Jul. 5th, 2014 03:04 am
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
One thousand five hundred sixteen miles driven in the space of (checks clock) forty-two hours.

Random thoughts:
My son is an awesome travel companion. He gets bonus points for helping navigate through weird highway configurations during a monsoon.

I swear the highway in western Pennsylvania is designed to kill you or make you turn around in terror.

If you have to pee after you drop off someone at JFK International, you're screwed. Ditto if you believed the online map's assertion that there is a gas station right there. Actually, the gas station is still there. It simply isn't operating.


One favorite sign: CAUTION: NEW TRAFFIC PATTERNS. I was hoping for something more interesting than lane-shifts. Maybe a eighteen-wheeler tango.

Two favorite sign: BORO OF ALPHA. I suppose there must be BORO OF OMEGA on the West Coast.

Three favorite sign: LLAMAS FOR SALE. The billboard was huge. But there was also a cloth "For Rent" sign hanging on it. So which is, Llama Keeper? Are selling them, or renting them? If the latter, for what does one rent a llama? (Say it five times fast!)

If you think your windshield is clean, driving into the sunset will swiftly prove otherwise.

Little Gambit is a pretty good travel buddy, too, even though we made him do horrible things like climb stairs at a strange hotel and drink water while strangers were walking by. Worst of all, Ty wasn't there to demonstrate how anything should be done.

The saddest part of the whole trip was Gambit staring at the door Dev disappeared through, then whining as I drove away.

And I'd like to lodge a complaint. It simply isn't fair that my son's plane touched down in Pisa before I made it home to Indiana.

And now... *thud*
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
First: A very nice review of Sword and Chant from Marissa Lingen. After our conversation on this post on the visibility of women writers and reviews of self-published works, I queried her about reviewing Chant. I'm beyond delighted she had nice things to say about it. Really, there's always that voice in the back of my head telling me I should be grateful if I get feedback more enthusiastic than, "Well, it doesn't completely suck." And that voice natters at me even when I love a story and am confident others will, too. So the fact her review includes the word "recommended" without the word "not" in front of it had me singing. (Yes, I truly sang. No, you wouldn't want to hear it.)

The publisher side of me is just as jazzed about her acknowledgement of the good production values. Reviews of traditionally published books wouldn't make mention of such as thing unless it was truly awful, but it's so important for reviewers to include at least a passing mention of good production in self-published works. We all know there is crap out there. Reviewers do all professional writers a service by acknowledging decent work.

(And if you haven't read that post of women and reviews I referenced above, I recommend taking a look if for no other reason than it'll link you to Marissa's comments on her own review policies.)

Second: Revisions of Sand of Bone are still progressing despite the distractions of spring fever. There is still one plotting issue I'm not certain how to fix. I'm letting it simmer in the background while working on other sections in the hope a solution will reveal itself. If a solution doesn't spring from my brow fully formed, I'm not certain what I'll do.

Third: It's official! I am curating a fantasy bundle for StoryBundle.  I had such a positive experience with them on the author side, I'm excited to be working on the curating side as well.  We've talked about tentatively slating the bundle for a fall release, and I've already begun to screen submissions. If you're interested in submitting something, cool! Later today I'll put up an overview of what I'm looking for and how to go about submitting.

And a couple personal things:
One: I booked Dev's flight to and transportation in Italy yesterday. I'm grateful EarthWatch provides solid briefing material on what to expect every step of the way since I haven't been overseas in the last twenty years, and have never been to Italy. The next step is to coordinate his travel from Indy to JFK. We might opt to drive out together, if I can pull the time away from the dojo, and have him fly back at the end of the trip. Yesterday was the first time I felt nervous about sending him off -- which I don't think is unreasonable, even though he'll be less than six months from eighteen. If anyone has any additional do this/not that advice, I'd love to hear it. And I'll likely beg for it again as the date creeps closer!

Two: And yesterday I wanted to call my friend Patricia just to tell her how much I miss her. It was one of those weird moments of the grieving process. I didn't forget I couldn't really call her; I wanted to call her specifically because I couldn't.
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)

I've tried time and again to write about the week spent celebrating Patricia's life, and it all falls flat. Mark Booher, Artistic Director for PCPA, described the experience well when talking of how to explain the impact and reach of Patricia's presence: You had to be there.

