Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Rainy and cold

The alarm went off early, so I was out by 5 AM for the run.

I’ve been really lax about marketing, because I’ve concentrated so much on fiction and scripts over the past few months, but now that the theatre commissions are winding down (at least until the next round of meetings/commissions), I need to get back on the stick. The job listings have sucked the last few months — the content mills are pulling down a lot of the prices, and I’m not going to write a press release (for years my bread-and-butter) for one-fifth of my normal rate.

I looked at Media Bistro — LOTS of jobs, well over 1000, legitimate jobs at legitimate rates, but very few that interest me. One did, it’s a company I’ve looked at for awhile and something opened up I could definitely do, but the amount of invasive paperwork and “investigative rights” you’re supposed to sign over to even apply for the job pissed me off, and I decided not to. I don’t do drugs, but I’m still not going to pee into a cup on demand, nor am I going to sign paper work to let you delve into my personal life. My personal life’s not particularly interesting or salacious, but IT’S MINE, and it has nothing to do with providing copywriting for your frigging company. I could understand if it was some national-security type job for a government or research or medical or defense firm where people’s lives were on the line, but copywriting for this type of company? Give me a break. And, knowing what I do about this particular organization, at least 70% of the people administering the tests are cokeheads, so I don’t think so. Hypocrites. There was another organization that looks really interesting (and the application process less invasive), but the job offered isn’t really what I want. However, I’m going to do some research and send them a proposal creating the freelance position I want, and we’ll see.

The NYFA job search board has a lot of jobs listed — again, they’re good, solid, legitimate jobs, many with benefits, but not what I’m looking for, too much full-time; but I can pull information and do direct mail pitches. If I can get a mailing out by early June, that would be great. I’ve built an interesting prospect list over the past few months, but it doesn’t do anyone any good if it’s just sitting in a folder.

Got some work done on SETTLING THE SCORE. When I’m done with this sequence, some of these scenes will be darkly funny. The trick is to give the actors and director enough solid, specific text WITHOUT STAGE DIRECTIONS so they can explore and have fun and bring their uniqueness to the material, and yet make it precise enough so the layers of meaning are clear without everything being overly explained.

For some reason, I got very nauseous yesterday. It came and went all day. I have no idea why. I managed to get the grocery shopping done, and took a nap, but it wasn’t the productive day for which I hoped.

Cleaned a bunch of stuff. Literally wiped off all the papers that piled on top of my desk and stuck them in a box. I’m going to sort & file from that box for 15-30 minutes per day to get it all handled. I now have a clean desk, which, to Violet, means a place to perch and watch me while I work. I still have the old behemoth PC because I’m not done transferring the disks — yes, it’s taken over a year and I’m still not done — but there’s a lot more room to work. It’s been a long time since I had a clean desk. It’s a little intimidating, but hopefully, will lead to more productive worktime. Definitely better feng shui. I need to look up in my favorite feng shui book, MOVE YOUR STUFF, CHANGE YOUR LIFE, how to rearrange the desk.

“Organizers” say you “can’t” have “stuff” on the desk” — well, i can’t work without my “stuff”. It’s my creative fuel. I have my gargoyle and my dragon and my crystals and my Ganesh and other items that have personal creative meaning for me, along wiht the pens and the computer and the Rolodex and whatever I’m working on at the moment. Files are nearby, but not on the desk, and books are stacked in crates beside the desk by project, and office supplies in a bookcase against the wall beside the desk. Photos relevant to various projects are on corkboards, and I put the one I need up on top of the office supply bookcase where I can see it while I work. Works for me, and that’s what matters, right? I’ve yet to meet an “organizer” whose systems had any relevance to my life and work. Julie Morgenstern’s books come the closest, but then, she used to work in theatre, so she gets it.

Still haven’t heard back from the vet and am getting frustrated. I’m trying to hold Elsa steady, but we need to make decisions to move forward. If he needs to see her again (and wants me to dump more money at the facility) TELL me to make an appointment. Don’t just not get back to me.

Today is a day for dealing with scumbag landlords who are coming in to “make repairs”, but, in reality, coming in to snoop to see how they can continue to make lives miserable. Will also get on their case about the heat.

