Stuck In Arsehold

I was stuck in Arsehold for the last two weeks. You may have experienced the same.

I’ve been writing a novel while locked away. That’s not so different from my normal life, where I’m always working on a novel. Many people think I’m working on one novel forever and a day, but I’ve finished many. I shrug them off; I enjoy novel writing.

I think under ordinary circumstances, this would have been finished a few months ago. These aren’t normal times, at least for me. I’m assuming a lot with those words. It’s sadly probably normal for quite a few people to stay locked up in one place, with limited contact for other people. I think of prisons. Nursing homes. Hospitals. Yeah, getting downright depressing, isn’t it?

Some say that such solitude is a gift. I’m not one. While I’m a solitary person, I like outside stimulation. (Sounds a bit naughty, doesn’t it?) Like to walk to clear my mind, shift into writing mode, and slip into the noisy solitude of a good cuppa coffee in a coffee shop, hunch over my laptop, and tap away.

All that normal-for-me isn’t available now. Coronavirus lockdown, you know. Although I have coffee and space, I also have wife and cats. They struggle with my writing boundaries. My wife tries respecting them, but news of the world sets her off. I also don’t try enforcing my isolation with her, as she’s in the same situation as me. She’s much more verbal, however, and craves other contact. While she’s dancing and exercising Monday through Friday via Zoom, and meets with her book club once a month with Zoom, and Zooms into a coffee klatch almost every week, she likes expressing her opinions and insights vigorously and out loud. There’s usually a lot of swearing involved, too. She’s quite passionate about social justice, equality, human rights, and women’s rights. She also hates Trump and has little respect for most other Republicans. So I try to indulge, but then I suffer. Either way, one of us must suffer in our situation. We get over it, but it’s not ideal.

The cats, however, don’t give a damn that I’m writing, reading, playing a game, sleeping, eating, showering, or sitting on the toilet. Three cats share ownership over me. They have their own secret agendas, which surprisingly, often involves me. Part of that is which cat owns the most of me, and whether that’s acceptable to the other cats.

Between wife, news of the world, the coming and going of the muses, and the cats, novel writing progress has been uneven.

But I persevere. Sometimes, the worse interruption is by me to myself. Self-doubt. Imposter syndrome. General malaise. It struck hardest in Arsehold.

Arsehold is a place in my novel, wholly made up. I came up with the name months ago, a whim that made me laugh. I stuck with it, creating the setting around the name, devising the history of how it came to be. Yet, my characters struggled to get through Arsehold. I naturally responded, per my proclivities, to overanalyze what was going on and why, attempting to seek the root of my issues. I thought it might be the general tone. Perhaps some of the introduced characters weren’t clear enough. Maybe, maybe my characters shouldn’t be in Arsehold. And what happens after Arsehold?

Writing helps me think by creating a funnel through which I must focus. With all this mental flaying, I did a lot of writing about the novel in progress, addressing the concept, characters, story, plot, locations and settings, etc. Eventually, I took all the assembled material of the novel in progress, one hundred twenty-five thousand words, and began reading, editing, and revising, putting the story into the order that I think it’ll be in published form.

That helped. By the time I’d reached Arsehold (almost sounds like a song lyric — I can hear CCR doing stuck in Arsehold instead of Lodi), I’d discovered that the errors that I thought I was seeing weren’t there. It always scares me to think or say, hey, this is pretty damn good, about what I’m writing, but that’s what I concluded. Of course, it’s my work; if I didn’t think it was good, maybe I should be working on something else, right?

Anyway, I think I might get through Arsehold this week (knock on wood, he said, tapping the side of his head). Got my coffee; time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

Tuesday’s Theme Music

I’ve hit that COVID-19 wall. Again.

No, don’t have COVID-19, haven’t tested positive, etc. Just slammed into the wall. Built of stout same ol’, same ol’, reinforced with tedium, overlaid with boredom and frustration, the wall is a staunch mutha. “I want,” my mind screams like a hungry wailing infant. I want something different today. I want a road trip. I want a beach! I want a coffee shop, solitude, and privacy. I want something different that’s something old, something borrowed, something new.

