Sunday, August 30, 2009

IMG_0472
New York Botanical Garden

Sunday, August 30, 2009
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Rainy and cool

It’s starting to smell like autumn.

Danny passed us by without much impact, which is a good thing. And I can use all that boiled water!

The CNN website hit a new low yesterday. They’ve lost my trust anyway over the past few years, as far as not finding them a reliable resource. Yesterday, however, they took tasteless and tacky to a new level.

They’ve got the coverage of the Senator Edward Kennedy funeral streaming, and, under it, an ad from a life insurance company picturing a casket and saying, “Don’t wait until it’s too late!”

Yes, I emailed them and told them what I thought.

I didn’t spend the day glued to the funeral. I honored the Senator (who, even though I didn’t always agree with him, had a huge, direct, and personal impact on my life, mostly positive) in my own way. I saw a bit of the end, at Arlington. As usual, the Kennedys handled things with grace and panache.

Let’s hope the right wing-nut lie-mongers shut up for at least a few days. Not that they’re capable of respecting anything other than the dollars for which they shill paid by large corporations masquerading as citizens.

Now, as everyone walks away from Arlington, is where the real sense of missing begins. I remember when my father died — there was a sense of unreality from the news through the funeral arrangements through the wake and even the service. It wasn’t until walking away from the grave site that it really began to sink in. All the preparations and the people kept him immediate. The emptiness came later.

I’m re-reading a book called CALLINGS by Gregg Levoy. A friend recommended it a few years ago — it’s about creating an authentic life, doing what you’re meant to do, and recognizing the false call from the true call, and most importantly, taking action rather than making excuses. I read it quickly that first time. I’m reading it more slowly this time, and enjoying even the parts I don’t necessarily agree with.

I love his reference to TS Eliot’s quote about measuring our lives in coffee spoons (very relevant, in my case). I also agree with the way he says that one has to plunge fully into one’s calling: “A part-time effort, a sorta-kinda commitment, an untested promise, won’t suffice.” (p. 11). That’s how I feel about my writing.

It’s a very interesting book. If you feel like you’re spinning your wheels at the moment, I recommend it. Even the parts that don’t necessarily work for you will get you thinking in new ways, and help you find what does work.

Ordered holiday cards from the National Wildlife Federation yesterday — special sale. I hope National Geographic offers some cards soon, and then I’ll be all set. I’m percolating another holiday story — a couple of them actually. If I’m going to do them WELL, they need to be written now, so I have time to revise them, design them, and print them in time to go out with the cards.

Got some good work done on AMENDS. It’s got an interesting shape. I couldn’t figure out where to set it for the longest time. The incident that inspired the book’s murder and the location of that incident took place here, but suburban NY didn’t feel right. I didn’t want to stick it on the Cape, and I just set stories in VT and around Concord, MA.

So I thought about putting it in Western MA, farther west even than Wyatt East’s domain in the Jain Lazarus Adventures, all the way in the Berkshires. I’ve got another piece percolating that I want to set in that region, but I don’t think they’ll conflict.

So that’s where AMENDS is set.

I figure it will run somewhere between 65K and 90K.

Had a lot of trouble with 1and1 again. I looked at some other hosts; everyone seems to get mixed reviews. I don’t know if I’m better off staying with the devil I know. At least until I get the computer stuff sorted out and don’t lose all my iWeb files again.

My contacts and client lists vanished from my Address Book — AGAIN — which means I have to re-enter them. Over it! I want Apple to stop wasting everyone’s time and actually DO something.

Finished reading the material for Confidential Job #1 and will write it up today, send it off tomorrow,and find a computer from which I can invoice them.

Did some notes on one of the holiday stories. Figured out what I want to try to make for the holidays. I will do a few prototypes in early October. If it works, I can get everything made and wrapped early; if not, it gives me time to come up with something else, so I’m not scrambling, like I did last year.

I figured out that I’ve saved $1200 so far this year by shopping as Costco on items I would have had to buy in that time period anyway.

A site on which I’d like to be a contributor is not going to work out. I’d be willing to compromise on the money (or lack thereof) to a point, but the insistence on running a photograph, not the icon, makes it a no-go. What I do or don’t look like has NOTHING to do with the quality of my writing, and, as someone who publishes under multiple names, a photograph hurts me rather than helps me. If clients who pay a ton of money have no problem with the no-photographs clause, clients who don’t should be even more flexible. Obviously, it’s not the right fit, and there are better fits for both of us somewhere else.

Need to get deeper into Prague Prep — the trip is coming up awfully quickly. It would be nice if those who were invited to guest blog and didn’t want to/couldn’t at least had the courtesy to decline and respond to my follow-up emails instead of ignoring them. Oh, well, the sooner you learn about someone discourteous, the sooner you can remove them from your life, right? I’m seriously starting to think everyone should be required to pass an etiquette class before they’re allowed out in the world! 😉

Devon

AMENDS, first draft: 13,750 words out of est. 75,000
18.33%

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thursday, August 27, 2009
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Sunny and pleasant

That was an intense two days. Hopefully, I’ll be able to post photos soon.

