June 29, 2005
All You Need to Know

I just turned in a story on Tuesday at 9:00 a.m., and the next one is due at 9:00 a.m. on Friday so it will be ready for class Monday morning.

Lord. Have. Mercy.

Back to work. I'll update stats later.

June 27, 2005
It Was French Silk

Today I'm only going to list the stats that have changed...

Number of Times I've Used My Brand New Yoga Mat: Four

Caffeine Intake Level: Medium-low

Sleep Deprivation Level: Medium-low

Number of Stories I've Critiqued: Twenty

Number of Stories Submitted for Critique: One
Next story due Tuesday at 9:00 a.m.

Level of Satisfaction with Current Story in Progress: Medium-high

What I Picked When Given the Choice Between Evil or Pie Today: Both

June 26, 2005
Shout Out

I talked to AA today, and he mentioned that he was keeping up with my adventures here. This gave me a serious case of the warm-and-fuzzies, and I even bounced around the (gigantic sorority) house a bit. I had the temporary sensation of being a younger sister instead of an older one, and that was pretty damned nifty.

June 24, 2005

Three other Clarion West folks are blogging! And they're using complete sentences!

Links at the left -- have a peek.

June 23, 2005
Day Four: Poke Her with the Soft Cushions!

Number of Times I Have Been Late to Class / Meetings: oh, yes -- still Zero

Number of Oh-My-God-I-Need-a-Drink Moments: Two

Number of Drinks Consumed in Said State: Still Zero

Number of Times I've Used My Brand New Yoga Mat: Three

Number of Times I've Used It for Yoga: Ditto

Number of Days the Yoga Mat Joke Has Been Stale: at least Three

Caffeine Intake Level: Medium

Sleep Deprivation Level: Medium

Homicidal Tendencies: Nihil

Number of Stories I've Critiqued: Sixteen

Number of Stories Submitted for Critique: One

Analogy for the Critique of My Most Recent Story: Monty Python's Spanish Inquisition sketch

Level of Satisfaction with Current Story in Progress: Medium

June 22, 2005
Day, Uh, Three. Yeah, Three.

Number of Times I Have Been Late to Class / Meetings: Still Zero!!!

Number of Oh-My-God-I-Need-a-Drink Moments: Still One

Number of Drinks Consumed in Said State: Still Zero

Number of Times I've Used My Brand New Yoga Mat: Also Still One

Number of Times I've Used It for Yoga: Ditto

Caffeine Intake Level: Medium

Sleep Deprivation Level: High (eight hours over two days, including the three-hour nap I just took)

Number of Hours I Spent Obsessively Googling for Pinyin for "Twin" When I Could Have Been Sleeping (Dammit): 1.5

Homicidal Tendencies: Nihil

Number of Stories I've Critiqued: Ten

Number of Stories Submitted for Critique: One!

June 20, 2005

So here I am in my room (lucky #7) in a Sorority House That Shall Remain Nameless, ready to spend the next six weeks devoted exclusively to writing, reading, critiquing, and whatever other activities may be required to keep me from going crazy.

I won't be including any narrative detail about the experience of Clarion West, but -- since I loves me some statistics -- I will attempt to dutifully track the following:

Number of Times I Have Been Late to Class / Meetings:
Those of you who know me are well aware that I have, shall we say, Issues in This Area. The current number is Zero, and, no, that isn't because we haven't had any. I'm tracking this because I'm trying to ensure better behavior, and while public humiliation has never worked before, it's worth another shot.

Number of Oh-My-God-I-Need-a-Drink Moments: One

Number of Drinks Consumed in Said State: Zero

Number of Times I've Used My Brand New Yoga Mat: One

Number of Times I've Used It for Yoga: One

Caffeine Intake Level: Low

Sleep Deprivation Level: Low

Homicidal Tendencies: Nihil

Number of Stories I've Critiqued: Six

Number of Stories Submitted for Critique: Zero
My first story is due Wednesday at 9:00 a.m.

Let the office betting pools begin!

June 18, 2005
And Speaking of David Sedaris

I just found this fabulous bit in an interview with David Sedaris by the Portland Mercury:

PM: Would you describe your own writing as being "me me me"?

DS: Oh yeah. But I'd add a fourth "me."


It's Thursday morning. I'm headed into the kitchen to make coffee, and at the exact moment I step in front of the sink I hear an odd shuffling noise. I assume my ogresque pre-coffee gait has knocked over something in the cabinet, and I have no reason to revisit this theory until I hear the same shuffling after I've taken a few steps back toward the coffee pot.

Have I mentioned we found evidence of mice in our new house? Yep, mice. Apparently they've been getting in through a loose crawlspace door, then proceeding into the kitchen through holes in the back of the cabinets. We made this charming discovery a month ago, during the installation of our dishwasher ("I have bad news," said Andrey, the Handiest of Handymen). We've left the toe kick off the cabinets so we can set traps along their route, and block any holes that were missed.

