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BY Skitt

02/01 Direct Link
Tracy would like to let her life slip from her shoulders like a robe at the edge of a pool. She'd like to immerse herself in the waters of the new. She wants the weightlessness of anonymity for an hour or a day.

Something has to fill up the spaces in between. Something needs to be said, felt, experienced, thrilled to every now and again, or what's it all for ?

Tracy takes herself someplace new every Saturday afternoon. The restaurant at Santa Anita or the park outside the library.

Tracy pretends to be whoever he needs her to be.
02/02 Direct Link
I didnít want to this morning, but I have a habit of writing in a diner in the morning, so I got up and went in. Dragging my feet.

It was a nice surprise when Kevin, the waiter said, ďAha! Both of you were late this morning!Ē The seventy-something gent who takes the booth behind mine grinned, too. We shrugged at each other. ďSomething in the air?Ē

Kevin brought me hot tea without asking and we chatted about the release of the new Vista OS and confirmed that it doesnít make any sense to put it on an old computer.
02/03 Direct Link
Mom stayed over at a friend's house when she was little. She saved the yoke of her egg for last. Sheíd eaten away all the white when her friend's father said, "If you're not going to eat that--" and swept it off her plate.

She and Dad didn't wait for retirement to have adventures. They took European vacations when in their fifties. Unheard of in our rural area. Good thing they did. My father had his first heart attack at 56 and was gone before his 63rd birthday. If they'd waited for retirement, they would have missed their lives.
02/04 Direct Link
Conversations With Other Women.

When I heard this film reviewed on NPR last year, the two critics were in absolute opposition about it. It depends whether youíre willing to accept the split-screen technique. I thought it helped tell the story.

This movie may have pushed me over the edge into liking Helena Bonham Carter a lot. She and Aaron Eckhart carry the film through conversation. Itís much more dynamic than it sounds, because of the split-screen.

I wonít ruin it for you by telling you anything about the plot. I was glad that I didnít know more. It unfolds wonderfully.
02/05 Direct Link
Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

Iím not usually into crime fiction. Whatís fun about this for writers is that Lindsay does an amazing job of showing without telling. Dexter doesnít feel things in a normal way. He describes the behavior of the humans around him and we understand their emotional states. Especially good in the phone call from Rita after their date. If I could, Iíd cite the page number and encourage you to take a look at it at a bookstore.

Itís about a serial killer who only kills other serial killers. The Robin Hood of grisly death.
02/06 Direct Link
I am SO excited! My new camera arrived with a charged battery, bless them. Itís so intuitive that I started setting it up although the menus are in Japanese. I set the time up before I changed the timezone from Tokyo to Pacific. Now I need to figure out how to get it set right. Hee hee. So thrilled. Unfortunately, itís a very busy work day and I just took a break to check that the orderís all there. Whoo hoo! Later Iíll walk down to the mailbox and take my first photo with it. Did I say whoo hoo?
02/07 Direct Link
I took a script with me to read during lunch--the only way Iím getting away from my desk today--and ordered a tostada salad. Oh my god. The plate was, I kid you not, a foot and a half wide. The food was laid out under strips of cheese, guacamole, salsa, tomatoes, etc. My first thought was regret that I didnít have my camera and a marmot to sit next to it to give some perspective. (Or possibly share in the feast.) I left more than half of it on the plate. Americaís big-food fetish is wearing me out.
02/08 Direct Link
Here's where I admit what a great part of my life Bobís Big Boy has become. I walked in a few minutes before six a.m. to a small chorus of "You're late!" and some ribbing. I stopped to talk to the print shop guys, who usually arrive about 45 minutes after I do. By the time I got to my usual booth, my hot tea and tall ice water was already there. Only had half an hour to write this morning, but it is so good to have this habit. I have Elegant's invitation to NaNoWriMo to thank for that!
02/09 Direct Link
They met when Kitís agency sent her to shoot photos for his profile of the entertainers of Venice Beach. She started out friendly and professional, like most of the photographers heíd worked with. But as soon as they started working, he realized something different about her. She put her subjects at ease with a few words, she disappeared behind the camera. She circled him quietly as he talked to a street performer. He sensed that she was creating magic inside the ring she formed around them. She moved like a mountain lion hunting. It made him want to touch her.
02/10 Direct Link
They Call Me Trinity (1970)

Not as funny as I remembered from seeing this as a little kid. My family went to see these in the theater.

If you have a hankering for a spaghetti western and have watched up all the Clint Eastwood stuff, consider this. Otherwise, kind of slow moving. The tragic pan & scan on the version we rented from Netflix canít have helped. Sigh.

