Friday, May 25, 2007

Friday, May 25, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and warm

I really hate being this exhausted. I hope I can rest up this weekend. Plus, I started getting a migraine on the train home last night – by the time I got off at my stop, it felt like someone was stabbing me through the eyes with an ice pick.

The post-Preakness article is getting a HUGE amount of hits – I’m thrilled.

There’s a chance I’ll get to write about the America’s Cup Race coming up in June. Not that I know ANYTHING about sailing – I can’t even swim – but I’ve always been fascinated by them, and when I met some of the former boats in Newport a few years ago (because in Newport, these boats are not considered inanimate objects, but members of the community), I was even more fascinated. So, if my editor agrees – I’ve got some studying to do! Good thing I’ve got a strong learning curve!

Yesterday was busy, but mostly about other people’s work. I caught up on admin work, scoured job boards (now I have to send out pitches), critiqued three chapters of my friend’s new manuscript (it’s good), sent script samples to another friend (and fell in love with one of my plays that needs revision all over again), and just generally played catch up until I couldn’t even see straight anymore. And that was all by one p.m.! I have to set up the links list for Script Frenzy – I’m going to have a specific set of links for that project, much the way I do during Nano. It’ll probably start as a long list, then shorten as people either drop out of Script Frenzy or don’t bother to do the agreed-upon link swap! “Cause if I’m taking the time to visit and it’s not reciprocal . . .I’m going to stop. Got some other work done, gave myself a reading break, cooked dinner, and was on a 4 PM train to get to the city.

Show was fine; it was a lot of fun, actually. And I thought I had the weekend off, but I’m booked for the Sunday matinee. And then B. and I are going out.

But it gives me two solid writing days, which will be nice; I can get Circadian Poems set up for June, and maybe into July 4, when it goes into summer break; I can read and comment the rest of my friend’s chapters (she’s got assignments due today and I gave her an assignment for the weekend. Can you hear that whip crack); I can get a good chunk of work done on the script outline for Script Frenzy (and maybe even come up with a title); I can work on GOOD NAMES; I can get some pitches out; I can finish the assignment for Confidential Job #1, get that off and invoice it; and I can get off two hefty submissions that need to go out by Monday.

I also want to re-read ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT, last year’s Nano, this weekend, and get going on the revisions. As I mentioned, since the chapters alternate points of view, I’m going to do all the chapters from one point of view first, and then all the chapters from the other point of view.

Two pieces I’m in the midst of reading use multiple POVs and, while there’s some good writing, there are too many POVs and the voices aren’t distinct enough. So I want to make sure I keep Simon and Morag’s cadences very clear.

I re-read DIXIE DUST RUMORS, I’m going to revise the query a final time, and then, at the top of the week, I’m going to start batching queries on that one. It’s where I want it to be – the kind of book I would have loved to read as a middle grade reader. Let’s hope someone else agrees. It’ll go out under a pseudonym specific to the genre, which I’ll share as soon as I’ve got something contracted under it!

Circadian Poems will be updated later today.

Hermione Lee’s Edith Wharton biography is fantastic, and I’m carving out reading time for it this weekend. I want several uninterrupted hours to sink into it and enjoy it. It also inspires me to read her work straight through. I’ve read some of it, and, while the writing is beautiful, my memory of the work is that her protagonists frustrate me. I am not one who believes that, because a character is a woman, she is “trapped by society”. That’s a choice, in my opinion. The only way progress has ever been made in this world is when people have flaunted society and followed their passion. Clara Barton, Florence Nightingale, Jane Addams, Julia Ward Howe, heck our own Founding Fathers . . .the list goes on and on. You don’t get anything done by being complacent and conformist. I don’t sympathize with characters who are; I get impatient with them.

But Wharton wrote much more than the few pieces I’ve read, and it sounds like her work is much farther-reaching. I also want to re-read and read more of Henry James.

Off to Trader Joe’s. I opened the last cat of cat food this morning (it’s been tested and is safe). When I opened the cupboard a box of graham crackers fell on Elsa’s head and broke open. She didn’t mind; she would have eaten them, given the option (I took them away). She is a dog living in a cat’s body.

And I’m ordering new ear buds for my MP3 player. I’m tired of them either falling out all the time or hurting. Why have a player if I can’t listen to it?

Off to get things done and defeat the migraine. I refuse to lose an entire day of writing. Brandy, I answered your question in the post below this one.

Have a great holiday weekend!

Devon

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Friday, May 18, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Rainy and cold

Hop on over to Circadian Poems and catch up on a week’s worth of poetry. You have “Rain Chant” by Dawn Appleton, “Plum” by Chloe Crooikshank, and “Waiting for Life” by Faith Fenner.

Dog Blog is up, Part I of “Creating Your Literary Life” – I’m doing a series of articles on aligning your goals with your life.

I was a Miss Crankypants yesterday – I’m sure all the machine noise around the building had a lot to do with it – I couldn’t even hear myself think half the time.

I went to check out City Island with an eye to writing about it. That will be a challenge, to say the least. I’m sure it’s perfectly lovely if you live there, but there’s really no reason to GO there. It seems like the only activity in town is to go out to restaurants. Nothing wrong with that. It bills itself as a bit of New England in New York – uh, no. Nothing New Englandy about it, except that some of the restaurants serve lobsters.

But I did hit a thrift shop and get a hardcover volume of AHAB’S WIFE for a dollar, and a volume of Margaret Mead’s letters for 50 cents.

If there’s a regular bookstore on the island, I couldn’t find it.

The history museum’s supposed to be good but: A) I couldn’t find it; and B) I already knew it was closed on Thursdays.

So we left City Island and drove up-county to Pleasantville, which certainly lives up to its name. It’s beautiful and mellow. It seems unusually calm for a suburban New York town, but in the right way. We had lunch at the Dragonfly Café, which is excellent. If I lived in Pleasantville, I’d patronize the place every day.

Unfortunately, the idiot drivers in SUVs were out in full force. Twice, different SUVs tried to change lanes without looking and nearly squished me. Both times, the morons were talking on their cell phones (not hands free), which is illegal in this state. Personally, I don’t think a fine is enough; if you’re caught driving and putting people’s lives in danger due to your cell phone and the fact that you’re too stupid to concentrate on the road – your license should be suspended for ONE YEAR. And then, if you get busted for driving without a license, the consequences should be worse.

Spent most of the afternoon doing paperwork, since it looks like a recycling truck threw up on my desk. It’s a bit better now, but paperwork takes ever so long. However, if I can keep on top of it week by week, it won’t all bite me in the ass at the end of the year.

I’m getting ready to do my Preakness handicapping – it’ll be up by noon as a separate entry here called “Racing Ink”. Then, it’s off to pay bills, run errands, and prepare for the Preakness!

Turns out I can use my Nano account for Script Frenzy – they seem to be run by the same people. Anita, what’s your handle there so we can be part of the same “community”?

I still haven’t figured out if I’m going to do the ghost story screenplay or some sort of stage play.

Lots of errands and bill-paying, and then I have to move the car in case of flooding. We didn’t get hit badly by Wednesday’s storm, but we might get slammed by this one. Even though I’m leaving later, I don’t want to risk the car.

And I hope to get some work in on Good Names later today.

Devon

PS More Iceland photos, top and bottom. These are from Geysir, where, logically enough, there are geysers.

May 11, 2007

Friday, May 11, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Rainy and warm

Jill Shalvis is going to laugh at me.

If you read her wonderful blog, you know that she is less than fond of spiders. And, if you’ve read my comments to those posts, you know I keep telling her that spider is a messenger and she has to interpret the message.

