prep work: Pajama Jones

Over at Argh Ink Jenny Crusie is getting set to write one third of a book… well hell, I can’t remember the details except she’s doing her prep work for her main character, called Mare. The other two contributors to this book are doing the same for their characters, and then there’s a meeting with a lot of alcohol where they compare notes and put together a work/battle plan.

Jenny also does a collage for her characters/stories. This is something I do in a smaller way, usually on the computer screen. Because if I let myself go into the studio and start playing with paint and paper, dog only knows when you’ll see me again. Procrastination Central. In fact, I should put a sign on the door that says exactly that.

So I’m working on Pajama Jones, for Putnam. I’m not ready to say too much about this novel at this point, but I can talk about the main character. Following Jenny’s example I’ll give you some basics about her. I’d be curious about any reactions you might have, and more important: are there any questions you would add to this list?

Finally: changes are always possible, and almost inevitable as the story and the character take off on their own.

Name: Julia Darrow
Home: born and raised in Greenbriar, Georgia. Ten years in Chicago for school and work, then back to Greenbriar.
Hair: brown
Eyes: brown
Height: 5’9″
Favorite foods: eggs Benedict, chicken and gravy, roast beef, good bread with fresh butter, strong cheese, noodles of any kind, any leafy green, thick cut potato chips, chili.
Won’t eat: Yoghurt, anything stew or gumbo like, soup.
Favorite things to drink: root beer, milk, juices, red wine
Favorite Music: Bach
Likes to wear: Used to present herself as a J Jill type, but since she’s changed careers, she wears pajamas, or long underwear that looks like Pajamas, or some combination of the two, all day long.
What her living space is like: A three room apartment above her business. Perfectly put together bedroom, antique furniture, a quilt made by her great grandmother folded precisely over the chest at the foot of the bed. The eat in kitchen is small, ultilitarian (she rarely cooks); the front room is a testament to comfort, quirky tastes, and technology. She’s got a full computer setup, a wide screen television that hangs on the wall, every other kind of geekish toy, a huge and comfortable couch and two chairs, each with a personality of its own, as well as a hugely expensive office chair. Good original art on the walls, all contemporary except for a small oil portrait of a great great grandfather in Civil War uniform.
Methods of transport: These days she walks, or stays home if it’s too far to walk.
Politics: Used to be very involved, now won’t watch the news.
Magazine subscriptions: dozens. Business related, but also high end crafts, arts, antiques.
Favorite Book: Happy all the Time, Laurie Colwin; Keeper of the House, Rebecca Godwin
Favorite TV Show: She watches everything except sports, news, politics, and sitcoms with laugh tracks. Used to like medical dramas but doesn’t watch those anymore either. Tends to turn on HBO and let it run.
Favorite Movie of the last few years: Man on Fire
Expression: don’t just sit there
Movie star crush: As in, I”ll go see anything with . . .: Harrison Ford, Denzel Washington.
Pets: a large cage with five pairs of love birds, another larger cage with ten pairs, a small dog called Lucy, breed a mystery, a pound rescue.
Creative outlet: the display window of her shop
Favorite Muppet: Oscar the Grouch
Favorite ice cream: Tin Roof Sundae
Favorite desert: can’t pick just one. She’s got a sweet tooth.
The thing she’d never do: Miss opening the shop on time, be late for an appointment, stop running.
The thing she’s always wanted to do: Make everybody’s bed.
Childhood toy that’s still in her room: an antique doll with a bisque face that is perfectly dressed, and that she never played with.

a note about avatars

Every once in a while I get a technological tic, and decide I must immediately figure out how to make my webpages dance the hula, or teach the ipod to say comforting things when I’m feeling low. I’m pretty good at knowing at first glance if the technological demands are beyond the amount of time and energy I can dedicate, in which case I (1) give up and decide I never did like inanimate talking objects; or (2) I pay somebody else to do it for me.

Some time ago, maybe a month, I ran across a website where you could register your avatar. You know, those little pictures people put up under their names on discussion boards and the comment section of blogs. The idea was that you registered your avatar and then whenever you posted on an enabled board or blog, your avatar would automatically be included. I like my avatar, you understand. I’m proud of my avatar, I admit it. So I gave in to foolish pride and jumped on the bandwagon. I followed the directions carefully, uploaded the avatar, made the changes I needed to make to various templates… and it didn’t work. So I futzed with it for maybe an hour total, and then gave up. As I said, I usually know when to throw in the towel.

Now, a month later, suddenly the avatar is popping up in various places — mostly (but not always) when I respond to a comment on my own weblog. And here’s the problem: having given up on the whole idea, I now cannot find the original website where the whole thing got started, so I can’t turn the darn thing off or make any adjustments to the way it displays. Thus, if you see Einstein popping up in unexpected places, that’s the reason. The technology gods are paying me back for my hubris.

my investment in reading

ipodI finally gave in to temptation and bought an iPod. I also have a subscription to audible.com (surprisingly affordable) — which came with a coupon for a hundred bucks off the iPod. From audible I can download a book a month for no additional charge.

This is a wonderful thing for people like me, for whom multitasking is the default state and anything else feels wrong. So far I’ve listened to Black House by Stephen King and Peter Straub (unabridged! 23 hours!) and The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson and Can You Keep a Secret by Sophie Kinsella — and I’ve got a considerable list of books I’ll be downloading as soon as they come out. I listen in the car, while walking, on the treadmill. I was a little nervous about such an expensive but small piece of machinery at first, but now I’m more comfortable using it, and the interface with my beloved mac is so painless, there was no learning curve at all.

I do love technology, I admit it. In our family, I’m the one who moons over big flat screen theater systems and tivo and home office machines that do everything but de-pip your orange juice. My husband is the voice of reason, which is good. Otherwise we’d be technologically untouchable, but broke.

unit coordinator

this is what it’s like to be obsessive. I find that since I confessed my interest in clerking in a hospital ward, I couldn’t just leave it at that so I did a little checking. You can take courses. You can get a certificate.

Unit Coordinator and Medical Computing Skills

AHWC 9183. Unit Coordinator
Advise: ABE 2071
Practical skillls and techniques in transcribing and processing of medical orders; maintaining chart forms; requisitioning diets, therapy, laboratory tests, and medications; and admission and discharge of patients. Emphasis on communication skills pertinent to patient care.

AHWC 9188. Medical Computing Skills (90 hrs)
Instruction in a variety of computer applications related to the health care technology field and utilized by the Health Care Technology Department. These programs are Microsoft Word 2000, Corel WordPerfect Suite 7, Nutrition Interactive, Delmar’s Administrative Medical Assisting, and Delmar’s Medical Terminology for Health Professionals.

Of course, this makes perfect sense if you look at my Myers-Briggs Personality assessment, which puts me in the 2% if the population which is ENTJ, or (their shorthand) The Field Marshall Personality. One definition:

ENTJs “tend to be: friendly, strong willed, and outspoken; honest, logical and demanding of selves and others; driven to demonstrate competence; creative with a global perspective; decisive, organized, and efficient. The most important thing to ENTJs is demonstrating their competence and making important things happen.”

Add in my deep and abiding love of office supplies and bits of paper, and I wonder how it is I didn’t end up doing this for a living. I’ll probably be pondering that for a while today, until I can get myself to sit down with my laptop and look at the mess the characters have got themselves into. There is also news about the endpaper maps for Fire Along the Sky. Next post.