LOST just annoyed me yesterday, and that’s all I have to say about it. At this point in the story, I don’t care to learn backstory of anyone we’ve haven’t lived with a lot unless it takes 3 (short) scenes or less. Even if I did go to college with one of those guys. Again, no surprises, just the order in which they’re revealing stuff, and the length of time they’re taking to jerk the audience around.

I am looking forward to the day being over.

Hey, whaddaya know? 6:14 AM and the heaters are clanking. What do you figure, three, four minutes of heat this morning before they turn it off again?

Devon

Saturday, October 31, 2009

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Saturday, October 31, 2009
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and mild
Samhain

Greetings and blessings, everyone, on the Celtic New Year and the final harvest. May the coming seasons bring health, joy, and abundance in all good things.

Unless, of course, you’re my landlord. In which case I hope you (insert expletive of choice) and (insert expletive of choice). Scumbag landlords are at it again. The day before Halloween, with NO ADVANCE NOTICE (which is required, in the State of NY), they ripped down everyone’s decorations to paint the doors. Doors which don’t need painting, and, make this place look every more like a sleazy-rent-by-the-hour motel. Now, we were home. No one even attempted to knock on the door and politely ask us to move the decorations for the painting. It’s nothing short of yet another act of harassment against tenants.

I polished and submitted the online portion of both NYFA grants yesterday. I printed out all the work samples (with the printer giving me agita) and prepared them. I hope my confirmation numbers aren’t an indication of how many people have applied, because if it is, there are over 40,000 applicants in each category. But I needed to try. If you don’t try, you REALLY don’t have a shot.

But by the time everything was all put together, I was ready for a breakdown. It’s not even one of the more complicated grant applications, but one does have to be meticulous about making sure all the directions are followed EXACTLY. When I worked for a foundation, I was at some sort of networking luncheon or something and the subject of guidelines came up. Quite a few attendees said approximately 78% of the applications never even make it to the judging committee because they haven’t fulfilled the basic requirements set out in the guidelines. It’s similar to submitting to a publication — you have to READ the guidelines, UNDERSTAND the guidelines, and then go ahead and FULFILL the guidelines. Or you don’t get past the gate. Nor should you. It’s disrespectful and egotistical to send it however YOU wish without an eye towards the guidelines. Trust me, most of us aren’t so brilliant that we can wow the panel in spite of disregarding the guidelines.

Had to drive to Purchase (a couple of towns over) to mail everything, since our post office’s hours are so wacky. Also, since I was out — bought the Halloween candy.

Got the weirdest email from an editor yesterday. I’d submitted a short story to an international lit mag a few months ago. Got a nice acknowledgement, great, worked on other things. A couple of weeks back, I receive an email stating that they liked the story, but had decided they no longer would accept material from international authors, so they were rejecting it. Okay, fine, it’s their mag, they get to do whatever they want. Yesterday, I get an email from the same editor saying she’s updating her address book and “should I know you?” WTF is that supposed to mean? As in, does she know me and can’t remember? In which case, obviously, she doesn’t know me. Or does she mean, am I worth knowing? Which is a completely subjective question. In any event, HER address book is not MY job.

Delete.

So much noise around the place all afternoon I was ready to rip my hair out. I finally gave up, made dinner, watched the news (I’m seriously considering a self-imposed news blackout after Tuesday’s elections for about a week), and hit the desk again around 8 PM. I finished “The Misappropriation of Talent” at 10:30. I’ll give it a polish today, do a bit of cutting. It’s 20 words over the limit. I hope to cut more, especially from the front section, and then beef up the end a bit — it feels a bit rushed. And then, off it goes.

Right now, I’m headed off to finish “Lake Justice” so I can give that a polish and get it out the door, too. So it’s back to the page for me. As it is, today’s so booked I’ll be up until three or four in the morning.

The GDRS may be up later today, or they might go up tomorrow.

A friend’s little boy is in the hospital, very ill with H1N1. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers. In the bigger scheme, that’s really the priority right now.

