- Writing was so intense today. Been seeing this rainstorm for this shithole where my characters arrived. It’s a bleak, rocky place, no green, no insects or birds. There are dogs and people (and rats). I wrote the scene today, shivering behind my laptop as I imagined the cold, hard rain slamming my people. Had to pause and pace, and get more coffee to warm myself several times.
- Love that intensity when it happens, but it’s also a distraction. Too much writing energy builds up. Fingers and mind can’t keep up with the story-telling stream gushing out. My abs get knotted and my arms tremble. Nobody ever mentioned this at the writing conferences.
- Wife made this wonderful pumpkin doughnut muffins yesterday. Rolled in sugar and cinnamon, they’re like doughnut holes. Man, those things are mega excellent. Each time I go for coffee, I want to eat another.
- When I pause in my writing, I spy on my neighbors. They’re up to something next door. Don’t know what. He’s like that, though, quiet, rarely seen for several months, then, boom, the sudden center of crazy, with cars and peeps arriving, and things being carried back and forth, and slamming and thumping noises. He’s a nice guy but when I hear this things, my mind paints him as someone nefarious doing some devious misdeeds. Being a nice guy is always a good cover for being an evil genius.
- The cats and I took well to the hour fall back. I much prefer it to the spring-ahead hour change. Really rather do without either, though.
- Watching The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix. Really well done. The young lead actor, Anya Taylor Joy does an excellent job, but all are well-cast, and the production values are super. I’d not been aware of the novel. It came out in 1983, I read. After seeing the television show, I want to find the book and read it. It’s at my library, so I put it on my shelf. Didn’t want a hold. I’m already way behind my reading.
- Being behind on my reading is a constant thing. Reading stirs my writing. I enter this cycle of reading two paragraphs, write two sentences. Writing progress is made because this is in addition to my devoted writing period. Reading gets serious hampered. I’m eventually forced to focus on the reading and push to finish the book, which is a damn strange way to entertain myself, innit?
- I cut my hair yesterday. It’s the second pandemic cut that I’ve given myself. I think it looks good. Of course, I can’t see the back. I did what I could through feel. My wife is reluctant to cut it. I don’t know why. I have guesses but I’ll keep those shelved.
- Okay, got more coffee. (The pumpkin doughnut muffins were avoided.) Time to resume writing like crazy, at least one more time.
Sunday morning started with the usual Sunday morning white man with cat issues, which is replying to the demand, “Feed me, feed me, feed me, and get these other cats away from me,” in surround sound because I have three of them. They didn’t care that we’d fallen back an hour, clock-wise, here in ‘Merica. Their clocks weren’t affected.
Eventually, the beasts were fed, watered, and released back to the backyard wilds, freeing me to be me. I slid to the computer. That’s when the morning took an oomph turn. My mighty HP laptop wasn’t connecting to the net. Everything else in the household was connected; why was I selected for this cruel honor.
Something about the machine was off. Memories of being a younger person and working on my cars were awakened. I started car life with a 1965 Mercury Comet sedan. Forest green and automatic, a lively 289 V-8 was under the hood, as we said in those days. It was a stoutmobile. She’d run.
She was like my first girlfriend. I learned to do things, and did the standard stuff, from gapping and replacing plug and points (and all the wires) to brakes, muffler, and shocks, and all the fluids and fuses in between.
I think, because of that car, I’ve always since tried to fix things myself. Tried is a key verb in that sentence. (Is it a verb? I don’t know. I used to know these things.)
Details of what I did and the results will be avoided. No need to restore my stress levels by recalling those excoriating details. I worked on the computer for hours, returning it to connectivity. Doing so demanded a need to run recovery, a Microsoft Windows 10 process that’s not as nice as it sounds. Lots of personal files were removed (yeah, they said that wouldn’t happen, and they were wrong), along with apps and programs that I’d installed.
I had back ups of files, and MS does have some file recovery stuff. Eventually, though, I had almost everything. For some reason, I lacked the bible for the latest novel in progress. Don’t know what happened to that doc.
Reading old files slowed the process. Oh, there was The Soul Stone written years ago, never submitted nowhere. I read and enjoyed its first pages, along with Spider City, Everything Not Known, Everything in Black and White, and some stranger works, and the first draft of the self-published words, like the Lessons with Savanna series and Returnee. All still there, waiting for me to turn my attention back to them and do something more with them.
Not on this Sunday, though.
This week’s reading list:
The Dome by Suzanne Craig-Whytock
The Memory Police by Yōko Ogawa
A Death of No Importance by Mariah Fredericks
Golden Son by Pierce Brown
Great to have a new stack of books to occupy me. All are non-fiction. Now to carve some time to read them! I think I can, as I’ve received my ballot and will voting this week, freeing me from researching issues. (We vote by mail in Oregon; that’s the way it’s done.) Three of the books are from the library books, so the clock is running, but the one that isn’t a library book, The Dome, is calling me. I’ll begin there. Its premise sounds enticing and it’s a smaller book. After the giant Tombland last week (eight hundred pages), I want something smaller.
