Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I did it! I wrote a novel!

I finished today, at 50,103 words. I sort of can't believe that I did it, that I finished it. The story was really hard to keep going after 46,000. I had to force out the last few thousand words, but it was challenge and I was up for it. Wow.

Now I have lots of editing and rewriting to do, but I'm looking forward to it. I still haven't seen how many pages it is after I normalize the fonts and sizes-- I worked on three different computers and each had different settings that I couldn't be bothered to change.

Now real life starts again, to some degree. I let all house work, physical activity and laundry go. I wore the same shirt all weekend (and it was a long weekend). I could see my random eccentricities increasing two fold after spending so much intense time in my own head, my imagination.

Can I say this changed me? It did. Hopefully I will get some good sleep tonight and not be running plot lines over and over in my head.

I also want to mention how awesome it was to be charging forward in a pack of people. Marylanders wrote about 35,000,000 words at the time I finished. I can only imagine what the final word count will be for our state. 197 people in MD had already finished this morning. That's an awesome number and an awesome community to feel connected to.

I'm really grateful I did it and that the organization exists.

There were some great pep talks, the best coming from Dave Eggers and Aimee Bender. Eggers used "goddamnit" four times in his post-- surprisingly casual for a mixed audience, but, he did that because he wanted to tell us to just do it, write the thing.

And I did.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Difference and Desire

This is a picture of a wrapper from a candy I ate in DC. Why save a candy wrapper? And, why take a picture of that wrapper?

It was part of an exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery. There were 175 pounds of candy poured into the corner of one of the rooms. The weight symbolized the artist's lover who died of AIDS. Each person was asked to take a candy from the pile. The artist hoped that by the end of the exhibit, all of the candy would be eaten; his lover gone, again. I was hit pretty hard by it. The act of eating a body is familiar-- hello, every Sunday of my young life-- but that body is always renewing, coming back again and again to be eaten by the faithful. This body was not. This "body" was also wrapped in colorful plastic foil.

Walking around outside the building I saw that a few people had dropped their wrappers on the sidewalk. It was strange to see them discarded like that. Justin suggested that we drop them on the floor of the museum, next to the pile of candy. I thought this would be the best option, the husk and the body, the consumption a cycle. I ended up pocketing it instead. What are the final implications of this interactive piece? Each person participates in the grief of the artist and in the larger grief of AIDS.

That is, unless you find it funny, like two ladies who were just happy to eat the candy. Which is to say, it was a success. People took what they wanted from it-- but they still interacted with everyone else who also took a piece.

I also enjoyed a photograph of a man holding a canary on his fingers, raised over his head. Around him were three cats, all looking up at the bird, wanting it. It was shot in a hazy, overexposed kind of way that was both dreamy and a little frightening.

How about a monocle and some dachshunds? Weimer- sexy? Yes, that's a shiver.

Loved how the naked men looked so much happier than when clothed-- especially O'Hara!

We drove around, guided by a pizza slice. We shook our bodies to mash-ups. We admired a bass-player-- funk, please, funk!-- we drank beer and talked movies. All in all, a good evening in DC.

Now I'm typing by a window, looking at a bell tower and feeling so incredibly, incredibly


Friday, November 19, 2010

A week, a weekend.

I am up to 23,207 words on my book. I've reached a tough point and feel a little discouraged. But, I'm gonna finish it. I am!

Many things to look forward to this weekend, including the new National Portrait Gallery exhibit: Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture. It's about gender and sexuality and spans from Walt Whitman to current day. HERE The Portrait Gallery has long been my favorite museum-- seeing Lincoln's death mask? whoa-- and they are breaking ground with this exhibit.

On Monday I move into my new office. It has a window! No more cubicle for me!

In order to make a TOOTH SWITCH PLATE: one must first discover the need, then draw it, then form a mold, pour it, harden it, market it (in catalogs

sent to dentist's offices), ship it, include two screws-- to be generous-- paint the wall, mount it.

Only then, can I stare at it while I wait, while suction and such happens, x-rays, water pics.

I brush my dog's teeth with turkey flavored paste.

Still life, Pear Mouth

Friday, November 12, 2010

Drum avalanche... on my head!

