The Lighthouse

the lighthouse

30 May 2014

To sleep, perchance to dream

I woke up hung over this morning.  It's ok though, 'cause I was hungover on sleep. Don't fret for me, dear Reader, I haven't yet reached the stage of drunken stupors.

Those first few moments of wakefulness were confused and disoriented (please note: not disorientated!) because on pushing back the sleep mask the sun was so bright for seven ay em, my reluctant-to-open eyes promptly squeezed up in defense. I was also confused about why I was still in bed. I think that when you wake up in the normal way, you travel gently through several states of wakefulness - some of them experienced after the eyes have opened. For some people, true wakefulness doesn't happen for hours, or until after the first cuppa coffee.

I think I jumped clear over those gentle stages and went from comatose to conscious between one breath and the next. So, when I reached for my phone/clock and peeled open an eyelid I was shocked to see it was not seven o'clock, but ten! Shocked, but I have to say also ecstatic.  My inner little girl was wiggling with delight and fist pumping to a refrain of, "Yes!  I slept!" It felt so good I had to share it with somebody, and at eleven o'clock on a Friday morning, you're all I've got.

I also woke up hungry - so hungry that every time I moved, my stomach would growl. It became a continuous rumble, increasing in volume when I stooped in front of the fridge, and again when I bent for a pan from the cupboard. I wonder, if I practice often enough, would I be able to work in some modulation of tone so I could perform a musical number before breakfast?

Anyway. The clock is creeping into laggard territory so I'd best get on with things. So much to do with little time to do it, you know. I hope the sun is shining where you are today.

21 May 2014

Take two

Well, here I go again.
The cataloguing job came to an abrupt end on Friday morning when I was called into my manager's office and told that as of that moment I was no longer needed.

If I wanted to, I could work up a good head of anger at how they handled proceedings right from the interview stage, but frankly, I mostly feel relief to not be there any longer. I am grateful for what I learned - including important questions to ask during the interview - particularly new cataloguing conventions. I won't miss the highway in the morning, or the continual pep talk I had to give myself (only six hours to go, you can do it!). It wasn't a good fit, they and I, so hoorah for early dismissal!  I tell you though, temp workers and casual staff really do get the short end of the stick. Though policies dealing with their employment may be legal, they aren't terribly ethical or humane.  Shame on us for treating people like that!

Anyway.  I've been brimming with ideas and enthusiasm and determination for how I'm going to fill my time until the next job comes along.  It's taken me this many days to get my head on straight, though, and for the giddiness to subside.  I'm excited to see what comes along the pike next, and have just this moment sent out the first resume.  Wait and see.

Looming large on the immediate horizon is The Arrival of Mom.  I love having my mom come to visit as we always have a delightful time. What makes her arrival 'loom' is what I put myself through in advance:  what to cook?  (gak!)  must clean! what activities to arrange?  Also - and this will probably help  you to realize I am indeed a nutter - I prepare a mental list of things to talk about.  I'm a quiet sort of person. It's not natural for me to vocalize my thoughts. I know my dad was the same way because when we were together, I just knew he'd been saving up some news or funny thoughts or observations... and then we'd be silent. I had a definite sense he thought to himself, "ok, conversation... check." and be completely fine there was nothing else to say. On the phone he would actually say it outloud, "Well, that's all for me." and we'd hang up.  My mom and sister are chatters, however.  I find it hard to keep up, so I have to be prepared before I see them, both in stamina and material.  Mom isn't just popping in for tea, though; she'll be here for days. That's a lot of chatting.

I hope you're well, dear reader.

13 May 2014


Some writers know the whole of what they're going to write before they take pen in hand (or set fingertips to keys). Some work it out like a schematic, breaking down every beat of the story - or article - and attach words to that structure.  I find these different approaches very fascinating. I'm sure that a correlation can be found between approach to writing and personality types.

Of course that might be a psychobabbling sort of excuse or justification for the fact that for the past week I've been trying to plot out a story and have got exactly nowhere with it. When I look at my Myers-Briggs personality type (INFJ) it is quite clear that story plotting is impossible. It just isn't in my toolkit. So I've decided to not get twisted up about it and instead let my brain work the way it works.

When an idea takes up residence in my mind, it isn't a linear story or even a concept. Instead what I have is an impression, a feeling, or a mood. My imagination is set off by a scene or a bit of dialogue. They often linger in the back of my mind or lie buried and forgotten in notebooks until a way forward is discovered, to build on them, or stretch them, or slot them in, to a bigger, fuller, idea.

For example:
Last week, while at work with my mind occupied at cataloguing a book, this phrase popped out of thing air,
"I make my father's gestures with my mother's hands."

I don't know what that is. Will it become a line in a story, part of  reflection, or an element of a poem?

It lingers in my mind, though, like the scent of a candle after it's been blown out.  It just might turn up here again, in some form.

