mad in pursuit notebook


Snowbird Review: Marco Island, Florida

royal terns

The days fell into an easygoing rhythm. We were both up early every morning -- Jim with his NY Times on the iPad and me with my writing and reading. When dawn came about 7:15 A.M. I would scoot out to the beach with my camera and walk for 45 minutes or more. (I should have walked faster/longer, since I gained 5 pounds.) Mid-morning to early afternoon was outing time: Marco window shopping; Naples antique browsing; or Everglades nature watching. Back at the condo in late afternoon, we would saunter out to the water's edge, fly a kite, or just gaze out the window at the Gulf of Mexico. This was also my time for processing photographs and indulging in a glass or two of wine. We usually ate dinner in -- why go to a restaurant when we had the best view of the island out our window? Below the window was the swimming pool, with its regular cocktail hour laughter and an old guy playing taps on his trumpet at exactly the moment of sunset. For evening entertainment we were stuck with basic cable or maddeningly blurry Netflix/Hulu+ programming on my iPad (due to the slow internet connection). We played a lot of Words with Friends and a few other games. 10 PM: lights out.

We were very unsocial, choosing to keep to ourselves rather than mingle with the other residents. Our high point, however, was getting together with Pat and Joe Drum: pizza at our place one night, then hamburgers and hotdogs at their campsite the next.

Amid our daily meandering, my creative juices were flowing.

Photography. Between us, we took over 900 photos (mostly mine). 339 of them (incl. some iPhone photos) turned out to be shareable, with a little tweaking, and can be seen on Picasa. I think I finally nailed down the correct workflow, using Lightroom on my Macbook. Too many bland sky-sea-sand shots, but I couldn't help myself. Many shots were wasted chasing down birds, but that was fun.

iPhoneography. I also posted about 50 photos to Instagram, taken and processed on my iPhone. That was just pure fun.

Sunbird Game. Since the whole month-in-a-condo scene was new to us, the first few days were full of learning and mini challenges. The condo property had no how-to manual, only a list of fines. So I invented my own little Alternate Reality Game -- Level 1: the Basics (condo inventory, orientation, groceries, etc.) Level 2: Techno (TV channels, mifi connection, hooking up devices). Once we "leveled up" a couple times, I graduated myself to "Do 5 cool things" in order to level up. Of course, once everything stopped being new and we fell into our routines, the Game lost its usefulness. Turning a new life experience into a game came in handy later as I was revising my novel, but I won't go into that here.

Mad In Pursuit Artist Adventure & Energy Cards. Long story how I got back into these (involving Pinterest). Began thinking up more uses and trying to use them as a writing prompt. Then I started trying to figure out how to turn them into a game, but didn't get too far.

Writing. I got increasingly anxious about "not writing" something, anything. I was thinking I'd try my hand at "flash fiction" (very short shorts) but also brought along my first novel The Underground Athletic Club for a possible revision aimed at ebook publication. I jotted down notes but was going nowhere.

About Day 18, I made a sudden decision to stop torturing myself and start revising UAC as if it were my job. I got a lot done and had fun doing it. The murder mystery will now take place sometime in the future as global climate change plays itself out. The hero (now "Miles Garza") will be more dominant. He has escaped from a rising sea level catastrophe in Brooklyn, only to find himself in an "endless winter" scenario in his new town of Rocktropolis. His survival mechanism is to look upon his life as if he were playing an Alternate Reality Game, based on Joseph Campbell's hero cycle. He has the map and energy cards from above to guide him. To be continued...


Marco Island was a fine little paradise for a month -- we were so lucky everything worked out. But now... there's no place like home!



Pattern Recognition by William Gibson (science fiction)

Some stories by Jorge Luis Borges, Philip K Dick, and Conan Doyle

Killing Mr. Watson by Peter Matthiesen (fiction/nonfiction about south Florida; read about 1/2 of this long saga)

As If: Modern Enchantment and the Literary Prehistory of Virtual Reality by Michael Saler (nonfiction; started)

The Passionate Photographer by Steve Simon (started)

Into the Silence: the Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest by Wade Davis (started)


Mar 3, 2012