Monday, October 31, 2005

Halloween Hauntings

Some people claim to be haunted by dead relatives, or former residents of their creepy old houses, or other human revenants. Rob and I are being haunted by something much less tangible.

Our Old Mailing Address.

Yes, it's true. I have three instances--all recent--of the sudden and very untimely (i.e., three years late) reappearance of our former address. (Notice that all the important numbers are threes, which is also the number of digits in our old and our new street addresses. Spooky-spooky-spooky!)

Haunting #1: Rob went to the optometrist in Berkeley to get fitted for new contacts and glasses. He went to pick up the contacts, and the glasses were going to be mailed to him. Three weeks ago or so, he realized that the glasses had not arrived. When he called Dr. Sarver's office, they found that they had mailed them to our old address...DESPITE the fact that they knew perfectly well that we have a new address and that they have said address on file. So Rob had to go leave a post-it on the door of our old house and ask them to call and let us know if they got a random package from the optometrist. But they didn't. Spooooooky!

Haunting #2: On Saturday, I was preparing envelopes to send contest entries to Smartwriters, Inkwell, and Del Sol Press. Two had entry forms, but one needed a cover letter, so I printed one out. When I went to sign it, I noticed that for no good reason, the letterhead had MY OLD ADDRESS in it. Now, I know I have updated the letterhead but this freaked me out because I had used a cover letter from earlier this summer as a template. Although their having my incorrect info was moot, as I did not place in the contest, I knew this meant I had used a cover letter with the wrong mailing address. This freaked me out further, wondering how many other journals, etc. had received cover letters with my old mailing address. Fortunately, when I checked all my cover letter files the answer was none. But still: SPOOKY! And also sloppy on my part.

Haunting #3: For the past two weeks I have been expecting an envelope with some important bank-account-related paperwork for a nonprofit organization I'm vice-president of. I have seen neither hide nor hair (nor manila fiber, as the case may be) of it. Yesterday, our president realized that he had mistakenly pulled up the wrong address list and sent it to: OUR OLD ADDRESS. Where we have not lived for three years, I'd like to once again point out. Moreover, it turns out that my address in the non-profit's database is still the old address, too, which is odd. Spo-oo-oo-ooky.

I realize that this may be the most boring, mundane instance of haunting ever. But hey, it's the best I can do. Now I'm off to carve pumpkins with Pac-Man and Ghost on them.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Creeping Tentacles

My dubious influence is spreading. My blog is listed on thejimside, in some rather illustrious company including Shin Yu Pai, Juliana Spahr, Camille Roy, and Lyn Hejinian. I feel quite special now.

This, after completing the very mundane task of sweeping and de-spiderwebbing the front porch in preparation for costumed children. After all, it should not be a point of pride that, hey, all those neighbors might have their fancy store-bought fake spiderwebs, but we have the REAL THING, man.

Anyway, it'll be just me tomorrow night, because Rob teaches until 8:30 or so. I think this is the first time in several years we have not attended some sort of Halloween party. Let the decades of loser-dom begin!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

TV, Part 2

So I'm cooking and waiting for Rob to get home from work; that's the reason for all the tube action. Anyway, I'm watching BBC America, because nothing else appeals, and I find this--a little thing called Goodness Gracious Me. Awesome. And amazing that you can have a show like this in England circa 1998, yet I can't foresee anything like this in the U.S. in even ten years. Even Margaret Cho's show wasn't successful.

TV Time

I was just watching Comedy Central's new show The Colbert Report (I love Stephen Colbert--he is on my list of celebrity mini-crushes) and his interview subject was Fareed Zakaria, who had the best comeback of the show. I now also love Fareed Zakaria.

Relatively Updated

A few of you commented that my post from last week seemed almost like a soap opera, a surreal drama. No kidding. And the more the story gets filled in, the crazier it actually gets. It's getting into serious family detail so I'm not going to post it all here for the world (all five of you) to see, but here's an overview.

I did hear from my half-sister via e-mail. We both agreed how bizarre it felt, how confusing, to try to figure out what to say to somebody you're related to but who is still a complete stranger. For myself, I sort of felt like the walls of my world were no longer quite solid. Even though I've known--in the abstract--about having a sister for many years, having it gain the force of reality was something more of a shock than I was expecting it to be. I can't imagine what it must be like for her, who didn't even know she had a sister.

Anyway, we have now each written an e-mail telling the other about ourselves--the strange, seemingly random collections of details that don't seem to be adequate to describe an entire person, an entire life. I wondered if mine sounded boring; boastful; unenthusiastic; overly enthusiastic; guarded; gut-spilling. I've heard more details from my dad, from her e-mails to him, and mostly they spark even more questions. But I also don't want to seem overly eager. I find that I have strangly conflicting feelings at various times: sometimes I can't wait to write back, to find out as much as I possibly can as quickly as possible about her. Other times I feel like I want, even need, to stand back a bit, to let it sink in; like I don't want to write back right away but to let the transition from abstract-sister to concrete-existing-sister move a bit more slowly. After all, the walls of my world just blew outward to include the continent of Australia.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Fun at Lit Crawl with MC A. Fortis

I posted a writeup on WritingYA of last night's reading of young adult authors at Valencia Street Books--part of the Lit Crawl. I think it was a success, but it seemed to be over so quickly! I also had a chance to meet up with a friend afterward, walk around a bit, and obtain caffeinated beverages. It was interesting to be in the Mission and have so many little random places bring back memories...A date at the Roxie to see random weird semi-pornographic Hong Kong cinema; an awesome dinner of crepes at Ti Couz.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Keep Thinking About It - It Just Gets Worse

Psychotic Web Monkey Corey sent me a link to this article, and I could not stop laughing.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

P.S.

