“The blue colour is everlastingly appointed by the Deity to be a source of delight…”

“The blue colour is everlastingly appointed by the Deity to be a source of delight; and whether seen perpetually over your head, or crystallised once in a thousand years into a single and incomparable stone, your acknowledgment of its beauty is equally natural, simple, and instantaneous.” – John Ruskin, quoted in a very interesting article about ultramarine

Today was a good and beautiful day, and the sky was as blue as beauty, and the passionflowers were blooming in my backyard, and sunlight illuminated everything.

Today was especially lovely as it was cooler than yesterday. I spent yesterday at the  courthouse near Lake Merritt, waiting to be excused from jury duty for a murder trial. The courthouse was clearly a WPA building, art deco and covered in wood and marble within. There was nothing else nearby, a few closed museums and the lake not too far off. I went to a Cambodian restaurant for lunch and ate overpriced egg rolls and fried rice, then waddled back in the afternoon to see if my hardship excusal had been granted (“I will be 38 weeks pregnant when this trial begins…”).

The court staff and the judge were amiable and understanding that no one wanted to be there; they called two groups of 80 and excused most of us. I was almost moved to tears when standing in the hot, windowless vestibule of the courtroom a very nice man offered me his seat. I hadn’t realized how tired I was that afternoon. I took the BART home and walked back to the house very, very slowly. I lay down on the daybed in the baby’s room but don’t remember if I slept.

I can’t decide if I am genuinely less energetic than before or if the lack of distractions–like I had at work–is simply making me focus on my bodily discomforts more. The day before I left on leave an attorney commented that pregnancy hasn’t slowed you down at all. I cheerily responded that I felt great!

Well; three days later and I feel unwieldy and tired so much of the day. Maybe at work I had no choice but to keep moving, keep working, stop thinking so much about my body. I tried to get more exercise today–11.5k steps–and it did help some, I think. I wasn’t tempted to nap this afternoon. But my feet still ached, and I was short of breath, and my right hip felt like it was aching and over-rotated (like I had pushed my turnout too hard).

Still, the day was not without its minor achievements. I proofread my last novel and caught a few errors; I have my cover ready to go and will likely publish it this weekend. This poor book will alas be an orphan; I have no desire whatsoever to write a sequel and this will be for a different pen name. If it recovers the cost of the cover ($40?) I will be happy. I also began learning basic formatting for creating paperbacks, and this book will be my guinea pig. Tomorrow: dentist, more formatting, possibly some outlining.

I made berry smoothies and fried eggs for breakfast, lettuce cups and roasted Japanese sweet potatoes for lunch, and avocado quesadillas for dinner. I only had one slice of the strawberry cake we made this Sunday. I split a rich chocolate cookie with Carter for evening dessert. Very. Small. Victories.

Baby is turning over and over within me. She just finished her nightly session of hiccups. Little one, how is that I know you are going to be big trouble?


Things to do, mostly unorganized:

*General to-do’s*
Buy Toms shoes on eBay (Mon)
Buy Tieks (any day)
Toss old shoes (check for tread and holes)
Sign up for Imperfect Produce box using coupon code
Sort through SIL’s hand-me-downs
Make lettuce wraps
Bake sweet potatoes
Clear old food from fridge
Jury duty (check Sunday night)
Laundry (Sunday night)
Schedule house cleaning for Thu
Put cleaning powder on rug and vacuum
Schedule haircut
Roomba 2nd bdrm and bathroom
Trim dead leaves off houseplants
Repot the goddamn mint
Frame for art in baby’s room
Badger parents about TDAP shots
Cake for baby shower
Create inventory for chest freezer
Set up bassinet
Pack hospital bag
Get prescription filled
Clean out baby’s dresser, move my junk upstairs
Organize DVDs by genre
Wash baby clothes given as gifts, organize in dresser

*Food planning for postpartum period*
Jiaozi
Ravioli
Garlic meatballs or meaty marinara
Carnitas
[buy] precooked rice, TJ’s frozen meals (orange chicken, Indian entrees), frozen organic fruit (smoothies), raisins
Steel cut oatmeal pucks (freeze)
Freeze sliced whole wheat bread
Cookie dough
Banana bread (slice)

*Writing*
Sign box set contract
Proofread standalone novel
Format and publish standalone novel
Outline SFR series (4)
Outline bestseller story sequels (3)
Finish outlining space opera book 2
Outline space opera book 3
Write 1/3 bestseller story sequel

 

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence.”

