Still Unwinding

Because the story never ends

Happy fashion

It’s finally cooled down enough to wear skirt with boots and leggings. If only it were this way all year long!

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Morning port

Some awesome low clouds over the Port of Seattle this morning. The harbor seals are barking up a storm too.

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They just need to look in the other direction:

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Some more pics:

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Holding thoughts — for a little

I really should have gone straight home to add to my NaNoWriMo word count. But I’m over 10,000 already, although tech issues on their site prevented me updating last night. And I have found the same happy groove I found last year. Perhaps I just want to savor it.

So I have stopped for coffee and have found myself just enjoying the sight of the early darkness outside and the lights of downtown Seattle across the bay; looking forward to my walk home and then dinner before I settle down to write for a couple of hours.

Last night, I ended up writing things I hadn’t even thought of until I saw the words appearing on the screen.

I can remember where I left the story last night — and where I was planning to go next — but I may end up being surprised again.

That’s what I enjoy so much about this.

The Cairo Genizah

BBC Radio 3 Essays recently repeated this series. It’s been my morning bus podcast for the last few days.

According to Jewish tradition, and document bearing God’s name, no matter how small and irrelevant, is not allowed to be destroyed — it must be saved, or at least buried in the ground. The Genizah that is the subject here is a tall tower adjoining a synagog in Cairo that was used as a depository for over a thousand years. A small opening in the top allowed documents to be dropped in — legal papers, certificates, wills, bills of sale, prenuptial agreements, personal letters, and even recipes and shopping lists.

Around two-thirds of the accumulation now resides in a library at Cambridge University where they have been under translation, an interesting job because much of it is written in Judeo-Arabic — that is, Arabic written in Hebrew script. (I love linguistic curiosities. Farsi, spoken in Iran, is an Indo-European language written in Arabic script. And then there was Yiddish, a dialect of German written in Hebrew script.)

There are very interesting stories of how women managed to trick husbands into divorce. And a Jewish merchant who was having trouble finding a Jewish to marry in India solved the problem by buying a beautiful slave girl and immediately freeing her — thus making a Jew of her. But the marriage was questioned when he got back to Cairo.

This must have be an incredible project to work on — as long as you don’t mind being a bit chilly. The library is kept cool to preserve the documents.

So much of the contents document the affairs of daily life of ordinary folks. It must be a bit like reading a very ancient blog!

All sales final

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These gloves get a lot of compliments. Normally, I wouldn’t buy something sparkly. But five years ago I was in downtown Seattle on a day that turned out to be a trifle chilly, and I wished I had brought gloves. But I remembered the Daiso store in Westlake Center — where everything is $1.50 unless labelled otherwise. I bought these for a laugh — and have been wearing them ever since. I think I rather got my money’s worth.

I have a friend who just loves Daiso, because a) she loves a bargain, and b) she loves just about everything Japanese. But another reason we enjoy going there is that we have both been retail workers (we were at the same store for two years.) One of the most irksome things is handling questionable returns, i.e., when the customer has no receipt; or the receipt is well past 30 days; or the item being returned has obviously been used; or, even worse, when the item has not even been carried by the store for several years! So we both are in awe of the business that has the guts to have a “no returns for any reason” policy.

Now there’s probably no compelling reason to return an item that only cost $1.50 — but trust me — the customer who spent $15 on ten items would still expect to be able to return some of them. I wonder what happens when someone tries — because I’m sure it happens.

In the summer, I got a pair of smartphone gloves, the ones that work with a touch screen, for $1.50. I didn’t need them then, but I have learned to buy it when I see it at Daiso. I would know better than to bother asking “do you have any more in the back?” or “when will you be getting more in?”

Daiso is definitely for the more self-reliant, resourceful, high-functioning shopper. I wish more businesses followed this model!

(I just worry about where the stuff comes from sometimes.)

Never gonna work

The lady in line behind me at the grocery store was upset because she only had one item. There were long lines at all the checkouts, including the self checkout.

She wondered why there couldn’t be a “3-items-or-less express lane like there is at another store” she knows.

It wouldn’t help. Even if there were such a thing, you’d still find yourself in line behind someone with more than 20 items!

MASH moments

When you have every season of MASH on DVD; and binged on MASH excessively from June 2007 to February 2010 — only taking breaks to binge on Doctor Who — you tend to relate just about everything that happens to you in particular with a MASH episode or scene — while just about everything that happens with the world in general can be explained with reference to something that happened on Doctor Who. (The tenth Doctor even confronted Satan, you know!)

Anyway, a MASH moment happens when you are reminded that you have been drafted to fight a war that you don’t understand — and perhaps don’t even care about.

