The Cabbage I’m Not Climbing

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(I think) I wrote in last week’s post that I would mention the reasons behind the relative lack of content in said post. Many contributing factors led to last week’s I-have-no-time-to-do-this-blog realization, including

* a week-long visit from MH’s parents

* MH, Belle, K and I caring for a friend’s 6 year old child (who had her first overnight sleepover – Big Girl territory! – at our place) so that her parents could get up very early the next morning and go to the hospital for the mother’s surgery[1]

* going to the hospital with my friends, to have the honor of being their Surgery Buddy

*returning from the hospital in the afternoon, tired, but happy for my friend, whose surgery went smoothly and who was thus relieved of a large burden [2]

* receiving a phone call that same afternoon from another (long distance but equally dear) friend, the witty, kind, loving and trusting (oops) LLL, who had suddenly and unexpectedly been struck by a burden of her own, the kind of affliction that surgery cannot fix. Unless some Nobel-winning doctor has perfected the DoucheBag Husband-ectomy.

After that phone call, any attempt at blogging would have resulted in an f-laden tirade.[3]

LLL will be so, so, so, – and did I mention so? – much better without that lying, spineless weasel, self-absorbed sack of shit him. Still, there is the inhumanity of his methodology.

Note to all quasi sentient, allegedly male beings who are not total sphincter-brains:  grow a pair, or find some that you may clone and/or borrow, so that if you decide to leave your wife of 12+ years you are able to man up and face her and tell her, directly and honestly, what you are doing.  Do not end the relationship by booking her for a half day spa treatment (ostensibly to atone for your recent aloof behavior) and then moving all your belongings from your house while she is at the spa, leaving nothing but an “I don’t want to be married to you anymore” message on the answering machine, and having a sullen process server present her with divorce papers less than 24 hours later.

You know who you are [4], you urethra-catheter excuse for a human being.  Karma will, eventually, catch up with you, and when it does, it’s going to be one angry, turn-your-head-and-cough, vengeful bitch.

I’ve got to find a segue…

Last Wednesday there was some good news for humanity: the CDC reported that the smoking rate for US adults was at 18% – an historic low. I heard the news on the radio, while I was on my way to my favorite organic foods market. As someone who has lost many loved ones to smoking-caused pulmonary diseases, I felt a need to celebrate the announcement. My jubilation was short lived, thanks to the stinky gray haze I inadvertently walked through in the New Season’s parking lot, in the form of a cloud of smoke that was emanating from the side of…some guy’s Prius?

Yep. There he sat, beside his car, hipster porkpie hat on head,

sucking on his unfiltered American Spirits like he was minutes away from the Dead Man Walking promenade. I stopped and stared at him as he crushed his last cigarette next to his car’s front tire (leaving the smoldering butt on the blacktop) and loaded his groceries into his car.

Dude.  Really? You shop organic/local, drive a gas-conserving vehicle, and litter and pollute the air and your own lungs because, yeah, you care so much about the environment.

Makes me want to, I don’t know, climb to the top of a really big, pointy cabbage.

*   *   *

Questions I hate

“How is The Mighty Quinn/your book doing?”

How is the book doing?  Oy vey! It never writes, it never calls, it won’t return my texts, the ungrateful little….

I know, or rather I assume, that such an inquiry is meant to convey interest, but when I’ve asked the askers to elaborate, I discover that the implied query is really one for which I have no answer. Because it involve Sales Figures. As in, how many copies have been sold?

Well, how many copies have you bought?

Sorry. I don’t and can’t, for sanity’s sake, keep track of that.

Like most publishers, mine gives royalty statements biannually.  So, if you really want to know that statistic, ask me again in 6 months…and be prepared for a NOYB response, or an equally personal question in return: I’ll show you mine if you show me yours). [5]

*   *   *

Sometimes, I think, are we still at two steps forward and two steps back?  I remember 1973, and you never could have convinced me then that we would be having this misogynistic, wasteful, distrustful, keep your laws out of my uterus argument in 2013.

I had few words of comfort for my teenage daughter, the fiercely intelligent, kind-hearted, justice-oriented Belle, when she came into my room Tuesday night. Tears of anger and frustration welling in her beautiful eyes, she plopped down on my bed and said, “They broke their own rules! They cheated and they don’t care…” referring to the Texas state senators who tried every trick in their book to thwart one of their own, Texas State Senator Wendy Davis, from filibustering the jive-ass bill that would have enacted comprehensive abortion restrictions in the Lone  Woman With Integrity Star State.

We thought, at that time, that the asshats’ tactics had won, but the morning brought better news. Mere words cannot describe the awesomeness that was Wendy Davis this week. Fortunately, internet memes to the rescue.

