Words, Weights, Whatever

Friday, April 01, 2005

Coincidence? Or a divine plan? If the latter, I want to speak with the manager.

I was thinking about my novel for the past few days when, while catching up with blogs, I came across this excellent post by author Crawford Kilian.

Does one notice helping hands more when one's looking or do they really show up when you need them?

I drove to the gym last night. My motive was less than noble; I went more to observe than to work out. As I unpacked my gym bag, though, I realized I forgot my gym shorts. In the end, I spent much of the time in the steam room reflecting on my stupidity and being thankful of my (sometimes) forgetful nature.


Last week I changed my work schedule. My boss notified me, though, before approving the new time that I have to stick to it. Apparently there had been problems in the past.

So, of course, yesterday I had to call and notify my boss I was going to be late. Wednesday the electric company had come out and shut off the neighborhood's power for much of the day. Irritating. But I noted Thursday morning the shower pressure wasn't up to snuff. I checked the lawns and, sure enough, all our sprinklers were on. And the automatic sprinkler system wasn't working.

Upon R.'s suggestion, I called Mike Diamond. I notified my boss I'd be late to work. This is not a way to impress your boss in your first year as a perm, I thought as I sat in front of the television.

Help came faster (and for free!) from an unexpected quarter. I received a call from my contractor. I explained my situation. He called one of his buddies who lived nearby to come out. M. did and showed me where the manual shutoff values were located. (NOTE: I'm having them moved when we redo the lawn.)

My boss wasn't angry when I arrived, understanding the situation. Later in the day I received--of all things--a review! I had scored high marks. We also discussed a new assignment and how best to coordinate my schedule to accommodate it. A side effect of the assignment is a positive impact on my expenses. Whew!

As I returned to my desk and continued the new assignment, I reflected on all the myriad events that presented themselves to me this past week. Normally I would not have noticed most of them. But either the daily coffee had supercharged my brain or my Muse was more observant than usual. In any case, it doesn't matter. They were there and I took up their offer.

How Zen can you get?

Image was found on the Internet and all rights belong to its owners.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

*Rou-tine's back, tonight!*

Many writers and authors (I make a distinction) state, when asked about their writing habits, they've developed a routine on when and where they work I had such a routine. Unfortunately, it worked while between jobs.

I know; it's up to me to find the time to write. I find time to work out, right? (Which, with most folks, is up there with seeing the dentist.) As I finished writing the previous line, excuses immediately clamoured in my brain:

You're too busy prepping the house for remodeling! You can't: you're in the middle of assembling your taxes! Your car needs an oil change! Your friends are expecting you at the Magic Kingdom this weekend! You need to spend more time with your spouse!

Well, you know what I say to those excuses?

"You're right."

Years ago I learned that, while it's okay to vent, it's useless to get action done. I'm already looking ahead this week for spots in my timetable to carve out writing time. R.'s on-call again (unfortunately) for the entire weekend which gives me a sizeable chuck to start finding that time.

But more importantly is that I need to be writing regularly. I'm not one of those writers who write 20-40 pages in huge time blocks then take the rest of the year off. I tried such techniques in the past and, while they generated pages, I find myself exhausted from the effort and (i.e., NaNoWriMo) and--importantly--unwilling to continue*. An hour here, a few hours there, though, steadily, is an entirely different matter.

Author Holly Lisle once likened writing to a marathon versus giving birth and I agree. A book won't be "born" from my brow like Athena from Zeus. Rather, like Hephaestus, I need to sculpt, bit by bit, day by day, the story that's bursting within.

Damned Muse.

(Image found on the Internet and all rights belong to its owners.)

*This parallel what I've seen and experienced when I first joined the gym. I would be enthusiastic ("gung-ho") for a few months, then vanish from the gym for the rest of the year. Or two.

R. exclaimed surprise when I said I'd be hitting the gym again last night. "Hey," I said, shrugging. "You have your (anime) cells and articles; I have my workouts."

Enjoyment plays a big role in motivating me to go to the gym. The music, the camaraderie, the chance to (mentally) tune out the world except for the instructor, act like a drug** that keeps dragging back. Runner's high is real and it can be addictive.
Why should I go to the gym when I hate being there? Years ago I read an article in a fitness mag. In the article, the author stated that much of one's enjoyment (or lack) of working out is mental. He pointed out that children don't view the monkey bars as work but something to play with, a toy that--as a side effect--gets them in great shape. I took that view point to heart. Several years later, after my mom's heart attack and consequently my desire to get healthy, I thought about his words. I looked at the schedule of workout classes and picked my favorite and never looked back since. Though occasionally I'd try other forms of cardiovascular exercise, step aerobics has been the sure tug to pack up those shorts, sneaks, and tank top.
Everyone has their own reason they attend the gym. Is any better than another? Personally, I don't care as long as one's going to the gym. But I rather be grimacing from pleasure and pain to Donna Summer's "Oh, love to love you, baby" than the sight of a stationary bicycle.

