inasmuch as it concerns Feeding The Beast:
Food, cooking, recipes, and so forth. Because I don't do that "starving artist" thing.
what we call a great start to the week
Oh, and speaking of making up for things, I slept in today. A lot. I needed to make up for the weekend, in which I failed to get pretty much any sleep and so I failed at pretty much everything else. So. Hi! I'm well rested now!
Tomorrow is party day. Tomorrow is get up, make the ambrosia salad, make with about half a workday's worth of writing, and then make with the partying. Yay party.
Apropros of just about nothing at all, did you know that the latest version of the Android emulator Bluestacks (2.7.320.8504) is actually compatible with Neko Atsume? OH MY GOD IT'S FULL OF KITTIES. I finally got a picture of Ramses the Great today. This makes me feel so accomplished I cannot begin to tell you.
which doesn't make the date less significant
About the same today: Got the daily stuff in--did my freewriting, finished drafting this week's Fictionette release, and typed a page against the Fictionette artifact backlog. Then I had to leave for errands in Longmont en route to the usual Thursday scrimmage. But maybe, maybe, if I am very good, and if I do it in an idle sort of low-energy way that is compatible with the post-derby portion of the evening, I might manage to spend a half hour or so on the novel I started brainstorming last year. I might not actually write any of it--I might spend that half hour simply reading all my notes from last November and maybe adding to them--but it is nevertheless an exciting prospect.
To make that more possible, I'm doing the blog post now rather than later. Hi!
Greens in the fridge notwithstanding, I am enjoying a bowl of pho at Pho Huong Viet. They have become my pre-bout ritual, only I missed out on Saturday what with that whole "oops, I left my shoes at the Fairgrounds and now the building's locked and it turns out the people at the restaurant would really rather I didn't skate on their nice wood floor" thing. I mean, they did let me order spring rolls to go, but it just wasn't the same. So I'm making up for it today.
I made up for a different oversight by calling Dad. My parents have the same wedding anniversary date that me and John do, so generally it's easy to remember to call. But this year, what with our frantic roller derby schedule, we barely remembered our own anniversary. So I called today.
It was weird, though. I had this awful feeling that wishing Dad a happy anniversary would not actually be kind. Like it was more likely to add insult to injury. I mean, if Dad was widowed, there'd be no question; the anniversary of the start of a fantastic marriage is no less something to be celebrated just because death did you part. But it feels wrong somehow when Mom is still around in body but entirely gone in her mind. The marriage continues but one of its participants has changed beyond recognition (and does not herself recognize most of the people closest to her in her life). Are we celebrating? Are we in any position to celebrate? Was the 20th, in fact, a happy day, or was it just an occasion for the calendar to stick a knife in Dad's ribs and twist it?
Dementia sucks and makes everything awkward.
But I called, and I said happy anniversary, and Dad kind of laughed and returned the good wishes, and we took the rest of the phone call as just another opportunity to catch up on the last few weeks. I told him about the most recent bouts; he took the news about his daughter getting a black eye in stride ("So you scored points, and you got a badge of honor. Nothing wrong with that!"). He told me about how his day's been going. Things were OK.
He put Mom on the phone. Mom said hello and that she hoped everything was going well for me, and then, this having used up her scant verbal reserves, she handed back the phone.
"Well, that didn't go so well," Dad said.
"I dunno," said I, "she put words together to form sentences. That's a thing."
So. I guess the moral of the story is, however awkward the conversation, it's never actually wrong to call. Well, rarely, anyway.
but i'm supposed to blog so i guess here is a post
Hullo the blog. Not much to report. Continuing to plug along at my daily tasks and inch through the overdue ones. Also there are household things and the everpresent specter of roller derby, so each day winds up having less time in it than I think. Still haven't managed to get to the exciting things like "and work on that novel you started brainstorming last year!" or "get a new short story ready for submission!" But that will come. Meanwhile, I am showing up every day and putting in a solid session, and I am no longer actively falling behind in anything.
The linden tree out back started blooming about a day after I complained that it hadn't. So that's nice. The fragrance was particularly delightful late last night.
I am sporting my very first derby-related black eye! It's awesome. One of the staff at Murphy's last night, where we often go for post-practice dinner and drinks, asked me if I gave as good as I got. I had to admit that I had, yes, by definition, seeing has how I had given it to myself in the first place. Remember about the inadvisability of playing offense with your face? Yeah, well, same goes for jamming. Also I need to get better at my hockey stops so I have other options when approaching a pack at speed other than "success!" and "panic, fall over, go boom."
