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Danny Adams

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Writing Resumes [Mar. 8th, 2022|08:00 pm]
Danny Adams
[Tags|, ]
[Current Mood |Limbo]
[Current Music |"Stand By Me," ala John Lennon]

Wow, Live Journal, I'd pretty much forgotten that you're owned by a Russian firm until I started getting slammed today with suggestions of entries by pro-Putin apologists who think the Ukraine War was Absolutely Necessary because there are little children giving Nazi salutes and Ukraine didn't let Donbas go off on its own peacefully the way Russia did with...Chechnya, I guess?

I also noticed that nearly all of your "Top LJ Entries" at the point when I logged in a few moments ago were several years old.

* * *

In happier news closer to home, the writing computer I'd been using while staying with Mom died, albeit not without giving me signs for several days that the hard drive was about to expire. That's not the happy news; the happy news is that the literal day after this happened, an old friend of mine sent me a message asking me if I needed a new computer. It turns out that her father has a hobby of restoring old computers, and had some he wanted to get out of his basement. How much? I asked. Nothing, she told me - he just wanted them out of his basement. :)

So I paid them a visit over the weekend, including dinner and many lovins of their dog Sunny Ann, and took home an HP desktop (desktop being my preference), a monitor, and a Chromebook for good measure. None of them, they warned me, were close to new - but then again the computer I had been using was from 2008 or something like that, and my Writing Computer at home is rather older than that. When I mentioned this to my friend's Dad he said, "These aren't that old."

It turns out that the desktop doesn't have working wireless access (after just getting the wireless restored at Mom's house not long before) - which I'm sure is a simple fix, but I quickly decided I wasn't really interested in fixing it. I get more writing done that way.

(Admittedly I haven't gotten a whole lot of writing done since then, but that doesn't have anything to do with the computer. Other things keep shoving in on the one day a week I have to write lately. But I'm optimistic about being able to carve out some more writing time this weekend.)

Anyway, more later, hopefully sooner than another few weeks.
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Going Their Separate Ways [Jan. 20th, 2022|07:24 pm]
Danny Adams
[Tags|, , ]
[Current Mood |thoughtfulthoughtful]
[Current Music |"Nine Times Blue" by Michael Nesmith]

No dark and dire reason for this, but (apart from a few items specified in my will) I just started making up my first-ever list of who gets first crack at various subjects and authors among my books when I die.

Mainly I just figured it was a good idea. It's a fairly substantial collection, so there's no reason to make the posthumous dismemberment of my library more difficult than it has to be on top of everything else those dealing with my affairs would be dealing with. And this way I at least get some say in trying to direct certain books and collections within the collection towards people I think would most appreciate them.
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Accountable Delay [Jan. 9th, 2022|04:20 pm]
Danny Adams
[Tags|, , ]
[Current Mood |frustratedfrustrated]
[Current Music |"Downtown," by Petula Clark]

Back here to post again after a few weeks. The delay really was just prosaic - the home Internet connection had been out for quite awhile, which meant that in practice I could only post entries at work while I was off the clock. (Technically I could post from my phone, but non-physical keyboards and I don't get along all that well. That's the one thing I miss about my old slider phone.)

At any rate, the issue was just a simple router problem that was fixed within a few minutes once somebody was able to look at it. So here's hoping I won't go three weeks without posting anything again.

I wish I could say otherwise, but I didn't get a whole lot of writing done over my Christmas break either. 3200 words in total, which is still 3200 words and a lot of grief better than nothing at all, though ironically it was less than I typically get done during a work week. That said, part of this was because I also wanted to catch up on my pleasure reading. I wouldn't say that I "caught up", exactly, but I did get a lot more done of that than usual. I've got several books underway, more than I've put up on Goodreads, which I'm bouncing back and forth between on those usual days when reading time is sparse.

I also got a lot of family time in during my holiday, which was very nice - and my 22-year-old niece is now engaged as of two days before Christmas. :) On a simultaneously sad and positive note, my nephew, who started college this past semester, moved out with the help of his mother (my sister), his brother, and me on New Year's Eve. It's a great school overall but just not, it seems, for him. While I was sorry to see him move out, there's a good chance he'll be much happier wherever he chooses to go to next, and it was nice to be able to spend the better part of a day with him.

(Or really, any of the kids these days when they're all mobile and definitely have lives of their own, as the saying goes.)

One of those Christmas Break days was spent putting a new tire on the Antimatter Van (planned, unlike the last time I replaced a tire). I was told it would be a 3-4 hour wait and I'd just told my sister a day or two before that I missed walking around downtown Roanoke, so that's what I did. Alas, the museums were closed, but otherwise I enjoyed it immensely, remembering with every block why I enjoy it immensely.

One thing I also did, which was less enjoyable but felt necessary, was to walk as far as the now-abandoned Roanoke Times building. Like many other American regional newspapers, it's falling victim to cutbacks regardless of profitability. The newspaper had stood on that spot since the late 19th century, and my father worked there for 49 years, from paperboy to copy and layout editor, with being a reporter, feature writer, and other sorts of editor in between. It's one of those things where despite logic, I had to see it for myself to really believe the paper would no longer be on that spot, in that 100-year-old building. It's moved to a smaller building, still in downtown; the original location is set to become city offices.

