Day 1081

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

I spent an enjoyable last morning and afternoon with mom and Craig before flying back home to San Francisco in the evening.  I read the first 150 pages of Ian McEwan's Atonement on my iPhone at the airport and on the flight.  I enjoyed his writing very much and the lush, generous details he brings to his elegant prose.  Some of his sentences are so beautifully constructed and flow with seamless precision.  He's a real craftsman. 

Alice picked me up at SFO and we came home to her house where I will stay for the next two days before heading home to Oakland.  We had a late dinner and then went to bed around 10.

Day 1080

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Up at 6, read, did two loads of wash at mom's, then had breakfast and got ready for the day.  We went to a mall in the morning, had lunch, then came home and took care of a few things.  I set up mom's new printer and folded my clothes.  I need to fit everything into one suitcase and I'm not sure if I can do it.  In the evening, mom and Craig's neighbor Barb came over for dinner.  Then mom and I played more crib before calling it a night.  Mom was dealt four 5s but cut a 4.  She almost had a 28-point hand.  That would have been something.  To bed by 10:30.

Day 1079

Monday, December 28, 2015

Up at 5 and packed, read, and watched CNBC for an hour or so, which I haven't done in ages.  It's fun to check what's going on in the financial world.  It's all stories.  Today, the talk was the Wall Street Journal's expose on Theranos, the blood-testing company that was touted to revolutionize the industry with pin-prick blood testing.  Recently valued at $9 billion, the machines apparently don't work and the CEO wunderkind, 31-year-old Elizabeth Holmes, is now in the hot seat for apparently tampering with test data and results.  After reading the WSJ article and the comments, it's going to be interesting to see if this company is just smoke and mirrors or on the path to innovation.  Chipotle's stock is in freefall with the recent novovirus and ebola outbreak.   Amazon is rocking as always.  Disney should do well.  It was fun watching the stock game.

Mom and I left Jill's at 2, had lunch outside Raleigh, then caught our flight at 5:10.  We spent the entire flight playing cribbage, winning and losing and touching down in Phoenix at 8:20.  Home at 9:30.  Read before bed.  

Day 1078

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Jill and I drove Alex and Hayden to the Raleigh airport where they met their dad.  Driving back, Jill was wound up and anxious, as she always is whenever she interacts with Chris.  She was fine the rest of the day and it was nice to enjoy the peace and solitude of an easy, relaxing day with Jill, Tom and Mom.  We played cribbage, watched the Seahawks lose badly at home, and get ready for our trip home tomorrow.  

Day 1077

Saturday, December 26, 2015

After a good night sleep, I felt better today and was at least able to eat again.  It was a very relaxing, low-key day in which we played games (including Wii) and some of the new toys Hayden had received.  (HIs R2D2 robot was fun).  Tom and I took Hayden to the new Star Wars film in the afternoon while mom, Jill and Alex got their nails done.  Hayden loved the film and felt very grownup seeing a PG-13 film.  He ranked it the second best after Return of the Jedi.  We had leftovers for dinner, then I went upstairs with Hayden and played more Wii before his bedtime.  I turned on Elf for him.  He watched about five minutes before falling fast asleep.  I watched an hour or so of the movie (on ABC Family...with too many commercials to count...thank goodness for fast forward) before turning off the TV and going to bed.

Day 1076

Friday, December 25, 2015

The morning began at 6 a.m. when Hayden woke me up.  I was actually already awake around 5:30. The kids barely contained their excitement for the next hour.  We played Wii quietly as the minutes ticked by (slowly).  Finally at 7 I went downstairs for a "reconnaissance" mission to check to see if (a) there were any large stuffed pandas, (b) a large Barbie dream house and (c) any parents up and ready to ring the Christmas bell.

My answers (no, no, and no) were intentionally deceptive as I actually saw two very large pandas, one very large dream house, and Jill up and ready but waiting for mom.  The kids stayed in my room another fifteen minutes before hearing the Christmas bell and running downstairs to view their sizable haul.  

It was fun seeing them so excited.  I was still a bit under the weather and didn't eat too much (if I'm not having a delicious cinnamon roll for breakfast, something's very wrong).  I opened my stocking and got all sorts of cool little things.  Thank you, Santa!

The rest of the day went quickly.  We played games (and I played with a few of Hayden's toys...his R2D2 toy was very cool).

