Thursday, December 29, 2011

oar

Pretending to work isn't easy. You have to be fast with the command+tab, and it must look natural.  No jerky movements.  Keep the flow, baby.

How we all made it to the end of 2011 is anyone's guess, but I'm damn sure glad we did.  The little boat (if you'll allow me that metaphor) threatened to tip, and she took on water at times, but she's still keeping our knickers dry.  Now if someone wouldn't mind taking this oar for a second while I sip on my cocktail...

Happy New Year, one and all.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

glass for sand

What happened to Glass Beach?  I did the childhood memory math, that is, divided by my 10-year-old memory to get what the place really must have looked like in nineteen seven--hey, never you mind what year--but my calculations were way, way off.  That long stretch of road leading to the water was the same.  Waist-high sea grass on either side, scrappy weeds lining the center of the road that was gated, surely no longer driven on.  It was the same!   The fog, sun breaking through in patches.  Just like back then!  I remembered walking along with my dad, his friend and my sister, hearing the ocean.  Feeling the damp cold on my cheeks.  And then, the glass.  What looked like miles of candy-color bits where there should have been sand.  Stunning, like in a movie.  All colors.  You could pick up handfuls and watch it fall, clinking together, ever smoother.  Each wave sorting and buffing, each step grinding and separating.  It felt like a dreamscape.  A true childhood moment.

Cut to me: November 2011, hope building as the road led to the sound of the waves.  And then, nothing.  Gone. It was all gone.  Not just the candy-colored glass but the entire beach was different.  Rough, broken cliffs with a 20-foot drop to the sand, spattered with lost, monotone puddles.  I paced around and had to get closer, climbing down, my husband saying too late that it didn't look safe.  I crouched down to look.  To see it for myself.  A few shiny bits.  Something you might call glass.  Completely unremarkable.  But the road was there.  The signs were there:  Glass Beach.  What happened?

After admitting more than 30 years had passed since I'd last visited, he scoffed at my surprise.  Of course, it's different, he said.  That was ages ago.   So I snapped a grainy, cheap cell phone photo and resigned myself to the fragile mental image of dunes of color, a king's ransom worth of discarded, broken glass.

Monday, November 7, 2011

meanwhile

Civilization seems to be falling apart downtown, but just a few minutes walk away, people are pretending to be in Venice.  I don't mean to knock 'em.  Maybe it's fun.  Live and let live, etc. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

time

More waiting.   That's all part of the game.  Submit a story, wait.  Get a rejection notice, submit a story, wait.  Repeat.  Oh boy, must you repeat.  A few times, I even paid to submit my story.  I feel so cheap.  Even a few contests.  Pitting my story, my characters against others. My poor old hitchhiking man strutting down the catwalk, looking fierce and making that all important turn.  Will he win against the skateboarding zombies or teenage vampires?  He can't introduce you to the undead, but he can sure tell you some sad stories.  Come on journals, give the ol' guy a break.  He's paid his dues.  Accept him.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

capiche?

I'm pro-metaphor, as you probably already know.  They're helpful in just about every area in life to make yourself understood.  I like being understood.  I need to be understood, in fact.  And even if you think I'm a neurotic who's highly delusional, as long as you understand me, we're good.  Careful with metaphors though, they can get bloated or even contaminated by other metaphors.  Then your chances of being understood are about as likely as a low-talker at a Monsters of Rock concert.  But that's a simile.  Don't mess with those.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

the cost of commuting

Dear Intrepid Carpool Driver:
Thanks for driving.  Thanks for the rides. You seem like a cool dude, if the seatbelt cover with princesses on it and a sweet carseat are any indication.

But I must protest about one thing:  less talk, more rock

I just don't know how well a radio station with that tag line starts one's the day.  I suppose my inquiries should be directed to the radio station program manager, namely, how do "Leather and Lace" and "Night Fever" qualify as rock?  I am no music expert, not by a long shot, but I am certain, very certain, that those songs are not rock.  Perhaps you should check with the Music Genome Project about your categorization.  It might help.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

the rhythm

Settling back in to a normal heart beat (fingers crossed).  I mean that literally.  For the past two days, I had what could only be described as a "surge" in my chest.  An occasional extra bit of umph, if you will, of my heart beat.  Not faster, just a kapowey, every few minutes.  And light-headedness.

