Someone is interested in my very extremely cute adorable little baby house that is SO baby little I may KILL EVERYONE IN IT just to get some SILENCE.
EVERYONE! EVERYONE! Grab goats and head for the charcoal gray altars of the gods of real estate.
We will know tomorrow evening if they want to 1) see it again, 2) make an offer, or 3) go buy a different house which if they do will INEVITABLY turn out to be a BAD PLACE where they will probably be eaten by CARNIVEROUS FLESH WEEVILS.
I certainly hope the real estate agent is presenting their three choices to them in these terms.
I was cleaning out my old computer files when I came across this -- it's the rough draft of a personal ad I wrote seven years ago...
"Mean heartless lady with no sense of personal responsibility seeks to unload terrible feline pestilence on unsuspecting household. Said pestilence pokes sleeping people with a dreadful prehensile finger of doom if it can see the bottom of the food bowl. It also hits babies and is ugly. And stupid. And hateful. Please come by my house and pretend to be a nice person so I can give you the cat with out waking my dozing concious, and then immediately sell it to a lab that will put horrible burning salve in its eyes so my shampoo can be safe and smell pretty."
I never placed it. Mostly because my husband told me it was not a very good ad because it was so long that it would cost a hundred bucks. Good point, said I. He also pointed out that not many people would line up to have a chance at a "terrible feline pestilence." Another fine point. And lastly, he mentioned that if I asked people to sell the cat to a lab, someone might actually do it.
The ad I eventually placed read somethign like this:
HELP MR. CAT!!! Charming people-loving weirdo with elegant Roman nose doesn't like our new baby. Great with school-age kids. Has shots, is neutered. Needs good home.
It was while I was writing this version that I dimly remembered that once, a long long time ago, I actually liked Mr. Cat, otherwise known as Stewart. I liked him a LOT. I thought he was his own pajamas, if you follow me. Because he WAS actually cute, he did have an elegant Roman nose, and he WAS a big funny weirdo. He slept in entertaining shapes, folding himself into a U belly up, or tucking himself all in and then pressing his face on the floor. He trilled charmingly when people entered the house, as if he was delighted to welcome them all to his humble abode. He sat on the back of the sofa as I read, peering over my shoulder as if he was reading too. When he was sleepy (and this is a cat we are talking about, so read this as "just about any time") I could set a full cup of juice or soda DIRECTLY ON HIS HEAD and he would hold himself remarkably still and act like a patient furry coaster.
So my real problem with Stewart (or St.Wart as my crack smoking ex-vet accidentally named him by leaving out the E) is that he hit babies. Particularly my baby. My friend had two little boys, ages 5 and 7, and Saint Wart worshipped them. He thought (Two Little Boys) + (x) where x was a piece of string or possibly a feather duster was the true mathematical formula for fun. And he may have liked other people's babies, who knows.
The main thing was, he hit mine. And to give credit where credit is due, he never bit the baby, or used his claws, he just hauled off and whanged the baby in the head. And to give more credit where credit is due, the baby usually whanged him in the head first. Never the less, it was righteously unacceptable to me, The Mommy of said whanged baby.
It made me nervous, and it made me worried, and worst of all, it made me VIOLENTLY LOATHE a perfectly darling little cat who was the blossom on the tree of my life until Mr. Baby replaced him. Which, if I cared about the psychological whatevers, is probably WHY Stewart hated the baby in the first place. But I do not care about the psychological whatevers. I cared about not having my baby hit. And since I was absolutely set on keeping the baby, Mr. Cat had to pack up and go.
We had another cat at the time, Walley, who NEVER hit babies. NEVER. If the baby hit Walley he just LEFT THE AREA which he could do, and which the baby could not do. So Walley was allowed to live. And with us. Stewart is gone...he went to live with folks in our neighborhood who had older kids and they ADORED him and he adored them back...He was still with them and happy (and getting obscenely fat) when we moved to Atlanta.
Ah the lunacy of new motherhood. The baby is now a 7 year old Manling who is perfectly capable of defending himself against multiple cats, but at the time I could not see past my hideous new mommy fear of CAT INDUCED BRAIN DAMAGE. I wonder where St. Wart is, and indeed IF St. Wart still is at all. He would be about ten? God Speed Saint Wart, where ever you are....
