Coming August 2016 in decomP

Self’s dystopian fantasy, SPORES, is coming out in decomP Magazine next month.

Excerpt:

When my friend Summer lay under the beechwood seems a lifetime ago, puking insides, puking until her stomach was a strange convex shape, what happened was, I heard a whooshing noise, and then from the other side of the trees came a Sand Spirit. Drum-beat Ta-ra! It came down from the sky, propellers whirring, dredging hay and thistles. Then snapped her right up.

As they used to say in Marble Arch: The Lady Exits.

For a long time after, I stayed under the beech, whispering Summer, whatya reckon to all this and watching two yella bitterns wing from branch to branch to branch.

Stay tuned, dear blog reader. Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: Abraham Lincoln

“Most men can withstand adversity. If you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

 

Verizon Customer Service

No one else seems to be bothered by Verizon as much as self. She’s made so many complaints over the years that Verizon follows HER on Twitter.

But the first time you get a bill for $1,700, you will never, ever forget it. It took self almost a year to pay off. That was because in 2012, she went to a writing residency in Hawthornden, in Scotland, then afterwards went to London, Amsterdam, and Paris. She enrolled in an International Calling Plan before she left the States, but Verizon did not tell her that she needed a different plan for each country she traveled to.

This morning, self decides to inquire why her bill this month is almost $200.

She even went on a plan before going to Canada for the Calgary Stampede.

The man, who she’s sure is Filipino, thankfully does not ask her (as every other Customer Service person seems to do): “Are you Filipino? I’m Filipino, too!” The last time, self said something like, “Yeah, so what’s that got to do with my bill?”

Sorry, it’s just that she hates calling Verizon, and hearing laughter and shouting and singing in the background puts her in a very bad mood. And the partying always happens when she gets her call answered in the Philippines. And then follows the inevitable question: “Are you Filipino?” Or: “What’s it like to live in the States?”

And then there’s the raucous background noise, the hooting and hollering and laughing. She knows it’s just the way Filipinos are: we’re a very social people (well, except for self. Self is a wet blanket.) But, when she has a problem that she needs to get fixed, and the person she is speaking to is surrounded by revelry, it makes self absolutely livid!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Connoisseur of Loneliness

Self is only on p. 12 of The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone but already she’s come across at least 12 passages that she thinks are worth quoting. (Who is Olivia Laing? Writer for The Guardian, The Observer, New Statesman and The New York Times)

The only thing self disagrees with Laing on is her disdain for social media as a tool for getting over the loneliness. Ms. Laing, social media gives self a reason to stay home! Locked up in her room! And feeling happy about it! It does wonders for self’s state of mind! You better believe it!

Self would rather be on social media than out there, on the street, fighting for every possible scrap of attention from salespeople. She’d rather mail-order than go to a store where she’ll waste precious time just hunting for parking or getting shoves from impatient people. She might be a super-slow walker but she’s an absolute Demoness of the Keyboards!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Finishing THE GREEN ROAD, Starting THE LONELY CITY

The last two sentences of The Green Road are killer.

She was not sure how Enright was going to wrap everything up.

SPOILER ALERT

The mother is unchanged, from start to finish.

The kids say she is a horrible, narcissistic person.

Why don’t they give her credit for surviving, though. It is not easy, after all, to grow old.

Self had quite a lot vested in the fate of Hanna, but the novel ended and things with Hanna are just about as inconclusive as things are with the mother.

Self’s next book is The Lonely City: Adventures In the Art of Being Alone, by Olivia Laing.

She also wants to read Brazillionaires, by Alex Cuadros. It already has five holds in the San Mateo public library. If self wants to read it, she’ll have to buy herself a copy.

Self began reading the latest issue of Stanford Magazine today and thought two books sounded particularly interesting: The Crown’s Game, by Stanford alum Evelyn Skye, and Eve of a Hundred Midnights: The Star-Crossed Love Story of Two World War II Correspondents and Their Epic Escape Across the Pacific, by Bill Lascher.

About Skye’s novel: “Set in Imperial Russia, this historical fantasy follows two teenagers who wield magical skills in a competition to become the tsar’s adviser. Only one of them will win the prized position as Imperial Enchanter; the other will be put to death.” (Stanford Magazine)

Eve of a Hundred Midnights is the story of two Stanford alums: Melville Jacoby and Annalee Whitmore (who both wrote for the Stanford Daily, as did self!) and how they escaped the Philippines during the Japanese invasion.

When someone asks what self’s favorite book (so far) of 2016 is, she immediately thinks of The Forever War, by Dexter Filkins, which she read in Fort Bragg. Also: The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins, which she read while she was driving around the central coast, earlier this summer.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Narrow: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 29 Friday 2016

  • From spaghetti to the quiet alley behind your house, this week show us something narrow.

