Saturday, November 30, 2002

Friday, November 29, 2002

Word Count: 50,053

It's over. I finished the 50,000 in a month. Of course, this is a miserable mess of a rough draft. It needs more scenes, it needs rewriting, it needs a lot of changes to make it even marginal. But I do have a purple winner's bar.

I did this in the face of odds, too: not just work, not just my own writer's block, but in the past couple of days, I've had oral surgery, a drug hangover from the Vicodin the dentist gave me, Thanksgiving dinner with various good friends, an allergic reaction at dinner (small but interesting -- my upper lip swelled up like I'd been hit with a basketball), Benadryl and subsequent unconsciousness, and fascinating struggles today with the Benadryl hangover, the despair engendered by continuing allergic reactions, and the book itself.

It's not done. I need to keep working on it. I love it. It's going to last me a long while. But I still feel as though I had shot my favorite child.

Thursday, November 28, 2002

Thanksgiving Blessings

* a loving family: blood kin back east, plus the Califamily out here
* all my other communities: church, job, online, and NaNoWriters
* Joe, one of my oldest friends, who sends me poems, smart-alec parodies, and wonderful music
* Gabriel, Spawn of Satan, Fuzzbucket Supreme
* a safe and tasty Thanksgiving dinner, with no liver in the stuffing and no celery anywhere
* having most of my books unpacked (only about 15 boxes to go)
* a really great local library system, including online catalog searching and hold requests
* the ability to appreciate all the beauty around me and express it in words
* my faithful blog readers and fans — it's great to know you're there
* word count: 42,148

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Word Count: 40,620

I can see the finish line, assuming I define 50,000 words as the finish line. It isn't the end of the book for sure. It will be the end of the month, though. Today won't be a big writing day. I'm tired, for one thing. For another, I have work, followed by Thanksgiving grocery shopping, followed by the family meeting, followed by *sleep*.

Yesterday my NaNoWriMo jersey came: "No plot? No problem!" I'll wear it to work tomorrow, then to the dentist's office for oral surgery (yuck), then if I'm up to it to the cafe where the local NaNoWriters meet with their laptops and their giant power bar.

Another goodie in the mail: the book I've been waiting for. It's a powerful text on suicide motives, based on years of close study and interviews with survivors of serious suicide attempts, including a lengthy study of a young woman who attempted suicide in the same horrific fashion my character did. (Mine succeeded.) These case studies go a long way past cries for help or swallowing five aspirin. These people really wanted to die, and they chose very effective methods to achieve that end. But even the best methods can fail and leave you (for example) with your face shot off, unable to speak.

I'm including an Afterword with suicide helpline numbers and some other sources of support. If I'm going to write a book about suicide, I have a responsibility to show it truthfully, unglamorously, and to make sure even fragile readers are protected — insofar as I can protect them.

Sunday, November 24, 2002

Word Count: 35,306

An amazing night of writing: intense, passionate, almost ecstatic. I finally went to bed around 3AM, but kept waking myself with mini-nightmares. At 4 I woke screaming and screaming with a major nightmare. My father was coming out of his grave to strangle me. Unfortunately realistic imagery there.

Saturday, November 23, 2002

Word Count: 30,466

It's nearly 8:30 on Saturday night. So far my weekend has consisted of housework, sleep, seven loads of laundry, a few essential errands, sleep, petting Gabriel, and wanting to sleep. However, I'm planning to do a marathon tonight, nap, church tomorrow (I'm one of the readers — a selection from the Old Testament), and a marathon tomorrow afternoon. Then I have a short week. Then I have three days to finish, and may God have mercy on my soul.

Friday, November 22, 2002

November 22, 1963

To most of us, this date in history carries one overwhelming meaning: the assassination of John F. Kennedy. But far away in England another eloquent Irishman was also dying. In memory of C.S. Lewis, let me offer these quotations from his work.

