Library Funnies

Having not been to a library in quite some time, this has been a source of constant sillies for me. First, I forgot that I’d have to order and wait for certain books that I wanted. Writing down titles from my amazon wish list and trying to scoop them up wasn’t working… so I’m on the internet looking at holds lists. Some of these things might not be available in my time here.

Also, I forgot that you can find funny stuff. People leave things in books all the time. I’ve found flattened gum wrappers, receipts, and even a stress brochure used as a bookmark. I’m not sure if they go through the books and these things get missed, or if you could use the public library system to market things to people by stuffing the books with paper, “Read” or “Vote for Fred Thompson”… I’ll admit it’s crossed my mind.

Also, I’ve forgotten how to pick out books. What do you like? How do you find it? I wander around the place, not being able to read without my head crooked to the side, trying to find something that would interest me. Half the time you can’t read the title and author’s name because of the stickers on the spine, so I’ll pick it up. I read – I don’t know what you call it. I read books that happened now. Or in the past, but aren’t too dated. Or crazy. No sci fi, no stories of hardship, just stuff. It’s hard to describe. But it really takes me a little while to pick something out. I like the staff picks, they’ve been pretty good so far, even reminding me of things I’d read and forgotten that gave me the warm and fuzzies. So far I’ve only picked out one I couldn’t possibly read.

I have also, believe it or not, been making progress on my book. Things get me thinking, and I apply what I’ve read to how I can develop and improve my story. It’s still going awfully slowly, since it’s hard to force myself to concentrate, but it’s getting there. I’m hoping to get a smaller laptop soon to make my work more portable. I could write in the library.

seattle library floor

Keeping Y’all Waiting

This weekend was…well, what was it? There was drama, action, adventure, team sports, debauchery, food, drinks, camping, music. And I’m still too tired to tell you all about it. Blogging is about the last thing on my mind right now, even though I feel like I owe you – I see those stats dropping…you’re sitting, waiting patiently for the Sasquatch 2007 recap. I honestly don’t know where to start. So give me some more time to think about it, K? I’m sure I’ll come around. Here’s a picture of thugs with beers to tide you over:


We’re already having a better time than you! This is going to be the best weekend ever! Yesterday is the longest day of my life. AC and I were up at six (in the morning), after picking her up at the airport the night before, driving through the city, and wine on the roof. It was glorious yesterday. We walked down to the water and down the trails that I take to run. We walked up and back through the market to get a glimpse, but it was still too early. We went home and got ready to go back out. I learned what shop till you drop really means, we were out all afternoon and at our late lunch it was tough to get back up out of the booth. We took her to Kerry Park, the best view of the city that I’ve seen yet. Back home we cooked out on the roof and had general fantastic times. My favorite guy in the building spent some time giving us Sasquatch tips. Of course, besides all this general information, was the guy that rapped to me about my shirt, the Andes Mountain band and dancers, the gutter punks, the tights debacle, the America’s Next Top Model photo shoot, the dying puppy, and the girly-let’s-play-dress-up that ensued when we got home with new clothes.

Unfortunately, since the day was so long, we decided to take a very brief little nap to regain our stamina. Which means I was reading a book, when RD called to let us know the day was going to be longer – his plane was delayed (he says the official announcement was ‘the plane is broken, we’re getting a new one’). That was around 9, and we got him at about 1. So I’m on maybe two hours sleep, I’ve already made breakfast, and when KD gets here, she won’t be able to see the floor of the living room. It’s a zoo of excitement. We’re coming back here for mimosas, we’ll run around the city, go to a cookout, and stay out as long as we can knowing it’s a three hour road trip to the Gorge tomorrow. Whoa.

A New ‘Why I Blog’

Raincoaster turned me on to Barbara Ehrenreich’s Blog, full of wisdom and interesting thoughts, and the following post:

Before You Write That Book . . .

Everyone has a book in them, at least everyone who writes to me seems to have a story waiting to be packaged between hard covers and peddled on Amazon: The mother trying to support an autistic child on $6.50 an hour, the army medic who’s seen how military health care goes wrong way before Walter Reed, the inner-city school teacher who digs into his own pocket to pay for pencils and glue. These are all potentially great stories, but I have one piece of advice: Don’t write a book. At least not yet.

I’m not saying this because I want to keep the wildly lucrative business of book-writing to myself. First, it isn’t wildly lucrative; most of the royalty statements I’ve received over the course of my career have been in the negative numbers. I consider a book — or an article — a success if it earns just enough to allow me to go on to the next one.

More to the point, most books don’t start as books. They evolve from humbler efforts such as magazine articles, doctoral dissertations, even op-eds or blogs. If you find yourself saying “I could write about a book about it,” start by writing something far shorter. If you can’t get that published — as an op-ed, for example — you’re not ready for a book. Correction: you may be ready, but an agent or editor isn’t going to pay much attention to an entirely unpublished writer.

Nor do I warn you away out of some desire to mystify the writing process. Maybe, in some cases, there’s a “gift” involved, but most of us writers are just skilled craftspersons. We don’t sit down at the computer and watch elegant sentences float onto the screen by themselves. We research, we outline, we agonize, we draft and re-draft and go through countless revisions. If we do a good job, it’s because we’ve been doing it week after week, year after year, and because we’re always open to another revision or even another round of research.

It’s an odd way of life, often fatal to relationships and day jobs. You go to bed wondering if you’ve boxed yourself in with a digression or a point that should come later on. You wake up at 4 AM to scratch out a solution on scrap paper. Sometimes you’re elated; more often you’re convinced you’ve produced a pile of unsalvageable crap. If you want to be a writer, prepare to be bipolar, paranoid (that’s when everything in the world seems to be part of your theme), and, a lot of the time, solitary, sleepless and poor.

