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The Money I’m Not Making

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And The Fun Continues: #562 in the Series of
Why I Think Anyone Who Can Be Discouraged From Writing Should Be

I just loooooooooooove getting what I refer to as No shit? communiqués from my various professional membership associations. The most recent (my emphases):

Dear Authors Guild Member,
Earlier this year, we conducted our first member survey since 2009….
Overall, the survey results (
click here) showed that author incomes are down, hybrid authorship is up, and authors are spending more time marketing than ever before. In short, the business of authorship is both more varied and less profitable than just six years ago.

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Department of So, Where Are You From?

Author Taiye Selasi explores themes of multiple perspectives, cultures and identities in her writings.  Daughter of Ghanaian and Saudi Arabian parents, Selasi was born in London, raised in Boston, lives in Rome and Berlin, and has herself been described as a “study in the modern meaning of identity.”  I recently listened to a podcast of her TED talk she gave in October 2014, and was intrigued by her proposition that we change that most fundamental of identity questions.  

“The difference between ‘where are you from’ and ‘where are you a local’ isn’t the specificity of the answer, it’s the intention of the question. Replacing the language of nationality with the language of locality asks us to our shift focus to where real life occurs.”
 Taiye Selasi, Don’t Ask me Where I’m From, Ask Me Where I’m a Local

 

globalid

 

Some people think where you are from must encompass your home’s location during some emotionally crucial/formative years, a location which always defines you. Thus, my mother will always be “from” Cass Lake, MN, even though she’s lived the past 59 years in SoCal.

I derive much petty amusement from watching MH handle the where-are-you-from question. Even after all these years, MH often seems genuinely confused as to how he should answer. He usually offers a brief accounting of his life’s geographical litany: ages 1-10 in Minnesota; family relocation to central Florida ages 10-18; college years in S. California, post-college/young adulthood/newly married years in N. California; the past 24 years in Oregon….

When asked the same question, I say that I am from Oregon. Although I was a native-born Californian, [1] Oregon is where I live. It is the first place where I, as an adult, chose to be.

Although when the question is phrased, “Where did you grow up?” my honest answer is (or should be), I’m still working on that.

So. Where are you from? And where are you a local?

 

oregon

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Sunday Texts: The Offspring Chronicles

Daughter Belle, she of the previously mentioned Frankenfinger, attends the University of Puget Sound, a college that requires freshmen and sophomores to live on campus. Belle lived in a dorm her first year, and this year she and five other sophomores reside in an on-campus house. Her room and board includes a campus meal plan, and while she gets most of her meals at the school’s cafeteria and other eateries, she also enjoys the benefits of house living, as per the following picture and text she sent me last Sunday.

 

belellunch

 

Belle: Grilled Brie sandwich and grilled chicken. I love having a kitchen.
Honestly like the best lunch I’ve ever had.
Moiself:  yum yum
Belle: Mom, remember when in France you ate that chocolate and then started swearing for like 5 minutes? That’s this sandwich.

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Sunday Texts: The Journey Continues

No pictures accompany the following text exchange, but perhaps that is for the best.

Son K graduated college in May and is living at home while he researches grad school and seeks a job in his field. [2] He works in food service at the Oregon Zoo and hosts epic D & D and/or Settlers of Catan games on Sunday afternoons, when our dining room is taken over by NerdCon Hillsboro is host to a group of delightful young men and women.

Once again, I digress.  Back to last Sunday’s text exchange(s), this time with K, who was manning one of the Zoo’s food kiosks.

 

K: So this Russian guy, as I was getting his order, was asking how I liked my job, and then once (his order) was done he asked me for a pen and paper and wrote down his name and number, and said to call him and that in 2 years I’d be free.
What the fuck.
Moiself: WTF, indeed.
K: For half a sec I was like, is this a KGB recruiter?
Moiself: Aren’t you glad you got called in to work today? Otherwise, you could’ve missed your chance at freedom.
K: It’s busy, though. Espresso drinks out the butt.
Moiself:  Is that how people are ordering their drinks today?

K wonders if there could be an amusing story behind the offer, and is considering calling the Russian dude (“Petrov,” who indeed left his name and number [3] ).  But, from a pay phone, or some other anonymous device.

 

American play cards right, have big future in Siberian coffeehouse.

American play cards right, have big future in Siberian coffeehouse.

