struggling

June 1, 2020

#blacklivesmatter

U.S. folks:  please make sure you’re registered to vote, then vote blue.

It’s hard watching the world right now. I have a book coming out next week, and I had all these plans to promote it, but I’m feeling small and useless.

So here is an article about all the books featuring black voices and black history mentioned in the Luke Cage TV series.

Here’s a list of black-owned business to support in Denver.

We’ll get through this, I think. It’s just really hard not being able to see what that looks like right now.

 

This brightened my day, though:  My niece has been working on stop-motion animation, and she made me this film. I love it.

 

My grandfather, Allan Linder, age 94, passed away on Tuesday. Not Covid-19 related, and that’s only one of the things that’s been very surreal about the last few weeks. Telling people, “My grandpa is sick – it’s not covid,” as a kind of verbal footnote. He went into hospice care in early February after a cancer diagnosis. (I haven’t posted about it before now out of respect for my family’s privacy…and I just didn’t want to talk about it.)

His decline has mirrored the unfolding coronavirus pandemic. As he grew more ill, the pandemic grew worse, every day, so I feel like I’ve been dealing with stressful unfolding tragedies in two directions. In both cases, it’s been like watching someone fall off a cliff in slow motion. I can see the ground under their feet crumble, I can see them tip over, I can see exactly what’s going to happen and how this will play out. And there hasn’t been a single thing I can do to stop it.

Like I said, it’s been a surreal few weeks. I was able to visit him in Pueblo on Monday, to say goodbye, and I’m vastly grateful for that opportunity. Times being what they are, that moment might not have been possible, but it was. I’m grateful.

Now let me tell you about my Grandpa. Son of a Swedish immigrant, youngest of four sons, a family of Nebraska farm boys. He turned 18 smack in the middle of World War II and joined the Navy, serving aboard the U.S.S. Matanikau in the South Pacific. After the war, he earned a Ph.D. in biology and taught at Idaho State University for twenty-five years. He spent a few summers as a ranger at Rocky Mountain National Park and was the recipient of a National Science Foundation grant. His research focused on reptiles and fish. He and Grandma celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary last year.

Grandpa taught me to fly fish, and I don’t know when I’m going to be able to watch “A River Runs Through It” again without breaking down. He’s also the one who got me into birdwatching. I still use the binoculars and spotting scope he gave me.

Yesterday, I almost stepped on a beautiful little garter snake in my yard, and it flicked its tongue at me before slithering off, and I laughed and cried because it felt like Grandpa saying hello. I will miss him.

 

state of the desk

February 6, 2020

I am in desperate need of distracting right now, so I’m going to talk a little bit about work. (I don’t suppose it’s really work when sometimes it’s the thing that makes me feel better? I’m so lucky in this regard.)

I’ve been working on a new novel since November. I passed 60,000 words on it this week. This one’s been a little strange — before this week, I hadn’t hit the wall. I usually hit the wall between 30k and 40k words — this is where the outline falls apart, I don’t know what happens next, I don’t know how to get from point A to point B and I have to stop, brainstorm, outline, make a map, whatever. Well, on this one, I’d been working on it straight for 3 months, which is really unusual.

I shouldn’t have worried, because the wall came last week and I had to take a break. I know basically what the end is — I have a really clear picture of it. But I’m not totally sure how to get there.  At least, I wasn’t. But I took that break, made that outline, and now suddenly ideas are pouring in. Part of why the first half of this went so quickly is I’d been thinking about it for a long time, I’d played out a bunch of the scenes in my mind over and over. But I didn’t really have anything for the second half.

Now I’ve got a map. Now I know where I’m going, and now the scenes are coming together. It feels good.

So, that’s some advice I very often give to people who get stuck. Instead of staring at the blank page, take a break. Take a walk. Bring some scratch paper. Draw a map. Write some notes. Brainstorm. Give your brain a chance to stretch. It’ll feel good.

 

 

Merry Christmas

December 25, 2017

Have a safe holiday season. As we head into the new year, I’m wishing for peace, safety, health, and happiness for all.

Be kind to each other, and to yourselves.

 

end/start of the month

September 1, 2017

August is finished. August, the month that would not end. So much happened, and just kept happening. Europe trip, total eclipse, Depeche Mode concert (and do check out their opening band, Warpaint, who were excellent), career strategizing, Wild Cards story finished and turned in, Too Much News…

August felt like six months long. And now it’s Labor Day weekend.