Devon

Monday, October 26, 2009

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Autumn in CT

Monday, October 26, 2009
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Still Dark Outside — hopefully good weather

I’m off on a commitment upstate today, so I’m scheduling this to post and hoping for the best.

I’ve got a piece up on Kemmyrk about the importance of careful notation as you work.

If you didn’t read my encounter about the guy freaked out about my car full of brooms, hop on over here — it’s pretty funny.

The weekend was pretty good, albeit rainy and raw. I was out of the house early on Saturday, complete with luggage, writing bag, yoga bag, food bag, and arrived at the site just after 7 AM. The drive through the foggy morning was delightfully, appropriately, seasonally spooky.

Got in, got set up, got to work (after reading the newspapers).

I had a hard time concentrating. The goal was to focus the bulk of the weekend on “Lake Justice”, but a bunch of other stories kept leaking in. And, I was worried about the word count for LJ, so that got in my way. I figured out a way to stop worrying about it — if I can’t keep the word count in check, then “Lake Justice” won’t go to the anthology either, and I thought of a half a dozen other potential markets for it, and used the experience as the basis for my next SDR blog post the first Wednesday of November. Take away that pressure, and “Lake Justice” started to flow again. I’m still not where I want to be with it, and now I have to figure out yet a third possible story for the anthology — and get it out this week.

I also realized something else. I was constantly trying to keep on a normal/theatre (which is different from most people’s “normal”) schedule, just in case I got called for a show. Now that I’ve taken the honorable withdrawal, my body is urging me to move back into its natural rhythm, which is more nocturnal. In other words, I’d stay up all night into the morning (because morning is always my most productive time), go to bed in the late morning, sleep all afternoon, get up in the early evening and start over. I wasn’t planning on reverting to this until after I relocated, but I can feel my body moving towards that now. Unfortunately, that makes the business writing more difficult because a lot of those deadlines and meetings need to happen within regular business hours.

So, while I’m not making that schedule switch yet, at least I’m aware of it.

I’m reading Margaret Atwood’s NEGOTIATING WITH THE DEAD: A WRITER ON WRITING. It’s fabulous. It’s not a how-to book; it’s a why-do book. She brings up very interesting points about internal splits, responsibility, society, and the writer-reader symbiotic. Absolutely fascinating. Atwood’s perceptions of humanity in general are always fascinating. Her conversation with Bill Moyers in his series FAITH AND REASON is one of the main reasons I joined PEN.

I did a lot of work on my NYFA samples. The playwrighting samples are almost set (I need to find the flash drive with GLAMOROUS HEARTS in it and add that) and just need to be printed. I need to do a final polish on all my “statements” that go along with the work, file the application online, and then get my number to enclose with the hard copies that must be mailed this week. I have to check one piece of information for the fiction samples, and then that’s the same. The chances of getting awarded either grant are infinitesimal, but, nothing ventured, nothing gained. I think it’s been about ten years since I even considered applying, and my work has certainly matured during that time. It’s wroth a shot, and it may well be the last time I can apply for a state grant in New York – once I relocate, I’ll have to fulfill whatever residency requirements those states have for grants.

When I woke up on Sunday, I realized that I’d woken up at the same time I arrived the day before! I don’t know why I found that amusing, but I did. Sunday was a cold, crisp autumn day, lovely after the rain and tumult of the previous one.

Due to the weather, I might go off on my adventure tomorrow rather than on Wednesday. That means two truncated writing days in a row with deadlines coming up, but I’ll just have to somehow make it all work. I’ve got two short story deadlines (one the elusive anthology) and the NYFA applications to get out by the end of the week. Plus, Confidential Jobs #1 & 3 need some attention. And I’m basically away from my desk for two days. AND it’s Samhain on Saturday, which knocks that day out completely.

I might need to pack everything up and head to the library for a day or two, if it’s too noisy here.

I read an absolutely delightful mystery yesterday called HOMICIDE IN HARDCOVER, the first of a new series by Kate Carlisle. It’s really delightful — melds the intricacies of book restoration with a lively mystery featuring a smart, engaging heroine and develops fantastic relationships with friends, family, coworkers, and handsome men! The title worried me a bit –the alliteration made me worry it would be one of those gimmick mysteries, where a single trait is substituted for a well-rounded character, but that was not the case at all. I highly recommend it. DruAnn, Lara, and Brandy — I thought of all three of you immediately as I read it.

