Desolation

•April 24, 2018 • Leave a Comment

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(S)planked

•April 23, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Lately, I’ve been trying to do a thirty day plank challenge. Spoiler alert: I already know that it’s going to take me longer than thirty days. But I’ve been *reasonably* consistent with it. It helps that each exercise can be accomplished in about five minutes and requires no special equipment besides a stopwatch and a stretch of floor. And even the stopwatch is optional. An egg timer would do.

Anyway, it’s kicking my butt. I have yet to finish an exercise without swearing. I can usually hear my pulse in my ears by the end. A few times I’ve been reduced to a helpless heap on the floor, gasping for breath like a sprinter for ten minutes after the challenge is complete… Which tells me that I probably needed to do this way sooner and more often.

But I am seeing a little bit of difference in my body. I mean, I’m not ready for Baywatch or anything, but at least I’m feeling like I’m made up of more than smoosh. So it’s progress. We’ll see how I feel at the end.

Six in Five

•April 19, 2018 • Leave a Comment

“We who win work weekends.” It’s the one quote I remember from Susan Downey speaking at my commencement two years ago. Well, I’m winning alright, then: my boss called me into her office today to ask if I can come into the office over the weekend to enter data from the first quarter into the system. So technically, it’s work that has already been done once before. It’s the payroll equivalent of rewrites.

If I were the one giving a commencement speech, my advice would be a lot more prosaic: “Build up a tolerance to tedium” I would say. “Most people can’t handle it, and it’s an easy way to make money. And it’s an infinitely renewable resource. Second only to stupidity.”

I’m an excellent motivational speaker.

Twell and Wimper

•April 18, 2018 • Leave a Comment

It was the last book that I allowed myself to pick up off the shelf at the library, and the first book that I started to read once I got home: a paperback volume entitled “Creatures of Will and Temper” by Molly Tanzer. The blurb on the front promised a ‘pastiche’ of Oscar Wilde’s “A Picture of Dorian Gray”, and I was in like Flynn.

Before the end of the prologue, I was out again.

I mean, I read the whole thing, but I’d already lost the magic. I spent most of the rest of the time warring with myself over whether I should give an honest review (which was likely to be rather cutting) or to be kind (because someday some nosepicking critic will write a bad review for my work and I know I’m going to hate it).

At any rate, the concept was strong and took a few unexpected turns, so at least it had structure. The characters were distinct, but only seemed to be skin deep, and with only the barest threads of relationships. They were like very attractive paper dolls tied together with string: they jumped because their writer said to jump, not because they had any will of their own.

It read like queer, steampunk fan fiction. Considering that it was riffing off of Oscar Wilde, I’m not sure if this reads as a compliment or an insult. It was abundantly clear that the writer had a deep enthusiasm for the era. At least, it was clear that the writer had a deep enthusiasm for the trappings of the era- the clothes, the sentiments, the culture of occultism and the fascination with arts and style and food of the era- but none of the social constructions or constrictions that gave the era its strange and distinct warp. One female character dresses in men’s clothes. Another, a teenager who is distinctly set up as not being ‘out’ in society yet, is openly gay and comes and goes around Victorian London, spending the night at her lover’s house without raising so much as an eyebrow. Another character, unmarried, nearing thirty, takes up fencing lessons and comes and goes to an otherwise all male fencing club utterly unescorted and without the slightest worry about her reputation.

Meanwhile, in reality, Oscar Wilde was sentenced to hard labor for getting just slightly too careless about making his preferences known. Just saying.

I presume that the goal of the book was to tell a story like the fantastical, grotesquerie of Penny Dreadful, but Penny Dreadful could push the fantasy elements so hard because the historical elements were researched to within an inch of oblivion. Without that deep well of historical grounding, this book, regrettably, felt like a work of the glue-some-gears-on-it-and-call-it-steampunk variety.

Ouch. That’s terribly unkind of me.

All in, I didn’t hate it. I just wanted to love it way more than I did. I mean, what a title! “Creatures of Will and Temper” is a fantastic name for a book. In fact, my favorite line in the book is describing demons as “Creatures of will and temper, of want and ruin, of charm and hunger of pique and cunning as we mere mortals are [···]” which is a gorgeous line of wordsmithing. I probably respond so strongly to it because it is one of the few lines that naturally had multiple layers of meaning- it is supposed to describe demons but it also describes the two main characters and their sisterly relationship. *Layers*

Funny Folk

•April 17, 2018 • Leave a Comment

“The compost fairy delivered to your garden” It was a text message from my Dad that arrived mid afternoon while I was treating my hair out over yet another technical hiccup at work that was going to require me to #pleaseRedo everything I’d just done. I was glad to have the distraction.

