A Bit Early: April 19 BRIGHT SQUARES

Becky’s post on BRIGHT SQUARES (She’s the host of this challenge, which is truly a lot of fun) is something really BRIGHT and really SPARKLY and it’s something Becky saw in the British Museum. Feel free to gape.

Self spent the weekend in Sacramento. It’s a city she’s always felt at home in, not sure why. Sometimes it feels like Bacolod (in the central Philippines), sometimes it feels like San Luis Obispo. Kids come whizzing down the street on skateboards, and they all go to the same boba place, which as luck would have it is on the same block as her Airbnb.

Her host acquired this 1920s building that used to be a FAMILY LAUNDRY and the neon sign is protected by the City as a historical landmark (though only the bottom half is lit).

Across the street is a Mexican restaurant (the street is otherwise mostly Asian) that’s open 24 hours. Sorry for the blur, self didn’t have a place to rest her elbow for the shot, which took long exposure. Next to the Mexican restaurant is a martial arts school.

Sacramento is an old city, but in the neighborhood she’s in, everyone is young. Not like back home, where you’re either old or pushing a stroller. Or driving a humongous SUV.

Her car is parked directly across the street. A handful of times in the last few hours, someone’s car alarm has been going off. At first, self wondered if it was her car. But it wasn’t.

Back home, she’s just started seeing, around the library, the teens wearing all-black: black T-s, black baggy pants. They were a regular sight before. Then, the library shut down and these teens seemed to disappear. A sure sign that we’re opening again is that self spotted a pair of these black-wearing teens, walking along Middlefield. What did they do with themselves when everything was shut down? Here they are again; feels like old times.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

April 18 BRIGHT SQUARES

For today’s BRIGHT SQUARES Challenge, self took pictures at the Crocker Museum of Art in Sacramento! Which is just as fabulous as she remembered it being, all those years ago (Then, she was lucky enough to catch a Norman Rockwell retrospective)

(Left to Right):

  • Dale Chihuly (almost identical to the one that hangs in the lobby of London’s V & A)
  • Portrait of the playwright, screenwriter and diarist Christopher Isherwood, by Don Bachardy, American (born 1934). Isherwood wrote the 1964 novel A Simple Man; the movie adaptation won Colin Firth an Oscar.
  • Pacific Ocean, a painting by Jennifer Bartlett, American (born 1941)

What a great museum. Self is so happy she returned to Sacramento for this brief visit. If only the café had been open, she’d happily have lingered the whole day.

For lunch, she stopped at this small pop-up on 16th. The metal chairs had been baking in the sun, which she did not think mattered until she actually sat down. A lady who was sitting at the same table smirked and said, “That’s why I avoided sitting on those.” I took a chair that was sitting in the shade, a bit closer to the lady, and she immediately said, “I’ve had my two shots, don’t worry.”

The lady also told self that there was a “Chinse supermarket” not half a block from where we were sitting, and self got very excited at the thought of loading up on goodies for back home.

In addition to tacos, the pop-up also sold, somewhat improbably, mac’n cheese, and since it’s been forever since she’s had mac’n cheese, she decided to try it. It was good!

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Just One Person from Around the World: San Mateo Farmers Market

The Just One Person from Around the World Photo Challenge is hosted by ThatTravelLadyInHerShoes. Read more about the challenge, think about participating, and look at the wonderful contributions.

During the California primaries, early last year, self campaigned for Elizabeth Warren. While she was tabling for Warren at the San Mateo Farmers Market, a young girl stopped by the table to chat. She was carrying a book, one of self’s favorites. Self just had to take her picture.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Things About Sandman Slim

Things that are cool about Sandman Slim:

  • He is Nephilim.
  • He has a flaming sword called Gladius (like a light saber, but cooler).
  • He has PTSD from being in Hell.
  • He can go anywhere, anywhere in the world, as long as he can find a shadow.
  • His ride is called the Hellion Hog.
  • While in Hell, he developed a taste for Malediction cigarettes.

Things that are not cool about Sandman Slim:

  • Janet
  • Janet
  • Janet again
  • Just, in general, Janet and their lack of ambition. She works in a donut shop. (This does not seem like a “transitional” phase.) She explained to Sandman Slim that she is against binary pronouns — he/she. He must always refer to them as “they” or whatever.
  • Janet is tiresome. They are the type of woman who likes their men to rescue them. Notice I have to submit to calling Janet “they/them” because that is how they want Sandman Slim to refer to them. And they are mixed up. Did self say already how weird they are?
  • They belong to a club where people find sexy ways to commit suicide, such as rushing straight across a freeway during rush hour traffic. To get into this club, Sandman Slim must show how adventurous he is by killing a vampire. He does it handily because of supernatural ability. Also because of flaming sword. Mostly he just does it to impress Janet. Which is lame, boring. Because they are boring.

