Tues. Aug. 3, 2021: Love The Libraries

image courtesy of Foundry Co. via pixabay.com

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Waning Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Chiron Retrograde

Partly cloudy and cool

For some reason, the weekend feels like a really long time ago.

There’s a post over on the Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions blog. I’m slowly gearing up the other blogs.

I didn’t manage my time properly, so I ended up writing up script coverage all weekend. I need to figure things out better, so I have weekends off from the coverage, or it’s just too much.

I found out that a new independent bookstore opened, within walking distance. My first instinct was to run right over and check it out. However, I decided to wait until I get paid, so that I can actually spend money there (not just buy one thing because I feel like I can’t go in without buying something, but buy several things and give them some serious business). I also discovered that, at Norad Mill, on the way to Wild Oats Market, is a yarn store. I don’t need more yarn – I have so much in storage. But there’s a yarn store, so you know I’m going to go there.

The list of possibilities for upcoming Artist Dates grows. And that is a good thing.

I like that there are places I can frequent within walking distance.

Norad Mill also has a yoga studio, with strict vaccine rules for in-studio work. Even with that, that everyone needs to be vaccinated, masks are welcome within the studio, I’m not sure if I feel comfortable going back into the studio. There’s another studio (near the new bookstore), but it’s online only right now. As much as I’d like to go back to class, I’m not sure, even with precautions and protocols, I feel comfortable enough so to do. I feel like I’d need a separate set of mat, blocks, props, etc. to take to class that would need to be decontaminated and kept separate from my daily mat and blocks I use at home.

But it’s nice to know that the studios here follow protocols. Unlike the studio on Cape, where, during the height of it all last year, pre-vaccine, people could be inside without masks.

I received sad news. The Broadway colleague fighting COVID, who seemed to be improving, died of a heart attack on Friday night. He was a sweet, gentle soul who is an enormous loss.

It also increases my rage against anti-vaxxers. They are domestic terrorists, walking biological weapons, and need to be dealt with as the murderers they are.

Saturday, I put the cat condo back up. It’s in a corner of the living room. Because the ceilings are so much higher here, it doesn’t dominate the room, the way it did in the Cape house. The cats aren’t sure about it yet. It has to be their idea to go back into/onto it.

Worked on unpacking/setting up my office some more. It’s better, it’s workable, but I want it wonderful, and it’s not there yet.

The new Eureka vacuum arrived. It’s wonderful. It was also horrifying to see how much dirt was in the rugs that the other vacuum hadn’t picked up. But now, we’re finally getting things clean.

When I lived a block from Times Square, in NYC, the constant cleaning was discouraging. I’d scrub everything down; an hour later, there was a light layer of soot and grime over everything. When we first moved to the Cape, a decade ago, things were a little gritty because it’s sandy (beaches have sand), but, overall, it was cleaner. However, it got progressively dirtier, as trees are cut down, and there were the constant mowing/leaf blowing/chain saws. The dirt had an oily residue from all the machinery in constant use. Even with regular house cleaning, it was difficult to get it clean, much less keep it clean. As we unpack, even though we cleaned things before the move, everything needs a second, thorough scrub.

The dirt and dust, at least so far, is a different, lighter consistency. So far, at least, it’s easier to clean, even though we technically live in a city.

Who knew there were so many kinds of dirt? Not soil, but dirt.

Sunday was about some more unpacking. There are still a few boxes in the living room that need unpacking, but it’s not stuff for the living room. And we need to rearrange some stuff, and decide what to put on the mantel. So far, nothing looks quite right. Our mirrors are the wrong size and shape. I feel as though it should be a painting. If we keep the porcelain figurines (which have been in the family for generations and keep getting hauled around) on the mantel, I feel it should be a pastoral scene with a lake (for feng shui, there needs to be water over a fireplace, even if it’s not a real one), so it looks like the figures stepped out of it. If we move the figures (although who knows where), it can be some other sort of painting, as long as there’s a watery vibe to it (but not a sinking ship type of thing; not good for feng shui).

I tried putting the pieces I brought back from Australia oh, so long ago, when my play was produced there, but they don’t look or feel right there, either. They will probably go in my office.

