Wed. Oct. 14, 2020: Die For Your Employer Day 147 — Cooking Gives Hope

image courtesy of Barbara Rosner via pisabay.com

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Day Before Dark Moon

Neptune, Uranus, Mars, and Mercury Retrograde

Sunny and pleasant

We needed the rain yesterday. We’re supposed to get more later in the week, and maybe even snow by the weekend.

There’s a post on more career re-shaping over on Ink-Dipped Advice.

On other levels, the dumbfuckery never stops, does it?

Landed in my inbox: an “opportunity” to write 3-5 articles A DAY for $1000/month. Um, no. That breaks down to fractions of a penny per word or per hour.

Another thing that landed in my inbox: someone is looking for a person to write/send the emails to the client list. Great, no problem. Only, the description adds “must be willing to work outside in extreme weather.” Now why would I have to work outside in “extreme weather” to WRITE EMAILS?  If you’re hiring a WRITER for EMAILS, that is not being done outside in bad weather.

Having both hardware and software problems with the nearly-new laptop, because Mercury is retrograde and PCs suck.

On a happier note, I got information about some editors in search of additional freelancers. I pitched myself to two; one responded within 15 minutes asking for specific article pitches; I’m working on a pair to send her. They will be fun, if I get to do either of them.

Switching between script drafts on the screen to look at examples isn’t working for the other article. I’m going to have to print them out.

So that won’t be done until Thursday.

I got a fun ad done for a client for next week’s campaign.

Got my mom’s RMV appointment scheduled for next week, and also her bloodwork before her next medical appointment. At least that means we get it all out of the way next week.

The cooking demonstration with Jeremy Rock Smith from Kripalu was spectacular. He is such a wonderful teacher, and his sense of humor, his skills, his ability to teach, and his joy give me hope.  I look forward to studying with him more intensively in the future.

Knowledge Unicorns was great. Everyone’s hunkering down, doing the work, trying to stay alive until election day. Even though none of them can vote yet, they’re keeping up on things and making sure their parents do. I always rode herd on my godkids to vote, because some of their parents couldn’t be bothered. It’s kind of fun to see their own children doing the same thing.

But I was definitely worn out by the end of the evening.

The package with stuffed orange raccoon toys arrived today, and the catnip bananas are set to arrive on Thursday, so some of the Kitty Drama is alleviated.

On today’s agenda: I have to go onsite for a client, have to do a curbside pickup/drop-off at the library, and there’s Remote Chat.  Will also try to get some more LOIs out, and work on the article with which I’m struggling. I’d like to get it out the door tomorrow.

The weather is supposed to be nice the next few days, so maybe I’ll get some yard work in.

I do love autumn.

Wed. Sept. 23, 2020: Die for Tourist Dollars Day 126 — Darkness Lengthens

image by coleur courtesy of pixabay.com

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Cloudy and warmer

Yesterday was a fairly productive day. I got client work done, including getting the A/B ads out; got out a big stack of LOIs; managed to renew the car registration online (and it actually worked), backed up the computer with my the Seagate external drive. I have to say, I prefer Time Machine.

I put the new black toner into the big printer. That should give me 3K pages. It was a bit of a battle; I had trouble getting it in. But I managed. The instructions were useless.

Did a nice chunk of work on JUST A DROP, folding in my friend’s notes, and finding a few other things to tweak. I checked with the theatre to whom I plan to send it – yes, they do accept both one-acts and full-lengths. All of a sudden, I worried that they only wanted one acts.

I’m steadily increasing time on the exercise bicycle. I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it, either. But I need the exercise. Weight training is back in the mix, on Mondays and Thursdays, too, along with the twice daily yoga and meditation. It’s slow progress, and there’s that voice inside my head that lambasts me for not buckling down during the Stay-At-Home to get fit, but pandemic stress has derailed just about everything for me.

Don’t even get me started on what’s going on in the country. I have plenty of opinions, but nothing of real value to add to the conversation. I’m doing what work I can and not getting drawn in to the stupid.

Using the “unfollow” and “block” buttons a lot on social media. Unfollowed someone who followed me and is supposedly a yoga/wellness person. First interaction – her “publicist” sends me a DM trying to sell me something. Nope. Bye.

Finished the latest book I was reading in the series I liked, but the like is fading. Not only am I insulted by her dislike of theatre and theatre people, and don’t like that the protagonist is getting a self-righteous stick up her ass, the protag is getting weaker as the series progresses and dumber, instead of stronger and smarter. I’m not talking about being more vulnerable – I’m talking situations that she used to handle, she’s now falling apart and expecting a man to come and fix it. She’s scared of everything, she makes stupid decisions, she doesn’t learn from previous dangerous experiences, and she’s no longer getting herself out of bad situations. I also don’t like the trope that’s becoming more and more central where she only “realizes” she has feelings for one or the other of the two men in love with her when some other woman is interested in them. I think that’s toxic. I also predict an arc unfolding in the next few books where a love interest shows up for one of her love interests, and she suddenly “realizes” that he’s actually the one she wants, rather than the other guy who’s also in love with her and does stuff for her all the time, but she only “realizes” how deep her feelings for him still run when she sees another woman interested in him.

Again, like the other series I’ve been reading, where I liked early books and then felt they turned vicious and leaned into white privilege, I’m learning as much from what bothers me about the books, the series, and the genre, as I learn from the books I like. That matters.

The Knowledge Unicorns met last night. With our tiaras. It was fun. Working on assignments, talking about Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life and death, and all that she fought for before she was even nominated to the Supreme Court. We really have an awful education system that’s not about learning, It’s unfair to teachers and kids. And, in this context, the flaws come out even further.

Mabon ritual was good. It steadied me, somewhat. The Mars Retrograde is kicking my ass, especially paired with Saturn retrograde. The next six days will be rough, until Saturn goes direct. I mean, the entire Mars retrograde will be rough, but once Saturn is out of the mix, it will ease up a little. Of course, we have Mercury going retrograde in a few weeks to look forward to, so it’s just going to suck all the way around for awhile.

Today I have to go onsite for a few hours, overlapping with other people (ick). Then, it’s Remote Chat, and more client work, and more work on JUST A DROP, plus whatever else I can fit into the afternoon. More writing. I have to get back on track and get more writing in every day, whether I feel like it or not. Because I don’t have the luxury of not getting it done.

The dark is longer than the light from now until Winter Solstice. I actually enjoy this time of year, but I suspect a lot of people will struggle with longer dark paired with pandemic pressure. I’m looking forward to cozy sweaters and comfort food and hot cocoa and good books, carving out a few hours of nested solitude every night to help me keep equilibrium.

Published in: on September 23, 2020 at 5:29 am  Comments Off on Wed. Sept. 23, 2020: Die for Tourist Dollars Day 126 — Darkness Lengthens  
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Wed. Sept. 9, 2020: Die For Tourist Dollars Day 112 — Launch of the Knowledge Unicorns

Logo designed by Gabe T.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Pluto, Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Sunny and pleasant

Yeah, we’re back up to six retrogrades. Having Mars go retrograde right now really sucks – more likely to get into (and lose) arguments, slowing down momentum, making one question one’s own worth. With Jupiter and Saturn turning direct this month, whose forward energy I need right now, then slowed down by the Mars retrograde – yeah, that sucks all the way around. With Mars retrograde, it’s not about overcoming obstacles, but about figuring workarounds.

Yesterday was fine. I was in the client’s office by myself, which is as it should be. Got a lot done.

Headed to the library for drop-off/pickup; then home for decontamination and back to work, remotely this time. The ad campaign still isn’t quite right. I haven’t hit that golden place yet. Then, I was working on another ad for an email blast that has to go out today; came up with something okay, but not brilliant. Got the idea I needed as I was falling asleep, so putting that together early this morning, so it can go out on time.

I invested in an acupressure mat a few weeks back. I’ve been taking a break in the afternoon to use it, especially when I’ve been sitting a lot. It’s amazing how much it helps. 20 minutes restorative time on the mat, and I can get in a few more focused hours in the afternoon.

Reading the next Gamache and enjoying it.

The Goddess Provisions box arrived. This month’s theme is Color Therapy, and it’s great. So much excellent stuff – and stuff I will use. Tessa is thrilled with the large crystal suncatcher. It might never make it to getting hung from the window; she might keep it for her private cat stash, as she did with last month’s crystal pendulum.

Also got an ARC of a colleague’s book that I won in a contest. I’m so excited – it’s the second book in her new series, and it’s such a fun series. I’m looking forward to reading it this weekend, and then writing about it.

Got a little bit of writing done, but not enough (same song, different day). I’m figuring out the shape for the Susanna Centlivre play. I want the focus to be on her relationship with her husband (who was the Queen’s chef), and one of her closest female friends (probably Mary Pix). I found a Very Long Dissertation about female friendship, and another about her work and Aphra Behn’s work that I will need to read through in the coming weeks. I still don’t have the catalyst or the central dramatic event for the play. I’m still researching.

