Last night I got another request for the full manuscript from an agent I queried. She made one of the loveliest statements I’ve ever received about my writing (sent the opening with the query), and if my back wasn’t still broken I’d have done a happy dance. She wanted a file type (you know, the dot whatever) that isn’t my computer’s default, but hey, no problem–Man Child showed me how to do that last month. I kept reading. She wanted my full bio, too. Errrr.
I went from feeling like this
New Moon, New Day, New Season
the remnants of the rebel fleet escape the exploding death star II (Photo credit: lamont_cranston)
Let me say oof, to go along with that errr. I don’t have a bio. Not just that I didn’t have one prepared, I really don’t have anything to say. Average downward mobile gal, unremarkable life of trying to figure out how to pay the bills each month, extraordinary kiddos, dog poop picker upper with a vivid imagination. None of which is relevant to me as a writer, or the story of ASTONISHING. No alcoholism, no magic (good or bad), move along, please, these are not the splendid boobs you’re looking for.
According to the inimitable Janet Reid, patron saint of wanna be writers everywhere, this is not something to worry about. But I’m a querying wanna be–by definition I’m worrying.
I wrote two sentences having to do with my life in cyberspace as Mrs Fringe. Maybe I threw something in about dog poop.
A friend sent me an email telling me today was a #pitmad day on Twitter. You know, one of those insane days in cyberspace where you condense the pitch for your story down to 140 characters (including the hashtag pitmad, spaces, and genre) in hopes of catching the eyes of a few participating agents. Truly, it’s insanity. Twitter pitching, I call it twitching. Did it once. No way no how was I doing it again. Especially not with Astonishing, a story that doesn’t lend itself to a brief tag line. I admit it, it’s a weird book with an unreliable narrator. Enticing when distilled like that, right? Except here I am, doing it. Came up with a fantastically meh pitch. I’ve tweeted it a few times. Sort of.
I thought it was going to be good that I had the doctor’s appointment for my back this afternoon. Yanno, so I wouldn’t obsess over the Twitching. Went to the office, spoke with the doctor, she tapped, she pushed, she pricked, she looked at my MRIs, then she shot little electric currents and needles through my legs and lower spine. Oh, the many, many ways I can twitch.
“So it hurts on your right side normally, yes?”
“But it hurts on the right side now, too, yes?”
“But you have blahblahblahdiscspinebulgenarrowheelnerve right side.”
“Nope, just down the left side.”
“Hmmm.” More looking, more needles, more electric currents. “You do have mwamwahmwahmwhahpbbt in the blah blah vertebrae and somethingsomething discs, and more mwhahahahwma sciatic nerve.”
I’m no doctor, but I’m pretty sure what she said was, “your back is fuuuucked up. Both sides.”
I left there with more prescriptions than I’ve ever been given. It’s the trifecta of back fuckedupedness, nerve, muscle, and spine. Those scripts are probably a good thing, because by the time I left my back felt as broken as it did a week ago. “We can also give you a shot right now, into the site, to see if that helps.”
One of the prescriptions is not covered by my insurance and way over budget. I’m saying no thanks to that one, too. I asked about getting back to my yoga routine, in addition to the physical therapy scrip. Sure, except for every stretch and position that actually works to get me in shape.
Hmm, do I go with broken and twitching but a better head space, or out of shape and upright but miserable? A tough call. I’m beginning to see the allure of one piece bathing suits and floaty wraps. And plastic surgery.
Yesterday was a busy day. It was also the first day I was able to stand somewhat close to upright with pain that’s manageable, so that’s ok.
Took the girl to school, came back home and went with Nerd Child to the grocery store, to buy soft, no-chewing necessary foods. He was getting the first round of braces put on in the afternoon. Did what I needed to do around the house, checked my email 80,000 times in hopes of query/requested material responses (nothing, seems like all agents left for the Bologna Book Fair yesterday), he left for the dentist, and I went to pick up Flower Child, planning to meet him at the office.
