Who Can Think In This Heat?

daylight-landscape-reflection-1209610And just like that, it’s August and shelves are ransacked of glue sticks, pencils, Kleenex, and individual snacks (though the fruit cups are always the last to go, aren’t they?). It’s like an army of kid-sized locusts have swarmed through all the stores and that’s how I know school’s started.

The Junior Halls have long since left their school days behind but there’s a part of me that I suspect will always be on school-time, following that back-to-school calendar and all its holidays/vacations. It’s hard-wired into my system.

But what’s also hard-wired into my system is that August is still vacation, especially the first two weeks of this month of sweltering heat. I went back to school after Labor Day, lo those many years ago; my kids went back to school in late August. And I’m pretty sure I know why: it’s too darn hot to think when it’s 89 but feels like 102.

The brain cannot function when it’s that hot and I have science on my side here. At my Tybee Island spot, the heat pump can’t keep the house cool. Yesterday, it was 84 around suppertime. EIGHTY-FOUR. I had to write a post for The Muffin and thank goodness, I tackled it in the morning before my brain turned to complete mush.

Except! Except I had to think up something the day before and it was also exceedingly warm in my house so I could only come up with short, little topics. Thus we have a. scientific proof re: my heat-affecting-thinking theory and b. “Writing Shorts” over at the Muffin today.

I feel like it’s pretty decent writing stuff, August and heat and brain mush considered. But it might help if you set your expectations accordingly (for both my post and the poor kidders and teachers).

I Should Probably Just Stay Home

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A view from my desk at the beach. Not that I work, just showing you the view.

So when I head to the beach, it’s quite the ordeal. That’s probably why I need so many naps once I get there… Anyway, the point is, preparing to leave one house for another for weeks at a time is a whole thing for me. It’s worth it, but still. A whole big thing:

I have to remember to hold the mail and cancel the paper. (Yes, I have to cancel it because the AJC will hold the paper but I am still charged for the paper. Back in the day, my account was credited when the paper was held. And it just goes against everything I believe in–well, almost everything–to pay for a paper that I’m not reading. So I cancel the paper and wait until I’m home for good and then start the paper again. Yes, it’s a lot of trouble to go to for twenty-three bucks but it’s the principle, y’all.)

I have to pack up my entire summer wardrobe even though I wear the same shorts and t-shirts for most of the time. I always think I’ll have to attend a sudden formal soiree or that a rogue snowstorm will hit the coast and what if I don’t have my jeans, sweaters, and long-sleeved shirts, not to mention my good black dress and my fancy high-heeled shoes? (I don’t bring my boots to the beach; that would be ridiculous.)

And don’t get me started on the food and such that I pack. Because despite the fact that there is a grocery store literally three blocks from me and a Publix (just like I have here) only a few miles down the Tybee road, I MUST BRING GROCERIES FROM HOME.

That last one I’ll admit is kinda crazy. But what is not crazy is that I hide all the Really Important Stuff in my house that I don’t bring to the beach just in case bad men (or women, let’s be fair here) break into my home and abscond with the family jewels (I feel I should mention here, just in case any of these scofflaws have read this far, that the family jewels aren’t much. We’re not even sure if they’re genuine. And when I say “they” I really mean just the one. Which is probably fake.).

Anyway, one year, I hid my Really Important Flashdrive and I still haven’t found it. So now, I had the brilliant idea to write myself notes–in code, of course–on my calendar to tell me where I’ve hidden stuff. Except this year, by the time I returned, all rested and oh-so-refreshed, I’d forgotten I’d hidden my Really Important Stuff or that I’d written helpful little notes to remind me where I’d hidden stuff. So every time I looked at my calendar and saw a particularly weird and cryptic note, I wondered what in the world it possibly meant.

And then I needed my checkbook (which is, after all, Really Important Stuff) and you can probably see where this is going. I COULD NOT FIND MY CHECKBOOK. At some point, it occurred to me that I’d hidden the checkbook but WHERE? WHERE? WHERE? If only I’d had sense enough to leave a trail of bread crumbs to my checkbook!

After tearing up the house, I finally found the checkbook. Exactly where I’d carefully hidden it. And then I happened to glance over at the calendar where the weirdly cryptic note suddenly made perfect sense.

I’m not sure where I hid my extra laptop and there are no more cryptic notes. I feel like when I go to hide the next Really Important Thing in my house, there will be the laptop, covered in dust, wondering where I’ve been. In the meantime, it’s back to writing for me and you can read the latest over at the Muffin in “What’s the Big Idea?”

(Just FYI, it has nothing to do with the particular bright idea I had to write myself coded notes; it’s a whole different idea. But it’s the same old lesson when it comes to pride.)

Spot the Difference: Summer Vs. Vacation

IMG_20190609_174418204I’m in  summer mode re: work right now. Which basically means I enjoy two siestas during the day–a short stint out on the deck or on the beach, soaking up my Vitamin D (And P.S. A quick bit of time in the sun is the best source of Vitamin D but do wear your sunscreen!) AND a late afternoon siesta where I get my reading in (And by “reading”, I mean “nap”)–instead of the one siesta I take during full work mode.