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. – Calvin Coolidge

Oh but I am so very tired these days. You were always one of the more forgettable presidents anyway, next to Buchanan and Harding…

In January I kept up with writing 2,000 words a day. I finished the first draft of space opera on Friday, the 29th, so the persistence paid off. Of course, now I am waffling a bit on outlining for book 2 in the series. I have the overall arc in mind, but the devil is in the details. If I keep pace with my expectations I will start writing book 2 tomorrow and finish it sometime in early March. But I am so tired. Nonetheless: push through.

Yesterday we spent a lovely day in Sonoma with K, R, and K, visiting Preston Vineyards and Bella Vineyards. I much preferred Preston; they had a giant bowl of estate olive oil out ($45 a bottle!!), and a basket of fresh sourdough bread. Dave liked and bought a few of their zins. There was a great black lion of a cat lying out on one of their picnic tables, accepting pets as was his due. We witnessed a rooster seizing a hen by the neck, jumping on her back and, well, having his roosterly way with her. It was brutal and efficient–maybe 5 seconds of action?

We went to dinner at Bravas in Healdsburg and sat in a cozy, orange-painted alcove and tapas–roasted octopus, anchovies, olives, pickled trout, Dungeness baked noodles, fried chicken, kale salad, brussels sprouts, scallops, garlic toasts, foie gras sliders, rum balls, chocolate mousse, and soft serve vanilla ice cream with spiced apples. Everyone else washed the food down with martinis and wine but I sipped my water and was very content.

We retired to K and R’s apartment in Rohnert Park and watched a bit of TV before driving home around 11 at night. I was exhausted and bloated from all the good food but enjoyed the day very much. I don’t know when I’ll be able to do something like that again.

Today–Sunday–we spent the day running errands and cleaning, as Carter’s parents are spending tomorrow night here before flying out to Wyoming on Tuesday morning. When I’m retired I want to be like them–jetsetting everywhere.

We dropped off books and donations at Goodwill, bought a few necessities at Target, then came home and cleaned out the second bedroom/nursery, moved things up to the attic to store, and cleaned up the house generally. Cleared the top of the TV center, cleaned out the fridge, took out all the trash in the house, and put out fresh sheets and towels for our guests. Vacuumed and did two loads of dishes. Put away the fish tank. Once baby is here we shall have to do a better job of regular tidying as massive cleanups like this are, well, totally exhausting and infeasible with a demanding blob around.

I cooked Carter’s breakfast burritos for the week, roasted some chicken thighs and stirred up a romaine salad for dinner, and cooked a pork and cabbage dish for the weeknights ahead. I’ve come to realize that if I don’t finish cooking on Sunday, I’m not going to do it during the week.

My stamina is running a bit low these days, but still managed to get to 11k and 10k steps this Sat and Sun, respectively. Hoping to hit 13-15k during this upcoming week.

And now I know why writers are advised not to journal in the evenings. What a boring recitation of events. Goodnight!

“but a succession of brief, amazing movements / each one making possible the next”

“but a succession of brief, amazing movements / each one making possible the next” -Adrienne Rich, From a Survivor

drawing in progress. It’s gonna be a big one!

The day before Thanksgiving: we bundled Beast into the car and drove him to Carter’s parents’ in Merced. We then inched down route 99 to Los Angeles, where I witnessed many a truck filled with produce: onions, carrots…even chickens! The chickens made me feel bad and I contemplated vegetarianism for a good half hour. The ride was as it always is: slow, lots of flat landscapes and big skies.

