Nov. 29th, 2012 04:51 pm
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Opening night tonight! I am all kinds of busy but this looks like too much fun to pass up:

Tell me about a story I haven't written, and I'll give you one sentence from that story.
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40030 / 80000

Halfway! If this is as much fiction as gets written tonight, I am okay with that. I have done a bit of reading, and been stressed about a number of things (applications! story submissions! readings being assigned late and not uploaded as pdfs and all the copies being checked out of my library!), and walked to the grocery store to lay in supplies against Possible Huge Storm. And I am halfway done with Whisper-Trail, which doesn't mean all that much in emotional ways but is still a nice milestone.

There was a plan as to how I was going to finish this novel by early December, but that is not going to happen unless I NaNo the remaining 40k-or-so, and, well, that's unlikely what with thesis and the fact that Hamlet goes up the last weekend of November and so on. (Though if I brought my laptop to full runs and so on I could probably get a lot done; Rosencrantz is not really onstage that much.)

Other fun thing that's happened recently: class schedules are up for next semester, a.k.a. Alena's Last Semester of Undergrad. I should probably email a couple of professors, but there is half a chance I could end up taking two history of the book/reading classes at Smith next semester to counterpoint the Electronics that's required for my major. That...would be a pretty awesome schedule, really.
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39022 / 80000

Words! Actual words! My Tuesday seminar was canceled this week, so I ended up spending an hour and a half at a cafe with a cookie and tea. I established a new writing notebook--my old one, which I began just before leaving for England this summer, was pretty much full--and then wrote a Whisper-Trail scene in it, which I typed up this morning before class. Now I ought to write the next scene, but I am not totally certain what that is.

In the meantime, drafted part of my thesis's introduction tonight. It's got [citation needed] scattered throughout the text, and some of it's a bit mushy, but that's okay. It exists, which is what matters, really. Something! Something of a start, something to hang on to.

Other than that, not much is going on. Had rehearsal tonight for Hamlet; was reminded, yet again, of how huge a shock it's going to be when we do the full run-through. I'm Rosencrantz, see, and so all of my rehearsals so far have been "add more physical comedy, add more silly, no, more silly than that..." (This evening I played the Ministry Of Silly Walks clip for my Guildenstern.) I am told the rest of the play is, well, rather different.

The Halloween orchestra concert is Friday night. We are all hoping it is not actually cursed and we do not, like last year, end up pelting across campus terrified in a blizzard with tree limbs falling all around us. (And lose someone's glasses and have no power for two days.) A Halloween orchestra concert with soundtrack music and waltzing is an excellent tradition, and I would hate to have to give it up just because it was cursed.
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I finally have a desk to work at. (Background: my desk does not fit through the doorway between the rooms of our in-dorm apartment. There is not room for a desk plus a chair in the bedroom. I found this slightly unhelpful.) It only took a month--and contacting Facilities Management twice--and contacting Res Life twice--and a few misunderstandings--for, finally, an email the other day saying, "Facilities says they can send some guys over tomorrow or Friday, but they want you to be around. When will you be in your room?"

...I told my boss I couldn't work this afternoon. If someone was actually going to show up and do something after an entire month of the runaround, by God I was going to be there. Waiting. Watching the door like a cat watches a mousehole. With bells on, if necessary.

And they did show up! Like always when you contact the professionals, they tried a bunch of things that my friends and I tried--take it through! tip it sideways and take it through! tilt the legs through the doorway first! They actually took the door off its hinges, which we had only thought about, but it didn't help much. They took the drawers out of the desk. They unscrewed the feet from the desk and tried tipping it sideways again, but no dice. Finally, what worked was tipping it up entirely on its end and tilting it juuust enough to get the (too-wide) desktop out the door so that the (just narrow enough) rest of the desk could follow.

(To the amusement and eventual amazement of me and my friend M, who were watching and talking about Criminal Minds and particle physics knock-knock jokes.)

So I have a desk now! It has my first-year plant and a nice lamp and my picture of Mount Holyoke before the big turn-of-the-20th-century fire; and I can sit at it on a real chair with my laptop on a flat thing and brainstorm ideas for my thesis and revise grad school essays and and I have a desk you guys.