There hasn't been any activity since the first night we set the traps, and that activity was as follows:

I am awakened by two loud snapping sounds in succession, followed by even louder squealing sounds that only last for a few seconds.

Reluctant to deal with a wounded mouse, I go back to sleep, assuming that if I give it some time I will instead deal with a dead mouse.

Later, I find two sprung traps, and no mouse.

We hadn't had a peep, snap, or squeal since then, and in fact I had just been thinking maybe it was time to put the toe kicks back up.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

So now I'm pacing in front of the cabinets, just knowing there's a mouse down there. A wounded mouse. And going back to sleep is not an option.

Finally I kneel down in front of the cabinets, as oblique to the shuffling sounds as I can manage in our galley kitchen.

And there is a mouse. A very intact-looking mouse. It's obviously stuck in at least one trap, but I can't see how. And this mouse is nowhere near death throes. In fact, if I don't do something, this mouse could live long enough to achieve pet status. I imagine it on its very own hamster wheel, trap thumping along beside it. Ack.

I could say I've never killed anything that didn't have an exoskeleton, but to be honest I feel some culpability for the demise of a goldfish whose bowl I really should have cleaned out more often.

Now I have to kill a mouse.

I don't have the guts to do a quick, manual thing, so I half-fill a bucket with water, intending to drown the mouse (I don't remember who originally put this idea in my head, my dad, or David Sedaris). I kneel down in front of the mouse, with the bucket on my left. I run through what I expect to do:

Reach in and scoop the mouse into a plastic bag (why don't stores use opaque bags anymore, dammit?).

Dump mouse into bucket.

Immediately cover the bucket with the bag so I don't have to watch the mouse struggle.

Take the bucket outside.

Stay away from the bucket until the mouse is no more.

I spent a lot of time on Step 1, first getting up to put on my gardening gloves in case the mouse was bitey, then moving the bucket from my left side to my right side and back again. Then I discovered that I couldn't maneuver the bag while I had the gloves on, and since the gloves seemed more vital than the bag, I resolved to just reach in and grab the mouse.

In the meantime, the mouse has shifted itself around to point one beady little eye at me. Concepts like "cute", "fuzzy", "poor little guy", and "inhumane" are competing for brain space with "gnawed wiring", "electrical fire", and "mouse doot in my Cheerios".

I take a second to put a very clear picture of Mickey Mouse in my head (man, I sure do hate Mickey Mouse), then do what has to be done. I reach in, grab the mousetrap -- taking the mouse and two other traps with it -- and drop the whole awful mouse/trap mobile into the bucket. I avert my eyes as I place a plastic bag over the top of the bucket, and immediately take the bucket outside. Then I go back inside to make the coffee I so desperately need.

An hour goes by, and I head outside to dispose of a mouse corpse. I realize an hour is overkill (shiver), but the last thing I want to see is a struggling mouse. I lift the bag off the bucket and find...a very wet mouse with its nose sticking up out of the water. Apparently there isn't enough metal on the trap to compensate for wood's tendency to float.

This is when I start referring to the mouse as Mary.

I pick up a nearby empty terra cotta pot and put it in the bucket to hold down the trap. The mouse sinks a bit, but the water level isn't quite high enough to submerge it completely.

"I'm so sorry, Mary," I say as I run back inside for more water.

It's 5:00 a.m. on Friday morning. I've just given up on finishing the mouse story so I can post it before I go to sleep. I crawl into bed, exhausted and with a head full of creepy mouse images. I'm starting to drift off when I hear what could be a snapping noise, but it's nothing denial can't overcome. Minutes go by. Another snapping noise, now undeniably, because it's followed by squealing.

I know S will be getting up in less than an hour, and I don't want her to go through her own round of mouse-trauma, so I get up and go into the kitchen. The mouse is still squealing, and fortunately for it I am more savvy about mouse executions, because -- unlike the previous mouse -- it is very vocal about its pain and terror. This makes putting it in the bucket easier, which is logical but also completely disturbing.

What's harder this time is actually capturing the mouse. I don't have to work up the nerve to grab it; I have to figure out a way reach it, since it's crawled all the way to the back of the space underneath the cabinets. Behind, I notice, another trapped mouse.

At least that one didn't need to be put out of its misery.

Around 5:45 a.m. I have both mice in the garbage can, and a note written for S. The note is scrawled across four Post-It Notes, and strongly suggests that we plug up the hole the mice have been getting through before I leave on Saturday.

June 17, 2005
Twenty Twenty Twenty-four Hours to Go

I wanna be sedated.

June 16, 2005
Now If They Can Just Be Trained to Loot, Pillage, and Say "Yarrrrrrr!"

B tells me scientists are one step closer to making pirate monkey robots a reality.

