Saturday, March 31, 2007

My eyes! My eyes!

I spent an hour at Kaiser this afternoon, only to...not see the doctor. It appears that I have a mysterious bump on my left eyeball. Or maybe it's my eyelid; I can't tell. Neither could the advice nurse (but still, how cool is Kaiser for having advice nurses?). Either way, there's a bump.

The advice nurse told me to come in RIGHT AWAY! DON'T WAIT! I told her my eye didn't hurt, wasn't swollen, and hadn't given off any alarmist propaganda other than having a bump on it. She said 4:20! DOCTOR FONG! CAN YOU GO RIGHT NOW? I could. I did.

The receptionist--who I must say was approximately 14--looked at me like I was crazy, but said, "Um, okay. Why don't you sit here in the reception area, and....I'm sure Dr. Fong will be in any minute?" I sat. I read Forever in Blue (which is turning out to be really good, by the way) until 4:45, until I asked again. "Um, I don't know," she said. "We're about to lock up here? And I kind of don't think Dr. Fong is even here on weekends? So I guess you should go to Emergency and ask them?" On the way to Emergency, I found the place where I was originally intended to go (thanks for clearing that up, Reception! Good on you!), but they had closed out their computers at ten minutes to five, and I was out of luck. Monday morning it is, then.

I'm okay--still no pain, swelling, or propaganda from the eye. I just have to stay away from my contacts until I know what's up. It's a good thing I like my glasses. I believe I will do my best Tina Fey impression tomorrow, and then see how things go from there.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The plot thickens, right on time

I made some progress on my spec script last night. I sat down and figured out my A-, B-, and C-plots, and actually wrote them down so they wouldn't slip away into the night (which tends to happen). I don't have the endings planned yet, but I'm still immensely relieved. This is the part of the writing process that I'm worst at--I believe they call it "plot." I'm a voice and character girl. I'm good with interpretation. I can mimic other writers. I do finishing touches. It's this making something out of nothing that kills me. It's perpetually like standing on the edge of something very steep and very dark, looking down into a voidy void of voidiness, and thinking I can't turn around, so I have to step out into the nothing. The silence and blankness that overtakes my brain in these moments--anytime I ask myself, "what happens?"--is kind of impressive.

The weird part is that ideas do come, and I believe that I'll never be able to explain how. My mind is completely blank--I picture it as a white room, like in The Matrix, when Neo meets Laurence Fishburne--and then, suddenly, it isn't. I don't know, and then....I know. And I haven't done anything differently, and nothing's changed except that I have an idea. It's always surprising, and always a moment of great relief.

Now that I have ideas worked out, it's time to start outlining. I'm writing 30 Rock--against the common wisdom, since most people don't spec shows in their first season--and I've been making info sheets about the episodes I have saved on my Tivo. I'm looking at act structure, scene structure, timing, act breaks, number of plots per episode, number of scenes per plot, who's in which episodes and how many scenes they appear in, guest characters, overlapping plots...everything I can think of to make my spec as technically similar to the produced show as I can. Now I can start putting that collected knowledge to work in a practical outline. I still need to figure out what happens, exactly, but I think the two sort of go together. I have until April 30 for a WGA-sponsored contest I'm entering (not for a job, but for a cash prize and exposure to agents). It's a little nerve-wracking, but it's amazing how it all comes when I need it, so I'm trying not to worry.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Baby's first cable

I am off and knitting on my first piece of clothing--a cabled shrug (i.e. a cardigan without all that cardigan to worry about) for which I bought yarn last weekend. I have swatched, gone down a needle size, and swatched again. And look!

I decided that getting hopelessly, irreparably tangled up in a swatch was better than having to rip out part of a sweater, so I pulled out my new cable needle, followed the directions in the pattern, and voila! A perfectly good cable, right down the middle. It's amazing how that works. New skill: check!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Monday, March 19, 2007

I love a man with a sense of humor

I thought my coach was joking when he told us to row for an hour without stopping.

Sixty minutes and 2,880 strokes later, I know: He wasn't.

Things of which I am a fan

1. My computer, obviously. I still haven't gotten it together to close out the old PC and transfer my files (mostly music and photos, with some writing thrown in for fun), but I did install Word and Excel, which actually feels like a bit of a betrayal to the Mac mindset. Until we're all using InCopy, though, a girl's got to have something on which to process words, no? Anyway, the nameless laptop is light and quiet and seems determined to not be a hassle in any way. It is the Charlie Young of the computer world, if you will. This pleases me. We are friends, my computer and I.

