Monday, October 23, 2006

This just landed on my desk....

It's a lugie the size of my head, which is fairly packed full of phlegm. Yeah, pretty disgusting from where I'm sitting too, and I've woken up the past two days with my left eye glued shut with eyeball butter. Nastiness! And not the fun kind! I think I have maybe two more days of this shit before I'm out of the woods (and/or my phlegm ducts give out). It feels like I've been sick most of October. bleah.

Speaking of retrospection, when did I develop such a "thing" for librarians? It's almost as pronounced as my thing for redheads. Christ. I think I've developed SLIS-dar.

I just agreed to teach a class on InDesign at IU in the spring. My next-door neighbor at the Press has been doing it for a few years and is ready to get out of it. I'm glad it's a few months away. Learning ID has been a snap, but I could use a few months of hacking away at it before I know it as well as I know PageMaker and feel confident teaching a class on it.

How would IU take it if I said, "You know, what you really ought to let me teach is poetry. Any monkey can learn a desktop publishing program. *points to self* Poetry, on the other hand, takes a certain expertise in the art of -- how you say in your language -- jibber-jabber"?

Anyway, I had a most wonderful time Friday night banging away on my bodhran, then hosting a slam, then more drumming. I even got a bit of instruction from Min, who is a seisun regular and the bodhran-ist for the Culchies. I learned the bones! Or at least I made them work more than a couple of times.

Saturday night I carved punkins with my lady violinist friend and my housemate whilst watching The Wicker Man, which was honestly a little fruity in an early-'70s-a-go-go way, until the end when the guy gets fragged. Then is was pretty creepy. Oh, and Saruman in a kilt! Hoo-hah!

Sunday was a "raw food" dinner party, which had some fine raw efforts. Carpaccio is one of those things best had maybe once or twice a year; otherwise, I'm liable to start taking all my meats raw and wrrrrrigling. *gollum gollum* <--actual quote from my snot-impacted sinuses!

All right. Back to Saipan.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Dude, how about something a little lighter?

Okley dokley! What could be lighter than D-Day?

I'm currently typesetting a book on D-Day in the Pacific (specifically the Battle of Saipan). Actually I'm supposed to be setting it, but the Font Suitcase program everyone uses here has issues. Well, the issue is that we only have X number of user licenses, and as I am the last one in the chain ... I have to set my work aside and do something else until we get more licenses. Or something like that. I was just getting my Zen on and was more or less done with the front matter!

So now I am on a quest for info on cast-offs. No, no, not your grungy old panties and holey socks. A cast-off is an estimate made on a manuscript to determine how it will look when it is made into a book. This in turn tells you how much it will cost to make. Everything money-wise streams from that initial estimate -- and I understand that cast-offs have been way off around here on a few titles ... like 300 pages off (under or over the final actual page count). That's bad! If you estimate a book's going to make 600 pages and it comes in at 900 (or 300), the marketing scheme is going to be completely off.

I like doing cast-offs. There, I said it and I'm not taking it back. Like editing indexes and bibliographies, as well as typesetting in general, it's one of those bookmaking tasks the appeals to my OCD. Basically you count characters. Lots of characters. Including spaces. Then you count lines. You count all the different parts of a manuscript, then select a book design (trim size, margins, point size, etc.) suited to the material, pour X into Y, roll some bones, sacrifice a goat (or chicken if goat is unavailable), and voila! You should have an estimate that's good to within about 30 or so pages. Anything off by more than that and you got problems. I'm honestly having trouble wrapping my brain around the concept of a cast-off 300 pages over/under the final page count. That's not a cast-off; that's a guess! And a bad one!

I'm also still pushing furniture around in an effort to give the illusion of spaciousness to The Seam. I've made some headway but there's this big off-white tank desk with drawers that simply has to go. I need table space. Drawers tend to become memory holes for me: papers get shoved in there and never see the light of day again. They attract unimportant things and I'm better off without them.

I want/need office plants too.

I have plans to watch Sleepy Hollow with my violinist lady friend tonight and I am very much looking forward to that. I need some Hallowe'en/October spirit ... STAT!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

My Life Drips Out of Me Like ... Oooh, Are Those Little Debbies???

Maybe it’s the clammed weather and the looming clouds. Maybe it’s the lingering tail-end of illness. Maybe it’s conversations with friends about breakups old and new. Maybe I’m just worn out, and a little drained after having given blood. I feel heartsick tonight for some reason. A co-worker (a young’un) proclaimed himself nosy and, of course, started asking questions about my personal life, specifically my marriage/divorce. I got no beef with that especially since it seemed like a genuine interest not just a hunger for gossip grist (and if that’s what he’s after there are plenty of illicit outlets out there). I’m a fucking font of information on a number of topics, including myself, and I’m not afraid to spill. Certain realities crash hard, though. Yes, together 10 years. Yes, married for less than a year. No, not really over it but doing well. Obviously, right?

