Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Hope the weather’s nice!

Scheduling this to post, because I’m off on an adventure and will be back with stories and photos tomorrow.

Got a good bit done yesterday. Forgot to mention that, on Sunday, I polished and sent off the next to “Literary Athlete” columns for THE SCRUFFY DOG REVIEW, which means I’m caught up for the year. Got my write-up done for Confidential Job #1 and off, along with all the paperwork due to the publication changing ownership. Got another four-page explanation out, that’s hopefully clear, to someone else.

Ran some errands, got in some groceries, am in negotiations for a new gig in the late summer. It would mean negating going to Saratoga to work the gala this year, but the money’s good enough that, if I get it, I’ll have to take it. Maybe I could nip up to Saratoga just to say hi for a few hours the week before.

Prepped for today’s adventure, hung out with the cat next door, did some writing. All good, in spite of the swelter.

More tomorrow.


Published in: on June 30, 2010 at 1:03 am  Comments (3)  

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Hot and sticky

Yesterday was just disgusting, weather-wise. I didn’t get much writing done — mostly because the migraine was so bad, I couldn’t think or see. Got some stuff to the post office, worked on something else that has to go out today. Finished the material for Confidential Job #1, so I will do the write-up and send it off today. It turned out better than it started, thank goodness. Took care of the cat next door.

Elsa’s hanging in there. She’s really trying to get better. I told the vet I wanted to move forward with the new medication, so I’m waiting for the information. It has to be mixed at a special pharmacy in Manhattan and then sent to me. But Elsa’s trying to eat, and she’s interacting and curious about what’s going on, and stays with us, and is more herself again.

Migraine’s still here and the hip’s bothering me. I have a feeling this will be a good day. “Good day”? Why did I write that? Well, maybe my subconscious knows something I don’t. I’d like it to be a good day, that’s for sure, but certainly am not convinced of it yet! Couldn’t reach one of those who needs a new one ripped today, so that had to roll over to today.

I’m going to try and get some work done on both POWER OF WORDS and on the short story today, as well as getting out the write-up and other paperwork for Confidential Job #1. But, mostly, it will be a pretty quiet day in the heat. The humidity is supposed to break today, though, which is a good thing, because I have to be out and about tomorrow, and I don’t like to leave the cats for very long without the air conditioning on. If the heat/humidity are low enough so they don’t need it, it’s fine. Let’s face it, it’s hard to be furry in the summer!

I’m also going to start re-reading the books for the seminar series this week and taking notes.

Thursday, my pottery class starts. I’m really excited and really nervous.

Back to the page.


Published in: on June 29, 2010 at 6:00 am  Comments (1)  
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Monday, June 28, 2010

Monday, June 28, 2010
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Hot, sticky, icy

I hope that spending the weekend dealing with other people’s corrupt crap means I’ve got in my quota for the damn year! Dealt with some situations on behalf of my mother. If I had the money to hire a lawyer and file a multi-million dollar suit and put out the word to make it a class action suit, I would. Unfortunately, that is not an option. The landlords are trying to make our lives hell again. I mean, since when are they not, but even more inconvenience and stupidity, for which they will attempt to charge is on the way. Withdrew from consideration for one particular writing job — when I got the details, it was better than a content mill, but the rates were still too low, they expect a lot of research time without paying for it, and they still put the emphasis on quantity rather than quality. Let’s see: with a little hustle and research, I get 10X the pay rate they offer, and I can focus on creating quality work. My business model works better for me, and since I am in the Business of Me, that is what I will do. Then, someone else demanded that I sell his piece for him. Um, I’m not an agent, I don’t provide agent duties, I’ve never read your work, I barely know you, and I’m busy writing, polishing, pitching, and selling my own work. I gave the person a list of resources that would help him decide where to pitch, and he kept repeating, “But you can sell it.” No, I can’t. I’m not an agent. Repeating the question when I’ve said no does not make me change my answer to what you want. I don’t wear down; I get more stubborn and less polite.

Started the assignment for Confidential Job #1. It looked really interesting; it’s turning out to be s slog through the mud, unfortunately, but I want to get it done today and out, along with the paperwork for the new owners of the publication. As I keep working on it, I’m finding some good stuff there, but it’s not easy. I’ll try it for a few months, and if my qualms prove true, I will resign by the end of the year.

Hung out with the cat next door. Wrote a little. Found a really interesting call for submission, and got an idea for a story set in Iceland. It’s only 1500 words, so I should be able to knock it out pretty easily — provided I find the RIGHT 1500 words! Cleaned off a lot of crap from my desk.

Hope Clark had a great editorial in one of her newsletters this week where she asks readers if they get up and go to work every day, as far as their writing goes, whether they still have a day job or not. She makes a great point: when you’re on someone else’s payroll, you’re still expected to get into work and be productive. If you don’t give your writing the same gravitas, you won’t be able to make the transition to full-time writer. Life always gets in the way — it’s how you handle it that defines you.

Right now, I’m not happy with my own personal definition, and the summer’s going to be tough, financially, but I’ve set up quite a bit of work that pays decently and is enjoyable for fall and going into next year, so that should help. At least I’m sticking to my 1K a day no matter what, so I’m moving forward, even if it’s slowly. Slowly is better than not at all.

Elsa held steady on Saturday, and ate well on Sunday. She’s still having the acid reflux problem, and has lost too much weight. I finally heard back from the vet and we’re going to try an experimental new treatment on her. It’s been used with positive results on people with cancer, HIV, and MS, and he tried it on a dog with liver cancer with positive results, so it’s worth a shot. And I can afford it.

Started a suspense short story which is more comedy than suspense right now. Hopefully, I can figure out the balance within the word count. I love this character – one of the smartest, funniest, and bravest I’ve ever written.

