Saturday, October 14, 2017

Saturday Gym Day

Went to the gym Saturday morning.  It was strange to be walking down the street while Venus shone brilliantly over the eastern hills and the waning quarter moon sailed high.  Orion's faint outline faded quickly before Sirius.  To think that this time a month ago, the sun would have already been up, and the temperature would have been in the low 60's instead of the mid 40's.

20 minutes and about 200 calories on the elliptical.  3x12x30lbs on the pec fly; 3x12x30lbs on the rear delt fly.  3x12x30lbs on the triceps pull-down.  3x12x35lbs bar-bell curls.  I did a few reverse bar-bell curls, but I could feel it in my right clavicle, so I stopped.  3x12 curl-ups on the Roman Chair.

Today is a "dig through the house and figure out where various lost objects have gone" day.  Unfortunately, the last few days have been dig through the house days, but the objects (mostly papers) haven't turned up, so to we're trying a few obscure locations, combined with "what the heck were we thinking when we last saw it."

Yay?

Friday, October 13, 2017

Gym Report and Dreams of Procession

Thursday was a gym night.  20 min and 200 calories on the elliptical.  10 minutes and 100 cal on the cable row machine.  I'm trying to be nice to my shoulder (having concluded that I probably pulled something on this pec-fly machine last month), so in addition to thinking about my deltoids and trapazoids, I've lowed my weights.  3x12x30lbs on the pec-fly; 3x12x30lbs on the rear delts. 12x60lbs plus 2x12x70lbs on the lat pull-down.  3x12x30 on the triceps pull-down.  3x12 curl-ups in the Roman Chair.  ... and then it was time to go.


On the dream front.  Just before I got out of bed Friday morning, I dreamed I was at Disneyland or Disneyworld I think the dream was coming out of some oddly scrambled murder mystery (involving balloon rides, and a grass seed broadcaster).  A bunch of young dancers queued up on either side of a long buffet service and started in a routine.   At this point I wanted to tweet my revelation that Mousketeers were simply a televised drill team (and Oh Dear, tweeting things has worked its way into my dreams).  

The performance changed--suddenly the blue-eyed, blond drill team (now that I'm thinking about it were in blue and white, my old high school colors) got a lot more darker skinned.  Some of the young men were shirtless, and everyone started wearing browns and oranges and feathers and Very Large Masks (which looked vaguely Klingon).   There were Hawaiians, and Africans, and Asians and some white-haired priest signaled the drums and everyone started drumming and then the everyone danced in procession along the buffet service chanting "Christ is our priest."  There was no actual liturgy, or communion, it was just dancing and chanting.

I think I wanted to tweet that, too.


Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Clothing of Coming Out

Today (Oct 11) is National Coming Out Day.

I had to smile to myself as I got dressed:  I'm putting on my Gay Underwear, I thought as I reached for the same briefs I always put on.  And then I was stuck thinking about what Gay Underwear looks like:  either a "banana hammock" in striped lycra or else a leather jock-strap.  And then this always leads to memories from that one Minnesota Renn Faire with some players who must have been Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, one of whom wore an elaborate cod-piece bedecked like a Christmas tree ornament with gold ribbons and dripping with pearls.

...And now I'm putting on my Gay Pants... which are the same slacks I usually put on for work.  The exercise of calling everything gay lasted for a few more minutes as I pulled Gay Socks out of my Gay Dresser and walked out of my Gay Bedroom to feed my Gay Cats.  I did have fun quoting the movie "Jeffry" as I tied my old black and silver-threaded scarf and saying, "Can I do this?  Or does it make me look like some sort of Gay Superhero?" 

I'm of two minds about dressing to one's identity politics.  On one hand, it's necessary to remind people from time to time, that, yes, there are gay people who work next to them, who go grocery shopping, and who are parents of school-aged children.  And sometimes it's fun to dress up a little with a pink triangle and connect with other out gay folks.  On the other hand, I hate identity politics, and I dislike being reduced to a pink triangle, because I'm more than a guy with a husband or a man who is erotically attracted to other men. 

But at least I don't have to wear a hair shirt.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Plans and Dying Keyboards

Tuesday!  It's my writing night. We'll see what happens, but it will most likely be an editing night.

Ugh. Looks like I need to get some batteries.  Because the space key on my keyboard is dying.  (Gets new batteries for the keyboard.)  You should have seen the previous sentence before I went back and fixed it.  ...OK.  So, it looks like when the batteries are dying, the keyboard's space key stops working -- and apparently the P key and some of the arrow keys as well.