Of course what I am using it for right now is writing blog posts but that's not the point okay?

All my academic things are done before fall break (which is going to be fun and hopefully I will also get things done, at least sort of) but aaa, extra things, I have so many of them. Preparing a presentation about my research for next week and the aforementioned grad school essays and also Hamlet rehearsal. Fortunately Rosencrantz and Guildenstern don't have very many lines. (In writing news, there is no writing news, but I am getting to the point where I feel like my head will explode if I don't write something fictional. We'll see what happens with that over break.)
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17237 / 80000

Today I fixed(?)/added in the two scenes I'd known I had to fix/add in for probably weeks. But that brings me back to my current place, so now I have to invent more new stuff. (Invent stuff?!)

Went off this afternoon to a Fringe show. I am glad I've gotten to see a bit of the Fringe this year. Last night I saw an actually pretty excellent show, and ran into three people I knew; today I saw a completely ridiculous terrible awesome show. Between these two I think I have nearly filled out my Fringe quota. Seeing something terrible and awesome is a Fringe requirement for me. Seeing something actually good is a bonus. I will probably never be the person who buys an unlimited-Fringe-show pass, but I'm always sad if I don't get to see at least a couple of things.

And so to bed. Perhaps tomorrow I will invent more things and write more Whisper-Trail.
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On we march toward spring break. Only a week of classes left! I've got a paper and a set or so of physics homework left, but I'm getting awfully close.

Some other things I ought to do:
- buy tickets for spring break transit
- revise that short story, argh (or could do over spring break, no real deadline)
- start poking at the idea I got recently for a play

Tonight we have the first full run of Midsummer since the read-through at the beginning. Should be excellent, especially since I missed most of the Act I run on Thursday evening due to running off to Northampton... where I finally, finally got to see They Might Be Giants live.

I was introduced to TMBG approximately seven years ago, at MITY Creative Writing. Our teachers, Mike and Kevin, would blast "Birdhouse In Your Soul" and "Why Does The Sun Shine" and "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" while we did writing exercises. They'd round us up into poetry circles, put on some TMBG, and then dance around while we frantically composed stanzas. It was a revelation: music didn't just have to be goopy love songs! Add to that the fact that MITY was the first real community I had offline, of people who were the same kind of people that I was, of writers and creative types and dreamers, and--well. I was gone.

Ever since then, I have wanted to attend a concert of theirs. But every time they went on tour--they'd be in Minnesota, but a friend would have her birthday party the same day, and she'd guilt me into going to it instead of going to see TMBG. Fine, okay, I'd grumble. Or sometimes, after I came to college, they'd be in Minnesota while I was in Massachusetts, or in Massachusetts when I was in Minnesota (pretty sure that one happened my first year at MHC). Something always came up, one way or another.

And then I was on the bus in Northampton a few weeks ago, and saw that the Calvin Theater was advertising a concert by They Might Be Giants.

...I bought a ticket. And it doesn't matter that I forgot to tell my stage manager I had a conflict, so I had to run out right after my first half-scene of rehearsal and catch a late bus and miss all of Jonathan Coulton's opening act, because I got to sing along to "Ana Ng" played live. It doesn't matter that I missed the last bus back to MHC and had to call a cab, because I stayed for both encores and in the second one they played "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)". It doesn't matter that I ended up not seeing anyone I know, because the crowd in that darkened room was full of people like me.

(I still wish that all my MITY friends could have been there. Someday. Maybe another seven years--because I know we'll still be friends then.)


Jan. 24th, 2012 10:33 am
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Back on campus. Settled in, and almost surprised at how settled I've been feeling. Less stressed about almost everything than I was during January. Whew.

This may have something to do with the fact that I decided Not To Worry this weekend. On Friday I listened to the Swordspoint audiobook on the plane instead of freaking out about A Returning Power. I lazed about. I saw the Tennant and Tate Much Ado (aaa, their faces) and the Tennant Hamlet (...his face). I bought groceries in Northampton and made oatmeal-raisin cookies and ate most of them. Yesterday I had a to-do list but I only did half the things. Today I have done some more of the things! Someday soon I hope to return to full Alena functionality.

