Tag Archives: light box

Where are my writing prompts this fall?!

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I’m sort of at a writing loss this fall. First, I fell behind on mindful52. Recently, I’d been trying to catch up, but noticed that the organizer lost some steam as well and posts and responses have become fewer and far between and maybe even stopped completely in October. Then, I gave up on NaNoWriMo (although I’ve kept up with NaBloPoMo).

I was really looking forward to Reverb, which last year took place during December. But today I received an email from the main organizer who has decided not to host it this year. She encouraged everyone to write our own Reverb prompts and then comment on them throughout the month, possibly inviting others to respond to our prompts. I can tell the community feels a little abandoned and irritated that she waited until the last minute to let everyone know, and I certainly feel this myself. It’s just not the same as being given a new prompt each day, with several thousand other people responding to the same prompts on the same day in a sort of collective group meditation. And tomorrow is already December 1—not a lot of time to come up with our own list. However,  there are a few people seeing this as a challenge: brainstorming ideas and posting them on twitter. Maybe I’ll end up following one of those, or come up with a list tomorrow morning…

Although it’s disappointing, I can’t really blame the organizers for petering out on mindful52 or reverb. They put a huge amount of time, energy, and resources into creating and maintaining these challenges, and who knows what is happening in their personal lives?

If not for December, I like the idea  of writing the prompts ahead of time for my February light box month.

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Scalloped potatoes, orange globes, and funky claymation

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Red Orange Orb on a warm smokey September day

Pilot Butte: Smokey Orb

I had been craving Herbed Scalloped Potatoes since I saw the  recipe the other day in The 30-Day Vegan Challenge. They are in the oven, smell great, and hopefully will be done soon. (They are taking a lot longer than I expected.)

Recently, I heard a medical doctor reference an old study in which the subjects were fed only potatoes and B12 supplements for years and actually did quite well (he also mentioned how nobody would be permitted to do a similar study today). Not that I’d want to test it out myself. But as he pointed out, many Irish also survived for years on not a whole lot more than potatoes during the famine.

Late this afternoon after work, I sat outside and enjoyed the warmth while letting all four kitties run around the back yard. I love doing that. Only had one escapee over the side fence (Nevermore) and I was able to retrieve her pretty quickly. It’s been so nice—it was around 80° at 8p tonight.

In the early evening I hiked Pilot Butte. As I arrived, a wedding party was beginning their walk to the top. I know that people sometimes get married up there, but how fun to hike up first! Of course, I’m assuming they were getting married from the makeup of the group and the way they were dressed, and the fact that they were taking the road, not the trail. Plus, when I got to the top there were a bunch of other people who had obviously driven up for the ceremony and were waiting around.

There was a brilliant and fiery red-orange orb of a sun to greet them, thanks to a smoke cloud from yet another fire.

This evening, as the potatoes are cooking, I’ve been watching one of the first things that popped up on Netflix—this quirky claymation called Mary and Max with two of my favorite character actors, Toni Collette and Philip Seymour Hoffman, as the voices of the main characters. Normally, I don’t enjoy animations (especially claymations) very much, but this fit my mood well—it’s dark and odd.

Warm blue skies, but it feels like February

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Still feeling a little blue today. Buried myself in an overly-long hardly-took-any-breaks to eat or pee workday, testing out some 3rd party software to hopefully come up with a solution for my client. One of the problems of working out of a home office is that sometimes I just keep trying and tweaking and trying something else and tweaking—and then it’s 8 or 9p. In fact, I was still messing with stuff a little while ago. Not really productive, because I’ll probably wake up in the morning with a fresh idea and figure it out in way less time.

Part of my blue-ness is  feeling anxious about a work-related decision I’ve been putting off. Do I volunteer to do something that would be a good opportunity and possibly a good way to build my confidence back up, but is risky because it’s associated with something I failed miserably at a few months ago (so it would definitely raise my stress level 3-fold over the next week)? Or do I take it easy and not do it so that I can relax and do a good job on the other things I’ve committed to next week, but then risk regretting that I didn’t do it? Am I the only one who agonizes over decisions like this?