Dinner was at 6 and it was very good.  I did have an appetite by then and certainly had my fill.

By 8 we were all exhausted.  The kids went to bed and we stayed up another hour chatting before closing another chapter to another fabulous Christmas. 

Day 1075

Thursday, December 24, 2015

I felt fine the first part of the day.  Jill and I went into town, had lunch, and took care of a few errands before heading back to her place.

Mom with Alex and Hayden
We played games with the kids in the afternoon, and that's when I felt a little funny.  Tom made a delicious stew for dinner, but afterward I really felt zapped and went to lay down around 7:30.  Then I got sick and my energy was totally gone.  It didn't feel right the rest of the evening, so I went to bed early.

Day 1074

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Today we hung out at the house, playing games, watching Christmas shows, wrapping presents and getting ready for Christmas in 2 days.  We played Apples to Apples Jr., Say Anything, several games of Connect 4 and hours of Wii U, including Wii Sports and Wii Resort.  Lots of fun, for sure!

We also watched The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (the Ron Howard Jim Carrey movie).  I ate way too many Christmas cookies.

Day 1073

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

We left at 7:30 a.m. for the Pheonix airport.  Our flight to North Carolina was at 10:25.  It was a full flight.  Luckily, mom was in the A section and saved me a seat (I was in the C section...and I'd checked in a full 24 hours early).  We played cribbage the entire time.  The flight went quickly.  I came out strong, winning the first rubber, but then mom destroyed me in the second rubber.  We didn't finish the third rubber by the time we landed.  Our bags took a while to reach us, but once we collected them, we met Jill and the kids curbside and reached her place an hour later.  The house looked great and very festive.

I had the upstairs room to myself with a big screen TV and Direct TV at my finger tips.  And Wii U.  Sweet.  I played Wii Resort with my niece Alex and nephew Hayden and got creamed.  I will be practicing later tonight.  

We had chili for dinner and relaxed while listening to Christmas music.  Jill has the house wonderfully decorated with all sorts of great snowman and Santa Claus decorations.  We watched Santa Claus is Coming to Town and the Santa Claus 3 with the kids.  It was a great even

Day 1072

Monday, December 21, 2015

Spent most of the day shopping with mom in a large mall, getting last-minute gifts.  I find shopping exhausting and stressful, especially when everyone has everything they already need or want.  But I toughed it out and managed to get what I needed.  We had a nice lunch and came home around 5.  I watched several hours of political news on a dozen or so channels and it's all Trump all the time.  The news media loves Trump and is secretly pushing for him as the GOP nominee because he's a ratings juggernaut and endlessly controversial.  With his numbers and his coverage, and the fact that the GOP field is so weak and unimpressive, I really don't see how he loses.  He's exactly what the GOP deserves.

Day 1071

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Had a leisurely morning at mom and Craig's followed by Star Wars at 11.  It was perfectly fine with a few surprises and acceptable enough script by JJ Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt (of Little Miss Sunshine fame), but those types of action/adventure films are not for me anymore, mainly because they're so formulaic -- I've seen too many of them, so even if it's Star Wars, it wears thin after an hour.  The film felt long, but aside from that, I enjoyed all the decisions, all the little details, and was surprised at how kid-friendly everything was.  Looks like I'll be seeing it again with my 8-year-old nephew in North Carolina, who is a massive Star Wars fan and really can't get enough of that world.

After the movie, we came home and watched the Seahawks take care of business against the Browns, visited with a few of mom and Craig's friends in the neighborhood, then in the evening I watched Amy, the documentary on Amy Winehouse, which was outstanding.

Day 1070

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Alice picked me up at 8 and I stayed with her in the morning until noon.  Kevin called and we caught up before I left for the airport. My flight to Pheonix was uneventful and ran 25 minutes late. I was picked up by a friendly driver named Dennis who mom and Craig use to get from place to place. I arrived before 7. Mom and Craig's new home is very beautiful and comfortable. We had dinner and chatted until 11 or so. Looking forward to meeting a few of her friends tomorrow.

Day 1069

Friday, December 18, 2015

Played racquetball this morning, then worked until 2, then came home and packed.  Went to Richard and Lisa's for the evening around 8 and exchanged gifts.  They gave me a great Oaklandish hat that is very cool!

Day 1068

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Work was busy this morning and will continue through tomorrow.  Our focus group is Saturday.  I'm taking chapter of La Strav with me to Arizona and North Carolina.  I wish this draft were finished but I simply ran out of time and there's still so much left to develop.  These things take a long time.