I think I’ll set the Isabella Goodwin play toward the end of her career. Maybe use flashbacks? They often work better on stage than in novels. I like the fact that she married a younger man when she was older and thinking about setting it when she’s thinking about retiring as NYPD’s first female detective. I haven’t figured out how to incorporate that. There’s a lot of fiction out about her that I’m avoiding, because I don’t want it to influence the piece; I also don’t want to use anything that I’m using in THE WOMEN’S PRECINCT pilot and scripts.

But it’s already September and both plays are due in December (and I have surgery in December), so I need to start writing soon.

I  need to remember that they can be short plays – they don’t have to be full-length. I can always expand them in the future. I need to pick an important moment in each of their lives and dramatize it.

I also need to stop berating myself that I didn’t get those additional Kate Warne plays written during the pandemic – they’re not on deadline. The paid and deadlined work must come first, and everything else has to fit around it. Everything takes longer, between the pandemic and retrogrades and the energy it takes to survive. I need to adjust my expectations for myself, or I’ll get stuck in self-loathing mire, and that doesn’t do any good.

I have to go onsite for a client (where we’ll all be in the office at the same time – ick). But we’re only overlapping a short time, so I will deal. Then I’ll come home, decontaminate, and join Remote Chat, which is one of my favorite parts of the week, then more client work.

Knowledge Unicorns

Yesterday was the first meeting of the online homework group, consisting of my godchildren’s kids. They named themselves the Knowledge Unicorns and one of them designed the logo. We’re still tweaking the time, because there are people in all three time zones. Wide range of ages, some a little quieter than others, so I have to make sure everyone is equally heard and no one is overlooked. But bright and fun and good people.

We talked about the structure of the sessions and how they will work, and how, if something isn’t working, we’ll talk about it and change it. The baseline is respect for each other and kindness toward each other. Everyone’s opinion matters, and if there’s a point of disagreement, it’s discussed with respect and compassion, and positions are backed up by facts and resources (not Wikipedia and Fox News).

We took a few minutes at the beginning to settle in and see how everybody is. None of them are going to in-person learning. They are all learning remotely. This idea that you just sit in front of a screen for 6 hours a day as though it was class is ridiculous, in my opinion. It’s a different kind of school, and needs to evolve for that. Even in school, you’d get up after 50 minutes to go to your locker and get other books and go to the next class.

A colleague and I discussed this the other day – schools have had months to come up with a good way to handle remote learning. They haven’t. They’re not supporting the teachers, they’re not supporting the parents, they’re sure as hell not supporting the kids. Someone I know works for a major online learning company. They did a direct mail campaign (both in print and digital)  to schools all over the country, offering free consults to help them move learning online and talk about the ways it has to be different to be effective. NOT ONE school responded.

Something that came up in the “settling in” talk at the beginning was the external pressures to go to the physical school building and act as though it was all normal. The kids agreed that they miss hanging out with their friends; but they’re more worried about the pressure on their parents. They’re scared and angry that some of their friends’ parents are trying to use the kids’ friendships to bully the parents into forcing the kids back into schools. One of the kids lost a friendship, because the friend’s parents won’t let them be in contact if the kid isn’t physically going to school, because the parents don’t want the remote-learning kid to fill the onsite kid’s head full of “libtard crap.” Because, you know, keeping your kids home and safe is a partisan issue to them. One of my godchildren had her lawyer work to get her temporary full custody of her kids during these months, because her ex-husband thinks the virus is a hoax; during his joint custody, he planned to send them to school. He also doesn’t believe in masks or social distancing, and has his friends over to drink beer and hang out the same as always.  I’m not up on the legal stuff in her state, so I don’t know how that all worked, but she got some sort of order giving her full custody temporarily, and they’re doing fully remote learning (and masking and social distancing).

There’s a lot of pressure on the kids to adapt to remote learning when the school systems haven’t put in the work to support the teachers or parents or kids to make it work (because, let’s face it, most of those believed the myth that the virus would just go away, because it was easier than putting in the work). On top of that, the external partisan pressure to put themselves in danger when their parents are trying to protect them is pretty intense, and that’s something that has to be addressed.

So we talked about that for a portion of our time together, and worked on coping strategies.

We got down to the actual homework – they’re all at different stages of learning and doing different things. If someone was having trouble with an assignment, they could ask a question, and we either figured it out, or figured where to look up the answer, amongst all of us. Some of the older kids remembered some of the stuff the younger kids were learning, and could help (especially in math, because I am useless in math). It was working on the different projects, but having virtual company and online resources at hand. I was either looking for resources to help with different assignments (they have to actually USE the resources, but I can point the way and show them how to research) or working on some stuff of my own that could be interrupted when they had questions or thought of something they wanted to talk about.

Some of the directions that come with the assignments make no sense. We spent time as a group dissecting some of the instructions.

We took regular breaks to stand up and get out the wiggles, and took our dance break (they decided that, at least for the first few weeks, they want me to pick songs from the 80’s for our dance breaks. 80’s music is exotic to them. I officially feel old).

They’d picked the octopus as the animal they want to learn about this month, so we started with the old Audubon Nature Encyclopedia entry from my childhood and will work from there.

Two hours flew by in what seemed like a few heartbeats, but we got a lot done, they got a sense of community and that, although they’re different ages and in different schools in different parts of the country, they’re experiencing a lot of the same stresses and fears, and aren’t alone. They have an adult (?), well, older person, who is not directly related to them, to whom they can talk about things, and, hopefully, they will build a sense that they have each other.

It was a good start, the parents were grateful for the break, and it certainly gave me a view into how broken the educational system is, and how unwilling the administrators are to expand their frame of learning and experience to make it work.

It was a good start, but I admit I was tired by the end of it. A good tired, but still. . .tired.

Have a good one.

Published in: on September 9, 2020 at 5:19 am  Comments Off on Wed. Sept. 9, 2020: Die For Tourist Dollars Day 112 — Launch of the Knowledge Unicorns  
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Tues. Sept. 8, 2020: Die For Tourist Dollars Day 111 — The National Plan is Death

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Pluto, Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Uranus Retrograde

Sunny, warm, pleasant

image courtesy of Skitterphoto via pixabay.com

The National Strategy is Death

We’ve been thinking that there’s no national plan to fight the virus. But there IS a plan: Let people die. They demonstrate that’s their plan every day. Let people die, and those that are left get whatever scraps the 1% feel like tossing away.

This is not acceptable.

Nor is the dismissal of the massive loss of life.

It was as busy as any Labor Day Weekend here on Cape Cod, with traffic backed up at the bridges for hours on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Monday. Usually it would be Sunday with the 6-hour delays getting off Cape, but because it was a holiday Monday, it was yesterday that the traffic was backed up at least all the way to our exit all day, and at times, even further down.

During a pandemic.

I had a few things I had to go off property over the weekend; I did them as early as possible. Except for inside the stores, NO ONE was masked or social distanced.

So all these people posting photos of themselves “on vacation” on the Cape (or anywhere else this weekend) who also claim they’re doing it safely? I don’t believe you, boo. Because what I saw all weekend was reckless endangerment and irresponsible behavior.

You’re NOT “supporting the local economy” by going out to eat in restaurants. You’re putting people’s lives at risk, especially the servers. You’re adding to the problem  by walking in your packs without masks – putting a mask on when you get within a foot of someone else is too late.

I’m sick of the hypocrites, especially the self-righteous ones, who are claiming they’re doing the right thing when they’re so obviously not.

They are just as much a reason why the virus isn’t under control – and won’t be until well into next year – as the anti-maskers.

Social Media Stuff

I definitely needed the four-day break. Not that it was all rest, but I refused to beat myself up about what I “should” be doing, and that made a huge difference.

Staying off social media more than I was on it was also a good choice. There was way too much stupid. I’m also tired of the faux engagement questions like “do you still wear a mask?” I’m actually a decent human being who is trying to protect my family and keep other people from dying – of COURSE I still wear a mask. I’m tired of the “what’s your day job?” from other so-called “writers” – that’s an insulting question, for a “writer” to assume every other writer they interact with can’t earn a living at it. I’m tired of the “wrong answers only” game (which I’ve never understood or played) and the “what’s your MC’s favorite color?” and that kind of thing.

Most of it, I just scroll past, but I’m at the point now where I’m unfollowing and/or blocking people when they really annoy me. It’s their timeline; they get to put whatever they want on it. If I don’t want it to irritate my day, it’s up to me to remove them from my feed.

The whole James Woods-Travis Tritt thing? I just shake my head. I’d liked James Woods’s acting years ago, until we both were on different shows at an off-Broadway company in NY, and I heard/witnessed the level of crazy and mean. I got over my disappointment in him as a human  and excommunicated him from my universe a long time ago (and decided I wouldn’t accept work on anything in which he was cast). That he supports the Sociopath isn’t really a surprise. I had to look up Travis Tritt, and then remember that I didn’t like his work even back when I knew who he was.

I’d rather interact with people I like, have a chance at learning something or actual conversation, and post IG photos of food, cats, and the garden (which is the only reason for my Instagram account – fun stuff as a break from everything else).

Getting Stuff Done

Got December’s surgery scheduled, early enough so that I will have enjoyed Thanksgiving and can enjoy the Winter Holidays. That’s a relief.