**I could say the sight of hot, barely clothed sweaty bodies as well, but I'm not that rude or crass. Besides, you trying gawking when performing a reverse turn step to Spear's "Oops, I did it again".
At full speed.

My friends called last night after my workout and notified me they would not be at our normal meeting place but instead at our regular restaurant. I joined them after a quickie soak at the gym.

I have regularly met GC and CS on Tuesday nights for some time now. (Years?) CS usually brings snacks which I gobble voraciously since I just finished a session at the gym. This is especially true if I do a two hour workout. We then discuss what we did over the weekend. GC and CS do a lot together: visit the Magic Kingdom, see plays, movies, clubs, etc. I have been invited many times but, unfortunately, those times are packed as well. They nodded with a grin and regale me with their next outing.

We established an informal reading group last year. We select a book to read in a month, then discuss it the first Tuesday of the next month. It's a fun activity which I've discussed at length in previous posts. CS and I have closer taste in our books; GC tends towards more literary works while we read more genre. But we all have interesting opinions and viewpoints to contribute.

We discuss other topics as well with one exception. For the many years I've know these guys, I've never gotten any deep insight into their personal loves and hates. I'm not talking about their relationships; I know that. We don't go into depth about our religions (if any), deep discussions on finance, or what we find annoying about each other (as we've seen several other folks in our circle do about others.) We all like to give ziggers in our conversations: how a particular public figure would look in a tutu; the latest boytoys of MILFs, or what's really on that actor's mind as he stares at his same-sex co-star.

Sometimes I feel sad when I think about my regular Tuesday buddies. But we have, on at least a couple of occasions, discussed why certain long-time friends broke up over misunderstandings.
And GS and I constantly read about friendships stretched horribly or broken over blogs.

So I relax back and enjoy the teasing about my Tuesday pie (inside joke). Or when GS deviates from his normal meal and orders water. Or CS and his huge families' latest visit of the month. (GS and I come from small families.)

There's a time and place for high drama. And then there's the friends to share them with....

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

*Oops, I did it again, I had too much sugar, got lost in the sweat, oh baby!*


Obligations and fatigue (see below) made even reading the latest Consumer Guide on new cars difficult. I'm looking forward towards the rest of the week to finally get some writing (and even some reading) done.


Several years ago I--with R.'s help--not only realized I was hypoglycemic but did something about it. Since then, I've fallen faster than the baseball industry in the wake of the steroid controversy. (Or GM stock.) I reached near bottom yesterday: while discussing with my boss about my work, I broke into a sweat despite the air-conditioning.

Uh, oh, I thought, as my eyelids fluttered. My worse fears were confirmed when I drove home. I felt light-headed, low on energy, and starved. I called R. who promptly instructed me to pull over the nearest fast-food restaurant and gorge on something. Anything. But like most patients, it was too late, being only a short distance away (finally!) from home. R. was not pleased but relented after I ate two days worth of leftovers. That includes the plastic containers they were in.

But as I slouched on the couch, my plates steaming from the speed I had eaten their contents, I thought how I put my body through such another tortorous regimen. Or, more accurately, my body's latest reminder that I'm not like most folks, that certain foods (unfortunately my favorites) can literally kill me. As I heaved upward, I remember how, while on the drive homeward, how I wanted to slam my food down the accelerator at the upcoming curve or race another Corvette rumbling in the next lane.

I downed a sugar-free drink, then fell into a stupor from the food. Ah! said my body. Here's another consequence from your habit. I woke 15 minutes (or was it an hour?) later. Groggy, I packed several boxes of books R. had been working on. I kept looking at the clock, thinking if I wanted to hit the gym tonight. I made up my mind after an epic 45 minute struggle. I shoved procrastination into a dark corner as I tried to feel the rush of muscle and sinew during the hot beat of chorography. I think my pulse quickened (or was it the sugar from the partially digested food?) as I hastily packed my gym bag. My answer came two hours later as I sat in the steam room.

Oh, baby, baby!


Yesterday was the first day of my new schedule. It nearly got side-tracked, though, when I received some last minute work. Fatigue from one of the worst hypoglycemic crashes (see above) curtailed my original plans to box books from 1730 to 1830. But I still got a good half-hour worth of work which roughly translated into half the stacks.

Workout itself was fine. The instructor had a new routine with some moves that were actually difficult. While I do like her music, I hope she changes the tracks soon. Britney?

