Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Yesterday, I took my mother's car (which used to be my car -- the lovely silver Pontiac Sunfire that so many people suffered in during long trips to Tahoe, Coachella, etc., although I adored it) to Des Moines to write and run errands. My first errand will perhaps admit to too much of my latent dorkiness -- I met up with a guy who sells fountain pens and ink, and chatted with him about such issues for over an hour. I order ink from an online distributor, and when I placed my last order (two hard-to-find inks imported from Germany), I said that I would pick it up in Iowa because then I didn't have to pay for shipping. He runs the business out of his basement, so rather than go to his house, we met at the cafe at Borders West Des Moines (side note: for those of you who care about Borders, you'll be happy to know that despite continued sales declines, they secured financing for another couple of years, so they may survive yet). He brought the two inks with him (both of which are gorgeous and have catapulted into my top faves), as well as a sample of a special ink that one of my favorite ink companies (J Herbin, based in France) is releasing in honor of their 340th anniversary. He also had several pens with him, and I wrote with all of them -- and realized that there is a level of obsession well beyond mine, and that I am currently on the very normal end of the pen obsession spectrum. I could be convinced to veer closer to mania, though; the pens with the gold nibs were wonderful to write with, and he let me write with a vintage pen from the 1920s that put all my modern pens to shame.
Anyway, it was nice to meet him and chat with him about a subject that interests me but that I haven't gotten too deep into. After he left, I successfully wrote six or seven pages (with one of my new inks, naturally) before meeting up with Aunt Becky. We went to the mall and looked at shoes and swimsuits (I struck out on both, but I did pick up some stuff at Sephora), and then rendezvoused with Brian (the scandalous husband) and had dinner downtown at a restaurant called Centro. It proved to me beyond a doubt that Des Moines's culinary scene has expanded far beyond the Long John Silvers of my youth -- I had a dish of scallops served over polenta, and the polenta was mixed with goat cheese, artichokes, and pine nuts. It was absolutely perfect, easily rivaling similar meals in San Francisco, and I didn't have to brave any hipsters to get to it. Seeing Aunt Becky and Uncle Brian was nice, and happily I'll see them again on Sunday when we go to Uncle Mark's for Easter before I go to the airport.
I made it home last night after seeing only eight deer on the way home, got eight hours of sleep, and woke up this morning to spend some quality time with my mom. On a whim, we decided to go to Centerville (the next town over) so that I could get the battery in my watch replaced and she could pick up a few things. We took care of the watch at Walmart, had lunch at a pizza place, looked at shoes in the town's shoe stores (I struck out again -- unfortunately, as it's going to be 80+ degrees tomorrow and I didn't bring any sandals), and bought groceries. On the way home, we stopped at the cemetery and hung out with Gram Holder for a few minutes; my mother wanted to check the flowers on the stone, and I was quite happy to go along. For whatever reason, I find most cemeteries quite peaceful and oddly comforting, and I happen to like that one despite the number of people on my mother's side buried there. Maybe it's the wonderful stones in the older part of the cemetery, or the interesting names, or making up little stories in my head about who these people were and how they lived and died. Or maybe I'm just weird and morbid, and my interest in cemeteries and fountain pens is a sign of an incurable strangeness.
When we got home, I inadvertently slept for almost two hours, but I woke up in time for supper. Gram Wampler came out to eat with us, and I had a rather melancholy time fielding questions she should know the answers to. But, supper was delicious; my mother outdid herself, as usual, and we had a beef roast with excellent mashed potatoes and gravy. I could eat potatoes at every meal (good thing, since my mother makes them at almost every meal), and I never have roast beef in California (or gravy, for that matter), so it was all quite nice. Then, after Gram left, I watched an episode of "Criminal Minds" with my parents, then read a whole romance novel (Madeline Hunter's "Ravishing in Red") before deciding it was time for bed.
And now, after this absurdly long post, I really need to sleep. I have plans again tomorrow (shocking, I know) -- Hannah, my old friend from high school whom I've shamefully lost touch with over the years, recently moved back to the area to work as a naturalist for a state park in the next county east of us, and so I'm going over there to meet her for dinner and catch up. We're also something like fourth or fifth cousins, although that wasn't why we were friends (but our grandmothers did have the vaguest resemblance, both being very short women with white hair by the time we were born). So anyway, I want to get some writing done tomorrow before I go, which means I need to go to bed immediately. Goodnight!
Monday, March 29, 2010
Anyway, today was solely devoted to productivity, much to the dismay of my mother; but, it was worth it, as I wrote (by hand) ~4000 words, and then typed them all into my writing software. What I wrote was pretty good, I think. I'm sure I'll hate it tomorrow, but at least I'm making forward progress. I would like to maintain that momentum if I can, but we shall see. My mother may mutiny if I write all day every day, particularly since I've (gasp) made a couple of plans outside the house this week. But I am dead set on having a rough draft to share with my early readers no later than the end of April, and given that April starts in a couple of days, it's looking like I'm going to have to have my own personal National Novel Writing Month this month in order to stay on track.
