Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Deadlines are a writer's best friend

Hello from sunny, freezing Seattle. My car is still sitting under a foot of snow, while I walk everywhere in this bright, bitterly cold world.

Alas, I am supposed to get in my car tomorrow for a three-hour drive to Mount Rainier where I'm working with the park on a *super cool* *top secret* (not really) project. After months of trying to set this meeting set up, I cancelled last week because of abominable weather and predictions of the WORST STORM OF THE DECADE.

Miraculously, we managed to reschedule the meeting for tomorrow, and now...the news is predicting DIRE FREEZING TREACHEROUS weather. Which, of course, for anyone in a state used to snow would be no problem but here in Washington we Seattleites stay home at the merest hint of the "s" word.

Oh well. Mother Nature has her own ideas. My *top secret* project -- to help Mt. Rainier launch an artist-in-residence program -- will just have to wait a little bit longer.

Meanwhile I have been working very hard on the article about my kayaking trip that will be published in the February issue of Alaska Airlines Magazine. It's amazing what a deadline and a strict word count will do to galvanize you. I had been slaving away on that article since SEPTEMBER, writing draft after horrible draft, which is what always happens when I don't have an actual deadline or assignment.

Then - glory be! - I got the assignment and suddenly I whipped that thing into shape. I wouldn't have been able to do it without my writing bible, however, a book called Writing for Story: Craft Secrets of Dramatic Nonfiction by Jon Franklin. Not only does this book break down story structure for you and give you bomber formula for outlining, it also describes in detail the different types of narrative in any given story or article and how they should be used.

It made me understand, for example, how in the *climactic* scene where Dave and I *face down* a *ravenous* grizzly in our camp, that I can't tell the reader how I feel but must SHOW it.

Oh. Wait. I should know that already, shouldn't I? Well it's a lot harder than you might think to show rather than tell. There's only so many times you can talk about your "heart pounding" to show that you're effing terrified (which happened about every five seconds on that trip).

Anyhoo. I'm proud of the article. Most of the travel articles I've written have been newspaper-style pieces, and while the writing is just fine, I don't dig very deep. I do believe I took a step forward with my writing. Even if there are still some cliches that need to be weeded out. (Those are harder to avoid than you might think as well). In fact, I do believe I actually used the phrase "untamed wilderness."

Eh. Whatever.

As I've been writing about Alaska, I've been dreaming of Mexico. Hawaii. Warm. Places. Mmm.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Just Call Me "Martin Scorcese Junior"

Is it really already Thanksgiving? Seems like just yesterday I was pondering writing a "Highlights of 2007" post and now it's already 2009. Sheesh. (Left: one last glimpse of fall's glory in the North Cascades).

Things are pretty quiet here in the neighborhood of Greenlake, town of Seattle, state of Washington. Mostly I'm working, writing, and scheming for what my next big adventure is going to be. (Aspiring to live a life on the road a la my friend Amanda, while still holding down a relationship, a well-paying job, writing a novel, and taking care of a spirited senior pug).

My band broke up, which is a big bummer. We were livin' the dream, man! Then our singer/songwriter/star decided to move to effing Florida. When I expressed my disbelief about this (I mean, come on, Florida?) to my long-lost friend The Captain , he said "Tom Petty is from Florida, I can understand the draw for your lead singer."

So whatever. For some reason, I get/got more satisfaction out of listening to our roughish but tuneful recordings than reading my book (And yeah, that's my b-friend wailing on lead guitar!). Hell, I can't actually read my book. I can hardly look at the damn thing because I spent so much damn time writing it.

But you know, it would be nice if I could actually feel good about my novel instead of worrying about when/if the next one will done and when/if the current one will go out of print. That's akin to saying that it would be nice if I could become a Zen Buddhist, which ain't never gonna happen (despite my occasional attempts at Yoga), so let's just forget it and move on.

To what I'm not sure, exactly. Why not end it there while I'm ahead?

Despite my complaints I am grateful to be alive in Seattle's sunny shivery fall (even though the leaves have fallen off the trees) and especially grateful for Top Pot doughuts and full use of all my bodily parts. Oh yeah and my boyfriend and family and dog and job. And warm place to live and Peets coffee and..

The list goes on.

(Oh -- and if you're bored during this long holiday weekend, enjoy this video montage put together by yours truly from "Pug-o-Ween 2008.")


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Fall Turns to Winter

That dreaded time of year is about to arrive when all the beautiful leaves blow off the trees and lie on sodden piles on the ground waiting for full-on winter to descend.

Of course full-on winter means skiing! In case you never saw the ski film that I produced and starred in last winter - well, here's your chance. It will get you pumped for this year's powder. Warren Miller, watch out!

In other news, the fall has been a productive time. I've made progress on all my gazillions of projects, that include my novel-in-progress, an article about my trip to Alaska, a plan that would have me lead a lot of unsuspecting Mountaineers members on a bicycling trip in Finland, a nascent blog consulting business, and - uh - a bunch of other stuff that I foreget but will undoubtedly remember two days before I'm supposed to have it done.

