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a different kind of string theory

Category Archives: Writing

It doesn’t look like much yet, because I’ve been too gross to focus on embroidery. I might try some today. But here is a start:

Soft and cuddly head of death.

I am starting out with basic felted designs, and then I’m going to embroider details on top. This one’s going to be a sugar skull. It’s my very first, so it’s wonky, but you have to start somewhere.

Oh, and look at this. On the back of whatever you’ve felted, there is a fuzzy shadow image. That’s how you know the fibers have meshed, and it’s pretty in its own right.

Eek, it's a ghost!

In other news, even though I was really trying not to throw out what I’d written, I reread my first couple chapters, and I found it had no momentum. The conflict I’d managed to generate was too obviously generated by me– the author’s fingerprints were everywhere. But I haven’t really tossed it. Whole chunks of it will probably survive unscathed. I am merely starting the story somewhere else, actually at a point of conflict, instead of leading up to it. Instead of trying to lead up to why Person X wants to knock off the detective, I’m simply starting out with Person X trying to knock off the detective. Duh. So simple. Why hadn’t I thought of that before?

I am really hoping that once I’m done with this book, the next one won’t take so freaking long to figure out.

In other news, I’ve found out that my husband’s family talks about me when I’m not there. Apparently, I need to eat more locally produced honey so that I won’t get allergies, so that I won’t catch a cold, and then the cold won’t turn into bronchitis as it invariably does. The problem with this idea is that I rarely get allergies, so. . . However, my mom rents out part of one of her properties to some local beekeepers (L. calls them Chill Apiarist Bros) and they are going to give her a year’s worth of honey. She doesn’t go through a lot of it, so she’s going to give us a half a year’s worth of honey. I wonder how much that actually is, because I use a lot of it. Honey in yogurt is a gift from the Gods. Especially if there are blueberries involved.

Another theory was that I’m Vitamin D deficient. L. got some massively high dosage supplements, and I’m a little afraid to take them. I once poisoned myself with Zinc, so I’m a little bit wary of high dosage supplements. I think I’d rather get my Vitamin D from the sun, thank you. I’ll go outside, then flip myself over like a chicken cutlet. Or I’ll pretend like I’m in a TB sanitarium, or solarium, or whatever.

And L. has a theory that I eat too many carbs and sugars, and allergies from those things are somehow causing me to get sick. Yeah. Good luck trying to pry a sick girl from her toast and popsicles, okay?

I’ve got two theories of my own, though. Theory number one is that I’m the mother of a little petri dish who goes to school with a few hundred other little petri dishes. And if you are a parent, you know that this means you are going to get sneezed upon, besnotted, and licked by your kid/petri dish. L. is not home as much, to get licked and besnotted, and sometimes I think that when he gets totally blotto, the alcohol kills off whatever trace pathogens that may have landed on him. I don’t get blotto, so mine just stay on me and flourish. That’s my number one theory.

Theory number two is my past medical history. I’ve got asthma and all my colds have had the tendency to go bronchial. One of my earliest memories is getting X-rays at Valley Children’s Hospital, but how would my husband’s well-meaning family know that? And ever since I had pneumonia two years ago, my colds have turned nasty even faster than before.

So there it is. If I’d been able to go to lunch with my family yesterday, I could have told them that I don’t have allergies, and I already eat tons of honey and am about to eat more, and that I’ve always been a sickly pain the you know what. I’ve just realized why I’m irked, really. Nobody brought me leftovers.


You would think that after so many semesters of teaching writing, and more specifically forcing revision down students’ throats like it is cod liver oil, that my own tendency as a writer would be to revise. Nope!

I have reached a problematic point, where I kind of shifted my characters’ emotions around some plot points– but because I’ve been writing snippets instead of sitting down for hours at a time, the effect, when reading, was that you were reading some kind of kaleidoscopic verbiage. But I got attached to my story and to my characters, and for once there was tension, and I was loathe to toss the whole shebang out. My first instinct was, though, that I had to start over. Scrap it! Toss it! Do it over! And then I would have been back to square one, which is what I ALWAYS DO.