I did take a break to have dinner with the family; my mother made tenderloins (my fave), which were outstanding as usual. I also took a break to watch "The Big Bang Theory", which my whole family adores and while I don't watch nearly often enough. I also got a phone call from my dear friend Katie, who only calls when I'm at home because she still remembers my parents' phone number; I tried to screen her because my parents told me she was on the line by claiming that I was getting a call from a telemarketer, but eventually I realized what they were saying and so I talked to her for awhile. And now, I'm utterly exhausted and need to go to bed as soon as possible if I'm going to write another four thousand words tomorrow. Goodnight!
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Anyway, the family left around mid-afternoon, and I had just fallen asleep on the couch when Gram came out to say hi. She only stayed for a few minutes, and when she left, I promptly slept through most of the Duke/Baylor game, waking up just in time to see Baylor lose (sorry, Big 12). I then spent the rest of the afternoon and evening being lazy; we ate leftover chicken and noodles with fresh mashed potatoes for dinner, watched "The Amazing Race", "Undercover Boss", and "Cold Case", and surfed mindlessly on the internet.
It's time for me to go to bed; tomorrow is a Monday, and I intend to get back into the writing tomorrow while my family works, so sleep is essential. Goodnight!
Saturday, March 27, 2010
and he never had a sweetheart, but he finally found a home - underneath the boothill grave that bears his name
Unfortunately, I decided to take a little nap instead, which turned into a three-hour nap, destroying my afternoon productivity. But, when I woke up, I did manage to dress myself in something other than my pajamas and unpack my suitcase so that I can spend the next week living in a well-ordered room. I went upstairs to watch the end of the Kansas State/Butler game (unfortunately, K-State lost), and I also managed to work for an hour before dinner, which still wasn't enough, but I was happy to take a break to eat again. My mother is a saint and made chicken and noodles and mashed potatoes for dinner, which were utterly delicious, and so the four of us enjoyed a lovely supper before watching the end of the West Virginia/Kentucky game.
I then worked for three hours, which was painful, but it was enough to get through all the most pressing issues on my to-do list so that the big boss doesn't kill me. I still have a couple of other things that I need to take care of sometime this week, but they're not urgent, and so I can spend the next couple of days reconnecting (how business-y is that?) with my family and writing Madeleine and Ferguson's story. Now, though, I'm going to go to bed. Unlike most trips home, I'm trying to retain something closer to a working person's schedule so that I can get some writing done, but we'll see how it goes. Goodnight!
Friday, March 26, 2010
So, my meetings went well, I debriefed with the big boss before leaving (which means I have some work to do this weekend), and then caught an early cab to the airport in an attempt to get on an earlier flight to Des Moines. My ploy to fly standby succeeded, and so I got into Des Moines around 4:30pm instead of after 8pm. My brother picked me up at the airport and we had an early dinner at Johnny's Italian Steakhouse before driving home. Then, I spent the evening watching basketball -- in particularly, we watched the UNI/Michigan State game, which was close throughout but unfortunately ended in Northern Iowa's loss :( We shall survive, however. And now, it's time for me to go to bed. I want to write a significant portion of my rough draft in the next week, and so I can't fall into my usual sleep-til-noon home habits. Goodnight!
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Today was lovely, and I adore Ann Arbor; I had several great meetings with people in the office, including a couple of people whom I really like and have worked closely with over the years. I also attended some meetings that the big boss was holding, and even got to answer a question during her Q&A -- the answer was probably not profound enough to justify spending a thousand dollars to bring me here and house me for a couple of days, but it was good nonetheless. Today was also interesting because it was the day that they announced the finalists in the romance contest I won last year; I didn't enter this year and so had nothing on the line, but it was fun and bittersweet (and distracting) to follow the results today.
After work, I met up with Lauren (aka Subz), who showed me a fabulous time in Ann Arbor. She's out her for business school, and while I saw her in January, I was v. eager to catch up. We started off at a wine bar, which was lovely; we then went to a martini bar called the Black Pearl, where I had a millionaire's mojito (which was made millionaire-y by including a splash of champagne); we left Black Pearl and went to some salsa place, where we had another drink; then we walked across the main part of U of M's campus to Charlie's, where we met up with one of her friends from business school, who drank a tame beer while Subz and I split a 64oz Mason jar of raspberry Stoli, raspberry liquer, and melon liquor (mistake); and we ended up at Rick's, where we stayed just long enough to laugh at the undergrads grinding to a club mix of Taylor Swift's "Love Story" while draping each other in toilet paper. I was freezing while outside, since it's 28 degrees right now -- but I had a coat, unlike the little undergrad skanks who were wearing tshirts as dresses. Ah, to be young again.
Anyway, it was lovely to see Subz, and I was reminded all over again how much I miss her - I can't wait for her to be back in California again, even though she has another year of business school to get through first. Now, though, I must firmly turn my back on all memories of fun and go to bed; a little less than six hours will not be enough sleep to make me feel better about the 64oz Mason jar business, but it will have to do. Goodnight!
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
I spent the flight alternating between working for the day job, working on my romance novel (building my new plot threads into Scrivener), doing a crossword puzzle (either they've gotten easier or I was in the zone, because I finished it all without any assistance from the answer sheet), and reading a book. It was all quite a lovely interlude, despite the delay, and I feel oddly refreshed for it. Now, though, it's one a.m. in Ann Arbor and I should really try to make it to the office by nine; luckily the office is right across the street, but still, sleep is important. Goodnight!