I'm also going to start marketing my novel again with the help of an able assistant (once I find one). I've accepted that I simply don't have the energy/enthusiasm to do it myself. But I still think it needs to be done.

Because my book effing rules, that's why. Oh, sure, it's no "Ulysses." It's better than "Ulysses" because people actually finish "BreakupBabe: A Novel." And so what if the main character is a bit "annoying" at times. Aren't we all? The small fraction of the population who read my novel love it. As I was reminded by an e-mail I got recently.

Wrote Andrea:

I am one of your biggest fans. First and foremost for your great writing ability, and secondly for your book. It has helped me a great deal in coping with my recent break-up. Sure it didn't make the pain completely disapear, but it gave me some great laughs, and also put a smile on my face. Thanks for making me remember that there are other people who go through heartache in this world!

You are welcome Andrea! In other, extremely irrelevant news, I finally joined Facebook after months of pressure from my friends. Now I regret it because I am addicted to the stupid thing and must limit my visits to one per day lest I spend too much time there trying to increase my popularity. Though I really SHOULD use F*ckbook as a marketing tool so if anyone has any ideas as to how, please let me know! And, of course, be my friend.

Finally, I am still waiting for a topic to blog about that will set my heart on fire. I did start a blog about my new book-in-progress that I was thinking could be a sort of interactive thing between me and my readers, but then GalPal #2 said she worried that people would steal my BRILLIANT ideas! But you wouldn't do that would you, dear readers?


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Would you kindly shut up?

You know what I am really good at?

Telling people to shut the eff up.

I am often forced to do in coffee shops, when people are blabbing on cell phones (AT MY TABLE AFTER I HAVE CONSENTED TO SHARE IT WITH THEM, NO LESS).

Or when, like today, they are simply clueless (and perhaps crazy) and talking in a very LOUD voice about NAZIs and HOMOSEXUALS.

I made one pointless attempt to ask the help at Peets to kindly ask this guy to shut the eff up, since I didn't want to antagonize him (as I am wont to do in these situations). But this being Seattle, the barista said yes she would do it, then didn't; nor did any of the other patrons who kept staring at him and wishing he would shut up or at least lower his damn voice but of course, would not say anything because they are from SEATTLE, LAND OF WUSSES.

Finally I couldn't take it anymore and I said "SIR EXCUSE ME CAN YOU PLEASE LOWER YOUR VOICE?" And to my surprise, he politely apologized, and then did lower his voice. For about seven minutes.


I am also known for telling loud people in campgrounds to shut up; for example, when they are playing guitar loudly (and badly) in the next campsite. Two weeks ago, however, there was a big group of hunters camped next to me in the north Cascades blasting country music well into the night.

But I had seen their guns and I was afraid. So I kept my own mouth shut (for once.)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Basket-tastic Household

After sleeping in to an obscene hour today and and making several feeble attempts to be productive, I give up. I simply have no interest in any of the ten million projects I should be working on.

I'm just too worn out after a weekend of camping and hiking with some friends of mine who are frighteningly fit and formidable. After bumbling along in their wake for two days on ice and snow-covered trails, I need a rest! Apparently my brain does too, because it simply won't function.

The North Cascades scenery was stunning - as you can see-- despite much of the fall foliage being covered in an early dump of snow. And it was especially soothing, while freezing my a** off in the tent on Saturday night, to be lulled to sleep by the sound of hunters in the next campsite blasting country music and getting increasingly drunk.

I'm usually the one in any campground scenario to tell people to shut the f*ck up, but these guys, had really big guns. So I kept my trap shut, cinched the sleeping bag as tight around my balaclava-encased head as it would go, broke out the handwarmers, and eventually fell asleep. (Although the old Breakup Babe part of me briefly contemplated going over and joining the party. You know, in the spirit of bipartisanship, with the goal of eventually getting them to vote for Obama).

Harmony has returned to my household - in case you were worried because of last week's melodramatic post. Now I'm ready to share my latest home-decorating fetish with you. Are you ready?

Baskets! That's right. I have "discovered" the art of decorating with baskets and oh, boy, my house has never looked better. How did I fail to discover them before? Not only are they attractive and cheap, they let you organize things without really organizing them.

A little mess here? Throw it in a basket A little mess there? Throw it another (matching!) basket! Soon you've got one organized and delightfully Cost-Plussy household. I now have no less than eight baskets in my new house and I don't intend to stop anytime soon.

So there.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Me and Blogger -- Headed to Couples Therapy


Look how early I'm posting today. You can always tell I've had a bad night if I'm posting before 8 a.m. in the morning.

You know, I wish I could blog like in the old days. If I could, I would tell all: from how sexy my boyfriend is when he's playing the guitar to how we got in a stupid fight about (insert mundane household item here) last night that has extended into the wee hours of this rain-lashed morning.

I would have delved more deeply into the relationship dynamics that played out in Alaska. What happened, exactly, as we piloted a kayak over too-big waves and got stranded on beaches that we couldn't get off? Who took charge? Who panicked? Who spotted the first grizzly (And the second? And who was ready to pack the kayak up and flee and who insisted we stand our ground?)

