Saturday, December 4, 2010

A New YouTube Sensation is Discovered!

I am getting ready to unveil a new blog.

Yes, I know, you are quivering with anticipating right about now! It's not really that exciting. I'm just going to rid of my "professional" Wordpress site and merge it with my personal blog. There's really not much difference between them except the professional site is BOORING.

Anyway, with me the personal is the professional. Whatever that means.

Now, on to news. There is none, really. Except that I "YouTubed" myself for the first time the other day and found something exciting. ("YouTubed" meaning I typed my own named into YouTube to see what came up).

It's a video showing the March 2009 installment of Cheap Wine and Poetry at Richard Hugo House (now Cheap Beer and Prose) during which yours truly gives a dyno-mite appearance! The whole video is worth watching if you're interested in Seattle's literary scene, but if you really must just see MY part the fast-forward to minute 3:32 to hear me being introduced; minute 3:56 if you must hear me right away!)

You don't get to hear much of my talk  but you do get to see all the parts where people laughed the most! in this video I'm reading from BreakupBabe: A Novel, but I also read from two of my  sixth grade novels that night, entitled "A Life to Love" and "Roxana's World." Maybe those will be on YouTube someday too!

Anyway, I just realized I am late for a pedicure. More soon.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

BreakupBabe lives on

BreakupBabe at Half-Price Books
 On a busy intersection in lower Queen Anne just now, around the corner from my condo, stood a guy in a hooded sweatshirt. Slung around his chest was tennis racket that he was "playing" like a guitar. "Air tennis racket" you might call it.

He had headphones on, and besides playing air tennis racket, he was also playing air flute, air drums, and other associated air-instruments.He was doing all this in the pouring rain.

I see this guy around Queen Anne all the time. At coffeshops, hanging out on benches, almost always listening to his headphones. Always puffing on a cigarette. Always alone.

He looks normal enough--even handsome in a shaggy, graying way, kind of like my arrogant old writing teacher Leonard Michaels (RIP Lenny, I wrote a novel IN SPITE OF YOU!) - but after seeing him a few times I realized that this guy was maybe just a little bit off.

Not that he ever did anything too strange or acted crazy, except for maybe muttering to himself on occasion. (I realized, at some point, that he lived in subsidized housing a couple blocks away from me.)

So when I saw him acting fully delusional today my heart broke. I thought: he's been holding it together and now he's lost it. He's not taking his meds. He took too many meds. But what do I know? Absolutely nothing, that's what.

On the other hand, on this gray, dreary, wet day part of me felt a little happy for him that he was so happy. Because he was. He looked blissed out and oblivious to anything else except the music he was pretending to make.

Still. What happens when the music ends?

In happier news, GalPal #3 and her husband "Henry" spotted - at their daughters' gymnastics meet - a woman hungrily devouring a novel called BreakupBabe. They fell upon her, regaling her with tales of how they are prominently featured in the book and how the novel was started in their house!

They didn't go so far as to offer their autographs but they might as well have for all the bragging they did. She told them she worked at "Empire Corporation" (ahem) and was going through a divorce, and a friend told her she knew just the book for her.

Now isn't that dandy that at four years old, BreakupBabe is still helping hearts mend? Why look, I even found a copy on the shelf at Half Price Books last week!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Snow in the Cascades, Sun in the Gulf Islands

Fall colors in the forest
Fall made its shivery entrance into my bones this weekend by visiting SNOW upon me during my much-anticipated three-day backpacking trip to Horsehoe Basin in the Pasayten Wilderness.

No amount of layers or meditation ("You are lying on a sunny beach in Zihuatenejo, Mexico; it is 90 degrees. You are lying on a..etc etc".) could keep me warm in my super high-tech but NOT WARM ENOUGH, DAMN IT Big Agnes sleeping bag.

Dave and I both squeezed into my sleeping bag a couple times, which warmed me up but was ultimately unsustainable as a way to actually sleep. So he heroically let me sleep in his bag at six in the morning, and after I added a layer of rain pants on top of my soft-shell pants and long underwear; after I added another shirt underneath my polypro top, my fleece jacket, and my down jacket, then, and only then, did I warm up enough to fall asleep for two hours. (Let's not forget the two pairs of socks, two pairs of gloves, and two hats I was also wearing).

In Horseshoe Basin
So I hightailed it out of there after only one night - even though the trip was planned for three, and it's a five-hour drive to get there (well, seven hours if you take bad advice on which way to go, which I did on the way there!) But at least I did get to see the desolately beautiful Horseshoe Basin, high and mighty at 7000 feet, especially rugged as snow and wind alternated with sun.