One can't tell stories about Patricia without also telling one's own story, and I believe she did that on purpose. She lived life as an artistic collaboration. Everyone was her partner in creation. She saw the future potential in people, and lovingly demanded that potential be set free in the present. She believed in making art without hesitation because it was better to fail spectacularly than to try timidly. She taught her actors that perfection wasn't worth chasing because it was truth that mattered—and truth is a messy, painful, incredible imperfect thing.

These are the things she taught me. These are the things I want to pass on to others.

The experience of the celebration of her life was beautiful, fulfilling, and warming. Within half an hour of arriving, Dev and I found John—the man who I acted with for years, and who performed my wedding on the set of King Lear, the play Patricia was directing at the time. I had a few moments of private conversation with him that quieted some of my worst fears of Patricia's final days.

Just before the celebration in the outdoor theater began, I met up with three actors who'd been—along with me—in the first cast Patricia worked with in the area more than twenty years ago. Then one of them pointed out Dev was less than three years younger than I had been that year! And every one of them talked about how I'd huddle in some backstage corner between my scenes, frantically writing by the glow of stage lights that seeped around the sets. Even as an actor, I was a writer.

It was yesterday, home less than twenty-four hours, that I realized one of the greater gifts Patricia had given me: fertile artistic ground. I didn't seek out conferences and conventions in those years because I was already surrounded by creative people doing creative things. Creativity was the default, not the special exception. Creativity was the valued expectation, not the little thing on the side. Creativity was as breathing.

It was like living at Viable Paradise.

And I can hear her voice now: "If you want that back, love, decide now and make it happen. All that's stopping you is the silly notion that you can't do it, and notions don't get a vote in this."

For Dev, the trip gave him the chance to learn so much more about Patricia, and about the past of his parents. It'll be the time I'll look back on as the time when Dev began the shift to more adult than teenager.

I will always miss Patricia. I'll always want to share one more conversation, to see one more show, to hear one more laugh, to relax into one more embrace. But I'm no longer painfully grieving. She lived her life as she wished, and left a legacy of love, art, and passion.

May we all aspire so.

blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)

Last weekend was spent in Asheville, North Carolina with That Wonderful Man.  Fabulous food, great conversation, and cool outings.  He and I both have exciting things in the works.  I so enjoy hearing him talk about things he's passionate about. I came home feeling all warm and glowing and other cheesy things. I am already looking forward to seeing him again.

The dojo is growing so quickly I decided I needed help sooner rather than later, so I began training a woman who can help with some of the administration and sales. We're fortunate to have found someone who has not only the job skills, but the understanding of and passion for our program. In addition to the new help, we're reconsidering our spring and summer schedule because of the high number of new students coming through our doors. This is a good problem to have, as long as we continue to manage it properly.

The Storybundle launch has been pretty awesome. The rising sales numbers has put me in a marvelous mood. More on that experience as it unfolds.

Revisions for SAND are back on track, and I'm so very happy with the results. The changes are moving the plot and character arcs away from their formal residence, Rim of Melodrama. I am so much happier with the results, though still resigning myself to the fact I'll not be finishing these revisions until late March. I simply don't have the hours.

Dev achieved a solid, productive school day without me needing to prod and nag. That was, in truth, the biggest anti-stress event of the day.

blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
This time, I'll be gone for a week--a few days in the mountains above Monterey, a couple days on the Central Coast, and a day on either end for travel.

That assumes, of course, I can get out of the state.  Last week's snow resulted in a day's worth of air traveler's bumped from their flights.  Today things are just caught up.  My flight leaves early tomorrow morning... by which time there will be a couple inches of NEW snow on the ground.  I'm planning to get up at 3:30am in expectation of messy roads.  Then, I'm planning to sleep on the plane after giving those seated near my permission to wake me if I start snoring.

Dev will be spending his first night at home, all night, alone.  He's pretty stoked.  I have made him lists of this and that, let a couple nearby friends know Dev is on his own, and reminded myself sixteen is plenty old enough to demonstrate independence.  I suspect he will eat just about anything in the house that resembles snack foods, stay up nearly all night to watch movies and play Xbox, and drag himself out of bed the next morn with barely enough time to get ready for work.

Alas, I would feel better (and so would he) if the dogs were here.  But since Dev won't be at the house all week, and there is no one else to take them to the kennel, the pups must head out this afternoon.  At least we know they're well-loved at the kennel.  They act just as excited to arrive there as they are to go home.

