I amused myself earlier today:

Other than that, the day was pretty much uneventful. I had a lousier than expected morning commute, when the subway station at Hunterspoint Avenue just wasn’t running at all, and I followed a mass exodus a few blocks to catch the E train. (That gets me in relatively close to the office, but a few blocks more, again, than my regular commute into Grand Central.) Then the evening commute was mildly awful again, when a bunch of trains (including mine) were canceled and combined with others. The train was packed, up and down the aisles, but I read my book and was only about ten minutes later than I usually am. Would that I could only say that I’d never had worse commutes.


I’m going to admit, my own writing has suffered this week, as I’ve struggled to adjust to not being in Banff.

A big part of it, obviously, is the return of the morning schedule — having to get up at a specific hour each day and go to sleep at a reasonable hour the night before. I’d be lying if I said that hadn’t kind of kicked my butt all last week, and that I didn’t miss being able to sleep in a little should the need arise.

But the truth is, I just plain miss Banff.

It was a week full of catching-up projects at work, and planning for more travel at the end of October, this time for work, to Texas. And my sister visiting from Texas this weekend (along with her husband, dog, and new cat), so that we could take our parents out for a long(ish)-planned anniversary dinner.

And then there was that brand new issue of Kaleidotrope that I launched on Wednesday.


I’m really happy with how the issue turned out. But, frankly, it’s a little amazing that I got it — much less anything — done this week.

I need to get back into the groove of writing. That, or I need to go back to Banff.



Friday, when I leave for two weeks in Canada, seems both very close and very far away.

I’m trying to get a number of ducks in their respective rows at work, so that I can be there, happily swimming along, when I get back at the very end of the month. October, if not the rest of the fall, promises to be incredibly busy, and I will not be checking work e-mail while I’m away — this is a rule — so I at least want to kickstart the machine before I head out the door.

I’m also trying to figure out how to pack, both for the local weather — which this week seems to have lost its mind — and for the amount of time I’ll be there. It should be noted that I am not good at packing nor do I enjoy it…which might be at least part of the reason why I’m still living at home ten years later. (Just saying, me.)

And I’m also trying to finish a short story I’ve been working on. I got less done last week than I might have liked — my parents were away, and that always tends to disrupt my schedule, if only because I’m up in the middle of each night with the dog — but tonight there was some good writing. I’m still hoping to finish it, if not send it out somewhere before I leave in now under three days. But we’ll see.

Finally, I’ve more or less wrapped up the editing for next month’s new issue of Kaleidotrope. I’m still waiting on some feedback, and a bio, and I need to figure out the art — of which I’m still getting little — and the whole horoscopes thing. But those are some more ducks that have been relatively well lined up, I think, and will be easily tended to when I return.

What I really want to know is: how is it only/already Tuesday?


That’s what I thought this morning when I went to buy a new MetroCard (which gets me on the subway, which takes me from Queens into Manhattan) because I couldn’t find my old one when I was leaving the house. I pulled out my wallet to pay for the new card…and discovered the old one sitting there. So I cancelled the transaction, walked over to the turnstiles, swiped the card…and discovered it was down to only a few cents. (The fare’s $2.50.) So I turned back to the ticket machine for a new card just like before.

Certainly it felt like a metaphor for something.

Meanwhile, I’m headed to Canada in three weeks, for a self-directed writing residency at the Banff Centre (and an all-around vacation), and it’s starting to feel a whole lot of real. I’m now having to plan around in very specific ways for work, not just in vague “oh, I’m going to be out for a couple of weeks in some distant future time.” October, when I get back, is almost certainly going to be very busy — not least of all because I’m planning another trip, this time for work, to Texas — leading right into a massively busy end of the year. But I am determined not to let that trouble me, or worry about what my in-box and to-do list are going to look like when I return. The work computer will definitely not be going with me to Canada.

My plans for the weekend are modest. I plan to spend it writing, mostly. I have one very short piece out for consideration right now — and dear lord, it’s only been three weeks, but is this the kind of nerve-wracking wait I put people through who submit to Kaleidotrope?! — but it would be nice to get more things actually finished and out there.

Oh, and speaking of Kaleidotrope, I thought I’d throw this out here as well: I’m looking for more artwork, mostly for covers (the front page), and I’m paying more for it (up to $60). I’m eager to see science fiction, fantasy, and horror-themed artwork, either brand new or in the artist’s online galleries. So if you or someone you know draws, paints, creates, please feel free to check out the the guidelines. I’m still closed to submissions to everything else until January, but I’m making an exception for art. (In no small part because I’ve hit the limits of my own artistic talents.)