Before that I had a nice bit of summer on Gabriola Island (in British Columbia), and then sea kayaking in the Gulf Islands with Gabriola Sea Kayaking. Naturally the weather was beautiful until the morning we were supposed to set off in our kayaks, when pouring rain and gale force winds delayed our launch. But then it cleared up nicely. I'll write a little more about that trip soon, when the sensations have fully returned to my limbs. For now, here is a photo or two.

Blackberry Point, Valdez Island

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Of Mice and Madmen

Well if it isn't one thing, it's another.

On my last wilderness trip a mouse caused a ruckus in the middle of the night.

This time there was a bonafide crazy (and/or drunk or drugged) person wandering round the tiny Mowich Lake campground (at Mt. Rainier)  in the middle of the night with a large, silent dog. He would yell indecipherable but angry-sounding things, sing loudly, then disappear into the woods behind the campground with his dog to do who knows what.

Then he would go silent for a while only to re-emerge from the woods and walk back to the parking lot.

And we were all trapped there, about 40 of us, at the end of a 17-mile gravel road with no ranger in sight. Alas, Dave was not with me or I would have felt much safer. Why you should have seen the way Dave took charge and masterfully dispatched the mouse from our tent! I know he would have done the same with the crazy/drugged guy had that guy menaced me, which luckily he did not.

I heard him drive off around 1 a.m. and only then fell into a troubled sleep, feeling very vulnerable in my little tent with the rainfly off so I could see the moon, which shone like a spotlight all night long.

The trip - a day hike to glorious Spray Park - got better after that, if also more mosquito-ridden. The Mountain was out in all her glory, as were the glacier lilies, Indian paintbrush, and many other flowers I swear I will someday learn the name of.

In writing news, there is not much, except that I'm slowly, steadily working on the second draft of the children's novel I wrote last November. I imagine it should be finished in about 20 years.I'm also archiving, in PDF format, every damn thing I've ever written or published which is a rewarding project because it makes me realize - wow, I actually HAVE been a prolific writer in the past (even if I don't feel that way now).

The idea of doing an inventory of all my writing came via the brilliant writing teacher Priscilla Long, whose new book about writing I intend to purchase soon!

Also, my friend, colleague and writing coach Waverly Fitzgerald, wrote this provocative blog post about favorite children's book for the Hugo House blog that mentions me. I'M FAMOUS!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Blogger, You Rock

Welcome to my new website!

Blogger has kindly evolved to the point where I can now use it as my professional site - having recently added static pages to their offerings, along with some lovely new templates. Yay Blogger!

And thanks to Super Brother in Law for hosting my site lo these last four years using Wordpress, you have your benefits, I know, but I have always been a Blogger fan - as those of you who take my blogging classes can attest.

Midnight Mouse Emergencies in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness

A few updates from SparklyLand:

My poor pug Snuffy has only just recovered from all the explosive action around here on 4th of July. Next year he is going on DOGGIE TRANQUILIZERS.

Dave and I took a fabulous backpacking trip to Pratt Lake (left) in the the Alpine Lakes Wilderness over Independence Day weekend.

  • It took only 45 minutes to get to the trailhead from home. Yay, easy-to-acess Cascade Mountains!
  • Wildflowers abounded, misty and dew-laden, all along the lakeshore trail.
  • A mouse breached our tent in the middle of the night and Dave bravely chased it out while I cowered in my sleeping bag. (The mouse had apparently been pooping and enjoying various snacks in the tent for quite some time before it woke up Dave; I slept right through the ruckus. And yes, I KNOW you should never store food in your tent. I'm a professional hike leader, for crying out loud! I decline to discuss why the food was in our tent - suffice it to say, it will never happeng again. And thank God it wasn't a bear.)
  • It poured down rain most of the night but our tent kept us dry despite the hole the aforementioned mouse (nicknamed"Rhoda") put in it.
In other news, I'm continuing to work quite steadily on my next novel project, thanks to my great writing coach Waverly Fitzgerald. Yes, even writing coaches need writing coaches, didn't you know that?  

Toodaloo for now.


Monday, June 28, 2010

Watch out, Michael Phelps!

It's go-time at GLOWS 2010
This weekend I successfully completed the 1/2-mile course of Greenlake Open Water Swim. Yay me!

My major goal was to complete it without being rescued by  "the boat of shame." My other goal was to come in under 25 minutes, which I also achieved. I finished the race in a blindingly fast 22 minutes and 57 seconds, and that included a lot-of time-wasting maneuvers in the water such as waiting around for the nearest lifeguard-on-a-paddleboard to catch up to me so I would never be farther than a few yards away from a lifeguard-on-a-paddleboard!

