Sunday, January 23, 2005

Going snowblind in my bedroom

The sun came out a few minutes ago and suddenly I couldn't see anything. I've gotten used to not being able to see very well when the sun shines in through my window and onto my screen but this was ridiculous. I couldn't see anything. When I looked out the window it was like an ice pick to my brain, right in through the eyes and straight back to the back of my head. Even now my left eye feels like someone punched it.

It was from the sun shining off of the snow everywhere so I closed my blinds and now my room is brighter than it usually is with them open. Kind of funny.

I had such a lovely dream that I didn't want to wake up at all. I wonder if given the choice if I would live forever in the dreamworld or if I would wake back up again. The dreamworld is so nice because I'm not usually sick there. Sometimes I am but mostly if I an sick I can still do things And I'm sick in an abstract kind of way. I get such incredible support there. A philosophy I can totally dig teaches that when you dream you're really at the astral plane and you get to meet with the elders (not the elder gods) and you sort out your problems. You get to see people you can't see in the tactile world and I believe you collaborate on things. To me that explains why Vince Gilligan and I can write the very same scene for an X-Files script. Of course he was getting paid to write and I was doing a spec script but still, some of the stuff I wrote was word for word the same as his.

So there you are, I'm healthy, I've got this amazing support system. I've got friends who talk to me about my writing and give me feedback, I help them, these guys I hang out with are dreamy, (really, really dreamy) so why wouldn't I want to stay there forever? I eat in my dreams. I suppose that means I'm not in Faerie when I dream or I would never wake up.

This morning I had an intense, comforting, sensual, complex dream. The basic idea is that I was working for NBC as a reporter and I was in this hotel to interview Neil about something. He was on one floor but I got off onto the wrong floor and ran into Adam Duritz, who was there with an entourage of what someone called "the Stoners." They were all going downstairs to play video games. I followed them and one by one they went into this room and Adam said something to them as they went past. When it was my turn I smiled at him with no idea of what I was going to say. He gave me two dollars for the machines and said how much he had missed me and asked me if I would go for a walk because he had to go and look in on a friend who was having a baby. He also told me how much he liked my new haircut and told me to stop fretting about it because in a few months time you won't even be able to tell my hair was butchered in November.

We walked through the warm sunshine, along a lane that ran past a stream and a lot of wildflowers until we came to a little cottage. We checked on his friend who was doing well; water had broken, contractions were still fifteen minutes apart, the midwife was there, she was cheerful and excited and then we went back out into the sunshine. We'd been holding hands the whole time, in that nice friendly way you can do with dear friends where neither of you feel self conscious and when we came to a spot under a tree Adam sat down and pulled me down next to him. He told me to close my eyes and he started to recite something. It sounded a little like poetry but mostly like prose. I asked him if it was from Tolkien and he said no it was something from me. That I was going to write it and he liked it so much that he had memorized it. And that I should think about not putting all my energy into my column but spend some time each day working on my fiction. He said it in such a loving compassionate way there was no arguing with him.

You know that way to get out of credit card debt? You pay a certain amount towards your bills each month but you pay the most to the card where you owe the least. Then when that card is paid off you take the money you were paying and put it towards the next smallest balance. The idea is you eventually pay everything off without ever having to spend more each month than you started with.

I was thinking about some of these short stories I want to write and it seemed like maybe I should finish one of those and then take the time I was spending on that and spend it on the next smallest project...

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Some people should not be allowed to practice medicine

I had to go and get a blood test yesterday. I feel like it is almost always an ordeal when I do this. Really it is not but the ones that are bad outweigh the ones that are good and all the anticipation makes it harder to bear.

When the phlebotomist called me back there was another person in the room, a soulless fuck as it turned out, although I didn't know that yet. I am pretty friendly when I get these procedures. I don't see why I should be grouchy just because I hate the whole thing and it's often difficult. I said hello to the guy standing there and asked him how he was. He did not seem to think a reply was needed.

I pushed my sleeves up and sat down and he grabbed my hand and put the tourniquet around my wrist. Why? Why do that to someone? I have so much scarring on the veins of my hands from morons who do that. I can't even tell you how many times the veins have been "blown" by careless oafs who are using a needle too big for the tiny vessels.

I was feeling so sick and faint that I didn't even argue with the guy. I was afraid I would throw up or pass out or not be able to talk to him in a reasonable voice but I just got more and more angry with myself for not telling him no way, someone needed to try my arms before my hands. He hurt me quite a lot and then slapped a bandage on. When I looked at my hand he hadn't even done the vein in the middle of the hand. He had taken the blood from right next to the knuckle on the left. What the fuck is that? I cannot think of any reason a sane person would try there first.

