Back to Bed

It’s become one of those days. I started off optimistic and energetic. Despite the leaked SCOTUS decision regarding Roe v. Wade and the various responses to it, I thought, it hasn’t been finalized. It may have even been floated by Republicans to see gauge reactions. Maybe, right, fingers crossed, etc.

But then I go on to the news. Ohio elected a guy, a Qanon promoting individual who thinks Joe Biden is tearing this country apart. He says, “Our grassroots movement across northwest Ohio intensified with every terrible mistake the Biden administration continued and still continues to make. I am more energized than ever to unite the Republican base.”

What terrible mistakes have been made? That’s not specified. I’m sure he’ll point to oil and gas prices, inflation, ignoring, of course, the global view of what’s going on in that realm with supply lines, Trump’s contributions to the problem, and the war. Perhaps, being a QAnon’er, he’ll point to the ‘COVID-19 Hoax’ or ‘the stolen 2020 election’, ‘illegal mandates’, or other things already proven to the contrary. How they hold on to the lies and disinformation that’s been spread. This man might well end up in the U.S. Congress, alongside Boebert, MTG, Matt Gaetz, Jim Jordan, Ron Johnson, and that ilk.

Then I see headlines about a few more murders and news about Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine. All of it drains and angers me, but also frustrates me. It’s sad to read of people’s behavior and thinking. In many ways, when I think of the net, that’s one of the things that comes to mind: TMI. But then a friend shares information about AI testing bees and their networking processes, and I think, see? Technology is also good.

Yes, science and technology can be wonderful, when used right. Perhaps, that’s what bugs me: we have so many undermining technology and history, twisting their narrative to promote themselves as saviors of freedom and progress. 1984? Oh, yes. Often, the motivation behind these people and their movements turn out to be the ancient problems of racism and greed.

Instead of going back to bed, I’ll deep back into my writing world. Got my coffee. It’s time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

Cheers

A Move Is Made

I was settled in and writing — but —

First came the cat, Tucker. The big black and white long-furred character kept muttering about something. Food? No. Not a desire to go outside into the cold wind, surely. Nope. Water? No, not water. Just give me attention, he suggested.

“Sorry, but I gotta write, buddy,” I told him. “I’ll brush you later, I promise.”

Tucker was like, okay, I understand. He jumped up on the desk, went to the hand holding the mouse, and went to work on it with his head as a huge volume of purrs rolled through the space. “I love you but that’s not conducive to writing, buddy,” I said, moving my hand and mouse away.

Well. He sat a while, considering my response before resigning himself to a nap on a stack of papers a foot away. Writing like crazy commenced again.

My wife arrived home from her exercise class about ten minutes later. Energy bubbled out in vocal expressions. Setting into her office space, she began playing videos on a high volume, laughing aloud at what she went, turning to him to say, “You should see — oh, sorry, never mind, you’re writing.”

After four of those interruptions, I needed to find a writing refuge. The laptop was tucked into the backpack, the winter coat and gloves donned. The real question was, what’s the destination? Ashland’s coffee shop scene had changed during the pandemic. Two favorites had joined my longtime haunt, The Beanery, on the rolls of places that used to be. A new place had opened, not conveniently located, but run by a person I knew who used to run one of my favorite coffee shops. Named Moxie, I’d try it.

I walked in. “Michael!” everyone inside shouted.

I started, embarrassed to be in the spotlight. The owner was behind the counter. “Michael was one of our favorite regulars at my other coffee shop,” she explained to everyone. I knew three of those people. The other six were smiling strangers.

Not a large space, Moxie had gone through a soft grand-opening as furniture and style is acquired and employed. It had key ingredients that I need in a coffee shop: a table with a plug. Coffee. A good vibe.

After catching up with people, I settled in with a double-shot mocha. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

Coffee and Dreams

I awoke at about half past darkness with a dream in mind. Realized that I was writing in my dream.

I went over what I’d written. Considered rising to capture it. Decided not to. Resumed sleep.