*   *   *

The afore-alluded-to, Visit From The Kinfolk was mostly a good one, with a certain relative who has taken to proselytizing mostly refraining from doing so…except for bringing along two issues of The Lutheran magazine, just in case, you know, we have a burning desire to know about what’s going on with “New Thinkers in the ELCA” (one of the magazine issue’s title story).

As of today, the magazines sit where they were left, with no one in my family, to my knowledge, even taking a peek.

It’s funny for me to realize that, not too many years ago, I probably would have peeked — for curiosity, if nothing else. There is not even a smidgen of that, now.

“New Thinking” about a false hypothesis? [6]  Yawn. There can be nothing new or curious-worthy or relevant about that, other than a new angle of spin.

*   *   *

The best thing about Friday is telling my coworkers ‘What is the chip-shop owner’s favorite day? Fry-day!!!!’ One day they will laugh. One day…

May one day be today, and let the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

[1] Technically elective, but necessary.

[2] Actually, two

[3] Which I shared instead with MH and the kids.  I have an amazingly patient family.

[4] Actually, you probably don’t, as that would take self-awareness, humility and introspection.

[5] tax returns, bank statements, cup and/or jock size – I’ll look at whatever ya got.

[6] The best definition I’ve heard for religion(s) is one that encompasses them all: religion is a hypothesis, that the natural world is the way it is because of the supernatural world.

The Post I’m Not Posting

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Friday Follies: the Low Carb Edition

Today’s post is Friday-lite, ®  an excellent blog-reading strategy for mental and physical weight control.  Watch the pounds melt away as you consume this post, which is both low energy and low volume, and may even reduce risk factors associated with heart disease, cancer, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and Morgellon’s disease. [1]

 For your Friday edification I present five quotes on five F-words: frivolity, feminism, freethought, food, fistulas. I’ll let you figure out which is which.

* Give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day.  Give him a religion and he’ll starve to death while praying for a fish  (anonymous) [2]

* A pair of jumper cables walks into a bar and orders a beer.  “Well, okay,” says the bartender, “but don’t start anything.”

* When men are oppressed it’s called a tragedy.  When women are oppressed it’s called tradition. (Letty Cotton Pogrebin)

* I think every woman should have a blowtorch. (Julia Child)

 Yes, that was only four quotes, not five. Who’s counting – you?  It’s Friday; lighten up. Besides, do you really want a quote about fistulas?

Sorry about that. It could have been worse. Much, much worse. Fistulas are more common in the anal region than the intestines. And there are pictures of them. Lots of pictures….

Oh, but after that, your eyes deserve a sloth-in-a-box break:

You’re welcome. Have a great weekend, and may the fistulas hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

[1] Aka delusional parasitosis, where in a person thinks there are insects crawling under their skin or that they are otherwise infested with parasites.

[2] Sorry; no footnote here.

The Match I’m Not Lighting

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The Random Acts of What the? edition

Don’t be humble, you’re not that great
(Golda Meir)

“Bullying, competition, hot and cold friendships, male and female peer role models, and comic relief are just a few of the 10 year old issues presented in the fun and fast moving plot pages for this humorous chapter book. Comic black and white illustrations decorate chapter beginnings and endings, and a comic portrait gallery of the cast of characters aids in fast comprehension. Who would believe the healing power of an ability to belch the alphabet? A suspenseful plot and precise sleuthing sells the story and teaches that Turner Creek School rocks and so does The Mighty Quinn!” — Midwest Book Review

Reading the latest review for The Mighty Quinn more than compensated for the non event at last week’s Beaverton’s First Friday street fair.  Five local authors were asked to participate, and shared three tables on the sidewalk outside of a sandwich shop (and yes, the connection still baffles me).  In summary: a yoga instructor left some flyers featuring a picture of a limber, lithe & lovely young yogi [1] on one of the tables, and, to sum it up, those flyers got more attention than the books and their friendly authors.

It was difficult for said Friendly Authors to strike up a conversation with passersby for several reasons, including (1) there wasn’t much in the way of sidewalk traffic, (2) the oldies band playing across the street made up in volume for what they lacked in vocal proficiency, and (3) the few passersby lived up to their moniker – they were passing by, and looked to be single-mindedly on their way to see something else.[2]

I did the right thing [3] – participated when asked – despite my experiences with such events which makes me deem them ill-suited (read: a waste of time) for writers.  Fine arts & craft, wine & food celebrations lend themselves to…well…fine arts and crafts and wine and food.  When I attend such events, it is to partake of/ browse/sample and maybe even purchase fine arts and craft and wine and food.  I don’t think, “Oh, and what a great place to find a good novel.”  The rare times I seen people selling books at such events I don’t even stop to take a peek anymore.[4]

The Book Table can’t compete with (nor even complement) the Free Samples of Ragin’ Cajun  Chocolate Salsa Sauce table.  The arts & crafts are on total display: you can see them for what they are, and you either like the painting or the macramé plant hanger or you don’t.  You can sample the wares from the various homemade gourmet merchants before buying – there is no preamble or teaser quotes or first chapter to the bottle of salsa or tub of hummus or glass of craft beer – a couple of sample tastes and you know what you’ll be getting, the whole way through.  You can hear the band or the lone musician playing, and on that basis decide to purchase their CD.  A book is a different animal, especially at a street fair or similar event.  You can’t just take one or two sips and be confident in what you’re getting; the decision to purchase one is more akin to taking a gamble.

