Monday, January 7, 2008

Monday, January 7, 2008
Dark of the Moon
Mars Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and mild

I have to repack for Philly – it’ll be much warmer than expected, and I have a bag full of cashmere that will turn out to be a bag full of sweaty cashmere if I don’t pack appropriately.

Regarding the dreams/twelve days of Christmas – that’s something that’s been passed down in my family for decades. Most of my family and friends in Continental Europe also grew up with it. I have no idea where it originates.

Also, remember, with dreams, it’s not always literal. You have the symbolic and emotional wrapped up in there, too, even when it seems like a linear, possible dream. You’re dealing with fears, emotions, and familiar objects substituting for something else. So you have to untangle the dream like a bag of discarded yarn to find out what it actually means. You have to find your own, personal, internal “dictionary” for your dreams, because everyone’s is slightly different.

Yesterday morning was all about Hex Breaker. I did another draft, some polishing, and caught a few logic lapses that I probably could have gotten away with, but I feel better for straightening them out. I also spent too much time puttering online (naughty Devon!), visited a friend who’s sick, found out the super in the building quit and is moving his family back to Ireland in two weeks (which means the new owners will put in someone to harass the tenants), took down the Christmas/Yule/holiday decorations, and came up with ideas for some new stories. I think they’re short stories, but I’m not sure.

One has to do with the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, which is something that’s always fascinated me. Now, there’s a movie coming out about it either this year or next year called Horsemen and there’s no way I could top Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s magnificent Good Omens, AND a friend and I wrote a piece called “Four Horsewomen of the Apocalypse” for Moon Tribe Tales, which was also later published in Wild Child where Peace and her cohorts defeated War, Famine, Pestilence, and whomever is the fourth – Poverty? I have to look it up. I’ve got a mind like a sieve this morning.

Anyway, the topic fascinates me, especially in light of current world politics, where it feels like the Four Horsemen are up and riding, so it’s something I want to play with. We’ll see.

I also got into an argument with one of the men in my life about, of all the stupid things, horror movies. I like a good psychological thriller; I don’t like slasher films. Life is scary enough, I have enough to deal with, and goodness knows, living on the Deuce for 13 years, I saw enough ugly crap to last several lifetimes. I don’t find cruelty entertaining. He does. Fine. Go watch them without me. Only he wants my company to watch them. And I won’t. He’s been doing research, figuring if he picked movies with actors I like, I’d agree to watch them.

Obviously, he doesn’t know me very well.

The specific movies about which we argued are I Know Who Killed Me and The Hitcher. He picked those because Neal McDonough is in both and Sean Bean is in the latter. Now, I’m all for actors working as much as possible in as wide range of roles as possible. I did some research on both films, and I’m not going to watch them. In addition to the gore quotient, I don’t particularly want to watch an actor whose work I enjoy (McDonough) get butchered on film. Twice. Even if there’s good work leading up to it. And I don’t particularly want to watch Sean Bean (who I think is a wonderful actor) butchering people and then getting slaughtered himself in the end. I’m glad they did the work – those films are fun to work on because of all the different elements. But I am not going to watch them. I had to laugh – there’s an interview with the chick from The Hitcher, where she talks about how her character’s not your typical girl-in-distress in a horror film. Right. That’s why they put you in a tank top and short shorts for the whole movie. Give me a break! Wardrobe choice is short-hand. It gives the audience a lot of information about character.

So then, the guy starts arguing that if I was friends with these guys (McDonough and Bean), I’d watch the movies. Again, he doesn’t know me very well. If I was friends with them, or even if we were simply congenial colleagues, I’d be honest with them about why I wouldn’t watch the films. And, if we were actually friends, it would be fine all the way around. AND, if we were friends or colleagues, they’d know that little quirk I have that if their character dies in the movie, I have to know BEFORE I go to see it. I don’t like watching people I know do death scenes, even when they’re wonderfully done. In spite of the years I’ve spent in the business. That’s one of my many eccentricities. And my FRIENDS accept that about me. And honor it. (I had one Well Known Actor who knew this peculiarity of mine and thought it would be funny not to tell me he had an ugly death scene – I didn’t speak to him for six months. We’ve long since made up, but he’s not likely to make THAT mistake again)!