Because I was going to be out of the neighborhood, I figured I’d bring the camera. I remembered to charge the battery, remembered to bring the camera. Being me, I didn’t remember to put the freshly charged battery back into the camera. Sigh. Still everything seemed to have gone well for NC, and I signed all my dollars, present and future, over to the promise of straighter teeth.
Last night I had a beautiful first. A different type of Friday Night Madness. Man Child came in for the weekend with Miss Music, and we went out. For a beer. A legal, ordered in my favorite bar beer, with my 21 year old. Should it feel like a big deal? I don’t know, but it did. There was something so…sweet…about being able to have this nice, normal, adult moment with my oldest. Miss Music also recently turned 21, Husband was home and came with us, truly a moment. When we left the bar, Miss Music told me she had read Astonishing (I had emailed the file to Man Child) and loved it. YAY! I want to hear specifics–feedback from the perspective of a young person– but they are, after all, 21, so they continued on for more of a night out than a beer with the parental units, and Husband and I went home.
It’s a funny thing, this writing. There was a thread on the writer’s forum the other day about “stage fright,” not wanting to share work with others. I don’t feel that way. I want to be read, share, get feedback. Sure there’s a serrated edge flutter in my gut when I hand over a manuscript–will they like it? hate it? yawn their way through because it’s boring? think I’m the weirdest motherfucker ever and never want to speak to me again? not respond at all (the worst, to me)? But it doesn’t stop me from handing it over. I wrote, now you read. In my mind, that’s the contract.
Yesterday at this time Nerd Child was sprawled on the couch, relaxed and watching videos on his laptop, laughing. This morning he’s sprawled on the couch, relaxed and watching videos on his laptop, laughing. Guess he’s ok.
Seriously, it hurts. But I couldn’t stop myself from laughing a few times this morning. This is what I woke up to.
Feel like baking this morning?
The other night I made banana pancakes for dinner. Well actually, I made the batter and got them started, and then had Nerd Child make the majority, because I couldn’t stand upright to flip them. I also couldn’t reach to put the ingredients away, and haven’t paid enough attention to notice said ingredients were still on the counter.
Dumb freakin dogs. Why? I swear I feed those bozos every day, twice a day, and then they get treats multiple times per day in addition. 5:15 in the morning, I could barely walk, there was no way I could bend to sweep and wash the floors. And by no way, I mean physically no way. Over the years I’ve noticed the severity of many illnesses and injuries are contextual. In other words, if I had options, I’d have said I physically couldn’t get Flower Child to/from school the last couple of days. But there’s no choice, so in fact, I could and have done it, albeit slowly and painfully. But this? Even the thought of attracting roaches couldn’t get me to bend and stretch in the ways necessary to clean this up. Luckily Husband woke up when he heard me cursing, and got most of it.
Big Senile Dog went to his bed and kept his eyes away from mine, pretending he had nothing to do with it. Mmm hmm.
Who me? This isn’t flour, it’s umm, coke, yeah, it’s coke. The pugs down the hall threw this party and…
Ok. Now I’m on the couch, feet up and coffee in hand. Open my email and find a rejection for a query. Not just any rejection, but one that was so nice, personal, and friendly, I thought it was a request. Took me two times reading it through to realize it was, in fact, a rejection. I don’t think I’ve ever met this agent, it isn’t likely I wouldn’t remember, but maybe I have, the note seemed that friendly. Or maybe he follows Mrs Fringe.
I don’t know why it struck me as funny, but it did. Maybe it’s part of always being braced for “the worst,” as I go through the query process. Silly, because I have never experienced “the worst.” No one has ever responded to a query of mine in a way that was rude, disparaging, or questioned my abilities. And while I haven’t received any offers (yet!), I’m doing pretty well in terms of requests for more material.
This was turning out to be a banner day, and it wasn’t even 6am. Sometimes you really do have to laugh.