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Despite the slogging, I did squeeze in some social activity; Vidya came for lunch, and surprised me by bringing along her friend Rich's wife Lauren instead of Rich. It didn't impact me tremendously, since I'd only met Rich once before and had never met Lauren, but it was fun nonetheless; I liked Lauren, and I still tolerate Vidya whenever necessary (jhokes!) We ate outside, since it continues to be absolutely gorgeous here. While things are improving weather-wise in the midwest as well, I'm a little sad to be leaving all this glory for the dreary post-melt landscape of the heartland.
When I got home, I changed out of my work clothes, walked around the block to the grocery store, and bought a sandwich from the deli counter and a bag of chips. The sandwich would have been outstanding if the bread wasn't a little stale, but the chips made up for it. I watched two episodes of "Project Runway" while eating, which was lovely; I'm caught up on this season again, in time to miss the next two episodes while I'm traveling, but I enjoyed my sloth immensely. Then, I made copies of stuff that I needed to make copies of, finished packing, and generally took care of loose ends.
Now, it is time to sleep - wish me luck with my travels tomorrow!
Monday, March 22, 2010
I was at the office until six-forty-five, and then I grabbed a sandwich, filled up my car with gas, came home, and finished most of my packing for Ann Arbor. Then, I should have written or possibly done some more work, but instead I finished read "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo". Despite some lingering displeasure with the writing mechanics, the story was fantastic, and I guess I will be one of the millions of people who buys the other two books in the trilogy. And now, I'm going to go to bed -- two nights from now, I'll be in Ann Arbor!
Sunday, March 21, 2010
But, I couldn't write all day; I had to do laundry in preparation for my upcoming trip, and I needed to clean my bathroom before the dust-bunnies and wamp-devils conspired to asphyxiate me in my sleep. I also spent an hour on the phone with my parents, and some time procrastinating by watching some SNL digital shorts on Hulu. Around 7:30, I debated trying to write, but I decided that I wanted to relax and read instead, so I read a section of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo". I was pretty lukewarm on the book when I started and didn't understand how it had become a best-seller; while I still have some issues with the language/style used, I have been completely won over in terms of the plot and characters. Sadly, according to my Kindle, I still have 20% of the book to read, but I can't do it tonight; I had to put it down to go to Oakland to pick up Adit. We had some lovely family time in the car, shared a couple of oranges while watching the end of an episode of "Iron Chef America", and now I've stupidly gotten sucked in to the end of "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest", which was terrible when I saw it in the theatre and is still terrible now. But, it's almost over, and then I'll go to bed, sleep for six hours, and go to work so that I can slog all day. Goodnight!
Saturday, March 20, 2010
I swung through Nordstrom on the way back to the muni (classic mistake). I successfully kept myself from buying any shoes or cosmetics, which are (along with sunglasses) my biggest weaknesses, but I did end up buying a handbag because I wanted a sexy bag that is big enough to hold my notebook and manuscript so that I don't have to carry a laptop bag or backpack when I go out to write. Silly, I know. If I were a true starving writer, I would carry it around in a plastic bag or, better, something that I made for myself out of duct tape -- but I'm not at that point yet, so I prefer bags made out of lambskin and v. chic, decorative zippers. Clearly the chances that I will ever let myself become a starving artist, and thus cut off access to expensive accessories, are slim to none.
I then came home like a good girl, and like a good girl I did a bit of spring cleaning. Our apartment was on the verge of falling below the sixtieth percentile of cleanliness among others of our age group, and so I spent an hour doing dishes, taking out two bags of trash and two bags of recycling, disinfecting the kitchen, cleaning the bathroom, dusting, and swiffering to remove all my hair before Adit comes home tomorrow. I didn't clean my bedroom, and I need to do laundry tomorrow, but the place looks much, much better.
Cleaning was a good way to procrastinate, but I pulled myself back to my writing and managed to be pretty productive for the rest of the day. I had some procrastination later in the afternoon when Adit texted me to tell me the result of the Kansas/UNI game (which I didn't even realize was on -- my hermitage was quite effective), and then got so hungry around 8:30 while waiting for my pizza to be delivered (which took an hour and a half, which I thought was about an hour too long) that I couldn't concentrate. Other than that, though, I made quite a bit of progress. I entered a lot of paper revisions into the electronic copy of my manuscript, wrote some segments of new scenes, and then sat down and plotted the next thirty scenes or so, which will comprise the bulk of the rest of the book. Now that I have a roadmap again, I feel a lot better, and I'm so excited about where this book is going that I hope the writing will be relatively easy.
Now, though, I'm going to go to bed so that I can continue my hermitage tomorrow; goodnight!
But I successfully left at five to have dinner with Heather (aka dear respected madam) and Salim at Vive Sol, which is Chris Boyd's favorite Mexican restaurant. I hadn't been there since Chris Boyd was here last spring, but I don't know why I don't go there more often; my margarita was deliciously strong, the enchiladas were good, and they have great salsa (and a better decor than Fiesta del Mar, much as I love that place). Then again, Fiesta del Mar is about five minutes from my office, so that explains it (even though I rarely go there now that Terry and Subz have both moved away). The three of us had a lovely time catching up (or rather, Heather and I talked about work while Salim gazed about the place and completely ignored us), and then I went back to their apartment to check it out and drop the 'bombshell' on them that Jesse James apparently cheated on Sandra Bullock with some incredibly skanky woman named Michelle "Bombshell" McGee. I mean, seriously?!