I confess that I've had this before and uncharacteristically ignored it when it happened in May and again in August.  I made excuses.  I wrote it off as "stress."  I should have recognized the denial.  Who wants to worry about one's heart?  That life-giving organ that is really not shaped like my photo of a mud puddle to the left there.  Sure, we've all ignored sore knees or cracky ankles.  Something going awry with lady parts?  I google symptoms, I make calls, I fret and worry.  They get immediate attention.

But a major organ?  Ignore its not-so-subtle signs of "hey, dummy, pay attention" seems so... asking-for-it.  So, I listened.  Tuesday I went to the doctor; they sent me for an ECG.  Oh, nothing serious, they said, just an extra heart beat.  Wait, what?  Extra? WTF does that mean?  Now that all seems well, and that the rhythm is not going to "get" me, I can relax a little. 

Oh, and never take a decongestant with phenylephrine again. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

the trick

Notice there's a mushroom cloud photo with this post.  Not a mountain, to make a "mountain out of a mole hill" comparison. A mountain just sits there, bein' big.  But a mushroom cloud -- that's a big thing that does long-lasting, teeth-rattling destruction and irreparable harm.

The trick is, go for the mountain.  Don't always go for the big red button.  I know it's shiny, so tempting. Begging to be pressed.  You'll end up with a mushroom cloud and have to deal with a mess.  You can't unpress the button, or pack the annilation back into the bomb.  You can't unsay unkind words.

All this means:  try not to overreact to everything.  I'm talking to myself.  That's right, you doing the typing.  Sure, maybe the molehill is covered with ants and a few piles of dog doo, but you'll live.

Monday, September 26, 2011

object (v)

It's not that I don't like autumn.  Or Fall.  I usually call it Fall.  It's the transition that gets me.  The in between.  I know I've written about this before, and wait until we change back to standard time.  Oh, how I will go on about light leaking from the sky.  The metaphors will get waist-deep around here. 

Maybe it's change that I didn't choose that I object to.  Even after a lifetime of it, I can't quite abide it.  But I will enjoy the satisfying crunch of a maple leaf under my shoe, or the wet granola smell of the sidewalk after a sudden rain.  I will enjoy soup steam in my face from a new yellow bowl.  More lap time from the cats.  Those small offerings I can accept.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Really

Almost 9 months to reject my short story Berkeley Fiction Review?  Really?  And I don't go around saying "really?" all the time, so you know I'm annoyed.  I thought 6 months was the outer limits of "gimme a break" but a few days shy of 9?

I suppose BFR only publishes stuff from students anyway.  I dunno.  Bah.

T'anks fer nuthin'.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Hawaiian surprise

Maybe it's the sleep deprivation, or too much caffeine, but I heard lovely Hawaiian music as I exited Starbucks.  Lilting falsetto lullaby and strings and soft drum beat.  A lady hula danced in her ordinary work clothes, her ID badge clipped to her belt.  I don't know hula or what the song was about, but her motions seemed to say "look around," "relax," "breathe" and "how about a hug?"  Beautiful.

The acoustics between the two buildings in the plaza made for a natural surround-sound.  F Market trolleys and the cackling teenagers nearby couldn't take away from the soothing, melting, want-to-sleep feeling I had (ok, I did do a few half- and full-turns to the cacklers which of course did nothing -- "The fellas are trying to entertain us.  Piss off!")  I only thought that, don't worry.  Damn my hypervigilance.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

cup

The photo is from my sister who is enjoying the happiest place on earth this week.  Explaining Disneyland to an adult who's not from here and has never been there, I relied on one word to explain why grown-ups go, even though they don't have children:  nostalgia.