Well, I came home from the theatre on Tuesday night and went into the kitchen to fix a cup of tea and one of the biggest gray spiders I’ve ever seen scuttled across my bare foot from one side of the kitchen to the other. I screamed and nearly dropped the kettle.

It wasn’t as big as the spider who visited our apartment in Edinburgh a few years ago, where my fellow cast-mates jumped on furniture and I chased it around with a baking pan and a spatula and finally corralled it and released it out the window (we were on the first floor). But it was big.

And now I don’t know where it is.

So every time I feel the least little tickle, I jump ten feet, sure that a four inch spider is about to crawl up my leg.

And I have NO idea what it’s trying to tell me.

Go ahead, Jill – laugh! Serves me right! 

Brandy, I really admire the way you’re handling everything. Chris needs you to be strong right now. And remember – you’ve got all of us as your support system. You care-take him; we’ll care-take you so that you CAN care-take him. We’re here, so don’t hesitate to call on us.

Red tagged me for “eight wonderful things about me”. I’m going to do it – but so far, I’ve only thought of two!

Hop on over to the new site for The Scruffy Dog Review Blog and read my post on “Living By Your Wits”. Thank you, Brenda and Colin, for moving it to WordPress!

And hop on over to The Tactile Muse to read about my latest knitting adventures.

I was pretty much a waste of food yesterday. Exhausted and not feeling well due to this respiratory whatever – which is made worse by the growing (in every sense of the word) mold problem in the basement of this building, post-flood. The Tenants’ Organization is putting together a meeting to figure out what to do about it.

But I read a bit, caught up on some work, knitted a bit (Elsa helped), dealt with some phone stuff, etc., etc. All I wanted to do was sleep, but that’s not an option right now. Maybe Monday I’ll be able to take a nap.

I bought lilacs on my way home from work last night – and I’m so congested I can even smell them!

Took the train into the city. Stopped by the Imperial Theatre, where Coram Boy is currently playing. A friend of mine just moved into the assistant supervisor position. I wanted to stop by and drop off the tiny little gift I brought from Iceland. And I ran into another friend of mine who’s in the process of buying a house not too far from me, so we got to catch up. I barely made it to my own theatre by call time!

Show was fine. I started reading Practical Demonkeeping backstage. It’s hilarious! Well-written, well-structured and genuinely clever. I got pulled in so deeply that sometimes, I barely made my cues! But they all got done, so it was fine.

Missed the 11:10 train by one minute. I’d much rather miss it by ten minutes than one! Puttered around Grand Central for awhile, but got a good seat on the 11:40. Got home just before one, knitted a few more rows, and went to bed.

Good yoga session this morning, and a productive session on Good Names. I need to do some more research. I’m tired, in that state of exhaustion that an eight show week always places me. If I was ONLY doing the eight shows, I could sleep in and focus on that. But, since I’m juggling the writing and the rest of it as well – I simply have to be in a state of perpetual exhaustion all week.

Today, I have to catch up on paperwork, do some research, scour the job boards (they’ve been very disappointing this week), write the pre-Preakness article, and run some errands. And then, tonight, it’s off to the theatre again. The Circadian Poem will go up later – I’m having trouble with the disk.

Today’s Iceland photos, top and bottom, are of Kerio (there should be a line over the “o” to extend it, but I think it’s pronounced “Keyrith”). This is a volcanic crater now filled with water. No guard-rails, so I didn’t get too close to the edge! I love the colors.

Hope you’re preparing for a terrific weekend!

Devon

Good Names ¬ – 9,562 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
9 / 100
(9.0%)

May 9, 2007

Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and warm

Photos on both ends of the entry this morning, again.

Hop on over to Circadian and read Brenda Braene’s poem, “Spring”.

I was going to tell you to hop on over to the Dog Blog to read my entry “Living By Your Wits”. However, fucking Blogger won’t let me sign in – even with the admin access my editor granted me. So I emailed the entry to her, and she can put it up or not when she has time. I feel badly about making extra work for her – it’s time Blogger’s taken to task.

Yesterday was okay. Day work was fine. Everyone was happy to see me. It was a shock to be back in Manhattan. The switch from NYC to Reykjavik was not difficult, but the switch back is. I don’t quite understand it. It was also weird to look at the clock and think, “last week at this time, I was on my way to the airport.”

Dinner at West Side Sushi, which was good.

The show was fine, although I realized something disturbing: I’d dumped the track from my mind. I hadn’t planned on two floods in six weeks (you think?), and I thought I’d have given my notice and would be in the moving process by now. So, after I did the track a few weeks ago – I forgot it. It came back – thank goodness for muscle memory. But it was disconcerting, all the same.

I’m reading a memoir of a woman who was born in Iceland, but now lives in the US with her husband. Memoirs of an Icelandic Bookworm by Jona E. Hammer (there should be an accent over the “o”, but I can’t get it to take). It’s fascinating, mixing memoir with folktales and fairytales with which she grew up. It’s amazing how the rhythm of Icelandic folk tales differs from the ones with which we grew up here.

I have to leave it at home today – it’s not a good backstage book. In order to do it justice, it requires more concentration than I can give it between cues.

Good morning’s work on Good Names. This morning’s scene was a bit of a tangent, but it will underline an important plot point later on. I still have to do some research for the next section. It’s interesting – this piece decides how much work I’ll do on it any given day. It has its own rhythm, already, only three chapters into it. Some days it’s 750 words, some days 1500. Most days it’s around 1000. And then it’s done for the day. Usually, I can set a goal and say, X words or pages/day, no matter what. Not this piece.

I’m also trying to write it in the cadence of the day (1903), yet not quite as passive. If you read work early in the twentieth century, the passive tense is much more prevalent than it is today. I’m trying to get the cadence, yet lose some of the passivity. It’s an interesting challenge.

Off to the theatre for a two-show day.

Devon

Good Names — 8,562 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
8 / 100
(8.0%)
Published in: on May 9, 2007 at 8:21 am  Comments (7)  

May 7, 2007

Monday, May 7, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and warm

Hop on to Circadian Poems – we’ve started up again, with Wren Fallon’s “Desire in Passing” and, barring any more natural disasters/downed power lines/ illness/other acts of disruption – we should be up and running on the usual schedule until July 4.

My weekly Dog Blog ramblings should start up again this week, too. And Devon’s Random Newsletter for May will go out in the next day or two. If you’re not on the list, you can sign up here. Just make sure you put “subscribe” or “newsletter” in the subject line so I can pull you out from the spam.

Yesterday, I was basically a waste of food. The exhaustion of two floods, a lingering flu, trips to Plymouth, Portland, and Iceland – all caught up. All I wanted to do was curl up and read. Plus, I’m having some sort of respiratory problem – coming back into the pollution of New York just didn’t agree with me.

But I can’t afford that luxury – baby doesn’t write, baby can’t pay the rent or the food bill or anything else. So baby wrote. And scoured last week’s job listings to send out pitches. And went grocery shopping, did some hand laundry, balanced (well, you could call it that) the bank statement, etc., etc., etc. Roasted a chicken for dinner.

And was happy to find checks from both Confidential Jobs waiting for me in the stack of mail.

Two things I missed terribly in Iceland were cooking and reading the newspaper. Although I managed to understand some (very basic) Icelandic while I was there, I couldn’t grasp enough to read the newspaper. And English language newspapers were simply out of my price range on this trip. So I did without, and devoured The New York Times as an oasis of ink. It’s a shame I can’t read Icelandic – Iceland publishes five – or maybe it’s six, depending upon whom you ask – daily newspapers, and I would have loved to be able to read them and compare points of view. And, while every meal was luscious, I still missed the physical act of cooking.

