Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Partly sunny and mild

I’m up early because I went to bed early. I’m trying to find info on how to get the DC metro to actually give you a Day Pass — what it does is eat your money and then spit out a card that’s NOT a day pass. Most logical cities have you choose your option and THEN put in the money, but not DC — they’re going to take your cash and give you whatever. If that’s not a complete analogy of government, I don’t know what is.

The trip down was quite pleasant. No problems getting the train into NYC, got in so early (we took an “earlier” train that was late rather than waiting for a later train that would probably be later), that we walked leisurely, dragging our little suitcases down 5th Avenue and over to Penn. We realized that we packed less for a four day trip than most poor commuters cart in on a daily basis.

Grabbed sandwiches to take on the bus and newspapers. We had a double-decker bus, and I was every bit as excited as any five year old. Yes, we rode on the top level.

For the most part, it was great ride. Across the aisle where an annoying young 20’s couple who alternated between making out, spilling orange juice everywhere, and taling really loudy about how ecologically responsible they are — of course, spouting misinformation and dropping contents out of at least half a dozen plastic grocery bags instead of canvas bags! You know, in the slice-and-dice movies, the arrogant couple that are amongst the first to get chopped up? These two were THAT much of a cliche. It was pretty funny.

Once we hit DC, it was only two blocks to our Metro, and, once the fare card kerflamma was dealt with (for at least yesterday), it was a quick 5-or-so stop ride up the red line to Van Ness. Our hotel is only about 4 blocks from the stop. The neighborhood is really great — UDC Van Ness campus, lots of little stores and restaurants, and, if you head towards downtown, the embassy residences. Quiet, green, feels safe.

The hotel: mixed feelings about it so far. The positive side: Enormous, comfortable beds, Wi-fi. Good desk, good desk chair. Nice shower. Lots of natural light. Heat that works and that I can control (which is more than can be said for home). The towels are decoratively folded (yeah, i know, silly, but a nice touch). The downside: They made us line up in the lobby before “official check in time” started. WTF? The “coffee maker” makes one cup at at time, they only give you the ability to make ONE cup of coffee, and there’s no creamer, which I didn’t know until I tried to make a cup of really bad coffee early this morning. Can you say “cranky”? There are no drapes or blinds — just sheers. There’s heavy fabric along the edges of the window, but it’s for show and doesn’t pull across the window. On top of that, the lights for the well-lit parking lot shine into the room so I can read without putting lights on. Not all the lights in the room have light bulbs in them.

Let’s say I’m having a chat with the desk when I go down. I’ve stayed at this chain a lot, although never at this hotel, and this hotel does not meet the chain’s usual standards.

We walked around late in the afternoon, enjoying the embassy residences — somehow I ended up over by the Czech Republic residence — CZK turns up everywhere in my life lately. There’s some lovely architecture in the neighborhood, and you get the sense that people really live here.

And everybody runs. That’s the big thing here — running. I guess they spend so much of their day sitting that, the minute they get out, they run. I’ve never seen so many runners in the early evening in my life outside of marathon training sessions.

There’s a little cafe down the street, so we’re going there for breakfast, and then heading first to Arlington National Cemetery,then to the monuments on the National Mall, and then to the various Smithsonians. Tomorrow is Library of Congress and Folger, and maybe sticking my head in at Capitol Hill to say “hey”. We left timing loose. (And yes, I have solid enough relationships with those I’d see at the Captiol that they said, “Just stop in whenever you have a minute; we’re always glad to see you.”) I’ve also got a couple of work appointments for Confidential Job #3 that are scattered across the days, but everything’s pretty close together.

I’m going to try to get a little writing done in the next hour or so before we leave.

Enjoy!

Devon

Published in: on November 17, 2009 at 6:25 am  Comments (3)  
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Friday, November 13, 2009

IMG_0542

Friday, November 13, 2009
Waning Moon
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy, raw, cold
Friday the 13th!

Woo-hoo! It’s Friday the 13th, always a good luck day for me.

I’ve got a post up on Sole Struck Fashions about “Holiday Prep Work” and a post up on Kemmyrk about “Daily Chakra Cleansing”. Stop by and drop a comment!

Do I even remember what I did yesterday? Hmm, I wrote, always a good thing. The Christmas story is coming along very well. I have to keep stopping to research, since, although it’s set in a fictional town (inspired by Saratoga and the Adelphi Hotel), it’s in a real time period.

I dashed to Greenwich to put something into my safe deposit box. I stopped at the library sale on the way back and picked up some interesting books. One, that I got on a whim, is a biography of Marjorie Merriweather Post. Her father, CW Post, was the cereal giant and invented things like Postum (shout out to Lara). Not only is the book exceptionally well written, it contains social history of the period in which I’m writing, and even mentions Saratoga!

Seshat, the goddess of libraries and scribes, was certainly looking out for me!

Back to the page for a couple of hours, and then I head to the site job. it’s my favorite site, so I’m really looking forward to it. The work there is fun, and I also have quiet time to work on my own writing and reading.

