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Robin Hobb’s assistant is now offically a Hellbent Homewrecker. 

No, I’m not name-calling, even if her cat does think my chair is a scratching post and her son thinks I have a future being ‘a duck with a cape.’  That’s the name of the Tacoma Roller Derby team that has chosen her as one of their new bruisers.  What sort of a gift does one give on such an auspicious occasion?  Perhaps a mouthguard in an attractive carrying case?  Shinguards?  Team colors are hot pink and black.  Hm.  Her cat is already black. Does manic-panic come in hot pink, and would the cat sit still for racing stripes?  I shall have to consult that wonderful volume Why Paint Cats?  It’s a must read for any feline owner. 

Today I have a thrilling schedule.  I have to take my bed quilt to the laundromat, as it is too large for my home machine. For some reason, it looks as if two large dogs have been sleeping on it.  Yet when I enter my bedroom, there are Never any large dogs on my bed.  Only on the floor right next to it.  A mystery, to be sure.

And I have to run a computer down to the shop for a virus check.  Not my computer, thank goodness.  I’m doing a favor for a friend who knows even less about computers than I do. He was researching African safaris and suddenly a pop up filled his screen, warning him that he was INFECTED!  and MUST GET OUR ANTIVIRUS PROGRAM  NOW!   He couldn’t close the ad and shut down his computer, knowing it was already too late.  He doesn’t have a lot of money or a lot of time to fight things like this.  He really enjoys having a computer.  It just doesn’t seem fair for someone like him to get hit with this.  He’ll have the cost of the cleaning, and then he’ll have to pay to update to the new antivirus, which he had been putting off for financial reasons.   I’m not going to rant about the people who create viruses and fleece people by demanding money for anti-virus programs that are actually viral themselves.  That would be a useless waste of time.  Instead, I’ll sacrifice some of that time to try to help my friend get his computer to the shop and repaired.

Then I have to drive down to Roy, fire up the tractor (a task I’ve only done once before) and park it in the building that doubles as both a shop building and a judo dojo.   After a couple of years of angst and miss fires, we now have our permit to remodel the old house down there. So I shall use the pick-up  truck to get down there, and start to haul the last of the miscellaneous possessions out of there.  Some will go to the second hand store and some straight to the dump. Oh.  That reminds me.  I have to put the rototiller in the shop, too.  And finish mowing the lawn. Well, that will be my day’s workout.

But I will also take a notebook and go sit on the rocks by the pond and get some writing done.  And that alone will be worth the trip.


Know why I’m posting this?

Because it’s easier than writing.

There’s a short story one click away on my screen.  it needs to be finished.  It needed to be finished last month, and I was sure I could do it.  Today, I realized I was saying, ‘well, I’ll have it done by the end of this month.’  And it’s only August 19th!  I should be saying, "I"ll finish this today!"

Instead, I’ve paid my bills, balanced my checkbook, vacuumed the house, taken out the garbage, done some weeding out front and bullied my daughter about cleaning up her room.

I’ve also written two paragraphs.  Two paragraphs is not an ending to the story.  Six to Eight pages would be.  I pretty much know what has to happen. So why don’t I just write it? 

Because it’s easier to sneak online and read Emma’s blog (what, no updates since the beginning of the month?) or Steve’s blog or Lucius’ shared blog.  Much easier than writing the next sentence.

Look at all the sentences I just wrote, right up there.  Not one of them is memorable or advances my story let alone my career. But here I am, typing away, sitting at my desk as if I were a virtuous writer.  But not even the cats are fooled. Both black cats, Pi and my loaner cat Bagheera, have abandoned me.  They know I’m not working. Bagheera is taking a nap on the other side of the office.  Pi is probably outside baking her brains out. 

I have no real reason to be typing this.  I have no real news that is worth sharing, no deep thoughts, not even shallow thoughts.  I’m just typing this because it’s so much easier than finishing my story. And later I can say to myself, ‘Well, at least I updated my livejournal.’  Like that counts for something in some peculiar universe where writers are writers by virtue of how many keystrokes they perform in a day. 

And look at you.  I’ve admitted to you that I’m just blathering on, and yet there you sit, still reading this junk.  Don’t you have something better to do?  A cat box to clean, a story to write, a bathroom window with toothpaste specks that is just awaiting your Windex?  What’s the matter with you?

