Tuesday, March 31, 2009

March Goes Out Like a Disgruntled Carnie

This morning my car looked like it had been attacked by someone wielding an ash-flavored slushee. All day the sky has spit chunks of icy rain, littering the ground with treacherous, near-invisible slick spots.

I know this is all part of the winter to spring transition, but I much prefer robin spotting and tree buds.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

When it Rains...

Within 24 hours of the call I had another agent interested in the novel, when I told her I'd accepted representation from another agency she said she was sorry she hadn't read my submission earlier because I was a "damn fine writer."

Wow. I'm all glitter and bells right now.

I subjected my husband, Will, to the Twilight DVD, which he found mildly amusing. He had a great take on the Bella discovers Edward's true identity dialogue:

Bella: Your skin is pale white and ice cold...sometimes you talk like you're from another time...I know what you are...

Edward: Say it. Out loud. Say it.

Will: You're a grad student


Speaking of movie anticipation - I'm loving the trailer for Spike Jonze's _Where the Wild Things Are_.

A number of folks have said they're worried it won't be like the book. It's clear to me that the film will NOT be like the book, but that's why I think it has so much promise. The narrative is about joy, loss of innocence, and the wildness of children's imaginations. I think it will be a wonderful interpretation of the spirit of Maurice Sendak's classic children's book.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Call

Phone rang at 6:22 a.m. Seattle time. When the phone rings that early in the morning, several thoughts flash through my mind: Who is calling? Wrong number? Emergency? Errant fax machine (this happens too often)?

This morning's call was one of the best I've ever received, which is a strong statement in my case. I don't usually become coherent before 9 a.m. But in this scenario I was wide awake instantly: the phone call was from an agent who wants to represent my novel.

HOORAY is too flat a word to describe how thrilled I am. Said agent will remain anonymous since we're at the very beginning of this process, but I will say I couldn't be happier about this agent's enthusiasm for my project and the reputation of the agency. Now I'll ask for all your crossed-fingers that we find an editor who shares the excitement about the series.

In venerable Underpants Gnomes' tradition I'm handing off my work to this equation:
Phase 1: Write novel
Phase 2: ? (mysterious agent work)
Phase 3: Published!

Of course this is an exaggeration; I understand an agent's role in this process and I'm ecstatic to have an industry pro invested in my work. I was too excited to return to sleep, so I got up and wandered around Seattle enjoying the soft gray morning light and the thrill of being a step closer to my dream of a writing career. Near Pike Place Market I came across this quote, stamped in bronze on the sidewalk:

"I always knew that at last I would take this road,
but yesterday I did not know it would be today."

There are moments when everything in the world falls in place, and I'm dancing with the earth itself.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Seattle, Sci Fi, and Tiger Dreams

Lots of plane time lately; am now in the hotel lobby of the Sheraton, 6th and Pike, downtown Seattle.

Good weather for March. No rain, overcast and mild. Perfect for wandering the streets and gazing at Puget Sound.

Spent the afternoon at the Museum of Science Fiction; loved seeing the first editions and handwritten notes of so many of my favorite books. It was also gratifying to be reminded that writers of science fictions have always pushed the margins on cutting edge social issues. (Also got to see R2-D2, woot!)

Last night the BBC featured a story about tigers in Indonesia. The tigers have become a menace to the local population, it was a tale surreal enough that I almost thought I was dreaming it: apparently the tigers are only hunting people who've been engaged in illegal tree cutting, which destroys the tigers' habitat. The story unfolded to present a battle between man-eating tigers who manifested a vengeful spirit acting against deforestation. Terrified villagers were interviewed recounting the way the lock their doors at night (tigers can open doors, but not locked doors?) and huddle in bed listening for the approach of the tigers.


Friday, March 20, 2009

Turning of the Tide (of Light)

Posting from Chicago where I was happy to catch a glimpse of Lake Michigan. Unlike Superior (my home lake), Michigan often takes on that Caribbean aqua shade, which strikes discordant against the still-barren March landscape.

Gave a paper at the Newberry; am now wrapped in terry bathrobe at hotel. Our bathtub at home is sadly lacking in tubworthiness, so I take advantage of long soaks in deep bathtubs when I travel. This is my second bath since arriving in Chicago. Relaxed, warm, and happy (sigh).