Today has to be a busy day in spite of oppressive heat. I have a blazing migraine, and the cats were impossible all night. I had the air on the bedroom with the door closed. Cats hate closed doors, and, since none of the doors close properly in this place, they were in and out and in and out and in and out and . . .you get the picture. All night long. I might go next door and take a nap with the neighbor’s cat just to get some rest! I have a blazing migraine and have to rip a few people a few new ones this morning. Batten down the hatches.

And then I hope to read, write, and have a quiet day in air conditioning.


Published in: on June 28, 2010 at 7:08 am  Comments (4)  
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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Saturday, June 26, 2010
Full Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and hot

It was hotter and more humid than predicted, but oh, well. Got out a batch of queries and five pitches, which was pretty decent. One of them is based in London, although I’d telecommute — it would be very cool to land that one. And it pays pretty well, too. Spent time with the cat next door, both morning and afternoon. Finished the wonderful Pepys biography by Claire Tomalin and went back to Joyce Carol Oates’s diary. Received my next assignment from Confidential Job #1. Made some notes on the Solstice Mystery.

Savvy Authors sent me the post for my Ons Story, Many Voices Workshop. Problem is, they’d promoted it as starting in August, only we’d moved it to January. We got it sorted, but I had a few minutes where I nearly had a heart attack, wondering how I was going to manage it with the time I’m booked to spend on the road, if we HAD to move it back to August, and also if I was crazy and had somehow written it down wrong.

But the paper trail was there, my calendar was right, and it’s sorted for January. That workshop is very unique because we start with a flash fiction story that’s literary fiction and then move it from genre to genre throughout the month, using the protocols of each genre to tweak it and explore it. By the end, you’ve either settled on a genre in which to expand the piece, or you have a handful of short stories in different genres. It’s not an easy workshop, by any means, but it’s really cool. I created it several years ago, when I was looking for something like this and couldn’t find it. So far, the students have loved it.

It’s January, it’s a long way down the road, but I hope to see a lot of you there. When it’s properly posted, I’ll put up the link.

I had some unpleasant business to deal with on my mother’s account. Some of it was handled; some will continue over the weekend and into next week. And I have to figure out my dates down in DC for some meetings, in the fall, but around the teaching jobs. I’m getting excited about going to Philly for a gig in a few weeks – not only will the work be tons of fun, and I’ll also have time to write, but I’ll get to hang out with some writer pals.

Today will be busy: writing, looking after the cat next door, sorting out some correspondence, clearing off the desk, taking a carload of stuff to storage, picking up some stuff from a couple of stores, maybe getting over to Target or Home Goods to replace the wine glasses I accidentally broke the other day (a bandaged hand is slowing me down). I want to get most of it done sooner rather than later, because it’s going to be a hot one. It never cooled down the way they promised yesterday.

Elsa improved quite a bit yesterday, and she seems even better today. She’s really working at getting better, and I’m doing everything I can to help her.

Not that we’ve heard back from the vet or anything since I contacted him on TUESDAY.

Back to the page.


Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday, June 25, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and hot

The humidity let up, thank goodness, because yesterday, it was disgusting. There were severe storms all around us, with enormous damage and possibly tornadoes, but we didn’t see a single raindrop.

Had a good day on POWER OF WORDS, finishing Chapter 15. This whole section is pretty weak, and I have to tear is apart and restructure a lot — I haven’t integrated the logistics well enough into the story, and the two are very interdependent. But at least I have something on paper with which I can wrestle.

Hung out with the cat next door quite a bit — got some reading and writing done over there. Put the air on for him for a few hours, too. He’s a big cat, and he suffers in the heat.

Elsa was in pretty bad shape yesterday. I had to haul around quite a bit to find the tasteless Pedialyte — damn them all for only having flavored varieties in the single-serving sizes. I had to buy a huge bottle. Anyway, since she wouldn’t eat, I gave her Pedialyte every couple of hours all day. She ate a tiny bit in the evening, baby food and a little cooked chicken. She still has what seems like acid reflux, so she wants to eat, but it’s physically difficult for her.

And I”m STILL waiting to hear back from the vet, which irritates me. I think he’s just hoping she’ll fade away at home and be done with it, since I can’t afford to drop tens of thousands of dollars on treatment, and I resent it.

This morning, however, Elsa is very perky and dancing around, shades of the old, funny Elsa. She was very busy all morning, making the rounds she used to make before she was so sick. She ate better than she has in about a week — it was hard work for her, but she was determined– interacted well with the other cats, and is now happily curled up in front of the fan, enjoying the breeze. Best she’s been in a few weeks. I’m hoping it’s not just a momentary rally.

I’m going to do some more research and see what else I can figure out.

I hope to have a reasonably quiet day today. I do have to fight with some scumbags (not landlords for once) who are trying to take advantage of my elderly mother, and I will not tolerate it. I’ve got some paperwork to do, a few more pitches and queries to get out, and a proposal to work on. So, provided dealing with the scumbags doesn’t totally wipe me out, it should be a reasonably productive day.

And, hopefully Elsa will continue to improve. She’s definitely happier and more cheerful than she’s been in awhile. All your good thoughts are helping — thank you!


Published in: on June 25, 2010 at 6:28 am  Comments (7)  
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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Thursday, June 24, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Hot, sticky, icky

I pretty much wilted yesterday, and fairly early. Got the grocery shopping done, hung out with the neighbor’s cat, got a bit of writing done.

In spite of honoring Fandango, the Air Conditioner Goddess (thank you, Barbara Ardinger), I had all the excitement of a wet dishrag. I am a Winter Girl, born in a snowstorm under a full moon. Heat and humidity don’t do it for me.

The cats got absolutely frantic in the afternoon, trying to get out of the air conditioned room. At first, I thought it was their usual hatred of closed doors. But then, Elsa, who had not been doing well all afternoon (I thought I’d be posting her obituary today), hauled herself up, yanked away the barrier that blocked them from opening the door, pried it open, and led them to “safety.”

