aqua fortis

Thursday, November 30, 2006

I'll get back to writing in a minute. I swear.

I was making myself a cup of coffee when it hit me that I've just fulfilled one of my lifelong (or at least career-long) writing fantasies: getting to read my work on NPR. Dude!! I JUST GOT TO READ MY WORK ON NPR!!!

Honestly? I'm a lot more excited about that now than I am about writing those last 5,000 words.

Fifteen Minutes of Fame

...more like twenty minutes. I'm breathlessly reeling from the fact that I was just a phone guest on the NPR program Insight, which is local to the Sacramento/Central Valley area (some of you who know me well will know why the particular choice of program is funny). They did a segment on NaNoWriMo. I just happened to see a post in the NaNo forum last night that they were looking for guests for the show today, and so this morning I e-mailed them. (I was undecided about contacting them, because I need to spend most of today slaving at the keyboard so I can attempt to finish my last 5,000 words; hence the not e-mailing them until this morning.)

At about 1:15, they called me to ask if I'd like to be a guest on the program, and that they'd call me at 2:35 right before the segment started. I said yes, and they asked me to read about a minute's worth of what I'd written today. I proceeded, for the next hour, to freak out about what was worth reading and what was brief enough yet "stand-alone" enough to read on the air.

Chris Baty, the founder of NaNo, was featured, as well as another participant in NaNo from Dixon. Both of us participants got to read an excerpt, Chris talked about the origins and purpose of NaNo, and Jeffrey Callison (the host) asked us some fairly standard questions about why we were involved, how we fit it into our schedules, and what we were going to do now that the month was over. Eventually you'll be able to get a podcast here, but as of 3:30 pm, it's not up quite yet.

I have to tell you, that was the longest 20 minutes of my life. I was so nervous. Rob said I sounded very calm, but I think that's because I made many notes beforehand of what I might say to introduce the excerpt and that sort of thing. I do that for important phone calls, too. I just know I get nervous on the phone and can sound much more tongue-tied or air-headed than normal, so notes are good for me. Ironically, I can read things aloud or speak in front of a crowd without too much nervousness.

Being a phone guest was probably a less stressful than it would have been actually being in the studio, though. It was just like having a four-way conference call...that you know is simultaneously being broadcast to thousands of listeners over the airwaves. Yeah.

Okay. Back to word-slaving.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Real-Life Strange Conversations

I hate getting into conversations with random people at the gym. I really don't want to talk to people while I'm exercising, even if (perhaps especially if) I'm just winding down in the hot tub or sauna. Today I had to have two, count 'em, two random conversations. Yeeks. One of them was relatively benign, with a lady in the hot tub, mostly about eating and health habits. However, she started the conversation in the following way (approximately):

Strange Random Lady: Do you eat at all? Because you have a really nice body. (At this point, I was afraid she might be hitting on me.)
Me: Yes, I eat too much, which is why I have to come to the gym.

It proceeded from there to a conversation on eating habits and, somehow, tamales. But it wasn't too strange. It was the random conversation I had in the sauna room that left me feeling a little icky. Here's the scene: I'm enjoying some rare alone time in the sauna room, leaning against the side wall with my legs up on the bench. A guy comes in and claims he jumped about a foot because he didn't see me at first. Fine. But then he kept talking. (The following conversation is an approximation of what was actually said. Call it creative non-fiction.)

Strange Random Guy: I really didn't see you there. Did you see me jump? Man.
Me: I guess I'm kind of hiding back here. Heh. (I attempt to close my eyes to ward off further conversation, but this fails.)
SRG: You know, one time I was in the steam room and there was someone else in there but it was so steamy I didn't even see him. And then when he got up it scared me because I had no idea he was there. I guess he knew I was there because he saw me walk in.
Me: Yup, it gets pretty steamy in there. It's too steamy for me. (I should have kept my responses monosyllabic, in retrospect.)
SRG: The steam room here's better than the one in Ceres.
Me: I've never been to the one in Ceres.
SRG: In Ceres they have a private steam room so people go in there butt naked. That's so gross. I don't want to go in there after someone's been sitting in there with their naked butt.
Me: I guess they probably don't rinse it down every time someone's used it. (Abort! Abort!)
SRG: Even that would still be gross, just knowing someone's been in there all naked. And it always seems like I'm going in there after some hairy Iranian guy. (He said something else, but due to amazement I did not absorb it.)
Me: Hmmm.

Fortunately, not long after this he decided to move to the steam room. But before he did, and after the "hairy Iranian guy" comment, I had a brief moment of indecision. Should I say something? Like, "Hey, that's kinda racist?" Or "I'm offended by that." Should I enlighten him about my own ethnic origins? Ultimately I decided on none of these, and said merely, "Hmmm," because I did not want to be having this conversation any longer than necessary. In fact, if he hadn't left soon afterward, I definitely would have. The "Hmmm" would have been followed by "okay, bye now."

Sunday, November 26, 2006

My laptop hates me and I'm never going to finish NaNoWriMo.

Yes, our laptop--the newer one, ironically (the old Windows 2K one seems to work just fine) has officially entered archnemesis territory. Fortunately, it's still (just barely) under warranty under the extended service plan my mom bought. And there I was just having listened to an NPR report on how the extended service plan is almost never worth it. Well, this time it is going to be worth it because (after I transfer the ownership of the plan) I will take the stupid computer back to CompUSA and tell them they need to fix it. I'm tired of trying to fix it. I'm no expert. And the computer is being a bitch.