The whole darned thing was a bunch of wasted energy, if you ask me. Energy I really need to point towards other things. I’m sure all of you are reading the writing on the wall here. We’re again getting into boundary and control issues. And with Mars Retrograde right now (and the only fire in my chart is my Aries – Mars – is in Venus) and Saturn Retrograde, the planet of life lessons – it makes sense that this would come up NOW.

This morning, I’m back to work on the Hex Breaker synopsis, the final three articles, and a pitch for an anthology. And I have acupuncture in the afternoon, which will set everything to rights.

Have a great start to the week. I don’t know how often I’ll be on line, with the Philly gigs, but please make sure to stop by A Biblio Paradise on January 9 for a review of Hazel Stratham’s Regency romance, My Dearest Friend, and then again on January 10, for an interview with her.

And thanks so much to Colin’s wife, Gail, for sorting out the SD card problem. Do you know what Canon’s response was? “I don’t know.” That’s unacceptable. That’s two unacceptable responses to customer service questions in a week. I think they’re about to lose someone who’s been a loyal customer for over 20 years.


Friday, August 17, 2007

Friday, August 17, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Cloudy and humid

Tired, cranky, and a touch of the blues yesterday. Too much of feeling like a hamster on a treadmill. Bad headache today.

So, if Nano wasn’t challenging enough, there’s The 3 Day Novel Contest.

No, I’m not doing it. First of all, I don’t pay to write; secondly, I don’t send things in for possible publication without editing; Third, I have way too much on my plate that weekend. I will be writing – but not for that.

However, if it’s something that inspires you, go for it.

Frustration: a few weeks ago, I heard about a deadline, wrote a quick story, worked on it, had one of my Trusted Readers vet it, submitted it. I heard back from the editor quickly, saying she liked the piece and would give me the final decision within a week.


A few days ago, I looked at the site and saw that it wasn’t one of the pieces chosen.

Now, the editor has the right to choose whatever fits the issue the best. But don’t say you like it and then not have the courtesy to tell me you’re not using it.

There’s a line through that publication on my list.

Spent a good portion of the day doing follow-up on various projects. Got good news back on some of them; we’ll see about the rest. Re-worked some older material that has potential and got it out. Got angry when I’d scoured a website, prepared and sent off a submission, only to get an autoresponder that the publication is closed to submissions. Put it on your website, dumbass, and don’t waste my time!!!

Found some interesting anthology guidelines. Will see if I want to do anything. I’m feeling a little overbooked right now, so I’m not sure if I want to start anything new.

Followed directions from a craigslist ad to request guidelines. Instead of the promised guidelines, I get an email that I’m signed up for a mailing list and led to a “shopping cart” on the site. That’s a bait-and-switch, and I’ve removed myself from that list. A fellow freelancer who answered the same ad and got the same screwed-up response flagged it. If you’re selling something, it goes under “services”. Don’t list it as a job opportunity and then try to get money out of people who think you’re hiring. Sleazy, sleazy, sleazy.

And, let me say, once again, how much I hate Microsoft, which has decided that it no longer wants to open some of the older files. What’s the point of having a system with upgrades when it won’t open older files? What about the paperless office phenomenon? How about stop screwing your customers, Bill Gates, and give us a product that works for more than a year? Or works, period?

Too hot and humid. I hate this weather. It makes me cranky.

(Gee, can you tell)?

I’m going to cancel my last subscription to a writing magazine – they’re too depressing. They’re geared towards wanna-bes and newbies, recycle the same themes over and over and over again, and have very little (usually nothing) for mid-level, steadily working writers. And they’re overpriced. Waste of my time and money, and I’m just left feeling like crap when I’m done with the issue. These magazines are now a hindrance, not an inspiration.

I also feel stale, writing-wise. I feel as though I’ve plateau’d, and there’s a sameness, a flatness to several pieces on which I’m working. I also realize that I usually feel this way when I try to write the day after doing shows – yet another reason I have to leave that world behind me, much as I’ve loved it.

Started re-reading Terry Pratchett’s and Neil Gaiman’s collaboration, Good Omens, a book I absolutely adore, and a book Costume Imp lent me (my copy’s in storage) so I could enjoy it. And I did – those two writers always haul me up out of the abyss, laughing, and help me view the world slightly askew, but with a healthier perspective.

