“Summer People” : Story # 1 of Kelly Link’s GET IN TROUBLE: STORIES

Daddy in story wakes up his daughter (Sick in bed with the flu, she has self-medicated by taking four NyQuil the night before) by spraying her in the face with a plant mister. The girl notices her father’s packed a suitcase. By way of explanation, he says:

“I’ll be gone some time. A week or three.”

“Where you off to?” the daughter asks.

“Prayer meeting in Miami. Found it on the Internet.”

The daughter tells her Daddy, “I know you need to stay here and look after me. You’re my Daddy.”


The Daddy leaves, the daughter gets herself breakfast (“a spoon of peanut butter and dry cereal”), goes to school, where she dozes “through three classes, including calculus” and experiences a moment of high anxiety when a teacher sends her to the infirmary. Luckily, she is saved by running into an acquaintance named Ophelia Merck, who drives a Lexus.

Ophelia is “pretty, shy, spoiled, and easy to boss around.”

Naturally, painful hilarity ensues.

Dear blog readers, can you believe self heard Kelly Link read this story in a former church? Just last week in Cork, Ireland?

And when self went up to get Ms. Link’s autograph, the ensuing conversation included what it’s like to eat kosher?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Cork International Short Story Festival, September 2015

Self is presently in the beautiful city of Cork.

The Cork International Short Story Festival began yesterday. She was pretty inert yesterday when she arrived in Cork and holed up in her room, eating. Alas, she missed some great readings (And put on at least five pounds. After that dinner last night! The people sitting next to self couldn’t resist remarking that self had ordered A LOT OF FOOD)

Today, self made it to the launch of the Banshee Literary Journal and got to meet one of the editors, Claire Hennessy:

Claire Hennessy, Editor, with the Inaugural Issue of Literary Journal BANSHEE, today at the Cork City Library

Claire Hennessy, Editor, with the Inaugural Issue of Literary Journal BANSHEE, today at the Cork City Library

Self was soooo relaxed. In spite of not knowing anybody, she chatted with a young woman who kept self company while she drank (free) wine.

Wine is so wonderful. Why don’t they serve wine at library readings in America?

Also, self has never been to an afternoon reading in an American library where there is wine. It just has never been done. At least, not to self’s provincial American knowledge.

Then she chatted up two of the three authors who read. One of the readers, Eleanor Hooker, told self that she pilots a lifeboat in her “real life.” How cool is that? Self has never, ever met an American author who can pilot a lifeboat. And write sentences like this:

She lived with us for three days after she drowned.

That is a swoon-worthy sentence if self ever heard one.

Tonight, an American author, Kelly Link, is reading at 9:15. Self is torn. It is pretty cold at night, and there’s a strong wind. The River Lee surrounds Cork on two sides. You can never escape the river wind. And she just wants to be cozy.

But then, she pinched herself. NO! SELF, you did not travel all this way to Cork to nest in your room GETTING FAT! And INERT!

So she told Ger (Chef and all-around Factotum of B & B that self refuses to name because they have very little room and she doesn’t want to have to fight for a reservation next year. Or the year after next) to book her a taxi and Ger said, That is a 10-minute walk from here you will not need a taxi.

But self said Oh indeed I will need a taxi because the wind! And I have a very low tolerance for cold! I was born in the Philippines and lived most of my life in California!

(Self did not actually say all that, but she did impress on Ger that she was serious about the taxi.)

Here’s another picture from the Banshee Literary Journal launch:

Issue # 1, Banshee Literary Journal, Autumn 2015

Issue # 1, Banshee Literary Journal, Autumn 2015

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

I WILL NEVER OWN ENOUGH BOOKS Spreads AmazeSauce over Self’s Saturday!

Today, I Will Never Own Enough Books nominated self for the CREATIVE BLOGGER AWARD!

Epic Blush!

The rules say that self has to share five facts about herself. So here goes:

  1. Her favorite indulgence is reading Everlark fan fiction.
  2. She was a Fellow in the Stanford University Creative Writing Program.
  3. Her 2nd favorite indulgence is watching plays. The last play she saw (July 2015) was “King John” at the Globe in London.
  4. She loves riding trains.
  5. She has written a 9/11 story called “Wavering” (Published in a literary magazine now defunct, boo).

So here are self’s five nominees:

  1. TheGypsyMind16
  2. The Alchemist’s Kitchen
  3. Kick-Ass Ireland!
  4. cassandra jp
  5. Kahakai Kitchen


Story. Story. Story (Fiction. Fiction. Fiction)

Last week, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I was in a big hurry. I had to be someplace at 9 a.m.

I looked up. It was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. For real.

He made a motion with his hand: Picture?

Picture? I said back.

Picture with me?

Sorry, I said, I don’t have a camera.