Where else can you go from your past, from your cotton candy-sticky fingered days, tired and over-sunned, never-wanting-the-ride-to-end youth that is still (mostly) the same?  Where you can be, for a few hours, free from thinking about rent, what's wrong with your cat, and the debt ceiling, and concentrate on sighting giant vest-wearing dogs and fancy princesses, steering cars that never let you go off track and keeping your mouse ears from flying away on the tea cups.  Oh sure, they're a big corporation (I'll keep my more specific comments to myself; this is the internet after all), but they give us that, an elaborate game of pretend, and we all believe, we're all in on it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

anyway











Whether I write or don't write
whether it's read or isn't
it's all still there, humming in the background
of the cage that is my mind
arms, fingers reaching
to pick the lock, to jimmy the hinges
it keeps time with my heartbeat
or with my shoes on the pavement.
But I go on
anyway.





photo: Victoria, BC, May 2011

Thursday, June 23, 2011

obvious

Untitled by jeesau
I know today is Thursday. The calendar wouldn't lie. I can't get myself to believe this obvious fact. I keep thinking: Friday Friday Friday. 
Am I really saying this?  Did I read too much Garfield in the funnies? I don't know, but I do know that this isn't the glamorous, free-spirited adult lifestyle I had envied as a child: staying up late, watching TV; eating whatever you wanted for dinner, like a bowl of Lucky Charms; getting in your car and driving fast, to wherever you wanted. No, this is a can't-wait-to-sleep-in-Saturday, clean-up-the-cat-barf world. Of my own choosing, I admit. 
Sure, there's still the freedom. I can do all the things I imagined would make me so happy. But what did I know? I used to beg to watch Battle of the Network Stars every year. I thought that show was good.
This is obvious. Right in the middle of no-duh territory. How many entries like this are there in the blogsosphere?  Plenty, that's how much.  But do those entries have cool pics of clover, lots of rhetorical questions, and a liberal use of italics?  Yeah.  Didn't think so.

Friday, June 17, 2011

about Flannery

I realized this morning, riding in carpool on the way to work, that I must limit my exposure to the stories of Flannery O'Connor. It's easy to forget how dark her stories can be, how twisted. They could give a body nightmares.  The one I finished this morning, a grandfather and granddaughter beating the crap out of each other, with disasterous results, is a prime example.

Then I started to think about my cat, Flannery, the one who died last year, and how her eventual death (suggested by vetrenarians and agreed to by me for humane reasons) would have been a fitting subplot to one of her namesake's stories. A cat who loves to eat is stricken with cancer of the jaw, but still maintains the same strong desire, the same lust for food, even moments before her end? How dark and twisted is that?

But I'm far enough beyond that terrible day to remember that sweet, demanding, big-eyed cat as a friend and companion, an early a.m. complainer, a face-tapper, and a mooch, with fond, misty gratitude.

Thank you to both Flannerys, wherever you are.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

what this represents

totems, Stanley Park by jeesau
You'd think time away from home would have given me some good writing time. But no. Well, the time was available, but I spent it not writing.  What I did do:  discovered that Granville Ave does not lead to Gastown, learned that there are homeless people in Canada too (but like Canada, they were nicer and cleaner, somehow), ate all the food on a three-tiered tea tray, took a bus tour only to remember too late why I don't like them, saw two bald eagles in a tree, saw two Orca in the Sound, waved to people on the passing ferry (which made me feel lonely for some reason), and met a dog named Mr. T (I resisted "pity the fool" jokes). It wasn't a good outing for writing, but perhaps later it will be.

  

photo:  Totems, Stanley Park, Vancouver

Friday, May 13, 2011

watermarks

I can't help but think of my grandma during this time; Ol' Man River is overflowing.  The Big Muddy is breaching.  Water, water everywhere.  She grew up near the Mississippi River on the Louisiana side.  When I was a kid, she told stories about the river flooding, their house filling with water.  She said that they'd return in skiffs to collect what they could of their belongings.  I imagine the older siblings paddling them in through the front door, ducking their heads as they entered.  Because they were a poor family, they had to return to the house after the water receded.  Eventually, they could count the number of floods they'd had by the watermarks on the walls.

