Life Among the Never-Winged

Once upon a time I was writing a book called, "Just Another Love Letter", about angels behaving badly. Now I just quietly ask myself each day, "What the hell am I doing?"

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Location: The Rocky Mountain Empire, United States

My friends always knew I was going to hell. My only hope is that God likes good jokes and bad redheads.

Life Among the Never-Winged Sponsored By:
  • Books Unlimited
  • Friday, April 28, 2006

    Friday Meme

    I might have to make this a regular thing for Fridays, 'cause I got nothin'.

    What is…

    On top of your refrigerator:
    Let’s climb on the counter and find out. Hmmm…stray Jelly Bellies, my grandmother’s rolling pin, Hebrew language flash cards, crayons, specifically ‘timberwolf ‘ and ‘burnt sienna’, dust.


    On your wall:
    No particular wall is specified, so on the bedroom wall are two stained-glass windows, two shelves holding art by Marvin Hill (Protector, Artemis, Hestia, Hecate, She Falls,) one carved wooden box from Nepal and another from Italy, and a phallic-looking vase.


    On your feet:

    Only the birthday shoes God gave me.


    In your pockets:

    Left pocket: a rabbit carved from green Connamara marble and a gold filigree heart with a diamond from my grandmother’s wedding ring. Right pocket: plastic bit from a toy and a business card from a man I’ve never met, with a note scribbled on the back addressed to me saying,

    ‘Wouldn’t an Uncle Nick’s
    gyro taste good
    right about now?’

    And oh God is he RIGHT!


    On the radio:
    Carly Simon: You’re So Vain. Fitting.


    On your TV:

    Dust. Three NetFlix discs. A remote missing its batteries.


    On your mind:

    Lots. Specifically: how well the sale is going, invoices I need to send out and keep putting off, how tired I am, whether or not I want to venture out tomorrow night, and Mr. Clowncar’s revisions to my manuscript. Generally: Sex, God, music, bits and snips of stories, am I a good mom?, Ireland.

    Thursday, April 27, 2006

    Come One Come All!

    Big day today for Books Unlimited! We’re having a HUGE sale, something O has worked on for weeks now. He’s nervous, though he doesn’t need to be. It’s going to be a smashing success, I know.

    So, if you happen to be in the Denver metro area, stop by. Details are on the website. Tremendous savings in the main store. No book over $3 in the annex next door. Check out the Medieval manuscript leaves, discounted 10%. My favorite! (He ships, too.)

    Wednesday, April 26, 2006

    Tiptoe

    Dammit!!!!

    All right, whose muddy bare footprints are these all over the carpet!

    Oh. They’re mine. Heh.


    The garden came through the freeze just fine thanks to the floating row covers. The potatoes were a bit frost-nipped, but the carrots, parsnips, leeks, garlic, romaine and beets were just fine.
    The peas came through of course. Peas would scoff at Ragnarok.

    Looks like the blueberries love their new home. The raspberries are showing no signs of life. If the strawberries don’t make it, it’s all my fault.

    There’s the garden report for the week.

    ****
    Forgot to add, There's a new exercise up on What If?

    Tuesday, April 25, 2006

    Be Careful What You Wish For

    It RAINED!

    Then it snowed.

    More than a dusting, less than an inch. Perfect for the garden. And my sanity.
    So I'm all blissed out. I even accomplished some writing yesterday that I'd intended to do a couple of nights ago. I ended up reading about 200 pages of the manuscript that night instead, which is a good thing. I hadn't done it yet, and now I can say that I'm pleased with the way the story flows. All the hooks are in the right places, the clues have all been dropped in, and I can slap a label on it saying, 'Now with 32% Less Pointless Angst!' (Thanks, DMG.)

    So. I'm jumping up and down because of a few things...that I think I still need to keep to myself.
    Stay tuned.

    Oh, and a little clarification -- friends of Jennifer R., please say hello if you're still lurking. (Not to be confused with friends of Jennifer Connelly. But you can say hello too, I guess.)