Hopefully, I can track down the author and feature her on A BIBLIO PARADISE.

Got home early enough Sunday to do four loads of laundry and puzzle out the next Merry’s Dalliance story — this one damn well better be the right one for the anthology. Worked on it (and “Lake Justice”) a bit before I left this morning.

Yeah, I was up early.

Devon

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sunday, October 11, 2009
Waning Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cold

That puff of heat is just a memory. It’s in the 40s today, and, you guessed it, no heat. Good thing I cooked yesterday and had the oven on. And I’m planning to bake an apple spice cake today.

I pretty much gave myself the day off yesterday. I finished the reading for Confidential Job #1 — now I have to write it up. I treated myself to the rest of Richelle Mead’s THORN QUEEN, which I thought was really well done.

Still having trouble with 1and1. We’re now into Day 5. And they just can’t be bothered to fix it. I can’t just pull everything to another host because first I have to go in and get what I need. So, this will be a process. But, much as I hoped to be able to work things out with them and remain a customer, their only interest it to keep taking my money without providing service. I can’t earn a living if my sites don’t work. It’s ridiculous not to be able to access them between 11 AM and 3 PM almost every day.

With the online conference coming up this week, I need access 24-7.

I decided to rearrange the exercises for the coming week — the one starting the conference is too complicated right now, and we need to build up to it. So I’ll do some tweaking this morning, and then put it up to give people plenty of time to get to work.

I’m also going to attack the essay today with the red machete — I’d like to be able to turn around a revision by Tuesday morning for my editor.

I did just over 1000 words this morning on a new story for an anthology. I have two ideas, one of which is a Merry’s Dalliance story, but I don’t know if I can get both done in time and out.

I’ve also got to get focused on the NYFA grants this week, in and around everything else. I want to get them out before the deadline.

This is also the busy time for me — with Samhain coming up, I get a lot of calls for house blessings, readings, etc., and that’s all got to get sorted. The plans for the DC trip are moving along well, and I’ve got to schedule in another day trip to Lenox and one to Concord, although the latter will probably be in early December, weather-permitting.

I’m not going to the Morgan Horse event in CT today — I just don’t feel up to it. I’d rather just head to the farmer’s market and see how much I can clear off my desk when I get back.

Devon

September 29, 2009

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Iris gave us a scare

Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Waxing Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury DIRECT
Uranus Retrograde
Cloudy and cooler

Thank goodness Mercury goes direct today. I’m drained.

The next Prague essay, “The Hotel” is down below.

The day was tiring, but I actually got quite a bit done, much to my surprise. I caught up on most of the email. I worked on the Prague essays. I got out the necessary correspondence, including a certified letter to the scumbag landlord. I pitched to a local school. I tweaked the two residency proposals, printed them out, printed the work samples, put it all together, wrote the checks, and sent it off. I got started on the NYFA grant proposal. I pulled some information for a job pitch I want to put together.

It’s always more stressful to submit residency or grant proposals than a regular submission. When a regular submission is rejected, they’re rejecting the piece — it doesn’t fit the issue, the vision, they’re done too much like it recently, the reader’s got a migraine, whatever. They’re rejecting the piece. But, when it comes to grants and residencies, they’re rejecting YOU. They’re saying, “We don’t think your creative vision is worth the support. We don’t think you fit in with us.”

When I worked in a lot in theatre, I couldn’t even apply for many of them, because of my schedule. I did a good but odd one in Dorset one year, and I did a fabulous one at Palenville Interarts very early in my writing career, which was one of the best experiences of my life.

So I found these two very different residencies for next year, at different times, and applied. I think I have a pretty good shot at one of them — I’ve spoken to the guy in charge a few times, and we seem compatible. It’s a very no-muss, no-fuss, do-your-thing kind of place, and that’s where I do best. The other one is a bigger name, and I may not be “literary” enough in their eyes — although I bet you I’m one of the few people applying who actually make a living doing this! We’ll see — I won’t hear back from one until February and the other until April, so all I can do is not fret about it and move on.