1) There's this thing that happens when your book sells, where you suddenly feel like you are NOT EVER ALLOWED to have any problems EVER AGAIN and whatever problems you do have you should just STFU (which, in my house, which is full of tiny impressionable children, stands for "silence the fussy ululations") because the thing you have been working for for 10 years has HAPPENED. So. SHUT UP already.
2) But you still have problems.
3) FOR EXAMPLE, you have to get BLURBS. How do you get blurbs, you might ask. WELL! Please see number four!
4) Some people say, "Your editor and your agent will do all that! TRA LA LA" And indeed -- they do -- they write letters to other writers that are in your genre, ones that seem like they would like your work and all, and ask them to read the MS, and if they like it, to say a few kind words. And if you your goal is to HAVE A BOOK PUBLISHED, that's just dandy. But. If your goal is "to have a career as a novelist" you don't just sit there and assume your publishing house and agent are going make that all work out. NO NO. You say to your editor, WHAT CAN I DO, and she says "Make a list of every writer who you sincerely admire who has most influenced your work, and then write to them and ask them to read the book, and, if they like it, to say so to me. Preferably using metaphor and comparison and sound-bite-worthy prose." SO, here comes 5....
5) I made a list. 35 writers. And baby, we have some NAMES here. I mean, you are going to list the 30 - 40 people who have most influenced your work, are you going to say "MY SECOND GRADE TEACHER DEAR DEAR MRS. PRIBBLES!" No. You are going to list people whose writing has PUT YOU ON THE FLOOR, weeping in ecstacy, LICKING their books in a rictus of orgasmic worship. You are going to say Alice Sebold. Terry Kay. Pat Conroy. Barbara Kingsolver. Billie Letts. Anne LaMott. Sheri Reynolds. Lee Smith. Jill McCorkle. Anne Tyler....ETC.
6) I could list all 35. There is not a dog in the bunch.
7) SO THEN. You have to go to the 35 people you have ADMIRED most in the last decade, and say to them "HI! I SINCERELY LOVE YOU! READ ME! AND THEN BLURB ME! PS, NO, REALLY, I SINCERELY LOVE YOU. OKAY WELL, YES, I WANT SOMETHING AND YOU ARE FAMOUS. BUT THAT'S NOT WHY I PICKED YOU, SEE, REMEMBER EARLIER WHEN I SAID I SINCERELY LOVE YOU? WELL! I DO! And you feel like you sound insincere and pestilent to the 35 people in your profession that you ADMIRE MOST.
8) ALSO if you are me, you are very dreadful at asking for help from YOUR OWN MOTHER. Much less strangers.
9) SO. Writing these letters -- it is very stressful, so much so that you call your editor's assistant and weep on the phone (you are too embarrassed to call your editor) and you sound certifiable. SO crazy are you, that in a few minutes your editor comes out of IMPORTANT MEETINGS to call you back and talk you in off the ledge. (Notice how I use second person to DISTANCE myself from the lunatic behavior! Where did you learn that, you ask<-- here you means actual you and not me. From TAYARI JONES who, by the way, is on your list of of 35 and whom you are stalking.<---here you means me.)
10) But today...... The last of the 35 letters is not ONLY written, it is mailed. And it has taken about 20 to 40 minutes EACH to get these letters right and you have been working on them for 10 days now. BUT YOU ARE DONE! AND THIS MY FRIENDS IS A ROAR OF TRIUMPH. Here it comes..... YAHYAHYAH.
11) because now you can go work on your new NOVEL instead of LETTERS and OH MY that's SO much easier. REALLY. And too, even if not one blurb comes from it...there is somethign very satisfying in having a) Contacted your 35 all time favorite living writers and b) knowing you have done what you can from YOUR END to help your beloved little book as it is launched into the HURRICANE that is the market.
SO, Guess I better go do that.
Yesterday I was apparently stealth attacked by evil hippo spirits who damped my brainwaves. Before you put me on anti-psychotics, please, hear me out. I have proof.
