A Bit Part in Somebody Else’s Movie

PrintRick was a jock and Karyn was a cheerleader and I was a freak. That’s how my memory tells the story, but I am only certain about the third statement. It was high school and our tribes did not typically mingle, but somehow Karyn and I became friends. She was in love with Rick, hung up on him, big time. I don’t recall ever talking to him, so don’t know what he thought about her, or anything else.

My friendship with Karyn was sorely tested when she invited me over to hang out, one summer day, at the motel that her family owned or maybe worked at. I was bored and ignored for what felt like eternity, because Rick just happened to show up. In fact – as I realized, to my annoyance – I was there to dupe the parents. Karyn wasn’t allowed to date, or see Rick alone. She invited me over so she could see Rick without repercussions.

By the time we all graduated, I no longer saw Karyn much. I later heard, third hand, that Rick got Karyn pregnant, and broke up with her. I have no idea what their truth was, because I never crossed paths with either of them; nonetheless I filed them in categories: Karyn was ill-used, Rick was cold-hearted. The less one knows, the easier it is to hold a strong opinion…

Over the years, I forgot about Rick, Karyn. Completely. (Although I probably used that second-hand experience as I shaped my views about men, and women, and love.)

Recently – and as out of the blue as things get – I was contacted by Rick. He happened upon mention of me in a college alumni magazine, and from that wound his way to this blog, where he left me a note:

are you the one and very same Sue Perry that was sitting with Karyn *** on a small patch of grass in front of the S* Motel at the edge of the El Camino Real circa 1967-68, in the very middle of a very beautiful summer day while a song by the Byrds was playing on the radio?  This one little scene has stuck in my memory for all of this time (half of a century?!?!).

The instant I saw the names, my own memories rushed back. For me, Rick’s lyrical memory changes my perspective on so many things. First off, I was wrong about Rick (and probably Karyn, too): you don’t remember somebody for 50 years if you didn’t care about them. Then, too, I see I was a bit player in one of their key scenes. A day that gave me brief annoyance hit one of them with such poignancy that it stayed on the top of the memory heap for decades.

Which gets me thinking about all the people around me, living their lives in grazing intersection to mine. About all the pivotal moments that we share without knowing it.

And finally, all this reminds me how glad I am that the internet exists to connect us in ways that would otherwise never happen.

(The WP Daily Prompt asked about music when we were growing up.)

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Surely There Is Someone to Sue Over This!

Guess what this is! I’ll give one hint: It is not an heirloom hand-crafted dish:

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For more context, here are a couple others of the same species:

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Here they are shortly after birth:

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What they are: blobs of melted metal. I put a pan of water on the stove to boil for my oatmeal, then messed around on the internet for just a couple minutes, or so it seemed. Clearly I was lured to keep clicking around! I came back to find the pan melting.

I confess that I was tempted – very tempted – to keep the pan on the burner because the melted blobs are smooth and interesting and I want more. I fought my temptation after I envisioned a later stage called pan explosion.

This is not the only pan lid now left bereft. In memorium:

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This seems to happen about once every 18 months, and started about the time I started my blog, which is quite a coincidence!

(The WP Weekly Photo Challenge is Texture.)

Responsive At Last

Which is blurry, the image or my brain?

Which is blurry, the image or my brain? After hours of changing blog colors, I am unsure.

I can be incredibly unaware of my surroundings. I can walk through a place I have lived for years and think, “hey, is that light fixture new?” and of course the answer is never yes.

If you aren’t like me, you will have noticed that I have changed the look of my blog.

I am happy with this new layout and I love being able to change the header picture with each click. I’m less settled on this color scheme. Everything I thought I would like wound up too industrial, too lurid, or too Easter. I may revert back to black words on a pale background. (Actually, there are glitches in older posts and some text is black on the current background. Tsk.) But this is the new blog for now. I can’t experiment with more colors until I recover from color palette psychosis.

The most important change is that this blog design works much much better on phones and tablets. The term is responsive. This blog now has a responsive design.

