Saturday, March 12, 2022

Exactly Two Years

In the time of the pandemic, there have been milestones, markers, of the passage of time. Time has been variable, sometimes feeling like an eternity and sometimes moments seeming to disappear when they'd barely begun.

Today was another of those markers.

The first big marker of event time passage was a year ago. In March 2021, I was one of the interpreters for the Oregon Poetry Out Loud competition. The event itself was virtual, but the host and coordinator (the amazing Deb Vaughn) and the two interpreters were live in a recording studio. We were masked until the recording began, and we were spaced about twelve feet from each other. The second interpreter has been in my pandemic pod since the beginning, still is, and we work and write together. The time marker of that event is that Poetry Out Loud had been the last live event, in-person, that I'd interpreted in March 2020. I had been preparing and rehearsing to interpret a play - which was canceled. But Poetry Out Loud, regionals, was the last in-person event. So Poetry Out Loud was both a last and a first.

Tonight I interpreted a Portland Community College Theatre Arts production, Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind. This is another marker of a sorts in pandemic terms. While TMLMBGB is a very different production than the one in March 2020 (Our Town) - I was at PCC exactly two years ago today, when theatre started shutting down, when stay at home orders were beginning to be issued.

I had gone to PCC on March 12, 2020, to work with an interpreting team - watching them to a sign-through, practice run - to be followed by feedback session and discussion about the show, their interpretations. When we arrived, about an hour before the show was to go live, we went backstage and found the director talking to the cast and crew, in costumes, standing in a large circle on the stage set and ready for act one. The director was telling them that the college had made the decision to close the school and the production was canceled immediately. There were tears. Lots of tears. And confusion. 

One of the interpreters and I left after a while, after the second interpreter showed up late and then left after learning about the closure. The other two of us walked to the parking lot. I received an email notice of a cancelation of another play at another theater. We stood at my car, talking about the virus, the state of things - it wasn't yet being called a pandemic (I don't think). I received another email with a "hold" on a production (which would be canceled two weeks later) and then another.

The other interpreter and I decided to drive to the coast. To get away for a few hours (we're lucky we live close) and think and breathe fresh air. We did.

As the days went by things changed quickly. More pauses and postponements from those who were hopeful. Cancellations from some who were near the end of runs or couldn't extend. One by one by one things fell away as the COVID-19 numbers increased.

Then, today, exactly two years to the day, I was on the (volunteer) interpreting team for this PCC production. It seemed fitting to be here doing this play at this time. It is not the first PCC play on Zoom that I've interpreted since the pandemic begun - and yes, they have all been pro bono. Keeping the access alive and supporting the creative and innovative and passionate work of theater that PCC has continued throughout this time. 

This is a photo of the setup the other interpreter and I used for tonight's interpreting set-up. I don't think we're done with this pandemic; or, more accurately, the pandemic is not done with us - the virus is not done. I would love to be wrong, but numbers around the globe are growing in the BA2 variant. And I, for one, do not want to get the virus. I have genetic conditions and a prior health situation which put me at risk for severe illness and significant complications - so I do not want to get it at all. Simply "surviving the virus" is not an option, not a risk I want to take.a

So - I may be doing more of this. Or less of this. I have to see what's ahead, how the numbers actually go and not just the wishful thinking of the wealthy, young, healthy, White people who are wishing it was already gone, so they are "acting as if."

Exactly two years ago today I know where I was. A vivid memory. And what a pleasure and a full circle to be working with the same theatre group. Their hearts are warm and glowing and their passions are clear and directed. Thank you for letting us be a part of your circle - in 2020 and now and in the future.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

In the Month After NaNoWriMo

It's Time by Dot. 2004

NaNoWriMo came and went. It is an annual November event, for anyone who stops by here and doesn't know what that is. It is a write 50,000 words in 30 days challenge, just for the fun of writing. 

