Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Tuesday Afternoon Gym

Went to the gym Tuesday afternoon.  20-ish minutes and 200-ish calories on the Nordic elliptical.  10 or so minutes on the cable row machine (I got a tip to reduce the tension on the machine from 10 to 6 and focus on maintaining a high rep-per-minute rather than hulking out on a high setting).  3x13x30lbs on the delta flies.  13x(30,40,50)lbs on the pec fly (I got another tip to try to focus on the middle of my pectoral majoris -- I think I've been holding my arms a little too low or a little too high during some exercises, which is developing the muscle unevenly).  13x(40,50,60)lbs on the lat pull-downs.  3x13 Roman chair curls.  3x13x30lbs barbell curls.  3x13x30lbs triceps curls.

The last couple of times, there have been cute guys at the gym, which is simultaneously distracting and motivating.  (There's also been obnoxious folks with private nick-names like, "Grunty McGruntface" and "Clanky McWeightSlam"... )

On the writing front, I got a session of writing in--mostly character exploration as I work out the underpinnings of a novel.  So far I have a wizard and his axe-wielding boyfriend set in a high fantasy world; all of which need more thorough fleshing out (if I'm not too careful, the boyfriend is going to look too much like Orlando Bloom's Legolas).  I'd written the characters in a flash piece and I wanted to play with them some more.  The world's loosely based from a short story that I've been shopping around, and some map making is in order so I can keep track of the setting.

Carousel Giraffe Vignette

Jack always wanted to be a ninja -- every day he practiced with his fond so he would be able to blend in anywhere.  If he stood still long enough, birds landed on him.  If he stood still long enough, ants other bugs explored him.  If he stood still long enough, he knew something special would come his way.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Gym, Movies, and Writing

Went to the gym Sunday evening.  200 calories on the Nordic elliptical.  3x12x30lbs on the deltoid fly.  12x(30+40+50)lbs on the pec fly.  13x(40+50+60) on the lat pull-down.  3x13 Roman chair curls.   3x12x30lbs barbell curls.  3x12x30lbs triceps curls.

Went with the family to see "The Post."  It was a clever, fast movie.  Tom Hanks and especially Meryl Streep acted well.  I loved the costuming.  The sexism of the early 70's was skillfully apparent.

Mark told me afterward, but apparently whenever a character was put into their place, The Child was muttering "wrecked" under his breath.   The only bad thing about the movie was that another movie patron apparently swam in cologne before entering the theatre, which gave us all mild headaches after the movie.

Today (Monday) was a Writing Day -- it turned into a marketing (two stories rejected in the past 24 hours and two stories sent out) and Scrivener maintenance day; what I didn't do in word count I made up for in novel research.  After looking at a bunch of stalled -- well, maybe "stalled" is the wrong word -- manuscripts, I opted to go with expanding a flash piece I wrote last year and writing it in the same double-moon world as another story, "The Lapis Heron" (which I really need to find a home for).

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Carousel Stander Vignette

She added a newly purchased sapphire into the heaven of her hair, which glittered like the night sky with other sapphires, emeralds, and pearls.  The sapphire had once been in a pavé bracelet, since dismantled -- its jewels reworked into other pieces scattered across the globe.  

In a past life, she'd been bejeweled.  The passage of time, lives and a monumental quest had reunited her with past treasure.

Now she was ready.  Now the real quest could begin.  She'd find her lost love.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Carousel Lion Vignette

Jean was in love with Paul, and Paul was vegan.  So she put away her meat tenderizers, and only put olive oil drizzled carrots and potatoes onto her rotisserie.  Paul was a wizard with grains and greens, and she appreciated his efforts at meals with taste and texture.  But, still, there were those nights when Jean would creep down to the kitchen, and with only the open 'fridge and stovetop for light, boil an egg for a midnight snack.

One night, the kitchen light snapped on.  There was Paul, standing by the sink and pointing to the garbage pail.  "Oh honey," he said.  "At first, I tried to look the other way, but did you think I wouldn't notice the eggshells?"

