Archive for October, 2009

I was 402 words into a post on the dreadful state of book publishing, inspired by an article in this week’s Entertainment Weekly that talked about how all the Books That Were Going To Save The Business This Autumn…haven’t. But as I kept typing I realised that I had nothing earth-shattering to say. Nothing to say that I hadn’t said a thousand times already. As long as literary fiction tries to remain above the perceived gutter to which Authors and Publishers mentally consign genre fiction…Authors and Publishers will go broke. People don’t buy books to read for fun that aren’t fun. And so much of what’s been put out there just isn’t fun. So I guess I don’t need to say more than that.

I’m still banging away at my own fiction, hoping to get brave enough to finish it. I think that there’s a huge part of me that thinks if I never finish it then I never have to try to sell it and thus never get rejected. Stupid, I know. Especially since I worked in a division of a publishers and know the routine. Most rejections of manuscripts aren’t personal. Still…

I have made one promise to myself, though. This November I am going to fully participate in National Novel Writing Month and I’m going to see it through. All the way to the end. My goal is to have a novel started and finished by the end of November. I’ve promised myself it doesn’t have to be like my “real” novels in that I don’t need to research it to death. The idea is to just bang it out quick and dirty. A microwaved meal instead of a Thanksgiving feast. Since my main problem with my work is the courage to finish, I’ve decided this may be a good thing.

I’m writing about my decision here because this is going to be the place where I keep myself accountable. If any of my dear friends who read this are also doing NaNoWriMo, drop a line and let me know! It’ll be fun. I hope.

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Neil Diamond is one of my favourites. I first heard “Forever In Blue Jeans” when I was thirteen or fourteen. I knew pretty much as soon as I heard it that it described the kind of love life I wanted. If I were to bother getting together with another person I wanted him to matter so much that other things–material possessions–paled in comparison.

Over the years that’s certainly proven true. And I know just how lucky I am. Because I see money come and go. Friends and family with careers they chose in college have soured on their life course and are either begrudgingly sticking to their miseries or trying to carve out a different path while beating themselves up over the old one.

Now, not everyone is miserable or unfulfilled–far from it. I’m just glad that one of the few times in life I had good sense was when I decided to marry the man I’d only known for 7 weeks. It made the whole saving-myself-for-marriage feel like a payoff.

We’ve got a nice life. We are happy with each other, comfortable in the way and old sweater fits or your favourite chair feels after a long day. We are in love with each other the way a fire blazes when it touches oxygen, the way thick ice on the river cracks like a gunshot in the spring thaw.

That makes times like this–when we are singlehandedly trying to end the recession–better. Running quickly behind my computer and our vacuum in the race to give out our dryer works only sporadically, squeaking its way to damp and shuddering anti-climax. And neck and neck with the 20 year old dryer is the hole around the pipe coming into the basement. Any rain means extra water. Or it did until a quick trip to Lowes and 45 minutes of my dear husband’s labours later. I’m starting to eye our remaining appliances with a special wariness. Is that toaster still heating up properly? Is stuff in the fridge staying cool?

I blame the microwave. It broke about 3 years ago. The word of its general strike somehow leapt across the kitchen to the garbage disposal which quit about six months after that. Both of those lazy bums were eventually replaced but now that the word is out about our trusting nature the various other parts of our house seem to be going on holiday at a rapid rate.

And funnily enough I don’t mind. Because I still have the one thing, the only thing that truly matters. I have my funny little family. A husband who loves me unconditionally and is loved unconditionally in return. A crazy smart dog who is the light of our lives and more than a few eccentric stuffed animals who monitor the goings-on from cozy bleacher seats.

I’m thinking of all of this because of a phone conversation I had yesterday. A phone conversation that reminded me there are people who love nothing more than money and who fear the loss of material goods so keenly that they wouldn’t know how to care for another person if all their world and sanity required it. Love is the greatest blessing on this earth. I feel especially blessed to know that.

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Let me start by saying I have no idea what is wrong with my brain. I did take Benadryl before bed, but last time I checked Benedryl is not made from LSD. So I have no idea what those extended dreams were about.

But in my sleep I was in this sideways world. I was still married to my husband, but he hated being married to me. He spent most of our money on hookers. What he didn’t spend on hookers he used to buy cheeseburgers; he would then come home and eat massive quantities of those in front of the TV while he watched a cooking show. He seemed to have some sort of crazy mancrush on the host–a combination of Alton Brown and Joel McHale. In the sideways world of my dream, that guy was the biggest star on the planet.