—  Ben Huberman, The Daily Post

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Manhattan, June 2016

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In Manhattan, the Avenues are narrow canyons between buildings: Park Avenue, June 2016

For a change of scene, Oxford, UK had an exhibit on “Shakespeare’s Dead.” Self was there in May 2016. The banner advertising the exhibit is pretty narrow:

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An exhibit at the Bodleian Libraries, Oxford, UK: May 2016

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Easy Open Cap, Complete Nonsense

See the words on the lid of this bottle of macapuno (coconut fruit preserves)?

Self has been trying to get at the contents for two days. Granted, anyone who spends two days trying to open a bottle must be bonkers. But self really, really loves macapuno. And she hasn’t had any in about 10 years.

In Redwood City, she used to have this nifty thingamajig by Zyliss that wrenches open bottle caps in 10 seconds. But here, she hasn’t seen any store that sells the thing. So, she has to resort to:

  • running bottle neck under warm water
  • pounding on top lid with knife, block of wood, and hammer
  • inserting knife tip under the lid to break seal
  • wrapping lid with rubber bands and twisting and twisting and twisting

The Filipino manufacturer should be proud! They have perfected the super-tight seal! Bottle lid’s tighter than a seal on an oil rig! Paging BP Oil! No, even better, paging NASA!

In the meantime, those words EASY OPEN CAP on the lid are simply taunting her. Has the manufacturer never heard of “truth in advertising”? This dilemma has also given rise to snarky thoughts such as: You want the macapuno? You can’t handle the macapuno!

This problem would not occur in the Philippines where self recalls never having to touch food of any kind — because of help! LOL — unless it is delivered on a tray.

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Jar of Macapuno, Absolutely Impenetrable. “Easy Open Cap.” Bought two days ago. Enough is enough. Tossing today. Good-bye, $3.99

When all hope is lost, self shares her dilemma on Facebook. Which then leads to a Filipina sending her a link to this instructional video, which contains the words: “Even a two-year-old should have no problem opening a bottle lid using this method.”

LOL LOL LOL

Stay tuned.

Wall Street Journal Books, July 23 – 24, 2016

Self found a couple of books to add to her reading list while perusing the Books section of the July 23 – July 24 Wall Street Journal:

  • Your Friend Forever, A. Lincoln, by Charles B. Strozier (Columbia)
  • The Castle of Kings, by Oliver Potzsch (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) — historical fiction, set in 1524 Germany
  • Abahn Sabana David, by Marguerite Duras (Open Letter) — “minimal, dream-like setting” and narration that has “the bluntness of stage directions.” Self adores Duras.
  • The Brotherhood of the Wheel, by R. S. Belcher (Tor) — Resourceful residents of a small town use a HEXapp — an actual HEXapp! LOL LOL — to show the most recent sightings of the local spectre!
  • Richard Cohen, literary critic and Tolstoy expert, shares his favorite British crime novels: The Cask, by Freeman Wills Crofts; Tragedy at Law, by Cyril Hare; Reputation for a Song, by Edward Grierson; The Shortest Way to Hades, by Sarah Caudwell
  • Brazillionaires, by Alex Cuadros (Spiegel & Grau) — nonfiction by a journalist

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

You May Share My Bed, Mr. A. Lincoln

from the Books section of the Wall Street Journal, Saturday/Sunday, 23 July – 24 July:

On the day Joshua Fry Speed met the 28-year-old Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln was destitute and looking for a place to stay in Springfield, ILL. Speed, scion of “a wealthy Louisiana plantation family”, owned a dry-goods store. “On impulse,” Speed invited “this newcomer to share his his double bed in the room above his store, rent to be discussed later.”

In Your Friend Forever, A. Lincoln, biographer Charles B. Strozier “maintains that , at a time when only ‘one percent’ had beds, or for that matter bedrooms . . .  Speed’s offer carried none of the sexualized connotations it would exude today . . .  For Lincoln, who had shared beds with other males throughout his impoverished life, Speed’s offer promised company at night, warmth in winter and split expenses year-round . . .  Of course they tossed and turned against each other every evening, but when they were awake they talked about navigating ‘the uncertain world of women.’ ”

A book about Abraham Lincoln’s sleeping arrangements during his young manhood? What next? Self is so there.

Nice review by Harold Holzer.

Stay tuned.

What Is Life But a Bowl of Cherries

  • Let’s celebrate the cherries on top! — Michelle W., The Daily Post

The good news: self was back in London in the spring. The Cherry on Top? She was there during the week of the annual Chelsea Flower Show. Just look at the fresh flowers framing the entrance to the Bloomsbury Hotel!

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The Bloomsbury Hotel, London: May 2016

The good news was: Self was in Philo, CA. She found a small market that sold delicious potato salad. And the cherry on top? The ceiling lights were things of beauty. From a glass studio in Fort Bragg, the checkout lady told self:

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Ceiling Light, Lemon’s Philo Market, California

The good news was: self was spending another winter in Mendocino, CA. The cherry on top is that she got to see “Quills,” a play about Marquis de Sade, performed by members of the local community (It was a very entertaining production!)

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“Quills,” a drama about Marquis de Sade

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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