I also lolligagged at the finish line, looking behind me to see if I was the last one out of the lake, and lo and behold, I WAS NOT! There were at least five people behind me!

It was a nice-ish morning, sunny but cool. I wore a wetsuit, which is something I've never done before in all my local swimming adventures. At first I felt rather wussyish wearing one, but in the end I was glad I had it. It's intimidating enough swimming across a body of open water on a "Juneuary" day without having to deal with gasping for breath as you adjust to the water temperature.

There were all sorts of people doing the event - grandmothers and grandaughters, fathers and sons, musclebound triathletes, very unmusclebound people, and, me - jack of all sports, master of none.

I probably would have gone even blindingly faster if I hadn't forgotten my secret weapon - the Powerbar(R) Double Latte Gel. This little gel gave me turbopower for 20 whole minutes on a bike ride last week and I was counting on it to do the same as I kicked my competitor's butts in the lake. But alas, I forgot it in the excitement and had only a banana to fuel me across the stormy seas.

Actually, Greenlake is much mellower than Lake Washington, which is always churning with wind and boat wakes. Greenlake is placid and peaceful, though of course you can't see a anything as you're swimming across it except greenish-black murk.

I did, sadly, have to make sure there was a lifeguard near me at all times. And the few times when the closest lifeguard had to stop and help some poor soul who was even slower than me, I sorta freaked out and didn't know whether to keep going. In the end, I did, with the help from my mantra:

"If I can climb Mt. Rainier, I can swim across Greenlake. If I can climb Mt. Rainier...."

I was also trying to sing the song "All Down the Line" by the Rolling Stones in my head but it didn't work because I only know one line: "All down the li-ine...".

Next time I need to pick a song I actually know the words to.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Rain, rain, come back when I'm stuck inside and need to work

I've had mucho fun outdoor adventures in June thus far, most of them in the RAIN.

Backpacking on the Olympic coast. Rain!

Here's a lovely photo that shows what  the Olympic coast looks like in the sunshine. Nice huh?

And next - a close up and personal view of Mt. St. Helens - not that I saw it when I did the "Tour de Blast!" 

Actually despite wet and cold weather I had plenty of fun on both those adventures though I could have done without the wet shoes and socks, which are always demoralizing. (My shoes still smell nearly a week after that bike ride).

In other news I find myself employed by my favorite sugar daddy these days - you know the one. This, despite the fact that Bill Gates' security guard came out on the dock the other day when Dave and I paddled by in our kayak and gave us the evil eye!

If anyone looks UN-intimidating, it's gotta be me and Dave shuffling along in that big orange inflatable kayak going slower than anyone on Lake Washington. The only way we could have been less intimidating was if perhaps Snuffy (right) were sitting on the prow.

In writing news, I'm hard at work on the novel I wrote during NaNoWrimo 2009, and planning on teaching my all-time fave class at Richard Hugo House again this coming fall: Roughing It: Write a Draft of Your Book in Six Weeks. Stay tuned for details on that.

Meanwhile wish me luck as I attempt another possibly ill-fated venture this weekend: the Greenlake Open Water Swim. The thing is, I'm terrified of open water. I hate to be more than 10 feet away from anything I can hold on to. I'm also a little afraid of what bacteria might be swimming around in Greenlake but that's a lesser fear. At least I'm not afraid of a giant squid eating me like some people I know (hint: my sister).


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

By my next birthday, I will be more organized

What a wild and kahrazy birthday weekend!

Here are just a few elements it included, in no particular order.
  • Chocolate spice cake with whipped cream
  • Dancing at the Little Red Hen
  • Teaching two classes at Finding Your Readers in the 21st Century
  • Cleaning the kitchen floor on hands and knees
  • Eating a most delcious "French Dip" sandwich made of field roast at the Georgetown Liquor Company
  • Getting handcrafted birthday cards from my niece and nephew to "Ant Becky"
  • Strolling around the festive Ballard farmer's market
I also went to to two excellent classes at Finding Your Readers in the 21st Century and learned a lot. For example:
  • I give up way too easily with submitting my work. In  the class taught by Priscilla Long, she said she submitted 300 times last year. (Out of those 300 submissions, she got 11 publications).
  •  In the other class, teacher Wendy Call said she submitted her work 100 times.
  • Priscilla l suggested keeping an extensive inventory of everything you've ever written. She pointed out that very productive, famous artists have a habit of doing this, and that it's a way of "respecting" your own work.
  • Wendy tracks all her time down to the last minute and has very concrete writing goals that she sets at the beginning of each year.
  • She plans how she will meet these goals through every month of the year and spends 90 minutes every week just prioritizing to make sure she's on track with those goals.
 Phew. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. I learned, essentially, that I could be way more organized than I am. Of course I knew that already but it was nice to get some really concrete tips as to how to do it.

