Friday, October 09, 2009

Playing Catch-Up

Yeah, I know. I'm really behind.

Wednesday was a gala day. I learned that I'll be getting a big fat royalty check from my story in The Living Dead, an anthology of tales about zombies. The book reprints my story "Beautiful Stuff," which you can also find in my collection The Fate of Mice. (Read my zombie story, along with ten other great stories that have nothing to do with zombies! Makes a great gift idea! Christmas is coming!)

To tell you the truth, I don't get the current zombie craze. As I've remarked to my fiction workshop, they're pretty boring monsters. But TLD has been selling like hotcakes, and as a result, my share of the royalties is not only more than I've made in royalties on my last three books -- not difficult, since they haven't earned royalties -- but is in fact more than my advance for The Fate of Mice. Oh, man. Of course, it doesn't hurt to be in a book with Clive Barker and Stephen King. But still.

So, yeah, we'll be getting a nice bunch o' zombie bucks. Also, Wednesday I learned that I'll be teaching my Tolkien course again in Spring 2011, this time as a semi-lecture course with a cap of fifty students (rather than the usual thirty-three), because the department's desperate to increase enrollments. Hey, just doing my bit to get us through the budget crisis . . . we'll see if this works, but whatever happens, I'll enjoy teaching Tolkien.

Yesterday I received my box o' sock-knitting goodies from Inez, who sent me a bunch of lovely KnitPicks DPNs, some nifty cardboard tubes for holding DPNs and the projects attached to them, four skeins of colorful sock yarn, and a handy little canvas project bag which you can hang from your wrist or from the arm of a chair. This is an extremely useful accessory in places like airplanes, where you want to make sure that your yarn doesn't fall onto the floor and unroll down the aisle, tripping flight attendants and wreaking havoc.

Yesterday I went to see my psychiatrist, who giggled a lot when I told her about fiddle lessons, but thinks they're probably good for me. Then I zipped over to Franklin's Crafts and spent some zombie bucks on fun boucle yarn to make Christmas stockings for three kids, all children of friends. Then I went to another doctor's appointment, this time at the sleep center, since my insurance company is saying they'll no longer pay for my CPAP if I don't have a repeat sleep test (I haven't had one since the first one six years ago). After asking me if I wouldn't like some surgery to remove excess tissue in my throat -- said surgery would leave me with a sore throat and difficulty swallowing for three weeks, and wouldn't even necessarily work, so I declined -- the good doc scheduled me for a sleep test in a few weeks. He also gave me a script for three Ambien so I'll be able to sleep that night, since last time that was a problem. (Hey, you try sleeping in a strange bed while you're wired with more gadgets than the space shuttle, especially when the other people in the sleep lab are snoring like chainsaws, since that's what gets folks into these places. Sleep labs need much better soundproofing than this one has.)

I said, "Ambien? Isn't that the stuff where you get up in your sleep, drive across the country, and eat a supermarket?"

"There can be some retrograde amnesia," the doctor said brightly, "but you won't do anything you wouldn't do ordinarily."

"Oh. Okay. You'd better hide the chocolate, then."

He laughed. "We will. We'll hide the chocolate."

Last night I went to Katharine's to knit and fiddle around with the fiddle. Katharine and Pamela were properly complimentary about my version of "Mary Had A Little Lamb," and even started teaching me "Simple Gifts," but Katharine's attempt to get me to play rhythm flopped. I got completely lost in all the competing notes. Hey, gimme a break: I've only been taking lessons for three weeks! So we knit and ate cookies instead.

Today, Gary and I headed up to scenic Truckee, California for lunch and shopping. He got some odds and ends at their kitchen store. I spent some more zombie bucks on a new skirt and pair of slacks -- both on significant sale -- and then we went to a new (to me) yarn store up there. I liked it a lot, and spent even more zombie bucks on yet another pair of DPNs (ebony, this time, and 7" long rather than the 6" ones from Inez) and yet more sock yarn for Gary. One of these days I'll knit a pair of socks that doesn't slide down around his ankles. I will! I will! I swear it! If it's the last thing I do, I'll never be hungry again!

Oh, wait. Wrong story.

I had a lot of fun practicing the fiddle this evening, largely because I decided not to use the practice mute. After warming up with TTLS and FJ (Frere Jacques), I launched into many successive versions of MHaLL, starting at 70 bpm and working up to, I think, 90. Charlene wants me to get to 100 with good tone. That probably won't happen this week, but I'm heading in the right direction. When I got too bored with Mary and her little lamb, I practiced "Simple Gifts" and "A Mighty Fortress is our God." They're much rougher than Mary or Jacques, let alone the dreaded TTLS, but Gary recognized "Simple Gifts," so I must be doing something right.

I'm going to try to learn some Christmas carols so I can play them for the Philly family when I'm there. I talked to my mother today and asked her if she had any requests. She said, "Not that I can think of, but maybe I will when you're here."

"When I'm there," I said, "your request will probably be for me to stop playing."

Next weekend is the one-year anniversary of Dad's arrival in Reno. Last night I cried some at Katharine's house. Today I got a little sad when Gary and I ate lunch in Truckee, because the restaurant we always to go there was one of Dad's favorites from previous visits, and he never got there after he moved to Reno.

Ah, well. I swam for fifty minutes before dinner. That should help my mood.


  1. Anonymous7:05 AM

    I LOVE the idea of Zombie Bucks. And for a fabulous, funny, non-traditional zombie movie, you MUST watch "Fido." Good cast, too -- Carrie Ann Moss and Billy Connelly.


  2. Congratulations on the royalty check. Here's one hypothesis about why zombies are hot now:

    And I too have been playing "A Mighty Fortress," as our next concert features Mendelssohn's Reformation Symphony.



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