Sunday, February 28, 2010

not quite writer's block...

One of my goals for February was to rewrite the sections of Blood Song that pertained to anything military. I made the decision to have the MC's husband (Joey) be reserves instead of active duty. This lessened the amount of time he was seen by military, and would allow for a more realistic progression (actually I guess it would be digression since it is getting worse) of his PTSD without having the military superiors intervene.
I'll admit to being less than motivated. These parts never held my interest but I felt it necessary to the plot to show his downward spiral and it's effects on Izzy (MC). I finished up a rough rewrite of two short chapters last night and combined them into one longer one. Is one long chapter enough to sum that up though? Should I try to write more? I don't think it needs more, adding that is. The whole WIP needs editing and polishing, and *gasp* cuts???
My conundrum is this...
I don't know what to do from here. I feel stuck. I have just over 80K words (or roughly 270 pgs) so far, with plenty of minor holes to fill in. It's very overwhelming. Should I start from the beginning and fill in any holes? Should I tighten up major parts first? Go back to the first parts I wrote to improve them (yes I realize they aren't as good as they could be :) )????
Part of me wants to hand it to someone, preferably a genius writer, and say "here, could you uh- ya' know, do something with this. I dunno, just fix it. Thanks." But then I wouldn't have done it myself and they would muck it up somehow. It just wouldn't be the way I want it to be, and I'd still be unhappy.
I guess it boils down to the fact that at the moment I'm having a wee bit of trouble seeing the forest for all these damn trees! My obstacles are everywhere; self doubt, not enough sleep, not enough time, work, kid's school, bath time, play time, cooking, cleaning, blah, blah, blah.
Deep breath in...and out...whew. Sorry, I just needed to vent a second.

Some days I write shit. And some days I write really good shit. And that, as Stuart Smalley says, is okay. Cause I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it people like me.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Uisge Beatha, the Water of Life

Wednesday morning came like a kick to the head. A sinus headache, that was accompanied by some lovely drainage (the color is somewhere between neon and olive green for you interested medical types), and not enough sleep were enough to make me think of skipping my four hour peer review for work. After some saline lavages, two cups of coffee, and 400mg of Ibuprofen, I felt good enough to trudge onward. The excitement of the Whisky tasting got me through the day (and the excitement of seeing Erin and Scott too :) )

After dropping Dagan off at school, I made it to work only 30 minutes late (sorry guys-er, I mean ladies). We got six evaluations done, which was more than I'd thought we'd get. And guess what, it's snowing again! So, back home I go, thankful that the snow isn't sticking. John beat feet to his MRI appointment, but forgot his wallet...Classic Peg. After he got home, we spent the rest of the afternoon picking up around the house. John decided to wash his new sweater so he could wear it to the tasting. That's all well and good, but it's a lay-flat-to-dry garment. He pulled a soaking wet sweater out of the washer, and immediately put it back in, programming the machine to "spin-only" mode, which didn't do a damn bit of good either. The sweater was still wringing wet when it got done.
"Why don't you just wear your other beige sweater?" I asked.
"I don't like the way it fits me." He said.
"Isn't that sweater supposed to lay flat to dry?"
"Then why'd you wash it? We've gotta leave in like three hours." I reminded him. His eyes darted around while his mind searched for a logical answer.
"Because it's never been washed...I'll just stick it in the dryer a minute." He decided.

Well, at 5:45 (we needed to leave by 6p.m.) the sweater was still very wet, but somehow not shrunken despite the fact that he used HIGH heat. "It's just a little damp, it'll be fine." He says as he gets dressed. It was not "a little damp." It was wet. I shook my head warily at him.
"Just wear the other one."
"It'll be fine." He repeated. Yeah right, I thought.
My aunt Jane had come over to keep the kids while we went out. This was our first night out besides music shows in two years. And by this time (6 p.m.) I'd already gotten a text from Erin saying they'd made it and had a table for us. Just great, we hadn't even left yet. "We're leaving now" I typed slowly, I'm not so savvy with the texting. I yelled towards the bedroom that we needed to go. I'll never understand how a man can take longer than a woman to get dressed. Maybe it's because I don't wear make-up, who knows, but it takes me no longer than 10 minutes to get dressed.
John came out wearing the "other sweater."
"Not dry enough?" I snickered.

