May 3, Houston: The big one -- the Inprint reading -- occurs at the Alley Theatre on Monday, May 3. Do not miss it or you'll be sorry. I'm not kidding -- I'm going to say the craziest, most intellectual yet hilarious stuff I can think of, and I'll be sharing the stage with the ultra sexy Oscar Casares, too.
June 24, Houston: I'm one of the peeps scheduled to read at Poison Pen, at Houston's famous Poison Girl bar. Besides me, everyone there will be ultra, *super* sexy. Come see me and drink!
June 26, Washington, DC: I'll be reading at the American Library Association conference. Come on down.
My other blog: Go read my the Houston Chronicle parenting blog (or my ChronMomBlog, as I like to call it) and make sure my kids won't resent me more than other kids resent their own parents.
Buy my new novel, Lone Star Legend. Already did? Well, buy a few more for your friends, then. :)
Monday, April 28, 2008first day on new job
I'm so tired, I can't even do or say anything. But I wanted to say that things are going well.
My kids' book got a good review from Kirkus. Check the May 1 issue. Yay...!
I have about 1.3 million things to do, and the cats need more food.
No... more later.
Labels: work7:47 PM # (1) comments
Tuesday, April 22, 2008Remember the song they played at the end of Fast Times at Ridgemont High? The one that goes "Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye, goodbye! Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye!"?
I'm getting sort of high from working so hard. See, I want to do as much work as I can before I leave this job, and it's sort of the same feeling as writing something on deadline. Adrenaline kicks in. That song from Fast Times runs through your head.
Is it weird that I have integrity and a work ethic? Some people seem to think so.
1) People keep telling me, "I guess you're not even coming on Thursday, huh?" Thursday is my last day. Of course I'm coming in.
2) No one's come to talk to me about how much stuff I should try to get done before I leave. Or to ask what I'm leaving behind for them to do.
3) Whenever I call or email someone to say, "I did most of Project X. All you have to do is wait for Joe Blow to send you the widgets," they act surprised. "Oh... I didn't expect you to finish that."
That's how this place has been for the past five years, though. They mainly leave me to my own devices, as far as workflow is concerned. I guess I should take it as a compliment -- I would've heard something from them if I wasn't working fast enough.
So... If I were someone else, I might be tempted to totally slack off during my last week. But, instead, I am me, and therefore I'm getting a sick thrill from watching my cube get cleaner and cleaner as my Outbox stacks up.
I get two goodbye lunches now. One formal, one casual. The formal one is being combined with Administrative Professionals or, as We Call Them, Secretaries' Day. The casual one is being combined with Thursday. I might have a drink at that one. Then, I take a day off. (Which I will spend writing. And I'm not just saying that in case my editor is reading this.) Then, I have a weekend. Then, Monday I start my new job.
I kind of thought I should've taken a week off in between, to process, debrief, achieve closure, whatever, after this 5-year stint. But I'm broke, so I won't. I'll just bust butt at the new job, and that will serve those purposes.
Goodbye, expiring job. I am non-renewing you.
That's an insurance joke, for all my P&C Peeps. Funny, isn't it? No, it's not. Oh, well. Goodbye, Insurance Broking. You've been good to me. Thanks.
How is everyone? Say your answer in your mind. Okay, got it. Now, here's how everyone near me has been:
Toby: Still irrationally afraid; still fighting/playing/sexing with Starbuck.
Starbuck: Still aspires to Mutual of Omaha level hunter prowess; still fighting/playing/sexing with Toby.
My dentist/future brother-in-law: Looking good. Most of his lesions/bumps/dots have gone away. He's chipper and determined to carry out several missions with the rest of his life. Almost dying will do that to you, I guess. It'll get you geared up and doubly ambitious for the future.
My boyfriend: Still engaged to me. Still the best boyfriend on earth. Thinking hard about where we're going to live when we get married. (Latest ETA: Two years from now.)
My middle son: Still living with his dad. But he says he's happy, so I'm happy for him.
My other two kids: Still living with me and leveling up on all the games. I'm thinking of putting my oldest son in driving school. Why? So he can have a license, in case one of his video games breaks down and he needs to go somewhere. Just kidding. Okay, that's all I can say about them. I would tell you stuff about the oldest one lifting weights and walking around sans shirt all the time, but I don't want to say too much.