Plus, spending several hours over the past few days trying to fix the damn thing has really put a dent in my progress towards the 50,000-word goal, as you can see from the widget in the left-hand column. I've gotten to the approximate point I got to last year, which is OK, but I was really hoping to finish this year. The sad part is, I convinced my mom, who was reluctant at first to try it, to participate, and she's been done for several days now. Gotta love that irony.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Strange Occurrences

Tonight I half-watched an episode of Trading Spouses: Meet Your New Mommy, a prime example of why reality shows are just so wrong, yet so right. Only now I feel kind of dirty and icky. On the other hand, I very much appreciate everybody in my family now, foibles and all.

I had some really weird dreams this morning. I remembered two of them vividly enough to write them down:

Dream #1. I was online and somehow found a blog kept by Sid Vicious of Sex Pistols fame. There was a music video of him with his new band on there. I decided to leave a comment on his blog, but having done so, I wondered what the hell I'd been thinking, since he would now be able to visit my blog, which was clearly lame and inferior.

There are a few things glaringly wrong with this scenario:

  • Sid Vicious is dead. Very dead. For many years now, thereby escaping washed-up-stardom.
  • Even if Sid Vicious were not dead, chances are he would probably not keep a blog.
  • Even if he were alive and had a blog, why he would he bother to visit the blog of every person who left him a comment?
  • My blog clearly rocks. Just kidding.

Dream #2. I was with a group of people in a train waiting room somewhere in China, waiting for a train to take us from one part of China to another. However, I could not manage to round up my luggage or various pairs of shoes. To add insult to injury, once I'd rounded up as much of my stuff as possible, the train was pulling out of the station and I had to jump on while it was moving. Fortunately for me, the train was moving extremely slowly and looked like a hayride vehicle, with many white wooden-railed carts strung together along the track. The train was traveling past a boardwalk of shops on either side.

That one's just weird. I can understand the China part, because an acquaintance asked me this week about traveling in China because she was planning a trip there. But the luggage and the shoes? And the hayride train? Baffling.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Life too crazy. Too much work. Work work work. No time to blog. Sleeping badly and stomach hurting (although caffeine might be abetting the former and a poorly digested Boca burger on a carnivorous stomach might be responsible for the latter, at least for the moment).

I spent most of Sunday preparing for a lecture and demonstration on artists' books that I gave in Rob's evening class on Alternative Drawing Methods, and much of today preparing a handout for the second demo I'm giving tomorrow evening. These are classy handouts. They have step-by-step diagrams and everything. The diagrams were the time-consuming part, but they look pretty.

Plus I spent large amounts of time over the past week doing a scratchboard drawing and drafting a poster for the next play at the Prospect Theater Project (note: picture currently on web page has nothing to do with me). I'll put up a little graphic of the final version of the poster when it's done. That looks pretty, too, so far.

And I've been trying to get hold of an artist and Mills professor, Ron Nagle, so I can arrange an interview for the Mills alumni magazine...finally talked to the dept. secretary today and found out he doesn't do e-mail, so I'll have to make a few more dreaded phone calls.

I also have Art Appreciation paragraphs to grade, preferably by yesterday; book reviews I'm behind on; graphic novels to read over the next few weeks as a panelist on the Cybils nominating committee; my office to organize (ha! like that's going to happen anytime soon); and my NaNoWriMo novel that I'm also at least three days behind on. Oh, and family stuff this weekend AND Thanksgiving weekend. Whee, we are havin' some fun around here. And people just seem to keep calling me and asking me to do even more stuff. I don't feel like I'm in a position to turn down a paid contract job right now, since most of the aforementioned work does not earn any money and I'm so not pulling my weight right now. Yet somehow I work my ass off around the clock, when I'm not eating or sleeping.

Let's hope my brain doesn't explode in the next few days; if it doesn't, then I should be OK.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Hey, Where'd I Go?

I saw a very strange warning sign on the back of a truck today. It said something like "Caution: Use dummy gladhands if air lines are disconnected." It might have said "air pumps" instead of "air lines," but that's not the part that baffles me. Dummy gladhands? I find that phrase utterly incomprehensible. If anybody can enlighten me, that would be great.

Anyway, I know that as usual I had a lot of things I wanted to blog about which I have now forgotten. Part of the problem is that I'm participating in National Novel Writing Month again this year, and this time I'm determined to make it to 50,000 words. So much of my free time and brain space is taken up by logistics and idea-generation for The Latte Rebellion, a young adult novel about a moneymaking scheme that goes horribly wrong.

I'm also spending inordinate amounts of time at the gym during the week. Inspired by our friend Peter (whose Halloween costume you absolutely must see--should be the second blog entry down), Rob and I decided we want to train for a sprint triathlon. Our goal is to do the required "events" in the gym sometime in the next month or so, and then maybe think about doing an actual sprint triathlon in spring when the weather warms back up. We've been working out at the gym for about a month and a half now and are pretty much on track. I spent about an hour and a half at the gym today, doing about 3 miles on the treadmill, various strength-training machines, and 15 laps in the pool. I usually do that on Monday and Wednesday. Tuesday, Thursday, and/or Friday I do just the running and swimming part, for about an hour. You'd think I'd be losing that 5-8 pounds I've been attempting to ditch, but you would be wrong.