Saturday, April 12, 2008

This dog won't hunt

If this isn't profiteering and racketeering, I don't know what is.

It used to be that companies were happy with a share of the pie without wanting the whole pie, the plate, all the ingredients and whatever is in your mouth, too. The story broke in Writers Weekly and has even been picked up by Publishers Weekly and hit the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), of which I am a member of longstanding.

Basically, what's happening is that Amazon wants to boost business for it's Print-On-Demand (POD) company, BookSurge, and Amazon is doing this by requiring all small independent and POD publishers to use BookSurge if their books are going to be sold at Amazon. Sounds like the old protection racket to me. The punishment for not signing the contract is having the buy button taken off their page so books can only be bought by secondhand sellers. In addition, Amazon takes a 48% bite out of the pie, which takes money out of the publishers' pockets, and thus out of authors' pockets, and imposes a 55% discount. By my way of calculating, that's more than the whole pie. Of course, technically, and mathematically, it is 55% of the remaining 52%, but that leaves very little for the author who is trying to make a living. The only one who is getting rich is Amazon.

It's not enough that Amazon gets books before they are released to the public or that they discount heavily to start with, but now Amazon also wants to get into POD publishing and take the food -- and money -- off everyone's tables. Sounds a lot like Bill Gates who has turned software into a single use system so that if you get a new computer you have to buy a new program to install and can't use the one you've already bought, or you buy a computer with his software already loaded (bundled) on a brand new computer and you have about 90 days to either buy the program or not be able to use it again. No wonder more and more people are turning to freeware operating systems like Linux and away from the RAM and space hogging Windows. You can only hog so much of the pie and ingredients before people start fighting back, and this is one time that people aren't going to sit still for this.

Amazon has angered authors and alienated publishers, and it's never a good idea to get Angela Hoy, also an independent POD publisher and owner/operator of Booklocker, angry. Even the Authors Guild is on Amazon's tail and looking into litigation. Amazon did a good thing by giving space to POD books and small presses, even with the discount, to give authors a foothold in the market denied them by other big chain bookstores like Barnes & Noble, Waldenbooks and Borders, but now it begins to look like a trail of crumbs leading to the witch's gingerbread house and right into the oven. I guess when some people, like Jeff Bezos, owner and mastermind of Amazon, get rich they get gluttonous and want to be even richer, but maybe it's about immortality because you certainly couldn't spend two hundred million dollars in one lifetime; you're going to need several. Really, who needs that much money?

Bottom line: Amazon is heading into racketeering and profiteering by way of the protection racket and it may end up regretting that decision, especially since BookSurge isn't equipped to handle printing a book that is worth buying, even at a deeply discounted price. Consumers have been sold books with pages missing or upside down and coming unglued and cover art that isn't worth the deeply discounted price (blurred, upside down or just plain damaged). It's no wonder BookSurge is in financial trouble and daddy Amazon has to bail it out. If BookSurge had been a quality publisher in the first place there'd be no need for Amazon's move to funnel business its way. BookSurge isn't Chrysler and there is no Lee Iacocca at the helm, so even more business when they can't handle the business they have now isn't going to help; it's going to hurt and readers and authors are going to suffer for it.

Amazon says the reason for the move isn't to make a profit (and I have swamp land in the Arizona-Sonora desert to sell you) but to help the environment and give consumers a faster turnaround time in getting their books and cut down on fuel costs for delivery trucks. Hah!! and HAH!!! (this needs more quotes) HAH HAH!!!!! NO. I don't think the environment is going to be helped by consumers sending their defective products back to BookSurge to be redone and it certainly isn't going to be a very fast turnaround time when you have to send the book back more than once. If Amazon was interested in the environment, they wouldn't send a single small paper back book in a great big box full of advertising and air-filled plastic pillows or a half ton of Styrofoam packing peanuts. In the words of my hillbilly uncle, "That dog won't hunt."

Stay tuned. If Amazon doesn't back off, Jeff Bezos is likely to be looking down at a lot of red on his bottom line when consumers flock to Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million for their online purchases, especially since Borders has teamed with Amazon.