    Oh oh! And I had a dream last night, in which I completely grasped quantum mechanics and so was able to go back in time to a young Einstein in his patent office.
    I kissed him, then whispered in his ear:
    "God does play dice. And it's...spooky."
    Then I vanished.

    And just because his hair is so incredibly lovely after a bath, here's the back of Declan's head:

    Sunday, April 23, 2006

    Heavy Cloud, No Rain

    Another Saturday, the storm clouds gather and dry hump Colorado, resulting in nothing. The lawn is already a sheet of shredded wheat. The only April showers we get are golden.
    Yes, I just compared sunshine to piss.
    Too much of anything eventually turns to piss.
    (Middle path, people, middle path.)
    I’m developing quite a grudge against the empty blue bowl over my head.
    Well, better that than against people.

    See, you used to be able to set your watch by the storms out here. Every afternoon around 2:30, the clouds rolled in. Rain fell by three. By 4:30 it was all over, just in time to fire up the grill and enjoy a steak outside in the post-storm coolness.

    Well, that’s gone. Been gone for years.

    Ok. Jesus, enough grousing already, Dancehall.

    I know what my problem is. Tonight I take care of it. Make the shakes go away.

    Something kind of funny though. The boyos keep bringing in dry sticks and rocks. It's freekin' Blair Witch around here.

    P.S. Friends of Jennifer, you have me at a disadvantage. Say hello, please?

    Wednesday, April 19, 2006

    Daniel Is Traveling Tonight on a Plane

    My parents leave for London on Friday, a combination wedding anniversary gift/ birthday present for my dad.

    I’m waiting to hear the second punch line.

    See, I’m prone to synchronicity. Sometimes it takes years to unfold. Let me tell you a true story, one of my strangest. Bear with me; there will be enough seemingly-irrelevant details that finally tie in to classify this as Dickens Lite, but I think the payoff’s worth it.

    Growing up, we took one vacation a year. Pinching and scrimping, my dad always managed to save up enough money to get us to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for two weeks. A point of pride with him. A point of happiness for me.

    On each trip, he’d walk with me along the beach, stop, put out his arm, and through some mysterious process, determine the exact spot on the horizon.

    “Straight ahead,” he’d say pointing , “is England. We’ll go there someday, and see Big Ben and the Queen and Abbey Road.”

    We both knew it had to be someday and not this year, or the next. My family’s vacations had to fall within certain parameters. We couldn’t put an ocean between ourselves and my brother, left in the care of my grandmother during our trips. Christopher could die at any time, without much warning. We took that risk once a year, to be a ‘normal’ family, one that didn’t draw public stares, followed by quick looks away and uncomfortable whispers. For two weeks, we could be invisible.

    I was my older brother’s healthy replacement. When my mom was pregnant, they were sure I was a boy. I was supposed to be Nicolas. They called me Nick until I came out sans penis. I lived my life trying to be perfect and quiet and good and all the things they had wanted from their firstborn. I was even born on February ninth, the anniversary of the Beatles' appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. My parents’ loves were mine. And my dad loved the Beatles and England.

    Thanks to him, England became mythical in my head. Crumbling castles, empty moors, haunted forests. Fox hunts and tea at four. Big Ben, Windsor Palace, Piccadilly Square and Apple Records. Shakespeare, Jack the Ripper, Queen Victoria, the Beatles, not to mention our own family roots. I wanted to see it all so badly. And I felt guilty for wanting it, because to find myself exploring Mayfair in the rain meant that no brother would be waiting back home.

    The year Christopher died, I was fourteen. We went to Myrtle Beach, as usual. Everything was ‘as usual.’ I tried even harder to be perfect and quiet and good. We didn’t stop to grieve, didn’t do the things we’d said we’d do.

    But slowly, we came out of the quiet grief, and my dad started talking about England. The eighties were at least financially kind to my family, and we had the money to travel comfortably. I bought and memorized the Fodor’s Guide to London, I had tube routes planned, phrases mastered, restaurants chosen. We talked about staying for two weeks, then for a month, maybe going north into Scotland. So I bought a guide to Scotland and then Ireland for good measure (I mean, Ireland was right there after all).