Managed to get some work done on some early-stages projects. The main part of the project is becoming hydra-headed, in a good way. Each head/arm/section of the project is unique, and yet it all falls under a single umbrella. It will take a lot of organization, but, once the system is in place, should run pretty steadily. But it requires a well thought out business plan, ideas on the systems to put in place, and content. It needs percolation time, and then the ability to distill and clearly write out what comes from that percolation.

No workout last night, but good morning’s yoga session.

Decent morning’s work on both Good Names and “Revenge Tangents”. Playing with some other ideas for upcoming deadlines. We’ll see. Not feeling particularly creative, but need to push through. I don’t have the luxury of not putting my butt into the chair if I don’t feel like it. The work has to be done or the bills don’t get paid.

Got to get a lot done today, and then, yes, it’s off to the show again tonight. Hopefully, that won’t wrest every possible drop of creative energy out of me for the weekend.


Good Names – 60,882 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
60 / 100

“Revenge Tangents” — 9,375 words out of est. 12,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
9 / 12
Published in: on August 17, 2007 at 9:04 am  Comments (5)  

April 30, 2007

Monday, April 30, 2007
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Cloudy and warm

Derby article went out yesterday morning. Short, sweet, and to the point. It will be up on Femmefan either Tuesday or Wednesday, so look for it. It’s called “Kentucky Derby 2007: The Horse.” I think this year’s field is much less wide open than the past few years.

I took the train in around 10 AM yesterday. A woman accompanied by three boys under the age of ten was on the train. One was her son, who was in a wheelchair; the other two were in her care for some reason, the smallest barely beyond toddler. I helped her get them on the train. We all sat together in facing seats and I made up a story to keep them entertained, giving each of them a magical power. I included the tattooed guy sitting beside us because he was so obviously listening. I may well use it as the basis for one of the train stories.

I wasn’t pleased with having to stand in line for 40 minutes outside the NYPL, and then having to walk the length of the library on a broken foot and down several flights of stairs to the PEN event.

One Neil Gaiman wanna-be (but without the intelligence, the humor, or the gentleness), in full black regalia asked me why I wasn’t in black (I was one of the few in line who was actually wearing a color). My response was, “I’m secure enough in my intellect not to need the uniform.”

However the even itself, “Voyage & Voyeur: Travel and Travel Writing” was magnificent. Moderated by Paul Holdengraber (there should be an umlaut over the “a”, but I can’t get the key code to work), the panel consisted of Alain de Botton, Ma Jian, and Illija Trojanow. The discussion (sometimes a debate) was what travel writing really IS – which is not, necessarily, a list of good deals and sightseeing. Inner and outer landscapes, getting to the depths of a place and the self, etc., etc. I agreed with much of it, disagreed with some of it, was fascinated by all of it. De Botton made a point about many people who are disappointed with travel experience because one always brings oneself. I agree, but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. I rather enjoy bringing myself along when I travel. The exterior cacophony is quieted, being out of my – well, I don’t exactly have a routine as a freelancer, but the usual daily chaos – and I can hear the inner voices. I can recharge the well.

Of course, the trip tomorrow is flat-out running away from the stresses of the past months – I want to pretend they don’t exist for a few days. It’s simply escape. Plus research for a Sean/Elle story and probably a backdrop for a novel, sometime in the future.

There was a lot of pushing and shoving at the book table, but I managed to purchase Ma Jian’s The Noodle Maker and de Botton’s The Consolations of Philosophy. I didn’t get to the stack of Trojanow’s books, and will have to hunt them down later. De Botton was kind enough to sign the book for me, and then I limped out. By now, it was far too late to cross over to the east side and up to the seminar I wanted to attend on Exile – but I was still to full of this seminar to be able to concentrate properly anyway. There were so many points to think about – far too many for a blog entry – that I decided to take the afternoon to enjoy them.

I meandered down Fifth Avenue, from the library on 42nd Street to Union Square, down on 14th Street. For some reason, standing on the broken foot hurts, but if I walk carefully, I’m okay. Good to know, since I’ll be doing some hiking on Thursday.