That is all. Disperse.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Squirrel porn tree and mountains



Just great! The space heater is dying. No wonder it's so freezing cold in here. Don't need to keep the wine in the fridge since it's cold enough outside the fridge. I could probably even freeze meat and vegetables it's so cold. I guess the landlady decided it was spring enough to turn off the furnace, but then she has a space heater that works and Nel has two.

Instead of reading last night or writing in the journal I huddled under the covers and tried to sleep, but that's a little hard to do. I can see every exhaled breath. I may have to turn on the oven, open the door and let that heat the apartment. There's a thermostat on the wall in the living room and the temperature gauge works but it's not attached to anything. The landlady controls the heat and for the past three years it has been either hot as Hades or Ragnarök in here, which is why I had the space heater. I didn't realize the space heater was dying until this morning. I have turned it on and forgot about it for three years and it has never failed me, gotten a bit too toasty but never failed . . . until now. When did balls of brown smelly excrement begin to roll uphill?

Don't get me wrong. I have loved living here, not because of the petty little problems or the occasional bad moods and nasty attitudes of Nel and the landlady, when I usually keep to myself and hide in a book or at the computer with my ear phones on, but because of the view and the sunshine streaming through all the windows, and the view. It's still a big sprawling one-bedroom apartment with baby-poop colored trim, indoor-outdoor carpeting everywhere in shades of blueberry streaked excrement, uneven floors like miniature roller coasters, heat controlled by the landlord who is only interested in her own comfort and not the comfort of those living upstairs, a narrow, steep and poky stairway with not enough light, a toilet that doesn't always flush away the excrement and TP, broken stove burner and oven that is not self-cleaning despite the lever and instructions printed on it that say it is, and a laundry room that can only be reached by the person in this apartment by going down two flights of stairs, out onto the porch, around the house and into a back door that must be scheduled six months in advance because everyone else (landlady and Nel) already have their schedules that must not be changed. For me, the attraction has always been the sun room with its view of trees and the neighborhood and the mountains where all the animals and birds cavorted and perched for my own private amusement and awe. That's what I'll miss, not the stairs or the laundry situation or the baby-pooped trim everywhere I look, but the views. I certainly won't miss the Russian roulette with the heat or having to use a space heater to keep warm on cold days and nights, although the cold living room was nice on sweltering August nights when I wanted to watch a movie. In a way, it's a Zen thing, finding peace and contentment in the midst of turmoil and iffy conditions.

I will also miss the exchange of food and Pastor the long-haired German Shepherd (pastor alemán in Spanish and his name) who was always excited to see me and be petted. I realize it was a selfish thing on his part and it was all about him, but petting and playing with him gave me such pleasure. I guess that's what it's all about -- pleasure. Dogs and cats, and indeed any affectionate animal, are selfish. They want to be loved and petted and cuddled and fed and kept safe and they're not shy about demanding it either. We respond with smiles and affection without question -- at least those of us with souls and feeling hearts. The pleasure they give is outweighed by their selfish need to live comfortably and be loved. They don't spin or weave or grow food, and they could live on their own off humanity's scraps or off the bounty of nature, killing and grazing to keep themselves fed, but instead we support them all their lives, even into their thirties for some pets, and we don't complain (too much) about it. They don't grow up and move away. We don't see them as co-dependent because they are completely dependent.