With all that water, surrounded by bayous and a massive river, my grandma didn't know how to swim.  It's crazy to me that no one taught a child, who lives close to a mile-wide river, to swim.   She did learn later in life, after she became a grandmother.  Lessons in a swimming pool wearing a stylish, skirted bathing suit.  Or at least that's how I imagine it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

the unjust

An expression I heard today that I liked:  Rain falls on the just and the unjust.  Ain't that the truth?  But I wish the unjust would identify themselves better out there with the rest of us as they're slogging in the grimy puddles and watching the ink from their hip messenger bags leeching onto their damp, light-colored khakis.  Don't we all need a little schadenfreude in our lives?  I think so.  I say it keeps our hearts pumping, warms up our arteries just a bit, maybe kills off an errant virus or two.  That could be true. You don't know.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

get your affairs in order, or don't

Something big is about to happen.  And that thing is Judgment Day.  It's next month:  May 21st.  I know you're thinking, hold it -- isn't Doomsday supposed to be December 21, 2012?  Nope.  There's some folks who have a jump on the Mayans.  In Oakland (and throughout the bay area) there are billboards announcing that it's the end of the world.  Pictured on the billboard is the dejected silhouette of a man crouching, head hung low (and why wouldn't he, frankly, it's his last gig before the Apocalypse!).  But, come on.  Do we need this right now?

OK, fine.  I'll bite.  I looked up their website.  Sure enough, it has the look of a site set up by someone who read a used copy of Web Design for Dummies.  "The bible guarantees it!" the homepage reads in red font.  Does it?  Is that right?  Every copy of the bible mentions the date 5/21/2011?  I call bullshit.  I can't wait to see what this site posts on May 22nd.

Of course, they could be right.  You never know.  And if they are, here are all the things I won't have to worry if the world ends on May 21st:

1.  Rent, for eternity
2.  Doing laundry at the depressing laundromat across the street
3.  Pumping gas
4.  Listening to my dad tell me personal facts about people I don't give a shit about.
5.  Paying my car registration due in June on my 18-year-old car.  (89 bucks!  Are you out of your minds, DMV?)

But, I doubt this Judgment Day thing.  What's written in the bible never did much for me.  Come on, May 21st?  A Saturday?  The end of the world would surely fall on a Monday, wouldn't it?

Monday, April 18, 2011

release

After 16 of 17 rejections, #17 being a "if you don't hear from us in 3 or 4 months you can assume we passed on your work" publication, I am calling it quits on this particular story: bury it, burn it on a funeral pyre, scatter its ashes to the wind.  Well, since I'm not actually going to do any of those things in the literal sense, I will do the next best thing:  post it on my blog. 

Read, don't read.  Don't feel obligated, especially not to make me feel better.  I'm over it.  If you want to make a comment, that's cool.  If not, same deal. 

Now that the throat-clearing has been neurotically executed, here is the unpublished short story.  Wait, one more, remember, it's fiction.


The Hike

The Steep Ravine Trail winds up the canyon, cutting into Mt. Tamalpais in jagged switchbacks lined with broken granite and dry manzanita. My ex-boyfriend trudges up in front of me, his calves large and round as toy footballs. He hikes more often than I, but even he is gasping for air as we climb higher. Childishly, I step everywhere he doesn’t. If he chooses the right side of the trail to avoid a rut, I walk down the middle of it. If he grabs a limb for support on a slippery gravel patch, I kneel down low and crabwalk across. These maneuvers have cost me some skin – my palm and left knee -- but it’s what I’m doing to concentrate climbing out of this canyon, and ending this day. On our next water stop, he eyes my knee. Trail dust has turned the trickle of blood a dusty brick brown. He unzips his pack. I know he’s looking for the first aid kit. When he looks up, I shake my head no and continue guzzling water, not caring that it’s seeping out the corners of my mouth and forming clean trails towards my throat. He says nothing and drops the kit into his pack.

“Ready?” I say to the ground.

“Yup.” He goes on ahead and I can tell he’s getting tired by the way he pushes off his thighs with his hands and grunts a little.

My body feels as though it belongs to someone else. A person I don’t know but have seen around. Someone I could almost empathize with, if only I’d stop and get to know her.  My separate self would rather lie down, or drink cheap Chardonnay, or call all her friends with a gloomy recitation of the details. 

“I didn’t plan to do this today, you know,” he said, after we’d reached the bottom of the canyon, during our rest and stop for lunch.  He thought it would be clever to hike down first, then back up.  “It just sort of came out. I’m sorry,” he said, lamely. But all break-up speeches sound lame, flabby pieces of nothing you recall later to try to understand. All the worn platitudes, every one plucked from TV shows and romantic comedies. He didn’t even meet my eye as he spilled his hackneyed guts. He fiddled with the laces on his hiking boots, fingered the nylon straps of his pack as I fired questions at him. Some of his answers were shrugs, like a shrug a child might give when asked why he shoved his little sister down the front steps.

