04 February 2019
Yesterday I attended a...skill share? Jam session? etc for people that are interested in flow arts/dancing with props. We worked with staves/staffs on various tricks that people knew. It was a great time - with the exception of my elbow.
To catch you up, I have tendonitis in my right elbow, most likely brought on by a semester of tactile interpreting in very odd classroom setups. While it is MUCH better than it was, I still have flare-ups of pain from my fingertips up to my elbow on that side - making my job SO MUCH FUN. I have an elbow brace that I wear and I take anti-inflammatory meds as needed. Easy. I was seeing improvement - until yesterday when I apparently forgot everything I know about taking it easy and carefully working my way back up to staff work.
Because the other likely culprit for my elbow issue is my age - the last time I spun a staff-like flag on a regular basis I was 17 years old. Apparently, your tendons become less stretchy after you pass the age of 40, which is seven years in my rearview at this point. Yesterday I didn't stop until my shoulders and wrists and all in-between were making their presence known, and last night I think I slept about 2-3 hours all total due to waking up with a dull ache in my arm over and over.
Well, learned my lesson, didn't I? Won't be doing that again, right?
Poi class starts this week at 8:30 on Thursdays. Since I already have experience with poi I can take it more slowly than I did with the staff yesterday, and I am certain the weight of the staff was harder on my arm than the poi will be. And if it isn't, I will sit out and watch for a while. But y'all, I am stooooopid excited about getting back to poi. It is meditative for me, and makes my heart happy.
Here's hoping it will make my elbow happy as well.
01 February 2019
Okay, earlier today, but not now, even though the sun is creeping up and into the window I'm sitting in front of and making it darned near impossible to work because I CAN'T SEE...
Nope, still not complaining. I am instead starting a new way of working - may or may not have asked permission or cleared it with the higherups but you know, sometimes, to quote Christine Kane, you have to "leap and the net will appear." At least I hope there will be a net.
This is a time of change in my office. Great change. But only for me. After seven years of sitting at a certain desk in a certain office within our suite, I am being relocated. At first, I was angry. I have been here the longest! Why am I having to move? But now, I'm starting to look at this arrangement as a new way to work - semi-digital semi-nomad life, here I come.
So I was going to get myself all worked up over having to be out of my office today, but I'm not - I'm in my office now wherever I am. It's a scary thing for someone that had needed the stability of a 9-5 job for most of my life, but it's turning out to be more okay than I thought.
More time for writing when I'm not chained to a desk. More time to sit in a comfy chair and read my prep materials. More time to be me, rather than the poor team player that I always seem to end up being. More time, less office. Yeah. I think the net is appearing.
Hey, I just noticed the purple and orange in the photo up there. Huh. Coincidence?
18 January 2019
So how many of you (admittedly, 5-6) Lettuce Readers have already given up on the New Year's Resolutions that you made a few weeks ago? Yeah, me too. The difference is that my resolutions were actually achievable this time - set out your clothes for work the night before, make sure that the coffee pot is ready to go before you come stumbling in for some liquid courage at 6:55am (wow, that might have been a little more disclosure than I meant to have this early in a blog post), make time to write every day and the time in between lunch and class doesn't count.
I'm writing this having just polished off two lovely vegetarian sliders with Palmetto Cheese on top, and I've come to work in a long sleeve t-shirt and jeans if that tells you anything.
Before the end of 2018, I started listening to a podcast by my sister-of-choice, Elizabeth Dunne. It's called #FLAW3D and it is brilliant, insightful, and funny, just like she is in person. I swear. But as with everything that occurred after 12 April of 2018, I was going through the motions with her podcasts and other content under the #FLAW3D brand. In fact - I will admit this if you swear not to tell her I said so - I am embarrassed to say that while listening to her podcasts on the bus on the way to work, I fell asleep. Every time. That has more to do with my level of exhaustion and nothing to do with her content, I swear. My life for most of last year could be represented by the photo above - a long hard slog down a cobbled road devoid of all color.
