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Updates and Sundry

Fall foliage
Autumnal!

Quite a maelstrom of change has swept through the Doore household since I last updated. I announced that I was pregnant, mentioned we were moving to Michigan, waxed poetic about the Sonoran desert and then – disappeared. You can probably guess what has happened in the meantime.

Now we’re settled in Michigan and have survived the first few, bootcamp-esque weeks of life with a newborn. Life is not so much calming down, but more finding a new rhythm, and that rhythm includes 3am blog posts and writing sessions. So be it.

I’ll have quite a bit to explore here soon – there’s a new story brewing, new research to be shared, and a whole lot of thoughts about creativity and pregnancy. But in the mean time, I hope a cute baby pic will suffice.

Baby Doore Reads

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Desert Appreciation: This Ridiculous Heat

Apparently even the national news has picked up on how friggin hot Arizona is right now. I mean, it’s typical for June to see temps above 105, even 110, but we just broke a record: 115, making yesterday the third hottest day on record.

Go us.

But for real, though: as atrocious as this heat is, it makes the rest of the year that much sweeter, and turns the arrival of monsoon season into a welcome relief instead of a humid slog. June is a harsh month, when the temps can jump from 80 to 90 to 110 within a few days and stepping outside is equivalent to stepping into an oven. But it’s only a month.

Without June, we wouldn’t have monsoons. I’m not 100% sure how the meteorology works, but the building heat somehow draws in the moisture that turns into thunderclouds and rain in July. It helps knowing this, as well as knowing we only have to endure for a few more weeks. Staying inside and running the a/c also helps. Keeping a sense of humor about the whole thing makes it even easier.

For this particularly hot day, I decided it was time to take advantage of the heat. I also wanted to bake, but without having to use our oven in the middle of the day. Why not use the heat for baking? Thus, car-broiled cookies were born.

 

Four: It’s A Dry Heat

 

Carbroiled Cookies
Step 1) Take your average chocolate chip cookie recipe and spice it up with a rainbow of colors.

 

Carbroiled Cookies
Step 2) Insert cookie dough into pre-heated car.

 

<Carbroiled Cookies
Step 3) Let bake for 3-4 hours.

 

Carbroiled Cookies
Step 4) Remove (with oven mitts!!) and enjoy! Inside. Preferably.
 

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Desert Appreciation: Monsoon

I grew up in Florida. I know about thunderstorms. Throughout the summer, we’d get them every day around 3-5pm like clockwork. Small bursts that would congregate and dispense rain like sudden, divine punishment before slipping away to the next block. You could look out one side of the house and see sunlight and blue sky, only to go to another side and find darkness and rain. Larger storms that would stretch into the night, rain drumming louder than a rock concert.

Then there were, of course, the hurricanes. Tropical depressions, tropical storms, cat 1, cat 2, and time-to-evacuate cat 3.

I thought I was ready for monsoon season. Rain? Check. Heavy rain? Check check. Rain so thick you can’t see the hand in front of your face? Checkity check check. Gimme some hail and some close calls with lightning and it’ll feel just like home.

I was ready – for the rain. But not for the desert side of things. The way you could watch a storm approach from miles and miles away. The way clouds bubbled and boiled and burst above the mountains before spilling over in a frightening rage. The way the riverbed, always dry, suddenly filled with churning water, sweeping along anything and everything in its path. The way day turned to night and lightning streaked from one side of the horizon to the other.

And the aftermath. When a Florida storm passes, it leaves little more than wet concrete and steaming asphalt. When a desert storm passes, the world is changed. The oppressive heat is broken, cut down from its dizzying heights to something more livable, breathable. The desert perks up, cacti swelling with the rain and brush bursting with green. The crisp, tangy smells of ozone and creosote permeates everything. Toads quark loudly in the mud, emerging from their months-long hibernation only for the rain.

In Florida, rain is at worst a nuisance, at best a time to set your watch. In the desert, rain is at worst a flash flood that rips down streets and drowns cars, at best – life. The only way this barren, dusty landscape becomes livable.

 

Three: The Majesty of Monsoon

 

Microburst over Oro Valley

 

Afternoon sunshower

 

Rain on glass

 

Gathering storm

 

Monsoon over mountains and hills

 

Monsoon, Part: Approaching from Over the Lake

 

Storm rolling across mountains

 

During the storm

 

Water under Campbell Bridge

 

Water in the Rillito

 

Rainbows after a storm

 

Stormy Sunset

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Desert Appreciation: Bats

When we moved to the desert, we picked an apartment on the waterless river within walking distance of a grocery store. It was perfect. We could walk along the river path to the store, cross under a bridge for a busy road, and never having to wait at lights or attempt a game of live-action Frogger.