The higher we climb it seems we are racing the sun. The light grows softer, casting lavender shadows of the mountain over us like a blanket. I hit the light button on my watch. We have not spoken for forty-five minutes. On past hikes, even when we were trail-worn and sore we used to talk: philosophize, plan, speculate. About our lives, our pasts, about other people who we didn’t even know. If we played that game now, I’d think we were talking about us.

I hear his boots bite into the gravel as he stops. There’s a fork in the trail. The one to the left continues up steeply and the one to the right spikes low, down around a granite boulder and disappears.

He sips from his BPA-free water bottle and tilts it thoughtfully, gauging how much is left. I used to think this gesture nerdy and little obsessive in a cute way, but now it pisses me off. It seems prissy and contrived.

“Continue up this way?” He juts his chin to the left, his choice, the most obvious one, surely leading back to the parking lot at the top. I look at him, making eye contact this time and it seems to startle him. He looks tired.

“Do what you want,” I say in a low voice and walk down, taking the trail to the right. The boulder provides a dark gray canopy and blocks out the remaining summer evening light, like an artificial sunset.

“I doubt that goes where you think it does.”

I snap my head around, expecting him to be behind me. He isn’t. I remember a hike last year with friends in this canyon when we discovered that the bowl-like effect created a perfect conduit for our voices, as though we were being followed with a boom mike for miles and carrying on a conversation with people we could no longer see.

“You don’t know,” came my reply. I disappoint myself. What kind of come-back was that? It reminds me of “I know you are but what am I?” from grammar school. In a way that’s how I feel. A fourth grader separated from her best friend during a field trip because of a petty spat. In reality, I was a grown woman getting herself lost out of spite. I imagine a rescue helicopter searching for me.

These thoughts of reason bounce through my mind, but my body, my separate self, trudges on. Am I walking alone? Has he stopped? I paused, holding my breath in the still air, which smells of dust and pine needles. I hear silence, and my own breath.

I walk on. The cool evening air makes my nose run. I always bring a handkerchief hiking, but I blot my wet nose on my shoulder instead. My regression to pure rabid adolescent is complete.

“Hey, are you still on that trail?” Again the closeness of his voice is jolting. I think of freezing him out, but his words feel oddly comforting. I weaken.

“Yes.” I stop again and stand on a rock to give myself a better view. I see a patch of his lime fleece jacket among the dense dark green brush.

“Do you want help?” Help? I tense when I realize he thinks I am distraught and lost, my choice a petulant and now regrettable one.

I reach for the ground with my right foot and feel it slide as though my hiking boots were rolling across ball bearings. My left knee buckles and I contort in what must look like a finish to a gymnastic routine. Sharp pebbles dig into my already scuffed knee.

“Fuck!”

“You OK?” In his voice, an edge of irritation forms around his concern like mold on a wedge of hard cheese.

“Yeah.” I start climbing up again, picking up my pace. I remember something he used to say on hikes when one of us had taken a fall, “That’s gonna hurt come winter!” His resigned old man voice could make me laugh and forget about the fall. Now though, my separate self only registers another injury but there is no pain. Come winter, indeed.

Mercifully, the trail starts to flatten and the heavy pull of gravity eases up on my back. I roll my shoulders back and hear pops and the shifting of gristle. I stop to finish my water and hear footsteps too close to be his. But they have to be, there is no one else here. I stare hard at the darkening trail behind me, but see only the seam of black trail below meeting the dark blue of the horizon.

Shit! Shit! I think suddenly. These trails are joining up again. This isn’t an alternate route.  I have to beat him. On this one thing, I have to beat him. He has the keys to the car, I know, but I have to, need to, be there first.

The trail is flat now and I break into a tidy jog. The tin of mints, the plastic bowl of carrot sticks, and the trail mix pouch in my pack add percussion, a rhythm to my steps. I am almost running now. The trees and low brush suddenly halt and I see our lone car, the old Subaru wagon, hulking in the dark parking lot. We bought it together a year ago for a thousand bucks.  Will I keep it?  Will he?  My legs vibrate with fatigue, but I run toward the car, in a childlike, fearless sprint.  I land my chest on its hood and spread my arms across the still-warm metal.

