Better stop sobbing now

8 10 2014

I know I’ve been lax about blogging lately, but tonight I have an Actual Excuse™—two, even!

The tendon in my wrist is vibrating from my index finger to my elbow, and I sweartogod that there is a pebble in my eye that refuses all entreaties (read: eye drops) to dislodge itself.

My life is so, so hard.

 





Nevermind

8 03 2014

I wrote a terrible post yesterday: it veered off at the outset and I never quite wrangled it back in line.

Usually when that I happens I think Ah, what the hell and post it anyway. This time, I didn’t.

I’m learning. Slowly, but I’m learning.

Do allow me to lift the one thing that was good from that spiked post—and it was only good because it wasn’t mine:

I have no desire to make windows into men’s souls.

-Elizabeth I





So sorry

27 12 2013

I know it’s just killing you that I haven’t posted much this past week, but I’ve been fighting off a low-level migraine for the past, oh, hey, lookit that, week or so, and am too out of sorts to write.

And no, I don’t fake migraines. Not that I’m superstitious or anything, but the few times in the past when I’ve begged off of something due to a “migraine”, I’ve ended up really coming down with a migraine.

So I don’t mess with that shit anymore.

Tummy-aches, on the other hand. . . .





Workin’ in the coal mine

12 11 2013

Ha ha ha, right: teaching and freelancing offer a plenitude of opportunities to bitch, but the most I have to worry about is a sore throat, maybe a sore back, not black lung and cave-ins.

Anyway, I’m jammed up with work, which, on the one (lazy) hand is bad, but on the other (money-grubbin’) hand is good. Mostly it’s good.

I should be able to catch up by this weekend, but in the meantime, this is my excuse for no/scrawny posts.

At least, that’s my story, and all that.





Itty-bitty posts: the intro

28 07 2013

[UPDATE: Actually, these are now categorized as “quick hits”, because itty-bitty should really ever only be applied to a kitty, not a blog post.]

So I have this habit of thinking “oh, I could blog about that” and then forgetting thinking there isn’t enough for a post or just plain lazing away from blogging about that.

I don’t know how much I could do about the lazing and forgetting (hm, I wonder if those two are connected. . .) but I have put together “quick hit” posts to collect the bits into one respectable post. I don’t want to offer a single appetizer (or snack or tapas or amuse bouch) but a full meal; not just a single shot, but a bottle; not just a song, but an album; not a trailer. . . okay, this is getting out of hand, isn’t it?

Anyway, the point is, I try to offer a full thought, and when I can’t, I, um, don’t.

BUT NO MORE! Today, in exciting blog news, I’ll try to offer itty-bitty posts about what hits me when it hits me and see if this, ah, well, to see if this works, I guess.

So, to keep this itty-bitty, I’ll stop here.

Next thought: next post.





Coolsville

10 01 2013

Holy shit, I gots me some readers.

Two days ago I got this nifty email from Cherie Lucas stating that my Keep on keepin’ on post was Freshly Pressed, and I could add a banner and, um, some other stuff to spread the news.

Cool, I thought. And did nothing.

Wednesday afternoon I noted my followers had ticked up from 42 to 43, and thought, Hey, cool. I was going to write a post, then remembered a meeting at work today for which I had not prepared, and a former colleague was being sent off with some pints at a local bar, and. . . I think you know where this anecdote is going.

Anyway. After clicking through my various regular-read blogs, [Pause: Another holy shit—Supertramp on WNYC? What?! Oh, okay, just an historical snippet. Panic averted.] I thought I’d follow up on my presidents-are-assholes post with a consideration of ruthlessness and sons-of-bitches. A nice little piece, with some tasty bits from Machiavelli tossed in, a little Bueno de Mesquita and Riker, maybe some Schmitt, and appreciations for Cardinal Richelieu and Thomas Cromwell.

I think I would have been pleased with the post.

But no, I open my blog and, whoosh, 79 followers. Seventy-nine! If I could remember enough math, I could give you the percentage increase! Eight-four percent—is that right? Or maybe 88% if I start at 42 rather than 43 followers? Could be right. . . .