After driving the speed of an elderly woman all the way to Murfreesboro, we got there only 10 minutes late. We had a short time to chat with Erin and Scott before the tasting started. Besides an awkward call during the tasting from the MICU educator, there were no interruptions.
Ed Kohl gave a slide show presentation during the tasting that showed us the entire process of making single malt whisky...very informative. There were eight whiskies to try, and I was very surprised that John participated. I'm not sure how much he liked them though. I really liked four of the whiskies (asterisks next to my favorites below) and purchased two bottles (#1&4) to pick up in three weeks.

* 1. 1999 Auchentoshan, Lowland 10 yr. 92 proof-light and easy, doesn't linger too long
2. Edradour, S. Highland 10 yr 92 proof-strong, a little oily texture
3. 1997 Mortlach, Speyside 12 yr 86 proof-like drinking fire or a ninja punch
*4. 1994 Glen Rothes, Speyside 15 yr. 92 proof-nice kick but smooth too
5. 1998 Clynelish, N. Highland 11 yr. 86 proof- a little peat/smoke flavor
6. Isle of Skye, Island 8 yr. (blended) 86 proof
*7. 2001 Laphroaig, Islay 8 yr. 92 proof -very smokey, like Lagavulin :)
*8. 1998 Glen Ord, N. Highland 11yr cask strength 120.6 proof-didn't write anything down for this one, I guess my head was swimming too much by that time. But I do remember liking it very much.

We had a wonderful time, and can't wait to try more in Scotland.
Note to self: research the customs laws on bringing back whisky :)
Photo below: (from left- Scott Moyers, Erin Moyers, myself, and John)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

"Short Bursts"

[The title is track nine from We Were Promised Jetpacks' album These Four Walls]

Friday's show @ The End was amazing. Even though the show started an hour late, I could've done without the first band (their name eludes me, something like cole slaw), John was wound up tighter than a dollar watch, and I was suffering from too little sleep and the early stages of sinus funk...I had a blast. That's such an understatement. I can't think of another word right now though.

First off, I went straight to the merch table and got WWPJ's new EP which has three new songs and two new versions of songs previously released on These Four Walls. I would've gotten a shirt but they only had med/large. (I ordered one online instead the next day) We each got a beer, which didn't sit well with me since I'd only been up a few hours from working the night before. (The first burp after my Yuengling Lager was a rough reminder of the last time I saw this band in ATL, and ended up puking at the rest stop somewhere between ATL and Nashville.) This particular venue only sold beer though, no liquor. I made a mental note to purchase a flask for my whisky.

John was in a horrible mood, and that threatened to bring me down...almost. He looked like he might jump out of his skin, and muttered to himself that he couldn't wait for this to be over. His knee was hurting, so I'm sure that didn't help. Neither did the four philosophical aspiring musicians behind us, who talked about nothing and everything very loudly up until the first band started. At one point I told him to go home and I'd take a cab, but he suffered through ;) I think he enjoyed WWPJ though.

As I said, the first band didn't do anything for me. Just wasn't feeling it, though I'll admit their drummer was good. He broke more than one stick that night. Finding shards of them on the ground led me to a mental image of having to bust out some ICU skills should someone get impaled.

The second band, Bad Veins, were great. I ended up buying their CD after the show. Just two guys, drums, guitar, keyboard, a reel-to-reel, and a telephone. I've only listened to the album once so far, so we'll see if it has staying power.

