Monthly Archives: July 2009

August and Everything After


I am engaging in my seasonal flurry of purge and renew, a time when I usually drag most of my furniture out to the curb, cut off all my hair, start a new novel or get a tattoo. I’m fresh out of furniture and have pledged to grow my mermaid locks to my waist. Not feeling up to more ink, I decided instead to purge and renew by tackling my unwieldy cache of writing in attempt to tame that feral beast and get the obscene volumes of prose under control.

In some ways it’s too bad I can’t compose on my laptop like any other self-respecting writer. I even have a diminutive notebook computer that weighs less than a pound and fits in the glove box of my scooter. But no… for some reason I feel the need to do creativity old school style — pen and paper. This daily habit has left me with a colossal collection of notebooks that are beginning to take over my apartment and drain my resources every time I want to move.

I say all this with a note of warmth, similar to when I’m driving down Hampshire St. and it dead-ends without warning at a park, and I quietly admonish, “Oh Seattle, you silly goose.” I want to be angry, but really — how can one get her panties in a twitch over the inherent nature of things?

While wrestling with my notebooks the other day, I came across a hefty stack of rough drafts of novels I have written, and decided to scan them and store them electronically. Doing so would lighten my load by several pounds and make them more accessible.

I pulled out August in Winter Hill, and after unbinding the manuscript, found the scanner couldn’t feed the weathered pages automatically. I was left placing each of the 200 pages on the glass, one at a time.

Although an obvious manifestation of OCD, this task gave me the opportunity to re-read the novel that has taken up residence in the bottom of my bookshelf for nearly 10 years.

I was stunned. I found myself falling in love all over again, standing in the copy room at work and crying into the machine, defending myself to no one in particular, “This is good. This is a decent book!” Nobody was arguing with me, but I’m protective of my embryonic literary efforts and the criticism of days past still stings. Note to Self #147: Don’t show your fairy tales to a molecular biologist.

(Note to Self #148: Stop dating molecular biologists.)

My vain neuroses tell a story as old as time. At least four of the six people who’ve read this particular work loved it. Two out of three molecular biologists agree: it’s somehow lacking. Whose criticism I dwell upon is my choice, and in the past I chose poorly, focusing only on what was wrong with it. So it took up residence in the bottom of my bookshelf and gathered dust.

I’ve pulled this book back out half a dozen times and briefly entertained a rewrite, but was distracted by other bright shiny things — usually writing projects without a heavy emotional history. Time, however, has given me an interesting perspective on it, and I think it may be worth looking at again. It makes me nostalgic for Somerville in a big way.

In other news, I’ve finally got a P-Patch after being on the waitlist for eons. A P-Patch is a community garden, and you get a little plot to grow stuff on. Great for those of us living in an apartment sans yard. The only problem is that it’s not built yet. As soon as we finish the retaining wall and other necessary tasks, we’ll be able to start planting. I’m hoping for pumpkins this fall. It’s too late in the year to start planting sunflowers, which I will save for next summer.

Speaking of summer, yesterday broke every record in the history of the world for heat, leaving most of Seattle around 103 degrees. We don’t do heat well here. If you live here long enough, you turn into a total wuss. Below 35 degrees and the schools close, above 90 degrees the libraries close. I can’t quite figure it out.

The temperature at Alki was mercifully 10-15 degrees cooler than everywhere else in the city, due to the ocean breeze I’m sure. I didn’t find it terribly uncomfortable yesterday, especially after the Page and I got real crazy and jumped into Puget Sound. It literally took my breath away, and I was struggling to get oxygen back into my lungs as my limbs went numb. Once I lost feeling in my body, it was rather pleasant. I felt like a floating head. And then I started getting sleepy and we realized hypothermia was imminent so we crawled out of the salty sea to dry out on the hot beach.

Today is supposed to be close to 100 degrees again. It’s not often I choose to stay at work longer than necessary, but the air conditioning does make it tempting.

Be cool.