Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thursday, March 18, 2010
Waxing Moon
Sunny and beautiful

I spent most of the morning putting together pitches for two script writing jobs. Even with all my clips at hand, it still takes longer than I’d like to fashion a strong pitch individual to each opening. We’ll see. I have my doubts they’d hire a woman for either of them, but it was worth a shot. One would be steady and fun, and even at my regular rate. The other’s a little more ambiguous, and would be a one-off. We’ll see. At least I tried.

Went to my local library to pick up state tax forms, since they no longer mail them — and, of course, they only have the basic forms, not the schedules I need. Hopefully, can get them online. And they didn’t have any of the research books I need for the short story. I can’t wait to get back to Greenwich next week.

Wasted too much time on stupid stuff in the afternoon, but got another good section of POWER OF WORDS into the computer, fleshing it out, filling out my tracking sheets, solving logistical problems, adding scenes were necessary.

Prepped for the talk at my old middle school today.

Finished Louise Erdich’s SHADOW TAG. While it was fascinating, in many ways, I had some trouble with it structurally. She doesn’t use quotation marks to set off dialogue. Granted, she’s published 13 books that sell well and earned that right. But it kept pushing me out of the narrative constantly instead of making me experience what the characters experienced. I was constantly shoved out and reminded that I was a voyeur instead of a character, and disconnected from the experience. So, overall, it didn’t work for me. The only other two books of hers I’ve read are LOVE MEDICINE and THE BEET QUEEN. I don’t remember if she made that stylistic choice in those. i do know that, if I pick up another book of hers and the stylistic choices are the same, it goes back on the shelf. I respect what she’s achieved enormously, but, as a reader, I need to feel that I am within the narrative, not outside it until I’m interrupted or put the book down. With this book, I was excluded from the characters’ experiences.

The only show I watched last night was HUMAN TARGET. They put so much backstory into this episode that they’re taking the fact they’re on the bubble pretty seriously and giving the audience answers for some of the questions posed in earlier episodes. They should have just about finished filming the initial series order by now, and, in the next few weeks, should know whether or not they’re coming back. They brought back my two favorite female guest stars from earlier episodes. I liked the structure and the pace of this episode. There was a revelation of a piece of information in Guerrero’s backstory that I initially felt I didn’t believe/didn’t work for me. However, the creative team has kept its contract with the audience thus far, intriguing, challenging, but not screwing us, so I’ll trust them for now on it and see where it goes. I also felt Jackie Earle Haley was being reined in during a few scenes and he was having to overcome the direction, instead of the direction supporting his work, especially towards the end. I’d like to see the show renewed, and see where they take it in the next season. They fulfill the requirements of the genre formula, but also move beyond it in certain aspects, and I think, if given the chance, the show could blossom. It’s come a long way, just in the episodes aired so far. I started watching the show because of Haley, but I keep watching it because I’m interested to see how it grows, and I’m learning a lot about structure, and what does and doesn’t work for me as far as weaving multiple strands in and out over time.

Wrote a few more pages on the short story last night after HT. Much better use of my time than just having the TV on because it’s there.

In the middle of the night, Elsa hooked her claw into my eyelid. Not the eye Iris injured a few months back, the other one. It didn’t get all the way through the lid to the eyeball, but the lid is pretty torn up. It was an accident, I iced it and put antiseptic on it, but . . .ow. And no eye makeup for me for awhile. Not that I wear it that often anyway, but I am in public today, so . . .

I’m running late. Off to the school. I don’t know why I agree to do these things. I’m always tied up in knots beforehand. The kids really get excited, though, because I talk to them like they’re people, not “kids” and I don’t censor myself at all. In other words, I’m really surprised the teachers want me back!


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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Waxing Moon
St. Patrick’s Day
Sunny and pleasant

As I’m catching up on email, I just noticed that my essay, “The Artist/Pop Culture Symbiosis” has been up for awhile on Smart Pop.

Stop by and drop a comment, so they ask me back! 😉

We’re finally able to reach friends and colleagues in Greenwich, who were hit terribly by the storm. Most still have no power and no water — and they can’t leave their homes because of downed trees, so they can’t even get to a hotel to wait it out. A few people were killed — no one we knew, but neighbors of our friends.

We tried to drive to Purchase, to go to the post office, but the roads were closed due to downed trees and broken power wires. It was a little scary driving through it, and we were turned back before we could get there.

We went down to the beach — lots of erosion, and tides about four feet higher than normal. It made us realize how lucky we were in our little brick tower here. It was sunny and gorgeous, though, so it was nice to be out.

Lots of busy work, paper work, admin work yesterday. But it pays off to make the time to do it as it comes in, especially when it comes to pulling/printing/filing clips, or else it becomes difficult to get out pitches & packets in a timely fashion.

I’m reading Louise Erdich’s SHADOW TAG. Fascinating book. It’s a slender volume, but by no means a quick read. And not at all what I expected, but, so far, in a good way.

I figured out why I’m struggling with the plays. It’s a really stupid reason, and I better get over myself.

Got some good work done on POWER OF WORDS, and am starting to get excited about it again. The tracking sheets are helping.

Good first morning’s writing session on a short story, even though I overslept and got a later start than I hoped. Today is more admin work, prepping for tomorrow’s talk at the Middle School, work on the play and the novella, a couple of queries/pitches out, polishing the newsletter, filling out the Census, and a talk with my Congresswoman on an issue we’ve worked on together for quite a few months now. It’s nice to have a solid enough relationship with my representative — the person whose job exists to represent me — where we can speak openly and honestly about issues, even when we disagree. We actually agree on a lot of things, but sometimes differ on how we’d get there. She’s really good at making things work both on a community and an individual level, which I think is rare in politics.