Cell phone?


And I could see this person’s eyes. Through the TMNT mask. Not blue. Not green. Not grey. Maybe brown. They were so — hopeful?

Hug, I said.

So I leaned over just the slightest bit.

After: Was it the blue dress I wore that day? Or the determined look on my face?

Whacha think, dear blog readers?

Stay tuned.

Creepy 3: Whitechapel, London

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is CREEPY.

During a Jack the Ripper tour, one July evening, seld found that the streets off Whitechapel are a garden of sometimes disturbing wall art:

Wall Art, London, July 2015

Wall Art, London, July 2015

Yes, Why Exactly Are You So Serious? Graffiti Wisdom, London

Yes, Why Exactly Are You So Serious? Graffiti Wisdom, London

Figure in Black Has a Screw In His Head, Oh No!

Figure in Black Has a Screw In His Head, Oh No!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Inspiration 2: Yorkshire Landscapes

More for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge: INSPIRATION

From The Daily Post:

What is your inspiration? What moves you? What is it that never fails to motivate you, to get you going, or make you happy?

Self will focus on inspirational landscapes. Such as these from Yorkshire:

Yorkshire, July 2015

Yorkshire, July 2015

And more of the same:


And still more of the same:


Honestly, the landscape of Yorkshire is so amazing. Green and hilly and full of eccentric rock placements. Sort of like the towns of Yorkshire themselves, with abbeys and cathedrals and Haworth coffee shops and Shipley punks and Bronte parsonages and cemeteries and Salts Mills and David Hockneys and Yorkshire teas and Victorian Steampunk and 1940s Festivals.

Self hates that they won’t let you take any pictures in the Bronte Museum in Haworth. Inside as well as outside, according to the young woman who was the first tour guide she encountered, standing by the front entrance. The guide had watched self taking a picture of a yellow flower by the front steps.

But self felt she really had to get to Yorkshire, not just because of the Brontes, but because of Will Herondale and the events in Clockwork Prince, book 2 of The Infernal Devices.

There is a very crucial plot twist that takes place in Yorkshire but, in the meantime, we have:  Balcony scene, Demons Ball, Chiswick. Herondale, what else can self say. Tessa being all encouraging (p. 292): “Will, you need not be so careful. I will not break.” And then, you know, Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff, Tessa saying Will is like her Heathcliff, the moors, whatever.

So brooding and romantic, Yorkshire is!

So brooding and romantic, Yorkshire is! July 2015

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Marius: p. 195, Howard Jacobson’s THE ACT OF LOVE

What is happening to self? For almost 200 pages of Howard Jacobson’s novel, she has been feeling revulsion for a character called Marius, who is introduced by the narrator as a lech, a womanizer, a shallow, vapid stealer of women.


In fact, this is the person who the narrator deems most likely for his wife to fall in love with. This is an Othello fable where Othello hopes his Desdemona is unfaithful, because he pines to be a voyeur. (This is a very British tale. Can’t imagine such a plot device going down well in her home country. But maybe a blog reader can enlighten self about this?)

On p. 194 of THE ACT OF LOVE, the narrator gets fed up with Marius’s dilly-dallying. He decides to provoke him. He’s been following Marius around for days, and Marius doesn’t seem to have a clue how to seduce the narrator’s wife. So he follows Marius to a coffee shop on High Street.

Marius: Why are you stalking me?

Narrator: Who said I was stalking you? I mentioned I’d seen you with a beautiful woman, that’s all.

Marius: And what’s that to you? Are you a private investigator?

Narrator: No. I’m more what you’d call a pervert if you really want to know what I do.

Marius: And you think telling me this will make me feel better about talking to you? What would you do if I told you to get lost?

Narrator: If I thought you meant it, I’d get lost.

Marius: If you thought I meant it! Is this what a pervert does? Hangs around people who tell him to get lost while he decides whether or not they mean it? Why don’t you just call yourself a glutton for punishment and have done.

Self really, really loves this conversation.

It’s so interesting that self is beginning to feel quite a lot of empathy for Marius! Who would have thought, this late in the book?

Jacobson, you’re so sly!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Close Up 2: The Wallace Collection, Manchester Square, London

Today, dear blog readers, London was actually crammed with people. Tourists, mostly. It was not so fun.

Nevertheless, self summoned the necessary mojo to go exploring, and she found herself in another leafy square, confronting the great splendor of Hertford House, in Manchester Square.

And here are three photographs she took in the museum housed within, The Wallace Collection. She considers them suitable for the theme this week — CLOSE UP — because she had to go closer than she normally would, and left out the frames.

All three subjects are rather risqué, if the museum guide is to be believed. Especially the first one: Fragonard’s “The Swing.”


