Wednesday, September 12, 2007


It has been a while since I last posted here. To be sure, my readership has always been low, but now I fear it is about a low as it can go: it has just gone up from zero to one now that I have returned.

My last whining post was over a year ago. Consider this the executive summary to you--my implied reader--of where I have been in the past year. I'll conclude it with my optimistic insistence that I really do intend to write regularly again, something that at this moment in time I actually believe.

This July I was officially rehired into the job I had been laid off from a few years ago. Now at parties I can go back to telling people I'm a process engineer and enjoy their confused looks. Business process engineering: who does what at what time and in what order. I guess you can say I am getting paid to be a writer, finally, even if it is slightly less interesting than stereo manuals written in Chinglish. The nice thing about selling your soul to the third-largest IT outsourcing company in the world: it pays well.

And there are some perks. I had to get a car to make the commute to Long Beach, which was as good an excuse to buy a Miata as I will ever get. My new 2007 MX-5 is like my favorite pair of underwear, fits comfortably and snug and I never want to take it off. I know what you are thinking, and NO the passenger side is not nipple-high with discarded In-and-Out burgers and Mt. Dew bottles. The nice thing about having a no back seat and a trunk the size of a travel toothbrush is that you have to clean up after yourself regularly. I still know what you are thinking, and yes I can clean up after myself.

If you have ever wanted a convertible and didn't think it was practical, get one anyways. There is something about being part of the environment that comes from driving with the top down. Somewhere I once read (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, I think) that the scenery from a car is like watching it on television, but put the top down and you insert yourself into a sensual connection with your surroundings (I think the author was talking about a motorcycle, but it still applies if you ask me). Even the various and often repulsive smells of Los Angeles are worth experiencing. For you roofies who drive with the windows up, take a tip from your dog and stick your head out every once in a while. The Angeles Crest smells like Geoffrey Pine: maple mixed with the dry mustiness of the chapparelle. Los Angeles reeks of multiculturalism. Drive through the neighborhoods around dinner time and you will get what I mean. There is one part of Fullerton that inexplicably smells like a dump. Lancaster still smells like beige, unless it is about to rain. I'll keep you posted when I make new olfactory discoveries. Perhaps I can form my own niche in the California travel writing scene: something like Hughe Howsner's "California's Gold" but the smelly version.

If you haven't heard, I am now a grandpa. James and Deanna had Isabella ("Bellaboo" to you, "Izzy" to me) earlier this year and she is now at the age--six months--where she is so cute is it painful. Donovan is going to be five at his next birthday, but as he is still living with Deanna's mother we don't see him that often. I said I am a grandpa, but really I am "Nano." You begin to realize how young you are not when you have to think about what you want to be called by your grandchildren. So I am Nano, bowing to the loosely held ethnicity of Susan's side of the family; I don't know what a Scott calls his grandfather in any case. All I know of that part of my heritage I learned from Groundskeeper Willie.

Jessica and Griffin started high school this month. Griffin is in the band with his tenor sax. Jessica is popular and too beautiful for her own good, so we keep her in all-star cheer leading. Susan is back in school and working on a pre-med degree; at the urging of the doctors she works with she is going to become one of them. I always wanted to be a doctor's wife...

As for my art, it has been lacking. I have the will to write, just not the attention span. This means that I am very good at generating story ideas which I am terrified of addressing seriously because I know I lack the will and confidence to do them justice. Still, I keep promising myself I will go back to writing soon, and I will. No, really. I promise.

Recently I took up oil painting. This is nothing serious. I was up way too early and saw a Bob Ross show on the local PBS channel and decided it must be easy to make great works of art. So I went to my local Michaels and bought a few hundred dollars of supplies and have been creating great works of art ever since. Okay, maybe less than great, but more than horrible. Struggling with a new visual art form has forced me into looking at things in a new way. A tree used to be a tree. Now it is a shadow, trunk lines and texture, covered with leafy highlights: in short I see the world analytically as a procedure for replicating itself. Did I mention that I am a process engineer? I am also starting on watercolor (which is much less forgiving than oil), and yes, there is a TV show for that too. I wonder what pallet triad represents me as a person.

Photography has taken a back seat to painting lately, but I hope to go back to that soon. My dichroic enlarger still awaits a proper darkroom, which I may have in a few weeks by converting an old fifth wheel (no, I am not kidding). The more everything goes digital, the more I want to do chemical. That won't stop me from getting my digital camera (Sony a100, because all my lenses and stuff are Minolta). I'll post some of my work once I return to making pictures. My hope is that teaching myself to paint will actually help my photography and writing. Tolkien did watercolor, and if it worked for him...

For all of youse guys who know me as Dainn, the erudite bald black enchanter-type int-caster of the various fantasy and sci-fi worlds, I am still between games. Not sure if I will go back to playing them again, but Conan looks interesting. I recently left Lord of the Rings Online, and before that Vanguard, and WoW. Like that first meth high, I keep trying to go back to the experience I had in Everquest and not quite reaching it. The days when grinding was fun--quadkiting raptors or wyverns with Maggot...sigh, those were the days--is over, at least for now. If there are any of my old EQ etc. buddies out there, drop me a line. I heard from Maggot a couple weeks ago, and would like to hear from you.

So much for the executive summary part. So, to make a short story long, I am back for now, and I promise that I will start writing regularly again.

No, really.


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