Signal to Noise Ratios

Sometimes I think I need a cell phone booster for my brain. I’ve been staring at the same paragraph for an hour, trying to focus on the article I’m trying to write. It’s not difficult material. It’s material I’ve already written at least twice, and merely need to rephrase, in essence plagiarizing myself, but the words swim on the page, and nothing resolves into coherence, and I feel lost…

It’s not the writing. It’s that my head is killing me and my mother left a message that a woman, a family friend from our Modesto days, who was very much a surrogate grandmother to my stepbrother and me, who taught me piano, whose husband introduced me to art concepts I never knew existed, who always talked to me like an adult, and encouraged me to keep writing when I was ready to never type another word, is in a nursing home, hooked up to Oxygen, close to death, and she’s in Palm Springs, so it’s not like I can go visit.

I’m having a bit of a personal melt-down today. I literally was in tears on the phone to Fuzzy, begging for a cheeseburger and a holiday blast from Sonic. “It’s the kind of day only junk food can fix,” I said. .

“Can’t I fix it?” he offered sweetly.

“Yes,” I said. “You can bring me the stupid cheeseburger.”

Yeah, it’s been that kind of a day.

Thursday 13: 0712.06

Thirteen Things about MISS MELISS
Things that are White

1. Snow: Chilly, crystalline goodness. I like it in small doses, and prefer the falling part to the bit where it sits on the ground to be redistributed every so often, until spring comes. We don’t get snows like that in Texas, of course.
2. Paper: There is nothing that quite compares to a ream of crisp, white paper. Paper isn’t just a substance, either, it represents a world of possibilities. The blank page, the future, the imagination.
3. Athletic socks: Ankle length or peds are my favorites. Soft white cotton, thick soles, great for use in sneakers or just padding around the house.
4. Submarine Watch Mugs: Thick white porcelain, no handles. They’re meant for wrapping your hands around, to keep them warm while you drink steaming tea, coffee or cocoa. Or gin.
5. Calla Lilies and Paper Whites: White petals, green stems, slender elegance.
6. The White Crayon: Used primarily for decorating Easter eggs, because what’s the point of using a white crayon on white paper? But important to have, nevertheless.
7. Foamed Milk: The perfect foam capping a cappuccino or mocha, before the cinnamon or chocolate shavings are sprinkled on. Before the first sip is taken.
8. The Classic White Blouse: One thing every woman should own. It can be plain, and just ironed perfectly, or it can sport lace. It’s simple, classic, always appropriate, and can be dressed up, with a jacket and black pants or skirt, or down, worn with jeans.
9. Sharp organic cheddar cheese: Real cheddar isn’t orange – they ADD the dye – it’s white, and a little crumbly. Also wonderful are wedges of parmesan or balls of provolone.
10. White Caps: The tips of the waves when the water is very choppy. Dangerous for swimming in, but so lovely to watch.
11. White, E. B. & Katharine: He was the author of Stuart Little, Charlotte’s Web, and The Trumpet of the Swan. She was his wife, but also an ardent gardener, and author of many garden-related articles, columns, and books.
12. A Rosined Bow: White horsehair stretched taut from tip to frog, dusted lightly with rosin, ready to play the first note.
13. Animal Fur: Rabbit, Lamb, Fox, or even my dog, Miss Cleo. Soft white fur, deep enough to bury your fingers in, best when wrapped around the soothing heartbeat of a warm cuddly animal.

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Tastes Like Cedar

I have never been a particular fan of pencils, and when I did have to use them in my early school years, I was particular about them. Those fat training pencils they give to very young children were never my style. My hands are small, for one thing – the average sixth grader has larger hands than I do – so I don’t like thick pens either, and they were never sharp enough. When I write, I like the words to come out in definitive black, not non-committal gray.

My pencils, then, were always sharpened to a needle-fine point, and while they were the No. 2’s that make ScanTrons happy in all corners of the universe, they were also brilliantly yellow, and smelled of cedar.

Actually they tasted like cedar, too. I know this because, I admit, I used to be a pencil chewer. Most of us had some kind of oral fixation in grade school, I think. For many it was gum. I’m not a gum chewer. I don’t see the point in food you’re not supposed to swallow, and frankly, I think gum is too much work for too little payoff. So, there were pencils. Not that they were a snack food, because of course, they weren’t. But when you’re thinking hard about something having a pencil between your teeth helps a bit. It’s the schoolgirl equivalent of being given a bullet to bite in order to distract yourself from pain.

I mention all this because I’ve bought pencils twice in the last two years. In October, 2006, I bought pencils to put in the survival kits I made for my WriMos. They were pencils in fashion colors – blue, maroon, mauve – points not included.

I bought pencils again, yesterday. Ten boxes. Presumably these are the yellow kind, but the color really doesn’t matter. I bought them because yesterday was Day 30 of the WGA strike, and there’s a campaign to flood the offices of the six corporate entities that represent the “bosses” in the strike. I support the WGA as a fan, because without writers there are no words for actors to speak. I support them as a writer, even though I’m in no way connected with the industry, because I know how much working writers really earn. I mean, I am one. Also, I like creative protests. I mean, picketing is all very well and good – it makes your point very visible, and all that, but sending mountains of pencils has an element of the absurd that really appeals to me.

So I bought pencils. (I also bought a tent-sized t-shirt to use as a night gown, because I’m the kind of girl who prefers big t-shirts to lacy lingerie, really. Cotton rocks my world, and all that.)

If you’re a fan, or a writer, you can buy pencils, too, for a buck a box.

Pencils 2 Media Moguls
[Image links to Pencils2MediaMoguls]

This isn’t meant as a rah-rah support the WGA post. It’s really just me sharing part of my day yesterday. If, however, you are inclined to read more about the strike, I suggest the following links:

  • Speechless – a series of video spots featuring prominent actors.
  • Fans4Writers – Fan support site. A bunch of folks from Whedonesque started it.
  • United Hollywood – exactly what it sounds like
  • To Live by the Pen, by Doris Egan, one of the writer-producers of House, as well as a novelist. It’s a fascinating piece of Hollywood history, as well as being a concise explanation of why these people are striking.
  • Ethical Bloggyness, by Tanya Huff, Canadian author of the wonderful Blood Ties books, which Lifetime TV turned into a series.