Once at Union Square, there was some sort of performance chaos going on within the park, and I needed some solitude, so I ducked into the B&N (not the best choice). It was packed and noisy. I found another book of de Botton’s, The Art of Travel, which I picked up (the one relevant to the seminar). I also picked up Bernard-Henri Lévy’s book American Vertigo, which I’ve wanted since it was first published, and Jeremy Mercer’s memoir of his time at Paris’s Shakespeare & Co., Time Was Soft There.

Laden down with far too many books (now THERE’s a surprise), I continued wandering down to Cloisters on E. 9th St. and had a café au lait and cappuccino cheesecake in the garden.

I set part of Tapestry in that restaurant, and it was nice to re-visit it. It’s where Nina is first introduced to Tom.

I started reading The Art of Travel, and I will forever associate it with the scent of dill wafting over from various brunch dishes. It’s an excellent book, and I found myself having a conversation with it – agreeing with parts of it, disagreeing with others. I think I travel differently than most people – which is probably why I’m not being hired by the slick travel mags! I’m not that interested in the spa at the Hilton – I’m interested in what’s available at the market and how people use it.

Wandered back to the B&N on Astor Place – big mistake. Packed, a pick-up joint, and people shouting at each other across the floors like we were in some sort of carnival. Ick. Kept wandering westward to Washington Square Park, where jazz played and magnolia blossoms wafted on the wind.

I sat and read there for awhile, until it got too cold. I’d hoped to stop in to Posman’s books, but it’s no longer just off Washington Square. Kept on going to 8th Street, headed east again. Stopped at Cosi for a coffee, and then it was time to pick up my tickets and get in line over at Cooper Union.

I left B’s ticket at the box office, got in line with my ticket, and continued reading, which was a much pleasanter way to wait. I got a good seat and saved one for B. She arrived soon after, having jumped a cab after getting out of work on the show. We settled in, and listened to the Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture, which was given by David Grossman, who was then joined by Nadine Gordimer in conversation.

Again, it was astonishingly inspiring. He talks how the stress of daily trauma affects the life and the work, and how the desire is to someday return to something “normal.” Gordimer strongly believes that, no matter what, the social/political/daily traumas must infect and affect the characters. And Grossman spoke of the responsibility of the writer to show people that there IS another way, that there ARE other choices.

Again, the emphasis is on craft and content and responsibility to humanity, not on marketing. Salman Rushdie came on stage towards the end, to close the festival, and the emphasize that there’s room for all kinds and genres of writing, and there’s NEED for all kinds and genres of writing, but how important it is to keep these international connections and discussions going beyond the festival. And he’s absolutely right.

I was reminded again of working with the Core Freedoms/Freedom To Write program just before the holidays, writing cards to imprisoned writers all over the world. I remember the shock I felt writing an address to a labor camp in Vietnam. I’m grateful that I’m not in that situation, but I’m also aware of how spoiled I am in this life, and my responsibility to try to make the world a better place through my writing. That doesn’t mean everything has to be serious and with a Greater Purpose. But it means emphasis on content rather than market.

During the “Voyage and Voyeur” discussion, the point was made, several times, how it’s easier to tell truth in the context of fiction, which is something I’ve believed for years. People connect when it’s part of a story and part of a character about which they care.

These past days gave me a lot to think about as far as how I want to shape my work, my career, and my literary life.

B. and I wandered over to a favorite haunt of ours, Telephone Bar and Grill, on 2nd Avenue and 10th Street, to get something to eat and discuss all the ideas.

I managed to catch the 10:40 out of Grand Central. However, it was well after midnight when I got home. God forbid Metro North actually run a train. First, the excuse was that the bridge was up and we couldn’t get off Manhattan, so we sat for 15 minutes or so at 125th St. Once we got over the bridge, we stopped in the middle of nowhere for who-knows-how long. I called the Customer Service line to complain and got, “Oh, there’s a train broken down ahead of you. We don’t know how long you’ll be there.” I told them I was sick of something going wrong EVERY day, and this was the fourth time in six months something like this happened. It’s not acceptable. .

The train began to move.

Then, at two of the stops, they had bridge plates up, couldn’t line up the car to the plates, only opened one door – AND NEVER TOLD THE PASSENGERS. So we had to wait for 15 minutes at each stop while passengers scrambled to find the single open door.

