What Was I Saying?

I swear I had a post in my head ready to go, just needed to sit down and type it up.  Now that I’m at the keyboard, I can’t remember one word of what I intended to blog about.

Long and busy days here, though I’m not sure what I’ve been so busy with.  Not much fun happening, behind on laundry and the fridge is alarmingly empty.  Must be mid-summer.  Art Child has been busy with her art intensive, and I’ve been trekking all over the borough for drop off and pick up.  The other day, I had to meet her in the East Village.  A fun neighborhood, one of the few left in Manhattan that still feels like New York, art, artists, small businesses.  We weren’t in the fun part, but I got a couple of photos.

Rainbow brownstone

Rainbow brownstone

Love this, and I'm not the only one.

Love this, and I’m not the only one.

What better place for a small theater than an abandoned Catholic school?

What better place for a small theater than an abandoned Catholic school?

Some neighborhoods still have interesting graffiti

Some neighborhoods still have interesting graffiti

Hi there.

Hi there.

To get to that area from my apartment is kind of a haul, required train transfers and many flights of stairs to get from one station to another without leaving the subway and having to pay another fare.  By the time we got home my back was on fire.  I was just starting to relax into one of the back meds when I heard that siren call, “Mom, the toilet’s overflowing!”

Does everyone else have low flow toilets now also?  Low flow saves a lot of water, theoretically.  Unless you try to flush more than one square of toilet paper.  Because that requires many flushes, and often an overflow.  I don’t know what the heck happened, but this was more stopped up than I’ve seen in years.  And I couldn’t lift the damned pail to force water down.  The good news, Nerd Child got a complete plumbing in NYC lesson.  The bad news, the many hours it took to clear the clog.

The whole thing earned me a day at the beach, no?  Maybe.

Nice view of the new World Trade Center on our way to the Holland Tunnel.

Nice view of the new World Trade Center on our way to the Holland Tunnel.

Oh, I went.  With Husband and Art Child, so we went to one of the NJ beaches, supposed to be cleaner and nicer.

In the parking lot, some lovely plantings around.

IMG_1613 IMG_1615

 

It was going to be a perfect beach day.

IMG_1616 IMG_1621 IMG_1622 IMG_1624

It just didn’t quite work out the way I hoped.

When we got our stuff spread out and settled, a cloud settled on top of us and the wind increased.

IMG_1636 IMG_1640Then we realized the family next to us was the Loud Family.  The cloud will pass, right?  Those kids will go back in the water, right?

So I took a little walk with my camera.

IMG_1631 IMG_1632

The cloud passed and those kids did go off somewhere.  Then we realized it was the mother–who did not wander off again–who was making the most noise.  Then another cloud came.

But okay, the family left, yay!  Everywhere else the sky looked blue.  Surely this massive gray cloud above us was going to move off any moment.


IMG_1639 IMG_1641

It started to move off, then it came back.  And the Louder and Larger Family settled right next to us, complete with screaming children and mother spraying sunscreen in futility against the wind.  Thanks, my sandwich was missing something.

Story of my fucking life.

Story of my fucking life.

 

The Empress Has No

English: Drawing of Marie de Lorraine as the D...

English: Drawing of Marie de Lorraine as the Duchess of Valentinois. She wears a ball gown (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve heard people talk about sharing their writing, how it feels/can feel like being naked.  Not me.  I don’t feel exposed when I share my work.  Not to say I’m always completely confident, it’s like getting dressed and made up for an evening out–I think I look good, but I’m still hoping for some validation from whoever I go out with/run into.  Cause there’s nothing worse than thinking you’ve got your game face on, and you run into someone in the lobby who asks if you’ve been ill.  Because yes, that’s when I’m most likely to make the effort, when I feel the worst, physically or emotionally.  That or I haven’t done laundry.

But submitting, querying…that’s a different story.  At first I thought this end was more like working the pole, but no.  Stripping may not be the most desirable way for every woman to earn a living, but it does earn dollars.  This?  Not a dime.  I know, I know, I should have done this when my boobs were still in the same zip code as the rest of me.  Living the dream, oh yes.  The dream where you realize you’re standing in Times Square with no clothes on, not even a guitar to cover the saggy bits, a la The Naked Singing Cowboy.

Yah, yah, I’m not supposed to write these types of posts.  Because for as much as you educate yourself about the business of publishing, follow agent and editor blogs and tweets about how things work, what their days are like, how many rejections they send daily (or don’t send, in these days of no response means no), the unpubbed and unagented are supposed to pretend we’re pure and innocent and virginal–just lucky enough or brilliant enough to know how to follow the rules or break the rules in a way that works, and haven’t received any rejections from anyone else.  No matter how many times you read or hear publishing industry professionals talk about the many, many reasons they reject a work that often have nothing to do with with the quality of the writing, nope, those are the other wannabes.  Not you, of course. Because, just like a wanton woman of yesteryear, no one’s going to want you/your work if someone else has already sampled the goods and didn’t like it enough to make a legally binding offer.