For me, NaNoWriMo is also my annual recommitment to my creativity, of which my writing is a key part. I sometimes generate the skeleton of a new novel, or seeds for short stories. One year I wrote parts of my Work In Progress. Some years it is simply write whatever comes out and keep up. "Keeping up" means writing an average of 1667 words per day. 

I don't really struggle to write 1667 words in a day - when I write - so one of my added personal goals the past few years has been to actually write Every Day. In these years, when "write every day" is a goal, I operate under the belief that "all words are good words." Which they are.

One unique thing this year is that I didn't post an update or an excerpt every day here. I didn't even post anything here in November. Which is sad. Which is partly due to the death of my aunt in October 2020. She was one person I knew was reading everything I posted here. Every time. We didn't see each other very often since I've been an adult (a long time now), but we emailed following a long silence for some years following some family drama. 

This was my fourteenth consecutive year of participating in NaNoWriMo and my fourteenth time a NaNoWriMo Winner (meaning: I crossed the 50k finish line). Last year I posted very little in November, but I still thought of my aunt every time I did, even though she was gone by the time November came around.

This year - no aunt.

And I wrote. But not here.

One thing I have been doing a lot of during the pandemic is writing. New stories and essays and creative non-fiction. Worked on that WIP and I even finished a draft, which I shared with someone who is no longer an active part of my life, though she is often in my thoughts and her influence and words are an integral part of who I am now (my personal therapist closed her practice). So I have a completed manuscript of that WIP now! It needs more editing but I discovered it is in better shape than I thought it was. It is more complete than I thought. And parts of it are really good, I don't mind admitting.

So here I am. The middle of December. Tomorrow is a full moon. The holiday season surrounds me everywhere I go - even if "going somewhere" is online. Because the COVID-19 pandemic is still here and still raging; or raging again. We are actively heading into another surge or "wave" as some call it. There is a new variant (omicron) which spreads faster than the original or the recent horrific variant (delta). We don't quite have enough data yet to know how severe the omicron cases will be; there are conflicting studies - except that it spreads more quickly and gets patients hospitalized more quickly and it is evasive, with the vaccines less effective and prior infection minor protections less effective. 

So we're waiting as omicron hits more and more states here in the US and we watch the surges in other countries, knowing it is going to hit here, as well. And we still have hotspots and outbreaks of delta here, already. So we are potentially facing a grim and disease laden winter.

And I write. 

As a matter of fact, the reason I came to the computer tonight is to set up my profile on an online writing workshop which starts tomorrow (or today, depending on your perspective; as I've said numerous times - if I haven't gone to bed yet, it's still "today" - tomorrow comes after I've had some sleep).

Watch and wait and write. And wonder.

It's winter. It's the edge of a full moon. It's a shift of season (soon). 

Where do I go from here this time?


Friday, May 21, 2021

Still Here. Don't Know What to Say.

 It's been over four months since I've put anything here. 

Which is not the same as not writing for four months. I've been writing. A lot. I've been in workshops and working on book projects and experimenting with writing essays and different styles of memoir pieces and I even took a class on making an illustrated manuscript (page or book).

But I haven't written here.

How much "woe is me" and "the pandemic is hard" and "life is great/sucks/changes" writing can I produce and can anyone read?

The truth is that I could write a lot of that. Potentially. That is not what I've been writing and not what I wanted to put here.

So. Nothing was put here.

And I'm thinking again - what is this space? What should go here? What do I want it to be?

I don't know right now.

I am writing. I am doing some theater again - baby steps to distanced outdoor theater and I've been doing a little virtual theater (staged readings mostly; some audio plays/dramas). And writing. And working. A couple of big theater projects in the works - one of which is being recorded tomorrow. 

In a time of transition and some people are going to quickly, in my opinion. (And the opinion of several people I know.) Let's open a bit, see what happens. If the numbers don't spike, then let's go a little more. But let's not just throw all caution to the wind and jump into the mosh pit. Please. Too late. Okay, then I'll continue to be a little cautious while we see what happens.

I will also continue to think what I would like this space to be.

For now, here is a sample I made of an illustrated letter.