In other news, it's CSA season and my fridge is full of greens. I keep thinking, "I've been good, I've worked hard, I should treat myself to five spice wok chicken at Jin Chan," and then I don't go, because my fridge is full of greens. I have been coming up with all the ways to eat them. There's sauteeed mizuna to keep my leftover kung pao chicken from getting lonely, there's finely shredded kale mixed in with shredded potatoes and scrambled eggs for a sort of hash brown/omelet/egg-fu-yung/potato-pancake hybrid breakfast (don't forget the apple sauce), there's stewed chard in a pot of approximate dal, there's anything leafy at all in my sausage-mac-and-cheese (featuring more cheddar brats from my teammate's farm), there's sprouts on my fake-bacon-and-cheese sandwich, and then there's straight-up salad.
WHAT MAGNESIUM DEFICIENCY I AM EATING ALL THE THINGS WITH MAGNESIUM IN THEM.
(The foot does seem to be cramping less during practice... but that could just be the results of, y'know, practice.)
So. Like I said, not much to report. Just stuff. More stuff tomorrow if we're lucky.
walking around on a Monday afternoon (now with more writing)
I would like to get to the point where I am no longer patting myself on my back just for getting the day's work done. I feel like "puts in the hours writing" is a bare minimum to call myself a writer, much as "has four wheels and an engine" is the bare minimum for calling something a car. But years of painful experience tells me that it's not a given, so: Today was a good day. I put in the hours writing. This week is off to a good start.
I can tell you this about procrastination: It's not fun. Knowing that I've got a writing task to get to, and yet doing anything other than starting on that task, is a weird sort of self-administered torture that makes absolutely no sense at all. So there was a sense of relief today when, rather than doing the avoidance dance for hours on end, I just said to myself, Enough of this crap, clocked in on my timesheet, and got to work on the next task.
By contrast, my four-hour Puzzle Pirates session at the Rayback on Saturday was blissful because I had done my Friday work and had no reason to feel guilty. I had earned my self-indulgence.
It's really, really silly how much it's in my own power to reduce my own stress and increase my own happiness, and how nevertheless I so often don't take the steps to do it.
Speaking of steps (she segued masterfully), I did a lot of walking today. Mondays I take the Volt on my various errands and charge it, which means a lot of walking between whatever charging station I use and whatever errands I have. Today's errands were: 1. While charging the car at the Village on the Peaks station, my weekly Cafe of Life appointment, lunch at Leenie's Cafe (oyster remoulade omelet, grits, biscuit, and coffee while accomplishing some of the aforementioned writing tasks), and groceries; 2. while using the plug that a small business owner in Gunbarrel very kindly makes available to the public via plugshare.com, New Recruit Night at Finkel & Garf. (There will be another on Wedensday at Left Hand Brewing, so if you missed it tonight and you're interested in learning more about roller derby in Boulder County, put that on your calendar.) My knee appears to be all better, or if not all better then as close as makes no nevermind; it got tight and sore from all the walking more quickly than the other knee did, but no more than that. I think I'm in good shape for tomorrow's practice.
I passed linden trees in Longmont that were already in bloom and smelling gorgeously sweet. Not sure why the ones at home aren't blooming yet, but it can't be long now. The two or three weeks of high summer when that scent is constantly wafting in our bedroom window are glorious.
YPP Weekend Blockades, May 13-14: Grudge-matches galore and BKs to beat on
This weekend's blockade schedule appears to dominated by, on the Meridian Ocean, Barely Dressed's war with Infamous (seven blockades all kicking off right about noon today) and on the Cerulean Ocean, The Coalition versus The Stumbling Solo (three blockades at various times throughout the PM). Cerulean also hosts a handful of Brigand King encounters, so if you like bounty payments and hauling up treasure, don't miss the action at Chaparral, Labby Moors, and Nu.
It's May and there's a new Seal o' Piracy to be won! This month, your task is simple and clearly explicated:
Engag[e] in melees with 3 Brigand Kings. (Cursed Isles and Brigand King Blockades not included; credit is awarded for reaching the melee, whether you win or lose)
I don't think it has to be three different BKs, but rather three different encounters. If so, it's pretty simple if you've got some PoE on you and the standing of Officer in a crew: Go buy yourself three Brigand King Compasses and use them, solo if you must! I've done that before. But it's much more fun, in my opinion, to win a BK expo during pilly with a decent crew.