Terence Hillís silly charm still comes through. Incredible blue eyes. I see that he has kept on working in his native Italy. Even had his own television series, playing a crime-solving priest.
02/11 Direct Link
Down in the Valley (2005)

This came close to being a good movie. If theyíd made themselves cut about half an hour and stuck to the directorís theme it might have worked.

The actingís all good. Itís interesting to see Edward Norton flip a pair of guns around. The manís got good hands.

I have a lingering affection for David Morse. His roles lately have been so different from the gentle character he played on Saint Elsewhere. Heís now a big imposing man and brings an implied threat just in his stance, but the gentleness still comes through when needed.
02/12 Direct Link
Handbook: A Book of Hands by Jean-Benoit Levy

This is basically a photography book with some really dense essays about hands as icons, etc. thrown in. Do yourself a favor and look for it at the bookstore, and thumb through it. Or buy yourself a nice cuppa and sit with it.

Gia gave me this for my birthday, and Iíve been taking my time with it, concentrating on a few dozen pages at a sitting. Itís fun when you read something like this because you begin to see the focused image in your life. Hands! Hands, everywhere.

A fun collection.
02/13 Direct Link
Work has heated up considerably. It has separated me from my characters. I need to be with them on my commute, during my hikes, in my dreams.

Today I left the laptop home and took the original first draft with me. Some of my restructuring wasnít working. I want to start the book with Logan rather than Kit. I want him to be a little more the focus of the book. I donít write a lot of male characters from the inside, and I want that challenge.

Rewriting sometimes equals: getting a grip, then loosening the grip, then rearranging.
02/14 Direct Link
Valentineís Day 2007

I brought little cards for everyone at work. Itís a small office, thank goodness. Thereís a growing pile of candies on my desk from coworkers.

Hydra and I were talking about going out for dinner tonight and bemoaning the fact that weíd miss taking an evening hike, which we very much enjoyed yesterday. Realized that thereís a Mexican restaurant thatís probably only about a mile away if we cut across the hillside on our way, so weíre going to walk there and back!

Kind of romantic, in itís way. Definitely heart healthy! Valentine in hiking boots!
02/15 Direct Link
Braveheart thinks I should consider short-term therapy, re: fear of success. Where do people find counselors they trust and then afford it?

This may be why I lost all electronic and paper copies of an essay that came close to being accepted.

This makes me feel ashamed. It freezes me when I think about it.

In my defense, I rose to the occasion when I got an agent for my book, and was prepared to do whatever an editor asked if it had sold. Maybe that felt like confirmation that accepting a level of success meant getting slapped down.
02/16 Direct Link
Presidentís Day

Since I have had such a busy couple of work weeks, and have plans to have friends in on Saturday (after watching their dog in a herding class) and am getting together with Gia on Sunday to work on the book project, I am thinking about an unorthodox celebration of Presidentís Day.

I plan to sit as still as a stone president for 15óno, make that 5---minutes. And think about presidents. And then go buy some commemorative jeans at the Presidentís Day sale at Kohlís.

I feel itís the least I can do for my country.
02/17 Direct Link
Sheep Herding

I had a blast with the new camera today. Braveheart came out to my neighborhood with her girlfriend, to take her dog to a herding class at a local ranch. We had so much fun watching Lulu the pooch chase the sheep. Sheís just getting started.

Discovered that the big professional camera gives you some of the entree that a clipboard will. You look like you know what youíre doing. Janna, the ranch owner, was great. Very friendly.

Had an amazing time clicking off shots. 129 and no stopping to reload film, worrying about getting dust inside, etc
02/18 Direct Link
Iím watching The Machinist. The most distressing thing about this movie, for me, is Christian Baleís skeletal form. Itís horrifying, and itís wrong. I think itís irresponsible of actors to do this to themselves and of directors to ask it of them. The director and writer, to their credit, express astonishment in the extras that Bale went so far.

Bale has the acting chops to have done this role without having risked his liver function for it. In the words of Lawrence Olivier, ďWhy not try acting? Itís much easier.Ē

Oh god. Industrial accidents. I can hardly bear to watch.
02/19 Direct Link
I am apparently cute today in my lavender hat, pink hoodie, and big-eyed day-off smile. The mother and son in the next booth at Applebeeís seem to think I am somebody. Or used to be somebody. Theyíre sneaking looks at me. Ha. No. I am amongst the unbecome.