Had to mail something certified mail. Everyone at our little post office is so nice.

Saturday was almost a normal non-pandemic weekend day: grocery shopping (very early, masked, to avoid the Covidiot tourists), full decontamination procedure (yes, in “business” journals they’re saying it’s not necessary; they can go fuck themselves, I’m still doing it), changed the beds, did 5 loads of laundry, baked bread, made carrot-ginger soup from scratch, used up the fading vegetables in the fridge to make vegetable stock, backed a brown butter honey cake, roasted a chicken, made chicken stock, read, and wrote.

In other words, a productive day that was almost on par with my pre-pandemic productivity.

I didn’t write much, and it was only what I wanted to, not what I “had” to. I wanted to make sure I actually took a break this weekend.

Unfortunately, my mom had a bad reaction to her new medication, and my lactose intolerance seems to be rearing again, so Saturday night, we were both up most of the night feeling awful.

Sunday, we really took it easy, lots of reading, light meals. We spent a good bit of time out on the deck all weekend, in spite of the neighbors’ constant heavy machinery/power tools/mowers/leaf blowers. We had to take Saturday night’s dinner back inside because the noise and the dust from the property behind (we’re on a third of an acre) was so bad, we couldn’t sit out there.

Once in awhile yesterday, I considered hopping online to do this or that, and then reminded myself that I was Taking Time Off. Time I needed.

The hummingbird visited again, fascinating Willa and Charlotte. Bratty Bird misses Tessa and has figured out that Tessa spends most of her time in my room now. So she comes up to the bedroom window in the morning and they chatter at each other. It’s cute. The bunnies are getting pretty bold and hanging out even when we’re out there; last night, I heard the coyotes run through the yard, so I hope the bunnies were well in hiding. We have some beautiful Tiger Moths, too.

Worked with the cats a lot. Willa is a little dickens, always coming up with something new to try. Charlotte has settled down, and is happy, for the most part. She and Tessa still don’t get along too well, but Willa is really trying to make friends with Tessa. Tessa thinks she’s a loony tune most of the time (and she does often act like a cartoon character), but they are better with each other.

I had weird, disturbing dreams all weekend, but couldn’t grasp enough of any of them to figure them out when I woke up.

Lots of yoga and meditation, which is a good thing. By Sunday night, I was feeling like I’d made progress with everything, only to wake up worrying again at 3:30 on Monday morning.

I meant to clean just one thing on the kitchen counter on Monday, and wound up reorganizing and cleaning everything in the L-shaped counter between the sink and the stove. It was necessary, and now it’s much easier to get at what I need when I cook, but it took up much more time than I planned.

I also wrote some cards for people, and have a letter that needs to go out today to set up RMV appointments in October.

Reading

Lots and lots of reading. Another Gamache book – I’m getting so much more out of the series this time, reading it in order. The head-hopping bothers me, but Penny does it better than most authors, so I can live with it. It’s more like being in one character’s POV, sliding into neutral ground, and sliding into the next POV than “hopping” and is less jarring than the typical head-hopping which can leave one as nauseated as on a badly-run amusement park ride.

I’m officially done with the author whose books I liked, then disliked. I’m tired of her protagonist being a doormat, and she keeps using slurs. The same slur three times in 20 pages in the latest book I tried. I stopped, pulled the other books in that series from the library pile, and they go back today. Done. Read three books in her other series, which I liked better. She used the slur once in one of the books. But they’re a little too cutesy and there are exclamation points all over the place, which give me a headache. Between that and the commitment to white privilege and conformity in both series, her protag being afraid of characters who are smart and unusual because they’re different and that being upheld as positive, no thanks. So yeah, officially done with all of her work. She’s crossed off the list.

Read more in the other series by a different author, where I liked the fourth book, but was upset at the slur used in the first book. I read the other books I’d ordered (it ended up being the first five books in the series) and she didn’t use it again, so I am cautiously optimistic.

I’m curious to see how cozy mysteries will deal or not deal with the pandemic in upcoming years.  I think there will be strong definition between the books that continue to uphold white privilege and conformity and support the anti-maskers, the ones who try to walk the line not to offend anyone on either side of the masking or vaccination spectrum, and those authors who will actually deal with it in a realistic and responsible fashion. There might even be authors who have contemporary series who choose to ignore it.

But then, I’ve become even more aware of the restrictions and fear and white privilege in the genre, especially since I was told to whiten up the characters and their names in the Nautical Namaste series because “white readers won’t understand these people.” Then they can skip the books. I can’t believe editors and agents are still spouting that crap — some of the same ones who claim they want more diverse characters in books. But they get them and try to whiten them up. Too many cozy mysteries have devolved into white people upholding their privilege and not having sex. I just don’t see how this is interesting or comforting. The genre used to be my comfort/brain candy books, but many of them just annoy me now. Yes, they’re fantasy, but they’re not fantasies that satisfy me. There are series that don’t do this, that are trying to be more diverse, inclusive, and intelligent, but there are plenty of series who aren’t.

Continuing to read Volume IV of the Paris Review Interviews. There are so many things I dislike about Philip Roth’s work, but when he talks craft, I always learn something. Maya Angelou’s interview was beautiful, and her quote “creativity is greater than the sum of its parts” resonated with me.

I finally got to see BIRDS OF PREY (yeah, not reading, but it fits in here). Mostly, I liked it. There are some clever bits like “how she’d have time for a shoe change?” and giving Black Canary the scrunchy in the middle of the fight – details that were terrific. The scene where she goes in and shoots all the cops felt off-tone, because it was such casual violence. The other violence was rooted in character or situation, but this felt off to me and bothered me.

Few of the comic book movies really satisfy me – probably because I haven’t invested in the characters before they transferred to film. But I thought there were lots of clever bits in it. I thought the chemistry between the five women was great. The whole roller skating angle was fun, too.

Looking Ahead

Trying to knock out some writing this morning. I’m going onsite for a few hours (I should be on my own, thank goodness) for a client to take care of some things, then home and do more client work remotely.

I need to focus on a lot of writing this week, while also getting some things organized and dealing with purging stuff from the basement. That needs to get back on track.

I should get assigned the next book for review, which is good, and get out a bunch of LOIs. Someone gave me a good lead on a gig that I want to follow up on today or tomorrow.

I have to prep a play to send off to a company and finish another short play to send to Trusted Readers before submitting it.

I should have the final notes on BARD’S LAMENT this week, and then can start turning that around again.

I have to work on the Topic Workbooks, and also do more PR for Grief to Art. Please share the site’s details with those who might find it a comfort.

A networking group whose events I’ve occasionally attended is starting their monthly meetings live in-person indoors at a restaurant again. Are they out of their freaking minds? Totally irresponsible. No, thanks. Bye. Not joining your organization when you’d rather put your members’ lives in danger than, you know, support them and help them through this.

Hope you had a great weekend.

I need to focus and clear off a few things before Mars goes retrograde tomorrow. Really? Now? Jupiter and Saturn are getting ready to go direct. I don’t need Mars getting in my way right now.

But all I can do is the best I can do. I have a feeling I’ll be cutting a lot of deadwood from my life in the next few weeks.

Tues. June 30, 2020: Die For Your Employer/Die For Tourist Dollars Day 43 — Surgery with Mixed Results

Tuesday, June 30. 2020
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Foggy, stormy, humid

Venus went direct on the 25th, so at least a little pressure has eased.

I thought I’d scheduled a post yesterday. I’m sorry I didn’t.

I was on a clear liquid diet, pre-op, on Wednesday. Miso soup and white cranberry-peach juice for breakfast, chicken broth for lunch, more miso for dinner. It was pretty good.

Went for my COVID test in the morning. Very well organized. A few seconds of discomfort when they jab the swab up your nostrils, but that’s it. Everyone very nice.

Home. Info full quarantine. Checked in with a client, designed some A/B ads, got out an email blast. Participated in Remote Chat, which is always fun.

Got the call from the hospital. My surgery was scheduled for 9:30 the next morning. A relief to get in there in the morning, and home as soon as possible.

The COVID testers only call if it’s a positive. So, once the deadline passed and no call, I started the rest of the prep, which was awful, I had side effects, and I was up all night, miserable.

I got ready in the morning, and got a call at 8 AM, asking me to come in an hour and a half early.

I got there, and was sent to the OR. Um, I knew it was surgery, because they had to remove something, but had been told it would be a simple procedure. Originally, I was told it would be done in the office.

So I was prepped for surgery, much like the last time, and a little thrown by it.

Unfortunately, it took 7 tries to get the IV in. SEVEN. I was upset. I also felt guilty (which, looking back on it, I shouldn’t. It’s not MY fault they can’t hit a vein. But it hurt like hell).

They finally got a pediatrics nurse to get it in.

Then some guy starts yapping at me, and I finally asked, “Are you the doctor?” And then I deliberately mispronounced his name, which threw him.

He said yes and corrected the pronunciation of his name.

I said, “Oh, okay, it’s just that I’ve never met you or talked to you before and you’re about to go digging in my insides. I’ve dealt with more than a dozen people while I’ve been lying here in pre-op and I’m trying to keep them all sorted. Now that we’ve been properly introduced, what’s going on?”