Luckily, I am married to a musician. While he may not write a whole lot of words, he does go through this similar process where there is a point where he is convinced that it is all crapola, and that it all needs to go out a window and fast. Also luckily, I told him what was going on, about this inner argument, and he was able to talk me out of my tree and keep me from starting over. So, phew! While The Babyhead was at school, I took my main notebook and my auxiliary notebook from my purse, and another scene that was in a legal pad, and read them all together and figured out where I went astray and what needs to be added instead. And of course, because I have no sense of focus, I rewrote little bits here and there as I read.

Seriously, I’m getting a little confused, and I think I might have to get a bunch of colored pens to color code my scenes. Mysteries are more complex than the short stories I am used to. Or maybe I will do this Golden Notebook style, using three separate notebooks, and hopefully the effect would not be quite so gut-wrenchingly depressing. I think that book might have primed me for postpartum depression, and I am not even joking.

In my backyard.

In other news, I have found out that wool or wool blend yarn is much more satisfactory for felting than roving, and cheaper, to boot. Felting is going along swimmingly, but I’m totally afraid to sew the things together, in fear that I’m going to ruin everything.

And now for something completely different

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Last night, my wonderful in-laws picked up The Babyhead and whisked her away to a magical land filled with air mattresses and On Demand so that L. and I could go out with a dear friend who is visiting for a couple of days. We went to Landmark and listened to a lot of bongos (the alternative was rockabilly at Audie’s, which I admit I rather like, but L. and S. were vehemently anti-rockabilly) and drank some Stellas. It was a low-key night, which was great, because I got a chance to be with S. and I will snap up every minute I can with her.

But it was also a relief to not bump into anybody, because I’d had a Complete and Total Inner Freakout while trying to get dressed to go. What?

As I tried on outfit after outfit, I just looked like I was going to teach a class. I gave up trying to look like a cool kid long ago, really long ago, like, in high school, so I wasn’t trying to achieve the impossible. But I felt like the Teacher of a Cool Kid, or perhaps even the Mom of a Cool Kid, and no amount of smokey eyes or low cut tops was going to change that. This is where the Inner Freakout occurred, and after debating for a full twenty minutes between white Chucks and black mary-janes, and asking L., who really could not have cared less, the freakout suddenly stopped because I had a realization. I fit a demographic.

You see, it was recently pointed out to me that I am married, have a kid, and have a job. The person who was doing the pointing out did not realize that the last one was actually not very true anymore (and it has been pointed out to me that I was probably not actually supposed to consider myself the subject of the pigeonholing), but the pigeonholing was irksome all the same. At the time, my feelings were hurt because I felt like a demographic instead of a friend. I still kind of feel like that, but after last night, I’ve realized that what really hurt was that I’ve fit that demographic my whole life– even before the husband and the kid and the “job.” And who likes being pigeonholed, even if it fits? It is like being reduced to a stock character, and then being told exactly which stock character you are. There is an injustice there, in fiction and in life, because stock characters have a hollow clank to them whether they’re in a book or the recipient of an off-handed text.

I need to get out more, and let The Babyhead get whisked away to the in-laws more, and get clothes to wear outside the house and that I don’t teach in, because I’m more than just a snapshot.

While I seem to fit the trifecta of husband-kid-job, I don’t. Not really (further explanation is for journaling, not blogging). I also tend to get pigeonholed into nice and quiet, and I’m not always. Whenever I feel my psyche slipping into a fake acceptance of my stock character, I remember an incident that happened in a poetry class a really long time ago. I’ve forgotten whose poem we were critiquing– it might have been mine– and I made a quiet remark about being a simple creature. And my professor laughed at me, God bless him. Even if nobody else, not even I, thinks I am complicated, I was perceived as such for a moment.

Pretty colors, superb quality-- but very unTARDISlike in that it is smaller on the inside!

In crafting news, my felt and roving came in, and I’m in the process of felting designs so that I can embroider upon them. Woot! I’m trying to keep the felting simple, since I’m such a beginner. I expect to be done with my first wave of finished projects by the end of next week, and then Etsy or bust!

In writing news, while I was at a show with my mom and listening to the seventh song that sounded the same, I went into a trancelike state and had an epiphany. Well, epiphany sounds like a positive realization, and this one, though the effect might be positive, makes me a little depressed. I need to do a major revamp of a plotline in what I’ve been working on, and I might need to scrap the last two or three chapters in order to do it. I need to reread and see how much, exactly, I have to excise. To put it succinctly: Oh, crap.

And so that I end in a better mood, some prettiness.