Hell, I would tell you the most private details of our s*x life if I could. Because God knows, I don't have anyone to talk to about that now my best girlfriends have dispersed to far-flung corners of the world.

I would share our thoughts on having kids and adoption (who's pro, who's con?) and that I think he would be great dad but that the thought of kids still terrifies me. I would talk about how my niece gets a googly, lovestruck look in her eyes every time he appears.

I might even talk about how I saw my most recent ex-boyfriend last week for the first time since our breakup more than 2 years ago and how bittersweet (but mostly sweet) that was.

I would talk about how I worry I'm emotionally shut down and might never be able to open up except to people I can't trust because they can't hurt me as much. But then I might say how that's stupid psychobabble and I should just shut the f*ck up.

But no. I don't talk about those things anymore. And, therefore, I don't really blog anymore, because nothing engaged me like talking about love and sex and dating and boys.

There I was, talking to a blogging class at Write on the Sound yesterday, telling them how the #1 thing they needed for a successful blog was PASSION.

And here I am, blogging day after day without passion anymore.

Me and Blogger need to go into some serious therapy.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Brown Bears in Alaska, Moving Boxes in Greenlake

Yours truly has returned from the Great White North and gone all the way south to Moving Hell. OK, so maybe it's Moving Purgatory now. But whatever it is, it's transition and it's hard.

Things have started to get organized but there are still random pieces of furniture scattered hither and thither, and numerous unpacked boxes, which have been stored in the haunted basement for me to deal with "later" (i.e. next time I move).

I also can't find any of my clothes and currently have a "nighstand" made of unpacked boxes. (Hmm, I bet THAT'S where my clothes are!)

The dog has not adjusted well to the move and starts making an unholy racket in his crate every morning at about, oh, 5 a.m. We try to ignore him and show him who's boss, but this morning the racket got so loud I had to check on him to make sure he wasn't suffering mortal injuries.

But nooo. Once I opened the door, he trotted out healthy as can be, wagged his curly tail, and waited expectantly for me to take him on his morning walk around the neighborhood. Which I did NOT, thank you very much. I grumpily took him outside to the yard, then put him back in the torture chamber where he finally went back to sleep after another half hour of caterwauling.

Anyway, I am sorry to whine. I have many non-whiny things to say about everything. Like how stunningly beautiful and mind-blowing Alaska was. And how it was the most intense wilderness camping I've ever done in my life -- with no people around for miles, a churning ocean between you and safety, and brown bears (aka GRIZZLIES but BIGGER) hanging about nearby.

But it might have to wait for another time when I am cranky and less sleep-deprived to wax poetic about that.

I also have more to say about dogs. Like why is it so much easier to shower love ondogs than people? Even when dogs make you so mad, i.e. by waking you up at 5 a.m., you can't hold it against them and you constantly hug and kiss them and tell them how lucky you are to have found them, how they are your best buddy, how cute they are, etc. Do you know how much more often I say these things to my dog than to my boyfriend? Ahem.

And speaking of that, when you go for walks and see people with cute dogs, why can you only ask the name of the dog and not the person? WHY? And why can you pet any old cute dog that you see and not the person, even if they are cute and adorable and you want them to be your friend??

Sigh. I'm a bit lonely here north of the ship canal bridge. Can you tell I need some new friends?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Delirious in Juneau

Yes, yes, I have been gone but I'm not dead. Although I might be soon, seeing as I am Juneau, Alaska (rainy!), about to embark on a kayaking trip in Glacier Bay National Park toute solo except for the boyfriend.

You know, I wouldn't be quite so worried except for the grizzly bear factor. Although I should probably be more scared of the the moose. That is, if we don't flip over and drown and/or freeze to death in quick order, or possibly, get crushed by a calving glacier.

Things did not get off to a smooth start at the airport this morning when I *forgot* to bring the "bonus ticket" that would have allowed me to fly for free (and which I had used to secure my flight months ago), and therefore had to fork over $600 bucks if I wanted to get on my flight.

Well, naturally, I did fork it over, because you know how well I'm doing financially - hey, I still have a couple thou left on my credit card before it maxes out! I can only pray I did something smart with that bonus ticket like "file" it at home - which always gets me in trouble. Whenever I "file" something instead of leaving it on the massive pile of paperwork that generally adorns my dining room table, it disappears from my pathetic memory, which has been recently more overwhelmed than usual by MOVING.

Yes, we found a place to live that wasn't in some far-flung wasteland but in fact right in the city with plenty of room and hardwood floors and a yard and basement (albeit one with dirt floors, numerous frighteningly dark crannies that I assume house a ghost of some sort --- after all the house is almost 100 years old -- and that the pug insists on exploring every time we makde a foray into the basement. One of these days he will lead me straight to the ghost, just like in the movies, and that will be the end of things, unless of course it's a friendly ghost, but only time will tell.)

Yet-to-be-discovered ghost aside, it is a very pleasant and spacious house, except for a few minor things like, oh, the windows don't open and none of my furniture fits in it. Moving went as smoothly as moving could go, which is to say, not very, although it really only entailed one screaming fight that happened at the very end when we were both exhausted and involved me throwing 1)a bottle of all-purpose cleaner and 2)a package of dog biscuits at Dave, who luckily dodged them both.

