Sunday, 8 February 2015

Dining, Downtime and Drive(s)

The word of the week is frippery.

Feb 2 - Grounded

I got a round of applause today, unexpectedly!

It wasn't at work, though I could have used one: it was an extremely busy day with the only downtime on the few minutes of my breaks / lunches, as it was the first of the month and we were inundated with callers. I don't think I've spoken continuously that long for quite some time.

But back to the applause: it was for a piece I'd written!

Last week at the freewriting group meeting, my story about a murder in an apple pie factory was well received, enough so that several people at tonight's meeting who were also there last week asked me to read it again. I happily obliged and when I was done, the entire group applauded me, which was a fantastic feeling, I have to tell you - I'm smiling all over again as I write this. More than a few people asked me to expand the story and I'm planning to do so this spring, to see where it takes me; I'll update you all here once a short draft is ready. Here’s a quick concept I did:

One of our regulars even commented afterwards that he thought it was impressive that I had managed to write such a solid, entertaining and cohesive story in less than 10 minutes. I don't think my Muse has stopped dancing in glee since.

Today is also Groundhog Day and I made time after getting home for my writing group to watch my favorite film, as I do every year at this time. No matter how many times I see it, I get something new out of the experience and that's something rare in today's world, in any medium.

Feb 3 – Round The Clock

Another day off, another 12 hours of busy!

It's a good thing that I only have these EDO’s once every two weeks or I'd be exhausted. Just kidding: I'm really grateful to be able to have a day off during the week that's completely paid for by my job, when you look at it.

I used the morning to pick up my Western Digital Dual-Drive from the courier. I had hoped it was  going to be everything I needed to bring my laptop up to speed in terms of storage and flexibility, but it wasn't to be. Turns out I hadn't done my research carefully enough and it was 2.5mm too tall to fit in my slim laptop's drive bay - dang. So back to the online store it goes... lesson learned.

Alas, it wasn't meant to be, beautiful...
Then I was off to my first session with an RMT in quite some time, to get my right leg looked at. The running injury from 2013 hasn’t gone away and she worked diligently to determine the extent of my intermittent pain and discomfort. The initial diagnosis? A major tendon in my right leg is too tight and is pulling the other muscles out of alignment, which is consistent with my own thoughts and what I've described to her. It will take a few more sessions but I'm already looking at things differently at how I move around to relieve the tension.

Still slightly tender but feeling good about how things went, I headed out for dinner with a couple of friends over at John's Place. The conversation was great and amusingly turned towards my love life, which ended up with my friends looking over a few of my old dating profiles to offer their thoughts. It was definitely one of the more unusual - yet delightful - dinners I've had with friends but also one of the most revealing and by the end of the evening I had a useful store of advice to apply.

One thing I didn't know: Victoria BC has an entry in the urban dictionary entitled ‘Chicktoria’ that references a 2011 Statistics Canada report on Victoria. According to the data, there are 65,000 single adult females in Victoria but only 50,000 single adult males, resulting in an imbalance towards the female side of things. Quite a surprise to me, to be honest.

I'd say the stats are in my favor, wouldn't you?

Feb 4 – Deep Breath?

What the heck was I going to write about today?

You may not believe it, but I do come up with a fair number of topics that I consider covering week to week in my blog. Some of them occur to me at the last minute, while others pop into my head at various times during my day. I consider all of them and pick the ones that I find most interesting, but sometimes a few of those go missing along the way.

Such as today's.

Written down in my Evernote scratchpad are two words: Deep Breath. I've no idea why these occurred to me on February 4 as a possible topic, though I have them written down as such. Perhaps I meant for them to be reflective, or to have to do with my sense of smell; both of those seem fairly plausible, but I didn't end up adding any notes to the two words after they appeared. My train of thought hit a bump and derailed, I suppose:

Words failed them

I can say for certain that I started developing a huge migraine today, but I managed to stave off its effects with the timely application of medication. The barometric pressure dropped like a rock this afternoon with the onset of rain forecast for this weekend and I was glad that I was able to sense it coming in time to avoid severe discomfort; it's been a while since that last happened.

Perhaps it was due in part to the derailment in my head?

Feb 5 – It’s My Idea, isn’t it?

Am I original?

I mean that in terms of my work, of my writing, my creative output. I worry that my subconscious is assembling things that I've seen out of such little pieces that I won't recognize where they all come from until suddenly it's too late: I've created something that isn't original but rather assembled from a myriad of sources I wasn't aware of at the time of creation.

That's the main reason why I haven't been reading much in the last few years. I tell people that it's because "my brain filled up" and I that needed to output instead of input, but really all I've been doing is avoiding unintentional imitation in order to fully own my creative process.