Awoke in the morning. Went through dreams while doing light exercising and stretching. Daily ritual. The cats assumed the position. Stared fixedly with misery. Tucker seized a more active approach. Moved over and sat on my foot. Looked up at me. Eyes big. Waiting. Expectant. Give a little, “Mello,” in a friendly baritone.

Done with exercising, feeding cats was necessary before starvation took them. We went down the hall, they with eager anticipation, me with resignation. Cleaned out bowls — “You never even finished what I fed you last night” — opened a can. Doled out the wet food. Refilled the kibble stations. Cleaned and filled the water stations.

Coffee was brewed. Before it finished, I was back with the dream writing stuff. Headed to the computer. Wrote for an hour. Surprising how fresh and clear it had remained. Got up when my Fitbit reminded me that it was time to move. Remembered my coffee. Now cold. Drank some anyway. My taste buds immediately sent notices that this was unacceptable. I nuked the coffee hot. The taste buds were appalled.

Writing in my head was still happening. Hadn’t eaten yet but the muses were strong. So, despite the stomach’s increasingly vocal demands, I made fresh coffee and returned to the keyboard. Got back into the rhythm.

Half the coffee remains. It’s almost cold. Mug radiates an ant watt of warmth. Taste buds are not overly pleased with the dark fluid’s progress over their realm.

But it all works. Coffee and dreams. At least, today. Time to eat, according to my stomach. Get some real coffee, too, the taste buds request. Something hot and dark, please.

Flippin’ the Script

With writing, I’m often stymied as I await the muses’ participation. These past two weeks, I’ve turned it around on them. Writing steadily, finding the path each morning, I keep the final destination in mind. Quiet and watchful, the muses gather around me. “Where you going with this?” they keep asking.

Chuckling, I tell them, “You’ll have to wait and see.”

It’s nice making them wait to see what happens next. I feel like the novel in progress in almost at an end (draft five). I edit and revise as I write, grinding down the story, molding and shaping it. Not to jinx anything, but I have a good rhythm formed for now, generally writing a bit, then going off, reading, doing housework or other things, then returning to write more, then editing. For now, I’m focused on finishing this draft. In the meanwhile, a solid grasp of what I’m going to do in the next editing stage has crystalized.

It’s been thirteen months since I began writing this one. Writing it required process changes driven by social distancing and coffee shop shutdowns. I used to leave the house, walk to get into the writing mode, then enter a coffee house, sit with my laptop, and do the deed. I’ve had to adjust. That was a surprising challenge. I’m pleased (but anxious) that I could adjust.

Pleased and anxious remains the watch words for writing this. I worry and fret, then tell myself not to worry and fret, just write, but yet, worry and fret, hunting through words, finding my way. It’s surprising to see that I’m at five hundred and ten Word pages, 145K words. I’ve already done some cutting but more is due once the ending is reached.

