Haze and howl.

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Smacked down with a jagged little head-cold. Some bits from my phone, remnants of my desultory search for spring …

A mark on a lamppost.

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A squadron of daffodils besieging the links.

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A shrubbery unconvinced by spring’s opening argument.

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Fifty-fifty-fifty and burning all your money.

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So I’m drifting on a sea of sadness and the only way I know how to get out of it is to shove this “too busy for [thing I like to do]” stupidity off the raft.

Last year I didn’t read many books or see many films, so this year I’m aiming to consume 50 of each. Throw your favourites at me in the comments.

And today I decided to add another goal onto that: I want 50 rejection letters for my writing. I’d rather get 50 acceptances, of course, but rejection means I’m submitting stories which means I’m writing stories which means I’m doing what I love. I’ll be tallying it up on my fiction page if you want to follow along.

Yesterday I finished the first draft of my story for Bloc’s show in the Edinburgh International Science Festival. As per usual, my first idea completely morphed into something else. It’s become a pattern: the first idea is the cocoon that turns into the butterfly. Or, in my case, the slipstream moth.

My Bloc pal Bram a/k/a Texture is always creating interesting, evocative stuff. He announced his new poetry video a few weeks ago but I just made the mental space to sit down and appreciate it. I was mesmerised. Tell me what you think. And please share it if you enjoy it.

Scottish Standard English, Scots, and Fifty Ways to use a Scunner

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cygnoir:

My writing group comrade and friend Andrew C. Ferguson crafted this wonderful post about Scottish Standard English. It even includes a bespoke audio clip of him reading my favourite sentence to hear in SSE. Go, read, listen!

Originally posted on andrewcferguson:

Two things inspired this, the first being a post by the brilliant cygnoir about how she enjoyed hearing Scottish Standard English being spoken every day. The second was from an almost equally prestigious source, the Times of London’s letters page. I’d love to point you at the latter, but Roop charges for Times Online, and frankly, I think getting one of his newspapers once a week is more than he deserves, of which more later.

First of all to cygnoir, who is my friend and fellow Edinburgh-based writer Halstead Bernard. In her December 18 post, she wrote:

“Today I am having a day of expat feelings, so I am going to talk about something I love about living in Scotland and something that annoys me.

I love hearing SSE (Scottish Standard English) every day. In fact, I have done tireless (read: not tireless) research to bring to you the…

View original 1,813 more words

Con de carn.

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¡Estamos en Barcelona! FunkyPlaid and I arrived last night, excited to return but also a bit disappointed. We were due to meet my father and stepmother here, but because of the storms battering the east coast of the States just now, their arrival was significantly delayed. They couldn’t get a connecting flight out of the east coast, so as I write this, they are driving a rental car to Detroit where they’ll be able to catch a flight over the Pond and arrive two days later than scheduled.

Unbelievable. But the good news is that they will land on a sunny 15ºC (60ºF) afternoon and we’ll all have a glass of wine and relax.

Relaxation has been the order of business today. We slept in this morning, and then I sat on the terrace and wrote in my journal while enjoying a piece of gluten-free brioche that we nabbed last night from the 24-hour farmacia in our neighbourhood. After we were ready to face the day, we headed out for delicious salads and patatas bravas.

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After lunch, we spent the day wandering, reorienting ourselves in the city, and unplugging from the stressors of life back home.

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There is something in my brain that quiets and focuses while I am here. I am not quite sure what that is about, but I am content to spend the rest of my life figuring it out.

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And there is, of course, the food. (Meat cones!)

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And the architecture.

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And the unexpected beauties.

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We will have a proper start to the vacation tomorrow when we pick our family up from the airport. For tonight, Happy Valentine’s Day, or happy Friday, or happy day you spend doing something you enjoy with people you love.

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Resolutions aren’t my bag.

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Hello, beautiful human, and welcome to 2014.

My 2013 was intense. I ran some more races, including my first 10K. I celebrated my birthday in Barcelona and FunkyPlaid’s birthday in Normandy. I sold a short story for actual cash money and placed another one (publications forthcoming this year). I made new friends and hosted wonderful visitors and moved house and got a job. I participated in the Edinburgh International Book Festival and helped to coordinate Edinburgh’s National Flash Fiction Day event. I floundered and flapped my way around database design, picking up some new skills on the way. I visited Orkney, and the furthest point north I have been on the globe thus far.

And Iain Banks died. The last and only conversation I had with him involved me stammering out something about train travel. Of all things? Train travel. He was gracious and articulate. And for the rest of my life I’m going to remember that, that we talked about trains in the Traverse Bar Café, and I couldn’t believe it was happening and I can’t believe it won’t ever happen again.

Toward the end of 2013 I stopped using my Fitbit activity tracker because I had stopped caring about “the quantified self”. I’m done trying to understand how to tweak my myriad failings in hopes my improved self will eventually be a person the world needs. My current focus is figuring out how to use my extant strengths to help make the world better right damned now. I would tell you that this shift resulted from some sort of therapy or epiphanic yoga retreat or magnesium supplements but it happened because I finally realised that it really doesn’t matter if I get 10,000 steps a day if I’m a self-involved troglodyte who doesn’t contribute anything positive to society.

Resolutions aren’t my bag. But I’m still alive, and I’ve got things to do, so I am going to do these things. What do you think? Shall we do some of these things together? Because I’d really like that.

Thanks for bearing with the Holidailies fits and starts this year. I lost focus as soon as FunkyPlaid’s arrival was imminent, but I was always reading. My inspiration this time around was Sharks, whose charming and thought-provoking writing I will miss desperately.

Writing from: the tree-lit lounge. Listening to: rain against the windowpanes and Zen’s zip-line snores.