I’ve learned that term and made these changes as part of the WordPress Blogging 201 challenge, which is proving quite valuable and has made it easy to tackle changes and additions I’ve meant to make for some time.

What do you think of the changes? What’s better now? What still needs work? Do you miss anything from Required Writing Mach I?

Or are you reading this because you had a typo when you searched on required wiring?

P.S. I’ve changed content too. Can you find where? Hint: check the top menus.

P.P.S. The image comes from an on-line science mag for Cambridge U., and a fascinating article on synesthesia, a condition where the senses blend together (for example, for some people, sounds come with colors). I’m almost grateful for the color palette psychosis that led me to that article…

How Long Is That In Dog Years?

Today is a milestone: Required Writing is one year old. So. Is my blog a toddler? An adolescent? A septuagenarian?

How does a blog lifetime compare to a human’s? We don’t yet know what the maximum lifespan of a blog is, do we? Clearly, many of them die young, after scant months or a handful of years. But how long might a blog keep going? Should it? Can we look to some other realm of pop culture for a comparison?

The Tonight Show?

Days of Our Lives?

The Fast and the Furious?

The New Yorker?

Mad Magazine?

Rolling Stone?

The Rolling Stones?

The Sex Pistols?

Dear Abby?

James Dean?

Betty White?

What do you think the right comparison should be? I confess I have no clue. Should I want my blog to live fast, die young, and make a good looking corpse?* And I hope I immediately know when it is time to go. Like the song** says, it’s better to burn out than it is to rust. Although I would prefer to do neither. My goal is to keep writing until it is time to stop. 

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* What movie is this from? Anybody?
**The song being “Hey hey my my”, which Neil Young wrote about the advent of punk (with some lyrics derived from Devo’s days as copy writers, and the ad campaign Rust never sleeps). Or was that “My my hey hey.” For obvious reasons, I always mix those two up.

Today’s Lessons in Haste and Humility

Lesson Number 1: When your blog post has links, check each link before publishing.

I’m thinking you don’t need details to imagine how this lesson came to be.

Lesson Number 2: Do not rely on Pages‘ spell- or grammar-checker.

I much prefer Apple’s word-processing software, Pages, to Microsoft Word. But then I hate Word and avoid it whenever I can. Thus it grieves me to report that Word could be superior to Pages in any way. But here is one way. A big way!

When I prepared my psychological thriller, WAS IT A RAT I SAW, for serialization on this blog, I did the typing in Pages. I did the spellchecking in Pages. I copied each serial chapter from Pages. However, to prepare the book for e-publication on Smashwords, I had to move the manuscript into Word. It was then that I discovered the typos. In well nigh every chapter.

Typos! Everywhere!

Typos! Everywhere!

I so hate typos. I assume my readers do too. Fortunately, none of these typos changed meanings, but that is limited consolation.

For those of you who read RAT in serial, mea culpa and lo siento. I hope I can make it up to you. Come back tomorrow – the next post here will detail how to get a free e-copy of RAT with all those typos corrected.

Mind you I’m not saying it’s typo free. That’s a promise I can’t make and I’m not alone.  I can’t remember the last time I read a book that had a zero typo count.  In defense of current typo standards:  I was stunned at how many typos I found in the old hardcover version of WAS IT A RAT I SAW, which I re-visited to serialize. As I recall, the Bantam-Doubleday-Dell copy editor and I spent 37 months in proof-reading before that edition was finalized. At the time, I thought no typos had escaped scrutiny. I was wrong.

Dearest Blog, I Once Was Cool!

Dearest Blog,

I have neglected you of recent. Although I miss you, I cannot say why I’ve gone silent nor when it will end.

It was no fun to contemplate life without this big doofus.

Certainly, I have my reasons. First, I went away for a week of family reunions. By the time I got home, my special buddy, the enormous former kitten Leo, had gone missing, and the next 2.5 days I was in a terrible funk until I found him.

