Monday, August 15, 2011

Banana nut. That's a good muffin.

You never know when banana bread is going to be part of your life.  It's out there, waiting for you to leave your bananas out too long, then you notice there's a little too much black on the peel.  A few more days they'll be completely unappetizing but a few degrees shy of disgusting, and it'll be banana bread time.  

I'd forgotten that the perfect banana bread recipe requires three bananas rather than the two I had.  We have more bananas for smoothies but they're entirely too yellow.  Because you can't will a banana to rot (what an awesome super-power - ripening), I immediately switched gears into muffin land.

I don't want to think about how much seeing the video above played into this decision.  Do I make my own decisions, or do I just react to stimuli?  Let's just admit that Adaptation is one of the most brilliant movies of all time and move on.  

This is a rare real-time post.  I can smell the muffins as I type.  I woke up at five am, thought about my writing-work-dinner-wedding prep  agenda for the day, and looked at the bananas in their now-or-never ripeness.  My upbringing won over my longing to write.  Wasting minutes I could've spent writing is intangible; throwing two perfectly usable bananas into the trash is real waste.

My posts have thinned out lately, and I expect them to get thinner.  If you look over the proceeding, you can imagine why.  I'm a bookseller.  Unless you're Cory, there's not a lot of drama in the day-to-day.  Well, maybe for those of us in the business.  But Indie vs. A-Word, paper vs. ebook, dying industry vs. renaissance of the story - those posts can only go so far.  I want to write about anything and everything.

The downside is that I sometimes end up writing about nothing.

I flatter myself that my thoughts on books, movies, parenting, relationships, food, and life are worth sharing.  Still, I like to polish these thoughts up a bit before I share them.  More importantly, especially for things I've started to write for reasons I'm not aware of, I want these posts to have some meaning.  This sometimes means opening the same file dozens of times, revising, rearranging, looking for a point.  Since Sweet with Fall and Fish doesn't have a unifying theme (apart from being the Official Blog of Aaron John Curtis), it's important to me that the individual posts try to have a point.

I have thoughts about Borders closing, and Amy Winehouse dying, and mass killings in Norway, but by the time I decide how I really feel and the best way to express it, those feelings are years out of date.  Witness the post I've been working on about The Dark Knight and Tropic Thunder, movies which came out in 2008.  Not because I just got them on Netflix, but because I wasn't sure how to express my feelings about Heath Ledger's death.  After all that microscopic consideration, the challenge becomes making someone care.  But I suppose that's always the challenge.

Did you know I saw Patti Smith at the Miami Book Fair International days after Just Kids won the National Book Award?  As part of letting the standing room only crowd know about the upcoming (at the time) OMiami! poetry festival, I was one of dozens who helped P. Scott Cunningham perform Arthur Rimbuad's Vowels, a random act of culture about which Smith said, "I've never seen anything like that."

I've mentioned Hilldawg from time to time?  That's her holding the sign.

Did you know Patti Smith performed three songs during the reading, and that the last one became a sing-along?  Did you know I loved Just Kids?  Did you know I met Patti Smith?  Of course you didn't.  I worried too much about capturing the magic on the page, I procrastinated starting, then so many months had passed that it seemed silly to try and remember how I'd felt at all.  There have been many nights like this I've passed over, but I offer this as an extreme example.

There's a lot of pressure in my life right now.

I'm getting married in 32 days.  The marriage doesn't stress me at all, but there's a lot of prep involved in the event which marks the beginning, especially since this is DIY wedding.

Also, I know in this economy I should be pleased to have a job, but the work load I'm saddled with lately is ridiculous.  Our week's run Thursday to Wednesday, and I'm over 32 hours for the week.  These thoughts occurred while I was baking and I wanted to share, so I'm pushing back biking in to get this posted.  I'll probably take Wednesday off to be with Dylan - Becky and I are taking turns watching him this summer since we can't afford camp or daycare - but I can't be sure.  I could live in my office and work there every waking minute and it would take half a year to get on top of things, and even then I probably wouldn't be on top of things because they'd find even more for me to do.  Grawr.

Finally, I've had a setback in my writing life.  The mighty Carl Lennertz has left Harper Collins to become CEO of the North American branch of World Book Night.  This is excellent news for the world of books which is semi-devestating to me personally.

As I've written my stories and taken time polishing my novels, it's always been in the back of my mind that my first published essay was a given (I've had pieces published online and in print, so I guess I mean published by the Big 6).  I know I acted like it wasn't, but I was fooling myself.  I'm glad I chose not to shout State by State from the roof tops, but I no longer have that foot in the door, that significant set of eyes which has looked at my work and deemed it worthy and which invites prospective agents and magazine editors to do the same.  I'm back to square one.

In some ways, it's good.  It gives my morning writing time more focus.  With the help of my writers group, I am polishing four or five of my best stories until they will knock a magazine editor on her ass, so that she'll share the story with her readers, and I'll have a nugget of something to put in my cover letter to an agent, something more substantial than hopes and dreams.  I need a credit.  As Laura Munson writes in This is Not the Story You Think it Is, "You can't put good rejection letters on a resume."

What this doesn't bode well for is Sweet.

Of course this comes as my gradually-increasing readership reached its zenith in July.  I should be writing more to keep you guys coming back, but something's got to give.  I'll try to take a day to myself (if I can find it) and automatically schedule a bunch of stuff I've been tinkering with so it looks like I'm active while I take a break (or maybe it will be like today's post: write it, look for glaring errors and hope I didn't miss any, then publish post).  Just because I don't see the point doesn't mean you won't, right?  Reading is a relationship, and finding a piece's moral and sharpening it to a point is just me trying to bully your reaction.  Of course, you might just get nothing but this for a while.  We'll see.

Meanwhile, WLRN's Under the Sun released a CD of the last Lip Service event.

"What's this?  A CD of a live Lip Service event recorded for broadcast by Under the Sun?"

"And who is that at #5?  Why, it's me.  Remember when I freaked out over the edits...
Wait, I never blogged about this, either?  Fuck me."

As I sat in Books & Books cafe, reeling from the realization that Carl Lennertz left Harper Collins before he could publish me, a favorite customer approached and told me he enjoyed hearing me on NPR.  Co-workers told me they'd heard and enjoyed me on the way in to work.  It's the only thing that kept me from a meltdown that day.

Since then, strangers have come to the bookstore looking for me.  One asked, "Which one of you is Aaron?" while I happened to be there.  She didn't shop, but just stopped off on her drive home to tell me how much she enjoyed the piece (thankfully, I wasn't in the buying office at the time).  Customers have congratulated Becky on her upcoming nuptials (which I mentioned in the Q&A after the reading).  Apparently, I also "sound cute" on the radio.  I feel like my writing career is foundering, but more people are aware of me than ever.  It's fairly surreal.

So take heart.  Even if you don't see much of me here in the coming weeks as I prepare for my nuptials, you may hear me on the radio.

And the muffins?  They smelled better than they taste, but they are solid, moist, and they put two rotten bananas to good use.  Here's to a morning well spent.


  1. AH - Patti Smith......

    'Because the night' was the soundtrack to a car crash of a teenage love affair way back when. When I got out of the wreckage it stayed with me for many years, but it's been a while since I gave it a spin again. {I also spent several years lusting after Patti in an angst-ridden teenage way but let's leave that alone}

    So - big changes afoot then.


    I bet when you do find more time to blog people will still be here. The internet is an odd thing - it's the biggest and smallest audience at the same time - so in reality is it all that important?

    Maybe - but not now.

    Great to hear the local area is waking up to some of the talent within. Great that you're getting some acknowledgement outside of the 'in the know' circle of friends and acquaintances.
    Keep it up. I really think it'll work for you one day. Somehow I've never doubted that.

    And we all use excuses for not doing stuff so that's only human.

    Enjoy the time. Enjoy the changes.

    See you as and when my friend.

    As and when.......

  2. And a good muffin?

    Is a stud muffin............

    I know cos I is one!

  3. Thanks, Al.

    "Because the Night" was the sing-along portion of the evening. She said she only knows a few chords, and since Bruce Springsteen wrote it she didn't know how to play it. It became an a-capella sing along instead of listening to her with a guitar.

    Right now I'm raggamuffin. I need a haircut and a shave.