My dad: Still pretending he's going to retire soon. Growing his beard bigger in preparation. We told him to please stop doing that, but you know how old people are. All hard-headed and stuff. They don't listen.
Me: I'm happy. I'm good.
Houston Metro sucks.
I'm not going to get all into it, as I swore I'd do while driving down the freeway yesterday morning, having been unable to take my park-n-ride bus to work. I'm not going to type all the words I screamed in my head, throughout the hour-long drive.
Instead, I'll just ask a question. What's the point of making all Metro riders buy Q Cards, and spending money telling everyone how convenient Q cards are, if new riders will be unable to refill said Q Cards in the machines provided for that purpose at their park-and-ride stations?
Hmm? Hint: Having a gentleman in Metro uniform tell me, "Did you buy your card at the gas station or grocery store? Yeah, those never work in that machine. You should've bought your card downtown," doesn't help.
Extra hint: When I call you, Metro operator, and ask you that question about the Q Cards and their inconvenience, you saying, "Okay, we'll send a technician out to look at that machine," is not the answer.
The apparent answer: Go back in a time machine and somehow know all the secret workings of the Q Cards, which are not the same workings posted on the signs all over the damned buses and park-and-rides.
Okay. Whatever. I know that made no sense -- it's hard to talk sensibly about infuriating, illogical things. Eff you, Metro. The end.
Let's end on a happy note.
If I can find 30 cents somewhere around me, I'm going to buy a Diet Coke. That'll be nice. 1:29 PM # (7) comments
Tuesday, April 15, 2008News!
You guys, I landed a new day job. Just gave two week's notice. This new job is more applicable to my skill set, too. Long-time readers will remember that, for the last five years, I've been working in the lucrative Puppy Wedding Arrangement industry. (Not to be confused with the Dog Wedding Planner industry, which is slightly less lucrative.)
Now I get to use my writing skills, and be a Dog Catering Menu Writer. As everyone in Houston knows, dog catering encompasses way more opportunity than dog weddings. I'm going to have to get a different kind of license. But it'll be worth it.
In other words, I'm not planning on talking about this job in great detail, either.
Cat Porn News
Yesterday I came home from work dead tired and decided to doze a little bit on my bed. No sooner had I closed my eyes, then Toby and Starbuck began trying to get it on. Silently, this time, but still.
"You guys. No," I said weakly. They jumped off the mattress and slunk away.
I don't know why they have to do it while I'm in the room. They have all day alone, practically. Maybe they're exhibitionists. Maybe they aspire to be porn stars. Cat porn stars.
Starbuck's porn name is Kitty Delite. Toby's is Johnny Frisco. That's what they told me. Now I'm supposed to find them an agent. That's what they said.
Not much else to say at the moment.
It seems like, the more I accomplish in real life, the less I have to tell y'all on this blog. :)
More later, then. Y'all take it easy. 8:46 PM # (9) comments
Thursday, April 10, 2008Now I have to go back and delete everything cute I've ever said about my cats. And maybe get them baptized.
Starbuck (girl cat) customarily sleeps at the foot of my bed. There's a little patch of cat hair there to prove it. But I don't mind because she's really good about keeping out of the way of my feet, and she stays quiet.
Toby (new boy cat) did mind, though. Every night, almost, he's been coming into the bedroom and whining at Starbuck. He wanted her to go with him into the living room with him. He wanted to play. Sometimes, he'd even jump up on the bed and get all up in her Kool-Aid, meowing in her face. Then they'd fight. Then I'd kick them out of the room.
That was a semi-regular occurrence, until last night.
Last night, I woke up to the sound of Toby quietly yowling. I opened my eyes and looked down at the foot of the bed. There were Toby and Starbuck...
[If you have kids reading, cover their eyes now.]
...having cat sex on my bed. Trying to have cat sex, I should say. They're both fixed. But that didn't stop them from enjoying themselves last night. I swear, I opened my eyes and it was like a freaking porn set, right there in front of me. Toby was like, "Starbuck, baby, you're so hot..." Starbuck was like, "Oh, yeah, Toby, give it to me! Pretend you're not neutered and give it to me right!"
"You dirty little cats!" I yelled, and I pushed them off the bed with my foot. Prudish, I know, but I couldn't help it. I was still half asleep and therefore susceptible to old Catholic learnings.
