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Drinks Underwater
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A wonderful weekend. Heather and I spent most of Saturday catching up on various put-off chores: cleaning the house, buying some fruit and vegetables, doing laundry, and so on. We were fairly exhausted by late afternoon, but then Susan came over, and having company perked us up. For dinner we had roasted vegetables, fresh garlic bread with olive oil and vinegar, corn on the cob (picked that morning, we were told), and some fruit. Then we took BART into the city, which was far more difficult than usual since work was being done at one station, causing various delays, fewer trains, etc. It sucked, but we made it into the city and headed for the Make Out Room to see Writers With Drinks, hosted by the inimitable Daphne Gottlieb (taking over emcee duties since Charliegirl was out of town, alas; it would've been nice to see her). We joined up with Michaela Roessner (who was reading, and was the reason I'd wanted to go) and Lisa Goldstein, and chatted until the show started.

It was a good line-up. W. Kamau Bell did a funny, if lamentably short, bit of stand-up. Jen Collins read erotica, and Jon Longhi did an hilarious reading from his book Wake Up and Smell the Beer (which Heather bought after the show). Then intermission, and greeting various other people we knew and/or vaguely recognized. Mikey read first after intermission, from her story "Inside Outside", which is madcap and wonderful; made me want to go reread the story. Malka Geffen read poetry, some of it very good indeed, though I suspect her work is better on the page than on the stage. The last reader was Tamim Ansary (who is probably best known for the piece he wrote post-9/11, "An Afghan-American Speaks", which was widely circulated via e-mail after the attacks). He didn't read, but told a moving, magical story about his childhood in Afghanistan and his return there many decades later, after the Taliban fell. Quite a strong note on which to end the evening!

Afterward, Mikey kindly offered to give us a ride back to Oakland. I sat up front and talked with her about books and so on, about my first novel, my hopes and worries, the new book I'm starting. She dropped us off, and Heather and I saw Susan off on her way home safely, then headed up to bed shortly after, since the long day had wiped us out.

Today, Sunday, we puttered around in the morning, then decided the rest of the laundry and housework could wait. We headed over to Lakeshore to get lunch, and to go to the stationery store. My current notebook only has about a dozen pages left in it, and since I expect to handwrite great swaths of the Bridges novel, I wanted to get a fresh notebook for a new beginning and all that. I bought a new pen, and a nice big unlined spiral-bound notebook, with pages thick enough that ink doesn't bleed through, allowing me to write on both sides, and a good sturdy cover. The cover had a picture of a cello on the front, which was not awful but also wasn't particularly apropos. (Later, at home, I tore off the cello picture, printed this photo on glossy paper, and pasted it where the cello had been -- the notebook is much better, now.) Heather and I went from there up to Lake Anza in the Berkeley Hills, and spent the hot afternoon swimming. Well, Heather swam, being a good swimmer -- I mostly just splashed around and floated on my back and did somersaults. When we got tired of that, we drove down to Berkeley and went to a café to write for a bit (and drink Italian sodas, it being too hot for anything else). I filled three pages in the notebook, and the Bridges novel moves on. I'm in that capacious magpie phase, where every neat idea or interesting fact or arresting image I encounter is examined to see whether or not I can fit it into the narrative, to discover if it would reflect or enrich or enliven. I love this part of writing a book -- the discovery, the energy, the freshness, the obsession.

We came home, fairly well tuckered, just in time for the early evening golden half hour of sunlight in the living room, where everything seems drenched in magical luminescence, the air filled with diffused gold. I sat on the couch and read about Tom Ripley, awash in beautiful atmosphere.

And later I convinced Heather to play some head-to-head Halo, and we stalked each other with plasma grenades and rocket launchers through alien corridors. Couldn't have been better, really. After a while she watched The Company, and I watched with her until I determined that there was, indeed, a complete absence of plot. For Heather, the dance performances were enough to carry the show, but that wasn't sufficient for me. I've got a real artistic blindness when it comes to dance -- I can admire the athleticism and dedication, but it doesn't do much for me as a viewer.

She went to bed after the movie, and I finished reading The Talented Mr. Ripley (quite good) and began Ripley Under Ground (the beginning is rather silly, but I'm holding out hope). I am mysteriously not yet tired, so here I am, taking a break from genteel sociopathology to write up the weekend while it is still fresh and fine in my mind.

This week is apt to be a busy one. Heather has plans every night, and I have things to accomplish, too. It's a good thing I have this Wednesday off -- I should be able to catch up on things then, finish our laundry, run my necessary errands. And probably write another journal entry...

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