“Chill the champagne and polish the crystal goblets!
The book of my enemy has been remaindered
And I am glad.”
Clive James

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

From the number of smartphones waving around taking video, I expect you'll be able to find tonight's show on youtube any minute now.
who's behind the door
Thu 2014-12-25 23:22:48 (single post)

Can't stop too busy rockin'--

Randy Jackson is playing Hurricane's in Metairie. Yes, that Randy Jackson. Frontman for Zebra, New Orleans's own contribution to the mid-70s-to-present-day progressive rock scene. As in, solo project China Rain. Apparently he plays Hurricane's when he's in town. Lots of Led Zeppelin and Beatles covers in addition to stuff from his own ongoing career, a few other random covers thrown in--pretty much the definition of rockin' out.

I have never actually seen the place this packed. I'm used to coming in on a Sunday evening when nothing's coming on and I'm literally the only non-staff person sitting at the bar. It's smoky and loud and there are a couple people who need to cool off, please (and consider that other people's bodies belong to other people, dammit--I was this close to warning my brother he might have to bail me out of jail because a particular egotistical hair fetishist might benefit from a broken nose and/or kneecap), but over all it's a great crowd. Lots of old school Zebra fans who are guaranteed to go nuts when Randy starts in on "Tell Me What You Want" or "Bears" did, indeed, go nuts in a fun and musical way.

Every once in a while Randy reminds us that there are "T-shirts by the toilet" for our T-shirt buying pleasure. That just happens to be where the swag table is, on the way to the restrooms, but I kind of want him to describe them as "freshly flushed" or something. That would be funny.

We're in between sets right now. Fans are shaking hands with Randy and posing for pictures with him. And I'm typing this up because I don't think I'm going to get another chance to before 1:00 AM, which is when I try to get these things done. Actually, I try to get these things done by midnight, but what the hell, it's Christmas and I'm in the Central Time Zone. I'm due a little slack.

That, by the way, might have something to do with the lack of writing content all week. I haven't been an entire slacker, mind, and there will be a Friday Fictionette tomorrow, but do give me a break. I'm on vacation.

Gotta go! Show's about to (re-)start.

the last pelican kaffeeklatsch
Wed 2014-12-24 22:17:26 (single post)

Today was sunny and breezy rather than overcast and rainy, so John and I took a walk down to the Bonnabel Boat Launch. It was an even more fantastic day for it than we'd realized--when we got past the kids' playground and down into the parking lot on our way over to the water, a pelican suddenly seemed to fly right at us. We ran the rest of the way and saw about eight of them just hanging out on the pier, a kaffeeklatsch of pelicans standing around with their beaks hanging down to their feet. Seagulls jostled around them like seagulls do, playing their eternal game of "I want your perch," but the pelicans just stood there, unflapping and unflappable.

We watched them for about ten minutes. Couldn't get enough of just looking at them. Brown pelicans are the goofiest-looking birds in the Gulf South when they're standing still. When they're flying, they're graceful and huge in a way that I never quite get used to. But when they perch, or when they spot a fish and take a dive, they look like clowns.

On our way back to the house, as we crossed the low, flat pedestrian bridge over Bonnabel Canal behind the pumping station, a pelican actually flew under the bridge, skimming the surface of the water for about twenty feet before pulling up and soaring away again. Two cormorants followed it, swimming a similar distance completely under the water before resurfacing in the pelican's wake.

"We should tell Mom about the pelicans," I said. "She'd be delighted."

John looked pained. "You know what she'll say, though, right?"

And I remembered.

Ten, fifteen years ago, Mom would tell me about the pelicans. She'd tell me how they were coming back to Lake Pontchartrain in huge numbers. She'd tell me how she'd count them as she crossed the Causeway Bridge on her way to see her mother and sister in Covington. Her mother was needing increasingly more care, such that first she needed to move into my aunt's house to have family close at hand, then to an assisted living home, then finally to a memory care center. Mom would drive over two, three times a week to spend time with her, take turns with her siblings taking her out for lunch or keeping her company or giving her day-to-day care. So Mom got a lot of opportunities to count pelicans on her way to and from the northshore. It was a good day if she got to see one diving for fish. The sudden cannonball splash made her laugh. She'd tell me that pelicans are proof positive that God has a sense of humor. She was the one who decided "kaffeeklatsch" was the appropriate collective noun.