"Love is something more stern and splendid than mere kindness."
—The Problem of Pain

Our imitation of God in this life — that is, our willed imitation, as distinct from any likenesses which He has impressed upon our natures or our states — must be an imitation of God Incarnate. Our model is the Jesus, not only of Calvary, but of the workshop, the roads, the crowds, the clamorous demands and surly oppositions, the lack of all peace and privacy, the interruptions. For this, so strangely unlike anything we can attribute to the divine life in itself, is apparently not only like, but is, the divine life operating under human conditions.
— The Four Loves

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or al least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.
—The Four Loves

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Change of Seasons

Last Wednesday, I first noticed a tinge of green, the color of an unripe apple, here and there on the hills. I had to look twice to see the faint undertone. Now the hills look like watercolors with soft washes of pale green highlighting the faded straw. Each day, the tide of verdure grows stronger, and last year’s grass looks more and more like foam on the cresting wave.

Of winter. This yearly miracle isn’t spring freeing a land locked in ice. It’s winter come to soften a land baked hard by summer.
Coming Soon to a Democracy Near You. . . .

It's the classic totalitarian nightmare. No freedom, no privacy, constant surveillance, people living in fear of the government that is supposed to serve them. How would you like the government to read your e-mails, tap your phone, track your finances, examine your medical records, and invade every aspect of your private life without a search warrant? Or, to put it more broadly, would you like your Constitutional right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure to be flushed down the toilet?

Yes, it's really being proposed. Democrats are shocked and sickened. Conservative Republicans are appalled. (Even William Safire, former Nixon staffer, is against this measure.) Libertarians are foaming at the mouth. (No smart-ass remarks.)

But you can do something. Click here to send a fax to your President. If you don't tell him directly, he'll find out your opinions by eavesdropping. Legally.

Remember, John Poindexter Is Watching You.
Losing Brave Eyes, Part 2

What I do now is go on without courage. What I do is honor those who have been fighting fear longer than I have.

Do you have to be so melodramatic? Just shut up about it.

Whose voice is that, telling me my feelings don't matter?

Don't make such a big deal. Just ignore them and they'll go away.

Yes. Well. I'm not so sure numbness is the most desirable state.

Maybe one reason I'm aware of this now is that I've been trying to go beyond the boundaries. When I wasn't trying anything new, I didn't need to test my courage. I didn't have to feel how terrifying it is for me to *start* something. Gradually I let my life shrink and shrink until it became unendurable. Then I broke through, with roughly the same emotional consequences as breaking through layers of glass and stone would have to my flesh. No wonder now I'm sore.

One thing: it's important to follow through and do it anyway. If I can break through my own fear and reluctance, I have all the joy of freedom. It's just the threshold that's hard. The more I let it stop me, the more painful and constricted my life will be. But if I can keep pushing on through, then I'll have a history of success. I'll know I can do it, and that's half the battle.
Losing Brave Eyes

When I was little, Lisa christened me Brave Eyes: I could see in the dark, and nothing scared me. I’m amazed now at the physical courage I had in those days; as a four-year-old I climbed trees and strolled along the narrow, arch-topped porch railing. I learned to swim by hurling myself face-first into the water. I’ve never been afraid of the dark or monsters under the bed.

Later I was calm when the surgeon told me I had cancer, and when he told me three weeks later that it wasn’t cancer I was still calm. Cancer truly doesn’t scare me. Even the Lump was more of a pain than something to be frightened of. Well, let me correct that: what frightened me wasn’t the possibility that it could be malignant, but the certainty of having to be manhandled and in pain. Since the infection and the ripping open of the incision, I’m still in pain from it, which may explain some things. (One of those Aha! Moments.)

It took everything I had to survive the past five years or so: deaths heartbreakingly sudden, gutwrenchingly drawn out; repeated moves; the slow destruction of my marriage; weeks and months when every night meant nightmare; moving to California and changing my life. And now it takes more than I have to do even simple things.