Meanwhile, it is the 24th. Going by my original goal--of "send query letters out by the end of January"--I have a week left for polishing A Returning Power and its query letter and its synopsis. And deciding which set of agents to query first. Today I realized that the first two scenes have to be combined. La.

But, well. Today's the first day of classes, but somehow I only have one class each day for the rest of the week. So I will have time to work on the novel, and then it can be out in the world and off of my mind. And then I will write something else.

(I may or may not be auditioning for a production of Midsummer Night's Dream this weekend. Um. Theater! I like it! It's not writing, but it involves lots of awesome people.)
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[ profile] acm28 is being tempting and if I write a full-length play it will be all her fault.

(And then she will have to direct it next year instead of just saying she probably would. So there.)
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So I wrote a play.

excessive verbiage )

Basically, it was a great experience. I'd love to have something else produced, either this again or a different script; I'm having to talk myself out of starting lots of plays now. (Alena, you still have a novel to revise, remember?) It was fantastic. It was [lots of adjectives].

Writing a story in two days at Viable Paradise was something, but this... was something else.
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24-hour play festival tonight! I haven't written anything for the stage in years, I've never been up as late (early?) as 3:30 a.m., so... it should be an awesome time. Met most of the other playwrights a week or two ago, and they all seem like excellent people with whom to stay up until four in the morning writing plays. I look forward to it.

Each playwright gets a currently-mysterious prop. I wonder what mine will be.

I've done a little work on A Returning Power--not much--I'd like to get more done, and type up the handwritten bits of stories I've got in a notebook, but the play festival may well take up all of my brain this weekend.

Good thing: my physics midterm got moved, so I can take it Wednesday next week instead of Monday. I wasn't really looking forward to taking that on not-very-much sleep.

Meanwhile... meanwhile. Planning classes for next semester: trying (again) to get into a novel-writing class; going to take two physics classes (classical mechanics and advanced quantum), one at Smith, which should be an adventure; and hoping I can get into another Smith class, Art and History of the Book, which (if I can take it) will make me exceedingly happy.

It's hard to believe that the semester's more than half over already.
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Some books, before I go off and leave them to be returned to the library in my absence, because this afternoon I am going to be on an airplane to Massachusetts again.

Recent reads )

Spoilers! Arsenic and Old Lace; also, Doctor Who )

Now I am going to go and try to stuff as many books into my luggage as will fit.


Apr. 16th, 2011 05:35 pm
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I have my second real analysis midterm now, but weirdly it's the homework rewrite due Tuesday that was frustrating me this morning--I have an idea of how to do all but one of the problems on the exam. I also figured out what I'm writing my second-to-last short essay for CST on! For some reason, "look at all your homework and figure out how to do it" counts as plenty of productivity for me on a Saturday.

Admittedly, this is enhanced by the fact that I cut off all my hair again today (yay--it had been getting long). Oh, and I spent a few minutes making the Scrivener scene files for this one sequence I re-organized on paper recently, though I haven't started modifying the text to fit what I need. Revising is an odd thing to get used to; it doesn't have an easy metric like "I wrote this number of words".

Yesterday I went to the theater department's production of Skin of Our Teeth. It is an odd play; I think it must have made more sense in 1942 or they wouldn't have given it the Pulitzer. Maybe not the whole hours thing in the last act, but the gender roles, maybe. And the sense that the world always gets destroyed and then we have to build it again--these days it seems like everyone thinks we're getting tiny apocalypses while slowly sliding into the abyss, and eventually we'll all just fall over the edge. (And the rest is silence.)

But the production was very well done--great costumes, great set (made out of cardboard apparently--the first time one of the actors picked up what looked like a flat and carried it off I was very startled), very good performances all around. Cute dinosaur. In the last act almost all the characters had half-size puppets of themselves with which they acted out the scenes, which was fascinating. They must have gotten a puppeteer in to teach them technique; they had clearly gotten trained in how to use puppets onstage, and it added a layer to all of the meta. What that layer means I'm still not sure, but it was really neat.