In Egypt, a long time ago (oh my best beloveds) dreadful hippos lived at the edge of the Nile and killed people and thrashed violently around upending barges and eating water weeds and savaging other hippos. Okay, the eating water weeds part wasnt a huge problem, but the other anti-social behaviors led the Egyptians to a conclusion I can not dispute: Hippos are seriously not nice.
Then they took it one step farther, and while the rational bits of me cant really go with them on this one, my darker side is open to the possibilities. They concluded that Evil Hippo Spirits can attack on the spiritual level.
At any rate, little faience hippos were often made as totems and put in the tombs of Egyptians so as to keep the evil spirit hippos at bay. (Faience is a way to work in glass.) Here is a picture of one:
He is blue because hippos live in water, and the dark etchings are the outlines of water plants, indicating that this hippo is stealthily lurking in some weeds, waiting to pop out and kill you. (ASIDE: Hippo is one of those words that if you say it over and over it begins to sound hilarious and made up.)
William is a very famous faience hippo thats in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. I fell in love with him on my recent visit to NYC, so I got myself a William Fridge Magnet. MY HOPE was that little magnetic William would protect me against evil spirit hippo attacks, because, really, WHO NEEDS THAT.
But Beautiful Maisy, who is two, LOVES magnetic William, because he breaks apart along his spine to make two half-a-hippo magnets, and he sticks back together to form a single complete hippo statue. So she TOOK William off the fridge yesterday and wandered off with him and stuffed him Lord Only Knows...leaving me vulnerable.
In a fit of violent hippo-induced stupidity, I discontinued my cleaning service. The hippos made me have vague idea that I have, in the last five years, all without my noticing, become a completely different person. Hopefully one that mops. <--NOT. BLOODY. LIKELY. I think I am doomed.
A friend of mine (short story Guru Gal Wendi Kaufman) sent me a link to an ASTOUNDING site...
Is there some beautiful sweet something you ate in your childhood, and when you think of it, does your mouth flood with the salivations of love, and do you long for it, but then do you sink into the deep sorrowfullest well of deep sorrows, because it is no more?
Well, except it probably still exists. It PROBABLY DOES. And if it exists still? If any little someone somewhere is still making it? YOU CAN FIND IT AT HOMETOWN FAVORITES.
I admit---I was skeptical. I did not want to feed false hopes. But. I tried their search engine anyway....and....and....They have chocolate babies. THEY HAVE CHOCOLATE BABIES. *weeps uncontrollably* THEY! HAVE! CHOCOLATE! BABIES! Which I have not tasted since 1982. And which to my mouth are the very taste of my childhood.
Happy Hunting, and I hope they have your memories in stock...
Matt: These people just left an order for me that MADE my month, But they have no credit, so it will never be shipped --AKA BIG WASTE OF TIME.
Me: May they suffer the pangs of constipation daily for 3 weeks.
Matt: And Time = Money
Money = Fun
Fun = Happy
Happy = No Stress
No Stress = Live Longer
So basically they killed me. Or Will
Me: They will be very sorry long about week 2 of the constipation curse. VERY VERY SORRY INDEED
Matt: Can you give me a sentence with a blatant dangling participle?
Me: *jams on glasses, straightens spine, speaks through nose* Running down 5th avenue, a billboard for a broadway show was seen. A dangling participle only occurs right at the start of the sentence, and when you go on down INTO the sentence, the SUBJECT is not there. In the example, you can clearly surmise-- if you are not on hallucinogens -- that the BILLBOARD is not running down Fifth.
Why do you ask?
Matt : Curiosity :) And you know what they say about curiosity....
Me : It made your clients kill you by taking your peace?
Matt : It does have to do with killing.....Are you ready for it? Are you sitting?
Let me give you a moment to secure yourself....ready?
Me : I am ready.
Matt: Curiosity Killed the Matt! HA HA HA! RIMSHOT!
Me: HOW? You only met my husband TWICE for SHORT PERIODS but you see! NOW YOU SEE! IT IS DEADLY CATCHING. Scott is a pun carrier -- I have it now too and I NEVER used to pun!
