In Absentia

Apologies for a long absence. I took a vacation. I guess you could call it that. We herded our two kids onto two different airplanes and took them all the way across the country to hang out with their grandparents and assorted aunts and uncles. Is that a vacation? It was pretty fun. I ate a lot. I think it counts, even though I’m quite tired and discombobulated as a result. It was nice to be off work for 2 weeks…

I’m beating my head against the wall at work about punctuation. It seems that the advent of Internet EVERYTHING has begun to alter grammar rules that were once hard and fast. (wow, that sounds kind of dirty). I put my foot down with a colleague, telling her that I wasn’t sure about much in life, but that I knew for a certain fact that punctuation ALWAYS goes inside the quotation marks, at least in AP and Chicago style. The defense of this rule that I’ve sworn my life on turns out to be “purely aesthetic.” That’s a bit annoying, but I like things to look nice, so I can go with it. But it seems that computer programmers are at the forefront of messing with this lovely rule because in many cases, putting additional punctuation inside parentheses changes the meaning significantly (to the computer you are coding for…) And in my work as a tech writer, where I draft software usage manuals, etc, I cannot write: Enter “Tag.” when I don’t want the user to enter a period after the word, even if this direction does end a sentence. Here it has to be: Enter “Tag”. Ugh. Ugly.

Plus it makes me wrong. I hate being wrong. Grr.

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Falling in Love

It’s been a while since I’ve had the twisty uncomfortable stomach-turning feeling that comes with new love, or at least with a new crush. And while I’m still happily married and haven’t broken that contract…I do have a couple new crushes that have been firing off activity in nerves I’d forgotten I possessed. One is a new infatuation, one is a love long forgotten that has just become new again. And both, I will admit, have sprung to life because I am obsessed with pop culture.

I’ve actually gotten to see quite a few movies lately. It should be noted here that I am in no way a critic. This is more true with movies than books, but in general – if a piece of entertainment manages to make me forget myself for an hour or two, I deem it a success. It’s only after the fact, when any companion mentions dropped plot lines or undeveloped characters, that I start to say, “oh, yeah. I guess that could have been done better.” So that being said, you should know that I will see almost any movie suggested to me, will read most books that others say they have enjoyed.

And both of my new fascinations developed (to some extent) while I sat enthralled before a 20 foot screen, forgetting myself and becoming a complete and willing victim of commercial manipulation…

They’re making a movie (again) from Gatsby. While I honestly cannot STAND Leo, I might overlook his annoying eye squint and weaselly grating voice to see the new take on “The Great Gatsby.” (Check out the trailer.) It looks to be a huge production, overproduced and glitzy. And it made me recall how much I loved that book twenty years ago when I read it for school. (Plus, I think you know that I love anything set in historic NYC.)

My husband asked me to remind him of the plot, and while I got most of it, I realized that I could hardly walk around saying it was one of my favorite books at this point if I didn’t remember it well. So I reread it. In two days. And realized a few things. One – there is a reason why this book is celebrated as it is. The story, while not incredibly original at its heart, is a great example of character arc, suspense, plot twist… But I think more importantly, Fitzgerald uses the storyline as a backdrop on which to paint like no other writer I’ve read since. Some examples that had me literally gasping —

“He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God. So he waited, listening for a moment longer to the tuning-fork that had been struck upon a star. Then he kissed her. At his lips’ touch she blossomed for him like a flower and the incarnation was complete.”
The Great Gatsby
Chapter 6, Gatsby on his first kiss with Daisy.

“He must have felt that he had lost the old warm world, paid a high price for living too long with a single dream. He must have looked up at an unfamiliar sky through frightening leaves and shivered as he found what a grotesque thing a rose is and how raw the sunlight was upon the scarcely created grass. A new world, material without being real, where poor ghosts, breathing dreams like air, drifted fortuitously about…like that ashen, fantastic figure gliding toward him through the amorphous trees.”
The Great Gatsby
Chapter 8

I read those words, those descriptions, and feel all weak and shuddery.

And that is exactly how I feel at the moment when I think of my second current infatuation. Because I was dragged, not entirely against my will, to another movie yesterday afternoon. Yes, I saw Magic Mike. And I can barely speak about it. I’d seen Channing Tatum before in The Vow with Rachel McAdams, and he was endearing, and of course I noticed the, um, well, the body. But I think it was when I learned that he is a dancer. Not just of the exotic ilk, but clearly a talented, if not classically trained, dancer… well, that pretty much did it for me. And it wasn’t hard to watch him do the dancing in various states of undress, though honestly, that isn’t usually my thing, I swear.

But now. I almost wish I hadn’t seen it, because I do have other things that need my attention. I haven’t felt quite this way since I was about 15 and saw Top Gun for the first time. (Tom Cruise has lost his gleam for me now…)

Wish me luck. Because it seems futile trying to be a writer when Fitzgerald has already done it so well. What is left to do that he didn’t already knock out of the park? And it seems futile trying to live my adequate life when there are Channing Tatums walking around out there — dancing around out there… deep sigh. I know that this is utterly ridiculous. I do.

 

Acceptance

You read it right! But no, not the novel. That’s still lingering out there in the ether, in the hands of three agents who expressed interest. (More likely, in a pile on the desk of those three different agents.) But that is neither here nor there. (What a strange saying.) What is here. And there, I suppose, is the purpose of this post. Celebration!

I’ve had a story accepted by a small literary publication called The Rusty Nail. It’s a short story, called “Bedtime.” It’s actually a very sad story, and is part of the group of things I did when I set about exploring my greatest fears. I figured that the things I’m most afraid of, if I dared to write about them, might evoke some passion that would be evident on the page. (Since I’m a parent, you can probably imagine what those fears entail.)

Anyway, this is my first publication since I set out to be “a real writer.” I have work in lots of magazines, but that’s all journalistic wine and travel-type stuff (written under my real name.) This is the first fiction credit I can claim, and I’m very excited about it.

Just wanted to share… since these moments don’t come often!