June 15, 2005
Today I'm This Many [Holds up Three Fingers...of Bourbon]

I started this blog three years ago, and I have just one question:

Is the site design retro yet? 'Cause really, that's what I'm holding out for.

June 14, 2005
Travelin' Light

Normally I try to avoid heavy packing, but I decided I was allowed one box (the size copier paper comes in) of comforting and/or inspiring objects to take to Clarion West. The contents so far:

The Timetables of History
Dictionary of Theories
Dictionary of Science
Bullfinch's Mythology
Women of Classical Mythology
How Proust Can Change Your Life
Travels with Charley
Slouching Toward Bethlehem

My Anne Bonny action figure
Eustace, the bobblehead armadillo

And the box is only half full, so there's plenty of room for the squeak lobster and the squeak frog...once I unpack them from whichever box they're currently lurking in.

June 13, 2005
I Have Always Relied on the Kindness Company of Strangers

I just got back from the Oregon Coast and a weekend of far-flung domestic drama that would make Tennessee Williams say, "Oh, now really -- that is a bit much."

June 10, 2005

Yesterday afternoon: I've stopped the lawn mower, and I'm poking at my cellphone with the green-stained fingers of my gardening gloves.

"I need to speak to my friendly non-neighborhood, not-local lawn and garden tech," I say.

So Mom puts Dad on the phone.

"I'm halfway, okay, two-thirds of the way through mowing the lawn, and I stopped to empty out the grass bag. And that's when I saw this oily lookin' black goo on the, uh, silver bit between the the two red bits."

"The silver bit between the the two red bits." My dad sounds both amused and doubtful about how effective this long-distance service call will be if I can't get any more descriptive than colors. The Craftsman mower palette is not extensive.

"Yeah, the silver bit with all the "Hey, This Gets Hot!' warnings on it."

"Oh, the muffler. That's the muffler."

"Okay, so the muffler has this oily black goo on it. The engine sounded fine, but this stuff is by the oil case, so I figured I should call and check. It doesn't really smell like burned oil, though. It smells like melted...oh." I giggle.


"I just noticed a big hole in the plastic garbage bag I was going to put the grass in."

"So you have melted plastic on the muffler." My father is laughing.

"Yeah, apparently I called to find out what to do after I put a plastic bag too close to the muffler."

"You start up the mower again and finish the lawn." I laugh. "And the plastic chars off and maybe leaves some black spots on your muffler," he says.

"I can live with that," I say.

June 08, 2005

T points out that not only am I the #1 Google return for fruit-intensive sex ritual, I'm the only return.

So clearly the Internet is not nearly as perverted as it could be.

Come on, people -- let's get with the program!

June 07, 2005
Ten Days to Clarion West, an Unfinished Play by Jane

Dramatis Personae

A DEER...............................................................................Jane
A RAPIDLY APPROACHING CAR...........The Clarion West Workshop

And, in a bold casting move, the action JUMPING OUT OF THE WAY will be played by the Series of Imperative Phrases That Comprise Jane's To-Do List.

Highway. Night. A DEER stands in the road, watching a RAPIDLY APPROACHING CAR as it rapidly approaches.

The DEER stands, and watches. In its vague, ungulate fashion, the DEER begins to suspect that JUMPING OUT OF THE WAY would be a good idea. Otherwise, the DEER stands. And, you know, watches. The CAR gets closer.

Ooooh, pretty headlights!

June 06, 2005

Dear Idiot Spammer Who Accidently Sent a Domain Renewal Scam from His Real Address, and Then Drew Attention to It by Re-sending It from a Fake Address:

I sent it to your Very Spam Conscious ISP. Ha.

Also, ha ha...ha ha ha.




P.S. Ha!

June 05, 2005
Scientists Identify Gene That Causes Two-Year-Olds to Spontaneously Climb into Wash Buckets

Me, 1973
My Dad, 1947
June 03, 2005
Lost: One Sense of Time

June 3rd. Really. Honestly. I don't believe it. Not for a second. I mean, it was just May 23rd not, what, three days ago, maybe four? June 3rd. Impossible.

Sigh. And me with a pre-Clarion West to-do list as long as my forearm. I know, because I wrote it there with a Sharpie.

I'd resolved during the split-second that was June 1st to post every day of this new month. So I'm 1 for 3.

The thing is, I've been jotting down potential entries, but they've just been sitting on my desktop. Now the desktop is full, completely covered in TextEdit icons with names like "Spider" and "Victor" and "Goiter".

Here is "Spider", from May 5th:

Our house has a deck with a roof. We like it, and so do the neighborhood spiders.

New homeowner lessons learned #27: Two full cans of spider spray is just enough to piss them off.

I have no idea what else I'd planned to do with that...maybe write a description of two dozen spiders glistening with poison as they drop from the eaves to the deck like nightmare rain. Who knows?