Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Long Goodbye

I gave my notice at work a week ago.

After 3-plus years of working in public television, I'm moving on. As I came to this decision, a spider kept making a web on the driver's side window and mirror of my car. She did it three nights in a row. I'd drive to work (10 miles each way) and she'd hide behind the mirror until I got going, then she'd come out and wrap up her web and the insects in it for a tidy little breakfast.

Me, I ate my bagel with jam as I drove, keeping my eye on her as she bobbed in the wind.

I don't like spiders, as a rule. Except for Charlotte, and she's fictional. Mostly.

On day three, I started out driving more slowly than normal. I was getting attached to the spider, impressed by how strong the web was. I admit it. She was becoming a novelty, a part of my commuting act. Other people might carpool, but I had a spider. Other people might not park in a no man's land under a major bridge construction project, but hey. Did they have a talented-at-55-MPH spider?

Then it happened. I was watching her as I zoomed along Shepard Road. She was hanging on by one thin strand. Her routine was off. She hadn't left herself enough web to get back to the safety of the mirror.

So I had to say goodbye.

I don't have a snappy new job title, or anything remotely resembling full-time employment. And that's the plan.  I'm going to attack my latest book with a lot more energy and time. I'm going to write it like I mean it and then go on to write another book with the determination of, um, someone who might not get the chance to write another.

You should write every book like it's your last. It may sound overly dramatic, but you won't be disappointed in yourself if you think like that.

What do you absolutely have to say?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Hills Like White Marshmallows

I'm a Leo. I like fire. I really, really like fire. I sometimes have to be told to tone it down a bit on the fire thing. Right now my neighbors are roasting marshmallows for S'mores over a fire and it's all I can do to NOT invite myself over. One, I love S'mores. Two, I'd save them, you see.

Once, when I was a kid, I put out a marshmallow/lip fire on someone else's face. But that was in another country, as Hemingway once wrote. (With some other phrase that put down some woman or other.)

For some reason I underlined that part. No idea why. In that story, the major is "utterly unable" to resign himself to his wife's death. I learned lots from Hemingway in high school. Not so much after that, and I know he is controversial, but I'd gone through loss in my life and other writers didn't cut it with me back then. I was a tough little Hemingway devotee because my dad taught his work and because the hills across the valley were long and white and the woman brought two glasses of beer and two felt pads.

Well, now I'm just plagiarizing, which is a really tough word to spell. Even in another country, I bet.

"He was awake a long time before he remembered that his heart was broken."

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Broken Glass

I've been unpacking everything that we brought into my home office when we moved into our new house in February. Lots of boxes got put into this giant closet I now have, a closet, it's fair to say, I don't know how to organize. I've never in my life had a closet I could stroll into. I don't know how to handle the responsibility.

Last night I pulled framed things out of boxes and found two casualties.

(1) A framed print of the Stuart Little cover. NBD, except it is one of my most favorite books and I hate to think of harm coming to Stuart. Probably my favorite scene in the book and one that taught me a lot about humor and writing is the one where the house cat meets a friend by the fence and has to admit he is unable to kill Stuart.

It goes something like this:

"You mean to tell me you live with a mouse and there's nothing you can do about it?"
"I know, but that's the situation."

(2) This photo of my mother when she was but a wee lass growing up in Canada.

This photo is from 1935 or so. It used to hang in my grandmother's house and was one of the things I immediately took when my sister and I cleaned out her apartment. Because my mother died when I was little, I don't have nearly enough info about who she was.

I'm looking at these images and thinking. Do these two things basically hold the key to my life story? I mean, is this why I've always loved Mary Jane style shoes and cats who resist murderous impulses?