But now her mother has passed away, and she herself is beginning to follow in her mental footsteps: losing her memory, as she always feared she would. With sufficient encouragement, she'll do crosswords in a book rated "fun" and "easy" to try to keep erosion at bay. She needs help remembering how common sayings go, what concur means, or how to spell kneel. And with the memory loss comes personality loss, the sharp wit and the sarcasm I remember gone (which, admittedly, is sometimes a relief; her sarcasm could have a nasty bite) from conversations now uniformly shallow, repetitive, delivered with a childlike smile. She still goes to work, she still drives, she still handles day-to-day obligations, but she doesn't discuss, converse, argue, or analyze.

When we came home on the train Saturday and I told her about all the pelicans we saw perched atop dock posts in Manchac, she just smiled absently and said, "Remember the rhyme Grandpapa used to say about the pelican?" Which she then repeated, because once it came to mind she must say it, inexorably, no use trying to stop her: the limerick I always misattributed to Ogden Nash but that Wikipedia tells me is by Dixon Lanier Merritt. Trigger, response. No conversational branches. Just push the button marked "pelican" and out comes the rhyme. Then comes the next part of the ritual. "And did I ever tell you the rhyme I made up about our basketball team? 'What a favored team are the Pelicans / We hope they'll score more than their opponents can...'" Yes, Mom. Yes, you have.

And the weird thing is, she's been like that a long time. At least as long as I've lived in Boulder and called home every week. Trigger, response. Push button, get familiar anecdote. Is that because the mental changes that have seemed so sudden have been growing on her for a longer time than I realized? Or is it because the mental changes have simply crystallized around habits she's always had, eroded away everything around them to leave them stark and bare?

I don't think I'll ever know the answer.

I've come to realize over the past couple years that we will probably never have a meaningful conversation again. The late night discussions we used to share at the kitchen table, when she'd just brought me home from the airport and neither of us wanted to go to bed yet, and we talked about religion and politics and philosophy and our worries and our fears and our hopes--those will never come again. The person I used to have them with is, for all intents and purposes, gone.

I just didn't realize until today that the person who counted pelicans and laughed at God's jokes is gone too.

small pizza with oysters and lemon, side of pink floyd, hold the xmas tunes
Tue 2014-12-23 23:12:31 (single post)

Today we will praise pizza, and the very best of pizzas. Sing, O Muse, of pizza! Pizza created by the Mellow Mushroom in many great cities across these wide United States--including that of Metairie, Louisiana--and in as many varied ways! Pizza with four cheeses! Pizza with charbroiled oysters and lemon juice and parmesan cheese! Pizza preceded by great portabella caps stuffed to their gills with roasted artichoke hearts, covered with a thick crust of cheese, and resting upon field greens dressed with balsamic vinaigrette! Ah, pizza. Let us sing.

Boulder used to have a Mellow Mushroom, back when we first moved into town. It was in the retail plaza set back from the southwest corner of 18th and Pearl. It was there until I think 2001 when Gondolier moved in. (Said retail plaza is no more--the corner's under construction and everything in it except Frasca has been torn down. Gondolier is now in the Meadows plaza at Baseline and Foothills.). But I remember walking into the dimly lit, lofty space and seeing a gigantic scary buffalo head leering down from the corner above the kitchen. Not a real buffalo head, not a hunting trophy--just a huge plushy with goggly stoner eyes and probably a bunch of University of Colorado sports memorabilia caught up in its shaggy mane.

Surely someone once upon a time took a picture and uploaded it to the internet? My Google-Fu is failing me. The only record I can seem to find of that location's existence is on this page.