In my fearless youth, I wasn’t so much unafraid as indifferent to fear, as a fish is indifferent to water. These days I have more to lose. These days I have time and strength to feel the shattering terror, or the honesty to admit it.

I think I’ve used up my lifetime supply of courage.

What do I do now?

Monday, November 18, 2002

Creating Our Monsters
One of my favorite comments made by a journalist on the BBC was that the United States seemed to have a preoccupation with declaring war on abstract concepts — War on Terrorism, War on Poverty, War on Drugs. To me it seemed to sum up how completely dense and utterly clueless we are when it comes to problem solving.

Read the rest of this essay here. And weep. And write your senators and representative.
Almost Caught Up

I worked like a demon this weekend and brought my word count close to the halfway mark. If I can just crank out a couple of thousand words a day from now on, I'll make 50K by November 30. Hallelujah!

I do feel a lot better when I write. Once the flow is going, as long as I keep it up every day, it's not such an agony to start again. It's trying to start again from a standstill that costs blood.

I admit, there are days I wonder why I try.

Saturday, November 16, 2002

Sweetness and Light Report

Really, seriously, I felt so much better just writing the "Gloom and Doom Report" that I almost didn't post it here. But then, I'm trying to be honest — I'm trying to document the process. And I swear, sometimes part of the process of getting myself to write is pushing myself emotionally so hard that I feel horrible. Then I write and feel better. At some point, the writing takes on its own momentum, and I don't need to wrestle myself into the mud to get there.

I'm warped. But entertaining.

Friday, November 15, 2002

Gloom and Doom Report

[Warning: The Surgeon General has determined that reading this blog entry could be dangerous for pregnant women, cheerful people, or those who are already depressed. In fact, any males hoping to reproduce now or in the next few years should probably skip it too, or at least put on leather gloves and an aluminum jock strap before you read it. Hey, you look cute that way. Take a few pictures, and send them to me. Maybe those will cheer me up.]

It’s been a long, rough week, mostly because I’ve been (A) depressed about the NaNovel, which is at a standstill, (B) wrung out by the antibiotics, (C) sleeping badly, and (D) trying to figure out why I’m such a wretched excuse for a human being.

These bouts of self-loathing are hard on me, but they’re nearly impossible for anybody else to live with. Unlike normal people, I don’t want company or cheering up or comfort when I feel this way. The presence of anybody else just makes it worse. I tend to crawl in my hole and hide. That’s been nearly impossible, unfortunately.

What brought this on? Other than the struggle to write, which is the chief cause, the contributing incidents are minor instances of my own failures and errors and inattention to the Real World. Nothing serious, nothing worth repeating, but enough to make me feel low, particularly since so much of my psychic energy is going to that other epic battle.

I am afraid I’ll lose.
The Leonids Are Coming!

Here you can find viewing tips, little-known facts, and other astronomical goodies.

Take your sweetie out next Monday night and watch the meteor showers together. With a thermos of hot chocolate and a nice warm blanket, you can have a romantic evening watching the most spectacular Leonids for the next 100 years.

Thursday, November 14, 2002

Looking for a Beautiful Dog? How About a Story to Make Your Blood Boil?

Get both with this post from Kerry.

Someone please give a home to the handsome Draco. As for Kerry's father, I don't approve of his attitude toward raising kids or animals. I'm sure Kerry's sister and dog are both a lot better off when out of his hands.

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Happy Birthday, Gabriel

Four years ago today, on Friday the Thirteenth, I stopped at Joan Benson’s place in North Jackson to pick up a new black kitten. I’d been expecting a short-haired cat, like all the other cats I’d had, and I was startled to see a little furball no longer than my hand, with big eyes and a plump little tail. With her long hair and the wisps of silver under her chin and along her belly, she was a tiny image of my mother’s cat Angel.

