My father is back in Canada for the summer from his teaching gig in China, and he and his wife passed through Vancouver on Friday. I took them to Cafe Calabria, naturally, and obliged Frank Junior to shoot us.
Bear hadn’t been to my current apartment and had to phone a few times to locate me. When he got close–as in a five minute drive away–I told him I’d wait on my corner and flag him down. And so I ended up out there, away from the phone, with no idea what he drives. I haven’t seen Bear in a couple years, and my memory for visual stuff, including faces, is not my strongest suit.
Anyway, it turns out every man of a certain age looks like my father when I’m peering into the cars rushing by on First, trying to guess whether or not the driver looks like he knows where he’s going.
Finally this aging, creaky rusted-out white VW bug pulls up on the cross street. Aha! Decrepit Volkswagons were, at least at one time, my father’s car of choice. And within is a guy with a snow-white flowing beard and the style of hat Bear favors (he calls ’em pimp hats. Think Huggy Bear on *Starsky & Hutch,* if you’re old enough. If you’re not old enough, you’ve missed nothing).
I looked at this man and I thought: Wow, my father has really aged.
The light changed, the car whined, whined, I tell you! as it tried to get across First. It sounded like it was trying to run a rocket engine on something like orange juice instead of gas. I waved like mad at the parking space in front of my building.
Moving at a land speed that would do a leopard slug proud, assuming said slug was newly recovered from a debilitating foot injury, the car pulled over beside the parking space and the window creaked down. Holy cow, I thought. So white-haired! So rickety! So indecisive and confused-looking! Did he look like that before he went to China? Wouldn’t I have noticed? And hey, Bear, would you just park already?
Creak, creak, creak as he rolled down his window.
“Excuse me young lady. Are you waving at me?”
Oh. Not even remotely my father.
I apologized, told him I thought he was someone else, and didn’t tell him it was someone I ought to damnwell recognize on sight. He got his laboring little bug up to walking speed again–I should’ve given him a push–and tootled away. I passed him yesterday and he’d made it all the way to the corner of Venables and McLean, ten blocks north of here.
Bear and Lily showed up five minutes later, driving a car with a real engine and looking like they do in the above shot, except that I deprived Bear of his Edmonton Oilers cap before the shoot. Maybe the pimp hats weren’t so bad.
Clarion West Write-a-thon report: I have finished the 20,000 words I committed two six-ish weeks ago! Bow down in awe, or, better yet, sponsor me!!
I have finished my first complete start-to-finish story written on the iPad, 8,500 words of urban fantasy, drafted on paper and entered into a simple text app called Simplenote and then, when it was far enough along to need formatting, in Doc2 HD. The latter let me back it up to Dropbox, so it wasn’t just resident in the pad’s memory (and therefore vulnerable) for very long… it hits the cloud and my laptop very briskly.
How well will this work when I’m revising an 85K word novel? We’ll have to see. In fact, we’ll see starting this very morning! I had thought I couldn’t search the text in a long document, which was just about a dealbreaker. I need to be able to hop back and forth to specific points in the story… however, I’ve just figured out that Doc2 does do this.
Other things about the tech side of this…
–iPad, keyboard and cases being three pounds lighter than the laptop, my upper body is much happier about hauling it around.
–The tablet has spoiled me, somewhat, for typing on the iPod with my thumbs. So my hands are happier too, especially as I have been trying to give them a break by texting less. (Sorry, Tweeps.) However, there’s a two hour window on Thursdays when I used to get a ton of blogging, teaching, and article-writing done on the pod, and now I’m pretty disinclined. I will need to find another way, as those two hours on the bus are a necessary work window, and the ride goes faster when I’m busy. (Probably this will end up being me writing longhand and dictating the text into Dragon later.)
–The fact that the pod fits in one hand still makes it nicer for a certain amount of casual web surfing and reading. I have smallish hands, and the pod is a good size and weight for them.
–I have two stands for the iPad. One is the origami keyboard case that essentially transforms the thing into a teeny tiny laptop. The other is a six-legged Gumby type spider thing, which Rumble considers his mortal enemy. We mostly use Gumby for watching Netflix in bed. So we’ll get set up and start watching an episode of, say, Leverage, and a few seconds later the screen will start sliding away from us, as Rumble attempts to drag Gumby off to his lair for punishment.
–I am still waiting for someone to recommend the two dollar app that will make me rich, famous, taller, interested in fashion, obscenely athletic, capable of flying a helicopter and spiritually enlightened. Bueller? Neo? Anyone?
Not long ago, I decided to do something about my desk… or, rather, the walls around my desk.