However, I found short-term apartments for rent in a section of town in which I’m comfortable, so that’s an option for the next trip. Actually, the next trip will probably be a quick stop on the way back from Scotland – but the trip after that, I’d like to plan for two weeks, rent the apartment, and do it as a self-imposed writing retreat.

Caught up on most of the blog readings. Brandy, Kristen, ME Ellis, etc: If you don’t have the option in your comment section for me to choose another identity, I can’t comment, because Blogger swears I no longer exist. Some of the blogs HAVE this option, but, for some reason, won’t accept what I type in. So, my friends, I am reading your blogs, but can’t always comment. Brandy, I especially wanted to let you know, because I enjoy your blog so much and feel like I’m being a bad friend by not commenting.

Segueing from the guilt of being a bad friend to the topic of bad neighbors – Idiot Neighbor, who behaved so badly in the flood, does not accept that I am done with her. I mean, of course she misses the fact that Devon’s General Store (which is how she treated my apartment) is now closed to her. And she wrote me a note with a lame “I apologize, it’s all my teenage daughter’s bad behaviour” note which doesn’t address the issue, just makes excuses. I don’t know about you, but a 17 year old does NOT make the decisions in any household in which I participate. It’s up to parents to actually parent. Anyway, she was annoyed right before the trip to Maine that I wasn’t willing to take her laundry up to Maine, too, and do it for her (lady, I’m not even speaking to you – what makes you think I’m going to drive your laundry 600 miles and then do it for you)? And now, she’s moaning because she was in a car accident this week, “got hurt” (she looks pretty mobile to me) and her car’s been totaled. She stood there, waiting for me to offer my car, and I simply said, “I’m sorry to hear that. I hope it all works out for you.” I’m not obligated to lend her my car any more than I’m obligated to let her use my computer when I’m not home (an argument we had a few months ago – this is a woman who breaks absolutely everything she touches – no way am I going to imperil either my computer or my car). She still believes that she suffered more than anyone else in the flood, and that the emergency service people were unjustified in prioritizing the evacuation of the elderly and the woman who was eight months pregnant over her. She’s never going to get it. She’s in love with being a victim. And every time she’s presented with an opportunity to stop being a victim, she gets hostile. Enough already. It’s been four or five years of this type of behaviour. I am not obligated to be anything more than a polite neighbor in passing.

I must admit, the nasty side of my personality thought, “Wow! The Cat Goddess certainly worked fast to call up the Karma Dogs.”

Got the post-Derby article done and out. One makes mistakes in horse racing. I’m not going to back pedal, make excuses or pretend. I backed the horse I liked best, but another horse was better on that day and in that race. He was terrific, in fact, and absolutely deserved to win.

You’ll all be terribly disappointed in me – I didn’t photograph any of the Icelandic men! When I was interacting, I completely forgot. Those I saw in passing – well, I felt it would be rude to just whip out the camera and objectify them! You’ll just have to read some of the upcoming fiction to find out what they looked like! Seriously, if I don’t want to be objectified, I have to show the same respect to those around me. I can joke around about the good-looking and interesting men I met, but I wouldn’t trot them out publicly. This blog touches my personal life only in how it affects my writing life. Those who were my muses on this trip know who they are, and hopefully, they’ll be flattered by the way the characters they inspired morph into fiction.

And since I have a strict “no photo” policy when it comes to myself (what’s the point of publishing under multiple names if the same photo’s up?), I certainly would not put up anyone else’s photo without specific permission.

I searched online. I found some stock photos, but they don’t do the men justice. Hair color was pale blond to dark brown. Eyes from blue to brown and everything in between. They tended to be in good shape – some long and lean, some shorter and broader. And, almost every single one I met was nice. Even when they’re flirting, they’re not sleazy. You can have an actual conversation with them. I read some travel blogs where the bloggers (I swear, one of them should have been called “Around the World in 80 Men”) complained that the men were too dumb or too shy to flirt – I didn’t find that at all. I didn’t find them aggressive or spouting lousy pick up lines, which is such a relief. Most of the men I met (and there are always exceptions) were interesting AND interested, could hold up a conversation, had actual opinions and points of view, and a wonderfully dry sense of humor – which is something to which I really respond. I noticed a definite tendency, in some instances, toward the melancholic (understandable, in light of the weather), a strong work ethic in almost everyone, and a very different sense of time and lack of information up front, which sometimes drove me close to the edge. But, in general, I found the majority of the people (regardless of gender) genuinely nice. You’ll be reading about some of the exceptions as well as some of the good ones. Of course, this is a generalization. I was there for a short span of time, in a heavily touristed area. I only got a sampling – I’m sure there are as many diverse personalities and agendas and everything else going on there as anywhere else. Anywhere you have more than two people, there are going to be competing and sometimes conflicting agendas. I was lucky in that I had, people-wise, except for one restaurant experience, positive interactions.

I think, in every instance, you get out what you put in. As a writer, when I travel, I tend to be interested in almost everything. Shy myself, I try to move past that by asking lots of questions, and people respond. I attempt to be respectful, unless I’m pushed past my limits, and try to be a considerate guest in any country I visit. Most people I’ve encountered in Scotland are extremely gregarious hosts. Icelanders are more reserved, but if you make the effort, they tend to respond positively.

Printed out 240 of the photos (all the paper I had), the photo index, and attempted to copy the photos to CD for safekeeping. I’ll start loading some of them into the computer so I can post them – it’ll be hard to choose!

Today’s work is all about finishing the photo print, catching up on things, doing a few more pitches, and preparing for the week. I’m full-time on the show this week, back on the Big Broadway, and I have to re-adjust. I need to focus on the work there without letting any of the freelance work or the creative work slide.

In other words, warning – I’m going to be one tired and cranky bitch all week long! 😉 Consider yourself warned!

Devon

Good Names — 6,312 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
6 / 100
(6.0%)

April 9, 2007

Monday, April 9, 2007
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Didn’t post yesterday, because I was busy writing. So I’m posting today.

Check out “Vapid” by Kell E. Harper over on Circadian Poems.

Harmony, of Writer in the Making tagged me back on Friday, so here are my answers:

How do you achieve balance in your life?
I ruthlessly prioritize. I constantly ask myself what’s the most important, and act on that. And, I give myself the day off or change my mind when my intuition tells me so to do. I’m getting better at throwing other people’s agendas back at them instead of feeling I have to acquiesce. Also, running two full-time careers, even though I’m doing the transition, is not easy. It’s been difficult to stay balanced through all the home-and-hearth chaos with the Evil Developers. I’m counting on it being easier once I’ve moved.


What is your biggest challenge in balancing your life?

Other people’s agendas in conflict with mine. Constantly having to weigh where someone fits (or doesn’t) into my life and if that agenda should be taken into consideration.


What are your priorities?

My writing and my extended family hold the top spot together. They are equally important to me. Writing is breathing to me, and I’m no good to anyone, including myself, if I’m not writing. Walking my talk is another priority – I have strong opinions as far as personal conduct (treading lightly on the earth, treating people well, social justice, etc.) – but if I don’t live my life that way, it means nothing.


How have your priorities changed over time and why?

