Monday, June 22, 2009

A weekend at the Crow's Nest

The Crow's Nest is what my landlords call my apartment. The name fits - it's got wood paneling in places that resembles the sides of a boat, giant curtains like sails that separate the bedroom and living room, and a deck from which you can see the rooftops of nearby houses. In the proud tradition of seafarers, its tenant may also be contracting scurvy, but that's more an issue of my own poor grocery trip planning than the apartment itself.

After a hyper-social Friday night, I spent most of the weekend at home, knitting and unpacking. I was project monogamous all weekend, working on my Ishbel shawl until it was done. It's my first completed shawl - shawlette, if you wanna get technical - and I love it!

I'm wearing it wrapped around my neck like a scarf, and it's both cute and practical in my chilly office. The lace pattern is addictive, so I'll definitely make another eventually.

Most of Sunday was spent organizing my art closet and my notebook shelf. I'm a creative pack rat, so every sketchbook, painting, colored pencil piece, copper print plate, and writing notebook I've ever worked on is in my apartment, begging for organization. Organizing the art closet was fairly easy. The process went like this: Flip to next sketchbook page/loose piece in portfolio. Laugh like a lunatic over something I drew six years ago, surely confusing the downstairs neighbors. File the piece away at random or throw it in the "too good/awful to be stuffed in a closet" pile. Pieces from the latter will either be displayed artistically on walls or stuck to the fridge.

First thing to go on the fridge?

She is, you know. (This makes total sense in the context of a comic I'm never going to finish.)

The big project, though, was the writing notebook organization. It's still in progress, only about 20% done after two and a half hours of work last night. I've saved every writing notebook I've used since eighth grade, which amounts to...well, I don't have a number, but when I was moving it took one large, expanded rolling suitcase, one large duffel bag, and two messenger bags to cart them all over.

A sane person would take this epic pile of notebooks and toss them on the shelves where they landed. But me? I want chronology. I've been going through these notebooks with tape and Sharpies, making color-coded date tags. It takes some detective work, because pre-2007 me wasn't so keen on writing down dates. I've had to identify some notebooks based on events or teachers who are referenced in to-do lists in margins, or in a few cases, what part of my first novel was written in a given notebook.

My favorite part of this process is that the detective work almost inevitably turns into re-reading my horrible old writing. I don't just save my old notebooks to show myself how far I've come; I save them because they're freaking hilarious.

I got most of 1998-2002 sorted last night, and y'know what I found? Scenes from the very genesis of my first novel! Bad art! Dragon Ball Z fanfiction! Interviews with characters! Really, really bad art! Angst, angst, and comic-illustrated angst! Those notebooks are a veritable minefield of LOL.

And tonight, it's on to 2003. I'm looking forward to finding the one where I gave one of my main characters a drug addiction just for the sake of adding drama. (For those in the know: it was Rowyn, and I believe it was speed. Yeah, I don't know what the crap I was thinking, either.)

I hope my current notebook scribblings are this entertaining to the me of ten years in the future.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Agreeable projects

This morning, I sat down before work to see if I could get another paragraph or so squeezed in on Or Your Money Back. Instead, I wound up writing almost 700 new words in half an hour. Scanning back over them when I was getting ready to take off, I realized that all of them were pretty good words. They drew out the protagonist's big internal conflict, planted seeds for three of the four main plot threads in the book, kept the POV consistent, and set up by boy Seb to be pushed out the door into oncoming plot.

This sort of unexpected progress happens just about every time I sit down to work on this project first thing in the morning. Meanwhile, at night, I hem and haw and spin in my chair between sentences. And it's just the opposite with my other novel WIP, Sum. I think OYMB is just a morning book.

I should set my alarm for earlier.

In other news, I've got another project in progress that's behaving nicely. On Tuesday I cast-on my Garter Yoke Cardigan (AKA "The air conditioning in this building can bite me" because it's going to be my summer cardi for my occasionally arctic office). I'm doing it in Knit Picks City Tweed HW, which I'd never tried before ordering a sweater's worth, so it was a bit of a gamble.