I also listened to them out of order, because I had started doing that with another podcast I am addicted to listening to called And That's Why We Drink, a Paranormal and True Crime Podcast. The personal information that MUST BE LISTENED TO IN THE ORDER IT WAS RELEASED SO THAT YOU CAN CREEP ON THE LIVES OF THE PODCASTERS is not the point of the podcast there. But with Elizabeth's podcast, it is.
I mean not the creeping part. I would never. I'm having too much trouble remembering to call her Elizabeth rather than 'liz, as I have known her since uni, so there's no way I've got an ulterior motive here. Plus, she is the mother of my eldest niece, so I am versed in the real Elizabeth.
And y'all, if you will just listen to #FLAW3D you will hear the real Elizabeth. She is unabashedly open about everything that she chooses to share - and what she doesn't.
Anyway! So I listened to the first episode of #FLAW3D today - the topic was becoming a digital nomad and working with your spouse - and it was terribly relevant to me not because Hubs is going to quit his job and we are going to open up THE NEXT BEST BIG THING anytime soon. It was terribly relevant because it was just the dose of, "You want to do that? Well, why not?" that I needed. Yesterday was a hard day in the universe of my day job - so bad, in fact, that I couldn't even bring myself to escape to Orana like I normally do when the waters get rocky. I did manage to finish a chapter in the next Clobberpaws, but that was it. One chapter.
Did I mention that I started said chapter LAST NOVEMBER? Yeah. Not my best day as a writer.
But this morning's listen left me with feelings. All the feelings. Why not give up my cushy 37.5 hr/week job where I know what I'm doing and how to do it...if others would just stay out of my lane and let me do it. Why not just keep writing as a hobby and sort-of side gig...even though seeing that three of my books sold all in one day makes me so happy that I literally cried for a few minutes. Why not do what I love, rather than working at a place that I don't love as much as I used to do so that I can afford to do what I love? Things to ponder.
The best bit was probably when her guests, Erin Booth and Tannia Suarez (co-founders of efftheoffice.com) talked to Elizabeth about how for couples that both work jobs outside the home, they have only a few precious hours in the evening to spend time together. Then on weekends they are planning to spend time together but are either too exhausted or want to pursue things that make their individual souls happy - cue the entrance of guilt and resentment.
Hubs and I do that very thing. We get home late. We struggle over what to eat for our tea. We struggle over when to eat or to actually eat at all. We collapse on the sofas and watch an hour or two of television and then go to bed. That is not a life well lived.
So while I'm still processing episode one and moving on to episode two, let me again recommend that you go to FLAW3D.com and check out the podcast and Elizabeth. You won't be sorry. Now if you will excuse me, I need to completely rethink my entire life. New Year, New Me? Nope. Just New Me - a work in forever ongoing progress.
11 January 2019
Of course, this image flies in the face of my reality - I'm usually on the sofa, holding off anywhere from one to three dogs who DESPERATELY NEED MY ATTENTION RIGHT NOW and answering questions from my husband while trying to find the right way to describe a creature that heretofore exists only in my mind. That, of course, is luxury; there are also the harried moments of trying to get a sentence typed while simultaneously trying NOT to slide off the seat in a moving bus, or typing out THE BEST DIALOGUE I HAVE EVER CREATED with one hand at whatever desk I can find at work - as the other hand tries not to drop my lunch onto the keyboard.
Anyway, enjoy this passage from "How One Should Read a Book," by Virginia Woolf. She is, as per usual, spot on. I will have some thoughts to share after you're done.
The thirty-‐two chapters of a novel—if we consider how to read a novel first—are an attempt to make something as formed and controlled as a building: but words are more impalpable than bricks; reading is a longer and more complicated process than seeing. Perhaps the quickest way to understand the elements of what a novelist is doing is not to read, but to write; to make your own experiment with the dangers and difficulties of words. Recall, then, some event that has left a distinct impression on you—how at the corner of the street, perhaps, you passed two people talking. A tree shook; an electric light danced; the tone of the talk was comic, but also tragic; a whole vision, an entire conception, seemed contained in that moment.
