Thursday, October 1, 2009

Almost Gone

Two floating idols regard each other malevolently over the world they've created...

... while below them, their creations wage war for survival. Man, this project is giving me the dickens.

Dag. Before we get into the main part of the post, you'll never guess what happened. I just rescued a hummingbird. I'm out back in the studio the missus and I share. As you know from previous posts, I've got the upstairs and she's got the downstairs.

Well, the missus was giving a class to a private student when she heard a fluttering noise from one of the high windows and saw what she thought was a baby bird. I came down to look, and when it fluttered into sight it was a hummingbird.

I opened all the doors and windows while Karen fetched a duster on an extensible pole. At first she was swiping randomly, which worried me. Those little suckers are delicate. So I had her go upstairs and put the duster through one of the cutouts in the wall so she could see what she was doing and just startle it rather than brush it.

This worked. She chased it to the next ledge over, and then to a lower window.

I ran and grabbed a stool so I could reach it. 's funny, but there's a brief passage from the novel that applies perfectly here. "There are times when animals can tell that you want to help them; it doesn't happen often, but when it does they will endure whatever you do to them."

Of course there's no way to know what the animal's actual reaction is (I suspect this is true of dogs, probably not in this case), but there have been a number of times in my life when animals in need have gone completely passive while I've helped them.

In this case, when I slowly lifted my hands, the bird opened its beak once, then stayed still as I picked it up and cradled it in my hands. Its body was twisted to the right, where its wing stuck out, feathers disheveled. It was panting and seemed in great discomfort. I thought Karen had smacked it a good one, and decided not to tell her about that part. I thought the poor little thing was a goner.

When I got it outside, I wondered for a moment if there were an animal rescue center that would cope with an injured hummingbird, or if I should just put it out of its misery. I needed to know how badly it was hurt.

So I took its right wing in between thumb and forefinger, and gently stroked its length. As I did so, its feathers straightened out. The bird stretched the wing, and it folded neatly in place at its side.

The bird's entire physical conformation changed instantly. Instead of the crumpled little ball of fluff I'd picked up, it was neat and lively, green feathers shimmering in the sunlight. It bounced to its feet and took off in a straight line at top speed, chirping loudly as it went into the tea-rose bush.

Bird don't know, bird ain't grateful. I'm the one who's grateful for that moment, and that's good enough.

Got to say, I've been going through it. The approach of Viable Paradise on top of the drama I've been going through lately (had a mercifully brief dream of my mother-in-law's death last night) has had me in a state.

(And the difficulty I've been having with my 3D class hasn't helped. I have a compulsive need to excel in my classes [been a straight-A student since my return to school], so my sense of just-not-getting-it is driving me nuts. I just keep telling myself I used to feel the same way about vector graphics and now they're second nature to me.)

It's not Viable Paradise itself. My meeting with Chia and Chris (and the inimitable Dan) left me feeling entirely at ease. I feel completely confident about things now. Hey, it's a completely structured environment where the focus is on one of my areas of strength, surrounded by people I'll probably really like. Frankly, if my whole life could be like that I'd be a happy man. Go ahead and send me to prose prison.

But all of the associated preparations have me feeling absolutely terrified. Not a phobic reaction -- but something on that scale. You know, the occasional accelerated heartbeat, hyperventilation, that kind of thing. Honestly, when the missus made me get a prepaid cell phone, holding that thing in my hand made me panic.

See, there's all this... grown-up stuff going on that I've been insulated from my whole life. Cell phones? Plane tickets? Shuttles? I know it sounds stupid to real people, but I've never dealt with any of this stuff in my life and have regarded the ability to do so as some sort of god-given gift.

I know as soon as I'm actually doing it I'll be fine. I'm good at dealing with things that are actually happening.

But living with stuff hanging over my head? It kills me. Fucking kills me. As the missus said, "You need tsuris, and if you don't have any, you'll find a way to make some." This is all too true.

Thank goodness for Karen. She's really rallied around me, jabbing me in the ass to take care of business, taking things out of my hands when I'm falling apart, and doing it all with love and respect.

And it just dawns on me that I did the same for her when she was dealing with her mother. This is something we've been teaching each other for a long time now.

It's funny. Love is something, and friendship is something. But the skill of knowing when and how to take care of the other person and to allow them to take care of you is a whole separate thing. And right now I'm so grateful that we've figured that one out.

So I've decided to keep working on my 3D homework today and tomorrow, and that'll have to be it. Even if the project above isn't as polished as I want it to be, even if I have to take a grade hit, I have to put my novel first.

Because on Saturday I'll organize my novel's manuscript, put all the critiques I've received into order, and print a copy of the work as-is so I can use my plane time to do a line-edit and overall reading of the book. I realized that at least one crucial dramatic moment was skipped due to my familiarity with the plot (it's when the protagonist realizes who's haunting his house), and I have to wonder if there are any others.

I'm not gonna have my query ready to go. Maybe I'll have a chance to work on it at VP.

It's Thursday. I leave the house at 3:30 on Sunday morning.

I'm almost gone.


traumador said...

well again if you need any help with the 3D stuff just fire the questions my way.

it does take a while to get used too, but once your there it'll be worth it.

nice work on the hummingbird rescue!

Sean Craven said...

Dude, as soon as I get five minutes of breathing room, I'm gonna want to grill you about placing 3D images in photographs.

You ever check out Blender? The stupid program I'm using has a three-month license on it. Damnit.

And as for the hummingbird, an avian theropod is still a theropod.