After we looked at pictures of that train wreck, I drove back to the city of sin and rendezvoused with Vidya (after taking a twenty minute nap while waiting for her to come over). She wanted me to finally see "In the Loop", so we walked over to Safeway, but they didn't have it. This was v. sad; we should have signed up for a Blockbuster card and rented it there, but at the time it seemed like too much effort. In retrospect, it would have saved us time, because the movie we ended up watching on on-demand turned out to be a surprisingly long two and a half hours. If I had realized it was that long, I would have just had us watch "Inglorious Basterds", even though I saw it on the plane -- but what's done is done.
We ended up watching "Funny People"; the title was half accurate (hint: there were people in the movie). It starred Adam Sandler as a famous comedian who is dying, and Seth Rogan as a wannabe comedian who somehow becomes Sandler's assistant. At 2.5 hours, it felt like two separate movies; there was a point halfway into the movie where I thought we were going into the closing ten minutes, and then it suddenly took a left turn and felt like it started over. The part that bothered me the most was that at some point, one character is choosing between Adam Sandler and Eric Bana. Given that she had just said that the Eric Bana character's behavior was exactly like the Adam Sandler character's behavior...why in the hell would you even debate this issue?! Hot, muscular Eric Bana, or scrawny, depressed Adam Sandler? Eric Bana even has a delicious Aussie accent. This is clearly no contest, but she wasted an hour of my life trying to decide, and the choice ultimately came down to a song from the musical "Cats", which was inexplicable to me because clearly the choice should have come down to Eric Bana's pectorals.
Anyway, despite that, it was good to see Vidya, and nice to have a lowkey but funfilled Friday night. And now, I desperately need to get to sleep; writing all weekend starts tomorrow morning, so please expect me to go into deep hermit mode. Goodnight!
Friday, March 19, 2010
It was an absolutely gorgeous day here -- warm, sunny, and so beautiful that it feels like summer must be here now. I'm sure it will rain on my parade at some point in the near future, but I'm anticipating a lovely weekend of writing while everyone else is out enjoying the weather. Doesn't that sound like fun? And now, I must get some sleep if I'm going to be at all productive tomorrow -- goodnight!
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
After lunch, I slogged for the rest of the day, taking a brief break at the end of it to hang out with Heather (aka dear respected madam). Then, I drove to downtown Mountain View and picked up the glasses that I ordered last week, which are totally lovely -- they're dark-rimmed in the front, with a sort of greenish mother-of-pearlish finish on the sides. I sat for a brief amount of time in the cafe above Books Inc to wait out the traffic, but didn't do any writing; instead, I ate a bagel, read about low-residency MFA programs on my phone (my complete indecision about the next step in my life continues), and then drove home. When I got here, I started reading a book (gasp) -- "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson. After an hour, I'm starting to get into it, but I'm not sure yet why it's a best-seller...I'll have to see where it goes.
Now, though, it's definitely bedtime so that I can sleep for seven and a half hours before going back to the south bay and starting the cycle over again. Goodnight!
I had arranged to meet the instructor and hour before class started at the cafe on the second floor of the bookstore, and so I got to see a bunch of college kids milling around the redesigned, almost desecrated White Plaza. I really like the instructor, and I wanted to hear her perspective; she was at the creative writing program at Iowa, and then became a Stegner fellow at Stanford, so she has seen several writing programs and has been thinking seriously about writing as a career for awhile. Her opinions about all of this were quite interesting; having gone through it, she seemed to think that the primary advantage of a writing program is to build a community of other writers whom you can work with as readers and critique partners. Of course, the ability to devote some serious time to writing is a plus as well -- but, she seemed almost wistful about not having a more standard, higher-paying job, and thought it sounded like I have it pretty good.
Sadly, I'm an ungrateful wench who refuses to see how good I have it, so what I do with her advice remains to be seen. She pretty much confirmed my own suspicions that an MFA probably isn't for me, but the bottom line is that I need to find a way, somehow, somewhere, to eke out more time to write (both zee romance novels and more literary fiction, and possibly squeezing in some young adult epic sagas that I've been brainstorming as well). If I can't quit writing, move to a cave someplace, embrace a harshly ascetic lifestyle (complete with trading my Stuart Weitzmans for newspaper-stuffed gumboots and my lovely maxstudio dresses for flour sacks cinched in with twine), and write full-time, I at least need to get more serious about it in my off-time and stop procrastinating so much.
After our discussion, we walked over to the quad, where we met up with the rest of the class. It really was a great group; the caliber of the other students was pretty high and everyone was working on stories that interested me, so I found it useful despite the fact that I didn't really have time for it this quarter. We spent tonight doing a potluck (complete with a lot of wine, which seemed to lead to a degeneration of the discussion of "Last Summer of the World" that led to a couple of guys digging a really deep hole in a female-dominated class about how a guy living in prewar France who had a couple of affairs with dancers was probably normal and a good husband, and that the wife who divorced him over it was overreacting). Then, we all went around and read a couple of pages of one of our favorite authors, as well as a couple of pages of something else we've written that we feel good about. I chose to read a page from Haruki Murakami's "A Wild Sheep Chase"; my choices were limited because almost all of my books are in storage, but this is a book that I go back to occasionally, and I think the time to read it again is fast approaching.