I was out of the house before 6 AM on Tuesday, and on the road. It was nice to cross the Tappan Zee Bridge as the sky just barely lightened — although the bridge is past its expiration date, and construction crews are desperately trying to keep it safe, considering how many thousands of people use it every day.

Traffic was heavy and steady all the way up I-87. Most of the Mobil stations are now Sunoco stations, and my gas card is a Mobil card, so I would up paying cash at one point to get in a few extra gallons, and then stopping at the next Mobil station I found to fill the tank. Still, gas is 20 cents per gallon cheaper upstate than down here. (And 30 cents cheaper around Lenox, MA).

The traffic going south on I-87, the other side, was just a total nightmare. It was a parking lot, barely crawling along at 15 mph from the bridge all the way up past Albany. So I decided I would not be returning that way.

I got into Saratoga early, so , of course, I hit Mrs. London’s for an almond croissant and a cup of coffee. I got a table by the window so I could watch the world go by — it’s completely different in the summer, with the tourists and the racegoers, than it is the rest of the year. The difference in vibe, and the tensions it causes is one of the things I want to explore in DEAD MAN’S STALL.

It’s a little different this year, due to the economy. The “playas” — guys who wear too much jewelry and too much cologne, chain smoke, have Botoxed bottle blondes in skimpy clothes hanging off their arms, throw money around, act like they’re big time horse better (but their choices rarely win), and generally behave badly, aren’t out in force this year. The economy’s kept them away.

There was a lot less tension around without them.

I spent a few minutes wondering what differences my life would contain had I accepted the acceptance to Skidmore College and studied in Saratoga, rather than going to Florida State for a year, where I made my commitment to theatre, and then transferring to NYU for film production. Would I have wound up on Broadway? Would I have gone into dance administration? Would I have started writing full-time earlier? Writing would always have been a part of it, but I’m curious about this particular road not taken.

I stopped to sigh over the amazing Adelphi Hotel. I love this place — I wish I owned it. It’s a stunningly beautiful Victorian Inn.

Magic Moon was closed so early in the morning, so I couldn’t go there. And the newsstand seems to be gone — so I went to Stewart’s to get the papers. Drove to Lowe’s, down on the other end of town. We don’t have a Lowe’s around here, and I love it. I had a list of stuff that one can’t get in Home Depot that one can get in Lowe’s, so I stocked up.

Then I headed over to the park. My first stop was the National Museum of Dance. They were having computer problems and didn’t want to handwrite a receipt, but I made them do it anyway. They are required by law to provide a receipt, whether they feel like writing one out or not.

The Museum itself is quite lovely. There’s a big Broadway section, which was interesting because most of the focus was on dancers with whom I’ve worked. I thought it was well done. There was also the Hall of Fame, very well done, and a section on things like the Ziegfeld Follies, the Ballet Russes, etc. I took a lot of photographs of the costumes. And, because it’s dance, the focus is on the feet — tables and tables and tables of shoes. I also photographed the label in one of Peter Martins’s costumes, because it’s made by the same shop which does a lot of the work for the Broadway shows I’ve done.

After the museum, I headed up to the Gideon Putnam Hotel to help set up for the Gala. I was pleased to see a lot more volunteers there than in previous years – and this batch actually got to work. They weren’t spoiled girlfriends and spouses of money people, they were actually interested in the event and its purpose. It was a pretty merry group, and we had a good time setting up.

The friend who’s the head of it and I headed back to her place after, to work on the computer. I wish I’d brought up MacGeorge — even limping, he’d have been quicker to set everything up on than the PC. My friend’s getting tired of the PC rearranging files all the time and not telling her where they are. Typical PC.

Anyway, we coaxed it into doing what we needed, we did some event scripting for the evening (a friend who attended texted me last night and said, “You wrote what X said, didn’t you? I could tell. He wouldn’t have been able to speak in complete sentences otherwise, and no one around here writes with both grammatical correctness AND a personal tone.”)

I had a chance to attend the Bruce Springsteen concert, and, much as I adore Bruce, I wasn’t about to cancel out on my friends.

I tossed my dress on and slipped into the cute shoes and drove back over to Union Street, where two of my friends just happen to be living in the same building — one friend bought an apartment there, the other is renting for the duration of the race meet. It’s a lovely historical landmark from 1886, with a graceful front porch, where we all met.

We went to an English pub on the other side of town called The Local, where we had some excellent food and drink and great conversation. I didn’t go with anything English — I had fish tacos, which were excellent. Then we went over to Congress Park, where there was an outdoor concert — good musicians, but they were playing what I call “70’s Lounge Music.” It was pretty funny. There were lots of dogs in attendance, so I got to make new canine friends.