Matt : He didn't bust any out when I met him!!! I was waiting with baited breath but it was to no avail!
Me : No, he is more insidious than that -- he just leached pun-germs around silently like the typhoid mary of low-brow humor.
Matt : He didnt seem that menacing
Me: Menacing is a good word.
Matt : You know I invented it?
Me: Well, I invented the teacup poodle! Still not sure WHY I did that. I am kind of sorry, actually.
Matt : I invented Menacing back in the trenches in The Big One. Me and Kaiser Wilhelm were hanging out one day and he said "Boy, those yanks look tough."
I responded "Would you say they seem Menacing?" Then he ate a baby.
At which point I laughed until my appendix burst. Then he ate a baby. HA!
Kira and I are currently talking about writing and religion. Often it seems to me that The Arts and Atheism go together like rama-lama-lama-ka-dinkitty-ding-de-dong. Or at the very least The Arts and Agnosticism. But we're both writers, and we're both Christians.
To be clear---I'm not writing "Christian" fiction. I am writing Southern mainstream literary fiction. That said, I think it's almost impossible to write Southern fiction that doesn't have Christians IN it. If you close your eyes and SPIT here in rural Georgia, you are going to hit a Christian.
I wanted to write something that dealt with characters who were Christians, but where religion was not an "issue," or a tool of evil, or an excuse for abuse, or an agenda. It's just a matter-of-fact truth. The family in gods in Alabama goes to church. Everyone prays. Some of them are nice people. Some of them aren't. All of them sin like hell, because, well, people do.
No one in this book comes to Jesus or learns a valuable lesson or experiences an extant conversion. I am more interested in writing a book with a moral center than writing a book with a moral. Morals are easy. Living "morally" is hard. And all the people in this book want to be good people, even the very worst of them. And you know, let me say here, softly, with big-dewy-sincere eyes: I want to be a good person.
Kira says that she finds it hard to walk the invisible Christian line in her writing.
I feel that too, that weird pressure. But really, most times? The conflict was all in my head. SAMPLE: I have this couple and in one draft I had them STOP the entire book, run to Florida and get married really quick, and THEN let them fall into bed, at which point the plot was allowed to resume. Which was just -- It KILLED the pacing and made them WRONG, I mean who says OOPS PASSION IS CARRYING ME AWAY! I KNOW! LET'S LEAVE THE STATE AND MARRY!
I gave it to Lily James to read and she called me and said "ARE YOU ON CRACK!!!! GET THEM FORNICATING! YOU PRUDE! YOU DOOFUS! WHO DIED AND MADE YOU PRINCESS BLAMELESS LAMB???"
So -- the way I ended up handling it was this--I let them go to bed together. They have to---at their age, at their stage of spiritual development, in the situation they are in -- these people WOULD fall into bed. But they don't ignore the fact that its sin, nor do they celebrate it in a feckless LA LA LA! JESUS WANTS US TO FORNICATE BECAUSE HE WANTS US TO BE HAPPY WHOOPEEEEE way. It happened, it will probably happen again, (just between you and me, it will -- in less than 30 pages! *grin*) So they deal with it as Christians and as the people they are. So -- In other words, I took 9 paragraphs to say what Kira said in 4 sentences:
"On the one hand, other Christians seem to think anything
I write should include a plan of salvation. On the other hand, I feel
like I have to defend my faith to people who say "Christian" with the
same contempt they might say "baby raper." But I don't think it's my
place to either defend or evangelize. Truth telling, that's my job."
Right. Tell the story.
Maisy is 2.
Maisy lies on her back, flips her feet up and stuffs one foot into each eye.
Me: What are you doing?
Maisy: I put toe-y in my eye.
Me: Why are you putting your toes in your eyes?
Maisy: I can see I toe!
Can't argue with that, really.
I've gotten four e-mails asking how I found time to write a novel and run a house full of little children, and then the topic came up again on a list I subscribe to....
Honestly? I got a cleaning service.
Even more honestly? At the time I GOT the service, we absolutely could NOT afford it. We got it anyway.
