Tuesday, December 05, 2017

I Know They're Trying to Tell Me Something

Tuesday, Dec 5:  Lots of magical imagery in my dreams last night/this morning.

I was casting a spell in a cave, after which I met with Leslie the Shrew and had some sort of wise words from a female elder moment.  

There was some other stuff, involving a Mephistopheles like grey-haired man who told me a story of meeting with other gay men in the English Theatre, and an actor he really admired came limping in full costume (I think as King Lear) and everyone was really excited until they realized that he was leading in the Vice Squad.

Then I was in a Handel opera.  The entire cast was led by a baritone in seventeenth century clothes and a white wig.  I think the rest of the cast may have supposed to be shepherds and villagers, but I think they were dressed contemporarily.  The baritone was a prophet, and was singing an aria along the musical lines of "And who shall stand when He appeareth? For He is like a refiner's fire."  Only this was about the apocalypse and he was pointing to a hole in the sky where a middle-aged and matronly Virgin Mary was sitting and presumably intervening for us.

We ascended Ridgewood Hill, and may have gone to it's mysterious dream-North side.  At this point the baritone prophet was singing about how a new earthly paradise could be aborted.  I think the Virgin Mary took a rest from the hole in the sky and came down to Ridgewood... she was dressed in brown, with sort of frazzled brown and grey hair, and I'm sure she said or sang something, but I don't recall what it was.

And then I was at an Episcopal service with my folks and The Child (I don't recall that Mark was there).  The pews were arranged in four arms, and we were in a square chapel.  I want to say that Father Neville (the old rector from the 1970's) was leading the service.  The Child started playing my harp (which he played well), and Father Neville was offering a cup to people, only instead of having the Blood of Christ in it, it was filled with rain water.  I opted to take the cup, and was surprised that the silver chalice had a flat, triangular bowl.  Father Neville jammed the chalice into my face, and I felt the cold metal against  both my lips; I was aware of the points of the triangular bowl as I sipped some of the water.

I woke up thinking that lots of messages were trying to come through.

Writing Art and Craft

This has been the week for getting helful rejections from markets.  The latest said essentially, "great world-building, and get to the story sooner."  Which means the voice, writing and world-building wasn't enough to hold the editor's interest.  There is a bit of driving to the story, and it's there to introduce the reader to how the story's world is different from our contemporay one... so I guess I need to take a quick look at the manuscript from a craft POV.

Over the weekend I went to a Self-Publishing on Amazon workshop.  There was a ton of information, and what I took away from it was, 

  • short stories probably work best on Amazon as marketing freebies;
  • an anthology of short stories would work best with the same characters in all stories and with an over-all story arc
  • I probably need to choose a different pen name for each genre I write in because Hell Hath No Fury Like An Amazon Reader Lead Astray By A Cross-Genre Author.
  • Amazon Readers want strong characters they can identify with over story plot over world-building.  
  • Amazon Readers read differently than physical book readers. 
  • It's all about keeping a steady stream of novels coming out.

I looked at the anthology of my various stories and realized it would be a mis-step the way I've got them arranged currently:  it's a mix of high fantasy, science-fiction, urban fantasy reprints -- I could probably sell it to super-fans once I had built a following, but currently I'm not at that point in my writing career.  

Friday, December 01, 2017

Gym Reports and Male Desire

I've gotten behind in my gym reports... Um,  Went to the gym last Tuesday (11/14) , Sunday (11/12),  Thursday (11/9).  I'm still just doing 30 minutes on the eliptical (roughly 315 calories) and 3 sets of curls on the Roman Chair.  My shoulder's still stiff, but improving, so I guess staying away from the barbell, pec-fly and lat pull-downs for a while is a good thing.

Went on an impromptu museum visit with Mark Wednesday (11/15) night to look at 17th century tapestries.  Mark usually likes art I usually am indifferent to, and it's always fun to hear him speak about technique, or a part that he likes.  Also, this is 17th century art, so it's a little over the top, which means Theatrical Mark and John's Art Show moments.

Between Thanksgiving and fighting off some sort of illness, I did not manage to post much...