Monday morning, in my first writing session of the day, I passed my daily quota, for the first time in months. It felt good. I’m getting back in synch with my creativity. I’m starting, slowly, to feel like myself again. The self I was when I moved so optimistically to the Cape ten years ago (nearly eleven now), although I doubt I’ll ever feel that level of optimism about anything ever again.

Got out some LOIs, caught up on email. Worked on the class presentation. Walked down to the post office to mail a few things.

I can see the college library from my front windows. So, yesterday morning, I walked over and got a Community Card. I have permission to both check books out of the library and to work in the library (it was practically empty today and everything is well spaced, but if COVID numbers keep going up, I doubt I will). Everyone at the college – students, faculty, staff, vendors – is required to be fully vaccinated, at least. But I don’t want to push my luck.

For research, it’s a fantastic library. Lots of books I can’t find anywhere else. I only checked out two books, but they will keep me busy for a bit!

Home, tried to get back to work, had a bad case of the I Don’t Wannas. Did a little unpacking and rearranging.

Worked on some script coverage. Started the next book I have to review. Paid some bills.

An interesting call for a flash fiction submission landed in my inbox, so I’m playing with some ideas.

Spent some time on the acupressure mat, with the eye pillow on, and Willa was absolutely convinced I was dying, and it was her job to resuscitate. Poor cat. Her original human, who gave her up because he was too sick to take care of her and of Charlotte, must have been in bad shape.

At least I’m sleeping better.

As I’m roaming around the neighborhood, learning my way about, I’m meeting various neighbors. People are good about distancing when unmasked outside, and everyone in the area is vaccinated (most are connected to the college, or to other companies that insist on vaccination). The timbre of conversation here is so different than it was on Cape.

For comparison:

Topic: My life and work in New York, and it comes up that I worked backstage on Broadway for years.

Typical Cape Cod response: “Oh, so you were fired and came here? But I bet you still have connections. How soon can you get me free tickets? There are lots of shows I want to see, but I’m not paying those prices.”

Berkshires: “I bet you got to work on some cool projects and with some talented people.”

(For the record: I was not fired. I was aging out, and wanted to leave while I still loved it).

Topic: Professions. I’m asked what I do for a living, and I respond with “writer.”

Typical Cape Cod: “What’s your real job?”

Berkshire: “Can we get together one day to take a walk around the lake/get coffee and talk about how you approach character and plot? I’m vaccinated, I promise.  I’m trying a few things, and I’d love to hear how you do it.”

See the difference?

Not everyone on Cape was like that, of course. The people who became my friends weren’t like that, or we wouldn’t have formed friendships. But, at networking or Chamber Events or Writers’ Center events or art openings, meeting and chatting with new people, that same response came up over and over and over again, for years.

Not that it’s perfect here. The Town Clerk still hasn’t responded to my request to change voter registration (which, according to the Secretary of State’s office has to be done here), and the equivalent of my health organization hasn’t responded to any of my requests for information. The original requests went in nearly a month ago. The local chamber of commerce hasn’t responded to my request for information (although the larger 1Berkshires has).

But when I meet people and talk to them, I’m met with interest, rather than the hostility of “you think you’re so great because you work in the arts, but you can’t be that great or you wouldn’t live here” which I got pounded with constantly on Cape for years.

It’s not about my view of my own “greatness.” It’s the fact that this is my profession, not my hobby, I put in the work, and earn my living at it.

Up early this morning, wrote my 1K in longhand. It felt good. There’s stuff I need to research, details, but the writing itself feels good, even though the story itself is light years away from what I usually do. Stretching is a good thing.

The bulk of today’s focus will be on the materials for class: finishing up the Power Point presentation, putting together the handouts. My host is doing maintenance, so I can’t upload anything until tomorrow, but if it’s ready to go, that means I can upload, test, and troubleshoot before Friday’s class.

I also have to make another trip to the post office, and then I’ll swing by the public library to return books/pick up books. I think it’s nice enough to walk today, so that’s what I’ll do. Walking more is both a good way to learn the area, and a way to regain fitness and strength. It’s safe to walk around here, too. People aren’t idiots, and don’t roam in unvaccinated packs, like they did on Cape. Even when we’re unmasked and vaccinated, we give each other room, passing on the sidewalk, etc. None of this invading personal space and literally blowing on the backs of people’s necks that the assholes did during the pandemic on Cape, thinking it was “funny.”

