Thursday, August 25, 2016

Linky Thursday Randutiae with Rage (And Some Sweet Things, Too)

In France, in order to protect women from being oppressed by Muslim men who tell them what to wear, white men with guns force women to take their clothes off. I have so much fury and contempt for this racism, Islamophobia, and misogyny disguised as "liberation" and "secular values" that I don't even have enough room in my head for it. By writer Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan at the Independent: Dear white people of France: being forced to undress wasn't exactly the liberation I was longing for. "It seems that oppression is only when brown men tell you how to dress; when white men do it it’s called liberation. But even French feminism has its roots in colonialism and imperialism."

At the Guardian: Texas has highest maternal mortality rate in developed world, study finds. "As the Republican-led state legislature has slashed funding to reproductive healthcare clinics, the maternal mortality rate doubled over just a two-year period."

In nicer news, at Time: Scientists Discover Sharks That Can Live for 400 Years.

At QuartzThe photos that remind us of why we love sports. Beautiful! There's an exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum.

At The Telegraph: Call of the wild: photographer Anup Shah on capturing the perfect shot. Also beautiful, and astonishing. The author has a new book out.

I'd like to write more today, dear readers, but I can't, because I'm trying to get through this revision, so that I can go back to the beginning and start revising again.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

In which the author decides that her Sicilian ancestors were not seafaring folk

 We went deep-sea fishing.

On the way out to the deep sea, I was so happy. I love boats. I love moving fast with all the wind. I loved bouncing over all the waves. I told Kevin that my Sicilian ancestors must have been seafaring people, that's why I love this so much.

Then we got to the place where the boat was stopping for six hours so we could fish. That's when I started puking. Oh my god. If I was standing up, I was puking. If I was inside, I was puking. If I was sitting, I was puking.

For the next six hours, the only thing that kept me from puking was lying down, in the air, alone on the upper deck, with my eyes closed. If my brain was in any way responsible for keeping my balance, I would puke. The people on the boat were so nice. When I told them I would prefer not to continue puking over the side and instead would like a bucket so I could go up by myself to puke in peace, they found me a bucket and helped me up. Poor Kevin had a hard time enjoying himself, because there was nothing he could do to help me. The first time he came to visit me on the puke deck, the sight of him reminded me I was alive, which made me puke. I encouraged him to try to go enjoy himself fishing. I had caught fish before (though not at sea). Kevin had not. I wanted him to catch a fish.

Before too long, a young man, also looking for a place to puke in peace, joined me on the upper deck. We spent some time in companionable silence alternating use of the puke bucket. I never learned his name, but he was wearing a Free Brady T-shirt. There was a time not too long ago, only this morning, when I hated everything New England Patriots and was deeply tired of quarterback Tom Brady. I feel differently now. This is the sort of magic that happens when you share a puke bond with a stranger.

Following all that, there was a stretch of time I don't remember. Kevin visited me a couple times and later reported that he'd found me asleep. I do remember moaning to him that I'd changed my mind about my Sicilian ancestors. I also moaned to him at one point, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained." I believe that sincerely. I'm glad to have tried deep-sea fishing. I didn't fish for even a second (it was unthinkable), but I definitely had an experience.

Also: Kevin caught his fish! And I even witnessed it! At one point, after some time had passed with no puking, I decided I was cured, jumped up, ran downstairs, told Kevin I was cured, suddenly realized I was about to puke, and in that moment, Kevin caught a haddock. I managed to get a picture before puking. Have you ever heard of anything more serendipitous?

So, yeah. Maybe deep-sea fishing isn't for me, and man, is it beautiful to be on solid ground again. But stay tuned, dear readers, because Kevin and I have pledged for one year to do one new thing every month that neither of us has ever done before. That's why we went to a wolf sanctuary in April; went indoor skydiving in May; floated in June; played golf in July; and went deep-sea fishing in August. What in the world will we do next month? :o)

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Birthday Month Randutiae

Season 3 of The Great British Baking Show (known as The Great British Bake Off in Britain) was my favorite yet. I cried through the Final (in a good way). Here is the chocolate well created by a contestant in Episode 9...

...with a bucket that drops to the bottom to collect liquid white chocolate for dipping the biscuits in.

The judges told the contestant (whose name I'm not saying because it would be a spoiler) that it needed more decoration, frills, and furbelows.  Dear judges: Wrong.


At Reuters: France defends burkini ban on tense post-attack beaches. Wow, does this make my blood boil. Dear French officials: Stop telling women to uncover their bodies and calling it feminism. Stop telling women what to wear, period, and calling it feminism. Racism, misogyny, and religious intolerance are especially disgusting when you claim to be doing it on behalf of these women, who will now not be able to go to the beach.