I suppose dying keyboards and the inability to type is a metaphor.

I'm working on a 8,700 word piece.  It's a fun fairy-tale-style story, and probably a hard sell.  I like the language in it, and the visuals -- and because of the fairy-tale voice, I need to turn up the characterization to make the story less distant.   It's mostly done, there are about three places that need some heavy polishing or re-working.  In particular the Bedroom Scene is being excessively awkward: I can tell I'm going to have to just write it as bawdily as I can, with phrases like "pulsing man-rod" and then go back for the parts that are saucy and clever and advance the plot and reveal character.

In other writing news, I got a rejection on a flash piece today -- it's a kind of list-story -- but in a way I'm relieved it did because it's a little too non-fictional, a little too snarky, and I probably should have not submitted it.  I'll let it rest for a few weeks to give it some distance from the real-life inspiration and then rework it so the pieces talk to each other more.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Slow Weekend

Went to the gym Thursday:  30 minutes and 320 calories on the elliptical.  3x12x20lbs on the Rear Delt.  3x12x80lbs on the Lat Pull-Down.  3x12 Roman Chair curl-ups.  3x12x20-ish (this particular machines had at least one pulley, so while I set it to 55lbs, I'm not sure what the actual load was) triceps pull-down.   Assorted 5lb shrugs.   2x30seconds planks.  2x30 second side-planks, followed by a brief Cobra Pose and a kind of Child Pose.  I'm continuing to baby my right clavicle/shoulder, and I felt energized and loose (as opposed to pumped and jammed).

Friday, Saturday and Sunday I've been fatigued and under the weather, and I spent most of the weekend resting and reading "The Oathbound" and "Oathbreakers" by Mercedes Lackey.  It's light, entertaining reading, and I had enough metal energy to look at the structure of the novels (the first shows its short-story structure much more clearly than the second). 

I really should get back to the gym... we'll see if I can must up enough oomph today (Monday).

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Thank You, Library

I know I shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but when I open a public library book and the scent of incense rises off of it, I'm pretty sure it's going to be dippy-hippy.   Sometimes this can be a good thing, but usually it isn't.  I'll admit, I'd checked out the book because of the author is a gay Wiccan, and I thought the writing would be good (or, in other words, address Wicca through the lens of sexual orientation and gender-bias).  Alas, it was a Wicca 101 book filled with vague references to any spiritual tradition you'd care to name and a lot of personal anecdotes.

On the minus-side, it tried to be scientific without actually using the scientific method.  The most egregious example was when it encouraged the reader to practice "cloud busting" as a measure of magickal/psychic ability and then followed up by saying that cloud busting doesn't always work because the universal powers may need a particular cloud or that busting that particular cloud isn't for The Higher Good.   I might have skimmed over any instructions to write "divine intervention" into the sources of error section of experiment write-ups in one's Book of Shadows, but I don't think so.

Also on the minus-side, it skirted the edge of Prosperity Wicca and treating the cosmos as your personal mail-order catalog.  Whenever I read prosperity twaddle, I am always reminded of Starhawk's comment that no amount of staring at green candles to attract a job is going to work unless you also go out and pound the pavement with your resume.

On the plus-side, it did suggest a Pavlovian technique of using unobtrusive hand gestures, or mudras, as a physical stimulus to aid in dropping into a ritual state of mental focus.  I think this could be useful for staying focused in stressful or emergency situations.  


In other library news, I checked out some books on novel writing.  I was hoping that the first one I've opened would be more about a novel's structure or characterization (or at least The Hero's Journey), but it seems to be more about marketing... which isn't too bad of a thing, but it's really bringing the tension between Art and Craft to the forefront.  One piece of advice I didn't want to hear -- as a writer who likes to play with ideas and who likes to play with words -- was about how writing shouldn't be too challenging to the reader.  I know you don't want to confuse the reader, and clashes with my desire to fashion a beautiful, whirling, kinetic sculpture of words.  Oh well.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Tuesday Writing

Tuesday night I tried writing in the UO's Knight Library.  On the plus side, it's open until 2 AM (at least while classes are in session).  On the minus side, it feels a little odd returning to my Day Jobbe at night. Also on the minus side, I'll be increasing my exposure to whatever undergraduate germs are going around.

I've decided that I want to polish up some 8000 to 10,000 word pieces, and then move forward to braided stories set on Venus.  Tuesday's effort was a re-read (and light editing) of a story that I'd put aside a few months ago.  One critique group loved it and pretty much sang arias of praise; another critique group focused on what didn't work and were (in some cases scathingly) robust.   Oh well; the take away is that the descriptive eye-candy is fun, and I need to add one or two more scenes and turn up the characterization dial a whole bunch.

