The Vegetables

As has become my Thanksgiving tradition on this blog, I’d like to share a poem by Hafiz.

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The Vegetables

Today

The vegetables would like to be cut

By someone who is singing God’s Name.

How could Hafiz know

Such top secret information?

Because

Once we were all tomatoes,

Potatoes, onions or

Zucchini

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Women in Media

Something has been bugging me, and it’s not Gina Davis’s lack of stage presence.

She right. I watch some of the (forgive me) shit available for kids and I am shocked. I had to stop a video of “Hercules” a while back because the female character broke into a song about how she was just a weak girl, and wasn’t it a good thing there was such a strong man around to take care of her. Excuse me? What? Since then I’ve been seeing more things like Gina Davis’s talk here, and noticing more and more the representation of girls in entertainment in general. While some kid’s shows (“Olivia” is a personal favorite), do okay, others have a long way to .

My husband told me about a conversation he had on the topic lately and related something fascinating. Turns out that years ago some feminist group sat down to craft guidelines for what constituted a feminist film. Here are the three things a story must have to be considered feminist. Ready? It’s pretty extensive…

1. Have two female characters with names

2. Those two characters have a conversation at some point

3. That conversation is NOT about a guy

That’s it. And you know what, it SHOCKING how many films can’t do it.

Well I for one will be doing my part to put some entertaining media out there where two named women have a conversation that isn’t about a guy. It honestly shouldn’t be so hard.

I know a lot of you who read my blog are in the entertainment industry in one way or another. I challenge you to think about this the next time you see a movie, and consider how your own projects measure up. Those of us telling the stories are in the unique position of being able to influence how they are told.

Power to the storytellers. Bring it.

 

Step Away From The Computer

There was a great article in Poets & Writers

recently. It was by Ellen Sussman, and she offered up four simple steps to get more out of your writing. Basically it came down to 1. Write every day, 2. take breaks regularly, 3. meditate for a few minutes before starting to clear your head and 4. turn off your internet. It’s criminal to chop up her prose so inelegantly, but that’s the gist.

Number one is taken care of.

I do occasionally sit for a few quiet minutes before I start working, but usually only when I’m making time for my fiction.

I’m 50/50 on turning off the internet. Since I’ve been working so much on the guide book lately and it’s so research intensive, I do leave my internet on, but I turn my email client off. That works pretty well for me.

The thing I most need to work on is taking breaks. Sussman sites studies that show people are more productive if they take a quarter of each hour to step away from their work, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. Maybe because my writing time seems so precious, since the rest of my day belongs to the family, I just don’t want to stop. I feel like break time is wasted time.

Still, it would probably be good for me. Just to get up and walk around a bit. Maybe I could get back out in my garden for a few minutes a day. That might actually be nice. But I don’t think I can do 15 minutes every hour. That’s a quarter of my work day.

I’ll start with baby steps. Maybe two 15 minute breaks mid day. I’ll have to set an alarm or something, but I can do that. If it seems to have a positive impact I’ll consider upping it, but that’s all I can do right now.

California Trivia

Some days there just isn’t enough coffee.

I’m stumped for blog topics this morning, so I thought I’d just share a few of the more amusing facts I’ve uncovered while researching my Northern California book

.

The Lost City of the East Bay Hills. In the hills just east of Oakland is the Morgan Territory Regional Preserve. It was once home to the Miwok metropolis called Volvon. For 10,000 years this native tribe lived here, grinding acorns and hunting rabbits. Strolling through the preserve you can still see the bedrock mortars – the collections of holes in large flat stones where the women would gather to pound acorn meal.

The personal hot tub began in Northern California, when enterprising young hippies attached wood burning water heaters to old redwood vats that had been discarded by the vineyards. They leaked something awful, and left a person with splinters in their behind, but there’s still something nice about a wood tub. As the fad spread through the country most manufacturers switched to fiberglass. 

The Mission Burrito is an actual thing. Steaming a big tortilla before stuffing it to the gills and serving it with corn chips is actually a very Bay Area tradition. El Faro claims to have been the first to serve it up in the 1960′s, and they’ve been a staple food ever since.

Steam Beer (now known as Anchor Steam Beer) was invented by miners in the 1850s who had a hankering for lager, but no refrigeration to cool the fermentation process so they had to do a warmer (ale style) fermentation and viola! a new kind of beer was born.

There’s much more, but you’ll just have to wait for the book to come out.

Now for more coffee…

 

Inspiration

Sometimes I fight to pull out a few hundred words. Other times words flow like whiskey at an Irish wedding. I wrote over 4,000 words this morning. I think I’ve found an in to a story I’ve been toying with for a long time. Is it a short story or a novel? I don’t know yet, but I’ve found it, and if the words (and whiskey) continue to flow, it could very well be a full length memoir.

I’ve never felt this way about a project. I mean, I knew it was incubating, but now that there are cracks in the shell and I can see the beak poking through, I just can’t seem to focus on anything else. I want to coax this little bird out into the world, even if it means staying up late at the computer and postponing other projects.

It’s unsettling, because, as a memoir, it pulls up a lot of old skeletons, but for the first time I feel ready to write it. I found the narrative through line this weekend, while chatting with an old friend (you guys know him as Steve the Pirate) at a party in the desert. We were looking at some old photos, and listening to some music that just made everything suddenly fall into place. That’s all I can really say about it just yet. If the words do continue to flow I’m sure there will be more, but for now, I’m just going to revel in the excitement of it all.

(the photo is from the party – I love the mojave)