The Metairie location is upstairs in the Forum building at Vet's and Causeway. It's decorated with fleur-de-lis everywhere. Even the restaurant's name sign, which you'd think would be the same at every location in order to satisfy branding requirements, incorporates a fleur-de-lis which itself incorporates a mushroom. (I didn't think to take a picture at the time, and I think most of John's pictures have gone straight to SnapChat and thence to oblivion.) The decor inside celebrates jazz musicians. A monstrosity made of fake instruments piled in an inverted pyramid occupies the central place of honor as a color-shifting lighting fixture. They've done their damnedest to make this chain's New Orleans-area location feel like a New Orleans-area restaurant. Might I call your attention once more to the charbroiled oyster pizza? They also have the "Bayou Bleu," which features grilled shrimp and andouille sausage in a spicey bleu cheese base. How I wish I liked bleu cheese.

The selection of local draft beers is respectable. I tasted 40 Arpent Red Bean Ale (a red ale, of course) and Parish Canebrake (a wheat). If neither had appealed, I was ready to order a pint of Lazy Magnolia's Southern Pecan.

Every booth has a small flat-screen TV installed on the wall. One family utilized this to keep their kids entertained with cartoons on Nickelodeon. The diners eating next-booth-over had their TV tuned to football. We, of course, just used the AC outlet it was plugged into to keep our laptops running. (The in-house wi-fi worked great for me. John inexplicably had DNS trouble getting past their log-in/terms&conditions screen.)

My only real complaint about today's experience is that they took away the classic rock mix I was digging in order to play non-stop Christmas songs. This time of year, any restaurant that doesn't play non-stop Christmas songs gets my aggressively repeat business and vocal thanks (yay Dot's Diner yesterday!). The light rock and oldies stations are playing them on the radio. The mall is playing them. The TV is full of them. I think I can safely remain innocent of Grinch accusations if I say that not every single public place needs to board the Christmas train, right?

Or at least have the frickin' imagination to include some Hanukkah songs in the mix, yeah? (Shock! No single religion has a monopoly on holiday songs!) And if all you can think of is "Dreidl Dreidl Dreidl" or "Hanukkah O Hanukkah," do a little research. There are quite a few good tunes out there. The kids at Metairie Park Country Day sing a decent sample every year during their Caroling in the Atrium event. And tossing in "The Christians and the Pagans" wouldn't kill anyone, you know?

And for God's sake--any God you like--cut "All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth" out of your set list WITH EXTREME PREJUDICE. Especially any version sung by an adult attempting to imitate a lisping child. Ideally, the song should be sung to an upbeat tempo and by no one older than 12. All sustained attempts to whistle should be rejected out of hand. And any version sung in double-slow time should be banned by the Geneva Convention. Seriously, y'all, I only want one beer at lunch. I do not want to be forced to drink a second and a third to dull the pain.

Mellow Mushroom of Metairie! Looking forward to returning on my next trip home, when the holiday season is safely behind us!

never too old to need you
Mon 2014-12-22 23:41:05 (single post)

Sometimes interactions with my family make me feel as though my adulthood has been confirmed. Anything to do with alcohol, for instance. Sharing a bottle of Abita's "Bourbon Street" Imperial Stout with my dad. Sitting down at Hurricane's as my brother, the bartender, sets a napkin in front of me and makes beer recommendations. (Last night the recommendation was the stout from Arabi-based 40 Arpent, which was tasty all the way down the pint.)

Other interactions make me feel like a child again--some in a frustrating "will they never take me seriously?" way, but others with that "everything will be OK, Mom and Dad will take care of me" feeling that some people were fortunate enough to experience through their childhood. My parents weren't perfect--who is?--and once in a while they screwed up, or indulged in pettiness, or found me hard to like--it doesn't take an outright abusive or dysfunctional family history to look back and see moments like those--but on the whole I was a fortunate child who experienced that cared-for feeling more often than not.

Anyway, John and I went to my dad's pediatrics office and got our flu shots today.