Turns out there was an earthquake near Ottawa, and it could be felt all the way down here! I sure didn’t feel it, but the cats did.

Funny thing is, whenever Elsa gets very busy, we always tease her with, “Is there an earthquake in New Jersey?” because once, when there was one, she practically climbed the walls. And this wasn’t in New Jersey, but she could sense it anyway. Always trust the cats and dogs, right? They know what’s going on.

Checked on the neighbor’s cat in the afternoon. That apartment wasn’t too hot. I actually fell asleep with him on my lap for about an hour, which was pretty funny, but at least he had some company. Three weeks is a long time for a cat, and that’s how long his human is away.

I wasn’t very productive yesterday. Today’s supposed to be hotter and more humid, so more of the same. We were supposed to head to Plymouth, MA and just over the bridge on the Cape to take care of a few things, but I can’t leave the cats in this heat. They need the air, and it’s not safe to leave the air on without us here — too much of a fire risk. So we’ll try to go sometime next week instead.

Elsa’s having a hard time eating, still. She wants to, but it’s like she physically can’t. I haven’t heard back from the vet yet, so I’m going to get some Pedialyte and see if that will help. The vet had suggested it earlier, and that’s what we give to actors when they’re ill, but we still have to get them onstage. Feeding her a few teaspoons every couple of hours is keeping her going, but now we need to find something stronger and more longterm. And it’s hard on the other cats, too, especially Violet, who adores Elsa. Iris has my mother as her own, personal human slave, but Violet and Elsa have always been very close. Elsa’s illness is breaking Violet’s heart, as well as not being much fun for Elsa.

I’m going to try to get some work done on a few articles this morning, before it gets too hot to work, and maybe a little bit of work on POWER OF WORDS. I need to work on some proposals, but I’m not up to zippy, excited language today. More like mojito-on-the-beach language.

I am grateful to live someplace where the seasons are clearly defined. I don’t do well in the heat, but I do even less well when there’s an unchangeable climate. I like variety.


Published in: on June 24, 2010 at 5:43 am  Comments (8)  
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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and HOT

First of all, my wrap-up article on Belmont Stakes day is here. Enjoy.

Second, I have some teaching gigs I’m going to mention now, and then remind you about as they draw closer.

In fall and into winter, I’m doing three deconstruction seminars. Each runs for a week, analyzing structure and character development.

September 13-19: Fantasy/romance

September 20-26: Steampunk film

November 29-December 5: Paranormal mystery

These are all online through Savvy Authors, and I will direct you to the blurb and registration and fees once that’s all sorted.

I’m also teaching two workshops at The Muse Online Conference this year: My ever-popular Dialogue Workshop and also a Story-Building Workshop. Registration is limited and will close on August 15 for the conference in general. More importantly, my workshop is limited to the first 30 people who sign up; in previous years, something like 150 people have signed up, with 50+ posting each day, and it’s just too much for me to give feedback as intensively as is necessary for the workshop to a large group of students, especially those who ignore the directions in the exercise or who take on too much and don’t keep up with the work. If I can make the commitment of time and energy, I expect the same from the students.

The Muse Conference is free. If you’ve never participated, I suggest that you try it this year. It’s terrific. I’ve developed three novels and a collection of short stories in it over the years. There are some really great teachers this year. If either Karina Fabian or Christine Amsden are teaching world-building workshops, take them. They are amazing.

The conference runs from October 11-17, but, as I said, registration closes on August 15.

I’m also teaching One Story, Many Voices online over the month of January 2011 at Savvy Authors, and several workshops for the RWA in 2011, but I’ll post information closer to registration dates.

Yesterday was a pretty good, calm day. I spent time in the morning hanging out with the nieighbor’s cat, who first pinned me against the door when I came in, and, once he’d eaten, sat in my lap for the rest of the time. He’s 16 pounds, so that’s a lot of cat in the lap!

Drove to LI for my acupuncture appointment. Lots of traffic, but it moved and I gave myself plenty of time so I wouldn’t stress out. Started plotting the story that the “spiritual” center inspired while I drove. Acupuncture was great. Turns out the painful hip was a half inch out of alignment. She was surprised I could even walk around from the pain. I guess I just sort of got used to it. Anyway, she untangled me, got my neck back in the right spot, too, and unwound my back. Wow. What a difference.

But I had to rest for the remainder of the day (once I drove home). I can do most yoga, except for one sequence, but no running or weight training for two weeks, to make sure the body gets used to being in proper alignment. I’m definitely a little sore today, but always checking to make sure I’m not askew.

On the way home, I stopped at the wine store. Two older “businessmen” in cheap suits were hanging out in the store. One of them said to me, “Don’t you think it’s time you got a boob job?” And I said, “Don’t you think it’s time you got a personality job?” The proprietor was mortified — I go there a lot, and people there are always nice. Figures. The old, out-of-work, down-at-heel drunks are true gentlemen, and the older white guy in the business suit is the sleaze bag.

Anyway, hung out with the cat some more, wrote up the notes I’d come up with as I drove (always interesting to see how far a piece evolves from the original kernel of the idea — it’s already mutated a lot). Rested the hip.

The night was terrifying — bad thunder storms and a bolt of lightening struck right outside the bedroom window. It came down white, hit the asphalt and turned into an orange fire ball that sounded like an explosion. Cats flew in all directions, and I could feel the tingle of the electricity.

No running this morning, just some light stretching. Will do yoga later. It’s hot and humid. Will hang out with the neighbor’s cat early, then check in the afternoon to see if he needs the air on. Plan to write, read, and generally take it easier.

Sorted things out with my editor. I think we’ll be okay for the next few months. We’ll see how it works out. I have a loyalty to my editor, but there will come a point where I have to say, “enough.”

I’m invited to the opening of my pottery teacher’s new exhibit in two weeks. I’m looking forward to it. The pottery class I’m taking (with a different instructor) starts next week, and I’m looking forward to it.