Politics and books took over my bandwidth last week.
- Books are such time thieves. Writing them takes time, energy, and attention. With energy, I’m referring to intellectual, emotional, and physical energy. The effort absorbs everything. Don’t know if that’s true for other writers, but this is how it is for me.
- Reading books also sucks away time and energy. I read a C.J. Sanson novel last week, Tombland. Tombland isn’t a small novel, registering at eight hundred packed pages. The latest in the Matthew Shardlake series, like the other novels, I was compelled to read, almost as if I’d been cursed. The mystery is relatively thin but that is incidental to the history, period, and characters. His voice is authentic, and the characters are alive and shifting. You feel it all.
- But reading that book meant I was doing almost nothing else. It was that consuming. I was also trying to read it to return it to the library. It was due 10/22, but I had other books on hold. My wife also had library books to return (The Plover, and The House in the Cerulean Sea). (She’d read Tombland before me.) So I was pushing to finish to turn the books in, limiting our library visits and its potential COVID-19 exposure. They do a good job at the library, but exposure is exposure, right? Right. After returning Tombland, I returned home and had an email from the library system: they’d extended Tombland for me. Nice of them but unnecessary.
- I recommend Tombland. This particular novel swirled around murders in Norfolk in 1549. Somerset was the Lord Protector for the young king. It being England and that era, politics around rights for the common people the Kett Rebellion, differences in the church (Protestants vs. Catholics), power struggles among lords and ladies (including Edward’s sisters), and enclosures – fencing off common land that set aside for animal crazy. All the sinister and cynical conniving among the wealthy to increase their power and wealth, and their attitude toward the lower classes, and the subservience expected from the upper classes strikes amazing similarities to what’s happening in the United States in this century.
- Tombland was a fresh reminder of what England endured and how they prevailed and developed as a democracy. Turmoil and bloodshed are occurring in the U.S., but not at the levels seen in England at that time. I want to add, yet. It may come to that.
- The monstrous poverty and homelessness of the era also brought out sharp comparisons to here and now in America. It provided rich fodder for heavy thinking.
- Of course, reading a book that I enjoy helps inform the novel that I’m writing. Nothing I read made me want to tear up my manuscript (or delete it) or start anew. It did inspire nuances and new flavors to fold into the blend, and of course, fuel up the need to sit down and write.
- The skunk and I (and my wife) continue our non-violent confrontation. I don’t want the skunk to go under the house to live; the skunk wants to. I’m not a violent person, and love animals. Watching the skunk (and studying it through the window as it emerges at night) gives more appreciation to who it is. Yet, I know it’s damaging our foundation, insulation, and weather barrier. I empathize with the little critter, though. It’s a tough life out there, and it’s only trying to exist as I’m trying to exist. It certainly has the same rights as me.
- I blame some of my sympathy to the skunk to the Netflix documentary, My Octopus Teacher. A wonderful love story, it revealed standard details the octopus and its tough existence. Naturally, after watching it, I transferred the octopus’ struggles to ‘my’ skunk. There is a difference between the octopus and skunk: the octopus isn’t invading ‘my’ territory. Anyone can argue, the skunks were there first, and that I’m the trespasser. I know; that doesn’t make my job dealing with the skunk any easier.
I’d been writing and reading yesterday. Returning to this world was like being a ball and having all my air slowly released. I felt disconnected and out of sync, and wanted to return to the book worlds.
There were things to do. Eating, errands, housework. When I drift off into the writing/reading world like this, my wife seems to grow annoyed. I suspect she wants me to do more around the house, be more social, talk more. This is how she defines humans and husbands, so I end up being short on both scales. I’m happy but she’s resentful. Or so it feels.
A song from my youth answered my thoughts. “Eight Miles High” by the Byrds came out in 1966. I was ten. Its psychedelic sound appealed to me back then. So did the lyrics, which come into play with my feelings.
h/t to Genius.com
Yeah, I felt like I’d touched down, and it all seemed strange.
- Happy first day of autumn in the northern hemisphere, and the first day of spring in the southern hemisphere. I’m making assumptions that the world agrees that the autumnal/vernal equinoxes are today. It’s a big assumption.
- After checking my facts, it seems the world is celebrating the first day of autumn but the equinox doesn’t happen until the 23rd, according to some sources. Also, not all countries, regions, and religions celebrate this day as the autumnal/vernal equinox.
- Hard to celebrate the change of seasons when so many are displaced by storms, wars, and wildfires, and we’re enduring global pandemic. The human side of the world seems like it’s in bad shape. Doesn’t look like it’ll be getting better soon.
- I’m a guy who rarely looks for home runs (but, as Steve Winwood sang, “While you see a chance, you take it”). I usually operate as a small steps person, constantly striving for improvements, and always looking for ways to measure them. Some measurements are more difficult to do than others because the increments are so damn small and backsliding is easy, especially if it involves comfort levels and habits.