At least I picked up one good tip for the next time I grit my teeth and Do The Right Thing:  Forget your standard book promo materials, and get a flyer with eye-catching graphics.

*   *   *

Department of Will Someone Please Explain to Me…

As a kid, I didn’t understand the light a match reference, nor the presence of a pack of matches in the bathrooms of most people of my parents’ generation.  Even after it was explained to me by an adult [5], it still seemed rather silly.  Was it a last resort, an act of religious penance (Forgive me, Father, for I have blown Satan’s bugle[6]) or some kind of ritual atonement (setting oneself on fire rather than face the shame of emerging from the host’s bathroom after you’ve stunk it up)?

Matches eventually gave way to the Bathroom Air Fresheners industry – including the aptly if not discretely named Poo-pouri [7].  This was a great loss to the budding pyromaniac that lurks in most six year olds, and also provided yet another variation on things that don’t make much sense.

Yeah, I get the point of, or rather I understand the supposed need for, commercial bathroom air fresheners.  But other than serving as an effective irritant to asthmatics and people with fragrance allergies I think it is arguable that they “work.” In my experience in other people’s houses and in restaurants, businesses and other “out” venues, it’s a tossup as to whether air fresheners eliminate [8] or enhance the odors they are designed to combat.

And the varieties of masking perfumes, ay yi yi.  Here are just some of the olfactory auras available to you, Discerning Consumer, thanks to the scentmeisters of Glade, Renuzit, et al:

Frosted Pine
Clean linen
Creamy Custard® & Apple Cinnamon
Angel Whispers [9]

But really, who’s kidding whom?  Here are your choices.

Bathroom usage sans air freshener:  it smells like someone took a dump in here.

Bathroom usage with air freshener:  it smells like it whispering angels stood by as someone took a dump on a pine tree/in your clean linen/on your apple custard dessert.

Not to get all Bathroom Buddhist ® , but it is what it is.  Embrace the stone age, y’all: light a match.

A day of Firsts

Son K took his first all-by-himself road trip on Tuesday.  He drove up to Tacoma to deliver his first batch of borrowed furniture to his first off-campus rental home, and the next day, on his way back home, had his first encounter with An Officer of The Law and received his first speeding ticket.

*   *   *

My father, who grew up on a farm in Tennessee, once told me that one of the worst insults you could fling was to call someone that so-and-so pea picker.  I wish I could ask him why, because after spending three hours picking peas (and kale) at my CSA [10] on Wednesday, I think the pea-pickers of the world deserve a whole lotta respect.  Do you know how many pea pods you have to pick to get 78 pounds of pea pods?

I must now pause for a moment to appreciate That Which Made It  Possible for me to spend three hours outdoors, in mid-June, surrounded by pollen-spewing organisms, in relative respiratory relief (no machine gun sneezes!):  drugs.

All hail, ye mighty pharmaceutical industries.[11]  I (almost) forgive you for coming up with scents named angel whispers and Creamy Custard® & Apple Cinnamon.

*   *   *

Whatever the wind may carry this weekend, from angel whispers to Satan’s bugles, may it blow gently over you and yours this weekend, and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

[1] A yogi is a person who practices yoga.  Got that, Boo-Boo?

[2] My guess is the belly dancing exhibition that was taking place across from the bbq put on by the Masonic Temple (I am not making any of this up).

[3] Authors are never supposed to turn down an invitation to a public event and/or publicity. Unless they do.

[4] I used to, then found myself in the awkward situation of trying to get away from the table ASAP, as a glance at the covers and back pages of the books revealed that they were amateurish, obviously, self-published efforts…as in, really poorly written and in need of serious, competent editing.

[5] By my uncle Joe, accomplished match lighter, may he rest in peace.

[6] a high-pitched, keening wail of a fart, as if summoning Satan’s minions from one’s nether regions.

[7] I am not making this up, and you have to read the product reviews.

[8] Sorry.  Potty-pun unintentional. No shit really.

[9]  Because we all know what angel whispers smell like.