    The guilt was there, yes. But so was this feeling that we deserved to go. We’d suffered, and this was a reward.

    I remember talking at dinner about getting our passports, when my dad announced that he wanted to buy a boat. All his friends at his new job had boats. He wanted one, plain and simple. My mom and I sat silent and bemused. This boat thing came out of nowhere.

    We looked at small boats. We looked at medium boats. We bought a big boat. We joined a yacht club. On the Illinois river. Yee-ha.

    We didn’t go anywhere that year. The boat was our vacation. Every weekend.

    Do you know what it does to an insecure fifteen-year-old, when you drag her an hour and ten minutes away from her new friends at her new high school every single weekend to brush fist-sized spiders and bat-sized mosquitoes off a boat in hundred-degree weather? Especially one who kind of sort of hoped that maybe she might find some nice English boy in that month-long vacation to the UK?* She gets snappish and withdraws. That’s what she does.

    My parents didn’t know what to make of it. My father was especially angry. He calmly told me one day that I was a cold person. The Tin Woodman. You know, heartless.

    Anyway, I grew up and out of my snit.

    Fast forward about twelve years. I’m married, living in Colorado, getting ready for a trip to Ireland for the first time. We’ve got a stopover in Gatwick, and the possibility of scooting into London with just enough time to snap a photo before turning around and hopping a puddle jumper to Cork. My parents are thrilled for me, my dad especially.

    “We should have gone to England when you were a girl,” he tells me on the phone.
    “It’s ok,” I say. “We had some good times on the boat.”
    “You hated the boat. You still do.”
    “No. It was just an awkward time, that’s all.”
    “Well. At least you’ll get there. I don’t think your mother and I will ever make it.”
    “Sure you will.”

    A layover in Detroit. I’m fidgeting and looking around, noting the time before departure to Gatwick, and hating the clock for going so fast. Why? Because by chance, my dad is also somewhere in the airport making a different connecting flight back to Illinois. And by further chance, the puddle jumpers and international flights share the same terminal (Ah, sweet pre-911.)

    They announce that the boarding will begin. We stand up, and I reluctantly take a place in line. Then I hear my name. My dad is running toward me. I smile, drop my bags and run to give him a hug.
    “Have fun,” he says. “You deserve this.”
    I start crying, overwhelmed. I want to drag him on the plane with me, skip Ireland and see how much of London I remember from Fodor’s.
    I feel guilty too. Do I deserve this? Really?

    On the plane, I take a risk and strike up a conversation with a gentleman across the aisle. He’s going home with his two kids after visiting his wife’s family in America. A friendly Brit, we talk about tea and fox hunts and Shakespeare. I tell him I live in Colorado, but that I’m originally from Illinois.

    So is his wife’s family.
    “Here,” he says. Let me show you some photos I took.”
    He takes out a stack of photos (he had them developed because he didn’t trust the film going through the x-ray machine) and hands them to me.

    Familiar. Very familiar.

    “My brother-in-law has a boat, and we went to see it,” he says.
    I feel my face redden up. “Starved Rock Marina,” I say.
    “Why yes. You know it?”
    “I do. Very well. My parents have a boat there. A Bayliner.”
    He shuffles through another stack of photos. “I took some photos of boats…let me see…yes…”
    He hands me a photo of my parents’ boat. No mistaking it. The name I stenciled on the back is quite clear.
    “That’s my parents’ boat,” I tell him. I’m shaking a little. Despite being used to weird shit happening to me, O is dumbfounded.
    The guy laughs, “Small world, innit?”

    At this point, I still don’t know his name. I won’t know his name until hours later, just before we land and he hands O his card.

    Christopher Woodman.

    So, now that my parents are finally going (really before I did; I never got to see London) I’m waiting for the next punch line. My dad is, too.

    I’ve probably jinxed it, by writing about it, but we’ll see.