My place is reasonably clean so it'll be nice to come home with everything just so.

Day 1067

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

No writing or racquetball today...too busy with Christmas parties and luncheons and discussion about the imploding GOP and Donald Trump's narcissism.  Wait, I did write an hour before work, revising a few paragraphs before leaving for work. 

We had our Christmas luncheon at a great place in Emeryville called the Townhouse Bar & Grill.  From the outside, the place doesn't look like much, but from the inside it's pretty big and the food is outstanding.  Six of us were there, Howard, Paulette, Chad, Alissa, Cheryl and me. 

We had a lively political discussion about last night's debate.  Howard thinks Trump is just an act, that's he's this incredibly intelligent outlier who's having the time of his life and willingly setting up the Democrats for victory.  I think that scenario, while intriguing, is a fantasy.  Trump is a textbook narcissist whose authenticity resonates with lots of limited whites who buy into the fearmongering and xenophobia.  He's real, he's dangerous, and while I'm in complete agreement that we wasted 4 trillion on unnecessary wars when that money could have gone toward rebuilding our infrastructure (and I love that he keeps saying that with Jeb on stage), his fascist ideas and attitudes really have no place in this country. 

Later on in the afternoon, I hung out at Rhonda and Biff's for cocktails and it turned into a party that lasted several hours, with Richard and Lisa coming over.  We talked about politics, houses, Christmas, dogs, and Creed.  Rhonda retold the story of running into Michael B. Jordan while he was making the movie Fruitvale Station and sent me the picture of them with Sandy.  I remember her telling me that several years ago. 

Michael B. Jordan, Rhonda, Sandy
I was at Rhonda's from 2:30-9.  Wow.  Came home at talked to Alice, then went to bed.

Day 1066

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Wrote for an hour or so in the morning, then went to work, then came home and wrote another couple of hours, knowing I won't have much time left before I leave on Saturday.  I'm finding places to stop until I get back to it later in the month.  I may bring a few chapters to look over when I'm gone.

At 5:30, I watched the latest GOP debate and it was more of the same, more nonsense and bluster.  People still don't think Trump has a chance, but I'm not so sure, considering the weak field.  He may well be the nominee.  My guess is he has a better than 50% chance.  Jeb Bush was better tonight, but only slightly better.  He's still unimpressive.  He totally lacks charisma.  He looks like he's from the 90s, and maybe he is.  Ted Cruz will not win this year, but in four years he will be dangerous.  He's the kind of crazy socio-politician who never gives up, no matter how many times he loses.  I do not like him at all.  I also don't like Marco Rubio at all.  I find everything he says calculated and lacking in sincerity.  He tells the same story over and over.  I don't know why anyone would vote for such a phony.  Chris Christie is also full of bluster, speaking to "America" with his concerned mug focused directly on the TV camera like he's our best friend who's looking out for all of us.  I don't think so.  And Carly, wow.  The sooner Iowa and New Hampshire boot her out with their 1% support, the better.  John Kasich is at least halfway real, but he doesn't have a chance.  Same with Rand Paul at zero chance.  Ben Carson will also fade fast after Iowa.  And the undercard folks...Lindsey, Pete, and whoever's left...their days were done back in the summer.  There isn't one strong candidate who can outshine the GOP's version of Obama 2008, Donald Trump.  I don't see it.  I think he might actually win the nomination.  That just may be exactly what the GOP deserves.  They've been on this road for years now and this is the monster they must embrace.  Heaven help this country if we ever spiral into a true economic depression.  This place would get real crazy in a hurry.

Spoke with Chris later in the evening and we chatted for an hour.  Then spoke to Alice, then went to bed around 10:30.

Day 1065

Monday, December 14, 2015

Racquetball, work, then a few hours of writing in the afternoon and early evening, mixed up with Amazon and Barnes and Noble shopping.  Also cleaned my apartment in preparation for the holidays and my going away next week.

Saw a great documentary in the evening that I really enjoyed called Best of Enemies, about the Gore Buckeley debates during the 1968 GOP and Democratic conventions.

Day 1064

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Up at 5, wrote for 90 minutes, then did two loads of laundry, cleaned my apartment, ironed several shirts, and cleaned the kitchen.  By the time I was finished, Jill called on we FaceTimed for an hour.  Alice arrived around 3.  I let her sleep a little while I continued cleaning.  We watched Dior and I before leaving for my racquetball holiday potluck at Glenn and Amy's house.

