Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Pine Trees Like Wooly Mammoths

Just yesterday, I went and opened my big yap about the coming snows. Just as if I were a crystal ball, last night snow came. It reminds me one very important thing I'd forgotten that I really do love about winter, and when the snow first falls. The way it builds up and highlights each one of those gnarly gray branches that so bum me out the rest of the winter. That and the quiet when it's coming down. For me, those beautiful qualities make the rest of it tolerable.

I looked across the street at the large Pine in a neighbor's yard this morning. I can't wait now for a big blizzard of a snowfall now. I can see it in my mind's eye, looking like a big Wooly Mammoth trudging through flying, blinding flakes.

(I also think, perhaps, I've found my next big rant: How long it takes to crop a couple photos on my poor, wheezing, life-should be measured-in-dog's-years laptop.) 


Monday, November 11, 2013

Every Day is Quiet and Gray...

Every year, I forget what Fall and Winter looks like in Ohio. The colors are beautiful, even during this dry year. The reds, golds, bronzes, oranges, yellows all show themselves in the leaves. A great, crisp flare-up, but then they drop, and you're left with branches. Black, brown, and gray branches against gray and white skies. Gray. For all those starting colors, there's too much gray. It goes on too long. Interminably blah, wet and cold or parched dry and cold, occasionally dotted by one beautiful moment of snow that quickly gives way to gray and black slush.

I really think both Chris and I suffer from what they call "Seasonal Affective" issues. He still shudders remembering the January a couple years ago, mostly spent home alone and awake primarily during dark evening hours. He hated it. In Cincinnati, it was always too bleak for me, every year. By end of January, after the passage of things to look forward to-Christmas and my birthday- I would generally despair. I remember the job I held for five years there that I allowed to so grind me down. Two months where one generally goes to work and returns home in the dark. Spending those days boxed in from sunlight by plain, high, blank walls never helped.

My mind wanders to all this as I look out the window, watching the squirrels and birds romp across the yards directly across from mine in my new neighborhood. After ten years of one view, this is pleasantly different. I loved those beautiful old "German Craftsman" houses across from my little Crackerbox, framed by it's droopy porch awning and massive, incongruous Elm tree. Here I see one ranch house that's either "little" or "nondescript," depending on mood, and a lot currently empty except for fallen leaves. I look out and see the Fall lighting. It's at the start of what I guess I'll probably call "The Gray" for the rest of the Winter. I keep imagining the end-game of March, that last month that was such a terrible trudge in Cincy. I hope it'll be better here, knowing full well Columbus is so geographically close as to make no difference at all. It's been so long I don't remember what Winter was like here. If anything, I know to expect more snow. But I see it looming ahead, and prepare for it, hereby vowing to put my best foot forward and keep a positive mindset about it. Mostly, though, I think one thing...

"Chris, we're SO going to need to take a vacation come February."

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Fragment: Villians Have a Brand To Think About, Too, You Know...

A fragment of something conjured while waking this morning:

Picture the lair of a Supervillain. It might be a Volcano hideout, with technology integrated into rock face, and big sweeping steel ramps, or perhaps a satellite, orbiting steel and white in space. There, an intrepid Do-Gooder confronts a droll and arch Villian, playing his stereotype up to a campy hilt, cape and all.

"So where did you get all of these," our Hero asked, stalling for time, while gesturing across the room's museum worthy collection of weapons of all shape, size, and era, no two alike. "Arms dealers?"

"No, they're actually all my own designs, thank you very much," our Villain purred, stroking the pliant white cat in his lap.

With an unbelieving smirk, our Hero scoffed. "I find that hard to believe."

"No, it's true," sighed the Evil-Doer, as he slouched and then looked up in resigned annoyance, breaking character to share something personal. "It's just that I had a nephew who wanted to be a Graphic Designer. He thought he could be an Industrial one, too, so everything had to look different. He had a phase with retro-Fifties, and fins on everything. Then a minimalist streak that made half my bombs all look like iPads. Then, he'd fritter a week away on logos and user's manuals and the most nonsensical info graphics you ever saw..." the villain trailed off, looking aside.

"It's a shame, really," he sighed. "We had a surveillance vehicle that he decided to make look like a caterer's van. He used Papyrus all over it and, well, you can imagine. Three different caterers tried suing us for infringing on their 'image'." Here there were fingerquotes and a loud "HA! As if you could tell them apart."

"Another drove off with the damn thing-by honest mistake-and wound up blowing herself up. Tsk. Literal and figurative Ladyfingers everywhere. I wanted a Zeppelin with lasers and a nice, Deco look, but he'd seen something online about disguising products... Anyhow, I had to take poor Jerry and banish him to the Arctic hideout. Poor thing lost his mind from guilt and shame, and now I have him re-doing all my files with a label maker that only prints in Comic Sans... My sister refuses to let it go. Every holiday, the same thing 'You could have had him just do some business cards, but noooo, Mister Big Shot wants to go fancy...'"