    *(Yeah, it’s true. Every single red-blooded American girl wants a Brit. If you come over here, you will get laid, regardless of what you look like or what your father does. We can’t tell one class accent from another and we don’t care. Just keep talking.)

    Tuesday, April 18, 2006

    One Cheap Date


    Same Old Song -- Marvin Hill



    That’s my new blogger name. Or should be. I’ve been drinking elevated levels of alcohol, and have discovered that I’m not a sorority girl anymore.

    Last night it was champagne. I had a little extra left over from the Easter Brunch mimosas.

    Can I say that Easter sucked? Ok, not entirely; there were our friends who joined us in lieu of O’s family. They are lovely people. G. has known me since before I was born, literally. I like to say that he is the first guy I ever slept with, and that I slept with his brother simultaneously.

    Of course, we were five, three and two years old at the time.

    G.’s wife is also a lot of fun. She brought plastic eggs and hid them in the yard for the boyos. It was very sweet.

    I don’t even want to talk about O’s family. So I won’t.

    Last night, I had my leftover champagne. O was out front with the boyos, watering our beautiful cherry tree. God, it smells so good. You can stand on the hill in our back yard, and the scent will sneak up on you, and kiss you like a shy lover. An ethereal caress.

    I joined the fam out front. I was thinking about the meme I just posted. There’s a question concerning some nonsense about childhood candy you no longer eat. It got me thinking about things that I do miss from childhood.

    That cherry tree. Looking at it reminded me of a tree from my grandparents’ front yard. A magnolia tree, so lovely and supple and smooth. A perfect climbing tree. I would scale its trunk, scamper into the branches and read a book. Or, I’d just lay on the limbs and watch the world go by.

    My perfect green hiding place, complete with giant pink and white blooms in the late spring. I carved the initials of my first love on one of its branches. My cousins gave me no end of grief when they discover the heart and letters.

    The tree is long-gone, as are my beloved grandma and grandpa.

    But our cherry tree…

    It looked like my long-lost magnolia. I put my bare foot on its bark, rough but not painful (the champagne helped) and lifted myself into the tree. My feet aren’t much good to me anymore, but my arms are strong. Strong enough to lift me up over everyone’s heads. God, the layout of the branches was so similar I expected to see my old carving. I climbed up into the white blossoms, into the good smell. My children below cheered me on.

    Our across-the-street-neighbor came over and laughed. She’s a sweet lady, my mom’s age. O apologized for me. “This is what happens when I let her have a glass of wine,” he said.

    Champagne!” I corrected him. Details are important.

    Tonight it’s an ’02 Chianti.

    Monday, April 17, 2006

    Sugar Hangover

    So here's a meme I've been holding in reserve for just such an occasion. Originally swiped from Lisa:

    1. Last kiss?
    This morning, to O running out the door. He managed a feel, too.

    2. How do you flush the toilet in public?
    Telekinesis

    3. Do you wear your seatbelt in the car?
    The way these Coloradoans drive? Always.

    4. Do you have a crush on someone?
    Someones. I’ve had crushes roughly since birth.

    5. Name one thing that you start to get tense about if you are close to running out of it:
    Writing time. Butter. Moooo.

    6. What famous person do you (or other people) think you resemble?
    According to some totally un-biased website, this chick:

    Jennifer Connelly.

    It also says that if I were a man, I'd look like this:

    Salvador Dali


    7. Favorite pizza topping: Anything the hole-in-the-wall pizza joint back home cares to put on it. It’s all good.

    8. Finish this sentence: if my life were a sitcom my theme song would be... 1985. If it were a dramady, it’d be the Indigo Girls’ Hammer and a Nail.

    9. Do you pop your knuckles? Never got the hang of it.

    10. What song do you dislike the most when it gets stuck in your head? Any kids’ music, especially this little diddy called “Fire Truck”.