Now, Angel was a feral cat who lived in the woods around my mother’s cabin, which was a mile or so from the Bensons’ place. Ma fed her for a long time before the cat trusted her enough to come inside. From then on, until Angel’s death, the two shared a loving companionship. Angel was one of the most beautiful creatures I have ever known: with her lushly plumy tail, long black hair, touches of silver at her neck and belly, and her demure velvet paws, she looked like Elizabeth Taylor.

But Angel was clearly a wild animal. Though she was affectionate and friendly, she went on hunting. She also performed amazing feats of agility and strength. I once saw her somersault ten feet through the air from the railing of my mother’s deck (a good 15 feet from the ground) to grab the trunk of a tree.

Angel was probably 5 or 6 years old when she came through the woods to my mother’s door. But this little fuzzball was a new kitten. I debated names, but it was clear I had to name her after Angel. So she was christened Gabriel. Not Gabrielle. Angels are sexless, and Gabriel is a much better name than Gabrielle.

I stopped at Ma’s on my way home so she and Angel could exclaim over my new baby. Clearly there was a relationship here, possibly even a direct lineal descent. Which wasn’t surprising. Gabriel’s mother was a member of a tribe of feral cats whose independent existence overlapped the life of the Benson farm and extended into the woods surrounding it. The cats lived, hunted, bred, and died outdoors but mingled with people when the notion suited them.

These wild felines resembled Maine Coon Cats and Norwegian Forest Cats, which makes sense. In the 1970s, a couple of Maine Coon housecats had run away from various households and may well have added their genes to the local cat population. Also, given the snowy, bitter winters in Jackson, natural selection in feral cats would favor the typical Maine Coon/Norwegian Forest characteristics of intelligence, agility, climbing skills, and a thick double coat of long hair. Angel and Gabriel were clearly both members of the local feral breed: Jackson Coon Cats, or maybe Jackson Forest Cats.

What was so astonishing wasn’t that these cats had all the skills they needed to survive in the wild. It was that they were so loving in the home. My little bundle of fuzz was very clearly *my* baby from the minute I took her home. She spent time just cuddling with me, wrestling my fingers, or sleeping on my feet, but she would also go forth fearlessly to explore. Oh look, there’s a world behind the couch! Then she would realize she was alone, stop in her tracks, and start meowing. We had company that weekend, and I would excuse myself: “Sorry, I’m on call.” By the end of that weekend she had me trained.

Since then, she has been my friend, companion, and delight. When I pet her, she grabs my hand in her paws and starts licking me. She steals my covers, sometimes sits in my lap, and stands up to hug my knee when I am opening a can of cat food. Happy birthday, Gabriel. You’ve been a great delight for the past four years, and I hope you’ll be with me for many years to come.

I don't have pictures of Gabriel up on the web, but these pictures of a black Maine Coon look a lot like her. Check out the second page, too: kitties opening presents on Christmas morning.

Edited to add: Gabriel that first weekend. The picture at the top is Gabriel as an adult.
People with Too Much Time on Their Hands

Well, it ought to be an interesting show. Definitely rated R, at least.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Second Week of NaNo

It’s actually almost the third week, but let’s not go there, OK? With just over 10,000 words (many of them incoherent), I’m 10,000 words behind. I had been hoping to catch up over the weekend, but events conspired to prevent my writing at all Saturday or for more than an hour Sunday.

There were some high points to the weekend. Friday night, the book dragged me out of bed to work, and I clocked up a couple of thousand words about God, sacrifice, translation, and various other high matters. I don’t know how much of it will be usable — I don’t dare even look at it, frankly. But it’s quantity, not quality, that matters — I need to remember that. It doesn’t have to be a finished draft. It just needs to be 50,000 words.

Saturday morning I had to get up early (after 5 hours’ sleep) and drive up to Palo Alto for the confirmands’ retreat. It was a powerful spiritual experience. Then I had some lunch, got home to a houseful of D&D gamers, and took a long, luxurious nap.