Sounds like I’m getting married.

“Shake It Up” by The Cars plugged into the scene. Released in 1981, it’s a poppy techno-rock hybrid. I need the sentiment today. Shake it up. Change some damn thing. Break the tedium structure.

I want to tell you, stay positive, but hitting this wall today, I don’t feel positive myself, so it’d be hypocritical of me, right? But I’ll encourage you anyway (and meself), stay positive. Test negative. Don’t do anything crazy because you want to shake it up. Wear a mask.

Cheers

Tuesday’s Theme Music

I went with an old familiar from David Bowie and Queen today. Queen’s Freddie Mercury is gone, along with David Bowie, unnecessary reminders about our final destinations.

They made their marks, though. Thanks to technology, solace can be had by listening to their performances again and again.

As today is election day in the USA (prompting some mental hearing of Alice Cooper and their song, “Elected”), but “Under Pressure” (released in 1981) seems more of a fit. Sadly, that’s because Trump and his followers, abetted by the GOP, are working hard to create obstacles for this civic duty. Once upon a day, the United States had low turnout but the elections themselves were flawlessly executed. A lot of that changed with the hanging chads debacle in Florida in 2000. At least, such is where it seems to start in my mind, as the SCOTUS was called upon to interpret state laws, halt the recount, and declare a winner. Since then, campaigning and elections have become more contentious in the USA.

The nature of Trump’s campaigning and the attributes of his base have added to the pressure. Trump wants votes to not be counted, squalling like an infant over cheating that doesn’t exist, threatening to challenge results in court beforehand, obviously attempting to intimidate voters. Gun and ammo sales are up. The FBI is warning of the threat of violence from armed Trump supporters.

More pressure yet comes from COVID-19. Again, politics are in play. Republican led states are leading as COVID-19 cases climb. As cases climb, hospitals fill, but our healthcare system under greater and greater pressure.

That pressure comes atop the economic pressure instilled by necessary measures to flatter the curve. Experts consistently warned that a sizeable chunk of the US population is working poor, without emergency savings, living from paycheck to paycheck. All that was swept under the rug. Now, coronavirus has curtailed the service and consumer economy, and people are under pressure to have enough money to pay the rent and buy food.

Yeah, it’s a mess. All of that is just a tiny fraction of the mess we’re in – so many things weren’t mentioned because I didn’t want to go too ranty before my coffee – but it all adds to the pressure that we face in the United States, part of the pressure we’re facing in the world, making the Queen/David Bowie song “Under Pressure” my choice for today’s theme music.

Now I need to go see a machine about some coffee. Cheers

Floofinar

Floofinar (floofinition) – A group of advanced animals studying under a mentor with each doing original research and all exchanging results through reports, discussions, and flooflepathy.

In use: “When the novel coronavirus pandemic began spreading among humans in 2020, the Floof Exchange established a series of floofinars to understand the problem so they could help humans survive and recover.”

2. A meeting for giving and discussing information about animals, especially housepets.

In use: “As pets live longer, more floofinary hospitals and floof stores are conducting floofinars to help owners understand their mature pets’ needs.”

Tuesday’s Theme Music

It’s a September in Oregon, the first day of September.

Many have made comments on the net that time is dragging. That’s not the case for me. The hours and days have skittered through on spider legs, and you know fast spiders can go, especially if they sense your fear, or you’re trying to get them.

Anyone songs about September bubbled through my morning stream (sounds like I’m pissing them out). Changing the calendar in my office, though, I saw that one, and U2’s song from 1992, “One” vaulted into mind.