-Virginia Woolf, How Should One Read A Book
Right, so anyone that has written anything will tell you that this is one of the more challenging aspects of the craft - take what you have experienced that inspires you and turn it into words, with all their "dangers and difficulties." While I do agree that it is difficult, it occurs to me that I have an advantage that I hadn't thought about until today - I am fluent in English, but also in American Sign Language (ASL).
I know, it's a stretch, but stay with me.
ASL, like all other signed languages, is a visual and spatial language - English, and other spoken languages, are more linear in their approach to conveying a message. It is part of the language to describe things, to make the building that Woolf mentions in that passage. You can't convey the meaning, TREE without conveying what the tree looks like. It is built into the language!
I haven't gotten to the advantage yet, so if you're still lost, that's okay. Here we go.
In order to express TREE in ASL, I have to visualize the tree. Whereas in English I might say "the old oak tree with the outstretched branches" to describe the tree I'm picturing now, I would use one sign in ASL:
As you can see in this image by The Tree House, my arm would be the trunk and my fingers the leaves, so in a way, I'm expressing everything that took me eight words in English with one sign. But in my mind, I am visualizing the tree and hanging onto that visualization because I need it to correctly represent the tree.
That was the advantage - did you miss it? ASL requires me to hold onto images of things that I have seen and subsequently want to talk about later. That is such a useful skill for a writer, especially one like me born without an eidetic memory. Do I capture and store everything that I see/hear/experience? No, my internal hard drive that is my brain is far too limited for that. But part of what I do as an ASL user is to slow down for a second and consider the visual aspects of something that strikes me - and that helps me later describe it, sometimes first in ASL and then in English.
My life is weird - and wonderful, and I hope that this will make me a better interpreter AND novelist.
03 January 2019
Like it was just yesterday. I still remember you on one knee at Manchester Airport (if you want me to say yes to something, asking when I'm jet-lagged and just getting off an 8 hr flight is a good time to ask), and I remember Louise looking concerned that I might have said no when we got to the car. I can still feel the loose buckle on my left shoe that made my leg wobble throughout the ceremony. I can still taste that first sip of Yorks Tea at the reception.
How are we ten years older in the picture on the right than we were in the one on the left? How have we had ten Christmases and Easters and moved house twice and country twice? How has our house been home to seven dogs and a cat in that space of time? Didn't I just arrive at Heathrow and have my visa stamped? Wasn't it just a few minutes ago when we drove to Atlanta to get my biometrics done, or to Berea to sort out your social security? I'm certain it was only a week or so ago, maybe a month, that I picked you up at Hartsfield right after you collected me at Manchester when we were basically living at various airports and train stations. Wasn't it?
I'm so grateful for the macaroni and cheese, the shared nerdiness, the willingness to put up with my shenanigans, the flashlights bought for me to take to faire, the resolve to get up when the girls are howling so that I can lie in, the whispered, "love you, bye" when I think I've managed to get out the door without waking you, the love of travel and history, the debates over whatever has just been said on telly, the ability not to laugh in my face when I think I'm speaking Yorkshire, the shared love of Greenville, the support and encouragement to be a writer, the shared - and different - expat experience, and all the other things that I have been given over the past ten years that I most certainly did not and do not deserve.
Ten years done and dusted, and as many more as I can get to come. Love you to absolute bits, Simon.
02 January 2019
|Yeah, that's what I look like in my head - but less blonde.|
Yeah, so I'm a little behind, but no blog of mine would be worth its collective weight without a farewell to the old and promises I plan to
This past year has been a different beast. I lost my dad in April. I lost my mind, more or less, in the summer. I lost my office around November. I lost the regular and pain-free use of my right elbow somewhere during the fall semester. For once, as I said in a very maudlin post on Facebook, I was not desperately clinging to the previous year on New Year's Eve and was ready to kick that biz to the curb. Roll on, 2019!