The "frustrated" in my mood is simply because there's so much I want to be doing and so little time through the recent past and for the foreseeable future to get anywhere close to all of it done. As I've mentioned here before, 2020 spoiled me: I had a 3-month furlough during which money was not a worry, then at Thanksgiving and Christmas through early January I had a 6-week paid vacation due to still having a ton of earlier vacation time at the point when my furlough kicked in. I got all kinds of things done, especially writing and reading and gardening, and I really do miss that. (Particularly as retirement still seems like a distant and unobtainable goal.)

The stereotypical midlife crisis is to buy a sports car, or have an affair, or whatever. I never would've guessed that my midlife crisis would be to want to pack up all my pets and books and run off to an island in the middle of the South Pacific so I could spend all my days reading, writing, and snuggling with cats!
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The One On The Right Was On The Left And The One On The Left Was On The Right [Dec. 8th, 2021|03:22 pm]
Danny Adams
[Tags|, , ]
[Current Location |Not a fast food restaurant]
[Current Mood |grumpygrumpy]
[Current Music |The Doc Martin Theme]

In our latest episode of "People talking to Danny while he's trying to work on a book at a local fast food restaurant":

Saturday before last I'm minding my own business working on the WIP when an older lady approaches me and starts asking me about the book. Immediately, of course, being in a fast food restaurant I suddenly worry she's going to ask me to write her memoir, since that's the way this flowchart usually goes. Not this time, though - instead she engaged in a bit of virtue signalling and told me, "I let you go ahead of me in line because men go first. That's what God says."

(Now bear in mind I didn't even realize she'd let me go ahead of her in line. I hadn't even seen her before she came up to my table. As far as I knew there wasn't anyone else in that part of the restaurant when I got in line.)

As she says this it occurs to me that I've met this woman before, or at least someone like her who said that, though it had been years. Typically what I did then was to just nod and say thank you. But this particular day I'd spent most of the day clearing gutters and doing yard work, I ached all over, I just wanted to work on my book, and I was feeling grumpy. So I asked her, "Where does God say that?"

She told me, "In Genesis God created men first, so men go first."

I answered, "But in Genesis God created animals before men. Does that mean animals go before people?"

"That's not what that means," she grumbled in a very non-submissive way, and stormed off. I wonder if I spoiled her night.

At any rate, if I encounter her again, I think next time I may quote Matthew 20:16 to her - "The last will be first, and the first last" - and offer to let her go ahead of me.
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November Tally [Dec. 6th, 2021|02:49 pm]
Danny Adams
[Tags|, ]
[Current Mood |hopefulhopeful]
[Current Music |Scott Joplin]

Non-NaNoWriMo total word count: 20,550.

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Altering The Checklist [Nov. 18th, 2021|11:01 pm]
Danny Adams
[Tags|, , ]
[Current Mood |gratefulgrateful]
[Current Music |"Hooray for Captain Spaulding" by Groucho Marx]

Since my last couple of entries were rather depressing (and friends-locked), I thought I should knock out at least one entry in the meantime that's more upbeat (and public). So here goes.

If any of you read my Facebook, you may have seen that a few weeks ago, I overheard a group of students at the college I work for debating each other whether your life is "pretty much over" by age 40 or age 45. I'm not sure how they came up with those numbers - maybe the 40s are scarier to college kids nowadays than they were to me?

At any rate, after being amused by this for awhile, I started thinking about how some people (including me at one time, and still a little bit to this day) have gotten suckered by the trap of wanting to do certain things in their lives by certain ages. While this still clings a bit to the back of my mind, overall I was lucky enough to be able to break out of it and realize that there is no deadline on the things you want to do, that you love doing. But I have seen others who couldn't let go of this idea, and it became insidious and destructive. They became convinced that since they hadn't done X by age Y, that it was never going to happen.

So they gave up.

And thus, of course, it never happened for them.

I'm still frustrated that there are things I wanted to do with / wanted to happen in my life that haven't happened yet, but this is no longer a function of the calendar; I simply am frustrated that they haven't. (But wait, Danny, didn't you say this was supposed to be a more upbeat entry? Why yes I did, Danny, thank you for reminding me.) That said, earlier today I was making a mental checklist of the things I wanted to do with my life that I have done, and just for fun, decided to compare the ages I originally wanted to have them done by versus when they actually happened.

That age comparison, by the way, was just for a little wry fun - especially when I past the eldest age marking the essential end of life. The list of Have Dones was the point, and the gratitude.

So we're off with the Biggies . . .