Another thing is being a little worried about my dogs—neither of them seem like they feel very good. Ruby just hasn’t seemed the same since we lost Deimos last year, and she has started to show her age. I’ve been missing Deimos a lot lately, especially since we’re coming up on the anniversary of his death.

Bummed that I spent all day indoors on one of the last nice days of the Fall. I should have at least gotten out there and taken Ruby for a walk.

Tomorrow.

Saramago: run-on paragraphs and the art of translation

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Death With Interruptions by Jose Saramago

I recently finished Death With Interruptions, by José Saramago. This is my second Saramago book. I think I may have discovered him through Ursula Le Guin’s blog. The Notebook didn’t really draw me in, but I went on to read All The Names, which did. I found myself wishing the other day, as I was reading Death With Interruptions, that I could read Saramago in the language in which it was written—Portuguese. Long ago, I was living in Spain and was getting pretty comfortable with Spanish (mostly lost now). I will always remember how mind opening it was to read a book in its original language, that I had formerly read in English. Or more interesting yet, reading a book that I had formerly read in English translation, i.e., Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being—but this time in Spanish.

The art of the translator is not celebrated enough. To convey nuance, tone, and expression, to choose appropriate slang and context. It must be especially tough with an author like Saramago who runs on sentences and paragraphs for pages, who seems to only loosely follow punctuation and grammar rules. Or maybe it is just that he has his own rules, and quotation marks and paragraph returns are not included. I especially admired that in Death With Interruptions, there is a page in the book that says to the reader something like, hey, you remember that guy I mentioned on page X, yeah, that guy, well… And sure enough, if you flip to page X, it’s the page where that character was mentioned. It’s pretty cool to think they have to keep those two pages in sync throughout different versions and language translations! Hmm, the same person translated both books: Margaret Jull Costa. Nicely done. I think. I’ll never really know unless I learn to read Portuguese.

It’s like watching a foreign film. After a while, your brain stops trying so hard and you’re able to read the subtitles and follow the flow without consciously thinking about it. When I read Saramago, at first I’m annoyed that everything seems to run together, but after a while I find that I’m engaged and am able to follow different trains of thought, action, and dialog without all of the usual markers. And it is more intimate, somehow. What it lacks in clarity, it makes up for in feeling and perspective.

Do I get José Saramago? I doubt it. I don’t pretend to understand what the whole long metaphor means about death taking a holiday in a certain country and then changing her mind and giving everyone about to die a week’s notice with violet-colored letters, and then falling in love with somebody to whom she can’t seem to deliver his death notice… I can guess at the meaning, see a glimpse of what he might have been intending, and that’s it. But I love that both Death With Interruptions and All Then Names make me think about death in a way that I haven’t before. And prompt me to think about language in ways I haven’t before. That’s why I pulled this quote out the other day, and I don’t mind repeating it here:

It’s called metamorphosis, everyone knows that, said the apprentice philosopher condescendingly, That’s a very fine-sounding word, full of promises and certainties, you say metamorphosis and move on, it seems you don’t understand that words are the labels we stick on things, not the things themselves, you’ll never know what the things are really like, nor even what their real names are, because the names you gave them are just that, the names you gave them, …

Do you ever hear a word, and it just doesn’t sound right? You roll it over and over on your tongue, and it just sounds strange that day. Or you see it written, and you wonder why you never noticed the shape the letters make together. We rarely ever stop to separate out the sound or shape of the word from the meaning of the word. In fact, for me, the same words can sometimes seem like different words in my brain according to the context they are used in. This seems true to me—”words are the labels we stick on things, not the things themselves.” Of course. We do our damnedest but we have only brushed the surface of the truth of the thing that we are describing.

