November, 2004

So far today during my writing time I’ve :

  • started a load of laundry I didn’t get to over the weekend
  • moved around enough boxes to reunite a shelf with its base and placed it where I think I want it…maybe
  • emptied a box
  • arranged the coat closet in the hall to my liking, removing all the coats that are too light for this time of year and organizing what’s left from shortest to longest
  • made a cup of tea
  • updated some apple software on my iBook, and then rebooted it
  • posted (and backdated) yesterday’s blog post, because at some point I lost connection with our server and was unable to post it yesterday
  • moved enough boxes off of the foyer bench to make it possible to sit there as you put on your boots
  • been up and down the basement stairs toting and ferrying and carrying things often enough to count as exercise for today
  • written this entry
  • submitted Ennui to the 5th Annual Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition

Why didn’t I write? Because I don’t know what to write just yet. I thought that sitting in front of the blinking cursor would be more frustrating and less productive than giving myself a break. I was also vaguely curious as to how much I could get done in that time if I weren’t writing, but I see (as do you, browsing my list) that the gain is not substantial. And now, as a reward for not writing, I’m going to go eat sushi.

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It’s good to be back in the business of writing. It’s a relief,
almost. It’s kind of strange, because I did manage to write both on
Thursday and on Friday, so the only two days I didn’t write this week
were Saturday and Sunday, exactly the same two days that I didn’t
write on last week. However, both Thursday and Friday were strange writing
days, not the usual setting I set for myself to write, so only today
do I feel truly back into my routine, with the house empty, at the regular
time and sitting at my desk. And it feels like it’s been a while.

Even though being back in my place and time to write is
comforting, it’s also a little painful. Physically, I mean. I suffered
from a few aches and pains all weekend. I think my seating arrangement
is not as ergonomic as it was at work. Even though I’m only putting
in about two writing hours a day, which seems like nothing at all
compared to an eight hour workday, or even the five hour workday that
I was on before I quit my job, I come away from the desk achy and
hurting. I try to get up at least once while I’m writing but the
hard chair I’m using is so uncomfortable (not that I notice at the
time, only after I get up) that my tail-bone is killing me. Even the
cushions I’ve added on have not helped so far. I don’t know if it’s
because this is too little too late or because I’m using throw pillows
and not cushions designed for sitting on or what. Since I can’t sit back
in my seat because it hurts, I think I’ve been compensating by leaning
forward slightly and scrunching my shoulders, and that’s given me the most
neck pain I’ve had in ages and ages. I need some yoga to unkink, and a
better writing station. I’m also doing plenty of writing in bed and on
the couch, which are probably not helping. Although it’s possible
they are helping by varying my writing position, but I’m already so messed
up I don’t notice any improvement. Maybe the couch and the bed are more
ergonomic arrangements than the chair, I don’t know. I’ve got to figure
out some way to sit for long periods with good posture, without having my
hands or feet go numb. I’m getting old. Soon I’ll be one of those people whom
everyone avoids because all she does is talk about her rheumatoid
arthritis and how the rain makes her joints hurt.

OK, so to review. On Thursday I wrote 840 words on Egghead
Kingdom to reach a total of 4033. Then, on Friday I wrote an
additional 313 words on Egghead Kingdom and found myself at the end,
so I stopped. I didn’t have anything planned to write next. I’m
still shaky on what to write next. I think that if I want
to have something to submit for Viable Paradise in January
(and I really, really do) that I need to get started on a longer work,
but I don’t feel like I know enough about any of the longer works currently
brewing to get started on them. So while I had time on Saturday to write,
I needed the time off to let my brain idle and hopefully have some of the
ideas coalesce and decide which direction to go in next. The stories have
been pretty easy, because I can almost always see the ending from the
beginning. A longer work raises many more dangers. What if I get halfway
through and then realize it won’t work? Or what if I can’t finish it? What if it stalls out on me? I don’t know if I’m ready, but without another
handy idea for a shorter work, I need to face some of the bigger ones,
I suppose.

Any way, the only way to write is to write. So I will have to
pick some words, start, and see where it goes.

I’m going to sit in a lower chair at this desk. I just swapped
them. My hands are a little uncomfortable in this new arrangement, but
I’m no longer looking down at the monitor, so it may help my neck issues.
Maybe I should take up writing with pen and paper some of the time
too, instead of always type type typing.

Kurt says that I’ve really written quite a lot. He says three
stories in two weeks is pretty amazing. It doesn’t feel amazing. It
feels much more like plodding.