Because we arrived in summer, the best time to hit up the grocery store was in the evening, when the blisteringly hot sun was finally going down. So it was no surprise that we quickly found out that the bridge was harboring a secret: bats upon bats. We had inadvertently picked a home near the busiest, battiest bridge in all of Tucson.

I love it. The bats are semi-migratory, so there are far fewer in winter than summer, making Watching the Bats Come Out one of the few reasons to venture outside when it’s 110+ degrees. I will remember many a sticky night spent swatting mosquitoes, sweat streaming down my back, leaning over a metal rail, and watching the bats swarm and dart and finally flow free.

 

Two: The Splendor of a Bat Explosion

 

Campbell Bridge Bats

 

DITL May 17th

 

 

DITL May 17th

 

DITL May 17th

 

DITL May 17th

 

DITL May 17th

 

An Eruption of Bats

 

A Snake of Bats

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Desert Appreciation: Spring Blooms

As we near both the bleakness of summer and our move-outta-town date (oh yeah, did I mention we’re moving to Michigan??), I’m going to do a series of photo posts about the desert, Arizona, and our time here. It has truly been worldview-shifting and an amazing experience that I never could have anticipated. To be honest, when we were making the choice between grad schools way back six years ago, I really wanted to move to Oregon. But I am so, so glad we came here instead.

Let me count the ways.

 

One: The Glory That is a Desert Spring

 

april-25

I grew up in Florida and never really experienced spring. Because it never quite froze during the winter, plants kept their leaves and weren’t rushed to bud and bloom as soon as it warmed up. After all, they had 11 months to do all that.

 

Spring Blooms in the Desert

Then we moved to Seattle and I watched the leaves fluoresce orange, yellow, red, before giving way to cold and dark and brittleness, and then suddenly blossoming again with bright-bright green buds come spring. My favorite part were the daffodils and crocuses that popped out of the snow, brilliant bits of color in an otherwise stark landscape.

 

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But Seattle has nothing on the desert.

For about two months out of the year, the drab brown is awash in yellow and orange and pink and white. Mostly yellow: the palo verdes go to town, blanketing streets and backyards in yellow blossoms and pollen. An allergy-sufferer’s nightmare, true, but worth it.

 

Spring Flowers

The plants don’t have much time to get in as much growing/blossoming as possible before the temp spikes over a hundred and what little moisture we got over the winter is all gone. So they go all out and it’s epic.

 

Spring Flowers

 

Ocotillo Blossom

 

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I’m definitely going to miss this time of ecstatic bloom.

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Some Explanations and an Announcement

Where have I been? These past few months have been even quieter than usual around here, and considering how quiet it can get on this blog, that’s near silence. I have a few good reasons – honestly, some very good reasons – but I also have a load of guilt. A writer writes – and, I haven’t been writing.

What happens when a writer doesn’t write? Guilt, yes. A loss of identity, sure. Constantly wondering if you’re ever going to write again. And if you never do, who are you?

But all that existential angst is for another time.

This post is about why I’ve been quiet. I’ve sat on this news for three months now and it hasn’t been easy. I’ve been foggy-headed and nauseated and every time I’ve tried to sit down and write, my stories haven’t even been within shouting distance. But now that fog is thinning and I’ve reached a “safe” enough place in this nine-month-long process that I can both share that I’ve been having trouble being a writer and the reason why:

announcement

Yup: after two incredibly long years and countless emotional-rollercoaster months and coming within spitting distance of giving up, I’m pregnant.

Now if you’ll excuse me, my stories are within grabbing distance and I have a new novel about gators and swamps and post-apocalyptic outbreaks to write.

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December Lull

twinkle lights Christmas tree

After writing daily since June, it’s about time to take a breather. In those six months, I wrote the first draft of a short story, finished a round of really intense edits, and wrote another first draft of a novel. Having wrapped up said first draft, there’s a little wiggle room before the next big project and I intend to grab on to that with both hands and not let go until the holidays are over and the new year has begun.

That doesn’t mean I won’t write at all – I just won’t have a daily word count goal. Writing will come in bits and pieces as I turn my brain from this last project to the next one – a darker fantasy revenge story. I have some research to do and an old, tired draft to pick apart and figure out exactly how to fix. The beauty of writing is that it’s just like any other skill you hone over the years: you continue to get better. Which means looking back at this draft from – *gasp* – early 2014 is making me cringe, but also helping me realize that I have improved and am continuing to improve. And: I know exactly how to fix it.