What’s the matter with us?

This is why the Internet is not good for me as a writer.

Now, please don’t send me emails explaining how writers much have a presence on the Internet, or how so-and-so was discovered as a writer because of her great posts or how Another Famous Writer insists that blogging is the true path to glory.  I’ve got those emails already and I can go back and read them any time I like.  They’re archived.  Somewhere.  Anyway, don’t send those emails to me and please don’t send links to this to people who will certainly disagree with what ever I’ve said.

Because none of that matters.  It doesn’t matter if blogging on the Internet works for someone else, or if someone smarter or richer or more popular than I am thinks the Internet is the Cat’s Pajamas. 

What I’m telling you is that it doesn’t work for me.  It gets in my way.  It gives me a way to pretend I’m being a writer when I’m just being a typist.

And frankly, if you are still here and reading this, it doesn’t work for you, either.  Because there you sit, reading a bunch of blather when you should be having a life.  After all, what will reading all this do for you?  What can you learn from it?  Years from now, will you recall it at all, or will this be just another forgettable 15 minutes of your life.

Hey.  Here’s a real thought for you.  How many more 15 minute bites of life do you have left?  How many do I have left?  Eeeek! And look, we each just wasted one on this crap.  You’ll never get it back, you know.  15 minutes of your life gone. Whoosh.  Flush.  Pop.  All gone, all done.  And what did you get for it?

So.  I should be brave and turn it off. Right?  Delete this journal, delete all the on line stuff I do, put the modem in the recycling bin and just get on with my work the way I used to.  Back before someone installed this magic window on my desk that lets me lean out and shout at the world whenever I feel like it.  Back before the internet got its little suckers hooked onto me.

Okay.  I just went and looked at my story.  I think the next sentence will be ‘she came to the footbridge she had crossed earlier than evening.’ 

Inspired, no?  No. But workmanlike, and that sentence moves the story forward and advances the plot a tiny bit.  So I’m going to go type it, and then I’m going to type another one and one after that.  And maybe Pi will come back into the office and be proud of me.

Or maybe I’ll take that jacket down to the dry cleaners now.

Dockyard Derby Dames


Tacoma has a roller derby team. Which is actually extremely cool, in my opinion.

Robin Hobb’s ever amazing assistant has recently been donning roller skates several times a week.   A few nights ago, she added a mouth guard. And off she went to Dockyard Derby Dames bootcamp.

She returned exhilarated and remarkably unbruised.  Apparently a number of judo and fencing skills translate into roller derby techniques.  A hip throw becomes a jolt off the track for some unsuspecting skater.  A fencer’s lunge becomes a way to dodge a flying elbow.

The bootcamp was a time for potential Dames to see what sort of skills they would need to participate in the tryouts. 

Tryouts are next week.

This promises to get very interesting . . .

What belongs to you?

No, I’m not talking about clothing or teacups or books.

I’m talking about the parts of our lives that we surrender, or never claim.  I’m talking about the day you realized you were the ‘wrong body type’ to dance anymore, or didn’t have good enough legs to wear those sorts of skirts.  When did you realize you’d never play the guitar in front of an appreciative audience, or that your car wasn’t safe enough to set out on an impromptu road trip because now there are two kid car-seats in the back?

How many pieces of yourself did you leave behind in the last five, ten, twenty or thirty-five years?

We all do it. The noisy little motorcycle breaks down and is never replaced.  The outrageous hats are left on the shelf.  You go to hop over a fence one day, and your body remembers how but your muscles reply  "Not bloody likely!"  And there you are, going, Whoops, when did I stop being the person who could kick start the little Honda trail bike?  When did I start thinking that I had to dress like someone’s Mom instead of myself?  When did wisteria oil become a sometimes luxury instead of my trademark scent?

Who did you leave behind on your way to being a sensible grown up who lives within a budget of both time and money?

Some of those people, of course, deserve to fall by the wayside. I was glad to see some of my friends stop dabbling in the more dangerous drugs, stop drinking and driving, stop serial dating of really creepy people.  It’s good to grow up and leave those shades of ourselves behind. 