It ended up costing 116 dollars a month for a person to scome once every two weeks and battle the sentient mold that was trying to drag my children down into the potty and kill them. It is NO QUESTION the ABSOLUTE best way to spend 116 dollars that you do not have.
I'm a bit of a stickler about budgets and living within one's means -- unless it means I would have to give up my cleaning service. For that I would probably go into debt. I still have to do all the daily crap, dishes and whatnot, but just to have someone come and rinse the house down with bleach so that A) I don't have to do it and B) I do not have to feel GUILTY that it isn't getting done -- it makes all the psychological difference in the world. With the service, I NEVER worry that EBOLA is setting up a thriving colony in my sink drain and we no longer have dust rabbits that are big and bad enough to eyeball the cat as if to say, 'hey -- Bet I could take him.'
It takes the service maybe 2 and a half hours to come in and do it, but that two and a half hours seems to buy ME about ten in writing time.
I don't have a clue. It's VERY CREEPY to feed a hen on milk. It is on some basic level SO bizarre that it makes the tiny hairs on the back of my neck stand up, and I have those hairs beause I am a mammal, and speaking as a mammal, one who has spent almost 3 years of my life PERSONALLY LACTATING, I have to say that NON-MAMMALS should NOT be fed on milk. It's creepy as ALL GET OUT and if you don't bear live young and have a four chambered heart you should just stick to like, CORN or MEAT or GRASS or BUGS. SILLY REPTILES, MILK IS FOR MAMMALS.
Also, I bet it is CRUEL. I bet it is CRUEL in a veal-in-a-box way -- In my head I see all these hapless hens lined up in crates with milk tubes going down their nose-holes as they cluck to each other saying UGH WHAT IS THIS FOREIGN UNNATURAL CRAP BEING PUMPED INTO OUR NON-MAMMAL CRAWS AND GULLETS?
While in NYC we went to eat at BLUE HILL, this fantastic place in the village. Everything looked so great we said OH SOD IT and just ordered the tasting menu, 5 small courses served with matching wines. Imagine my distress when the fowl course came and the waiter set it down in front of us and said, "Your milk-fed hen medallions." Scott and I kinda panicked. Our eyes got big and we had a silent conversation via psychic-married-people-brain-waves.
Him: DID THAT MAN JUST SAY MILK FED HEN.
Me: Surely NOT.
Him: YES BUT HE DID THOUGH!
Me: OH NO! THAT IS SICK AND WRONG!
Him: YES! YES! WRONG AND SICK!
Then we put bites in.
I do not care that it is sick and wrong. I do not care that it is probably veal-level abbatoir cruel. If you ever get a chance to eat milk-fed hen, thrust from you all human morals and embrace your sybaritic gluttonous amoral sensual beast. Seriously. It's like buttered love in your mouth, especially if it comes with Spaetzle.
Sara Gruen -- an astoundingly good writer BTW -- and I are talking about how one POSSIBLY can write another book after selling the first one. It's so absolutely impossible to consider...We are both trying to write the difficult creature that will next year become our second novel. AND YOU KNOW HOW THOSE ARE. The second novel, everyone tells us wisely, TRADITIONALLY SUCKS.
Never mind that our "second" novels are actually her third and my fourth. It's the second one PUBLISHED that sucks.
Sara asked me, "Why do you suppose that is??Do you think it's because
To which I answer...maybe. I have a 2 book deal, and a deadline, and I am CERTAINLY aware of my editor. Aware of my editor-as-audience. And by aware I mean "living in mortal terror she will hate it," so I just do not think about that. I put my fingers in my ears and say LA LA LA.
I am PAINFULLY aware of the need to be "better-than-or-for-gods-sake-at-least-as-good-as." This is actually the FOURTH novel I have written and I think to myself "never have I been SO PLAGUED by self-doubt and self-loathing and RECRIMINATIONS. Is it good? IS IT GOOD? I can't tell. HOW CAN I TELL????"
Because....In my SUBJECTIVE and COMPLETELY WRONG memory, I THINK that when I was writing gods in Alabama, I KNEW it was good. I feel that I knew it all the way down to my delighted bones. I feel that I was THRILLED with myself as the chapters unfolded in all manner of cleverful beautyness and I pranced about joyfully typing streams of gold. But this is, of course, complete crap.