Got to do a grocery run, too. I’m out of oat milk. I put cow’s milk in my coffee this morning, and that was a mistake. We need a few things like eggs and butter, too.

Time to get back to work. Slowly, I’m finding my work rhythms again. I still get tired quickly, and have to take more breaks, but taking breaks isn’t a bad thing. When I take proper breaks, I’m more focused and productive when I actually work.

And I’m soooo much more productive working fully remotely than going into someone else’s office.

Back to the page, hoping for a good day, on multiple levels.

Fri. April 16, 2021: Die For Your Employer day 328 — Pen To Paper

image courtesy of Stock Snap via pixabay.com

Friday, April 16, 2021

Waxing Moon

Bucketing down rain

I’m so grateful for the rain. We need it. A good, all-day soak would be a boon for this area.

I didn’t do the grocery run yesterday. I had a really, really bad feeling I shouldn’t go, as I got ready to leave. So, I trusted my instincts and didn’t. I don’t know why; there wasn’t news of a serious crash down the street until later in the day. But I trusted my instincts.

Meditation was fine, although I had trouble focusing and staying in with it.

Did some client work, looked at rental listings, heard back from a place that they didn’t have the unit available we’d need, noodled with a couple of pitches I hope to get out today.  I want to get something to my Llewellyn editor for the 2023 almanacs.

Freelance Chat was interesting, although it was about working with agencies as a freelancer. While I’m poking into that, I really didn’t have much to contribute to the actual conversation. It was about listening and learning yesterday for me, which is a good thing.

Got a response from an LOI, and we are having a conversation next week. The company interests me, and if the parameters and the way they treat people are as well as they claim, we’d be a good fit. I might, actually, visit their calendar and try to move the conversation earlier in the week.

Did some work on the Topic Workbook revision of THE GRAVEYARD OF ABANDONED PROJECTS. I need to get the Topic Workbooks revised and out again. When they are available and I promote them properly, they are steady sellers. I keep them affordable, but not so cheap I resent it. Once we move, I might look into getting some print copies of them, too, not just digital.

Worked on contest entries.

I’ve read two books in the past few weeks (not contest entries) that are different – from each other and from what’s out there – and enjoyable. WHO IS MAUD DIXON? by Alexandra Andrews is twisty and fun (although I did figure it out ahead of time, but was interested enough to find out how the characters would navigate). BEACH READ by Emily Henry was also fun, a nice twist on the standard romantic comedy formula. Hits all the points, but goes beyond, with a lot of heart. I recommend both.

I also, finally, got back to some writing, working on three ideas that have been playing in my head. I had hoped to find a way to combine them, but they are three definitive sets of characters on different projects.

One is contemporary, slightly alt-reality, with elements of romance and paranormal. I have the characters and the catalyst, and part of the setting (the house in which most of it happens is very clear, but I don’t yet know where that house IS). I’m looking for a one-word title for it, a word that encompasses self-confidant solitude. I threw out the request on Twitter yesterday, and got some interesting responses, but nothing with quite the right shade of meaning yet.

The second idea is something I’ve been playing with, off and on for years, inspired by the breakfasts at Cole’s Farms in Maine, and some of the other wonderful breakfast-only places in Maine that are so well-loved. I want to start in the 1970’s, in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, and have one section in each decade for about five decades. Built around a breakfast-only restaurant in Maine. Cole’s Farms closed this past January, after 68 years in Maine. I’d been eating there, when I visited my family up there, since I was 10.

The third idea I suspect will grow into a mystery series, and needs the most research. It will start in the aftermath of WWII, a former ferry girl pilot and the shattered soldier with whom she had an affair during the war. I don’t want to say too much about it until I know where it’s headed. There are a few scenes very strong in my head that I will get down as a foundation, and then develop.