We stayed in Carter’s sister’s guest house. Their home is small but sweet: old fashioned, with a big back yard and lots of greenery. There was a lemon tree that drooped over one of the guest house’s small windows. We’d gotten in late Wednesday night so we’d eaten dinner (In n’Out and Starbucks) on the road. But the next day, our hosts made brunch in grand style, by which I mean they made a massive Thanksgiving feast at about 2PM. Soon after Carter and I were off to visit some old family friends of mine in Palos Verdes, who fed us twice over. We waddled back.

The day after we headed to Griffith Observatory as a quick and easy jaunt, as we’d toted along Carter’s toddler nephew. It was surprisingly crowded, and there was even a bridal party taking photos there, but we enjoyed a few exhibits and the scenery–the nice thing about Griffith O is that it’s quite easy to sweep through there efficiently. We enjoyed Korean bbq for dinner, and I lay in bed that night contemplating my diet.

Saturday morning we had huevos rancheros (and horchata for me!) at a local tacqueria in West LA, and Carter and I got back on the road. We swung through Merced to pick up Beast, who’d apparently impressed Carter’s family with his sideways pooping skills and odoriferous emissions. Once we got into San Francisco I insisted that we go to the local noodle shop for beef noodles and dumplings: I was not about to cook after all that. Sunday was a blur of cleaning, cooking, and errands.

I’ve rather relished being back in San Francisco, and even enjoyed being back in the office. I am a creature of routine, habits, and comfortable grooves.

 

“Whatever you like doing, do it!”

“Whatever you like doing, do it!” – Pete Docter, Pixar, via Letters of Note

This weekend was exhausting. That’s the single word I have for it. Saturday morning we got up earlier than we usually do on a weekend; Carter to take Beast to the beach, me to clean up the house for our party. That done, we had a rushed lunch of frozen ravioli and burritos and bundled into the car for his first flying lesson in Hayward.

Rude owner aside, the lesson was one of those uncommon experiences that I’ll always remember. I sat in the back of the Cessna while Carter flew the plane under the auspices of his instructor, an aging but affable man named Bob. Flying in a small plane is nothing at all like being in a commercial jet; for one thing, we didn’t go so high–not over 2,000 feet. Also, everything shakes, and little drops feel like the earth falling out beneath you. I think I enjoyed it…I think?

We headed straight home afterwards to start baking. I remember being so tired that I could hardly concentrate on the cleaning and baking, but it all got done somehow. I had a spare dinner of dumplings and Carter had ravioli (white man dumplings), and our party began a little while after 7. It was relaxed and cozy: just nine people total, and Apples to Apples and the Olympics. And a boatload of fresh cookies and whole milk (and meatballs, for protein). Our last guest left after midnight and we crashed into bed soon after.

Sunday morning, everyone was sluggish. I went with Carter and Beast to the beach, where Beast made a half hearted attempt to roll on the dead seagull he found on the sand, but I chased him off in time and buried the corpse under the wet sand. We didn’t spend much time at the beach, on account of Carter’s birthday gift to me: tickets to the San Francisco Symphony’s concert of music from Pixar films! It was chock full of children but they were well behaved (not to mention: dolled out in the Sunday bests! The little girls were the most adorable in their princess gowns). Pete Docter (quoted above!) introduced the segments, and Sarah Hicks conducted. It was interesting to watch her prompter. I teared up at the Carl & Ellie prologue from Up! as usual.

We spent the rest of the day in a slow, bovine haze. We shopped at the Asian market, watched the Olympics, and I made chili shrimp noodles for dinner.

Tomorrow begins Nano part 2. I didn’t do any planning this time as I had hoped to do, but am still going to attempt it. Everything will be disconnected and God only knows how much useful writing will result, but even a 1,000 words out of 50,000 would be worth it. And I like it, so I’m going to keep doing it.

“Assume that you’re working.”

“Assume that you’re working.”

“Assume that you’re working.” -Don Draper, Mad Men

A good weekend, quite tiring.  