I took another long weekend starting this Thursday. I didn’t do a whole lot with it, didn’t go anywhere more exciting than the dry cleaners, but it was nice to have a few days of just hanging out. I watched several episodes of Comedy Bang Bang, which is funny and weird and which my only sporadic listening to the podcast version hadn’t really prepared me for. I also watched a few episodes of Columbo, which, maybe surprisingly, still really holds up.

I also watched Julia, starring Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave, and Jason Robards. All three of them were nominated for Oscars for the movie, and it seems a little strange that Fonda is the only one of them who lost. Robards and Redgrave are both good, but they’re each only in the film for a small handful of scenes, and for my money Fonda’s a lot better. (Meryl Streep also pops up; it’s her first film role.) That said, I can’t really claim to have enjoyed it, and it’s a strange duck of a movie, not least of all because it’s quite possibly all untrue.

On Saturday afternoon I drove out to the airport to pick up my parents. They’d been away for a couple of weeks on vacation in France — ah, the joys of retirement — and came back bearing gifts of Belgian chocolates and T-shirts.

Last night, I watched The Last Picture Show, which I’ve had out from Netflix for way too long. Wikipedia informs me, coincidentally enough, that “Julia was the first film to win both supporting actor categories since The Last Picture Show six years earlier in 1971.” (I hadn’t planned my movie-watching that way.) The winners for Last Picture Show were Ben Johnson and Cloris Leachman, and they’re both really good. Not a lot to say, but I really liked the movie.

No movies today — I passed up a chance to go see the new Transformers movie, which seemed like the smart play. Instead, I finished putting together the newest issue of Kaleidotrope. I’m really pleased with it, not least of all because of the (triumphant?) return of the horoscopes and fake advice column. There’s also some really great short stories and poems and a cartoon. I hope you’ll check it out.

And with my weekly writing group, I wrote this:

We were supposed to meet Franklin at the mouth of the cave, sometime around noon, but by the time we finally got there at half past, he was already gone. We could see that he’d been there, from the fresh ashes in a nearby circle of stones and the tin coffee cup tossed atop them, but of Franklin himself there was no other sign or note. Still, we weren’t worried — or at least I wasn’t.

“He probably just got impatient and decided go on ahead of us,” I told Sarah. “You know how your brother is.”

“That’s actually the only reason I’m here at all,” she said. “Because I know how my brother is.”

When Franklin had called us a week ago, it had been a surprise, the first time in maybe half a year that we’d heard from him. There’d been semi-regular reports from his doctors, whether or not his progress was any good, and presumably his and Sarah’s mother was still visiting him, if she could ever pull herself from the bottom of a bottle. But we hadn’t spoken to the kid since January, and hadn’t actually been in the same room with him since before Christmas, when he’d started having what had seemed like the worst of the attacks. When he asked us to meet him back at the cave — “you remember, don’t you, Mark?” he asked me — it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that we were hesitant.

“You’re out, Frank?” Sarah asked him. “How can you be out?”

I was on the other phone in the den, and I remember thinking we had a bad connection, because they both sounded so distant, like voices in another room, and I could hardly hear her brother talk. I could hardly hear him at all when he said, “We have to go back to the cave.”

“You’re not calling from the hospital?” Sarah asked. “Does Mom know you’re out?”

“I’m going to be there tomorrow,” Franklin said, like that answered anything. “At noon? I need you guys to be there too.”

And with that, he was gone. I let the click echo for a minute, wondering if Sarah was still there, and then I said, “Honey, I’m coming upstairs.”

Now we were here, back where it had started. This was where I’d met them both, six years earlier, and it had been shortly after that that we’d started seeing signs of Franklin’s illness. How long had he been trapped down there in the dark of the cave? It couldn’t have been more than an hour, but the doctors had called it a “precipitating factor,” or something like that. I knew for a fact they wouldn’t have allowed him to come back here.

Not entirely sure what to make of it, and it doesn’t really connect with the prompt I supplied (except maybe in my head), but it’s something at least.

Back to work tomorrow, and back to the office. Though I usually work from home on Mondays, we’re closed on Friday for the holiday, and we don’t get to take the Mondays when that happens.