And yes, I’m aware that I still need to write the stand-alone suspense novel about the former ferry girl who becomes a barnstorming pilot just after the war, the one I started developing in a workshop during the Cape Cod Writers Conference a few years back. That’s in the queue.

Once we’ve moved, I can look at the queue of books that need to be written, sort them, and get back to it. But for now, under all this stress, I will work on what pulls me.

I’m going to take a look at THE GHOST IN THE BREAD MACHINE and see if that’s viable, or needs to be put into stasis. I’ve been thinking about it the last few days.

Because writing even for a couple of hours made a huge positive difference in my psyche and coping skills. I need to stop the self-flagellation about not knowing where we will move, and keep writing so I have the energy to move.

Knowledge Unicorns was fine. We’re taking another break next week — many of them have next week as the spring break. Everyone is burned out. We all need a massive month-long vacation. But too many companies have learned NOTHING from the pandemic, and are trying to force the same old crap. No. Just no. All the way around no.

Staying in today in this mucky weather, to work on articles, pitches, LOIs, client work, contest entries, the Topic Workbooks, story ideas, and, of course, pack and look at rental listings. I have another book to read for review, and I hope to finish the next category of contest entries this weekend.

At least I slept through the night for the first time in a bit.

Another mass shooting, this time in Indiana. More murdered black children. The cops need to stop murdering people based on skin color, while letting white domestic terrorists roam free. And, in general, American society needs to stop murdering its children.

Have a good weekend.

Tues. Jan. 12, 2021: Die For Your Employer Day 237 — Chop Wood, Carry Water, in Spite of What’s Going On

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Dark Moon

Uranus Retrograde

Partly cloudy and cold

Well, it’s been a week, hasn’t it? I guess 2021 really is saying “Hold my beer” to 2020.

I have a post on reading goals up over on A Biblio Paradise.

I spent a good deal of time over the past few days in touch with my Congress people – telling them I am glad they are safe, but also encouraging them to take swift action. It is repulsive that those behind the domestic terrorism are still in power.

In the vein of chop wood, carry water, having to get on with daily life, I spent time working on the article – almost all the quotes have come in. I noodled on the book proposal, and am not sure I can get it done by deadline. I have the end game in my head fairly clearly, but getting there is a struggle.

Did a lot of laundry, especially the holiday fabric. Put away more decorations, and managed to get everything into the Christmas closet. Still have to pack the fabric, take down the ribbons and roll them, and take the wax out of a few pieces of fabric.

I did not clear out any boxes from the basement, with the packing away of holiday décor, so I have to make up for that this week.

Sunday, I rested. I was tired, body and soul. I read nearly all day, and that was great. I didn’t read anything I was supposed to read, just things I wanted to read.

Yesterday, I was in the office on my own, as it should be. Got a lot done. Got ahead on next week’s ad/mailing. I need to update my B2B/B2C sample document. The new samples came in, and I’ve started processing them. That always takes extra work, but it will be worth it. They look good, and putting together line sheets/pricing/getting them out to the reps is a big deal.

Home, decontaminated, in touch with my Congress people’s staffs, got some reading done. More quotes came in for the article, and I’m working on structure.

Can start to put the book proposal on paper today (well, on screen, anyway).

The Direct Cash Relief payments showed up, much to my surprise. I was about to contact my Congress people to ask why the IRS had the right to hold them hostage until we filed our tax returns, but I guess that wasn’t the case, after all.

The Goddess Provisions box finally showed up and it was lovely. Soul-soothing.

The only outstanding shipment is the first box of books from the contest, which was supposed to arrive on Saturday, but has been delayed. Once it gets here, I will start reading contest entries every day, along with everything else (will be up late reading every night until May – which is a good thing). In the meantime, I will read my book for review in the next couple of days, get that out, and get started on the next book for review.

Some more article ideas are percolating; once I get this article out, I will work on more pitches. Will get a bunch of LOIs out today, I hope.

Had a bunch of responses to LOIs wanting free, project-specific samples, which isn’t happening. Had one company try to get me to sign an NDA for an interview. It was one of the more insulting NDAs I’ve ever read, and I would have been an idiot to sign it. Not to mention the demand for free work on top of it. I countered with my test/sample agreement, and the changes they’d have to make to the NDA in order for me to sign it and they sputtered, so I said thanks, but no thanks, and moved on.

