! Rich people! Poor people! Other rich people! Passersby! Friends! Foes! Bootleggers! Golfers! Everyone! Just so awful!

I don't see the point of writing like that. Heck, we already know that. Why build a monument to it? Anyway it's not strictly true. People can have awful sides, sure, but they also have wonderful, heroic sides and can rise to sheer brilliance. Everyone. (Well, not that one candidate guy with the stupid plume of hair and the smirk and the big suit.) But otherwise, everyone. Okay, not Dick Cheney, either, but pretty much everyone else.

Not my friend's evil mom, either, though. Today I was emailing one of my very old friends and speculating about whether Satan had taken her home at last or left her among us because he didn't want the competition. She is bad news. The worst of news.

What else is happening, eh? I went to TJ Maxx to see if I could find more of that delicious soap I've been using for bubble baths. It's some kind of Crabtree and Evelyn sweet almond stuff? I don't know. They didn't have it, so I sniffed everything and picked out a couple of other kinds instead. Then I realized that gigantic bottles of this fancy soap were ridiculously cheap there. So I got a bunch. And now I am the bubble bath QUEEN. Mmm, good smelling baths!

Headache is emerging leviathan-like from beneath the waters of ibuprofen again. I think I can probably have a lovely delicious smelling bath and then sit up writing essay until the new anti-banana meds knock me senseless again.

Knowing that I won't have to run the gauntlet of insomnia and nightmares certainly makes going to bed much more appealing. I know, right? I have high hopes.

I'm doing my last edits on a short story prior to sending it out. They wanted a bio with it, which is like catnip to me. I can't resist a tiny little circumscribed written stage like that. It was very fun to write. I actually adore the little story, too. I feel like I might be able to do that again soon. The thing about writer camp was that I was taking all those psych meds just to be able to be there. I know for sure they lower my inhibitions. Look, I took the one kind a couple of nights ago and went and bought a couch the next day.

I could have bought that couch any time in the last couple of months (very nice to say that, too, for once) but I would not have considered it. I didn't consider it! I'm all tied up in anxious knots usually. No, I can't! No, I don't want to! Because of reasons! It's fascinating, except for how awful it is.

Did you read the article about the psychologist who gets called in by priests to determine whether a person needs psychological help or an exorcism? He really does this. He really visits them and figures out which one they need. Which is just such a wonderful idea, even if in reality that's quite alarming. But what if there were more options, right? This one is possessed, this one has an alien infestation, this one has a magnesium deficiency, and this one needs psychological help. This one has a grave need for things that are cobalt blue. This one should be by the water, as often as possible.

Of course since I'm kind of bedeviled lately, then I thought: what if my demons are demons, instead of figurative demons? What if they could be exorcised? Or are they sort of a symbiotic thing, taking some things, giving other things I wouldn't have otherwise? Anyway they're super mellow right now. I think they put in a lava lamp and some beanbag chairs and are sitting around nodding and smiling at each other. Stoner demons, that's what the world needs. Play Dark Star!

I wonder where they put my opal ring? It's not even opal. It's mother of pearl. Except I decided it's aunt of pearl because why shouldn't the aunts get some air time? Anyway, where did those stoner demons put my aunt of pearl ring? I have the mountain lion one and the La Tene looking one I wear as a thumb ring.

Oh please do yourself a delicious favor and look up La Tene decorative metalwork! So beautiful! I totally want a La Tene tattoo. I also want Karou's tattoos from Daughter of Smoke and Bone: "true" on one wrist, "story" on the other. But bigger. Yes, definitely bigger than I imagine the tattoos on the wrists of this character to be. Of course.

This medication has a name that sounds like it's a native of Lothlorien. So I decided that's what it is, an Elvish visitor who just takes away all my stress and anxiety just by being here. It's like my invisible Marine, only an elf, see? I know! My invisible Elvish Marine.