Writing has always been a priority, but there were about 15 years in the middle where working in technical theatre took over, and often the only writing was in my diaries. I lost confidence in my abilities, and I made the mistake of putting other people’s work before my own – thinking it would naturally balance out. Of course, it doesn’t – those people expect and demand to always be put first and never are willing to offer the same kind of support. So, eventually, if you have any self-esteem, you remove yourself from the situation and re-prioritize. At this point, “partnership”, to me, means we both work towards both our goals – not one or the other repressing or putting aside the goals only to work for the other person’s.

What advice can you share to help all of us learn to balance our own lives?
The word “no” is your best friend.
Don’t settle. Always strive.

I’m going to tag: Tammy, Rhian, Colin, Ann, and Tori for this one (and anyone else who wishes, please feel free to join in).

Ink in My Potting Soil
Over the past few days, four little tiny morning glory plants have struggled up through the soil. Nothing else has ventured out yet – but those four determined little shoots are here!

Writing
I spent most of yesterday working on Good Names. I wrote the first draft of Chapter One – slow going, just over 2500 words, but steady progress, and it feels right. I did some research, and embarked on the second chapter. We’re still in Chicago, but Althea has taken Ruby (the character through whose eyes the story is told) and her younger brother and sister (Althea’s brother’s children) away from their cruel stepmother. I’ve decided to lodge them at the Congress Hotel. They will only be in Chicago for another chapter or two before I put them on the Twentieth Century Limited luxury train and send them to New York. I decided that Althea’s New York City home will be in the Grammercy Park area; I’m still not sure in which town in Westchester she will live, although I’m leaning towards Tarrytown. I can’t make it to the Westchester Archives for the next two weeks – but I doubt I’ll be done with the New York city section by then.

I still have to weave Jane Addams and Agnes Nestor into the Chicago section, but I have to do some more research before that will work. I remember reading about Jane Addams when I was in elementary school, as one of The Childhood of Famous Americans series – but that’s not going to be good enough for this.

I did a little bit this morning, just over two pages, but need to do some more research for detail.


Ink in My Kitchen

The blueberry scone recipe went out yesterday. If you didn’t get it, but wanted it, drop me an email with your email and I’ll send it off to you.

I also worked on some other recipes for The Project. I’m being naughty – I should do one batch exactly as written before I make any changes – but when I know something isn’t working, or when I taste and it’s bland – I’m making the changes right away. And notating them.

I baked a few loaves of Swedish Coffee Bread (which doesn’t look like any Swedish recipe I’ve ever seen in a Scandinavian cookbook). Then, I worked on the cottage cheese pie recipe – different crust – and something went wrong in the oven, it started belching black smoke and there were the beginnings of flames, and I was afraid we’d have a kitchen fire (we had one in 2002). I turned everything off, got the cake out of the oven, turned on all the fans, opened the windows. The fire didn’t catch, it went out, fortunately – I didn’t even have to use the fire extinguisher. But it was traumatic. And here I had a partially warmed cottage cheese mess on my hands – so I dashed to a neighbor’s downstairs and used her oven instead. Thank goodness for neighbors.

And, when I move, I’m getting a custom-built oven.

Both the bread and the pie taste pretty darned good, though!

This morning, I tore apart the over and scrubbed everything down – even though it was remarkably clean. I couldn’t find any reason for what happened – which worries me even more. I tested the oven, and it seems to be working fine, but I’m still nervous.

Other Stuff
I went to my friend’s place to do laundry on Saturday. When I tried to leave – the dog jumped into my brand-new car and wouldn’t get out. It took the two of us forty minutes to wrestle him out of the car – and now I’ve got blonde Labrador hair all over the car! I even drove him around the driveway a few times, hoping he’d be satisfied, but no . . .I didn’t dare take him for a longer jaunt because they’ve got an electric fence and I didn’t want him to get shocked. It was funny . . .to a point.

Spooky ate two dishes of kibble Saturday and demanded a good, long cuddle. He’s shedding, too, so I have to get him his own brush (until everyone’s been to the vet I’m not mixing anything they use and I’m washing my hands thoroughly in between touching anyone). AND I’m looking after my neighbor’s enormous cat while she’s away this weekend, and he had to have attention – I’m telling you, Saturday was all about being at the beck and call of critters.

My girls were horrified that I smelled of two other cats AND a dog!

We watched programs on professional cat shows and on doggie day care, and I said to my three, “See, there are owners out here who are even nuttier than I am!” They were truly horrified by the cat show program and the cats yowling, and figured they have a much better deal here. Nothing against cat shows – those owners do adore their cats – but it’s not the kind of life mine want!

One of the cat food cookbooks arrived – vet approved recipes – and there’s a section called “Cooking in Tandem” with quantities for owners and pets together – dual recipes. Um, that might be even too extreme for me.

I finished reading Eat, Pray, Love. Gilbert, of course, hooks up with another guy by the end of the book – god forbid she should actually be comfortable in solitude, which is far more complex than simple celibacy. She goes on and on about how different she is now, after her trip – well, all I see is a woman who went from being in a marriage, rearranging her life for some guy, to being in an affair and rearranging her life with some guy. It seems, to me, she’s in the same situation, but in a different location with a different guy. Change is about more than just a few weeks without sex.

Started reading Daughter of Vermont, about Ella Eaton Hepburn, a young woman who was one of the early classes in the co-educational St. Lawrence University, near the turn of the twentieth century. The book is fascinating and there’s information I can use in Good Names.

I want to get back to Good Names today, do some more work on Circadian and a few other projects. Hopefully, Confidential Job #1 will give me my next assignment and Confidential Job #2 will send me the test assignment, and I can get going on those.

Devon


Good Names
— 3,000 words out of est. 100,000

April 2 — Happy Anniversary, Ink!

Monday, April 2, 2007
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

Happy Anniversary to Ink in My Coffee!

The blog turns 3 today. Who knew I had so much to say?

Yesterday was all about cooking, working on recipes. And doing some of my own cooking. Made blueberry scones for breakfast. Experimented with a bread that was in a handwritten cookbook my grandmother gave me – only the proportions were off, I had to improvise, when the dough rose it nearly took over the entire kitchen like some sort of sticky alien monster – and it turns out the recipe was written by someone else! It tastes good, though, and, in the end, that’s what matters. And then I did a cottage cheese pie from the same book – but this time, I was sure it was my grandmother’s handwriting! I created a good red wine marinade for pork chops and created a nice sauté of eggplant, tomato, and peas with cilantro and basil. So it all worked out just fine – but it was a whole day of cooking. And now I have to make the notations, etc.

I caught up on a bunch of paperwork last night. There’s still a paper monster to tame, but at least I’ve made some progress. I want to get my taxes done on Wednesday, so I have to finish up all my receipts in the next couple of days.

Circadian Poems should return by the end of the day, if all goes well.

I have to run some errands (like getting more loaf pans for the Swedish Coffee Bread that has to be baked today) and finish the work for The Confidential Job. So I guess I’ve got a busy day ahead of me!

Worked on the 1903 piece both last night and this morning – I think I’m almost ready to type up my notes/outline, do some preliminary research, and start. I even have a title for it: Good Names, which will make sense once you know the plot, since it has a lot to do with society and reputation.

I hope, later this week, to read the draft of Assumption of Right and get to work on the revisions.

Had a revelation about the Changeling trilogy. It’s not a trilogy of novellas at all – it’s a novel. So now I can get on with it – and I’m going to call the whole piece Chasing the Changeling. There will still be three distinct sections in the book, but it’s one piece, not three little pieces, and I might as well admit it and do what’s right for the piece, instead of trying to make it what it’s not.

Sometimes you look at your work where you’ve been struggling and suddenly you just go, “Duh.”