And this is where I blew it. I should have just locked myself in my office to write. Instead I wanted to spend some time with Michele, then go and spend a few hours of quality time with my keyboard. I didn’t want to start writing and then be interrupted, or start writing with one ear open for the game to end, or start writing, get into the groove, and refuse to see Michele because the work was going too well.

So I asked when the game would be over. If it would end late, no problem; I could write now. If it would end early, no problem; I could have some supper and see Michele before I started work.

“This is the last encounter,” said the Dungeon Master.

OK, cool. That was around 7:30, and the games are scheduled to run from noon to about 7. I made myself some supper, did some housework, wondered if I should just go to work, checked on the battle, wrote e-mail to my family, wondered again if I should just go to work, decided not to (it couldn’t be long now, could it?), killed some more time, and realized after two hours that (A) I was starting to feel really sad, and (B) this game could go on indefinitely. On both counts, I’d better find out what was up.

So I ventured into the game area and asked to speak to Michele privately. We went out to the front porch and talked for a bit. She was actually more upset than I was — she had been trying to play the game while wondering when the damned thing would be over, and suffering her own torments of frustration and impatience while being aware that I was left dangling. And dangling in that way is a really nasty sensation, as she knows.

So she was really upset and needed comforting. Afterwards, when the gamers had gone, we spent some time together trying to deal with the emotional aftermath of the situation. So in the end I didn't get either the pleasant hang-out time I wanted with Michele, or the writing time.

I was angry that I had been misinformed about how long it would take and upset that she had preferred to be polite to the gamers rather than let me know what was happening. Most of all, I was frustrated and angry that people who knew me and loved me would be disrespectful to my work to that extent.

Of course, the DM wasn't thinking about my work. He was thinking about the game, and he didn't interpret the question as being of any urgency, or as requiring an answer in terms of minutes. He answered accurately, just not usefully. And Michele certainly didn't intend disrespect for me or the work. She got caught in a thicket of conflicting needs.

The one to blame here is me, of course, for putting myself in the position of entrusting my writing schedule to the vagaries of the D&D game.

So that was Saturday. Began beautifully but without writing, ended a real mess and without writing.

Sunday, of course, I had to go to church; I was being confirmed. And again, this was an intense spiritual experience after a night of not nearly enough sleep. Got home, took a nap, woke up and tried to spend some time with the family, I think. I did try to get some work done Sunday night, but I don’t think I managed a hundred words. I don’t really remember Sunday evening, except one agonized moment when I realized I had blown the weekend. Oh, and I spent a *lot* of time in e-mail, trying to explain the situation to someone whose mind works very differently from mine, figure out what had gone wrong, and propose ways to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

It doesn’t help that I’m wiped out from the antibiotics I’m taking for the infected surgical incision. Or that I’m still on-and-off angry about what happened. Or that Friday started with a problem with the bank which took much of the weekend to resolve. The minute this thing is settled, I am going to change banks. I’ve had enough garbage from these people already.

So it has been a rough few days. I’m cranky, tired, and irritated, and you should see my dreams.

And next weekend I have a NaNo writing party Saturday night (for which I would very much like to have a high word count), and Sunday we need to be out of the house all afternoon and early evening because of some work being done there. I am seriously considering staying in a motel near work for Sunday night. Then I would have to do some writing.

Friday, November 08, 2002

Brighten Up Your Friday

by clicking your way over to Skippy's List.

Most of us are not, thank God, in the military. But Skippy's list of official things the the brass have told him NOT to do is undoubtedly cheering.
Be Careful What You Wish For

Certainly the Bay Area wasn't a weather-free zone yesterday. I'm sorry for the damage, but the fact is, I enjoyed it. Even when I was picking up a prescription in the rain.

