Saturday, November 26, 2005

Word Problems

One of my favorite New Yorker cartoons shows a man seated at his typewriter, cheerfully greeting the Grim Reaper. "Thank goodness, you're here!" the man exclaims. "I can't accomplish anything without a deadline."

I have a deadline: December 1. That's the day I'm bound to submit an article for a forthcoming book.

I have a surplus: The article happens to be on a subject that I began researching over a decade ago.

I have a problem: I started working on the article only two days ago.

Call it a word problem. Let's start with the easy math:

1) Cello has four days in which to produce 20-25 pages of polished text. If Cello's parents begin driving toward Alleged Utopiaville on Monday morning for a three-day visit, how many hours of actual work time does that leave for the article?

2) Cello is a notoriously slow writer, having required two months to research and write a 10-page conference paper... which she did not complete until literally 30 minutes before her time to present. (Very, very, very bad for the nerves. Worse, the paper was splendid, and Cello's bad behavior rewarded.) Presuming Cello can ignore all other deadline-driven obligations this week (i.e., "assume zero inertia"), but acknowledging that she is now incapable of pulling all-nighters, what are the odds that she can write an entire article by Thursday?

3) Cello is in her early thirties, which means she has wanted to be a writer for more than half of her life. Half of that half-life she spent in graduate school, where she became exponentially more worldly, cynical, sensitive, and wry. Why then did graduate school drag her writing speed and self-confidence into negative values? (“Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself.”) Knowing too well what she does not know—and seeing too clearly the talents she does not possess—Cello has become multitudes. She is also a provincial, apprehensive tortoise of an author.

At least, we optimistically note, she is plodding forward. That is the gift of her family pedigree, with would-be writers thickly in-bred.

They married and raised children. They whittled large debts with small paychecks. And when they got cancer or Alzheimer’s, they panicked and burned their manuscripts. They never did get published, but they said, “You could do it, Cello. You could.”

December 1.

Cello hopes
to prove them right.

Thursday, November 24, 2005


Oh bloggy world, you're like a very good dream.

In this season of deadlines, it took me a while to discover very kind emails from Psycho Kitty and Being Shielded on how to fix my blogroll. Warm thanks to them both!

The physical world is a little dream-like today as well: a day off from work, a respite from holiday travel, and—best of all—the season's first snow.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Vitamin Ee-ew.

Too tired and deadline-frazzled to write much these days. (And my blog is still broken, which is depressing.)

Just one question: Would it be wrong to take a prenatal vitamin that has been licked by a cat? I had the pill sitting next to my computer, and G. decided to have a taste.

He didn't like it anymore than I do.

I know I should throw the darn thing out. I only hesitate because they're so expensive.

Monday, November 07, 2005


I was fiddling around with my template and somehow managed to lose all my blog buddy links, which are normally provided via Blogrolling. The links are still visible in my Blogrolling account, but I can't figure out how to get them to re-appear.

Any tips on restoring the blogroll from people far more tech-savvy than I?