And now there's an opportunity for, oh, so many punchlines:
1. "I learned it by watching you, Mom!" said Starbuck.
2. "I thought this was where we were supposed to do it," said Toby.
3. "Genitally mutilated cats need love, too!" said Starbuck.
4. "Don't look at us like that! We are not a monster!" said Toby.
5. "It's spring time!" said Starbuck.
6. "Don't be jealous, baby -- it didn't mean anything!" said Toby.
7. "Don't worry -- we're both fixed!" said Starbuck.
8. "Isn't this why you hired me?" said Toby.
9. "Quit staring, you pervert!" said Starbuck.
And... yeah. It could go on and on. Because I'm trying to make light of the situation, here. Because I am so completely traumatized. Oh my gosh. I mean, yes, I did hope that Toby and Starbuck would fall in love. But platonically! In a cute, innocent way! Like those Precious Moments figurines! You know?
Wait, what? Those Precious Moments figurines...? Oh god, no.
Next episode: Shot gun cat wedding at my house. Because, as Marge Simpson knows, you can't have your pets living in sin.
Labels: cats6:12 AM # (16) comments
Monday, April 07, 2008Talking with Artists about Art
Something's in the air around me lately such that I keep finding myself talking with artists about problems and issues related to the actual act of doing art. Over the past month, I've thought about the particular concerns that come up when you collaborate with another artist on a long-term basis. I've commiserated with others over the different kinds of artist friends you can have. (Those you can count on to do work and to support your work, and those you can only count on for drinks, basically.) I've talked with a lot of people about the need to promote one's art and how that differs/detracts from creating it. The two main art-related subjects I focus on, habitually, are art for profit vs art for art's sake, and finding inspiration vs forcing yourself to work.
While talking about this stuff with other people, I began thinking about famous dead artists and what we know about their work habits. Do we know anything? I haven't read any biographies on famous dead artists lately, but nothing in popular culture comes to mind. I know that Van Gogh cut off his ear, but I don't know if/how he used caffeine while working. I know that Dali was obsessed with breasts and fruit-picking devices, but I don't know if he ever said, "Don't invite that jerk Man Ray to exhibit with us. He's always late and he never chips in for wine and cheese."
I read most of Stephen King's memoir and wished he'd talked more about his cocaine use. How could he write, while addicted to coke? How did he physically, mentally do it? How'd he do it before he used drugs? What did he think of his contemporaries? When he played in that rock band with Dave Barry and his other writer friends, did switching mediums inspire them to write more, or was it just a necessary break? I don't know. Doesn't say. Maybe I need to go to the library.
There are live, not even so famous artists I admire a lot, and I always want to ask them intrusive questions about their creative processes, but I refrain. I know that kind of stuff is hard to talk about, and there might not be that big a market for it, anyway. It's just shop talk, maybe, only interesting those in the industry. Guess I should say, then, that I'm greatful to the artists I know, for their willingness to talk shop with me. Because otherwise I'd be lonely. (Lonelier.) :)
My Least Accomplished Accessory
I've never been one for wearing belts. That began, most likely, because I grew up poor, and belts aren't really accessories that poor women buy. They don't buy belts, scarves, or trouser socks, I don't think. Instead, they buy costume jewelry, cheap bags, and knee highs, because those things give you more look for the money.
So then, I became un-poor, but also fat. And fat women don't wear a lot of belts because the only ones that fit are the ones at Lane Bryant, and those aren't very exciting.
So... This story sounds like I'm trying to get sympathy, but I'm not. I'm just telling y'all that, for one reason and another, I've never really worn belts, and therefore I don't feel comfortable accessorizing with them.
And now I'm not poor, and I'm less fat, and I subscribe to Lucky magazine. And, as all of you who read Lucky know, women are supposed to wear belts with every single outfit they own. You have to wear a pair of pants with a dress on top of it, then a cardigan wrapped over the dress, then a belt tied around the whole thing. Or, you can just wear a dress by itself... as long as you wear it with a belt. Or you can put the cardigan with your jeans, as long as you have a leather or canvas belt in plain sight on top of that. Or you can wear panties and a bra and a big, thick neutral belt. Or you can be naked, with a thin, metallic double belt.
You see what I'm saying? You're supposed to wear belts.
