Monthly Archives: January 2008

A good day

I had a good day today.

I went over to AWP mid-morning and made it to a couple of panels. I toured the book fair. I got overwhelmed and went back uptown to my hotel and…

The hubby and I walked to a very late mid-afternoon lunch and then over to the Met. Where we saw lots of beautiful works of art. As we walked out, there was a man singing his heart out. What a fine soundtrack for the city before us.

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The sky was blue, the light golden. The bare trees made lacy patterns and dressed the skyline up.

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I was happy to see there were books uptown, too…

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It was time to rest. I had just an hour to gather my energy up before going out again.

I took a cab ride–with a taxi driver who performed  a surprising act of kindness (I will blog about this later) to a midtown dinner (yes, I ate meals back to back) with Susan, and feasted on foie gras (what else) and moules et frites. And had a nice cocktail. I love a city where I don’t have to worry about drinking then driving.

The grand finale was John Irving’s keynote speech at AWP. Here’s my fuzzy picture of him. You’ll just have to believe me when I say it really is John Irving.

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He was amazing. I couldn’t stop scribbling notes. My right hand cramped up. I kept going. I was so inspired. Before I began to read Murakami, he was my favorite writer. I have read everything of Irving’s except Son of the Circus and Until I Find You.

Still, the night did not end. As we walked out of the conference, we spotted Ray’s pizza. I could not resist. I bought two slices to take back to the hubby.

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running on pacific time!

I was supposed to go to a few AWP sessions at 9am EST, but I just could NOT wake up. I slept 3 hours the night previous, and barely at all the plane, so I just crashed. The alarm went off. I winced. I hit snooze. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

As I lay in the hotel room, the rumble of traffic and accompanying horns slowly increasing in complexity and decibel (oh I love the city), I told myself silently, “Am I not on VACATION?!”

So there. I gave myself permission to sleep in. I’ll head over to the conference on my own time–if I miss a few sessions, so be it. The most important thing today, for me, is the John Irving keynote speech tonight, anyhow. And realistically, big crowds of people freak me out.

Last night, as I walked past the conference hotel, I said the same–that big crowds of people freak me out and that I might be back early from the conference.

My hubby said, “That’s because you’re such an introvert! Just hang in there, and open your mind, don’t give up too early. Give it a chance.”

Not many people in the world consider me an introvert. I told a friend at work that I am an introvert, and he started guffawing. “Yah. YOU. You’re REALLY an INTROVERT.” And resumed guffawing.

But I am. I’ve trained myself to be highly social and I love being with people one on one. But big large groups? I’m petrified.

Update: After two talks (the one about “how editors acquire books” was one I walked straight out of after 10 minutes–it was clear I’d learn nothing new there:  get an agent, get an agent, get an agent…and the outlook is bleak.  Nothing new to me) and a tour of the bookfair, I am back in my hotel room, resting up to attend tonight’s keynote with John Irving.

Despite my sensory overload, I managed to navigate quite a bit! I said hello to A Public Space (I was a founding subscriber and am friends with one of their contributing editors) and Sycamore Review (Hey I read their blog! The fiction editor, Jon, who happened to be there, offered me candy. Of course I happily obliged). And I briefly rendezvoused with Susan. But after awhile, I wished I could transport right out of there. Standing in the midst of the huge crowds, the thrum of crowd noise pressing into me, surrounded by people, I realized, “I need to get out of here!” So now I am in my upholstered chair, in my little room, feeling oh so much better.

Time for a very late lunch.

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Midtown walk

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We’re in New York for AWP! In town a day early, we took many strolls around town–a brisk walk (trying to make it to the upper west side before sunset) through the park up to Zabar’s for snacks (to avoid raiding the mini-bar in the room), back to the hotel, then over to Hell’s Kitchen for a yummy hole in the wall dinner…then around Times Square and midtown to walk off dinner.

Digression: I f*cking LOVE New York! I was born here, and I have always wanted to come back and live here fulltime. I feel like I make SENSE here.

In midtown, we walked by the conference center–a collection of writerly looking people were beginning to assemble in the hotel lobby.

I’ve worked in high tech a number of years–working the booths for various companies of mine, ranging from IT conferences to software developer conferences.

Man, we writers look a lot like sysadmins.

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the pile on the floor

I’ve got the contents of my suitcase piled on the floor of my bedroom.  The clothes I want to take, neatly piled, to be rolled up tomorrow.  (I don’t have NEARLY enough warm clothes–if I’m not going to be warm enough for New York, how am I going to be warm enough when I go to Michigan in a few weeks?!).  Toiletries.  An umbrella.  I’ve got books to read on the plane and in my hotel at night stacked by my backpack.

