#amwriting: A Story Begun in Hawthornden

Just to show you how mind-numbingly slow her mind is, there are stories she’s begun five, even 10 years ago, whose words sit in her MacBook, languishing.

Five years ago, while self was in Hawthornden, she met two British poets: Joan McGavin and Jenny Lewis.

After dinner, while we all gathered in the parlor, these two would talk. And if self did nothing in that whole month she was there (June 2012) except listen to the stories, she would count that month well spent.

She also remembers visiting the National Museum in Edinburgh, and seeing there a figure of Dolly the Sheep. And dreaming of a giant Dolly the Sheep looking in through the manor windows.

Dolly the Sheep was the first successfully cloned sheep. She was born on 5 July 1996 and died on 14 February 2003.

Self was channeling sheep apparently because she even began writing a Dolly the Sheep story, which began:

  • The ghost of Dolly the Sheep, and three dun-polled cows.

Hawthornden was the place where self worked on editing Magellan’s Mirror for J Journal. And that is quite a fantastical story (The Philippines populated by a race of giants).

Then she began going to Ireland and started writing dystopia.

Goal for today: Finish that Dolly the Sheep story!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

The Wall: Pro and Con from Ground Zero

The excerpts are from an article by Jenny Jarvie and Brian Bennett in the Los Angeles Times, 18 July 2017, about the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, where preparation for construction of the border wall has begun. The area, about 10 miles southeast of McAllen, is also the site of a 2,088-acre refuge created in 1943 “for the protection of migratory birds”:

  • “The Rio Grande Valley has been an area of exploitation by smugglers, and an area lacking in border infrastructure,” Carlos Diaz, a Customs and Border Protection spokesman, wrote in an email. “These miles will help connect existing segments of wall throughout the area and fill critical gaps.”
  • “This is insane,” said Scott Nicol, co-chairman of the Sierra Club’s Borderlands Team. “This is the crown jewel of the Rio Grande Valley wildlife refuge system, with one of the highest rates of biodiversity in the U.S. If it’s walled off, with no public access, it will be left to rot.”

According to the LA Times, “the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is under contract with Michael Baker International, a global engineering firm, to gather geotechnical data at sites in the Rio Grande Valley and other locations along the Southwest border, according to Jenny Burke, a spokeswoman for the Homeland Security Department.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amwriting: Two Brand New Sentences

Self’s an fiction is suffering but on the other hand, she is crushing all her other writing.

Today she wrote:

Philip II glances at his ministers. They nod solemnly in return.

Hallelujah! Hell’s bells!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Three Days, Three Movies

Self has been so starved for movies.

In a prevous life, she’d be in her local cine-plex every other day.

The past couple of years, though, unless she feels really driven, she’ll go months without seeing a movie.

Here are some of the ways she shows her movie geek street cred:

Oxford, UK: She gave up seeing the Ashmolean in favor of watching Captain America (In all fairness, the movie theatre was so conveniently situated: just across from Gloucester Green)

London: She walked — walked — in full summer heat, from Russell Square to Shaftesbury Avenue, simply to watch X-Men in the Odeon.

Fort Bragg, CA: She went during a lull in a storm. The movie? Kingsmen, with Colin Firth. When she came out of the movie, the wind was blowing flat out. Self thought she was going to be swept into the ocean.

Now, in the past four days, she has seen three movies:

  • Band Aid
  • Beatriz at Dinner
  • Wonder Woman

Sorry to say, she nearly fell asleep during the action sequences at the end of Wonder Woman. But woke right up again when she saw, in the closing credits, the name of her friend’s daughter:

DIRECTED BY PATTY JENKINS

Of the movies she’s seen so far this summer, her favorite would be Beatriz at Dinner. For Connie Britton and John Lithgow’s performances.

Today, she’s going to see The Book of Henry, even though it hasn’t gotten good reviews. She loves Naomi Watts, even though she’s been so under-used by Hollywood lately.

A long time ago, self met a Mills College student at one of her San Francisco readings. Chatting with the young woman after the reading, the student revealed she made money by working part-time as an exotic dancer. And self happened to mention how much she liked Naomi Watts (What’s the connection to exotic dancing? Nothing), and the young woman said even though Watts had turned 40, if the young woman were a man, she’d definitely consider her hot.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

You Should Not Have Gone On That Cruise, Harriet Chance!

Nearing the end of Jonathan Evison’s novel, This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance!. Self began reading it in, of all places, Paris. It’s been very entertaining. Only wish there had been more of Rudy, the Filipino cabin steward.