I haven't written a thing in days, and decided that was just fine.  It seems I have a difficult time settling in to write when I don't have the activity of karate.  Good to know.


Jul. 31st, 2012 01:35 pm
blairmacg: (Default)
I have never so looked forward to the end of summer.  We usually get about an inch of rain per week.  We've had less than an inch, total, since June 15.  We're supposed to have seven or eight days above 90.  We've had five or six days below 90 since June 15. 

It's the heat that's doing in my garden.  Watering produces an overwhelming amount of grass and weeds, while the vegetables drop off before ripening, or never really develop at all.  And my yard?  The grass as moved from the light brown of straw to the dark brown and black of scorched earth.  Most trees are dropping their leaves.  Many bushes look dead.

Dev and I decided to postpone our England-Scotland trip until the spring, when his godmother can go with us.  Because we did so much traveling in the first half of the year, we're not anxious to fill that October slot with much of anything.  We may take a weekend in Chicago or--at most--a trip to someplace like Niagara Falls.  (That would be in addition to my likely solo trip to Charleston to see That Man. :)

I can see half the top of my dining table.  This is progress.  I've managed to limp along this year with almost no business organization--the lack resulting from the fact I haven't a designated office and/or desk space.  Next week is to remedy that.  I still don't have an office space, but do have a Cunning Plan to bypass the lack.  Really, the only reasons I need that sort of work space is to a) process bills, paperwork, and contracts once a week, and b) store all relevant paperwork.  I don't need an office, or even a desk, for that.  But I do need to employ organizational skills and discipline.  Damn it.

I've been having the usual drop-your-shoulders drills and talks with my first-year adult karate students.  All the adults understand they shouldn't tense their shoulders, but it takes awhile for shoulder-relaxation to become more natural than tension.  When they run kata, I go around and tap tense shoulders (touch bypasses language processing, so it speeds learning), and in self-defense, I demonstrate how their tension makes them weaker rather than stronger.  Last night was a combination of frustration and amusement on the issue.  And I know that once they get the shoulder tension under control, we'll have the same learning process with hips and lower back.  Kids don't usually have those issues.  (They instead tend to throw their energy forward and/or down.)

Best news: For the first time ever, Dev has expressed excitement about college.  We spent yesterday morning talking through his plan for finishing high school a year early, then looking at the website for Vincennes University--the campus he was on for law enforcement camp.  He had me request an information packet, and even sent texts to his friends about choosing his goal.  I can't explain just how huge a step this is.  Now the key is to quietly and not-to-enthusiastically support him in that direction.  Too much excitement on my part is the fastest, surest way to make him run the other direction.

blairmacg: (Default)
The only obligation strong enough to drag me from bed this morn was fetching the pups.  After two hours of running a circle around the house, running circles in the house, and demanding attention every moment, Ty and Bit have collapsed on the couch to snooze in canine bliss.  Dev and I missed the pups so much, we were reduced to approaching random strangers walking their dogs on the street, and begging them to let us just pet the dog--just a quick pet, please!

The production of Romeo and Juliet was outstanding.  Special attention was paid to the development of non-kin families, and how the young lovers were set adrift by losing those ties.  It was less about teenage love at first sight, and much more about young people seeking a place to belong and a person to belong with.  Also layered in were the servants' roles--lines and interactions usually cut, partially or completely, from productions because they seem to distract from the central story.  All were kept, and the servants were played by young actors of an age with R & J.  Their onstage, background reactions to the story of their age mates, and the dual suicide, provided a deeper generational aspect.  Very cool performances.

We spent the next day playing in Santa Barbara, topped off with yet more Italian food.  Sunday Dev and I headed to Anaheim, and met [livejournal.com profile] queenoftheskies for lunch.  Writing talk!  Hooray!! 

Then two days at Disneyland that managed to exhaust us both utterly.  I even made Dev paddle a canoe, and rewarded his willingness with an Indiana Jones hat.  (He's a little bummed it's almost 90 today in Indiana, because that means he can't were the hat with his leather jacket. :)  We splurged for a lunch in Blue Bayou, the restaurant inside the Pirates ride, because I've always wanted to do that. 