In better French news, at The Guardian: How a 3-D clitoris will help teach French schoolchildren about sex.


Also at The Guardian: Three things that need to happen before I defend men from Olympic sexism, by Lindy West. A pretty basic and straightforward summary of why the sexual objectification of men is different from the sexual objectification of women.


At the Huffington Post: 15 Women Proving You're Never 'Too Old' for Rainbow Hair. Love these pics!


At These Gorgeous Glass Sculptures Look like Knitting in Progress. Sculptures by Carol Milne; definitely go straight to her website for more wonders.


Finally, it rained on my 40th birthday… which meant that I got to have fun with colors :o).

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Notes from Birthday Month

It's birthday month on the blog and things are looking up with my revision. \o/\o/

Also, my nieces just turned 7... my father will shortly turn 75... and next week, I turn 40!

I'm certain it never occurred to me when I was a kid that someday I would be glowing with happiness to be turning 40. It makes me feel like a kickass archer in a skintight bodysuit (?), surfing through life. (-----> That's my Indonesian cover for Graceling, published by Gramedia Pustaka Utama ^_^.)

Some nice things: Vicki Lee's, the bakery/café in my new neighborhood, has a breakfast muffin with a soft-boiled egg inside. I meant to take a nicer picture of it, but I accidentally ate it first.

Also, I continue to enjoy the Summer of Darkness app.

Also, one month in, I think it's safe to say that my many plants have survived the move. Moving is really hard on plants. On the one hand, they don't run around the new home freaking out and peeing on everything the way pets do, but on the other hand, they may very well drop dead. On my first night in the new place, I heard an enormous crash and ran into the living room to discover that my poor corn plant (which is basically a tree in a pot) had given up and toppled over. We've since repotted it and it's doing wonderfully now…

My peace lily was in absolute despair for a few weeks after the move, drooping so dramatically that I began to think it was a goner. Then I moved it to a cooler room (my plants are adjusting to no longer having central AC), and it perked right up within an hour.

In the meantime, I don't think this philodendron has noticed that we moved.

I expect my posts will continue to be somewhat random and pointless until I'm done with this revision; possibly until I'm done with the next one, too; possibly until the book is through copyediting. But I'll try to pop in with nice things now and then. :o)

Monday, August 1, 2016

In Case You Are a Writer (or Any Other Sort of Discouraged Person)

Lateish last night, in the middle of the sixth revision of what will be my fourth published book, I inaugurated Notebook 24.

It's been a long journey to the middle of the sixth revision of my fourth book. First I needed to write all the other books, and revise them, and write this one, and revise it five times. After I revise it for the sixth time, I will probably revise it for the seventh time.

Confession: I'm tired and cranky.

 I'm not the only one who was working hard in my office yesterday.

See the lily? (The tall, skinny one in the middle?)

Look what it had done by the end of the day.

How the heck did it do that? I don't know. But I'm guessing it started a long time ago.

Keep trying.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Scenes from the Writer's New Life

It's hard to focus on a hard revision when my new home remains chaotic and I could be organizing, cleaning, and hanging up pictures, rather than fixing this book. The news, which is heartbreaking everywhere, every single day, also makes it difficult. But I am focusing and fixing the book, because it feels even more awful not to.

 I stuck this on my new window.

In the meantime, it isn't all chaos.

 Here's one of my favorite kitchen nooks, full of treasures.

The Scully candle says "Our Lady of Common Sense."

 These little guys live on my writing desk.

 My magic wand and my magic umbrella are in position.

  My new home has lots of charm but few electrical outlets, so I've had to get creative in some places…
 like in my bathroom, where these little solar-powered night lights charge up every day in the window.

Further afield, yesterday in New Jersey, we got together with this distinguished gentleman…

That's my dad.

...and totally learned to GOLF.

See my jaunty cap and collared shirt? They are evidence I'm a golfer. Along with
the golf clubs, of course, lent to me by my wonderful (and left-handed) Aunt Rose!
Sort of.

It was our first time. We started at the driving range, where my dad taught us the basics, demonstrated a few things, then made extremely kind and encouraging comments as it became clear that I CAN'T HIT GOLF BALLS. Oh my goodness. They're so small and far away!

 Kevin's batting average was much higher than mine.

 See how he's looking up? I never hit a ball high enough to need to look up.

 Dad, in the meantime, is a wonderful golfer.
I'm pretty sure Kevin is saying "Wow" here.

Oh my goodness. When I actually managed to hit the ball, it would usually go in the right direction, and sometimes it would even have some lift and go a little bit far. But probably 75% of the time, I didn't even hit the ball. ALSO, TODAY I AM SO SORE. FROM SWINGING VERY HARD AT AIR.