I’m not 20 begging for my first job. I have decades of experience. They can shove their demands for free labor right up their collective ass.

Today will focus on writing, over an array of several projects, and then the Knowledge Unicorns reconvene tonight. We have a lot to talk about.

Have a great day, friends! Let’s work for justice, so we can have peace. Otherwise, things will just get worse.

Tues. Oct. 13, 2020: Die For Your Employer Day 146 — Covidiots Run Loose

image by Peter Lomas courtesy of pixabay.com

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Waning Moon

Neptune, Uranus, Mars, and MERCURY Retrograde

Yup, Mercury goes retrograde today and stays that way until election day. With Mars retrograde.

It won’t be pretty.

Technically, tourist season ended here yesterday, so we are only expected to die for our employers. But boy, howdy, did they expect us to Die For Tourist Dollars all fucking weekend, because there was NO enforcement of the mask mandate.

To say I am angry about the domestic terrorists that tried to kidnap the governor of Michigan is an understatement. We need Bill Barr impeached. We need the 25th Amendment now. We need that vile SCOTUS nominee removed.

I got SERENE AND DETERMINED out on submission before 8 AM – with a full proofread and some tweaks. Either this place will take it or not. A long shot is better than no shot.

Honestly, until I actually hit “send” I didn’t think I could make the deadline.

Did a few more drafts of the short story and got that out, too. I don’t think it’s exactly what they’re looking for – I think I might have used a slightly wider lens than they want – but I’m  happy with the story, and if they don’t use it, I have a list of other markets to which to pitch it.

Did another drop-off/curbside pickup at the library. As soon as I got back, more books had arrived, so I picked those up on Saturday.

We got our ballots of Friday, so we filled them out, and I took them to the secure drop box in Hyannis on Saturday morning. We’ve voted. We’ve done our civic duty.

It was great to see so many others dropping off ballots, too.

It was not great that I was the ONLY ONE wearing a mask.

Main St. Hyannis is supposed to be a masked zone. NO ONE is supposed be on the street unmasked. No one is supposed to be in any public space in the entire state unmasked.

Yet, there they all were, dancing around in public, no masks. No distancing. Tourists sashaying out of the packed motels, no masks, no distancing.

No enforcement.

I shouldn’t be surprised. Since the pandemic started, I have not seen a single cop EVER wear a mask around here. All the construction and DPW workers – who would normally wear masks and goggles as part of their safety gear – aren’t. And they’re all up in each other’s faces all the time and not distancing. It’s disgusting.

And we wonder why MA numbers are going up.

Broadway is shuttered until May of 2021. Heartbreaking, but necessary. You know the producers are going to try to use this to bust the unions. The unions must hold firm. It’s going to take a decade or more for theatre to recover. But it WILL recover. Hopefully, a lot of these corporate entities will go away from theatre, and old-style impresarios, who actually love the format, will return.

I shouldn’t be surprised by the vicious remarks from snide people saying, “Well, now you have to get a REAL job” – the same people who say that the arts isn’t a real job, and that “no one” makes a living writing.

Nice to know who I can cut out of my life.

All these people binge-watching their streaming shows all pandemic — how do you think those are created? You think they magically appear out of the ether?

I’m reading SENSE OF OCCASION by Harold Prince, and he has a line that resonates: “. . .the theatre has been dying for as long as it’s been living, so its problems are not irrevocable.”

I was lucky enough to work directly with him on one show, at the Public Theatre. The hopes were that it would move to Broadway. It didn’t, but working with him was an amazing experience. The intensity of his joy, his craft, and the way he listened and valued EVERYONE in the company was wonderful.

Didn’t get much done on Saturday other than laundry, taking in the ballots, picking up the candy for Halloween, and doing the library run.

Sunday, I was up early to take the garbage and recycling to the dump. The staff, as always, were masked and great. The fucktards dumping garbage weren’t.  Disgusting. At least at the recycling area, people wore masks as required.

Since I was over in that direction, I dashed over to the nearby Stop N Shop to pick up a few things I couldn’t get at Trader Joe’s.

