Walking home

soft sculpture of DuChamp's "Fountain"
Since the new year turned I have been getting off the bus after work at one of the parks a mile from my house, and walking home. It’s no longer quite dark at that hour, but it’s mostly dark. Parents are pushing their children on the swingset, in the mostly dark. Every night this week I’ve heard geese honking overhead and searched the sky for the V, finally able to see it but just barely.

On Tuesday night I crossed paths with another walker by the playground, and after he had passed I could smell his fresh chewing gum. I spent a moment idly trying to ID the flavor, but it wasn’t quite bubblegum, and it wasn’t Juicy Fruit or spearmint, the other flavors that are imprinted in my brain from my mom keeping them in her purse. Still, I walked on with a warm fellow-feeling for my fellow human animals.

The next night I got off the bus at the same stop, and took the same route through the park. There was no one by the playground, but…I smelled the fresh chewing gum scent! Ghostly possibilities ran through my mind until I saw the porta-potty stationed on the other side of the path.

It was clean-porta-potty smell that had given me that glow of benevolence toward all humanity. I laughed at myself…and took a different route for the rest of the week.

Friday I got off the bus at the Reed campus and walked home past the art building. The display at the front had soft sculptures of sculptures, with signage about the hours and materials costs involved in making them. My favorite was Hirst’s For the Love of God, which Tiphany Laney made in 17.75 hours for $24.50. Here it is next to the original.

soft sculpture of Damien Hirst's "For the Love of God"Damian Hirst sculpture For the Love of God (jeweled skull)

NotANaNo Update

I am on pace for mileage and words. Having two daily targets, each of which can be reached in under an hour, and in activities that complement each other, is working out well. The house is rather a pigsty, however. Maybe tomorrow I can address that.
Words: 2717 / 15,000
Miles: 15 / 90

Hello, November.

I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this year, but I’ve got a few Wrimos and Wrimo Rebels to cheer on. And for myself, I want to write 500 words of fiction each day this month, and walk three miles each day. My progress so far: 1115/15,000 words, and 6/90 miles. (I tried a little online wordcount meter, but it’s not working today… perhaps swamped by Wrimos.)

Louie went to the vet today, after several days of asking to go out every hour or two. They think he has Degenerative Myelopathy, which is most common in German Shepherds (he’s a shepherd mix) and matches his symptoms. Draggy feet, check; hoarse bark, check; hard to control the peeing and pooping, uh huh; tippy hind end, yup. It’s not strictly age-related, as dogs as young as five get it, but if he has it, it will almost certainly be the cause of his demise. He’ll be getting palliative drugs (mostly for his arthritis pain), but there’s no treatment for the progressive nerve stuff.

He’s sixteen, so we certainly knew something was coming. It will still be hard to say goodbye.

He had x-rays, and they swear they only sedated him a teeny bit, because they know he’s sensitive to anesthetic, but omg he was dopey when we brought him home! Sang went to pick him up and was sent away again so he could have another hour or two to recover…then I went to get him and he almost had to be carried to and from the car. He did the red-membrane-devil-dog-eyes routine passed out on his bed for several hours, and has only just started moving around again. He still sinks unpredictably down to the floor or just stands there like he forgot where he was going. Poor pup, he had a rough day.

happy bits of writing news

A few sweet things have happened in my writing life lately:

  1. I got a call from the director of Write Around Portland, asking for permission to reprint the first piece I ever published in a WRAP anthology, back in 1999! It will be in an academic book about writing and community. I read my piece over and did not cringe. I wouldn’t write that way now–too much of the Cryptic Yet Meaningful–but it’s not horrible. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about early writings. Partly because my bus book is Henry James’ The Ambassadors, and it is so very different from my beloved Portrait of a Lady and The Bostonians. Partly because I am painfully aware how much less open I feel writing on the internet now than in the early days of my LiveJournal. I don’t think it’s only me. And partly because I’m reading Barack Obama’s Dreams From My Father and it seems so, so candid! I can’t imagine someone writing it while knowing a Presidential campaign might be in the cards. And he didn’t know. Yet…he was a U.S. senator-elect when it was published, far more prominent than I expect ever to be. It makes me want to have the courage to be more open.
  2. I emailed my former workshop instructor at the IPRC and he wrote me back to say my stories had really stuck with him! There is little that could make me happier to hear than that.
  3. I got a rejection from One Story for “Non-Nutritive Boyfriend.” Granted, this is not as sweet as getting an acceptance, but it means I can proceed with assembling the chapbook edition and putting it up for sale. One sub-project I’m psyched about is making a light box for product photography.

In non-writing news, I walked through the western rose garden in Ladd’s Addition this morning and was swept off my feet by a hybrid tea called Voodoo. I don’t usually like coral-colored roses–they make me think of lipstick–but this one was gorgeous and smelled sweet and complex. Fragrant roses get harder to find in September.