When I talk to my friends, they remember me as PONGING back and forth between an orgies of self-love where I would suck my own toes and declare them to be vanilla flavored, and weeks spent squatting in a dank hole, plagued with self-doubt and self-loathing.
I think I am simply more aware this time through of PROCESS. At one point, when I hit the WEDNESDAY of the book, you know the HUMP-DAY section, that dreadful time when you have all your characters introduced and your conflict SET UP, you are about 1/3rd of the way in, and I could NOT do it. I lay on my bed weeping fetid tears OH WAH WAH THIS BOOK IS IMPOSSIBLE AND NO GOOD JUST LIKE ME AND I HATE IT AND ME AND WAAAAAAAH I CAN NOT WRITE IT.
And I called Lily James and she -- possibly the world's most brilliant writer living -- who has held my hand through three previous books, said "You always do this at about this point."
And I said, "I do?"
And she said, "Oh yes, 1/3rd of the way in I ALWAYS have to talk you in off the ledge... Just quit working for a week, stop REVISING, stop thinking about it and in a few days a glorious solution will present itself and you will call me burbling over and prattling with thrill."
And of course she was right.
And I am hip deep in this dreadful beast, this second-to-be-published, fourth-to-be-written novel, and I am telling you----if I have to stop the sun in tracks like Joshua, if I have to destroy whole villages like Ghengis Khan, if I have to OH PLEASE LORD NO give up drinking like...well, like no one even HALF as IRISH as me has ever done before...it's not going to suck. So there.
Caryn took me to lunch at Milos where I unabashedly craned around looking for celebrities and ate the most expensive grilled scallops that ever were. They came in a cup with exotic citrus fruits and a something something compote cilantro something reduction roux with frittered loblolly pine froo-froo garni. OR SOMETHING. Then I had a crabcake with all manner of decorative fanciness. Then I had something made of nuts. I could not pronounce most of the food but it was VERY NICE to look at at and even NICER to put in my mouth.
Caryn (Editor) was very SAD SAD that no celebrity showed up for us to gawk at. We were there for a couple hours and change nattering on and STILL, not one bleeding movie star popped by. Very irritating of them. Caryn told a VERY funny story about when she took her new assistant to lunch at the same place, and it is such a GREAT story, I have decided to pretend it happened to me, and tell it here as if it did.
So anyway, we are in Milos, and NO movie stars appear, and as we are leaving, Caryn is pushing open the door, and she turns and says over her shoulder, "I am so SAD that no celebrities showed up...Usually here you can always see at least one!" and then she turns back around and framed in the doorway is Steve Martin, who has OBVIOUSLY heard every word, and Caryn and her assista---I mean, Caryn and I google at him, open-mouthed and embarrased, and he throws this HUGE shakesperian BOW and says "HAPPY TO OBLIGE!"
Later at JUMPERS -- which is a revival of a Tom Stoppard play on Broadway that Scott and I give TWO RAVING SCREAMING GLORIOUS OVATIONY THUMBS UP -- we did have Nicole Kidman sitting a little in front of us. I gawked freely. Nic -- as she asked me to call her after we became best friends -- LOOKS really GREAT in person. I man, obviously she is beautiful, but IRL she looks prettier than she does on screen -- in her case the camera seems to remove ten pounds, so IRL she looks creamier. She had on slim-fitting black pants with a sort of goldish bolero jacket. Hair slopped up in a bun so casual and tendrilly that it probably took 5 hours and at least 4 of the Queer Eye guys to create. That was our only celeb sighting, but we did see a mugger. He failed to mug us. Nother story.
In my head I s'pose I had constructed a rabbit warren filled with, oh, you know, Hobbitses and trolls and editors, everyone scurrying about deep under the earth carrying stacks of paper taller than themselves with sentient glow worms lining the walls to light the place. But no, it was very SQUARE and WHITE and cubicled and officey.