*sigh* We Were Promised Jetpacks..... I just love those guys, totally smitten kitten here. Seriously, this borders on an unhealthy obsession that rivals my idee fixe with Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series lol.

They opened with 'A Half Built House' that faded into 'Keeping Warm' which I loved because they didn't play either song in ATL last time. After that, they did most of the album except Conductor and An Almighty Thud. Their new one, A Far Cry, kicked ass! Very powerful song, dark in an oh-so-good way.

When the show ended, I was glad to see many "new" fans stop by the merch table to pick up CDs. For a minute, I thought we wouldn't get a chance to speak to the guys. John clearly wanted to get home, and it was 1am already. As fate would have it, I ran into Darren Lackie (drums). I said something lame like "kick ass show." Imagine my surprise when he remembered me from the ATL show. Okay, here's where the warring feelings kick in. I'm partially flattered that he would remember a fan, their name, and city after all the traveling they do but there's the lingering mortification of what I might have said/done to make myself memorable. For those of you who are acquainted with my drunken behavior, you'll agree that there are any number of things said or done that would qualify as memorable (both good and bad, hopefully more the former than the latter).

Since I was quite inebriated the last time I saw them, I don't even remember telling them my name [very sheepish grin]. The rest of our conversation is a blur, because I was racking my brain about what stupid things I might have said or done the night of September 27, 2009.

Anyway, we briefly said hi to Sean Smith (bass) before leaving. Unfortunately we didn't get to see Adam Thompson (vocals/guitar) or Micheal Palmer (guitar and namesake of my MC's husband in Blood Song) :( And much to my dismay, no pictures this time around. I was hesitant to ask. As a fan, you don't want to seem crazy, needy, etc. because if you already have one picture with the band, why would you need another one? Because I want another one, damn it. You can never have too many pictures taken with your favorite bands. I was a good girl though and didn't push.

Halfway home, I realized we'd forgotten to close out our bar tab, so back to The End we go. It was a little depressing to see them taking all the gear down, and hardly any fans hanging out after the show. Am I really getting that old, or do people not do that anymore? To me that's half the fun of going to live shows; trying to meet up with the band, a few drinks, laughs, etc. If John hadn't been in such a bad mood, I'd have stayed and bought a round for the band. But with three kids and grandma waiting at home...I guess I can't do that anymore *melancholy sigh*

Fast forward to present day. I mentioned the EP has two songs (different versions) from the first album. One of them is a hard hitting angst filled song called 'Short Bursts.' I tried very hard not to like the new version. I have a mild aversion to change. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. The new version is still angst filled, just much more toned down. You still get the raw emotion out of it though.

I listened to 'A Far Cry' and 'Short Bursts' countless times Saturday night at work. After about the fifteenth time I realized this would be a hard fight. And damn it, try as I might...I like the damn song, almost as much as the original version. That's saying a lot since it was one of my top three off that album. I think I may even find inspiration for a scene or two in Blood Song from it.

Now the post-show glow is wearing off. And I'm sad not knowing how long it will be until their next show or album. (The only other live shows that made me feel like that were Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings. They were nearly spiritual experiences.) I guess I'll have to survive somehow off youtube clips and such. A very hard existence I assure you. Oh well, I'm still keeping my fingers crossed they'll be playing somewhere in Scotland this May, or maybe Amsterdam.

p.s. at least I'm not suffering from a three day hangover this time around.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

'S fhada bho nach fhaca mi thu

The title is Gaidhlig (Scottish Gaelic) for "long time no see"... I think :)

Holy Crap! Has it really been two months since my last post??? I officially apologize for being a slacker :) I'll start with some family updates, and then move right along to my latest revelation.

I think John has adjusted to being the stay-at-home-dad, and now realizes however frustrating a job is, it is nice to get out of the house and interact with adults every day. However, his knee has been giving him trouble [insert old man joke here :) ] and we're scheduling an MRI to see if he'll need surgery or just physical therapy. Hopefully this will be resolved in plenty of time before our Scotland trip in May, lots of walking...up and down hill...horseback riding...etc.