Will have to get to the library once it’s up and running again — hopefully by the end of the week. I need to do some scientific research, and don’t have the materials here. I’ve been picking up quite a few good scientific tomes for various projects, but, of course, this one needs something totally different. I don’t have to go into much detail about the process, thank goodness, but I need to know what’s involved, so my character’s choices make sense.


Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday, February 26, 2010
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde

After quite a bit of chaos and thissing and thatting, I am here in Philly. And, even more importantly for conference purposes, online.

I was out the door in sleet early on Thursday. Had to stand on the train, which wasn’t my favorite way to travel, but, really, it wasn’t so crowded it got disgusting, so I was fine. By the time I hit Manhattan, it was snowing, but lightly, so I figured what the hey, and started walking from Grand Central to Penn. Yes, with the luggage. Once a drop of water falls from the sky, it’s impossible to catch a cab. They all put on their ‘off duty’ signs and dash away.

The snow escalated steadily as I walked, and by the time I hit Penn, it was falling quickly in big, thick flakes. But the busses were still running, and Megabus even brought in the busses earlier than usual to load us up, so we didn’t have to stand out in the muck. I met a lovely woman who travelled all the way from Toronto, starting the previous day, headed for Philadelphia because she loves the city so much. She’s taken 18 trips down there in the past year.

On the bus, iPod on, book out. Once we got into Weehawken, it was seriously snowing, and it was so bad around Newark, I worried we’d have to turn back. But we pushed on through. The snow-drenched trees were heartbreakingly beautiful.

The book I’m reading is fascinating: Jedidiah Berry’s THE MANUAL OF DETECTION. I’m not sure if it qualifies as surrealism or magical realism, but it’s quite wonderful. Just a delightful book all the way around.

Arrived in Philly only a little late, in much lighter snow than we’d driven through. We make the first stop, opposite the Liberty Bell — and the door gets stuck in the “open” position. Well, at least we were in Philly and not stuck on the Jersey turnpike, right? Eventually, they got the door shut and got us to our stop at 30th St. station. I trundled my luggage down JFK Blvd, to Site A — not where I’m supposed to stay for the duration, but, because the people for whom I’m covering couldn’t leave due to weather, that’s where I had to stay for the moment. Dropped off the suitcase, got the keys, took my computer bag, etc., and headed for the other site on 17th St, where I should be based for the bulk of the job. Dropped off the computer bag, did a few things that were site-specific, then headed out.

Had lunch at Elvez, on 13th and Sansome (remember that place, Lori?), because I’ve been thinking about their mahi-mahi tacos for about three months. They did not disappoint. Passed Robin’s Bookstore — looks like they’ve lost the two-story enormous space they used to have and are now just upstairs, making room for a wine/pizza bar and an upscale florist. Ick. If I’m here through the weekend, I will go back and spend some money there.

Hit another bookstore, which had put aside for me Louise Erdich’s SHADOW TAG and Phyllis Theoroux’s THE JOURNAL KEEPER.

Headed back to 17th St, to get some work done, but didn’t manage to get online.

Met friends for a tapas delight dinner at Continental on 18th & Chestnut. The food’s very good, the atmosphere a little loud and echoey, the service okay but not brilliant. There was a bit of attitude at first from the hostess (I was so cordial she backed down — when I start getting “cordial” as opposed to “polite” or “friendly”, watch out, because it means I’m preparing to rip your lungs out). Obviously, the message came across, because there was a serious attitude adjustment. Our actual server was lovely, and the manager sorted things out. Other than bringing out the string fries AFTER we finished the meal instead of WITH the meal, it was fine. The BBQ Chicken Quesidilla is awesome. We ordered seconds.

Back to JFK Blvd., cup of tea, Olympics on, tried to get online — no luck. Slight panic attack, but it’s not a crisis until today.

Worried because, when I called home, the brook was within 6 inches of overflowing. Made arrangements to get the car to safety; made arrangements with friends to check on my mom and the cats if it actually flooded. Stressful to be away at such a time, but at least everyone who usually depends on me during flood times had resources and a Plan B. Instead of “what do we do?”, it’s a case of “If this happens, do X; if that happens, do Y” and so forth. It didn’t flood last night, thank goodness, but I was a bit of a wreck.

Started reading THE JOURNAL KEEPER instead. If you write or paint or have any sort of creative life and try to balance it with the rest of your life, you MUST read this book. If I tried to pull quotes for you, well, there are wonderful quotes on every page.

My favorite is “The soul cannot do its work when we are in constant motion.” (p. 41).

Fell asleep early, exhausted. Woke up early, to see much more snow falling today than we had yesterday. Meanwhile, rain turned to snow at home, with 10 inches falling overnight and snow expected all day today. The snow’s blown against the windows, and the cats don’t understand why they can’t see out. So, according to my mom, they decided to take another nap and try again later. Gotta love their attitude.

Yoga, breakfast, some reading. Not a pot or pan to be found at that site, but at least there was a kettle, and I’d picked up a croissant on my rounds yesterday. I carry my French press when I travel, and had coffee, so I could make coffee or it would NOT have been pretty. Packed up around 10 and shifted everything back over to the other site, where, miracle of miracles, I’m online. I’m going to take care of my workshops now, and then take the rest of the day as it comes.

The people for whom I’m covering are supposed to fly out tonight. If that actually happens, I’m here through Monday; otherwise, I will try to trek home tomorrow.

Off to the workshops. Let’s hope I can settle in here for a few days. The thought of lugging everything back home tomorrow exhausts me beyond belief.