For the however long New Year's Eve took, I was standing between two realities, in a way. New year, new me, right? Sort of. I'm not making specific resolutions, save the generic ones like, "Enjoy life more and read more and so forth." I'm going to live my best life (so far) in 2019 because really, that's all we can do, right? That's all I have been doing, trying to live my best life - perhaps the resolution is to let less of the stuff of life get in my way.
Oh, and to the writerly stuff: I will have a Clobberpaws book coming out in the spring/summer of this year and at least one Orana Chronicles novel out by May, if the scorching and clobbering process (that is writing and editing) doesn't kill me first, that is.
11 December 2018
Wow, that escalated fast. For anyone concerned that I was just having a bit of a lie in on Monday or that I decided that I just didn't want to turn up this morning - have a look at that picture and then remember that I drive a Honda Fit. We got a bit stuck when we dropped the girls off this morning and - small car FTW - Simon was able to push me off of the snow drift I'd become stuck on because I drive a matchbox car. That was my street on Sunday afternoon I think.
So things we learned:
- It doesn't matter how many days you have been snowed in/without power, you will continue to try to turn on the lights in your bathroom because it doesn't have a window and it's dark in there.
- Dogs handle adversity much better than humans.
- You cannot use a generator that is less than $300 ish to provide heat to your house because they can't manage more than 6.5 amps.
- If you wait till the day after Snowmaggedon, no one in Greenville will have generators, propane heaters, or, more importantly, propane.
- Harbor freight sells fantastic flashlights.
Okay, now I think I'm finished...unless Duke Energy misses the deadline tonight.
|What do you mean we have to leave this warm house? - Ciaragh|
Last week we heard that there was snow moving into the area over the weekend. Yucky and cold and wet Saturday, snow and sleet on Sunday, and moving away by Monday. Great! Now, normally I like a snow day as much as anyone else does, but not this week. This is final exams week at work and that is a schedule that shall not be interrupted.
For those that weren't sure, that was the point at which Mother Nature asked the southeast to hold her adult beverage. Sure enough, the cold/wet/freezing happened on Saturday and snow overnight Saturday/into Sunday. What also happened was that at 5am on Sunday morning, Simon woke me up to tell me the power had gone out.
If you were not raised in the South or you haven't lived here long, what happens here rather than a "snow event" is an ice storm, where layers and layers of ice coat everything that it can find - including trees and power lines. (Do NOT get me started on a country as rich as the US that can't seem to understand the UNIVERSAL benefit of burying power lines.) So anyway, the freezing rain and sleet make ice that coats the trees and causes them to bend and sometimes break. It also coats the power lines and poles, making them so heavy that they too sometimes bend and break. If you can avoid that horrific combination, watch out for the ground which will also be covered with - you guessed it, ICE. That makes walking and driving very dangerous.
Let me just take a moment here to ask those that want to make fun of southerners for not being able to "drive in the snow." Just shut it, okay? This is not the snow you are accustomed to - I can drive in that, and did when I lived in West Virginia. This is trying to drive on a sheet of ice that is masquerading as a road. It is very dangerous and while most of us down here are taught to drive on it safely back in driver's ed, we are also taught that it is smarter and safer not to attempt it at all.
Right. So anyway, back to me.
5am Sunday, the power goes out. By 5:19am on Sunday I have reported the outage to Duke Energy. I got back a canned response that they were assessing damage. Groovy. Tuck in the duvet and try to go back to sleep. By 3pm Sunday when it was getting a little chilly in the house, I checked the webpage for Duke Energy again. The little triangle by our street still said Assessing Damage an hour prior while another similar one about two streets over said On Site. But this time, the one a few streets over said On Site still and ours said Enroute. Fantastic! This is the service we are paying so much to have.
Well, not so much. Nothing happened by 4pm, or by 8pm Sunday. We were still not freezing but it was getting uncomfortable, so we decided to go to bed around 10. I checked a few more times before I fell asleep and nothing. It was still Enroute. From where? Roanoke?