    11. Did just mentioning that song make it get stuck in your head? No. I have other music playing, so I’m immune.

    12. What are your super powers? Synchronicity. The universe thinks I’m her bitch.

    13. Peppermint or spearmint? Cinnamon.

    14. Where are your keys? Who wants to know?

    15. Whose answers to this questionnaire do you want to hear? Yours.

    16. What's your most annoying habit? Living in my head.

    17. Where did you last go on vacation? Ireland.

    18. If you could punch one person in the nose and get away with it, who would it be? My great-grandfather on my dad’s mom’s side.

    19. What is your best physical feature? I possess sonnet-inspiring beauty. Or is that limerick-inspiring? There I go living in my head again. O would vote for my other ass-ets.

    20. What CD is closest to you right now? Within arms’ reach, there are about 5000. Don’t ask me to pick one.

    21. What 3 things can always be found in your refrigerator? Capers. Milk. Butter. Moo.

    22. What superstition do you believe/practice? It’s only superstitious if it doesn’t work for you.

    23. Does size matter? It does when your shoes are too tight.

    25. Do you talk on your cell phone when you drive? Cell phone?

    26. What are your favorite sayings? “Shitfirefuck!” “Just a minute!” “It’s not like I won’t use it.”

    27. What song(s) do you sing most often in the shower? Only the Lonely by The Motels. It’s about the only thing I can sing.

    28. If you could go backward or forward in time would you and where would you go? Pre-WWI, which was the height of civilization. But only if I could be a well-to-do Englishman, or a self-made woman of means. Might be easier to find a unicorn though.

    Actually, I’d settle for pre-911.

    29. What is your favorite Harrison Ford movie?Indiana Jones”. Duh.

    30. What CD is in your stereo? Everything’s played through the computer.

    31. What OCD qualities do you have? Checking email.

    32. How many kids do you plan on having? I’m done.

    33. If you could kiss anyone famous who would it be? I’d probably be giggling too hard to actually pucker up. But I’d be willing to try Colin Firth, or, um, Elijah Wood.

    34. Would you really want to kiss someone you didn't know? Everything is relative.

    35. What do you do when no one is watching? I’m not telling you. That’s why I do it when no one’s around.

    36. If they made a movie about your life, what actor/actress would play you? Sarah Jessica Parker.


    37. Would you rather die in a blaze of glory or peacefully in your sleep? A blaze of glory only if I’m defending my cubs.

    38. What candy, from when you were a kid, do you miss the most? I know all the words in this question, but strung together, they make no sense.

    39. What is your favorite movie? It’s a Wonderful Life.

    40. Favorite musician(s)/bands you've seen in concert? My favorite I-knew-them-back-then story: I saw Duran Duran open for Blondie about ten minutes before MTV first aired Hungry Like the Wolf. Best concerts? William Topley, Joe Jackson, Colin James Hay, because he was great, and because he ended up standing next to me in the crowd afterward to watch the Young Dubs. I guess I do kiss strangers.

    41. Have you ever been in love? All the time.

    42. Do you talk to yourself? All the time. I mostly lose the arguments, too.

    43. Is there anybody you just wish would fall of the face off the earth? Just about every elected official and corporate CEO. Anarchy and cottage industry! Now’s my chance to die in a blaze of glory!

    Saturday, April 15, 2006

    Happy Spring

    It smells as lovely as it looks.

    That's all I wanted to say.

    Friday, April 14, 2006

    Fiction's Up

    Good morning. May I direct your attention to the the first installment of "What If?" Lot's of fun writing going on over there today. If you want to play, contact Tootsie Roll and she'll hook you up.

    We colored Easter eggs last night. Jack got so excited, the poor little guy wet himself. He seems to think that for Easter, we go trick-or-treating, and then come home and put up the Christmas tree.

    I've been a bit remiss in the boyos' religious education, as you can see. Gotta work on that. Or, for the sake of their precious souls, get someone else to work on it. I'm kind of the proverbial millstone. Jack is already developing an existential outlook -- "I don't want to go to heaven. Heaven is full of passed-away people and they're no fun."

    Au contraire, dear boy. Au contraire.

    Wednesday, April 12, 2006

    I Could Post Something

    The boyos are playing leapfrog with the Lion King.
    I’ve got a minute
    And a lot on my mind.
    It’s stanzas today, I guess.
    Fine.

