21 January 2005 by Published in: in my life 1 comment

I had the completely contradictory sense that I’d been madly productive while remaining completely behind yesterday. I finally got a local driver’s license, something I’ve been meaning to do for about a month and a half, but still no progress on getting local tags for the cars, for example. I went to give blood, but before I could feel all good and altruistic about it, I got turned down because of the amount of time I lived in the U.K.. The “long periods of time” obliquely referred to in the link from the Red Cross turns out to be three months or more between 1980 and 1996. The lady felt bad for turning me down, but I told her not to worry, that I wanted the blood supply to be safe and that I wanted people to be turned down, even if those people should be me. I wonder if there’s a time lapse after which they can assume I’m not going to turn up with variant Creutzfeld Jacob Disease. I’ve actually been turned down for donating blood quite a bit. A few times for not meeting minimum weight requirements (I used to be quite thin), and after September 11 for having been to Argentina within the last 12 months (but no one asked me then if I’d lived in the U.K.). Maybe that’s just one of those things I’m not meant to do.

At any rate, even though I felt like I accomplished quite a bit, I’m still feeling a little bludgeoned by the list of things I have to do. For example, I spent a bunch of writing time last week reacquainting myself with troff markup so that I could print out some of my pieces and do some edits. All my troff skills have atrophied in the year and a half that I didn’t use the program (the last time I used it extensively was when I was working on Cualcotel). I didn’t even have my previous sed scripts and hamster helpers around, as they all died with White Star. So I spent like three writing days in a row digging through troff stuff, and I still don’t have anything printed to show for it. I’m going to have to find some time, maybe on the weekends, to work on the non-writing part of the writing: the printing, the edits, the submissions, the mailings. Otherwise I’ll never get anything finished. It continues to boggle my mind that I have no job and I’m as busy as I am. It also worries at me that I’m just into mid-January and the white rabbit in my head is jumping up and down and looking at his pocket watch and going on about how behind I am. The year just started, how is it possible that I’m so behind? Everywhere around me are half-finished things. This is one of the primary burdens of parenthood, that you are constantly derailed from what you intended to do before you can finish it. There, where I started clearing my desk, six stacks of papers. There, where I intended to bake a loaf of bread, the quick mix still in box on the counter. I could put it away, but I still intend to do it, maybe right now. Oh wait, I’m in the middle of this blog post, maybe I should try to finish that before I start something else. I need more time!

I’ve never been completely happy with my level of productivity. I always seem to hang out with people who can multi-task better than I can and get a lot more stuff done than I do. I don’t know if this is a sort of illusion people weave, or if I’m really not capable of doing as much as everyone else does. Everyone around me does more than I do and looks less tired than I am. For one thing, I suspect most people get more useful hours out of their day than I do. I sleep eight hours a day. Every day. I would sleep less, if I thought that would help, but I don’t think it will. My body needs that much sleep to function and if it doesn’t get it, I’m even less productive than normal. So all those hours stolen away by sleep. Perhaps that’s one reason I feel the need to chronicle my dreams. See? I wasn’t just sleeping, I was also thinking up these bizarre and intricate stories. It wasn’t just wasted time. Speaking of which, I have had two very vivid dreams this week that I woke from in the middle of the night and I told myself I would remember them both for later. Then I slept again and forgot them. Oh well.

Part of my sense of accomplishment comes from finally having gone down to The Book House, one of about four independent bookstores I’ve been longing to see the inside of since I moved here. In my former town, the only independent bookstore was insufferably haughty. It had so much attitude that I only went into it in order to deliberately read books off the shelves to Sophia and leave without purchasing anything. So I decided to finally get off my ass and look for a copy of the Chronicles of Narnia in the correct order at the Book House, and thus I roused Sophia from her nap two days ago and we set out. It’s a cool place with two store cats (Chaucer and Blake). They’re the fluffy kind that I like least, and at least one of them sprays – the odor is unmistakable – but it was still kind of neat, and Sophia certainly loved it. The building is an actual Victorian house, with rooms and rooms of shelves and books, from the basement to the second floor. Sophia had a great time, and let me browse for a good 45 minutes on my own while she played with the laundry basket full of toys in the children’s room. The front hallway reminded me keenly of Eudora Welty’s house, the only other house I’ve been in where bookshelves are in every single room. I was browsing the science fiction and fantasy section (and came away with Tepper’s The Gate to Women’s Country which has been on my list of things I ought to read for a while now) when the owner of the book store became engaged in a conversation with a book buyer about the house ghosts. Perhaps you remember, faithful reader, my synopsis of houses near my own which are purportedly haunted. I had not noticed when I did my web-sleuthing back then that The Book House is one of these. I listened, intrigues, as the store owner described all the weird phenomena about the store, and relayed what a ghost expert had told her about the identity of the ghosts. According to her there are three: the girl Valerie who is a playful and sometimes helpful apparition, a man dressed in dark clothes to whom they ascribe malign intent, and a thoughtful smoking man who showed up after they purchased an entire collection of books, attached to them somehow. So there I was, browsing and eavesdropping, when suddenly Sophia starts screaming,”Mama! Mama!” in a panicked voice. Of course I run through the house to where she is, thinking what an idiot I am to leave my child alone in a haunted house. She is coming out of the children’s room and I hug her. She clings to me whimpering, unable to articulate what scared her so. I round the corner, holding her tightly and see all the toys she’s been playing with on the floor, including an ancient Curious George Jack in the Box. I had earlier demonstrated how it worked, turning the handle until the monkey popped up, then closing it back up.

“Did the jack-in-the-box scare you?”

She nodded, eyes wide.

“Did he pop out when you weren’t expecting him to?”

“Yes! After only half a turn he popped out!”

Ahhhh. Well, then. Nothing paranormal about this jolt of fear. We put the jack-in-the-box away and determined not to play with him anymore. Then we took our still shrink-wrapped, earlier, Scholastic edition of the Chronicles of Narnia, paid for it, and went home. She wanted to start reading it immediately and it was so nice to see Mr. Tumnus again. I had forgotten about the wonderful dedication at the front of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe:

My Dear Lucy,

I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it. I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand, a word you say, but I shall still be

your affectionate Godfather,

C.S. Lewis

How wonderful, no? “some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again“.

I’ve finally moved away from being glued to our local public radio station every second of every day, though it’s still pretty cool and I listen to it often. I think my interest in AudioScrobbler has helped in that regard. I’ve also started to pull some of my old tracks off my iPod (including all my writing electronica) with Senuti and so reacquainted myself with quite a few beloved mp3s. This week I loaded CDs into the CD player of my car, and realized that there’s apparently an issue with my trunk player and the weather. If it’s too cold, it doesn’t want to load the discs or something. I never would have imagined that such a thing could make a difference. Maybe it’s just the age of my car and not an intrinsic weakness of the trunk players.

Not that I don’t still love my public radio like crazy. To prove it let me now leave you with a link to yesterday’s Fresh Air interview. If you have any interest in the current intersection between religion and politics in our nation and the ability to listen to audio on your computer, then I highly recommend Terry Gross’s interview with Richard Land from the SBC followed by her interview with Rev. Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners. Very interesting stuff, that certainly made me think. I was not aware, though I probably should have been, that the SBC was the only major religious organization to advocate the invasion of Iraq.

iTunes says I was listening to Mayan Pilot from the album “Blueshift” by Splashdown when I posted this. I have it rated 5 stars.


Mon 24th Jan 2005 at 9:56 pm

I’ve been looking for a good iPod->iTunes program that’s not a pain in the ass, and Senuti seems to be it. Thanks for the link!

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