Class got out late, so I got home at 10:30, and spent 45 minutes or so retinseling my hair. I've gotten pretty good at doing it myself; I think I put in ~12 strands of green and six strands of gold (St Patrick's Day theme, obviously), and pulled out the 12-16 strands of other colors that were in my hair from the Olympics. And now, I really need to get some sleep so that I can be more productive tomorrow -- goodnight!
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
The reason for this strange occurrence, was because I took 280 to work (adding ~10 miles to the trip, but cutting the time), drove to campus, took 280 back to the city after class, picked up Adit at ten p.m., took him to the San Francisco airport...and just as he was getting his luggage out of the car, he remembered that he was flying out of Oakland. So, I drove my heart out back to the city, across the bridge, and down 880 to the Oakland airport, dropping him off just in time for him to start boarding. It's a good thing we weren't cutting it as close in SFO as we normally are, or else he would have missed it. So, by the time I drove from Oakland back to the city, my day's excursion amounted to 155 miles. Sweet.
The funny thing is that I felt absolutely no annoyance at this, which was surprising considering how vividly angry I got over the unpaid Comcast bill a few weeks ago. It's funny what things bother me and what things don't -- but Adit is lucky that I'm not the vindictive sort who would kick him out at Treasure Island.
Beyond visiting two of the three major Bay Area airports tonight, the rest of my day was pretty good. I made it down to the office a little before nine a.m., slogged the whole day, and took a nice break around 1:45pm for an impromptu lunch with Adit, who was hungry and took advantage of my office's free food. Since I'm barely going to see him in the next few weeks (he's in DC until Sunday, and then I leave Wednesday for a week and a half in the Midwest), it was good that we got to catch up.
I made it to my class tonight, and the discussion was quite good; I'm seriously debating taking another class next quarter because it forces me to think about new ways to write and gives me the chance to explore with different voices and styles, but given that I need to write a book next quarter, taking a class would be stupid. It's too bad, though; the instructor of this class (whom I really like) is teaching a class on creative nonfiction next quarter, which would give me a chance to work on a project about my hometown. I'll write my heart out this weekend, take stock, and decide whether I can handle it after that.
When I walked out of the History Corner tonight toward the Oval, my car, and my rendezvous with Adit, I had a brief, vivid flash of...something. It wasn't memory, precisely; but somehow, even though I wasn't soaking wet from the latest water fight or playing Mafia on the cobblestones, the scent of the Quad on a spring night brought my whole college experience back in one blow. It's somehow comforting to know that it smells the same, in a way that I can't describe, even though my life has moved on in the past seven (gasp) years since my senior spring.
Unfortunately, though, I really desperately need to get to bed; while I don't have early meetings tomorrow, I need to get down there at a respectable time because I'm leaving at 4pm to meet up with the instructor before class and chat with her about her thoughts on writing programs. Goodnight!
Sunday, March 14, 2010
I spent the entire day working on writing-related tasks, with a few unexpected breaks. I'm trying to catch up with all the writing assignments I missed for my class, and I succeeded in writing two exercises and a critique, as well as reading several more short stories. I didn't get as far as I should have, and I'm going to have to somehow eke out more time tomorrow (likely by not sleeping), but the progress was better than nothing, and I was happy with both the exercises. The breaks consisted of going to Duboce Park Cafe for a sandwich (yum), coming home to discover that Katrina was here and so allowing myself to be distracted for an hour, and then spending an unusually long amount of time (two hours) on the phone with my parents. I also procrastinated a bit, although not as much as I could have; I downloaded Mac Freedom, which disables one's internet connection for a user-determined length of time, which definitely cut down on the surfing and promoted productivity.
But now, even though I would like to keep going with the writing, I'm going to go to sleep so that I can get seven wonderful hours of dreaming before I get up and go to work. Goodnight!
Saturday, March 13, 2010
...and then Shedletsky showed up, betting that I would be there (and obviously he was right). He's attending a gaming convention near Samovar, and while he lives in San Francisco, I think the last time I saw him was before Christmas (which shows how remiss I have been with my social life). Since the last time I saw him was at Samovar, he knows that I like the place, and so he joined me for an hour and had a masala chai of his own. It was good to catch up, even if I did take a forced break from the writing.
After he left, I wrote for another hour, then left Samovar before being tempted to order a third chai, which might have given me a heart attack. I relocated to the cafe inside the Borders inside the Westfield Shopping Centre, where I spent two more hours writing before coming back to my apartment around five p.m. All told, I edited two big scenes and wrote 1500 new words (around six pages), which I then spent the evening entering into Scrivener. I'm pretty pleased with what I got done today, but there's still a long slog ahead before I'm finished...
I should have continued editing later tonight, but by the time I finished putting the edits into my laptop, it was almost eight p.m. So, I procrastinated for a bit, ordered pizza from Pizza Hut (true to my midwestern roots, despite the availability of "better" pizza in the general vicinity), and then finished reading "The Last Summer of the World" for my creative writing class. And now, rather than going out like any normal girl my age, I'm going to go to bed so that the time change tomorrow doesn't completely destroy my desire to get up and continue my productivity. Goodnight!
