On Earth and Other Places

It’s been about four hours since I sat down to work and I’ve hit my threshold for world news three times, the last heralding a thick nausea that sits on the back of my stomach as if my spine were a park bench on which someone’d spilled ten gallons of sickly black paint.  There’s only so much I can read about Trump’s evil nonsense bringing us ever closer to an apocalypse, only so much I can take of newly threatened, endangered, or extinct species.

So I’m grateful that my work is done for now.  The skies are blackening and the storm is rolling in, and all I have to do is sit and watch it come.

There are good things in the world.  There are friends and loved ones, scientific discovers, good films, better books.  It’s spring here, so there are buds and flowers and a thickness to the air that bolsters my lungs even as it closes my sinuses.  It seems important to hold on to the good, even though they could be swept away by one errant, arrogant tweet.  Perhaps its ephemeral nature is the reason holding onto the good is so important.

Trying not to mope is exhausting, but giving into it is worse.  I am trying.

Earth Day is this weekend.  I won’t be here to celebrate it, so I’ve started early by rescuing what has turned out to be an inordinate number of trees from the yard in preparation of laying out the new vegetable plots.  I’ve run out of soil for pots, so it seems now is a good time to flip my compost.  I’ll save it for tomorrow, after the rains have left.

I won’t be celebrating, but I will be thinking of the environment when I join the Science March on D.C. this weekend.  I won’t be carrying a sign as anything pithy seems inappropriate to my sensibilities, and practically, I loathe holding things.  Save for weapons, but I’m not sure dragging a sword, arnis stick, or axe would send the right message, even if that message were painted straight on it.

I’m having trouble keeping my focus, the wind has turned to a constant breeze and I can smell the wetness on it.  It smells lush, and behind it I can feel the prickle of premature lighting at the back of my nose.  My senses are almost overwhelming, what I took for my stomach has me distracted, slightly stupefied.

I missed writing.  I’ve done so little of it lately, at least of my own, things I’d want to read.  I write all the time for work, but while the job itself is quite rewarding, the writing aspect is not.  Those scant few belonging to my small following can attest to my distaste for paraphrasing in an attempt to appeal to a greater audience.  Even my sentence explaining it rung pretentious.  So to write again, and entirely for myself feels like the release of a muscle I hadn’t known was cramping.  A balled fist under my skin for the last four months.

Perhaps I seem arrogant, verbose, that my writing is over-wrought.   Does that matter?  I spent so long thinking of what my writing could do for me, what secondary good could come of it.  There had to be some direct recompense, something that even the squares would acknowledge as success.  But where was that in keeping up a blog with so few readers?  How could it be monetized?  And if I were to do so, what was the point with fewer than a thousand, fewer than half of half that?  So I’d battle against myself.

I am, and have been tired since november.  Writing is hard, and often tiring.  I would begin with the admonishment that I must write.  Then I’d push it away, or sit down to try and nothing would come.  Then would come the guilt, and another attempt.  That would usually result in a draft too bitter to publish or too incomplete to make sense to even me a few days later.  To pacify the guilt, I’d remind myself that this was not my job, that no one paid me for this.  And I’d become complacent.  I didn’t accept that I hadn’t written, but it didn’t plague me as it would have in the past.  So, by and by, I let it go.

Now, writing again, I see the folly in that, all of that.  The reward is the act itself.  I’d decided not to breath because no one rewarded me for doing it, and had gone a little necrotic for the stupidity.

So, again I say, it’s good to be back.

On top of that, there is this: 20170420_164918

It came in the mail for me today.  Now, if I can turn this singular writing instance into a sequence, perhaps we’ll see what’s inside.


Update 10 September 2016

Most of my waking time has been spent in the studio, a space far away from writing by every metric, physically divided by three floors and the insufficient reach of my wifi, mentally by the half of my brain that deals in shapes and movements, that taking over the hermit crab section which sits, watches and records.

My hands still shake, badly, but their intent is clearer, their output cleaner.  Two weeks ago I made three terrariums by hand.  It took me a month but I’ve learned to cut glass with a glass key.  My divisions are keen enough now for me to accurately cut mirror, something I’ve read is one of the most difficult types of glass object to cut cleanly.   My finishing skills have greatly improved.

I’ve discovered a hardening chemical that will enable me to better work with raw wood, putting better to use the drift wood and windfall I collect on my walks through River Front Park.

Onward progresses my plan of using recycled materials to raise environmental awareness, to operate a business that, by its existence, improves the planet.