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Thursday Gym

When to the gym Thursday night.  20 minutes and 160-something calories on the Nordic ellipitcal.  3x12x30lbs on the deltoid-fly. 12x(30,40,50)lbs on the pec-fly. 12x(30,40,60)lbs on the lat pulldown.  3x13 curls on the Roman Chair.  3x13x25lbs with a barbell curl (which I sometimes feel in my lower back).  3x12x30 lbs triceps curls.

I'm feeling like I should increase my weights... but at the same time I'm enjoying not having to deal with pulled muscles and sore joints.  Maybe I'll increase my reps instead.


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Gym and Writing

Went to the gym Monday Night under the assumption that it would be a good way to wind down... but it turned out that it woke me up.  So... note to self:  get out of the gym by 8 PM.   15 minutes each on the elliptical and the cable rowing machine.  Took it a little easier on the downstairs machines although I was tempted to increase the weights.  3x12x30lb on the deltoid pulls.  30+2x50lbs on the pec fly.  40+50+60lbs on the lat pull-down.  3x13 Roman Chair pull-ups.  3x12x25lbs barbell curls.   We'll see how much my hands and shoulders ache Tuesday (not much).

In more mundane news, it's the beginning of the Winter Term and finding a parking stall is a challenge. I'm hoping things will improve once the first week is over and everyone stops driving to their classes.  I'm pretty sure that pedestrians are becoming less and less aware of their surroundings as the years go by -- and I blame cell phones and music players.  

On the writing front; sent out a short story and got a quick rejection (fast market, low acceptance rate; so not unexpected) and I sent it right out (to a market I usually get form "guess why your story is rejected" rejections from).  A beta reader gave me some really good suggestions for a 4200 word story, and incorporating them into the manuscript is the current writing project -- I hope to send this one to Sword and Sorceress.  
On the dream front, I dreamed I was reading a lavishly illustrated and well written book; it had lots of flourishes in it, but it wasn't so ornate that the text was difficult to read ("Story of the Glittering Plain," I'm looking at you).  

Lately, I've been having many dreams with intrusive conversations or music in them, so I'm thinking that there's a new Night Owl renting in our neighborhood.  

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Carousel Hippocampus Vignette

Captain Henry had to find the starfish that would turn him back into a man again.  He rushed through the surf searching the sand and rocks for the orange starfish that lived there.  The sea witch's laugh echoed in his mind as he recalled the enchantment she had laid upon him:  "You sought to master the waves with keel and sail--so will you serve as the wave's servant until you find the sea star that releases you."  With a laugh and a flip of her tail, she vanished under the water as he twisted into his current form.  

Monday, January 08, 2018

Carousel Dragon

The other day we took a secret, spur-of-the-moment trip to Albany.

 For the last ten years so so, volunteers have been working on a carousel, carving and painting animals to put on a circular platform.  The mechanical parts are from 1909 -- which makes them the same age as my Grandma Agnes.

The animals are all ornate, whimsical, and amazing.  Here's "Igknighter"

We had fun riding the carousel, and I tried to photograph everything, which was hard because the glossy finish on the animals reflected all the lights and windows -- luckily it was overcast, so my camera didn't have to deal with the direct sunlight.

I think my best photos were when I was on the platform taking pictures of the animals' left sides... although I did find a sweet spot at about south-southwest (I think).

I thought that I'd read somewhere that some animals are anchors:  extra heavy animals that help stabilize the carousel platform.  But I may have gotten confused between standers (the stationary animals on the outside ring) and jumpers.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Epiphany 2018

The Child has been watching the Star Wars prequels. They don't seem quite as bad as I remember when they first came out, and I'm going to chalk that up to changed expectations on my part (expecting the Splendor of the Old Republic the first time around and getting Jarr-Jarr Binks) over the movies improving over time (and expecting Jarr-Jarr).  In some ways it's like watching Mystery Science Theatre 3000... although I have to admit, the sets, costumes, and CGI work are still stunning.   My favorite movies are still "The Empire Strikes Back," "A New Hope," and "Rogue One."    

On the writing front, I'm learning how to format documents with Scrivener 3.  The compile and formatting commands are very different from the 2nd version, but I think I like them better (at least in terms of setting up things like meta-data, author information, and document titles).  