“I’m here. I did it.” I whisper.

After I catch my breath, I look up and see him emerge from the clearing. His pack is slung over his left arm and the keys jingle in his right hand. I stand to face him and, in this moment, finally understand what those shrugs mean. He opens his mouth to speak and manages “We need…” before the parking lot lights snap on, creating a lightning effect, temporarily illuminating our creased, upturned faces. Five feet away he stops and we stand there, looking at each other, bathed in the artificial light at the top of the mountain.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

here

And so here it is, the sun.  And the citrus gum drops, and the cranes diving for their dinner, the sunbathers resting on the lawn.  And so here it is the cotton clumps of cat hair, little grey and white tumble weeds, and the warm air on my skin, my throat, the back of my neck.  And so here it is, a new season of longer days, new detours through the old neighborhoods.  And here it is, it's still there, I find, despite all my wisdom.  And here is you.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

past tense rainbow

Better squeeze in one more post before April makes a fool of me. 

Did a lot of writing in Ojai over the weekend.  My wrists are in agony from all the typing.  Made a few friends.  Good vibes all around, despite the spidery tent and the Scooby-Do caretaker who made us put out our awesome marshmallow-roastin' fire. 

Will be liberating another short story soon.  Standby for the new countdown!  The other one is still going on, but we're stalled at 14.  Ready to move on.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Time for rest, and #13

#13 was received Friday.  Any hope of the remaining four being an accept is pretty much out the window, a car window traveling, in a vehicle at high speeds.  Whoosh!  Gone.  Not even a dot in the rear-view.

But there is a writing retreat coming up Friday.  So there's that.  Perhaps I'll dream of some publishable stories while I'm there.

Friday, March 11, 2011

#10 and what I hope

I think we'll be OK.  Just some foamy splashy waves.  I'll keep an eye swiveled toward the water, just in case.  On this subject, I hope if any celebs want to take up the cause to help earthquake/tsunami victims, they do so anonymously.  Leave their publicists out of it.

#10 arrived today, but at least it was a nice rejection.  The emailed ones usually are. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

9 and a touch of yellow

I'll be honest with you.  I don't know what's going on.  I shouldn't pretend that I do, or say things that make it seem like I might know but am unwilling to share.  I can't make heads or tails, can't do the math, can't see the forest for the trees.  But that's about something else, not this:  #9 received today.  The point of sending my story to 17 places was to increase my chances.  Now it's become a exercise in masochism.  I understand why a lot of the great writers drank.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

what you get for your troubles

Don't let that adorable pose fool you.  He is pure evil.  I have a puncture on my forearm to prove it.  Why?  I was petting him while on the phone with a friend, thanking her for her lovely gourmet birthday gifts, and he sunk his fang into my arm.  Nice. 

And, rejection #8 came in yesterday's mail.  If you wanna know the truth, this is starting to feel, if you'll excuse the term, shitty

Friday, March 4, 2011

Lucky #7! Wait...what?

If rejection slips can be lucky, maybe #7 is.  Ten more to go. Guess as I get closer to the middle, I should actually do some revisions on other stories instead of writing blogs about each and every goddamn rejection I receive.  Welcome to my neuroses.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

#6 and what's on deck

Rejection #6 received this morning.  Aw, well. 

I've noticed that my on-deck book pile is getting a little out of hand.  There are 2 library books in there, most were gifts, one or two I bought myself.  When my first few writing teachers told me writers should do a lot of reading, I obviously took it to heart.

I just started Steve Almond's "Not that You Asked" this morning, a recommendation from my bro-in-law.  Oh man.  Is that guy hilarious.  I mean it.  I could barely contain my laughter in carpool this morning reading his letters to Oprah. 

The rest of the deck is a mix of novels, short stories, nonfiction fun and one on finding one's voice as a writer.  That's something that's always mystified me, the concept of the writing "voice."  I know what it means, or I think I do.  Guess I'll learn more when I start that book. 