The NYFA grant is something I haven’t tried for in years, and, when I tried for it, I didn’t have a lot of credits, but then, neither do a lot of people who get funded. I looked back on the list of people who’ve received the grants in the past ten years, and I’ve only ever heard of two of them. Which isn’t a bad thing (I mean, let’s face it, how many people have heard of me, right?), but I wonder how many of the recipients make a living at their art, and how many still have day jobs? Does the grant give them a year’s relief, or does it help vault them to the next level? For my purposes, I want it to do the latter, but that’s going to depend on me more than anything else. I’ll give it a shot again this year; either I’ll get it or I won’t. If I relocate before the decisions are made, I’ll probably have to pull out — although I will have been a resident for the years they demand. If I move before the decisions, I will let them know and let them make the call. Their decisions don’t come out until next May.

William Zinsser’s WRITING PLACES is a fantastic book. It makes me want to re-read ON WRITING WELL — which I’m pretty sure I have in storage, and should probably have on my reference shelf. Since I’m writing a lot of non-fiction lately, I bet re-reading it will help clean up some of the prose. Or maybe I should just by the 30th Anniversary Edition!

My book on Rudolf of Bohemia and his Magic Circle arrived from Strand yesterday — very excited. It’s about Prague in the Renaissance, during the time of astrology and alchemy.

Iris gave us a scare last night. All of a sudden, she couldn’t walk properly. Her back legs gave out. She was shocked. We settled her down and kept her quiet for a bit. We checked to make sure nothing was broken. She seemed fine, so we thought maybe she landed badly when she jumped off something. But, about 45 minutes, it happened again, and she got agitated, looking around as though she was watching a fly none of us could see.

I found a 24-hour Emergency vet in White Plains, packed her into the carrier, and we drove off, through the rain and the fog, with Iris screaming like a banshee the whole way.

They saw us right away — and Iris seemed perfectly fine. She jumped off the examining table, wandered around the room, climbed into the space where they keep the wastebasket, stood on her hind legs to peek into things. The vet checked all her signs and they were good. Her heart’s strong, her circulation’s good, there’ a steady pulse in both legs, her color’s good, she’s responsive (especially when you scratch her under the chin). She was a little wary at first, but by the end of the session, she was curled up, content as could be, in the vet’s lap.

It’s not a stroke, which was my first concern. The vet told me to keep her under observation for a few days — they could do it at the hospital, but it would be better at home, because she wasn’t showing signs of anything, and it would be worse for her to be stuck in a cage in a strange place. The vet’s two top concerns were an inner ear infection (she said I’d know if that was the case, because Iris would start to roll over when she walked), or that she’d licked or eaten something toxic and had a mild seizure. The final possibility, remote as it is, is that she’s going to start having seizures for some reason, and that’s not predictable. If it happens again, I’ll need to bring her in for a full blood and all-over work up — but as of right now, she seems perfectly healthy and exceptionally adaptable. The doctor said she’d be available by phone any time I needed her, and said, even though she’s doing well now, it was the right choice to bring her in.

So I left with both my wallet and my heart lighter — although they charge rates far more reasonable than a lot of places around here.

We got lost coming home — Iris was not amused. But she was back to her normal self when we got home and seemed fine, and rather proud of herself for having an adventure the other two didn’t. Elsa was puzzled and Violet was beside herself. Iris and Violet have NEVER been separated since they were a month old. The longest they weren’t in the same space was when they were spayed.

The only thing I can think of that caused the problem is food. I’d brought back Happy Tails cat food from the trip, because they like it and one can’t get it here. For some reason, Violet wouldn’t touch it. Elsa ate and promptly threw up twice yesterday morning. And Iris had a seizure. That’s the only thing that was different in the routine. I’m going to contact Shaw’s — where I bought it — and Happy Tails, to ask them to run tests. I contacted Shaw’s, but can’t find information for Happy Tails. Of course, I don’t have the can anymore –I cleaned it and recycled it right after I fed them.