Soooo excited.  Going to AWP!  Going to Manhattan!

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Meditating

I’m weird.  Not for any particular reason.  Just weird.

Like the fact that I find sitting in an MRI machine comforting.   Wrapped in a blanket, the clicking and grinding sounds muffled by earplugs, lying very very very still (trying hard NOT to sneeze, trying very hard to breathe even, deep breaths), with my eyes closed in a tight tunnel…being in that small space makes me focus and relax.

I just empty my mind–just let myself float, imagine being in a womb, or a wide sky above me.

This morning, I did just that.  I let my mind swim in the murky space between sleep and consciousness, “almost asleep.”  It was jarring to emerge from the MRI.  I wanted to curl up and sleep some more, imagine more open spacees.

Why is it that such a tiny space makes me open my mind?

Answer: I’m weird.

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Oh man. It’s not so good.

Following the theme of finishing my novel, I went back and read what I’d written so far, before I got sick last year and had to set novel writing aside. Though I finally made my way back to short fiction, I was reluctant to delve back into my novel for quite some time.  It’s been sitting around on my hard drive, collecting figurative electronic dust.

But I signed up for a writing workshop. Despite my public announcement about being workshopped out, I figured the most expedient way for me to get back onto the novel-writing-horse was to put myself into a structured situation, one that would focus on novel-writing, one that would hold me accountable. I have a wonderful writing friend/partner who has kept me going through good and bad times, but at this point, a workshop is what’s going to get me really focused on the novel itself.

So, in preparation for the class commencement, I flipped through what I’d written of my novel thus far.

As a writer, it’s hard for me to get distance from my writing–but in this case, distance is all I’ve had.  The novel’s been sitting fallow for nearly a year and a half, and so I looked at it with a very clear and cold eye.

Ugh. I was not impressed. Compared to my novella-in-progress, my novel is paltry and underdeveloped, and the writing is not so good. I flinch while I read big chunks of it.

The idea of the novel still appeals to me, and so it drives me forward. I am tempted to work on my novella for this workshop, and not my novel…but I am determined to give the novel a fair shot. And I swear, I know I said I would never start the novel over, but I just may start over…AGAIN.

The good news is–my writing partner/friend has signed up for the workshop too.

Time for me to face the novel writing music.

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Filed under The Novel, Writing

Do I, did I–have a hole in my ear?

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When I went through that last meme, I answered the question about piercings and tattoos quickly and easily. I have two piercings total. No tattoos. Duh. Yup. I have only two piercings, one in each of my ears. No need to peruse my body for more piercings or tattoos. I’m pretty familiar with my own body thank you.

Then I read other people’s answers to the meme…and I slowly became overwhelmed with doubt each time I reread the question, “How many piercings/tattoos do I have?” Wait. Did I have a double piercing in one of my ears? Didn’t I used to wear two earrings in my left ear, and one in my right? Somewhere, I felt there might have been the possibility that I wore two earrings, some dim recollection of physical sensation of two earrings. But I couldn’t remember anything specific, there was nothing in the forefront of my mind, nothing that I could bring to the forefront of my mind to back that deep instinctual, almost intuitive, possibility up.

I really, really wasn’t sure. And the more unsure I felt, the weirder I felt–isn’t this something I should know and remember? Why wouldn’t I remember something about my own body?

Did this mean I could have been abducted by space aliens and have never known? It was not a nice feeling.

I tried to look at my ear–did you know it’s REALLY hard to look at your own ear closely? So I took a picture. Did you know it’s hard to take a close up picture of your own ear? Hrm. That kind of LOOKS like a hole that closed up. But it could also just be a natural dimple in my ear. Hrm.

I asked my husband, who has known me since I was twenty years old. “Did I used to have two earring holes in my left ear?”

He looked at me, distracted by making turkey bacon for breakfast. “Yah.” The kitchen was filled with the rich smoke of the meat, and I could feel myself salivating but I was undeterred.

“Really?!”

“Yah.” He said it like you’d say “Duh.”

“For serious?!”

“Yah!”

“I used to have TWO earrings in my left ear? Did I wear them when I met you?”

“Yah,” he said, “You wore two earrings in your left ear when we first started dating.”

HUH? What ELSE have I forgotten? Egads.

It’s one of those things that slipped through the cracks of my memory, whether through age (though I doubt I’m old enough to start being that forgetful) or through the consequences of my stroke.

These days, when I remember things–it happens a lot like the above. Like I FEEL the answer but can’t believe it, because I don’t “remember” it, I can’t form a picture in my mind…but somehow, it FEELS right. And inevitably, the deep “feeling” I have is indeed a real memory–usually verified by others when I ask around to see if what I “remember” and “feel” really happened.

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