Then when I got up and started to leave he started yelling card at me because I hadn't picked up my insurance card. God forbid he should use a complete sentence or something. I wonder if this man ever has to get any medical care. I think not because you don't do shit like this to people when you know what it means.

Here I am a day later with a bruise and a huge swelling on my right hand (I am indeed right handed) and I get faintly queasy when I look at the marks on the back of my hand. And yes it hurts. I have to go back in four weeks, at the latest. If I get this guy again I am going to refuse to allow him to touch me. I hope. If I don't wimp out and just shut up and take it like the "good patient" that I am.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Why can't I do that? Tell me one more time...

I was just writing my column for Quality Time and I wrote this:

1999 - Run Lola Run – this is another movie that I absolutely love. It’s also not exactly linear but not nearly as out of sequence as Memento. It’s more of a sort of fractured time line. It’s the story of a girl who has 20 minutes to get 100,000 franks and bring it a guy who is going to kill her boyfriend if she is late or fails to get the money. Franka Potente plays Lola with such panache that you can’t imagine anyone else in that part. The film is in German with subtitles. It’s violent and quirky and strange but it’s got a glorious, uplifting underlying theme that will make you fall in love with life all over again.

What I don't talk about is how after Dan died I used to lie in bed and stare at the ceiling and wonder why Lola could work things out and change them and I couldn't. I still wonder. I still love this film but it will never be the same to me as it was when Dan and I watched it and talked about film making techniques and the whole world lay open ready for us to make our marks upon it.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Swamp thing writers

I read a bunch of old Swamp Thing comics over the last couple of days. The first ones I read were by Nancy A. Collins (Sonja Blue) and I liked them quite a lot.

The rest were by mostly by Mark Millar. I did not like his work. Some of the letters in the letter column were going on about how wonderful he is and how he brought the horror back to the series but I didn't see it. I thought those issues were tedious and confusing. You would think it would be hard to be both but he managed. The elements that were supposed to be shocking were just so bad and ridiculous I sprained my eyes rolling them. This one woman couldn't die so she got a job as a hooker who let people murder her every night and she dug it. Yeah whatever.

For something to fit into the horror category it has to be scary. I have to (and I know I keep harping on this) care about characters before I can be frightened for them. Horror can also work if it hits upon something that I find deeply creepy but none of this did. It was like the author wanted to shock and offend so much that his work became a parody of itself and entered the realm of the sublimely unbelievable.

Next up - Animal Man.

Monday, January 17, 2005

A new doctor

I went to see the doctor I used to work for today. He's a chiropractic neurologist. I have not seen him in some time, mostly because my insurance was negative about paying for a chiropractor and it is just hard for me to get out of the house and go see him on a regular basis. Plus I have had such a ridiculous run of medical problems I hated to go in there with a litany of more.

But a friend of mine was giving me crap on Friday and saying I am avoiding medical care so I gave in and went to see Dr. Olson today. It was a good visit for a lot of reasons. He listened to me very carefully and he asked questions and he is concerned. He's known me for a long time and he knows I am not tired and slow because I am fat he knows it is because I am sick.

I told him that I think this whole idea of dehydrating my whole body in the hope of bringing down the level of fluid in my head is ridiculous. That is four year old thinking. Some little kid would pipe up with this idea at the dinner table and the adults would smile but really be thinking "Sure kid, go back to your peas and leave the talk to the adults."

Dr. Olson is not sure if he can help me but I feel better already. Maybe it is just a temporary thing but I was able to take the kids out to dinner, go shopping at the goodwill for 26 more books and get haircuts and I still have not thrown up so I say hoorah to even the most temporary of fixes.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Spawn the Impaler, what is that and why?

I've been reading comics all day. I have a bunch I bought from eBay that I hadn't been able to read yet because of my eyes. Now I figure I better read them while I still can.

I had three called Spawn the Impaler that came with a lot of Vertigo books I bought. I don't really understand the point. The plot was sort of recycled Bram Stoker's Dracula (and remember my rule, if the name of the author is in the movie title the movie will have very little to do with the book) with a "surprise twist" thrown in at the end. You know what might have been surprising or maybe even interesting? If the chick had been Elizabeth Bathony but I bet McFarlane doesn't think his audience knows who she is. Yeah so that was a total waste of my time.

On the other hand I very much enjoyed the Books of Magic and The Dreaming books I read today. Some of them were brilliant and they were all captivating. I had no idea the corinthian had been brought back again. I was avoiding the Dreaming for a long time because it seemed to just focus on Cain and Abel and they get so old so quick. I don't know how they stand being themselves and never changing.