It's Spring Weekend or some such, which means vaguely obnoxious music drifting from the campus center last night and today--and a foam pit no one wants to play in when it's forty degrees out--but which also means that they had a fireworks display last night. Before the play Kate and I were eating dinner outside and saw them setting up. During the intermission I realized that the dull booms I had been hearing weren't sound effects for the play but fireworks, and promptly dragged her outdoors to look at them.

I love fireworks. The way they thump in your chest and the way that the new ones illuminate the drifting smoke-corpses of the last. It's vicarious, unreasoning enjoyment, and I adore it. Seen in the middle of Skin of Our Teeth it gave a sharp contrast to the affectations, the sometimes painfully self-aware meta... Just generally, too, I like the intellectualism on campus, but once in a while I need some fireworks to shake me out of my brain, send me running for the doors to watch them glitter and die.

I think I will be okay the rest of this semester. I've been having weird moments of doubt (mostly Do I want to be a physics major after all?), and--well, I have not really enjoyed real analysis this semester, which is Minnesotan Understatement for please get me out of this course it is breaking my brain. But all I have to remember is that no, that isn't all of life, not even my life, not even right now. I have fireworks and I have Kate and I have a ticket for the Janelle Monae concert in a couple of weeks, and I have some Scrivener files waiting for me to fill them with words. And I will get through the real analysis and the rest of quantum and all the rest of everything, and I will be okay.
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Whoosh. Let's see.

Spring break was, as previously mentioned, wonderful. The last day of it, Kate and I stopped by Harvard Bookstore and I got to say hi to Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman--and hold a Bordertown ARC, memorialized here--and pick up a few Bordertown postcards. Eee! Bordertown! I am very excited.

When I got back I found that my copy of Steam-Powered had arrived, but I have only had time to dip into it now and again, because when I got back I also plunged straight into production week for Play Dead.

Lookit me being a man:

(From here)

The mustache was a late addition so that I didn't look like a fifteen-year-old Dickensian orphan in my other costume. I remain startled every time I see that picture at just how much I look like a man.

The show was, overall, fun. Cast and crew were awesome, script was funny, my role was neat (cheerful gay actor from the 1920s who dies in the play-within-a-play in the first scene!). There are pictures of me wearing plus-fours in the school newspaper this week. (What year do I live in again?) Production weeks, however, not meant for Alenas. Rehearsals until midnight (or later) most nights for a week... not so good. I got tired, slightly cranky, and sort of sick.

This week was "finish all the work that I didn't do last week", which was also kind of stressful, but is over.

Other things I have done include: fill out and turn in study abroad forms; sign paperwork for summer physics research; send in my housing form; start thinking about classes for next semester. Oh, and I'm not sure if I should take the train home/to my research/back this summer. Hmm.

This weekend I have a concert with Voces Feminae, the early music choir I joined this semester. We had an extra rehearsal last Friday. I couldn't go because I was onstage. Um. But I think I will be able to help the group more than I harm it by singing with them at the concert, so that's good; and we really do have some nice pieces. It's been a while since I was last in a singing group, and I do enjoy it.

Other than that, I plan to read the rest of Steam-Powered, catch up on slush, and maybe (dare I say it?) work on something writing-related. As I said: whoosh. It's good to just sit down for a little while and listen to the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain on youtube and not have to jump up and go rushing off somewhere for once, or be thinking I should be working on homework.
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I have become submerged in the semester. (Real analysis is hard. So is quantum mechanics, but in a different way. And my CST class is a lot of work, though it's also awesome and professor is a total geek and my brain works the right way for it. My brain does not work the real-analysis way.)

Someday I will have a brain that is not undergrad-brain again. Today is not that day.

I wrote a page and a half of an essay this morning; errands this afternoon (plus reading Iliad on the bus), then early dinner, run-through of the play, and off to my shift working at Drag Ball. Tomorrow I will do All The Real Analysis. With luck I will even be awake for it.