So: HELLOOOOOOOO!!!

I’m rarely happy about anything, but I am genuinely happy that enough of you thought enough of that last post that you decided, Eh, I could follow this.

Okay, so maybe seventy-nine isn’t that big of a deal to many folks—especially those folks with three-, four-, five-or-more-digit followers—but I ain’t nobody, so I figure that if you’re reading this, it’s because you like or are provoked enough by what I write to (sorry about this. . .) keep on, keepin’ on.

That’s nice. That’s very nice.

A coupla’ things:

1. I swear, as you may have gathered. A lot. Ever since my high school English teacher tried to nudge me out of my potty-mouthed ways by stating that swearing was Not creative, I have mostly failed in my efforts to find more creative ways to express my ire/dismay/delight/boredom. (My current favorite swear? Fucking hell!)

2. I’m not on Facebook or Twitter. No Facebook because, no. And no Twitter because, as I explained to C., I can be insanely competitive in argument, so much so that that notorious xkcd comic prompts a sigh of recognition from me (yes, I have been that person). C. thought that the short format of Twitter might work against my triumphalist tendencies, but really, consuming those little 140-character nuggets would be like tossing back so many bite-sized Snickers. No, better to abstain completely.

3. I am also insanely reactive, which, predictably, enrages me. Okay, that’s overstating it: It used to enrage me, and now I’m mostly able to take a breath, take a walk, whatever, and clear my head before actually responding to whatever it was that set me off. This is why blogging beats tweeting: I’m less likely to pop off in long form. (Tho’, for the record, I do pop off in long form; cf. Category: Rant.)

4. I like comments! So comment! I’ll respond! And argue! I love to argue! (And despite what I said, above, I’m not always or even mostly insanely competitive. So bring it!)

5. I’m shit at promoting myself*, but will happily promote others, so if you have something you want to shout about, g’head and shout about it.

(*Not because I lack an ego—whoo boy, you oughtta getta load of the size of that thing!—but, because, huh, I don’t know, I’m just no good at it. Maybe it’s due to the size of my superego. . . .)

6. I do click on your names and gravatars to see who you are and if you have a blog, I’ll read it (although I don’t always comment—hypocrite, I know). Again, since I’m not on Facebook I can’t scrawl on your wall, but since you’ve taken the time to stop by my joint, it seems only neighborly that I swing by yours. I’ve gotten to know a coupla’ folks online and even hosted one cyber-friend (hi GeekHiker!) on part of his NYC leg of his trip around the US.

And if you don’t have a blog and don’t particularly want anything from me but the occasionally-worthwhile post, that’s great. This might sound odd coming from someone who’s sending words about her life out into the ether, but I do like my privacy, too.

7. Still, if yer ever in the vicinity of Brooklyn and up for a pint, drop me an email. As I noted in an earlier post, I’m trying to move my default from No to Yes—I’m trying to move myself—so any excuse to get out of the apartment and out into the world. . . .

So, hey (two words, along with “anyway”, that I overuse), welcome.





You should be dancing, yeah

30 01 2012

Okay, that title has nothing to do with this post, but I’m listening to a WNYC program’s discussion of the Bee Gees, and they played this song, so, y’know, why not.

Anyway.

Classes begin tomorrow, and while I’ve taught all of these courses before and my syllabi are set, I’m always a bit nervous before the curtain rises. Last semester my bioethics course kicked ass and my American government course sucked ass, so I’m hoping to maintain the performance of the former while raising that of the latter.

I’m also teaching a course I haven’t taught for a couple of years, and I’ve rejiggered it somewhat from my last pass. It’s an intro to political theory course (more or less), and the last time out the students never truly engaged the material. I don’t know if it was them or me, but I do know I was rather listless by the end. This time around, I cut back a wee on the reading and reconfigured the written work; we’ll see if it works.

<<Oh, shit, I haven’t yet updated my course website. Dammit. Maybe tomorrow morning.>>

Is this all a way of excuse-making in advance for not posting as much as I should? Why, why would you even think such a thing?