An hour later, Flower Child is awake and getting ready. And continuing a running conversation. The one where she tells me bits and pieces of her interactions at school. I’m continuing to pretend it’s possible to get socks on without bending.
“And you know what else he asked me.”
“Hmm, what did he ask you?”
“Is it true that white people don’t get cold? Why did he ask me that, what should I tell him?”
See what I mean about the universe conspiring, and having to laugh?
Waterfall near Eyvindarmul (Photo credit: martin_vmorris)
Wow. This has been a great stretch for Flower Child, which is awesome. Unfortunately, not a great stretch for me. Truly, if it’s not one thing it’s another.
I was doing well, working that yoga routine every day. But exercise is a funny thing, kind of addictive. The more you do, the more you want to do. So I added some aerobics to the yoga. A little step, a little boxing. I love the boxing, you really feel the work out, and it makes me feel powerful. Just in case you’re starting to be impressed, don’t be. This is all done with the Wii Fit, no real gyms, yogis, or boxing gloves involved.
Boxing gloves Español: Guantes de boxeo Français : Gants de boxe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
First day, second day, third day, great. Oh, that fourth day, the one where you’re feeling cocky, “I can do this, I will do this, I am what-the-heck-was-that!” Ok, pulled something in my back. Not good, but not terrible, take a couple of days off from the yoga and aerobics, no problem. And it was going that way. By early yesterday I was feeling improvement. But. Then I did something. Like stood up. Or turned. Or breathed.
And triggered an unwanted acquaintance. This isn’t a pulled, sore muscle, this is fire and ice nerve pain that runs from my neck to my foot, it hurts to sit, stand, or lie down. Walking is a lot of fun. Every so often I’ll step down to feel like someone just plugged me into a wet socket. Whee! This morning, I actually called a physiatrist I’ve seen in the past. In keeping with the frozen white waters I’ve been skidding along, she had a personal emergency, no appointments until next Monday.
This morning I was limping behind the beasts when a car stopped at a light right next to us. A perfectly respectable looking woman discreetly made up and salon perfect hair dye, I’m guessing in her mid fifties, sitting in her silver Volvo. With Tom Petty blasting through the cracked back passenger window. Yes. A perfect moment, perfect song while I tried to figure out how to balance myself so I didn’t fall over while picking up the poop.
It seems like most everyone I know and see is either on edge, depressed, or downright cranky. Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s the beginning of Lent and people are adjusting to the lack of whatever they’ve given up, maybe it’s just me, like channeling like and all that.
For all the bad rap New York has had over the years, it’s a pretty civil town. I rarely see fights or arguments among the over 16 crowd–excluding drunken slurs.
Yesterday I saw three. One on my way to the subway, after dropping off Flower Child. One man was standing with his kiddo, yelling and cursing at a woman trying to catch a cab with her kiddo. Then, as I was getting on the train, another woman getting off the train was loudly berating a man standing by the doors for not getting out of the way quickly enough. Then in the afternoon, two men were all in each other’s faces. These weren’t young men or kids, these were two grown-ass men on a block filled with multi-million dollar brownstones, standing in front of a fancy juice bar getting up in arms about who pushed into who as they rushed down the street.
Is it something in the air?
Smog Over Louisville And Ohio River, September 1972 (Photo credit: The U.S. National Archives)
I went about my day, yoga, grocery shopping, picked up a bottle of wine and cooked. Husband got home early, Fatigue came over for Friday Night Madness, and we had dinner. Afterwards, Fatigue and I went out for coffee, chatted about budgets, dreams, and blues, and then each went home to walk our respective beasts.
On my way back into the building with the dogs, I noticed a guy a little bit behind me, also seemed to be on his way in. I held the door, and then he lagged, so I let go. Sometimes people don’t like to be that close to the dogs, sometimes someone wants to finish a conversation on their cell before entering the building, sometimes they aren’t actually coming inside at all, just waiting to meet someone. Whatever.