The level of incompetence grows exponentially week to week. I’m sick of it. Why should we pay them? They should pay us to ride the damn train. It should not take 2 ½ hours to go 25 miles!

Today, I’m finishing my packing, doing last minute errands, getting the report off for CJ #1, and getting set for the rest of the week.

I think I’ll blog early tomorrow morning before I leave, but we’ll see.

Hope this is a great start to a great week!


April 29, 2007

Sunday, April 29, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and warm

It was a good trip, but not an easy trip. Nothing like your family to completely tip your equilibrium!

I received the next assignment from Confidential Job #1, along with the notification that the invoice I submitted was approved. Woo-hoo! Guess they like me! I’m still waiting both for payment from Confidential Job #2 and if they’re going to give me another assignment. Another freelance job asked for samples; I sent them; when I got back yesterday, there was the exact same email asking for samples, so I RE-SENT them, with a pointed email saying that’s what I did.

Icelandair fixed the problems, with many apologies, so it all seems good – provided they actually did what they said they did. I have all the paperwork, so we’ll see.

Wednesday night, I took my friend J. to the PEN World Voices Festival – readings at Town Hall. We went in early enough to have a cocktail at the Algonquin’s Blue Bar (one of my favorite places). I had a sidecar – they make the best sidecars ever.

The event itself was amazing! Tonight’s event was “Writing Home”. Salman Rushdie provided the introduction – and, three times, admonished people to turn off their cell phones and some idiot’s phone STILL went off halfway through! The writers reading from their work were: Steve Martin, Pia Tafdrup, Don DeLillo, Tatayana Tolstaya, Saaadi Youssef, Kiran Desai, Alain Mabanckou, Neil Gaiman, Nadine Gordimer, and Salman Rushdie. Each one was uniquely exquisite.

We left walking on air. What a wonderful way to replenish the soul!

THIS is a writers’ conference. A place where writers share ideas and responsibility and use their talents to change the world, to make it a better place. This is an international organization of writers committed to justice, peace, and making a difference in the world, inspiring everyone with whom they come into contact, and I am honored to be a part of it.

THIS is what a writers’ conference should be, rather than what most are – places where wanna-be writers try to find agents for books that will never be written and go to marketing seminars for work that they’ll never finish. Yes, it’s important for conferences to provide the business protocols on a regular basis, both because of the constant influx of starting writers and those who, no matter how many times they’re told, believe none of it pertains to THEM, but there’s really nothing out there for the working writer. Conferences bring together starting out writers and wanna-be writers with best-sellers. There is nothing for the steadily working writer who’s crafting a career – and a life – in the art form without bestseller-dom or spending 80% of the time marketing rather than writing.

PEN’s festival is about craft and content, not marketing. There was a sense of community, of writers and readers embracing each other, rather than a sense of competition and cliques which pervades so many conferences. These are people who want to talk to those who attend, who want to interact, who give a damn. They are confident in their skills and their work and in their sense of responsibility to humanity at large, but also humble.

It was an eye-opening, soul-reviving, life-changing experience.

Afterwards, J. and I went to the Campbell Apartment for another drink and to continue that feeling of well-being (because once we got on wonky, unreliable Metro North, it was hard to maintain).

I’m seriously thinking of writing a book of short stories based on Metro North nightmares. Darkly funny. Because there’s got to be a way to make positive use out of all the pain and frustration this train line causes on a daily basis!

Unfortunately, when I got home, I discovered that I’d broken the little toe on my left foot and it was black and swollen. I knew I’d tripped over something earlier in the day, but didn’t think it was a big deal.

It was. I had to adjust it (all together now – Owww!), ice it, and tape it.

Since I got home after midnight, I had a heck of a time getting up at 4:30 on Thursday morning. We were an hour late starting off for Maine – and I was up, I was packed, but I couldn’t get it together to get out of the house!

The drive up was fine, as always. The Rabbit drives like a dream and loves the highway. We stopped at my favorite Nutcracker Bakery in Newburyport, MA for coffee and a snack, then I nipped in to visit Jabberwocky Books there. If you’re ever in Newburyport, or near it, you MUST visit Jabberwocky – it’s an amazing bookstore and right next to the bakery. Tess Gerritsen turned me on to that place, and every time I go to and from Maine, I thank her for it!