Friday Carter and I had date night: sushi, then this week’s episode of New Girl, Community, and a good old episode of Star Trek Voyager.   Bed early: Saturday started off with a strenuous hike in the Marin headlands, with Beast romping along Rodeo Beach and eating lots of of suspicious objects (stale pizza, dead fish). I found a wad of gooseneck barnacles on the beach, which was exciting and otherworldly. We headed back to San Francisco for a burrito and a nap. Post-nap, inspired by the unusual weather, we headed to Ocean Beach for some more R&R. It was a little chillier than we’d expected, but got in some reading and fetch-time with Beastie. Sunday was Easter brunch with Carter’s friends, and I toted along a sausage-kale strata. A lively egg hunt followed the gorging and then we returned home to hit the bed for another nap. Due to heavy ingestion of alcohol Carter was more or less out for the afternoon and evening; I kept busy gold-leafing an antique wood frame that I found at the Alemany flea market, and cleaned up our secretary table a bit. Some more organization is called for, but that was as much work as I was able to do, considering my flagging energy levels.

Not much writing got done, but I’m planning to make up for that this week. It’s Monday!! Onward ho!!

“But only certain sentences breathe and shift about, like live matter in soil.”

“But only certain sentences breathe and shift about, like live matter in soil. The first sentence of a book is a handshake, perhaps an embrace. Style and personality are irrelevant. They can be formal or casual. They can be tall or short or fat or thin. They can obey the rules or break them. But they need to contain a charge. A live current, which shocks and illuminates.” My Life’s Sentences, Jhumpa Lahiri

I spent this weekend with Carter, Beast and my old middle school friend Skye in the mountains of the Sierra Nevadas. I had arranged to meet him and Skye Friday in San Francisco for the long drive; it was raining cats and dogs when my company bus rolled into downtown. I could actually hear the beat of the rain rising in volume as we pulled into Civic Center. I made my way through the rain with umbrella in one hand, tote bag in the other, and backpack on my shoulders. We had a nice, abbreviated meal at King of Thai Noodle and got on the road as quick as possible.

The drive to the cabin was unremarkable (if rather wet), and Carter’s dad was already at the cabin, so it was warm when we finally arrived and hauled up our luggage (backpacks, tote bags, dog supplies, and ski equipment) through the rain and into the cabin. Carter and Skye lingered to sip wine and gin & tonics with Carter’s dad, but I headed straight upstairs and showered and got into bed. Altitude makes me tired.

Saturday everyone got up fairly earlyish; I followed suit to make some pancakes and scrambled eggs for the intrepid skiers. I spent the rest of the day watching the snow fall, and typing idly on my laptop, and eating pate and crackers. It was blissfully quiet. Once the adventurers returned, we headed to the Williams cabin for a meal of meatballs, enchiladas, chile relleno and refried beans. Skye became enamored of the German friendship cake that was served after dinner (must remember to follow through on her request for the recipe). Good fellowship and conversation was enjoyed by all, and I even drank a margarita. We didn’t stay long at the cabin on account of Carter’s irritated eye and general exhaustion.

He had already made plans to ski again on Sunday with his brother Sam, so he roused himself at 7AM. I pondered getting up with him, but just ended up taking Beast out for a pee and going back to sleep for two more wonderful hours. Once I woke up I sat in the cabin’s breakfast nook and watched the snow fall. I did a little bit of fiddling with this blog. Once Skye came downstairs we made the same plain pancake-and-egg breakfast and chatted with Carter’s dad. The rest of the day at the cabin was spent curled up on the couch, gossiping, munching on brie and mandarins, watching the snowfall, and waiting for the boys to return. It was again a blissful nothing.

We came home late Sunday, after a pit stop at a burger joint. We were both pretty useless by that point, and spent the evening flopped out in front of the TV.

***

I like that Jhumpa Lahiri essay about sentences, and am looking forward to this new NYT series on writing. It always seemed impossibly unfair that a writer should be both so talented and so accomplished and so beautiful at the same time. I read a few of her short stories back in college, and was always struck by how carefully crafted her language was–this word juxtaposed to that, this paragraph made perfect, this story designed such and such a way.

On the (decidedly lowbrow) reading front, aside from the Real Simples and the People Magazines I consumed over the weekend, I spent most of my time breezing through The Sheik. I realize it’s quite the problematic novel, but it’s a classic of the romance genre and useful for outlining what gives pulp its juice.

Currently reading: The Sheik, by Edith Maude Hall