Wednesday, April 27, 2011

problem solving

For some reason, this morning I remembered when I lived in an apartment and a branch was rubbing on my (second story) window, a really loud noise at night while trying to sleep. So I went to the manager and asked about getting it trimmed. She said I would need to fill out a form to give to the head gardener, and it would be part of a gardening request queue, blah blah blah. So I rolled my eyes and walked out, saw a gardener walking by, pointed up to the branch. He shrugged and snipped it off on the spot. End of problem.

Friday, April 22, 2011

beginning a poem about my cat

Missi Nutmeg
Missi McGillicutty
Missi Q. Cat
Missi Mergatroid
Missi-missi Nut-putt
Princess Missi
Miss Precious-nose
Freckleface Strawberry

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Friday, April 15, 2011

office supplies

Index cards, pastel assorted (2 packages)
Index cards, neon assorted (1 package)
Letter size white paper, 20 LB. 500 sheets (4)
Black gel pens, 4 in package
Mini memo pad, yellow lined, package of 3
Gold, silver finish 1" binder clips
Bag assorted rubber bands

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Surely I'm not the only wordsmith among us privately obsessed with office supplies? There's something so uniquely satisfying about the procuring of these tools. It's a cozy feeling just knowing my home office is a well-feathered nest where I could survive any supply catastrophy. The only necessity I don't have in abundance is printer ink because it's so costly. But by the time I am printing up my manuscript in a few months, I expect I'll be buying a laser printer anyway.

Lately my old HP inkjet printer (old in computer dog years, at least) is showing signs of failure. Like many of us, I've been stuck with unopened packages of printer ink for a departed printer-- and we all know the ink is where the real expense is. There's nothing quite like a fifty-dollar package of ink you'll never use, staring up at you.

A quick look at printers reveals they're now being made in sleek black housing, which is appealing to me, but it's hardly a reason to abandon good old HP Officejet 6310 ahead of its time. A laser printer is the next logical purchase. But it's still a beguiling, irrational temptation to see a Canon inkjet printer that looks like a glossy black Corvette for under 100 dollars.

But for now, I'm happy: Paper, ink, printers, pens, pencils. Books, binders, boxes, staplers, paper clips. Envelopes and erasers.

More on my lifetime fondness for paper, here.

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saying no to social media for a few days

Today is very warm, wonderfully so without being uncomfortable. I've made one of my famous day-camps out on the balcony and have been organizing the stacks of notes associated with my book. This project should feel overwhelming, but for some reason it doesn't.

When I make a day-camp, I surround myself with everything I might need for a long, uninterrupted stay in one place. Besides the stacks and stacks of papers with notes I've made over the last five-plus years, today I have both phones, something to drink, reading glasses (regular) as well as reading glasses (for sitting in the sun), the remote control for the awning, several pens, my microcassette recorder, my camera (just in case something remarkable happens), and my giant 2011 calendar.

It doesn't make for a very fascinating blog post, but I want to go on record that I've been reading through these notes and working out story details all day. A while ago I stopped and took a few photos of a great blue heron and a snowy egret hanging out by the creek. It's OK to take a break, right?

Finally, it's quiet out here. This morning saw (and heard) quite a bit of maintenance work going on in the form of gardeners on riding mowers and some wood chipping down the block. But it's just after 2 PM now, and all I hear are the birds.

Today I am focusing on the characters, one by one. What do they want? What is stopping them? What are their secrets? What do they bring to the book's themes? What can make them more vivid to the reader?

Maybe I'm just in a good mood, but as daunting of a task as this novel is, I suddenly am beginning to feel more positive. Maybe all the vitamins I've been taking over the last few months are finally having an effect. It's not that I don't still feel awful about how long I've spent on this multi-volume epic extravaganza (because I do), but because I recognize such agonizing is counter-productive if it goes in circles and doesn't lead to improvements.

Social media doesn't account for all of my wasted time, but it does eat up a couple of hours each day, time I could be spending on any number of book-related activities. Including writing the damn thing.

* * *

Before I go to bed tonight, I want to have a specific schedule for the book's completion.

iris fylstra wanted to write, 1946

Thursday, April 14, 2011

certain ideas about luxury

Lately I've been committed to the idea of taking more photographs. It's not as if it takes a lot of time and effort, and there's no significant cost involved other than a bit of electricity to charge my Canon's battery and upload digital files to my computer. And so, in pursuit of that committment, you often find me late at night roaming around, looking for something intriguing to capture. That's why I just posted an image (see previous blog post) of some ruby-colored glasses. Before my bedtime melatonin kicked in I fooled around and shot the glassware both with and without a flash, closer and further away, and that sort of thing. With more time and care I'm sure I could improve on that image, but the idea is to push things along quickly. From a therapeutic self-help standpoint, I want to start and finish projects.

