(This post ends with a Gotham spoiler.)
I walked into Portland Variety this morning and my order was already sitting out waiting for me; coffee freshly poured, almond financier plated, two baristas, one representing each of the majority genders, grinning with that genial “Ha ha gotcha!” face that you just have to love.
Then I headed into the back and an adorable young man whom I’d swear I’d never seen before looked up from his MacAir. He said, in purest dulcet tones: “I know this is your table, but I’m leaving in just a minute. If you want me to clear out now I can totally do that.”
To which, obviously, I said “Oh honey, that’s insane, I can work anywhere.”
It kinda made me feel like Don Falcone. Only cooler, with less tendency to speak in a weird mash-up of upspeak and a monotone, and vastly less likely to go strangling people for reminding me of my mother.
Yeah, boss, we gotcha table forya. You want we should take this guy out in the alley and teach ‘im a lesson?
Clearly I am terrifying.
Yesterday I threw together a quick post about how things have been filled with what we around here, semi-ironically, call virtue: writing, teaching, flossing, hard work, tax accounting, healthy food, yoga, and sincere attempts to get 7-8 hours of sleep a night. I wanted to let you all know I hadn’t died or forgotten how to blog, more than anything.
Now I want to just as quickly throw together a note about a few attempts, made recently, to tarnish up that hardworkin’ halo. Because what that kind of behavior gets you, eventually, is burned the fuck out. I know it, you know it. (The cats, they don’t know it. This is because they get halo points from activities like stealing lettuce, one leaf at a time, out of the salad bowl and licking it to death in various corners of the apartment.)
Fun things! I bought us tickets to see Second City’s How to Kill a Comedian. We went on the Thursday before the long weekend; it was like a sketch comedy version of all the political things that sift up in my Facebook feed. Laughs were had. Also bellinis.
Kelly and I also went to a very convivial gathering of writers and book lovers on Good Friday,in a part of town we hadn’t seen.
Marine disasters! I am reading Eric Larson’s Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania aloud to Kelly in some of our downtime. The kittens join us on the bed and roll around looking adorable while we learn about people getting torpedoed, sunk, and drowned.
Lakefront birding! Part of my necessary mental process for writing requires a certain amount of walking around outside, staring blankly at things like the lake. To that end, I finally made it to Humber Bay Park East a couple weekends ago, and shot many icicles as well as this red-necked grebe and some other birds.
It turns out this is the park I’ve been looking for since I got here: big, easy to get to, bird-infested, open seven days a week, and with deliciously varied terrain. Barb and I used to go to Jericho Beach every couple of months to chase bunnies, raptors, warblers and hummingbirds. This has a very different look, of course, but there’s a similar feeling and I am excited about exploring it more.
Marital Disasters! A Masterpiece adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall is on. It has Damian Lewis as Henry VIII. If this is news to you, I totally understand if you need to go hyperventilate into a brown paper bag now. OMG, OMG, OMG.
Yes, I’ve been very quiet lately, here in Blogland and also on places like the Book of Face. I want to write you all, I do. And there’s nothing particular keeping me silent except a mountain of busy. And “Hey, all, I’m working on stuff,” seems rather a dull thing to say.
A good chunk of the mountain has been wrangling The Nature of a Pirate, the third book in the Hidden Sea Tales. It’s moving along, and I’m happy with the process, but it’s not easy.
This year UCLA changed its classroom software, which has been a good and amazing thing, but which also means that I am recoding my classes as I simultaneously teach other classes. And the class last quarter and the one coming up are doozies: lots of thinking, lots of critiquing, lots of brain.
I’m also critiquing a whole novel for a one-on-one student. Again, lots of thinking.
I got our taxes off to the accountant this week! Go me!
I hope to be interesting for you all again soon.
Peter and Caitlin often write heartbreaking, detailed, delightful blog tributes when they lose a pet, and I admire them the more because that is not really my way. I thought I might write something, eventually, when Rumble died, but it didn’t happen. I’ll have to hope that since I so aggressively document the wonder of our cats while they are still pulse-equipped and photogenic, it evens out.