Lastly, I amused Dev greatly when we went on the Soaring over California ride.  It's mostly a visual experience--some motion and wind effects coupled with an IMAX-type screen.  I thought that meant you sat in a seat, like a theater.  Actually, that seat hangs from above and your feet dangle in midair.  I loved much of it, even though I kept my legs curled under the seat for fear my sandals would fall off.  Even though I kept saying, "I would go slower here!  I wouldn't go that fast here!"  I was much better the second time around, though.  I put my sandals in the under-seat bin and kept my eyes open. :-)

Flights home were, thankfully, uneventful.  I much prefer the (most often) smooth approach and landing in Indy to the E-ticket ride that is Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Midway. 

And now, back to the grind, and the hope it will feel less grind-ish in the coming months.  It's been tough to be happy here the last six months, because so much of my heart has already returned to California.  But I've decided I'm going to do my best to leave a positive mark on my current community, choosing to build something that is worthwhile rather than simply do what I must to get by.  The hope is it'll make the time pass more pleasantly, while at the same time making a difference.

Tomorrow, it's back to writing with a focus.  Patricia was wonderfully motivating on that front, and chatting with [livejournal.com profile] queenoftheskies was a needed push.  The moment I finish the karate book, it's time to give Chant what may well be its final polish.

In wildlife news, I spotted a bald eagle sitting in the stubbled field south of our house, just standing there looking around.  It was huge!  When we lived on the farm, we'd see them in flight now and then, but I'd never before seen one on the ground.

blairmacg: (Default)
One of today's tornadoes came within a quarter mile of where one of my karate students was staying.  He's fine, as is his father's home, but homes at the other end of the street have been flattened.  I hate tornadoes.

Dev and I head out early in the morn to hit LA by the evening, then make the jump across big water on Sunday.  A friend showed me how to upload a copy of Chant to my Kindle--an awesome thing--so I can play with a couple ideas on the flight.  Other things that must be finished by the end of the week include a first draft of a health-related book, outlines of another three such, and some semblence of a tan.

Everyone stay safe in the coming week.
blairmacg: (Default)

Saturday, I leave for Hawaii.  It's a business trip, I swear.  I love it when conferences are scheduled in cool places, and when I can take Dev with me.  My parents will be there as well, which is a fact more cool for Dev's sake than mine, really.  Dev and my father will spend a week doing pretty much whatever they want while my mother and I spend a goodly number of hours seminar-ing.  (I do, however, have two days free for playing.)  I've nearly finished packing.  I'm not going to have much use for sundresses and shorts--let alone an evening dress--in the next few days.

Fellow VPXV alum [livejournal.com profile] jazzfish recently discussed personal hinge points, considering what a single different decision in the past would have changed.  He points out something important: the decisions made were the best that could have been made at the time.  (He has other cool things to say, too, so read the whole post!)  His comments made me think differently about my own hinge points, particularly the one I think most affected the course of my life.

Cut to spare those who don't want to read my babbling... )

So perhaps my true hinge point wasn't when one path was chosen over another, but when I understood why that path was chosen.  Maybe the truer one was when, once aware of the why, I opted to do differently.

In other news, my VP wall story is still out there.  I've past the "You can query after..." date, but decided not to bother until the trip is over.  If I did submit it incorrectly, and my waiting thus far has been in vain, another couple weeks isn't going to make a difference.

blairmacg: (Default)
The dogs are at the kennel, my suitcase is packed, the travel papers are printed and in hand, and the alarm is set for 5 am.  I'm heading to California for a quick turn-around trip that's pleasure disguised as business.  I'm re-connecting with some old theater friends and associates, scoping out other opportunities, spending half a day in a setting for the Indy writing project, and spending one entire day with a woman whose friendship has been part of my entire adult life.

It was pretty crazy for me to cram this in to the schedule right now.  After all, I leave for another trip in less than three weeks.  But I need this trip, these contacts, this time with my friend, and this future-hopeful planning.

I have a crappy three-hour layover in Kansas City tomorrow, which I shall merrily fill with finalizing feedback on beta-reading projects.

The Indy project has a section that takes place north and inland of Santa Barbara, where I lived while in high school.  I've been toying with the idea of starting the story there, with the next part to take place in Indiana, because the backstory of the Indy project interests me as much as the actual story.  I figure I'll do a little immersion, the write a couple chapters to see if it's compelling enough to be its own tale.
blairmacg: (Default)
Dear Indiana,

I really, really appreciate all you've done this winter.  Almost sixty degrees at the beginning of January?  Awesome.  No hint of snow in the forecast until sometime last next week?  Double awesome.