(The Friday Fictionette for May 12 will go live later on during this weekend. My apologies. Last weekend being derby-stuffed led to this week being a short one with little margin for error. But I made rocky road brownies last night with my crock pot! That's gotta count for something.)
Standard reminders: Schedule is given in Pirate Time, or U.S. Pacific. Player flags link to Yoweb information pages; Brigand King Flags link to Yppedia Brigand King pages. BK amassed power given in parenthetical numbers, like so: (14). For more info about jobbing contacts, jobber pay, and Event Blockade battle board configuration, check the Blockade tab of your ocean's Notice Board. To get hired, apply under the Voyages tab.
Doubloon Ocean Blockades
*** Saturday, May 13 ***
Subscription Ocean Blockades
*** Saturday, May 13 ***
whatever gets you out of bed in the morning
I think I'm finally getting back into the everyday swing of things. Got up on time, did my daily writing deeds, dynamited huge chunks out of Mt. Overdue, uploaded the Wednesday volunteer reading recording on time, and went to an optional derby practice because why not.
Then I came home and ate yummy crock-pot shepherd's pie. Look, it was yummy. I had half the potatoes I was supposed to and no carrots, and I cooked it too long so that it came out looking sort of all-over brown in every part and that includes the peas, but it was yummy. Then again, I'm easy to please. It's full of meat and potatoes and mushrooms and onions and tomato paste and beef broth. I'm not likely going to complain. Besides, it was after derby. After derby, you can put a plate of pretty much anything in front of me and, five minutes later, the plate will be sparkling clean and I will say, "Thank you, that hit the spot. By the way, what was it?" So. Don't take my word for it, is what I'm saying.
So it was good day. Still didn't get everything I wanted done, but getting up on time helped me come mighty close. I would love to say that I leapt out of bed like a young Ray Bradbury who's so overcome with eagerness to write that I just! Can't! Stay in bed any longer!!! That's how he describes himself in Zen in the Art of Writing, anyway. I always envied him that. For years I felt like a fraud because I couldn't describe my mornings that way. What saved my self-esteem was becoming cynical enough in my old age to begin to doubt his self-reportage.
Anyway, no, though the prospect of writing (or, rather, getting all the writing done) was what kept me going all day, it was not what got me out of bed in the first place. No. That honor goes to the frickin' weekly extreme jigsaw sudoku.
Heaven help me, I've fallen off the wagon and landed face-first in my old addiction to that website's sudoku competitions. There's a new batch of puzzles every day and a midnight deadline to submit the solution and that, skaters and gentlefen, is all it takes to turn a casual passtime for me into an obsession. MUST INCREASE MY WINNING STREAK TO 350.
But it doesn't just push my gamer-acquisition-achievement button. It also pushes my mechanical obsession button. See, I made myself this .xcf document (like .psd only for the Gimp rather than Photoshop) with a layer group containing all the different jigsaw shapes, a layer group where I put screenshots of all the puzzles for the coming week, a text layer with the exact leading and kerning needed to put the digits right in the screenshot cells--and because it's a text layer, I can select-all, copy, and paste my solution directly into the website's submission form--and, most importantly, there's a huge library of paths which make selecting all the 2s in Box 3, Row G and Column 8 a matter of five keystrokes and a couple mouse-clicks. It is very, very clever and it is terribly satisfying to use and OK, I need to get out more. Granted. But I'll give you a copy if you want.
Last night, just before going to sleep, I was reading solving strategy articles, trying yet again to understand the point of X-Wings. I never quite understood before. I mean, what could they do that double box/line reduction and double pointing pairs couldn't? But this time around it finally clicked (Oh! It has nothing to do with boxes! It's purely about the columns and rows! I get it now) so I Alt-Tabbed over to the puzzle I was working on to test my comprehension. And, wouldn't you know, I spotted one. For the first time ever, I spotted a goddamned X-Wing in the wild while there were still candidates for it to clear.
It was very late at night. I was pleasantly drowsy and tightly swaddled in the blankets. I decided that, having spotted my X-Wing (on the 6s in rows G and H and columns 3 and 8), I'd process its candidate removal in the morning.
So although I'm vaguely embarrassed to admit it, it's dog's honest truth: It was the thought of finally getting to remove sudoku candidates by the X-Wing strategy for the first time that got me bounding out of bed on time.