Went to the gym Tuesday (11/28/17).  A half-hour on the elliptical, not my usual machine, which reported that I did 400 calories -- which seems high.  Downstairs I did 3x12 Roman Chair curls, 3x12x10lb triceps pull-downs and 3x12x5lb dumbbell curls.  I keep thinking my shoulder is OK one day and then goofy the next.  

Went to the gym again Thursday (11/30/17).   Back for a half-hour on the elliptical on my usual machine, and back to my usual odd 320 calories.  Downstairs I did 3x15 Roman Chair curls, and skipped everything else.

On the writing front, I finally finished (11/28) a 4300 word short story.  I'm OK with the ending, but it feels a little mechanical.  I also got a short story rejection that was nice; it was a standard, "we've seen this sort of thing before" form rejection, but it had and admonition that it had taken a newly published new author 17 tries to break into this particular market and to "never surrender, never give up."  

On the essay front, I recently read an opinion piece: Stephen Marche's "The Unexamined Brutality of the Male Libido."  In wild summary, the opinion piece goes something like this:

Men's libidos are out of control and their beliefs about sexual equality and cultural appropriateness have no impact on their sexual misbehavior.  The nature of men is about their grotesque sexuality; men are pigs, with ugly and dangerous libidos. We should fear the male libido, which is unexamined in personal and intellectual circles.  Men don't have a social network for examination of their sexuality, often defaulting to aspiring to be better feminists.   Freud says men must repress their libidos.  Sex is an impediment to any idealism.  Social righteousness only takes us so far, and shame is on the rise as a sexual control.   How can we have nice things if the mechanisms of male sexual desire are brutal?  We must examine male sexuality -- and deal with the fact that men are monsters -- to find the answers.  

I think the overall tone of the piece is anti-sex and that men are damaged goods--which makes me instantly suspicious that the author is selling self-help. However, I agree with his call to have men examine male sexuality. And I agree that sexual harassment is unacceptable. But he seems to be stuck in a hetero-normative-Freudian-Joseph-Campbell-"Brute-of-a-Thousand-FacesConcupiscent " world view when he complaims about getting into a world where there is sexual equality and men's sexual expression.

Folks like Harry Hay have explored subject-subject consciousness as an antidote to the sexually exploitative subject-object consciousness; and Starhawk has offered the concept of Power-With as an alternative to hierarchical Power-Over.  But Marche seems to be unaware of these different approaches to people loving their partners, and focuses on men as monsters instead.

The piece relminds me a little of a passage from CS Lewis, wherein he opined that men have an animal nature and a devilish nature, leaving out their angelic or higher nature.  I guess that's the danger of having a transcendent, body-mind-body-spirit theology instead of an immanent one. 

And it also reminds me the Minotaur... and centaurs.. and fauns... and the comcuspant company of Pan.  I think Marche is wrong to say that we have to suppress the male libido, so much as we have to link it to and direct it with -- like the charioteer in the tarot card "The Chariot" -- the rest of our drives and desires.  

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Dream: Sexy Reed Flood

This is a dream from mid-October, that I'm just now getting around to posting.

I dreamed I was at a Reed College event -- sort of a cross between Renn Faire, Reed Reunion, and a Eugene-style, boat-show, gay-pride, pagan-pride festival.  In real life the cats must have been making noise, because Mark and I ended up in a vet booth.  Which might have been a science booth.

Through a series of (ahem) events, I ended up with a hunky guy's cell phone.  (He was the dream son of a real Reed professor--oh dear, I've just noticed the obvious Freudian pun on the last name) , and earlier in the dream, I told him the real-life story of how his father had taken a friend of mine to a fancy restaurant and (over the protestations of his wife) taught him how to turn a drinking straw into a primitive reed instrument.  (In real life I had told this story to The Child the previous day, so it must have been on my mind).  

The phone was an Apple iPhone, but it was square and had a clamshell cover.  None of the buttons worked quite the way I thought they would.  I tried to use the phone to tell someone that I'd found the phone (and possibly they had mine)  Despite the earlier (ahem) events, I had wondered in the back of my mind if Dream Guy was gay -- then the contacts' avatars and text messages I saw before I became hopelessly confused by the phone's OS convinced me that he was.  