And now...on to the "earning a living" portion of my day.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Cranberry Chicken revival

Last night I made a chicken dish of my grandmother's. She made it for us all the time when we were kids. For a while it was my favorite dish of all.

When my seventh grade class was polled about our favorite foods, all the other students said "pizza."

I, on the other hand, would say "Cranberry Chicken!"

The recipe is a little...anacronistic.  Here's what the famous cranberry sauce consists of:

-1 envelope dried onion soup
-1 can cranberry sauce
-1 bottle French dressing 

You mix all those ingredients, then throw it on top of some chicken breasts and bake it for two hours (At 325, in case you were wondering - one hour covered, one hour uncovered). Then you throw a whole bunch of bow-tie noodles into the sauce when it's all done.  

It did taste just like Bubby used to make it. And for two hours my kitchen smelled just like ours used to when she cooked for our family and took care of my sister and me (as she often did). Those smells brought back good memories.  

But my modern-day palate has gotten a little jaded. The dish tasted good, but a definite queasiness lingered after I ate it.  So I don't think I'll be making it again.  (Sorry, bubby).

Her brisket recipe, however, is a classic. It's delicious, and similarly 1950s-ish yet not quite dressing-y.  I'll be sure to share that recipe in the future, as the brisket time of year approaches.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

An oldie but goodie from my tortured twenties

1. In honor of Mimi Smartypants, who, I am happy to see is still blogging after all these years, I am doing today's entry as a numbered list.

2. Pity the poor Hugo House conference attendees who will be attending my classes at Saturday's conference because I have just taught myself how to use animations and sound in Power Point! (Loud sound clip of extended applause here).

3. I forget.

4. This morning, awash in nostalgia, I hunted down the lyrics for a song I wrote in my twenties with galpal Karen S during our brief tenure as a "band" called The Underwear Stains (We never actually performed. Or wrote any other songs. Or played instruments). Herewith I present it to you, published for the FIRST TIME!

Boys in Torn Leather Jackets
[chorus]Boys in torn leather jackets
Want you to think they’ve been around
Turn your life into a cliché
Don’t want you to tie them down

Always drunk or stoned at night
Watching Star Trek when you come over
You’re too real, he just can’t deal
He’s his own one true lover


[chorus]Boys in torn leather jackets
Just wanna play guitar, wanna get stoned
Boys in torn leather jackets
Wanna get laid and left alone

No skin broken, just his jacket
But he says he’s been hurt before
Just an excuse to make excuses
So why does it make you want him more…

[chorus] Boys in torn leather jackets
Want you to think they’ve been around
Turn your life into a cliché
Don’t want you to tie them down

[Insert another loud sound clip of extended applause here plus flashing animation of stadium crowd going wild].

5. The end.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Wandering among the ancient lakes

I realize that it is Blog-Every-Day-Month and I haven't blogged for four whole days.

I was backpacking for two of those days without any Internet access but never mind the excuses. I'll tell you about my trip instead.

We went to the Ancient Lakes and Dusty Lakes area  (nearest town: Quincy, Washington). There we wandered among tiny lakes in a sagebrush-scented area sculpted by ancient volcanoes.

 This is a landscape you couldn't find in lush, rainy, Western Washington. It was pure desert - filled with coulees, striking basalt columns of rock, endless sunshine, and very little shade. Plus rattlesnakes, naturellement.  And raptors, who soared above the jagged rock in lazy circles.

I haven't felt that much warmth since I was in Mexico in January. It was so hot, in fact, that a few of us jumped in Dusty Lake (pictured to the left), despite the rumor that these waters are tainted with irrigation runoff. (People fish there, and eat the fish, so water can't be that contaminated, right?)

We did carry in all our own water, just in case - no easy feat. But worth it to spend time in this sun-dazzled, geological wonderland so different from my urban, rainy home. And to feel like I was  experiencing actual summer, complete with a symphony of singing bugs and birds in the warm night air.

Anyway, now it's back to the real world after the sunshine and peace of eastern Washington. I start a new editing project today, which is a good thing for ye olde wallet. But it also means I must go groom myself presently. So toodaloo!


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Off to the hills

I waited until too late in the day to blog and now my mind is blank. Abosolutely devoid of the slightest bit of creativity. Nada. Zilch.