Elsa is worse, unfortunately, and I am very worried.

Back to the page.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and hot

Fun things I forgot to mention yesterday:

— I found genuine Czech beer at one of the local grocery stores, one of the brands we drank in Prague. So I bought some. Yeah, expensive, but a nice treat. It makes me happy (I rarely drink beer) and brings back happy memories.

— I tracked down an old friend and we started emailing again and catching up. We’d both worked on WICKED. She left to teach in Thailand for a couple of years, and is now in Munich. Good for her! So we’re having fun catching up. (waves, thrilled to reconnect).

Looks like I’ve got three deconstruction seminars booked — one on a fantasy novel in September, one on a steampunk film directly after it in September, and one on a paranormal mystery in late November. I will post the details when I have them, in case any of you are interested in taking it. I am going to start working on the seminar in the next week or so, re-reading/watching the material, taking notes, and sketching out the lectures, which I can then flesh out over the summer and be ready to go without a last minute scramble.

Not as icky as they threatened yesterday. Ran my errands. Hung out with the neighbor’s cat — who made his little sad face when I left and I felt guilty. Took care of Elsa. Got some admin work done. Got some cleaning and purging done. Unfortunately, not much writing done. The job boards sucked, but I have some other proposals that need a bit of polish.

My friend and I sorted out the travel arrangements. She wound up taking the train into the city from upcounty and then switching to take the train out to our town (she and her husband actually lived in this building when they first married, although I was living on the West Coast at that time). I picked her up at the station and we drove across town to the spiritual center. It’s beautiful — an old manor house on the water, with rolling lawns, etc.

Turns out there was a talk/presentation before the walk. Had that been in the information or in any of the many communications I had with the admin person over the past week and a half, we’d have been there on time for it. It was identical to the woman’s presentation last August — which, in some ways, was a bit unfortunate, since many of the people were regulars. She read from the handouts rather than using them to supplement her talk, and seemed unfocused and disorganized. I remember her being a little flighty last summer, but nothing like this. It was a fairly large group, and people kept drifting in, probably because none of us had been told that there was a presentation before the walk, and every time more people drifted in — and, I have to say, they all floated in as ubostrusively and respectfully as possible — it completely threw the presenter. She called for more chairs, which one of the maintenance guys brought. Then, he stood at the back, laughing and talking loudly into his cell phone, which I found incredibly disrespectful to all of us. Just because you’re speaking in a different language doesn’t mean we can’t hear you — nor does it mean we don’t understand the gist of what you’re saying.

Some of the people were regular labyrinth walkers, but many weren’t, and she was so distracted, she didn’t explain now to pace one’s spacing in a large group or how to exit the labyrinth once we’re at center. So, people got bunched up and trapped, which rather negates the spiritual element.

The labyrinth itself is lovely and walking it — even with a lot of people who are looking around, worried they’re not doing it “right” and, somehow, although there is only a single route with no false paths (unlike a maze), getting LOST in it — it’s still always lovely.

When we came out, we were asked to “share.” Um, no, I don’t know any of you, and, if I had a profound experience rather than trying to help the confused, I prefer to think about it for awhile or it’s diluted for me. Give her credit, she did not put anyone on the spot.

Unfortunately, those who stood up to share all started with something to tell us how important/rich/etc. they are: “I was looking through my 500 piece collection of sacred art this morning . ..”, “I realized I deserved the diamond bracelet my husband gave me this morning . . .” The kindest thing I can say is that they are on a vastly different journey than I am. And the only reason I can phrase it that kindly is because that’s what my friend pointed out, and she is far more generous about people than I am, especially when our bullshit detectors were going off so badly I’m surprised lights and sirens weren’t flashing over our heads.

My purpose in spiritual work is direct connection with the Divine, and to work on my flaws (of which there are many) in order to leave this place better than I found it — and not, necessarily, in a loud or look-at-me-I’m-leaving-immortal-work-behind way. Life as a metaphor for camping — leave it better than you found it, clean up your mess, try to create some happiness for yourself and others. The purpose of almost everyone I’ve ever encountered at this particular center’s events (I’ve attended a half a dozen over the years) is to find justification and receive absolution for the monied life they lead without actually doing any work or making any changes to foster or create positive change.

The thing is, you don’t need justification or absolution for having a nice house or jewelry or a good life, provided you didn’t get them by hurting someone else (which probably negates most of these women’s husbands, who work in the financial sector and have made their money by screwing people, so, yeah, I see why they want justification and absolution). But having a good life is nothing to feel guilty about. Nor do you have to give every cent to a charity or give away all your belongings and live in a tent or whatever. Just — be nice to people. Smile. Be welcoming. Let someone with fewer groceries get ahead of you in line. Let someone make a left turn in front of you when the light changes.

Someone’s dog wandered over and started to explore the labyrinth, and, honestly, it was one of the high points of the evening. It was adorable.

And — this is AWFUL on my part, if I believed in Hell, there’d already be a seat with a plaque on it waiting for me — the potential for a comic mystery in this whole thing is HUGE.

People started to drift to the ritual space. The guy with the art collection who was trying to pick up an earnest, pretty, striving-to-be-spiritual married woman (and, bless her, she was trying to be kind and gracious and not run into the bay screaming) asked about the ritual, and she mentioned it was a fire pit, dancing, and drumming ritual. She was excited and brought her drum. Um, why did the admin person not tell me when I asked what to bring six times and got no response? I don’t know if I would have brought my drum, but I’d have liked to know about it. And I prepare for a drumming ritual differently than for type of circle they’d posted as the event. As I mentioned, I’d asked a half a dozen times what to bring, should I bring something for a feast, etc., and receieved no information. Someone else mentioned they were keeping the cafe open. Now,there’s nothing wrong with the cafe on the premises; however, open rituals are about community, Solstice in particular is about community, and one of the most important aspects as the feast. And there wasn’t one here. Not only that, but I since found out that, since most of the attendees are “on a diet”, they don’t have food in their circles.

