All I know is, this seemed like a very quick week.
It was a very busy week, which might account for that. There were at least a couple of mornings when I’d look around the office and realize, with some surprise, that I hadn’t moved from the same spot at my computer for over two hours. I think things will settle down a little after March, even if only because if some of these projects aren’t finished by April there’s almost no point in finishing them at all. (That’s an exaggeration, but no, they really should be finished sooner rather than later.)
Meanwhile…well, there hasn’t been too much of a meanwhile. There was a crew fixing the roof here for the past couple of days, a roof that was leaking again in the dining room after all of that snow, but luckily I wasn’t home for most of the hammering. Honestly, when I look back on the week, it doesn’t even seem possible that that’s what it was. A day, maybe two or three, but a week? Where did all that time go?
Last week. This week:
- It’s astounding
- This love is gonna move you like a wind chime
- They don’t falter
- She rides a Harley-Davidson
- And that’s the fastest speed there is
- I’d hate to miss the train, oh yeah
- But I’m stranded on this boat
- The fountain in the front yard is rusted out
- Then he’ll visit your seven seas
- I’m so glad that I know more than I knew then
Wax on, wax off. Good luck!
It threatened to snow last night, half a foot by some accounts, and we spent much of the weekend dreading the snow’s arrival. I am so finished with winter.
And it did snow in the night, though it started much later than had been predicted, and was at best a good dusting. (The picture up above is from early January.) It was cold and gray enough that none of the snow melted, but I think we all acknowledge that we dodged a bullet this time.
I wrote this today:
Time travel can be like this: it fractures cause and effect, confuses the linear patterns that seem to govern our lives, and makes a patchwork of our memories, ripped and torn at unexpected seams. You remember things that never happened; you get a life you never lived. Take Abraham, for instance.
“I’m going to write a story about a time machine,” Abraham says. “It’s a mechanical device for traveling to the past that will become its own blueprint when future generations read it.”
“You’ll have to get it published first,” Laura says. She likes Abraham but doesn’t know when or where this talk of writing and time machines started. He still hasn’t even graduated high school. “Hand me that mop,” she says. “Somebody broke a jar of pickles in aisle six.”
“That isn’t a problem,” Abraham says, meaning the story of the time machine, of course. Laura has to reach past him to grab the mop. “I just have to write the right story and the time machine will exist. It will always have existed. And they’ll send it back to meet me.”
Laura likes Abraham. When he first started working here at the start of summer, she thought he was kind of cute. But he has some pretty weird notions, and this time travel business is just the latest.
“Is that important to you?” she asks. She heads back out to the front of the store, toting the bucket and mop, and Abraham follows. “A visit from the future?”
“I want to know how the story ends,” he tells her.
“Black holes are basically time machines,” she says. It’s something she read, maybe for class, maybe not, she doesn’t remember. She knows she probably shouldn’t be humoring him, adding fuel to this fire, but the night shifts are long, and dull except for broken jars of pickles, so she says it. “Maybe your time machine should be built out of a black hole.”
I’m not exactly pleased with it, but sometimes that’s the nature of the beast: you struggle through forty minutes of free-writing only to have nothing much at all to show for it. I’m not saying there isn’t the start of some kind of story buried in this somewhere, just that, if there is, it’s well buried indeed. But in writing, even the wrong words are better than no words.
I’m not watching the Oscars this evening, though I can’t claim to have made a better choice by watching A Good Day to Die Hard. It’s easily the worst movie in the series, rarely even rising to the level of interesting, and I can only imagine how ridiculous any sixth movie in the Die Hard franchise would have to be.
I probably should have spent the evening writing. Even more bad words would have been better than this.
On Thursday I was on campus, talking with instructors. I still need to type up and distribute my notes, but I’m done with campus calling until the fall, which makes me happy.
Yesterday, we had a team outing to Astoria, where we had a very nice lunch, followed by a visit to the Museum of the Moving Image, and then a drink before heading home. (My mixed drink was called a Suffering Bastard, which was much more pleasant than it sounds.) This was the outing we’d planned for a month ago when I got sick, so it was nice to finally get a chance to do it. It was a really fun day out with my co-workers.
Today, I gave blood. They had some trouble with the vein on my right arm, leaving me with a nasty-looking bruise, but it was smooth sailing once we switched to the left. Thanks to the switch, though, it took a little longer than I’d expected, and after I decided to head home for lunch rather than try to go get a (much-needed, admittedly) haircut.
Tonight, I watched Dreamcatcher. It’s not one of Stephen King’s best, but I remember liking the book well enough — even if a quick glance at Goodreads shows I only gave it two stars — but the movie is just ridiculously bad. On occasion, the ridiculous trumps the bad, making it almost enjoyable in its lousy craziness, but it’s often not even fun in a “so bad it’s good” way.