    So. Life after the bookstore.
    O has an idea.
    He’s good with people, good with sales.
    Why not put the two together?
    There’s a company that designs sales for retail businesses.
    They pay independent contractors to run the sales from the ground.
    Eight weeks at a stretch.
    The catch?
    That’s eight weeks on the road, folks.
    Forty weeks total that O would be gone.
    He’s thinking he’ll do this for two years.


    Pro: He'd be doing something he's good at.
    Biggest Pro: He'd be doing something he likes.
    Pro: He'd be doing something on his own.
    Pro: He'd be making twice what we make now. Or more.
    Pro: It would give him a chance to look at real estate markets around the country for investment purposes, while making money.
    Pro: He wouldn’t have to go back to school to train for anything.


    Con: He'll be missing out on the boyos.
    Biggest Con: The boyos will miss their daddy.
    Con: I’ll miss him.
    Con: I'll be a single mom with strained and sometimes hostile relations with his family here in town.
    Con: Unless I get the boyos into school, I'll have them non-stop 24/7 for 8 weeks at a time. Not much writing time there. Not much sanity time there.


    Possibilities: We can go on the road with him in the summer.
    Possibilities: I can rent an apartment in my old home town to be near my family, if he has a sale in the area.
    Possibilities: I can rent an apartment in several different cities to be near friends.


    Possibility Pro: I love to travel.
    Possibility Con: Do I want the boyos to grow up like gypsies?


    Is this crazy? Is this brilliant? Anybody out there have a similar arrangement? I could really use some advice and new perspectives right now. Thanks!

    Tuesday, April 11, 2006

    Evens and Starts

    Declan is under the weather today, poor little guy. Jack is entertaining him, and he's cheered up quite a bit.

    ...

    Jonathon S.B. Tiercel is being deployed today. Get on over to his site and wish him back home safely. He'll be staying in one of Saddam's old palaces, so I told him to cart along a metal detector, just in case they missed soemthing. (I get dibs, J.T.). He's barely got a change of underwear, but he does have a kilt, so maybe he'll win first prize.

    ...

    Yesterday was a great day. Nothing great happened in particular (except one thing involving numbers that O probably won't let me talk about here.)
    But the day had that general glow around the edges. The boyos woke up in great moods (after sleeping in...woot!) I got some writing done...a particularly tricky point in the book. I just need to trust my characters. They're smarter than I am. And I tried something new with dinner and it turned out yummy-yummy. The plum trees are just beginning to bloom, and the forsythia out front is lovely.

    ...

    Our streetlight is back on, which sucks. Luckily though, it was a blown fuse and not the wire that O hit, so we won't be going to jail.

    Ok. Back to the sick kid.

    Sunday, April 09, 2006

    Odds and Ends

    I woke up today with a couplet and two short stories in my head.
    The couplet goes like this:

    Bang Bang Bang goes Old King Cole
    But the king we got aint got no soul

    The short stories aren't quite so snappy, but they've got some potential. I'll be working on them for the spankin' new site, "What If?" designed by Toots, and hosted by herself, Lisa, and me.
    Go check it out.
    It's a place for writers and fuckarounders to play with words. Toots has posted some writing exercises to get us all going, and there will be freestyle writing as well.

    One story I have in mind is tentatively called "Night Swimming to the Mermaid's Graveyard." The other hasn't told me its name yet. Both seem to want to go to dark places, like most of my short stuff. We'll see.

    Thursday, April 06, 2006

    Today I’m Ranty Dancehall

    So I’m perusing The Morning News, an on-line magazine for folks in the publishing world, and I run across this op-ed piece:

    Doozy Of A Decimal System

    by Anthony Doerr

    Why libraries are evil, used bookstores are hardly better, and you should always choose hardcover—Author and TMN Contributing Writer Anthony Doerr argues for buying books, not borrowing them.



    Check my sidebar. See that link at the top, the one that says, “Books Unlimited”? That’s my husband’s store. His used-book store. His evil, used-book store.