Plod, plod, plod. This morning I began the work on what I am
hoping will sustain a novel’s length. It is thus far bereft of a
title, without any recognizable characters, consisting of a handful
of unrelated scenes of which only one is outside my brain and on the page,
and merely 276 words long. We shall see. Also this morning, in that business
of writing that is not the writing itself, I downloaded and installed CocoAspell,
which is Aspell for Cocoa, and
my preferred spell-checker. I spell-checked all three of my stories
and this entry. I apparently have consistent problems with the word
“judgement” which I spell judgement, as well as with “toward” when I
consistently use towards. I also routinely smoosh together words that should
be either separated or hyphenated (dog-sit, chess-player, spell-checker are
examples). And, last but not least, in the writing that doesn’t
count as writing, I wrote this entry, which is 932 words

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Ow. Just decided that this entry would go better with caffeine and lifted my mug to my lips only to spill hot tea down my chest instead of ingesting it. As I am still in bed, it is a naked chest. Ow. Deam frustratingly fuzzy, but here goes.

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Another dream. Waited way too long to get it down because it was a lot more intricate and involved and vivid than I will be able to capture now.

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26 Nov 2004, by

Whoa. Ping.

Completely unexpectedly, my ping weblogs functioned worked again day before yesterday when I submitted a post. I’m not sure what to think, especially since when I checked the website shortly after the successful ping, my blog wasn’t listed. I’m not sure how useful the weblogs thing is anymore, either, as it seems to have been invaded by spam blogs. Perhaps more investigation is merited on my part. The website appears to be broken again, when I checked just now. Does anyone know what’s up with that?

In other news, vivid dream last night, but woke in the middle of the night, and now it’s pretty faded.

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24 Nov 2004, by


At some point someone’s gonna tell me to shorten up the posts, or post less often, or just abbreviate. Maybe some of you will stop reading. That’s alright, don’t feel bad. It happens. In my dedication to trying to write all the time, I’ve become quite the blogger, posting something substantive (or at least long) almost daily. Sophia was home from school today so I planned to let her sleep in and get a little writing done early in the morning. Except for the distraction of the no internet thing mentioned in the previous post and the fact that the extra time afforded me this way was really only one hour instead of the two I normally try for, it went fairly well. So, to abbreviate, my word count for the day on “Egghead Kingdom” was 1450, bringing the total for the tale to 3193, and it’s not done yet.

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It is raining, and has been raining all night. I am told that later today the rain will turn into snow. I have always loved the sound of a steady rain on the roof. It makes one feel safe and warm. Thus I slept well, comforted by the sound of constant rainfall. I have mixed feelings about the oncoming snow. It is already colder than I am completely comfortable with, and now it’s going to snow before Thanksgiving? On the other hand, how exciting, snow! And it couldn’t come at a better time as I don’t have to go anywhere or even drive Sophia to school. I’m intimidated about driving in the snow. Maybe it’s not all that different than regular driving, I don’t know, or maybe it’s just like driving in rain, which I’m fairly good at. Also, apparently there will be wind gusts up to thirty miles an hour. It’s fairly windy right now, actually. This is more like a real winter than I’m used to. Or a real fall. Whatever.

When I woke up this morning there was no internet. I didn’t need it, per se, but not having it and not knowing why I didn’t have it and not knowing when I would have it again remained uppermost in my mind, distracting me from the other endeavors I had planned for this morning, namely writing. I am blaming my internet service provider, because it’s a phone company and I love to hate the baby bells. I didn’t want to get DSL, as I have always had much better luck with cable, but there’s no choice here. Ok, so out of all the things about St. Louis that I love here is one that I don’t. I can’t believe I moved somewhere bigger and more urbanized and with a larger population only to have less choices for broadband. Gah. The babybells still have that monopoly mindset and they never give good service, you know what I mean?

So there you go, some grousing from the land of milk and honey. There’s always something, right?

Also in the news, St. Louis is really, really dangerous, according to the Morgan Quitno Awards. In the cities only category St. Louis is ranked 4th (although our paper said our cops lied and we should actually be ranked 3rd) down from the number 2 ranking in 2002. You’ll notice that my former home of Jackson, MS is also in the top 20, even though it’s a much smaller city than most of the others listed in the top 25. This “dangerousness” was gleefully reported to us by my in-laws. One has to wonder about their motivation. What could we do with such information at this stage of the game but panic and worry that we’d done the wrong thing by moving here? We’re not particularly worried, though, despite well-meaning attempts to make us fear for our safety, mainly because of two reasons. The first is : everywhere is dangerous. There are no safe places anymore, if there ever were any. These statistics as compiled and as reported are nigh meaningless. The second reason forces me into a confession. Although I have a St. Louis mailing address and although I’ve been telling everyone I live in St. Louis, I must now come clean and admit that I don’t. I live in a small city outside of St. Louis. It’s almost attached to St. Louis, and were you driving through it would look to you like one continuous sprawl, but it wouldn’t all be St. Louis as it seems. Kurt doesn’t even work in St. Louis, but in the county seat, a small city by the name of Clayton. The city I live in has its own police, fire department, city hall, etc. So technically, I live in the St. Louis metro area and not in St. Louis proper. They refer to it here as West County, from what I’ve gathered, because it’s the set of small cities in St. Louis County west of St. Louis proper. If you have a map, it’s all the stuff west of 170 and below 64 but before the 270 loop. Outside the 270 loop, you’re officially in suburbia. So all those geographical specifics to say this : the statistics for crime in St. Louis don’t include the area where we live, where my daughter goes to school or where my husband works. So, for example, if you go to the listing of most dangerous metro areas you’ll see that Detroit metro moves from 2nd on the list for Detroit city alone to 1st if you include the metro area (Dearborn and Livonia) and Jackson still makes the list solidly but both Atlanta and St. Louis vanish from the top 25. Now I’m not a statistician, and I can’t really make leaps from the limited data I have here, but I don’t mind going out on a limb and suggesting that this may mean that the areas surrounding St. Louis are considerably safer than the city itself, so much so that it removes the city from the top crime-ridden areas if you include the statistics for the metro. Since I’m not living next door to a crackhouse, in other words, I’m probably as safe as I can get. Which ok, duh, right? Right. Moving on.