Mark and I wandered around, and were near Elliot Hall when a flood hit.  The Reed Canyon somehow had the Willamette River in it, and a sudden downpour had it flooding its banks and the tall pines along the banks were being pushed back and falling over.  The water rose toward Elliot Hall and inundated the basement (in the dream somebody said something about the Psych Department, but they moved out of the basement in something like 1995).  

The water hit an underground relay station, or something, and there was an explosion like lightning.  People were yelling and running away.  More water was coming up out of ?Eliot Circle? or the field in front of Elliot Hall:  a large mound pushed itself up and water flowed out of it in several small streams.  There was a little bit more, but I don't recall it.

What strikes me in waking life is that three dream motifs:  The Reed Campus, a river, and flooding, came together in a combination that's new to me.   This dream almost counts as a dream-knot dream, but it's missing a holistic element to it that the others have.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

November Thursday

A November Thursday: the clouds scud across the sky, now revealing the waning half-moon and Orion, now driving leaves before them, now dumping a second deluge.  The trees wear yellow leaves like ragged mittens over skelital fingers.  And the green has returned to the Vally:  green lawns, green moss, green algea growing on cars, green lichens sprouting up tree trunks.  But it's a dark green -- the sun, low in along its winter path, is flitered out by the clouds, giving everything a muted cast: red bricks are brown, lighter bricks are like wet agate; the wet pavement is matt grey;  white cars are the color of old bones; and the only bright cerylians and yellows are on pedestrians' raincoats.

This morning I steamed some eggs for breakfast.   I like steamed eggs for breakfast, and there are some mornings when just holding hot eggs in my hands feels wonderful.   On an impulse, as they were cooling, I took one and ran it over a knot I have running over my right shoulder.  Between the egg's shape and the heat of it, I managed to iron out the almost solid bump on top of my shoulder muscles.  I'm hoping that this will be a more long-term fix; previosly when I've kneaded that part of my shoulder, I've only manged to sort of losen things up without smothing out the knot.  I'll have to get some soapstone to use more regularly, since it's likely the family won't appreciating me using their steamed eggs as massage tools.  

About an hour or so of writing, mostly fleshing out scenes in a longish story about a baker.  It's hard to get a word count... and I think there's a way to have Scrivener track word count (not sure how helpful that is when you're editing out words, but...).

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Bad Monday, Heros, and the Gym

Monday (11/6) -- I woke up kind of sore all over.  I'm not sure why:  I guess it's a combination of colder weather, and age.  But man, having sore toes and fingers and arms and back and shoulders puts a damper on morning productivity.  Eventually, I took a hot half-bath, which helped quite a bit.   I probably need to visit my doctor to see what's up with my right shoulder, as it doesn't seem to be improving (or at least seems good one day and then sore the next).

Monday also started out with some marketing, during which I got another rejection.  There's this one (well, OK, there's more than one) market that I'd really like to break into, but so far I haven't had any luck with them.  The difficulty is that they respond with a form letter that essentially says, "guess why we rejected your story."  I wish they'd just say, "We're sorry, but we will not be buying your story," because the offered reasons why make me want to pull my hair out trying to figure out which reason is the one.  It gets even more annoying when I look at what they do publish, and it seems as if they do publish stories that are close to what I'm sending them....

I'm thankful that the other story I sent out to another market on the same day did not get rejected, because double-rejections feel like a slap in the face.

I started to read "The Hero with a Thousand Faces," partially for writing research, partially because it's one of those books one is supposed to read.  It's feeling pretty White Baby-Boomer Guy to me:  every man is the hero/divinity of his own story working on being the star of his own personal film.   It's also striking me as Fraizieran in its approach to world culture and folklore.   ...And I'm pretty sure one of of stopping points along the Hero's Journey is the hieros gamos or sacred wedding with the Earth Goddess.

Anyway, the Hero's Journey keeps coming up as a story template.  Often writers' guides will feature Star Wars or Harry Potter or The Hobbit worked into the Hero's Journey and urge writers to think of their own manuscripts in a similar fashion.  I figured that I should go to the source material if I wanted to understand the form, but Campbell's style is fairly ramblely ... and because it's comparative folklore from the 40's, it's more a psychoanalytic way to explain the universality of various folktales, myths and legends than a writer's tool.

Went to the gym Monday (11/6).  35minutes on the elliptical for 340 calories.  Spoke with one of the folks there, and decided that I should either knock off any type of upper shoulder machines or only do them at about 10 lbs...