A stupid head-ache on my part and version-its on the part of the manuscript called for an early night; so while I did get reaquainted with the piece, I got only minor editing accomplished.

Monday, October 02, 2017

Monday Gym Report

Went to the gym Monday night:  Read a "Write Your Novel" book on the elliptical, 25 minutes and about 250 cal.  The big revelation is that Dan Brown writes novels the way TV producers make game shows:  so that the watchers can vicariously participate.  I'm really feeling the tension between Art and Craft reading this particular book.   10 minutes and about 100 cal on the cable row machine.  Downstairs, 3x12x60lbs on the pec fly.  3x12x70bls on the lat-pull-down.  3x12 Roman Chair curl-ups.  3x12x20lbs tricecps pull-down.  2x12x20lbs deltoid-pulls.


Sunday, October 01, 2017

Gym and Dark Shadows

Went to the gym Saturday.  I've been advised to mix things up a little more than I have been to help with my shoulder and back (work the back to balance out working the front).  30 minutes and 300 calories on the elipitcal (while I did line edits to a story).  3x12x20lbs on the butterfly pull (a reverse pec-fly).  3x12x80 Lat Pull-downs.  3x12 Roman Chair curls.  3x12 bridges.  Also some assorted quasi-yoga stretches.  Pool-noodle spine stretches and thigh faschia stretches.  30 second planks.   3x12x20lb triceps pull-downs.  



After the gym, I managed to actaully get a flu shot; the closest pharmacy always seems to require two visits for anything, and this was no acception (I'd dont the paperwork yesterday).  The advantage to going early Satruday was that almost no one else was there (sometimes going to this particular pharmacy is like visiting the Emergency Vets on New Years').  

I spent most of the day working on a short story at Caré John, in the rain.  Cicero visited between sprinkles, mostly because I was warm and dry.  He's usually only wants to sit in a lap for about three mintues, but I think he curled up on my lap for about fifteen before a bird or a squirrel or some other defeceless creature lured him into the neighbor's yard.


Mark's been Binge Watching "Dark Shadows," a black-and-white Horror-Soap from 1966.  The premise is that a wealthy, influencial family with secrets is visited by a vampire (and ancestor) who has been released from over 150 years in a coffin, and vampiric hijynx ensue.   It's kind of slow, and extra cheesy.   I have a very vague recolection of seeing the opening or closing credits, but being unable to read the Gothic Script of the show's title.  


I think the Soap Genre demands that the characters connect the dots much more slowly than the viewing audience.  For example, it seems a little odd that a medical doctor with a patient who has inexplicably lost a dangerous amount of blood and whose injuries are only two puncture marks on the neck wouldn't draw some obvious conclusions.  We've amazed The Child on several occasions by predicting actions and dialog.  We've also been coming up with drinking games we could play while watching and pretending to drink whenever anyone says "blood," "Colins", "I'm busy," or "I'll call a doctor-"/"No! Don't call a doctor! I'm not sick!"

A some point, I decided that Smokey should be in Dark Shadows and started to intone a typical opeing:  "My name is Smokey Winters..."

"Smokey Winters!?" Mark said.  "That sounds like a stripper's name."



Today (Sunday) feels like a slow day.  I think I'm fighting off whatever Back-To-School bug is going around, and I'm a little sore from the shot.   I guess this makes it a good day for marketing.  So I've submitted a short story and a flash piece.  The short, unfortunately, has been making the rounds and finding a good market for it is proving to be a challenge.  The flash is experimental, and we'll see if it sells.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Wednesday Gym

Went to the Gym Wednesday night:  Half and hour and about 300 cal on the elliptical.  Hardly anyone was in the gym, so I did a circuit of 3x12x60 on the pec fly (middle setting) and 3x13x80 lbs on the lat pull-down.  Since there was still maybe two other folks, I continued to circuit:  3x12 Roman Chair curls,  3x12x40lbs barbell curls, 3x12x20lb triceps pull-downs,  3x12x40lbs reverse barbell pulls.  Some 5lb shoulder crunches.  Something is still a little off with my right clavicle (I'm thinking it's an old person thing and not an actual injury), but I think I managed not to make things worse.



Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Writing Venue Review: Starbucks

It's official, I've stepped down from the Wordos and handed over keys and passwords and old documentation.  I will miss the fellowship of the critique table.