Numbers are: Age Imagined / Age It Became Reality

Graduate from my college of choice: 22-24 / 27

Publish my first novel: 20s / 36

Publish a collaborative novel with my uncle and writing inspiration, Phil Farmer: 20s / 36

Write my dream historical novel / series about the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia: 20s / 37-40

Publish in one of my longtime favorite F/SF magazines: Late 20s / 38

Write my dream historical novel / series about Arizona: 20s to 30s / 40-43

Make it back on a trip to Arizona: 20s to early 30s / 41

Have a house on a mountainside by or within a forest: 30s / 43

Lifelong-dreamed-of trip to Europe: 20s to early 30s / 44

------------------------------LIFE ESSENTIALLY OVER-------------------------------------

Lifelong-dreamed-of trip to St. Augustine, Florida: 20s or early 30s / 45

* * *

Wow, look at all that stuff in my 40s. That's not half-bad for being Might As Well Be Dead.

So yeah, there are things I haven't yet accomplished that I want to, like publishing my historical series. But I look back over this list fully aware that I certainly have nothing to complain about - and knowing that if I'd been stuck in the mire of thinking "If I can't do it by Y age it'll never happen", then my entire list above would have been completely wiped out, all those happy events sent to oblivion.

So listen to the old man, kids. Stop thinking in terms of numbers, and start thinking in terms of being determined to do what you want to do no matter what.
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So In The Meantime, Part 2 . . . [Oct. 11th, 2021|10:00 pm]
Danny Adams
[Tags|, , ]
[Current Music |"The Boxer" by Simon and Garfunkel]

(The continuation of what I've been up to since my previously last - April 2016 - entry on Live Journal.)

FEBRUARY 2020: By now Laurie and I are keeping an eye on Covid, which we're assuming has hit the United States even though there seems to be dispute about that - and, now famously, government officials, politicians, and pundits who have already started downplaying it. By the end of the month, when we hear the news about Lombardy being locked down, we take stock of what we would need if we end up getting locked down for (we optimistically believed) 6 to 8 weeks, and fill in the gaps of what we realize is missing. There's not that much missing; we live in a rural area and tend to keep a lot of stuff on hand anyway. But the gaps could have proven disastrous if we'd had to do without them for a long while.

This month I also went to see 1917 in the little local theater, which unbeknownst to me was the last movie I'd see in a theater until August 2021.

MARCH 2020: The pandemic heated up. Again unbeknownst to me, I ate inside a restaurant - the Bojangles in Rocky Mount, Virginia - for the last time till the Summer of 2021. The college I work for went virtual and into lockdown. All of my coworkers at the library became virtual workers, but I kept coming to the building every day. I had no way of working from home - no Internet connection, and I didn't yet have a Smartphone - so I became the one to take care of whatever the building itself and the things within needed, right down to watering the plants, while doing my job from within. I was also hearing bits and pieces of worry about the college's financial state from various people; we'd been having financial challenges already, and this vastly increased the pressure.

MAY 2020: Close to the middle of the month I got a phone call from the college that I'd been half-expecting: I was being furloughed till the beginning of August (which became the middle of August). I was extremely concerned about this at first, but after a few days that tapered off - I was able to get unemployment for the duration, which was life-saving, and in the meantime, especially with Laurie's counsel, I recognized this as an opportunity to make metaphorical lemonade. The main concern ultimately would become worry that I wouldn't have a job when August came around, which is to say, that the college might have to close its doors.

I did a Movie Night with my sister and her kids, aware that due to the pandemic, I wasn't sure when I'd see them all in person again. Ironically, the movie I brought was 1917.

JUNE - AUGUST 2020: The Furlough. This deserves, and will get, it's own entry. But I did everything I could to maximize all those open days. I did a lot of writing - adding 40,000 words to the college history book. I did a lot of reading, two or three books a week, including (what I thought appropriately at the time) John Scalzi's Collapsing Empire trilogy. I started gardening again, and discovered that as I'd hoped, my previous failures at gardening came not from me being a bad gardener, but not putting enough time and effort into it.

In the meantime, the unemployment was, ironically, paying me much more than I made by working, so I was able to save a fair bit of it in case there wasn't a job waiting for me at summer's end.

My only regret about the furlough overall was that Tucker, Hayes, and Nate weren't also there to spend the summer with me. However, at night I would grab dinner at Dairy Queen, go down to campus with a Chromebook - since I could get online while on campus - and use the computer while spending those evening hours with Elgie, the library cat I started feeding not long before my previously last entry in Live Journal.

JULY 2020: My Furlough days at home came to an abrupt end on the last day of July not from getting called back, but from Mom needing to go into the hospital. She's originally gone due to low sodium levels, but while there she stumbled and fell after being told she was told to go to a room in the ER waiting for her, but without a nurse helping her despite Mom being a fall risk. So while she spent the next week in the hospital - and then the following month doing physical therapy in a nursing home - I stayed at Mom's house, about 40 miles from my house, to house-sit and pet-sit. This was odd but also strangely nice as she still lived (lives) in the house my sister and I grew up in.