Actually, the busier I am, the more likely I am to write, so who know: maybe I’ll be a bloggin’-machine this semester.

~~~

I need to get some real writing done, too. The Unexpected Neighbor is already e-pubbed (link at right), but I stopped in the midst of editing Home Away Home. I really should get back to it, not least because it’s a better manuscript than Neighbor, but also because once I finish that, I’ll have no excuses for not working on my next project. If only I could settle on that next project.

Anyway, here are bits from Home, the first, in honor of the previous post:

Kurt had taken Jamie for a ‘walk-and-talk’ before his son left for Daytona. ‘I know we talked about this before, and I know you’ve been living away from home for awhile now, but I don’t want you to get in any trouble in Florida.’
Jamie tugged on his ponytail, trying to keep a smile off his face.
Kurt noticed. ‘I know, you think this is funny, and your old man is way behind, but James, seriously, a person does things on vacation that, that he wouldn’t do at home.’
‘Dad!’ Jamie looked at his father. ‘What do you think I’m going to do?’
Kurt took a deep breath. ‘Well, Rachel is going to Florida, too, isn’t she?’
Jamie laughed. ‘Jeez, dad. She’s staying in another hotel from us guys.’
‘She’s been staying on another floor from you in the dorm, but that hasn’t stopped you, has it?’ Kurt kicked aside a melting chunk of ice.
Jamie said nothing.
‘Look, Jamie, I know you’re not a stupid kid, and I assume you and Rachel have been. . . smart about. . . your relationship.’ Kurt shuffled around more ice pebbles. ‘But Florida, the beach, the booze, everything—your common sense can fly right out the window.’
Jamie scratched his still-unshaven face. ‘Dad, don’t worry. I can handle it.’
‘And no drugs. All right? No drugs.’ Kurt continued as if he hadn’t heard Jamie. ‘You don’t know what kids can do on those things.’
Jamie paused behind a large ice chunk, retreated a few steps, then ran and kicked it down the path. ‘I’m in college, dad, all right? None of this stuff is new.’ He tapped his boot free of slush. ‘Besides, you’ve met Rachel, right? She’s not exactly Janis Joplin.’
Kurt stopped. ‘Janis Joplin? Kids still listen to her?’
‘They listen to all that sixties crap.’ Jamie walked ahead of his dad. ‘Well, Rachel loves Janis, so I can’t call her crap, but, you know.’
Kurt double-stepped to catch up to Jamie. ‘She’s not, she’s not like Janis, is she?’
‘Dad! I just told you. Jeez.’ Jamie looked at Kurt, shaking his head. ‘She’s a chem major, for crying out loud. That’s super hard.’
Kurt nodded. They ambled along the gravel path in silence. ‘Have you picked a major?’
‘I was thinking math, but, I don’t know.’ Jamie hitched up his back pack. ‘I don’t think so. I got time. Maybe sociology. Journalism.’ He looked sideways at his dad. ‘Those aren’t very hard majors, are they? I mean, compared to chemistry. Or philosophy.’
Jamie was now staring ahead, his cheeks reddening. Kurt rested his hand on Jamie’s nearest shoulder, and leaned into his son. ‘Do what makes you happy, James, and do it well. That’s what matters.’ He moved his hand under Jamie’s ponytail. ‘The rest will take care of itself.’

And the second bit:

Summers in Madison alternated between the glorious and the brutal. There were days Maggie would borrow Laura’s bike and tool along Lakeshore path, cooled by the shade and the breeze from Lake Mendota, and other days when a dip in Lake Wingra felt like taking a warm bath. ‘I get cooler going under and standing up than staying in,’ Maggie said to Laura.
‘I know,’ Laura responded. ‘I’m in the water and I’m sweating. This is ridiculous.’
On those nights they’d set up cots on the back porch for sleep, the humidity making them careless if the neighbors saw them in their underwear. ‘I’d go naked if I thought it’d make a difference,’ Laura declared.
Maggie only smiled. ‘We used to sleep in the basement.’ She handed a beer to Laura, and flipped the tab of her can. ‘It was nice, though. Not like the dungeon here.’
Laura turned the can away from her as she opened it. ‘No shit. I don’t even like going down there in the day.’ She put her mouth over the fulminating beer. ‘Too bad we can’t turn it into a pool.’