We meandered through lower Maine the way we usually do – did some shopping in Kittery, stopped at the thrift shop in York, the Book Barn in Wells – which is about to close! After 25 years, they are going into semi-retirement and only working online via Alibris. The two lovely frame houses that are the store and the house have been sold to the shopping center beside them. I hope they’re not torn down! I bought my two final books there, and will miss them terribly.

We made our usual stop in Stonewall Kitchen in York. Stocked up on some more of their Wild Maine Blueberry jam, horseradish cream, shallot and champagne mustard, and they had a spicy corn relish that’s so good I bought the biggest jar they carry.

My grandmother had asked us to buy a few things on the way in, so we went to the Wells Food Mart (beside the bookstore) to get things. Then, it was a stop at the wonderful Maine Diner for a lobster lunch, and back onto the Maine Turnpike at Kennebunk. Those Bushes really ought to give the town some money to fix the roads! They can spare it, and the roads are in bad shape!

We got to my grandmother’s, unloaded the car, and filled up the freezer with all the things I’d cooked. My grandmother is too ill to cook anymore, so when I go up, I cook batches of things she and her brother like, put them in microwave containers, and stock her freezer. We also brought her a stack of Large Print mysteries – her eyesight’s failing, so she can’t see to read unless it’s Large Print. I taught her how to run the CD player I’d given her for Christmas so she could listen to the Books on Tape I’d bought (because no one else could be bothered to take the two and a half minutes to figure it out). My grandmother’s cousin and her granddaughter stopped by, whom I’d never met, so we had a nice visit.

We ordered in food from Bob’s Seafood over in Windham, and my great-uncle got a ride in the new car with me to get it, which was fun. We visited and caught up. My grandmother’s Parkinson’s is much worse, but she says it’s better since they switched her medication, so I can only imagine how bad it was in the interim.

My foot was killing me, so I put it up and iced it off and on for a few hours (in ten minute bursts – any more and it hurts the nerves).

Friday morning, I read a colleague’s manuscript (which is GREAT by the way. Not good – GREAT. Any agent or publisher who doesn’t snatch it up immediately is a complete and utter moron and the publishing industry is DOOMED). Meanwhile, I had the laundry going downstairs. We’d brought up two loads of laundry from NY, because we don’t know when we’ll have a laundry room again, and they had some laundry, and since I AM a laundry goddess, I did the whole lot of it.

My grandmother felt well enough to dress and wanted to come shopping. We made a list and went to Shaw’s. I LOVE that store! Ever so much better than many of the stores around here. And everyone’s so friendly and helpful. And it’s set up logically. The matches are with the lighter fluid and fireplace logs instead of in the middle of the dish soap (as in one store here) – and most stores in my area no longer sell kitchen matches “because everyone has a lighter”. So I stocked up on things like kitchen matches and oyster crackers to take back to NY, and got my grandmother’s grocery shopping done, and then ran into Staples to get some 3 hole punch paper (which is hard to get down here, but it’s what I use for drafts because I put them in binders).

Got Grandma back home, the groceries put away, the laundry folded, more work done on the manuscript. Then, it was back to Bob’s Seafood for lobster rolls for lunch (yum). After lunch, I had to head back out because I had to find a place to get keys copied. I have a 30 year old security lock on my door here, which does make me feel secure, but a single key makes me nervous. Down here, key cutters shrug and say they “can’t.” So I thought maybe a more rural area would have more resourceful locksmiths.

I found one, and I learned more than I ever knew about making and matching keys. You know it’s going to come in handy in a story someday. He was absolutely lovely, and I may need to base a character in something on him someday. Of course, I couldn’t test the keys until we got back to NY yesterday, but – they work! Ta-Da!

Did some other shopping (like I needed to spend the money). Came back to the house, finished the manuscript, wrote up the notes, and my grandmother’s sister-in-law stopped by, and we also had a nice visit. Then I started the next assignment for Confidential Job #1, fixed dinner, and helped my grandmother go through some things which I took back here to NY to get repaired – since I’m in wardrobe, I know the places that specialize in these kinds of repairs.