Which brings us to a review of the local Starbucks Cafe as a Writing Venue.  It's main draw is that it is open until 10 PM, unlike most other Eugene establishments, which close at 7 or 8.  On the plus side, it's relatively clean, and has nice little tables.  The large tables tend to be monopolized by study groups or individual patrons with laptops and book-filled backpacks.  

A friendly wait-staff served me caffeinated mint tea.  And a bagel; this is the second or third time they've been out of poppy-seed bagels.  Later I got a chocolate donut (they were out of brownies), and I regretted it later as it had a lot of grease or maybe butter in it, which upset my stomach.   

Surprisingly, unlike previous visits to this establishment, the music wasn't horrifically grating, and there were no cell-phone wielding drama-queens sharing their worldly and health problems with the entire shop.  As usual, the difficulty in choosing a spot was finding a table that wasn't directly under a stereo speaker.  I chose a high table and high stool with a nice view of the half-moon in the sky (and probably the least distracting view of a weight-lifter showing off his sculpted guns with a black tank-top at the next table over).  

A creative, if cramped, use of the small table space and the window allowed me to have both an open file folder and my mobile out.  I managed to work through some critiques and edit them in.  About the time I wanted to move away from the more mechanical aspects of manuscript to the creative, the music shifted from some relatively innocuous Ella Fitzgerald to distracting covers of "Glory Days" and "The Sisters of Mercy."  

I'd give this about 3 Pencils.  The small tables and loud sound system make this not the most conducive writing place, and the food is over-priced for the quality; but on a slow night, it's dry, clean,  and friendly.  Good for editing, not so good for distraction-free creative work.  


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Fall Beginnings

(Monday) Ah, the first day of classes and the commute becomes more annoying.  The traffic is a test for me to practice compassion and patience, and I'm afraid that I usually fail at it.  Some of my irritation stems from the parking stall scarcity and the "hunting license" I have in lieu of a reserved parking spot.  I suppose when I get a whole lot older, I might splurge.   Until then, I'll have to work on swearing less as I invent whole new circles of Hell for people driving SUV's erratically. 

Yesterday I went to Eugene Pagan Pride.  It was about what I expected, but I was surprised that it was about the third of the size of The Gay Pride event.  There were a lot of merchant booths with jewelry, inscence, soap and some ritual items for sale.  There were about five or six local groups, and a few Portland-based groups there, too.  I didn't see any Radical Faeries; it's possible some of the guys selling books or crystals were gay, but I didn't see any pink triangles, either.  Now that I think about it, there weren't any men's groups at all.  This wasn't too surprising, as Eugene is the Lesbian Capitol of the World; so we have a lot of first- and second-wave Goddess Worshipers.  

I suppose Mark is right:  if there's a NeoPagan group I want to hang out with, I'll need to find one in Portland, which is larger and more diverse and more likely to have something.  Oh well, maybe I'll make some ritual flags for around the house or something.

On the gym front:  went to the gym for the first time in about seven days.  My intention for this week is to actually go Wednesday, Friday and Sunday; if I get back on a roll I'll continue the every-other day thing next week.   30 minutes and 300 calories on the elliptical (reading about Miracles and Belief in Medieval and Early Tudor England).  10 minutes and 100 calories on the cable rowing machine.  3X12X60lbs on the pec fly (medium setting).  3X12X80lbs on he lat pull-down.  2X12 Romain Chair hanging curls.  3X12X35lbs barbell curls (down from 40lbs, I figured I'd ease back to 40 on Wednesday).  3X12X20lbs triceps pull-down.  Some assorted shoulder shrugs.  My stupid right shoulder, or more accurately, my right clavicle, was extra clicky -- I suppose I should start taking some sort of joint supplement.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Equinox

Friday Sept 22

Happy Equinox!  We've a typical Autumnal Day at the moment (8:30AM): grey, overcast sky, damp ground from yesterday's rain, yellowing leaves on the trees and orange leaves on the ground, and 55F.  It might clear up, or it might rain a little first.

In Writing News, I've stepped down from Wordos.  I'll miss seeing everyone every week, and I'm thinking that I'll be able to redirect some energy to writing (longer or non-fiction) pieces that weren't a good match for the group.

Mark's gone this week on a spur-of-the-moment, personal retreat to Yellowstone.  Despite having four inches of snow bring his tent down on him while he was sleeping one night, I can tell from his voice over the phone that he's had a rejuvinating time.  The cats, The Child and I have managed to get through the week without him.

Between the university school year ramping up, Mark's absence, and other things, I havn't been able to get to the gym and I've done only a marginal amount of writing.   The writing lecturn is nice, and I'm having to be mindful of how it makes my lower back sore -- I'm currently using my hexagonal dumbbells as a foot bar, which seems to help.  Maybe some sort of raised stool is in order, although I'm not sure where it would live when I'm not sitting on it.