Prior to Rumble, we had only ever gotten kittens who were tiny – six weeks old. He was twice that, and seemed incredibly mature in some ways. Still a kitten, obviously, but old enough to have full run of the house as soon as he joined us. This meant, among other things, that he was bouncing his playful kitty butt all over the bed each night, at the rental apartment belonging to the man known as Frank the Entropic Landlord, as we slept.
I have let my hair grow out since 1995, which was when I shaved it for Clarion West. In the night, if I happened to roll over or even move my head, Rumble would pounce on any moving tresses that happened to drag over my pillow. Having your hair pounced while you’re unconscious, it turns out, is a great way to be compelled to flutter your eyelashes. This, in turn, is a spectacularly successful gambit if what you want most in life is a litter-encrusted kitten paw thrust straight into one or both of your eye sockets.
I dig being sighted, and soon, with Kelly’s help, I was keeping my hair in French braids pretty much all the time. It wasn’t something I could do myself; I have tried periodically over the years, and made multiple abysmal failures of it. The principle seemed obvious enough, at least for the single braid, but the execution has for years been completely beyond me.
Then, a couple weeks ago, I was thinking about a story problem in the current novel. This tends to be the sort of thing that triggers absent-minded attempts at tasks that are physically beyond me. And blow me down, I sort of managed the single braid! (I can’t remember the plot problem, which means I probably solved that, too.) It wasn’t good, exactly; it didn’t go very far, and the whole process depended rather heavily on my being able to stick the left-hand tress in my mouth. But braid happened! It was still recognizably braid a couple hours later, when Kelly got home.
I rather suspect that the primary difference between all of those other tries and this one is that yoga has made it possible for me to hold my arms above my head for vastly longer periods of time. Or possibly to reach the back of my head at all.
This unexpected success also wasn’t, entirely, a fluke. I figured I had forged the faintest beginnings of a neural pathway, so I might as well see if I could push it further. (No, I actually thought that. Yes, I am that much of a nerd). I have as a result braided my own hair perhaps a half dozen times now, and many of the attempts have been at least marginally better than the one proceeding.
It is a weird thing. Rumble didn’t really cause it. It leaves me thinking about him just the same. He has been gone a year, almost. Going suddenly, as he did, meant he never had a shitty, protracted, painful vet-infested old age. I’m glad he was spared that, and the kittens are wonderful. But even so, and at odd times, the hole still yawns.
In the past week the temperatures have swung up above freezing. The icicles I’ve been photographing everywhere have vanished, and the snowdrifts are shrunken, dirty shadows of their former selves. Litter and other appalling, filthy things are emerging as they melt; this is one of the things I never loved about the end of winter, when I lived in Alberta. Still, the sidewalk-hoovers were out in force today, sucking up the crap. It’s unutterably cool to live in a city where the city pays humans to vacuum the sidewalks.
My Novel Writing II class is winding down. Final submissions came in yesterday, which makes this another week where I’ll write about 10k words of critique. (Novel III is up next, in the spring and there’s still room for a couple more writers.)
Kelly and I went and wrote fiction at the TIFF Bell Lightbox lounge, Luma, a couple times last week, in the evening. They seem to have all the good things: tables big enough for two or four people to work on, good windows, caffeinated beverages, adult beverages, nibbles, desserts, and not-too-obnoxious ambient music. (Jimmy’s on Gerrard, I am looking at you.)
The Lightbox is about a ten minute walk from our place, and my dream (one day I’m sure we’ll make it happen) is that someday we’ll follow up a writing date with an 8:00 p.m. movie of some variety.
Speaking of Kelly, her story “Good for Grapes” is out now in New Canadian Noir, and can be found in an ever-increasing number of bricks-and-mortar and virtual bookstores. Corey Redekop is doing mini-interviews with a number of the NCN authors: here’s hers.