Having a parent be my primary health care provider from shortly after I was born until the day I left home for college was, certainly, in some ways, a little weird. There came a time when it became unthinkable to ask Dad to diagnose certain ailments (mumblemumblepinwormsmumbleblush), and I resolved to make do with a hand-mirror and hard-won experience. I'm sure that time came as a relief to him, too; he never questioned my self-diagnosis, but just poured me a dose of the despised but effective medication.

Mostly, though, having Dad be my doctor was convenient. Too convenient, really. As a college student away from home for the first time and finding herself with a fever of 102.5 F on Friday night of a three-day weekend, I had to develop the skill of finding a doctor and making an appointment from scratch and in adverse conditions. And I still called home to wheedle a prescription out of Dad. "Yep, sounds like strep. Where do you want me to call it in?"

But again, I did get well trained in the art of self-diagnosis. If I told Dad, "I think I'm coming down with something. I should stay home from school tomorrow," he would not only quiz me about my symptoms but also test and verify. He didn't even get up from the living room chair. It was just, "OK, bring me my coat." The trepidation, the urge to plead and beg for mercy, the crawling dread of the inevitable that some children learned to feel upon hearing the words "Bring me my belt" or "You go out to the back yard and you bring me back a switch, and no wimpy one either," my brother and I learned to feel upon hearing the words, "Bring me my coat." In various pockets of that coat were the stethoscope, the otoscope, the tongue depressors, and the dreaded throat swabs. O the gagging! The ordeal! I learned early to recognize the symptoms of strep throat, and also to never, ever cry wolf.

The staff at Dad's office includes several nurses who remember me well as the patient who pitched terrible fits about impending needles well into my early teens. A year and a half of treatments and exams to do with childhood leukemia taught me nothing about accepting a shot without making a fuss. If anything, it made the tendency to scream worse. (Do not get me started on the increasingly traumatic experiences with installing an IV needle. Suffice to say that the last few times they simply had to gas me first.) But finally there came one afternoon during the summer that I worked a part-time data entry job at the old office, the one on Robert E. Lee Boulevard that Katrina totaled, when it was discovered that I was due an MMR booster.

I stood against the wall telling myself, You're too old to have a tantrum about this. I kept myself as still and calm as possible, breathing deeply and evenly, attempting to mentally remove all conscious awareness from the arm about to get stabbed. Those years marked the height of my interest in lucid dreams and out-of-body travel; I tried my damnedest to astrally project out of my left arm.

I was so proud of myself! I didn't let out a peep. My first time taking an injection like a grown-up, ever! And I continued being proud of myself as I slid down the wall into yet one more first time experience, that of falling down in a partial faint. (The nurse who'd administered the shot caught me as I sagged, and she made unkind remarks about how "the poor little baby needs her mommy." I remember hearing every word, and feeling her jeers unjust; hadn't I just taken that shot without begging or crying or attempting to flee for the first time in my goddamned life? Anyway, that's how I know it wasn't a complete faint: I remember every word.)

These days I try to get my flu shots regularly, not just to protect myself from the coming season's edition of influenza misery, not just to do my part for herd immunity, but also to continue proving to myself that I can take it like a grown-up. I may always need to prove this to myself. And though it may sound ridiculous at the age of 38 years and 8 months, it felt good today to also prove it to the nurses who knew me back when I couldn't take it at all.

Having proven my grown-up credentials beyond a shadow of a doubt in this manner, I suppose it wasn't too childish of me to have asked my Dad to set up our flu shots in the first place.

"It's OK. Mom and Dad will take care of me."

I suspect there's some joy in that for my parents, too: "It's OK. Our little girl still needs us."

She always will, you know.

Love y'all, Mom and Dad.