Dad demonstrates.

Kevin imitates.

Dad tries to find the ball I hit into the shrubberies.

Now, don't imagine that I got discouraged. I got the ball in the hole eventually every time. Look, here I am lining up my putt! Aren't you proud of me?

Dad kept getting pars and bogeys (if you don't know anything about golf, that's amazing). Kevin consistently scored a few strokes above par on every hole, which is excellent for a first time. I lost track of my strokes on every hole, but listen, I'M A WRITER. This means I'm extremely good at being dreadful at something; working at it stubbornly for a really long time; then eventually becoming slightly less dreadful at it. I'm going to keep trying. I would also like to point out that Kevin was wearing a Pokémon badge. Everyone knows that's good luck. It was lent to him by my nieces, who don't care a fig about golf (OR ME APPARENTLY) but had earnest hopes that Kevin would catch some Pokémon on the golf course. No one thought to lend me a Pokémon badge. Humph. Little traitors.

(Hang on, it just occurred to me that they are six and they can read now. Sweethearts: That was a joke!)

(Can you believe they are six? Almost seven! Eek!)

Despite how unbrilliant I am at golf, this was my favorite new thing I've done in a while, because, well... we got a golf lesson from my dad. :o)

Now I'm home again, and I've gotten back to work. My muscles will start to feel better, I'll continue to chip away at the chaos… and every day, my little night lights will sit in the window soaking up the sun, so they can spend the nights doing this.

Sweet dreams, everyone.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Moving and Floating

We decided to go to Float, this place in Somerville where you close yourself inside a small floating tank with body-temperature water containing a thousand pounds of Epson salts (causing guaranteed flotation), and, in silence and complete darkness, float for an hour.

Why, you ask?

Curiosity, I guess.

You step into this tank of water and close the door.

I went into this with no expectations, other than looking forward to doing absolutely nothing for an hour in the midst of a very stressful week (my moving week!). People who float regularly talk about amazing meditative experiences, and while I wouldn't say I went into this with cynicism, I definitely wasn't expecting an amazing experience. I was prepared for the possibility that it might be relaxing, just as I was prepared for the possibility that it might be completely stupid.

Turns out I loved it.

While Kevin in his tank was apparently spinning around in circles and running a series of hilarious experiments (which he told me about later), I just lay there in the body-temperature water, trying to become accustomed to the very odd sensation of not being able to feel my own body – except for these two throbbing things at one end of the tank that I recognized as my poor aching feet (moving is so hard on the feet!). At one point, my inability to feel my body freaked me out a little bit, but I flexed my various muscles and became reacquainted with my own body and was able to relax. I didn't think about my move while I was in there, not once. This wasn't a choice; it simply never entered my mind, despite it being my entire life at the moment. I achieved an emotional clarity so quickly, and found myself thinking about deeper things, the important things I haven't been able to access during the whirlwind of moving. I thought about these things with a level of clarity that I've previously only ever experienced while hypnotized. Most amazing, though, were the physical effects. I went into that tank with aching, burning hands, forearms, and feet. In the tank, suspended in water, it was like weightlessness, it was like sleeping on a cloud, all my muscles relaxed, and I came out of it with zero pain. Floating did not feel as good as a massage, but afterwards, I felt physically better than I feel after a massage.

To my great surprise, I may go again sometime when I'm in the midst of stress – especially if the stress has physical manifestations.


So, I now live in a new home! I can without reservation recommend Anton's Moving Company. Sergey, Taras and Dan were careful and tireless and fast, and made heroic efforts to get my couch into my new apartment. They went so far as to hoist it over the balcony and remove my door. Alas! It turned out to be a physical impossibility. My couch is mine no more! It's okay, we were able to keep it in the family.

Yesterday, while purchasing a new, small, narrow couch online that will definitely fit through my door, I was amused to notice the little drop-down box where you indicate how many you want to put into your shopping cart. Do many people buy more than one of the same couch? Today, while looking for coat hooks at Pottery Barn, I chose one of their couches at random and investigated how many I could put into my shopping cart.

I wish I'd thought to check on the giftwrapping charge for 99 couches.

Afterwards, I closed my browser and wandered off to organize my new kitchen. Later in the day, Pottery Barn emailed to remind me that I still had items in my cart. Did I forget to purchase them? Yes, thank you Pottery Barn, I did forget to purchase 99 green Chesterfield Grand Sofas.

Thank you, dear readers, for reading my first blog post from my new home. Despite the chaos, I already love it here, and now I'm going to put some books on some shelves.