Here are the numbers:
Inches of rain in SF: 1.5
Inches of rain in Napa: 3.0
Additional inches of rain expected today and tonight: 1.5
Wind gusts: up to 70 mph
Residents who lost power: 390,000+
Wave heights, in feet: 27+
Bridges whose lights blew out: 1
Bridges closed because of flying construction debris: 1
Airport buildings that blew down in the wind: 1
Roads closed: many
Fenderbenders from midnight to noon on Thursday, compared with the same period on Friday: 39: 133
Injury accidents from midnight to noon on Thursday, compared with the same period on Friday: 8: 42
Total snowfall expected in the Sierra Nevada by the end of the storm, in feet: 2-5

Thursday, November 07, 2002

Bread and Roses

What the woman who labors wants is the right to live, not simply exist — the right to life as the rich woman has it, the right to life, and the sun, and music, and art. You have nothing that the humblest worker has not a right to have also. The worker must have bread, but she must have roses, too.

—Rose Schneiderman, August 1912

Wednesday, November 06, 2002


Wrote about 3,000 words today after getting home from a doctor's appointment. (My surgical incision is infected.) I had a few hours before I had to leave for Covenant class, and the words just flowed. It was wonderful. I am now up to 7172, which is still a bit behind, but I can catch up. For one thing, I made a breakthrough in the way I'm putting the book together, as well as in sheer verbiage. So I have great hopes.

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

An Atheist's Take on the Boy Scout Mess

No, I am not an atheist. But my much-loved friend Joe is. He gave me permission to post his thoughts on the situation.

Not to knock the Boy Scouts, but this article does illustrate the kind of situations atheists can find themselves in. I was in Catholic school when my change came. I was particularly impressed by the comment that an atheist cannot be a good citizen and that the Scout leader could not remember if anyone had ever been shunned for being grumpy. (I remember John Boswell writing that hypocrisy is condemned in the Bible in much stronger terms than homosexuality, yet no one ever suggests hypocrites are unnatural.) Belief in God seems to be the one issue that everyone gets exercised about, but given how subjective talk about God always seems to be, it's the issue with least real meaning. We must declare for God; after that we're on our own.

That final line resonates, doesn't it? (Joe is a very fine writer.)

And an excerpt from the article he sent; his source was The New York Times.

November 3, 2002
Eagle Scout Faces Official Challenge Over His Lack of Faith

SEATTLE, Nov. 2 — The Boy Scout Law states that members must be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.

Darrell Lambert has been in scouting for 10 years. Last year, he attained the highest rank, Eagle. Now a college freshman, he volunteers as an assistant in a troop in Port Orchard, just across the Puget Sound on the Olympic Peninsula, where his mother is the scoutmaster.

But this week Mr. Lambert got an ultimatum from scouting officials in Seattle. Eleven out of 12 was not good enough anymore. Mr. Lambert, who is 19 and has been an atheist since studying evolution in the ninth grade, was told to abide by the vow of reverence by next week or get out.

As Mr. Lambert described it, he was given a week to find God.

"They say that I should think about what I really believe and get back to them," he said. "I have thought about this for years. Can they expect me to change my beliefs in seven days?"

Mark Hunter, the director of marketing and administration for the Chief Seattle Council, said it was enforcing a national policy. The Boy Scouts is a faith-based organization, he said, and the issue of God is not negotiable.

< snip >

Mr. Shields [a spokesman for the organization] said for the Boy Scouts to insist on anything less would be unfair to the five million members. "It would be a disservice to all the other members to allow someone to selectively obey or ignore our rules," he said.

As for the other 11 points of the Scout Law, Mr. Shields could not say whether anyone had been ejected for being untrustworthy, disloyal, unhelpful, unfriendly, discourteous, unkind, disobedient, cheerless, unthrifty, cowardly or sloppy.
California: Weather-Free Zone

W. H. Auden, native of a mild and rainy island, once said that North America’s climate — too hot, too cold, too rainy, too dry — is so extreme that it clearly isn’t intended for human life. And California? Too temperate.