I enjoyed this.  We socialized from 5-7:30, then came home, finished the documentary and called it a night.  I feel organized again.

Day 1063

Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Streak ended tonight, the 24-game Warriors winning streak that lasted longer than any other opening series winning streak in American pro sports history.  In a way, it's a relief.  It had to end eventually.

Wrote all day, and read, from 5 a.m. until 10 p.m., with breaks in between and about an hour on Amazon to take care of gifts for Seattle and North Carolina.  Tired.

Day 1062

Friday, December 11, 2015

Busy morning, up at 4, racquetball until 6:15, then to Quest Labs at 7 for blood work, finishing in time for our Friday morning breakfast at Rolling Dunes with the racquetball crowd.  Gary Hurlbut made it, as did Marc Gordon, along with Glenn, Cliff, Dorian, Charlie Simkins, Julian, Tiger and Jamil.  It was a nice turnout.  I left at 8:45 for work from 9-12, preparing for our final focus group of the new that takes place next week.  After work I came home and wrote until 8 p.m., changing parts of chapter 12.  Alice has a bunch of stuff to do tomorrow and we have our holiday thing at Glenn and Amy's Sunday, so she's coming over Sunday morning, allowing me tonight and tomorrow to write.

Day 1061

Thursday, December 10, 2015

I had my first physical this morning in two years and as expected, everything is just fine.  It was nice catching up with Dr. Lawrence.  Worked mid-morning to early afternoon, then back home to write for about five hours or so.  Took care of a few Christmas gifts online. 

Day 1060

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Racquetball, work and writing in that order.  In the afternoon, I picked up Austin from Saint Mary's and we hung out in my neighborhood for an hour.  It's always a blast spending time with Austin.  We met Alice for dinner at Mijori and had a wonderful sushi dinner.  Mijori never disappoints.  We drove to Alice's around 7 and made it home in time for me to talk with Chris from 8-9. He'd just returned from a family vacation in Mexico with my mom and his two brothers, along with many other family members.  He and Elizabeth have traveled with that large group for many years now and this one sounded very relaxing.  Now that he's back at home, he's scrambling to finish a novel he's been working on this year called In the Duff.  I've read the first half and it's good!

Day 1059

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

An entire day of writing with mixed results today.  I'm changing ideas I originally had with the last chapter of La Stravaganza, just to see how it looks.  This chapter is still too long and has a few dead pockets.  If the final chapter is good, that makes the rest of the novel a lot easier to revise.  I like revising from the end to the beginning.  I don't know why, but it seems to work for me. 

Day 1058

Monday, December 7, 2015

I had a recall issue to take care of with my MINI, so I missed racquetball this morning, opting instead for the first appointment of the day at East Bay MINI in Pleasanton.  I arrived at 7:45 a.m. and hung out at Starbucks for two hours, reading Venice and Alex Kuo's My Private China.  I got my car back at 10 and drove home.  From 10:30 until 6 or so, I worked on chapter 12, looked at chapter 11, and thought about chapter 1.  Chapter 12 is taking a long time because it's 8,000 words long and I need to bring it down to 5000 words.  Maybe I'll leave it at 6,000 words because so much happens in the last two sections.  It's so difficult to accomplish anything in December, so any progress at all is a victory. 

Later in the evening from 8-9, I had tenants in my building come over to discuss the changes taking place with our building next year.  It's inevitable that Valorie will sell the building, so we'll have to deal with a new landlord who in all likelihood will want all of us out of the building so he/she can charge $2600+/month in rent.  So many of us have been here so long that our rent is nowhere near market rates.  We looked over our rights and being in a rent control district I think we're in good shape, but you never know.  At least we're organized and aware of all the issues facing us.  It was nice seeing everyone.

To bed at 10:15.  Tomorrow, I need to hit Amazon hard.

Day 1057

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Came home this morning after helping Alice with her scones.  She has a tea party today for her friends.  I spent today writing and organizing little things that have fallen through the cracks.  As much as I'd like to get Christmas cards out this year, I don't see it happening, even though I have my stamps and cards ready to go.  That's the easy part though.  With only a few weeks left before I leave for mom's and Jill's, I have so many other things to take care of first, like chapter 12, chapter 11, and chapters 7-10.