2. The Second Summer of the Sisterhood: I'm re-reading Traveling Pants books two and three in preparation for a first read-through of four, Forever in Blue, which I got for Christmas. For whatever reason, #2 (I hate the title, so I always call it Pants Two) is my favorite by far--the last time I read it, it resonated with me on a level that probably was not strictly normal. This time, I think the moment had passed, but I still love it more than all the rest. It's the darkest of the books, not in a juvenile melodramatic way, but in a "these characters are badly behaved in ways that are totally recognizable" manner. It's the girls generally at their worst, which is always interesting, I think. Also: Carmen dating Porter, the penguin. Hee.

3. Yarn stores: I "stopped by" (read: spent an hour in) the yarn store on the way home from church yesterday, checking out my options for the cabled shrug I want to make. Article Pract is not my favorite yarn shop--it's expensive, carries too many earth tones, and has occasionally obnoxious hipster employees--but it's conveniently located and I had some store credit there, so I spent a good chunk of time wandering around, squeezing yarn and checking gauge and price. Mostly, I think I like doing just that: I don't always buy anything, but petting the yarn and soaking up the knitterly gossip is nice. I ended up getting some yarn-substitution help from the store's owner (this is the key, I think; she was very nice and very helpful), and came away with nine skeins of Rowan's Soft Baby in Cloud. I also found a good yarn candidate for the log-cabin blanket I'm pondering, which I left in the store for the sake of my debit card, but I'm glad to know it's there. Anyway, this means I can start swatching for the shrug, which I think will break my brain, but maybe in a good way.

This weekend I was also a fan of babies, What Not to Wear, corned beef and cabbage, westerns, sleep, black currants, dinner parties, Trader Joe's, running errands with my mom, and mint-chocolate frozen yogurt. Good times, good times.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

It's a laptop!

It came! It came!

My new laptop arrived a day early!

So far, I've had a chance to take it out of the box(es), look at it admiringly, pet it, talk quietly to it, and read the "Everything Mac" pamphlet that came in the box. Plugging it in, turning it on, and conforming it to my every whim will have to come later. Like tonight.

(And for those playing the home game, I went with the 13-inch. It was on sale. And it has a camera!)

Monday, March 12, 2007

12 of 12: March

Welcome to la 12 of 12, a place where lives are shared and bad pictures are taken (by me, anyway; I can't speak for others).

12:49 p.m. - So, I was already at work when I realized it was the 12th, and I hated to interrupt my yearlong series of photos of myself waking up. So this is my bed, mysteriously devoid Anyway, though, it was DARK when I got up this morning, so that's another excuse.

12:55 p.m. - The benefits of coming home for lunch: turkey chili and a quick rendezvous with What Not to Wear. Fabulous!

1:07 p.m. - Awww, mail! It's a postcard from my brother, who took a business trip to Gaziantep in southern Turkey (not as exotic as it sounds; he lives in Turkey).

1:11 p.m. - Back to work!

2:36 p.m. - My editor's super-sekrit stash of Holland mints, from which she graciously lets me graze (in exchange for unlimited copying, mailing, and edit entry)

2:36 p.m. - Don't mind if I do!

3:08 p.m. - Shared iTunes is our friend. (That's The Arcade Fire, there. I'm going to see them in June. Woot!)

5:01 p.m. - The interminable light at San Pablo and the freeway gives me plenty of time to bond with NPR ("I'm Melissa Block, and I'm Mechelle Norris, and this is All Things Considered." And doesn't the theme music sound like the goofy song at the end of the animated Grinch movie?).

8:23 p.m. - Sadly, no rowing pictures this month--the sunset was amazing--but almost as good: the post-crew pile on the bathroom floor!

8:44 p.m. - My new thing: pasta with peas. Add a little bit of Parmesan and some salt and pepper, and it's delicious.

9:27 p.m. - This is an actual documentary about the Australian cane toad, lent to me by a coworker for Cinema Hype-ing puposes. That is one scary-looking little girl. The toads themselves are kind of cute.

9:29 p.m. - What to do during an 80s documentary on amphibians than do a little knitting? Almost...done...

Hasta! Next month: Same bat time, same bat channel. I'll try to remember before noon.

You're going DOWN, Gateway

All right. That's it! My computer has died in the middle of a Cinema Hype post for THE LAST TIME. I need to get a new laptop NOW.

The big question: New 13-inch or refurbished 15-inch? Same price; 4-oz difference in weight; 13-inch comes with built-in camera but, obviously, without those extra two inches of screen space. Hmmm.