Ink in My Potting Soil

The begonia, Christmas cactus, and one of the kalachoe are blooming. I need to repot a lemon tree (grown from seed) that’s as tall as the double window and needs more room, and plant some wheat grass for the cats. Today is another planting day.

Devon

Published in: on April 2, 2007 at 8:29 am  Comments (15)  

March 1, 2007

Thursday, March 1, 2007
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cold and Rainy

I finally managed to get up the article “Other People’s Careers” on the Dog Blog yesterday. Can I just say how much I hate the new Blogger?

By the end of the day, you should be able to catch up on the past few days’ worth of Circadian Poems¸ finally up (I had Microsoft problems, it had nothing to do with WordPress), and the latest poetry news, and to check out Kemmyrk – and, if you have tarot questions, next Monday’s column is going to answer a few. Send them here.

Blogger’s newest annoyance, when I’m visiting friends’ blogs, is that it won’t give me the actual letters for visual verification. It simply says “visual verification” and the blank box, but not the letters I’m supposed to verify. So it takes five or six attempts to get the letters, then it tells me I didn’t enter them properly (which is total b.s.) and so on and so forth.

Why shouldn’t the spammers go through the hoops, not the legitimate readers?

Both shows were fine yesterday. Artie and I went to Whym, a fairly new eatery a little farther up Ninth Avenue than we planned to go. Décor nice. Artie chose the pork tenderloin with fig sauce, which was very good. Unfortunately, I had a quite mediocre chicken pot pie (I should have gone for the Mahi Mahi). Dessert, however, was excellent: warm chocolate cake for me and pear cobbler with cinnamon ice cream for Artie.

Chaz finally received the package (in Newcastle) with the filled Christmas stocking for his cat, Barry. Artie made the stocking and together we’d put in all kinds of things for cats to enjoy – and, according to Chaz, Barry’s enjoying it! The Royal Mail screwed up and sent it back when I’d sent it over for Christmas, but this time it got over there in only four days.

I’m reading In the Devil’s Garden, a book about food taboos arranged according to the Seven Deadly Sins. It’s fascinating, but it also makes me angry – the cruelties and the fact that so many people (and animals) have to suffer because of mentally ill rulers. It’s not a read-straight-through book or a good backstage book. I have to be able to pick it up and put it down.

Managed to catch an earlier train, which got me home at midnight instead of at 12:30. That meant I was able to get out two pitches before I went to bed last night. Keep your fingers crossed.

I can’t believe it’s already March. Here’s February’s Wrap-Up:

Done:
Query Challenge (12 queries out)
Circadian Poems
Kemmyrk
2 full weeks on the show

In Progress:
13-in-Play
Finish Chasing the Changeling
Biblio Paradise Newsletter out – Microsoft problems set this back; will go out by Mon.
Finish next Lit Athlete column – almost there
Real – did a bit of work, and then stopped
Tumble revision
“Illuminated Nude”
“The Man on the Yoga Mat”

Dropped/Postponed:
Work on DE site – I’m going to stick with this one for the moment
Revisions on Assumption of Right – I carried it around a lot, but didn’t actually start yet.
Fix-It Girl – although we talked about it at the show, and my colleagues got me excited about it again.
Typing Shallid – no time
Typing Token and Affections – no time
Restructure Thirteen Traveling Journals – ran out of time
Dixie Dust Rumors queries out – I focused on other queries instead

Additional:
The Project accepted and prep work begun
Tarot story for anthology discussed

Disappointments:
Getting sick and working on the show fulltime set everything back.

Successes:
Landing The Project
Article accepted by Notes in the Margin
Landing another steady gig

Reading:
The Tin Box by Holly Kennedy. Very good.
Journal of a Solitude by May Sarton. (re-read). Excellent.
Martha Gellhorn by Caroline Moorehead (unfinished). Excellent.
Bride and Groom by Susan Conant. Good.
Dinner at Deviant’s Palace by Tim Powers (unfinished). Excellent, but pushes a lot of buttons.
Natural Enemy by Jane Langton. Very good.
Ivy Days by Susan Allen Toth. Excellent
In the Devil’s Garden by Stewart Lee Allen (unfinished). Excellent, but not an easy read.
The Easy Way to Be Brilliant at Business Writing by Suzan St. Maur (unifinished). Very good.
Noel Coward’s Diaries. Excellent.

March To-Do List:

Circadian Poems

Kemmyrk

The Scruffy Dog Review Blog

Finish Lit Athlete Article

Prep The Project

Press Release for Ink in My Coffee Third Anniversary

Biblio Paradise Newsletter out

Restructure Thirteen Traveling Journals

Craig’s List Ads for Fearless Ink

Query Challenge

13-in-Play

Write anthology story due March 31

Finish Chasing the Changeling

Finish Tumble re-vision

Type Token and Affections

Type Shallid

Start revisions on Assumption of Right

Work on The Fix-it Girl

Work on Real

Finish “Illuminated Nude”

Finish “The Man on the Yoga Mat”

Get out Dixie Dust Rumors queries

Two and a half full-time weeks on the show

Good thing March is a long month!

Devon

February 21, 2007

Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold
Ash Wednesday

Wren Fallon’s poem “Simple”, an homage to poets Sharon Olds and Jackie Kay, is up on Circadian.

Hopefully, there will be a new post on the SDR blog later this morning, or early afternoon.

I tried to comment on the Blogger blogs yesterday and was told I wasn’t “allowed” to. So, sorry, my friends, I tried. Blogger seems not to want anyone to read/comment on blogs unless you upgrade/give your firstborn/only bow to Blogger.

Much happier with Firefox than with IE7. I changed the look of it so the tool bar is made out of red and green cats. I guess you had to be there. But it makes me happy.

I’ve managed to pick up an ear infection on top of everything else, so my left ear is blocked, I can’t hear and my balance is off. Last time I was in Edinburgh (with an ear infection), I stumbled into the wonderful Napier’s, they took a look at me, sold me a bottle of drops, I put some in my ear and – two hours later, I was fine. I’m going to see if I have anything left in that bottle.

I got in to the city early enough to shoot across 42nd St. and drop down 9th Avenue to 40th Street to Empire Coffee and Tea to get some more fresh coffee – and I met Artie on the street on the way – he was on his way to pick up cat food and cat litter! So we did my errand, we hung out at Metropets – where I acquired Elsa twelve years ago! – and then I shot back up to 51st St. and the theatre.

I was terribly unfocused during day work. Everything got done, mind you – but thank goodness there wasn’t a quiz!

Back on the train home and found an awesome backpack from the Sierra Club waiting for me – along with an enormous box containing two teeny tiny ink cartridges for my printer and an enormous box containing the even smaller flashcard for the camera.

I know, I know – “They have to put them in big boxes or the delivery services lose them” – hell, then SWITCH damn delivery services! You’re PAYING them to PAY ATTENTION to each and every package, for crying out loud! If it’s the size of an earring, they shouldn’t lose it! The amount of waste just appalls me. However, I use the boxes over and over and OVER again, so I guess I’m doing my part to make up for it.

A colleague of mine is raising money for two wonderful-sounding dance projects – one will take place in Pennsylvania and one is a special commission either in or from Findhorn, Scotland. I can’t contribute much, but I can throw a little bit of money her way – and I can’t tell you how good it makes me feel. Instead of donating to a “cause”, where you never really know where your money goes, and always worry it’s going to someone’s expense account rather than the purpose of the organization – this money goes directly into the project. There will be a choreographed piece of dance/art resulting from it – and that prospect just thrills me.

I’ll ask her if there’s some sort of web link or something, so you guys can see the result!