Friday, March 12, 2010
This us embarrassing, I suppose, but I'm utterly wiped out - I had a hard day at work today (not bad, just busy), and so while I was lucky that I could work from the SF office today, I was still tired when I got home. So, after a night of watching 'Project Runway', working on my class assignments, and thinking about Madeleine and Ferguson, it is really time for me to get some sleep. Goodnight!
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Cirque du Soleil last night was absolutely awesome. I went with my friend Chris (of Chris and Natasha fame; Chris was also in India with me) because Natasha had a work event and couldn't go. We went with Natasha's brother and his girlfriend, so it was kind of funny that I was there, but the show was so amazing that it was worth it. Chris had gotten tickets through work -- even though we work in the same place, there weren't tickets for everyone, only tickets for one specific group. Chris got amazing ones, though -- six rows back, right in the center, so we could see everything. I'd never been to a Cirque du Soleil performance before, but it was incredible -- I don't understand how humans can do some of the things they do, particularly not night after night after night. If you have a chance to see this particular show ("Ovo"), I highly recommend -- it was really cool!
As mentioned before, I spent last night at Chris and Natasha's place, which was v. nice since it gave me a chance to see Natasha, and also meant that I slept for six and a half hours instead of five. The sleep was key, because I slogged like a maniac today; the big boss is on a productivity kick, which means I have to go on the same kick, and so I had a ton to do. I took a break late in the afternoon to meet up with Vidius for coffee and get her expert help picking out a pair of glasses (I have extra flex spending money left over from last year that I have to spend by Saturday, and glasses seemed like the easiest, most useful way to blow it). Then, I drove back to the city of sin, where I slogged for another three hours while watching an episode of Craig and an episode (from a few weeks ago) of "Project Runway". Hopefully the big boss will be satisfied with what I've done sometime soon -- but luckily I'm going to Ann Arbor in a couple of weeks and then taking a week off to go home after that, so I'll get a break regardless.
And now, I must go to bed -- luckily I'm working out of the city tomorrow, meaning I get another good night's sleep, but this weekend is critical for making forward progress with the book. Goodnight!
So anyway, I went to Cirque du Soleil last night (amazing!) and stayed over at Chris and Natasha's so that I could avoid the drive home, since the show was in San Jose and I had an early meeting today. I will write more about all of it tonight during my regularly scheduled post, but suffice it to say that I'm in a better mood than I was, and I didn't leave you all hanging purposefully!
I don't know how to sign off when I'm not posting at night, so I guess I shall wish you good afternoon!
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
So I won't go into detail on the brooding, but it's no doubt tied to the fact that I'm getting older and should theoretically be making some commitments, but the urge to run away (or chop off my hair, which is usually inextricably linked to running away) is growing more intense by the day. I'll leave it at that, and hope that I check myself before I wreck myself.
Anyway, I went to class tonight, and it was better than I expected; the discussion of "The Last Summer of the World" was quite good, and then we workshopped my story and a story from another member of the class. I'm sure that was partially why I was in a bad mood today, because I had savaged the story in my head after I handed it in (it was really the first draft and I knew it had issues and so I was a bit embarrassed by it). But, the class was of course very nice, and they didn't savage it; and the instructor said that the tone was a very nice mix of sophisticated prose and light romanticism, and that the almost-flippant tone disguised but didn't ruin the sophistication of the underlying writing. This pleased me, of course; while in my head this piece wasn't exactly a romance, the class knows about my romance writing and so read it through that lens, and through that lens it still worked. The feedback was all extremely helpful, and I could see myself continuing this piece (it's set during the Crusades, so if I ever want to write medievals...) -- but I need to work on Madeleine and Ferguson's story first.
And now, this is patently not a four-minute post, and I really need to go to bed. Goodnight!
Monday, March 08, 2010
Anyway, the other highlight of the day was that I had lunch with Gyre; he recently celebrated his seven-year anniversary with our company, and as my seven-year anniversary is coming up this fall (speaking of places that I never intended to remain indefinitely), we have much in common and much to discuss. So, lunch was fun, and I followed it up by doing some desultory slogging in the afternoon and leaving at five to avoid traffic. I made it home by 6ish (impeded by sudden downpours throughout the drive), and started contemplating my manuscript. I also fed myself well tonight, making polenta (with butter and parmesan stirred in, yum) and a pork chop, which I tended to while brainstorming all the scenes that I somehow need to fit into my manuscript. I had a brief moment of panic (v. rare for me, I almost didn't recognize it for what it was) as I felt overwhelmed by the sheer amount of writing ahead of me, the fear of not being able to do it, and the broader, more sweeping issues of what I'm doing with my life and why I'm such a commitment-phobic disaster -- but I took a series of deep breaths and brought myself back to the brainstorming. And, really, the brainstorming was quite good, and I'm going to get up early tomorrow and think through it all some more before work.
I had to put it aside, though, so that I could catch up on the reading for my class tomorrow night. We're reading "The Last Summer of the World", which is about a photographer during World War I (although, of course, it's really about so much more than that); it took me awhile to get into it, but now that I'm about two-thirds of the way through, I think that it's really lovely. But I had to put that aside too, even though I just wanted to finish it -- if I'm going to survive work tomorrow, and write in the morning, and sit through three hours of class in the evening, I really need some sleep. Goodnight!