Little did I know, however, how long that stay would extend. In fact, Mom's stay in the hospital and nursing home drove home to me just how many medical issues she was having. Long story short, in an ongoing effort to keep her out of assisted living or even a nursing home, I'm still living with her more than a year later. My commute has gone from a third of a mile to 40 miles one way. As anyone who knows me well will learn to no surprise at all, the room I'm sleeping in (formerly my Dad's room, not my old one - my old one is where I do my writing these days) is now filled with books. Two full shelves, and a large number of stacks on the floor.

AUGUST 2020: I went back to work, in person. Things were not exactly back to normal - we wore masks, we had virtual classes, and the campus seemed deserted more often than not. But...again, we were back to work in person, which felt like a different world than the spring.

OCTOBER 2020: I turned 50 with some trepidation. The day was beautifully warm and sunny, so I spent a few hours sitting and reading at my favorite place, the stretch of the Roanoke River where it crosses beneath the Blue Ridge Parkway. Specifically I sat on a rock in the middle of the river reading Philip Jose Farmer's recently published eco-catastrophe novel Up from the Bottomless Pit. By the time I got back to Mom's house my sister had already been there for awhile preparing the place for my arrival in the form of black balloons hanging across the porch entrance, and more draped across the stairway railing and doorways, all wishing me a happy 50th birthday!

The balloons and well wishes are still on the railing, awaiting her 50th birthday this December.

NOVEMBER 2020: Our little dog Weezie had been slowly going downhill for a long while, though Laurie made huge efforts during that time to make life better and longer for her. I was only barely home, usually in jaunts of just a few minutes at the end of my commute and just before heading into work, but I always tried to see Weezie when I could. She'd always liked to go outside with me, stroll sentry around the yard while I watched, and then crawl into my lap when she was done, and for awhile she still did this during my too-short visits. When she quit patrolling the yard and crawling into my lap, wanting to just go back inside after she was done going to the bathroom, I knew she wasn't going to be with us much longer. Weezie was always a scrappy fighter - her previous owners abandoned her in a pen when they moved away, and she first got Laurie's notice from the story that Weezie bit the animal control officer who first handled her - but finally her fight ran out. We had to euthanize her, our last dog, on the last day of November.

NOVEMBER 2020 - JANUARY 2021: With the vacation I had banked before my furlough, which rolled over since I couldn't take it during my furlough, and with Christmas Break falling in this time, I actually would up having six straight paid weeks off from work, from before Thanksgiving to early January. As hard and as frustrating as Mom's health issues were making life for her, it was nice to be able to spend that much time with her, without having to leave most every day for work.

DECEMBER 2020: We may not have had our normal annual summer vacation, but the family did get together for Christmas, and I did my normal thing that I'd been doing since my brother-in-law passed away in 2007: I stayed with them Christmas Eve, to be up with them on Christmas morning (despite them all being aged late teens to 21 by this point), and for a few days afterward. For awhile all seemed well with the world, and peaceful, and normal.

MARCH 2021: With everything else going on, I'd been struggling to keep up with my work doing book reviews for Publishers Weekly. I'd thought about this for a long while, but finally decided to give it up when I had to rush through reading three out of my last four books, and only barely making my deadlines in time. I regretfully sent my note to my editor, Phoebe Cramer, telling her the situation and saying in detail that this had nothing to do with PW or anyone there, and that I'd talked to some people who might become my replacement. She thanked me for all of that, and helping smooth her transition to the editor's job the year before, and told me I was welcome to come back if I was ever in a position to do so.

I thought that despite everything else going on, maybe I'd have some more time to pleasure read now. Then . . .

MAY 2021: At the beginning of the month I had something you'd think would've happened by then, but never did: I dreamed the outline of a novel. I mean the entire outline, beginning to end. That fascinated me, and the book it was outlining fascinated me...but in spite of myself. Because the book was a spinoff from a famous novel now in the public domain that I'd always been ambivalent about at best. And more to the point, it was about the antagonist of said famous novel, whom I'd always hated, as the author intended. And what business, I thought, did I have starting a novel while I was still working on the college history?

Yet the dream's spin on the character had seized hold of me, and over the next few weeks I only grew more intrigued as my brain kept filling in details of the story that the original outline hadn't provided. And honestly, I needed a mental health break. This was one thing that was wholly mine, which it seemed like nothing else (including the college history by that point) was. I needed something fun and frivolous yet creative. Finally, especially with the prompting of author friends, I began writing the novel on the last day of the month.

I typically max out at spending about 4 hours per week writing the novel, but thanks to having the bulk of the book handed to me all in one go the writing is going quickly, and as I type this it stands at 96,350 words. Before trimming, the first draft will undoubtedly hit the 140-150,000 word range by the time it's finished. The college history, untrimmed thus far, stands around 150,000 words. With a few interviews still left to go.

***

I may add a part 3 to this, but there really isn't much to add.

I'm still living with Mom and getting home only in occasional snatches, but reminding myself that someday I'll look back happily on being able to spend so much time with her. I'm still commuting 80 miles per day. I'm still working on both the novel and the college history. I only did a little bit of hiking this summer, even though I wound up having 3 weeks off work total across the summer. An old friend I met years ago on Live Journal returned to the area after spending many of those years out west. Another old friend is coming to visit me from out west over this coming weekend, my birthday weekend.