I’m a 40,000 year old woman with three children who are closer to grown than not.  I think my days of playing the virgin are over.  And Fringeland is about being honest, a blog to explore what it means to be downwardly mobile without being crushed by those climbing up.

Those stories you hear about people who receive an offer of rep and/or publication their first try?  Their first dozen tries?  Bullshit.  Not saying they aren’t real, they are, but they are the exceptions, not the rule.  I’d like to have been one of those stories, I’d like to be the mega lotto jackpot winner, but I’m not.  The rules, the rules, all the rules passed on from wannabe to wannabe.  The rules about how to interpret rejections, the nice and orderly progression from brusque form letters to nice form letters to personalized letters to invitations to submit more work to acceptance.  Oh, the squeals of anticipation upon requests for fulls, personalized rejections, “you’re almost there!”  Or not.  I’ve been almost there since I started.  Contracts in mirror are a fucking mirage, forget closer than they appear.  The rules about the right way to query.  Bullshit.  There are wrong ways to go about querying, but no one right way.  And hell, even amongst the wrong ways, there are stories of those who queried completely “wrong,” and still got an offer.  C’mon now, there isn’t an agent or wannabe out there who hasn’t heard the story of the twelve year old kid who called the agent to query his book and got an offer.  Not right then and there, and I don’t recommend calling agents’  offices when every US agent says not to do so, but obviously a phone call isn’t always the immediate and permanent never-to-be-published-blacklisted-forever-and-the-dystopia-beyond it’s portrayed to be.  Does this mean I’m not smarter than a sixth grader?

I read broadly, across many genres.  Yes, I have a special love for literary fiction, but I also love thrillers–political and psychological, some horror, contemporary, narrative non-fiction, and poetry.  I read classics, and I read what’s being published today.  Some books are so fabulous I want to swallow them so they’re permanently part of me, some are entertaining reads to pass an afternoon, and some, well, some I wonder what it is I’m missing that they were represented by an agent, championed by an editor, and published, a trade paperback I picked up for $14.00 off the shelf of the bookstore and wish I had instead tucked those dollars into someone’s g-string at the local Girlz Girlz Girlz.  All my reading tells me something.  I can write.  Sharing manuscripts with writing friends (published and un, agented and un) and reading their feedback confirms I can write–if you don’t write, you’ll have to trust me here, no one is more adept at ripping apart a manuscript than others who write–feedback I’ve received from industry professionals tells me I don’t, after all, look sick when I think I look good.

 

Mrs Fringe hasn’t been innocent in a long time, if ever.  But I’m still naked, and even though it’s July, it’s fucking cold outside.

Run Away

20140713-070629-25589909.jpg

Yesterday, I did something I haven’t done in over 21 years. I went to the beach. By myself. Come to think of it, beach or not, I haven’t had a day by myself, no obligations, in over 21 years. I took my towel, my phone, my metrocard, my iPod, and a frozen bottle of water.

The beach was packed, the subway was nose to armpit jammed, and it was heavenly.

20140713-071343-26023765.jpg
One of the best things about New York is the diversity. On the beach
I heard Russian, I heard French, I heard Chinese, I heard Spanish, I heard English, I heard Hebrew, I saw a family of Asian descent speaking Russian, I saw senior citizens swimming in their underwear, young studs in cut offs, young women in thong bikinis, old women in string bikinis, an orthodox man in his beard and black suit sitting on the sand so his little ones could have a day in the ocean.

I plugged my ear buds in and blasted all my old beach favorites–to the group three towels down, thanks for sharing your rap, but I was sticking to Cream. And Creedance and Kate Bush and Melissa Etheridge.

It’s true, the Brooklyn beaches aren’t the prettiest, that glint of green in the sand is as likely to be part of a beer bottle as seaweed, but yesterday it was bliss.

After about an hour, I realized I was free to enjoy another beach pleasure I haven’t indulged in years.

20140713-073129-27089946.jpg

Why yes, I do think a beach towel is equivalent to a brown paper bag. I have to ask though, wtf is a nutcracker? Guys in heavy jeans and towels walk up and down the beach same as always, selling water, beer, and Newports out of black plastic bags. But now they offer nutcrackers too.

When I was young, there was nothing I wanted more than to get out of Brooklyn. But yesterday, I looked at the fancy newer condos along the boardwalk and thought, “not so bad.”

20140713-073849-27529550.jpg

Hell, I looked at the ancient buildings on the side streets, the ones with wiring too old and fragile to support an air conditioner and lights at the same time–trust me, I used to live in one–and thought, “not so bad.”