 

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Department of Reasons To Do Something

Beginning Last Friday, the day after the horrific shooting at a community college in Oregon, there were the usual, sad, frighteningly familiar [4] calls for “something to be done” in various media venues. I saw numerous postings of the following on Facebook:

I do not want to hear one more politician say that their “thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.”
For the love of God, do something!

Now then.

Ahem.

I know people use all kinds of expressions that have become a part of our cultural lexicon, expressions which are not meant to be taken literally. When someone smiles at me and says, How ya doing? I understand their question is in fact a form of greeting, and that they do not intend me to reply with a recitation of exactly how I am doing. When my public sneezes elicit Bless you! from bystanders I understand that to be kneejerk cultural nicety response, not a literal sanctification meant to protect me from evil spirits my body may have expelled by the sneeze. [5] 

But, For the love of god, do something!  Well, that’s a whole ‘nother kettle of fish.

 

And so is this.

And so is this.

 

Attention, god lovers: [6] It seems that those who claim to love a god do consider praying to be doing something…when the reality previously addressed in this blog is that although it may provide you with the comforting illusion of having done something, prayer does Absolutely. Nothing. Of. Substance.

Do something, by all means. But not for the love of your imaginary friend – a deity whom you petition, thus implying you think said deity is capable of action, despite the fact that said god did nothing  as magazines were being loaded into guns’ chambers and as bullets were being pumped into flesh…. This god whom you think exists did nothing to prevent or ameliorate the situation about which you pray, a situation for which you now beseech others to do something for the love of this same, bystanding, worthless, impotent god, which (by definition, for an omniscient, omnipotent being) created the situation in the first place.

Do something for the love and welfare of your fellow human beings. Do something because it is the right thing to do, because you yourself are human.

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Department of Things That Wake Me Up at 3 am To Scribble on the Notepad I Keep in the Bathroom
and Then I Have To Decipher the Scribbles in the Morning, What the Heck Am I Thinking?

This is what I was able to decipher on Wednesday morning (disjointed flow/grammar as is):

After reading singer Jewell’s memoir Never Broken: Songs Are Only Half the Story, I was once again reminded that I do not have the combination of personal/emotional turmoil and look-at-me-express-my-innermost-feelings! desire do what, it seems, one must do to make a living in this field. [7] That is, considering what one must do as a “artist,” especially or particularly in the Sensitive/Confessional Poet/Writer/Composer ® vein, wherein one’s guts are put on display; wherein one must have the stones or audacity to think that people will or should be interested enough to pay $ to read or listen to such gut-chronicling….

The memoir (well, part memoir/part self-help book is what it reads like) reveals an odd combination of the author/singer/songwriter’s curiosity, sensitivity, self-reflection…and near debilitating gullibility. Her self-examination helped her survive what could be the dictionary definition of a turbulent childhood (and quasi cult-member young adulthood).

I get the urge to write down one’s thoughts and feelings, to catalog and record such as a process of analysis, of finding meaning – to make sense of one’s life, to one’s self.  But to share those most personal thoughts and feelings with the world (including, yep, people like moiself, reading her book)? That, I do not get. I am, simply and dispositional-ly, not ____ (naïve? arrogant? generous? self-aggrandizing? narcissistic?) enough to even entertain the desire to do so, never mind believing that anyone outside a small circle of family and friends would or should find it of significance.

Also, it helps to be young and pretty.

 

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May you do the right things for the love of the right reasons,
May you be surprised by fine lunches and random Russian encounters,
May you remember where you are from and appreciate where you are a local,
and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] Not all that common, in that day. CA, like much of the West, was a place of migration – everyone’s families were from somewhere else.

[2] If you know anyone who’s hiring someone with a B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology, do give a shout-out in this direction.

[3] Not his real name (which was something equally Russian-identifiable). I never know what kind of agents may be reading this blog.

[4] I find it disturbing, that we (in this country) are becoming so accustomed to the ritual: mass shooting, call for action re guns and/or mental health services, Obladi Obladah life goes on until the next “incident.”

[5]  One of several ancient meanings behind the sneeze-blessing practice…nor do I assume the utterer is a Christian obeying Pope Gregory I’s edit for litanies and supplications for their god’s blessing as protection from the Black Death (sneezing was seen as the initial onset of the plague).

[6] Yeah, listen up. Like my blog is the first reading material god-people reach for in the morning, after Guideposts.

[7] Like I needed to read a book to know that – balancing my business checking account is a monthly reminder.