In August I went to see a movie in a theater again, with friends. In September I helped my nephew Evan, the youngest of my sister's kids and the last of them to head off to college, move to school - specifically Hampden-Sydney.

The stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway containing my favorite section of the Roanoke River is closed till next spring due to the bridge being repaired and rebuilt, so visiting that stretch again anytime soon is out. I'm still eating too much fried chicken but am doing a lot better with not having too much ice cream.

I'm getting a little bit of pleasure reading done. I need to get a lot more exercise. I need to be spending more time outside, especially in the woods around my house, which I've almost wholly been away from since staying with Mom.

And I'm still seriously considering resuming my regular posts here on Live Journal and Dreamwidth.
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So In The Meantime, Part 1 . . . [Oct. 10th, 2021|09:10 pm]
Danny Adams
[Tags|, , ]
[Current Music |The James Bond Theme]

Here's a semi-brief rundown of highlights and lowlights in my life since my April 2016 post here on LJ, mainly just as they occur to me. All of these were things I would've written about here on LJ if, you know, I'd still been writing on LJ.

JUNE 2016: I made a lifelong-dreamed-of trip to St. Augustine, Florida. This was my grandparents' favorite beach, and they'd told me for nearly as long as I could remember how much I'd love its combination of ocean and history. They were absolutely right. My parents rented a house on the beach on Anastasia Island, which they shared with my sister, her kids, and me for a glorious few days. This was also the last big family vacation we took before my Mom's COPD and other issues worsened - that fall - to the point where she could no longer make long trips.

I also started keeping an Amy Siskind-like daily news log I jokingly titled Chronicle of the Pre-Apocalypse Age. This became incredibly helpful in a time when the news cycle started measuring itself in hours rather than days or longer; I could look at entries from just 2 weeks before and realized I'd already forgotten everything posted then. Though admittedly the title has become less and less funny as time has worn on.

JULY 2016: My trip to FarmerCon in Columbus, Ohio to sign and promote my latest (and still most recent) novel, Dayworld: A Hole in Wednesday. The book was a Dayworld prequel started but never finished by science fiction master Philip Jose Farmer (also my great uncle), and which I finished through late 2015.

AUGUST 2016: A one-day visit from one of my oldest friends but who was living in California, and who I hadn't seen in ten years or so by that point, rekindled my long buried interest in spirituality and metaphysics. That ended a long dry spell in that deep interest of mine that had been damaging in ways I hadn't realized until said spell ended.

MARCH 2017: The passing of my much-beloved Aunt Isabel, Isabel Carmen Riley Briggs, at the age of 89. She was mischievous, forthright (to say the least), fun-loving, and a font of family history. She was the last member of my family anywhere nearby who was close to my grandparents' generation.

JULY 2017: My Maine Coon cat Nate the Fae Cat (so named because she saw many things we mere humans did not), aka Nate the Puddin Cat (because she was made of puddin), passed away at the age of 12. She and her twin sister Hayes the Baby Cat were my wife Laurie's and my first foster animals, and our first foster failures, after Laurie found them in a corn field when they were about 6 weeks old. Nate, among many other talents, had an uncanny ability to know when I was going to sit down before I did, and would be climbing into my lap before I was finished sitting. She was our first pet in 9 years to die. Her sister Hayes never got over losing Nate, and was lonely for the rest of her own life. (We have other animals, but she was never close to them - and some of them had been mean to her from early on.)

AUGUST 2017: I helped move my niece Alex to college, specifically Montreat in North Carolina. Alex was the first of the kids in the family to head off to college. I loved Montreat but alas, only made it back a handful of times.

AUGUST 2018: Through a somewhat convoluted process that I won't go into except to say it boiled down to thinking to myself, "Someone should write this book", then thinking "Why don't I write this book?", I began plotting out a new history book of the college I work for. Writing would be underway by October. The month after that I presented the idea to the college president, though with a great deal too much optimism said that I expected to finish the book in six months - because that's typically how long it takes me to write a novel. I didn't take into account how much longer I take with non-fiction (it could take me hours just to write a 200-word book review for Publishers Weekly), not to mention numerous other circumstances that would hit me starting in 2019, some of which I'll post here.

JANUARY 2019: Having realized that I wanted to do interviews for my college history book too, I did my first formal interview with Miss Faye Wood. She was an alumnus, class of '52, who came back to work for the college in 1956 and retired in the 1990s. During that time she served as both administrator and professor. I interviewed her for about 2 hours.

APRIL 2019: My father, Robert Douglas Adams, died of heart trouble at the age of 78, and just a few weeks shy of my parents' 55th wedding anniversary. Dad and I had a rocky relationship through most of my life - we hadn't even gotten along all that well until I moved out of the house - but his passing left me feeling strangely unmoored. At least I'd seen him shortly before he died - the night before he went into the hospital for the last time - and we parted on a good note. The lion's share of my vacation time for the rest of that year, including a week in June, another in July, and another around Christmas, was spent with Mom.

