Madeleine L’Engle, the author of “A Wrinkle in Time” and over 60 other books of fantasy, poetry and memoir, has died at the age of 88. She hated labels. My kinda gal.
Ruby’s nephew, Satch, is a lot like she is when it comes to being funny. Just like Ruby, he sometimes comes out with incredibly hilarious one-liners, and then wonders why everybody is laughing.
The last time I saw him, we got talking about Sudoku, and how it both fascinates me and frustrates me at the same time. Ruby won’t even attempt it. Satch, on the other hand, is fairly addicted. During the conversation, where he was trying to extol its merits to Ruby, and explain the fascination part to me at the same time, he made me laugh out loud by saying, “There’s ‘easy’, ‘medium’, and ‘hard’, and even the ‘medium’ is hard.”
When he and Ruby got talking baseball, though, that was all the cue I needed to beat a retreat. Ever since that time when I was a kid, and I got hit in the face with the ball and managed to hit myself in the head with the bat, all in the same play, I’ve considered baseball to be both a dangerous and a boring sport. Apparently, to think that way, you must be me. At least I am unique.
Anyway, as I was putting my shoes on to leave, Satch and Ruby got discussing a particularly tall player in the major league to whom some “rule” should not be applied, simply because of this player’s unfortunate (in this case, anyway) height.
And Satch said, “They keep striking him out below the knees. And it ain’t fair, ‘cuz his knees are way up to here!”
I think I was still laughing at that one when I unlocked my door.
Random Song for the Day: “Think I’m in Love” – Beck
8 bottles of Heineken, 4 litres of ginger ale, 14 bologna & cheese sandwiches, a box of Honey-Nut Cheerios, 3 litres of 2% milk, 1 pizza (thank you Food Fairy), 6 cans of V8, 12 chocolate meal supplement drinks, and FOUR AND A HALF packs of cigarettes later, I kid you not….I crawled out from behind the bamboo curtain with a finished something to send here.
Finished, I say. You heard me, right? Just in case you didn’t….
A couple of weeks ago, when I was having all that trouble and angst over not being able to “hear the click” to the point that I couldn’t even bring myself to open up a blank page in Word for fear that it would still be blank an hour later, I remembered this little doodad. I like it, because it almost ALWAYS gives me an immediate, usually completely off-the-wall idea that doesn’t necessarily have to grow into a feature-length screenplay or novel, which, of course, makes it that much simpler to write. Right? Yeah. In theory, anyway.
This time, the little doodad turned up these words:
GEOLOGIST BEACH SPRING LAMP CAR CHARITY
Almost immediately, the entire outline of a story, beginning-middle-end, fell neatly into place in the filing cabinet in the center of my brain, already filed in a folder neatly labeled, “Short-Shorts for the Blog”.
It was a stupid little fluffy piece of saccharine-sweet romance (puke…*), but it solved my problem. Again, in theory.
And then, I visited my parents, and my mother blew my plans for the story into confetti by handing me a clipping from the local paper:
“Ladies and gentlemen,
start your pens
Area writers to enter 3-day writing marathon”
Way back in the “olden days” my mom used to clip things like this out of the paper every chance she got. She was my biggest supporter (sometimes my only supporter); but over the years, support from all sides dwindled away. Nobody respects a chicken-shit writer who stops making submissions, and then stops finishing the story, and finally stops starting. When I again fired up the furnace on New Year’s Day of 2002, I don’t think even my mom quite believed in me anymore.
So, when she handed me this clipping, I decided this was my chance to redeem myself – at least in the eyes of my mother, which is pretty damned important to me – and I vowed to enter. Once I got home that night, I checked out the regs online before I even took off my shoes. I printed the entry form, wrote a check that I couldn’t really afford to write, addressed the envelope and prayed I’d have the guts to buy a stamp the next day.
And I did.
I double and triple-checked that file folder in my head every day until start time, just to reassure myself that it was still there. Yup. So far, so good – but the closer I got to 12:01 AM of Day 1, the more afraid I got, because… well, because that’s what I do.
Once I’d started, though, and I heard that “click” (Thank You Lord of Audible Clicks, Where ever, What ever, Who ever You are), I felt safe enough to blog about it, but not safe enough to reveal all. I figured, since I’d promised to tell the secret to the blogosphere when it was all over, it would give me incentive to not make a fool of myself. Again. As long as I finished it, I would be saving face.
And I did.
Apparently, the average length of the average “novel” entered in this contest is between 100 and 150 double-spaced pages, which, in my mind at least, doesn’t exactly constitute a “novel”, or even a “novella” (is there such a thing as a “novelette”? I think there is.), but I guess one couldn’t expect much more in a 3-day marathon, either.
