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The Week Between
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Happy dead week, all. This twilight temporal realm, between one holiday and another, when all the publishers, more or less, are closed, which makes my day job rather difficult...

Xmas was fine, with many gifts from family and friends. We've been watching Firefly, a gift from Jenn, which is actually quite marvelous. I saw the first episode when it aired, and wasn't impressed -- but that's because it's not the first episode, as you probably know, but the second episode, which should properly have been shown after the two-hour pilot. After seeing the pilot, I was hooked -- it's a shame I can't be hooked for more than thirteen episodes. Let's hope they succeed in making a movie! We also got season 5 of Buffy from Heather's mom, which is much fine fun.

Musically, I got Rockwell Church's Through the Fall and the Old 97's Wreck Your Life (my favorite of theirs, which I only had on tape before) from Heather's family, and Aimee Mann's Bachelor No. 2, again from Jenn (she gives me good music on a semi-annual basis, it seems like). My mom sent many things, most notably a grappling hook! Yeah, that's right. I got a grappling hook. I am Grapplor. Fear my grapply goodness. I got loads of nice clothes (I think I must be growing up; I kind of enjoy getting clothes) from Heather and my dad and bro and sis. I can put off laundry for, like, two weeks! I got good books, of course -- Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife from my mom, which I've now half-devoured; from Heather's mom I got the newest Best American Essays and Best Science Writing; Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything; and two by Oliver Sacks, An Anthropologist on Mars (read that Xmas day, it's very good) and The Island of the Colorblind -- such non-fictiony goodness! Heather got me Straub's lost boy lost girl (read that yesterday -- quite good, though perhaps not as good as Mr. X or The Hellfire Club; easily one of the best novels of the year, though) and the latest Sturgeon collection, And Now the News.... Iím set on reading material for weeks (and beyond, since Chris Rowe and Gwenda Bond gave us a subscription to Say..., and Heather's mom got me some magazine subscriptions, too).

It's good to give, yes, indeed, but to receive is a fine thing, too.

On Sunday, while Heather was out having lunch with her mother, I took a walk down to the shops near the lake, and went to the good paper store, and bought myself a moleskine notebook. I've been feeling blocked lately (though in this case "blocked" means I'm only writing a couple of pages a day, and it's hard going to do that much), and sometimes changing your tools can help. It seemed to. I went to the good coffee shop/wine bar, and sat in a nice lounge chair next to a friendly screenwriter (who impressed me by simultaneously flirting with four women, mostly through the use of a short film he'd made, and had on his laptop; it was pretty impressive, actually). I sat with my little notebook on my knee, and worked on the Frog novel, and the scene I've been ramming my head against all week opened up and let me in, and it's been going well today, too. Just being away from the computer, with its life-sucking energies and many fine shiny distractions, seemed to help. So, yay, moleskine. Whatever works, right?

It's been a nice week, really. Lots of little isolated moments, islands of memory. Playing with Heather's nephew on Xmas day, sliding him around on his skateboard. Walking in the rain with Heather. Beating Heather at Scrabble. Losing to Heather at Scrabble. Sitting with a cup of coffee on Susan's and Matt's couch, after a meal of shrimp and bread and steak and goodness. Dinner at an Italian restaurant with Heather one night when she was feeling flush, me giving her just a tiny taste of my chicken marsala, because it was just that divine. Telling Heather about her rochambeau tells, and then regretting it because I couldn't always guess whether she was going to throw rock, paper, or scissors next anymore. Our cranky cat Marzipan actually being sweet, rolling around on the chair while I scritched her. Being standing-there-guy in the background while Heather explained to the hippy downstairs that his (forbidden by his lease) cigarette smoke drifts up through the vents and fills our apartment, and that he can't smoke inside anymore. Touching Heather's freezing feet over the weekend, when the people in the big apartment -- who control the heat for this whole busted-up-into-flats house -- went out of town and didn't bother to set their thermostat to a livable temperature. Making a turkey sandwich late at night. Standing on the street tonight, watching water cascade down the hill from the torrential downpour we had all day, the neighborhood dark except for candles flickering in windows across the street, power out in the whole neighborhood, even the 24-hour beacon of the nearby grab-and-stab extinguished.

Yeah. Mostly a pretty nice week.

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