    I’m taking a little offence at Mr. Doerr’s article.

    Now bear with me. I’m a writer who would love to be an Author, best-selling or not. I’d love to generate money just by sitting here and making things up. I understand that Authorhood happens when people go out and buy your book.


    Mr. Doerr’s argument is this: when deciding whether or not they are going to publish an author’s next book, a publisher looks at that author’s selling record. There’s a chance that an author’s second book may not see publication because used-book stores and libraries skew this number. Oh, and Mr. Doerr is missing out on his 31 cents if you go to a library. But it’s not about the money, he says.

    Yes yes yes. Whatever. Wah.

    Leave the used-book stores and libraries out of it. They have only a little impact on what does or doesn’t get published. Why?

    Let’s look at American Idol. I have no beef with the show, so don’t flame me about it (not naming names Tootsie). But it is a prime example of how this culture treats artists. There can only be One Great Superstar. The rest are losers. The same goes for writers, for fashion designers, for filmmakers, for photographers and painters. All the money, marketing, and schmoozing goes to a select few every year in the hopes of giving America what the powers that be believe America wants. Really, it’s just a lazy shortcut, but that’s a topic for another day. Go on over to Bud’s site, and see what he has to say about small performance venues (Live Music Matters, Thursday, March 23rd, 2006).

    So what happens to the One Great Superstar next year? Yeah. I hear the crickets chirping too.

    Apply it to writers. Dan Brown is riding high today. He’ll probably ride high tomorrow, when his next book finally comes out. But after that? Odds are that his publishers will have moved on to the Next Big Author by then. Fine. They need to make money.

    What happens to all of Dan Brown’s copies of The Da Vinci Code? Readers need to make room on their shelves for that Next Big Author, don’t they? Gotta keep the economy rolling! Should they just throw DVC into the trash? Maybe tear it up and use it to insulate the house? Line the birdcage or the litter box? Line the landfill?

    This is where that evil used-book store comes in.

    O is fond of saying that he recycles more paper in a year than most people do in a lifetime. He buys used books from people who would otherwise throw them away. He’s actually had people tell him that. ‘If you don’t take this box of books, I’m just going to toss it into the Dumpster.’

    He’s not running a library. He needs to make money. He does this by selling books at a discounted price to people who do not have, or do not wish to spend, the $30 and up on a brand new hardcover. He does not sell hundreds of used copies of a book that is currently at the top of the NYT Bestsellers list. He might sell one or two, if someone brings the book to him right after reading it.

    Here’s what he does sell: a few copies of books that were on the list a year ago. He sells books that have been out-of-print for years. Remember, publishers are interested in making money. Good for them. That means taking out of print older books that have had their day to make press room for Dan Brown’s newest potboiler. These cast-aside books are our bread and butter.

    Remember Robert James Waller? He wrote a little book called The Bridges of Madison County. It outsold the Bible (at least that’s the hearsay. Or is that heresy?) Do you think copies are flying off the shelves of used-book stores, reducing his chances of getting another book published, not to mention depriving him of 30-odd cents every time?

    O won’t touch Bridges with a ten-foot pole. These days, they are good for leveling tables, holding doors open, and that’s about all.

    Used-book stores make sure that yesterday’s bestsellers remain available. They also make available books that came nowhere near the A-list, but contain useful information or a good story all the same. We are a research Mecca. And do you know who uses us for that purpose?

    Authors.

    Here’s where I name-drop. Pulitzer Prize winning author Robert Orson Butler had a half-hour conversation with O, talking about how he would always buy from and support used-book stores, because it was the used-book sellers who promoted his book to their customers. The new-book stores did not.
    And then there are Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Rikki Doucornet, E. Annie Proux (I think one of her stories became a movie recently…what was it? Something about cowboys…) and Anne Rice. You might have heard of her. (Oh, and Trey Parker…I just mention him because I want you to think I’m cool.) They’ve bought books from us for all sorts of reasons – for research, for entertainment, for a community center – many books that are out-of-print or difficult to find. If they don’t have a problem with used-book stores, no one should.