The Dreaming is so much more though and I'd like to get hold of the issues I don't have, which is most of them.

I have always steered clear of Hellblazer because I thought it was from those ghastly films by Clive Barker. It was only today that I remembered those are Hell Raiser. Doh!

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Owl Goingback gets another chance

I read Crota by Owl Goingback today. I didn't like the last book of his that I read but I picked this one up for a quarter so he got another chance. This one won the Bran Stoker award.

It's better than the other one (what was the name of it? I can see the cover and I am sure I talked about it somewhere here) It didn't drive me nuts and bore me much. I very much enjoyed the parts that talk about native culture and the underground city. The parts about the creature killing a bunch of people off one by one were nothing special. Didn't I write a story like that way back in seventh grade? (Yes I did and I don't have any enthusiasm left for this type of work.)

I suppose I'll read another book by him if I find one but I wouldn't go out and look for one. Well maybe his poetry or something.

Friday, January 14, 2005

I am Invaded by Rats

When I went to Fiddler's Green I spent every penny I had and some I didn't. It was well worth it to me, of course. I had the most wonderful time and it was something I think I needed to do on many levels.

What I didn't consider was that it wasn't just going to cost money while I was there. You see I came home with a new art lust. One of the many drawbacks of the Pseudotumour is that I have a lot more trouble seeing. When I look at images online sometimes I can't even tell what they are. When I can they just aren't as compelling as they should be.

So when Lisa Snellings made her little Neil rat I resisted it. I thought it was cool and I thought it was even cooler given my great love and respect for rats but I was able to click away from the site although it never really went out of my head.

At Fiddler's Green I got to see on during the auction. It was so much more adorable than I had thought. Plus someone paid an astonishing amount for one so when I saw an artist's proof on eBay I grabbed it.

Did I mention that Lisa is generous as well as an amazing artist? Well she is. She sent me this little fellow also. Can I just tell you that I love him and I plan to make him my mascot for my column? Doesn't he look as though he is just pretending to be a jester while really plotting to overthrow the crown? Yeah, I dig him.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Ulterior motives?

I was just reading the directions on a tube of toothpaste (really I do have other things to read but directions on mundane items are funny to me) and it said:

For best results squeeze tube in middle then flatten from bottom.

How funny is that? I have heard couples get into the most ridiculous fights over where to squeeze the toothpaste. I think maybe someone wanted to prove that they are right and you should squeeze the middle so they put it in writing.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

More pseudotumour stuff

I went up to Baltimore to see my doctor today. It's been nearly a year since I was diagnosed and I am still throwing up and hearing things and very weak and having bad headaches that make it very difficult to get anything done.

We decided if I make an effor to lose weight (which I am not convinced will work or will help) we will talk about me getting the shunt put in place.

She also gave me a handout that she thought she had given me before. It's interesting because it says to beware of taking over the counter medication for pain because while it can help a little it can rebound. That seems to be exactly what happens. I get to be in so much pain I take some tylenol or maybe an ibuprofen and it helps a little but then I end up hurting much worse.

But if I can go without taking anything then overall I do better.

Also I notice since I stopped taking valerian everything is worse. Headaches, nausea, vomiting, noises in my ears, inability to control my temper, just being tired of everything and feeling sorry for myself. I found this site today that said that valerian is very good for pseudotumor and it can actually help reduce the pressure so yeah for my body for telling me I should take it.

My doctor also asked me to cut back on my medicine. We had been trying 1500 mgs of Diamox per day instead of 1000 but it didn't do any good. We'll see what happens next.

I was doing a little research online about the shunt and found this frightful report. Several sentences stick out and shock and horrify including

An attempt to pull the catheter from the thecal sac was met with resistance.

And then this list of places where the shunt has migrated including some that are actually now out of the body:

There are also reports of distal migration of the peritoneal catheter of VP shunts,18 with intestinal perforation,19-22 vaginal perforation,23 uterine perforation,21 bladder perforation,21 gallbladder perforation,24 pneumothorax,24
intestinal obstruction or volvulus,22,25 and extrusion through the anus,21 umbilicus,26 scrotum,27 abdominal incision,28 midlumbar region,29 and into the chest.