In other news, I completely forgot 12 of 12 today, but hope to do a latter-half display anyway. D'oh!

And also, I will be pleased to row in daylight tonight, but this whole plunged-into-darkness thing does not make me want to get out of bed in the morning. Ugh.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Haiku Friday

Pleasant evening
browsing bookstore in twilight,
then mashed potatoes.

Welcome to the age of Technicolor

I finished reading Rebecca last night, and in doing so, put an end to my winter Gothic reading binge. No more mansions burning to the ground! No more storms on the moors, or tortured, aloof millionaires! (No more crazy ex-wives? Somehow, that seems to be an enduring theme in literature in general.) I thought of adding Tess of the d'Urbervilles to the roster at the last minute, but I'm told it's not exactly Gothic, and anyway, a girl's got limits.

Rebecca is a wonderful book, but I'll admit that it's better the first time around. I remember being captivated essentially from the first word; this time I found that the first 250 pages or so are kind of...not plotless, exactly, but...subtle, maybe? Extremely psychological? A friend pointed out that this is a novel that could only have been written by a woman, about a woman--the (nameless) heroine spends so much time in her own head, fretting and analyzing and making conclusions and reflecting on herself, that it's both totally recognizable and kind of obnoxious. Anyway, the ending was still suspenseful and satisfying, and Du Maurier does know her way around a red herring. Isn't it about time for a new Rebecca movie? I feel like there's a whole generation that needs to be exposed to this story, and it would all film so beautifully. With Eva Green or maybe Rachel Weisz as Rebecca? Awesome.

Now that I've finished the Gothic list, I'm craving contemporary writing. I've acquired quite a stack of newish books since October, when I started Dracula: there's the newest Traveling Pants book (which must be preceded by a re-read of the previous two, obviously), The Dive From Clausen's Pier, The Double, Life of Pi, Middlesex, The Eyre Affair (does it count as non-Gothic if it's meta-Gothic?),The Best Non-Required Reading 2006 Ed, and probably a few others I'm forgetting. Truthfully, I probably won't make it through that list without at least a dip or two into the classics. Something about recent literary fiction--its sameness, its subtlety, its emphasis on "moment" instead of plot, maybe--makes me a little bit tired; I can't always tell what's good and what's not, and it all kind of seems the same anyway. In the case of Contemporary Fiction Overload, I just bought a beautiful hardcover copy of The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty to keep me sharp, and I have unread George Eliot and Cormac McCarthy waiting for me as well. Basically, I have so many things to read, I may never set foot in the library again.*

For the present, I finally decided on The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger, which I picked because I've heard good things about it and also because I love the name Audrey Niffenegger. It feels so light! I settled into bed with it last night and zipped through the first 40 pages. Forty pages in one sitting! That alone makes me love it (though it's also rather pleasant reading so far).

*Yeah, and the Giants may win the World Series this year.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

How to become friends with your friends

I got a long e-mail from my friend Sue the other day.

Sue and I have known each other since the toddler Sunday school class at First Baptist Vallejo and since then have sometimes been best friends, sometimes best enemies, and sometimes both at the same time. We went together to church, to school, to kids' choir, to adult choir, to play practice, to youth group, to summer camp, to winter camp, to Carson City, to Nebraska, to Disneyland, to anywhere and everywhere. Our families were friends, and we were friends, mostly.

Looking back, I can see that we were two tremendously different people trying to occupy the same space--she's an extrovert and I'm an introvert; she's naturally affectionate and I'm reserved; she wanted to go out and be social (!), and I was happy with a couple of friends and a book. We competed for a lot of things. We were like sisters in the same family--we got along some of the time, but just as often, we didn't. We got into a huge, screaming fight at the Iowa State Fair, right by the butter sculptures, if that says anything.

Thankfully, adulthood has been kind to our friendship. I look at us and see that we're both in the middle of the lives we were meant to have. She lives in Southern California and says it's home to her now. She's on the road to a career she's wanted for a long time, something at which she will, incidentally, be excellent. She's dating a great guy. I'm here in Oakland, fulfilling my destiny as a bookworm extraordinaire, doing my own thing. I love looking at us as junior highers and looking at us now, and seeing that we are just ourselves, only magnified--and somehow, that makes us better friends. Being happy and secure in what we're doing, I think, has made us able to enjoy each other. Turns out that Sue is fun and welcoming and a really great encourager, and she always was those things, but I had a hard time letting her be that way, because it wasn't my way. And I'm so happy that we've gotten over that and can see each other clearly, like we probably always should have.