Okay, it’s fine, run it any way you want BUT LET PEOPLE KNOW AHEAD OF TIME.

I’ve run dozens of open rituals over the years and attended hundreds. Whether the substance of the ritual is what you’re looking for or not, there are certain elements I’ve found are important — make everyone feel welcome, take the time to explain how it will work so no one feels confused or like they’re doing something “wrong”, sprinkle the regulars among the newcomers so the newcomers have someone close by who can guide them, and feast. “Feasting” doesn’t have to mean a big spread — it can be handing around a basket of cookies or carrots or something. But the connection through shared sustenance is important.

Oh, yeah, and ask five people to bring matches, because four of them will leave them in the wrong bag, and, somehow, yours will have gotten wet in transit.

Anyway, there was no sense of welcome or inclusion or warmth or organization. I could imagine that the first three would build over the course of the ritual if the last was in place. And I’ve been to plenty of totally disorganized rituals that were so warm and inclusive that it didn’t matter how disorganized they were, because we were all laughing so hard and having so much fun that we could be spontaneous and figure out the organization as we went. Not only were we on very different paths, there was no interest on the part of any of the “regulars” to welcome or connect any of the new people, who wandered around confused and lost. Which is fine, it’s your space, run it however you want, and it describes this town in a microcosm (if you’re not white and rich, they can’t be bothered), but this is a big holiday about community, and I didn’t want to spend it with people — okay, I’ll say it — people I didn’t like, and more importantly, didn’t respect.

So my friend and I split during the transition from one space to another.

I turned to her ad said, “Let’s go to the Tiki bar.”

“Tiki bar?” She lit up.

We took some photographs on the beautiful grounds, got into my car and drove over to the 1920s art deco amusement park in town, parked, and went to the new Tiki Bar that recently opened on the pier. It’s run by the same people who ran, for many years, one of the best restaurants in the area (which is now a bank).

It was packed — on a Monday night no less, but a good packed, not a nasty packed. We got a table right away. We were just going to have a quick adult beverage, but since I was driving, we decided we should take our time and maybe have an appetizer. My friend had a margarita and the calimari. I had blue Sangria — I’ve never had that, it’s Sangria with Blue Curacao, and I’ll drink just about anything with Blue Curacao — and the mussels.

The portions were HUGE. My plate of mussels could have fed four (but I ate them all anyway) and it’s the first time I’ve ever seen my friend not finish her portion. We sat there, watching the sky over the water turn from blue to lavender to periwinkle with a bunch of people just hanging out enjoying the evening, and it was more of a celebration than standing around a fire pit with people I don’t like.

Food and drink were excellent and reasonably priced. Service was good. People were nice. I did offer (threaten) at one point to rip the speaker over our head out of the wall when the DJ got a little too carried away with his very loud bad 80’s flashback, but it was sorted out. All in all, it was a lovely way to spend the Solstice.

We wished our lovely waiter many large cash tips for the season, and left him one to start. We took pictures of the lit-up ferris wheel.

I drove my friend home, turned around and came back, and was home a little before eleven. Traffic wasn’t too bad, and the large moon lit up parts of the roadways that didn’t have streetlights. Started plotting the story I’ll write based on the evening.

Lovely gift arrived in the mail, perfect for Solstice: Barbara Ardinger’s FINDING NEW GODDESSES, which is a playful look at modern needs and life. One of my favorites is “Our Lady of Perpetual What’s For Dinner”.

Tended to Elsa and went to sleep.

I head off to acupuncture today — yeah! She’ll need to use ice picks and knitting needles, and I’m having separation anxiety, because I won’t see her again until the fall. Plan to get in some writing. It’s supposed to be hot, humid, and stormy. Will hang out with my neighbor’s cat early in the day, and then check on him later on – if it’s very hot, I’ll put the air conditioner on for him for a bit.

Got a stack of new paperwork from my editor on the mag where it was just bought by someone else, etc. Payment times are MUCH longer with these new folks — it used to be that I’d email the invoice and get a check the following week. The new people are now saying 4-6 weeks. I may have to re-think my relationship with them.


Monday, June 21, 2010

Monday, June 21, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Summer Solstice
Hot and humid

May you have a blessed and joyful Summer Solstice — longest day and shortest night of the year.

This is NOT the start of summer — it’s midsummer, in spite of “oh it’s the first day of summer.” No, the Solstice is MIDSUMMER, as in Midsummer’s Eve, as in, starting tomorrow, the days get shorter until we hit the Fall Equinox when night and day are even again.

A friend and I are going to the celebration at a local spiritual center tonight. I’ve never attended one of their rituals. I went to a couple of events there last year — it’s one of the premiere centers in the area and it’s in my town. In the past, I’ve found them overpriced and catering to the local rich suburban women who live off their husbands, don’t do anything but shop and indulge themselves and want to play at being “spiritual” out of guilt, but by playing at spirituality, they don’t actually have to take responsibility for anything or take any actions that will truly make a difference. In previous experiences, I’ve liked the practitioners, but loathed the attendees. So tonight could be interesting. It could be wonderful, or it could be an exercise in gritting my teeth. All depends who shows up.

I started getting really angry and resentful about it last night — more angry at me than anything else, because I put myself in a stupid situation — my friend asked me for a ride. I’d said yes, not thinking about it. And then I realized: it’s an hour to go pick her up, and hour to get back to the event, an hour to drive her home and an hour for me to get back. That’s four hours to attend an event that’s in my town — a five minute drive from me. It’s too much. I emailed her last night to ask if we could split the difference — if she would take the train to White Plains and I’ll pick her up, and then I’ll drive her back upcounty after the event. That would save me an hour and a half. She better check her email!