When we moved into this apartment in 2001, the walls in the larger bedroom were somewhat trashed. The previous owners had raised two sons in there and they had–among other things–driven a blue ballpoint pen into the drywall, dozens and dozens of times, leaving a couple honeycombs of blue punctures. There were lots of holes from hung objects, too, and a few chunks of adhesive that would, if removed, surely rip out even more.
Easily fixed stuff, but painting that particular room wasn’t a priority, so I just continued the trend, putting up my bulletin board in the corner where my desk lives and proceeding to stickpin or sticky note whatever I wanted to see on or around it. And then, when one photo or note got old and I had something more current, I’d put up a new one overtop.
Over time, the sedimentary layers built up. And I have this picture that my great-grandmother Phil did, that I’ve been wanting to put up… my grandma Joan gave it to me on one of our visits to Onoway, and I had it framed and have been sitting on it for ages. (We’ve been wanting to redo our pictures for awhile now, and just haven’t managed to do it, so tackling this constituted a symbolic Start of sorts.)
So I did a good winnow, tossed the bottom few layers of images, sorted the rest, hung Phil’s picture and created some free space for new stuff. It’s still essentially a jumble of images with a computer at its heart, but it was an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon, and I’m pleased with the result.
As I write this, it occurs that this is the second lunge I’ve had at the office lately; I also recently rearranged the closets. I have fantasies about disassembling the shelves and desks that dominate this room one day, taking every single thing out and making a huge pile o’ stuff in the living room while we patch (and patch, and patch some more) and paint the walls, and then, possibly, doing a radical rearrange of the space… but this will do nicely for now.
For a few weeks now, it has felt like I am accomplishing the bare minimum. I am writing fiction (partly thanks to the accountability ass-kick provided by the Write a Thon), teaching, and keeping body and soul together by a) acquiring and preparing food and b) beating back a certain amount of household messiness. A month or so ago I was also managing certain desirable extras: more walking, studying my Italian, reading, making sure I was in touch with my loved ones, working my chest and shoulder muscles… all that jazz.
Groove, I was in you. You felt good. I know this is just a fatigue/motivation blip, and I hope to fall back in you sooner, rather than later.
A drafty snippet from the current story in progress:
It was splinters, driven into the burns. They were lined up like little dominos, bristles that ran along the lines of my hand, life line, heart line, brain line… all the things palm readers find so much meaning in. Tiny little fenceposts of bristling birch, embedded in both hands, and each filament barely aglow with the blue that had come to mean magic.
“Go to jail,” I whispered. “Go directly to jail. Do not pass go.”
And behind me, someone answered, in a deep bass voice: “Ma’am? May I have some clothes, please?”
Between writing words for the Clarion Write-a-thon (up to 16,411 words out of 20,000 as of Thursday!) and teaching “Creating Universes, Building Worlds”–which is focused on short speculative fiction–I have been trying to read a few new short stories.
So far there have been four:
1) “Crazy Me,” James Patrick Kelly – http://www.tor.com/stories/2011/05/crazy-me It’s creepy, it has great build-up, and it ends abruptly. Like many of the people who commented on it at Tor.com, I’m not sure I got the whole point; I may need to reread it. But it has been a fair while since I read anything by Kelly, and I like his style. I enjoyed this a lot.
“The Guy With The Eyes,” Spider Robinson. From BEFORE THEY WERE GIANTS, which is an anthology edited by James Sutcliffe, of first-ever stories by some well-known SF writers. I was surprised that Spider’s first published story was a Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon piece, though I’m not sure why that surprised me.
I want to pick a piece from BEFORE THEY WERE GIANTS to add to the reading list for CUBW… not this time, so much, but in the future. I love the idea of the anthology, and the right newbie story by someone who’s indisputably regarded as Genre Awesome just seems like a terrific thing to include my course reader.
(Anyone read the whole thing yet? Got any faves?)
“Down where the Best Lilies Grow,” Camille Alexa. Jessica Reisman recommended this a few days ago, and it’s a lovely little short-short–moody, self-contained, with memorable images.
And, yesterday, Michael Swanwick’s “The Dala Horse”, (http://www.tor.com/stories/2011/07/the-dala-horse) which has a “Little Red Riding Hood” feel but is so much more. I currently have Tanith Lee’s “Snow Drop” assigned as a fairy tale variation in CUBW; I might add this in as an optional reading, or swap them. Michael was one of my Clarion West instructors, a last-minute addition to the teaching roster after someone (I can’t remember who) had to bow out. He was, I might add, awesome.
Also on the topic of short fiction, Kris Rusch says that the prospects for writing them are better than ever, thanks to the growth of online magazines and e-books. (http://kriswrites.com/2011/06/22/the-business-rusch-short-stories/) What’s your take?