He said, “Oh, I’m sorry, I’m a little presumptive sometimes” and then we talked about the surgery.

The nurses were howling. They told me later the male patients usually start sputtering and the female patients are often in tears. They never saw anyone stand up to him before.

So we had a chat about what was going on. I was a little disconcerted, because no one seemed to know why I was there. Why didn’t anyone read my chart? I’m not the professional. I’m the patient. I know, in basic strokes, why I’m there, but not the details.

I told the anesthesiologist that, especially after all the trouble getting the IV in, I didn’t want to know anything.

When I came out of it, the doctor said, “You should thank that CT technician. This surgery probably saved your life.”

Turns out it was much more complicated than anyone had told me, and, if I’d blown off this surgery (as I was tempted), by the time I knew something was really wrong, it would have been too late, and needed very complicated surgery.

So now I get to wrap my head around that and worry about the results of the biopsy.

The nurse called my ride, I got dressed, and off I went home.

I was too rattled to really sleep, but I also couldn’t do anything. I’d saved back some of the pain pills from the last surgery. Of course, they were on the list of things I couldn’t take. But I didn’t really need them.

To keep myself occupied, both the miserable night before surgery and the day after, I read the first four books in Martha Wells’sMurderbot series. I loved them. So clever, and funny, and full of action, and full of heart.

We’d set up the living room again for recovery. I ate scrambled eggs for dinner – I hadn’t eaten solid food in 48 hours, but that’s all I could stand.

I went to sleep early, and slept through the night for the first time in who knows how long.

Friday, I got some material off to a client. Heard back that she’s going in a new direction for something. She’s going to try to push me to do work that needs someone with different skills, and there will be problems going forward. So I need to find a replacement client so we can part ways soon without me taking a major hit to my income.

I got out one LOI, and then back to bed.

One of my nurses checked in with me, to make sure I was okay. I am. I mean, I’m healing. “Okay” is relative at this point.

I heard from one of my other doctors, who found out I was having this procedure; he checked in to see how I was doing. He was the one who talked me into going through this second surgery; I wanted to blow it off. But he’d been right about everything else, so I went forward. It’s a good thing I did.

I have the same post-anesthesia effects I had last time – first day or so, I have a runny nose, and then I have a few days of a scratchy throat.

I have to monitor my temperature twice a day for two weeks, to make sure I didn’t catch anything at the hospital.

My arms are so bruised from the failed attempts to insert the IV. I have track marks and bruises. I’ll have to wear long sleeves for at least a week. And I need to heal before I go in for blood work.

I managed to go down to the library for a curbside pickup and got more books. Read Donna Leon’s BY ITS COVER. I love that series.

But it was not a productive day, by any means.

I got in touch with the guy who mows the lawn; he came and did it. It looks better, but I need to put fertilizer on it.

I did not sleep well on Friday. I was up by 3 AM, fretting.

Saturday morning, I moved the two potted trees on either side of the front door to the side. They’ve grown through the years, and don’t look right there any more.

I was working on cleaning out the front beds and found a wasp nest attached to the siding in the front, near the front door. I’m so sick of the damn wasps. It never occurred to me they would build there.

I didn’t want to go back to Hyannis Country Gardens, but I know where everything is there. So I masked up and drove over.

I am never going there again, even once this is all over. Wearing the mask around your neck is not wearing the mask. Staff and customers did this (register staff were the only ones fully masked). The place was packed.

I grabbed my wasp killer (you have no idea how much strength it took not to spray the Sliding Mask Skanks). I grabbed some lawn food. I got the hell out of there as fast as I could.

I felt safer walking alone at 2 AM in NYC’s worst neighborhoods than I felt in that store.

Our numbers are going up again in MA. Not as badly as in down south, but going up enough to be concerned.

Not that anyone else here is. Because, if you’re not rich around here, you’re expendable and expected to Die for Tourist Dollars.

Came home and took out my fury on the wasp nest.

Rested a bit; once the buzzing died down (pun intended), I brought some of the oversized red geraniums from the back to flank the front door. They look good, and it’s good Feng Shui.

I couldn’t work in the beds, so I took myself to bed and rested for a bit. I read Ellen Byron’s PLANTATION SHUDDERS, and loved it. Excellent book, and I’m excited to read the rest of the series.

Soaked in a bath of Himalayan Salts for a bit. Cooked dinner – nothing fancy, I’m easing back in.

So the Sociopath was informed in March that Russia pays bounties to kill American soldiers? And keeps making concessions to Russia? I hope the military turns against him, once and for all. We have a sociopath calling himself “President” who is not only actively killing citizens with a pandemic, but allowing our enemies to kill our soldiers for profit. What’s his cut, I wonder? Because he does nothing without an eye to personal profit.

Why would anyone think the GOP will do anything about it? Remember, only a year ago, over Fourth of July, 10 GOP Congress people traveled to Russia to genuflect.

Those 10 should have been arrested the second they returned. But they got away with it, and here we are.

No wonder the EU is banning Americans from travel. Good for them.

And the airlines who are going to start flying at capacity? I hope they all go under. And why the hell is ANYONE flying right now?

The selfishness and stupidity are overwhelming.

Moved back up to my bedroom by Saturday night, and had a good night’s sleep.

But sat on the deck early Sunday morning, weeping, because I feel overwhelmed on a personal level, and on a broader, societal level. I’m sick, exhausted, and don’t see a way forward in anything.

Rested most of Sunday morning, because that’s all I could handle. I read a delightful book called RAISING THE BARRE by Lauren Kessler, about her journey to dance in a production of THE NUTCRACKER as an adult. So well done, on so many levels. However, I did lose a bit of respect and felt disgust when she skipped part of the tour that was the reason to write this book in the first place because of “family commitments” and because she was teaching a writing workshop. That, hon, is why you’re not in the business. The show comes first. Always. Life fits around theatre (or, in this case ballet) for professionals. Theatre does not fit around life.

That, right there, is why I managed to be one of the 11% who actually MAKE it to Broadway. Commitment and priority to the work. And why dancers can do what they do.

My arms really hurt from the bruising of the failed IV attempts.

Got out 5 LOIs, then sat out on the deck for a bit, reading. Watered the back, where I’d put down lawn food and fertilizer. Couldn’t face another wasp battle in the front.

Tackled the mending, because the light was good, and I need true daylight at this point to sew. Got a good part of the stack done. Still have a few pieces, including socks.

Managed to sleep through the night on Sunday, up early on Monday, normal routine. Because, you know, the cats like a normal routine, and it’s all about the cats. Arms really hurt from the IV bruising.

Annoyed by people on social media who beg for followers, then deride people who support them. I don’t have time for that b.s.

Also annoyed because people are asking to come visit. As in show up and stay a few days. In a pandemic? I don’t think so. Close friends understand it’s not viable. We’re going to make plans to see each other WHEN IT’S SAFE. It’s the borderline “acquaintances” who are the problems. The ones who stay in touch because they see us as free accommodation in a tourist spot they want to visit. I can’t believe how many emails I’ve gotten in the past two weeks that are “oh, we’re going to be in your area on vacation for a few days. We’d love to see you. Can we stay?”

Nope. Not doing any hosting this summer. Sorry you think just because the government decided to recklessly reopen, I’m going to put my life in danger so you don’t have to pay a hotel bill. Not happening.

Absolutely dreaded going in to the client’s on Monday.

Didn’t get a lot done on BARD Monday morning. I had to research mandolins and mandolin making before I could write the scene. Then, when I referenced something from an earlier chapter I found an enormous mistake. I have to go back and fix it, or it will throw the entire book off. I’m so annoyed with myself.

But that’s what I get for not making tracking sheets up front. Serves me right.

Discouraging, but my own damn fault.

Onsite for the client wasn’t bad. Staggered hours, lots of precautions. Only a little overlap, so we’re in synch, and not full staff (the way it should be, but isn’t on Wednesdays).  The client expects me to pull off the type of advertising campaigns that large companies with huge design and advertising budgets do, and she expects huge returns within 48 hours. That’s not realistic. She keeps sending me ads with “do that” — I can’t without design tools and time and professional photographs of product, and a budget to spend for placement.

Came home, wiped out.

I meant to only peek at the online course I’m taking on FutureLearn on The Book of Kells from Trinity College in Dublin. It was so interesting that I went through the entire week’s work. Which was pretty cool.

I decided I should brush up on my rusty Latin, and was looking for a way to do that, when, on Coursera, I stumbled across The Miracle of Human Language, from University of Leiden, where I’d studied the International tribunals a few years back. I signed up and started work on it. It’s fascinating.

That course will help me as I develop languages for books like DRAKECLIFF and other fantasies.

I was still worn out, and ran out of intellectual steam, so I stopped.

I also bought Sharon Hurley Hall’s SHADEISM. We’ve been talking about race, inspired by her most recent writings; this book will not only expand my understanding, but it will be good background for ELLA BY THE BAY.

Then, the phone rang.

It was the doctor.