Ray Bradbury would be ashamed of me. But I don't have to care.
Everything has gone according to plan: packing, cleaning, other preparations, all successful. Getting the necessary things done took up all the hours available between when I got up at 8:30 and when I left, ten minutes late, at 3:40. I choose to interpret this as confirmation that the expectations I set for myself were both reasonable and sufficiently challenging.
I am now ensconced in "Frederick's Library." As promised, it has a desk. It also has several shelves of books, mostly classic literature but also including some oddball novels I've never heard of but which I assume were popular at the time they came out.
I am also a little more than half-drunk, having just now thoroughly enjoyed tonight's Ska Brewing beer-pairing dinner at The Roost. Everything was fantastic, even the courses that featured IPAs (I am not normally an IPA fan). The Pink Vapor Stew Sour was an especial epiphany. There was more beer involved in this single sitting than I'm used to drinking in a given week, so I was very glad that I had only to walk three blocks before collapsing.
Speaking of collapsing--
new week new year new what the hell is this
- 1,218 wds. long
It's very tempting to look at the first two days of a new year and panic. Like, argh, I did some of the same stupid shit I did all last year, does that mean this year's not going to be any better? Well, no. It doesn't mean that. January 1 does not have the magical property of setting the tone for the following 364 days. Despite being the first day of a brand new year, it's just another day. Every day is just another day.
On the other hand, what I did with my January 1 was kind of awesome. I did my daily writing, released the Fictionette Freebie for November, and I helped with ongoing construction at my roller derby league's practice space. Writing and roller derby are two of the biggest things in my current life, and I made them part of my New Year's Day--with time yet remaining to play Puzzle Pirates over beer and pulled pork at a favorite downtown restaurant/bar. So even if Jan. 1 does have magical properties, I think I used them well.
(The floor is done! As soon as the freshly washed sport-court is dry enough to place on top of plywood, we'll be skating on that sucker! Now if only the weather would warm up enough to let things dry rather than freeze.)
Now, about Jan. 2... I'm dialing back my Monday ambitions, y'all. There is no way that I'm getting five hours of writing done on a day that contains both chiro and any form of derby doings. Which today did. There was my usual Cafe of Life appointment, and there were new recruits to welcome to the league. There was no track for them to skate on yet, but we met up at a local brewery and, I do hope, made them feel real welcome.
(Local brewery = Finkel and Garf in Gunbarrel. A brewery where being old enough to drink doesn't mean you're too old to be a kid. There are toys in their logo and there are toys all over the store. There were giant lego, which we used in a three-team competition of creativity and style, and all the board games. Also a wide variety of snacks for a buck each. I had a can of Vienna sausages with my cherry wheat lager. I used my plastic size #2 knitting needles to eat the sausages because I had no toothpicks.)
(Of course I carry #2 knitting needles with me everywhere. You never know when you'll need to darn a sock. Or eat Vienna sausages.)
But even in a Monday with both chiro and derby doings, I still got all my daily "gotta-dos" did. And I got important household errands run. I did stuff. So it wasn't too shabby a Monday.
I am eying the rest of the week with equal amounts of determination and suspicion. I am determined to have a good week, a productive and writerly week, with lots of work on the novel and an on-time Jan 6 fictionette release... but I suspect that this week has something up its sleeve. I have no idea what. I have no good reason to think that this week in particular is out to get me. But I know its type. I have seen weeks like this before.
I'm on to you, Week One of 2016. I'm hip to your tricks. You just better watch out.
the postponement that surprised no one
Turns out food coma is a thing, even on vacation. Especially on vacation. Thus the Friday Fictionette which I said to expect on Saturday will come out on Sunday instead (which you probably saw coming), but not for lack of trying. I'm working on it right now. But it's 10:30 at night and I am a realist.
My day was pleasantly full of travel. I like public transportation, for the most part, and I got to sample several flavors of it today. I'd especially been looking forward to the Greyhound portion because all their buses are now equipped with wi-fi and electrical outlets. But of course that wi-fi is only as good as the signal strength where the bus is traveling, and signal strength is poor on mountain roads. But even knowing that, I was surprised by the stretch of I-70 where I could download and install a Java upgrade, play Puzzle Pirates, and yet be unable to load web pages. (This is why no blockade post today.) So I played Puzzle Pirates and read ebooks until the Greyhound arrived in Vail.