So, instead, here is a photo the Ancient Lakes area, where I'll be leading a backpacking trip this weekend. It's in Central Washington, where it's all dry, and desert-y, and oh-so-different than lush green Western Washington. I hope to see lots of wildflowers. The only bummer about this hike is you have to pack in all your water because these lovely lakes are tainted by irrigation run-off. 

On the bright side, the hike is flat. And short. So maybe ten pounds of water won't be so bad.

These photos are from 2008. I don't expect it's changed much. Except this time I'm going earlier in the year so hopefully it will be cooler and there will be even more flowers than last time.

In that picture there is Mary Rohlman, also a hike leader for the Seattle Mountaineers. She has a great Web site with tons of photos of all the Northwest hikes she does. You can definitely get some ideas from her about where to go hiking in Washington.

Oh, and just for fun, here's a picture of me and my sister backpacking in the good old days. Bet you can't guess which one of us is which.

Hint: I am the more stylish one.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Celebrity obsessed author hard at work

I clearly have an obsession with celebrity.

For one, my favorite Web site is Go Fug Yourself. Next, since BreakupBabe, I've written drafts or partial drafts of at least six other novels, and four of those are celebrity-themed in some way.

There is, for example, the story of two adolescent girls and best friends who are in a rock band together. The experience, naturally, tests the limit of their friendship (2006). There's the one about the woman who has a son with a guy who later becomes a famous rock star and the rock star comes back to meet his son fifteen years later (though the son has no idea who is father is) (2008).

Oh yes, and let's not forget the one about the barista with the cute stoner musician boyfriend who become an "accidental" celebrity when she stars in an ad campaign put on by her mega-Starbucks-like coffee (2007).

There's more where that came from too.

As you can see I've been quite busy since the publication of my roman a clef. It's not like I've stopped writing or anything. Au contraire.

It's just that...well...I can't explain how my own writing process works. One of these days the right celebrity-themed story will come along again, and so will the right way to tell it - as long as I keep sitting myself in this chair day after day.

If not, I will just have to console myself with being another Harper Lee or Ralph Ellison or other such genius who produced only one perfect book in their career. Wink wink. (I am winking so you understand that I understand that To Kill a Mockingbird will, of course, never quite compare to the sweep and literary perfection of BreakupBabe.)

Anyhow, I know I missed Day 10 of Blog Every Day Month and for that I profusely apologize to all two of you who might be keeping track.

Happy birthday BB!

I just realized we're coming up on BreakupBabe: A Novel's  fourth birthday. A celebration of some sort is in order I think! Hmm...what should it be? It needs be special for my only child and should definitely involve hot but inappropriate guys. (HBIBs).

I'll have to see what I can come up with. Maybe a party in which we get all Breakup Babe's HBIBs together. Silent But Deadly Boy, Alt Country Boy, Indie Rock Dad, Cute Train Boy, The Charming Canadian, The Doctor, The Propagandist...(and so many more).

Where are they all now, I wonder? At least four of the above are married now. At least two of the married ones have kids, or so I hear.

But I'm sure they look back with fondness from their diaper-filled domestic bliss on their days as Breakup Babe's muse. When the music played, the good times rolled, the cocktails were drunk.

And, of course, when the secret blog entries were written: celebrating their commitment-phobia, mocking their manhood, drooling over their dashing good looks...and so on.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Day 8 sees me wondering if I really should be blogging every day

It's that time of year when flowers are blooming everywhere and people are going crazy in their gardens. Even moi, who has not had a garden in eight years joined the hordes of people at Home Depot yesterday.

There I bought window boxes to hang on the railing of my teeny-tiny deck. It is not actually a deck because it is so small and there is probably some technical term for a teeny-tiny deck but I do not know what it is so I will just call it a teeny-tiny deck

Anyway, last time I had a garden I lived with You-Know-Who. I had a lovely container garden that I cherished and fawned over. Then when things went haywire between us, I went to stay elsewhere for a while and he let my flowers die. That's when my heart really broke.

I wrote about it very eloquently (IMHO) on Breakup Babe, and since I am all out of ideas for *fresh* things to write, I'll recycle that flowery prose here. I'm realizing belatedly, that I should write something about my mother, it being mother's day and all, but maybe I'll do that later this week. Mom will understand.

SCRATCH THAT. I cannot seem to find that erstwhile entry in my cobwebbed-covered Breakup Babe archives.

Now I've really failed to produce a worthwhile blog entry but at least I've produced something, which maybe, in this case, is NOT better than nothing.


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Breakup Babe in illustrious company

The Victory Review - an online magazine about the Seattle acoustic music scene - featured an article a a few months ago that mentioned my Breakup Babe blog.