As I wrote above, that’s never good news. They only call if something is wrong, never when it’s right.

The doctor had even improved his bedside manner, which worried me even more.

The news was mixed: there were some cancerous cells in what was removed, but at the tip of the polyp, not the base, and the cells scraped from the lining were clear. He believes he got it all. Originally, he wanted to see me in a year; now, he wants me back for another procedure In six months (um, Happy Holidays to me?). We’re going to treat it like another full-blown surgery, and hope it’s just a look that reveals everything is clear. He was upbeat and reassuring about it – which meant I wasn’t sure whether to go with it or worry more.

Something else to wrap my head around. Disconcerting, to say the least.

But what else can I do other than keep on keeping on?

I do have to behave as though I’m immune compromised and stay home as much as possible, avoid crowds, socializing, etc. I told him that was the plan for the foreseeable future, anyway.

He promised to take good care of me. I thanked him (which surprised him) and he rang off.

I’m a little tired of 2020 piling it on.

I need to talk with my primary care doctor in the next day or two, and come up with a plan for the next six months. Losing weight and getting fit will have to be a part of it. I already eat pretty well, and I’d cut out most beef and quite a bit of pork out. I will have to continue with that. I’m glad I can cook.

I want to lose 20 pounds, the doctor wanted me to lose 10, we compromised on 15 (which I have not lost), but I think I want to go back to 20. I feel better when I weigh less.

I’d already started up core work again on Sunday, so I will do more of it.

I’d love to walk around the neighborhood, but the clumps of Maskless Wonders make it a non-starter.

Much as I hate the exercise bike, the exercise bike it is. If my 95 year old mother can do 30 minutes a day, 7 days a week, I can work my way up to similar.

But I’m rattled.

Went to bed early; slept through the night.

Up early today. Have to fix BARD today, so I can move forward on it. There’s a deadline looming. Got two rejections on LOIs because they want someone with more experience in the tech sector. Which is understandable, but they SAID they wanted someone to communicate what they do to a more general audience. At least they responded, and I got responses from the companies themselves instead of a third party recruiter.

Client work. I have to come up with a new strategy for a struggling client. I have a few ideas, but I wish I had more time with them, because it’s hard to focus right now.

Classwork for Miracle of Human Languages later, and then maybe purging a few boxes in the basement. I need to get back to that.

I can’t believe it’s almost July. It’s hard not to feel defeated.

Especially when you look at the rampant corruption and stupidity people are getting away with, with absolutely no consequence.

Going back to the page will help. I hope.

Peace, friends.

Wed. June 24, 2020: Isolation to Quarantine (Pre-Op)

Wednesday, June 24, 2020
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Foggy and humid/storms expected

Up and down day yesterday. Didn’t feel very productive.

Got out two LOIs. One is a very long shot, but it’s interesting, so I thought I’d give it a shot, and hope they read my cover letter.

Got the first pair of A/B ads done for a client. Will work on the second pair today, along with a stand-alone ad.

Looking for another survey platform. I have two or three I’m interested in trying. I’ll let you know if any of them actually work.

Got my call in the early afternoon yesterday. My COVID test this morning is at 10 AM. If it comes back negative, I will get the time for tomorrow’s surgery and get started on the pre-op prep (that’s different from the isolation/quarantine). I already know the medication I have to take for several hours will make me seriously nauseated. Not looking forward to it.

As soon as I’ve taken the test, I’m quarantined away from anyone else in the house. I’ll spend the rest of the day in my office, sleep in the living room, have exclusive use of the downstairs bathroom (which I’ve scrubbed down this morning).

Cleaned the house yesterday, so that everything is in good shape for the next few days.

Put in the Chewy order yesterday. They were out of a few things I needed, but I adjusted. The order already shipped. They have been the best company to deal with throughout this whole pandemic. When they needed to slow things down, they did, they communicated clearly, and they fulfilled what they said they would do. I wrote them a couple of times to thank them.

The Comcast bill arrived yesterday. Payment has to clear by next Tuesday or else. So payment goes out today. I can’t believe how much I had to fight with them to get a damn bill. They want you to pay, but won’t tell you how much. Because they want you to go on AutoPay, so they can take whatever amount of money they feel like out of the account. They are an awful company.

Finished the book for review, wrote the review, sent it off. There will hopefully be another assignment in the next few days.

Reading C.E. Murphy’s MAGIC AND MANNERS, which is an interesting re-imagining inspired by PRIDE AND PREJUDICE.

For the record, the Aunt Jemima bottle was never allowed in our house growing up because it was racist. Even in the 60’s and 70’s, my parents felt that way.

I want it to be Friday. The next 48 hours will be difficult.

One step at a time. That’s the best I can do. Hopefully, I can get in some decent writing, although I feel as inspired as wilted lettuce.

I can smell the storm coming in. Hopefully, it won’t hit full force until after I get back from the COVID test.

See you on the other side.

Tues. June 23, 2020: Pre-Op Isolation Day 1: That’s Writer Bitch To You

Tuesday, June 23, 2020
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Foggy and humid

That enough retrogrades for you? Not fun.

But it’s a good time for sorting things out, and I certainly need that.

Weekend was good, and productive in ways I didn’t plan.

Got some work done on Friday afternoon. Worked with the cats. Charlotte is making progress, most of the time. Willa is settled in. Tessa still isn’t sure about those two. But most of the time, Tessa and Willa are fine. Willa tries to play with Tessa.

Spent time on the deck, which is always nice. Willa loves her playpen. Che Guevara Chipmunk gets right up in her face, though. She’s learned to chase him in the playpen by making it roll like a snowball. It’s pretty funny.

Our town has decided to add yet another layer of economic segregation by charging for recycling. Buy the expensive sticker; you’re all set. Have a big enough car to load in your garbage AND your recycling in one load, pay the whole thing. Have a small household, a small car, and try to be responsible by recycling? Ha, ha, ha! Too bad for you.

Using Covid as an excuse to charge more and make it harder to recycle is yet more lies on their part. They’ve been trying to do this for years.

Saturday was laundry day. Got some reading done.

I’ve been playing with a couple of ideas. Some twists on the old-school gothic novel (different from what I tried in THE LUCY GOTHC a few years back)

One of the ideas took flight, so to speak, and I would up writing 17 pages on it. It’s sort of fantasy, sort of steampunk, sort of gothic, some mystery, lots of adventure, a few romantic elements, some pansexual characters, explorations of social and economic justice and injustice. The world was very clear to me, and very specific, even though I had to stop here and there to do some research and figure out phrasing, et al.

I had to start the Tracking Sheets right away, so I can keep details consistent. I don’t want to get into info dumps. I want meaning to be clear within context. At least this way, if it does turn out to be a series, I have the basis for the Series Bible.

I outlined the next few sections, and I have a good idea where I want to go. It may stand alone; it may be the first of a series. I’m not yet sure.

Of course, it wasn’t what I was supposed to write.

Played with a few article ideas; still haven’t hit on the right one.

Worked on the book for review, which I need to get done in the next day or so.

Read a lot. Tried to stay off social media, except for a few bouts here and there. I need to be ruthlessly selfish this week and take care of myself.

Satisfying Solstice ritual.

Up early on Sunday. Took some clippings from the big lilac and the puffy pink rhodie. Dipped them in rooting powder and planted them, so, fingers crossed. Got the peas planted.

Che Guevara Chipmunk ripped out some of the lilac cuttings to hide acorns. We had words. I replanted the cuttings and moved the pot where I hope he can’t get at it.

It’s awfully early for all the beasts to be hoarding for winter. It’s not even July.

Took the pressure off myself on Sunday. Let myself read and work on the DRAKECLIFF outline. It was lovely to work on the deck.

Up early on Monday. I hope the guy comes to mow the lawn this week. It’s looking a little raggedy. We’re getting into the fourth week since his last visit. If he’s not here by Wednesday, I’ll have to prod. He’s usually very reliable, and I paid him the day I got the invoice, so. . .

Worked on a survey about Serial Fiction. I miss writing it. I’ve looked into some of the platforms out there and am leery of them. They don’t pay enough. Some don’t pay anything.

A couple of people suggested using Medium as the platform (since there’s a pay scale). I have not utilized Medium well thus far. Not sure if this would be a way to do it.

I mean, first I’d need something to put up. Like a 6 week run of a piece (2-3X/week) that would be complete within the six weeks to see if it would fly. That would mean novella length, about 30K words. And then I’d need a longer piece ready to go if it worked.

I’d considered doing THREE ROADS OF STRANGERS as a serial, but it’s complex with a large, ensemble cast (although the primary protagonists are a quartet), so I’m not sure that would work. Expecting the readers to hold so many characters in their heads over time might not make sense (even if there was a website to which to refer).

I’m curious as to how people view serial fiction and what they’re looking for, which is why I’m developing the survey. Information is always a good thing.

I’ve been encouraged to start a Patreon, but I don’t think I can take that on right now. I’d want to have 18 months of multi-tiered material stockpiled before I started. The time/money ratio doesn’t make sense right now.

Still no bill from Comcast – that supposedly was sent on the 16th and must be paid by the 30th or else. I hate Comcast.