Is it getting better?
Or do you feel the same?
Will it make it easier on you now?
You got someone to blame

h/t to Metrolyrics.com

Yes, with how 2020 has been going, I think “One” works. Cheers

Monday Mix

  1. Poor air quality today. Only a fool doesn’t pause to think, “But we’re not on fire. We’re not evacuating.” Even agnostic me thinks, “Come on, whatever power there is – God, Jehovah, Allah, Flying Spaghetti Monster, Universe. Help California.”
  2. The list of places, people, and animals requiring help continues to grow. Just a few short months ago, we held our breath as Australia burned. Now 77 fires in fifteen states are burning. California has lost 1,000,000 acres. Read of the sad situation on CNN.
  3. Need to indulge in a somber moment of reflection after reading that.
  4. Boy, there are so many good reads out. Masked and walking downtown (after picking up library books), we arrived at an Ashland book store, Bloomsbury, and ogled the window display and the plethora of offerings. It’s a sigh moment. I want to read more but I also want to write more. Doing more of either encourages more of both. It’s a vicious and delicious damn cycle.
  5. Being downtown on Saturday did nothing to assuage our rona worries. Town was very busy. Signs requiring masks while downtown were frequent and prominent. There wasn’t any enforcement, so groups of the great unmasked were regularly encountered. Not a surprise, given that 57% of Republicans think the current level of death from COVID-19 in the U.S. — almost 180,000 people in five months — is acceptable.
  6. Still not much better as a one-handed typist. Type a sentence, and then go back and fix all the typos. Going to the doc for a follow up. Fingers crossed (on right hand; that remains impossible on the left). He told me last time that could probably fit a removable splint today. Like I say, fingers crossed.
  7. Time to leave for the doc, so later, gator.

Sunday’s Theme Music

As commercials rev up — “Come see us. We’re all wearing masks and are following the guidelines and taking precautions!” — and election day grows nearer, everybody is trying to seduce us as consumers and voters in America.

Buy, buy, buy! Vote for me, vote for me!

It’s right in my head that today’s theme music is Billy Squier singing “Everybody Wants You” back in 1982.

Friday Fry-up

  1. Don’t recall any dreams from last night. Odd. Frees up about an hour of time spent thinking about my dreams. Has my dream reservoir gone dry?
  2. Went out on a shopping expedition yesterday, Albertsons and Bi-Mart. Our prey was cat food and fresh fruits and veggies. All saved one was masked up, although several wore their masks with their noses exposed. Do you not get it, man? Yes, I know, there’s psychology, perceptions, fears, and lies at work there. Just ask Herman Caine. Sorry, cheap shot. Ask Rep. Gohmert (Crazy-TX) instead. He’s the latest flag-bearer for the nonsense brigade.
  3. Florida friends tell us that people there don’t act like there’s a pandemic going on except to put on masks to enter stores, because the stores require them. Then I read an article about a study that said, yes, as expected, young adults and teens are working and clubbing, then going home and infecting more vulnerable people. It’s trending up everywhere.
  4. Going to have social-distancing brunch outside at friends’ house this AM. Just the two couples will be present. I’m ambivalent about it. Like them, but do we need the risk? I am resentful, too, as my wife (with perceived mocking tone) said to friend on phone, “Oh, he’s not doing anything.” Hello? Writing? WTF. She then said, “Oh, don’t tell me I’m interfering with your schedule.” I’m sounding bitter, so I’ll stop.
  5. Okay, I am bitter.
  6. Our fire warnings were raised to extreme today. Humidity has dropped to 15% and we’ve had several days of triple digit highs. We’re in a mild trough today, with an overnight low of 58 and a forecast high of 94 for today. Worrisome as dozens of wildfires are already burning.
  7. Stay safe, everyone. Wear masks and distance.
  8. Gonna get some coffee now and try to write like crazy, at least one more time.

Monday’s Theme Music

A conversational tic, “Do you know what I mean,” triggered recollection of the Lee Michaels 1968 song. Know what I mean?

It fits for today as topic lines are starkly drawn. Voting by mail can’t work, they say, but I did it throughout my military career and since moving to Oregon in 2005, so I think it works, know what I mean?

Trump couldn’t come up with shit for the pandemic, but he eagerly sends geared paramilitary Feds to cities led by Dems, know what I mean?

Pro baseball started playing in bubbles in the U.S. and now they’re canceling games because players have tested positive, know what I mean?

COVID-19 deaths are taking place, and positive cases are rising, they canceled the in person Republican convention but still want to open businesses and send children to school, you know what I mean?

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