I don’t necessarily agree with his other observations, but I sometimes agree that California is too temperate. Many of my Eastern friends think I’m boasting of the perfect weather here. I don’t think so. The fact is, I have always loved weather, and here there isn’t any. Just a pleasant vacuity where weather ought to be, the meteorological equivalent of Muzak.

I miss the change of seasons. Spring doesn’t mean much when roses bloom in January. Winter is a joke when snow is a once-in-a-century miracle. Some trees are showing fall colors, but their radiance is lost in the general dazzle. And what is summer without a thunderstorm?

I swear that one reason Californians have earned their reputation for goofy good nature (what I used to call “being laid back to the point of imbecility”) is that they can count on months and months of sunshine. It’s true that dark weather encourages emotional gloom. I am not suggesting that we all become Scandinavians, with that culture’s bipolar oscillation between wintry Kierkegaardian despair and frenetic summertime exuberance. I would just like a taste sometimes of the kind of weather that commands attention, that reminds me of risk and danger, that suits another mood than perky cheer. Weather with an edge, weather with some passion.

I miss the slow buildup to a thunderstorm, the rising wind, blackening sky, the first shattering strokes of lightning, the onslaughts of rain, the sound and spectacle of great forces clashing, the still freshness afterward. I miss the occasional pensive grey day, what my mother always calls a good day to stay inside and sew. I miss variety. I miss appreciating the rare perfect days as the gift they are. I do try to keep enjoying the soft perfection of California weather, but people look at me as though I’m a lunatic when I say, “What a beautiful day.” Every day is equally beautiful here, thus equally bland and humdrum.

All this is in response to a completely outrageous headline in today’s San Jose Mercury News: “First storm in six months is expected Wednesday.”

The article continues that the storm “will end a long dry spell going back to May 21, when 0.10 inches of rain dropped into the San Jose Civic Center's rain gauge.”

I knew the weather was good when I moved here. But still. That’s outrageous.
If You're Still Thinking It's Too Much Trouble to Vote. . .

I don't think I've ever seen a more terrifying Harper's Weekly Review. There are a couple of bright spots, but I won't quote them; you'll need them to recover from the shock of the rest of the news.

Russian president Vladimir Putin gave a speech about the Chechen hostage debacle and declared that Russia will attack terrorists wherever they may be ("I stress, wherever they may be located"), suggesting that the Bush Doctrine, which disregards traditional principles of national sovereignty, has become the new international norm. . . . Russia's press ministry was already applying the Bush Doctrine domestically in a new assault on the media (websites were shut down, newspapers were raided), and a bill passed the lower house of parliament giving the government even more authority to ban any reporting deemed a hindrance to the war on terrorism. The United States Department of Justice defended its use of secret evidence in a case against a Muslim charity accused of giving money to terrorists but acknowledged that the use of secret evidence should be avoided in a free society whenever possible. A federal appeals court heard arguments about the detention of Yasser Esam Hamdi, an American citizen who as an "enemy combatant" has been denied counsel, a hearing, or any outside contact; Hamdi's lawyer argued that the detention is unconstitutional.

Damn it, we used to be a good example to the world. Didn't we?

Also, check out John Scalzi on voting and party affiliation.
It's Election Day!

Get out and vote. Rachel will tell you why it matters.

And if even her eloquent screed doesn't persuade you, remember that today is also Guy Fawkes Day. Blowing up the government is not the way to change what you don't like. Use your constitutionally guaranteed political power instead.

Monday, November 04, 2002

Lunchtime Writing

Amazing how much better I feel when I get a few pages done.
Lines I Wish I'd Thought Of

Old friend Joe does the studio quiz:

What turns you on?
Intelligent conversation & nude photography—preferably both at the same time.

What is your favorite swear word?

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say to you as you enter the Pearly Gates?
"Uh oh."

Word Count: 3158.