But there are other pieces of my friends, and pieces of myself that I miss and wish they hadn’t got lost along the way.


I don’t dance anymore.
I haven’t gone mushroom hunting right after a rainfall in probably thirty years.
I haven’t gone trout fishing since we left Alaska.

Who and what have you left behind?
Is it possible to take that part of yourself back?


The Random File

Okay, so this is choice!

The assistant, some time ago, was startled to discover that Robin Hobb has a Miscellaneous Crap file in her filing cabinet.  Well, of course she does.  I started it years ago for her.  It really is the only thing that makes it possible to clear off the desk sometimes.  Otherwise, some things are simply unfileable.

Well, today, as the assistant was bustling about, clearing up her end of the office, I spotted her seizing papers, shuffling them together and putting them in a manilla file folder.

"So, what are you filing?" I asked her in a deceptively kind voice, as if I were only surprised that she was working at all.

"Oh,  just random stuff to sort out later."

She opened the file cabinet nearest her desk and shoved it in the front of the file.

"So, that’s just the Random Stuff file?"


"And you just shove it in the filing cabinet?"

"It’s in the spot closest to my desk so I can find it easily if I need anything in there."

(Does that statement make sense to anyone?  I mean, I thought the whole filing cabinet was by her desk for that reason.  Does that mean that I don’t have to sort out anything before I shove it in there?  Because, literally, this could probably save me enough time to crank out a novel a year."

"So how is a Random Stuff file different from a Miscellaneous Crap file?" I asked her.

"Well, because I’m going to sort it all out.  Later."

Ah, yes. The great truth of life.  Others judge us by our past deeds, while we judge ourselves on our intentions . . . .



A duck

So, in a burst of unmerited good will, I took the Assistant and her small Child to the native gardens at The Point Defiance Zoo.  As I opened the gate to admit it, I told the four year old, "This is the part of the zoo where they let the tiger roam around free.  Let’s go find him!"

After searching the native gardens fruitlessly for the tiger, the Assistan’s Child proposed, "Let’s play superheroes!"

"Very well.  Let us do that. How do we do that?"

"I am Spiderman."


"Mommy is Ironman!"

Okay, I see the resemblance.  "Fine. And who am I?"

"You are a duck."


"You are a duck. With a cape!"

Genetics will tell.

Writers and the Google Book Settlement

I kid around a lot on this journal, especially with Robin Hobb’s assistant.

But this, I think, is a serious matter.  If you are a published writer, a children’s book illustrator, a translator, a publisher of books, or the heir of a writer, this is something you should know about.  It’s all written out neatly in the Robin Hobb Live Journal.  Please read it there.



The Perils of Having an Assistant in the Office

1.  This morning’s disruption is that she has abruptly decided that she wants to be a muppet.  Actually, looking at her, I can see that  this is what God intended for her all along, and that if she had moved to Sesame Street when she was twelve instead of growing up and going to college, etc, her destingy would have been fulfilled.  But yes, I think to myself, as I watch her flit about the office.  Yes, please. Go be a Muppet. 

2. Every roll of tape in the office is stuck to itself. Not to its cutter thingy, but to itself, on the roll.  I think there is probably some deep Freudian significance to this, but I’m not sure what it is. Something disturbing, I suspect.

3.  Coffee cups. Everywhere.  Some full and cold, some with only a sticky trace of coffee with too much creamer in the bottom.  Everywhere.  There is a sink on the other side of the basement, deary.  And once you found the sink, you could, mirabile dictu, wash your cup!  And put it in the drainer.

Ah, well. She did remember to submit her pay data yesterday, so she is capable of learning . . .



A few odd bits and pieces

I don’t look in the mirror much.  I never remember to do it before I dash out the door.  I stand in front of it to brush my teeth and hair but I don’t really look at myself.  When I do, I don’t at all look like the person I think I am.

Today, catching sight of myself, I thought, "Oh, look, my nose is bigger.  I didn’t think it would look like that as I aged." 

