Archive for September, 2010


Yet at the same time I feel like I’m dragging myself out from under a dark cloud, at long last.

How bout this chick’s hair?


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I met a girl today — I went down to the front desk of our apartment  building to pick up a package, and a young blonde was standing there, also waiting.  She was in gym clothes  and had a big purple cast on one hand, and she held her hand at a weird angle.   There was no one behind the desk, which is unusual, and after a few minutes we started craning our necks and making those hmm-ing noises that people make when they aren’t quite sure what is going on.

“Are you getting a package?”  I said.

“No, I’m waiting for her to come out and tie my shoes.”

I looked down.  She had her gym shoes on, but the laces were untied and loose. “I broke my hand.”

“I’ll tie them, if you don’t mind,” I said.

“You don’t have to do that.  But OK.”

I tied her shoes and she went away.  In the movies, that would have been the start of an interesting and photogenic relationship.  In real life, it was the start of nothing at all.

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A quick roundup of the state of my media empire: I sent out the manuscript of my book to some agents, six out of a list of approximately double that number that I picked out of the Writer’s Market.  Four rejected me out of hand,which I almost find comforting — what that says to me is that something about the package was wrong for them.  Perhaps they aren’t accepting new writers, perhaps I wrote something stupid in my cover letter, perhaps I made a mistake in what kinds of books they represent.  So, send the rejection by return mail.  One didn’t respond for a while, but ultimately sent a form rejection. (I don’t have a mini-narrative about that one; I have no idea what was going on there.  Maybe she was backed up on her mail?)

The last one — actually one of the first ones I sent out, but the last one to be resolved — showed some interest.  I had sent the first 50 pages, and she CALLED ME to ask for the first 100.  (Which I sent, naturally.)  Then an email — please send the whole novel!  I burned up a printer cartridge getting that one out the door.  And then . . . nothing.

It wasn’t that long, probably less than three weeks.  But, readers, you must believe that I was pretty ill at ease for those three.  She had both called and emailed me, so I waited by the phone and rushed to open my personal email when I got home from work every day.   I confess that I got away from myself.  Readers, I had hopes, and hopeful is not a normal state of being for me. I was flustered, and nervous, and distracted. I neglected my job.   I annoyed my wife with requests for reassurance.

So I was almost relieved to get her email — a nice personal/impersonal email, letting me know that she was being very selective these days, and this book wasn’t quite right for her at the moment, but if I had anything else to submit down the road, she’d enjoy seeing it.  I say almost relieved — I was completely depressed.   I got the email about twenty minutes before I had to go to my creative writing class, which was a joy, let me tell you.

All the same, this does represent a certain amount of success.  It’s further than I got with my last manuscript, which I attribute to this one being good, and the other a giant shitburger.

So . . . hooray?

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The single most important thing to remember about being a shitty blogger:  new shit stinks less than old shit, and nothing stinks worse than stale old shit that’s been sitting around for a while.  This is somewhat at odds with the rules regarding actual shit.

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At my father’s eightieth birthday party, we thought it would be a good idea for everyone to sit around for a few minutes after coffee and tell funny stories about the old man.  So we assembled  a bunch of the over-seventy crowd, all of whom have known Dad for over forty years.  “Somebody start,” said my mother, nervous as ever, even in front of a crowd of her closest friends.

“There was that time with the lawnmower,” said someone.  Everyone laughed, even without hearing any more.  Even I knew it — one fateful day  my father had lost patience with the lawnmower in the front yard.  He yelled at it and kicked it, and kicked it again.  I don’t know who was there to witness this, but everyone in the group knew about it.  When had this happened?  The 1960s? The 1970s?

“Somebody tell another one.”  There was silence.  It lasted a long time.  Finally, someone changed the subject.

My father is mild-mannered — which is a synonym for quiet, or shy, or introverted, or timid.  He taught mathematics at the local university for thirty years, and he is a regular churchgoer.  He reads, watches television, gardens.  He put the three of us kids through school at no cost to us.   So far as I know, he’s a decent, responsible man who keeps to himself.   Everyone who knows him likes him.

But there aren’t very many good stories about him.  Should Dad have kicked the lawnmower more often?

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