Far from the writing frame as I’ve been I cannot put it aside completely.  Yesterday I wrote the highlights for a season long screen play.  The first idea came as a complete scene, a discussion between two unknown but familiar characters.  A great many of my ideas start this way.

I left for D.C. at noon.  I don’t remember the trip between Harrisburg and the capital city limits.  The two hours were spent ironing out plots and laying out conversations.  By the trip home I had a complete character roster, an overarching plot, a series of subplots, character back stories, an understanding of the world, and the type of interactions I want the characters to have.  It’s been a long time since my brain has handed me something so complete, my greatest fear now is that I won’t be able to get it all down before the idea begins to fade, corrode, and dissipate.

So I write here, instead, because if I don’t work on that story in can remain perfect as an idea.

Or, I write here to kick off the dust and spend the first few dried and dull strings of sentences  on something not immemorial, on something nearly transient and ephemeral.

Plants, Horror, and Plant Themed Horrors

There’s a story I’ve been kicking around for the last few months, picking up and dropping nearly as quickly, with long bouts in-between of the piece serving no purpose beyond anchoring my my monthly hard drive defrags.

I’ve made, to myself, half a dozen vows to heavily edit, but this week was the first time I kept any of those promises.

Twenty-nine printed pages, just shy of nine thousand words, and its biggest problem seems to be a lack of detail.  It isn’t so sparse as a lot of my writing, but it has the same issues with clarity and phrasing, things that I’m thankful for the elapsed time in addressing now.  I might not have seen them if I’d still remembered what my intent was when I wrote the sections in question; as it is now, I’ve no idea what I meant.

That un-assuradeness is good.  I hate editing, as I’ve so often said, but not because I despise improving my work, or that I hate reading, but because I feel constrained.  By not knowing what I meant I can’t be wrong in my interpretation.  Rather than having to choose to depart from a completed section, thus to make past plot points and strung phrases surplus to requirement, I have the more enjoyable task of bridging two deemingly unconnected sections.

The point when I can read through edits and the feeling is like spreading stain on wood, or butter on toast, each pass unifying and connecting the veneer until it all seems one cohesive piece, is my favorite working point.  It took marking up that physical copy over the course of monday afternoon to even get far enough along to know how to begin working the piece proper.  I hadn’t realized how much work it needed, no wonder I was so reticent to work on it previously.

“Kalanchoe” (working title) is enough “underway” to be considered “well.”  I may even have it finished in time for Halloween submission rounds.

I’ve been working through the salvaged wood in my basement and my most recent project is a decorative shelf for Mary.

The finished piece will have three tiny shelves set on a decorative backboard, which is in turn raised and mounted onto a beveled piece of plywood by way of a denuded apple branch.

To make the backboard I selected a plank of pallet wood with two shattered ends where it was ripped from its securing nails.  I cut the board in half to create two shorter sections, then turned them so that the frayed ends face opposite directions.  After some light grinding, I glued the two together with a strip of walnut sandwiched between them.

It was at this point I stopped, assured I’d need a block plane to finish the piece.  This notion was in turn halted by the dichotomy of available tools.  On one hand are the decently made tools of first world origins, on the other were the tools of dubious quality.  The price difference isn’t merely noticeable, it’s on orders of magnitude.  I don’t buy things from China, not things I will eat or rely on for great periods of time.  It’s in many ways a wonderful country, the source of a great many of my favorite things, but until it cleans up its issues with human rights violations and fills the sucking void where it’s consumer protections ought to be, I’ll stick to appreciating its culture, food, and martial arts, leaving its products to disuse.

There’s a used tool shop I like to go to, but it is only open on saturday’s.  Fortunately I recalled this before I bought anything online.  Unfortunately, I remembered the shop last saturday, about fifty minutes before it was set to close, while seated with Kalanchoe in hand about twenty minutes of driving and several hours of editing away.  At the time I couldn’t imagine waiting a whole week to get to the next step of the project, but it’s now wedneday and I’ve thus far avoided amazon’s tempting.

Part of that comes from youtube, where I watched a video of a man using a (the world’s sharpest) chisel to do all of the cutting, shaping, and smoothing for several kinds of joints.  I used my own rather less Hitori Honzo-esque chisel and was able to knock down most of the extra walnut.  The palm sander took care of the rest.

Perhaps tonight I’ll get the last few passes done so that I can begin the next phase, that is of finishing the base and shaping the apple branch to fit the base and backboard together.