Sunday, March 07, 2010
First things first -- I managed to drag myself out of bed at a totally respectable hour, shower, throw a load of clothes in the washing machine, run to the grocery store, pick up some tings, and come home to make myself a delicious breakfast of french toast and really strong coffee. The french toast turned out v. well, particularly considering that I didn't have the right kind of thick-sliced bread for it; my trick is to add a dash of vanilla to the egg and milk mixture, which adds just a little bit of something perfect to the mix. After eating breakfast, I cleaned up, folded my laundry, procrastinated, and then sat down to focus on the book.
I put in a couple of solid hours with the manuscript, but I didn't write anything. Instead, I realized that I desperately need to take a step back and try to see the whole picture; because I changed my mind about Madeleine's character halfway through the first draft, there are some scenes that no longer work, some that could work with a bit of revising, some new scenes that I need to fit in someplace, and a whole bunch of different scenes that I need to write and insert. So, to put it bluntly, it's a mess. There are bits of brilliance within the cesspool, which cheered me up a bit, but on the whole I need to figure out where I'm going before I write another word, or I risk wasting my time or losing the threads.
So, I wrote out a card for each scene that currently exists, and started taking notes on what needs to change. I'm nowhere near an answer, but I'm taking the first critical steps. Hopefully I can spend some quality time with my cards this week (I hold-punched them and made them into a tiny little 'notebook', so I can carry them around and move them around as I see fit), so that I can start writing and making forward progress this weekend.
Anyway, I stopped working to watch the Oscars with Vidya (aka Vidius Chandicus, the gracious Chandlord). I didn't watch all of them with her, as she was late returning from an event and she called me just after I had put sweet potato fries in the oven that I was loathe to abandon. But, I sped over shortly after the "In Memoriam" segment (is it just me or did v. few people die this year? It's like they had to throw Michael Jackson in to get a swell of applause from the audience). So, we caught the major awards together while eating pizza from Pizza Hut (mmm). Even better, we watched the entire, final Barbara Walters Special, which was totally ridiculous as usual, but was even more ridiculous because she showed clips from every single special she did over the past thirty years. Then, I came home, played on the internet, and now need to go to bed. Goodnight!
So while I was in Menlo Park, I was convinced that it's the right place to move. However, the downside is that Menlo Park is a bit farther away from work than Palo Alto, so I'm realistically looking at 25mins to get home, rather than 15. But, I strolled down Santa Cruz Ave and saw all sorts of places that I would like to go (cafes, gourmet grocery stores, my all-time fave Borrone, etc.) I also liked the place that I saw; it had hardwood floors and felt like more of a house/cottage than an apartment (definite plus) -- but, it also doesn't have the granite countertops and fancy bathrooms that many of the soulless apartment complexes have upgraded their units with. So, in that respect it comes down to charm vs. slickness, and I'm not sure how to weigh that decision either. But, the landlady was nice, which is always a plus, and so I told her I'd get back to her in a few days.
After seeing the apartment, I went to Palo Alto and had a sandwich at Printers Inc before coming back to the city of sin. I tried working on the novel and wrote about half a page, but then got distracted with my finances (namely, reconciling all my expenses in iBank), and somehow endured Adit mocking me for using my Hello Kitty calculator while playing around with the numbers. Then, Adit invited me to dinner with him and some friends who were getting together (Anton and Amanda, whom I know, and Beth, Eve and Dave, whom I don't). Dinner was in like the worst place in the city to get to (North Beach), and was at a restaurant called "Enjoy Vegetarian". Despite my meat-eating ways, I did enjoy it, even if the place was so vegetarian that it could have things like 'coconut chicken' on its menu and you were just expected to know that the chicken was some sort of meat replacement product. I don't usually eat meat replacement products, but this stuff was all good.
So, dinner was quite fun, but I bailed on their plans to go to a house party in the Marina and a bar in Oakland (not quite sure, logistically, how that will all work out for them). And now, I should really go to bed -- and tomorrow, I should really write rather than obsessing about where I'm going to live. Goodnight!
Friday, March 05, 2010
After I got back from lunch, I slogged for a few hours and wrapped up the final little things that I need to do before the weekend. I left around 4:30 and went to Starbucks, where I wrote for forty-five minutes until my friend Natasha met me there for an extended coffee break. Amazingly, I hadn't seen her since before I went to India, and so we had a ton to catch up on. When she left to meet up with her husband (so weird to call Chris someone's husband!) for dinner, I drove back to the city of sin, where I happened to catch Adit in the apartment for half an hour of conversation and insult-trading. He went out for dinner/parties, and I stayed in with the initial goal of writing -- but instead looked at apartments and debated my options. I'm really, really torn about everything related to finding a new place to live; I want someplace that I could stay in for awhile, since I'm tired of moving every year, but I am so torn between living in the city and moving back to the south bay. When the city is lovely, it is beyond lovely, and I have had so many good times and grand memories from my time up here. However, when I think of the 10+ hours a week that I spend commuting, I begin to doubt that I could keep doing that for several years. But, if I were to leave my company or find a role in the San Francisco office, I would definitely want to be up here. But, the amenities that I want (parking, laundry, etc.) are easier to find more cheaply in the south bay. But, the apartments are primarily soulless and have none of the quaint period details of many apartments in the city. But, the charming apartments in the city usually don't have the sleek finishes that I admire. And then add to it that the area that I considered moving to (Noe Valley) would only help my commute if I lived in the less interesting part of Noe that is several v. steep hills away from the bustling activity around 24th street, and I'm just confused.