Monday, January 4, 2021

New Year(ish)

What is new right now is that the year is 2021. There is not much else, if anything, that has changed. I've seen comments about this actually being 2020 v.2 and such and it does feel kind of like that. Yes.

Some of us are waiting for January 21st for the New Year to begin. This week will be getting the final step of the electoral votes finally confirmed and done - and there are some Republicans who are vowing to vote against that, even though

Except that I missed posting anything here during December 2020. I intended to post more. The pandemic hit. I intended to write something to share at least once a month - which I did, until December.

What is not new is that the COVID-19 pandemic still rages. It rages now more than it did three months ago. The surge is bad. The experts say there is another surge coming, which will be worse. For those of us who believe the science, who are following the data, we know that is true. It is. It's simple - if you believe and follow the data. Stay home, wear your mask, keep your distance.

What is not new is that the outgoing President still claims to be the victim of a fraudulent election and there are a few clinger-on Republicans supporting his claims. One thing which astounds me about that is, don't they understand that if they claim fraudulent election, are they not also calling into question their own positions? Are they not also saying that all election results are invalid, which means theirs, as well? It is so ridiculous and yet it is also a little horrifying and even frightening, that there are so many people who are blindly following this 

I did not drop in here to write about politics, yet I can't or don't want to let it be totally ignored. There is a lot of good information out there from people far better qualified and better armed with facts to write about what is happening politically, so I will leave it to them. And I will read what they write, as well as follow reliable news sources. 

I stopped by here and noticed I had skipped a month of posting. Not skipped a month of writing, though. I actually wrote a lot in December, partially thanks to Ariel Gore's Literary Kitchen and the wonderful, amazing, talented and supportive writers she brings together in writing classes, workshops, groups. As a matter of fact, I'm in a manuscript revision workshop which just started on Friday - which is going to be helpful and generative and I should have really good progress on a book project in three months!

So - Happy New Year and lets look forward to a new President and Vice President and lets get the mess of the last four years cleaned up (it's more than that, I know, absolutely) and lets also keep the anti-racism efforts going and growing.

Again: Stay home, wear your mask, keep your distance. The pandemic is not yet done with us.

And keep creating! Creativity is what will get us through. 

Sunday, November 29, 2020

NaNoWriMo 2020 update - It's A Win

Usually in November I post a NaNoWriMo update every day. Obviously that didn't happen this year. Just as many things have not happened this year due to the pandemic and the election.

But NaNoWriMo did happen. I did participate. And I did cross the finish line with 50,222 words written beginning at midnight on November 1st. I crossed the line on November 28th at 11:49 pm. I finished the 50k but I will continue to write every day, to make my second goal of writing every day.

This year NaNoWriMo felt differently. Contributing factors were probably:
- the pandemic;
- the election and post-election (which isn't yet over, but a middle ground has sort of been achieved);
- my aunt died early in the month and she was a big supporter; she was someone I knew read my blog posts every day of NaNoWriMo, so that was definitely one impact;
- I was in a workshop for the first 12 days of the month, which was intentional and probably in the long run helpful, though at times I questioned my decision. And I know without a doubt that I would do it again;
- I did not go on my annual NaNoWriMo writing retreat. I think there was one other year I didn't make it to the beach and that had a big impact. So I'm sure not being able to go was a factor in things feeling a little more "slogging" or "off;"
- did I mention the coronavirus pandemic? Oh, yes. Well, it should be mentioned twice - and I will attach the loss of theatre to the pandemic. It will be back, but I miss it - as an interpreter and as a patron.

But I did it in spite of everything working against us this year. And I will do it again next year. Hopefully I will be able to make my pilgrimage to the beach in 2021.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

NaNoWriMo 2020 Update

I have managed to write every day of NaNoWriMo this year. So far. I am going to try to complete another full 30 days of writing. I am also hoping to get to 50,000 words before Thanksgiving. If I'm not at 50k by that day, then I hope to be close enough to wrap it up on Saturday 11/28. Because this year I am working the last two days of the month, which means that there won't be much writing happening.