I probably won’t blog tomorrow, but I’ll check in on Sunday, and then, while I’m in DC, there will be various this-and-that posts — I’ve got articles going up at various sites while I’m gone. I’m supposed to have wi-fi in the hotel room, and I’m lugging the laptop with me, so I’ll try to blog from DC.

My goal this weekend is to finish the first draft of the Christmas story so I can edit in on the bus to and from DC and then finish the design and get it to the printer before I leave for Maine. I also want to do some more work on “Digging” — it’s coming along decently. I’m thrilled that so many of you are enjoying it!

I’ve got some business correspondence to get out today before I leave for the site, and a trip to the post office — hopefully it will be open; otherwise, I’ll have to make a detour to another town on the way to site.

Have a great weekend!

Devon

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny, hot, humid

I was at my desk, working steadily yesterday, for ten hours, and still didn’t get everything done that I hoped I would! It was good, steady, productive work, but there was a lot of it.

My only breaks were a half hour for lunch and a half hour when the couch arrived.

Ah, the couch. I ordered a flip couch that’s supposed to sleep two adults. That’s what I paid for. Unfortunately, they sent me a CHILD-SIZED couch. It fits better in the space, and it flips out to sleep one adult just fine (it’s really comfortable), but it’s not what I paid for. I’m perfectly willing to keep it — provided they refund the difference. There will be some negotiating. I checked my order — I ordered something different than was sent. They’re arguing about it, saying they don’t carry the adult-sized couch “anymore.” Um, that’s really not my problem. That’s what I ordered and the order was confirmed, so stick to your side of the deal.

The cats love it. It’s red micro-suede, and, in couch form, it’s the perfect size for them. Violet, in particular, considers it hers. I explained that I don’t pay that much money for a cat bed. She simply snorted at me.

Anyway, it was a productive day. In addition to work on client projects, I got out a half a dozen submissions and a half a dozen pitches. After months of low-paying, uninteresting jobs, the boards are starting to perk up again, both in pay rate and content. There’s a lot coming out of DC, in areas that actually interest me, such as environmentalism and conservation. I don’t know if I’ll land any of it — I haven’t written much in that arena, but I have the writing skills and the learning curve to pull it off. I’ve also got to warn everyone in pitches that I’ll be out of the country in September, and that might toss me out of contention on certain projects.

I was also asked to write an article for a colleague’s blog, to run while she’s on vacation, and I have to finish my column today. I’m behind on the GDRs and on the July/August newsletter, but those will happen. I got a few more anthology invites — I have to look over the deadlines and see if I can slot them in. They’re really fun, and at least one of them could involve the crew of The Merry’s Dalliance.

I sorted out upcoming get-togethers with friends over the next few weeks, and sat down to figure out the food for the site job next week — I always take it with me. There’s a great kitchen, and I love to cook there, so I bring in my own food and have a blast.

Today’s roster contains more client work — I hope to finish up a couple of pieces; the column; the guest article; starting to type up “Plot Bunnies”; a large grocery shopping trip; wrapping some fragile pictures in bubble wrap and getting them into storage.

I started the second mystery (everything is due on August 15 it seems). I’m struggling because it wants to be written in first person and I want it/need it to be written in third person. “Plot Bunnies” is in first person, and it makes more sense to have one story in first person and one in third, especially if they’re going to appear in the same anthology. But the damn piece wants to be written in first. I’m sure it will win, but I’m not going down without a fight.

Devon

Published in: on August 4, 2009 at 6:55 am  Comments (2)  
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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Thursday, July 30, 2009
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy, hot, humid

Hop on over to the Scruffy Dog Review blog for my article, “Don’t Assume You Know My Contract” and leave a comment.

I’m so tired of everything being damp and clammy all the time. Ick!

After a day as good as Tuesday, of course, yesterday was filled with interruptions and frustrations. I had a heck of a time getting out the door to storage, and it wasn’t fun hauling the crap to storage. My wrist and I are not on speaking terms.

I swung by the site where I needed to get some paperwork signed and took care of that, had lunch with a friend, and installed myself at the Greenwich Library to get some work done.

I wound up finding some very interesting material and going off on a tangent, but that’s okay, because it will come in useful further down the road. It just means working some additional hours today and tomorrow to get everything done.

I looked up about halfway through the afternoon and saw the storm moved in, so I gathered my belongings and headed home. I tried to get some more work done, and managed to write two articles and get some editing work done before the storm was bad enough for me to shut down all the electronics (since surge protectors are basically useless).

I tried to read a mystery I picked up. It lost me in the first sentence. I felt I was being unfair, so I struggled along. Most of the writing is far too precious — the writer is in love with the sound of her own voice and wants to sound “literary”, but doesn’t have the skill level to pull it off. And, while she writes well about the conceit of the protag’s profession, the mystery part of the tale falls apart. The protag makes such stupid choices that, should she become the killer’s next victim, it wouldn’t bother me too much. This is the third book of a series. I won’t be going back to read the first two, and I won’t read the books that follow. These are hours of my life better spent reading GOOD writing.

Well, at least I learned valuable lessons about what NOT to do in this type of book!