Searched the job boards. Found a local writing job that might be interesting – I’ll send them a query and see if we’re a good match.

Did some prep work on The Project, but it was one of those evenings where there was a definite law of diminishing return.

So I gave up by 9:30 and decided to read a book instead (Noel Coward’s diaries), wrapped up in bed, with cats, hot water bottle, earache, and all. Sometimes, you just want to read about someone else’s life in the theatre.

I overslept this morning, much to the cats’ dismay. I have to re-read the 100+ pages I have on Changeling. By not working on it for over a week while I was sick, I completely lost the thread of the story. The only way I can get it back is to re-read what I’ve got and get back into the world. It’s quite discouraging. But that’s what happens when one breaks rhythm – the umbilical cord between writer and Muse is fragile, and if the Muse feels neglected (even for a good reason), sometimes she snaps the thread.

Rescheduled meeting with potential client for this afternoon, so I hope it goes well. I need to get some work done on the Tumble re-vision and also read over Assumption of Right in preparation for the revisions. AND, I was asked to review two e-books, so I have to read them this week so that I can review them properly next week. AND, a friend showed me some exquisite books she found at an antiques store in Wisconsin, and I want to write about them for Biblio Paradise. AND finish up the next Lit Athlete column.

And here I am, frittering away a good portion of the morning with sleep! 😉 Well, I needed it.

Have a happy day! I’m glad I don’t have to go into the city today – my train line is down, and there’s no way I’d drive in.

Devon

February 19, 2007

Monday, February 19, 2007
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and BRRRR cold!

A slightly belated Happy Chinese New Year to those of you who celebrate it!

Sylvia C’s poem ‘inviting my muse” is over on Circadian.

There will be a new post later today over on Kemmyrk.

This will be a rather short post. I overslept (I needed it) and I’ve got a ton to get done today. It was supposed to be a day off, but because I fell so far behind in everything when I was sick, I’ve got to make it all up today.

AND I have a phone meeting with a potential new writing client in the early afternoon.

Matinee was fine yesterday; we celebrated a few birthdays and the fact that it was Sunday, and we could look forward to a day off. The Project is starting to take shape, and I have a few ideas to toss over to my editor this week. I’m going to try to write a month ahead, and keep to that schedule, so in the best of all possible worlds, I’m very organized, and when life gets in the way, at least I can keep up my commitment.

After the matinee, Barbara and I went over to The Campbell Apartment in Grand Central Station for a couple of drinks. The Campbell Apartment is a very ornately, richly decorated space that used to be leased by a rich businessman in the station. Thick carpets, deep chairs, an enormous fireplace with a safe in it, high ceilings with wooden painted beams, and only old-fashioned cocktails. We had a couple of Rob Roys and chatted.

It was supposed to be a meeting about her photography page on the DE site – which I think will work better if we do it as a subdomain.

But we never got to discussing the web page because there was so much other stuff about which to chat!

I got home around 9:30, ate a little, caught up on the mail. And I gave myself the luxury of getting to bed by 11, something I haven’t done in over two weeks. Ah, the joy of a matinee day, where you only have one show (unlike Wed. and Sat.) AND get home before 1 AM!

I have a ton of laundry to do, not to mention getting out a newsletter this week, working on my column, getting back to Changeling, working more on The Project, getting out some more short stories, and starting on the Assumption of Right edit. At work, we were also talking about The Fix-It Girl, and my colleagues are getting me excited about that piece again.

I feel a tad dry creatively, because the past couple of weeks have not allowed me any percolation time. This week, I will need to schedule in a few large patches of that – time where the creative process can just chug along. It’s easier to balance the business writing and the non-fiction work with the show schedule; but for fiction, I need more stretches of silence and solitude than I can get on an eight-show week. I’d never really figured that out before. So, while I’m doing shows, I can push the practical side of the work, but in the patches in between – that’s when I can let the creation process flower.

Re-reading Journal of a Solitude and reading the Martha Gellhorn bio helped me articulate that discovery.

And now, to the page (before heading to the laundry – the hamper is starting to regurgitate).

Devon

February 16, 2007

Friday, February 16, 2007
Dark Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Check out Harry Bernard’s poem “Man at the Playground” on Circadian.

The humidifier makes a huge difference. I love having pieces that are stylish AND functional! 😉

I finally was able to do my morning yoga session today. The past two days, I haven’t felt up to it – achy and not flexible enough. But this morning, working slowly, I managed to make it all the way through the sequence. I hadn’t missed a day since Yule prior to getting sick!

Yesterday was a busy day. Not much creative work got done – Chasing the Changeling feels foreign to me at this point – but plenty of practical work. Got out a bunch of pitches; finalized a negotiation for a project that will probably run approximately two years, starting in April – and yes, you’ll be able to experience it along with me! When I’m able to start giving out details of the launch, I’ll let you know. I’m very excited about it. It helps bring a personal project I kept back-burnering to the forefront again AND I’m getting paid to explore it. And you all get to make the journey with me, should you choose. So I’ll keep you informed as things move along.

Got some short stories submitted, some articles out, some rewrites done on a few other pieces that have been waiting around patiently waiting for a polish. So it’s all good.

Cooked, for the first time since I made the stew for Artie last week. Played with the cats, who were delighted to have me home.

I’ve been reading Tim Powers’s book Dinner at Deviant’s Palace, but I have to put it aside for now because it is not a backstage book. I am completely in awe of Powers’s mastery – but he demands (and deserves) my full concentration. I can’t pick up and put down the book between cues. Plus, this particular book is pushing some of my buttons – all in all, something that has to be sat down and read, not read in transit.

So I switched to Susan Conant’s Bride and Groom, which is lovely and lively and fun. However, she mentions my hometown of Rye, NY – that a friend of hers visited someone’s “beach house” there – and I howled with laughter. There are many mega-million beachfront properties in Rye – however, there haven’t been any “beach houses” for 40 years. A cluster of the small bungalows which used to be beach houses have either been winterized completely or torn down and enlarged, but that was already true back in the late 1960s, when our family first moved to town. Believe it or not, back in the 1850s, that area of Rye was considered a “resort” and people came from all over the east coast to stay in the grand hotels that dotted the shoreline at the time. Amazing what you learn when you go into the County Archives in order to study the amusement park for a travel article! 😉

When the post office deigns to open later today (they’ve decided they have the right to keep random hours that have absolutely nothing to do with serving the community), I’m going to go over and get some bills mailed, and pick up another box so I can finally get Chaz’s Christmas gift that the British Royal Mail returned back out to the UK.

I printed a bunch of photos yesterday (including some of the ones I posted), and I have to get those into the book. I’m still printing photos from last year – I’m about halfway through printing the 100+ photos I took at Mohonk House last August.

I have a feeling I won’t get much creative writing done until Monday, so I’ll use the practical momentum to get as much done as I can, and start the prep work for the project launching in April. And I have to look at real estate listings – since I’m not at the show next week (except for my usual Tuesday day work), if the weather holds, maybe I can do some house hunting.

I need to experiment with paper textures for a print newsletter that has to go out next week. It needs to have a particular look and feel – but the ink has to hold without smearing.

With the commuting and trying to balance the writing with the show, I’m feeling a bit fractured again, but I’m dealing. Unlike my colleague, I’m also taking extra care to make sure I don’t let my fracturing distract me from doing my job properly. I’m being paid to do the show WELL, not to just show up and waft around without focusing. Ultimately, it matters less in my world than the world of the show – I’m only dealing with it while I’m filling in; they will have to deal with it as they see fit in the long term. So I might as well just let it go and concentrate on doing the best job I can do, and let everything else fall where it may.