The Ides I’m Not Bewaring

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March 15.  The Ides of March.  Beware them.

The main reason my elderly mother should have internet access.

Forget all the practical reasons: the mental stimulation provided by keeping up with technology, promotion of intellectual vigor and independence, facilitation of communication, including keep up on the family news and receiving the pictures of grandkid that, these days, we tend to take (and send) digitally…. None of these factors have convinced her.  Perhaps if she knew, if she really understood, that she’s missing out on the viral video memes, including my favorite:  singing goats.  There’s even a French version.

pi

Happy belated Pi day, y’all

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Mighty Quinn got a review in Kirkus Reviews, [1] The review is live now for Kirkus subscribers, and will be available for anyone to see two weeks before the book’s scheduled publication date (so ~ May 1). Here are the quotes Scarletta Press  is pulling from it:

“For her first middle-grade novel, set in Hillsboro, Ore, Parnell creates interesting child and adult characters and confronts them with serious issues, including child abuse, care for the environment, ethics and even skin color.” — Kirkus Reviews 

“…it will certainly provide food for thought.” — Kirkus Reviews 

“…one of the few books for the audience that discusses the possibility of not practicing a religion. (Fiction. 9-12)” — Kirkus Reviews

Further on in the review there is a mention of the action being “often humorously interrupted by the realities of family and school life,” but, golly gee, nothing about belching the Pledge of Allegiance or cultivating the friendship of dead mice or the applesauce-diarrhea art project (it’s not all serious stuff, folks)….

‘Tis a good thing – the review itself, and even getting a review, especially considering the chances any book has of getting reviewed by a legitimate book reviewing outlet.  The stats, from Publishers Weekly via the Authors Guild Bulletin, vary only slightly year to year:

“Three thousand books are published daily (1,095,000 per year) in the U.S.  Six thousand are reviewed, less than one percent of the total published.”

For someone who close-to-never reads book reviews,[2] my own or anyone else’s, this whole getting-a-review thing [3] is going to be an interesting experience for me.  Interesting as in the actual meaning of interesting, rather than as how some people employ it as a passive negation of all things exciting or note-worthy.  When my mother an older relative of mine remarks, as per the exotic [4](to her) dish I’ve cooked, “Isn’t that interesting?” she really means, “I don’t like the way that smells.”

My first book, This Here and Now, a collection of short fiction, was statistically consistent in that it was one of the 99+ percent that didn’t get reviews [5]My Closet Threw a Party managed to get a couple,[6] although my editor didn’t bother to alert me to them.

About that pesky legitimate adjective, as per reviews.  What with self-publishing and e-publishing, the reviewing game [7] has changed.   There are services now that, for a price, will give your work a flattering review.  The most recent Authors Guild Bulletin alerted me to an article in the New York Times, “The Best Reviews Money Can Buy“, which focused on one such service:

 “Todd Rutherford offers a service that provides glowing “reviews” of self-published books.  He charges $99 for one review, $499 for 20…. All of them will say your book is terrific.  His reviews will say your novel is “shattering.” Or your book is a “classic memoir.  Will change your life.  Lyrical and gripping. Studding and compelling. Or words to that effect.”

 Have the reviews in publishers weekly and the few newspapers and magazines that still review books become irrelevant?

The Times article said: “Consumer reviews are powerful because, unlike old-style advertising and marketing, they offer the illusion[8] of truth.  The Federal Trade Commission has stated that all online endorsements need to make clear when there is a financial relationship, but enforcement has been minimal.  So forget about the old-fashioned, serious reviews. They are barely clinging to life.  From now on, selling a book will be just like selling perfume or breakfast cereal.”

A coda, of sorts:  The guy in the article, the composer of for-hire rave reviews?  He says that he is now suspicious of all online reviews — whether of books or of anything else.  As my mother might say, isn’t that interesting?

bad smell

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Smarter People Than Us Said This

* If we are to keep our democracy, there must be one commandment: “Thou shalt not ration justice.” ~ Sophocles, Greek playwright

* It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have. ~ James A. Baldwin, American Novelist, poet, social critic

* Corn can’t expect justice from a court composed of chickens. ~ anonymous African woman

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Justice, schmustice.  And by the way, what spirits were consumed by our spirited forefathers [9] that led to them to think ’twas a good idea to allow Supreme Court Justices to serve until they die or retire?