Twenty minutes later I arrived in Avon on the westbound Highway 6 bus, and my annual week of "run away and hide from the world and get lots of writing done!" commenced. It was sunny and bright and warmer than I'd expected, the forecast snow not having arrived yet. I figured I'd better enjoy the weather while it lasted. Besides, I'd arrived too early to check into my room. So I wandered down the street in search of dinner.
Used to be, my first meal in Avon would be at Finnegan's Wake, the Irish pub next door to Loaded Joe's. Used to be. Some years ago, I arrived to discover Finnegan's Wake was gone and had been replaced by some barbecue and sports bar thing called Montana's Smokehouse. I've eaten there once. It didn't really speak to me.
I think my new Welcome to Avon ritual is going to be China Garden. I already make sure to get there at least once per stay; why not on Day 1? Today I had the crispy duck and a pot of tea, and I consumed it all. (OK, maybe not all the fried rice. But close.) And of course this gluttony occurred after a day full of travel, which itself included the altitude spike of Vail Pass and also the ant-under-a-magnifying-glass factor of several hours in buses on a sunny day. Thus the food coma to which I succumbed the moment I got to my room.
So the "get lots of writing done!" aspect of the week is starting a little later than usual. But it is starting.
taking the guilt out of guilty pleasures
I still don't have the hang of Wednesdays. Their insistence on coming after Tuesdays is one problem--although, admittedly, last night's roller derby practice was much lighter than usual, so I didn't wake up feeling beat up. But I had another rough night of constantly interrupted sleep, which kind of killed my morning.
That, plus, I had dreams. They were compelling dreams. They compelled me to go back to sleep to remember them better. They resonated oddly with all the novel planning I'd been doing, especially the idea of a "company store" environment in which Delta, one of my protagonists, is trying, futilely, to work her way out of perjury debt.
OK, so, it goes like this: In Balvion, the country in which the novel takes place, contracts are not legally but inevitably binding. Inevitable, like gravity. When you sign your name to a contract, you are offering it up as collateral. If you fail to uphold the terms of the contract, you lose your name and identity. You can theoretically earn enough to buy it back under a new contract, but you need a job to earn money, and to get a job you need things like a resume and references and a work history--which you no longer have because your identity isn't yours anymore. You can't even claim your own high school diploma.
So what you do is this: You rent an identity. At ruinous interest. So you can work a crap job that pays less than minimum wage and play along with the fiction that this will somehow make it possible to scrape together enough money to buy your name back.
That's the situation that "Delta Echoes" is in. It's not her real name. We won't know her real name until later in the story. Meanwhile, I'm having nightmares of being beholden to shady corporations that will compromise me morally if I continue working for them but will seriously punish me if I escape their evil clutches. Fun!
Meanwhile, after my appointment at Cafe of Life, I went back to that terrible super buffet. I AM NOT ASHAMED. It was strangely less terrible this time. Even the green-lipped mussels and the so-called seafood pie were acceptable, although this is possibly because I was choosier about where in the pan I selected my portion from. But I suspect it really isn't about the food. It's about the routine, which I find comforting and comfortable. I completed one of my writing tasks over my first plateful of vaguely OK food items and a bowl of perfectly adequate egg drop soup. Then, as a reward for accomplishing that writing task, I picked my way through a bunch of crab legs while rereading a few chapters of The Goblin Emperor. (This included the chapter with Maia's nineteenth birthday, which meant a little bit of crying in public. I am not embarrassed. That scene is beautiful and wrecks me every time.)
(Also it is strange looking back at yesterday's blog post and my use of the term "brainstorm" while in the midst of rereading a novel in which that word is used as a synonym for a cerebral stroke.)
I will admit that sometime during the sleeplessness of Monday night I was attacked by an intense and specific craving for lumps of crab meat mixed into butter and eaten with a spoon. That's how long I have been looking forward to my Wednesday evening dinner at China Buffet. Have you met my brain? This is my brain.
And now I have discovered that they have ambrosia on their dessert table--you know, the chunks of fruit and the mini marshmallows in some sort of creamy matrix involving either sour cream or yogurt and also the unconfessed sins of childhood? They used to serve it at my school under the name "pineapple delight." I was routinely the only person at the table who actually liked it, so everyone gave me theirs. This is one of my ultimate comfort foods, and this restaurant has it, and I am no longer ashamed of returning. So there.