Anyway, that’s been my past few days.
Oh, the angry letters I get when I don’t get around to posting these on Friday!
I’m kidding, of course. These things get marginally more comments than my other posts, which is to say upwards of two people usually respond. For those two people: last week and this week:
- “Walking With a Ghost” by the White Stripes (orig. Tegan & Sara)
I said please, please don’t insist
- “The Patriot Song” by Johnny Cash
We’ve got the greenest country here on God’s green earth
- “Your Protector” by Fleet Foxes
You run with the devil
- “New York (Saint in the City)” by the Academy
Let the memories count the miles
- “What Is Life” by George Harrison, guessed by Occupant
Then I’ll try my best to make everything succeed
- “5 1/2 Minute Hallway” by Poe
He measured everything
- “Couldn’t Call it Unexpected” by Elvis Costello
Well you can laugh at this sentimental story
- “Lawyers in Love” by Jackson Browne, guessed by Occupant
Eating from TV trays, tuned into Happy Days
- “Float On” by Modest Mouse
It was worth it just to learn some sleight of hand
- “Drown Soda” by Hole
Just you wait ’til everyone is hooked
There’s not a whole lot to report, actually.
The weather, while it has taken a turn the cold and flurrying since the weekend, hasn’t been the soul-crushing winter that the rest of February was. Then again, it also beggars belief that it’s the end of February already. It’s a shorter month, but not by that much. It’s still early days, but I may look back and remember it as the longest and shortest month of 2014.
At work, I handed over a book to production, and I don’t think I was quite prepared for the huge feeling of relief that would follow. But the handing-over itself? That was just a lot of paperwork and formatting and back-and-forth with authors. I’ll have two more books in quick succession that will need to go into production very soon, and I think the feeling of relief was only because they couldn’t be handed over immediately. (One manuscript has permission issues for which I’ve contracted a freelancer, and the other isn’t expected until Monday.) I had a little breathing room, in which I could focus on some other smaller projects — I have manuscripts out for review, I’m mentoring someone (and worried I’m just giving her busy work to do) — and finally typing up my notes from my campus trips a couple of weeks ago. I’ll be on campus again tomorrow, headed to Stony Brook University, unless illness or weather unravel those plans for a third time.
I finished reading Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle. It’s an interesting book, one that I’ve actually attempted to read a couple of times in the past. I’m not sure exactly why those attempts fell apart on me like they did, since it’s actually a really good book and maybe one of Dick’s more accessible, less out-there books. (I’d actually started reading The Divine Invasion, then quit maybe a hundred pages in when I learned it was the middle book in the so-called “VALIS Trilogy.”) The book is an alternate history, of a world where Nazi Germany and Japan won World War II, and I think Dick makes a really smart move centering most of the action in Japanese-controlled San Francisco. The book is less about the mechanics of this world, the kind of thing you see in countless “what if the Nazis had won?” stories, and more about using that world to look at our own. If it had been set in Germany, or Nazi-controlled New York, it would have been a very different book.
And that’s about it, really. Just a handful of decent but uneventful days.
Friday was pretty uneventful, and even yesterday wasn’t terribly exciting by any real standard. It was warmer, certainly, to the point where you could wander outside in short sleeves and not feel uncomfortable — a far cry from the past few weeks we’ve had. There’s a chance of snow again in next week’s forecast, but hopefully it won’t impede my work trip to Stony Brook, which thanks to illness and weather I’ve already had to reschedule twice. And it also won’t impede my grumbling about how my parents managed to escape the worst of winter, leaving it all to me to enjoy.
Last night, I watched the 1977 horror movie The Sentinel, which is probably most notorious for casting genuinely deformed people as denizens of hell. That — spoiler warning — comes late in the film, and it’s just the one long scene, but however effective it might have been it’s also in very questionable taste. As for the rest of the movie…well, I call it a horror movie, since that seems like the obvious choice, but by the end of it I wasn’t entirely sure what it was I watching. There are parts that are ridiculously campy, some terrible acting — sadly, much of it from the film’s lead — and yet there are also parts that are really fairly creepy. Burgess Meredith is rather good in it, and Eli Wallach and Christopher Walken show up as a pair of detectives. But it’s such a weird movie, with such a strangely varied cast, even beyond Meredith, Wallach, and Walken. The trailer doesn’t really do it justice, and while I do think it was a terrible movie, I’m not entirely sure I didn’t enjoy it.