Oh, before I forget – I slept in until about 9 this morning, because it was 2 AM before I got to bed (hey, I only got home close to 1 AM, and there was stuff to do). Elsa decided it was time for me to get up, so she climbed on the headboard and tipped a bowl of potpourri onto my head.

Uh, yeah, it got me out of bed pretty fast, saying some things not fit to print! 😉

Oh, when I finalized negotiations yesterday, I put a bid on something relevant to the project on eBay. There were several bidders, and I doubted it would get it – but I did! I think that’s a good omen, don’t you? I’m excited.

Devon

Published in: on February 16, 2007 at 10:35 am  Comments (6)  

February 15, 2007

Thursday, February 15, 2007
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and COLD

And guess what? No hot water! Again. Are you really surprised, at this point?

I was featured on Deborah Ng’s “Pay it Forward Tuesday” this week – and too sick to visit any other blogs. So I caught up today.

My “Pay it Forward” is Mia King, who found me here via wordpress or something, and whose new book, Good Things was published about a week ago. Go, Mia! Hop over and visit her if you get the chance. Not only does her book sound terrific, she and her husband run a golfing company in Hawaii!

Visiting the other blogs on the Pay it Forward:

Kelly Boyer Sagertz: Word of Mouth has some interesting information on a variety of topics:

Eleanor Burks’s book Assaulted by Memory – the page goes directly to Amazon.com, not her site, so all I could see was that only one book is left in stock; nothing about her;

Sinclair Nicholas has an interesting Prague Blog

if you’re interested in daily life in Prague. I wanted to comment on the blog, because I enjoyed the writing, but I “wasn’t authorized.” I tried to “log in” and it wouldn’t even let me sign up/sign in/whatever. Oh, well. I’m not going through any more signing up processes. I’m tired of jumping through hoops in order to be able to give someone a compliment. Either you want people to respond to your blog, or you make it too difficult and they don’t come back.

Scott Penny has That Blog

which is pretty fun AND you can leave comments on it without having to promise your firstborn, your dog, and your kitchen utensils.

And I really enjoyed Joanne Mason’s blog, What Do You Read?

Now, back to life, writing, and the rest of it.

I’m much better. No idea what got me down – and, because my union’s so-called insurance plan is not only inadequate, but for all intents and purposes, non-existent (I swear, the guy I was forced to see must have gotten his degree from a matchbook cover, so I ended up paying out of pocket for my former doctor and then going to my acupuncturist, who fixed just about everything), it wasn’t pretty.

Those of you who’ve known me for awhile know I’m pro-union. I’ve served as a union negotiator on contract issues. However, the labor movement, in general, has failed its membership in this country since Bush was crowned President by the Supreme Court (because he sure as hell wasn’t voted in – the votes weren’t even counted).

People join unions for two reasons – to have a unified voice in receiving a FAIR day’s pay for a FAIR day’s work in reasonably safe and sanitary conditions, AND to have access to health care by being a part of a group large enough that an insurance company can actually be bothered. Their responsibility is to provide that day’s work, and the union leaders’ responsibility is to make sure the membership is paid fairly, with cost-of-living increases each year, and to make sure the health care is there.

The union leadership has done nothing but cave to Bush’s anti-labor policies for the past six years instead of holding the line. It’s not just my union, it’s a nationwide problem. Too many egos and personal agendas have taken precedence over the reason unions rose in the first place, and now “union” is equated with lazy and/or corrupt – an incorrect image the employers are eager to push, and the leadership does nothing to dissipate. We need new leadership across the board who clean up the internal messes and then present unity to those who expect everything for nothing.

My industry has prime examples – those with the least contribution to the creative process make the profit, when it should be evenly distributed amongst those who actually generate the work.

Anyway, enough about unions and healthcare.

The show is going fine, in spite of the lazy co-worker who expects to be carried (and I’m not). This person begged for the job; now this person must fulfill the responsibilities. I’m doing MY job, not TWO jobs. I have a second full-time career already. Make the choices, take the consequences, right?

The commute hasn’t been too hateful this week, so far; I’m dealing with it, back to reading on the train, etc.

The writing has gone to hell without even the hand basket – I’m way behind on all the creative work, although I’ve managed to stay on top of the business writing, pitches, follow-ups, etc., and I’m in the midst of negotiating contracts on several interesting projects. I also found some interesting new markets for some of the pieces that I worried about before I left a week and change ago. I certainly have my work cut out for me, catch-up wise, next week, on my week off between tracks. At least I managed to keep up with Circadian posts.

Artie is back, and we went to dinner at a recently opened French restaurant on Ninth Avenue between shows last night. The décor is lovely, the service excellent, the food wonderful, the presentation beautiful. All in all, a good experience.

We had a few kerfluffles in the show – a boot got caught up in one of the massive underskirts and we couldn’t find it for a quick change, so I ran down to storage and got out an old pair and got the actress on stage; two pairs of boots that look the same were accidentally switched, but I managed to get them switched back before the change – little stuff like that. For the most part, it’s been pretty calm, and there’s been enough laughter to make it fun.

I got the child’s humidifier from Target that looks like a small, round, yellow cat. The steam comes out of its ears – it’s pretty funny. My cats are fascinated by it.

I’ve got a few hours before I head back to the show tonight to try and get some stuff done out here. I need to dig out my mom’s car later because she’s got to get on the road, and I’m not going to have her do it herself.

February 19 was supposed to be a day off, but because I lost so much ground when I was sick, that’s just not going to happen. Maybe the weekend of the 24/25, I can have some time off.

Doesn’t it suck that Mercury went Retrograde on Valentine’s Day? Hope it didn’t have too much negative effect for any of you.

Will catch up on everyone’s blogs over the next few days.

Devon

February 9, 2007

Friday, February 9, 2007
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Check out the poem “Ski” on Circadian.

I do appreciate your comments of concern regarding the work schedule and the stress level. What I’m trying to communicate via this blog is how, if you work in the entertainment industry, it’s not what’s shown in the magazines and gossip shows. Because of the choices I made in my career, my passion, my vocation, I’ve eliminated many of the choices that are part and parcel of most people’s routines. To make a living in this industry is darned hard work, and you don’t have the luxury of taking time when you need it. You get time between gigs. If you’re any good, there’s not a whole lot of time between the gigs.

The incompetents we all have to deal with in our work day tend to be in the admin end of this business, not backstage or on set. Incompetence will only be tolerated for short periods of time in most cases. There’s too much work, and producers rarely hire enough people to comfortably cover it. And, because it’s concentrated work – it has to happen within the hours of the show or the filming – it’s not like you can let something slide and get to it the next day. There’s no inbox where something can sit. You’ve got to get the clothes prepped, repaired, preset, and toss those actors in and out of them on time or the show doesn’t happen.

Personally, my next day off is February 19, and I don’t intend to do a whole lot that day.

Yes, actors work hard in extreme conditions, but crews work double the hours and don’t get the pampering and coddling that actors get. Theatre actors get a heck of a lot less of the coddling than film actors, and have to be pretty smart and self-sufficient if they’re going to make it on stage. Which is why so few film actors do well on stage and so many theatre actors can make the transition to film or television.