Couldn't you just die? Kind of like this patient I guess:

In the first documentation of an LP shunt, Ferguson4 created a
subarachnoid-peritoneal fistula by placing a silver wire in a canal drilled through a lumbar vertebra. The patient died within 24 hours of completion of the procedure.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Some books I enjoyed from 2004

Song of Susannah (The Dark Tower, Book 6) by Stephen King – This book is deeply weird. Not deeply weird in the classic King style of there is an alien/monster/vampire trying to take over my brain/body/town sort of way but in a new breaking down the fourth wall sort of way. When I first started this series nearly twenty years ago I had some concerns that the author would not live to finish the books. Apparently King had some of the same fears and he uses them as a plot device in Song of Susannah. But it works and the book is just as compelling and well written as the rest. The book ends in a huge cliffhanger and I can’t wait for the book seven, which will also be book the last.

To the Nines (A Stephanie Plum Novel) by Janet Evanovich – Okay the hardback came out in 2003 but I read the paperback which came out in 2004 so don’t bug me. Do you like your families dysfunctional, your cars exploding and your characters quirky? Then the adventures of Stephanie Plum, the worst bounty hunter in the world, are just the thing for you. In this episode Steph gets to get out of Jersey and go to Vegas as she tries to find her skip before every person who could help her is killed in front of her.

Nick Hornby's Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby – What a terrific book. Hornby is insightful, funny and just as bizarre as I am. What a relief to discover that other readers get so upset over books that they start arguing with the authors who are nowhere in sight. I was particularly pleased to hear from another writer who reads because we can have a different perspective than readers who don’t write.

A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett – You know how people say they think they will die laughing but they don’t mean it? I think I went through three inhalers reading this book. It’s the sequel to Wee Free Men and it’s got Tiffany Aching the Witch and the Mac Nac Feegle. Tiffany is again an excellent strong, fun, brave, clever role model for girls and the Mac Nac Feegle are terrific role models for 6 inch high thieving drunken fairy men who curse a lot. Be sure to read Wee Free Men before this one because you will be ever so glad that you did.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: A Novel by Susanna Clarke – I cannot tell you how much I adore this book. It took me about a week to read because I was enjoying it so much I didn’t want to rush. I was worried because when I have read Clarke’s short stories I found them interesting and witty but not warm and what is wit without warmth? But I needn’t have worried. I cared deeply for her characters and had several conversations with the absent Clarke about why she treated some of them the way she did and if she minded if I just pretended that she hasn’t. I have seen some people complain about the footnotes but I particularly enjoyed them. To me they were like the little stories in Gaiman’s American Gods. Many of the footnotes are stand alone stories of Faerie and are perfect for reading aloud to someone you love. The illustrations are lovely and a splendid addition to the text.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Very sad news

My cat vorpal has been missing since the 29th. He's not an outdoor cat. None of my cats are. Outdoor cats live about half as long as indoor cats. He got out when Chris came in very early in the morning and left the door open.

I have looked for him, the kids have looked for him. We've asked the neighbours and we've been to Animal Control and asked the SPCA but nobody had seen him except this woman who said her dog chased him.

I was just writing to a friend of mine about the train crash in South Carolina and saying I couldn't bear any more terrible news when someone came banging on my door to tell my cat is dead.

But you know she didn't do it like that. She asked if I had a black and white cat and of course hope leapt up into my chest and I was sure she was going say she had found him and then she said he was dead and starved to death in a storage area where someone had locked him in.

How could that be? He was so stupid and friendly he would have been under the feet of anyone in this storage area. I don't see how you could have locked him in accidentally.

Plus he was fat and because I have my windows open a lot and he sleeps in here with me he had a winter coat. Would he really have starved to death? Now I am imagining him getting weaker and crying and nobody hearing him.

His body was very close to where I sat for about half an hour calling him last weekend. Did I not hear him because this brain disorder causes that constant rushing in my ears? I could hear the birds though. His corpse was all wet and he didn't look particularly thin. He was very dirty. It was definitely him though. I was afraid I would not be able to tell.

I'm terribly sad and I wish I didn't have such a good imagination. I'm too sad to do anything now and I have to copyedit a treatment for a friend and write two columns.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Beautiful beautiful books

I finally gave in and subscribed to the Hill House Neil Gaiman Author?s Preferred Series. Yeah I couldn't afford it. I know that.

But you see when I went to Fiddler's Green I got to see tea American Gods that Hill House had so kindly donated to the CBLDF auction in person and Neil talked about the special content and I have been moping about wanting the damn thing ever since. So when Thomson Media paid me my retroactive pay raise and reimbursed me for the eCommerce class I took in the Spring of last year well I decided to spend most of the money on these fucking awesome books.

They arrived yesterday and I nearly swooned. I wish my Intracranial Hypertension had not affected my eyes so much. Chris tells me the slip cover is a lovely shade of purple, instead of the brown that I see. But even so they are just drop dead gorgeous. And they even smell good.