Last night my husband and I went to a music store in Catonsville. My husband has been saying, "I want to learn how to play an instrument before I die," a statement that sounds dramatic, but one that I can get behind. This music store was selected because I knew they had a large selection of "lefty" guitars. Clint writes with his left hand, but paints with his right, so he didn't know which had he would prefer when it came to guitars.

We met a great guy, very helpful, not pushy, not rude-- like so many music store employees I've run into in the past-- and they started to experiment. As they were having fun, I walked around the store, playing a few chords on this guitar and a few on that one. I saw a resonator-- one of those guitars made out of metal with cones built in as the first amplifier system. The guitars have a great, chunky and rough, sound.

It weighed about twenty pounds, so I decided to sit down to play it. The only available spot was on the platform that held some drum kits. The platform was double high. Well, based on the title of this post, you can guess what happened... the platform tipped over and drums and symbols came crashing down, crashing on me, crashing on the guitars in front of the display. Can you imagine that sound?! So, I was trapped under two drum sets and a crappy platform-- trying to hold it up with my back so the whole thing wouldn't fall over and also trying to put down the twenty pound guitar with one hand without banging it up.

Yes, I am sore today, but okay. The store employees were so kind. After everything was righted (and everything was determined to be okay) I started to shake from adrenaline and embarrassment. I decided to stick next to Clint for the rest of the night.

And the funny thing is, he ended up getting a resonator! Last night I gave him my old glass slide and he immediately started in with some amazing riffs-- a guy that has never played before! I think it is so important to find the right instrument. Something really clicks when you do. In all, a great night. And next time I go to that store, I'm wearing my glasses and a hat... incognito!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Some NaNoWriMo!

How much more awesome would it be to see ourselves in the transition of elements? In the dust clouds of a volcano, the purple red of a maple leaf, the segmented body of worm or the flashing blue of an Atlantic octopus? That was my fear and trembling, the finding of a rounded and smooth moon snail shell on the beach, picking it up, happy to find one without holes, only to have my thumb pinched by a hermit crab that had made it its home; how perfect a home, vacated and then filled, vacated and then filled until the shell could no longer be used; the creature that had created it, had built it around its soft body, long gone.


Corbina. A name that surprised me, a roundness I discovered on her mail after I had seen her working a stand at the farmer’s market. A tall stone of a woman, a strong jaw with large teeth that she probably grinded in her sleep. She was selling heirlooms, giant ugly tomatoes that split their own seams. She was concentrating on a book about soil Ph, barely registering anyone around her. She pushed her toes into the ground, digging them in, wriggle by wriggle, impatient to absorb what she needed to know. I took a dark purple tomato and kept walking. I didn’t look back until I was in my truck. She was standing there, eyebrows gathered, lips in a slight frown. I bit into the blackness. Juice ran down my chin.


Those are two paragraphs from my two narrators, a young woman and an old man. I'm at 8,000--- way behind where I'm supposed to be if I want to finish at the 50,000 goal. But, 8,000 words is the most I've ever written for a story and I'm proud of that. I'm setting up to write more tonight.

Aimee Bender wrote the most encouraging NaNoWriMo post the other day. I'll have to cut and paste some of it here later.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

New York was just what I needed!

I actually forgot that things were going on here in Baltimore this past weekend. What I mean is, I forgot that it was also Halloween in Baltimore, like it was Halloween in NYC. Funny, right? But it felt good to be so disconnected from home base.

I would have preferred to be on the beach for vacation, but for a gorgeous weekend in October, NYC is perfect. My husband and I walked and walked and walked. We visited the Guggenheim. We heard Anne Carson talk about Odysseus's wife, about Bridget Bardot and about selling out. Lou Reed walked into the lecture and sat down right in front of Carson. It was quite an electric room. Then, oysters and beer. More walking. Breakfast outside in the Village. Bleeker Street and Marc Jacob's new book store, called "Book Marc." It was super well edited and a lot of fun. Chelsea, costumes, dogs, dogs, dogs!

I know that getting out of town was just what I needed. I signed up for the NaNoWriMo today! That book is finally going to get out of my head.