As you can imagine, one must be very organized to get anything accomplished if one’s taking two siestas a day. And I know what you’re thinking: can one really be that organized? So as proof, I offer today’s post over at The Muffin. To wit, Revision: A Whole ‘Nother Story.

You’ll note that not only have I come up with some pretty darn good writing/revision stuff but also I have shared my ultra-organized revision grid/chart wherein it’s kinda mind-boggling in its accomplishment glory.

I should probably add that other writers way more accomplished than I came up with revision grids and the same darn good writing/revision stuff ages ago BUT that doesn’t negate the fact that I worked like a fiend in the last six weeks on the latest manuscript whilst taking their advice AND two siestas.

So I think I deserve a vacation at this point. Which basically means that for the next six weeks, you can find me either on the deck, the beach, or the screened porch, with a book and/or a cool drink or Popsicle in hand. I may be reading, I may be napping, I may be thinking up the next story, but there is one thing you can be certain about: I WILL be wearing sunscreen.

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Libs will be checking email for me, but I wouldn’t count on her. Even when she’s in full work mode–and you can see that she’s revved up and at the ready here– she’s dismally lazy.

If It’s April,Then It Must Be the Black Snake

Here it is April already. And the snake is back.

So basically, we’re going to be talking about snakes today. And I wanted to put it right out there for you so you’d know what was coming. Furthermore, if you do not want to see a snake, you should probably click out of this post right now. Although…

The snake tied in remarkably well with my topic over at The Muffin today and I’d hate for you to miss out on some terrific writing tips just because of a snake. But yes, there’s a snake there, too. The post is called “First, You Need a BIG Black Snake (Or How to Grab the Attention of Agents, Editors, and Readers)” so you gotta have a snake. But at least you know the snake’s there. Sometimes you have to take the bad with the good, y’all. Although…

BIG black snakes are good to have around. I’m just sayin’.

Anyway, back to my original point. Which is BIG black snakes and April. This is the snake that Libs alerted me to the other day:

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You’ll note that this snake is on a walkway of my deck. And though it doesn’t look like much at first, you’ll see that in point of fact, it is a BIG black snake, even if it’s all twisted up.

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(It was stretched out next to the house and I had to disengage it and so it responded by coiling into itself.) But the minute I saw this snake–I was walking on the deck/walkway and talking to Youngest Junior Hall who was telling me about the bear (Yeah, I said bear. What is the world coming to?) that had broken into the golf cart barn where’s he working now–I recognized the snake.

Oh, yes, friends. I knew this snake. In fact, I’d documented this snake right here on the blog. So I went back to find the post where I’d discussed this very same BIG black snake and there it was: “If It’s Wednesday, It Must Be Time to Post.

The snake had nothing to do with that post, except–and this is really what the post, “First You Need a Big Black Snake...”  is all about: every single comment on that year-ago post was about the BIG black snake.

Anyway, as I was proving, you’ll note the date of the first appearance of the snake was April 18, 2018. So clearly, this snake has a nice, comfy home somewhere under and/or around my deck and walkway. And I’ll bet you five bucks right now that in that home, possibly next to the front door, you’ll find a calendar with April circled.

The Cleaning That Never Ends

brush-cleaning-scrubber-45059Do you remember “The Song That Doesn’t End”? DON’T watch it unless you want to hear that song in your head for the rest of the day…

I only mention it because I feel like I could replace “song” with “cleaning” and that would sum up the situation here at Casa de Hall. Specifically, my upstairs office:

This is the cleaning that never ends. It just goes on and on, my friends. 

I started cleaning it last month not knowing what it was. And I’ll continue cleaning it forever just because…this is the cleaning that never ends. 

And it’s not like your everyday cleaning. Oh, no. It’s my writing life. A great big pile of my writing life. And you know how you like to think you’re a relatively spiritual person, not attached to things in this world? Yeah…when it comes to writing–your words and such–it’s not so easy. Suddenly, you’re a raving egotistical maniac!

Or maybe that’s just me. The point is, suddenly, I’m reading reams of stuff because it’s my stuff. These are my precious, precious words. And even though my brain is screaming, “Cathy! You don’t have time for this!” my eyes are scanning the lines. My stomach is lurching.

Because these may be my precious words but many of these words–TONS OF THESE WORDS–are not good. In point of fact, they’re rather bad. Eventually, I realize that this essay or that manuscript stinks and I give it a toss. But my hands are slow in doing what my brain (and stomach) knew the minute I scanned the first line.

It gives me a whole new perspective on agents and editors who blithely toss my precious words after reading the first line; they’re not invested. It’s easy to toss when you’re not invested.

And so I’ve had to detach in order to get any cleaning done. Asking, “How Important Is It?” has been helpful, too, which you’ll see when you read my post over at The Muffin. My poor little ego has been bruised and battered through this process, but I’m sorta making progress on the upstairs office.

Not a lot of progress, mind you. This is the cleaning that never ends. It just goes on and on, my friends. 

Ugh.

(Sorry about the song. If it makes you feel any better, it’s stuck in my head, too.)