Day 1056

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Alice and I got up early, had breakfast, then hit Costco for gas, supplies, hot dogs, then we headed to Ross where Alice wanted to look for a serving plate for her high tea with her girlfriends tomorrow.  We also stopped at her parents' house and set her her dad's new iPad mini.  He'll be very happy chatting with his friends on We Chat.

After our chores were done, we headed home and baked a batch of scones, which turned out all right, though the recipe had too little sugar (we'll add more the next day).  By the afternoon, I started reading my Kuo books that I picked up at the library.

I can't wait to get into these.  It's all preparation for his new novel that just came out, Shanghai, Shanghai, Shanghai.  I read a review in the WSU Alumni magazine and it sounds very interesting, right up my alley with politics, bridge, music.  My Private China has all of that and I'm loving it.  Reading it took me back to my own visit to Beijing for the 2008 Paralympic Games in 2008. It's such a fascinating country.  Alice likes saying to me, "Hagan, time for your re-education."

I wrote a few hours in the late afternoon/early evening, but found it hard to stay focused, so I stopped for the night.

Day 1055

Friday, December 4, 2015

Racquetball in the morning, work afterward, then an hour or two at home before picking up Alice in SF.  At her place for the night.  Tired today.

Day 1054

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Wrote in the early morning, worked in the morning, wrote in the afternoon, wrote in the evening.  Still plodding away on chapter 12. 

Day 1053

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Up at 4:30, racquetball from 5-6:45, then home to write from 8-4.  I continued work on ch. 12 of La Strav, bringing in all the details I could think of to capture Venice and Vivaldi.  I watched the Women of Vivaldi documentary I'd seen over the summer, this time observing the location of the Ospedale della Pieta.  It's now the Metropole Hotel and looks the same from the outside as it did in Vivaldi's day.

After 4, I took a break from writing at went to a matinee showing of Creed at the Grand Lake Theater.  I'd heard a lot of buzz about this film and wanted to check it out for myself.  The buzz is accurate and I have a feeling Sylvester Stallone will win a much-deserved Best Supporting Actor oscar for his enduring portrayal of Rocky Balboa.  Creed is excellent.  The direction is first rate and Michael B. Jordan as young Adonis Johnson, Creed's illegitimate son, is convincing.  I really enjoyed this film and applaud the awards and acclaim it will receive.

Day 1052

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

I spent all day revising and changing the final chapter of La Stravaganza, chapter 12.  This is the magical fairytale chapter that takes place in Venice and brings all the musical elements together.  I like this chapter, but who knows what others will think.  I wrote from 8-6, then played racquetball in the evening.

Day 1051

Monday, November 30, 2015

Spent the day writing from morning till evening, editing chapter 6.  Chapters 1-6 have been revised, but I need to work on chapter 5 again.  Chapter 3 is also rough in spots.  Chapter 6 is one of my favorites. I don't see any significant problems with it.  I'll start on 7-12 tomorrow, beginning with ch. 12.

Day 1050

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Up at 7:15 and wrote most of the day, revising La Stravaganza and looking over a bunch of notes I took on various chapters.  Also watched a little football.  The Seahawks won a close one against Pittsburgh and the Raiders also managed to win.  My fantasy team lost again and Jimmy Graham is out of the season.  My entire team suffered huge injuries this season.  I went to bed early, around 8:45.

Day 1049

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Up at 7, wrote an hour, then got ready and headed back to Oakland.  Had breakfast with Neil Bason and Rossana, then had a lovely walk with Rossana for an hour, catching up and talking about all the things going on in our lives.  In the afternoon, I got back into La Stravaganza and began revising once again.  It was hard to get into it, so I only wrote for a few hours before it was time to switch to reading.  I'm wrapping up two books I started in the summer that have been fantastic research books for La Strav:

Day 1048

Friday, November 27, 2015

Alice and I got up early and went to Irving for vegetables, barbecued pork for her sticky rice, and a few other items for Thanksgiving with Alice's family.  We gathered together around 5 and ate non-stop until 8.  Everyone was there.  It was a great time and the food was fantastic.  The turkey was so moist and delicious.  Alice really knows how to cook a turkey well.  The key is to brine it overnight in a saltwater solution.  It's amazing how wonderful it tastes.

Delicious turkey

Sharon, Alice and Elaine

The start of the line

My plate, gone in 10 minutes

Beef tendon