Home, decontaminated, had trouble with the laptop as I was trying to get work done. This laptop is barely six months old. I shouldn’t be having trouble with the keyboard already, especially since I have a light touch on the keys.

Wrote, revised, and polished the two articles for which I’d been contracted last week by the same editor.

Started the third contracted article, for a different editor, but had run out of steam by then.

Monday was the end of my few days of sleeping through the night. I woke up around 1 AM, again at 2:44, and then for good at 4:36.

I got some writing done, and headed to my client’s. I knew no one would be there. I got a lot done in a few hours, as much as I could get done there. I prefer to work on the ads at home. It’s easier.

Swung by Star Market, because that is the only place I can get the Cranberry-Peach juice and stocked up. Everyone was masked and careful in the store, which was good, since there were more people in the store than they should have let in.

No one outside the store was masked. Everybody’s dancing around the streets, not distancing, not masked. It’s really out of control in my neighborhood, and is irritating. I have made it clear to the neighbors that they don’t come near me unmasked. I am not participating in their insanity and disdain for each other. It’s a shame our neighborhood, which used to be tight and be about people taking care of each other, has devolved so badly.

Home, decontaminated, tried to work on the third article. I wanted to get it out the door before Mercury turned retrograde, but that’s just not going to happen. Switching between the various drafts of the stage play and the radio version to pull the right examples gets confusing.

We are having High Kitty Drama.

Someone on Twitter suggested the catnip banana as a great toy. I bought one for Tessa in this last Chewy order, and other toys for Willa and Charlotte.

Well, everyone wants the banana.

Charlotte tried to steal it and caused arguing and caterwauling and chasing and hissing.

Willa and Tessa now steal it back and forth, but they are sort of friends now, so it’s more playful than nasty.

But I couldn’t stand the drama and ordered two more catnip bananas, so each has her own. They should arrive by Thursday.

I bet the still steal them from each other.

I saw a publication that does both podcast and print. I asked the editor if in the next submission style, I could submit in radio format, and they were intrigued.

The next cycle is in December, which gives me some time to play with ideas. I have a few – it’s fantasy. There will be comedy. I don’t think there will be dirigibles in this one – I think I’m going in another direction. But you never know when a dirigible might show up in my work.

I asked, on Twitter, for recommendations for romance novels where children aren’t the end game, where a healthy HEA involves NOT having children BY CHOICE (not by infertility) and that is treated as a valid choice. I’m so sick of books about supposedly “independent” women who get pregnant by accident (“everything solved by a ‘magic penis’ as one person said on Twitter) and then turns into a puddle of ecstatic goo. Of course those books should exist. But other books, where happy lives without children should exist, too, and those are the books I want.

I got a pile of suggestions, which I wrote down. I ordered some from the library. I bought one, so far, on Kindle, because it’s set against horse racing.  I don’t read much romance (although I enjoy books in other genres with strong romantic elements and love) because too often I find the tropes cringeworthy.  For instance, I can’t stand the whole billionaire boyfriend trope, because I have yet to meet a billionaire who wasn’t a complete ass. That’s how he got to be a billionaire. Not by being secretly a good guy. Yes, it’s fantasy, but it stretches believability too far for me.

Also bought WITCHING TIME, Yasmine Galenorn’s newest WILD HUNT book, and have read about half of it so far.

Got my next book assigned for review. Looking forward to starting that by Thursday.

Today, I need to finish the article and get it out.  I will do client work, and get out some LOIs. I will finish tomorrow’s Ink-Dipped Advice post and schedule that, and maybe get up a post for A Biblio Paradise.

Once the article goes out, I need to turn my attention back to the novel revisions, and work on the Susanna Centlivre play.

I have the Knowledge Unicorns this afternoon, too. We’re starting later than usual, because I’m taking a cooking seminar via Kripalu with Jeremy Rock Smith. I love the way he teaches, and I love his recipes, so I’m excited!

Don’t get me started on the SCOTUS hearings, or I’ll just turn into a rage monster. What an unqualified, unprincipled piece of crap that nominee is.

Off to start my day. Have a good one. Keep your head down during this retrograde.