I'm reading Hillary Rodham Clinton's "What Happened."  I wanted to see what her writing voice is like. I wanted the story to be gripping, but I'm afriad it's a very slow read for the first 100 pages -- mostly because there's a lot of thanking of various people, name-dropping, and historical-site-visiting in a narrative summary way.  She has a complicated relationship with other politicians and presidential families, which is one part graciousness towards past residents of the White House, one part "OMG, bad Republican policy," a dash of praise for Obama, a sprinkle of incredulousness for Bernie, and liberal sprinkles of "look at the mysoginist, crude, hate-spewing, non-sensical, train-wreck that got elected to the American Presidency."  (She establishes early that Trump makes George W look good...)

It's picking up a bit at page 120-ish because she's describing the process she and her team used to prep for the debates and she's experiencing a situation, reacting to it emotionally, and then making a decision to act based on her reaction.  I'm only about half-way through, but...  If this were my book, I would have organized it more around "what we didn't know," "when we learned X," and "how X raised more questions."  I'll have to see how the second half of the book plays out.

(Talking with Mark about the book and the chapter on "It's Hard to Be A Woman in Politics," he asked if she had any insights on Angela Merkel, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, or one of the other women leading their countries.) 

Went to the gym Saturday:  Warmed up on the elliptical (about 100 calories), then switched to the rowing machines (another 100 calories).  Went downstairs; 30x40x30 on the deltoid-fly.  30x40x50 on the pec-fly.  40x50x60 on the lat pulldown.  3x12 Roman Chair curls.  20x20x30 barbell curls.  3x12x30 triceps pull-downs.  Cooled down with spine-rolls on a pool noodle.  Sunday, I'm sore in the trapezoids, pectorals, and lower back.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Internet Karma

In a moment of quick-turnaround karma, last night (Wednesday) I told myself that I'd get up early to compile a story and send it to a beta reader... only to discover that during the night, the phone cables in our wall had come loose (I'm not sure if I should blame the cats, and Mark was surprised when I told him) and we now had no Internet.  We'd been fiddling with the old 1950's line in anticipation of having them replaced so it wasn't like I didn't know that the wall plate was off and the wires were exposed.  Alas, even re-attaching the yellow and black wires where it seemed they should go did not improve the connection.  (Mark has since managed to restore connectivity.)

Went to the gym yesterday (Wednesday).  Warmed up for ten minutes on the elliptical, then switched for another fifteen on the cable rowing machine.  I made an effort to keep my spine straight and my trapazoids engaged so I wouldn't have a sore lower back later (we'll see).  Downstairs I did 20x30x40 sets on the pec-fly reverse-deltoids.   Lat-pull-down 40x50x60.  3x12 Roman Chair curls.  20x30x30 barbell curls.  3x12x30lb triceps pull-downs.  Some 5lb dumbell work.  Ended up rolling my spine on a pool noodle as a ending stretch.  

I'm fairly certain that a lot of my shoulder difficulties are caused by my mouse placement at work, and slouching.  I'm trying out different mouse positions and I've re-configured my chair so I'm sitting up straighter.

On the dream front... I had an interesting, if bloody, dream Tuesday morning that involved evil magicians, evil followers, an interlude where the evil magicians were attempting to place my head (with the rest of me dangling below) in the excact center of a hollowed out sphere using a laser-site.  Other highlights involved a baby piglett evolving into a bristle-back boar, only with metal florettes for bristles.  The dream ended with me climbing up a spiraling stair-well on the heels of evil minions, and placing my  hands on them to kill them.  This worked well until I got to someone immune to my hands and then I got stabbed.

This morning's dream was too sexy and political (both in a bad way) to post.  

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Writing Night

(Tuesday) Writing night!  This time I've been working on several stories.