Anyway. Where was I? Oh yes, Juneau. It is rainy and cold, much like Seattle, so I feel right at home. Mountains rise up right around the streets of downtown, which are twisty and turny and steep. There are lots of people in rubber boots as well as grizzled old men who look like sea captains. I thought flying into Seattle was scenic, but when you land in Juneau, you plunge right into a luminous gray green mountain seascape. (Is that phrase gramatically correct? I am so f*cking delirious I cannot tell.)

And yes, I am very much looking forward to our flight to Glacier Bay on a tiny plane in thick gray clouds, and perhaps a little thunder if we're lucky, thanks for asking.

I'm sorry I have no charming photos for you today of my pug in a sweater or some such thing. One day soon things will be back to normal. Maybe. Anyway, I will talk to you all when (if) I return.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Money, Moving, Many People in One Apartment

Well! How the summer flies by. As usual, I am involved in numerous spiritually-enriching non-paying ventures while my bank account shrivels still further.

Though I have momentarily picked up a short job with my former Master, ye olde Hotel Californiasoft. The money was so alluring, that I simply couldn't turn it down.
So I tore myself away from my hip and charming new employer -- you know the one who paid me (not much) to write about toys, but, you know, who I still wanted to be with, despite his inability to support me, and trundled sadly off to prostitute myself to my old, jowly, and obscenely rich boss once more so that I could eat and feed my pug (along with his "special" friend, pictured here. Extra points if you can figure out what makes him special!)

Hopefully we'll be reunited in the future after the Master uses me one more time and I close my eyes and pretend to be somewhere else.

In other news, the demoralizing house hunt/attempt to rent out condo goes on. I have found a charming young couple to rent my place, but whether I and the boyfriend can find a place for us to live (along with pug and "special" friend) before the condo board shuts me down is another matter. Why, we showed up to an open house in a somewhat desirable neighborhood the other day only to find about 8 other young white, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed couples with applications in hand, ready to pounce! Losers.

We've gotten so desperate that we've considered such far-flung neighborhoods as "Burien" and "South Park" -- names which don't mean anything to you, but to us Seattle-centric hipsters, conjure up barren stretches of nothing but convenience stores, freeways, and worst of all, no coffee shops!

Dave has even gotten me to entertain the idea of - if you can believe this -- Bellevue! Even though I told him it would cause my soul to shrivel up and DIE to move to his hometown, because talk about a lack of cool coffee shops to hang out in (I'm sorry but Tully's and Starbucks don't count)!

However I have hope that the God of Housing will smile down upon as any day now and grant us a cute bungalow in a sweet neighborhood where the pug can poop in they backyard (instead of on my living room carpet); I have cafes to hang out in; and where Dave won't face TOO brutal commute every day.

Most likely we'll end up living right on top of each other in my little place, trying to pretend we live in some other country where people don't require tons of PERSONAL SPACE, but oh well.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Life of Loud Desperation

Well darlings, post-enslavement to the 9-5 workaday world, I find myself mired in all sorts of paperwork hell and not even able to pay my mortgage without the help of a credit card.

First, there's the paperwork nightmare that my unmployment claim became. I won't go into detail except to say I have had to fill out about 100 forms, am not getting any more money, and have to pay back a bunch because I turned down a job and was honest about it! (Ah yes, a job back at Geeksoft that would have made me rich and desperately unhappy. Now I am poor and desperate but not moderately happy, as much as a person can be happy anyway, when they are sinking under the weight of debt).

Then, because health insurance companies wouldn't be health insurance companies if they didn't try to SCREW you, there have been bureaucratic snafus galore with LIFEWISE, who, unbeknownst to me, cut off my health insurance due to an adminstrative error on my part and then nicely gave me a ONE-TIME REINSTATEMENT. I can only thank God I didn't get diagnosed with cancer during the time I was CUT OFF, UNBEKNOWNST TO ME, or that some other administrative error does not occur ever again so that I lose my health insurance altogether right when I do get diagnosed with cancer!

F*CKERS. If I had more than five pennies to my name, I would go after them with a lawyer (preferably a hot one with six-pack abs) but alas, I'll have to settle with sending in an "appeal" to a bunch of faceless underpaid unemployees who don't give a sh*t about anything except getting off their shift so they can stop dealing with BIG-TIME WHINERS like me.

Let's see if I can find something positive to say here. Oh but wait. I forgot to complain about my housing search and simultaneous search for a renter. That's been hell too, with all sorts of bad human behavior coming to the surface. I got two prospective tenants snatched away by a sleazy-ass landlord and nearly got $500 taken from me by a prospective landlord. All plans to move in July to the lovely townhouse in the Central District have ground to a halt for lack of someone to rent my house, meanwhile we've caused the landlord in the CD to have a nervous breakdown (not really our fault, but we can't help but feel guilty about it because we're nice people like that).