But frankly, I'm a little suspicious.  We both know it won't last.  You're simply trying to put forth your best behavior because I started talking about leaving you.

Well, know that I'm here with you for at least the next four years--until Dev finishes school, becomes an adult, and heads off to college/work/seeing the world.  Then all bets are off, Hoosier State.  I doubt I'll be able to make a complete move.  (After all, the average California house can be eight to ten times more expensive than one of yours.)  But you and I are not going to be exclusive anymore.  I need to start seeing other states.  And countries.

Especially in January and February.  And July and August.

You never should have let me go back to Central California, y'know.
blairmacg: (Default)
On Dev's first day in California, we drove north on Pacific Coast Highway in a Mustang convertible, top down, and had lunch in Malibu.  Then we walked onto the beach and waded into the ocean, splashing around like the tourists we were until the cold water numbed our Indiana-pale legs from the knee down.  We finished the drive to Santa Barbara with the top down and the heater cranked all the way up.

I nearly cried as we topped San Marcos Pass and dropped into the Santa Ynez Valley that evening.  I only lived there three years, but it is home to me as no other place has ever been.  Did you see the film Sideways?  That's the place.  But I lived there when the area was about horses and cattle and tourists--not wine and tourists.

Today we took the not-quite-two-lane road up into the mountains.  My mountains!  The hairpin turns, steep drops, and blind corners made Dev a little tense, though the views were spectacular.  We did some hiking, and Dev gets to say he climbed to the very top of a mountain.  The winding road back down to the valley floor took us past and through cattle ranches.  The huge oaks sported signs: "Posted: No Hunting" and "Drive Slow: Cows Calves On Road."

It made my chest ache, seeing this place again.  It is indeed my heart's home.

We spent the afternoon in little shops.  I bought too much chocolate.  Dev bought sharp pointy things that we must ship home.  I kept commenting on what was different and what was the same.  Farmer's Market happened this evening, so we picked up some nuts, berries and bread.  Tonight, we're very, very tired.  A quiet evening in our hotel room, eating Chinese food and snacking on earlier purchases, sounds just fine.

Tomorrow, northward to the "happiest" city in the U.S.--San Luis Obispo, where Dev was born--and to meet up with Dev's Godmom.

Goin' West

Dec. 5th, 2011 10:44 am
blairmacg: (Default)
Dev was born in California.  The poor kid was less than three months old when we packed him off to Indiana, and he's never been back.  Heck, I've only been back three times, and one of those was merely an LAX-to-Long Beach Harbor hop.  Neither of the other trips took me to where I'd lived my last decade in California.

So Dev is going to get the old-stomping-grounds tour: where Mom went to high school, where Mom and Dad met and married, where we lived when he was born.  I will leave out the commentary of some places we'll visit (where Mom used to go 120 mph in her Mustang, forex).  On the other hand, I did rent us a Mustang convertible for the week.  Hee.

We're going to spend most of one day hiking in the mountains north of Santa Barbara, another day heading up the coast to Hearst Castle, and some time on a little beach cove I used to frequent when I was pregnant.  We will spend time with Dev's Godmom, the man who performed the marriage ceremony for Ron and I, and a couple other folk we can catch.

It'll be fun, I'm certain, but a little strange, too.  I left behind an entirely different way of life when I moved to Indiana.  Lots of theater, little poetry readings, late nights downtown, and more theater.  Don't get me wrong--I could have continued that life in Bloomington or Indianapolis.  (It may be flyover country, but it isn't empty.)  But none of those things matched up with the sort the stay-home mom I wanted to be.  And in all honesty, had I not become a stay-home mom, I might never have turned to writing as my creative outlet.

I've written here before of how VP--in addition to being an awesome writing week--helped me transition through grief.  It also re-introduced me to my old self, that young woman I left behind in California.  I suspect this trip will bring up similar feelings.

I'm anticipating a little teasing about how I talk now, too.  While watching Firefly, it struck me just how many people I know who talk in the same phrasings as Mal.  Then I realized I use the same phrases m'own self.

So the dogs are already at the kennel (I already miss them), and all that's left is the packing.  Then I'll try to go to bed early, which won't work because I'll be too afraid I'll miss the alarm, and be up by four in the morn to make an early flight.


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