Now I’m waiting for the elevator, the same guy walks over, maybe 8 feet away from me, and he’s talking. I assume he’s talking on the phone. I give a half nod, turn back to watching the elevator numbers decrease. Then I realize he’s (now? the whole time?) talking to me.
“Don’t pretend to hold the door, lady. If you don’t want to hold it, fine, but if you’re holding it, hold it, don’t pretend. I don’t need that shit.” His tone is completely conversational. And then he keeps rambling.
For the record, we’re talking about a very flimsy door, one of those little plastic and aluminum things that are put up in front of buildings and stores in NY in the winter to block some wind, try to save on heating costs. This is a healthy looking guy, certainly younger than me. I might even go so far as to think of him as a strapping young man. Ooookay. But I know not all disabilities are visible, who knows what story someone has?
At this point I’m not even annoyed, just mildly amused at finding myself in this bizarro moment. I’m not looking for a fight, I recognize his face as someone I run into every so often, not a big deal. I say something mildly neutral and conciliatory along the lines of, “hey, sorry, thought you were behind me.”
I expect this to end there. Nope. He keeps going, and is getting louder. Now it’s taking more to hold my beasts, because Big Senile Dog is still alert enough to get testy if he perceives a threat. My patience, and my sense of humor, are finished.
I’d like to tell you I was calm and mature to the end. When he started cursing me, I had enough. One clear “fuck you” from the frayed tips of my Brooklyn roots. Calm but not mature. Maybe this means the yoga is starting to have an effect.
A view of a vineyard just before the spring cycle of the growing season kicks in with budbreak. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Where are you? It’s been much too long since we last saw each other.
I’m hoping you’re about to show up for a leisurely visit. Though I can’t decide if it will be a surprise or not. You’re overdue, but Winter has been here for so long I suspect he will never leave. I tried getting a restraining order, but I’ve yet to find a judge willing to sign it. This rat bastard has his icy fists punching through every pothole, frozen toes doing the tango up and down my spine, and a steel wool beard that has turned my skin into stucco. And that’s just the physical.
The constant sub freezing temps have done a number on my psyche. I’ve even gone back to my yoga routine, in an effort to get myself to feel better. No, of course I’m not contorting myself into a mangled pretzel just to catch Summer’s eye. Maybe it is true that part of me is concerned I won’t fit in my overpriced bathing suit that’s only two years old, but honestly, that’s just a byproduct. I’m doing it for me, because Winter has sucked the soul out of me. Not only that, he’s been playing footsies with the 1 train. At least 50% of the rides I’ve taken since November that train has been a mess of frozen tracks. Late to arrive, slow to move, stopping between stations, evicting passengers for no apparent reason, and sometimes not showing up at all.
I’d rather be with you, Spring. Truly. At least until beach season.
C major scale on guitar (Photo credit: Ethan Hein)
This morning I was chatting in an off-topic section of the writer’s forum, and the subject turned to musical instruments. One friend posted a photo of her dream flute. Very fancy. One friend posted a picture of her dream guitar. Funny enough, it happened to be a photo of my favorite guitar, a Gretsch. Yeah, I know I don’t play guitar (or anything else) but I love that hollow body sound. Then I told her about Nerd Child’s electric guitar, made for him by a super cool luthier in the East Village. One of those New York secrets, you have to have a referral, call and leave a message, appointment only, high quality for great prices.
Wish I had a better photo of it.
I began looking through my photos, trying to find a pic of Nerd Child’s guitar. I knew I had a few in a folder somewhere. I found them, but didn’t post or send them. Because then I just started looking through these photos, all downloaded from my old phone. And several videos, short clips of Nerd Child playing and singing.