We don't make them do chores, although some people are mean enough to expect tricks in exchange for treats, or expect them to pick up the garbage they have strewn all over the nice clean kitchen or bathroom floor. Pets lie around and sleep most of the time, or play with their toys long past the time when any child doing so would be considered either mentally deficient, brain-damaged or slacking. We take them for walks for their health when in reality they are accompanying us for our health. They get enough exercise romping in the yard with their toys or jumping the fence for a midnight romp with their buddies or having wild animal sex at 2 a.m. on the back fence where everyone can hear them. They break the rules and we forgive them. They trash the house and we take the blame and clean it up; we shouldn't have left them alone for so long. We put them in cages and order them around when we're feeling pissy and they still curl up on our laps and show their affection after a short period of the silent treatment. They're always excited to see us, but who wouldn't be excited to see the person who feeds, sometimes clothes (and it's criminal what people make their pets wear), waters and takes such good care of them, and never expects them to contribute anything but their presence and affection? They are the animal kingdom version of a trophy wife. See? they say. This person is responsible and caring and willing to share their home with a selfish, self-centered, eating and sleeping machine, and they even clean up the poop so we don't have to. Are you beginning to get the idea that pets own us instead of us owning them?

Yes, living here has been a lot like having a pet: a fair amount of trouble for a good amount of pleasure. It's the same everywhere. No matter how great the apartment or cabin or house, there is always something not quite right or downright awful that I accept in exchange for a roof over my head. Come to think of it, I am probably more tolerant of landlords and neighbors and conditions than I am with my own family because I know when I get angry or irritated with them and tell them so they can't kick me out of my home. They are pretty much stuck with me, and what's worse, I am stuck with them.

Well, at least when I move and have the laundry room on my floor (I should write about the time I bought a washer and dryer (apartment-sized) and had to send it back because the landlady wouldn't allow it in my apartment where I pay rent) and control of the heat -- and air conditioning -- in my own apartment, and I don't have to pay utilities. And I don't have to change my phone number. There are fewer windows and no views of the mountains and no squirrel porn tree outside the window in my office that causes me to waste so much time laughing and smiling and watching in sheer delight when I should be working, but there are other amenities and features that will make it easier to fit into a new rhythm and situation. There will be a few expenses, like rugs for the hardwood and tiled floors, and a work island for the kitchen, bookcases and a new desk, but I won't lack for closet space or room and I'll even have a separate refrigerator for wine and freezer overflow, to make up for losing my view. I might even get more work done without the view, like Stephen King with his drawn shades and desk against a wall away from the temptation of the windows, and I'll get more exercise because I'll have to get up and go outside for a walk to see the mountains and restore my soul. It's a trade-off, but what in life isn't?

That is all. Disperse.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Sodden Thursday

The air coming through the window went from briskly cool to icy as the sky darkened and rain and sleet pelted down. At least it was raining, great drops of rain that sploshed and splatted against the window, but the best was yet to come. Thick black clouds crowded closer and the sky lit with jagged forks and tridents of light just before the sky cracked open and boomed: lightning and thunder, the first of the year. Spring is definitely here, even though right now it's icy and slick and the ground is heavy with wet sleet and snow. Not event this late wet snow has daunted the buds on the trees and bushes or the flowers stabbing green spears and brightly colored heads through the steaming ground. Spring will not be delayed.

Now is the time to get out the white shoes and hats, not back during Easter, which is the accepted opening of the season of wearing white. This is spring. This is the season of singing birds, romping squirrels and returning life. Cold as it is this morning as the space heater labors to put the heat back into the room while I huddle under the covers fully dressed, my fingers tingling with cold, I know it won't last. It will snow again today and tomorrow, but it won't last. Spring has a good hold on us now and it won't let go. It will not retreat. Winter will just have to give way until the rest of the seasons have their time.

The garbage trucks are out wheezing, clanging and banging, stopping to gorge and move on. They will circle the neighborhood like vultures, clearing up the detritus and debris before leaving to circle another section of the city. It's Thursday, so they're here banging ice-covered bins and cans against the gaping maw to dislodge the frozen contents into the void and take it somewhere else to dump. I'll bet their hands are colder than mine.

I got word from two local co-authors on one of my books that we're nearly ready to hit the bookstores, cafes and libraries to begin the personal appearances that will take over a big hunk of my free time and weekends for the next year. At least I don't have to sit alone on display with the books. That's something. But right now I've spent some time with my paper journal and now I've dashed off a few words here, so it's time to get up, get breakfast and get to work to earn a few more dollars (very few, I can assure you) and fill my day with something other than books and reading and the infinite pleasure of writing something new or editing something not so new.