Finally! On the positive side! I'm marginally employed at the moment doing fun work that involves playing with new toys and writing about them. The dog gets to join me at the office, which is in lovely downtown Seattle, in a big loft with hardwoord floors, where we write reviews of Cabbage Patch kids (flexible but not floppy!), the Polly Pocket Ultimate Party boat (complete with personal watercraft!), and more. The dog and I don't get paid much for this (only the truly soul-sucking jobs pay a lot I've discovered, except maybe MOVIE STAR or ROCK STAR) but any money is better than the no money I've been making, and plus we feel like contributing members of society again. SO THERE.

Meanwhile, Dave and I took our inflatable dinghy kayak out for its first marine voyage last weekend and had the great pleasure of being followed by a seal named Emile for half an hour. Watch the video!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Birthday Parties and Little Dogs in Sweaters

Well darlings, it has been a crazy time. Somehow I am working very hard and making very little money. Meanwhile
(as you can see) the pug must be kept in fancy sweaters.

One thing I've learned about myself during this period of no structure is that I take on too many projects when faced with an empty schedule. TOO MANY PROJECTS THAT DON'T PAY ANYTHING BUT ARE OH-SO-SPIRITUALLY REWARDING!

But I still refuse to believe the only option for me is Hotel Californiasoft. So what if I'd actually be able to buy shoes again and get decent healthcare if I went back there?! I am going to make these OH-SO-SPIRITUALLY REWARDING jobs pay something *one* of these days and meanwhile as the pug has a sweater to wear, we are fine.

Meanwhile I have spent the last four days in a training for a girls outdoor education organization, during which I 1)camped in a leaky tent in the pouring rain 2)got in touch with my "ancestral spirits" (who said, "have you found a nice Jewish boy yet?"); identified my own oppressive role in the patriarchy; and spent time around a group of women who were so warm and and community-minded that it blew my mind.

On the one hand, I really wanted to be part of it; on the other, it made me want to run back to the world of high-tech where we each sit in our own little sterile offices with no crying or hugging or discussion of racism, sexism, ableism, heterosexism (and no performances of interpretive dance about any of the above subjects).

But seriously. The whole thing was eye-opening and intense I'm grateful that I got to go. I'll bring what I learned into all the teaching that I do.

(And, in the sprit of full disclosure, during the "ancestral sprits" exercise, I actually did conjure up visions of Bubby and Auntie and Grandma Rose and my grandfathers I never met and hung with them for a while and got all teary-eyed that they weren't around and vowed to remember and be grateful to them more often. SO THERE. See how spiritually advanced I've gotten lately?)

Oh! I almost forgot to add that I sincerely want to thank whoever is in charge of the weather department for not storming upon my rockin' birthday party, which was daringly held outdoors in late May in Dave's backyard, for lack of a better venue. Not that Dave's backyard isn't fabulous, but it is much more suited for a party in, say, August, when one might have, oh, at least a 50% chance of good weather. Despite a cold and cloudy start, the sun came out, the band rocked, little children danced, and a good time was had by all into the wee hours of the morning. Happy birthday to ME!



Monday, May 19, 2008

Look what the stork brought!

Darlings, forgive the extended absence but there has been a new addition to my family.

Nine years old, 18 pounds, a couple feet long, fond of wearing costumes, he has done what no man has yet inspired me to do (yet): commit.

So far, so good. My main criteria in a dog is that he sleep a lot, and on the same schedule as me, and Snuffy the Pug cooperates on that score.

He is also charming, friendly, and wins admirers everywhere he goes, despite a little propensity to pee on things. (We are working on that).

If you would like to meet him, he has some openings in his schedule coming up in between naps, obedience classes, running in circles around the house, and pooping on Seattle's busiest streetcorners. (He might even wear the devil horns for you).

In other news, I have put my darling condo up for rent and am now looking for a house to live in with the FriendThatIsaBoy.

Because, apparently, I am now completely settling down and sealing Breakup Babe in a vaccum-packed casing until it's time for the long-awaited sequel: BreakupBabe: The Nursing Home Years. (Or until another relationship goes up in flames. Whichever comes first.)

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Public Libraries and Podcasts -- Who Knew??

I wanted to clue you in to two really cool things that I've discovered lately. This is very cutting-edge stuff for helping you build your music collection. I hesitate to even mention them to you for fear of the whole world finding out and cashing in, but...oh, what the heck.

Public Libraries
Did you know you can check CDs out of the public library?? Well guess what peeps -- you can! In the last month, I have checked out CDs by Tracy Chapman, the Hold Steady, Jay Farrar, Ryan Adams, Van Morrison. The list goes on! And then you can rip them onto your computer. I mean, then you can BURN them into your memory forever and replay them whenever you wish! When did these public library things start up anyway?

(Wait, didn't I once meet one of my INCREDIBLY UNSTABLE boyfriends at a library eons ago? My memory must be going. [See Breakup Babe entry for August 2, 2004].)
(Photo of the Seattle Public Library cribbed from the New York Times)

So there's this...thing. It's called "podcasting." I know, I know, sounds kinda weird. I think only one or two people know about it, including me. But - get this - when you sign up for podcasts, you can get things (like music!) for free! Just the other day I signed up for the KEXP podcast (you have to be really super hip to listen to KEXP so, if you're like, not hip, don't even bother) and I've already gotten like 15 new songs! Of course, most of them are too hip for me! Still. At least I am no longer listening to the same two songs over and over on my (c'mon Apple, pay me a lot of money to mention the name of your ubiquitous portable music player here!)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Not So Sparkly Sparkly

Alas darlings, nothing to say this week except I HAVE A HEADACHE and THANK GOD FOR HAPPY HOUR. I did post on my author blog today, however.