One night his big star cooking show was preempted, and my husband had a huge fit. But we watched the show anyway. Turned out that the Obamas had decided to take over New Zealand, Iceland and Greenland and make them the three new states of the Union. There was a variety show filled with celebrities talking up how wonderful this was. Apparently Whoopi Goldberg especially liked the idea because in Iceland they made cheap plastic furniture which was perfect for people to buy while they sat by the bedside of their wounded soldiers. There was an extended segment about one father who slept JUST GREAT! in the hospital room on his special Icelandic Plastic Chair. And it only cost five dollars!

Needless to say I’m still tired.

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To add insult to injury…

One of the latest permutations of my ongoing biological mess is some very bad open sores on my scalp. (Yeah, I know. Could it get any worse? I feel like a Chevelle.)

So I had to get this special shampoo to treat the scalp problem. Whaddya know?!? It smells like dog shampoo. So now I’m sitting here at my desk, trying to work, all the while wondering where the new puppy is.

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New Jersey Democrat Bob Andrews believes that the Constitution grants Congress Police Power.

Meet the new King. Same as the Old King.

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I can’t build a whole body today. None of my thoughts are gelling into a whole post. Speaking of which, EW used that word this week and spelled it “jelling”. Huh.

1.Aunt B. has a good post today about the Myth of the Reasonable Discussion. It’s about the immigration thing and it is in refutation to a post by Kleinheider, the thesis of which seems to be that if some people would just calm down a little bit we could make some progress on the immigration debate. Now, as a person who HATES emotional appeals in arguments (even when I make them, as in the health care stuff) I kind of get where Kleinheider is coming from. But I still can’t get around the fact that certain things DO make people emotional. Such as being told you aren’t worthy or welcome. Or as good as someone else. Yes, over the years I’ve found myself modifying my stance on immigration. That’s happened not because of appeals from the other side–which has some activists I find loathesome–but because of the “side” I was initially on. I can’t brook a discussion where someone from another country is referred to as “an illegal” and painted as someone less than human. It veers to close to the language used here for hundreds of years to enslave.

2. I can’t decide if I should be flattered or concerned. But last night my mom went on and on to me about something she’d read in a magazine. After about two minutes I figured out that she was recounting to me an article she’d read…on my blog. Yes, I’m flattered that she thinks what I write could be a magazine article. Yes, I’m concerned that she doesn’t remember I wrote it.

3. I guess we’re in a Season Of Replacement here at Villa Gorilla. Because yesterday, out of the blue, our twelve-year-old vacuum just stopped working. Although whether or not I can say ‘out of the blue’ when that thing was electrical-taped together within an inch of its life is debatable. So we finally broke down and spent the vacuum money we’d saved up. It feels weird to do all this saving up for so long and then to actually go SPEND the cash. We aren’t spendy people…we’re savey people. The spending seems both deliciously wrong and decadently filling. Anyway, that’s how we’ve ended up with a Dyson. And why I spent time yesterday watching the new vacuum suck up dirt. You know, that “cyclone technology” looks not unlike a cotton candy machine, with dirt whipping in thin, circular threads into the canister. I may never eat cotton candy again.

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I haven’t thought of a name for him yet. In fact, I’ve just now decided on gender. Anything this big and flashy has to be male.

I have a new iMac. Brand new. As in they just were announced on Tuesday.

I’m still in the “pinch me, I’m dreaming” stage, actually.

When my old iMac suffered from what they called ‘Bulging Capacitors’ my first thought was that it sounded like something I would get in my back or my knees. We hashed over whether to pay the hefty repair bill or to just buy new. We settled on buying a refurbished laptop, priced those over at MacAuthority and then started the business of saving up.

We knew we’d have enough by this weekend, (although I was halfway expecting the car to break down or a stone to break loose in my kidney–something that would eat into the bottom line) and I was preparing my desk area for the new arrival.

Then I got an email from Apple announcing that the Newest iMac was Here. And that it was a lot cheaper. So much cheaper that the new base model cost the exact same as the refurbished laptop we’d had our eye on.

Here is where I squee.

So one minor hiccup later (the first one didn’t have an Airport card in it…ooops) we’re here and raring to go. I still can’t believe how sparkly-shiny it is. I’m so in love.

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I find many of my thoughts echoed today over at Disabled Feminists. The hoops we disabled people have to go through for basic medical care…thanks to politicians and TV writers…seem to be universal.

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Until yesterday morning I was blissfully unaware of this Gerald Celente guy. I tripped over him like a rock in the undertow when surfing the web for information about the B&N Nook Reader. People were quoting him, saying the recession was far from over, that there is going to mass panic, rioting in the streets, looting, killing, a tax revolution, and so forth. He apparently has some sort of track record, having predicted the economic downturn of 2008 before it happened. He claims to read a lot of news and remember a lot of history, so his predictions have a special sheen of legitimacy. Especially among those who love to sell fear–namely the news outlets.