[11] In my case, the makers of generic Zyrtec.

The Muse I’m Not Mastering

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Tonight, June 7, I’ll  be at Downtown Beaverton’s First Friday, the city’s monthly celebration of art and craft and live entertainment and food that takes place in Beaverton’s core downtown area.  Look for me (and two other local authors) at Beaverton Sub Station (12248 SW Broadway) from 5-8p, selling and signing copies of The Mighty Quinn, trying to be heard above the surrounding bands, or just chucking it all and joining the “improvisational, neo-tribal belly dance troupe” Mandala, who will be entertaining, educating and empowering the sisterhood of undulating torsos (and scaring the old folks barbequing at the Beaverton Masonic Lodge) from 6-7p.

No, I don’t know why we’re doing this at a sub shop, except for the inherent connection in most people’s minds between fine sandwiches and fine literature.

*   *   *

Department of Your Tax Dollars At Work

Unless in the past couple of days you have been driven mad by the cellular-disrupting touch of a Kalandan  or caught between dimensions in Tholian Web, it’s likely you heard or read something about the Star Trek parody video that the IRS produced for a 2010 training conference.

I’m all over anyone producing any kind of Star Trek parody for any reason, but using taxpayer’s money?  And really, for 50k, couldn’t they at least have gotten a better Spock wig? [1]

*   *   *

 I am driven by a wonderful muse called alimony.
Dick Schaap 

An e-versation[2] earlier in the week with the delightful Desiree Bussiere, Scarletta Press’s Director of Publicity, was a spark for one of my I haven’t thought of this in years memories. Further fanning the spark was one of the questions submitted to me by a reporter for the Hillsboro Tribune reporter, who is planning to do a story on The Mighty Quinn.

Whether you’re a writer who does 20 interviews per month or one Q & A every ten years, you will, always and eventually, be asked some version of, “How do you write?” or “Can you describe your inspiration and/or writing process?”

The response to that kind of question, if answered truthfully, will likely be…well…not very interesting.  Writing fiction involves little drama, no wand-waving…how many cinema-worthy images are there of someone thinking, and then moving their fingers rapidly across a keyboard?  The translation of a story from imagination to page, while often exhilarating for the writer, is a snorefest to watch.  Thus, I think, the tendency to embellish the response.

I’d like to hitch a ride on a Star Trek-worthy time warp device of some sort that would transport me back in time so that I could slap the first pretentious author who decided to like the concept of the Muse with that of literary creation.  As in, a True Author one must follow The Muse, or wait until she Muse calls or “strikes” before one can be inspired to write.

For those of you needing a Greek mythology, primer, The Muses were the daughters of Zeus [3] and Mnemosyne [4], who presided over various arts and sciences.

I was inspired to compose a list of alternative muses one day, after reading a precious interview with a precious author who complained of the agonies of being enslaved to the Muse and thus was unable to write, seeing as how Ms. Muse had not deigned to inspire him since he’d written his bestseller. [5]

Yes, a “real” author writes only “when the muse” strikes…and makes sure the Muse strikes every working day, just after breakfast.

Greek Muses

name of muse                                presides over the realm(s) of
Erato                                             love poetry & mime
Euterpe                                         lyric poetry
Calliope                                         epic poetry
Clio                                                 history
Melphomene                                 tragedy
Polyhymnia                                   sacred song
Terpsichore                                   dance
Thalia                                            comedy
Urania                                           astronomy

Robyn’s Modern Literary Muses 

name of muse                                presides over the realm(s) of
Callosene                                      hardened buttocks
Egonia                                           “no simultaneous submissions” policies
Emotia                                          romance novels
Ennuinia                                        free verse
Erratica                                         copy editors
Dyspepsia                                     the submissions process
Hyperbolene                                 writing workshops, seminars and “how to” classes
Monotonene                                  political correctness (anybody’s)
Polymorphia                                  M. F. A. programs in Fiction/Creative Writing
Twerpsichore                                writer’s support groups

Here is an icon of your muse:  a picture of your butt in front of your desk.  That’s what it takes.  Your muse is showing up and doing the work.  Park your bonbons in your chair (or better yet, stand at your ergonomic adjustable desk ) and get to it.  You are the Muse, you are the Master…hmmm. Does that make you what kind of master?

Whatever the realm over which you preside, may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

[1] For a mere ten bucks worth of taxpayers blood, sweat and tears you can get a Spock wig with hair, not a plastic toupee, geesh.

[2] as in a conversation via email.  You knew that.

[3] El Queso Grande of the Greek Gods.

[4] The goddess of memory, a realm that must have sucked for the wife of a Greek God who loves them lady-gods – and select mortal women – every chance he got.

[5] The drinking problem he’d developed on his book tour had nothing to do with it.