I packed up some more stuff — this has to be stacked in a corner until the furniture swap happens, and I can put it away in the furniture coming in. The new couch shipped, and, after using Safari to push the site link (it spun and wouldn’t connect in Firefox) and discovered that it left California on Tuesday (huh?), so I don’t think I have to worry about it showing up until the original Monday – Wednesday time frame.

I had a good writing morning on the mystery short story. I’ll have to rearrange a bit of the dialogue for logistical reasons, but I think I can finish it this weekend and let it sit for a week or so while I write the second story, and then go back, edit this one, edit the other one, and get them in on deadline.

I’ve got to vacuum (here we go, Jupiter Retrograde influence). I’m going to write in a local coffee shop for awhile, then I have a lunch date, then I’ve got a site job in CT this afternoon.

It also looks like I’ll land a gig down in DC for a few days in November, which will be really cool! IF all the contract details work out.

Of course, if I go down, I will build in time to visit my Senators and Congressional Reps. Can’t let any opportunity slip by. My Congresswoman wants me to be part of a Telephone Town Hall on health care tonight — only I’ll still be onsite at the time it starts. I’ve sent her my cell phone and also some thoughts on it, in general.

Devon

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Thursday, June 18, 2009
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Raining. Again.

Well, the sun didn’t last long enough yesterday for me to get out and enjoy it. Boo. 😦

I’m back, as Jenny, talking about writing without a contract in place, on Diane Parkin’s blog.

Pretty productive day, though. Got my assignment polished and out to Confidential Job #1. Took care of some business correspondence. Finished off a client project. Went to Trader Joe’s to restock the cat food supply.

I printed out CRAVE THE HUNT and had it stacked on the desk, waiting to go into a binder. And Iris had a temper tantrum and scattered the pages all over the living room. Sigh. Fortunately, they’re numbered.

I found that, if I use Safari, I can override the 1and1 server error. I can’t get into my sites to work on them, but at least I can access my email. Not perfect, but a stopgap until I can move things.

Trying to get back on track with the serial and CRAVE THE HUNT. There are some things looming in the near future that take a lot of energy and focus right now, and it’s negatively affecting the writing. Hopefully, once that’s sorted, I can get back in the groove.

I’m making preparations for the DC trip next week — so far I am not impressed with the organization, or lack thereof, and I’m setting a bunch of appointments on my own. I’m not going to stand around doing nothing, and it wouldn’t be right if I slipped away to a museum! So I’ll do my bit at the rally,and then I’ve got appointments with people who can actually create some positive change. I need affordable health care. This week is a good example — I don’t have insurance, and I can’t afford to spend several hundred dollars for a five minute doctor visit out of pocket (which is what it is here) unless I REALLY need it. I’m feeling off, not awful; I’ll deal. I had DECADES of pouring money into health insurance, and hardly ever needed to see a doctor. All of that should be credited, and I should be able to draw on it now Instead, I threw out money for years BECAUSE I WAS HEALTHY. How twisted is that? Plus, I’m sick and tired of the way they glance at you and order a plethora of tests, almost all unnecessary, because they can’t be bothered to spend the time to get to know you and your individual health issues. Assembly-line medicine doesn’t work. I do much better with my acupuncturist, and I’m calling her today to see if she can fit me in before she leaves for Saratoga. Whenever I leave a doctor’s office, I feel completely dehumanized. When I leave my acupunturist’s, I feel I can take on the world. The insurance companies in this country need to be gutted, and the health care industry needs to be rebuilt from the ground up so that doctors can provide individualized care and patients are treated like people, not like the plastic dummies one practices on in First Aid training sessions.

Next week is going to be a long day! 😉

I’m also prepping for the NHL Draft, which starts the day after the rally in DC. And, in a few weeks, I’m going to head up to Maine for a couple of days, to see my great uncle, and maybe visit some farms where they spin and die the yarn they shear from their sheep.

Hopefully the laundry room renovations are done. Six weeks ago, they told us it would take “about ten days”. Right. My friend’s out of town, so I can’t pop over to do laundry there, and the laundry bag’s about to burst at the seams. Fingers crossed.

I’ve got a fiction deadline coming up for a short story. I’ve got it percolating, and I’ve also got a couple of other short pieces percolating. Maybe, with everything going on these next couple of weeks, it makes more sense to focus on shorter pieces, pieces I can actually get done.

Now that I’ve visited The Mount in Lenox, it really makes Hermione Lee’s Edith Wharton biography come even more to life. It’s also making me itch to back to GOOD NAMES.

Back to business. There’s a lot to do. Maybe if I keep focused on work, I won’t notice that it’s raining. AGAIN. There are flood warnings, so I’ll be jumping up and down to check the brook every few hours, and see if I have to move the car. And I’m boiling and bottling water, just in case. Maybe today’s NOT a good day to do laundry!

Prepared fried cod cakes last night with home-made tartar sauce (wonderful) and roasted potato wedges (with oregano, cumin, and olive oil) dipped in lime-cilantro mayonnaise. Yum.

Back to work.

Devon