JULY 2019: My parents, sister, her kids, and I had taken an annual trip to Pipestem State Park every year since 2008, except for our 2016 trip to St. Augustine. This month, unbeknownst to us, would be our last trip to Pipestem thus far: Covid meant skipping it in 2020 and '21. I usually shared a room at Pipestem's lodge with my nephews; this trip I stayed with Mom.

AUGUST 2019: We lost Hayes the Baby Cat. She passed away in my car on the way to the vet to be euthanized, while I was singing the lullaby version of "You Are My Sunshine" to her.

OCTOBER 2019: After having him as my walking, hiking, reading, TV and all-around otherwise companion since October 2006, we had to euthanize our dog Tucker, who every year won prizes for Best of Dogs and Best of Hiking Buddies. On my birthday, sadly. Our walks and hikes had become almost daily routines no matter the weather, and he loved going in the woods more than anything. We always believed he lived as long as he did partly because he looked forward to going into the woods so much. I still remember the day in January 2019 when he walked to the edge of the woods, stared into them for a few moments, then looked back at me, and turned around and walked away from them, never to go into the woods again. I knew from that point on that Tucker wouldn't be with us much longer.

DECEMBER 2019: I went to see Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker with friends and family at the Salem Valley 8 in Salem, Virginia, the theater where I saw the original Star Wars back in 1977. This would be the last time I'd be with anyone else in a theater for a long time, and at this writing I still haven't been back to a theater with a large group like this one was.

JANUARY 2020: I first heard of a mysterious disease burning its way through China that some people were speculating might have already found its way to the United States.

(To Be Continued)
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Places I Miss [Oct. 10th, 2021|04:42 pm]
Danny Adams
[Tags|, , ]
[Current Music |"I'll Be Seeing You" by Billie Holiday]

Wow, look at me here on Live Journal again after 5 1/2 years.

At the moment, it links to a years-dead homepage, my "Forthcoming Publications" list on my bio page is from 2014, and my profile pic is from 2007. The novel mentioned in said list has come and gone (when the publisher went under), and that thirty-something guy in the picture - working on another novel then, as it happened - certainly often feels like he's long since come and gone.

My being back here, honestly, doesn't have anything to do with the latest Facebook debacle (though it didn't hurt either). I'm here because I was thinking of posting an entry over on FB that was the sort of thing I used to post here on LJ - just a "list" entry mostly to myself. But it's much easier to go back years later and look at old posts on Live Journal than it is on Facebook, so I decided to come back here and post it.

(And that whole thing about "Live Journal is owned by Russians"? Well, yeah, I know. But at the same time Facebook sells data to China and, apparently, any high bidders; TikTok is owned by a Chinese company deep in with Chinese intelligence - though really, there aren't many Chinese companies not in deep with Chinese intelligence - and so on.)

The idea was just a short visit, or a one-shot. But it occurs to me now that I'm here again that Live Journal is like a secret club these days. I and so many other people have been away for so long that I could post anything here that I want, and practically nobody would see it. I actually rather like the thought of that. Heck, I'm guessing most of the people I'm friends with on Facebook don't even realize I ever had a Live Journal account.

I'll write a catch-up post later (maybe even later today). In the meantime, here is the personal mostly-for-me content I came for:

***

PLACES I MISS

I was feeling nostalgic these last few days for favorite places that are gone, or been seriously altered, and will never come back. This is a chronologically comprehensive list: some of these places vanished just this year, while others have been gone for nearly four decades.

Many of them are places I wish I could've taken the kids in my family when they came around. (Though happily, in some cases the places did stick around long enough for the kids to go to.)

These are all going to be businesses. I thought about including family homes that are now out of the family, or those family members have passed away, but that seems like it deserves its own post someday.


BORDERS BOOKS AND MUSIC (specifically the locations in Northern VA)
I loved Borders from the first time I saw one (in Sterling, VA) in 1996. It drew me in immediately by selling more niche books that I didn't find in bookstores anywhere else, like volumes from the Loeb Classical Library. I even worked at one once: The Frederick, Maryland location, from October 1999 to April 2000.

THE CAVERN (Roanoke College, Salem, VA)
The Cavern, the campus snack bar, is technically still there, though much altered. Arguably it's nicer than the one I remember, which was kind of dark (like, you know, a cavern), had old-fashioned wood paneling, was mostly snacky stuff like hot dogs, and included pool tables, an arcade (with pinballs even in the 1990s!), and so on. The new one is bright and airy, has an outdoor patio, more types of food, and so on. But it's not cozy anymore. YMMV.

COUNTRY COOKIN (various locations around Southwest VA)
Less the restaurant itself than the fact that it was a favorite place for my parents to take the family too, especially once they had grandkids. It was also a favorite of my Grandma Adams.

DUFF'S SMORGASBORD (Roanoke, VA)
Probably more nostalgic than anything else, but it was tasty. It was the first buffet I ever went to, and the first place where I had get-it-yourself soft-serve ice cream.