I caught the end of CASTLE, too exhausted and worried to really pay attention. The chemistry between the actors was great, but I couldn’t tell you anything about the plot — which is MY lack of ability to pay attention, not anything having to do with the show.

This morning, everyone was back on the Trader Joe’s food, and seems fine. Let’s hope it stays that way.

I’m going to check the car’s tire again — it was fine driving last night, but I want to make sure. I’ll spend most of the day at the Greenwich Library, working on the rewrite of the essay.

Devon

Saturday, September 5, 2009

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A view from Eastham, MA

Saturday, September 5, 2009
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and warm

Nine days until Prague!

Yesterday was busy — out of the house early, up to Stamford. Visited the currency exchange — got the first four days’ worth of my budget in Czech krona. So there’s a start! Also got some more British pounds sterling, since we’ve got that 4-hour layover in Heathrow.

Went to the bookstore and got my fourth plane book: Italo Calvino’s IF ON A WINTER’S NIGHT A TRAVELER. I can’t wait to read it. But I have to wait until I head for the airport! 😉

I bought some books for my mom. She loves the writing of Mary Balogh, so we’re getting all of her books.

I seem to have fixed the power cord problem with extensive jiggling.

Visited the Staples in Stamford — no luck on the memory card for the camera. I don’t want 16GB — I want 2 GB, and not the tiny card, but the one that actually fits my camera. The card will only hold the photos from this trip. I keep the memory cards — in addition to backing up the photos on them, I also work directly from the cards. I don’t erase them and re-use them. That is my choice. I shouldn’t have to change the way I work because a store doesn’t feel like carrying what I need.

Drove to Larchmont, to that Staples. It’s on the site of what used to be a VW dealership when we first moved to NY in 1968. It’s now a fantastic Staples — not only is it huge, but the employees are helpful and friendly. They had what I needed, they helped me double check the reference just to be sure, and they had most of the other stuff I needed, too (although not the pen refills I need). Most importantly, they were pleasant and helpful. So they will now be my first choice of Staples around here, instead of going up the street to the one that never has anything or all the way to CT.

There was also a fantastic organic market in the same plaza, so I stocked up on a few things!

I started reading the novel PRAGUE and put it aside. It takes place in Budapest, and while that is part of the novel’s irony, I am not in the mood for irony right now; I wanted to read something set in Prague. I found myself muttering about it on every page and not doing the novel justice, so I’ve put it aside until I get back.

I tried to fact check something for an article that needs to go out with English Heritage, who runs the property. And got an email telling me it takes 21 days to check this fact. WTF? They can’t look it up or forward the email to the site? Puh-leeze. I’m going to see if I can get better information via the Northumbrian Tourist Authority. They’ve been very helpful in the past. And the National Trust usually gets back to me within 48 hours. Update: Lindisfarne Priory got in touch with me directly to answer my question — exactly what I needed. Article will go out this morning. Phew!

The CD version of DIXIE DUST RUMORS arrived, so now I’ve got something for people to have in hand when I give readings.

I’ve got to work on the guest blog posts this weekend, write my Sole Struck article, and get out at least one more essay.

I had a great morning’s work on AMENDS today. I wrote the scene with the Alzheimer’s sufferer. It’s true to life and there’s sadness there, but it doesn’t divert the themes and intent of the book.

I hope to get more work done on it today.

I received my first royalty check from PERFECTLY PLUM!, the anthology in which my essay appeared a couple of years ago. It’s earned out its advance, and we got some royalties! Love that.

If you’re a fan of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum and haven’t yet checked it out, I hope you do.

My play, THE MATILDA MURDERS opens the day before I leave for Prague, so I won’t get to see it until I get back.

NYFA’s funding cycle covers both fiction and playwriting this year, so I will probably apply for both. I’m going through my work to decide what to submit for that, and what to submit for the residency in Maine next summer. I’m also working on another proposal for an overseas residency. I don’t think I’ve got the serious lit/academic credentials they usually go for, but I’m trying to shape the proposal to make that a strength.