Dear Chicago: Why was there not a convenient make-up shop to take a picture in, on our way to dinner tonight?
i saw a fictionette shopping for make-up in the mall
Fri 2014-12-19 23:56:57 (single post)
  • 1,368 words (if poetry, lines) long

So here's the thing about smartphone-powered wi-fi hotspots: They only work if your smartphone is getting signal. For large stretches of track, it won't get signal. So if you've put off working on your Friday assignment until the City of New Orleans leaves Chicago Union Station at 8:05 PM, and you don't get it done until somewhere after Effingham (say, midnight Central time), then you're just going to have to wait until the train gets to Centralia and that's all there is to it.

In other words, this blog post and the accompanying Friday Fictionette will be coming to you a touch late. Mea culpa. It's half past midnight now; I mean to stay up until both critters are uploaded. If that means I have to be awake when we hit Carbondale, so be it.

I hate coming up with titles. "Stealing the Crown Jewels" is at least marginally clever and refers to at least two things in the story. But it doesn't quite make me go yeah, that's the ticket. And I get this weird superstitious feeling that, by coming up with a title for a Fictionette four times a month, I'm using up my title ju-ju. Really weird, right? Do something often and you'd think you'd get better at it, right? But no, lizard brain is all YOU ARE CONSUMING A NON-RENEWABLE RESOURCE, STOP NOW BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE--

Lizard brain needs a good night's sleep, and also a hug.

This used to be the ticket counter, y'all. Everything is weird and wonderful.
like night to a supernova is union station then to now
Thu 2014-12-18 19:28:25 (single post)

OMG you guys. Union Station is beautiful.

Last time I was here, I think it was July, the Train Hall was still under construction. If you were waiting to board an Amtrak train, you sat in a tiny walled-off corner of the Hall on the seats they'd toted over from the temporary station, which were crammed so close together that you'd find yourself literally knocking knees with other people. People you didn't know, I mean. You entered through a sort of hobbit door after dodging through construction cones on Wynkoop Street. Last time I was here, it was drizzling rain, but passengers were electing to wait outside in the wet where there was room to breathe.

Comparing my arrival then to our arrival today, it was like night to day. No--it was like night to supernova. First off, the door into the Train Hall now says "Crawford Hotel," which made us hesitate a bit before going in. But it was the only door waiting for us at the top of the escalator, so, we went in.

Do you remember the sort of hollow, high-ceilinged, echoing, pew-furnished purgatory that Denver Union Station used to be? No more. All those alcoves that looked sadly like they used to be something but were now abandoned? They're something now. They're AMCE Burger & Brat Corp.. They're Pigtrain Coffee Co. and Milkbox Ice Creamery. They're Snooze for brunch, the Mercantile for upscale delicatessen grocery shopping (and dining in), and even a little miniature Tattered Cover bookstore with darn good selection for its size. Where the forlorn ticketing counter used to be is now the Terminal Bar, with "patio" seating and live music.

Down the hall, past where the brand new, modern ticketing counter and baggage check office are now, you'll find the seafood bar Stoic & Genuine and the aforementioned The Kitchen [Next Door] Community Pub. The latter is where I spent the last hour and some, eating small plates and drinking beer.

Meanwhile, the Train Hall doubles as the Crawford Hotel's lounge--hence the insignia on the door when we came in. The huge penitent pews are gone, and, historic though they were, I am surprised to find that I don't miss them. There are smaller pews, all in a row by the exit to the train tracks, but mostly there's comfortable seating in leather and upholstery. There are charging stations that are actually comfortable to sit at, and well lit. There are shuffleboard tables, dear Gods in alphabetical order. There is a bluegrass band playing everything, including a gorgeous cover of Bruce Springsteen's "I'm On Fire." Followed by Paul Simon's "Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes." I'm kind of overwhelmed. And happy. And, it must be admitted, a little drunk.

The train, unaccountably, is early. And I'm not nearly ready to leave!