Went to the gym Saturday (11/5): 35 or 40  minutes on the elliptical for at least 330 calories.  3x12 Roman Chair curl ups.  3x12x20lbs triceps curls.  3x12x10?lbs preacher-bench biceps curls. 

Went to the gym Thursday (11/3):  30  minutes on the eliptical for at 300 calories.  3x12 Roman Chair curl ups.  3x12x20lbs tricepcs curls.  

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Halloween Musings

The Child and I want to take Halloween in different directions.  For him, it's still about getting tons of candy from the neighborhood and filling the house with zombies, skeletons, and bloody blades.  For me it's more about how masquerades change our perceptions.  Mark's not really into Halloween; he's more into Thanksgiving and Christmas.  

Some folks say during Halloween, the veil between the worlds is thin and the inhabitants therein can visit between the worlds -- when the Grey Folk and the Dead and the Ancestors and the Numinous Ones visit.  For one of my friends, it's about looking into the shadow parts of oneself in order to deal with them more effectively.  For me Halloween is a time to be someone you're not.  To find surprises that jog you into a new awareness or understanding of yourself.  

Like Christmas, Halloween has gotten commercialized and the focus has shifted from the True Meaning of Halloween to Getting Loot.  The aspect of trick-or-treating that has been lost is that it is a gifting custom from the days of mumming.  Essentially the trick-or-treaters are gifting houses with the effort they put into their outfits.  They're essentially saying, "I am an embodiment of your fears, your anxieties, your wishes; I am the reaper, I am the forces of conflict unresolved, I am the dead you need closure with, I am the hero or heroine of your personal story."  Starhawk used to write, "Where there's fear, there's power," and the ritual of trick-or-treating is exchanging the gift of power of addressing inner fears with the gift of food... well, OK, candy.

This is going to be the first Halloween where I don't have RollerBlades, so I wont be able to glide along the streets underneath bare tree branchs and moonlight.  I still haven't replaced my old RollerBlades since they fatigued apart after the encouner with the giant leaf pile.  Mmmm. Gliding in the moonlight, trailing leaves behind, a silent shadow in the street.

This year I carved a Janus-faced pumpkin.  The pumpkin had a flat side, probably where it had grown against the ground.  That side had a divot, which made a great place for a nose.  I gave it a frowning grimcace and crescent eyes.   The other side of the face was more rounded; I give it a toothy smile and triangular eyes.   Mark is away at an East Coast Wedding, and The Child was disinclined to carve anything, so it was just me and the cats.  The afternoon was clear, and carving in the sunlight on the deck felt like a late Summer job rather than an Autumnal one.  Later I carved the mini-pumpkins with the intent of hanging them from some kind of tree.  But between one thing and another, I ended up suspending them from a stick between two rods.  They were still spooky.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

2017 Wordos Halloween Shorts

Last night was an early Wordos Halloween holiday shorts  reading.  For once what I pounded out came in at a little under 800 words, so there was no last-minute hacking away at the manuscript to make it fit the word count.  I even managed to work in a bit from the other night's dream (I'm thinking my sub-conscious is a better writer than I am some times).   The stories ranged from the funny to the political to spooky, and we all ate too much. My story was a haunted spaceship story that I think I can send to various flash markets after I clean up the manuscript (Wednesday morning I imported it into Scrivener and cleaned up some of the syntax errors).

I was presented with a cool StoneKettle pen and thank you card for fifteen years (mostly) of leadig the Wordos Table.  

Afterward, we relocated and had a discussion of "The Fifth Season," and dystopias, and robot fashion, and facial recognition, and Internet privacy, and story lengths and plans for writing or avoiding  NaNoWriMo, and web comics and Anime, and then it was time for me to turn into a pumpkin.  

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Prophetic Angel-Serpent Dream

I've been hitting the gym less, and my shoulder feels better.  I should go running on the eliptical soon.

I dreamed I was in a high school or college play.  It was a mash-up of Jesus Christ, Superstar" and "Godspell," I think.  I was playing a prophet, and typically, It was opening night and I was having difficulty recalling my lines.  (That I'm a prophet who's forgotten his lines strikes me as signifiant and funny in waking life.)  