The Alaskan cruise which is the “frame” for this novel about Harriet Chance’s entire life, isn’t such a good idea. The views are breathtaking, but the people are anything but. Self is so glad, because now the novel has cured her of the desire to go on an Alaskan cruise. All you do is gain five pounds and spend dinner talking to strangers.

p. 266:

“Y’all mind if I join you?” says a morbidly obese fellow, who has materialized suddenly at the end of the table. He’s clutching a Caesar salad and wearing a black T-shirt that says I SEE DUMB PEOPLE.

What is Harriet’s obsession with other people’s weight? As if to oblige her, most of the people she meets on the cruise are overweight.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

ATOP: Daily Post Photo Challenge, 15 March 2017

For this week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge, ATOP, self goes back to the pictures she took of a London church she visited in 2015. She’s not sure if she’s interpreting the theme correctly (“a view from the top”) but she’ll post this anyway.

Two years ago, self was on a Shadowhunters reading binge. She took The Infernal Devices trilogy with her to the UK, and decided to plan her days around places cited in the books.

In her website, author Cassandra Clare says she used St. Bride’s near Fleet Street as the titular setting for the Shadowhunters Academy. And self did get to see this church. And it was one of the most beautiful churches she had ever seen.

You can see an exhibit on the history of St. Bride’s in the crypt. The spire was designed by Christopher Wren. Building began in 1671 and was completed in 1703:

DSCN0138

Rendering of the Steeple of St. Bride’s (aka “The Church of Journalists”) Just Off Fleet Street

The steeple was destroyed during the Blitz (see newspaper headline below).

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World War II London Newspaper

DSCN0145

A Modern Rendering of the Christopher Wren Steeple

The steeple has been rebuilt; you can see it from the top floor of the National Portrait Gallery. It’s a long, slim needle that feels surprisingly at home with the modernistic buildings surrounding it.

Self returned to St. Bride’s last year, with poet Joan McGavin. The main space was closed for refurbishing, but the crypt was still open to the public. While Joan went down to look at the exhibit, self chatted with a clergyman, who asked what brought her to St. Bride’s. And she said, Shadowhunters. He was highly amused.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

What the Writing Desk Looks Like Today, 16 March 2017

It’s the day before St. Patrick’s Day: YAY!

Also, it is raining.

Here’s what the desk looks like today:

DSCN1114

Busy morning.

Self is preparing to send out a story to a writing contest. It’s hard but, since the contest offers a 1-year subscription in return for a (smaller-than-average) entry fee, she figured it was worth it.

The copy of The Guardian next to her laptop is weeks old. But reading about Spicer et. al. is endlessly entertaining.

The Oxford English Dictionary word of the day is aliasing (noun): the misidentification of a signal frequency, introducing distortion or error.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Link to The City of 10,000 Buddhas

Self went to school with Shari Epstein, who teaches in the City of 10,000 Buddhas. She’s been wanting to see this place, forever and ever.

Last year, when self was staying at the Mendocino Art Center, she called The City of 10,000 Buddhas in Ukiah, and got the number of Shari, and Shari and self spoke!

Happiness!

But self never did make it to Ukiah. Because once you get into Mendocino itself, you enter a different state of mind. It’s like Brigadoon. Everything just floats away, so mesmerized are you by the sight of Ocean! Ocean! Ocean!

Since Rogue One is out, and self is planning to see it, and because she can’t stop worrying about Princess Leia and refuses to give 2016 the pleasure of even one more death, she is wondering whether she should really make one last effort to see Shari Epstein.

This morning, she calls The City of 10,000 Buddhas and is told that if she wants to enroll in a course on the Buddha mind, the course is three weeks. Starts January 8.

Self has known for the longest time that she needs a good mind cleanse. A three-week course on Dharma Buddhism might not be a bad thing.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Anticipation 3: Because You Can Never Have Too Much

ANTICIPATION: A looking forward to.

Below are a couple of things self looks forward to. Because you can never, in self’s humble opinion, ever have too much of them:

Christmas:

dscn0506

A beautiful sunset:

dscn0483

Relaxing on a beach in December:

dscn0478

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Anticipation: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 16 December 2016

What are you waiting for?

— Michelle W., The Daily Post

Now that is a very, very interesting question.

Here are some things that help her to answer that:

dscn0426

Reminders on the fridge, December 2016

Self would love to have dimsum at her favorite place in Chinatown. It’s been too long!

dscn9984

Chinatown Dimsum Love, October 2016

So looking forward to seeing the Frank Stella exhibit at the de Young!

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Sculpture Garden, de Young Museum, Golden Gate Park

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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