The article is called "I Can't Stand the Rain, " and it's all about artists and musicians who've been inspired by the rain. Here Breakup Babe and I are mentioned in such illustrious company as Janis Joplin, Gary Snyder, and Glenn Gould.

We were very flattered!

This article was written by my old coworker Hank Davis, with whom I shared one of those windowless cells at ye olde Empire Corporation. See what Hank had to say below and definitely and check out his article too! It's fun to see how he weaves all his thoughts about music and the rain together. His mention of BB a tiny part of a much longer piece.

A pair of contrasting rainy days from 2005 and 2006 turn up on the "Breakup Babe" blog. For a brief while, I shared a cramped writer's room at a software company with blogger and author Rebecca Agiewich, who converted her blog into the popular book Breakup Babe. (No one quite so earnest as a hungry writer with literary aspirations and a Web site.) She likes the rain:

Wednesday, March 16, 2005 (5:33 PM)

[Rebecca] It rained. Finally! ...Do you remember the days that playing in the rain was just something you did? Running around with your friends, splashing through the gutters, getting as wet as can be? Without a care for what it might do to your hair, your clothes...
On the other hand, the rain doesn't always like her. When she heard Australian country singer Kasey Chambers sing that the rain was useful for washing away tears, this happened:

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 (8:58 AM)

[Rebecca] All through this overly sunny week, the Kasey Chambers song "On a Bad Day" has been running through my head:

Every time my tears

have ever fallen
I've kept 'em in my pocket
for a rainy day.

So when it's pouring

I take them outside
I let the rain start washing
my tears away.

[Rebecca] Then it poured down rain yesterday and instead of

washing all my tears away, it just got me really, really wet

Friday, May 7, 2010

Day 7 of Blog Every Day Month a a bit slow. Yawn.

So it's Blog Every Day Month and I am out of things to stay.

So without further ado check out one of my favorite  videos. Don't worry it's only about five seconds long. And no, this is not my pug, though he is equally dramatic.  (Be sure to have your sound on; it's the music that makes this video).

This video apparently has a long and distinguished history; it hails from the even more famous Dramatic Chipmunk,which I will not subject you to. (But which is worth watching in moments of boredom.)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The jailbird and the hummingbird

I was out walking the dog a while ago on my peaceful urban street. I'd noticed two police cars on the street as we walked to the park, and then forgot about them.

But as we sauntered home, I saw a cop leading a guy in handcuffs to one of the cruisers. Neither of them spoke a word.

Without meaning to, I caught a good glimpse of the handcuffed man. He was youngish and white, with a scruffy beard and a baseball cap. Unremarkable looking.

Except for his expression. Fear and regret wrote themselves all over his pale face and wide-open eyes. He looked doomed.

It struck me that I'd never seen anyone get arrested before except on television. It's much more jarring in real life, on a tranquil street, when just a moment before you'd been enjoying a shady park where a grandfather fed his little granddaughter with tender care.

I felt so sad, suddenly, for that guy, even if he had done something bad. So sorry for whatever hard circumstances in his life led to him this humiliating and frightening moment.

Just after the cop car pulled away, a flash of green caught my eye. I saw a hummingbird hovering over a nearby bush. I'd never seen a hummingbird in the neighborhood either. The bird flitted about, shimmering and free.

And suddenly I felt even worse for the poor doomed guy in the cop car, and for all of us who are held by shackles of any kind.

I watched the hummingbird for just a few seconds before it disappeared, upward into the lightening sky.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What does it say about me that...

...despite being an obsessive reader, that I have never mastered the art of using a bookmark?

Sure, sometimes I turn the corner of the page down (if I'm not reading a library book, which I often am).

Most often though I waste valuable minutes trying to find my place even though the simple act of using a bookmark would save me this agony.

There is some parallel with my life here but I am not quite caffeinated enough to articulate it.

In other news, I recently met Ray Pompon, with whom I'll be speaking at Richard Hugo House's upcoming writer's conference.

He did a very cool, inspiring thing, which was to take a novel he'd written and turn it into a well-written, page-turner of a web comic - basically teaching himself to draw in the process. Check out his site!

OK back to the business of making a living, which today involves writing gazillions of blurbs about watches.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Computer problems and snoring pugs

Oops. It's Blog-Every-Day Month and I forgot to blog yesterday.

I have an excuse, which is that I was having computer problems last night. My $%(ing laptop, sole source of all my income, wouldn't charge.

(This is after spending way to much on a power cable for it a couple months ago AND getting it a pricey"check-up" at Office Depot.)

Time to bring it back to PC Doctor, that rather disreputable-looking little place under a brothel on Aurora Way with the nerdy tech who talks endlessly.