The weekend was pretty quiet, thank goodness. Saturday wasn’t as hot as predicted. I actually made a peach spice cake, not the brightest thing to do on a hot summer’s day, but I needed to use up the fresh peaches. It takes five bowls and an hour to prepare and an hour to bake, but it’s really good. It’s from Mollie Katzen’s STILL LIFE WITH MENU cookbook.

Had a great writing session on POWER OF WORDS on Saturday. Went next door to hang out with the neighbor’s cat. Finished THE DEVLIN DIARY. I liked it a lot. Some of it takes place in 1672, some of it in 2008. The material in 1672 is written in the present. It’s a bold stylistic choice and I completely understand why it was made. However, present tense, especially when it’s something that takes place hundreds of years in the past, pushes me out of the narrative and keeps me outside of it, instead of serving its purpose, which is to make me feel in the midst of it. That’s a personal issue I’ve always had with present tense used in anything other than a script. It pushes me out of the narrative and makes me feel excluded. So, even though the sections set in the past — which are, actually, the Diary — were fascinating, I always felt on the outside looking in. So, while I really liked the book a lot, and I want to read THE ROSSETTI LETTERS by the same author, parts of it were a struggle for me. I could never completely lose myself in those sections of the book, the way I could in other sections. LIke I said, it’s a personal response I have to present tense used in this kind of prose, and the book is worth reading.

The book also sent me back to Claire Tomalin’s wonderful biography of Samuel Pepys, which I’ve started to re-read.

Okay, so what is this bullshit in the British press that criticizing BP means criticizing Britain? The money-grubbing greed and carelessness of specific BP executives — and, unless they release names we don’t know where the hell they’re from — caused the deaths of 11 people and is destroying an entire region of the United States. That’s not “Britain” — that’s specific individuals in a typical example of corrupt corporate culture. No one cares that Tony Hayward is British — we care that he’s an irresponsible dick. The fury would be the same, no matter where he was from.

Speaking of corruption, our landlords bought off the current City Council and they sold us out. Typical Republican City Council — hand them money and they close their eyes to any illegalities going on. So when I keep posting about the problems here, and you keep telling me to go to City Hall — the City’s been paid off by the scumbags and has turned their back on us. The landlords can inflict any abuse on us they want, and the city will stand by and laugh, because the price was right. In this town, when Republicans run things, the only way to get anything done is to be the highest bidder. Law, ethics, and values mean nothing. That’s the way it’s worked since we moved here in the 1960’s.

Sunday was hot,humid, and not particularly productive. Elsa was worse, unfortunately. I didn’t get much writing done. I got some reading done, I hung out with the neighbor’s cat. I wound up going through email — since 1and1 actually let me access my accounts. I may be booking four more teaching gigs — three this fall, seminars deconstructing a couple of novels and a film — and teaching one or two workshops for someone else next year. That ups my teaching next year quite a bit, which is good, because it also ups my income. I also spoke to the head of the Muse Conference, explaining that i need to limit the amount of students this year — I can’t do intensive one-on-one comments — which is what the class requires — on an unlimited number of students, and I can’t have people wandering in and out of class whenever they feel like it. Commit and do the work, or don’t. She was very open to that, thank goodness, and understands.

Went to the farmer’s market — radishes, cilantro, a mixed berry tart, blueberry muffins, apple cinnamon muffins, fresh rolls — all wonderful. More than I wanted to spend, but the taste and health differentials are worth it. I used up the cilantro right away, making a triple batch of the lime-cilantro mayonnaise, some of which we then had on the rest of the roast beef — it was wonderful.

Unfortunately, we got some bad news about another family member — one who’s younger than I am, married with a couple of kids. He’s very, very ill and it doesn’t loo good.

We had the air conditioner on for awhile yesterday afternoon — once the cats got over their diva fits about the door needing to be closed, they liked it. Even Elsa perked up a bit. She woke me up at three wheezing, but since then, seems to have improved slightly.

I got up and ran this morning — well, walked. It was so humid, when I tried to run, I felt like I was choking and had to stop. I came across an enormous raccoon sorting through the garbage — it was funny. He scuttled under a bush and I made sure to give him plenty of space not to spook him. It was later than I’ve usually been going — instead of setting the alarm, I let myself wake up naturally and just do it. I’d given my body a break from everything all weekend — I didn’t even do any yoga. It needed it.

I also didn’t get any work done on ANGEL HUNT, but oh, well. POWER OF WORDS is coming along nicely. Hopefully, the Solstice celebration will be lovely and joyful. And hopefully, Elsa will make up the ground she lost yesterday and continue to improve.

I’m going back to the page for a few hours, and then I’ve got the ever-present errands. It always amazes me how I keep doing errands and more come up!


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Saturday, June 19, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and warm

Yesterday was one of those things where everything goes whacky, and, at a certain point, you just have to acknowledge it and go with it.

It started with promise — I felt more upbeat than I have lately. I got a lot done early, I ran errands (pet store, Michael’s to get a tote and an apron for pottery class, put gas in the car, picked up groceries for lunch, etc.). There’s a sidewalk sale, and some of the sports stores are involved. I’m looking for an armband or a wrist band where I can put my phone and my keys when I run. I cant’ stand the fanny packs — I think all those years of wearing either a pack or an apron backstage make me overly sensitive to anything around my waist at this point, and even the special running ones hurt my back. Anyway, I looked at these bands, and they’re black and clunky. I want something light and pretty. I was going through some of my old fitness magazines from last year — SHAPE, FITNESS, SELF — I saw a few sites mentioned. so I’ll check them out. This gear’s not cheap, so I want to buy something I really like that also gets the job done.

The afternoon was supposed to be about putting in the air conditioner. I’ve put it in many, many times over the years in this place — but not with the new windows. I never put it in last summer. Well, the new window bottom sill tilts downwards, which means the weight of the device would carry down three stories onto someone’s head, not to mention the fact that, if it’s crashed to the ground, it’s not doing its job in the window. I couldn’t figure out how to get it in — no matter what I tried to prop on the outer sill, nothing worked. I felt like an idiot.