So yeah, I'm going back and forth and I don't know how I'm going to decide. I saw an utterly awesome loft on Craigslist tonight that meets all my requirements and looks amazing, but it's in a weird neighborhood (technically inner Mission, a block away from Atlas Cafe) that I've only ever been to during the day, and I would imagine it gets strange (not necessarily dangerous, but definitely strange) at night. And, it would be a bitch to get from there to the city office, thus eliminating the appeal of working in the city.
I need to stop thinking about it, since I likely won't move for a couple of months anyway. And now that I've thoroughly bored you with my move thought-process, it's time for bed!
Thursday, March 04, 2010
I made a brief stopover at Philz Coffee in Palo Alto to get some much-needed caffeine, and I wrote for 45 minutes (the first time I had written anything for book two since going to India...but I'm really eager to get back into it). Then, I picked up The Enemy for dinner and took him to downtown Palo Alto. You may know The Enemy as Irish Matt (remember him? tall guy, from Ireland, named Matt? we spent six months in India together and then traveled around Sri Lanka...but I don't know why I'm telling you this, since any longtime reader of my blog will likely know of him). Irish Matt is now The Enemy because he left our company a few weeks ago to join Facebook (sssss) -- but I still get to see him because the enemy headquarters are in Palo Alto, and he's here for two weeks for his initial training. I felt quite weird skulking outside their headquarters in the dark waiting for Matt to come out, but once I picked him up I forgot that he was The Enemy and he became Irish Matt again.
We had quite a good time in downtown Palo Alto; I took him to Joya (where Claude the Fraude, Vidius Chandicus and I had drinks and dessert after the holidays), which was v. good. We ordered off the tapas menu, and while dinner was quite the prolonged affair (we ordered six dishes, they brought them out mostly separately, forgot the calamari and so brought it at the end, and then we had dessert as well), it was delicious. I also had a v. nice glass of malbec and a glass of Gloria Ferrer blanc de noirs sparking wine, which I enjoy; this wasn't as excessive as one might think, since dinner took almost three hours. But, those were three v. enjoyable hours to spend with Irish Matt, and hopefully I'll see him again while he's out here.
After an uneventful drive to the city, I played around on my laptop and bought plane tickets; my friend (who shall remain nameless in case she hasn't told her family yet, but you may know her as the queen of my heart and founding member of the Race of Joseph (you wouldn't understand unless you were part of the Race of Joseph yourself...or, more importantly, have read 'Anne's House of Dreams')) and I have made mad plans to go to Cancun together for a few days at the end of April, and so while we booked the hotel this morning, I needed to get my plane tickets so that I didn't leave her in Cancun all by herself. And now, after all that, I need to go to bed; this is going to be a hermit/writing weekend, so please expect some boring posts for the next few days. Goodnight!
Wednesday, March 03, 2010
Then, happily, the evening became more fun; I talked to my parents briefly, then had dinner with Dave (my former boss) at the restaurant we usually go to in Mountain View. It was great to catch up, even though I ate way too much, which made the drive back to the city (particularly in the rain) a little challenging. I also talked to Katie -- we're trying to coordinate a weekend getaway to somewhere nice and sunny, since we're both sick of the rain and gloom of our current towns. I made it home eventually, and I've been watching bits and pieces of "Snatch" with Adit over some internet surfing. I love how ridiculous this movie is, and I could stay up and watch the whole thing -- but I want to write tomorrow, so it's time for bed instead. Goodnight!
Tuesday, March 02, 2010
But, all's well that ends well, as the Ingallses would say. Class was still v. interesting despite the fact that I wasn't prepared, and it was good to hear another debut author talk about her process even if her writing and subject matter is v. different from mine. And I'm shaping up to have a good week at work; if my laptop doesn't die tomorrow and I'm able to get stuff done, I should go into the weekend without any looming tasks, and the ability to write to my little heart's content.
Now, though, my four minutes are up, and I should really be in bed *right now* if I want to get seven hours of sleep tonight. I intend to wear these ridiculous heels that arrived from Zappos today, and I will need to be well-rested in order to maintain my balance and keep from falling on my face tomorrow. Goodnight!
Anyway, other than my brooding over my story, today was a good day. Adit and I drove down to the glorious south bay together, and we spent most of the commute discussing our favorite topic (the sound and permutations of "Wamp") before I kicked him out at his office. Then, I proceeded to my office, where I spent the day slogging in anticipation of a meeting with the big boss at two p.m. I stayed there until almost four, had an aborted meeting with someone else, and made it out of work before five p.m., which enabled me to get back to the evil city before the traffic kicked in. Vidya and I shared a v. brief moment in that we both realized that our cars were next to each other on the off-ramp leading into the city, but it of course wasn't meant to last. Once here, I ran to the grocery store to pick up a pork chop, then came home, slogged for the day job for a couple of hours, talked to my parents, made dinner (pork chop, sweet potato fries, and green beans, yummy in my tummy), thought about my story, got pinged by the big boss and so slogged again, and then wrote for an hour. And now, even though I'm not done, I'm going to go to sleep anyway; part of turning over a new leaf is getting ample sleep, and I will feel better and more productive for it in the morning. Goodnight!