In case you didn't notice, it's the spring equinox (Oestara for any would-be pagans out there). Welcome to the rising light side of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. Oestara is the reason that bunnies, chicks, and eggs appear in time for Easter (if you're noticing a similarity in the words that's no coincidence). In the same way of Christmas trees, pagan symbols of fertility and rebirth were incorporated into Christendom as a type of syncretism meant to win over converts by drawing together old and new holidays.

The Puritans wouldn't celebrate Christmas because they thought it was much too pagan to be a Christian holiday. They were pretty down on May Pole dancing too. Go figure.

I'll be enjoying the lengthening twilight and waiting for the trees to leaf out into that dazzling, fresh green that only appears when their tiny curls first unfold.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Post-Modern Malady

Over the course of the last month I've been struck down by a strange eye plague. The attacks come out of nowhere, with no warning.

Here's what happens: my eyes start to itch, then the burning, searing sensation sets in, followed by the tears. I'm not talking about a timid eye watering, this is a flood of tears, blinding tears. I'm rendered useless for anywhere from one to five minutes.

It's too early for allergies (despite our spring thaw, the land is still trapped by winter in Minnesota), and I don't have eye allergies anyway. But these vision-blurring episodes have been happening with greater and greater frequency.

Unsure of what might be the cause, and as yet uninterested in seeing an optometrist, I did what anyone else would do: Googled the symptoms.

Turns out I'm suffering from something new that has been recognized by eye specialists as "Computer Vision Syndrome." Yes, indeed, the technological world has begun its attack on humanity - starting with our eyes.

I shouldn't be surprised that I suffer from a computer-related malady. I spend most hours of my day writing at my laptop or desktop. My eyes rarely leave the glare of the monitor (sigh). I have no remedy for this problem; my life and livelihood are tethered to this machine.

So for now, eye drops and a prayer a day that I'm not going to be rendered blind after a lifetime of screen gazing.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

March Madness (and I'm not talking about hares or hatters)

It's tourney time!

March can be a loathsome month, but light shines from the hallowed halls of the NCAA to bring hope to the poor, frozen masses...in the form of the annual BRACKET.

I went a little nuts with my bracket this year, 1) because I've been to busy to follow teams and thus don't have a strong grounding in who I should be picking and 2) I love upsets.

While I won't go through my entire bracket, here is my final four:

Cal, Michigan St., Pitt, UNC. I have Cal and Pitt in the final game, with Pitt winning. Phew!

It's on!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Break and Breathe

Deep breath. Spring break has arrived.

For those of you who don't get a spring break as part of your working year, my apologies. Spring break offers a much longed-for reprieve from what has been a chaotic semester. As an added bonus, this week brings weather predicted to be sunny and in the 50s. For those of you in warmer climes, 50 degrees coming off of a Minnesota winter is sub-tropical. Some spring breaks bring snow emergencies.

So what are my plans for spring break? Sleep. Read. Write. Repeat as needed.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Shavasana (With Pug)

I run and practice yoga. The latter activity is meant to lengthen my muscles and spine (which it does, I was a half inch taller at my last physical, I kid you not), but also to quiet my oft-frenzied mind.

Usually this goal is attainable, but recently I've been having trouble achieving inner peace. Because of Rocco.

Rocco is a pug (pictured here with Gwyn, a border collie who tries to herd Rocco around the house). And he has decided that yoga is an activity he should be involved in.

Rocco is a beloved pet, but much like a stegosaurus I would surmise that his brain is walnut-sized. Pugs originated in China, and unlike most dog breeds they had no utilitarian purpose (rat catching, hunting, etc.). Pugs were bred only to sit on the laps of emperors. Hence, Rocco's only goal in life is to snuggle as often as possible. Rocco is an aggressive snuggler. He launches into laps from across the room and becomes deeply offended if you are trying to work on your computer and won't allow him to sit between you and your keyboard.

Lately his purposeful snuggling has invaded my yoga practice. Forward bends, twists, inversions, all have to be modified because as I strive for stillness Rocco inevitably sidles up to me and attempts to mold his body into a nap position that corresponds with whatever pose I'm in. He always snorts and give me an incredulous look when I shift poses and he is forced to begin the process over again.

Finally, during shavasana, which is supposed to be deep relaxation and meditation I end up with a pug paper weight in the middle of my chest. Some days I find this irritating, but most I resign myself to Rocco's determined cuddles and content myself in the belief that Nirvana without dogs wouldn't be worth much anyway.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Mystery Spirit Lifter

To the man in the Grandview Cafe's kitchen who belted the Jackson Five (ABC, 123) with such enthusiasm that it filled the dining area with a joyful noise:

Thank you. Keep it up.