Somewhere in all of this, I ended up with a tick on me, which nearly sent me over the edge, but I got it off and stomped on it before it bit me. Two of my friends have had Lyme Disease, and it’s left them with permanent damage. I’m just glad I noticed it before it had the chance to chomp.

Up early yesterday morning, got my grandmother sorted out, packed the car. We were on the road by 7:30, and stopped in Ongonquit at The Egg & I for breakfast. I’ll be writing about this restaurant soon. The short version: The best eggs benedict I’ve ever had anywhere, and scrumptious coffee. Delightful! Not only is the food great and the atmosphere welcoming, but the other diners were all cheerful and interesting.

Back on the road, stopped in Newburyport for gas. Picked up a Boston Globe, but was halfway across the MASS pike before I saw that I missed my colleague Jon Clinch by MINUTES. He was appearing at 10 AM in Newburyport – I’d taken gas at 9:50 only a mile down the road, but didn’t find out about it until I stopped at a rest area and glanced at the paper around noon! Talk about ships that pass in the night! Jon’s book is FINN – if you haven’t read it, read it. It’s a harsh, beautiful book. I would have loved to stop by and support him.

Stopped in Sturbridge, MA, at Earth Spirits, to stock up on incense and oils. Their quality is so terrific it’s always worth the stop.

Stopped at a bookstore down the street from me on the way in, looking for Jill Shalvis’s latest to take with me on the plane on Tuesday. They didn’t have it. They didn’t have ANY of her books. I was NOT amused. I said, “The reason better be that you’ve sold through them and your re-orders haven’t yet arrived. The next time I walk in here, I expect to see an ENTIRE SHELF of her books!” I bought DANCING SHOES AND HONKY TONK BLUES by Luann McLane and SUSANNAH’S GARDEN by Debbie Macomber, both of which look good. That, along with POISON STUDY, should work for the trip.

The cats were glad to see me. I unpacked, finished the assignment for Confidential Job #1, and tried to get settled for today.

Worked on my pre-Derby article, the manuscript critique, and the report for CJ#1. Got the critique done and out; have most of the report for CJ#1 complete. The Derby piece still needs more work, but I have to finish it before I head for the city this morning.

Today, I’m at the PEN World Voices Festival again all day – I can’t wait. It’s like finding an oasis in the desert. I come out of these sessions so inspired and so honored to be in the company of people like these writers. And most of the attendees are pretty fascinating, too.

I had to move the car again when I came back – the brook’s too high, and, even on Friday, there was some concern of yet another flood.

I can’t really go into the emotional impact of the trip. It’s difficult to see my grandmother, who could always run rings around everyone, grow more and more frail. And, on the one hand, she’s appreciative that I come up and do all the things no one else thinks are important enough to take the time to do, but, on the other hand, she’s always harping on me. She’s proud of all the other relatives and what they’ve accomplished, but I’m the black sheep – and only because I’m not married and not popping out babies all the time. She’s finally accepted the fact that I’ll never get “a real job” and that I’m making a decent living in the theatre and now, switching to the freelancing. She’s stopped telling me that, “well, you’ll HAVE to do something you hate if you want to succeed in this world” and I’ve stopped countering with, “I won’t.”

I think a friend of mine is correct when he said that, because she made the choice of duty to “give up her art” (she was a talented artist) in order to devote herself to her husband, and then, after he died and her sister-in-law died, to move back to Maine to “take care” of her brother, she resents the fact that I’ve always refused to make the same decision. I’m willing to support and care for the man in my life – but not to the extent of dismissing or giving up my own writing. I won’t do it. And, according to my friend, whether she’s conscious of it or not, she has to punish me for that decision. And the fact that I can make it work.

Most of the time I get so upset and enraged and hurt that I’m beside myself by the time I leave. This time, I remembered the part of “detachment” that yoga always talks about and decided to apply it. I’m not denying that it hurt, frustrated, and annoyed me. But, this time, I decided it wasn’t going to fester, nor was I going to start an argument. There was far too much to do, too little time in which to do it, and I’ve had way too much to deal with in the past months to have to defend my choices to ANYONE. And I could move through the anger and hurt much more easily by not letting it infect me like a cut that wasn’t properly cleaned. It’s almost as though catching and destroying the tick before it bit me was symbolic of the entire trip.

Off to PEN, to waft on the wings of inspiration for the day.