La. I feel like I should Make Time For Writing and Work On My Novel, but possibly that will have to wait for when I am slightly less in danger of getting a terrible grade in Real.

At least I have managed to start working on memorizing lines, given that off-book deadline is tomorrow. (*waves hi to stage manager*) I don't actually have all that many, but I hang around in the background of rather a lot of scenes. My character ought to take up a hobby in his spare time. Knitting, maybe, or gnawing vaguely on the scenery. I have to fulfill my actorly duty of being annoying to the tech people somehow, which means counteracting my natural inclinations to be nice to them. (I still do not see myself as an actor. At all. I am just a techie who happens to stand up on stage wearing special clothes and saying some things.)
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Iliad, tr. Fagles, lines 204-205:
But the lord of men Agamemnon shot back,
'Desert, by all means--if the spirit drives you home!'

...clearly they do not give me enough to do here. (Five minutes in GIMP with skills learned through physics research last year, woot.)

Also, my character in the play--it has now been decided--is a wimp and has a secret Latino boyfriend who indulges him in this utter wimpiness because he thinks it's cute. (As I told Kate this evening, I can't even act straight.) You have no idea how many of my lines this motivates. Hint: all of them.

And I sent a bunch of emails I have been pointlessly not writing for varying lengths of time.

So this was a good day.
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Yoga: much nicer when you don't feel like your brain might be trying to escape your skull by way of your nostrils.

We read through the script of Play Dead yesterday evening! It's full of puns and entendres and misdirections. It's very silly, and I am entertained by it. (Also, I am in a play-within-a-play that consists entirely of fairly literal food-porn and me getting a ridiculous death scene.) Since my character's Big Secret is never revealed but I am fairly certain he has one, until the director contradicts me I'm going with "I get to make it up". Theories so far include: he's gay, he's secretly a woman in disguise, he is a failed mobster, he is fleeing a Dark Past by taking up the theatrical profession... et cetera.

Tonight I managed to finish my first essay of the semester/calendar year/academic year. It's good to know I can still get into that headspace occasionally.

Still on deck is real analysis homework (features proving that zero is less than one) and some questions about the Iliad.

I remain in anticipation of getting responses from/for all the previously mentioned things, but what with the everything I have less time for impatience and more energy with which to be patient and more things for my brain to do other than fret. Someday, I figure, I will learn how to not be impatient at all, and on that day I will declare myself to be a Real Adult. It may take a while.
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I got into that play! I don't know much about my part yet--I will know more after the first rehearsal tomorrow, when we receive our scripts--but from what I know, it should be a really fun part (and a really fun show).

And I will know about the Dell Award next week, they say, so then I can revise that story again and maybe send it out somewhere else.

Meanwhile, I made A Returning Power have chapters. They are fuzzy--their edges sort of blur into each other--but they are there, and will gain definition later. One of my tasks for the weekend is printing out the first couple of them so I can go through with a fine-toothed comb.

First I should probably work on this essay, though.
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The Big Sleep, Chandler: The dawning realization that now I know where Guy Noir came from. An impressive novel; the context of "so this is where this comes from" made it even better.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Dick: Wildly different to any the several ways I had imagined it. (One based on the title, one on Bladerunner--I know, I know--and one on the few pages of it we read at Odyssey.) Also very good. I stood at the Amherst bus stop today reading this, and didn't even notice it was forty-some degrees (and me in light jacket and scarf), or that the bus I thought I was waiting for wasn't going to come, until I finished it.
The Shape of Things, LaBute: A student production of it went up this week in the campus center. The cast and crew were all awesome; I detested the script. Can't win 'em all, I guess.
Baccano!: An anime my roommate and I have been making our way through. (She's seen it before.) Violent, bloody, ridiculous, awesome. 1930s mafiosos plus immortals plus awesome people plus a helping quantity of silly. I hear the English dub is better (1930s mafia accents?) but we don't have a copy of that. Ah well.

Next up is Gun, with Occasional Music, and then I think my Noir Run will be complete. Unless anyone else has recommendations.