Anyhoo, self is reading fast now and hopefully will get to her next book, a memoir by Elizabeth Berg, about aging and how we all must go through it, blah blah blah. Hopefully it will NOT be depressing, because nothing’s worse than reading a book about aging and being depressed. Also, it’s about a real-life couple who have a great love, and sometimes it’s depressing to read about that.

But oh, it’s such a gorgeous day. And oh btw, she edited a story and sent it out. Her story’s about exploration, and discovery, and about how a one’s character can pretty much dictate the arc of one’s life, and when you get to the end, do you say, What’s next? Or do you say, What was that all about? Or do you say nothing.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

April 11 BRIGHT SQUARES: Libraries Are Life

The Squares Challenge is fun, fun, fun, fun. Read more about it from the host, Becky at The Life of B.

For the month of April, the challenge is to post BRIGHT Squares.

These are a few more library pictures from yesterday, and a picture of one of the books self checked out:

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Essential Beginnings in Nonfiction, UCLA Extension Writers Program

I have been teaching this course a long time, almost 20 years. It was, and still is, my favorite course to teach. And, because of a lot of pandemic chaotic stuff and fixing my 1939 cottage, I am only teaching it ONCE in 2021. (Promise I’ll be back early 2022)

What happens during the course? YOU happen.

Don’t ask me to explain why I am a better teacher of nonfiction than I am a teacher of fiction. I know, I’m a fiction writer. Maybe I’m too close to the process, I’m not as good as explaining how it happens for me. Nonfiction, though, is a whole other story.

Trust me. I have kept this course as streamlined as possible to allow plenty of time for discussion and interaction with each student.

My hope is to get everyone to the happy place where they see writing as a verdant field of dreams.

There is one text, a classic.

There are my “lectures,” which are much less classic but okay, they’re useful.

There are THE WRITING EXERCISES EACH WEEK which will fill you with so much tension and joy, you can’t even explain it. Because that’s how writing, the act of sitting down and writing, actually feels (If standing on your head writing works for you, hey . . . )

Registration is open NOW. Class begins May 5 and ends June 15.

Since this class is ON-LINE, you can take it from anywhere in the world. I usually have, in one class, students from at least three continents: North America, South America, Asia, and the UK and Europe.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Free Submissions, Today Only, FIVE SOUTH

All day today, Sunday, April 11, the literary mag Five South is temporarily suspending submission fees.

All other writers guidelines still apply. Such as WORD COUNTS:

  • Flash: 1000 words
  • Short Fiction: 5000 words
  • Poetry: Open

Here’s the link for full guidelines.

There is a typo: Simulataneous Submissions.

But hey, this is a good journal, and they do get back to you fast.

What’s Not To Love?

All the Devils Are Here is great: It’s got Paris. It’s got angst. It’s got the son who thinks his father doesn’t love him. It’s got the deputy married to his boss’s daughter (How did that relationship come about? Self wants to know the backstory). It’s got loads of wit. Did self already say this? She’ll say again: It’s got Paris.

Now self knows that the Sixth Arrondissement — hello — is so much classier than the Seventh Arrondissement. A three-bedroom apartment in the Sixth will run you “several million euros.”

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Flower of the Day, Apr. 4: WISTERIA

Thank you to Cee Neuner for creating the Flower of the Day (FOTD) Photo Challenge!

The wisteria have started blooming! Wowee! It didn’t look like this yesterday!

LOL Louise Penny!

Self loves a writer with a good sense of humor.

The following conversation made her laugh out loud:

Setting: a Parisian parfumerie

Reine-Marie, Inspector Armand Gamache’s wife, is trying to help her husband find a murderer. Since this is Paris, the men wear cologne. (Although, if you were a murderer, wouldn’t you prefer to skip this step. Just sayin’)

“May I help you, madame?” a young man asked.

“I’m trying to find a cologne. I smelled it recently but don’t know the name,” Reine-Marie said.

Young Man: “Not to worry. I love this sort of thing. Now, are you sure it was a man’s cologne and not a woman’s?”

Reine-Marie: “Absolutely.”

Young Man: “Bon. That helps . . . Can you describe it? Was it earthy? Did it smell like moss or bark? Lots of men’s fragrances do. They think it’s masculine.”

Reine-Marie: “No. It was lighter than that.”

Young Man: “Fruity?”

Reine-Marie: “Non.”

Young Man: “Citrusy?”

Reine-Marie: “Yes.”

Young Man: “Good.”

Reine-Marie: “Maybe a little woody.”

Young Man: “Okay.”

Reine-Marie: “With a kind of chemical-y smell?”

Young Man: “Are you asking me?”

Reine-Marie: “Telling?”

Young Man: “It seems we’re looking for a lemon tree made out of plastic. It’s a good thing you’re not trying to sell fragrances, madame.”

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