Re: below--if you see my dad, don't tell him I told you. Only the immediate family, plus my mom, know about the existence of the sister. And now a handful of other random people. Obviously the blog is not in his sphere of awareness (which is good for many reasons I won't go into here). Anyway, no new updates yet.

Last night I went to Modesto's Monthly Poetry Slam. Yes, Modesto has a poetry slam, held at our friends Kathleen and Jack's theater, and surprisingly, there were about 75-100 people there. Who knew? People of all shapes and sizes and ages and colors. Anyway, I'm not really a poetry slam person, but it was interesting. I might attend once in a while. Maybe. I doubt I'll ever compete. I can tell you this--I should never, ever be a judge. I would be mean.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

What a Trippy Morning.

Something you may or may not know (depending on whether I've mentioned it to you, obviously) is that I have a half-sister in Australia. I have known this since I was about 12, when my mom told me. Six months later, my dad also told me. The story is, my dad had a prior marriage, before meeting my mom, and had been married to an Englishwoman in London. They had a daughter. My sketchy knowledge of what happened is that her family was Australian, and she wanted to return to Australia, but my dad didn't want to move, and they did, and so that was that.

From time to time I've thought about trying to find my half-sister, and have even done a little internet research (fruitless) and posted something on an internet bulletin board at one point. But it's hard to make that a priority when you have already reached an adult life, and there hasn't ever been a sister in it (though mine was fraught--fraught, I tell you--with no less than five stepsisters, none of whom I ever lived with for a very long period of time). Plus, I told myself repeatedly, I needed to just bug my dad about it, because he never discouraged me from the idea of contacting her someday. He just never quite got around to giving me any actual concrete information, and I never quite got around to pinning him down about it. I think about it fairly often, but thought is not action.

Well, I received an e-mail this morning from the Salvation Army Family Tracing Service in Brisbane, Australia, notifying me that my sister is trying to track down my dad. Our dad. I wrote back as soon as I got it, saying that I would pass on the message and encourage him to respond, and asking the Salvation Army person to please give her my contact information. I just heard back again, and they are going to give her my information and she plans to e-mail me. I honestly have been in kind of a fog all day, thinking about all this.

Obviously this means that he hasn't been in touch with her, which I suspected, but it seems like it's been a long time. There's a thirteen-year age difference between me and my half-sister. I also wondered, why now? Not that there would ever be a particular time to do these things, but it seemed so out-of-the-blue. Until I thought about how there was just a humongous earthquake in Pakistan and India, and if she hasn't been in touch with him, she may well be worried that he might be back in Pakistan. Then it all made a bit more sense, though perhaps I'm reading into it now. She wouldn't necessarily know a thing about anything that happened to him since their family split up. (My dad can be close-mouthed about potentially awkward subjects.)

So that was my excitement for the day.

Monday, October 10, 2005

YA Lit Fest

If you're looking for something to do in San Francisco this Saturday night, why not come to the Lit Crawl? It's part of LitQuake, an annual San Francisco literary festival, and it's FREE. We like free.

Plus, if you go to the 5:00 - 6:15 reading at Valencia Street Books, Finding Neverland: Writers of Young Adult Fiction, you will get to see Yours Truly emceeing for a handful of exciting local authors. I will be far less exciting than they will be, which is as it should be. And yes, that reading is named after our WritingYA weblog--we're kind of co-hosts or co-promoters or whatever you want to call it, and this is great publicity for us. I'm very excited.

This is also cool because it's the second (or third, if you count last year's Lit Crawl) time in my life I've gotten to be peripherally involved in a Lawrence Ferlinghetti-related project. The first time, Rob was the printer for a series of etchings by artist Stephanie Peek, published as a limited-edition artist's book with poetry from Ferlinghetti's Endless Life. This meant that we got to meet and have dinner with him at the artist's house, during which he told some very interesting stories about his life. So I definitely admire him and am glad to be involved in LitQuake, even if it's in a small way.

Maybe one day I'll actually get to be involved as a reader. Man, would that be cool. Of course, I have to publish something first, and if the pile of rejections I'm accumulating is any indication, I'm on the fast track to obscurity on that score. I can hardly manage to talk about the latest developments, but I might as well get it off my chest. That story I talked about submitting a while ago? The one that got the non-rejection? (I'm going to tactfully not mention names at the moment in case there are prying eyes, though it's not as though it would make much difference at this point, as you will see, as I have nothing to lose.)

Well, that story was sent hopefully back to the literary magazine in question, after no less than FOUR separate rounds of revisions done with a hasty intensity I henceforth hope to reserve only for ACTUAL publication possibilities, or defeating some kind of video-game super-boss. Anyway, I was contacted a few weeks later by the magazine's editorial board, who "liked my revisions" but had even MORE suggestions for revision. These suggestions, in addition to kind of missing the point of the story, would furthermore result in a completely different piece than the one I wrote. Now, I'm not opposed to the occasional blanket revision, but I was actually already pleased with this story after the last round of revisions. I do believe in being flexible if a) suggestions are reasonable and b) it has a good chance of resulting in respect and publication.

But I don't want to change the entire nature of my writing just to get published. I might as well just put "by Editor X" as the byline. Also, I should point out that some of the comments by the editorial staff were obviously forwarded to me in totally unadulterated form, and I found myself put off, hurt, even outraged by some of them--not exactly the right strategy for getting me enthused about more revisions. Not to mention that there's no reason for me to assume that even if I did alter my story into unrecognizability, they would then publish it. It's beyond the realm of nuts-and-bolts suggestions, so I've decided to sit on it for a while. I'll think about it. I may even see if someplace else is interested in it. Or I may just decide to totally scrap it and shove it in a drawer because I'm sick as hell of it.

Anti-Columbus

Happy Indigenous Peoples Day (though apparently I missed the actual celebration--oops.)