Well. I'll be posting this from the train thanks to John's smartphone wifi uplink. But you can bet I'll be coming back down to Union Station even when I'm not traveling by train. Because this will be a fantastic place to work, once I've got enough home improvement out of the way to take my writing out of the house for once. I mean, for once when I'm not on vacation.

the inevitability of pre-travel freak-outs
Wed 2014-12-17 23:33:09 (single post)

So I'm currently in pre-travel freak-out mode. I know you can't tell from where you're sitting--I'm very good at hiding it!--but it's true. I'm in the last 24 hours before departure, and inside my head where nobody can see, I'm freaking out.

This is a thing that I do. Last-minute deadline stress isn't just for writing deadlines, y'all.

Tomorrow, John and I get on a train bound for New Orleans. Which is to say, we get on the train to Chicago, and in Chicago we will catch the train for New Orleans. This is the most direct route, and will be until such time as Amtrak becomes convinced it'll be feasible to create or reinstate other routes through Denver. (Cross your fingers with me. I want to see this happen in my lifetime.) Should the train be on time (as so far it's said to be), it will depart at 7:10 PM, so theoretically we don't need to get our happy luggage-toting butts down to Denver Union Station until about 6:30 or so. However, I've also got this fun but completely unnecessary idea that we should eat dinner there before we go. Which means we need to get out the house and onto a bus no later than 3:00.

Here are all the things I have to do before that time:

  • Pack all the things. Clothes, computer, headphones, knitting, cross-stitch, fruitcake, skates, etc.
  • Re-booze the fruitcake before packing it.
  • Give freshly-washed derby gear a chance to dry before packing.
  • Clean the fridge - freeze or throw out what'll go bad before our return.
  • Read the AINC programming that's due Saturday, since I can't very well do it on the train.
  • Maybe go to the dentist if they have time to look at the bit of today's filling that feels like a popcorn shell stuck between my teeth.
  • Whatever else I'm forgetting. There's probably something.

(I wanted to get the current closet bi-fold finished by now, but, alas, that didn't happen. I have given myself permission not to worry about it. It's a bold move but I think, in this particular circumstance, it'll work.)

The up-side of all this stress is, it vanishes the moment I board the train. I mean completely. At that point, everything is done, or almost everything; and anything that isn't done can no longer be done, so it's not my responsibility anymore. My responsibility at that point becomes "Enjoy the ride. And maybe get some work done, too." I can't begin to describe how very much I'm looking forward to that point.

It's now nearly a quarter 'til midnight. I suppose I'd better start cleaning that fridge. Best place to begin, I think, is by eating some of what's in it. I haven't had dinner yet and I'm starting to feel it. Good night, all; when next I write, it'll be from Union Station.

free booze, saints on top, and a twitter road trip
Mon 2014-12-15 22:28:12 (single post)

Tonight was a good night for Monday Night Football and free alcohol. First Harpo's sent a server around with free pudding shots (consisting of, I think, banana pudding and Fireball whiskey). This led almost directly to another diner offering me the rest of her wine bottle. "I have to drive home, and then the pudding shots happened, so I figured I had to stop drinking for the night--but it was a $13 bottle and I hate to waste it, and I saw you sitting all alone over here..."

If this was a variety of the "woman! alone in bar! must be lonely" impulse, well, I can't exactly complain. Not, I think, that it looked like I needed company. I was yelling at the TV like I usually do when football's happening. Yelling, and laughing, and occasionally screaming, because that's how I react when surprised by a good play. It was at least a five-scream game. The Saints won, improving their record to 6-8 and taking the lead of the NFC South.

I did manage to finish off that wine. And the pudding shot. And my beer. Don't worry--I was on my bike tonight.

Speaking of the need for company, Havi Brooks has requested some on twitter tonight during her seven-hour-and-forty-minute drive through the tumbleweed-infested wilds of eastern Washington state. Bring some music.

That is my bought-and-paid-for coffee cup, thank you. On my bought-and-paid-for desk, I might add.
this fictionette probably shouldn't be slinging coffee
Fri 2014-12-12 23:19:42 (single post)
  • 1,289 words (if poetry, lines) long

I'm going to keep this one short, because I'm not at home. I'm out at a friend's house, where there has been food and beer and margaritas and cards. Now there are very random conversations going on at a loud volume, and I am enjoying my usual role in these circumstances of "smart-ass fly on the wall."