Friday, April 4, 2008

Gray April Day Blues

You know, sometimes it is rather glamorous being a quasi-employed, underselling novelist, occasional travel writer, undiscovered rock star, and pseudo ski bunny.

There are sun-spangled days spent in the snow; music-filled nights at bars around town; the occasional reader who tells me "I loved your book!" The nights I can stay up as late as I want reading; the mornings I spend getting to know the characters in my next novel; the freedom to do whatever the hell I want, when I want (as long as it doesn't cost more than five bucks). (Photo of Mount Rainier by Chris Olson)

Then again, there are the aimless days. When I am listless and tired from music-filled nights at bars. When the lack of structure overwhelms me. When it would be good to have an office to go to or coworkers to talk to or at the very least a dog to walk!

There are the days when I think good God, this novel will be so much WORK because it's not about ME and I have to create these people out of thin air, with all their histories and desires and lovable idiosyncracies! And after all that work will it even get published?

There are the days I stress about money and miss my high-earning past when I didn't mind selling my soul for a little security. When my health benefits were all paid for (and then some!) and that employee stock purchase plan made my money multiply like crazy.

Whoa boy, that all seems so long ago.

At least I just got some work to tide me over for a few weeks, and that will also help pay for the massive auto repair bill that just came my way. (Are there any OTHER type of auto repair bills than massive ones?) Meanwhile, in one of my less glamorous ski bunny moments, enjoy this video of me falling flat on my a*s while cross-country skiing while my friend Eric mocks me from behind the camera. (I fell again around the corner but no one saw!)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Take This Job and Shove It II

Is it any wonder I'm having trouble going back to the cubicle? After a winter spent playing outdoors in the glorious Cascade Mountains?

In a fit of rebellion, I turned down a job at Hotel Californiasoft the other day after somehow managing to convince a group of four very serious techies that I was passionate about developer documentation and would do a bang-up job if they hired me. (Give the girl an Oscar!)

Only they wouldn't let me work from home at all. Hello? Excuse me? I don't DO the east side for work anymore. I don't DO cubicles anymore. Got that, MAN? You can take your cushy, million-an-hour, so-boring-I-want-to-kill-myself job and give it to some poor sucker who actually wants to make a living!

I do...uh...volunteering for good causes where I don't get paid any money but I get to ski! And read stories to kindergarten classes! And drinking expensive lattes around town as my savings account dwindles!


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Commitment Issues - Moi?

For those of you who think I might have "committment problems," I will have you know that in the last 24 hours, I went house-shopping with friend-that-is-a-boy and filled out a form for "Seattle Pug Rescue!" (picture courtesy of The Pug Blog).

As I filled out the "Pug Rescue" form , which came right on the heels of going to look at this house, I thought whoa - what the hell is happening to me, Miss-Freewheeling-Don't-Tie-Me-Down-I-Want-to-Be-Able-To-Travel-To-South-America-At-The-Drop-Of-A-Hat-or-Date-Any-Hot- but-Inappropriate-Boy-I-Want-Breakup Babe?

It's not like I feel totally ready to move in with the friend-that-is-a-boy or get a dog. It's more like I know I never will feel totally ready. Ergo I will just jump in, do it, and get ready.

Then again, maybe not. We Geminis can never make up our minds.

It was, I have to say, a very cute house (triplex, actually ) in trendy yet still mellow Ballard within walking distance of everything (restaurants, clubs, library, coffeehouses)...a spacious two bedroom with hardwood floors and a garage for 1400 bucks a month.

If we were going to move in together it would be perfect. But it would mean scrambling for me to rent out my condo toute de suite and charging a lot of rent for it to cover my a*s-- that is if I can even get approval from the almighty condo board to do so.

But it was fun to look anyway and get that feeling of promise that comes with projecting your life onto a brand new space. (Ahh, with hardwood floors, I will finally realize the full potential of my genius, etc etc).

Anyway. Moving on. Hotel Californiasoft is trying to get me to come back now that my 100-day furlough has been completed. Though I am struggling against the idea, I feel myself about to capitulate. After all, my meager savings is half gone. I have trips I want to do. Skis to pay for. And let's not forget the effing mortgage.

It doesn't mean that I am giving in. I think I will still be able to check out someday. Just not quite yet, alas.
(Cue music: strains of Hotel California play softly as heroine, head hung low, employee badge in hand, enters the vast maze of gothic-looking office buildings and the door shuts with a firm and menacing click behind her).

Friday, February 22, 2008

Honky Tonk Memories

Chaos-as judged by how much crap is being stored on my bed-- descended briefly on my condo this week. For a couple days there, every inch of my bed was covered: with books, skiing gear, clean laundry, dirty laundry,and-to top it all off - a generous sprinkling of cracker crumbs that fell out of my backpack.