Next time you watch an hour-long drama on television, know that it took AT LEAST 200 people that you never see, working 8 days of AT LEAST 12 hour days, usually 14-18 hour days, turning around and coming right back at the crack of whenever, usually in extremes of temperature, especially if it’s on location, in order for you to sit on your couches in your safe houses and watch. A feature film shoots about two pages (approximately two minutes) per day. A television drama has to shoot around 10 pages. Basically, an hour-long drama does a mini-movie every week. Remember when I worked that series last summer? On the hottest day of the year, temperatures over 100 degrees? And we had to match shots that were originally filmed in March, so I had to put my actors in overcoats? And very often, when the actors are wearing skimpy clothes, it’s about 20 degrees. That’s the way it goes. You can’t always schedule to season. You have to schedule when the network tells you to shoot it.

And frankly, my dear, the suits that make the decisions don’t give a damn, as long as they get their advertising dollars. If something creative and wonderful comes out of it (which is why every creative team goes into a project), goody, but as long as they can sell it, they don’t care.

Which is why you have crap like “reality” television. It’s not reality. If it was reality, it would be a documentary. It’s merely exhibitionists showing their worst selves. And it’s cheaper than properly scripted, well-produced shows.

Also remember that, for film or TV, most actors aren’t scheduled every day. The crew is, though. On a one-hour drama, an actor might get to shoot all his scenes in two or three days (if he’s lucky – some weeks, he will be in every day for the whole 14 hours). The crew is there for several hours before the actors arrive, and several hours after they leave. Every day.

On a theatre show, the actor has to be there every performance. Yes, there are swings and people call out and all that, but, basically, the performer has to be there, eight times a week, with no end in sight (and none desired) unless it’s a limited run.

When you go to see a Broadway show, there are over 100 people you never see (if they’re good at their jobs) making it all happen. And they only get one day off a week. And they work nights, weekends, and holidays. And many of them are working parents, just like you, only they don’t have the luxury of a 9-5 lifestyle. A friend of mine in the theatre raised her son as a single parent, working on a Broadway schedule. I don’t know how she did it. Imagine doing all the things you have to do as a parent AND work eight shows a week, nights, weekends, and holidays. How many of you could do it? And tech people don’t have child care. Successful actors hire in nannies, but most crew people don’t.

If you’re on a regular gig, and have an understanding boss, occasionally, you MIGHT be able to take a day off for your wedding anniversary or a birthday or your kid’s play. But that’s the exception, not the norm. Most of the time, you don’t get to participate in the normal family events, or you have to reschedule celebrations around the work schedule. And holidays? One of my friends on the show hasn’t had the chance to celebrate Christmas yet with her sister.

And yet, ask most stressed out, overworked persons in the industry if they’d rather do the 9-5 gig, and they’d say no. Who wants to be stuck in a cubicle when you can be part of a creative process? There’s a high price to be paid, but most people are happy to pay it for 20 years or so, and then try to move into another career (as I’m doing).

Backstage yesterday, we discussed the un-reality show You’re the One That I Want, that’s casting the next Broadway production of Grease, and how we, as a community, are insulted by the show. Yes, we’ve all watched parts of it. And we HATE it. It does not present an accurate casting process; it does not document the creative process that goes into putting on a show. It is an insult to the integrity of everyone who busts their butts eight times a week. But the producers don’t care, because they got an amazing advance sale out of it. There are some great documentaries out there about the “making of” various shows – go watch them instead, if you really want an idea of the process.

Anyway, back to yesterday. The phone kept ringing, but I finally got out of the apartment around 11. Took the R train (also known as the “Rarely”) down to Prince Street, rather than Canal, because Pearl River Mart recently moved from Chinatown up to Soho. Their new location is HUGE, quite a difference from their space on Canal Street. Full of tourists, now, too, but, oh well. I dug around in the back and downstairs and got the stuff I need for Chinese New Year next week (yes, I know, the Token White Girl shops for Chinese New Year – what can I say, I’ve worked on many Asian shows and am often teased as the “token white girl” or the “honorary Asian”).

I passed some boutiques – in addition to the regulars like Armani, you also have places like theory and Elie Tahari, who have some excellent stuff. A couple of the television shows I worked dressed most of the women with their lines. Many of those in the real lines of work represented by the characters really can’t afford to shop at theory, but hey, it’s fantasy, right? But after all the time it took me to wrap up to be outside, there was no way I was going to go into a store, unwrap, and try on clothes.

By then, I was really hungry, so I figured I’d eat down in Soho. Well, easier said than done. I checked out a few restaurants, but they had tapas-sized portions at banquet prices; no thanks. I wanted civilized, not trendy. I ended up wandering back up into the West Village. I think I might move the house location in Token and Affections from Perry Street over to 10th and Waverly. I found some wonderful buildings, which I photographed. I thought I’d try a Vietnamese restaurant on Bleecker I’ve wanted to try for ages, but it was already something else. Restaurants change like underwear. I nearly went to my old hangout, Le Figaro Café, but they’ve changed the menu, and didn’t have anything I really wanted. So, I wandered across W. 4th and over to Sheridan Square, and then on up 7th Avenue South to Riviera Café, a place to which I’ve gone for years. They had a glassed in porch-type section, right in the sun, so that’s where I parked, for a lunch of grilled salmon on julienned vegetables and arugula-type greens. Delicious.

Then, I wandered over to Avenue of the Americas and up to 23rd Street, to a store my friend Barbara told me about yesterday, called Reminiscence. She told me they had kitschy Nancy Drew stuff there, amongst all the various jokey and vintage stuff, so I HAD to go. I got several Nancy Drew journals and notepads. One of the journals has the cover for The Secret in the Old Attic, which was my very first Nancy Drew book and still one of my favorites.

By then, I was cold, and there was a subway stop right there, so I hopped the V (Voyeur) train and came back up to midtown. I crawled through the Fashion Week madness around Bryant Park and got back to Artie’s in the early afternoon.

The only stuff I’ve liked in this Fashion Week has been Michael Kors’s lines for both men and women, and some of Betsey Johnson’s hats. The rest – I’m sorry, I do NOT want to see most of the men around here wearing leggings come fall, and these short, A-line capes for men that hit about mid-thigh look stupid on them. These guys look like they’re wearing wool replicas of ski chalets. Um, why? If they look bad on the models, how are they going to look on regular guys? Ick.

Grabbed a nap with the cats, did some project work, made a quick pasta dinner, and off to the theatre. Morale tends to be good there on Thursday nights because it’s pay day. Show was fine; relatively smooth. It’s live, so there’s always something unusual happening.

The Tin Box is a lovely book; it’s difficult to read backstage in between cues because it deserves more than just a few minutes at a time.

This morning, I’m going to get some food in to prepare a meal for Artie’s return. He gets in Sunday night, and I want to make sure all he has to do is heat it up. Most of the day will be spent quietly, writing, and then I have dinner with a friend at 4 PM. I got a late start, so I’m going to do my banking and errands first, and then have about five or six hours for the writing. I plan to work on Changeling and Tumble today, and on whatever price quotes, etc., have come in for the business writing. I also need to do a couple of ads for the Fearless Ink site, a few press releases, and get those prepped to go out next week.

I’m truly surprised at how big a difference it makes NOT to commute 3 hours each day. I knew it had some effect, but it’s astonishing. Not only am I less exhausted, but I also have more hours in which to write. However, because I’m not on the train, I have much less time to read. I can’t believe I haven’t even finished a single book this week. I usually read one every two days or so.

I managed to start the Martha Gellhorn biography last night, when I had trouble settling down after the show, and wasn’t in the mood for fiction. It’s a wonderful book, and I’m excited to read more.

The Barbaro article was passed around backstage last night, and reduced most of the people who read it to tears. I admit — I was pleased. Means my words hit home, and I did the beautiful horse justice.

Devon