Fragonard’s “The Swing” Originally, the lady was to have been pushed by a bishop. But this was evidently too much. So, instead, we have an elderly gent sitting on a stone balustrade, in the shadows behind.

But the lady is swathed in layers of clothes! Where, self wonders, is the provocativeness?

Next, a marble bust (Bad Pun?) of Marie-Louise Thérese-Victoire, daughter of Louis XV and aunt of Louis XVI, who was, according to the museum materials, “noted for her piety and appetite.” Rather an odd combination of words. When you look at this marble bust, and think that this lady must have been middle-aged when it was executed, well holy smoke, just look at that shelf she has!

Marble Bust of Maria-Louise Thérese-Victoire, Aunt of Louis XVI

Marble Bust of Maria-Louise Thérese-Victoire, Aunt of Louis XVI

Finally, a beautiful oil painting, by Sir Thomas Lawrence, of Margaret, Countess of Blessington (of which self has much to say, for this painting has a prominent place in the novel she is currently reading — no, not Clockwork Prince, the other one: Howard Jacobson’s wonderful and satirical The Act of Love, which is about an antiquarian book dealer who haunts Great Russell Street and museums.)

Margaret, Countess of Blessington, painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence

Margaret, Countess of Blessington, painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence

More, later. Self is famished and needs to hunt up dinner.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Power Outage, Dharamsala, January 2012

Never mind the reasons why.

A hired car and driver were available, right that very minute. Before self could over-think, she heard herself say, “Take me to Dharamsala.”

About halfway there, self looked around and saw that they seemed to be approaching a huge mountain. The mountain just kept getting bigger and bigger. In fact, by the time self had actually arrived IN Dharamsala, the mountain had lost its identity as mountain and was just this huge representation. An all-encompassing I-am-in-India-having-an-out-of-body experience type of representation. (Just think: two weeks earlier, self could never have imagined that she would be in Dharamsala. In fact, she almost never used to think about Dharamsala. In fact, she knew next to nothing about Dharamsala. Until she got stuck in Himachal Pradesh. In fact, she was having a super-sized ADVENTURE with a capital A!)

“Where is your hotel, madame?”

Funny, those are probably the only words of English self ever heard the driver utter. He was from Tibet. Which is how she knew she could trust him.

“Um . . . ummm”

Self casts her mind back to the previous night. She’d stayed up, scanning tripadvisor.

She managed to dredge up a name. The driver took self to the name. It was inside a military cantonment. Oh thank God, self thought, I AM SAFE! (How did she know it was a military cantonment? Because the hired car was stopped by soldiers, a security check before entering said military cantonment)

Self was so exhausted by this whole first-time-in-India thing that she stayed in Dharamsala almost a week.

At one point, there was a power outage.

No no no noooo!

Self had been crouched in front of a portable space heater, praying it didn’t short-circuit in the middle of the night and burn her to a crisp.

But — power outage! Why had she never considered the possibility?

Self’s first thought: I AM GOING TO DIE!!!!

Teeth making loud chattering (involuntary) noises.

At some point, a knock on the door.

Geez! What next? Go away, self yelled.

Then she recognized the voice of one of the inn-keepers. “Madame,” he kept repeating, almost frantic. “Madame, are you all right?”

At which point, self decided to speak:  “M-m-more c-c-comforters!”

Man returns with four.

Next morning, having survived the night, self makes chit-chat with front desk. “Does that happen often?” She means: Power Outage.

Man nods convincingly. “Oh yes, Madame. Last year, we had no power for two weeks.”


Holy Cow! self exclaimed. Two weeks! How did you get through it?

At which point, the man just shrugs.

What must be endured, must be endured.

Of course! Because, no one has any choice. Self asks the stupidest questions sometimes.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Miss Warby’s Ghost Lives!

The Lake at Annaghmakerrig, 10:30 p.m.

On the Way to the Lake, 10:30 p.m.

Today, self got to chatting with a few of the other artists at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre.

She told them she’d gone down to the lake, one night after dinner, and heard a kind of humming.

The lake was soooo still.

In the distance, on the far side of the lake, were a flock of swans.

Above her, swallows circled.

She tweeted about it a few days ago, and someone named Miss Warby’s Ghost tweeted back: That humming you heard was me!


Today, though, self was telling the other artists about the lake humming and Miss Warby’s ghost, and one of the artists said, “There really IS a Miss Warby’s Ghost.”


There’s a room called Miss Warby’s in the main house, and yeah, there really is a ghost there.

Again:  Whaaaat?

Then another artist said that once, at night, she saw a cloaked figure by the lake, of all things playing a flute. The music was really beautiful.

Later, the artist asked around if there were any flute players at the Centre.

The answer: Nada y nada y nada.


Humming in the sky, ghosts, mysterious flute players. Self can’t even.

Stay tuned.

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