20140713-074345-27825014.jpg

If you called me yesterday, or texted or messaged or emailed and I didn’t answer, forgive me. I ran away. And Nerd Child, thank you. 

Guess What I Just Did!

IMG_1570

If you guessed that I just spent the last hour cleaning shards of glass and frozen coffee out of my refrigerator, you guessed correctly. See the photo above for your prize.

What? It’s summer, there are worse prizes than an ice cube. Big Senile Dog thinks they’re a treat.  Little Incredibly Dumb Dog thinks they’re an abomination and fishes them out of her water bowl to leave them to melt on her wee wee pads.

Someone mentioned an upcoming writer’s conference in NY.  I haven’t even looked at any in years, they’re just too expensive.  But I was thinking.  Maybe it would get me motivated.  It’s in NY, no travel or hotel expenses, an opportunity to pitch in person…maybe.  I looked at the website, I thought, I discussed with some of my writing buddies, I thought out loud to Husband and Nerd Child.

By late morning, budget realities had me delete the page from my bookmarks.  Life, get over it.

So I got busy making the doggie gumbo I should have made yesterday.  Which made me hot.  Which made me remember I had a bottle of Stumptown cold brewed coffee in the back of the fridge.  I know, the horror, pre made coffee.  But hot! thirsty!   holy shit what happened?!

The fridge has been temperamental in the last year or so.  It likes to freeze whatever’s in the fruit and veggie drawers.  Needless to say, less and less has been going into those drawers, and more has been stuffed on the shelves.  Guess the freezing game is expanding to the upper shelves.

Husband’s eight containers of cut papaya are safe.  My organic cherries I got on sale, lost.  Along with two boxes of baking soda, and assorted half fruits left from this morning’s smoothie.

 

What to Do?

When you’re frustrated as hell with life and what is or isn’t happening?  Today was going to be the day I ran away to the beach by myself, but due to more life and clouds, that won’t be happening. So. Shut the hell up and wander around the city with a camera.

We’ve had some really great, southern feeling storms recently.  The kind that come through quickly, pour while the sun is shining or make afternoon feel like night.

Over to the east side yesterday, along 5th Avenue and wandering the eastern edges of Central Park.

The birds and the bees.  Which reminds me–city pro tip:  If you’re going to watch porn in a dark room at night, close your blinds.  Oh, apartment life.  It was really hot and humid in the afternoon, caught my attention to see the flowers in all the stages of blooming and dying on the same day.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And then, at the end of the day, I sat on this bench, just outside the park.  It’s a thing here in NY, you can “buy” a bench, and get a plaque attached with your name or the name of a loved one.  I’m always intrigued, sometimes there’s a hint of a story, and you know this was someone who spent a lot of time enjoying park benches, other times I’m free to imagine whatever I’d like for the name attached. Many are “in memory of.”  It’s unbelievably expensive, I looked into it about a year ago for a friend.  In any case, on this one bench were two plaques, on the same slat.  I wondered what the people who paid a gazillion dollars each to buy a bench thought of this.  More than that, I wondered about who Mopsy is/was.

Hear That?

It’s my sigh of almost relief.  Not quite, but getting closer.  We’ve had a few beautiful days in the neighborhood, so a photo post today.

Even the pigeons shut up to enjoy a perfect moment in the sun.

Even the pigeons shut up to enjoy a perfect moment in the sun.

The light was unbelievable here.

The light was unbelievable here.

IMG_1401 IMG_1405

 

Yesterday, Art Child and I ran away for a couple of hours.  We got on the train and headed to Brooklyn.  Come ride with us, and enjoy the sights as seen by the group of young women sitting across from us, excited by their intention to walk the boardwalk–each one carrying a purse that I’m fairly certain cost more than my entire wardrobe, and each one wearing more makeup than I own–or can identify.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Oh, dirty sand and ocean, aggressive seagulls and competing radios, how I’ve missed you…beach!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After way too short an afternoon, on the way home again.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Happy Last Day of School!

The presentation isn't much, but what do you want at 6am?

The presentation isn’t much, but what do you want at 6am?

Felt like we’d never get to this day–or to warm weather, but here we are.  Figs with ricotta and honey for everyone, a perfect summer breakfast.

And speaking of summer foods, there’s a great, brand new blog I recommend, Resident Cook.  It’s a cooking blog, geared towards cooking in college dorms, which to me = not only college students but anyone with a limited budget and limited space–my two primary concerns for recipes.

Traditionally, summer is a time for Art Child and I to rest and recup, soak up the sun and store energy for the fall.  This summer, Art Child will be taking an art intensive class.  Just a month, a few times a week, but it changes the dynamic.  There was even an orientation for the class.