I finally called the super. He and one of the maintenance guys came up and screwed it into the window frame. It should hold, for at least the summer.

Elsa was feeling well enough to be underfoot, which is a good sign, but really, it wasn’t time to make new friends! The twins vanished and hid.

It’s not that big a deal to call the super for help putting in an air conditioner, but, as I said, I felt like an idiot for not being able to do it myself. It’s not that complex — although, with these new windows, it’s harder than before and required tools of a sturdier grade than I’ve got. But it made me feel incompetent, and I don’t like that feeling.

But it’s in, it’s working, and it gave me the chance to sort through some boxes of stuff that accumulated around that corner of the room. Tossed a lot, filed and put away some, put a bag together for the donation box, and have another carload of stuff to take to storage.

But it wasn’t a very creative day, which was a disappointment.

Cooked a turkey piccata with rosemary rice for dinner — yummy. I’d craved roast beef at lunch (I hardly ever eat red meat anymore because I feel better when I don’t). But I got some roast beef, which means Elsa got some, too, and she loved it. I’m starting to think she should get specially prepared chicken, meat, and fish rather than prepared cat food. They’re off the Trader Joe’s brand for some reason, so I’m trying out different brands that are both organic and with low ash content. So there’s another adventure. I have to keep notes about who will eat what, and then figure out which brands all three like. They like variety — some cats will eat the same thing every day, but not mine. And they don’t give in if that’s the only thing on offer — they will refuse to eat for days, and then forage in the cupboards and among the plants.

But Elsa does seem a little better. I’m hoping it’s not just temporary progress, but that we’re really getting this under control. The licorice root helps with the mucus, and switching off the B complex vitamins with the olive leaf extract seems to be working. Once we’ve got the mucus under control, the vet wants to start a new low-dose medication on her that he believes will knock the infection out of her system once and for all without horrible side effects, and then we can use diet and supplements to make sure it doesn’t come back. Long road ahead, but hopefully, we’re moving forward.

I’m getting excited about my trip to Philly in July — will see some good friends, get in a lot of writing, and hopefully get some good research done, too.

Today, I’m going to do some revision work here, and maybe do some of it next door, while I’m hanging out with my neighbor’s cat for awhile. I never just go in and feed him — I always try to spend an hour or two with him, so he’s not too lonely.


Published in: on June 19, 2010 at 6:22 am  Comments (1)  
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Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday, June 18, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and warm

Didn’t get much writing done yesterday. The exterminator, of course, never showed up (because my landlord is an idiot), but I talked to the super and got it sorted for next month. It wasn’t the super’s fault and no harm done, really, except me waiting around doing other stuff.

Picked up the olive leaf, licorice root and some oils at the pharmacy. Read a bit. Tended to Elsa.

Left at 3:30 to drive to Babylon, which is out on Long Island, to see my play. I’d never been there before, and I know what a nightmare driving on the Island is just about any time. So I left really early in order not to get stressed due to traffic.

As expected, the drive was a total nightmare. I think the fastest speed I could ever hit was about 30 mph. It took a full two hours to drive 55 miles. I took the Hutch over the Whitestone Bridge to the Cross Island to the Southern State. I’d never taken the Southern State before — I’d hoped it would be less of a pain than the LIE, but it was packed. Because it runs parallel to the southern line of beaches — Jones Beach, Westbury (which used to have a lot of concerts and a music fair), the ferries to Fire Island, etc. — it was packed.

Still, we got there early. There was a small park down the street from the restaurant. We walked around that. There was also a nearby shopping center. Visited the fabric store — disappointing. This chain used to have good value at good prices. The prices are no longer very good and everything looks cheap. I can do better in the garment district (well, of course, but still . . .) Went to a few other stores. Didn’t see anything I wanted. Everything felt dirty and out of place and depressed and the attitudes of the people working there was unacceptable. So I didn’t spend any money there!

Headed back to the restaurant, a lovely place called Gemelli’s. The food was great and so was the service. We had a real old-school waiter — very funny. We even danced before the dessert course! Hey, have you ever been dipped by someone holding a pot full of coffee? It’s an experience!

The show went very well. I was truly pleased. The producer played the lead (which I wrote with her in mind, although she didn’t know it), and she was terrific. One of the other characters had been cast and directed very differently than I originally envisioned — but he was pitch perfect, and I told him so after the show. Really loved his choices. The rest of the cast was solid, too, and I really got a chance to enjoy the whole thing. The producer gave me my last royalties and we said our goodbyes — she relocates on Tuesday.

Drive home was challenging. The Southern State was still a packed nightmare. What the hell are all those people doing out at 11 PM on a Thursday night? There was even more traffic headed east — I think a lot of people are only working four day weeks this summer (whether by choice or not) and heading out on Thursday nights instead of at noon on Fridays, the way they used to. Once I got back to the Cross Island, it was better, and the Hutch was fine coming back up. But boy, was I glad to be home. I didn’t get to bed until well after one.

Elsa woke me up at 3 with her sneezing, but I went back to sleep. I got up a little after six. I couldn’t run because my hip’s in such bad shape I can barely walk. I will tell the acupuncturist on Tuesday to attack with, oh, I don’t know, maybe an ice pick or a knitting needle! 😉 I’ll take some anti-inflammatory later, do some yoga stretches, and then ice it.

The next few days are planned for intense writing, mostly on the ANGEL HUNT revisions, but on a few other things, too. It’s supposed to be hot and dry today, then hot and humid for the next few days, so I may wrestle the air conditioner into the window today before it gets too awful. I also have to do laundry. And work on a few big proposals. I will probably pack up and work elsewhere if need be, but I’m not answering emails or dealing with any other freelance business until at least Wednesday next week, possibly Thursday, if I wind up going out of town on Wednesday — I’m going out of town either Wed. or Thurs. next week, depending on the weather. I do plan to keep up the regular blogging schedule, since I’m sure I’ll have plenty to say about reviions!

