Friday, January 25, 2013

Let them eat celery

I met with the nutritionist and we spent about an hour talking about what I hoped to accomplish and the basics of nutrition. Notes were taken, homework was assigned, and here I am. I have another appointment next week to go over meal plans she's suggesting based on twenty pages of questionnaire and all the talking.

The next day I met with a trainer for orientation at my new gym. It went well. The muscle soreness didn't kick in until the next day. I ended up signing up for more sessions so my body will just have to deal.

Speaking of my body, it is still adjusting to the changes I've made this week, so it's too soon to tell what effect they'll have. I'm tracking food on Weight Watchers eTools, and have added a lot of fruit and vegetables to my diet. The nutritionist is having me eat three stalks of celery every day, and I've found a Greek olive and garlic hummus that makes the celery palatable.

One day at a time.

I'm rewriting a story for submission--I mentioned this in the last entry. The process is slow going, but I just passed the halfway point of the 5,800-word story. I have revised this story many many times since the first draft last September, but I'm now addressing some big problems with the main character's motivation and I think the whole thing will read stronger as a result. It's tedious work, but also a good learning experience.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Cat Sleeps

I am typing on my laptop at the kitchen table, slumped down with my legs on another chair, ankles crossed. It's not all that comfortable, but our black cat, Niviane, has chosen my chest as a good place to sleep. And I'm a sucker for a sleeping cat.

With my doctor leaving, I've sort of freaked out about health again. This is not bad because it means I'm more mindful of what I eat and how I exercise. On my doctor's recommendation, I've scheduled an appointment with a nutritional counselor and I've also made an appointment with a trainer at the gym to go over some of the machines. It's a new gym I'm trying out, farther than my current gym, but cheap. Plus I know someone else who is a member and likes it.

I made a big pot of lentil soup for dinner last night, and I've been picking up new fruits at the grocery store to try. My latest find was a Cara Cara, which is basically a navel orange with sweeter flavor and more reddish flesh than a regular orange. I really liked it.

On the writing front, besides a couple of short story submissions this month, I've mostly been revising a couple of pieces. One of them I submitted yesterday, and the other is still coming along. I changed the main character's motivation to be more sympathetic, and that has sent out ripples that need to be smoothed out.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Filling the tanks

A few days ago I finished reading the Harry Potter series. This has been one of those to-do items weighing heavy on my mind for years--ever since I gave up at book 5 because I wanted to wait until all the books were out to finish. And now it's done and I am happy because I don't have to live in fear of spoilers anymore.

Sure, some of the sentences were clunky. Some of the fat could have been trimmed, but overall I thought it was a fantastic story and I admire how J.K. Rowling was able to tie together the plot points into a tidy package, while keeping me so fully immersed in the world and eager to find out what would happen next. Excellent work.

On Wednesday, I went to see "Elles: Women Artists from the Centre Pompidou, Paris," at the Seattle Art Museum. The exhibit only runs two more days, and it's worth a visit.

In addition to the sculpture, paintings, and performance art on video, I was pleased to see prints of work by photographers Diane Arbus, Cindy Sherman, and Margaret Bourke-White.

One of my favorite pieces was a "Museum Highlights" video recorded by performance artist Andrea Fraser who, adopting the persona of docent Jane, took the viewer on a tour of an art museum in Philadelphia. Her commentary was thoughtful and sometimes hilarious, like when she was explaining how donors receive the privilege of naming parts of the museum, and if she had $750,000 she would name the gift shop "Andrea" because that is such a nice name. I also appreciated her deconstruction of the furnishings in the museum cafeteria.

After the museum, I met Jer for dinner and then we saw the Book of Mormon musical at the Paramount. When I bought our tickets months ago, the website would only allow me to purchase two seats if they were not together. So Jer and I sat on opposite sides of the theater. On the plus side, we had pretty good seats.

It's a great show, irreverent, and very funny. I spent the whole night with a grin on my face. As opposed to on my arm. Or my foot.

And now it's Friday. Happy Friday!

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Changes and Total Immersion

I seem to be cursed with an inability to keep a primary care physician. No sooner do I get comfortable with one, she changes practices, moving beyond the veil of my insurance and/or reasonable travel distance.

I've just lost my third one in five years.

The second loss is still the reigning champion. The receptionist booked me for an annual exam without telling me the doctor had already given notice. I only found out at the end of the appointment, when I tried to schedule a follow-up.

It's exhausting to consider starting the process all over again. Filling out the reams of paperwork, trying to remember my childhood vaccinations... I'm glad I requested a copy of my last blood test results, just in case. Something to start with at least.