Nine of the most powerful people in the country are not elected by the people.  Rather, they ascend to their position of power via political appointment.  Supreme Court Judge is the only position in the federal government appointed for life.  Once they’re there, there are no competency tests, no opportunity of voter recall.

Which brings me to SCOTUS Justice Antonin Scalia, aka the Rush Limbaugh of the Supreme Court.  When it comes to being the poster boy for arrogant, white male privilege blindness Scalia has a litany of the-rules-don’t-apply-to-me incidents and statements, including his refusal to recues himself from a case involving his good friend and duck hunting buddy, Vice President Dick Cheney.  More recently, Scalia criticized and quoted parts of the “Obamacare” law that weren’t actually in the law, admitted he hadn’t even read the law he’d criticized and was about to rule on, and laughed at the notion that he should actually attempt to read the Affordable Care Act before ruling on its legality.

facepalm

Scalia’s most recent face-palming pronouncement came during the SCOTUS hearing on the renewal of the Voting Rights Act, one of the most successful pieces of civil rights legislation in U.S. history.  Scalia said “This is not the kind of question you can leave to Congress,” [10] and labeled the continued existence of the Voting Rights Act a “perpetuation of racial entitlement.

Emergency call for all budding inventors:  please, ASAP, devise an intellectual equivalent of Depends for the mouth of Justice Scalia.

The only way Supreme Court Justices can be removed from office is via impeachment by the House of Representatives and conviction in a Senate trial, but only for the types of offenses that would trigger impeachment for any government official under Articles I and II of the Constitution.  Such offenses have been interpreted by the courts to equate to “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Really, shouldn’t embarrassing themselves be somewhere in the criteria?

scalia hat

I don’t know which is more indicative of Scalia’s declining mental fitness, his (most recent) racial entitlement blather, or the fact that he thought a miniature pillow sham was fitting head ware for the Presidential Inauguration.

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crocus

The sighting of the first purple crocus breaking through the topsoil – ah, the harbinger of spring!  For one brief shining moment there is the reminder of the season to come…and then there is the reminder of the season to come.  In my nose.

I used to love Spring, until my beloved Oregon [11] decided that the tax for residency for this ex-pat Californian would be levied in the form of fucking fauna sperm pollen allergies.  I feel like a kind of seasonal Scrooge when I find myself reacting to the first series of sunny days with a Bah humbug! attitude toward the imminent nasal mucosal assault.

sneeze

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Take me now, Flying Spaghetti Monster
Aka Department of Does it Get Any Better Than This?

Last Saturday MH and I were treated to have a behind-the-scenes tour of the Oregon Zoo‘s updated Humboldt penguin habitat and facilities.  Through our Conversation Circle membership and K’s and Belle’s involvement with Zoo Teens we’ve had many opportunities to go where no zoo guest has gone before, but this one was my favorite.  I finally got to meet Mochica!  Mochica is a penguin who imprinted on and was hand raised by humans – he seems to think he is human.  I’d heard so much about him over the years, particularly from K, who’d done an internship with the penguin keeper.   Mochica was just as described:  observant, friendly, curious, intelligent, and with just enough eau d’herring to give one’s nasal passages a good workout.  I got to scratch his favorite ahhh spot (the back of his neck…so soft), and Mochica gave me the high honor/vote of penguin confidence by grooming me, which in his case consisted of gently nibbling my forearm.

groomed by mochica

As you might imagine, much penguin hijinks ensued.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] One of the oldest book review magazines, Kirkus, reviews ~ 5000 titles per year.

[2] The two times a year times I read book reviews, I am reminded of why I don’t do it more often.

[3] Translation: reading reviews TMQ may get, and, frankly, convincing myself to care about them. Yep, I’m cranky that way.

[4] To her, cooking with spices other than Morton table salt and black pepper = exotic.

[5] Other than by its editor (which doesn’t count as objective, does it?) and consumer reviews on book sites.

[6] School Library Journal and Publisher’s Weekly.

[7] Given the statistics, I have always considered it a game.

[8] My emphasis, ad my comment:  all reviews offer the illusion of truth. It’s all they can offer; it’s all an illusion.

[9] Adams enjoyed a tankard of hard cider before breakfast; Madison drained a pint of whiskey each day; Jefferson made his own wine; they all enjoyed (and often brewed their own) beer and whiskey.

[10] Uh, actually, it’s exactly the kind of legislation appropriate to Congress.

[11] Grass seed-growing capital of the world, hip hip achoo hooray!