- Fitbit makes measuring some things pretty easy. I hit 30,000 steps Sunday, which pleased me. My 28 day average is 11.18 miles, but much of this is in place, in which I run around the inside of the house. Couldn’t go out because of the smoke. I haven’t been below ten miles since August 24th, when I dipped to eight.
- Not much in streaming grabs me. Currently watching “No Activity”, which is a little uneven. Looking forward to Enola on Netflix, but it’s a movie, so it’ll just divert and entertain for one night. Had been watching “Beforeigners” in Dutch, which was very entertaining. It’s science fiction and police show in one. I recommend it. Love the premise and the characters. Before that, I watched “Mr Inbetween”, which featured another set of intriguing characters, and “Vera”, and re-watched old favorites, “QI”, “Would I Lie to You”, “Episodes” and “Travelers”. Tried “Perry Mason” but was not thrilled by this re-interpretation of that character and time.
- Just beginning to read “Red Rising”. My wife devoured it and recommended it to me. It’s a library borrow.
- Saw the doc yesterday for the arm, probably for the last time. I haven’t been going to therapy, as it was proposed. I referred to Doctor Internet and her assistant, Nurse Youtube. My arm is making progress. I exercise and massage my fingers, hand, wrist, and arm regularly. Improvement is measured by what I can pick up (like the water pitcher, and pouring water out of it), being able to type (better and better) again, doing buttons, and you know, regular stuff. I look forward to when I can clip my nails properly. That’s the true test of improvement. Right now, it’s still beyond my strength and coordination.
- The healing process fascinates me. I can feel changes take place. One of the more interesting ones was the nerves in my fingers. Everything felt rough to them for several days until they again acclimated (not sure that’s the right word) and the nerves were mended and sensitized to being used again.
- Our local fires are out, but several remain burning in the county, in other parts of the state, and California. I check them each day for containment, size, and developments. It’s depressing.
- We had a great weekend of air quality. That lifted our spirits. Yesterday morning started well, at forty eight. But, the sun began developing a reddish tint on the ground. The mountains faded from sight behind a curtain of smoke and haze. We progress to moderate by noon to unhealthy and one sixty in the afternoon. Today, we began at fifty-six, moderate.
- We’ve been searching online for new places to live. The eastern U.S. is calling. Yeah, the annual adventures in droughts, water restrictions, wildfires and smoke is wearing thin. We’re considering places in Ohio and western PA. A friend suggested Asheville, NC. We’d looked at it before and rejected it. Perhaps we’ll reconsider it, but on the whole, we’re dismayed by many of the political decisions made in the southern United States and their general philosophy.
- Writing is writing. I can defend that tautology by saying, it’s a challenge, slower than I like, but always engaging and ultimately rewarding. Now, got my coffee. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.
- 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.”
- 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.
- Need to indulge in a somber moment of reflection after reading that.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Time to leave for the doc, so later, gator.
Randy and I were going to the library. Randy is a friend who died of colon cancer five years ago. He was a few months older than me.
In the dream, he was the Randy I always knew, although he was driving a black Mustang GT, which is unlike Randy. When, in the dream, we got out of the car, I said, “I like that car. I’ve rented one three times now, although they were the next generation. All of them were white. One was a convertible.”
Randy said, “I know, you told me.”
We went into the library. It was a modern brick and glass building. They’d called me to fix something there. Randy was just giving me a ride. Then he and I were going off to have a beer.
In the library, I sought the head librarian. She gave me blueprints. They were highlighted by supports that I needed to fix. She went off immediately. As I studied the blueprints, Randy asked, “Why are they having you do this?”
I replied, “I’ve done it before, and they know that, I guess.”
Studying the prints and the building, I found where the supports were to be fixed. But as I studied the situation, I decided that what they intended wouldn’t work.
Off I went to find the head librarian.
She was in another section with a man, working on fixing something else. Seeing me, the man said, “Oh, just fix it.”
Showing them the blueprints, I explained to them what I thought was wanted and why I didn’t think they’d work.
The head librarian said, “Well, you’ll have to take it up with him. He’s the one that sent the plans down. I’m just a messenger.”
I’m like, “Who is him? How do I get old of him?”
But the librarian was ignoring me.
I went off again to reconsider the supports and the fix. I remained convinced that they wouldn’t work.
People started entering the library. Some event was going on. Randy and I found books and then sat down to read, along with dozens of others. Most were men.
A woman introduced a man. The man, small and dark, began speaking. I stopped reading to listen to him but he was speaking so softly, I couldn’t hear and understand him.
Randy kept reading. Seeing that, the man walked over and handed Randy a card, and then walked away. He was still talking but I couldn’t hear him.
Holding up the card, Randy said, “What’s this? Let me take my glasses off.” He couldn’t do that because he had a book in his hand. He handed me the card. I read, “See what you’re missing when you don’t listen?” on it. Randy took his glasses off, handed them to me, and took the card. As he read the card and I held his glasses, I realized that my palms were sweating and his glass lenses were getting wet and smudged.
I apologized to Randy as I handed his glasses back. That’s where the dream ended.