Then today I went to my writing group, and I penned/keyboarded this:
They found her outside the cabin, what was left of the old Wilson place out on the end of North Hadley Road, just half a mile from the edge of the woods and the county line. She had been left there overnight; the ME wouldn’t commit to a time of death, but preliminary tests suggested sometime between nine and ten the night before. That explained the rigor, Stock thought, and more importantly the dress. It had turned cold overnight, an unexpected frost that still hung in the morning air, but the girl was dressed for summer, her clothes a flimsy, gauzy white. Like an angel, Stock thought, and then quashed the thought down to the back of his mind. It wouldn’t help him any to start thinking like that again.
She had been strangled. Meyers thought they might get prints, but Stock wasn’t too hopeful. The body was too well staged, too precise, to expect that the perp had been that sloppy. The girl looked almost peaceful, if you ignored the bruises around her neck where the air had been cut off, ignored the too complete stillness of her body propped up against the oak tree. There was no sign of a struggle beyond all that, which suggested that she’d been killed somewhere else and moved, despite there being no other tracks but their own leading up this way. Meyers already had the sherrif’s men cordoning off a wider area, bagging anything that might look like evidence. Stock had just shrugged when the other man asked him if he’d had any theories.
The cabin was abandoned, half burned down in ’91, and nobody, least of all Red Wilson, had lived out here since then. Stock didn’t even know if Wilson still owned the property, which had stretched all the way to Potter County when he, Stock, had been a boy. But if he did, it wasn’t doing him much good these days, half-senile and bed-ridden like the man was reportedly supposed to be. Stock knew there were places that fall into disuse because nobody wants them, wants to be reminded of what happened there; there are places where darkness sets in, makes itself comfortable, sets up shop. The Wilson place had been well on its way to becoming one of those places even before the fire. The dead girl just made it clear the transformation was now complete.
“You recognize her?” Meyers asked, and Stock looked up.
“What?” he said. He tried keeping the surprise off his face. “Nah, why’d you ask that?”
“Dunno,” the other man said. “You just had one of your looks, is all.”
Can you tell I also watched a couple of True Detective episodes today as well?
That, more or less, was my weekend.
Last week. This week:
- “Losing You” by Randy Newman
Was a fool with my money and I lost every dime
- “Exterminate, Regenerate” by Chameleon Circuit, guessed by Betty and Occupant
It’s been such a long time since I met you back on Skaro
- “Was a Sunny Day” by Paul Simon
He was a navy man, stationed in Newport News
- “Brickbat” by Billy Bragg
I used to want to plant bombs at the last night of the proms
- “Milk and Cereal” by G. Love and Special Sauce
No Grape Nuts for Grandma
- “Gaga, Palmer, Madonna” by Amanda Palmer
I’m often naked and play the accordion
- “Right Place, Wrong Time” by Dr. John, guessed by Occupant
Got to give myself a little talking to this time
- “Regrets” by Christine Fellows
But the dart she landed shy, nearly taking out your eye
- “Halley’s Waitress” by Fountains of Wayne
She’s hiding in the kitchen
- “Husker Du” by Splitsville
The drummer was not too bad
Your luck? May it be good!
I returned home yesterday evening to discover evidence that Phantom Garage Cat had returned. Also that it might be something of a jerk.
The blinds on two of the garage’s windows had been effectively demolished, and there were other things thrown about the floor to suggest the return of a cat (or mischievous poltergeist), even if there wasn’t any sign of the cat itself. I’m pretty sure it had left the garage for about a week, but wherever it hides, it does a really good job. I managed to scare it out of the corner again, getting just a glimpse of cat-like movement, but I don’t think I scared it enough for it to run outside. It keeps very quiet, at least when I’ve been out there with it, and the only way to know it’s even out there is to close the door, walk away, and then come back to find some new destruction has been visited upon the garage while you were gone. I think I heard it this morning, but I didn’t see it, and I don’t know if it’s still out there now.
But it’s not just my problem now.
My parents returned home after about three weeks away. “So I see you’ve met Phantom Garage Cat,” I said, “or at least seen its handiwork.” Well, I don’t think I said those words exactly, but the damage to the blinds is pretty tough to miss. (And I had told them about the cat about a week ago.)
I’m really glad they’re back. I’m okay on my own — I tell myself I’m determined that this is the year I move back out to my own apartment — but I don’t think I’m well suited to being on my own in the middle of a lousy winter in a large and otherwise empty house. I managed, me and the dog, but I can’t pretend like it was much fun. It’s easy to jump at noises in the night, especially when you’ve got a polter-cat on the prowl outside the kitchen door. Over the past three weeks, I got nothing more accomplished than watching the first season of The Good Wife. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s a pretty good show, but I’m looking to return some level of normalcy to my routine and sleep patterns.
And speaking of sleep patterns, I’m off to go find some.