Elsa seems a little better — here’s hoping she continues to improve and doesn’t backslide in the heat and humidity. That’s one of the reasons I want to put in the air conditioner — so she can have a cool space. Yes, I run the air for the cat more than myself. What can I say?

Back to the page.


Published in: on June 18, 2010 at 6:32 am  Comments (3)  
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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thursday, June 17, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

Yesterday wasn’t much of a writing day, although I soldiered along on POWER OF WORDS. Because of all the energy I’m using to try and help Elsa, there’s not much left for anything else. I’m trying to recharge, but I’m only managing to keep up with deadlines. I need to hustle some new work, though, especially since my play is closing tonight and that’s the end of those royalties! Figuring out what to write for the skits will help — they want some topical, political stuff and some more general, universal stuff. And I found a couple of other things I can pull together a pitch towards. I need to get back into “hustle headspace” again.

What was funny is that I wrote a scene about hiring in a massage therapist and acupuncturist to deal with injuries on my fictional production, and then felt slighted when I turned off the computer because I had no appointment!

I eagerly look forward to my acupuncture appointment next week, though. My hip is giving me trouble again, and I had lower back spasms. I finally gave in and took a couple of Excedrin — which took off the edge in less than 15 minutes. And some yoga helped, too. There was nothing on TV, so I did a more intense than usual evening practice, focusing on hip-opening exercises, and a long meditation, with Elsa purring on the mat beside me.

Elsa had a bad morning, and then I adjusted a few things, and she actually had a GREAT afternoon and evening, very much like her old self. She was comfortable and happy and funny as hell. What a relief.

I finished reading BREAKFAST WITH BUDDHA. What a lovely novel! Truly a joyful read, and it was the perfect choice for right now. If you’re looking for something that’s loving and funny and insightful, pick up this book.

I started another book, which looks promising. Once I’m in it far enough to know and still like it, I’ll mention it!

I got a couple of ideas for short stories that I want to play with. There are some deadlines coming up in July and August, and I’ve figured out my next column — now I just have to sit down and write it.

Made a baked catfish in spice rub for dinner — it wasn’t bad. The quality of the fish wasn’t what I hoped, but the rub, I think, would also be good on cod or halibut, so I will try that next time.

We were woken up at 4 AM by cats in heat yowling under the windows. Not only is that unpleasant in itself (the twins were horrified by the yowling, and Elsa just felt it wasn’t worth getting up), it means there will be feral kittens around eventually. I’m pretty sure Bossy Girl’s spayed, so it was probably Little One, who I haven’t been able to find and catch. Sigh.

Dozed off again until 5:30, gave Elsa her medicine, just kind of lay there staring at the ceiling until nearly 6, when I got up to feed them and do yoga. Heard from the vet, we’re doing a few adjustments, he likes what I’ve done on my own to figure out how to help Elsa. We’re also going to add licorice root into the mix.

To the page now for awhile. Busy day — the building finally hired an exterminator (it only took them three damn years) who starts rounds today — with all the renovations, we need it. Will keep the cats clear. Later, we’re headed waaaay out on Long Island (not as far as the Hamptons, thank goodness, that would make me nauseous) to see closing night of my play — I dread driving home late at night. I hate driving on Long Island at any time, but especially late at night, and especially since I’ve been getting up so early and going to bed so early lately. Coffee, coffee, and more coffee. I want to leave early so we don’t get caught in early beach traffic — so I have to do some research and figure out something for us to do for two or three hours in the close vicinity before the show. Maybe there’s a bookstore or cafe where we can hang out. I might bring my notebook and work on the short stories or the skits.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

It was lovely to get up and run this morning. They said it would rain and be miserable, but it was cool and lovely.

I got some work done on POWER OF WORDS yesterday, and the rest was admin, getting out requested material. I went grocery shopping. I love grocery shopping, so that was fun. Drove to CT, because I wanted to take a nature walk; arrived to discover a high admission fee, which wasn’t on any of the materials about the place. Sorry, I know you’ve got to maintain the space, but right now I can’t afford you.

These places whining about low attendance and jacking up their fees to make up for it need to learn that, if they lowered the fee, they’d get a higher turnover and ultimately make more money. In my own case, if these fees were more reasonable, not only would I go more often, but I’d bring people. Whatever.

I went to the bookstore down the road from the place instead and got two novels. I’m reading the first one, BREAKFAST WITH BUDDHA, by Roland Merullo, and really enjoying it. I simply wasn’t in the mood for genre. I love a good genre novel, but I needed something non-formularic. This certainly fits the bill. It’s charmingly written and relatable, with a gentle humor that actually makes me laugh out loud, and then the cats stare at me. I keep forgetting it’s a novel — the voice is so conversational. I’m really enjoying it. It was the perfect choice for me right now.

On the agenda for today: writing, cleaning, going over things with the neighbor who’s cat I’m looking after for the next three weeks, reading. I’m going to try and have a quiet day, because tomorrow will be a little on the zany/busy side.

Elsa’s hanging in there. Wrote a long email to the vet, detailing how I got her back to eating/stopped the nausea, my concerns about the mucus (is there an holistic Mucinex for cats?), and asking what we try next. I think the infection is mutating; we try something, it works for a few days, the infection adapts. We need to blast out the infection and then figure out the cause so it won’t come back.

ANGEL HUNT is calling to me, so I’ll probably get back to that this weekend, finally. It’s such an intense book I need to take breaks between each section.

Cooked yesterday — herbed crabmeat salad served on lettuce and red peppers for lunch and chicken breast with a blue cheese sauce for dinner. I’m not a fan of blue cheese, but even I thought it was pretty good!


Published in: on June 16, 2010 at 5:15 am  Comments (6)  
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