FOSTER'S COUNTRY STORE (Rocky Mount, VA)
Just a little country store near the highway exit to Rocky Mount, but it had all kinds of tasty stuff, including my favorite barbecue corn chips. They also sold various types of apples I like that don't show up in grocery stores, such as Stamens and Winesaps.

THE FRENCH QUARTER (Tanglewood Mall, Roanoke, VA)
A section of the mall that was made to look like a winding cobblestone street in New Orleans' French Quarter, complete with historic-looking shopfronts, streetlamps, and tiny lights scattered around the black ceiling to give the appearance of stars. Cheesy, I know, but a lot of fun and actually kind of cool. The whole thing was gutted to make room for a big box store.

GIVENS BOOKS (Salem, VA)
A used bookstore I patronized from 1984 until 2016; it closed in 2017. You could go in at any point during those decades and it looked pretty much the same throughout. Some of the books on the shelves in the 2010s had been there in the 1980s. And the prices never changed either.

HILLS (Roanoke, VA)
A department store of the classic sort, and dating from pre-mall days. They had an extensive toy section (very important when I was a kid), and in the "foyer" between the doors and the main store they sold giant pretzels that melted in your mouth and were filled with giant salt crystals that seemed to be nearly as big as your fingernails.

THE HOMEPLACE RESTAURANT (Catawba, VA)
An awesome bring-it-to-your-table country buffet that opened in the early 1980s in an early 20th century farmhouse tucked within the gorgeous rural Catawba Valley. While waiting you could sit on porch swings or hang out at the fence visiting the cows on the farm next door. It was a popular stop after getting off the Appalachian Trail nearby, which I did nearly every time I did any AT hiking; it was also a favorite place for my parents to treat the family after they had grandkids.

K&W CAFETERIA (Roanoke and Salem, VA)
Another restaurant I mainly miss for the sentimental value: It was a favorite of my grandfather's. My mother and I last ate at one just weeks before it closed.

LAKESIDE AMUSEMENT PARK (Salem, VA)
An awesome little amusement park that opened in the 1920s and ran till 1986. Not only did it have a roller coaster and other rides, it had a music hall that somehow managed to attract all the top talents of the time, particularly among country stars.

LAKEVIEW MUSEUM OF ARTS AND SCIENCES (Peoria, IL)
This is an example of something where I know that what replaced it - in this case the Peoria Riverfront Museum - is far superior to the original. But there was just something intimate about the original museum. And I'll admit that I loved the fact that it included a used bookstore. And was next door to the public library.

MAC'S SNACK BAR (Moneta, VA)
Just a cute little greasy spoon that was only a few blocks from the Waterfall Campground.

PELICAN POINT CAMPGROUND (Union Hall, VA)
A campground on Smith Mountain Lake where my family and I, and some family friends, spent the summers of 1976 to 1979. It was well forested, and the first place I ever went wandering down wooded trails on my own. There's still a Pelican Point Yacht Club there, and it's all owned by the same family as then, but the bulk of what had been the campground itself was long since bulldozed for a housing development.

RAMS HEAD BOOKS (Roanoke, VA)
A small bookstore that also sold more niche books that one might normally find in a chain store, and was the first bookstore I ever saw that also sold games and toys.

SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE WATERSLIDE (Sandy Level, VA)
A three tube waterslide at Smith Mountain Lake. It was small as such things go now--you'd get to the bottom in just a few seconds. But it was great for kids back in the day, and they had great snow cones.

VIRGINIA'S EXPLORE PARK (Roanoke, VA)
The Explore Park is still there, just much altered over the last few years. Whereas once it was a place for preserving local history, with historic buildings moved onsite, 17th and 18th century buildings reconstructed, and costumed interpreters to interact with visitors, plus some recreation like hiking and biking trails and fishing, it's now gone head first all into recreation, and the historical area is barely more than an afterthought except as a place for future campsites. The costumed interpreters were laid off in 2007, the 17th century Native American village left to rot and collapse, and the 18th century replica buildings were demolished a few months ago. I don't know what's to become of the original 19th century buildings rebuilt on site.

THE WATERFALL CAMPGROUND (Moneta, VA)
A little campground on Smith Mountain Lake where my family and I stayed during the summers of 1980 to 1987. Like Pelican Point, the campground is long gone, turned into a housing development; unlike Pelican Point, the neighborhood is actually really nice, and even managed to preserve the bulk of its trees (which were plentiful).

***

OK, I'm sure there are more, but this is a long enough list and I'm actually making myself a little melancholy again. It probably also doesn't help that today would have also been my father's 81st birthday.

Happier or at least more neutral post next time.
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Remembrance Of Dr. Denis Lape: A Falstaff, An Honest Puck, And Constant As The Northern Star [Apr. 24th, 2016|04:57 pm]
Danny Adams
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[Current Mood |regretful]
[Current Music |Carmina Burana]

This is what I said yesterday - an extended version, as I trimmed a little bit as I spoke for fear of speaking too long, especially since I could have gone on for hours - at the memorial service of my college professor, adviser, mentor, and friend, Dr. Denis Lape. It seemed much too small for such a great man and one I had known for twenty years, but I hope it captured a little a part of the essence of who he was.