On Monday I called into work and Simon and I decided to formulate a plan - buy a non-electric heater or a small generator and a small heater to get warm - buy a camp stove so that we can have coffee and warm food. Surely when we decide to do something like that, the power will come on, right?
Not hardly. It was still Enroute until late last night when they sent another text message that said that it would be fixed by 11pm tonight. So we did what any normal people would do - we gave up on the generator and heater and crashed at a friend's house.
But what did we learn - and are still learning, because I'm not expecting that power to be back on until 11pm on the dot - from this experience? Several things.
- We are keeping the camp stove even though we did not use it. Just the thought that we could make tea in a pot on that little stove brought spirits up.
- We have amazing and wonderful friends. Callie brought us THE BEST pumpkin oatmeal I have ever tasted in my life along with some coffee from Starbucks yesterday morning. I could have floated up to the shops after that. Anne and Damien let us sleep in their guest room last night, along with our rowdy and ridiculous girls (who think they are on the vacation of a lifetime right now). Last but most DEFINITELY not least, Robin and Laze are keeping our girls today so that they didn't have to be tucked into their crates in a cold house while we went to work. And all of the FB messenger and text messages that I am still getting asking after us are so welcome and appreciated. It is easy to think you are literally alone out in the cold when you have no electricity or heat in December. We are not.
- We have so much more than we need and are far better off than so many. Sure, it was cold, but we have a roof and lots of clothes to pile on and blankets. So many folks affected by this cold have none of those things and it truly gives me pause when I complain.
So if you were affected by Winter Storm Diego (Carmen San's wayward brother), I'm thinking of you and holding you close and hoping that you have power and heat...and that you aren't staring down the total cleaning out of a refrigerator and freezer. Ick. But I haven't heard the Wham song, and I am in my warm office with heat and internet so this holiday season may get on track sooner rather than later. I just hope it isn't sooner that our power coming back on...
04 December 2018
|GEEK spelled in British Sign Language.|
People ask me all the time why I do what I do - lately, my answer is to carefully shrug my shoulders whilst trying NOT to reinjure my right elbow or smack my right hand against anything - but the answer, if I'm honest, is language, or languages. I did not go into interpreting because I have a need to help people. I did not go into interpreting out of some need for social justice or a desire to work in a disability-related field. I don't see Deaf/HOH people as needing help or as a disability community - I see them as a language minority. I went into my current field because it means I get to work in my second language every day - to the point that I think, dream, and even speak verbally in ASL (take a moment and feel sorry for my husband, won't you?).
Well, today I had a moment when I just got all giddy and, since interpreting tends to be solo work for the most part, I had no one to share it with that would understand it. I was watching some British Sign Language videos on YouTube in the name of professional development and I had just watched a video showing how to sign 'meeting' in BSL - and I got it. I don't mean I could see and understand the sign and then reproduce it. I mean I looked at it and due to my knowledge of ASL, I could understand WHY that was the sign for 'meeting.'
Last week, hubs and I had a discussion about why it is harder for some people to learn a second (and third and so on) language than it is for others. I likened it to the reason why it is hard, at times, for Deaf/HOH kids in school to learn English without a firm foundation in ASL first. If I had not had such a good education in not only vernacular spoken (American) English, I would not have been able to understand ASL to the point that I could then extrapolate that onto BSL and that video. You cannot learn a second language if your first language isn't strong enough to form comparisons and, to use my favorite metaphor, hooks. You can't learn ASL without a strong foundation in English, for example, to hook that new set of grammar rules and vocabulary to what you already know.
For people who say that isn't true, and that as long as you have a rudimentary understanding of your native or first language you can always learn a second language through study and repetition, sure, you can I suppose. But think of it this way: I never had a good grasp of mathematics. Never. I mean I can't even do the four basic functions without having to get a calculator to check my answers. I have no confidence in my own ability in that subject. I have no solid foundation in maths, so when I went to hook my new level of maths (Algebra and the like) into what I already knew, the hook fell. The foundation wasn't solid enough to hold it.