How am I supposed to pay a bill they don’t send?

I won’t be forced into AutoPay. Comcast pulls any amount they want out of the account multiple times a month and won’t return it or credit it. Been down this road before with them.

Had to hunt down the thermometer. For 14 days after the surgery, I have to track my temperature twice a day. Hopefully, hot flashes won’t skew it.

Doing my first writing session of the day out on the deck, which is nice. Charlotte doesn’t like it, though. She wants to be with me for that writing session; but she doesn’t go outside.

Buzzed by the office quickly yesterday morning; got a few things sorted, then ran my final errands before surgery.

Followed full disinfectant protocols, and went back to work for a few hours. I’m working on some ads for a client.

Heard from a colleague at the office – we just missed each other. Phones & internet went down around 11. Comcast has to come out and fix it on Wednesday. So that means everything that has to be done from the office – emails, shipping, etc. – is delayed. Plus, when I checked with the client for some last minute details for tomorrow’s email blast – some challenges have come up, so we’re holding the blast for a few days. I’ll focus on ads instead.

Finished the survey for the serials. I set up the survey on Survey Planet, a platform I’ve always liked. But then, when I tried to make it go live, I was told certain features wouldn’t show up unless I “upgraded my plan.” Why didn’t that come up when I added them into the survey in the first place? Because you think, after I did all that work, I’ll just cave and pay more? Get stuffed.

So I’m off to find another survey platform. No, it won’t be Survey Monkey. They’re too limiting. I might do Google Forms, but I’m not a big fan of them.

Why I thought doing something like this during Mercury Retrograde was a good idea, I’ll never know. Wasted afternoon.

On a happy note, someone on Twitter recommended Vivien Chien’s Noodle Shop Mysteries. I read an excerpt and liked it so much that I ordered the whole series from Titcomb’s Books in Sandwich. They’ll be in sometime next week, and I’ll go over for a curbside pickup. I get to support an author AND a local independent bookstore. AND get to read five really fun books.

Makes me happy.

More client work today. All remote, as I’m required to be in isolation today and tomorrow. I have to keep the phone handy, because they will call me to tell me what time my COVID test is tomorrow at the testing center up at the Community College. If it comes back negative, we move forward with the surgery (and I have to take the medication and have a Very Bad Day and then surgery on Thursday). If the test comes back positive, we have to follow a whole different set of protocols.

I find these constant “do you still wear a mask?” questions on social media insulting. OF COURSE I WEAR A MASK, YOU IDIOTS. I ACTUALLY GIVE A DAMN ABOUT OTHER HUMAN BEINGS.

In the general sense of humanity, because I’ve certainly lost patience with “people” in general.

Stop asking, you idiots. We can tell if someone’s wearing a mask or not. It’s obvious. At this stage of the game. You can also tell by their posts.

Let’s dismantle the toxic myth that this is about a “difference of opinion.” It’s not. It’s about giving a damn about other people, or aggressively putting them in danger (aka attempted murder).

I think I will unfollow, and possibly block, people who ask this.

I already unfollow and/or block people who boast about not wearing masks. Why would I engage with people who consider it their right to assault others and attempt murder, while saying wearing a mask – something so basic and simple – is an “assault” on their liberty?

The other truly disgusting question going around is “what’s your day job?” from other people who are supposedly writers.

My day job is WRITER, Bitch. Or, perhaps it’s Writer Bitch.

I’ll be doing more unfollows/blocks on those morons.

Bad enough non-writers run around acting like it’s not a profession. When other “writers” do it? Then they’re not writers. They’re dilettantes. It’s one thing for another job to come up in conversation. We do what we need to do in order to survive. It’s quite another to assume that NO writer makes a living at it, and perpetuate that toxicity. Hey, part-time writing is perfectly valid. Every stage of a career, and every career trajectory is valid. But don’t insult those of us busting our ass and making a living at it. Fuck right off. Stop contributing to the toxic myth that writers shouldn’t get paid for their work.

Will be a tough week on multiple fronts. At this point, I’m just trying to get through it.

While getting a lot of writing done. I hope to get some serious work done on BARD’S LAMENT and DRAKECLIFF, with Gambit Colony as my reward if I do it all. Then, it’s scrubbing the house down in preparation for setting up the living room tomorrow for my recovery.

I’m starting to have some ideas on how to shape the Susanna Centlivre play. I hope to start tackling it this weekend (because I need to turn my attention to the Isabella Goodwin play soon).

The book on harps and their history arrived yesterday, which I need for THE BARD’S LAMENT. So that’s a good thing.

Have a good one. I’m buckling up for a challenging rest of the week.

Thurs. June 18, 2020: Die For Your Employer/Die For Tourist Dollars Day 31 — Attempt at Equilibrium in Five Retrogrades

Thursday, June 18, 2020
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Foggy and cool

Five retrogrades for the next week, one of them Mercury. May I hide under the bed, please?

There’s a new post up on Gratitude and Growth about the garden.

I had a decent first writing session yesterday on THE BARD’S LAMENT. Sitting down and doing at least 1K early in the morning, whether I feel like it or not, makes a huge difference.

I was at the office early. Everything went much better than I expected. No fussing or whining about protocols. I’ve worked ahead, in light of next week’s surgery, and will work from home next week.

Left by 12:30, swung by the library to do a curbside pickup, had to stop at the bodega (called here a “convenience store”) to pick up a loaf of bread. In and out quick, they have sanitizer, everyone’s masked, no fuss.

At least some people are taking it seriously.

Home, full disinfectant protocols, and even made it to Remote Chat only a few minutes late.

Remote chat was fun. Worked through some emails and other admin. Got some reading in (I have a book review due soon).

Worked on some article ideas per an editor’s request, but haven’t hit the right one yet. Hope to get something out to him today.

Sent an LOI to a theatre looking for plays; found out later they’ve gotten a grant from Mass Humanities, which is a good thing. My local library did, too, which is also a good thing.

Got to spend a little time out on the deck.

Finished reading Barbara Ross’s SEALED OFF, the latest Maine Clambake Mystery. I really like the way this series has grown. It’s more human and complex than many cozies, which is one reason I like it so much.

Woke up at 2:30 with a blistering headache; dozed off, but Charlotte woke me again at 4:30. So I guess it’s another early day.

I hope to get a good chunk of writing in today, some article pitches out, some LOIs out, a session of client work, and maybe even some yard work. If the light is good, I might even get some mending done in the afternoon. I need good daylight for mending.

Tomorrow, I have to take the recycling in to the dump and then head to Trader Joe’s for one last grocery shop before I hunker down and isolate before next week’s surgery. Hopefully, it will be a weekend of nice weather for Summer Solstice, and I can spend a lot of time out on the deck, reading and writing.

Unexpectedly, a book I got from the library because I was interested in the subject (nonfiction) turns out to be useful as background information for ELLA BY THE BAY.

I want to make solid progress on BARD this weekend, and GAMBIT will be my reward if I do so!

I had sent my state senator, with whom I’m in regular contact, just a simple thank you for something, and he was really pleased. I guess we all spend a lot of time complaining, and not enough time thanking.

Andrew Cuomo will end his daily briefings this Friday. I wonder if he has any idea how many people he sustained through all of this? I don’t always agree with him, but I like and respect him.

I need to withdraw a bit from the world burning down, in order to be in good shape, mentally and physically, for surgery. So my focus will be small and close to home for the next week and change. It doesn’t mean I’m not paying attention; but it means I can’t cope with it on a larger scale right now. I allow myself that choice without guilt.

Wed. June 17, 2020: Die For Your Employer/Die For Tourist Dollars Day 30 –Destruction & Pain

Wednesday, June 17, 2020
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Goes Retrograde Tomorrow

Buckle up, people; starting tomorrow, we have five difficult retrogrades going on.

I’m late getting up the post over on Ink-Dipped Advice. I have a feeling it will be mid-late afternoon.

Yesterday was painful and a lost day all the way around. Woke up still exhausted, still with a migraine, but hoping for a better day. However, THREE neighbors were cutting down perfectly healthy trees ALL DAY LONG.

Cutting down healthy trees is painful to me on an emotional level. But, as someone who suffers from hyperacusis, and repetitive machine noise is one of the worst contributors, I was in agony. All day.

Couldn’t be creative. Did some client work, but not happy with it.

Finally, in the late afternoon, they were done, and, for about twenty minutes, there was some quiet so I could put Willa in her playpen and take her out on the deck. Before, you know, the idiots with leafblowers started.

I moved here because I need quiet. Not just on an emotional level, which is important, but on a physical level, because of hyperacusis. One of the major reasons for moving to Cape Cod was for quiet. Yet it’s regularly as noisy or noisier than it was living on 42nd St. and Eighth Avenue in NYC. Traffic, sirens, repetitive machine noise. And, around here, illegal fireworks.

Crawled into bed early. This morning, I still have a migraine, and there’s a lot of pain still in my ears, but I’ll deal. I’m hoping to get some decent work done on BARD’S LAMENT. An editor asked me to pitch some articles (I’ve written for this publication before, quite often). So I have to come up with something. Or, I should say, I should come up with something. They pay fast, and I’ve used them when I needed quick cash. The least I can do is pitch something interesting when they’re short.