Got my coffee. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

March Monday Madness

  1. Thinking of the post’s title brings back memories and a smile. Pre-pandemic, I used to regularly visit a coffee shop. I usually ordered mochas there. So, it was Michael’s mocha. Going with the alliteration scheme, Michal’s Mocha sometimes became Michael’s March Madness Monday Mocha. It also took place in May. Just harmless fun, banter between me and the ‘ristas.
  2. The skunk under the house was active last night. Lots of squeaking under the master bath and then arose that smell. We admire this skunk for her persistence and tenacity. She’s like a writer, never giving up, you know?
  3. I shut down the skunk’s activity last nightwell, it was this morning, really, one twenty-five AM by all the standard references — with the iPad. Turning it on, I called up a video of David Frost interviews. Setting the iPad on the bathroom floor with the volume turned up, I plugged it in so it wouldn’t run out of juice, and closed the door. As soon as David Frost began speaking, the squeaking ceased.
  4. Just to make home life more interesting, we now have what seems to be a gopher hole in the back yard. Investigations are ongoing. More reports forthcoming. We’re a no-kill household, so I’ll probably be turning to sonic stakes to drive them away.
  5. I’m always fearful of calling down the muses’ wrath when I mention that writing is going well, that I’m enjoying the process and entertaining myself with what I write, so I won’t mention it.
  6. I really enjoyed the 60Minutes interview with Colson Whitehead that aired Sunday. First novel rejected twenty-five times and never published. He writes for himself but hopes that one person will identify with and like what he writes, and maybe one will become ten, etc. That’s me paraphrasing, based on what I heard, and perhaps what I wanted to take away from his outlook. He’s won two Pulitzer Prizes, which, great, congratulations to him. More importantly, those two books are in the house in my reading pile. My wife read both and recommend them to me. I seriously trust and respect her judgment in these matters. So, I’ll put those books higher on the pile.
  7. The reading pile is always growing, it seems. Books get recommended or passed on. Reviews are read and chords are struck. Friends publish new books and must be read. A new favorite author is discovered and other works are hunted down for reading. Then, there’s the non-fiction side. Reading is a constant requirement. I’m fortunate to have the time to indulge myself.
  8. I was reading in the living room yesterday afternoon. The book at hand was Countdown City by Ben Winters. It’s a quick, engaging noir adventure. Sunshine bubbled in over my shoulders through the blinds. Sitting, listening, in a pause from reading, I heard no electronics running. No lights were on. The furnace and refrigerator were silent. Radios and television were off, though clocks are running. The home weather station was running, and so was the net and laptops and the associated equipment. But none of these things made sounds. I enjoyed the sunny stillness.
  9. Thinking of clocks…four ‘clocks’ are in the house. Two are in the kitchen, in the microwave and range. Another is in the bedroom. The fourth is a battery operated clock in the snug. But then, we wear Fitbits, which offer us the time. So do the phones, the thermostat, and laptops, printer, and tablets. We track time everywhere.
  10. I’m fussy about synchronizing the clocks, too. I think, or at least, pretend, that it harkens back to my military career. Being synchronized to the second was important to us in that life.
  11. Also to keep life interesting — because these are such boring, tedious times — credit card fraud struck us. I was reviewing my credit card billing last week. It’s a weekly habit for me to go online and review all the finances, a time-killing activity to fill space when I’m putting off doing something else. It just takes a few minutes. Well, lo’, there was a small charge that I didn’t recognize. After verifying it didn’t belong to my wife, I challenged it with the company. They responded by cancelling that card and sending me a new one. However, they didn’t tell me that they were doing that. First I know of it was when the credit card was rejected. That spun me up fast. Suspecting it was related to the fraud that I reported, I checked into the account to look for notice that such is what happened. No notice. A chat with an agent was required to verify cause and effect. It would have been nice to be warned or notified that they’d done this, right? Irritating customer service policy, to say the least.
  12. We have only two credit card accounts. Each is used for certain activities, to help limit exposure. That meant, though, that we are down one credit card. Momentarily, yes, but it’s a domino effect. Emails arrive, hey, your card was rejected, what up? No idea when the new card will arrive so some activities are on stuck in a queue. Whereas I had reduced checking the mail to once a week in general, sometimes twice in one week, I’ll now be going to the mailbox daily.
  13. Also, I knew that credit card information. I could rattle off the number, expiration date, and security code without hesitation. Now I’m forced to learn a new number and particulars. Yeah, I like whining, don’t I?
  14. Got my coffee. Ready to write like crazy at least one more time.

