Sunday, May 21, 2006
I’ve had a hell of a week.
Tuesday seemed to hold promise. Work was fine. I caught up with colleagues, got more information on Rome and Florence. I looked forward to coming home and rewriting the Monaco and Florentine sections of Real, in order to move forward. I figured that, over the course of the week, I could rewrite those sections, move forward with Venice and Rome, and maybe, just maybe get them to Prague.
No such luck.
I came home to find a note on the door escalating The Situation even farther. Of course, it was carefully orchestrated so that we got it when it was too late to contact the state agencies that would have intervened; and it dictated the latest abuse would begin at 9 AM the following morning.
So we said no.
Signs went up on doors, letters out to lawyers. Faxes to sit on the desks of the appropriate state agencies first thing in the morning.
And three of us stayed on site to make sure, physically, the rights were not violated, no matter what The Other Side claimed. The police was informed, and ready to intervene, should it be necessary.
We got through to the state, and the state backed us up. They strongly informed The Other Side where they’d crossed a line, and of the consequences. And I wrote everything up per the state’s instructions, so we could get it out to everyone within a few hours.
Not only that, The Other Side’s hired guns refused to identify themselves or show credentials to prove that they were actually professionals in the area in which the Other Side claimed.
For three days.
It grew rather quiet, so we have no doubt they are regrouping for the next attack.
And the person whose job it is to be the leader here went MIA with no explanation. Not good for morale. But the rest of us stepped up and worked as a collective and got it done.
At one point, I had been up for fifty hours.
On top of that, my grandmother got very, very sick, and it seemed she would not survive the weekend. She is in her nineties. And now needs a pacemaker. At first, she refused; now, she seems to have come around to the idea. I’m not sure when the surgery will happen – sometime this week. And I’m on call to head up there and take care of her whenever I’m needed.
I was able to get a few hours of relief on Thursday, and head to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to attend the Hatshepsut exhibit and gather information for an article. I went with my museum buddy, B. The exhibit was beautifully done. However, everything in the upstairs exhibit consisted of pieces with which we were familiar from the Egyptian wing. Only this time, they were re-mixed in this exhibition to spotlight the female king. Yes, that’s right – she was Queen, but then took the title of King. And, twenty years after her death, her successor tried to erase her from the histories.
We had lunch in the rooftop garden, enjoying the May sunshine and the view of Manhattan. I took my notes, gathered my information, and bought far too many books in the Met’s bookshop (one of the best in New York). They had wonderful books on Prague, Florence, etc., so, of course, I grabbed them for my research for Real.
I also bought a replica of the “Egyptian Horse”, a piece I visit every time I come to the museum. The original piece is from 1400 B.C., and was a whip handle. I’ve eyed the replica for two years in the gift shop, but couldn’t justify the price. Today – and only today – it was 50% off.
I bought it. And it sits in front of my horse racing books in the bookshelf.
Came home, rendezvoused with my compatriots on patrol. Quiet day – we knew they were up to something.
Friday morning, I hit the local patisserie to get breakfast for my companions, and we had a strategy meeting. We were around all day, ready to act, but, again, it was quiet.
I have no doubt they will come up with a fresh hell next week – probably orchestrated to hit late on Friday, the start of the holiday weekend, to ruin it for everyone.
I was too wrecked from lack of sleep, tensions from dealing with The Other Side and worry over my grandmother’s illness to work on my article notes or to do any other writing. I had to be in a constant state of readiness – prepared to act at a moment’s notice.
We have no idea what will come next; but it’s bound to be ugly.
As if that wasn’t enough, a spoiled brat on one of the writers’ forums scolded the other members for not responding to something she posted as fast as she wanted. Needless to say, under the pressures I was under, including a lack of sleep, I was not in the least bit sympathetic or diplomatic. In addition to the point of the forum being supportive and giving everyone the room to float in and out at will, several people make their living by doing critiques. In my case, the people who pay me get first crack at my attention. Then come my friends – my fellow writers who I know I can count on in a crisis and who can count on me, beyond simple grammar and sentence structure. We’ve built up a trusting relationship over time. Of course I’ll read whatever they need/ask me to read, and I’ll do it as fast as I can.
Then, if and when I have time, certain acquaintances will get my time. At this point, I do free critique only if I have an ongoing relationship with someone, and they’ve earned it. Otherwise, hey, this is my rate, and when we come to an agreement, I’ll do it.
Friday night was the last episode of the series on which I’ve worked all season. It has not been picked up by the network, all over and done. I taped it, so I’ll have it for posterity (I seriously doubt it’ll ever turn up in reruns). And it was a good episode. If previous episodes had hit the notes this one hit, I think we’d have had a chance. But a series needs time to find its rhythm, and networks rarely give shows that chance anymore. If it’s not a breakout in three episodes, it’s gone. We were lucky that all thirteen aired.
I’m grateful for the experience. And I mourn the ending of the show. It ended on a lovely, graceful, hopeful note. Classy, and I would expect nothing less from this particular production company.
Saturday, I felt like I’d been hit by a truck. Really awful.
The good news was that my grandmother finally agreed to get a pacemaker.
The bad news was Barbaro’s horrible accident in the Preakness Stakes. At this point, they don’t even know if they can save his life.
I’m sure he would have won. He was so ready for this race – so ready that he forced open the gate when he was loaded, before the race started. He didn’t hurt himself then – he was reloaded without any problem. But, about a sixteenth of a mile in, he broke his ankle, and, in the next few hundred yards it took his jockey to pull him up, broke it again.
Thank God his jockey was Edgar Prado, who always puts the good of the horse first. Thank God he trusted Edgar enough to let him jump off and let the ambulance workers, etc., help him. I’ve watched several injured horses panic and cause further damage, which meant euthanization.
Barbaro’s been transported to the best hospital there is, and undergoes surgery today. I’m hoping for the best.
It was a bittersweet victory for Bernadini, the horse who won, and who won beautifully. Bernadini is an excellent horse (my pick for the exacta, with Barbaro).
But any time a horse is seriously injured like that, the horror of it permeates even a well-earned victory.
I’m taking a leave of absence as an associate editor for The Scruffy Dog Review. I’ll still write my column; I’ll still do the weekly blog (what should have gone up last Wednesday will go up today). But, after I read the latest batch of submissions, I have to take a break. I’m dragging everyone else down, because I can’t keep up with the work. I literally have to spend 6-8 hours per day dealing with The Situation here, and it will only get worse.
A bright spot is that my friend Chaz’s book arrived, and I look forward to reading it in the next week or so. I’m also reading Gail Godwin’s The Making of a Writer: Journals 1961-1963. I highly recommend it for anyone who loves writing or reading. She dissects her process in an interesting way. I’ve enjoyed most of her writing for years, and it’s interesting to see how the original inspirations, as noted in her journals, translate to her fiction. The only thing that gets on my last nerve, thus far, is the way she uses people, especially men. However, she doesn’t sugarcoat it, so perhaps I should be grateful for her honesty?
The question mark at the end of the sentence is deliberate. I was brought up NOT to use people, so I have little tolerance for those who do. I wonder how this knowledge/opinion will affect the way I read her work from now on.
I’m going to roast a chicken for dinner and try to pretend things are normal, at least for a few hours. I gave myself today off.
Tomorrow, I have a stack of paperwork to get through, and I must get back to Real. My characters are understanding about this week’s defection, which makes me even more eager to return.
Also, later tonight, I have to write my Preakness wrap up article.