‘That’d be nice,’ Maggie agreed. ‘Sleep on air mattresses.’
‘Pfft, those things leak.’ Laura pushed her cot against the wall then slouched against the boards. Her dyed black hair was piled on top of her head, and she held the cold can against her pale neck. ‘So you’d sleep in the basement, huh? You usually don’t talk about your life before here.’
Maggie was wedged in the opposite corner, her beer on the railing next to her. ‘Yeah, well.’
‘So what’s the deal?’
Maggie peered through the stiles at the backyard trees. ‘I don’t, uh, I don’t really have much contact with anyone.’
‘Bad?’
Maggie pulled her beer back to her belly, setting it on the exposed skin between her cut-off t-shirt and underwear. ‘Not really. It’s just, I left, you know, after graduation. Needed time to myself.’ She brushed the condensation into her belly button.
Laura looked over to her. ‘Does your family know you’re here?’
‘Not really. I mean, maybe they figured it out.’ Maggie yawned. ‘I was born here, and I wanted to come to school here, so maybe they know.’
‘But you haven’t called them or anything?’ Laura was staring at Maggie.
Maggie avoided her gaze. ‘Nope.’
‘Wow. You just left?’
‘Yep.’
Laura took a long drink, then let out a long belch. ‘Wake up, everybody!’ she laughed. Then she frowned. ‘I don’t know if I could do that. My dad and I fight all the time—you’ve heard me, on the phone—but, jeez, not talking to him? And it would kill my mom.’ Laura’s family lived about nearby, just on the other side of Sun Prairie; she was the second of three children. ‘Do you have brothers or sisters?’
Maggie continued to squeegee the water off the can. ‘Yeah.’
‘And they don’t know where you are, either?’
Maggie shrugged. ‘Well, my older brother, you know, he was at school last year, and he’s never around, so I bet he doesn’t really notice. And my younger brother and sister, they’re really young.’
‘So nobody knows you’re here?’ Laura was now sitting cross-legged on her cot, looking directly at Maggie.
Maggie sipped her beer. ‘Not really. I called my friend Colleen the other day—which reminds me, I gotta write down the number—but I didn’t tell her I was here.’ She peered up at Laura. ‘It’s just easier that way, you know?’
Laura was shaking her head. ‘I don’t know, Mags. I think they must be going a little crazy.’ She peered down into her can. ‘What if they think you’re dead or something?’
Maggie waved her off. ‘Oh, I left them a note. Told them I was leaving, I was fine. Had money saved, the whole thing.’ She paused, drinking her beer. ‘Just wanted to be on my own for awhile.’
‘I don’t know.’ Laura squinted at her. ‘That’s pretty rough.’
Maggie raised her eyebrows. ‘They’re fine. We weren’t getting along. They’re probably relieved I’m out of their hair.’
‘I don’t know,’ Laura repeated. ‘I think maybe you’re making a mistake.’ She swirled her beer. ‘But hey, it’s your life.’ She took a drink, and grimaced. ‘Shit. Even the beer can’t stay cold.’
Maggie raised her can and laughed. ‘Just gotta drink it faster.’ She chugged the rest of it down, paused, then burped. ‘Then you can taste it, twice.’
‘Gross.’ But Laura finished off her beer as well. She stood up, and held out her hand for Maggie’s can. ‘Want another?’
Maggie shook her head. ‘Nah. It just makes me sweat.’
Laura stood at the door. ‘You ever going to go back?’
‘I don’t know.’ Maggie turned and looked up at Laura. ‘Maybe. I don’t know.’
Laura held up her hands. ‘Like I said, it’s your life.’

I’m not giving anything away in these excerpts: You figure out very quickly that someone—Maggie—who was long gone has now been found, and then are sent back for the story leading up to that point; the narrative catches up to the first page by the middle of the book, and goes from there.

A friend who read the earlier draft wasn’t convinced that someone would just leave home and never look back, but oh, haven’t there been times when you wanted to keep going, just (to steal a line from Neighbor) to see how far you could go?








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