Denis Lape memorial, Antrim Chapel - April 23, 2016 (redacted)

I’m Danny Adams, Roanoke College Class of 1998, English major with a concentration in K-12 education, and presently a college librarian and a freelance author. Denis Lape was both my adviser and my mentor at Roanoke, and then my friend in the years since I graduated.

Jane, I don’t know if this is something that you and Denis planned, or this was something the universe lined up him, but today – this exact day, Saturday, April 23rd, 2016 – is the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare. I can’t imagine any better day to have a memorial for Denis Lape.

For those of you who were at Denis’ memorial during Alumni Weekend, I hope you liked what I said then, because you’re going to be hearing most of it again. It was the best way I could think to compress twenty years into five minutes.

Also, though it’s been nearly ten years since Denis asked me to call him Denis, he still made such an impact on me from early on that to this day, I still have to think a little bit before I call him Denis instead of Dr. Lape. If I bounce back and forth between the two, that’s why. He told me to call him Denis because he now considered us peers and equals—which I still have trouble believing, that I could be Denis Lape’s peer and equal, but he was never anything but honest with me, so I’ll try to take his word for it.

I started at Roanoke College late, transferring in just a few weeks before I turned twenty-five. I’d wanted to go to Roanoke for a long time, and in the meantime I’d been through quite a lot, so I was determined that nothing and no one was going to stand in my way. I decided to become an English major mainly because I’d been a writer since I was twelve, but knew I could be a much better one, and so I was hoping the major would improve my skills. Upon starting school I was given Dr. Denis Lape as my adviser, and my first class was one of his.

Other students met the news of this with what seemed like awe and trepidation, if not a little fear. “Dr. Lape!” It wasn’t exactly said like a whisper, but it might have been. There were stories about Dr. Lape. Stories and…legends. But I was determined. As much as I’d been through to get to Roanoke, I wasn’t going to be intimidated by a professor.

Then I got back my first paper from Dr. Lape – with a D. I think the class was American history, the paper about Thomas Jefferson or something like that, and I was convinced that it was a good paper. I knew it was! It was, I thought, well-written…concise…and all of my arguments were backed up by well-cited expert opinions. So I marched to his office barely containing my righteous fury, and demanded—well, politely, because this was Dr. Lape, and despite my resolve he was a little intimidating—why he gave me a D. I gave him my reasons, but when I got to the part about the well-cited expert opinions he stopped me short.

“I don’t care what they have to say!” he declared. “They’re not my students! You are my student. I want to know what you think about this. And I want to know why you think it.”

Whoa. He didn’t slam his fist down on his desk, but he might as well have for all the impact this on me. I think I stared at him for a moment, completely dumbfounded. My entire academic career up until that point had discouraged any notion that what I thought was relevant. If it wasn’t backed up by expert opinions, it didn’t matter.

But more than that, even after writing for a dozen years, I had never really developed a voice or a style of my own in my personal writing. I had a lot of literary heroes, people who had led me to writing, and my efforts were aimed at imitating the best of what they had to offer. Because—though I hadn’t realized it until that point—it never truly and deeply occurred to me that my own writing, as my own writing, might be important.

To use a phrase I first heard at Roanoke College from Dr. Deborah Selby, this shifted my paradigm.

And this wasn’t a one-shot occurrence from him, either. This was Denis Lape. He quickly became not just my adviser but also my mentor, but that encouragement was always there: to be a better student, a better writer, a better person. And I did need a lot of reinforcement, especially those first few months. He saw the potential people had and was willing to make a mighty effort to bring that out. Nor did it stop after I graduated, either, but continued in the years afterward when Denis and Jaine invited me into their home.

(It should surprise nobody in this chapel, by the way, that Denis never had a problem with the fact that most of my writing has been science fiction and fantasy.)

I’ve done pretty well at writing since then, and I’m indebted to Denis a great deal for that. He’s always been in the back of my mind as I’ve continued writing. When I finished what became my first published solo-authored novel, he was the first person—after my wife Laurie—to see it. When I published a science fiction sequel to Moby Dick—a book I own primarily thanks to him—again, after Laurie, he was the first person who saw a copy. When I made my first trip to the Globe Theater in London last summer, he and Jaine were the first people I sent a Globe postcard to.

As for the future . . .

I’m reminded of an interview that NPR did a few years ago with the former Poet Laureate, Donald Hall. Hall was in his early eighties, a widower, and confined to a wheelchair, but insisted that he wasn’t miserable at all. He could still wheel his wheelchair up to his table, he said, and write, and as long as he could do that, he would be happy.

That’s what I’m hoping for. If I’m lucky enough to still be writing in my eighties or beyond, if I can still wheel my wheelchair to the table and write, I’ll be happy.

And I’ll still be thanking Dr. Lape then, too.

Thank you, Denis. And thank you, Jaine, for asking me to speak today.
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