I could not be happier with my purchase. In fact I suspect I will be buying Melinda, which I can't afford either, before the weekend is out. Good times.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Rest in peace Will Eisner

I guess even living legends can't live forever. God bless you Will, we'll all miss you.

Monday, January 03, 2005

A Little Princess

After reading The Secret Garden I read A Little Princess online. There is no way I could ever critique this book. I just love it too much and I have ever since I was a little tiny girl. It's about the power of story to help you get through the terrible times. I don't care if this story breaks every rule of good writing. It works for me and it always has. I love it and it helped me through my own terrible parts of my childhood. Thank you Ms. Frances Hodgson Burnett.

Then I read a terrible book called Footsteps. It's a mystery written in 1929. The middle and the ending are really choppy and I suspect they were marvelously modern when written. The middle of the book is not bad but that is because the story switches to being told from the pov of some letters.

One of the biggest problems I had with the book is that it takes place 28 years after the mystery and you know who died and how and it's all flashbacks. There is no suspense. Then at the end a character says even a fool could tell who done it. Well I am not a fool but I had no idea.

The best part of the book was little 12 year old Lucy telling her sister how much she loves her with things like if her love were a clover seed planted in a meadow it would fill the entire meadow. Then another character tells her not to be so fancy with her love declarations so she stops and there goes the most interesting stuff. Sigh.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Hello, I didn't read that yet

I just finished reading The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I have had this book forever. I think my mom gave it to me before I moved out on my own and given that I moved out at age 16 that would be awhile ago.

Nick Hornby made an interesting comment about introductions in his book The Polysyllabic Spree. He talked about how there are invariably spoilers in the introductions. I totally agree with him and have made it a habit to read the introduction after the book.

But just to see if anything had changed I read the beginning of the introduction and sure enough it immediately spoils the story. In fact both the very start of the introduction and the blurb on the back cover ruin a secret that is kept for the first 100 pages of the book.

That irks me. Maybe these people publishing these classics think that because the books are old we are somehow born knowing the stories but it doesn't work that way. Perhaps it is ridiculous that at the age of 41 I am finally getting round to reading a children's book but oh well I would still like to do it and get the most out of the book.

The introduction was written by some chick called Lois Lowry. I suspect I should know who she is but I don't and she was so negative and spoiling with this book that I don't think I will be looking for her work any time soon. That's one of the problems I had with the book I read yesterday; I couldn't stand all the negativity. It's one thing to write a sad book or a book about a tragedy but you don't have to be such a curmudgeon.

Yes, yes I am fully aware that I am a curmudgeon myself, although my New York editor for my job says I am technically too young to be a curmudgeon. but I am not being a curmudgeon in the introduction to a book which is basically about the power of positive thinking now am I?

As for the book itself I liked it. I liked it much more than I thought I would. It reminded me of some Alcott books I have read (do you remember the one where the girl took the iron band off of her waist and ran around outside in the fresh air and drank a lot of milk in order to get well, quite against the philosophy of the day?) and a book called Little Princess. They both have the theory that when you have a child that is having a temper tantrum the best thing to do is distract them which I think is lovely advice. They are also both about a child who have a connection to India. Mary in the Secret Garden starts out in India and Sara in A Little Princess has a father who leaves her behind while he sails to India. They are both about children on their own in unfamiliar circumstances. Children who have to rely on themselves and learn new ways to think and get along.

Ha ha, I just looked Little Princess up and it is by Frances Hodgson Burnett also. That explains the similarity doesn't it?

But even more exciting is that I found it through Google Print. I have been following the stories about this new mindcroggleingly huge Google project with extreme interest and now I got to use it and I must stop writing because I am going to swoon with giddiness and delight.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

What are they smoking?

I read this book today that I didn't like at all. It's called Bygones by LaVyrle Spencer. Now mind you I tend to like romances. I read one called You Belong to Me by Johanna Lindsay (Sp? I don't have the book in front of me so I might have spelt that wrong) which was loads of fun and had ponies in it.

This book had characters I could not like and a lot of being bitter and recriminations and blaming themselves and each other for ridiculous things. The only reason I finished it is because I am such a quick reader and I forced myself. The middle was the best part but there was this bit where the son of the family, Randy, smokes some pot. Or at least he is supposedly smoking some bud but the description sounds like the 17 hits of acid he took and the coke he snorted kicked in around the same time as he toked up.

I just have this image of Ms. Spencer sitting there earnestly interviewing a "pothead" and writing down everything he said about the experience while he lied his head off and laughed his ass off.

It's a shame when one scene makes the entire rest of the book not credible but Ms. Spencer if I can't believe your description of getting high then I can't believe anything else you describe either. Sorry.