Now most of it is gone except a couple books, a few cracker crumbs and, the bag that I'm packing for this weekend. I'm off to do the Hog Loppet again - that fun silly ski event in Leavenworth wherein you ski 30 kilmoters just for the fun of it, thereby rendering yourself unable to walk for several days.

Not that I have time for such frippery. Numerous deadlines are encroaching on me next week: classes to teach, articles to write, all of which I am seriously underprepared for. Who knew that being unemployed would be so much work?

Meanwhile, my band played to a small but PBR-primed crowd at the Mars Bar last night (see poster above). I played a new piano intro to one of our songs that I worked and WORKED on to the point where I knew I was working on it too much and then of course I effed it up - leaving out the cool fill that would have made me sound like a real honky tonk piano player instead of some chick from Palo Alto who who grew up playing Mozart. But at least I didn't play any wrong notes; I just left out the coolest part and messed up the rhythm the tiniest bit.

I couldn't hear myself when I sang harmony either so for all I know I could have been singing something that was totally NOT harmonic at all. But people were dancing to our songs and that makes it all a success. Plus we made five bucks apiece. With that and my unemployment checks, I am rolling in it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Grover to the Rescue!

I've had a case of the blahs lately. My day to day life feels dull. Dull! And this despite the variety of exciting projects I'm working on such as a new novel featuring a lovable but repressed public defender; my blogging class full of funny, motivated students; creative writing workshops for kids, and, uh, some other stuff that is also no doubt very exciting but that I can't remember right now. (Photo of Grover courtesty of Muppet Wiki)

Part of it is that I spend too much damn time alone. Sometimes the only people I talk to the whole working day are baristas who make my coffee. Part of it is just being jaded and momentarily ungrateful of the great BOUNTY that is my life, full as it is of health, fun fame, and hot men. I mean man. Hopefully I'll snap out of it soon.

Yesterday's blahs, however, were blown away by a class full of kindergarten students who formed the uber-appreciative audience to my stellar reading of "Where the Wild Things Are" and "The Monster at the End of This Book." (I volunteer for a literacy program called Page Ahead where I read stories twice a month to a kindergarten class).

The Monster at the End of This Book (featuring the lovable muppet Grover), while perhaps not as famous as Where the Wild Things are, is a minor classic in its own right. I remember being both terrified and thrilled when I read this book as a child. On every page Grover warns you not to turn another page because there was a MONSTER AT THE END OF THE BOOK! His warnings turn to begging; his begging to desperate pleas. DON'T TURN THE PAGE! tension grows. You are terrified; and then...

Well, I don't want to give the ending away. But let me say that at first I felt guilty reading this story to these children, who started clutching each other in fear, their gasps turning to to screams after every single page ("NO NO DON'T TURN IT!"), so that by the end of the book it was mass hysteria, and I thought oh no, I've forever traumatized them!

But apparently not, because "Read it again!" they all screamed when it was over.

Now how can you be blah after that?

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Me No Like Driving in Snow

Sigh. Not to complain or anything but the freelance lifestyle is giving me a headache. (That is the front of my new vest. More about that later.)

Working by myself has lost some of its allure. Oh sure I get to hang out in cafe after cafe but sometimes you just get a little jaded by that. And how many grande extra hot soy lattes can I drink in a day anyway before I start moving on to more fattening things or alcoholic beverages?

I like my new gig at Mt. Rainier. But that has its challenges too. It's like going on vacation and coming back once a week, with all the attendant excitement and anticlimax and packing and unpacking and garbage starting to smell while you're gone and ignoring more practical tasks that you should be doing (ie practicing piano or earning a living). Let's not even discuss snow driving.

I don't do snow. I grew up in California and never drove in the damn snow. There are no passes that you have to cross to get to Mt. Rainier, which fooled me into thinking that I wouldn't have to deal much with snow, but I forgot. It is - literally - one of the SNOWIEST PLACES ON EARTH. In 1972, it held the world record for snowfall!

Last week not only did I have knock two feet of snow off my car(with a tiny, ineffectual ice scraper suitable for tiny amounts of ice), which resulted in snow all over me and inside my car, I then had to drive for at least thirty miles on icy, snowy roads on a two lane highway in the dark with snow doing that horizontal thing it does that makes you all disoriented. Yes, those of you from snowier parts of this country can MOCK ME NOW.

I've never been so happy to see the strip-mauled suburb of South Hill (known as as "South Hell" as those who drive through it all the time), with its lights and many lanes and rain instead of snow.

In other news, I bought a new vest. Last week I wore this vest to a party at which I encountered the Seattle rock star Rachel Flotard of Visqueen. I saw Rachel perform last spring at the Sasquatch Festival and wished that I could be just like her. So when she showed up at this party, I was too shy to speak to her for most of the night.But when I did, she was quite charming and friendly. AND she raved about my brand-new used vest I had bought that very day at Buffalo Exchange. I glowed with her compliments for the next two days. (That is the back of my vest.)