Oh my god, jackpot.

It's a soft, silky wool-alpaca blend with fluffy neutral tweedy bits. I think it may be producing some sort of seratonin-releasing chemical, because every time I pick up the yoke of my sweater, I get happy. If it's as nice to wear as it is to knit with, I may not be able to keep the finished sweater in my office like I planned.

Oh, and the pattern's pretty nice, too.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A new place and the dreaded sweateritis

Moving day went astonishingly well, because more people than I expected pitched in to help. The whole process took less than three and a half hours, and no one even hurt themselves doing it (unless you count the dog, who landed wrong on his arthritic shoulder after giving my brother a high-five, but that was hardly moving related). Now I've got a brand new apartment full of crap, and the dog's got a big fenced-in yard to explore.

I love my new apartment. It's hard to describe it in words, and hell if I'm gonna post a picture of it in its current state (Run! The boxes are attacking!). But once it's all cleaned up, I'm going to brag about it. A lot.

I don't know if it's the fact that most of my knitting supplies have been boxed up for two weeks, or the contradiction of summer weather and wool lust, but I'm having a case of severe sweateritis right now. Ignoring all my other projects, here are the sweaters I've got on the needles:
  • My Or Your Money Back Sylvi coat (novel knit) - one cuff down
  • My Sum sweater (novel knit) - 3" in
  • Ethel Mildred Ferguson - a sleeve and a half from being done
Three sweaters should be enough sweaters, right? But no, I keep wanting to cast-on more sweaters. The rest of my sweater queue looks like this:
  • Garter Yoke Cardigan
  • Owls, cardiganized with short sleeves (for a July knit-along with the lovely ladies in the Ravelry Knitscape podcast group)
  • Modded Snow White, cardiganized with half-sleeves and a hood
  • A hoodie based on Max's monster suit in the upcoming Where the Wild Things Are (for a late summer knit-along with work-friend Kate)
  • A cardigan for my dad for Christmas, the design inspired by one of his favorite poems
And those are just the ones I have yarn for.

I'm pretty sure my brain is all over the sweaters right now because I have no big project deadlines coming up for school or writing. Maybe setting myself some writing assignments will lessen the sweateritis a bit.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Bookalanche 2009 update - June

Since I'm about to move and have the inventory sitting in a box next to my bed, it seems a good time to update this.

Bookalanche 2009 Current Stats:

(crossed off = finished, crossed off with star * = done with this book but didn't get through it, --- = currently reading)

Borrowed Books (1, down 11):

Sandman vol. VI Fables and Reflections - Neil Gaiman
Sandman vol. VII Brief Lives - Neil Gaiman
Sandman vol. VIII Worlds' End - Neil Gaiman
Sandman vol. IX The Kindly Ones - Neil Gaiman
Sandman vol. X The Wake - Neil Gaiman

Death: The Time of Your Life - Neil Gaiman
Death: The High Cost of Living - Neil Gaiman*
Sandman: The Dream Hunters - Neil Gaiman*
Sandman: Endless Nights - Neil Gaiman*
Magic's Pawn - Mercedes Lackey
The Bone People - Keri Hulme
Twilight - Stephenie Meyer

Books bought upon friends' recommendations (4, down 1):
The Zombie Survival Guide - Max Brooks
World War Z - Max Brooks
Reaper Man - Terry Pratchett
Jumper - Steven Gould
Superflirt - Tracy Cox

Books I've been meaning to read since I first heard about them (7):
-----Fragile Things - Neil Gaiman
American Gods - Neil Gaiman
Anansi Boys - Neil Gaiman
The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman
True Talents - David Lubar (goes with the other Lubar book in the Misc section)
The Psychology of Harry Potter: an Unauthorized Examination of the Boy Who Lived - ed. Neil Mulholland, PhD
-----Palimpsest - Catherynne M. Valente

