Monday, August 29, 2005

This & That

I feel like I've been productive on a lot of mini-projects this week. One notable one is that I've practiced the piano the past four days in a row, after a hiatus of several months of non-practice. This latest hiatus was prefaced by my having the accidental misfortune of being overheard in my ungraceful plonking (that situation also being the first practice after a long hiatus) by a friend of ours who is a music professor. Such ill luck.

My fragile music ego became discouraged at the slightest, most innocent comment about how I should be practicing--I had not set out to be overheard by anyone except Rob, who kindly puts up with my endless repetition of Hanon exercises and classical music he's not particularly fond of in order to hear the piano get some use, with slim hopes that I will one day get enough practice and confidence to play something with him while he accompanies on the electric bass. Anyway, I wasn't in the mood to play anything for a few months after that, but I've been reading An Equal Music by Vikram Seth and it put me in a more musical frame of mind.

What I've found is that practicing for about half an hour in the morning--after breakfast and coffee but before attempting anything productive--is a good way for me to transition from laziness into work mode. And I definitely need to start being in hard-core work mode. This semester I will be: TA/grader for Rob's online Art Appreciation class; continuing my very part-time contract with Riverside School for the Arts; taking a mixed media painting class at the JC; continuing (and hopefully finishing) my document-editing project at the Office of Ed; and, of course, writing as much as possible.

Fortunately, I'm well on the way to finishing the short story revision I've been working on, although I feel like I'm at a sticking point with my current YA novel. In the latest chapter, people got into major arguments and I'm not sure I'm very happy with the way the arguments are written. So now I feel kind of blah about it. But in a day or so I should be capable of forcing myself to plug away at it again.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Revision-phobia

Let me just tell you, I'm a master of procrastination. I'll get to that in a minute.

Last week I got another rejection, but then I got my first non-rejection in a while. I have this story called "The Bad Girl" that I wrote during my first semester at Mills, in Amanda Davis's class, which I revised a bit last summer and was planning to work on some more. But I got impatient and sent it out anyway. I sent it to Catamaran Magazine, a publication for South Asian American writing.

So I got an e-mail last week from one of the editors of Catamaran, saying that they think the writing is good and the character is compelling, but that certain aspects of the story could be developed more. (I agree. But cf. impatience in previous paragraph.) They elaborated on that a bit, and said that if I was willing to revise it "thoroughly" (argh) they would be happy to reconsider it.

This is quite good news, possibly. But this morning, when I turned on my laptop to try to tackle some of those revisions, I became paralyzed by anxiety. Instead of just plowing into it, which is what I have to do, I:

  • watched a couple of episodes of Star Trek
  • drank two cups of coffee
  • washed some dishes
  • sent a fax, which involves lugging the fax machine out of the closet and hooking it up, as well as printing out a cover sheet
  • typed a blog entry.

And now, I'm about to exercise for 30 minutes or so, and after that, I'll take a shower, and probably run a few errands.

Damn. Gotta get out of vacation mode. I'm going to attempt to take this mixed media painting class at MJC starting next week, and my Office of Education Job-That-Won't-Die is soon going to rise from the dead for a while, too. Not to mention my freelance research job starting up again for six months. Good thing I got that novel proposal sent out again before all that stuff happens.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Oh, Man.

I wasn't going to post anything until tomorrow, but I've just been sitting here in the middle of the night laughing my ass off because of this.

Actually, I wrote about this site ages ago for IGN For Men, but hadn't visited lately. It's only gotten better with age--whereas that article I just linked to hasn't, so attention inquisitive writing bigwigs, don't take it as a definitive sample! Hell, half the time I was a humor columnist there I was writing about absolutely nothing. But hey, it was fun.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Wonder of Wonders - I Updated My Website

Okay. So my website has been updated with the saddest of single little paragraphs, but hey, I've been meaning to do it for probably over a year now.

The really sad thing is, I kind of want to re-do our whole website. The web copy is lackluster and it's about time I update to XHTML. Uh, yeah, I'll be getting right on that...

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

I Just Keep Tryin'...

After receiving yet another rejection the other day (for an article I've been trying to get published for over a year now) and waking up this morning to find the coffee maker teeming with ants (which was lovely), I am now in just a fabulous mood to finish the chapter I'm supposed to turn in to my writing group today.

Where do all these ants come from? You would think that the fact they are getting massacred in their thousands several times daily would discourage them from ever leaving their sanctum deep, deep inside the walls of our house. But no.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

COPS Modesto!


PICT0353
Originally uploaded by Aquafortis.

So, yesterday I heard something outside while I was working at the computer. I looked out the window and there were all these police cars outside a house at the end of our block. Naturally, I went outside to gawk.


What I saw was about 8 police cars, and about 15 officers, pulled up in front of this house which always seemed a tad scummy to me (plastic patio furniture on front porch, white boys blaring the occasional gangsta rap, guys wearing wife-beaters, etc.). Two of the cars were Probation Office vehicles and one was an undercover cop car. A few of the officers were kicking and hammering in the side fence of the house until they could get into the backyard.


About ten of the officers were standing around this guy who was cuffed and kneeling on the ground and apparently spazzing out in some way. Brandon (punk kid next door) and I speculated that drugs and/or alcohol were involved, and that the reason the cops kept hosing him off was to try to sober him up. Meeker (our neighbor from around the corner) provided a credible alternate suggestion, which is that they may have pepper-sprayed the guy and were trying to hose off the pepper spray.


Anyway, this scene went on for several minutes, with the police trying to get some sense out of the guy (or so I assumed; I could not actually hear the conversation from across the street, nor was I willing to go any closer). Then they searched his pockets and confiscated some small objects. (Again, Brandon and I figured, drugs.) At some point, an obese woman with pasty skin and long, black, permed hair pulled up in a car and walked over there and was giving the cops a piece of her mind (girlfriend? sister?). Eventually, they took him away in a police car. All the other cop cars left, and so did the angry large woman (which was a relief as her car was directly blocking our next-door-neighbor's driveway). Shortly afterward, all of us gawking neighbors also left.


But today, just minutes ago, I saw a City of Modesto truck siphoning something out of the sewer in front of that same house. Coinky-dink? Rob thinks maybe it was a meth lab--meth labs are a problem in this region. But then, he pointed out, there would probably have been HazMat trucks, too. So we don't know if the sewer truck is even related to what happened yesterday. But yesterday's action was exciting enough for me to bust out my camera and try to zoom in through my window. I did not feel comfortable bringing the camera outside where the police could observe me being a goober. So the photo quality's not great, but you can kind of see shit going down.