So. December goals. Research. Re-read. Restructure. Then begin rewriting. But also:

I’m going to read. It is quiet and cold and perfect blanket snuggling weather and I have a pile of books to read. Goodness, there is just nothing more perfect in the world than wrapping yourself in a warm blanket while sipping hot cocoa and reading. Well, aside from cold morning runs. 🙂

What are your plans for December?

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Seattle!

seattle (1 of 28)

Well, we’re back! We got home Tuesday afternoon with plenty of time to get groceries and do some cooking and laundry and chores and – of course we just pet cats and went to bed early instead.

Seattle was good. It was amazing and autumnal and everything we remembered and then it was time to go home, and that was good, too. It felt a lot like closure, honestly. We left after only two years there and neither of us was ready to go at the time. We’ve missed it for the last five years and built it up more than a little in our memories. So going back was like coming home, in a way – it was so familiar, (almost) everything the way we had left it, but we were different.

We exulted in the food and the sights and the leaves and yes, even the rain, but by Monday we were ready to go home – back to Arizona and sunlight and open skies and starry nights. Seattle was perfect for us when we lived there and it was a wonderful place to visit, but I don’t know when we’ll be back. It was good to finally be able to say goodbye.

Whew, that got heavy. Here, have some photos after the cut.

Continue reading “Seattle!”

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Lighting Up the Office

I have an office that, I’m sure like many offices, has slowly been filled up with clutter over the years. It has become acceptable to shove things in there when we are busy or tired or simply don’t know where to put the thing. This made me reticent to actually use my office as an office. Sure, my tower computer and standing desk are in there and I still use those to edit my photos, but to spend actual time in my office, doing actual work was unheard-of.

Yet, the rest of the apartment has proved inadequate. Distractions (aka cats) abound. I use those spaces for other things, like goofing around and interneting, and the shadow of those activities linger when I try to sit and be serious. As multitudes of other authors and basic productivity gurus advise, it really is best to have a separate, dedicated space to work in.

Back to the office. For over a decade I would rearrange furniture on/around my birthday (don’t ask [see: virgo]). It seemed appropriate to use this latent ritual to fix what I didn’t like about my office. I’d been putting off actually doing anything because we’re moving anyway in two months, maybe four, maybe six, but then I realized that this was capital ‘s’ Stupid. I owed it to myself to create a space at home, and I owed it to my bank account – coffee shops frown on those who just come in and take up space without purchasing a consumable.

So I cranked up the a/c, rolled up my metaphorical sleeves, and yanked out every piece of furniture without a monitor on it. I brought my old sitting desk back in from another room, moved the bikes, removed any and all clutter, and then – last but perhaps the most important – strung up happy lights.

Now I have my own space and after a few days of using it, I understand. It’s honestly a difference of night and day.

Perhaps now I can start making a dent in our overstuffed tea cabinet instead of contributing to the coffers of the nearest coffee shop.

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august-169

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Everything is (finally) so Gay

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And it’s kind of amazing.

I went for a hike yesterday morning, so I was away for many hours of the initial celebration. A friend texted me when they released the decision, so I wasn’t completely taken by surprise when I returned to the internet where everything, literally everything, was covered in rainbows.

My wife and I married in 2012 without any of the legal bits. If you’d asked me then to make a gander as to when I thought marriage would be opened up to everyone, regardless of sex, I would have said seven years, five if we were being super optimistic. But only a year later, it was legalized in Minnesota, the state we wed (and again, legally). Last year, in Arizona, the state we live. And now, everywhere. A round of applause for 2015, guys.

I still wonder if we should have waited. But then I remind myself that that’s nonsense: we couldn’t have known then. As I told Dr Lady and my family, it’s not fair to ask us to plan our lives around the whims of the majority and the courts. Now here we are, married for three years, legal for one in our own state, and now legal everywhere.

This means a lot for us, for everyone. It means we don’t have to narrow our job search to just certain states. It means when we have a kid, we won’t have to jump through more and more legal hoops in case we move. It means we can travel with that kid wherever, and not have to worry about hospitals or other stupid things. It means the United States is finally catching up to the world in at least one small, but still important, way.

It also means we’re not done. Not by a long shot. Homeless LGBTQ youth still need protection. Heck, LGBTQ youth in general are still vulnerable in many places. Transphobia is still very alive and very deadly. Racism is still imbedded in our system and culture and LGBTQ of color have their own problems that we need to address.

This is all beautiful and wonderful and the show of support from every corner has been heartwarming. Over the past fifteen, ten, five years I’ve watched so many friends and family come to accept that being gay is just another way of experiencing life. But in the back of my mind, I can already hear people brushing their hands of our issues, of related issues, and saying we’re done here. I sincerely hope that’s not the case.

For this weekend, anyway, I will choose to believe it’s not and bask in the rainbow-hued love.