Not that I follow Lucky's advice. I don't -- especially not as far as layering and color matching are concerned. I don't know how it is in New York City, but here in Houston, we can't get away with wearing dresses on top of other dresses, one in yellow and one in maroon. That's, like, against our laws. It's too hot for that many haphazard layers. Also, we're still working the Three Color Rule here, as far as I can see. "Don't be wearing more than three colors at once," that is. Some people count neutrals with that, some liberal people don't.
See what I'm saying? I'm not about to go overboard and buy anything that Lucky calls luxe, lush, or louche. But I do feel the need to buy belts lately, and I do wish I knew which belts went with what. Because the black suede number with the star-shaped rhinestone buckle? That I got from Torrid four years ago? I don't think that works with anything in my closet anymore, and it's too big now, anyway.
That's all for now, y'all. Talk to y'all later. I'm gonna go Google "belts" now. Either that, or I'll actually go back to my office and do some work. 12:02 PM # (18) comments
Sunday, April 06, 2008I love it when a plan comes together.
We spent the weekend being inspired, then searching for supplies, then crafting up some art. That is to say, we custom illustrated shoes for my kid.
If you'd asked me on Friday what my weekend plans were, I wouldn't have said "doing art." But I'm glad we did. It was fun, and I feel like it helped me with my writing, too. Because, of course, I wrote. I have a deadline, did I mention?
Rory's is the pair you're seeing on Flickr. Josh is working on his own pair, and I want to do a pair of my own, but haven't got past the idea-deciding-on stage yet.
I got good news.
Recently found out that I won a Houston Arts Alliance fellowship. Yays! I love Houston Arts Alliance (formerly CACHH) for existing. I've worked with those people and, as shocking as it sounds, they actually believe that artists deserve to get rewarded for doing art.
More later. Good people, y'all send me good vibes for tomorrow and the rest of this week, okay? Hopefully, I'll have more good news to report soon. 8:05 PM # (8) comments
Tuesday, April 01, 2008I rode the bus today.
Finally got it together to commute via bus this morning, and I'm glad I did. It was an adventure. I had all these plans regarding books and notebooks and laptops, but when I got on the bus, it was dark and the seats were too close to allow for any kind of make-shift workspace. It filled up quick. I kept my bag crowding the seat next to me until a string of ladies came through. (A trick I learned back in junior high, last time I rode the bus on a daily basis. Keep your bag there 'til all the men go by. Don't give up your adjacent seat to a man without a fight.)
A lady sat next to me. We didn't make eye contact, even though our elbows had to touch. The minute the bus took off into the dark, she, sitting straight upright like a cat, closed her eyes and slept, paws tucked down in her lap. She smelled like something particular, like maybe something my third-grade teacher used to wear. I looked out the window. I like to look out the window whenever other people drive, because usually I drive and therefore I can't. It sounds stupid to enjoy looking at, say, the marquee on the Luby's, to see what specials they had for lunch. But I read the specials and enjoyed it. I looked into lit offices at Wells Fargo. I peered at the paint cans and broken scaffolding behind warehouses lined up along the freeway. People at the next park-n-ride, one guy bouncing to his headphones and presenting the only happy face. David Addickes' giant president-head sculptures facing us from one of our oldest, most run-down neighborhoods, and miraculously free of graffiti.
I got off the commuter bus and ran one block to my transfer stop. Wasn't sure which corner to stand on. Went back and forth like a chicken getting to the other side... no, the other side... Gave up and called Metro, then saw my bus and had to do a mid-street U-turn and sprint back to the proper stop. I had on heels but the kinds made for "juniors" -- thick training heels with rubber soles. Good thing I sometimes have childish tastes. Good thing I'm dressed a little like a school kid today. Got on the second bus. There were actual school kids on it, dour in stained uniforms. I looked at the direction they came from and wanted to offer them part of my lunch. Because, not to make assumptions, but I was pretty sure they hadn't had breakfast. Because only some kids have to take the city bus to school, and they form a big Venn overlap with the kids who don't eat breakfast (can't, not won't, because breakfast isn't there, not because they turned up their noses at the Pop Tart or Go Gurt flavor of the day). And, um, I used to be one of those kids. So I knew. But there was no way to offer them food, of course, because... you know. There simply is no way. I couldn't even smile encouragingly at them. Those are the rules. They got off at another stop, to wait some more, and I felt even sadder. They had to ride two buses to school, and I only ever had to ride one.