So I started playing World of Warcraft again because of a 10-day free trial. I pushed the start date back as late as I could, and then reactivated my account at the end of last week. I now have a level 25 Pandaren monk named Zhess, and I am spending a lot of time in Azeroth.

I've missed it. So much.

I've also decided it's time to finish reading Harry Potter. After books 1-4 came out I read them greedily. I read book 5 whenever it came out, but I just couldn't get into the story again. I'd forgotten too many details. So last year I began reading the books from the beginning, and with a few interruptions for conventions and vacations, I am now 1/4 of the way through the last book. (No spoilers, please.)

Between WoW and Harry Potter, 2013 has been a blur of immersion. But I'll finish reading the last book soon and my WoW tanks will be filled for a while. I'm counting on that. Meanwhile I am stumbling around on the 'eating better' resolution. For the most part I've been successful, but it is a tough habit to change without feeling resentful and deprived. Even when the deprivation is an illusion.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Disappointing news

Yesterday I had some disappointing news about a story I'd had accepted. I'd like to explain the situation to those I'd mentioned the story to, and why it isn't being published.

In November, I had a story accepted into a token paying market called Eschatology Journal. The editor told me the story would run on December 5th, but when that day arrived he emailed me to say they were having technical difficulties.

No problem, I said, even though I had some suspicions. WordPress isn't that difficult to maintain.

I checked in again around December 20th, and received another vague, but placating response. In the next few days, three new stories were published, which didn't jive with what I'd been told about the technical issues. And then yesterday I received an email that the journal was closing its doors and my story was being released back to me.

You know, these things happen. I don't know the editor's situation, and in the long run, he probably did me a favor. But I'm still disappointed I won't be able to share this story yet. I'm disappointed by the way the editor chose to handle communications. I'm disappointed that I could have been submitting that story elsewhere in the two+ months he held onto the story.

To put it in perspective, I stood to make $12.45 on this publication. As far as I can tell, this is why my story was released back to me.

So that happened, and there's not much point in dwelling on it. Just wanted to let you know why that *other* story I'd mentioned didn't go up.

Let's leave this on a positive note. If you're looking for a token market that behaves professionally and communicates respectfully with its authors, I wholeheartedly recommend Mad Scientist Journal.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Baby steps into 2013

Day one of 2013 is behind us, and I can already tell I'll be screwing up the date a lot. It just doesn't seem like a real number. I remember back in 2004 drawing up financial plans for the next ten years and thinking how unlikely 2014 sounded.

Now here we are.

I've become less ambitious with my financial plans since then. If you're wondering, my primary concerns in 2004 were paying off student loans and credit card debt and saving a downpayment for a house. We also still lived in Santa Barbara, so we needed funds to move, and our retirement funds were low.

This blog covers most of that adventure, but I'll spoil the ending. Over the course of about five years, I paid off my loans and my credit cards and we bought a house with 10% down. Through automatic investing we were also able to save a chunk in our 401(k) plans and IRAs. We could have done more, but I wanted a cushion in case -- I don't know -- I quit my job to learn how to write. But what kind of crazy person would do that?

Well played, life.

Now that I'm properly nostalgic, let's talk about yesterday. Jer had the day off from work, so we had coffee together (at home), ate our assorted breakfasts (oatmeal for me, bagel for him), and went our separate ways. First I edited a couple of pictures from our 17-day trip to Spain and Portugal for the photoblog.

Here's one--subscribe to the RSS feed to see more:

I wrote a little. I used the treadmill for 50 minutes. I've discovered that if I play an episode of Lost the time seems to pass quicker --I'm woefully behind on Lost, so no spoilers even if it did air years and years ago.

My current preferred workout setup is to prop up a hand-me-down iPad on the front of the treadmill, play the show through Netflix, and use my Bluetooth headphones so there's no cord in the way. Wi-fi isn't perfect where I'm at, so there's a lot of buffering and stuttering, but the frustration is welcome fuel.

And then I read 200 pages in a book. Somewhere in there I ate lunch and dinner (a turkey sandwich and Thai leftovers, respectively) Eventually I fell asleep reading a Weight Watchers magazine.

Not really a party animal these days. (Who am I kidding? Or ever.)

It's safe to say I touched on all of my major resolutions yesterday. If I want to keep it up I'll have to go to the grocery store and buy ingredients for dinner. And pick something out to cook.

Anyway, hope you have also experienced an auspicious start to the new year. Good day to you, Internet denizens.