February’s Lists and Notes

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Light Boxes

Read more about my Light Box month.

from Light Boxes, by Shane Jones

Short List Found in February’s Back Pocket

  1. I’ve done everything I can.
  2. I need to know you won’t leave.
  3. I wrote a story to show love, and it turned to war. How awful.
  4. I twisted myself around stars and poked the moon where the moon couldn’t reach.
  5. I’m the kind of person who kidnaps children and takes flight.

List Found in February’s Cottage Detailing Possible Cures for February

  1. Valerian root and vitamin C tablets taken in the dark.
  2. Yoga and meditation.
  3. The melting of snow in children’s palms.
  4. Light boxes?
  5. Hot bath taken with mint extract.
  6. Touching the moon in places the moon doesn’t know exist.
  7. Consumption of St. John’s wort.
  8. Feeding the garden inside.
  9. Giving Bianca back.
  10. Twisting your fears into desires.
  11. Mood diary.
  12. Hydrating the body.
  13. Paying attention to the girl who smells of honey and smoke.

List of Artists Who Created Fantasy Worlds to Try and Cure Bouts of Sadness

  1. Italo Calvino
  2. Garbriel García Márquez
  3. Jim Henson and Jorge Luis Borges—Labyrinths
  4. The creator of MySpace
  5. Richard Brautigan
  6. J.K. Rowling
  7. The inventor of the children’s toy Lite-Brite
  8. Ann Sexton
  9. David Foster Wallace
  10. Gauguin and the Caribbean
  11. Charles Schulz
  12. Liam Rector

Note Found in February’s Pocket by the Girl Who Smells of Honey and Smoke

I wanted to write you a story about magic. I wanted rabbits appearing from hats. I wanted balloons lifting you into the sky. It turned out to be nothing but sadness, war, heartbreak. You never saw it, but there’s a garden inside me.

I’m so confused it almost feels calm, or, I want to be a good person, but I’m not

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Light Boxes

Read more about my Light Box month.

from Light Boxes, by Shane Jones

List Written by February and Carried in
February’s Corduroy Coast Pocket

  1. I am not a bad person. I have enjoyed June, July and August like everyone else.
  2. I fed you dandelions and picked the stems from your teeth with my tongue.
  3. You smell of honey and smoke. That’s what I call you. Girl who smells of honey and smoke. But you’re more than that. You’re a field of dandelions.
  4. I have this nightmare where I’m standing in the field of dandelions holding a scythe. The horizon is children marching. Each child holds one of your teeth.
  5. I’m so confused it almost feels calm.
  6. I am guilty of kidnapping children. I am guilty of Bianca and causing great pain to Thaddeus and Selah and the town.
  7. I want to be a good person, but I’m not.

A war, a war, a war against February

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Light Boxes

Read more about my Light Box month.

from Light Boxes, by Shane Jones

Thaddeus was buying apples when

he overheard the group of former balloonists known as the Solution.

How much can we put up with. How many days will this dreadful season extend itself. Our town is a place of no flight and all snow because of February.

There were five of them, tall and thin, wearing long brown coats and black top hats. They had thin plastic masks over their faces. Each mask was painted as a different-colored bird.

You, said one of the members, who grabbed Thaddeus’s shoulder and turned him around.

Thaddeus faced the Solution, holding his basket of apples tight against his chest.

We’re starting a rebellion, a war, said a yellow bird mask, against February and what it stands for.

A war, repeated Thaddeus.

Yes, a war, a war, a war, the Solution repeated.

An orange bird mask continued, We’re sick of February, who we believe is responsible not only for a season of endless gray and snow but the end of flight.

A blue bird mask lurched forward and placed a square of parchment in Thaddeus’s coat pocket. He knocked one of Thaddeus’s apples out of the basket and into a pile of snow.

Remember us, said the Solution.

And they disbanded, walking, dreaming of flying, in separate directions.