Meanwhile, I'm working on the idea of Fragments - a story told in pieces rather than a whole.  Do you think that works?

08 May 2014

In which I become foolish about a snail.

I just know I'm going to feel foolish telling you this story, but tell it I will.

I met a snail today.

He was an ordinary garden variety snail.  Only the other day I saw one just like him climbing his way up the door frame of the lunchroom door at work. But my new friend was near the wilderness I like to walk to during my break. Not in the grass, though, like you'd expect, nor even in the gravelly bits at the side of the road. He was actually on the road, intrepidly inching his way to the other side (perhaps he once heard a song by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and decided to see what the other side is all about.)

When I happened upon him, he was maybe a foot from the departing edge of the road. I don't know how long he'd been at it, or where he started from. Just in that spot is a wee thicket, including what I think is going to turn out to be a glorious lilac bush, with a slight boggy quality to it.  That seems to be a happy sort of place for a snail to live, don't you think?  In the direction he was heading are warehouses and corporate offices... and a go-cart track  (come to think of it, that might be where he was headed. He might have decided to see what life is like in the fast lane) (but that is very far away... probably a solid eight month journey in snail time)

I was so struck by the adventuring spirit of this little snail.  Oh, I know I was anthropomorphizing like crazy. Is it possible for snails to be brave?  Can they deliberately set out on adventures?  The stories I read as a child were full of such tales. I loved them, but my grownup self knows those things don't happen.  Still and all, there I was on my morning break from cataloguing watching this little snail ... I was going to say 'inch' but it was more like 'millimeter' ... his way forward.  That happens to be a fairly quiet road, only travelled by people who work on that dead-end street, and eager go-carters.  But there are also big delivery trucks, and most drivers go quickly. Certainly they aren't watching for random snails in the road.

I was worried for him, my new friend, but also cheering him on. It was like England in the World Cup: you know there's no chance they'll make it, but you can't help rooting for them anyway.  When one car careened around the corner I was so tempted to step into the road with my hand up, authoritatively, to flag them down so I could explain the situation, and suggest they keep to the other lane.

Yes, that last paragraph is the one with the foolish in it.

I deliberated as to whether I should pick him up and carry him to the other side, or if, like in Star Trek, I should stick to a Prime Directive of non-interference, leaving my little be-shelled friend to his own destiny. I stood there for some time, wavering back and forth.

I know.  Über foolish.

In the end I carried on with my walk.  I was heartily glad to see he was still there on my way back, but deliberately did not go back to that spot for the rest of the day.  Even if he made it across, two large Canada Geese had taken up residence in the big field near to where he was heading, so it didn't look good for him whether he crossed the road or not.

Poor little snail.

06 May 2014

A happy dance

How're you going?

I am doing a little wiggly dance of happiness because -   ba-da-da-da  - (bright, happy, announcey trumpet sounds)  MasterChef Australia 2014 has begun.

I reckon (see, it's already rubbing off on me) that I'm drawn to cookery shows because in my secret heart I'd like to be able to do what I see them do. I'd love to look at a random assortment of ingredients and turn them, presto! into a delicious dish. I'd love to know how to fix a dish that went wrong. I'd love the opportunity to learn from accomplished and generous chefs like they have on the show.  I'm inspired every time I watch it to bring food back to basics: keep it fresh and simple.

So says the girl who had a banana and peanut butter for supper.

How do people do it?  How do you go to work for a full day's slog, then come home after to prepare a toothsome, wholesome meal?  My friend Sarah finds it relaxing and inspiring. It satisfies her creative spark, I think.  I see that spark in the contestants as they tackle these impossible seeming challenges and learn not only about food, but about themselves in the process.  It's lovely and uplifting and entertaining and even educational.  I'm so looking forward to these next weeks.

Excuse me now, won't you?  I'm going to attempt something inspired with leftover rice.

04 May 2014

Borrowed glamour

There is a game I like to play when I visit the coffee shop inspired by a book about a whale. It used to be when your complicated beverage of choice was ready, they would call out what it was, like this:

"Venti decaf double shot skinny mocha frappuccino" and you'd do the walk of shame up to the counter under the assessing gaze of the serious coffee drinkers who wouldn't touch your decaf skinniness with a 10 foot stir stick, double shots or not.

Lately, however, they have taken up the practice of asking for  your name, which they would scrawl on the side of your cup. It can't be for the merciful purposes of cutting down on the  chagrin we non-straight-up-coffee-drinkers experience, because now they call out the drink and your name. So you're left walking around with the evidence of double whip and caramel sauce around the lip of your plastic cup and your name in bold letters for all to see.  Do people whisper, "Ah... now see, there's a Tess. I just knew someone named Tess would drink something with caramel sauce."