Doesn’t matter how long you’re together. When the breakup happens one of you wants it and the other doesn’t. It’s never mutual. It can be amiable, and I’ve been on both ends of a couple of those. But generally one of you has to be shaken out of his or her delusions that things are going to get better. if. you. just. hang. on. I have my contentious, terminally dysfunctional, long-married parents to thank for my olde skool notions of “toughing it out” in a relationship. Nobody does that anymore, right? First sign of trouble (or second, or third, or twenty-third) and ya just plie off and away and on to ... something else, probably neither better nor worse, just different.

I long for something permanent, something that will last my lifetime not just until I get bored or distracted or stupid. Have I said too much? Then I’ve said too much. Better now than not enough.

A friend commented that I’m changing a lot -- kind of implying maybe too much for her taste, and honestly I’m aware of that. (But let’s be clear: the last thing I’m seeking from anyone -- friend or family -- these days is approval.) It’s a little uncomfortable for me too: working at IU again; living with a guy/housemate after 10 years; renting; short(er) hair; dating someone (gasp!) outside my longstanding circle of friends. But I’m trying to make the changes for the better, not just to shake things up because I’m feeling dusty. Because I do feel dusty, but I want to feel safe and loved and happy and whole again, and I do, for the most part, until I start remembering and over-thinking. I’m definitely in a “do” mode these days, and that, gentle readers, is the biggest change ... perhaps the scariest one of all.

As I told another friend, currently weathering a sudden breakup, the past won’t haunt forever. Eventually you get tired of maintaining that psychic tie, and the phantom limb ceases even to be a dead stump. Eventually you learn to paint with your mouth instead.

All right, whatever. I have plastic to put on my windows.

And speaking of stuck, why does the Red Cross wait until they see me coming before they bust out the trainee phlebotomists? She was shaking -- SHE WAS SHAKING as she pricked my finger to do the li’l iron test thingie, and the supervisor standing behind her prompted her more than a few times. But the big stick ended up being no big deal, I filled my bag in about five minutes, and I was staggering back to work before you know it. BP is 110/80 -- my lower-BP trend is continuing, which is good, after it peaked this winter at around 130/90. Not exactly a heart attack waiting to happen there, but my Comfort Food Diet certainly had taken its toll.

I’m looking forward to this fall like no other. I feel more present and more in touch with my environment than I ever did living in the woods. More connected, not just grounded. I do miss the woods, but I also know they don’t need me there. They’ll keep dropping leaves long after I’m gone. It’s just the way things work.

Friday, October 13, 2006

What Year Is It?

So my workspace is a bit . . . cube-like. Oh let’s face it: it’s cube width and maybe 1.5 to 2 cubes long. (Interesting how a “cube” is like a standard measure these days. You all know the dimensions I’m describing, right?)

I am fully authorized to feng shui the hell out of The Seam, as I have taken to calling my li’l slice of nirvana here. This includes cannibalizing furniture from elsewhere in the building or at IU Surplus. The best thing about the space, though, is my enormous window (that opens!) and the seclusion. The worst part is the giant metal 1960s desk my ‘puter sits on.

I’m tucked away from major traffic areas, at the end of a row of book designers, next door to the production director, and just down from our blind IT guy. (There’s going to be a poem or at very least a sci-fi novella there somewhere.)

I have done practically zero productive work this week. It’s all been “settling-in” stuff, which is great but I’m antsy. I’m ready to start on a book, but nothing is going to come my way for a while other than some line corrections for reprints. Mostly I have been reacclimating myself to the Mac environment and getting used to a 2-screen setup -- nice! Macs are not computers; they’re magical thinking boxes, automatons, “machines of the future” as envisioned in a 1949 issue of Popular Mechanics. PCs, now there’s a computer. It screams, “I am a computer! Can you hear me computing in here? I’m telling you yes or no, and I’m telling you very fast! Very very fast! Very very very very --” *crash* I likes 'em both, though.

October days are beautiful. October nights are somewhat spooky but filled with promise. People here can’t believe I’m biking 5 blocks to work on these frost-warning mornings. I could explain that when I lived west of Spencer, I regularly hiked an eighth of a mile, in the snow, “uphill both ways,” just to get to my truck, which could not manage the gravel driveway, for about three weeks out of the year. Then I’d have about a 45-minute commute to B-tizzle if the roads were clear.

In many ways it feels like I never left. Except for a few problem children, all of the same people are still here. The few new faces have actually heard of me. Everyone else was very glad to see me back. Man, I really missed working with people who give a shit.

I’m gonna go move some furniture now. Which is exactly how I spent my first week or so when I started here back in 1996. Whoa.

Monday, October 09, 2006

New Ways

So I biked to work this morning, walked to lunch at Samira with my new/old cow-orkers, and will most likely bike over to my lady violinist friend’s place for dinner tonight after the Eroticon meeting. I can’t tell you how weird this is after being accustomed to some kind of car commute every day for 10+ years. I’m determined to get used to it, though.