Odd how I can’t seem to sleep – for months – any other time, but when I need to stay awake, I can’t keep my eyes open. Sleeping at all meant I couldn’t hit the “average” length – my “stupid little fluffy piece of saccharine-sweet romance” ended on page 87, but –
I did it.
And Ruby signed as my confirmation witness, bless her heart, and I printed off four copies: one for Ruby, one for my mother, one to send as my entry, and one for me to gloat over. One step left waiting for me to trip myself up by chickening out: actually sending it off. The closer I got to the mall and the postal outlet yesterday, the more “the time to chicken out is now” I felt, but the last thing I wanted to have to do was to say here (or to my mother) that I didn’t follow through.
I marched bravely up to the counter, paid my $12.18 to ship the thing to Vancouver, and dug into my pocket for the mailing address. Hmmmm…. where’d I put it? Checked the packsack. Not there. Checked my jacket. Nope. Panicked. Cried a little while asking the nice lady behind the counter if Canada Post had, by chance, an internet connection I could use to get the address. Nope.
I knew if I went all the way back home to get that address, I’d miss supper with my parents (and I knew if that happened, my mom would not only think it was because I really hadn’t finished my “novel”, but would tell me so). And I knew that if I waited until the next day, being my own worst enemy and all, I wouldn’t get the guts back up to send it at all. So I panicked some more. And then, the nice lady behind the counter suggested I go up the mall to the Formerly-Known-As-Stereo-Hut store, where I might be able to convince the proprietor to let me use one of their computers to get the address.
And who might the proprietor of the store Formerly-Known-As-Stereo-Hut be…?
None other than Louie. Remember him? 🙂
So, I did, and he did, and as soon as the nice lady behind the counter at the postal outlet had dropped the package into the “out” box, my heart dislodged itself from the uncomfortable position in my throat that it had crawled up into when my mom first handed me that clipping.
I did it.
So, that’s my Big Secretive-ish Project, revealed.
Random Song for the Day: “Kodachrome” – Simon and Garfunkel
I know, I know, Suzi – I told you she was letting me take her picture. Which she did. Sort of. It was the most I could talk her into; sorry.
But isn’t that a freaky-deaky whatever-it-is? *I* know what it is – La-la-la! Ahem. I know, now, anyway, but it took forever to get it out of Ruby. She was right stoned on coffee last night, I swear.
She found it day before yesterday. Er… Saturday. No, no; it was Friday… oh, let’s let her tell it.
I hardly slept a wink the other night. What night was that…? I don’t remember, now – that just drives me crazy.
Me: What the heck is this freaky-deaky thing?!
That’s exactly what *I* said! Isn’t that the cat’s whiskers? Guess what that is! You know where I found that?
Well! I went out to get the paper on Friday- that’s the night I couldn’t sleep!
Me: Friday night?
No. Thursday night, which was why I was so late gettin’ the paper in on Friday. The paper boy always leaves it in the breezeway there, on the table, you know. And when I went out there, this thing was sittin’ on top of the paper…
And I thought, What the heck IS this thing?! And then I saw it was the sports pages out of the Toronto Star it was sittin’ on top of!
(laughs and claps her hands together)
Me: I’m sorry; I don’t follow…
Well, Satch had been here to mow the lawn! And I was so tuckered from the night before, that I was sound asleep and I didn’t even hear the lawn mower, can you believe that?
Me: You mean, your nephew, Satch?
Yes! (laughing) Well, he always brings me the sports pages from the Toronto Star! So, he’s the one that left this thing, wasn’t he? It was on top of the sports pages, and the sports pages were on top of the regular paper that the paper boy brought!
Me: Aaaah! So… what is it?
That’s what I asked Satch, didn’t I?
Me: So, you did see him, then?
No, I didn’t see him! I told you; I slept right through the lawn mower! So I called him on the phone, and I said, “What the heck is this thing?!” (laughing)
Me: Well, what the heck IS it?!
(more laughing and hand clapping)
… and that’s what she wants you to do.
Random Song for the Day: “Unplayed Piano” – Damien Rice & Lisa Hannigan
My latest “secretive-ish” little project is underway. It’s all my mother’s fault. She started this. I have to be the one to finish it. And….
I’m afraid. What else is new?
What am I afraid of? That’s the stupid part. Nothing. Everything. But, the biggest fear I have is having to say to her at the end of it all that I chickened out. Didn’t finish. Again. And see that look on her face that defies description.
Why so secretive? I don’t know. Fear, again, I guess. Wish I knew what of.
Even the act of typing this post is just another excuse for not getting busy. I don’t have time for this. So, wish me luck and send good thoughts my way, will you? And pizza. Pizza would be good right now.
I will, eventually, “out myself” about this project. Even if it does end badly. …gulp*
Random Song for the Day: “Better Days” – Supertramp