I slept till five, read in bed until six. Snuck out of bed, fiddled around on the Internet. Finally got the birds up. Dodger was afraid of the way the sky seemed to be falling apart and dropping to the ground. Me, I like the rain. It makes me want to write.
02/20 Direct Link
I would rather not go back to work today. Yesterday was wonderful. Didnít do any real writing, but wrote on my blog. I love writing my blog. I wish I could make something of it.

There is a ton of work waiting for me. I peeked at my work e-mail inbox yesterday. Yikes! Canada did not have the day off. CSI: Miami did, but the poor writersí assistant worked on Saturday. I have read the pilot script thatís due today, but I havenít done any work on it. This is the sort of day that can expand out of control easily.
02/21 Direct Link
Introduced myself to the guy who sits behind me at Bobís and orders oatmeal, toast and coffee every day. I will now think of him as Tucson John. Heís been here helping his 94-year-old father die. Now he has to deal with the house and probate. Two other men who come in here lost their 90-something parents in the past couple of years. Toluca Lake is changing. Those whoíve been here since the forties are dying off. Some of the younger generation, in their seventies, have stayed. They were neighbors while their children grew. How much longer will they stay?
02/22 Direct Link
The rain I loved on Monday, when I didnít have to leave the house, slapped me hard today. Turned my 45 minute commute into two hours by making the roads slick, stalling two trucks along my route, threatening hydro-planing on dark Sierra Highway, and drumming up thick fog near home. I felt like crying by the time I got home. Luckily, Iíd heard the rain is supposed to last through tomorrow morning and maybe turn to snow at our elevation, so I plan to work from here. Thatís part of what made me late leaving work today. The prep. Sigh.
02/23 Direct Link
If it was ever enough, itís not today. Kara wants more.

She waits for the waiter to bring her more water for her tea, impatient. Restless. She watches the back pockets of the movie crew men as they pass her table. She scribbles in her notebook, taps on her laptop keys.

Always more words to chase, out there just beyond her grasp. More paper to fill, more bytes to employ. It should be more than enough, but today the sum is not as great as the total of its parts.

Today there is a hollow sound where her convictions usually reside.
02/24 Direct Link
I lit a fire in the fireplace this morning, turned my favorite chair around to face it, and finish reading Beloved. I love that book. I also love a fire in the morning. Itís been good to take these hours to sit with Dodger on my knee, absorbed in words.

Mornings are my own quiet time. I owe most of my days and evenings to others.

I wonder if burning fuel for entertainment will seem atrocious in the future. I hope not. Itís somehow calming to sit in front of a fire. Like having another pet in the house. Peaceful.
02/25 Direct Link
Last night NoŽl talked about the frustrations of genre. The publishers clearing aimed for the gay market with the cover photo of a nude man lying face down. Puts an odd spin on his title, ďTalking to the Moon,Ē if you ask me. He was very positively blurbed by James Ellroy, and said he thought the progression on bookstore shelves would be from gay to Asian-American to crime, and then maybe mainstream. I appreciated his honesty about wanting to reach a broader audience. It was good to run into a couple of people who I donít get to see enough.
02/26 Direct Link
Tucson John never says good-bye. A habit he picked up working in military intelligence and counter-intelligence for thirty-seven years? It may have taught him to keep to himself.

ďI was corned the other day,Ē he tells me. ďAnd it was virtually unsolicited.Ē Heís talking about the talkative Sal, who goes on and on.

Emily, the waitress, warned me about Sal, right in front of Sal. While he was still talking. ďYouíll have to walk away,Ē she said in her light Thai accent. ďYou will have to walk away while heís talking. Iím telling you, he wonít stop.Ē

She was right.
02/27 Direct Link
Today Iím letting Sandy the Death Valley park ranger speak for herself. I wanted to only get inside the heads of Kit and Logan, but when the idea becomes a limitation rather than a structural aid, itís time to rethink. Sandy can tell us what Logan and Kit look like, and observe them from outside their relationship. And I realized that she is going to be important at the end of the book, since Death Valley rangers do double duty as law officers. I was having a hard time keeping it interesting with just my two main characters early on.
02/28 Direct Link
This has been an interesting exercise. As my writing group friends noted, itís the opposite of NaNoWriMo. Might be a good thing to do each year in December. Let the NaNoWriMo novel rest and get back to editing down. Thereís a lot to learn from writing and then cutting back like this. Between the two challenges, I noticed which words I throw in like a bad habit. They are easy enough to edit out.

Now itís time to reassess my goals for the novel. Iíll be traveling most of May, but I intend to write during at least a week.