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It is astonishing what a little St. John’s Wort, a rainy day, and a brand spanking new coffeemaker can do to improve one’s mood. A little Black Moth Super Rainbow and Lulu Rouge doesn’t hurt, either.

I got this:

I don't think I'll caress it, but don't judge me if I do.

My old Krups finally bit the dust this weekend, when I tried to get the coffeepot out and the little spring that holds the coffeepot in and directs the coffee stream came unsprung like a overworked Slinky. Also, the coffee had been tasting old even when it was fresh. Once I started making coffee with this new creature, the coffee didn’t have to be nuked after adding milk– which means my poor Krups had been declining slowly and I hadn’t even noticed. It lived a nice long life– almost a decade. I think I got it about the same time I got L. or a little after.

This coffeepot has survived three major friendships, and at first I wasn’t sure what to do with its carcass. It’s kind of like dealing with a dead animal when you live in an apartment. I mean, what do you do with it? I can’t bury my Caffee Duomo in the backyard, that would just be weird. I can’t sell it at next weekend’s yard sale, because it’s broken and the heating element is shot. So, I’ve set it next to the garbage cans, but not exactly in a garbage can. Even thinking about it has made me a little maudlin, which is ridiculous, but there it is.

I am knee-deep in Chapter Six and am all excited about the trouble I’ve put my characters in, for once. I tend to avoid drama in real life, so putting my characters in jeopardy is always a toughie for me.

I made lavender honey cookies the other day and ate them all. Not good when you’re trying to lose five pounds.

I’m still waiting for my felt and roving to arrive. Yesterday, The Babyhead and I were out in the front yard– she was hunting down fallen leaves with her fairy contingent– and a UPS van (not a truck– did you know they had minivans, too?) rolled up. The guy was checking an address or something, because he waved at us, then drove on. What a tease. The Babyhead gave him a frown of colossal proportions. Even she knows I’m waiting for something.

And here is what I’ve been listening to.

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In a few days, my felt will arrive, and I can get going with this whole felting thing. Poor UPS dude. He’s going to get accosted.

I ordered felt from here because Felt-O-Rama only uses priority shipping (read: costs an arm and a leg), and my fingers are crossed. The pictures and descriptions on American Craft and Felt are not as easy to see as Felt-O-Rama’s. It was quite a bit cheaper at AC&F, so here’s hoping!

I think it is pretty crazy that in a town as large as Fresno (really, we aren’t a podunk town anymore, in terms of size, anyway) there isn’t a source for actual wool or wool blend felt. Just Eco-Felt for as far as the eye can see. Eco-Felt’s absolutely useless for felting, for obvious reasons. But in my internet travels, I’ve seen that felting’s kind of big in Japan (and Denmark, ha!)so maybe that will change. I didn’t know I could be so cutting edge.

I have given Facebook up for Lent, which is such a half-assed thing for me to do. Seriously. Isn’t it? When I feel like rationalizing my Facebook habit, I could say something about how it’s one of my only outlets for adult conversation, and I can keep in touch with people who have moved away from Fresno. But in reality, as far as I can creep away from rationalization, which probably isn’t too far away, how many conversations do I have? I mostly post funny things my daughter says. I’ve probably getting on some people’s nerves by doing so. In fact, I’m absolutely positive I have. So am I really missing out on adult conversation by giving up FB until Easter? Maybe a few, and the illusion of many. Perhaps my conversations will turn into writing, and I’ll get more of my book done.

Oh! Writing question! I distinctly remember this discussion in some workshop class, but I don’t remember what answer was. It was a decade ago, so give me a break. I have trouble remembering what band it was I was supposed to look up on iTunes half the time.

So, I am writing about Fresno (more specifically, about the Tower District) and I can’t figure out if I should use real place names or not. Some pretty outlandish things are going on, and there are some deaths (well, so far only one, but there will be more), and I won’t lie, but some characters have whole facets based on real people. Of course. Do I take the brave route and use place names, or play it safe and chicken-shitty and change everything slightly? As I’ve been writing, I’ve gone both routes and the more I flip flop, the more distracted I get by my predicament. L.’s advice is to just write it all and change it later, which is probably very good advice, but I haven’t been following it. I’d rather just make a decision and go with it. Aargh.

Well, that was a tangent for a knitting/sewing/felting blog, wasn’t it?

Mr. Pink is bored. He will eat you now.