One of the oddest things about being in New York was seeing all these regulation, square, normal, tall buildings that said "Simon and Schuster" and "Warner" and "Random House" on them in SUCH casual letters, making RANDOM HOUSE a PLACE instead of...a thing on the backs of books.
Getting into the building practically required a DNA screening...post-911 security. Sad and sadly necesary.
I met my editor (who turned out to be LOVELY) and she took me around to the various departments and introduced me to my production editor and foreign rights editor and a LOT of people in Marketing and some of them had read my book -- not a polite "oh yeah sure I read that cough-cough" way but in a "I can discuss characters and themes with you and I REALLY actually read it and liked it" way. I got to meet the PUBLISHER, too -- She was a tiny Powerhouse. Seriously -- nothing comes out of a house if the publisher doesn't love it....she's a major player and it was NEAT to get to meet her.
Scott -- being a buisnessman -- noticed stuff I did not pick up on, stuff that makes me feel good about the way the auction went and that we ended up with this house and this editor. He said that in every department we visited, my editor seemed to be both liked and respected---that's vital but not somethign I would have THOUGHT about or observed as I have never had any sort of OFFICE job.
Funny moment: Scott and I were standing there with a BUNCH of folks... my Editor, her assistant, the production editor, the publisher, the asst publisher and the publisher's assistant and the publisher asked how I had gotten hooked up with my agent.
I said, "I cold queried him."
There was this pause, this TINY beat, where everyone there kind of widened their eyes in a pulse of disbelief and then quickly the conversation resumed. It was so fast, so subtle, that if I had blinked I would have missed it. But it really brought home to me how incredibly LUCKY and blessed I have been to get this far.
Got in from New York yesterday -- I will be blogging the trip for probably a couple of weeks because SO MUCH STUFF HAPPENED.
But today I am slammed so just one quick thing:
I have this sex-potty-hotty friend named Jan. She has the Body of Death. And Jan gave me this little cocktail black dress (emphasis on little) and I packed it to wear in New York because I don't think I have the big bold hairies to wear it in my home town. *grin* Plus, really, how many times a week do I need a cocktail dress here in rural Georgia? Answer: Even less than you would think.
Anyway this dress...It's SASSY. It's VERY short, it's very PLUNGY in the front, it isn't what one would call "baggy" but it still manages to look elegant instead of trampy. Like, in this dress, it is very probable that I look PURCHASABLE, but at least I look EXPENSIVE.
So I put it on to go to a VERY NICE restaurant called March and then to see a Broadway show, and I am craning all around in the hotel room mirror trying to decide if I can wear it out of the room, but Scott (whose opinion is suspect because he is a MAN and traditionally men are Pro-Not-Enough-Dress) says BABY I LOVE THAT DRESS LET'S GO.
SO we trot on over to the elevator, and its a LONG ride because we are on the top floor, so IN the elevator I am still craning and peering at myself in the highly polished brass doors and trying to pull the hem down without having a boob pop out the top and then trying to pull the neckline up without flashing my underpants. And I am thinking I am going to have to go RIGHT BACK UP and CHANGE because I can not POSSIBLY wear this out in human public.
Then the elevator stops on the 17th floor and PERSPECTIVE gets on. Perspective is about my age, and she is blonde, and she has her navel pierced. I know her navel is pierced because the neckline of HER little black dress allows me to SEE her navel. Or, no, not really the neckline, because the dress HAS no neckline. In fact, it has no front at all, just SIDES, and then two pointy pieces of fabric that come out from each side. They do not attach to each other, they just stick out in points to cover Niplandia and they have either been glued to her boobies or she is making them stay in place by a Superhuman Act of Will. The skirt is nothing more than a hint of loindrape -- the sort of about-to-blow-away-scrap you might see on a bit of classical statuary. She has long french manicured claws on both her hands and her feet and her mouth is an unapologetic slash of carmine and her hair is SO SO BIG that she could wear it to ANY Alabama shopping mall in the 1980's and not feel shame.
Suddenly, I realized I am positively NUNLIKE in my FASHION RESTRAINT, and I quit worrying about the dress and had a lovely time.