That is all. Disperse.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Indiana Jones Returns

The event I've waited for since Sean Connery and Harrison Ford took their last adventure is a new movie. It's here.

That is all. Disperse.

Good, bad, good, bad, new and old and new

I'm in a good news-bad news state of mind this morning. I got the apartment. Good news. I'm moving from my home. Bad news. I'll feel less constrained about doing some of the things I couldn't do here. Good news. Now I'll have to do them. Bad news. It has a washer and dryer that is easily accessible. Good news. The new apartment is a bit smaller. Bad news. I could go on like this for a very long time. The bottom line is that in four weeks I will be living somewhere else. My phone number will be the same but everything else will be different. I'll have to get used to another way of doing things, but most of what I do will soon slide into the old rhythm and I'll settle in as I have settled in before, the difference being that instead of wanting to stay there for a very long time I'll only stay there until I can save enough money to buy my own place.

I have often thought that owning a home is no different in the end than renting when it comes to cost. Even when the home is paid for there are always more expenses: roofs, painting, repairs, property taxes, lawns to mow, seed and wage war with crab grass, etc. There is a long and expensive list of things that go along with owning a home that the renter never has to face. But renting has its downside because just when you get comfortable you can be thrown out, asked to leave or feel you can no longer tolerate the escalating idiosyncrasies or dysfunctions and have to find somewhere else to fit in. I do know people who have rented the same place for decades but they found the perfect situation -- for them -- or were living in a situation where it didn't matter, like renting a house where the owners live in another state, preferably clear across the country.

I just found my scissors. Now maybe I'll find some of my barrettes and other things that have disappeared over the past three years. Okay, nonsequitor.

No situation is without its downside. It's like many things in my life. I like having a regular paycheck but am really tired of the 9-5 grind (in my case 6-2 or 8a-10p). I loved living here and considered it home, but I hated the lack of privacy, frequent intrusions, finding a day or time that I could do my laundry that fit into my schedule instead of everyone else's, etc. I have a laptop to write on -- and I do write on it -- but I prefer a pen and journal for the tactile feel of putting down words that will stand the test of time instead of being dependent on a technology that may not be around for another hundred years, at least not in this form.

When I got my first computer, an IBM PS-2, I was ecstatic. I wrote every chance I got, began keeping my journal on the computer and downloading it to big floppy disks. I still have a big bag of 5.25 disks and no computer to use them in; mine was stolen with several years of my life captured inside and unreachable now. Conversely, I have a box full of journals of different sizes, shapes and colors that have withstood twenty years of moving about and traveling. Even when I left them back in storage in Ohio, they followed me. Mom and Dad brought them to me several years ago. I took them back into storage and my parents brought them to me again. I keep them with me now, and I have added to them.

Yesterday, I bought a new journal, having filled the last line on the last page of the old one a few weeks ago. I was stunned when I saw it with it's lilac suede cover and beautiful empty white pages with a price tag of under $10. How could I resist? I didn't. Now my books are safe. I have a tendency to write in whatever is handy when I get a thought or when something I'm reading strikes a spark and takes me in a different direction. Notes in the margins and empty back pages and inside covers are filled with my hasty cramped scrawl when I don't have a journal handy. Usually, the last thing I do at night (unless I go to bed early) is write in a journal, laying my thoughts to rest so I can sleep peacefully. When I became a daytime wage slave, and after I moved in here, I began writing first thing in the morning when I awoke in that deep dark before dawn, waking and stretching my mind for the rigors of the day ahead. As the weather warms, I'll take the journal with me to the park or for a walk and sit down on a convenient bench to let the thoughts spill out like Moses striking the rock for water in the desert, except I won't be denied the promised land for my actions. Instead, I will find the promised land between those blank pages.

Most writers are daunted by the blank page, and to some extent a blank virtual page affects me the same way, but give me a pen or pencil and a notebook, legal pad or journal and I am in heaven, filling page after page with thoughts captured from my overactive imagination and pulled from the rushing byways and highways of sparking neurons and synapses that can't wait to fill the page. I don't have to force the first step before the need, the urge to write takes over in a journal the way I do with the virtual page. Once I'm there, I'm writing and some actually useful and coherent thoughts make it to the page. With a paper journal, everything becomes clear and the old rhythms ingrained in me since childhood take over and I am flying over page after page until I am energized to begin another day or relaxed enough to fall into Morpheus's arms. Such is the magic that touches me with a blank page and a pen full of ink or a long pencil and sharpener at hand. (I prefer ink because it doesn't fade as quickly as pencil.) So, among the soon to be unfamiliar is the familiar chore of packing and getting ready to move and the comfort of a new paper journal to fill.

And life goes on.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

A little science and wonder

This is my latest editorial for the ham club newsletter, Ø-Beat (zero beat for non-hams):

Ever since I was a child, rainbows have fascinated me. I was awed by the arcing bridge of colors floating up in the sky like a promise of adventure, but I had no idea that not all those varicolored bridges are rainbows. Some of them are circumzenithal arcs (CZA). Now, say that three times fast. They’re also called ice halos and can be best seen when the sun is low on the horizon. It looks like an upside-down rainbow with the center of the bow like a cup beneath the sun and the red arc always on the outside.

In science class, I learned that the prismatic effect of sunlight through raindrops is what creates rainbows. In my recent searched through the Internet I discovered that sunlight reflected through ice crystals floating through high clouds produces just the right conditions for CZAs. With all the snow we’ve been getting lately I wonder that I haven’t seen a CZA yet, but maybe I’m not looking at the sky at the right time. But the magic and color show doesn’t stop with CZAs. There’s more.

Ever hear of sundogs? I didn’t until I stumbled across a picture of the Mongolian CZA. Sundogs are those bright circular spots, solar halos, that looks like miniature suns but are a sort of mirror effect from the same icy cirrus or cirrostratus clouds drifting through the cold gray sky. In my opinion, it’s just one more reason to love winter – besides the cold.

And then there are circular rainbows, that most elusive and rarest of sights. Several years ago as I came out of Radio Shack, I saw a circular rainbow hovering in the rainy gray sky. It was a perfect halo of light and color and I couldn’t stop staring. I stopped people on the sidewalk and pointed to the sky like Chicken Little, except I wasn’t trying to convince anyone the sky was falling. People moved away from me like I was a lunatic, but I kept my eyes on that rainbow even after I got into my car to drive back to work, following that rainbow all the way across the west side of Columbus, Ohio. I pulled into the parking lot at work and shared my news to the whole office. Most of my co-workers shook their heads and went back to work. The rest followed me outside to see . . . nothing. The rain gathered strength and pelted us with icy drops and I stood there alone looking up into the sky, hoping for a glimpse of that circle of brilliant color.

The physics of how and why rainbows exist doesn’t lessen the magic for me, rather I appreciate rainbows more and now I know when and where to look for circular rainbows, circumzenithal arcs and sundogs. I know what the combination of weather and the sun can do, as not only a feast for the eyes and the soul, but also how it affects propagation and radio waves and our ability to reach out across town or across the world and hear voices.

The sun has gone through some changes since last month, putting on a bit of a show. The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) reported, “…a solar prominence gracefully [rising] up above the surface[. It] spun around a little, formed an arc, and eventually dissipated along magnetic field lines over a two-day period (March 22-23, 2008). Powerful magnetic forces that emerge from below the Sun's surface generate these prominences. The charged plasma spins along these magnetic lines, revealing them in extreme UV light. Sometimes these prominences erupt and break away from the Sun - this one seem[ed] to elongate and disappear.”

According to K7RA, the combination of a nearly two-week run of sunspots and the spring season make for very good HF conditions. Sunspot activity peaked March 26-29 and has dropped back to zero, but don’t despair. We have had a slow start, but sunspot activity is following the predicted pattern and will increase to a phenomenal high in 2011. You don’t have to wait that long to benefit from the sun’s effect on our skies. There are always sundogs, circumzenithal arcs and circular rainbows. Check out the web version of the Ø-Beat and feast your eyes.

And there is more news on the spring horizon, and I don’t mean the fact that if you look outside spring is getting ready to bust out all around us.

If you haven’t been checking the PPRAA reflector, you may have missed the news of recent changes. Jim Harris ABØUK has retired from the scene and all club activities and Ken Sheehan KGØADV has stepped down as Vice President, both due to health concerns. Jim received the PPRAA Lifetime Achievement Award last year for all his hard work and for his exceptional volunteer contributions over the years, setting an example for those who will follow him and try to fill his shoes. Ken distinguished himself early as an avid proponent of the PPRAA, urging members to get involved. Jim and Ken’s input leave a void.

One thing you won’t see on the reflector is the news that on April 23rd Jess Miley KØTAA, a long time fixture in the Colorado Springs amateur radio community as a technician and business owner, celebrates his 80th birthday.

The last bit of news is my own. After 2-1/2 years of editing this newsletter, I have decided to step down and let someone else run the show. I had originally intended to stick around until the end of the year but my schedule is filling up with personal appearances, readings and interviews for two of the eight books coming out this year that include my stories. The first two, Cup of Comfort for Single Mothers and Chicken Soup for the Adopted Soul, are already available online and in the bookstores. The books are collections of stories from more than fifty other writers, like me, who share a little piece of their lives and experiences. I have agreed to pop in every occasionally with a column, so I will be gone but hopefully not completely forgotten.

During my time as editor, I have made some changes to the newsletter, and hopefully to the way you think of and feel about the PPRAA. I have hounded, begged, cajoled and blackmailed some of you to get articles to fill these pages. If you doubt me, talk to Shel Radin KFØUR or Steve Williams KØSRW about how tenacious I can be in pursuit of content to fill the newsletter. Of course, as editor, I couldn’t just accept their words without adding a bit of spit and polish to make them shine. Admittedly, I didn’t have to use a lot of spot or polish, but I did feel I needed to earn the title of editor by actually editing.

My last column as editor (I can hear the celebrations and corks popping already) will appear in the July issue of this newsletter. By then I look forward to meeting the new editor and offering him my assistance to make the transition easier. Whoever the editor is, I do hope you will give him the same attention and assistance you have given me over the past 2+ years.

Being editor of this newsletter has been an experience I won't soon forget. It has given me a chance to display my ignorance of electronics with a smile and to get to know some of you better. I will continue as a member of the PPRAA and the VE team, but will watch quietly (most of the time) from the sidelines while the rest of you take up the torch and keep it burning while you run with it. Without you, nothing continues and I would hate to see the Ø-Beat go the way of the Mountain Amateur Radio Club’s newsletter and be consigned to oblivion. Editing the newsletter takes a considerable amount of time and effort, but it is worth it because this newsletter, and all the amateur radio club newsletters like it, keeps us connected and reminds us that things are not so different anywhere else in the country, or in the world. We are all licensed amateur radio operators who work hard when it’s needed, volunteer when we can and keep people communicating in times of trouble and disaster. We are the silent minority who, out of curiosity and a love of science and adventure, stride out into the world and push the boundaries of technology, and I am proud to be one of you.

73 as always…
Jackie Cornwell ACØCA

Because Spikes Leman reminded me

Reading this morning reminded me of something that happened many, many years ago back when I was married to X-2. It seems strange to think back how many years ago this was since I don't think about it, but seventeen years is a very long time indeed. Anyway, back to the story.

Nick was drunk (no big surprise there) and he called and left a message on our answering machine. It was a rambling, curse- and obscenity-filled rant with no particular theme other than I wasn't there to answer the phone when he called. He had forgotten I had gone to play bingo with a friend, as I did most Friday nights, and then was going to a late supper with a couple we knew. I came home, saw the light blinking on the answering machine and listened to the filth coming out of it with my mouth open, something I didn't realize until the message ended. It wasn't that I wasn't familiar with drunk Nick but that he would leave such a message at all when he seldom called. This time he had forgotten something at home and wanted to know where it was even though he was out trawling the titty and drinking bars for another debauched evening or a one night stand. Evidently, that night he didn't get lucky -- or rather the women did get lucky because they didn't get talked into sex with him, but I digress.

I saved the message. The next morning when Nick woke up he checked the messages on the machine and heard himself spewing filth. He was shocked and then he got angry that some dumb jackass had dared to call our home and leave such a message. I asked him to listen to the message again and he did. While he listened, his face getting redder and redder, I calmly asked if he recognized the voice. He didn't . . . at first. "It does sound familiar," he said. "It should," I said. "It's you." At that point his face got so red I thought he was going to explode. He listened again and then all the blood drained from his face and his fisted hands went slack, his jaw dropped, and he dropped into the chair like all the bones had just gone as soft as his head. "It's me."

Later that day, after he was gone, I took the cassette out of the machine and stashed it with some of my things so I could retrieve it whenever he got into drinking mode and started being abusive again.

I ran across a cassette a couple of months ago and put it in the player and listened. It was the same cassette from our old answering machine with Nick's filth spewing out at me. I smiled, not because I was nostalgic for the old days but because somehow, some way that cassette, out of all the things I have owned over the years, has survived, and survived longer than my marriage.

With all the technology available, I wonder why people don't think about taping their parents, children, grandparents, spouses, girlfriends, boyfriends, bosses, etc. when they become verbally abusive and letting them listen when they are calmer or at least less abusive. During one of those expansive moments when they are in the Prince/ss Charming phase of the cycle to make up for the Edward Hyde phase of the cycle, turn the tape, MP3, etc. on and let them listen. I'll bet they don't recognize themselves and are shocked that anyone would say such things, and I'll also bet it will be a hard, cold slap in the face with a big, reeking, wet sponge (like the one filled with Betadine they slapped between my legs and onto the pulsing warmth of my nether regions when I was about to give birth to my first child) and they might, just might be willing to see things in a different light. Or not. It might be safer to booby trap the replay so you are at least in the presence of Guido and Vito or an officer of the law or military squadron with weapons before you do. But at least give them a taste of the foul air they have been polluting your environs with for so long.

It didn't change Nick much, but it did change him. He was the kind of person who created a fantasy world in which he lived and the normal laws of physics and science and decency do not exist, except as he created them, and changed them without notice. He found out that my complaining wasn't just the usual bitchiness he attributed to PMS, which I have never had, but was valid. His own shock that someone would speak that way (and probably that he thought I had a lover who was audacious enough to get drunk and leave such a message -- I didn't) and leave proof made him see himself in a little different light. The light wasn't pink or rose-colored but it was clearly Technicolor.

That is all. Disperse.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Some rain

Why is it people don't tell you when they don't like someone right off the bat?

I talked to Mom last night and she said, though she only met my landlady once she didn't like her, thought she was hard. I asked Beanie what she thought this morning and she said she thought the landlady was hard, too, but probably all right.

There's a certain reluctance to be honest about how we view people and voice our first impressions. I can see how people would think the landlady is hard; she is at times. But she can also be incredibly generous and nice. She is also a horrid gossip and two-faced, but who doesn't have their flaws? She does make me uncomfortable when she rails on and on about Nel across the hall and telling me how much Nel drinks and smokes pot, and how she's such a negative person who duped her about her animals, but she won't say these things to Nel's face. She told me at the end of last year she was going to raise Nel's rent to see if she couldn't force her and her animals out (a cat and an iguana), but then when the time came she said she decided not to raise the rent.

The landlady has her moods, just like everyone else, but she is inconsistent about some things and she's always in everyone's business. I have to admit that I really don't like the way she keeps track of my comings and goings (and when I'm not coming and going) or how often I go to the bathroom because it feels like I'm being watched all the time. The fact that she is watching all the time probably has a lot to do with that. She pries into my mail and comes out into the hall whenever I get a pizza or Oriental food delivered or bring the groceries home from the store. It's not that she wants to share but that she just can't resist knowing what I'm doing and what I've bought. Yeah, it's annoying. Sometimes I feel like I'm under siege, but into every life a little rain -- and gods above we need the rain.

I've lived here almost three years and I love the apartment, but when you rent can you live happily ever after with a landlord or nosy neighbors watching your every move? Is it time to move on and find something else? This is the longest I've lived anywhere since I moved out on my own, but most of that was due to being married to the military and doing a good bit of traveling on my own after I got divorced.

Anyway, I looked at the ads on and found one apartment right off the bat. I called the landlord, Joe, and it turns out he's retired and he and his wife are snowbirds who want a more mature renter for their garden apartment with washer, dryer, microwave, garage and big back yard in a quiet neighborhood a couple miles from here. I'll be farther away from Old Colorado City and the squirrel porn tree, but I'll have things there that I don't have here -- like a laundry room I don't have to schedule a month in advance or walk down the stairs and around the house to use. I just have to open the door to the laundry room and walk through. A garage would be nice, too, but the best things about the apartment are that it's cheaper, has a gas stove (I hate electric stoves) and free cable and high speed Internet. That means I could get rid of my DSL line and be able to cook without having to worry about the pans boiling dry because even on warm the electric stove is too hot to just simmer the food. I'd have a much bigger kitchen and a dining room (something I lack here) and the landlord who lives upstairs would be gone to Florida or Arizona for six months of the year, not to mention having the ground floor and being able to walk outside the door to get the mail without the landlord stopping me and asking what I got or nosing into my groceries when I come home because I won't have to walk past their door. The way the landlord talked about the yard with its privacy and pine trees and beds of flowers (instead of the rocks and boulders that currently pass for a yard here) and sitting outside writing on my laptop in the shade on a sunny day made it sound so relaxing and pleasant. I don't mind that it doesn't have a bathtub and has only a big glassed-in shower and the air conditioning would definitely be a plus.

I'm going to see the apartment this afternoon and if I like the place and the landlord likes me I may be moving next month. I've already checked the rates for movers and having someone in to clean the apartment after I've moved out and it's definitely doable even though it means I'll have to work like a dog even more for the next four weeks, but maybe it is time to move on and find somewhere with fewer downsides and more amenities that will save me about $300 a month. I could use the $300 to buy clothes or put away for a fun vacation or just blow on books and computer parts. You just never know.

Into every life a little rain must fall, but it's good for the flowers and trees and animals, and it's certainly good for me.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Legend dies

No actor is more recognizable than Charlton Heston and a few moments ago I was stunned to read he had just died. Charlton Heston was a friend and we shared experiences and letters over several years when I worked on his biobibliography. I have collected and been given many of Heston's memories in individual cels from some of his movies as well as memorabilia from his own collection and those of his friends. I treasure the gift of his friendship and his insights. He made an impression on me when I was a child. He was a complex and private man who stood up to be counted for his beliefs, whether or not they cost him personally. He will be missed.

Out of my dreams...

...and into the hush.

It’s one of those mornings when vivid dreams, a breath of warm spring air, birds twittering and squirrels romping in the trees combine to send the urges screaming hot and needy through my veins. The whores are moaning like they have not moaned in a while. Nerves burn to be stroked and flesh aches to be caressed and Eros taunts me at the edge of thought turning everything to throbbing pink and red until the simplest and most innocent thoughts taken on carnal implications. Some portion of this torments on waking every morning and can be quickly and easily dealt with, but this morning there is no relief, and I twist and burn on the spit of desire, a hungry void deep inside that will not be fobbed off with work or a quick, wet fumble. The void needs to be filled with something substantial: the slap of sweaty flesh against flesh, the tingling stroke of roughened skin along soft, silky folds, the yeasty scent of swelling need and the insistent primal cry of triumphant satiation.