I was also bitten my mosquitos, and the bites started giving me trouble. We passed one of the many natural sulfur springs, for which Saratoga became famous in the 19th Century. They’re disgusting to drink, but I splashed some of the water on the bites. It felt strange, but in about ten minutes, the redness and the itch stopped.

Good to know.

We wandered up the street to Uncommon Grounds for gelato and coffee, sitting outside, watching the Saratoga night life pass us by. More bikers than usual are in town this summer, but they were really funny and interesting.

Wandered back past Magic Moon — which was closed for the night. And headed back home. I stayed with one of my friends, one her sofa bed. It’s a lovely little apartment. It was so quiet that I had a hard time getting to sleep, but I finally did.

I woke up without the alarm around 5 AM, and met my other friend on the porch just before 6:30 (did my yoga and everything)! Packed the car, and we walked up Union Street to the track. He signed me in for a guest pass for the day, and we headed to the Oklahoma training track first for the works, then, at the break, over to the main track, where we met up with some of the Thorofan leaders. They are a new group, started by fans of the sport, who want to improve the overall sport. They have chapters all over the country, under a national umbrella, and are affiliating with tracks. Several of their members were among those volunteering for the gala. I was very impressed with everyone I met — genuine love for the sport and interested in both making the sport better and safer and drawing in more fans to keep the industry healthy. I’m going to do an article on them for FEMMEFAN.

Headed back up to the Gideon Putnam to help set up and arrange the items for the auction. The space looked lovely and cheerful and fun — a nice change from a lot of the more serious, formal fundraisers in town.

Put in a few hours there. I didn’t feel so guilty leaving, because plenty of volunteers came in. I knew it would be great this year.

I stopped by another friend’s house, but she wasn’t home, and I wasn’t able to arrange to see two other friends, so I hit the road. I took Route 50 down to Ballston Spa. It’s a cute town, but nothing particularly compelled me to stop, and I wasn’t in the mood to visit The National Bottle Museum today, so I kept going. I enjoyed the farms in Malta, and got back on I-87 going south — not fun.

At Albany, I picked up I-90 headed east, which shortly becomes the Mass Turnpike. As soon as I got on it, I relaxed. There was hardly any traffic, the day was gorgeous, low humidity, and about ten degrees cooler than New York.

I got off the first exit from the Pike and headed north through Lee to Lenox. Found a parking spot right away, bought the papers, went around the corner to The Haven, and that’s where I had lunch (curried chicken sandwich), and a meeting with a potential client up there. I’d really like to do more work in that area. It’s so laid back, friendly, and literate.

Stopped at the wine store and found a bottle of outstanding Argentinean Malbec on sale, so I bought it.

Hit the road again, taking 20 down to 8 down to the Merritt — only took me two and a half hours to get home. And, until Waterbury, there were only about a dozen cars on the road. From Waterbury down, there was a lot of traffic, but it moved well. So much more delightful than taking I-87 down!

I took a quick peek at 14 acres of land for sale on Laurel Lake — the same lake Edith Wharton’s property overlooks. I’d rather have a house already built, though, even if it needs work. But it’s awfully tempting to purchase the land so it can’t be developed.

Very tired when I got home. The cats were glad to see me. I didn’t unpack much. Ate, and went to bed early. Slept for 11 hours.

I had trouble getting going this morning. I skipped the morning yoga, which I know I will regret. I’ve got thank you notes to write, photos to download, follow-ups to do, email to catch up on. I have some client work to get to, and a follow-up on yesterday’s meeting. I need to do some more work on an article, and send questions to some other sources, and the formulate the interview questions for the Thorofan interview.

I have plenty of stuff percolating for both DEAD MAN’S STILL and the revision of SHALLID. I am eager to get back to AMENDS. I hope to talk to Apple today — I’ve finally got MacGeorge running the way I want it to, and I’m wondering if I should stick to the devil I know.

It’s hard to get back to “reality”, so I need to take another look at everything and see how I can move my reality — which is still better than most people’s, since I don’t work in an office on someone else’s schedule — to align it even more with the best of the past few days.

I am deeply saddened by Senator Edward Kennedy’s death. His work had an enormous and direct impact on my life. I’m mildly acquainted with the next generation of Kennedys, via various work-related encounters. Some of his actions angered me enormously — no matter how much good he’s done, it can’t erase Chappaquiddick. But he was passionate about social justice (most of the current politicians are far more interested in corporate welfare than the good of individual citizens or they wouldn’t allow the banks to continue their daily acts of economic violence against the citizens) and he was completely unique. He was a true Yankee individualist. I am tempted to go to Boston, where he will lie in State today and tomorrow — if I didn’t have to worry about Hurricane Danny, I probably would attempt it. But, much as I respected Senator Kennedy, getting caught in a hurricane is too much of a risk right now. I don’t want to be on the road in weather like that. So I will light a candle to his memory and honor him in my own way.

Back to work. There’s a lot to think about.

Devon