Books my dad gave me ages ago (3):
The God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy
The Satanic Verses - Salman Rushdie
Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight - Alexandra Fuller

Total impulse purchases (7):
The Traveler - John Twelve Hawks
Small Eternities - Michael Lawrence
Orbiter - Warren Ellis
-----The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl - Barry Lyga
Five Seasons of Angel - ed. Glen Yeffeth
The Rising - Brian Keene
Dinosaur Planet Survivors - Anne McCaffrey

Books from my high school English classroom (5):
-----Beowulf: A New Telling - Robert Nye
The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
-----Tex - S.E. Hinton
That was then, this is now - S.E. Hinton
Rumble Fish - S.E. Hinton

Misc (2, down 1):
The Dog Years - Mark Doty (Bought for class, then it got dropped from the syllabus)
Hidden Talents - David Lubar (a reread, to get to the sequel)
You Don't Know Me - David Klass (another reread)

Total: 29, down 13

I've officially read more books for fun this year than I have any year since high school - and it's only June. Not bad at all!

I'm also currently reading
The Red-haired Girl from the Bog: The Landscape of Celtic Myth and Spirit by Patricia Monoghan and Things I’ve Learned from Women Who’ve Dumped me (an essay collection), and rereading Dream Boy by Jim Grimsley. Also, a friend from work just gave me his loaner copy of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac. That brings my total number of books I'm currently reading up to...eight, soon to be nine (soon as I crack open JTHM).

Saturday, June 6, 2009

How I spent my Saturday night

The roommates, my brother, Reed, and I drank a whole lot and marathoned a good chunk of Season 1 of Star Trek (the original series). I hung out on the Very Longest Thread in the Completely Pointless and Arbitrary Group on Ravelry, documenting our exploits.

A kind member of the VLT shared this:

And at one point, the VLT discussion was about 80% Star Trek, 20% sock yarn. As if I needed another reason to love Ravelry.

Anyway, I'm going to bed. If I don't post here much this week, it'll be because I'm packing like a maniac and arranging my move.

Somebody tell me not to make my dog a unicorn dog costume for Halloween.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

On killing metaphorical bears

There are plenty of ways to bolster your self-confidence before charging ahead. Some people give themselves pep talks. Some listen to "We Are the Champions" to jazz themselves up. Maori warriors - as I learned from Deadliest Warrior, an amazing feat of television - do an intimidating dance heading into battle.

Me, I quote The Edge.

The Edge, for the uninformed, is a dumb adventure movie that features Anthony Hopkins getting hunted by a man-hungry bear. His friend wants to give up and let the bear win, but Anthony Hopkins - who thinks he's a survival expert because he read a book on the subject - comes up with a daring plan to kill the bear. But first he has to convince his friend. He accomplishes this by inspirational yelling.

"I'm going to kill the bear!" he shouts. "Say it, Bob! Say 'I'm going to kill the bear!'"

His friend yells that he can't, Anthony Hopkins yells back, "Say it! Say 'I'm going to kill the bear!'" and by the end of the scene, they're both sitting in the wilderness yelling, "I'm going to kill the bear!" at the top of their lungs.

I don't know why the line stuck with me, but whenever I run into a situation that requires a level of confidence or bravery, I find myself thinking, "I'm going to kill the bear!"

Knitting project needs a big push to finish? I'm going to kill the bear!

Two more days until this project for class is due, and I haven't slept more than three hours a night in a week? I'm going to kill the bear!

Staring down the end of the fantasy trilogy I've been working on since I was fourteen? I'm going to kill the bear!

And it helps. Thinking "I'm going to kill the bear!" in decisive Anthony Hopkins voice makes me feel like I am going to kill the bear. I think it works because saying that to myself is so ridiculous I can't help but take it to heart.

Today I had to deal with two landlords regarding other people's housing, pull my shit together for a meeting I wasn't prepared for, and come home to half my life in boxes only to remember that the other half needs to be neatly boxed and stacked for moving a week and a half from now. But it's all good. Because y'know what?

I'm going to kill the bear.