Thursday Thoughts

  1. My cousin, Glenn Seidel, passed away, ending his cancer fight. A genuine nice, caring person, his death is one that makes you question life’s mechanics. I wish he’d never suffered cancer; he’d watched his mother and younger sister fall to cancer. It’s good that he’s no longer suffering, though. Watching the suffering, unable to do more than mouth platitudes, is the struggle for me when a friend, relative, or pet is suffering and dying. No, it’s not about me; the survivors always mourn. It’s about what he — what they all — went through before reaching the point of death. Here’s to Glenn.
  2. Weather is on my mind. We’re contemplating a move east. Why? Summer weather here in southern Oregon has become a litany of summer suffering: wildfires, or smoke from wildfires suspend or kill activities and travel. Drought requires water restrictions, which is enforced via capitalism: if you have the money, you can buy the water. Depressing, right? But our winter is comfortable, remarkably snow free and freezing free. Moving east to Ohio or PA would mean plunging into that stuff.
  3. Watching Texas suffer from lack of planning for cold weather brings deep sighs of frustration. Save some pennies, increase profits, but when the shit hits, you’re wickedly unprepared. It’s sadly now the GOP way. Yet that ‘save some pennies, increase profits’ mantra holds fast against critical thinking. It’s always the poorest classes who suffer most, of course.
  4. Since I’m on politics, will the righteous right-wing notice that President Biden, a Democrat, immediately reached out to help states, whether they’re ‘red’ or ‘blue’? Doubtful that they’ll notice; doubtful that they’ll remember. Yes, experiencing a strong cynical streak today.
  5. We worry about the animals along with people, you know? We hope the animals are warm and safe, too. The logical response is, this is life; suffering is inculcated as part of the formula. Death is a natural ending. Still, I hope for the best. Guess I’m an unrepentant optimist.
  6. Writing (knock on wood) continues going well, which continues to scare me. There’s a burst of jubilation as a major chapter is completed. After a pause of reflection, anxiety strikes as I face the ever-present, ever-daunting question, what next? That question always pulls me back into the puzzle that’s called writing a novel.
  7. I’m watching more foreign television shows that are in their native languages. I run in place and watch television to wind down at the day’s conclusion. Usually do two to three miles between 10:30 PM and midnight. Bad dubbing draws cringes and winces, which are disruptions to the entertainment. Don’t need it. Instead, I watch television in German, Icelandic, Norwegian, French, etc., eyes glued to the captions. We like how characters appear in television from other countries. Characters in the U.S. TV land are typically pretty people with pleasant lives and mild challenges to their principles and decisions. Typically, matters are quickly resolved, with little complications. There are exceptions. The characters in stories in other nations are less pretty, less glamorous, and more natural. Yes, they’re more like me. Fortunately, watching foreign television seems to be a growing streaming trend. A great selection is available.
  8. One exception in U.S. television that I continue to admire is “The Wire”. Watching it for the second time, finishing season four, the levels of excellence in production values, acting, character development, plots, and story arcs all still impress me. It’s been several years since I first watched it, yet so many of the people and story-lines remain memorable. It’s a gritty show, but you end up rooting and crying for so many.
  9. Finished reading/read six books last week. I’m mastering the jogging-in-place-while-reading process. Five of the books were fiction, the other was non-fiction. Reading does enhance/intensify my writing process. Hungry for more books now. One is on hold at the library, so I need to head that way, but also research more to add to my list. I’m reading mostly crime and speculative fiction while I’m writing my science fiction/speculative fiction novel.
  10. With running in place augmenting my walking and other exercise, my 28-day average remains over 12, coming in at 12.41 for this cycle, with a best day of 14 on February 7.
  11. It’s raining outside. My cats are in and asleep. One sleeps on my feet as I type, keeping me warm with his weight. Another is in the foyer, curled up on the bench, a paw over his eyes. The third is stretched out on the guest bed like a ginger throw. Their presence and the knowledge that they’re safe and comfortable reassures me against awareness of the world’s pain.
  12. Now, time to go eat lunch. Then it’s back to writing like crazy, at least one more time. Stay safe, please. Cheers