He hates when I video him. He isn’t shy, never had or has a problem getting up on stage and performing. This is a kid who didn’t hesitate to quote Eminem when he gave a speech at his middle school graduation. In church. At the alter. Nothing inappropriate, but not what you’d call a shy choice. Nope. It’s a mom/kiddo thing. You know, “Mo-om.”
I adore each of my kids. They are individuals, and as such, I feel like I have an individual relationship with each of them. I cook and wax philosophical with Man Child. I can be smooshy and explore museums with Flower Child. Nerd Child is the one I was able to share my love of Stephen King with. Seriously, watching him read The Stand was pure Nerd Mama joy.
I spent a good chunk of the morning watching and listening to these little video clips, thinking about how much I miss him and feeling a bit weepy leaky. None of the videos are recent. I don’t care. He isn’t a hugger. I get it, neither am I–except for my kiddos. Yanno, I’m mo-om, so he doesn’t feel the same exception. But he’s got this rich, deep warm voice that makes me feel like he’s giving me a hug when he sings. His spring break is about to start but he’ll be gone for half of it, on a service trip to help build a house.
I’m happy he’s happy. We video chat when we can, or a quick note or link through Facebook, a text…but he’s busy up at school. That’s why he’s there, so he can do and experience all he wanted to do and experience. I’m lucky. He’s healthy, a good guy, grounded, great judgement, an excellent sense of humor. He’s beautifully supportive of my writing, I think he was genuinely happy for me when we spoke the other day and I told him about agent requests. But I miss his youtube playlists coming from the desktop while I grumble into my coffee and start the day, ranging from classic rock to classical, meringue, show tunes, rap, alternative. I miss him. I’m looking forward to him coming home and seeing my funky new glasses, raising that eyebrow and shrugging as he says, “If you like them, Mom.”
When I bought them they were cool. Fashionable, even 😉
I wear contacts much more frequently than I wear glasses. A few reasons for that, not least of which because I see much better in contacts than glasses. Must be the peripheral vision, I don’t know. Doesn’t hurt that it’s cheaper to replace contact lenses than glasses.
When I bought those frames I loved them. For a long time. Remember, early 2000’s when the teeny tiny frames were in style? Great for people like me with extreme nearsightedness, combining the small frames and lightweight, thin as they can make them lenses they were almost comfortable. For a few hours.
Because this is life, and this is life on the Fringe, I had a little accident when throwing garbage away yesterday. I know there’s a wind tunnel kind of thing in the compactor chute. At this time of year, every time you open the door, bits of dirt and grit whoosh out. I know this. Hell, I even blogged about it here. I turn my face away when I open the chute, but something went horribly wrong and I got a face full of scratchy muck, mysteriously drawn straight to my eyes. I think the left one just got irritated, the right one, though, extra special. Something got under the contact, because that eye went straight from oh! to holy shit I think my eyeball is on fire!
If there’s anything I’ve learned from many years of wearing contact lenses, when something goes wrong take them out right away. I did, and found my glasses. Which you can see, from the photo above, have had better days. The finish on the frames has worn off in spots, the protective anti-glare coating is scratched, and there’s a little piece of frame missing from the top–if I move my head too quickly, the left lens pops out. Excellent.
The prescription on these glasses is two or three levels behind my most current rx. You look blurry, I look blurry, can I just stay in bed? I know, I know, I should change the lenses on the glasses when I get new contacts, but glasses are freaking expensive. And by the last time I got a new scrip, it didn’t even seem worth it unless I was getting new frames, too. Did I mention this was also my last pair of contacts? Between the too-weak glasses, the thought of the bill for new glasses, new contacts, the co-pay for the eye doctor and the pain in my eyes, I’ve had a headache for about twenty-four hours now. Better and better.
I need an eye dr appt, and then I’m going to have to go and replace the contacts and glasses. For the record, when you have vision as poor as mine, there’s no such thing as glasses in an hour, or contacts that are in stock. Skip the Tylenol, pass the Excedrin and keep it coming for at least 5 days, please.