And we haven’t even gotten to the publishing part. These days, most publishers file unsolicited manuscripts under “recycling.” Once, in the distant past, I’m told, they paid low-level assistant editors to skim the manuscripts that came their way, but now publishing houses depend on agents to do the screening for them. The agent will read your proposal, decide whether it’s worth pursuing, and, in return for finding you a publisher and negotiating a contract, take 15 percent of any money your earn.

But first you have to find an agent. You start by writing a book proposal (about 20 double-spaced pages for a first-time author, or drafts of several chapters) and send it off, with cover letter and clips (of articles you have already published) to someone listed as a “literary agent” in the yellow pages. (There are 164 literary agents listed in New York City, the nation’s publishing capital.) You follow up with phone calls and, depending on your theological outlook, prayer or animal sacrifice.

My first agent let my book — which has recently been re-issued as For Her Own Good: 200 Years of the Experts’ Advice to Women, co-authored by Deirdre English — serve as a desktop ornament for nine months. Fortunately, we had one of those inside connections that is all too common in the publishing world. Deirdre’s father, who worked for a university press, knew an editor at Doubleday whom we could approach directly. We did; she took it; and the agent proceeded to sue us successfully for her unearned 15 percent of our tiny advance.

Now suppose you do land a publisher; you finish your book; it’s accepted and finally lands in your mail box — a beautiful tome of extraordinary relevance, a monumental work that will change the course of human history. Stroke its glossy cover, admire the font, savor your brilliant last paragraph, display it on your coffee table. Because — and here’s the tragic part — chances are that no one else will. About 200,000 books are published each year in the United States, and few are even reviewed. In fact, the venues for book reviews are shrinking: fewer daily newspapers bother with them, and the flagship New York Times Book Review gets more emaciated every year.

Which is why I say: start small. Write a letter to the editor, a 700-word op-ed piece, or try pitching an article to a local weekly. Get used to rejection (there’s even a website for rejected letters to the editor). And if you’re tired of rejection, can’t find an agent or a publisher, and don’t have a trust fund to keep you going — hey, you can always write a blog.


barbara ehrenreich

Wasting Time

From iced mocha

A-Attached or Single?
So attached. In a good way.

B-Best Friend:
I’ve learned to never throw that around again, my BF should always stay the same, even if she lives in Denver, or NYC. She was the only normal one.

C-Cake or Pie:
If I had to pick, cake, if it’s cheesecake. It’s the only sweet I eat, although I can’t remember the last time I had some.

D-Drink of Choice:
This always makes me laugh, I immediately think alcohol…how about Enviga.

E-Essential Item: Lip gloss. Really. Running outside = lipgloss.

F- Favorite color:
Black is the new black.

G-Gummi Bears or Worms?
Both! Bears are good in martinis (bet you didn’t know that) and worms are good in those little cups you make in kindergarten with pudding and mushed up oreos.

Smallest place in the universe, Connecticut.

Used to be my mani/pedi, which I haven’t had since I moved from Austin, since it was a $70 luxury. Here, I recently discovered full sets for $20 by UW. I’m still wondering if it’s safe…

J-January or February:
January, of course, SEND ME BIRTHDAY PRESENTS!!! 🙂

Are someone else’s problem. My parents are way too young to be grandparents. And I’m trying to stay skinny.

L-Life is incomplete without:
Happiness and love. Optimistic attitudes. Life changing moments. A little sun, a little rain. Growth.

M-Marriage Date:

N-Number of Siblings:
Two little (but bigger) brothers. Who are just lovely.

O-Oranges or Apples?
Apples with PB, or OJ. Tough call.

Tobophobia – fear of being buried alive. I also – since seeing a certain Mythbusters – am a little afraid of driving my car into a lake.

Q-Favorite Quote:
A chief event of life is the day in which we have encountered a mind that startled us.~Emerson

R-Reasons to smile:
I’m practically always smiling, unless my contacts hurt.

Now that I live somewhere that has seasons, I’m excited about summer.

T-Tag Three:
Blindeh, snippy, tmom.

U-Unknown Fact About Me:
Shoe shopping in the other window for ‘sensible walking sneaks’.

V-Vindictive or Forgiving? Oh, how this has changed. Almost always forgiving.

W-Worst Habit:
Messing with my nails.

X-X-rays or Ultrasounds?
For what? Neither, please.

Y-Your Favorite Foods:
Italian – pasta, and clam chowder lately…

Don’t believe it. At all.

strange cat

Here We Go

Cleaning 100 square feet shouldn’t be taking this long, but we don’t own a vacuum. I’m getting creative. Flapping the floor mats outside on the balcony is way more funny when you are 16 stories up. We have RD and AC coming in tomorrow night, and KD the next morning. LC and RD too, of SXSW fame, but they’re staying with another friend. Which is really good, due to the 100 square feet. We’re going to rock paper scissors for the couch, guys…

The weather has been pretty crappy for the last two days, so I’m hoping it gets over it when they arrive so we can run around like little crazies. Even though MK and I don’t have this whole place figured out, there are those things we have seen that we know we have to share. And there’s so little time! SH has so kindly invited us for a cookout, and then we’re taking our mini road trip out to Sasquatch. I’m even relieved to inform you no one will be ‘sleeping under the stars’, we’ve all got our tents and thermal undies ready to go.

As always, I promise to take great notes and get back to you, even if you don’t hear from me until next Wednesday, think gladly about how much fun you know I must be having. I am on my way to shop for the necessities:

fridge of beer