It’s only November 4, and I’m already more than a full day’s work behind on NaNoWriMo. This after a weekend when I should have been able to pour out words. What happened?

I got a decent start writing Friday night. Saturday, however, I had errands and housework to do, followed by lunch with a friend of the family. Yes, I know I’m under house arrest until the 50,000 words are done, but this was a family commitment I couldn’t get out of. Sonja was swamped with homework and papers to write, and it would have been rude just to send Michele, so I had to go. I really did enjoy the company, which was pleasant, but it wasn’t getting the book written.

Immediately after lunch, Michele and I did our shift at the local women’s bookstore. That’s nominally 3 hours, but actually takes 4 with the closing-up procedures. I took my laptop along, but ended up writing only about 500 words. Had a very interesting talk with a member of the local Morris-dancing troupe. I’ve seen them performing, but this was the first time I’d gotten to talk to one. Again, a lot of fun but not getting the book written.

Saturday night we were scheduled to attend a party. I put my foot down at that. But I did have to drop Michele off, which meant getting supper while we were out and then finding the place. We wandered around looking for someplace interesting but not too expensive for dinner. We ended up at the world’s worst Kentucky Fried Chicken. They got the order wrong three times.

After we had more or less eaten, I dropped Michele off at around 8:45 and was home by 9:15 or so. Spent an hour talking with Sonja -- I *miss* seeing my housemates, dammit.

Then Paul and Michele showed up at home. The party had apparently been all black lights, blaring music, crowds of strangers, strobe lights. The sort of thing that would usually have been accompanied by a great deal of drinking and/or drugs, but greatly to the credit of the hosts, neither of those was in evidence. It was not Paul and Michele’s scene, so they left early.

I know a lot of people love that kind of party. It energizes them, makes them feel free and cool and alive. But I personally loathe that kind of thing. I hate crowds, strangers, noise, and strobe lights. I like parties where I can talk to people. I was *really* glad I hadn’t gone.

I got to bed at a reasonable hour, woke up early in the throes of an asthma attack, and then fell back to sleep until noon. Horrible dreams about pink shell-less crab creatures coming up out of a well. At first there was only one, then there were dozens, everywhere, breeding and changing shape. When I woke, I realized that the creatures looked exactly like the Lump when it was removed from me (yes, I saw it), also that the incision was inflamed, aching, and oozing. It’s been a month, and now the incision decides to get infected. I need to call the doctor today.

I got up, ate some brunch, and was soon feeling thoroughly sick. Went back to sleep until late in the evening. I’d promised to spend some time with Michele, since she is now staying up in the North Bay a couple of nights a week for her job. (The 180-mile round trip was just too much to do every day.) So we talked for a while. Then she went to sleep, I went to my office and wrote a little.

So. What went wrong was (A) too many family and volunteer commitments, (B) sheer exhaustion, and (C) health — breathing issues, upset stomach, and the infected leg. What I can do about (A) is continue to refuse new commitments. I’ve already made it clear I won’t be available for volunteer work for the rest of the month. As for (B) and (C), I can try to get regular sleep and meals, talk to the doctor about the leg, and avoid too much caffeine. Oh, and keep my bedroom window closed. I suspect that one problem is that the chimney of the wood stove lets out just below my bedroom windows, so I've been sleeping badly and waking up wheezing, coughing, and generally in poor shape. Carbon Monoxide plus all the particulate matter of smoke is not exactly healthy for those of us with bad chests. And it can cause all the problems I've been having, including the upset stomach. Well, not the infected wound. That's just my luck.

I am serious about this novel. I need to get it written, and I want to do the first 50,000 words this month. I’ve been doing a little revising all along, but that may need to stop. I need to turn off the voice that says, “All this is crap. It’s not interesting, it’s not publishable, it’s just junk.” And *write*. Just *write*.

Friday, November 01, 2002

Yes, I Started

It's flowing. Brand-new words. New characters. Ideas.

Long live NaNoWriMo.