Those glasses, along with their matching decanter, sit in the living room on a metal trunk I got at Pottery Barn. I like blending dressy with casual, and always have. The set was a gift, and while I don't actually drink out of them, as art objects they give me a feeling of luxury. They weren't always precisely to my taste, but they've grown on me.

The topic of luxury intrigues me enough that I plan on writing more about it here. But first, I'm committed to the idea of getting some pages done today. September is coming up fast, and my book isn't writing itself (no matter how many story notes I make on my tape recorder). I don't have the luxury of a hotel room and room service for the book's completion. I have to make my own time, squeeze my own orange juice.

ciao ciao,


Saturday, April 9, 2011

times touching, 7 june 2008

One of the most poignant truths I’ve discovered is that certain people, places, objects and events of our lives later take on unexpected significance. Living our lives for the most part with day-to-day myopia and concerned with immediate matters (despite a sincere yet lofty stated desire to do otherwise) our memories and eventually our future perspectives are being cumulatively shaped. That the most compelling idiosyncratic fragments don’t immediately make themselves obvious only adds to their eventual melancholic power in our psyches.

Later, having caught on to this phenomenon, we start to be alert to this, but our view to the full and future implications of the present day, with all its endless elements, is a vantage point necessarily limited.

Indeed, if it weren’t this way, we would be crippled and ineffective in our daily lives. Present Practical Self needs to bag up our unused clothing and give it to Goodwill, pay our bills and make dinner, while Future Philosopher Self, on some winter day, might yearn with unexpected acuteness for the first nylon stockings our mother bought for us one long ago Easter. The person we would later become in the fullness of time might suddenly wonder whatever happened to that quiet fellow who tried to converse with us in Journalism class, whereas at the time, caught up in our own angst and self-consciousness, we scarcely noticed.

And sometimes the most powerful things are inexplicably ordinary and seemingly random: a certain rainy day, looking out a bedroom window past the floral print arm of a chair; a doll table made from a small gift box of green and gold, with a small mirror on top; windmill cookies eaten in the back seat of a car. When did these things happen? Why do they feel significant and carry a charge of emotion? Conversely, we reach for a certain memory and have only vague notions or none: why can’t I remember my very first video job? Why didn’t I stay in touch with my dear friend in sixth grade who moved back to Georgia; what was I thinking?

Even if we try with all our focus and concentration to imagine what will be most meaningful to our future selves, and make present choices accordingly, at best we’ll come up short. Plans notwithstanding, we don’t know who we’re going to be until we’re there. Further complicating this equation, our journey is in many respects one of losses, and sometimes it is primarily the loss itself, the absence of something that eventually creates its significance.

We do our best with photo albums and scrapbooks and journals and diaries, and collecting things to replace those we gave away.

The idea always tugged at me, the whole complex notion of the passage of time and our metamorphosis, moment to moment, from one human being to another slightly different one, over and over again.

It fascinates and pains me to realize that my three year-old self is in many ways just as gone as my Grandparents are. Adding an unnecessary loss to the inevitable one, I wonder now about a gift I received that year from my mother, a bracelet with three charms on it: a cake with three candles, a numeral 3, and a little girl. If only I’d tucked it away someplace special, and kept it safe. If only.

We are helpless knowing that while we can address the future and act on its behalf, where the past is concerned we can only regard it. But because we are sentient, reflective, philosophical, and even sentimental, we can endure the pain of not being able to reach back and touch it.

We view our pasts through glass, fog, paper, tears; then we shape and reshape it in ways we could never have imagined.

And then, better at the whole endeavor but still imperfect in our efforts, we continue forward.

* * *

true confessions, part one

Make of this what you will, but this is the single sexiest song and video combination I've ever seen, period. That is to say, it specifically gets to the heart of something haunting and complex in my imagination.

By the way, I don't expect this reaction to be either universal nor comprehensible, but it is what it is-- in the strange inner place where I live, this piece is something greater than the sum of the parts.

You'll no doubt notice how non-sexual it actually is, but it's my deep belief there's an inverse relationship at work. (So wot's the big deal, eh? Some middle-aged blokes in tuxes in a posh estate having photos taken). I stand firm in my assessment.

Anyway, until I decide in the light of another day that this post reveals far too much psychological information about me, here is a really terrific new song by some fellows who've been around a while.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

thank you, francis, and happy birthday

Thinking back to when the universe split in April of 1986.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

39 steps - masterpiece classic

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The most useful thing I did to prepare for watching this program (programme) was to never see the two movie versions that preceded it, nor did I read the book. This allowed the twists to work to their full extent and keep me engaged. Once again, we have a film set in my favorite (favourite) period, just before the great war in Europe. I really liked this film, and intend to chat about it here at more length.

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