But what I really want to know is, will more reading spell less TV watching?  Where in my schedule should I make cuts? 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Patience

Last weekend, I received what amounted to be rejection #5 of my short story, but the publisher had put that volume on hold for another project.  It was a "no" but not for the usual reasons.  I'll take it.  I'll imagine they would have published it if they could.  It was accepted, in my mind.

A good character or a good story hasn't sprouted for me lately.  It's been mostly essay-type stuff.  Or poems.  My theory is that, because I've neglected another character, I can't think of any new ones.  The neglected one has already been brought to life, and he's just sitting there, at the side of Highway 101.  Waiting for me to decide his fate.  It's been decided as far as I'm concerned.  The story is finished (I think), but I can't help but imagine him sitting by the highway waiting for more revisions to his life so he can finally get up off the ground.

Patience, buddy.  I have some more procrastinating to do.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

3, all in Oakland

Three sights in three days:

1.  A woman driving, holding in her flattened right palm, a small turtle.
2.  A man exiting a BART train, wearing a gorilla costume, minus the head.
3.  A construction worker, walking past, who is a dead ringer for the character Cameron from Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

I love Oakland.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

matinée

(Written at last night's writing workshop)

At the movies, I am a teenager magnet.  I would say unruly teenager, but can't we all agree that would be redundant?  The talking, the kicking, the constant shifting and twisting in their seats.  And thanks to modern technology, the little shits can text through an entire film -- ghostly glows light up their downturned faces like periodic zombies.  Why not just stay at home, short-attention-span nincompoops?

When I arrive, I choose my seat carefully, but don't obsess over it.  I pick a row, mid-theater-ish, grab an aisle seat and settle in.  Sure, I have to tuck my legs in over and over to let people pass, but it's OK.  I'm not generally fussy.  Well, I try not to be.  But you'd better believe that no sooner have the opening titles appeared on the screen do I hear a rabid pack of pubescent fun-killers stumbling into the seat directly behind me, or in front of me. (Those always seem fated to be available.)  And then, well you know what they do, you've seen them.

Maybe it's me; maybe I'm the dinosaur.  I recall as a young child going to the movies and the ushers with flashlights seating patrons, how they patrolled the main aisle during the show to squash any monkey business brewing among the rickety, spring-loaded seats.  I feared those guys, who were, ironically, probably teenagers.  They took no truck with talkers or rambunctiousness of any kind.  Mess up and you were out, mister.

See what they do to me?  Just thinking about all this has got me sounding like a woman who was an adult when sound was first added to film!  I get crazy.  This hyper-vigilance that I can't turn off, even for 100 minutes of entertainment.  I can't ignore them or pretend they're not there.  They bug the shit out of me and I really wish, for one moment, that I were a large man with a shaved head and an army jacket so that I could stand over them and eyeball them into silence.  But I'm not.  I'm just a middle-aged woman who is trying to get out of house more often.  Is it so much to ask for manners and common courtesy?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

losing/finding


Among the things I have lost:  an entire set of keys, one amethyst earring, one replacement amethyst earring, body weight, faith that people will do what they say they’re gonna do, a toaster, a tabby cat.

Among the things I have found:  a necklace with a cursive “J” charm (only to lose it again), a roll of stamps, a one-footed porcelain doll on a beach, a cluster of purple flowers on an empty dirt trail, body weight, trust in someone I’d lost faith in.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

particulates are groovy

That was the sunset over my shoulder, walking home Friday night.  Who knew the weekend would turn out to be shorts weather?  I like it, but it kinda messes with my head when it goes back to low 50s and windy.

Wait, am I writing about the weather?  Forgive me.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Year of the Rabbit

Most of what I know about the Chinese zodiac is what I've read on the placemats at Chinese restaurants.  Like "regular" astrology, I don't hold much belief in that sort of thing, but do find it interesting. 