So I like to give a fake name according to the mood of the day.  If I'm feeling poetical and Parisian as if I'm hiding a black turtle neck and beret under my ordinary fleece jacket, I'll use Justine.  On deeply serious days I could be Clare.  When I feel mysterious or glamorous, I like to be Vivienne.

The thing is, one must remember the name one has used when giving one's drink order.

 More than once I've had to apologize for staring at the barista while she's clearly waiting for me (Mabel or Jessica) to step forward and collect my order.

I paid a visit to said whale-story-inspired coffee shop this weekend. I was Vivienne.  The girl behind the counter looked at me for half a beat before she wrote the name down, and I felt my heart speed up a bit. I was sure she was going to tell me there was no way I was a Vivienne. I was sure she was going to call me on it.  And in a way she did, because when I picked up my cup, in bold letters down the side, it read Vivian.

O, the power of a misspelled name to shatter the illusion of borrowed glamour.


03 May 2014

Of leftovers and gauntlets

Shh... I'm watching the game. But I need something to distract me else I'll chew every last fingernail or scrub the enamel clean off the tub. I usually pace, but that's not doing the trick today.

Here are a few leftovers that didn't find their way onto the page this week.  Not because they aren't worthy little pieces, but because I plumb forgot them:

Did you know that areas of the rainforest in Washington State receive SIX FEET of rain a year? Awesome.

(second half just beginning. United are down 1-0. Very nervewracking.)

Librarians reverse names.  It works like this: when I write a book, it will be called
Of Something Wonderful   
Stories in Fragments 
By Tess Lighthouse.

A librarian sees that book thusly:

100 10  $aLighthouse, Tess.
245 00 $aOf something wonderful :$bstories in fragments/$cby Tess Lighthouse.

You see how that worked?  The first line which gives author information reverses first and last names, while in the title area, my name is given straight on.  Also, librarians are choosey about capitalization.

Now and then I come across a name that makes me giggle. (I make no pretensions of maturity) Some are funny because, well, they could go either way. Names like Robert Michael, or Scott Jack.  Some are funny because, well, they just are.  For example, Mr. Rupert The, who would become The Rupert.  That's worth a giggle, isn't it?  My all-time favourite library name, though, comes by way of the great cellist, Yo-Yo Ma, whose name in library catalogues becomes Ma Yo-Yo.  I can hear young children arguing - "It's ma yo yo!"  "Is not, it's ma yo yo!" That delights my inner child no end.

Also at work this week, I cried three times.  Once was listening to Someone like you, by Adele. I've heard it countless times, but that day it sunk deep into my hormones and had me sniffling into a hanky. (Hanky sounds nicer than Kleenex)  A second time was looking through a book about fathers of sick children, and the third was while roughing out a post for another blog I write for. I think it's good that readers don't see the rough drafts of finished pieces. Tear splotches and coffee stains and crossed out lines would, I fear, tarnish the fantasy that writers are able to pull complete manuscripts out of the ether of their imagination.

Cooking the Pantry update.
It took me all week to finish the Hint O'Chicken Casserole. I must try to think of something interesting to do with the Asian style frozen veggie mix I seem to keep buying, though I never like them once they're cooked as they turn out limp and damp no matter how I prepare them.  Ideas greatly appreciated.

(United lost the match.  Heart is broken for Giggs.)

Have you ever podcasted?  I'm thinking of trying my hand at a podcast.

And now for the gauntlet:
To any of you writers out there, I think it would be fun to attempt a real-time writing challenge together.  We'd select a set time to meet online, we'd be given a challenge - a word or theme or style - a deadline, and then regroup after to share the results.  What say you?

01 May 2014

What to do about the PAB

I'm suffering from Post-Alphabetic-Blues.

You know, dear Reader, if you've been around here lately, that there has been much more writing going on than there has been for nigh on a year.  I wasn't sure that I'd be able to write something every day, most especially because I had to work my way along the alphabet, which seemed impossibly restrictive and bossy at the outset.  But what a rush it turned out to be!  Particularly now that it's over.  I've so enjoyed having ideas for what to write ticking over in the back of my mind all day long, and looked forward to getting home to give solid shape to those amorphous thoughts.

What to do now?

I could keep on trying to write something every day, but I'm feeling a yen (in the craving sense, not the currency sense) (though currency would work because it represents a means to obtain a wanted or needed good or service) (in this particular case the yen is a desire, and the desire could result in productivity, a greatly wanted good) Anyway. What I'm trying to say, in this annoyingly parenthetical way, is that this month of writing every day didn't have the pressure of an end objective like the NaNoWriMo write-an-entire-by-golly-novel-in-one-holy cow-month challenge. So this bite-sized approach was good.  But I also like the idea of having a finished something at the end of it all.  I'd really like to have a finished something.  The thing is... I don't know what my kind of writing thing is.

Again with the anyway.  I'm going to figure out how to channel this yen in order to counter the post-alphabet-blues.  Thoughts, comments, encouragement deeply appreciated!