I was wandering around back stage, which seemed to be a bunch of tunnels made out of parachutes. When I asked a woman if I could take a look at her script.  At this point I realized that my part had been cut, and that someone else had been given my part's song-and-dance number.  

There's a bit of break and the next thing I remember, I was on the stage.  This was a giant, twisty thing of concrete; in waking life I'm reminded of the "dinosaur bones" in Avery Park in Corvallis, only these were three stories high, and more like columns of frozen water.   They had been made by Winged Serpents -- which may have been fallen angels at one point -- and the Serpents had twisted around and around the concrete columns so that their scales were embossed in the sides of ridges that were wide enough for two or so people to be able to spiral up to the column's top.

I was in some sort of New Testiment Temptation of Christ... only I think the Archangle Micheal was speaking to me (or Christ...) and saying how the trails of his brothers (the Serpent-cast trail) were there.  The Serpents had turned to Angels in mid-squeeze, and when their Serpent bodies had fallen away, only the scaely impressions and their smaller Angel bodies were left behind.

Various cast members were using chalk to color in some of the scales into mosiacs, and chalking in things like nativity scenes along the inside of the trail.  

In waking life, I'm reminded of various dreams I had a few years ago which are part of a dream-knot, but in this dream no deities were hot, shirtless studs and there was no kissing.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Shoulder and Gym

Went to the gym Thursday (Oct 19_.  My right shoulder is definitely messed up, so I'm having to cut back on things.  30 minutes and 310 calories on the elliptical.  3x12 curl-ups on the Roman Chair.  3x12x30lbs on the triceps pull-down (being careful to engage my trapezoids and keep my elbows close to my sides).  3x12x20lbs deltoid pulls (going slowly and being sure to keep my arms low).  I started doing light-weight pec flies, but decided it was a bad idea.   Ditto on a barbell twisty thing that I made up.

Unfortunately, all the lat pulldowns, pec flies and stuff are making me buff in ways that I wanted... so I'm hoping I don't revert back to not-as-buff quickly.

I read a little about yoga, and I've been doing "cow-face" stretches (which I've always been able to do).  There's also a standing plank where you try to "move the paint down" a wall which feels good.  I'm doing some arm circles that I recalled from when I had frozen shoulder.   I really don't want a return to the year when I had encapsulitis in my left shoulder, because that really was demoralizing.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Futile Saturday

Saturday (Oct 14) was a fairly fruitless day.  I spent most of it looknig for a small plastic chip that I use to check in at the gym and for some papers that have gotten misplaced.   I went through various files of manuscripts... unfortunately, I've got the current stack of file folders with manuscripts, the stack of manuscripts that I was looking at last month but have put aside, the stupid junk-mail,  the older stack of stories that have made a few rounds in various slush piles, the odd folder with non-manuscript papers (which I hoped would have the missing paper but were mostly stupid junk-mail), and the stack of manuscript folders that have items in various stages of stuck-ness.  Oh, and some art.

Sunday we went on a nice hike in the Gorge.  There were many, many wooly-bear caterpillars.  They had think bands, and I think that means we're going to have a cold winter.

So not much writing. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Saturday Gym Day

Went to the gym Saturday morning.  It was strange to be walking down the street while Venus shone brilliantly over the eastern hills and the waning quarter moon sailed high.  Orion's faint outline faded quickly before Sirius.  To think that this time a month ago, the sun would have already been up, and the temperature would have been in the low 60's instead of the mid 40's.

20 minutes and about 200 calories on the elliptical.  3x12x30lbs on the pec fly; 3x12x30lbs on the rear delt fly.  3x12x30lbs on the triceps pull-down.  3x12x35lbs bar-bell curls.  I did a few reverse bar-bell curls, but I could feel it in my right clavicle, so I stopped.  3x12 curl-ups on the Roman Chair.

Today is a "dig through the house and figure out where various lost objects have gone" day.  Unfortunately, the last few days have been dig through the house days, but the objects (mostly papers) haven't turned up, so to we're trying a few obscure locations, combined with "what the heck were we thinking when we last saw it."