The Hawkeye moments are when you get so tired of MASH moments that you could mouth off to a 5-star general.

A Doctor Who moment is when you’ve had so many Hawkeye moments that you could mouth off to God himself.

Hopefully God is more forgiving than the army — although he still refuses to give me my Section 8!

You see… the problem was… everyone was talking in Polish

That’s the punchline to a blisteringly funny joke. And I would share it with you. But I haven’t written it yet. Stay tuned.

NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow — and it couldn’t come soon enough for me! This blog is fun to write, but it doesn’t take me to the place I really love to go. There’s a kind of writing I do that is pure escapism — and escapism of the good kind. After a few hours of it, I feel satisfied, fulfilled, and immensely happy; that I have fully indulged myself with whatever I need and am now ready to go out into the world with an open heart and mind.

Last year was my first time at NaNoWriMo. I love the way that first-timers aren’t treated patronizingly, as are Newbies (or Newbs) in other forums. It doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s your first or tenth attempt; all that matters is that you’re doing it this year.

I had a part-time job that started at 11am, so I did a lot of writing in the morning, getting up at around 6:30. I fed the cat, made a large mug of tea, and then sat down to write in my pajamas. About an hour later, I made coffee and then wrote until 9am when I quit for the morning to shower and dress, eat some breakfast, and get ready for work. I also wrote in the evenings and at weekends, but it was in the morning darkness that I found the most inspiration and joy — and it was such a wonderful way to start the day.

Towards the end of the third week, a coworker jokingly remarked that I seemed awfully happy of late — and demanded to know what drugs I was taking. None, I said. In fact, I wasn’t even drinking — something not unknown with me, but something pretty anomalous. And I realized that I was happier than I’d been in years. I hit the magic 50,000 word total around noon on Thanksgiving Day. I downloaded a couple of awards to post on Twitter and email to a few people. Then I went for a walk to Alki Beach — and gave thanks that I no longer worked in retail and would not be facing Black Friday shoppers the next day. My novel wasn’t quite finished, but I did finish it on November 30.

My new job is interesting and fun, and I work with some really great people. But it presents challenges nonetheless, and I have things to worry about. This last week, I participated in two workshops that were very worthwhile, but also rather draining; my calendar for next week has some collisions that I need to sort out (and possibly apologize for); and I have to start a project that involves coordinating with people for whom I don’t even have contact info yet!

I’m hoping that as I get into my novel, I will be able to draw from the source again — and direct some of that energy into the rest of my life. I don’t see myself getting up at 4am to write. I suppose I could try! I know from last year that I would go off to work feeling inspired to do my best. But perhaps I can benefit from evening writing; allow it to put the worries of the workday behind me, go to bed looking forward to the next day, and get a wonderful night of sleep.

Some people start at midnight, November 1. I thought about it. But I think it would be just a token, false start for me. So, I plan on an early night so as to get up early tomorrow — while it’s still dark.

I’m so lucky to be doing this.

Almost Halloween humbug

I was just sitting here contemplating the silliness of Halloween; wondering if I should waste bandwidth writing about why I never bother dressing up (with the exception of 2005 and 1995, when I caved to peer pressure.)

Then I happened to look over towards the soup counter at the grocery store where I am having coffee — and saw Big Bird ladling soup. I was surprised and charmed as I watched Big Bird then disappear into the crowd of shoppers.

I picked up my phone to start writing this — and soon saw Big Bird advancing with a tray of soup, accompanied by a small Elmo — and a few other friends.

OK. That’s cute.

Bring on the costumes tomorrow!!

Indecision

With just two days to go before NaNoWriMo kicks off, I still can’t decide whether to write my novel from the first person, or third person, point of view. I hope I’m not alone with this.

This morning I did some research and it would appear that first person narrative is very, very popular in the Young Adult genre, as it helps the reader readily identify with the main character — getting in that person’s head as it were. But, the third person point of view is more recommended for a grown-up audience. Of course, every article I read acknowledged that there are now hard and fast rules about this; depends on the story; your mileage may vary — and so on.

I have kept a list of the books I have read (or listened to) in the last six months. And, the novels have all been written in third person — with one exception being Kindred by Octavia Butler. The first person narrative was very effective as the main character, Dana, was experiencing something most extraordinary that she just had to deal with by herself most of the time. And for a while, she seemed completely abandoned.

My story could be written from either point of view. But the ongoing struggle for my main character will involve a sense of being very much “in the dark” at first; trying to make sense of limited information; and having to have faith in her intuition and gut instincts — but with considerable doubt in herself at times, feeling abandoned at times. So, I’m inclined to go for first person.

Got two more days to mull it over though…..