Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Brief Update in Real Time

Since I wrote about Halloween after Thanksgiving, I’ll probably be writing about this Thanksgiving come New Years. My blog ain’t as much about what it is, as what it was.

Howzit, you may wonder?

Books & Books is crazy, as can be expected for a retail job during the holidays. For some reason, management has chosen this time to trim labor to the bone. Sure money is tight, but you can’t just look at numbers when it comes to capturing sales. As Mos Def says, “If you push too hard, even numbers have limits.” Our booksellers are taking on more and more work. Expecting them to give the kind of outstanding service this competitive economy requires - despite the workload weighing them down - is farce, if not outright fantasy. But I don’t run the place and don’t want the job, so what do I know and what do I care?

I miss my friends. I haven’t done the I’m-dating-someone-so-screw-the-plans-we-had thing, we just haven’t made plans. First, it was out of town to Orlando, then Miami Book Fair International, then out of town to Sarasota, then a week up north for Thanksgiving with the family. I’m hopeful that holiday parties will draw us back together.

Speaking of the someone I’m dating, that’s going well. I finally met Cleopatra’s kid, the same day I met her best friend. Then at the Book Fair, I met her mother, and then her father.

I thought I was scared working up the courage to kiss Cleopatra, but that was nothing to the terror of meeting her five-year-old boy. Thankfully, Cleo Jr. inherited the best parts of Cleopatra. He’s polite, caring, funny, and enjoys helping people. I won’t say it was one hundred percent comfortable for me from the moment I saw him, but compare it to dating. There’s always an adjustment period. Of course I don’t know how to date, so what do I know? What I mean is, there were moments being with Cleo Jr. felt comfortable and natural, moments upon which we can build.

Cleo Compadre is crazy. Funny as hell, but clearly nuts.

I haven’t read any Orhan Pamuk yet, although I have two of his books on my shelves. I sensed it was important to Cleopatra that I look knowledgeable to Cleo Mater, so I drew on my bookselling experience – sales and word-of-mouth – to act like I knew what I was talking about. It seemed to go well. Cleo Mater took my recommendation. I also made her laugh, which can’t hurt.

Before Cleo Pater met me, he asked Cleopatra, “Should I say ‘*I’m a black belt in karate and a former sniper’ or just ‘Hi, it’s good to meet you’?”

Cleopatra told him to go with the latter. Thankfully, he did.

The most fun part about Cleopatra, Cleopatra Pater, and Cleopatra Mater? They all hover just over five feet tall. When you take a picture with the three of them by themselves, they look average (they clean up nicely, too). You’d never know that if you stuck me behind them, I wouldn’t fit in the frame.
The second most fun part? They invited me to their Noche Buena this year. Cross your fingers.

The writing goes well as well. I’ve been devouring fiction again, loving Junot Diaz's Drown, David Eagleman’s Sum, and especially John Fante's Ask the Dust over Thanksgiving break. So far Dennis Lehane's Mystic River makes his detective series, the Patrick Kenzie/Angela Gennaro Novels which I read and enjoyed tremendously, look like dress rehearsals for the big show. Rich in plot and character development, Mystic River has a tone of mystery and inevitability that turns pages like a hot knife slices butter.

I’ve taken my first tentative steps back into writing fiction, as well. I realized a short story I’ve been writing would make a better novel, and a great screenplay.

The day I had that realization, Mitchell introduced me to his production partner at the Book Fair. He told her, “Soon we’ll be optioning his book for a movie.” I told him I’d had a good idea just that morning. He smiled like he didn’t know whether I was joking, which is the problem with always trying to lighten the mood.

I also decided … well, it’s too soon. We’ll see. Let’s just say I have another story cooking which could be a doozy. Could also blow up in my face and leave a shattered remnant of a failed writer in its wake, but that’s the fun part, isn’t it? The fearless casting of one’s muse into murky waters, unsure whether the hook will catch a meal, a sneaker, nothing, or a whale.

* Not a joke, FYI.


  1. Fine. And not a whine in sight......



  2. Your girl's got good hair. that rules

  3. And she's a bonnie lass too.....

  4. and she smells like warm smoke through a field of clover