A friend of mine suggested that if I’m serious about ex-patriating (which, if the US doesn’t stop its ridiculous, destructive downslide to the hard right that I hoped would cease with last year’s election but hasn’t, I certainly am), I should consider Switzerland. Honestly, I’d never even thought of Switzerland. I haven’t thought about Switzerland since I visited in the early 1970’s, except when I re-read Noel Coward’s autobiography.

The Democratic Party Platform: All have the right to equality and social justi–ooh, shiny!

The GOP Party Platform: ME, ME, ME! Die, suckers!

We need more legitimate parties than just those two. For all the chaos in the UK, at least they have a variety of valid viewpoints.

Which is why I am not affiliated with either of the above parties.

The only thing I remember about Switzerland is mountains, mountain passes, and riding a paddle boat on Lake Zurich and the paddles broke. So we waved and waved, and people waved back, thinking we were being friendly, until some Scandinavians with rope in their rucksacks figured it out, tossed us a line and towed us back in. I remember the floral clock in Geneva and the bears in Berne. And that’s about it.

I hope to get a lot of work done on AMENDS this weekend, and also learn at least a few more phrases of Czech. I’m tired of preparing — I just want to get on the plane and have the experience.

Of course, the fact that Mercury is in retrograde for the entire trip should add some, uh, interesting twists!

Devon

AMENDS: First draft: 20,937 words out of est. 75,000
27.9%
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Another view of Eastham, MA

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

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New York Botanical Garden

Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cool

Apple’s “solution” is that I HAVE to spend (waste) hours on the phone today with one of their Super-Techs. Right. That’s gonna help. I’ll play along, to show that I’m being “cooperative”. And if/when it doesn’t work, I will rip them a new one. And turn the matter over to the Attorney General. It’s been over a month since I started having problems. Enough, already!

I’m restating — if I was a man, this would have been solved properly the first time, and I would not be forced to jump through all these hoops.

And if that was our “next step” — why wasn’t I told that when the phone messages started TWO WEEKS AGO, and why wasn’t it set up then? Two weeks of “let’s talk” messages when all they were going to to do is make me sit through another useless tech session.

Unbelievable bullshit (pardon my language).

I know, at least they keep calling back, which is more than Dell would ever deign to do (although the NY State Class Action Suit against Dell may force them to actually honor their service contracts). But I still don’t have a solution — which, to me, the only acceptable solution is a computer that runs properly.

What did I do yesterday? I went grocery shopping (just about my favorite thing in the world), I did more Prague prep, I wrote, I did some research for an international proposal that has to go out when I get back from Prague, I drove to Greenwich to use their library computers so I could invoice Confidential Job #1 (and picked up a few books from their book sale while I was there), looked over the NYFA site. This year’s grant cycle includes both fiction and playwriting. The deadline is the beginning of November, and the applications aren’t available yet, but should be in about a week.

The big thing was that Stop&Shop sent out new membership cards and an offer for a discount if we signed up online. However, when you go to the website, it’s hijacked by someone or other who claims that you have a Trojan in your computer (because it’s put one there) and the only way you can get off the site is to BUY their anti-virus software.

Fortunately, I have an Apple, even a limping one, so my computer was not infected, the Trojan didn’t gain access, I could simply quit Safari, run the proper function to make sure everything was healthy and move on. I called the head office, who shrugged it off and said,”That’s out of our control.” Bite me, you bastards; I was lucky, because I had a Mac, albeit it a flawed one. But if I was still on the PC, I would have lost everything. YOU are responsible for the security on your site, especially when you have a marketing campaign out there falsely offering a discount when all that really happens is a computer virus. That is absolutely unacceptable, and hopefully anyone whose computer was infected won’t just roll over and take it.

I did some more work on AMENDS, got some reading in for Prague. I did a favor for a neighbor, which, unfortunately took longer than it should have, and I missed my meditation group. Fortunately, the nature of the group is that you’re there and they’re glad to see you, you’re not and they don’t make you feel guilty, so it’s not that big a deal.

Had a slow start on this morning’s session with AMENDS, but once I got into it, it went pretty well. I’m about to write a scene with my protag and a character with Alzheimer’s — another difficult scene, but vital to the plot.