Apparently that's a silly thing to do, as I discovered today when reading a letter Mark Twain wrote to Helen Keller on the very topic. In the article, the famously creative Twain writes:

For substantially all ideas are second-hand, consciously and unconsciously drawn from a million outside sources, and daily used by the garnerer with a pride and satisfaction born of the superstition that he originated them; whereas there is not a rag of originality about them anywhere except the little discoloration they get from his mental and moral calibre and his temperament, and which is revealed in characteristics of phrasing.

Reading that today, I was struck by how much my subconscious worry has ruled my leisure time since I started writing my novels back in early 2012. As much as I want to be original, I realized today that without crediting my influences, I would only be foundering around in the dark creatively and wondering where I was coming from. Learning that Mark Twain, one of my earliest literary influences, had such eloquent things to say on the subject, has made me feel far less fretful about where my ideas may or may not come from.

With that thought, I think I'll pick up a few books I've been meaning to get to later on this month and see where they lead me.

Feb 6 – SSD Success!

Sometimes, patience pays off - literally.

Maybe that's not quite correct… sometimes, patience will save you money, if you're a smart shopper. You can guess where I'm going with this: I picked up a great deal today on a new SSD for 50% off on That's really incredible timing, when you think about it, seeing as my purchased last week didn't work out – cool, when that sort of thing happens and goes to show you that you shouldn't stress out when it does as something better may come along.

What I found this week( and arrived yesterday, perfect timing again! )was a Crucial M500SSD, one of the top-rated SSD drives out there on the market right now. I paid a little over $100 for it( plus taxes and with free shipping, to boot )to replace my laptop’s drive… and boy, did THAT need upgrading! Apart from the meager storage space, it turns out the Samsung SSD was a little… underpowered. As in, a LOT – take a gander at the benchmarks I ran comparing the two drives:

New one on the left...

The improved score made my head spin, as did the increased speed which was immediately apparent. What really boggles my brain was that parts of the test showed the new drive was up to 40 times faster in certain operations, as you can see in the screenshot above.

In practical terms, it means my laptop feels like a new machine and that's really amazing for the little at I spent overall. My laptop can now pretty much do anything that my desktop can without any compromises( excluding games, but that's fine by me: I bought it primarily to write )and will allow me to work pretty much anywhere as needed without weighing me down too much. I've dreamed of having a piece of hardware like this for decades and finally I do, with the icing on the cake being that I've not paid through the nose for it by being patient in my purchases.

And man, is that new SSD drive fast.

Feb 7 – Weekend, at last!

Life is getting busier for me, but not in a bad way.

Actually, I should say that my life is opening up in some ways: the most immediately apparent is how my weekends have been freed up with only 1 job to my name - permanently. Most of my weeknights are free now as well, unless I fill them with social engagements and every other Monday is spoken for by my writing group. Not bad, when I look at it.

It's an odd feeling, this newfound freedom, but I like it.

Today was a good example: everything I did was by my choice and not constrained by having to fit things around a second job. I breakfasted leisurely, picked up my bike from the shop, completed a whole bunch of things around the house that had been languishing and generally enjoyed my day as I pleased. There were a few moments where I stopped to look around and thought “My day is more open than spoken for and I'm enjoying the flexibility.”

What I mean by that, I think, is that I could just put things aside if I wanted to and go for a walk. Or read. Or nap, or do any of 100 other things, rather than trying to cram just the necessary tasks into the waking time I had before or after having to work today.

Not counting my long stretch of unemployment in 2012, the last time I saw my weekends this completely open, I was in grade school. The entire time since then, a ‘weekend off’ has always been that: something unusual that I tried not to take for granted as it was a rarity.

Now, every one of my weekends for the foreseeable future is my own to do with as I see fit, and I love how that makes me feel.

Feb 8 – “Spring” already?

Today was a lovely day, in several senses of the word.

Not that anything exceptionally remarkable happened, but precisely because of that. For those of you who woke to the knowledge that today was yours and yours alone, you'll know what I'm talking about. I accomplished a lot today in terms of headspace and writing and for those two things alone, I'm grateful that I had the day off; may more of them be as carefree as today.

There was also a whiff of spring in the air: the clouds rolled back and a glimmer of sunshine greeted the city for a few hours around noon. With the green grass and fair numbers of people wandering around with jackets unzipped, it could easily have been sometime in April as I looked out my window. Especially since the trees seem to have been fooled as to which season it is here at the moment:

View St lived up to its name this week!

While writing this afternoon with the apartment windows braced open to admit a fresh breeze, I pause now and then to think about my situation as it is now. Just a little, but enough to be grateful for what I have managed to achieve: setting myself up to where the most stressful part in my life is wondering if I've written anything good on that particular day.

That's a wonderful place to be.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to writing this week's blog.

... and that's the blog for this week. A whole lot of rain and grey skies, but really nothing unexpected. A whole lot of positives for the week, which I'm happy to have mentioned above. This spring looks to be a MOST positive one, in which I'll work, write and repeat until I'm ready to start my third novel... I can hardly wait!