During our trip to Barcelona, after walking around in the rain for days but before my wallet was stolen, I changed my personal motto. Until that moment it was I live to serve but in the shadow of the Sagrada Familia I decided it had better be Don't be a dumbass. The whole thing is working out rather well.... my life is much more pleasant now. However. It appears that it is necessary to reduce operating costs, which means that with exactly a week until we move, we have decided to sell the house.
I keep waking up in the middle of the night to wander around admiring the coved ceilings.
But oh well! It was embarassing to own two houses in two of the most expensive cities in the West. Even rich people are startled when they realize how much real estate we own, and nobody believes the true stories of how we stumbled into the deals without paying much attention or anything like market price. Moreover, after touring other cities, I think I'm annoyed that people in this urban paradise never laugh at my hilarious readings.
Watch as your new style lofi superheroes Asthma Boy and Cancer Girl throw themselves recklessly into the maelstrom of home repairs! No skills or stamina? No problem! We'll hold our breath to avoid the paint fumes; we'll wrap our weak wrists in elastic bandages when the muscles shred! We might end up in the hospital by the end of this escapade, but at least we won't show our weakness by asking our friends for help!
Though really, it hasn't been that difficult. I bought environmentally sensitive paint and we're almost done. Mommacherry saved the day by coming to help us clean. The only pressing thing left to decide is whether or not I should paint over the foot high stencil downstairs that reads DIME CHICKS ICED UP * * * MINKED OUT * * * TROLLY SICK.
Luckily the previous tenant already covered the murals that said SACRIFICE and RESIST PSYCHIC DEATH.
The extra teenager who lived with us all year just moved out three minutes ago.
I feel enough of a sense of grief that there are actual tears escaping from my head.
Report from Book Expo
We arrived in Madison with plenty of time to eat breakfast with Beth Lucht and Lisa Hinzman and baby Ruby, rest, and make a futile attempt to find an ATM that would accept a deposit for Anne. Ten banks along in the process I started to make helpful suggestions involving overnight mail service that did not go over too well.The Banking Emergency always happens when I travel, but usually because I've done something trenchantly weird with my money. I felt rather pleased that it wasn't my deposit going so seriously awry.
We arrived early to help set up. Lisa had everything well in hand so we ended up hanging out with Dan Sinker, the publisher of Punk Planet, and Joe Meno, a writer who would be reading with us later in the evening. Dan just started a line of books with Akashic and Joe is the author of the first in the series, a novel titled Hairstyles of the Damned.
Beth, Lisa, and Joe read interesting and good stuff and then it was my turn to go up. As I walked toward the stage I decided to read a piece called Fighting. I've been performing this essay for about a year now and the audiences have always been rather twitchy about the whole thing. I mean that to be taken literally; they recoil and shudder. But for whatever reason, the Madison crowd laughed at the right places
The next day we headed to Chicago for BEA. Trade shows are always . . . interesting.
The best part of the whole event was hanging out in the Soft Skull booth with Richard Nash, Ammi Emergency, and other SSP writers. I've spent significant and lamentable amounts of time with PR professionals and was completely amazed to find that Richard is in fact a world class gladhander. It was extremely amusing to see our raggedy crew being marketed and sold, each of us taking turns nodding solemnly and answering questions as best we could.
Before the event I knew that SSP was good but now that I've met more people I am honored to be associated with this group of writers. Those who showed up for the Expo included Daphne Gottlieb, Matthew Sharpe, Josh MacPhee, Jared Maher (Justin begged off sick), Derek McCormack, Billy Wimsatt, One Ring Zero (with instruments), and possibly others I should list but failed to write in my notebook.
The AK, Akashic, Arsenal, and other small radical presses were all staffed by people who were just so much fun. I was too overwhelmed to organize proper social time but ventured outside of SSP land and managed to see Michelle Tea, Lawrence Schimel, Gayle Brandeis, and Jim Monroe. It was rather unbelievable... not to make too much of a generalization, but it was like finding that mythical peer group I always wanted to have in high school. Like being a band geek without having to actually play an instrument, or something. Though when I mentioned this to Matt he replied that he was first chair flute in high school.
The sense of camaraderie between the writers and the publishers I spent time with is probably at least in part because we were all marooned in the midst of a massive commercial trade show -- but it could have been grim and grinding and instead it was great.
On Friday the Quimby's audience was even more receptive than the crowd in Madison. They even laughed at what I see as the funniest line in the whole performance: I was a bleeder. It was exactly the right response and I was intensely happy to have the opportunity to do both events.
After the reading we went out with Daphne, Ammi, Jared, and scads of other interesting people. Just as the party broke up Dan Sinker paused in front of me and asked Is that piece part of a book?
I shrugged a yes and he said I would like to publish it.
I blinked at him and then replied okay.
Once again (and how many times can this happen to a person? I must have exceeded my limit long ago) I have switched computers without making a backup of my email address book. Or my important to-do lists. Or my suspended half-written urgent email.
So. If you were expecting to hear from me. . . you may need to send email cause I don't know how to reach you.
This includes but is not limited to all of my best friends.
My house is empty.
I have no amusing anecdotes, except the fact that one of the movers was almost certainly my cousin by marriage (although I did not inquire to verify). I was able to woo him with my proletariat charms when he threw a tantrum toward the end of the day.
Now that the furnishings are gone I cannot avoid the fact that the house needs to be painted.
Luckily Gabriel arrived to save the day - he always turns up when I need help. We toodled around town trying to match paint colors for the better part of the available daylight hours, and chose all the wrong things, but at least the kitchen is well under way.
I'm making a pasta dinner and hoping the paint brush doesn't fall in the water. I suppose I could have cooked in the other kitchen but during the move it acted as the repository of important papers and assorted items we cannot take to the UK. Every single time I walk in the room I jump in fright at the sight of an animal on the counter, even though I know perfectly well it is just my taxidermy deer head.
I have no choice in this process; the company will only pay for professional movers. It would be better for me if I could do all the work myself, but that is not how it has been organized.
There is nothing quite like the experience of having strangers sort your possessions. Not that I'm complaining; no, I worry about the strangers. They arrive imagining that we are a respectable sort of family and quickly uncover the degenerate truth... from the assortment of cracked Madonna statues to the santeria candles, the dental prostheses collection to the taxidermy, the punk posters to glass eyeballs -- we make a poor showing. These nice men do not know what to say and I just hope they will not be offended on a moral or religious level. I mostly feel awkward because I think that I should be doing the work, not standing here with a clipboard.
My house is full of boxes and the container arrives any minute to whisk it all away across the ocean.