Then, just yesterday, I saw her again in Victrola (whose help has gotten kind of surly, I must say) and I was wearing the same vest! (Wouldn't you wear this vest every day if it was yours?) Anyway, I deliberately avoided her and luckily she did not see me.

OK, this story needs a better ending. But I don't have one.This is the kind of situation Teahouse Blossom--the queen of slice-of-life vignettes -- would write about. Only she would give it a punchy ending and write about it better than me.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Do What You Love and...You Know the Rest

So I recently scored a rather dreamy gig being writer-in-residence at Mount Rainier National Park (one of the most beautiful places in the world). I don't know if I'm offically called "writer in residence" but that's what I'm calling myself cause it sounds cool.

It involves hanging out a lot at the park; helping update and expand their climbing blog; "patrolling" the area on skis so I can write about it; helping them develop their artistic programs, and partying with the climbing rangers. Here is a picture of the "office" from just the other day.

I'm not really getting paid, naturally, because that would be much too practical for me. As I've said before (or some variation on it), "Do what you love and you'll be forever f*cking broke."

Friday, January 11, 2008

O Where Have all the Heaters Gone?

Some days you feel like you are the coolest of free-spirited, don't-tie-me-down, f*ck the Man, I am going to do everything my way and have fun doing it, including live alone forever in my airy urban condo, travel when I want, work when I need, play in a band -- aren't I cool girls. Er, women.

Other days, well, you are just cranky and cold and bored and even though you could be doing anything you damn well please (as long as it doesn't cost more than $10), you spend your whole day slogging through "work" that you should be grateful to have in coffeeshops that don't employ heat even though it is minus 20 outside.

OK so it is not minus 20 it is really mid-40s but it feel so much colder because of that icy rain that continues to fall constantly.

At least I managed to find a new book by my favorite author at the library - James Wilcox - who wrote the novel "Modern Baptists," which is one of the funniest things I've ever read (and I read a lot). No one has ever heard of James Wilcox, which, on the one hand, makes me feel bad for him but on the other hand, makes me feel better for myself because no one has heard of me either which means maybe I'm brilliant too and people just don't know it My book was also at the library - yay! - but checked in. Oh well.

Now I really thought I had something important to say today. Other than to whine of course. But I seem to forget what it is. Today started out better because I managed to get up before 10. All the good intentions in the world don't make it easy to go to bed early when you don't have anywhere to be in the morning! Because why would you go to bed when you could 1)watch bad TV 2)clean your house 3)organize your paperwork 4)practice piano etc etc, all those things you seem only to do at night, the later the better?

All right. That is all. For all you Seattle writer/bloggers out there, remember I'm teaching a blogging class at Richard Hugo House starting in 1.5 weeks and I hope to see you there!

((Photo above by my very talented friend Leslie Duss)


Monday, January 7, 2008

Happy 2008

OK! I think I have finally recovered enough from the holidays to blog again. My waistline, perhaps, has not recovered from the many pounds of cheese, potato chips, and pizza consumed during my ski trip to the Methow Valley in Eastern Washington--but I overcame my post-holiday blues during a single day of frenzied closet-cleaning and am now back to my usual level of productivity. (Sleep: Nine hours per day. Work: Four hours per day. The rest: Who knows?).

My trip, thank you very much, was delightful - full of blindingly blue skies, powdery white snow, freezing temperatures, and mountains seemingly devoid of people except for us.
They all teemed along the groomed cross-country trails on the valley floor. On "The Methow Valley Community Trail", you can ski for miles and miles past farms, through forest,over charming country bridges draped in snow.

The smiling, spandex clad skate skiers probably teemed along the many other groomed trails too - however, we were too cheap go on those trails, since they cost you a whopping $20 a day. Besides, we hate people.

And once we stepped off the groomers,it was as if we had the entire valley to ourselves. Including one area with wide-open powder slopes and expansive views (only minutes from the road) that we yo yo'd up and down with great gusto, because what more could you want? (Except maybe a lot of money, a book on the bestseller list, a vacation home on an island, and eternal life).

Now I'm back in cold, rainy Seattle where there is no structure in my mostly-unemployed life except that which I create myself. However, I've mostly gotten used to that, carving a structure out of nothing: one that consists of sleeping a lot, spending much time in coffeeshops, working on the feeble second draft of the novel I wrote in November, applying for fun and rewarding-sounding jobs that pay next to nothing, and both dreading and anticipating my return to Hotel Californiasoft two months hence.

When, just over a year ago, I returned to the place from which you can never leave, I meant to have an alternative plan in place by now: one in which I had my ideal combination of jobs and was supporting myself with them but alas, I'm still figuring out what that combination looks like, and failing to make money at any of them.

Though I must send a shout-out to the store "Yeah Baby" in Fairfax, California, which sold 16 copies of my book (on consignment) in under a month! So it's not fair to myself to say I'm not making "any" money doing things I love. I earned enough from those sales to pay for two tanks of gas! Yaay me! And yaay Yeah Baby!

It feels great to know my book can fly off the shelves in the right circumstances. On that positive, caffeine-fueled note, I bid you adieu. Until next time, enjoy this wacky ski video starring yours truly!