Pug Alarm Clock
In other scintillating news, here's  how my morning has gone so far:

6:20 a.m. - Dog starts caterwauling in his crate because he wants to get out / have breakfast / come on our bed.

6:30 - I give up on the hope that he'll stop the racket. I get up, give him breakfast, and put him on the bed.

6:33 - The dog commences to groom himself vociferously, with much smacking of lips.

6:40- Dog stops grooming himself and walks over me to the side of the bed, where he lies down in the six inches of space between me and the edge. He will fall off if I make the slightest movement. I pick up up and put him back in the middle of the bed.

6:45 - Repeat.

6:50 - I have momentarily dropped off to sleep when dog starts licking his lips loudly. Then he rolls around enthusiastically on his back.

6:57 - After dog at last quiets down, I make heroic effort to go back to sleep. Try not to dwell on the million things I have to do and the fact that I really should have gotten up at 6:20 when he woke me up in the first place.

7:00 - Drop off to sleep.

7:01 - Dog starts snoring loudly.

7:05 - Dog is still snoring.

7:09 - Dog is still snoring.

7:10 - Get up.

So there you have it.  A morning in the life of a spoiled pug owner.

P.S. I recently watched On the Waterfront for the first time in my life. Whoa - what a great movie! If only I could come up with a plot like that. You know how, with some older movies, you immediately feel their age when you start watching them? Not so with this one. The story and the characters instantly grip you. I didn't even notice it was in black and white until close to the end.

Yours truly,
Rebecca "Two Thumbs Up" Agiewich

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Happy New Backpack Day

Yesterday I bought a new backpack.

This was momentous because it is the first new backpack I've had in 15 years. It's also the first one I bought without my dad's direct input. Last time around, he informed me that I should buy the Osprey Isis (after researching it extensively in various outdoor magazines), and took me to Marmot Mountain Works, where he supervised while I tried it on.

I insisted it "leaned to the left" but he didn't believe me. "It fits you perfectly," he said.

He was wrong. It never fit right. But I bought it anyway and have doggedly used it for the last 15 years, bringing memories of my dad with my each time. In fact, that's the very pack I'm wearing in my profile picture to the right, where I'm smiling on the High Divide trail in the Olympics. (That pack got to see a lot of great stuff before it retired).

He bought me the Arc'Teryx daypack I own too - more than 10 years ago. I love that pack and use constantly, even though a buckle is broken and it probably weighs at least three more pounds than all the new packs out their on the market.

So yesterday I took a big step in buying my own pack. I did no research, whatsoever, of course, except to ask my friend Fredd (who works for REI) which pack to buy. He recommended the REI XT, which didn't fit me quite right. After twenty more minutes, I'd tried on two more packs and decided on the Gregory Jade (pictured above).

Hopefully the new pack will be more comfortable than the old one. But it certainly won't be as special as that old Osprey.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Day 1 of Blog Every Day Month

Since I decreed May to be Blog-Every-Day-Month, here I go.

May is also the month of my birth, did you know that? One the one hand, I love my birthday and start talking about it months beforehand so that those around me can start planning wonderful surprises and gifts.

Then again, the rapid rate at which my age is increasing is frightening.

Then AGAIN,  I am  no older than Jennifer Aniston and Halle Berry and they're looking pretty good, don't you think?

But enough about me.

If you ever get in a self-pitying mood about, silly things how old you are and maybe how your arms aren't quite as toned as Jennifer Aniston's, then check out the movie War Dance. It wil simultaneously break your heart and uplift it like any good piece of art should.

Oh - there is another birthday this month! On May 5, two years ago, I adopted my pug, Snuffy. I don't know his actual birthday of course, but May 5 is the day he began his new life, bringing much flatulence and joy into my life.

Happy birthday Snuffy!


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

May is Blog-Every-Day Month

You know what? I miss blogging.

Once upon a time, I blogged with great regularity. It was such a revelation at the time, too. After years of struggling to get published only here and there, all of a sudden I could publish EVERY DAY if I wanted to.

With the click of a mouse, I had actual readers. And you know the rest of the story.

I will always love the Internet for the way it helped me recover from my broken heart AND become a famous, bestselling, published novelist.

I don't think I'm quite done with ye olde Internet either. I miss having readers that I talk to on a regular basis. (Although I did recently publish this article on MSNBC - did you see it?)

So, just for one, I hereby dub May to be "Blog Every Day Month." Maybe, just maybe, by blogging every day, I'll discover my Next Big Topic.

Or maybe I'll just bore you to tears.

In other news, I'm going to be talking at a conference at Richard Hugo House next month called Finding Your Readers in the 21st Century; get the details here! I'll be talking about -- what else? -- blogging.