I am very good at multi-tasking. Well. Maybe not very good. I'm multi-tasking, anyway.

Anyway, it's Friday, so here's a fictionette. As the Author's Note over there says, it came out of a dream--or, at least, the urge to turn the dream into something that made a kind of narrative sense. Since you can totally click that link and read about it, I won't repeat it here.

I will say, I've been trying to make sense of the "nurse" bit ever since writing up the Author's Note. Here it is in all its morning-after-the-dream glory:

Another diner catches me and asks, "So, do you like your hobby?" They mean my writing time at my desk in the corner. I explain that actually the writing is my job, and "I'm just the relief nurse for Corey while she's out." I don't know why I said "nurse" instead of "staff" or "waitress" or "server."

(What, you didn't expect dream journal excerpts when you started reading this blog?)

Thinking about it now, it occurs to me that "substitute nurse (when you're not even medically trained)" is an intensification of "substitute server (when you're not even on staff)." The latter theme might indicate a tendency on the part of the dreamer to over-volunteer and over-commit, and a problem with setting reasonable limits on one's sense of responsibility. The former takes it up a notch: "You cannot fix (heal) everyone and everything! Stop trying!"

So, OK. Taken under advisement. Thank you, dream. Would prefer you stick more to story ideas and less to psychoanalysis, yeah? But I suppose dream's gotta dream.

Now, about that cover art... Yes, that is my coffee cup. On my desk. No, I did not steal that coffee cup from Denny's. I bought it fair and square from Cen-Tex Supply in Boulder (no longer there, alas). Bought a vinegar shaker from them, too, just like the ones they have at Metairie Park Country Day for red beans and rice Wednesdays.

I get asked that, about whether I stole that coffee cup, from time to time. Less so these days, no doubt because it's a college hijinx type of question, and I'm closer to 40 than I am to my college years now. (And even during my college years I didn't get up to much in the way of college hijinx.) But when it comes out, the question isn't exactly a question. It's more of an exclamation of recognition: "Oh, you stole a Denny's cup too! Everyone does that sometime in their lives, don't they?" And then I have to say no, no I didn't. And then things get weird and awkward, like they do when you enthusiastically mistake someone for someone else.

Hey, I've committed my own small petty thefts. I have, from time to time, liberated unloved books. I am also guilty of hoarding hotel soap during multi-night stays, because soap is useful and housekeeping brings more at the drop of a hat and why should it go to waste? I just don't typically steal supplies from the restaurants I dine in, is all.

You've got your vices, I've got mine, is what I'm saying.

but the paint did get stripped, there is that
Thu 2014-12-11 23:37:01 (single post)
  • 5,300 words (if poetry, lines) long

For the first time, I appear to have accomplished the paint-stripping stage in a single day. (At least, as concerns one half of a bi-fold door. I didn't try doing both at once this time because that was just awkward.) The secret appears to be this: Assign yourself a writing task you really, really, really don't want to do. One you've been avoiding for weeks now. Suddenly, the paint-stripping job looks like an enjoyable use of your time.

Most of this week, I've been slotting the following item among my writing tasks for the day: "Get that dang short story revised finally. Do you want a shot at getting it published or don't you?" (May not be an exact quote.) And it's amazing how focused I stay on my proposed writing schedule right up until I reach that item. Then, anything looks like a better use of time. Getting my AINC reading done early. Spending just a few more minutes on Second Life or Puzzle Pirates. Taking a nap that mysteriously stretches out to four or five hours. Getting really meticulous about removing paint from the corners of the panel beveling on the closet doors.

One day I will figure out the trick of getting myself to just do a thing already. For now, the process seems to involve several days--maybe several weeks--of inching up on it like a very cautious cat preparing to pounce. The pounce does eventually happen. I take consolation from knowing that. I'd just like to get to the point where the preparation doesn't take so darn long.

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