This afternoon, I used the magnifying lens to capture the equinox sun and light some candles.  The flames kept going until after 9 PM.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Dream: Breakfast Production

The dream had been going along a while, but here's what I remember:

Various Fragments:

I was waiting at the point of a harbor, watching tourists pull in on their boats.  I think there was a lake or river-side cafe involved.

There were "interesting" people and I was following them around making little notes for character sketches for my writing.  There was a discussion of some sort around a large, rectangular, wooden table.

I was at a hostel or lodge of some sort, lots of rough-hewn wood (which in waking I'm going to attribute to a discussion with Mark about Yellowstone).

There was a dream about parking.  I had parked my car in a weird angle because someone else had parked their largish truck lengthwise across two spots.


The dream imagery I recall the best:  I was watching a well lit raised, proscenium stage.  The walls were white.  A group of about ten couples were on the stage, they were dressed in night gowns and pajamas and bathrobes.  At stage right a group of women in tableau held back another woman, who reached beyond them with outstretched hands, a plate or shallow bowl in her hands.  They were standing still, as if they were in a kind of ballet.  A small knot of women stood watching the center stage.  Lots of diaphanous, grey and white robes hung from outstretched arms or flowed over still bodies.

All the men stood in a line, or maybe a shallow V, parallel to the stage.  In the center was a 30-something man.  There may have been low tables or modular counters on wheels or something.  They were all in bathrobes (and in waking life, I'm thinking everyone looked like a 30-something extra from the 90's sit-com, Frasier,  which we've been watching).  The man at the center, assisted by the other men in the line, was baking some sort of small cake or muffin.  There were lots of bowls and stirring motions from the baking chorus.

My viewpoint kept popping around from omniscient to audience member watching the performance.  Once the muffin was finished, it was presented to the woman (who I'm thinking was the man's new wife) who took the pastry in her outstretched hands, and as all of the women who had been holding her back watched, she took a bite and proclaimed, "perfect." (which may have been pronounced "poi-feckt").

Somehow, I found myself on the stage; I got a hold of a muffin, which I then crumbled through a course screen or grater.  The crumbs fell into a shallow white bowl, and I shoved a handful of into my mouth and said "perfect."

The newlywed wife was annoyed that I was poking fun at her.  The dream gets a little out of sequence here, but the husband and wife and I were sitting at a kind of up-scale Shari's booth when a producer/host appeared, camera-men in tow, and starting asking me how I came up with the ingenious idea of de-constructing a muffin.

"Well," I said, "it makes a great crumble, and you can use it as a layer in a breakfast fruit bowl."

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Gym and Standing Desks

I was virtuous and went to the Gym Saturday:  Half and hour and about 300 cal on the elliptical.  3x12x60 on the pec fly (I tried one set on my usual setting and it felt wrong, so I went back to the extra-wide setting).  3x13x80 lbs on the lat pull-down.  3x13 Roman Chair curls.  I felt a little tired, and my clavicle and upper trapezoid is feeling a little sore/weird, so I took the barbell weight down from 40 to 35.  3x12x35lbs barbell curls.  3x12x35lbs reverse barbell pulls.  


Smoke has rolled back into the Willamette Valley and everyone is waiting for Sunday's rain to come and clear the air and put a damper on the forest fires still burning.  When I was at the lat-pulldown machine, I thought a truck or ambulance was backing up against the gym because the 7:30 sun cast ruddy light through the windows.  Walking home, the sun completely disappeared--whether because of clouds or smoke I couldn't tell you.


On the writing front, I re-arranged the home computer so that it's elevated.  I'm standing as I type this, with my hands at elbow level, which I hope will help with my back and shoulders.  I don't have a desk so much as a kind of raised lectern.  I'd toyed with the idea of getting an office somewhere, but at the moment it's prohibitively expensive.  I'd considered maybe reconfiguring the attic as a writing office, but Mark pointed out that no amount of wishful thinking was going to help it stay cool in the summer or warm in the winter.  

We'll see how this works; I've yet to work out a system for dealing with a large number of physical manuscripts, but maybe I can rig up some hanging clipboards.  I'm also not sure where I'm going to put tea.  On the plus side, after I moved the computer and the portable army desk from the bookshelf, I was able reconsolidate my library of archeology, poetry, architecture, reference, and NeoPagan history collections (in the previous configuration book size dictated where books would be shelved).