  • One, about a baker, (4200 words) is as clean as I'm going to get it and I should run it past a beta-reader.  
  • A second, is a Halloween short (1500 words) from a few years back that I polished after critique, put aside for about two years, and I've decided could be sent out for market rejections.  
  • The third is a Arthurian pastiche (about 1000 words + 500 really rough vingettes) that is probably a good example of why I shouldn't write snarky:  the knight character needs fleshing out and the snarky bits jump out like the Witch from Monty Python and the Holy Grail breakig the fourth wall to say, "It's a fair cop."
  • The fourth is a long science fiction piece (about 5000 words at last count) that probably wants to be a novella and the feels off because I'm trying to do a cultural flip of perspective and the main character isn't flipping right.  
  • The fifth, a Wordos Winter Short, is stalled at 1500 words; the part that I read was well recieved, and I'd like to finish it... and I should write the end and work backward.

This means that tomorrow (Wednesday) should be a marketing day.

Holding Patterns

I managed to get to the gym twice or so since my last posting (and I should go today).  I've continued to go easy on the weights, starting out at about 20 lbs and moving up 10 lbs every set.  This has prevented me from turning into a total marshmallow over the winter break.

On a slightly related topic: After getting out of the winter break routine, I think I've discovered that the reason my lower back feels sore is that I must be using the rowing machine wrong; my hands feel sore after lifting barbell weights; my neck feels sore because my work monitors are too high; and my right shoulder is sore because my work mouse is in the wrong place on my desk.  So my body isn't falling apart so much as I need to pay more attention to my posture.

As usual, I had hopes that I would actually get some projects done... and, as usual, I managed to get far less than I wanted done.  Some of this is I always underestimate how much time holiday visits will take, but a surprising amount of it is looking up from a screen or a book or the bed and discovering how much later it is than I thought.  I suppose I should take updating the operating system on the writing computer and upgrading to Scrivener 3 as small victories. 

Reading about all my friends' writing accomplishments on social media was getting depressing until I read a post that said, "It's OK if you just got through the year."  That helped... and still did not prevent me from lying awake at 4 A.M. New Year's Day beating myself up about how little I've written and how much less I've submitted.   At least I did have one short story published last year.  I guess "Stop Whining and Write and Submit" is the next sign over my desk.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

On the Fourth Day

It's the Fourth Day of Christmas.  The Child and I are in the Library while Mark is home looking for employement.

I'm in the kid's section of the Library, which is taking me back a decade to when I used to take The Child to Enthusiatic Child Reading.   There are a lot of toddlers today, and I'm reminded of the toddler schedule of wake-breakfast-activity-nap-activity-lunch-nap.   

The kid-chairs are less comfortable than I remember them.

We had a open house for my birthday, and lucked out for the weather.  Mark worked very hard to make the house nice; we have to re-configure the davenport and the dining room table so that the living room would be convival for more than six people.  There was singing and piano and harp.   I think Nina won the prize for the most clever hat.  

I've decided being in my early fifties is difficult.  I can't pretend I'm still forty-nine.  Well.  OK, maybe I can if I keep my gym work up.  

On the workout front, I've gone to the gym a couple of times.  Given some advice, I've moved to an elliptical with ski-poles in an attempt to loosen up my shoulder joints before any downstairs weight clinking.  On the same advice, I've started up the reverse-pec-fly on low weights to strengthen my back muscles, which will allow me to continue on my pectorals.   Usually I start out at 20 lbs and then work up to 40 lbs.  The idea is to keep my collar-bone and shoulder muscles limber so I don't pull them like I did last September.   

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Thinking About Writing

Not much on any fronts.  I've been off-again-on-again congested, which has made me off-again-on-again tired.  I'm also going to blame the weeks around Winter Solstice for a lack of light that makes 6 PM feel like midnight. and 8PM feel like 2 AM.

I've been ruminating about the novel form and the Amazon form.  The other day I was speaking with an English Professor about attention spans and voice and web design vis-a-vis monitors-versus-mobiles and she said that the department makes students read paper versions of the books they study.  Apparently e-reading is different from paper-reading, in a way similar to someone who plays weekend basketball is different to a professional basketball player.  As I have noticed recently that when I don't balance out my social media reading with longer pieces, I have to work harder to process longer pieces, what she said made sense to me.

When I think about Amazon form, I worry that it's not a good fit for my voice, and I wonder, how would Tolkien have been received.  Maybe I should approach Amazon Writing like I do Twitter tweets, especially haiku.  But then again, I'm probably over-thinking it.