After workout I went grocery shopping. I really have to stop shopping after a workout. I haven't spent over two hundred (for two people!) in quite some time. I blame it on such items as contact lens fluid and deoderant.

R. put the groceries away. After draining a quart of fluid, I watched some television to catch my breath. I have to admit that the cable networks are far more interesting than the old regulars like ABC and CBS. Speed is, of course, one of my regulars.

After watching a snippet on some old antique vehicles, I finished boxing the books. Time is become scarce as the day looms where the floor contractors will be arriving to redo the entire downstairs and staircase. As I crawled into bed and my body began to shut down from exhaustion, I thought how domestic my life felt to my old days of sex, school, work, and food.

Yup. I'm getting old.

Monday, March 28, 2005

*Muses and motivations and (weekend) madness, oh my!*


The fog of a new vehicle has been obscuring my interest since December. I thought nothing would lift it; not my spouse or or books or even blogs. Gasp!

But on Friday, during lunch, I discovered I had left all my car mags at home. Drat, I thought, as I searched my car for reading material. I was at my favorite restaurant and I was solo and wanted some distraction from people watching.

So I picked up the latest issue of Writer's Digest from its stack at the bottom of the passenger side footwell and proceeded inside. After gobbling a quarter of the tasty appetizer, I opened the issue and began to read about genres.

The Muse struck.

I can write a romance, I mused after I finished reading the description. Hmmm. Shall I write in the paranormal sub-genre or a more typical mystery/suspense? How's this for a basic story...

I read the next genre. What about a mystery? I think I've read enough to be familar with them to write a credible one. R. can even help me with the structure. How's this for a basic story...

And on and on more thoughts emerged from my mind. And not just thoughts: wisps of dialogue, character descriptions, authors I had admired but had not thought about for months, many, many things. This was no proverbial dam but a flashflood. My hand hurt as I wrote them down in my personal digital assistant (PDA).

I rose from my chair to use the restroom. While waiting for my hands to be dried from the blower, I realized I had not thought of cars since those first few words in Writer's Digest. I was smiling when I returned to my table.


Friday I checked out the new gym in my membership. As I swam in the pool, I thought about an article I had earlier in the week in the magazine, Writer's Digest. The author of the article had written about using one's blog to generate not only material for magazines but for short and long works (such as novels) as well.

I knew (and have met) writers who had successfully achieved notoriety. I sat in the steam room for the third time, wondering about the legal issues they must have dealt with. A common one: since blogs are--in a sense--published in a public medium, how are first rights affected? I remember one writer mentioning in a forum how publishers are leery of accepting articles from blogs.

I opened my eyes. In the enveloping steam, I become uncomfortable and yet, tantalized, from things I thought I saw. I padded out to cool myself. After a quick gargle with mouthwash provided by the club, I cleaned myself off. The thick carpet in the locker room of this gym was sharp contrast to the normal linoleum of the other facilities.

I paused, nude, in front of the wooden locker door. Contrast? I looked around and returned to drying myself. Is there an article here? On fitness? I thought I had read every article, every viewpoint, every take there could be on fitness.

But not this one, I thought, excited. Now fully dressed, I gargled one more time. I greeted the cool night's air with a smile, my mind racing with words on fitness and motivation.

(Image found on the Internet and all rights belong to its owner.)



All couples develope routines. One which--admittedly, I've recently added--is checking out used cars from Carfaire.

Normally, when R. and I eat out for lunch, we visit the nearest Barnes and Noble (or Borders if we're at The Block of Orange) to help walk off our meal. But this weekend I drove us down to the Carfaire instead. I admit it: I'm still fascinated by cars and some of the amazing (and not so amazing) purchases out there.

We enjoyed the looking and speculation. Better yet, the weather--bright and sunny--was perfect for casual browsing. R. had developed a rapid means of figuring out if a car's a bargain or not. On Saturday, we were applying that method to the various cars when we came across...The Jag.

"Look!" I said. "They had lowered the price by three thousand!"

R. nodded. "Are you interested?"

"We've discussed this before." I paused, my eyes gazing over the sleek lines then the price. A line crossed out the old one and the new price--in bold--lay beneath it. "There's too many problems. There's the reliabilty issue...."

"That's not what I've heard."


"I've talked to many of my co-workers and peers and they haven't had the problems you've mentioned."

I shook my head. "Huh. So different. I wonder--Oh!"


"You're sister has a Jaguar, right?"

"Yes. Ah. I see. Why don't you give her a call?"

"I will...just for information's sake."

R. just smiled.

We didn't see the car on Sunday or the less expensive one I had spotted a couple of weeks earlier. As I pulled out my car from the parking lot, I thought about the yellow contact tag I had taken from The Jag.

I need to give R.'s sister a call this weekend....

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