I'm almost done with the first draft of "Blood Song." I know, I know...I keep saying that. But really, I am. I'm working four 12 hour shifts per week, and still having some mommy guilt about getting plenty of sleep. I lie down and think of all the things I should be doing instead of sleeping. Frustrating to say the least. SO...I'm trying to meet my goal of 1000 words per day. That includes new scenes as well as rewrites and edits.
In the spirit of our Scotland trip, I've been trying my hand--er, tastebuds at Whisky. Scottish single malt, neat preferably. I was surprised to find that I love it. Not sure why I was surprised, given the long line of "Scotch drinkers" I come from. My friend/coworker/fellow Outlander addict, Erin, and her husband are going on the trip as well. I'm excited that they'll be driving up later next week for a Whisky tasting. I doubt John will do any tasting, but he can enjoy the appetizers and company.

Dagan is moving right along in the 2nd grade. We're trying out a few new meds to help him stay on task, fingers crossed! Biggest steps recently- he learned to tie his shoes and swallow pills. The latter is a huge deal considering the boy gags from using "thin strips."

Ian is officially potty trained!!! Not much else I can say to top that :) One quick story though, I can't help it.... Bronwen was trying to wear her beloved pink blanket as a Jedi cape, but Ian kept pulling it off from behind her. She'd yell and cry at him each time. On his third or fourth attempt, I slapped my knee and scolded him "Ian, don't do that. It's not nice!" To which his reply was "It's not nice, but it's funny." A boy after my own heart. No denying his parentage.

Bronwen is a hellcat. She's harder to keep up with than both the boys, combined. Her newest habit is to remove all clothing and streak through the house yelling, "I'm naked." Naked pronounced the Southern way, neh-ked. Her other phrase is "Go Away" combined with angry finger pointing.

And next to last on the agenda is our family To Do list. Well, really it's more of a John & Aven list :)
1. Feb. 19th We Were Promised Jetpacks concert @ The End, see previous blog "I Heart Scotland"
2. Feb. 24th Scottish Whisky Tasting...yum!
3. Mid-April, possibly Auburn trip for the famous/infamous April Party
4. April 23rd David Sedaris @ Ryman Auditorium
5. May 14-25th Scotland trip w/ layover in Amsterdam
6. June 3rd James Taylor w/ Carol King concert in ATL
7. June 10-13 BONNAROO

Now for my latest epiphany. I went to the wholesale liquor store next to Costco, where I buy all my wine and Whisky, to replenish my dwindling supply. I picked up a bottle of Macallan 12 and Glenmorangie 10 since these were down to the last quarter bottle or so, and they were out of the Lagavulin 16 :( My cashier that day was a man in his late 50's early 60's I'd guess, and apparently not a whisky drinker.
"Two bottles of Scotch?" He asked, a little surprised.
"Yeah, my supply is getting low." I replied.
"Oh, you're the Scotch drinker?" He seemed to doubt that a woman my age (29 if you must know) would drink the stuff.
"Yep, my husband won't touch the stuff." I said.
Our conversation went on with him asking if I actually liked it, and I said yes I actually do. He asked which kinds, blah, blah, blah... I was nearly back to the van before I realized he hadn't asked to see my ID. I always get carded when I buy beer or wine. And then it struck me that anyone who drinks single malt whisky is bound to be over 21 years old. Any person underage is gonna go for the cheapest drunk they can get, preferably something they can mix with soda or fruit juice in order to not taste the alcohol. Oh well, I'm telling myself that's the reason he didn't card me. I choose not to believe it's because I actually look old enough, despite the recent discovery of wrinkles around my eyes.

Mar sin leibh an-drasta....
(goodbye for now)

"Always carry a flagon of whisky in case of snakebite and furthermore always carry a small snake." W.C. Fields