Have to be onsite at a client’s for a few hours this morning. Not looking forward to that, because each week, she pushes more and more to act like the virus is gone and everything’s back the way it was.

It will never be back; something new has to be built.

So that adds another level of stress to my day.

I’m hoping to do a curbside pickup for a library book today, and then make it back in time to decontaminate and settle in for Remote Chat.

And then, hopefully, get some other work done in the afternoon, if my dumbass neighbors aren’t destroying something else (loudly).

Hope your week is going well.

Published in: on June 17, 2020 at 4:42 am  Comments Off on Wed. June 17, 2020: Die For Your Employer/Die For Tourist Dollars Day 30 –Destruction & Pain  
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Wed. June 3, 2020: Die For Your Employer Day 16 – When the Personal Moves into the Forefront

Wednesday, June 3, 2020
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Venus Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Cloudy and cool

It’s been cool enough the past few days so the heat kicked in.

There’s a post over on Ink-Dipped Advice, called “Who are You?” about how important personal values are in professionalism.

Struggled with some client work, when it comes to resizing photos so they work for a website. I’ve attended six different tutorials now for that platform. All six contradicted each other; NONE of them had the same stuff coming up on screen that I am. I’ve done all the adjustments suggested, and some of the photos still don’t look right. These aren’t photos that can be retaken. I have to use what I have. The client’s not too worried about it (yet), but I’m not happy.

Andrew Cuomo broke it down very well – separating the protestors from the looters, and what each stand for. And then where the virus comes into all of this.

Because the virus is still here, still waiting to kill more.

But, like I said yesterday, we weren’t dying fast enough from the virus to suit the Sociopath, so now he’s going to send people out to shoot us.

I’m hoping the good writing flow for THE BARD’S LAMENT continues. If it does, and I can keep pace and up it a little, I can make my deadline.

However, in all this, my second surgery has now been scheduled, for June 25. There are stringent protocols around it, due to the virus – including the fact that, the day before, I have to get a COVID-19 test and then isolate completely until I enter the hospital the next day. Now, I’m an advocate of as much testing as possible. Yet I feel guilty that I will be getting a test when so many others aren’t. At the same time, since I’m having surgery, I have to have it. As if the prep for this surgery wasn’t complicated enough anyway and taking an entire day.

If the test comes back negative, I find out when my surgery is scheduled the next day and we go forward with that set of protocols. If it comes back positive, I go into quarantine, and there’s a whole other set of protocols.

They’re going to send me all the instructions, and have put in the prescription for the medication I need to take for the prep. Let’s hope CVS deigns to fill it this time.

And then there are additional post-op protocols that must be followed, due to the virus and the possibility, that even with all these protections in place, I could still be exposed while I’m in the hospital.

So that is going to be an interesting ride. As Venus goes out of Retrograde, and while Mercury is IN Retrograde. Normally, I wouldn’t schedule a surgery while either one is in Retrograde (hence Venus coming out times almost right), but with the Mercury Retrograde, it’s about going back to resolve something that was unresolved – the cancelled surgery. So I’m risking it.

I did some work on the Coventina Circle website. The article about the goddess Coventina is up, along with some links to the historical site. I’ve also posted the blurb for THE BARD’S LAMENT. I have to check with the publisher, but I think the cover reveal is in either August or September. This is the fifth book in the series, and marks just past the half-way point. I love being back in that world.

Went to follow up on an LOI and do some LinkedIn connections. Discovered one of the people to whom I’d sent an LOI just moved companies. Want to stay in touch with him, but not really interested in working with the new company, so I’ll have to figure out to whom to re-send the LOI at the old company.

Tessa doesn’t want to go into the playpen, but Willa likes to show off when Tessa demurs, so Willa was the one who got to go out on the deck yesterday.

I need to do some serious weeding this weekend.

Woke up at 3:30 again today. Getting really tired of being really tired and not sleeping. Writing early this morning (back to BARD as soon as I post this). Then I’m onsite at the client’s for a few hours. Then home, disinfect, maybe more writing or sewing, and more reading about Susanna Centlivre. I still need the catalyst for the play, and haven’t found it yet.

Elizabeth Warren was out with the protesters yesterday, because she walks her talk. Kamala Harris spoke up right away. Joe Biden gave a good speech that didn’t get enough coverage. But the Democrats aren’t hitting back hard enough, and the GOP loves what’s going on. It’s disgusting. They need to stop talking and GET THINGS DONE.

It’s very, very true: If you want peace, work for justice.

Injustice has won out, and it’s so corrupt at the top right now that what’s happening was inevitable.

Spent some time on issues with one of my state senators. On the local level, the town is still being useless.

The COVID numbers are ticking up slowly. I’m keeping an eye on them. If they accelerate, that’ll be another reason for the surgery to be postponed again.

If the surgery goes forward, then there’s all kinds of bloodwork to look forward to in July. Oh, joy. More needles.

Trying to keep balance and perspective on the big picture of what’s happening that has both long and short term effect on my life while dealing with the day-to-day is even more challenging than usual. So I’m just doing what I can as I can and hoping for the best.

Peace.

Published in: on June 3, 2020 at 4:54 am  Comments Off on Wed. June 3, 2020: Die For Your Employer Day 16 – When the Personal Moves into the Forefront  
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Tues. July 9, 2019: The Steadiness of Daily Writing

Tuesday, July 9
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

Yup. Five damn retrogrades. July will not be an easy month.

If you missed any of the #31Prompts, you can catch up here.

The weekend was good, for the most part. Too much stupid from too many stupid people, but, whatever. Some friends stopped by on their way to the rest of their trip. Nice to catch up.

Other than visiting with friends, it was a quiet holiday, except for the numbnuts who set off fireworks in the neighborhood. The cops do NOTHING. It’s nudge, nudge, wink, wink, boys will be boys. It’s the same damn idiots every year who set them off. It’s illegal, so DO SOMETHING.

I will have a few words with my Town Councilor this week. Not that it will do anything — he’s a total waste of space and has done NOTHING for his district since he got elected. (And no, I did not vote for him. I knew he’d be a waste of space in the job).

The night of the 4th was spent on the floor, trying to soothe the terrified cats.

These jerks aren’t smart enough or skilled enough to be handling explosives.

Friday was an outstanding writing day — worked on ELLA, GRAVE REACH, typed up part of ELLA, did some revisions on GAMBIT COLONY. I love steadily working on projects. You can watch pages stack up, in a tangible way.

Got a contract signed and in the mail — wanted to get it done before Mercury went retrograde.

Finally switched the winter, fleece sofa and chair coverings to the cotton yoga blankets for the summer.

My order from Crystal Bar soaps arrived — just lovely. They have such excellent products.

Marinated tuna steaks in a soy-sesame-ginger sauce. Delicious.

Saturday, was up at five. Baked lemon cupcakes, chocolate chip devil’s food cupcakes, and a spiced chocolate banana bread with rum before it got too hot. Took a dozen of each cupcake to the new neighbors to welcome them. They are long-time Centerville residents, downsizing. Took another dozen of each type of cupcake to my lovely firemen — this is a busy weekend for them.

Got a little bit of writing done, but not much. It was too hot to think. Got a good bit of reading done instead.

The Goddess Provisions box arrived and is a delight. A book arrived, too — one of the Caribbean books I test drove from the library that I wanted to keep, so I bought a copy.

Started re-watching the Lord Peter Wimsey episodes starring Edward Petherbridge and Harriet Walters. I’d forgotten how much he loves to play with props when he works.

Up early on Sunday. First writing session on the deck, on ELLA.

Plenty of loads of laundry, between clothes, sheets, and the winter furniture covers.

Worked on GRAVE REACH.

Started the short story inspired by the July 1 prompt on #31Prompts: The bagel has landed. I wanted it to be a flash fiction; it might be a short story, or the draft might be a short story, then edited down to be flash. We’ll see. Right now, I’m just writing. Stretching. That’s important.

Up early Monday. Worked on ELLA, worked on GRAVE REACH. Onsite with a client, then another appointment, then meditation group.

Today, I’m onsite with a client, then another appointment. Decent writing sessions on both ELLA and GRAVE REACH.

Not where I’d hoped to be by this point in the summer on anything, but I just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

 

Published in: on July 9, 2019 at 5:43 am  Comments Off on Tues. July 9, 2019: The Steadiness of Daily Writing  
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Mon. July 8, 2019: Commitment To Your Writing #UpbeatAuthors

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Image by Stocksnap via Pixabay

Monday, July 8, 2019
Waxing Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde

Enough retrogrades for you? Buckle up, buttercups, it’s a rocky month. But the retrogrades will also help clear out a lot of the deadwood and make way for new growth.

We are Upbeat Authors. We want to make the world better through our writing. That doesn’t mean denying that bad things happen. It means exploring and sharing ways that we can work through the bad and build something better.

It means nothing if we can’t finish anything. If we perpetually start things and let put them aside when the next Shiny Idea floats in front of us.