Anyway, from what I've been able to glean from quick google searches, it's supposed to be an easy-going year, a respite from last year's Tiger.  I'd say I, and others I know who had a ferocious 2010, will appreciate the Year of the Rabbit. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Not even a one Mississippi

Every morning in carpool, I read.  Most mornings.  When it's quiet.  Just NPR, another rider and the driver.  Today, not even the moody, heart-wrenching story of a Holocaust survivor could penetrate the two motor-mouths in the front seat.  Obviously, these were friends riding into the city together, enjoying a nice chat.  I was stunned by their ability to fill every second with the sound of their voices.  Not even a one Mississippi could squeeze itself between their words.  Chatty Cathy's plastic mandible would be left gaping by their too-early-in-the-morning gab fest.  Topics included:  the benefits of window tinting, cremains and cremains delivery, real estate, marriage and heroin overdose.  Ladies, I am duly impressed.

Monday, January 31, 2011

four

...and that's rejection number 4 received.  Meh.

But I saw this heart-shaped puddle this morning -- a brew of filth and smelly water next to a cigarette butt.  If you don't think about it that way, it's kinda nice.  I suppose I could have saved it for a Valentine's Day post, but, come one, do you see me doing one of those?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

3

Now this is getting to be fun.  I see my SASE in my mailbox, open it, and espy the little slip of you-suck paper.   There are still 14 possibilities out there.  Fingers crossed!

(And if you can't tell, yes, this was a thoroughly sarcastic post.)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

climb

Is it possible for hills to be steepened?  A really big jack placed at the base, a few cranks applied and then hill is steeper?

I'm gonna go with that as the reason that hill was so hard to climb.

Appropriately, I heard a joke this evening by comedian Demetri Martin that went something like "Hiking is really just walking, in a place that's OK to pee."

Saturday, January 22, 2011

one

Wouldn't mind being lost in a crowd.  Alone yet surrounded.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

2 of 17

Another rejection slip yesterday.  How bad do you have to suck as a writer to get a rejection slip from a journal published out of a state college in Idaho?

Anyway, that whining aside, the full moon from last night greeted me as I walked to carpool.  It was so perfect; it looked hung there.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

bite

Been reading David Sedaris' latest book, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk.  It's got me looking at animals in a new way, especially my animals.  Well, the ones I live with.  I don't claim to really own them.

Like with many aspects of our lives, we tend to make up what isn't explained to make ourselves feel better, make it all bearable.  "I'll meet my dearly departed loved ones on the other side when I die," for instance.  How about some a little less serious like, "My pets are always at the door when I come home.  They miss me and want to greet me."  I want to believe that.  Rather, my heart wants to believe that, but I know it's not true.  The quality of light outside probably signals my return home and the front door happens to be close to the kitchen, which is where their food is kept.  They approach me for pets because they like their heads rubbed.  They don't care about my day.

What's a bit much though is when one of them literally bites the hand that feeds them (not while it's feeding them, fortunately), and then minutes later yaks it up all over the carpet in a 12-inch by 3-inch stripe.  That just seems mean-spirited.

Monday, January 17, 2011

visage


Wish I’d had a real camera this morning for this scene.  Such a fitting visage on a morning of heavy fog combined with feeling torn down and surrounded by mist.



Rubble, Transbay Transit Terminal, Mission and 1st Streets.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

1 down 16 to go

Got the 1st rejection slip in yesterday's mail.  (I didn't check it until today.) Bah. 

As I was telling a friend over brunch today, perhaps just the fact that I sent out the story to 17 places was enough of an accomplishment.  If do get seventeen rejections, I think it's safe to say I should archive that story and move on. 

That's OK.  I have my day job.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

slope

I don't possess any gardening expertise, but I can work under supervision.  Pull those weeds, not those.  They look like clover to me, but have a tricky Latin name that I forget seconds after hearing it.  I was convinced I was pulling the wrong plant, all at once, root intact, silent.  Or in broken bits, leaving stubs behind. I tried to keep my balance on the slope of lot S1 and at the same time not pulverize the good plants, the ones we want to live, under the weight of my right knee.  The dark mulchy earth is pressed deep in the fibers of my work pants, which are really just old pants, with a stitched-up hole in the seat.

At the post-work coffee reward, I catch a glimpse of myself in the cafe window:  meandering hobo, the glimpse reveals.  I didn't dare remove my knit cap inside, the warm sweet air clashing with our loamy grassy air.  The coffee is strong and even cream and spoonfuls of brown sugar can't tame it. 

The weeds I pulled will probably return, and spread.  Undoing the work I did.  But that's what weeds do, I suppose.  That's their purpose.