P.S.- Did you know you can download BreakupBabe onto your Kindle? Yeah, you CAN! And naturally you should. BreakupBabe began life in the digital world; it's very fitting that you read about her that way too.

P.P.S. - Last night while teaching my class "Hot Chicks of 19th and 20th Century Lit," I had the very pleasant revelation that I am a direct descendant (writing-wise) of Dorothy Parker. Have you ever read A Telephone Call? I recommend you do that right now via that there link. And tell me that Rachel, aka BreakupBabe, is not part of a lineage of utterly neurotic female characters, pioneered, in part, by the brilliant Mrs. Parker.

Funny, I did that A Telephone Call as a monologue in my 7th grade drama contest, long before I had any idea what it meant to sit by the phone waiting for a telephone call from some guy who never called you! I'm sure I could do it much better now.



Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Hail to the garage attendant guy

Currently I have a contract job at an office in downtown Bellevue.

The view is spectacular from my cubicle - on a sunny day (which most are lately) I can see the Olympics, Puget Sound, and downtown Seattle.

The view in the garage, however, where I lock up my bike, is not so good. Nonetheless there's a garage attendant who, every day, stations himself at the exit on the second level, and waves goodbye to every single person leaving the building.

At first I thought he was crazy and avoided looking at him, even though, naturally he waved and yelled out a friendly farewell to me too. It took me a while to figure out what he was saying to me, but now I know.

"I'm so proud of you! You're so strong!" he says to me as I unlock my bike. "Goodbye!"

Now instead of avoiding his gaze, I look forward to his enthusiastic salutation. This guy not only makes me feel good about myself, but he's also the living embodiment of a Good Attitude. He's happy. His happiness radiates out and affects us jaded souls who have trouble maintaining our Good Attitude even though we work on the 11th floor and feast our eyes on mountains and ocean all day long.

Thank you enthusiastic garage attendant guy, for giving me a little (a lot) of perspective.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Reading is Sexy

I like that Hugo House promoted my upcoming class under the heading Reading is Sexy.

"And finally, there’s Hot Chicks of 19th and 20th Century Lit. The name says it all, but in case you’re wondering who teacher Rebecca Agiewich considers a hot lit chick, try Eudora Welty, Willa Cather, Flannery O’Connor and Carson McCullers. Can I get some love for Edith Wharton too? "

I don't know about you, but I never go to bed without a book.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Bleh. I am in a post-vacation funkaroo. After five sun- and fun-filled days in Mexico, I now have a cold and too much work to do.

Plus I have to start cooking for myself again.

While staying on Eric and Valerie's boat in La Paz, we were treated like royalty - eating fresh Mexican food prepared by Valerie every day, including (but not limited to): fish tacos, tamales, grilled shrimp, tostadas, tropical fruit salad, homemade guacamole, and margaritas.

Lots of margaritas.

Besides eat and drink, all we did was sleep, read, swim, snorkel, sail, watch movies, and hike on deserted beaches.

And now my brain is expected work?

Ha ha.

Since there are no cute pictures of me in a bathing suit or mixing a margarita (sorry Teahouse Blossom!), I instead give you Dave enjoying a margarita (on the wave-lashed Pacific), along with some other photogenic moments.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

2010 Starts with a Bang

Happy 2010 everybody! The year has started off with five extra pounds and a lot of work flowing in. Whoohoo!

But work will just have to wait, because on Tuesday, we're off to visit Eric and Valerie in their yacht in La Paz, Mexico (the place where Loser was once bitten by a sea lion, ha ha).

I'm trying to lose those pounds, naturally, so as to look good in the bathing suit I'll be wearing 24/7. Dave is busy figuring out how to create a margarita-mixing station that he can attach to a snorkel.

Seriously though. It has been too long since I've had a sunny vacation. And I think I deserve it after the financially precarious slog that was 2009. Oh wait, I guess I did go biking in Finland. And kayaking and skiing in British Columbia. And backpacking in the Cascades. And mountain biking in Eastern Washington. But never mind about that.

(As you can see in the photo above, I was backpacking practically before I could walk. Back then, apparently, I actually managed to look stylish in the process.)

I need a REAL vacation. Like the kind where you get tan and snorkel with sea creatures! And stay with your long-lost friends on their yacht! After that I have a packed-full Hugo House class to look forward to, in which I will propel 15 eager students toward the goal of writing a draft of a book in six weeks.

Plus a blogging class in March and a whole bunch of other stuff that I can't think about now because it's time to go buy some sunblock and unearth my summer clothing. After January 19th, however, I'll return to the realities of a Seattle winter and start working in earnest.