Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Measured Progress

No new word count on Spring Fever my NaNo and 70 Days of Sweat project today. But there are other ways to measure progress besides word count.

I started my day with that shampoo I discussed in last night's post and followed up with that walk to the library. I've now got clean hair and a refreshed spirit. I'm physically exhausted and sore but that is more bearable than the mental fatigue I was fighting last night.

I made the trip especially to go after books for Ed. There was only one thing I was planning to pick up for myself and that was a DVD of Igor Stravinsky's ballet, The Rite of Spring, which research for my story had brought to my attention as possibly meriting a mention in the story if not more--like giving one of the characters a passionate interest in it. At the very least watching it should inform my several levels of consciousness on some of the themes of my story. Not to mention fill in another one of those culture gaps created by thirty-five years of eschewing all things 'worldly'.

I found mention of the ballet in one of my sources and immediately went to Wikipedia to learn more. The more I read about it, the more I wanted to see it or at least listen to the score. So I went to the library catalog online to check on its availability.

We can't request items from other branches until next week and Phoenix is currently in very small quarters while its new building is under construction and over half of its collection is in storage. So I wasn't expecting to find something I could get my hands on much before Thanksgiving. And as I scanned the list of materials related to Stravinsky, The Rite of Spring popped up a lot and as I expected. none were at Phoenix. Most were CD, but once it was a video cassette of the performance. I was pleased to see that because though I prefer DVD that I can play at will on my laptop, this was important enough to be willing to use my in-laws TV and VCR in the middle of the night. But then, near the end of the last page there it was, the DVD. I clicked on the link to see which branch it was at, expecting it to be the community college library. But, like a miracle, there was the word Phoenix followed by the word in. That, of course, ended all deliberations on whether or not I would make the effort to get to the library today.

That was the first thing I looked for when I walked in the door. It helps that the DVD shelf is right inside the door. At first I didn't find it because the title showing on the spine read, Keeping Score: revolutions in music: Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. But Stravinsky was in smaller font and the rest was covered by the Dewey sticker. On my second pass over the shelf I was reading the Dewey stickers because I had written down the number at 3AM. I didn't even need to get out my notes.

After that, I must have been feeling exuberant or something because I started pulling novels off the shelf for Ed with abandon. Partly that was due to them being short mysteries and I wanted to be sure he had enough to last a full week. I resisted most of the ones that tempted me. After all I'm still reading The Historian! And haven't touched any of the five I checked out last week. But I succumbed to two slenderish trade backs. Not much weight and quick reads. Both of them were on the theme of women dealing with issues of womanhood inside fairly patriarchal cultures. I was afraid I wouldn't remember their titles and was too lazy to return to the other room for my notebook to jot them down while there.

Then on a whim, I decided to glance at the medical section (Dewey 600s) on the chance they might have a book about dealing with MS because I've given that to one of my characters. There wasn't one specifically about MS but there was one on how to manage your life while living with chronic conditions. A glance through it showed that, although MS wasn't one of the conditions focused on, there was plenty of info that could help give me insight into my character's daily life. And even ideas for conflict and resolution or just events that move the plot.

That book had been on the bottom shelf, and as I stood up my eyes passed over the title on the spine of a trade back book that was laying horizontal atop the row it belonged in because there wasn't any room on the shelf for it. Indian Legends of the Pacific Northwest. The same character I've given MS, I've also given an ethnic Amerindian heritage! Here was another portal for getting into her head. I hadn't decided which tribe to assign her to yet. But whether or not it becomes a Pacific Northwest tribe, her interest in her own heritage combined with her academic bent (she is a poet and a professor) would make it likely she would know these stories. Under it was a book collecting legends of the world and it had a some Amerindian stories. It was also the fattest book I had picked up all day so I deliberated some. But flipping through it and seeing all the stories from around the world and across time, I realized that many of them would be familiar to the poet's husband, a professor of medieval literature, or the grad student who is the poet's advisee and has a passion for mythology.

I tell you, it was the weirdest feeling to have these items (the ballet DVD and four books) fall into my hands when I least expected them. I have read a lot about synchronicity but have seldom consciously noted it when it was happening to me.

Yet another benefit of getting away from the laptop and the confines of this room, was a clearing of my head which allowed the ideas to start flowing again. It had felt like my characters had abandoned me yesterday. But today they were walking beside me and conversing with one another. I was so engrossed at one point that I stepped off a curb and was halfway into a crosswalk before I realized I had not checked for approaching traffic. It was a side street with no light and a stop sign for vehicles but I've often had to contend with cars that stop inside the crosswalk or others, turning off the main street into the crosswalk while I am in it. It is not wise for me to get that engrossed in a daydream when I'm walking city streets. It is a life-long habit of mine and very difficult to break. Someone/something was watching over me today.

My TT tomorrow is going to be 13 things about Spring Fever, my NaNo novel. I was hoping to get both this post and the TT posted before I slept but I'm wiped out and dare not risk inviting that headache back in again.

1 tell me a story:

Bonnie Jacobs 11/08/2007 9:46 AM  

You said, "I tell you, it was the weirdest feeling to have these items (the ballet DVD and four books) fall into my hands when I least expected them. I have read a lot about synchronicity but have seldom consciously noted it when it was happening to me."

I have another synchronicity for you, mine! I had car trouble, which my son fixed for me, but he paid $70 for the parts I needed. Maybe more, but $70 was what he told me. Because I didn't have the money, he told me he didn't have to have it right now, and I took him up on it. He does, however, have a wife and two young adult children, so I need to give him the money as soon as I can.

Last night I got a phone call from my ex-husband, who had gotten a call from an old friend of mine. She didn't have my current cell phone number (my only phone) and needed to reach me. When I returned her call, she said, "Can you imagine how desperate I was that I would call your ex-husband to get your phone number?"

She needed me today, the very next morning, because tomorrow (Friday) she must present a paper in Atlanta (two hours from here) and HAD NOT STARTED WRITING THE PAPER. She wanted me to "ride herd on today's classes" for her. She teaches English and Humanities classes, and I am in the university's computer lab with the third class of English students looking for resources for their research papers. That's why I have time to use this computer to send you this note!

Now the synchronicity ... she has already paid me ... ta-da! ... exactly $70 for today's work. You did noticed that is exactly what I need to pay back my son? Yessss!

Not only that, but one of my characters is also a professor, so I've been typing on my novel while "working" for my friend. What fun to watch the students doing research that is so very different from the way I had to do it when I was in college, back in the olden days when we had to trudge to the library, look up books, find the books on the shelves, make notes on three-by-five cards, type the paper (using white out or erasers to rid the page of mistakes), cut and paste (literally cutting apart sections of a page and taping them back together in a different order), and then finally type up a clean copy to turn in. If we wanted to keep a copy, we had to find a copy machine and pay for each page copied.

These students have no idea how wonderful computer-accessed resources really are!

I'm glad you are feeling better. When I finish the afternoon class in Western Humanities, I'll go home, put up my feet, and relax before getting back to NaNoWriMo. See you later.

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