As of right now, I am 1000 words underneath the target number for November 14th. With only 30 minutes until midnight, I doubt I am going to get caught up before another 1667 words are added to where I should be.

I am also three days in to my at home writing retreat. What I realize already is that my annual writing retreat during NaNoWriMo is absolutely the best thing to do. I always write more when I'm at the coast, with the express purpose of being there to write. No expectations about amount of sleep, about doing the laundry or medicating the cat or anything else. No need to go do household errands. Well, honestly, the errands and such are very minimal because of the pandemic. We are on the brink of another heavily mandated stay at home order because the cases are on the rise. I didn't leave the house at all for three days. Today we went to my ND's office to pick up a supplement and then we went to Starbucks for a special treat - through the drive-through because we are not going in. No way!

But this year I am not dragging my Multnomah County germy air to the doing well in terms of COVID-19 numbers to the coast. Not even to a private beach house which is probably safe - but someone will have to clean it after us. And someone else could have been there before us. And on the drive over, unless I dehydrated myself ahead of time, I'd probably have to use a public restroom somewhere, which doesn't feel at all safe. 

So. I stay home this year. I've watched two streaming performances (both short) and I started to watch a Philip Glass opera (which I will finish later; it was not conducive to my writing and my partner is feeling a little grumpy, tired of the pandemic and being stuck home so much - so opera was not at all melding with that energy; I don't blame her, I understand - but too much for the opera to continue). I will finish the opera later or maybe tomorrow before it goes away tomorrow night.

I'm writing. Signing up for the Writing with the Tarot online workshop with Ariel was also a lifesaver. It has definitely helped me keep writing. Even if the pieces are incomplete or with compacted endings I need to open up, I feel like I have an actual, viable project this year. Which is a good thing, because I also signed up for the manuscript workshop in January to March of 2021. My plan all along was that I would (hopefully) have the beginnings of a manuscript from this month to bring to fruition. And I believe I will.

I am writing a book. It is not a novel - although recently I discovered that rather than a set of short stories, this is looking like those stories will still be there, but there is mostly likely going to be a throughline story tying them all together. Somehow. That is not entirely clear, although I have had a glimpse of what that uniting thread will be.

I am excited. When I'm not wondering why I'm doing this. And I am missing the coast, the ocean outside the door, the wind and it's salty rain, the seagulls crying and warning; the digging in under the blankets on the corner sofa, side to the window so I can still see along the coastline.

Writing intreat? Sounds better than a "staycation" a friend commented. And she's right.

NaNoWriMo is happening in 2020 style. Which means, the unexpected can and will happen. Words are flowing and we'll see what I have when I return to work later next week.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

NaNoWriMo Day 4

 Day 3 writing happened. It was a little interrupted due to (a) the election and (b) work. But words happened.

Day 4 happened! I wrote a bunch of words. And I made my annual NaNoWriMo desktop calendar for my laptop. That way it is always with me for November. My current word count at end of day was 7005 words.

I am writing stories and having fun. It helps that I am in the Writing with the Tarot workshop with Ariel Gore. Deadlines and other writers and - go!

Monday, November 2, 2020

NaNoWriMo 2020 Day Two - Shaking it Up

Here are a few details of a longer story, which I'll hold for later.

Today I changed my NaNoWriMo project. I returned to the project I was thinking I'd do since August, when I decided I would go ahead with NaNoWriMo this year. I mean, why not? But in workshop in October, I wrote the bones of another large project and had decided to go with that.

I stalled out on my writing during the midnight write-in. I did write some, but only about half of my normal beginnings. That, paired with a few other reasons, led me to rethink my goal. With careful contemplation and checking some resources, I decided it would change back.

Then this afternoon I proceeded to double my word count for day one and I created a NaNo cover. I know there are some design challenges and flaws, but it's good enough for a work in progress and it makes me smile. 

I present my *new* NaNoWriMo book project: Fractures of Wind. And the snippet of my end of Day One word count (above).