All this month I will tell all the NYC crap like meeting my editor and agent and what it's like behind the scenes in the big publishing house and what shows we saw (in 4 shows we saw 16 tony nominations!!) and where we ate and THE MUGGER story and Steve Martin and Nicole Kidman sightings and we will discuss HOW one MILKFEEDS a HEN... STAY TUNED
We're leaving Thursday, not today, but still. You know the song, so. New York. I have never been. I am wild with thrill.
I am going to meet my editor, spend a day in Connecticut with my agent, and then just hang out with my husband. It's our tenth anniversary.
I have to admit -- I am a little freaked with nerves. I feel like it can't possibly go well. heh. Unless you count our rather nice honeymoon in New Orleans, Scott and I have gone on ONE vacation, just the two of us, in ten years.
In December of 1999, I flew out to Vegas to join him for New Years. He had to work a trade show there January 2nd through the 15th. That was the year Y2K was scheduled to bring on the apocalypse, so they sent him on December 27th. In case, you know, PLANES ceased working and the world ended. I MEAN COME ON. If planes had ceased working as society CRUMBLED, what are the chances the TRADE SHOW would have gone ahead as scheduled? So either NOTHING WOULD HAPPEN and they could easily send him out there the 2nd, OR they were basically sending him early so he could be in Vegas in time to squat in the dark while 9 fanged horses brought the death riders through, spreading war and plague. BUT OKAY WHATEVER.
I decided I was NOT spending New Years alone, especially as a Millennium ticked over. I mean, what are the chances we'll be around for the next one of those? SO I threw Sam at my parents and hopped a plane out to join him on the 28th. We had a nice time the day I arrived. Marched up and down the strip, gambled a little, saw a pirate ship battle, and were offered the services of many hookers -- the hookers out there have LEAFLETS, like FLIERS, and little weaselly men in HATS to pass them out.
ANYWAY, day 2 of our big JUST US vacation, I woke up with a fever of 104 and spent the rest of my vacation shivering and puking into an ice bucket. Very Romantical.
Ever since Scott came back from Vegas, he has been dying -- I mean DYING --- to tell me about the Hoover Dam.
When I was 22 I realized I would never be able to learn Japanese because I had used up too many brain cells on the lyrics to bad 80's pop tunes. I will never get past "Domo Arrigato" unless it is followed by "Mr. Roboto," and whenever the MUZAK version of Mr. Misters classic hit about learning to fly again, learning to live and love so free comes on while I am riding in an elevator, I am physically unable to stop myself from singing along with it.
Since the NO BRAIN LEFT FOR JAPANESE heartbreak, I have tried assiduously to avoid learning about subjects which do not interest me, so that I have brain cells left to store things that DO interest me, like where my keys are. Therefore I desire to have a big HOOVER DAM talk about as much as I want to read about the secret inner life of the kidney. Read: NOT AT ALL.
And yet he is so excited about this whole SIDE TRIP TOP SEE THE HOOVER DAM he went on that I have been hard pressed to escape having the talk.
He has approached the subject from the front, back and sideways, and The Hoover Dam has been like Conversational Rome---all roads lead to it. But every time he gets me 2 steps down a path toward the HOOVER DAM TALK, I go haring off into the woods or I scream LOOK! SOMETHING SHINY! And when he glances away my puffy tail goes bounding over the hills.
Finally he gave up on finding a segue that would take us there, and Thursday night he pulled up a BIG FAT PICTURE of the Hoover Dam on his Monitor, swivelled around in his office chair to face me, and we had the following talk:
HIM: You know, dams are actually fascinating entities.
ME: No, they aren't.
HIM: No, really, they are,
ME: No, honey. Really not.
He was very crestfallen and I felt dreadful then, so I crept away to watch TV in a dam-free zone. When I got back, my seven-year-old son Sam was sitting on his lap, and they were HIP DEEP in dam talk, and Sam looked up with eyes as round as quarters and said OH MAN, MOM, DAMS ARE SO COOL. So now for the last two days, my motor mouth son has INUNDATED with me with an UNSTOPPABLE HOARD of RELENTLESS DAM FACTS every moment.
Revenge of the Discovery Channel geeks.