Those of us who write full-time know that we have to juggle multiple projects and meet our commitments to keep a roof over our head and food on the table. Part-time writers and hobbyist writers face different challenges to also keep sheltered and fed.

Finishing projects is vital.

It’s great to play with ideas. Some of them will work. Some of them will not. You don’t want to hang on to a project that’s not going anywhere and drains energy.

But unfinished projects drain creative energy, and if we let too many unfinished projects hang around, it’s like drowning in quicksand.

I actually teach a course on this, and have a Topic Workbook called THE GRAVEYARD OF ABANDONED PROJECTS.

Also, some ideas formulate before they are ready to bloom into full projects. I have pieces where the idea arrived years before I actually write the project, and I’ve often had several false starts along the way.

There’s a big difference between DECIDING to put a project aside and just LETTING it slide.

Contracted projects on deadlines always get first attention. They have to. That’s the deal of being a professional writer. Earliest deadline/highest pay = first attention.

But there are always other projects begging for time that need to be slotted in around it. You need to be a time management whiz without feeling like you’re trapped and never have a minute to do anything fun with friends or family or just hang out and do nothing. All of that is important.

Ideas tend to come in batches. Some ideas demand to be spun out a bit. Some won’t work.

How do you handle it all?

I’m offering some suggestions that work for me, and there are specific exercises in the workbook.

When I get an idea, I jot it down as soon as possible. I try to keep a “Fragment” or “Whatevers” notebook with me at all times.

I DATE each entry. Like a journal. Because sometimes, when I go back to the idea, the context of WHEN it hit me winds up being important.

Contracted projects, like the Coventina Circle, Gwen Finnegan, and Nautical Namaste series, are outlined in advance. I need to be able to drop right down into them the moment I work on them, and not have to wonder about what happens next.

However, I consider outlines roadmaps rather than prisons. I deviate often. I follow where the story leads. Sometimes it leads back to the outline, sometimes not. Sometimes the tangents are cut, although I learn something important from writing them.

Remember, as a writer, nothing is ever wasted.

Uncontracted projects that have to work around the contracted ones, have a different process. Sometimes I’ll outline the whole piece. Other times, I’ll make notes, and then write my way into the book for about four chapters to see if it’s viable.

If it is, I find a way to work it into the schedule.

If it’s not, I write a temporary ending scene, wherever it stops. I either retire it or put it in stasis, and turn my attention back to the viable projects.

Every few months, I review the projects in stasis. Is there a project in there that’s calling? Has it reached its time? If so, I read through it, make notes, and fit it back into the schedule. If not, I leave it in stasis. Because it has a temporary ending, it’s not an unfinished project that’s draining energy through lack of attention.

Every couple of years, I review retired projects. Often, they stay retired. I needed to work on them to learn something — readers don’t need them.

But, every once in awhile, a project from the retired pile shows promise, and comes back out. Dusted off, freshened up, maybe a new perspective, and becomes viable again.

My minimum goal for my own fiction, plays, etc., (separate from marketing writing, articles assignments, reviews, etc.) is 1K/day. I generally do that first thing in the morning, and the pages add up. I up my game as I need to when under deadline pressure.

Right now, I’m working on contracted fiction and play projects at 1-2.5K/day and another 750-1000 words longhand on an uncontracted projected. This is around the other paid writing assignments. I will have to adjust upwards on the contracted fiction a bit, but the uncontracted — there’s no pressure, no deadline, so as long as I do a little every day, no guilt, only pleasure.

There are days I don’t write. Most of those are planned days off, and then I try to write more in the days BEFORE planned time off (because if you wait until after, you never catch up). I lost a few days a couple of weeks ago, when I was unexpectedly sick and couldn’t even think or sit up, much less write. It happens.

But, for the most part, I keep a steady pace. It keeps the momentum going, the pages adding up. I keep my commitment to the work, the deadlines, but most important of all — I keep my commitment to myself.

If you don’t respect yourself and your writing, no one else has any reason to, either.

How do you keep your commitment to your work?

Fri. June 21, 2019: Happy Summer Solstice!

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image courtesy of Nanou22 via http://www.pixabay.com

Friday, June 21, 2019
Waning Moon
Jupiter Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Summer Solstice/Midsummer
Rainy and cool

Four planets in retrograde, with Mercury getting ready to join them in early July. Time to take the time for clarifications on multiple levels.

Blessed Summer Solstice! This is MID-summer, not the “first day of summer” as is so often erroneously cited.

Hop on over to A Biblio Paradise, where I finally have the post up about the play I read for the #ReaderExpansionChallenge.

Yesterday, I was up early, and on the bus to Boston. Even though it’s about a two hour trip, especially in traffic, since I’m not driving, I don’t mind. I managed my first 1K of the day on the bus by the time we hit Plymouth.

Traffic was bad from Hingham all the way up to Boston, but we were only five minutes behind schedule, and I was still very early for my meeting.

I enjoy South Station enormously. As I walked down the platform, from the bus terminal to the train terminal, the Acela from Boston to Washington was boarding, and they called out the name of my old hometown (Rye) as one of the stops. For some reason, that just tickled me.

It had started to rain quite heavily. It wasn’t a long walk from South Station to the meeting on Tremont Street — just up Summer Street, then Winter Street, then turn left on Tremont. About ten minutes, past stores and restaurants. But I was pretty soaked by the time I got there. I was early, and waited in the conference room, trying to keep the dripping in one place.

The meeting was short and went well. We’ll see. Either I’m what they’re looking for, or I’m not. I suspect they want to go with someone younger and with ad agency experience. And, of course, in the back of my mind I’m saying, “I had to make a four hour round trip for a half hour meeting?”

But I wanted to take advantage of being in Boston.

Unfortunately, the timing didn’t work out for me to get to the MFA and research in their library.

But the rain had lessened to a drizzle by the time I left. I walked back toward the Station. I got my New York City smarts back the second I’d left the bus, so the grifters looking to hit on the tourists scattered the minute they spotted me. Don’t even, people, I lived a block from Times Square.

There was a green market on the plaza opposite the station. Small, but good quality. But I forgot all that when I saw there was a Vietnamese food truck. Bon Me. I haven’t had Vietnamese food since I moved to the Cape, and it’s my favorite of all the Asian cuisines.

I was enchanted by the choices and stood to one side, taking my time to make my choice, without getting in the way of people ordering. I decided on the Namesake sandwich (a banh my, from which the truck’s name is derived) and an Iced Vietnamese coffee. I adore Vietnamese coffee — didn’t even know one could get it iced.

Those of us who waited under the shelter of the awning (it started pouring again), laughed and chatted. It was so nice to be within a diverse group of people. I didn’t pay attention to it when I lived in New York, because it was a fact of life. But on Cape, it’s homogeneous, and not in a good way. So it was nice to be around a different group of people who were smart and funny and looking forward to their lunch.

I took my meal in to the station and sat at one of the high tables in the food area, enjoying it immensely and eavesdropping on various conversations, as writers do. I mentioned, at one point, that this was the second best sandwich I ever had. That meant that other people at the table wanted to know what was the best, which was the first muffaletta I ever had from Central Grocery in New Orleans.

I stopped at Au Bon Pain to get some chocolate croissants, and headed back down the train platform to the bus terminal and to the bus. I’d missed the previous bus by about five minutes, which is why I decided I could indulge in lunch. Although, once I spotted Bon Me, I would have happily missed the bus on purpose.

The bus I wanted didn’t show up; word was that it was cancelled. But then it showed up late, and took the first ten of us (all that could fit). Traffic was bad and it was raining. I settled back in the seat with my book to enjoy the ride.

An aging Southern Belle was on the bus, on her way to visit friends on Nantucket. She did that helpless thing that absolutely drives me nuts, to get the men to jump to her tune and help her, instead of just asking for someone to help. Then, when the bus hit the brakes because some stupid car from New Jersey cut in front, made an abrupt stop, and then gunned the engine and took off, she claimed she hit her face on the safety bar (she was in the front seat). She was moaning and carrying on how she needed ice and would have a black eye and scrambled to put on her oversized sunglasses.

I finally couldn’t take it anymore and said, “Let me see.” I took a look and told her (in all truth), “Sweetie, your foundation’s not even smudged. It’s not going to get red, much less swollen or a black eye.”

She wasn’t pleased, because then she had to shut the hell up.

I didn’t make it home in time to get to the yoga class my friend was covering. But I made Moosewood’s “Best Chili” and cornbread for dinner, and it was darn good.

Today, I’m doing some remote work for a client and getting out some pitches. I have some errands to run (because we can’t run out of toilet paper, you know), and then I’m headed over to Old King’s Coffeehouse, which just opened up on the Hyannis/Yarmouth line. I’m looking forward to trying them.

It’s pouring with rain, so I might move some of my other errands to tomorrow. I’ll play most of the day by ear.

Have a lovely weekend! It’s supposed to be sunny and gorgeous here, so I’m going to alternate writing and working in the garden.

Published in: on June 21, 2019 at 8:45 am  Comments Off on Fri. June 21, 2019: Happy Summer Solstice!  
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