Time to hit the reset button and get ready for a good autumn.

 

Spider-Man: Homecoming

July 7, 2017

This was wonderful.

I’m having trouble figuring out what to say, because there’s so much I want to say, but I also don’t want to spoil a single thing because part of the joy of this is the ton of little easter eggs and jokes and just really nice moments through the whole thing. It’s clever, but doesn’t make a big deal about its own cleverness. It’s also really heartfelt. What is it like being a 15 year old kid with superpowers in the Marvel Universe? Here, this is what it’s like.  (In fact, the movie doesn’t stand alone. The plot’s deeply connected to what happens in Avengers and Civil War, and there are references to the whole MCU scattered around. But I have to say, at this point this is one of the things I love about the MCU:  they don’t spend any time trying to explain what happened before, they expect you to just know, and in the process have built up an entire world that doesn’t require any explanation, that acquires new layers with every outing.)

This is a superhero movie that’s also a nearly perfect teen comedy. That’s also an homage to teen comedies. But when the story of a teen comedy would go in one direction, this veers back into the superhero movie. So you think you know what’s going to happen, but then something else entirely happens.  We all stood outside the theater after asking each other, “Did you see THAT coming, at the start of the third act?”  “No I totally did not, did you?”  “Not even a little bit.”  We were all amazement.

And there’s the scene where Michelle is wearing a Sylvia Plath T-shirt.

Gah, I must stop now, before I start quoting lines. And stay all the way through the credits. Really really. I shouldn’t have to keep saying this…but just do it.

 

 

weekend!

May 26, 2017

It’s a holiday weekend here in the U.S. and I’m taking the time to recharge some. Been a hectic couple of weeks.  I hope you all get some good downtime this weekend as well and get to have some fun.

 

My Big Day #2

May 17, 2017

As I mentioned, last Saturday was eBird’s Global Big Day of birding, where birders all over the world head out to see how many species they can log in one day. This year’s stats: over 6500 species. That’s a lot of birds. My goal was to get over 50. Didn’t quite get there. I got just at 50, the same I did last year. Would have gotten more if I were better at IDing hawks in flight, but I’m not. Well, now I know what I need to practice at. But it is fun being part of a big project like this. I logged all my sightings.

Oddly enough, the rainy weather might have helped me last year. The best time for birding is the hour or so after dawn. Trouble is, I’m not a morning person. Last year, the gloomy weather fooled the birds into thinking dawn was later, so I got some really good sightings even with the late start. This year was bright, sunny, and beautiful, and I missed ’em. I’m going to have to figure out how to get started earlier.

Also, there were a ton more birders out, which led to situations like this:

Other, better birders: “Oh yeah, we’re seeing lots! Like *lists of ten species, half of which I’ve never seen before*.”

Me: “I saw a robin. It’s right there.”

So yeah. A little bit of a failure of confidence there. And then there were NO DUCKS on Barr Lake. Like, none. If I’d seen half the ducks I normally see at Barr and Walden, I’d have made 60 species, easy. Where the hell were the ducks?

Ah, birding.

So at Walden I thought about walking the upper ponds to try to find ducks, but I was so tired and lazy I just got out the spotting scope and parked it and stayed put for half an hour.

And that was when I got my one lifer for the day. A Wilson’s pharalope, which I would not have seen without the scope. (Also spotted with scope: American avocets and long-billed dowitcher.) Even better: if you’re good and steady, you can take pictures through a spotting scope. So I got out my little point-and-shoot digital, and I did. Not a great picture. But I did it. My last 3 birds of the day:

three waders

So, a nice end to a really long day. Next year, I’m considering only hitting one location, Walden Ponds, and really for real getting up at the crack of dawn this time, and just seeing how many birds I can spot in one place. No goal, just a good day. Yeah, that sounds good.

whew

January 23, 2017

I marched on Saturday. I’m really glad I did. I confess, I’m still processing. It’s still all kind of a blur, so I don’t have any good stories to tell, at least not yet. But I wanted to stand up and be counted, and I accomplished that.

The sign I carried said this:  “Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations.”

 

love

January 20, 2017

I’m planning on joining the Woman’s March on Denver tomorrow.  I will be thinking this: