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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in
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|Monday, December 9th, 2013|
|An ISBN Of One's Own
How weird is it that the thing I'm most enjoying right now about my finalized book cover is the ISBN? An ISBN is, among other things, a shortcut that book review blogs use to decide which small press and self-pub titles are serious, and which are so unprofessional that they'll refuse to accept review copies. It's not necessarily a fair shortcut, but it's a common one. There, above the barcode, is my very own ISBN. I'm like Pinocchio halfway through transmuting from wood to flesh. Any minute now, I'll begin to feel real. (Writers are odd creatures, but then, you've noticed that.)
|Saturday, December 7th, 2013|
|Cover Art! Cover Copy!
I've been given the go-ahead to share the cover art and the cover copy. I need to find out who the artist is, because it's lovely, and s/he deserves public credit.
At first I was a little startled by how much skin is showing, but the characters live on the beach and go skinny-dipping more than once, so the skin's not just there to sell books. That said, if people pick up the book because of the woman on the cover, I don't mind a bit. If they read it, they'll buy my next book because these stories rock.
What I do feel a little bit weird about is my own name as a caption to this nubile and nearly naked woman. Though the cover is a reasonable evocation of the book, it's not an evocation of me. Maybe for ten minutes while I was seventeen, I might have looked that good. These days I look like somebody's mom, because I am in fact somebody's mom.
The cover copy below is probably in its final form. The book will be available for pre-order soon, I think, at which point I will be shouting from the rooftops.Let a Little Magic into Your Life
In Tales from Rugosa Coven, catch a glimpse of a New Jersey even weirder than the one you think you know, as a covenful of very modern Wiccans wrestle challenges both supernatural and mundane—and, occasionally, each other.
The personal injury attorney who chose kitchen-witchery over his family’s five-generation lineage of old school ceremonial magic would like to miss his dead parents, only now that they’re dead they won’t leave him alone. The professional fortuneteller stands out at forty paces, with her profusion of silver amulets glittering over her Goth wardrobe, but nobody has guessed her secret sorrow, especially not the covenmates who see her as their wacky comic relief. And the resident skeptic, a reluctant Pagan if ever there was one, will have to eat her words if her coven sister’s new boyfriend really does turn out to be from Atlantis.
The Jersey Shore’s half-hidden community of Witches, Druids, and latter-day Vikings must circle together against all challenges. It’s a good thing they’re as resilient as the wild rugosa roses that hold together the dunes.
Praise for The Rugosa Coven Stories
I absolutely love Tales from Rugosa Coven! It reminds me of the best occult fiction, but with better plots and a New Jersey I recognize. I can't wait for more!
—Nina Harper, author of Succubus in the City
When I read Closing Arguments a few months ago, I was left wanting more. With Sarah Avery's follow-up to that novella, Atlantis Cranks Need Not Apply, I was left salivating.
—Jeremy Bredeson, Facing North Reviews
|One Reason, In a Growing List, Why I'm Glad I'm Not Self-Publishing
If you're not a writer, the jacket copy on the back of a book may look easy to write. It's just a couple paragraphs, so how hard could it be?
If you are a writer and don't yet have the experience of hammering out your final jacket copy, you probably dread the prospect. Here's a book that took however long to write (seven years, in this case), and that required however many words to tell (about 100,000 words for this one), and you have to persuade strangers to buy the book by telling them everything they want to know about it in 200 words or less. Ack!
Fortunately for me, damcphail
can explain where my attempts at cover copy are on target, where not, and why not. I get to propose what goes on the cover, and if I really wanted final say I could probably have it, but I have the benefit of a publicist who can say what, in her experience, moves people to buy books. Frankly, when it comes to selling
a book, I'd rather have her experience than my intuition. That's what a publishing house, large or small, is for.
|Wednesday, November 20th, 2013|
|Rise and Shine(r)
"This is what I'm throwing at you, Mommy," said the cheery voice of my three-year-old. Not the first words one wants to hear on a Monday morning.
Fortunately, I didn't open my eyes before the rubber mallet clonked me squarely on the eyebrow. I saw stars, just like in the old cartoons, though not the little flappy birds.
When I described the origin of the purpling goose egg on my forehead to the doctor, my mother chimed in, "We call this kid Captain Sunshine." That may be one reason the doc never asked about domestic violence. Or maybe because, if an adult had delivered that blow, it would probably have fractured the orbital bone of my skull. As it was, no concussion, no fracture.
"Just a head injury. Don't trifle with it, but you don't need to fear it." So far so good. But then: "Don't try to concentrate on anything for a couple of days," said the doctor. "No reading, no writing, no computer, no close work that could cause eyestrain, and no strenuous physical activity with the kids."
My mother and I burst into gales of laughter. What else is there?
"I suppose," I said, "I shouldn't play football for a couple of weeks."
The doctor tried to get off with just a light smirk, until Mom knocked him over with, "Could you write a note for her coach?"
"You might want to sit out the next couple of games," said the doctor. "You need to be watched carefully until we know where this is going."
As it turned out, it was possible to go without much reading, writing, etc., because my left eye swelled shut until last night, and until this afternoon I couldn't stay awake for much more than an hour at a stretch.
The driven part of me said, If Tina Turner could go on stage and perform "Proud Mary" in this condition, surely I can finish my galley proofs.
My admiration for Tina Turner's fortitude has only increased. My galley proofs are still not turned around. I wonder what stupid thing Murphy's Law will throw at me next to delay the novella collection.
As for watching me carefully to see which way things went, had I been in the company of anyone other than my family, I'd probably have been called delirious.
While I wasn't fit to drive, my sister took a day off to chauffeur me and amuse my children. At one point I teased her for using her cell phone while driving.
"Everyone in Montgomery County uses their cell phones while driving," she said. "Welcome to MoCo."
"You know about the new state law, right?" I said. "Just holding the phone while you drive is a ticketing offense now."
"I am not about to get a ticket. Do you see the po-po?" she replied with a self-mocking chuckle.
The po-po? I had no idea what I was about to say until my mouth blurted out: "No Mo MoCo Po-po; Pomo Afro Homos
Because who wouldn't like a bit of fabulous performance art? Even the most socially conservative people I know would probably prefer it over getting pulled over for a traffic ticket.
Nope, not delirious, honest. It's not a bug, it's a feature.
|Sunday, November 3rd, 2013|
|Another Book Review, And Hey, I'm Finally Selling My Old House
The weird thing is, I think it took me longer to read this 350-page YA novel
than it did this 650-page grown-up-sized-typeface behemoth
. I liked both books, in completely different ways, but I will say, I found it more intuitive to follow the interpersonal politics of a family saga with a cast of thousands, sprawling across two continents and a dozen cultures, than I found it to follow them in a book about a 13-year-old girl. That probably means L. Jagi Lamplighter got the viewpoint character's developmental stage right in The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin
In unrelated news, we've just finished negotiating with buyers for our house in New Jersey. We may actually be in a new place of our own in Maryland before winter's end.
|Wednesday, October 30th, 2013|
|Book Release Dates! (Or, The Best-Ever Reason For Bailing On Nanowrimo)
Tales from Rugosa Coven
, my collection of novellas, will be published in early 2014, likely Februrary-ish. Trafficking in Magic, Magicking in Traffic
, the anthology I coedited with David Sklar, is scheduled for launch at Balticon
, May 23-26.
The editor of the Rugosa book sent back her list of suggested changes, which was very short and all of minor sentence-level things. I was able to turn the manuscript around in two days, so it's now in production. That means my to-do list for November has filled up very abruptly, and many of the tasks on that list are either things I've never done before (create a sign-up feature for an email list on my website--this placeholder website over here
, which I think I last updated over a year ago--ack!), or things I've done before that nearly all writers find difficult and fraught (write the concise and hooky three-paragraph plot synopsis to go on the back cover). I need to pace my participation in production and publicity as if the book were coming out in a month, to make sure everything is in place when it's needed.
The anthology's coming out in six months, and most book-launching how-to lists and calendars pack those six months pretty full. Even if Trafficking in Magic, Magicking in Traffic
were the only project with a release date, I'd call myself busy.
So no, I won't be putting the whole world aside during the month of November to write 50,000 words in 30 days
, and that's just fine. I've got a short fiction project I can probably finish in that time, even around my other responsibilities. Stisele's story can wait until after the holidays, when I'll have dug my box of novel research books out of storage and filled my head back up with cavalry warfare and primitive meteorology.
These are all excellent problems to have. I'd welcome more like them.
|Saturday, October 26th, 2013|
The Faerie-IRS-Meets-Its-Nemesis short story is winging its way to a magazine's slushpile. Short stories don't generally get to have acknowledgments, but maybe they should. A lot of people helped the story along. Here are some of them:
When I wrote this post
told me I had the start of a short story, and onyxtwilight
deluged me with faerie lore, much of which made it into the manuscript. David Sklar
and Rachel Young read every draft they could get me to part with, and my old writing group in New Jersey, the Writers of the Weird
, workshopped about the first third of the story. Just when I was considering sending the story to a market that didn't pay pro rates, Scott Hungerford
insisted that the piece deserved a chance at the big time. Just when I was about to send it out to a big-time market, David Vun Kannon
spotted a major flaw, and saved me from sending my manuscript to its first job interview with its shirt on inside out. From first to last, my husband Dan helped me carve out time to write, even when we were in the thick of moving out of a house where we had lived (and piled up stuff) for thirteen years.
In the two years since this story started germinating, so many people lent it their time and feedback, I'm sure to have missed many of them in these acknowledgements. The main things I know are (1) it's probably the best thing I've ever written that's shorter than novella-length, (2) I couldn't have done it alone, and (3) whenever I look it over for last-minute typos, I'm so happy with how it turned out that I just want to run around thanking people.
|Friday, October 18th, 2013|
|The Series Series Rolls On
I love a sprawling novel. Okay, maybe not every sprawling novel, and maybe love is too strong a word for Mage's Blood
, the debut volume of David Hair's new series, The Moontide Quartet
, but I liked it enough to see what happens with the next volume. There's a lot going for it. My full review is at Black Gate
|Thursday, October 3rd, 2013|
|The Series Series
It cracks me up, so what the heck, I'm going with that as the title for my biweekly column at Black Gate. This week's post
discusses Naomi Novik's newest novel in the Temeraire series, Blood of Tyrants
. Although I am enthusiastic about Novik and this series, the current volume has a significant structural issue that my software-engineer spouse would describe as a bug aspiring to be a feature.
Meanwhile, I'm preparing to finish getting the Little Book into complete working draft during National Novel Writing Month. Considering that it's already 100,000 words long, after two rounds of Nanowrimo some years ago, I'll be cutting nearly as much as I add. It's not the orthodox approach to the Nanowrimo silliness, but if you can't be heretical in your silliness, what can you be heretical in? I've got scenes that are described but not presented, scenes whose future existence is noted but not even described, scenes that need to be excised by means of a chainsaw, and an entire frame narrative that I'll experiment with removing. Somewhere in the storage unit is a box of books labeled NOVEL RESEARCH--DO NOT PUT IN STORAGE--BRING TO HOUSE. In it are all my accumulated books on cavalry warfare and horses, as well as the copy of Clausewitz's On War
that has nearly everything my protagonist knows about strategy and tactics pencil-scribbled in the margins. Damn and blast. For my zero-draft Nanowrimo years, it would have been a positive good for my research books to be inaccessible. For turning the zero draft into a complete working draft, it's a significant impediment.
The mantra: Something good will happen; I just don't know what it is.
|Thursday, September 26th, 2013|
|"It's So Nice To See An Unmedicated Boy"
The park naturalist who said that was watching my older kid clamber over playground equipment in a manner that was clearly never imagined by the people who designed it. Yes, strangers can tell from a distance of forty paces that my kid is not on any medications to manage his behavior. I'm not sure whether to be chagrined--his behavior is so wild that many others parent would surely medicate it out of him, and a stranger can tell from forty paces how wild it is--or to be glad I've protected him from the drugs that make so many boys visibly-from-forty-paces glazed over.
The naturalist was part of a team from a nature center that had come to the playground to give a presentation on local wildlife. They had lots of animal skulls that kids were invited to touch and identify. My sons were literally dancing with delight at being able to pick the skulls up and turn them around in their hands.
"We give presentations to school groups all the time," said the other naturalist. "We've been doing it for years. All the boys used to be like that, and now you hardly see that kind of energy at all. I miss it."
The idea of a whole school group of thirty kids, half of whom were dancing and jumping around and not listening much to directions like Gareth was, filled me with sympathy for the teachers who had to engage in classroom management under those conditions. I know why people overmedicate boys. Believe me, I understand the temptation. If I
could take a pill that would make it easier for him to listen to me and follow my directions, I'd be popping it a dozen times a day.
Gareth knapped a few more stone tools for his collection. He spotted a toad in the underbrush. On the way home, he chanted the naturalists' mnemonic: Eyes in front, likes to hunt; eyes to the side, likes to hide.
At home, he built blanket-caves to hide in, like a good little terrestrial mammal. If he weren't such a skinny kid, he'd be perfectly suited to life during the last ice age. The more primitive the skill or lore I'm teaching him, the happier he is to learn it. I almost wish I didn't have to prepare him for life in our new century. Almost.
|Friday, September 20th, 2013|
|If I Could Bring Myself To Use The Word "Fangirl" As A Verb, I Would Confess To Fangirling
my new column reviewing series fantasy novels at Black Gate
. At some point, a pipeline of review copies will open up from the publishing world, by way of Black Gate's office, to my mailbox, and I'll be reviewing first volumes in new series, with a particular interest in debut novels. It didn't make sense to wait, though, so I've jumped in with a review of the latest installment in one of my favorite long-running series, James Enge's novels of Morlock the Maker. Wrath-Bearing Tree
is the second volume in a trilogy that tells Morlock's origin story, A Tournament of Shadows
This seems like a good time to jubilate publicly again that the Trafficking in Magic, Magicking in Traffic
anthology will contain a never-before-published James Enge short story. Not that I know when the anthology will come out, but when it does, you guys are all in for a treat.
(Can I just say how much I wish the word series
had a plural form? Nitpickers may assert that the word is already plural and has no singular form, but I point to the word people
and say that if we can talk about the peoples of the world, we ought to be able to talk about the serieses of novels. I won't. I'll wait patiently for the language to catch up to the world it describes. I'll just kvetch about it quietly from time to time.)
(Oh, and now that I look at the word fangirl
, my brain wants to split it incorrectly into fang + irl
. Probably my less geeky relatives don't know to split the word as fan + girl
. I wonder what fang-irling would consist of? Nothing I've come up with so far serves as an adequate punchline, which is why I'm not a comedy screenwriter. Maybe you've got a hilarious definition to put in comments?)
|Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013|
|The New Normal Reaches A Tenuous Filament Toward The Old Normal
I'll be posting regularly at Black Gate
again, biweekly instead of weekly this time. It won't be my old column on teaching and fantasy literature
, which has sort of been picked up by other writer/teachers who post there. I mean, I could pick it back up again, but I'm not teaching while I'm between houses, and I want to do something fresh.
My editor suggests that I write about current fantasy novels, especially series fantasy. I'm excited about that idea, except that I'm not entirely free of the predicament this guy
writes about in a NYTimes essay: parents of young children simply cannot keep up with adult popular culture. (You should click on the link just for the cool Tom Gauld cartoon that illustrates the essay. I love every Tom Gauld cartoon, graphic, or comic I've ever seen
. My crazy dream for the Trafficking in Magic, Magicking in Traffic
anthology is that it go out into the world wearing a Tom Gauld book cover like this one
.) Not only am I out of the loop, but every bit of grown-up culture--pop, genre, or otherwise--that I do get to consume has a sort of ecstatic glow about it, because it comes out of that other world I used to live in before I was a parent.
Okay, readers, you've demonstrated a willingness to read me when I'm holding forth. What would you like to see me hold forth about?
And what awesome fantasy series are coming out right now that you'd like more people to be talking about? I'm planning to lead with James Enge's latest novel of Morlock the Maker, the first book I've bought for myself since we boxed up the last of my personal library and sent it to storage. I had planned to hold myself to a no-new-books-until-new-house rule, but but but it's a James Enge novel, so of course I had to have it immediately. After that post, whenever it eventually percolates out, I have no earthly clue what I'll talk about at Black Gate.
In other news, I've sent my story of faerie abduction and supernatural tax collection out for what I think will be its last round of critiques before I submit it somewhere, and I'm already at work on a new short story. Is it possible that I've actually finished a thing and picked up the next item on my creative to-do list? I don't mind domestic limbo nearly so much, now that I seem to be out of creative limbo.
|Monday, August 26th, 2013|
|Those Books Coming Out In Small Press
They're still coming out. I still don't have firm release dates for them, which is slightly crazy-making, but that's life in small press. As soon as I have something new to announce about Tales from Rugosa Coven
and the Trafficking in Magic, Magicking in Traffic
anthology, I'll be shouting it from the rooftops.
I mention this because various friends and relatives have been asking me lately, "What's up with those books? Didn't you have books on the way? Aren't they out yet?"
Both my publishers are still alive and well, which some friends were wondering after what happened with Drollerie Press. The queues at both presses are still moving along, and my books are still in them. From time to time, there's something I get to do to help the books progress, but mostly I concentrate on the next short fiction project, and the next, while I wait for the ball to be back in my court. Tonight I'm working out the details of what criminal misconduct would look like in the Faerie equivalent of the IRS. My current draft of the fairy abduction story isn't disturbing enough. More creepiness! Bring on the uncanny! Then make it pay taxes!
If by November I'm not yet in a new house, and therefore don't have a base of operations from which to start the tutoring business back up, I'll probably do Nanowrimo this year and finish the Little Book. The Big Book seems still to be in the running at a major press that had an open reading period--I never give up on the Big Book.
I may be crammed into my husband's childhood bedroom along with my kids and most of my belongings that aren't in storage, but dammit, I'm working.
|Thursday, August 22nd, 2013|
|Hold That Thought
There was a post here last night, it's not your imagination. It was intended to be the first part of a dialogue with twoeleven
, who has a knack for giving engaging and accessible explanations of scientific and statistical stuff. That dialogue is still going to happen, last night's post is going to come back, and best of all, twoeleven
is still going to clear up some science-gone-wrong that has become entrenched urban myth. The benefit of waiting a week or so is that he'll have time to field questions, and there will probably be a bunch. So, um, sorry about that.
(Meanwhile, Gareth's new superhero identity is Embellishment Man, and Conrad is Embellishment Boy. They have the superpower of sticking decorative duct tape to inappropriate surfaces. Right now, they're running around shouting "Embellish Power!")
|Wednesday, August 14th, 2013|
|The New Normal, Transient As All Normals Are
We could be in this liminal stage, our old house not yet sold so that no new house can be bought, for some months, so I'm not waiting around before I set up some kind of life we can live in the meantime. No writing space in the house? Fine, we'll reestablish a Sarah-writes-out night or two per week. We don't know what school district we'll land in? Fine, we'll formally commit to homeschooling for G's kindergarten year. We're all four of us still crammed into Dan's childhood bedroom, but we've Ikeaed the heck out of that space, and reestablished date night. Project Three-Generation Household was never intended to last until February, but it probably can if it has to. Our living with my 81-year-old father-in-law is far more harmonious than anybody expected. So far. Thank the universe.
Since this liminal way of living won't be sustained for as long as a year in any case, I haven't felt the need yet to fine-tune it for sustainability. Weekdays, the kids and I drive all over the county, examining every playground in every neighborhood we might eventually live in. We go to homeschoolers' meetups to find out who and what is out there. We go to museums and science centers and, tomorrow, the county fair. Every day is field trip day, because I'm on full-time parenting duty whether we go out or not, so we might as well go out, and because the school year hasn't started yet. That'll change for Gareth when it changes for his public-schooled cousins--I figure the transition to a more studious routine will be easiest for him if he's not alone in it. Three weeks into living in a new state, the boys also have friends beyond their extended family now, and some of those friendships may, once established, be sustainable.
I wonder what will be possible now that we have some writing time carved out of next week. Anything might happen.
|Sunday, July 28th, 2013|
|Not The Limbo Harry Belafonte Was Singing About
How strange it was to see those rooms empty for the first time in thirteen years. It's a lovely house, that house where I no longer live. Those thirteen years were excellent; now they're behind me.
I've never known until now exactly how many cubic feet of stuff my household owned. George Carlin would be proud.
Two storage units are packed so tight that furniture will rain down on my head if I ever open the doors, and in a third storage unit breathe all my canvases from my-great-uncle-the-minor-Cubist. (That should be all one word. Where is the language that will give me a single word for that? Perhaps it's Ithkuil
Here in the home of my 81-year-old father-in-law is all the rest of the stuff that would fill the breathing space in our third storage unit. We tried to pack as if for camping, and we try to treat Dan's childhood bedroom like our tent on the world's tamest camping trip. The stuff still overflows into too many of the house's common spaces. Living here is almost as awkward as you might imagine, except that all of us have a will to make it work. It takes some courage to open one's unchildproofed home to a pair of young grandchildren, a distractible son, and an irascible daughter-in-law for an indefinite stay. I've gotten a better view of my father-in-law's best qualities this week than I've ever had before, and those best qualities are mighty. We will all be able to appreciate one another's best qualities better if the New Jersey house sells fast and my little nuclear family can clear out of here by summer's end. (I'll say it again: Anybody wanna buy a house?)
My childhood memories of househunting are comically traumatic. It was 1980, and my family had just arrived in the US, jet-lagged to the point of week-long incoherence, after three years on an army base in Japan. It was our first experience of triple-digit temperatures. At ten, I had no memory of living among civilians, and my six-year-old sister had no memory of living in America. After weeks of touring house after house in tow with our parents, who cannot have enjoyed the process either, my sister and I had a joint meltdown in which she begged our parents to take her "home to Kentucky." She had been born in Fort Knox, and surely being born in a place could give one a claim to home there, with or without actual memories.
I've been waiting for the moment when my kids demand to be taken home to New Jersey. So far, they ask to "go home to Grampa Dan's house". I wonder if that means we've prepared them well, or if that just means the real suckage of moving is still ahead of us. (I still think it's behind us. Remind me I said that if things get hairy later.)
|Tuesday, July 16th, 2013|
|The State Of The Move
[EDIT: Several people offered to help out on Thursday, some at what would have been extreme inconvenience. Many thanks, to them and to the people who sent kind thoughts. Dan worked it out with his new employer so he could be home in NJ for Truck Day, even though he hasn't been there long enough to build up any days off yet.]
Way behind, with child care arrangements for Truck Day (Thursday) fallen through just when I thought they were about to come together. I need someone the kids already know to help them stay out from underfoot when the movers show up. There are many forms of help I could really use this week, but that is the one most desperate need.
I feel like my head is imminently about to explode, most of the day, most days. By the time the kids are in bed, decision fatigue
has already set in from the huge number of choices I've made about objects (pack? donate? pitch?), interventions in kid behavior (snuggle? firm time out? sedate with television?), and spacial relations (put fragile boxes into closet to prevent their being used as jungle gym? keep fragile boxes in the open to prevent their being left behind by the movers?). Just when I finally have the bairns off my back for the night, I have enough energy to self-medicate with chocolate one last time before I topple over, and that's it. If I stay up and keep trying to work, I'll just have to undo the work to get it right in the morning, in the company of my small helpers. And check it out: I'm kvetching to the internet when I haven't figured out a way to be (or at least feel) the least bit funny, poetic, charming, or deep about it. Decision fatigue, guys. It's all about the decision fatigue.
|Tuesday, July 9th, 2013|
|Making An Offer On A Charming Cottage
The operative term here is cottage
. If our offer leads to our actually living in the Charming Cottage, we'll be a family of four in only slightly more square feet than Dan and I lived in as childless grad students before our first round of homeownership. It'll work out fine--we've had more space than we needed here, and that has led to a vast accumulation of crap we don't use but haven't needed to get rid of until now.
So now I get to get rid of all that. Oh, and pack everything that's left. Hiring movers to pack your stuff for you turns out to be one of those things that's totally worth the money, if
you happen to have it. I chose to be a marginally employed freelancer so I could be home with my kids and write fiction--I enjoy that choice every day, but it puts me on the wrong side of the if
It's less than two weeks to Truck Day, whether we have a new house lined up or not. Everything has to be ready to load on Truck Day. I'm curious about how I'm going to make that happen. Watching my own daily life feels sort of like watching an unfamiliar wild animal on an episode of Planet Earth
. If the creature ventures out of its burrow at all, it may do something astonishing.
|Wednesday, June 26th, 2013|
|Zero Students, Many Visitors
Tonight was the last teaching night of my two decades in New Jersey. I am now a person with zero students, unless you count my children. I would not presume to say that I know what a phantom limb feels like to an amputee, but that's the analogy that keeps forcing itself to the forefront of my mind.
Prospective buyers tromp through my house. I want them to do that, yes I do. They tour when I'm home, they tour when I'm out. I've just learned about a realtors' custom I'd never heard of: the office caravan. A group of about twenty real estate agents drive around together, to look at one another's listings in case they have buyers who'd be interested. My own agent really did think she had told me what was coming, but this is the first time I've sold a house, so I was a bit gobsmacked when twenty realtors filed in, swarmed cheerfully through all the rooms, and filed out again in the space of about ten minutes. It felt like a Monty Python sketch waiting to be written, but I seem either to have the wrong muse for the job, or a muse whose refusal to be rushed is so adamant that I probably won't even recognize this scene when eventually it appears in my fiction.
My sons watched about four hours of television today. And about that much the day before. I have become a terrible parent. I might also be becoming a terrible person. When telemarketers interrupt my packing, they get all the frustration vented at them that I'm trying to spare everyone else. Nobody, not even telemarketers, deserves to be spoken to the way I've talked to telemarketers this week.
Despite all the stresses of moving, and all the brain-numbing power of our television diet, my children continue to be glorious. During the latest downpour of our new local monsoon season, Gareth asked, "Is it also raining on Mars right now?" He thought not, but he urgently wanted to make sure. We brought Conrad and his tiny hand drum to the fire circle at midsummer festival for the first time, and he followed the senior drummers better than some of the newest grown-up drummers. The kids' biggest disappointment about this first week since Gareth's school year ended is that we haven't had time to do as much homeschooling as they want.
For all the disruption of the tradespeople, brokers, and prospective buyers, we would welcome more visits from friends. It's been a good twenty years, full of wonderful people we will not be able to smuggle out in our luggage.
|Friday, June 21st, 2013|
|To Narnia In Ill-Fitting Shoes
I can get the kids to help me pack upstairs--help
in the sense of staying on the second floor where I can hear what they're up to--by opening any closet door. Gareth shouts "Narnia!" and runs in so hard he bangs all his body weight into the back wall. Conrad, of course, follows suit. Before I packed my good teaching clothes, I suppose we could say he followed suits, plural.
Lucy and her siblings ventured into Narnia in oversized fur coats that reeked of mothballs. If my boys dressed for always-winter-never-Christmas in my closet, they'd have to settle for my doctoral robes
, which smell better but wouldn't be nearly as warm. Grown-ups' footwear fascinates my kids, so they clonk around the hardwood floors in the few remaining dress shoes from my classroom teaching days. I picture Mr. Tumnus's faunly hoofprints in the snow alongside the blurred prints of two pairs of chunky-heeled pumps. Really, it'll be no loss when those shoes get left in Narnia. Perhaps talking field mice will make a good village of nests in them.
Narnia feels more real than this fact: Three more weeks, and we're out of this house forever.
The MLS listing goes live tonight. On Monday, we'll have a screwball comedy set piece's worth of characters coming all at once: the realtors, to take photos; the gutter repair people, with tall ladders worthy of a Buster Keaton routine; the first prospective buyers and their agents; moving company representatives, to cook up estimates of the cost of moving all our goods that aren't already in storage. I have to be here to greet most of these people, so the kids will be here, too. I imagine it will play out sort of like the climactic scene in One, Two, Three
, with me playing James Cagney's role. It's a marvel of accelerating pace, that old film, and the skittering score of the fastest scenes runs in my head on a daily basis.
Slow things fall out of my life, or get packed up until there's a new house to live them in. I've made my farewell-for-the-summer post on Black Gate
, said my last goodbyes to nearly all my students, and glumly accepted that the parts of my mind that write fiction have retreated into their cave to wait out the storm. The parts of my mind that handle logistics envy them the retreat.
Gareth wants to know if we can move to Narnia instead of Maryland. That would be farther from family even than Jersey, and I can't vouch for the Narnian public schools, so no. It's starting to sound pretty good, though.