Selling fear has become a specialty of the modern press. It’s one of the reasons I blame the current news system for turning their viewers off. And as a turned-off viewer it’s one of the reasons I hadn’t ever sat through one of Celente’s talking head pieces.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the state of America and the world economy. And after watching 10 minutes of Celente on something called Russia Today (via YouTube) it got me to thinking even more. Suppose he is right. After all, we saw massive drops in spending last Christmas. High-end stores are being shut down. People are changing their spending habits. Perhaps it IS true that America will be an undeveloped country in 2012.

But then I got to thinking even more. I actually know a lot of folks who have predicted the coming financial crisis. Many of them read this blog. But the thing is, none of us live in New York or Los Angeles. And from what I can see, the crisis is worse there because the correction was more needed. And I think when Celente makes his predictions he’s doing so as a New Yorker.

There are a lot of TV shows I could use as an example here, so I don’t mean to fault one program entirely, but I did watch Sex and the City and get really irritated. It appears that there is one part of America where people eat at restaurants all of the time, buy pairs of shoes that costs hundreds or even thousands of dollars and give diamonds as STOCKING STUFFERS at Christmas. There is a part of America where you buy what you feel like and worry about paying for it in some far distant future when you are surely to have struck gold. And maybe it’s good that part of America is having its sails trimmed a bit.

Because folks like me, like dozens of my friends, we’re the ones who are saving America, who are going to reshape America. Folks like us who don’t live beyond our means, who eat meals at home and buy their clothes at Target. Folks who wait for the video because even buying the video is cheaper than two tickets to the movies and you can make your own popcorn.

I think Celente lives in New York and doesn’t realise that folks like me exist. I think he thinks that everyone is buying everything on credit.

What do I think will halt the “coming riots” of Celente’s nightmare universe? The same things that have propelled society forward for thousands of years. Love and innovation. All of these doomsayers forget those two things. They see only a world motivated by money, a world where new things never happen. They cry doom because the oil is running dry, the money is running dry. They don’t dare to see that people love their families and will strive to provide no matter what. They don’t see that there are people who are investing themselves in making better things, in being better people.

Not everyone is shopping and having martinis. And it’s the rest of us grownups who are going to keep this world afloat.

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Just a few moments ago I checked my email only to see Barnes and Noble taunting me with the Nook Now, we all know I’ve declared undying love for my Kindle, and have spent lo these six months stuffing it full of everything from academic reading (to prove I’m deep) to romantic reading (to prove I’m sensual) to books about the end of the world (to prove I’m…I don’t know…grisly?) In fact, the only reason I was checking my email was because my Kindle was running low on batteries–I’d been playing the Text-to-Speech while I did some light housework.

But there was the Nook. Beckoning me with its perfect name. Seriously! They couldn’t have given it a more appealing name unless they chose “Caramel and Cream”. That name–Nook–just makes you want to curl up under an afghan, cup of honey-sweetened tea within reach, and sink into a Dickensian romp. Or a bodice ripper. Or a trip through the Amazon to the tree of life.

And then…it’s in colour. And has a cover view. See, my two biggest gripes with my Kindle are that there is no cover-view for your books and no colour. So as you thumb through your library, all you see are words. I’m a big lover of words, as anyone who’s sat through one of my blog posts can attest. But when I pay for a book I want to feel the whole book experience. And I spent enough years as a graphic designer to consider the cover an integral part of the pleasure of a book. Barnes and Noble–who for years have decorated their stores with vintage book covers and sold millions (I’m estimating) of coffee mugs with same–know this. They know that if you buy a book you want to feel like you own the whole book. Not just the stripped version. Because as any paperback reader knows, a book without its cover is the same as an unsellable book….a book in the trash.

So here I am, with a perfectly good e-reader husband, a stable and reliable fellow in whom I’ve invested time and money. And yet I’m drooling over this pretty younger man. This flashy fellow with his cover art and his colour and his catchy name.

Yet as I get to know Ashton–er, The Nook–better, I can see where he is a flashy fellow who lacks the maturity and substance of my present mate. He may have colour–oh, that gorgeous, sensual, stuff!–but he doesn’t have Text To Speech. Fully 40% of my Kindle’s use is the T2S feature, as I play books while I clean, while I play with my dog, while I am too sick to even hold the thin e-reader in my hands. That’s a big but, my B&N friends.

So now I do what women with wandering eyes and good sense have done since time immemorial. I work on my marriage. And in this context that means keeping my fingers crossed that the next Kindle model has colour. Oh, and some better sort of organisation. In other words, I’ll nurture that old flame…the one Kindled long ago. Okay. Six months ago. Whatever.

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