The bus driver passed some guy's stop -- I don't know if by accident or purposely. The guy only fumed where the rest of us could see him, and I immediately pegged him as a hobbyist victim, because how hard would it have been to stand up and walk forward, to say, "Next stop." You can't just ring the bell and then sit there waiting on other people to take charge of your life, you know. I mean, you can, but then there's no use complaining, in that case. Why would the bus driver want to take care of you, if you don't even want to take care of yourself?
And then we got to work, and I ran ran ran across the carpetting and potted plants and parqueted elevators and conspicuously clean windows...
and I'm glad I took the bus. I'm going to make a habit of it, if I can.
Tedium Uncovers Your Natural Potential
I like it when someone at work tells me, "Hey, you're a writer, so..." because that means I might get a chance to work to my potential. My boss said, "You're a writer. Could you maybe write, or edit, or just summarize..." and I said, "Yes, yes, yes."
You know how I know -- how I've been sure for a while -- that I'm a writer?
1. I read it in Bird by Bird, and then again in The Artist's Way.
2. Whenever we had a boring block of time in school, I'd use that time to write. Sometimes I'd draw cartoons, too, but usually I'd write. Long, long notes to Dorothy or Letty or my boyfriend of the moment, describing the boredom of the moment plus everything else in my line of sight. What had happened the day before -- soft focus on the bad parts, laser detail on the parts I could control. Girls I hated, in copious detail, and why. Teachers and my distorted perceptions of their lives. Every intimate detail of our teachers, who were our celebrities, in a strange inverted way. "Courteney guessed that Ms Tucker would wear the blue flowered dress today, and she was right. Michelle hates her accent. She's from A-a-a-albany. No wonder she doesn't have a husband. I feel sorry for her -- I should do my homework today."
What do you do when there's a long stretch of time, when you're held prisoner by the tedium? Do you write? Then you're a writer. Do you draw? Then you're an artist. Do you practice posing? Then you're an actor or a lip-syncher-to-be. Do you imagine having sex with everyone in the room? Then you're an executive in a private firm. (Heh. Just kidding... Everyone thinks of sex when they're bored. Unless you don't, and then you're destined to write non-fiction about your non-sex-life that will humiliate your spouse.)
What do you do? That's what you are.
My dentist almost died.
A few weeks ago, my dentist had a severe allergic reaction to medication that came very close to killing him. His body tried to purge the allergen by ejecting his skin, piece by piece. Thank God the hospital stopped it in time. Because I love my dentist, and I don't want him to die.
My dentist happens to be my future brother-in-law, but that's not why I love him. I love him because he's a good dentist and a charitable person, but an undercover one -- he hates spewing affection or gushy feelings. He shows those things by: 1) throwing money at you or, 2) bitching at you in a long, roundabout way. (Like, "You dummy, you shouldn't have bought a car without calling me first. I bet your interest rate is sky-high" means, "I care about you and I'm always willing to help you have what I consider the best life.")
So. Usually, when I see my dentist, we multitask. He drills my teeth, but also lectures his brother through me, and thereby shows his love. He spends a lot of money on my teeth, doesn't charge me, and doesn't let me thank him, and so I feel the affection, too. I understand the way he operates. He says, "I like being a dentist because people can't talk when I'm working on their mouths. And I want to be the one to talk. Open wider. Bite this. Now I talk and you listen." And I do listen. It's the least I can do.
So... This time, it would have been the same as usual, except that my dentist recently almost died. So... He had a lot more to say than he normally would. He had a lot more people to bitch at/about, including me. He had to hurry up and say everything, bitch at everybody, loud and fast, before I left. Or before he lost the chance, before something might happen again and this time he might not be so lucky. "You're going to be family now," he kept saying, "so you need to know..."
He talked loud and fast and I listened, listened, listened. And I was glad he didn't die, but sorry he went through the scariness of almost dying... But glad that he had the opportunity to talk, and that I knew how to listen. I wanted to say, "Any time, brother."
But I couldn't, because there was a drill in my mouth. But I think -- I hope -- he knew what I was thinking.
Next time I see him, I'll give him something expensive and then bitch at him when he tries to thank me. Then he'll know. :) 12:07 AM # (10) comments