(Novels to work on? What novels to work on? I would radiate guilt, except I'm too tired.)
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Second draft of Badass Library Hermits:
27.9 / 70

First draft of The Urban Fantasy Novel:
297 / 350

Not a super amount of progress on either one, but hey, a bit on each is all I ask. (And slush for Ideomancer, which is good because I had been feeling guilty about being behind on that batch and not doing it on my birthday.)

Last night we went to see A Streetcar Named Desire. Somehow, I had both a) not seen this before and b) not gotten spoilers for it. Though really it's the sort of thing where even if you technically knew the ending or had seen it before it'd still be a good watching experience, I was glad (and a bit amazed!) that I hadn't gotten spoiled.

It was at the Guthrie; my main reason to go was "I want to see something at the Guthrie while I'm in town!" The set lived up to their reputation (er, their reputation in my head)--it wasn't as flashy as some, but well-built and impressive nonetheless. The lighting probably was only noticeable because I am a techie (or possibly because I was sitting far enough to the side that I could see the scrim behind the set, which was lit a clear sky blue throughout--still not sure if that was on purpose or not).

Anyway, apart from techie details, it was a really nice production of a play which I now understand the 'classic' status of. It showed how complicated people are, and how we try to live with each other and with the systems of our society, and how many things have changed since the time period of the play and how very terribly many have stayed the same. This last is maybe best illustrated by the fact that the program had numbers for sexual-abuse and domestic-violence hotlines (though none for [spoiler]). And overall it was a well-constructed play, dense and intriguing.

If I hadn't wanted to just "go see a Guthrie play" it probably would've been a while longer before I saw it, so that all worked out very well.

(Spoilers could lurk in comments. Like I said, it's the sort of play where you might not care, but it'd be a different experience going in knowing.)

Tonight we have free Omnitheater tickets, courtesy of my library volunteering. Score!
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Since I keep forgetting to write about these, here's a quick summary of my last few evenings.

Friday: an event at the Bedlam Theater, which started at nine and which we didn't stay for the main act of--I was tired, and still not really moved between houses--but what we did see was kind of neat. A cellist opened; Open Eye Theater had a puppetry wagon, with little bells and doors all over and things that rotated and opened and spit water at the audience... it was a bit hard to see the puppets from our distance, but their bit was still entertaining.

Then there was a multimedia part: one screen had a digital projector, and then a film/slide projector went onto a folding paper screen behind a guitarist. The contrast in illumination between the two projectors was amazing--the digital projector's image was bright and jarring, while the slide projector gave these clear, warm gems.

On Saturday, there was a Park Square Theater production of a pastiche play, Sherlock Holmes and the Jersey Lily. From the blurb, I acquired only two phrases: "Sherlock Holmes" and "Oscar Wilde". To my eternal and undying disappointment, they put Oscar Wilde in as the foppish comic relief, Gay Best Friend character. I'm still not certain how you can do that, but they did. (Delivery resembled nothing so much as the Sassy Gay Friend sketches on Youtube, if you're wondering.)

The play itself was amusing enough--disguises, mistaken identity, very silly plots, an epee duel between Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty (unfortunately, similarly neater in concept than execution, at least to my modern-fencing-trained eyes), some Shakespeare (ditto above, in some regards)--but I never could quite get over how they used Oscar Wilde.

At any rate, part of why I like being back in the Cities for the summer is all the theater, so: yay. (They gave Wilde very nice clothes, possibly as compensation, so there's that. And Holmes's study had an astrolabe-type instrument I wished to purloin.)

Last night, being the fourth of July, there were fireworks above the river. It was the first time I'd actually been down to them--some of my high school friends were going--and they were very passable fireworks, sparkling and thumping satisfyingly under my collarbone and leaving drifting octopi of smoke behind them in the sky. I can take or leave the fourth of July as a holiday, but I enjoy fireworks.

So this morning was raspberry pancakes and laundry, that being about all my brain has been up to. Whether I get anything done on writing in the rest of today is up in the air for right now.

May 2017



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