Next, I came down with a cold. It’s on the wane, thanks for asking. I’ve also found myself low on energy vis a vis the government shutdown. My day job paycheck is on furlough as I am a “non-essential” employee; and although it looks like eventually the lost pay will return to me, I don’t know when or how much. The cold and my furlough ennui are probably related. (My very personal response to this week’s Writing Challenge.)

Besides which, I found a tick! On me! Eeeewwww. Which led to hours with medicos, and an antiviral shot.

Meanwhile, I’ve been immersed in my first sit-down re-read of my newly completed fantasy-mystery novel FRAMES. At this stage, I don’t allow myself to make changes, I try to keep a more global perspective and  make notes in margins about what needs to change. The goal is to read the whole book in as few sittings as possible.

Also meanwhile, I confess I’ve been struggling to limit the amount of time I spend reading Pete Townshend’s memoir: it’s kept me hooked through 400 pages so far.

More for the Strange World files. Now the visionary rebel Fela has become a Broadway musical.

More for the Strange World files. Now the visionary rebel Fela has become a Broadway musical.

Then, yesterday, when I thought I would finish my re-reading and reading, instead I got sucked into my son’s impromptu project to organize my record collection. He has recently laid long-term claim to my albums, but sought help organizing them. Alphabetical has never worked for me when it comes to browsing. So we spent many hours sorting into initial piles like R-&-B-rock-intersection or New-York-junkie-music. Some of the sorting stymied me. I mean where do you put Ike & Tina Turner? Sun Ra? Richard Thompson? Should the Blasters LPs stand alongside X because of historical context and abiding friendship, or next to David Lindley, another lover of roots guitar? Guess that’s how alphabetical listings got started…

It was great fun to give my son a few albums immediately. Turns out the 20 y.o.s are getting back into Joy Division, and I still don’t like ’em, so now my son is the proud owner of their first LP. (Mint condition, unlike the LPs I did like.) At one point I was rewarded when he said with bemusement, “Mom, it’s hard to say this but you used to be really cool.” Which reminded me of how I came to write SCAR JEWELRY.

Blogvolution

I started blogging as part of my effort to regain a writing career.  (Warning to other writers: J.D. Salinger aside, not writing for two decades will not bolster your career.)

Like most of my important life decisions – including writing novels and having kids – this one sprang from an offhand suggestion. Fortunately, impulsive decisions can be excellent decisions.

My blog’s initial purpose was to let people know my writing exists. Here’s how it was supposed to work: you read a post, you like it, you say oh look she’s got novels too I think I’ll try one. Wordpress and Smashwords stats suggest that chain of thoughts does sometimes occur!

(In other hands my blog might attempt aggressive marketing but the reality is that that ain’t me. Fortunately, my books do seem to be gradually building momentum despite this.)

When I started my blog:

  • I had considerable wariness, surely shared by most fledgling bloggers. What if I run out of ideas? What if nobody ever visits my blog? What if writing a blog keeps me from writing my novels? Fortunately – like most fears – these caused needless angst.
  • I assumed I would blog about writing but I hardly ever do.  I mention milestones for my novels (for example, today I launched a serialization of my psychological thriller ?Was It A Rat I Saw?) But I strictly write novels, so milestones don’t pop up that often. Sometimes I detail my writing techniques, but this blog will never provide advice on writing or editing.  I’ve only got this advice for other writers:

To improve your writing do more writing.

  • I anticipated a single-topic blog but instead have many.  I’ve got my preoccupations  (animals, my kids, sunrises, the ocean, epitaphs, an addict among my loved ones, patterns that prompt impromptu Rorschach tests) but I do keep adding to them. I aspire to an omni-topic blog. Although that will play havoc with my tag cloud.
  • I didn’t expect to have so many people like my photographs.
  • I didn’t expect to be staggered and awestruck by the vast number of interesting, beautiful, thought-provoking, nurturing, and hilarious blogs I have happened upon! I love being part of this sprawling yet tight-knit community. I still feel peripheral but that’s who I am.
  • I didn’t know that responding to WordPress Photo Challenges, Writing Challenges, and Daily Prompts such as  this one would be so much fun.