Our Hero looked down, shaking his head, genuinely moved by the aesthetic tragedy of it all. A Zeppelin with lasers would've been damned cool to fight it out on, even if it had been done before.

"Anyhow," the Villain said, hoisting up from behind his desk a ridiculously enormous death-ray, clearly embellished to impress after Jerry'd read too many 90's Liefeld comics, "Where were we?"

Sunday, November 3, 2013

So Many Books, Never Too Many

The downside-or upside depending on which side of the boxes you're on-of working in bookstores is the access to books. They're always crossing through your hands, triggering interest ("ooh, I need to read that") or aversion ("oh look, another six tubs to James Patterson and Danielle Steel") every day.  You wind up with a steady stream of new ones coming into the home, many being strays given a last minute reprieve from recycling.

An urge to not totally squander my day off had me moving the contents of the "What I'm Watching" and "What I'm Reading" lists I've maintained on here for years onto their own pages. (I did this because at least twice a year, Blogger "breaks" these list gadgets, and this time I got the impression it wasn't going to get fixed to my satisfaction.) Looking at all those lovely book titles spurred me to sort the contents of six boxes and a couple tubs of books in the basement. I also rearranged the contents of my office bookshelves, a pair of "spine" towers that look like six feet of towering, tottering stacks when full. Chris should be pleasantly surprised, not to mention shocked, to see I've actually weeded out a good two boxes worth of books judged to be in good enough shape to sell on. I won't be able to take them to my store, though. I think I'd have a weird attachment if I saw them on the shelves, not to mention guilt if clearance time came for them. I'd probably wind up re-buying them. No, better to take them to a different store, and set them free like goldfish in the local pond. I'll be wishing them well and hoping they have long lives and new homes, even though I know the future that actually awaits them is one of death by shock from a new environment, or they become a quick meal for a larger, more experienced denizen of the wild. No, house pets of any stripe tend not to do well in the wild, nor do well-loved paperbacks.

Our view of our books, like so many things, is skewed by virtue of being "mine." My own I've "experienced," so I expect them to be treated with due deference. Now that I've worked in buying books, it's easier to detach. I went through and weeded many out. "Too yellowed, too stained, too torn, too old, too common, too tattered." I feel defensive for the books while I judge.

Having that distance helps me to actually part with them. I've always kind of wanted a house with a room where every wall was floor-to-ceiling shelves, and every book, CD, DVD, videotape, knick-knack, whatever could have a permanent home. Maybe I want to be surrounded with the reassurance that I am what I see myself as, well-rounded and educated. The books I display must be tangible proof of that, right? More likely, it's just that I have a very hard time letting go of things. Some fear that, even though I know full well I'll never revisit many of them, since I have them now and may want them in the future, I should just keep them. I don't need to be a hoarder, and on some logical level I know they're silly worries. It's just stuff.

After our move in June, I know that, more accurately, it's heavy, time-consuming, space-taking stuff. I think if I've read it, I can let it go now. I don't need our first home crammed and cluttered with so much of my stuff. I don't believe you can have too many books, but I'm slowly learning (mostly through a bad back and lack of shelf space) and accepting the lesson that one can have enough.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Nah, No WriMo Pour Moi

My dear friend, the brilliant Erin Shea Smith, grabbed something out of the ether for me today. Something I didn't even know I was trying to capture. She wrote about NaNoWriMo, a concept that always fills me with guilt, and brought it around to connecting with what's really important, using your words to express what's really important in your life.

I need to "do better" when it comes to that. I concur, also, that I need to re-grasp the discipline of dedicated writing, be it daily or weekly. I cowed myself into stopping, you know. A bit of self-imposed silence. I think the unintended pressure of attending a wonderful writer's conference nearly two years ago planted the seeds. At the time I was un-to-barely-employed, unfocused, and felt a fake and a failure when I entered that vibrant, electric atmosphere. Instead of taking the lessons to heart and running with them, I froze. It's easy to do. When our move became more and more likely, and then a sudden, rushing downhill movement, it was easy to just stop what little I was doing. Instead of limping along with one review a week, much less amusing myself, I've only done one review for someone, and haven't even put it up here yet. I turned the gas down on my creative pilot and just started letting things simmer, since "I can start again anytime I want." It's the reverse of what the smoker says, and just as easy to kick down the road for the giant commitment it represents.

Sometimes it's little bits of honesty. Frequently, it's something fun and silly. But to let the thoughts flit across the brainpan, free-range and then willfully forgotten, is a shameful thing. I realize I can "do better" at organizing myself, and expressing it. I've done it before. The intimidation of NaNoWriMo to someone who already feels guilt that they're not producing the words they want to say overwhelms like a brick wall. What I should be doing is taking it one brick at a time, and starting with the Lego-sized ones. I may not build a wall anytime soon, but it'd be nice to shake the rust off and figure out my voice again.

Can I do it every day, like Erin and all the valiant NaNolists promise? I'll try. I'll forgive myself if I fail, but I'll pick up and start again.