Thursday, May 29, 2008

writing... rewriting...will it ever end?

Only 120 more pages to edit. Revise. Polish. Finish.

Almost there. I kinda feel like Ben running his beloved Boston marathon, just substitute words for distance...

Every millimeter of me aches, the constant concentrating fries my mind. I remind myself I’ve run this fucking hill a million times, it’s not steep so much as persistent, a half-mile of steady incline. I breathe - in, out, in, out - four paces for each inhale, cresting Heartbreak Hill in a spurt of unadulterated adrenalin...

The noise recedes, faces blur, fears dogging me the past twenty-plus miles meld into cloudy static. My knees kick up, everything turns off in my head, my breath the only sound, my pounding feet all I see and feel. At last, I break through to pure white, switch to autopilot, and burst past pain, frustration, all the anxiety. An almost holy peace transcends; at last, my oblivion of euphoria.

June 2 looms. The End. I suspect my elation will be tinged with sadness as this stint of the journey ends for BRIGHTER THAN BRIGHT.

Peace, Linda

Thursday, May 22, 2008


<===Cool ribbon, huh?

Robert Brewer, intrepid leader of POETIC ASIDES and last month's daily poetry challenge in honor of National Poetry Writing Month, handed out awards yesterday for those of us taking up the gauntlet.

Anyhoo, about 100 of us wrote a daily poem, which was no easy feat. I was pleased just to be able to push the submit button every night. This year's NaPoWriMo Laureate award goes to Sarah Doyle, who penned some of my favoritest verse throughout the month.

I LOVED this challenge, appreciated the way it made me think and remember in response to the prompt du jour, the way it pushed me to think about word choice and meter. And although most of my poems were rough hewn, a few were featured in his daily highlights (and he's still rolling them out). Best of all, I have 30-plus poems to work on during the year.

That said, I'm glad it's over. April was a demanding month - prepping for GRUB STREET, the April-a-day-poetry-prompt, winding up the most arduous part of a writing class. Time to focus on final, final edits on BRIGHTER THAN BRIGHT.

Eight more days... over and out. Peace, Linda

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Pomp, Circumstance, and All that Jazz...

Been quiet, mostly due to all the festivities surrounding end-of-the-year exams and papers and dissertation defenses, all culminating in the graduation of 160 or so pharmacy students and a handful of doctoral students from my department. Clearing the decks for a new batch of kids to arrive in August.

I love graduation. There's something about Pomp and Circumstance that makes me tear up, more than any old wedding march does. But, having lived and breathed academe all my adult life (other than a wee stint in the pharmaceutical industry and part-time evening work as a hospital pharmacist), I guess my weepiness is a natural reaction. For the ivory tower is one of my 'homes', a place I feel comfortable being, though not necessarily comfortable with.

As you shall see in the coming couple of years...

There's a lot I want to blog on, lot's happening in the mental health world, like the recent hooplah over the link between depression and pot, and which comes first, the sadness or the smoking. And cool stuff happening in the science of substance abuse. But all that will have to wait for a few weeks.

This post, I'm going to play the self-indulgent momma. Both my children have, in their own ways, been knocking down little and large obstacles. The other evening, my son overcame his nerves and finally entered the skateboard park where the big guys hang. It was thrilling to watch him, almost nine years old, figure out the park on his own, watch him try ramps and bars cautiously, then conquer them.

And my almost six-year-old daughter has had a series of firsts: first book read (One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish), first tooth lost, and first song composition:

By the river
of the stream
down went a fish
with love and hope.

--This post interrupted by said daughter, who is SUPPOSED to be asleep, but who ran from her room, jumping with glee because she JUST finished reading Green Eggs and Ham-- by herself --

So things are good. Very good...

THE WRITING... I'll likely be quieter than usual because I'm on a self-imposed deadline to get BRIGHTER THAN BRIGHT completely off my desk and hopefully onto someone else's. Several small presses have reading periods, and I aim to get those queries in the mail over the next two weeks. AND... drum roll, please... complete the final pass on this blasted novel by May 31. I'm exactly half-way through and I am, thus far, pleased. It's my favorite kind of editing - the prose elevation stuff, the seeking of a more precise and elegant word.

Which means something new starting June 1.

Hmmm... wonder what????? Stay tuned...

Peace, Linda

PS. Another poem, my fifth, featured at Poetic Asides (MEMORY FORSAKEN; the prompt - a memory you cannot remember)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Eh, I'm back... again...

This time, back from Toronto.

What a FABULOUS city! So clean, so green, so safe, and so many great restaurants!

No writing conference this time. Nope. The day job beckoned, so I convened with about 2,000 other druggie types to share the latest in pharmaceutical economic and outcomes research. 'tis what I do to keep me in boxes of paper and toner. Though, to be frank, I kind of groove on my day job: it's fun. Never a dull moment. No matter how carefully I plan each workday, I am assured upon arriving that it will be a day rife with surprises - some good, some not-so-good - that will prevent me from becoming a dull professor.

Plus, the fodder for my writing... yes, so, so, so much... I have almost an entire 80 page, college-ruled notebook FULL of anecdotes for novel 2 (which, per my Prior Post, will most likely be novel 1).

Anyway, back to Toronto...

I presented my research, sponsored by a drug company (gasp!), on patterns of antipsychotic use according to how likely said antipsychotic contributes to metabolic side effects such as weight gain, lipid problems, and diabetes. These are huge adverse effects of many antipsychotics, and lead to non-compliance by many patients. After all, who wants to gain 20 pounds just by popping a pill every day for a year? But the clinical outcomes of non-compliance - hospitalization, emergency department visits, mortality - are significantly worse. Indeed, severely mentally ill individuals die 30 years younger - on average - than their non-psychiatrically ill counterparts.

Medications are important.

Unfortunately, many health plans make formulary decisions based on economic considerations (i.e., how good a deal they can get by making Risperdal the preferred antipsychotic for the members over the other four contenders) rather than considering the subtle - and not so subtle - differences of each antipsychotic, thereby allowing for latitude in choice.

Anyway, I won a nice big green ribbon for my poster presentation. Which made my sponsor happy. And me, too.

And speaking of poundage... I ate very well in this city. It's hard not to dine superbly in any cosmopolitan city, and hanging around with the industry elite (remember, I am but an academic) generally makes for nice meals out.

One night, a colleague and I made our way afar from the maddening conference crowd to a small joint called CAVA, named for the sparkling wine of Spain. The best meal I've had in years: crostino with rapini and manchego, cider-glazed sable fish with black rice and escarole, fennel salad with orange and pistachio, grilled octopus with a hazelnut romescue, rhubarb clafouti with a strawberry yogurt ice. And wine, of course: a white rioja and an excellent tempranillo.

The following evening, off to VERTICAL. Well. I went to gastronomic heaven. Opened with a ricotta gnudi served with fava beans. So light, so airy, these little dumplings, in their sweet cream butter sauce. Oh my. A salad of dandelion, pistachio, and terrine of golden beet. Oh Goddess... then, sea breem (there is a fancy word for this fish, but I do not remember) served en papillotte with ramps, kale, and other spring vegetables. Amazingly aromatic, and truly delicious. The grand finale was a pine nut torte with honey, served with complimentary moscato asti. Yes. Yes. I will remember these meals for a long, long time...

Writing? Eh? I edited about 80 pages of Brighter than Bright on the turbo-prop flights and early morning, but otherwise, it was pharmaceutical shop, lots of glad-handing, seeing my current and past graduate students, and creating new research ideas. Oh, and eating.

Peace, Linda