I was completely prepared for my nose to be larger; only the shape surprised me.  Noses and ears, my friends, grow all your life. I remember looking at my grandmother, who wore her long white hair swept up in a bun, and thinking that her ears were very large. She wore large button earrings, the screw or clip on kind, for ‘only Gypsies and street women pierce their ears" she once told me. But her earrings, white or pink mostly, were about the size of a quarter and clipped nicely onto her earlobes.  Which had grown along with her ears.  Perhaps I should go look at her portrait and see if my nose resembles hers.

Today in Mass, one of the readings was about the Ten Commandments.  As I listened today, it came to me that the one that admonished us to rest every seventh day was probably a revolutionary idea.  It was addressed not just to the Chosen People, but to everyone in their households.  Wives, sons, daughters, servants and slaves, work animals and even aliens living with them were to rest on the seventh day.  It seemed to me that that stipulation might be a real indication that God Himself made up the rules.  What human would be so kind hearted as to say, "Rest is not just for me.  It’s for my slave and my servant, for my wife, even for my donkey and my ass."

Jesus let us know that it was okay to do things that had to be done. If your ass falls into a pit on the sabbath, it’s okay to take immediate action to get him out.  And many people who work on the Sabbath are doing it only because they have their ass in a crack and have to find a way to get it out. 

I can remember when most stores were closed on Sunday.  Just as banks and the post office are still.  What if we all planned ahead that little bit and everyone had Sunday off?  What would change in our world as things slowed down that little bit.

I wonder if I can learn how to have a true Sabbath again.  I think I’m going to try.

And finally, reading my Sunday paper today, I first read an article about all the things that my state needs to do, and how much money they will cost. Next to it was a list of ways to add taxes and how much the state could expect to gain from each.  How much from hiking up cigarettes another dollar, how much from doubling estate taxes and how much from taxing chewing gum. 

Then there was an article about the bailout and where all the big dollars are going.

A few pages later, there was an article about student loans.  Horrible things in there.  It’s the only loan that not even a bankruptcy can erase.  Some people mentioned would pay back more than a hundred thousand dollars in interest alone, according to this article.

Hm, says I. What if we took all those big dollars and instead of putting them at the top of the pyramid, we put them at the bottom.  What if everyone’s student loan was suddenly just forgiven?    Oh, I know we’d have to make up rules.  Maybe each person had to pay back at least the principal, but no interest. 

But if every one of those households suddenly had that payment money back in their budgets, what might happen?  Pay off credit cards?  Buy consumer goods? Buy an American car?  Buy a house?

I think this is a worthy idea and I’m going to find a way to get it out there. Amnesty for student loans.  If the Federal Government wants to put those millions and billions to good use, that would be a great place to start. 

It’s not unheard of.  My spousal unit and I got student loans from the state of Alaska. Part of the deal was that if we came back to Alaska after we graduated, for every year we lived and worked in the state, a portion of our loan was forgiven.  The idea was to make educated people want to live in Alaska.  It worked, for many years.  (and I often wish I still lived there!)

I think it’s an idea with merit.

Tough Week for Robin

Things were crazy around here this last ten days.  Lots of frantic late night editing.    Then Robin discovered that someone has substituted the word ‘boobs’ for breast in her book.  And dragons don’t even have ‘boobs’. 

Things got so crazy that somehow the assistant’s hours were not faxed in on time.  Hm.  I wonder if she’ll get paid this month.  🙂

Then, as the office was being tidied after the deadline seige was over, a copy of the Doctorow  (no, not that Doctorow!) book  "Ragtime" was found on the desk. As it was being returned to the shelf, a mini-pad dropped out from between the pages.  Not funny, guys. 

Well, actually it was. But not as funny as the day Robin picked up the Norton anthology and all the porn fell out of it.  Vintage porn, I might add, carefully razored out of old magazines.  Except for that one photo, of course. Ew.

Months have passed but no one has owned up to that.  However, I noted that the Norton had been purchased from a second hand bookstore in New York. AND the assistant’s book plate was in the front of the book . . .   I wonder if she borrowed it from that Molly person and then put her book plate over Molly’s name.  That would explain a lot.  She’s always going on and on about ‘Molly this" and ‘Molly that’ and ‘Molly reviewed a book‘  and  "This is how Molly alphabetizes’ and ‘Molly doesn’t have a Miscellaneous Crap file in her filing cabinet.’

Well, la de da!