I hope to get out a bit of correspondence before the tech session. This afternoon, I have to go through some boxes in storage to find some papers and send off copies for something that was resolved five years ago and has come back to haunt me because of either the other party’s incompetence or corruption.

The results of the Bush Administration: Incompetence and corruption without consequences.

So, we’ll see how today goes. I don’t want to go into the session with a completely negative attitude, but I’m very skeptical it’s anything but another waste of time and vamping on Apple’s part, hoping that if they drag it out long enough, I’ll just give up. If it DOES work, and the computer actually runs the way it’s supposed to, I will go back to being a happy camper, but still be highly skeptical of Apple’s integrity because of the way it was handled to date.

I really want to pack, but if everything sits in a suitcase for 12 days, it will be horribly wrinkled. My carry-on’s mostly packed, though. I’m trying to put as little as possible in it: Books for the plane, yoga mat, journal, camera.

I’m going to print out the luggage specs, so when the airline tries to overcharge or tell me that the luggage is the wrong size, I have the correct specs in writing. I haven’t flown British Air in years, but, in general, the international carriers are often more committed to customer service than the US carriers, so I’m hoping there won’t be too much hassle. Air France is my favorite carrier. I liked Icelandair once we were actually on the plane, but getting on it was a little disorganized.

The weather’s gorgeous and I need to get a lot done today, because I’m headed out to CT to check out a site tomorrow.

Let’s hope my Super-Tech session doesn’t take hours and solves the problems.

Devon

AMENDS: First draft: 18,875 words out of est. 75,000
25.16%
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Eastham, MA

I could use a few hours staring at a peaceful view like this right now!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

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New York Botanical Garden

Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and cool

It went down into the 40’s last night and is only in the 50s right now. I love the cooler weather, don’t get me wrong, but wow!

I am having a heck of a time with the Czech language. Totally at sea with it. I hope it will make more sense when I’m immersed in it. Usually, I have some trouble speaking a language outside of its country, but this is ridiculous. It’s all going in one ear and out the other. I’m not retaining ANYTHING.

I do love that the language volume has an entire chapter dedicated to asking one’s way to a bookstore!

I can’t get my ear in tune with it. There are so many variations on meaning, where the word is spelled the same except for an accent over a particular letter, but the meaning is vastly different. And if I get it wrong – it could be nasty! 😉 I’ll wind up offending a lot of people when I didn’t mean to.

So I probably won’t talk a lot (which might be a relief).

I already suffered from foot-in-mouth disease when I didn’t realize the National Opera and the State Opera were completely different — I thought the State Opera was one of the branches under the National Theatre, not two wildly separate entities in different sections of town (which wasn’t clear because of the way the site I was on linked them).

The American Embassy has not been helpful to date. You’re not in the midst of a revolution, no one is defenestrating anyone (as far as I can tell), so you could PLEASE answer ANY of the questions I asked back in June?

And could someone please decide which currency they’ll be using in two weeks? I find it a little ridiculous that no one can give me a definitive answer if it will still be the Czech krona or if it will have completely switched over to the Euro.

This is why I should be Dictator of the Universe. Things would run more smoothly! 😉

Apple still only leaves me “let’s talk” messages. I don’t believe they have any solution, nor any intention of fixing the problem. They hope that, if they drag it out long enough, it will go away. When the computer works, it’s a amazing, and a 100 times superior to any PC. However, they don’t stand by their products, and they aren’t willing to fix the problem when they sell a lemon. That is not acceptable.

Good morning’s work on AMENDS. I wish I could finish the first draft before I leave, but, even if I worked on it full-time, there’s too much to write. I’m enjoying the writing process, though! Obviously, things that bother me in life are spilling into it — issues of sexism and not making assumptions based on appearance are big themes in the book, while there’s still a lot of lighthearted mystery and action.

I polished an article, and I’m waiting for some responses to fact checking before I send it off.

I’m working on two proposals for projects for 2010 that I will send out when I return, and I have to visit NYFA to see if I’m eligible to apply for anything in this grant cycle.

I hope to have some GDRs up later today.

Back to the page.

Devon

AMENDS: First Draft: 17,062 words out of est. 75,000
22.74%

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New York Botanical Garden