Friday, October 13, 2017

Gym Report and Dreams of Procession

Thursday was a gym night.  20 min and 200 calories on the elliptical.  10 minutes and 100 cal on the cable row machine.  I'm trying to be nice to my shoulder (having concluded that I probably pulled something on this pec-fly machine last month), so in addition to thinking about my deltoids and trapazoids, I've lowed my weights.  3x12x30lbs on the pec-fly; 3x12x30lbs on the rear delts. 12x60lbs plus 2x12x70lbs on the lat pull-down.  3x12x30 on the triceps pull-down.  3x12 curl-ups in the Roman Chair.  ... and then it was time to go.

On the dream front.  Just before I got out of bed Friday morning, I dreamed I was at Disneyland or Disneyworld I think the dream was coming out of some oddly scrambled murder mystery (involving balloon rides, and a grass seed broadcaster).  A bunch of young dancers queued up on either side of a long buffet service and started in a routine.   At this point I wanted to tweet my revelation that Mousketeers were simply a televised drill team (and Oh Dear, tweeting things has worked its way into my dreams).  

The performance changed--suddenly the blue-eyed, blond drill team (now that I'm thinking about it were in blue and white, my old high school colors) got a lot more darker skinned.  Some of the young men were shirtless, and everyone started wearing browns and oranges and feathers and Very Large Masks (which looked vaguely Klingon).   There were Hawaiians, and Africans, and Asians and some white-haired priest signaled the drums and everyone started drumming and then the everyone danced in procession along the buffet service chanting "Christ is our priest."  There was no actual liturgy, or communion, it was just dancing and chanting.

I think I wanted to tweet that, too.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Clothing of Coming Out

Today (Oct 11) is National Coming Out Day.

I had to smile to myself as I got dressed:  I'm putting on my Gay Underwear, I thought as I reached for the same briefs I always put on.  And then I was stuck thinking about what Gay Underwear looks like:  either a "banana hammock" in striped lycra or else a leather jock-strap.  And then this always leads to memories from that one Minnesota Renn Faire with some players who must have been Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, one of whom wore an elaborate cod-piece bedecked like a Christmas tree ornament with gold ribbons and dripping with pearls.

...And now I'm putting on my Gay Pants... which are the same slacks I usually put on for work.  The exercise of calling everything gay lasted for a few more minutes as I pulled Gay Socks out of my Gay Dresser and walked out of my Gay Bedroom to feed my Gay Cats.  I did have fun quoting the movie "Jeffry" as I tied my old black and silver-threaded scarf and saying, "Can I do this?  Or does it make me look like some sort of Gay Superhero?" 

I'm of two minds about dressing to one's identity politics.  On one hand, it's necessary to remind people from time to time, that, yes, there are gay people who work next to them, who go grocery shopping, and who are parents of school-aged children.  And sometimes it's fun to dress up a little with a pink triangle and connect with other out gay folks.  On the other hand, I hate identity politics, and I dislike being reduced to a pink triangle, because I'm more than a guy with a husband or a man who is erotically attracted to other men. 

But at least I don't have to wear a hair shirt.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Plans and Dying Keyboards

Tuesday!  It's my writing night. We'll see what happens, but it will most likely be an editing night.

Ugh. Looks like I need to get some batteries.  Because the space key on my keyboard is dying.  (Gets new batteries for the keyboard.)  You should have seen the previous sentence before I went back and fixed it.  ...OK.  So, it looks like when the batteries are dying, the keyboard's space key stops working -- and apparently the P key and some of the arrow keys as well.

I suppose dying keyboards and the inability to type is a metaphor.

I'm working on a 8,700 word piece.  It's a fun fairy-tale-style story, and probably a hard sell.  I like the language in it, and the visuals -- and because of the fairy-tale voice, I need to turn up the characterization to make the story less distant.   It's mostly done, there are about three places that need some heavy polishing or re-working.  In particular the Bedroom Scene is being excessively awkward: I can tell I'm going to have to just write it as bawdily as I can, with phrases like "pulsing man-rod" and then go back for the parts that are saucy and clever and advance the plot and reveal character.

In other writing news, I got a rejection on a flash piece today -- it's a kind of list-story -- but in a way I'm relieved it did because it's a little too non-fictional, a little too snarky, and I probably should have not submitted it.  I'll let it rest for a few weeks to give it some distance from the real-life inspiration and then rework it so the pieces talk to each other more.