Monday, March 1, 2010

Monday, March 1, 2010
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Sunny and mild

Today will be chaotic, especially since Comcast connection is worse than ever, and 1and1 won’t let me access my email. I have to leave the site for a few hours mid-day, then come back to pick up my stuff and head back. I’ve somehow tweaked my back, so I am not looking forward to hauling the luggage around Philly and NY. But I’ll take some ibuprofen and deal.

On a good note: I received a request for the full of one of the novels circulating. So I’m pretty excited. Hopefully, that’s a positive sign for the month!

Live chat went well, in spite of wonky internet.

Off to get some stuff on site before the others come in, and finish packing. I also have to check and make sure I comment on exercises before everything gets nutty.

But, first and foremost, the full has to go out. Fingers crossed.

Back to the page. I’m taking the short story with me when I wander later today. I’m not hauling the computer around, so it’s one of the longhand pieces.

i finished THE MANUAL OF DETECTION last night. It’s fascinating, but damned if I can describe it.

And the US-Canada Olympic hockey game yesterday was one of the best games ever. Sure, I wanted the US to win, and yes, I hurt for Ryan Miller (who was so awesome throughout the series), but, let’s face it, if Canada lost, they’d have been run out of town.

Back to the page, and quickly.

Devon

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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Saturday, February 27, 2010
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Snowing

Spent a great deal of yesterday on conference work, which is as it should be. Unfortunately, it took much longer and was frustrating because the conference site kept kicking me off, and then, when I tried to post, it said I was flooding the site and would be banned. Excuse me, I’m doing my job! After several hours of it, I was ready to say, “No more.” I did sent a relatively polite email to the conference organizers asking for ways around it and expressing my frustration in (for me) relatively mild terms. They’ve tweaked something so the threat doesn’t appear, and now I’m only booted off every half hour instead of every five minutes.

It definitely makes tomorrow’s live chat a challenge, and makes me even more grateful that I have Optimum at home and not Comcast, like I have here, because Comcast isn’t as good or as reliable. Who would have ever thought I’d find a reliable provider? Now, if I can only wrestle away the websites to a new host, I’ll be all set.

Finished reading THE JOURNAL KEEPER, which is lovely. I highly recommend it.

Will go back to THE MANUAL OF DETECTION later today, in and around conference work.

Looks like I will be here until Monday, after all, which is a good thing, although Monday is turning out to be chaotic. I thought I’d have a full eight hour workday here before heading back to NY, but, although I’m still heading to NY in the late afternoon, my workday is truncated because someone else is coming in during the afternoon. I can’t change my ticket — they’re still trying to catch up on the cancelled transportation during the snow — so I have to either try to work elsewhere or do other research, et al for a few hours before coming back, picking everything up and leaving. I will probably do the latter.

Went to Trader Joe’s to do some grocery shopping — it was packed. Seems no one went to the store before the storm hit, so they’re all going now that they’ve emptied the larders. But I can cook and eat properly here now, instead of opening cans or putting something in the microwave or eating out all the time.

A family member in Maine has been diagnosed with cancer — that will change this year’s schedule quite a bit, as I’ll travel back and forth to help out as needed, and we’ll all do what needs to be done so he can recover.

About a block away is a music studio. They’re rehearsing with their windows open, and, due to the direction of the wind, I can hear the pieces. It’s quite lovely. Lots of french horn. Although the 34th time you hear Ravel’s “Bolero”, it gets a little old!

Conference is going well. We had to get some specifics sorted out — things that, to me are common sense, and, had the students pulled that at ANY of the writing programs in the country, they’d have been bounced. But, as a friend reminded me, this is the first conference many have attended, and they don’t know. To me, it’s common sense, and, even when starting out, I wouldn’t have dreamed of pulling such a stunt. But, for the moment, I clarified the position and will give them the benefit of the doubt.

I’m even taking a workshop in a genre out of my comfort zone to push me a bit.

I miss the cats, and, from what I hear, they are being spectacularly rambunctious in my absence, but I’m settling in a bit and getting down to work.

Back to the workshops.

Devon

Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday, February 26, 2010
Waxing Moon
Mars Retrograde
Snowing

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.

Devon