“I spread six bags of Steer Manure Compost on the tomatoes and on the “bed”*. The backyard smells like a barn now.” (*an actual bed, now turned into a flowerbed)

This was Dad’s way of saying “I love you”. It’s not that it was a message that he needed to be oblique about; words were words- they might make the message clear, but they wouldn’t help the garden grow. My folks had been in town for the weekend to visit the GrandNugget for his first birthday and today was their last day in town. I’d had the chance to have coffee with my Dad and tea with my Mom during their visit, but I wasn’t going to get to see them again before they left, so I guess this was a way of leaving a parting gift.

The backyard does smell like a barn.

I’m back in the pattern of starting work early and staying late. Two days into the week and I’m already up to almost four hours of overtime. In truth, I don’t mind: it means more money in my pocket, but I’m not getting my daily writing OR my daily walk now and it’s affecting my mood. Even donuts don’t help. I know. I’ve tried.

I started early today, but I didn’t stay late: there was a panel discussion about Women In Comedy with Grace Parra, Melinda Hill, and Lindsay Crystal that I wanted to attend (and did attend- and even made it on time in rush hour traffic). It was a great presentation, and very inspiring. In truth, I didn’t hear a lot of what was said: about fifteen minutes in I was struck by a sudden idea for a new project and it immediately absorbed almost all of my mental faculties. On one hand, I’m sure it’s very rude to check out mentally while someone is sharing their wisdom. On the other hand, they did inspire the idea, so maybe they’ll forgive me. The concept is still so raw I’m not even sure if it’s viable yet, so I’ll have to sleep on it, but hey: it’s a start. And I’ll have plenty of time to think it over tomorrow after I’ve pulled out all my hair.

Tonic

•April 13, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Not actually me, but this is what I feel like.

Taking a personal day turned out to be the best thing that I could have done for myself. For a while now, I’ve been struggling with my own sense of inertia- at the beginning of the year I made all these plans and now, three months later, what progress did I have to show for it?

None.

But I’ve been busyeeeeee.” I tell myself.

But you’ve been procrastinatiiiiiiing.” My other self replies.

Both are true. Without a clear path to follow our an obvious next step to take it was easy to keep pushing off the decision making and the action taking to another day. Except for the fact that then I had to carry the burden of knowing that my goals were going unfulfilled.

At LEAST attend a day of Talent Week.” I told myself. “It might not give you any answers but at least it will put your mind in the right place for a day.”

That, I could manage.

Looking over the schedule of events, I chose Thursday to be my day off. It had the most panels about topics that I had in my mind: I could make a whole day of it.

So I took the day off of work and went back to my roots on campus. I was terrified: no joke. I felt like I didn’t have any business going back- I wasn’t a student, I already had a job, what did I think I was doing, anyway? I’d look silly. I’d look desperate. I’d look out of place. I wouldn’t get any writing done. I’d have to talk to people. I’d have to schmooze.

Eurgh.

All of this went through my head. It was nonsense, of course, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t feel it. They say that procrastination isn’t laziness, that it’s a self-preservation mechanism that the mind uses to protect itself from stress and risk. Safer to stay home. Safer not to try. Safer to have a nap, a snack, a quick distraction. My body wanted to procrastinate like it was my job.

In the first panel of the morning, I sat near two people that I knew: both graduates, both high performers. I wasn’t alone. I was going to be ok.

Even as a person who LOVES me some solitude, I’m not ashamed to admit that I was relieved to not be alone. The rest of the day was a delight after that- I had familiar people that I could bounce off of in between meeting strangers, which gave me courage. I could practice what I wanted to say with prop Lee who already knew me so that when I was speaking with a stranger I knew what to say. By the end, I had begun to form a game plan in my mind of what I needed to do next. I felt like I’d taken a big step forward and was filled with enthusiasm for the next one.

Guys! This must be what extroverts feel like all the time!

So the experience was a success. I’ve gone down to the river and I feel reborn.

Ups and Downs

•April 13, 2018 • Leave a Comment

 
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