But my borderline obsessive love for learning languages has come from the fact that growing up I not only knew that you say 'I was going to the store' but also that it is not acceptable to say 'I were going to the store' and why. Miss Pritchett and Madam Gring-Whitley would be proud to know that they were right - I hated those verb conjugation sheets, but they helped me understand why you must change the form of the verb in order for the time component of your message to make sense. It helps me now when I remember to add the sign that indicates when the verb is happening, has happened, or will happen - so that I am clearly understood.
So back to the BSL video - it was because I know the ASL signs/classifiers for a person, the concept of 'meet' and 'meeting' and because I know what the word meeting can mean in English, that this sign made perfect sense to me:
14 November 2018
So for a few days, I was stuck - horribly stuck - at best, my nano word count was falling behind. At worst, I had lost my voice as a novelist and all of Orana had abandoned me. Same thing, really, if you throw a panic attack in the middle over a poorly elbow in your dominant hand when both of the things that define you (interpreting and writing) involve the pain-free movement of your right hand and arm.
I did what any rational adult in my shoes staring at a blank page would do - I hit the panic button and freaked WAY the heck out for a little while, and then I started thinking about my support system as a writer. You may think that we sit at our IKEA desks all alone in our writing sheds, surrounded by lovely greenery and sipping a mug of tea as the ideas just flow out of our heads into our novels, but I am here to tell you this: if that is the truth, I'm not sure what it is that I am doing because it involves sitting on my worn leather couch, laptop on my knees, wolfhounds clambering about on clobberpaws and crying. Lots of crying. Anyway!
I have recently gotten to know someone that I'm fairly certain I already knew from another time in my life - a fellow novelist who attended the same college I did in the mountains of northern Georgia. So after all the crying and panicking, I sent him a simple text that said that I was struggling to find an antagonist and that my protagonist was stuck, sitting on a horse in the Outlands and watching someone ride toward her. For two days, I literally did not know who it was that was riding toward her. His responses led me to my antagonist, and to the rider who is merely the catalyst for the main story arc. Since then, I have written more than 10,000 words, and even though I am not at my daily wordcount target it is in sight. I still am not sure what the antagonist's story is, but at least I'm back heading in the right direction.
So writers, lean on each other. It doesn't mean that you don't know how to write or that you are a phony (impostor syndrome, anyone?), it means that you are using the community we find among like-minded individuals. You are doing the work, and you do not have to do it alone. Now, get your characters off those lonely roads and into some good plot points!
12 November 2018
It has been going relatively well until I was sidelined by an outrageously strained elbow over the weekend (it's a thing, y'all, and I'm almost certain it came courtesy of my day job but moving on...). I'm now 4,000 words behind the target for today, but that's not the worst of my troubles.
THERE ARE NO BAD GUYS IN THIS STORY SO FAR. No bad hombres. No tortured and vengence-seeking souls. So far there are three characters. Let's not dwell on the fact that I've written 16k plus words with only three characters, shall we - FIND MY VILLIAN! While this sort of pantsing - a nanowrimo term for writing by the seat of your pants, with no outline or anything - is fairly normal for me, this is the first time that I haven't been able to come up with any sort of climactic plot point...so I'm scared, really scared.
Okay, not really. Maybe a little. My point here, though, my Brave Lettuce Readers, is to heed the words of your English teachers (or, in my case, my mother) and DO THE WORK - in this case, an outline ahead of time. My main character has been begging for an origin story since before Wanderer so I give it to her and what does she do? Wander around in the Outlands on her magical horse and THINK DEEP THOUGHTS.
I'm telling you what, if she doesn't stumble into something awful soon I'm gonna have to start killing off characters, and since I only have three - three and a half, actually, since one is only writing letters - it isn't going to be pretty.
Are you working on a nano this month? How's it going? I'd love to hear about your projects in the comments - maybe that would help me kick her in her robes and get this story going.