On Some Days

  1. On some days, I want to get away by myself to scream at the world. Yesterday was such a day. Stepped into the shower and screamed in silence. Was somewhat cathartic.
  2. I was driving along unlined streets in a residential neighborhood yesterday. Cars were parked along the side but there’s more than enough room for two cars to pass. Yet, so many drivers could not manage that. Driver age, sex, vehicle size…none of it seemed to explain it. People just couldn’t manage it. I thought it was because of the lack of lines. What tended to happen was that folks in one direction would stop so that folks proceeding in the other direction could drive straight down the middle. Young, old, male, female, all exhibited problems with it. “Just move over,” I’d tell them through the windshield. “Just use your side of the street. Honestly, it’s not that hard.” I should be more considerate of others but…on some days…it’s harder.
  3. Contemplating a favorite shirt’s fate. Like everything else, there is a season, turn, turn, etc. Bought this shirt back in 1999. Have photographic evidence of that, for there I am, wearing it in a dated photo. Nothing special, button down collar, long-sleeved, cotton, faded blue stripes on egg shell white. It’s been with me in two states, four houses, five companies, and ten cats (sigh.) (The cats were three to five at a time…) Probably paid about twenty-five dollars for the shirt. Can’t recall that, although I do recall that I bought it on sale at Macy’s. Good jeans shirt. Have gotten some compliments while wearing it, but mostly I like its style and comfort. It’s been gently descending the hill for years, evidenced mostly through armpit stains. I’ve washed those out with a lemon juice and baking soda process a couple times. Now, though…the collar is frayed. It looks like it’s time for the shirt to finally move on. I guess, properly, I’m moving on from the shirt.
  4. I feel like a prisoner sometimes. (Such an exaggeration, right?) I hate throwing things away, but it’s inculcated into my nature and our society. Besides the shirt, there’s now an electric kettle. Probably purchased ten years ago, the spring which helps the lid release and open no longer functions. Can it be fixed? Maybe…if I can find the right spring.
  5. I contemplate the conundrum. Savings are acquired by mass production. Costs are kept down by underpaying people and going to the margin on design and materials. Paying more can gain you more…maybe. You really can’t be sure. But after a few years, when the device or clothing fails, what do you do with it? Where does it goes? The recycling gig seems to be filling up and failing. That’s always been the fallback: recycle or repurpose. I have containers full of used shirts now relegated to being rags out in the garage.
  6. Dad was going to get a new stent this past week. His wife called. He’s eighty-eight. A COPD sufferer, he’d gone into the hospital on Monday to have his meds adjusted for his COPD. Suffering from edema resulting in a swollen left leg and foot, he was kept for observations and a stress test, and given diuretics. The stress test never happened; he was wheezing too much on that day, Wed. He was released on Thursday with plans to have the stress test done in the future. Meanwhile, he and his wife got the COVID-19 vaccination on Friday, which was paramount for them.
  7. I spent an hour on the phone chatting with Dad. He was in a talkative mood and opened up about his youth, something unusual for him. Mom and Dad divorced when I was about ten. He was in the military and oft stationed overseas, so I lived with him for about seven years total, including my final three years of high school. It was just him and me for two of those years. He worked, and I went to school, cleaned, and cooked. We didn’t see much of one another.
  8. Dad revealed that he met Mom in Sioux City, Iowa, when he was stationed there. (She’s from Turin, Iowa, and he’s from Pittsburgh, PA.) This was back in 1952. He was a radioman and she was a seventeen-year-old telephone switchboard operator. Too young to for her to marry in Iowa, they went to Luverne, Minnesota. There he discovered that while she was older enough (fifteen was the age for females there), he wasn’t old enough at twenty; he had to be twenty-one. Naturally, Dad managed to procure a letter with his father’s signature verifying that he was twenty-one. But no, wait. They told him that he had to have his mother’s signature. “Well, Mom is dead,” Dad replied. Then he called his father and said, “Can you tell these people that Mom passed?” That was done but he got grief for it from his parents for years.
  9. Joe Biden has been POTUS for a month and has yet to go golfing. By this point in his term, one month, Con Don had golfed six times. Donald Trump’s aides don’t want to admit the President is golfing – CNN Politics
  10. Enough whining and complaining for now. Got my coffee. Caspa, Uno Dos, and Billy await. They’re just meeting Spag and the recos for the first time. Time to go write like crazy, at least one more time.

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