I am increasingly disconnected from mass media culture. TV shows start up (and sometimes end) and I don’t know about them. Movies come out and I’ve not seen any previews or heard anything about them. Even my favorite bands can slip albums out without my noticing. I was never a fashion follower, but I couldn’t even begin to tell you what sorts of colors and styles and clothing are fashionable these days. The latest in gadgets? I have no idea. I’m just not plugged in to the same culture as everyone else. I have been reading about, for example, the furor over the Scott Peterson case and every time I read about how shamefully the media circus surrounding this case has been I have to think to myself: who? Scott who? Then I remember. Somehow, I’ve eluded the whole media frenzy and the supposed shameful behavior on all sides. I get it all thirdhand, commentary on a commentary in a blog usually referred to in passing (I don’t read the sort of blogs that would dwell on that sort of thing in depth). Which is remote enough for me. Another example: I read on Poppy Z. Brite’s journal about the Artest fight. I read about it in this line : “Even the non-sports fans among you, if not living under a rock somewhere near Ulan Bator, may have heard reports of a brawl at the Pistons-Pacers basketball game this weekend”. Holy cow. I am now officially living under a rock in Ulan Bator (useless aside : my brother visited there this year!). And you know what? I couldn’t be happier. Almost always, when I hear about something I’ve missed and am missing, as occured this morning when I heard a negative review of Oliver Stone’s new movie “Alexander” on NPR which I had no prior knowledge of, I realize that I don’t actually miss the absence of all this noise in my life. I don’t know whether this is my aversion for American consumer culture or an obvious indicator that I’m aging, but it’s actually a great relief to me not to have to keep up with what’s going on. It goes on, whether I keep track of it or not, and it’s no loss to me, and the entertainment cyclops doesn’t suffer from my lack of attention. I do admit to sometimes being awed by things that exist and flourish without my consciousness. Sometimes I see a McDonalds and I wonder how they stay in business. I never eat there. Or I hear that Halo 2 has made hundreds of millions of dollars and is wildly popular while I don’t even own an X-box. Who is playing it? Or I see an artist on the pop charts and realize this is their third album and their tenth hit and not only do I not recognize their face but I have never heard a single one of their tunes. It’s liberating, but it also provides a recurring and odd sense of disassociation to my days.

Kurt has told me not to be so down on myself because it seems like nothing is getting done. He says that a lot is getting done and he can tell when he comes back from work in the afternoons. It’s not so much that I’m not doing anything. I am doing things. It’s more that my doing of things doesn’t seem to help. My list of things to do keeps getting longer than my list of things done. Is this what it’s like to be a homemaker? Because it’s infuriating to have so little flow control. At my job I could say, “Stop, I’ll never get all that finished!” to my boss when I was assigned more tasks than I could complete, but apparently that doesn’t work at home. There’s no one to complain to. Well, except you, my faithful blog reader, whoever you are. Still, unless you are planning to come over to my house and do some of the stuff that needs doing, complaining to you does nothing more than let me vent a little, and does not actually diminish the ever-growing mountain of tasks.

Yesterday at dinner Sophia asked me what I did at home. I told her I ate bonbons and watched tv, because I couldn’t describe all the myriad little things I had done, and they seemed so inconsequential.

Right, this post, written in chunks and pieces and partly in a vi window since I was offline when I started it, has gone on quite long enough, from the time were it was raining to now, when it has been snowing for a couple of hours. Snow is so quiet compared to rain. It seems weird to see all that stuff falling from the sky so noiselessly.

Travel mercies for those of you on the road, and happy turkey day to everyone.

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A dream intermission, a break from word counts.

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