    But, Mr. Doerr can rest a little easier come next October. After seventeen years of stunting the careers of authors everywhere, Books Unlimited will close its doors forever. Sales have slowly diminished over the years, in proportion to the rising number of people looking to sell their books. And we can’t compete with on-line sellers offering books for a penny. The treasure of knowledge gathered under one roof will be scattered, sold, resold and resold until it’s tossed away.

    The marketplace has spoken. We’ll get out of its way.

    Mr. Doerr needs to stop crying about evil libraries and used-book stores stealing his money and opportunities. We are not the enemy. There is no enemy. There’s just the marketplace. It wants books for a penny. It will get what it wants, no matter what.

    Wednesday, April 05, 2006

    Uh-Oh

    There's a white truck parked outside, with men in hard hats putting up safety cones...

    Oooopsie!

    The bushes are in, except for two raspberries which I've banked until tomorrow.

    O dug the holes using a post hole digger. He dug them nice and deep so I could re-fill them with compost and moss and all manner of lovely things bushes like to eat. Otherwise, they'd die in this godforsaken clay and sand.

    Nice, deep holes.

    Did I mention that all the wires in this neighborhood are buried?
    And that even though the power and phone companies spray painted lines and planted little orange flags all over our backyard last summer to mark them, they forgot one?

    Snap.

    Hmmm. Hey, babe, come here a minute.
    Looks like a cable line.
    Glad we don't have cable.
    Hope it's no one elses' line.
    Guess we'll find out.

    Later that evening...

    Hey, O. Now that it's dark, have you noticed anything?
    Like what?
    Well, after I put the boyos down and turned out the light, the room was very dark.
    That's what happens when you turn out the light, babe.
    No, I mean REALLY dark.
    ...?
    Look out front.
    Oh.
    Yeah.
    The streetlight's not working.
    Yup.
    Both: Bwahahahahahahaha!!!!
    I HATE that light!
    Me too!
    We win!
    Until they come to arrest us.
    For?
    I don't know. Vandalism? An act of terrorism?
    Whatever. No one's going to report it, right? And it's probably just a coincidence.

    A coincidence that continues.
    Oh well.....

    Monday, April 03, 2006

    Gone Plantin'

    The blueberry and raspberry bushes arrived today. If you need me, I'll be out playing in the mud.

    Saturday, April 01, 2006

    Stormy Weather

    It’s one of those days
    when the basement has the gall to smell like a basement,
    the clothes will not dry themselves,
    the boyos will not let me be still.
    But I’m listening to a song,
    The Dream
    by Jeffery Edge and Malcolm Watson –
    the guitar sounds like a summer’s late afternoon
    and the high violin spins down from heaven;
    falling like ribbons from a woman’s hair
    onto the bedroom floor.
    Go listen to it.
    Buy the CD just for this song (though the entire album is magnificent).
    I saw them perform once. Watson was a barefooted Einstein in a white tuxedo dancing with his violin. Quite a sight.
    And without speaking a word, I flirted with Edge. Of course I did.
    That was a long time ago.

    So…
    It’s cloudy here today. There is a rickety promise of thunderstorms.
    If only.
    To the north the clouds are the color of an old bruise.
    I want to punch them until they groan thunder and bleed lightning.
    I’ll pick a fight with the sky to win a storm.
    (Bah! The sun is peeking out. What do I have to do; beat it too?)

    I want/need some time alone to write. Poor O. It only takes him a minute or two to smoke a cigarette, and he’s fine. It takes me several hours’ writing to achieve the same bliss and balance, to calm the shakes. I can handle two minutes with the boyos while he ducks out into the garage. He’s got to play lion tamer out of the house for a biggish chunk of the day, so his junkie wife can get her writing fix.
    Me and my vices.

    I’ve been writing this for approximately ten minutes.
    I’ve been interrupted eight times.


    Jonathon S.B. Tiercel will be deployed to Iraq in a few days. Our families only just met. God protect him and bring him home safely to his family.