End of year mama brain is like damp cotton candy–if you poke it, it disappears.  I saved the email about orientation, certain it was last Thursday afternoon.  So Thursday morning, I pulled up the email to check where it was going to be, and print the registration papers.  Doesn’t everyone do their paperwork at 5am? Oh shit.  Tuesday.  It was Tuesday.  Imagine Mrs Fringe freaking out, trying to decide how serious they were about the orientation being mandatory.  I get in the shower, and I’m seeing that email in my mind.  And realize I didn’t miss it.  I did indeed have the day wrong, but I also had the week wrong, it was this past Tuesday.  Didn’t miss it. If I didn’t already mention it, I hate cotton candy.

And I’ve been thinking.  There’s a manuscript I have started and abandoned many times over the last humenahhumenah years.  I’ve deleted triple the number of words that are actually in the file.  But maybe.  Maybe once I get some rest and some sun, maybe I’ll play with it.

Gah!  I can’t think about it now, first I need some real beach time. Tomorrow, if it isn’t raining, Mrs Fringe will be found with toes in the sand, listening to the sweet sounds of sweaty guys hawking warm beer, and toddlers screaming that they don’t want to go in the water.  Coney Island has missed me, I’m certain of it.

 

And Mrs Fringe’s Blood Pressure Skyrockets

I know, it’s predictable.  If I’m posting a second time in one day, you know it’s a rant.

It’s a crowded city.  Part of living here without losing your mind is the ability to block out what isn’t your business.  The man next door might be cooking something that smells phenomenal, but you can’t knock on his door at dinnertime. Just because you can hear your neighbors argue doesn’t mean you’re invited to join the debate.

I just returned from picking up Art Child.  When we left her school, there was a young woman in an “argument” with a young man.  I put argument in quotes, because she was quiet, trying to get him to calm down, and he was all up in her face, backing her against a fence. Boyfriend? Husband? Brother? I don’t know.

Then he shoved her.

Yes, one woman was calling the police before I could get my phone out, when she was put on hold I got one of the police officers from Art Child’s school.

This block has not just one school, but 4 schools on it.  This is pick up time, a beautiful Friday afternoon.  Hundreds of children/adolescents to see this model of “relationship.”  No.  No. No. No.

Most domestic violence incidents are never reported.

This young woman looked fit and strong.  I’m pretty sure she could kick my ass without breaking a sweat. But so much of domestic violence isn’t about the physical, it’s the mental/emotional. It’s the cancerous belief that this is part of being in a relationship.  It’s the sad and horrifying fact that too many parents don’t have anywhere to go if they leave, except maybe, if they’re lucky, a shelter.

The stats I’ve seen say 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.  That’s in the US. Worldwide, the statistic is 1 in 3. Every year, close to 1/3 of women who are victims of homicide are killed by their former or current partner.

I recently saw something saying more American women have been killed by domestic violence than troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq in the same time period.  I’m not 100% sure of the fact checking on this one, so don’t assume it’s accurate. 

Look at the numbers. This isn’t something that only occurs in other parts of the world (whatever country you’re reading this from)/other states/among certain races/religions/socioeconomic groups.  This isn’t somebody else’s problem.  It’s our problem.

Domestic Violence Hotline:  1-800-621-HOPE

 

What Cannot Be Controlled

Still life of the unpubbed life.

Still life of the unpubbed life.

Is there a 12 step meeting for queriers?  Except I’m not really querying now, just waiting for responses on requested material.

Every afternoon, when it’s 6PM and I don’t have any responses in my inbox, I think, “Tonight after Art Child goes to bed I’m going to have a drink, so I will relax and remember only that it’s out of my control at this point.”  I even bought lemonade to go with the gin. Instead, by the time I would do this, I walk the beasts, have my 8000th cup of coffee or tea and go to sleep.  Art Child and Nerd Child have enjoyed the virgin lemonade.

The other day a comment was made by someone on the writers’ forum, to the effect of if the manuscript is good enough and the query letter is good enough, you only need one agent to request…if that agent rejects, the manuscript isn’t good enough.  The type of comment that always makes me freaking nuts. a) It reeks of sanctimonious superiority, and b) it isn’t true.  There are many reasons why a manuscript can be rejected, and not all of them have to do with the writing/story. I didn’t respond to the post, because I know I’m feeling overly sensitive right now as I wait for replies, and didn’t trust myself to do more than splutter.

I was thinking about this yesterday, when I walked past a local church and saw several people waiting to go in the side door.  I assumed for a 12 step meeting, but it could have been Bingo. Or something.  Anyway, it had me thinking about the whole Let Go and Let God approach to what’s out of our control.

Step 12.  Oh 12.  That’s the spiritual awakening.  What is the equivalent of the spiritual awakening here?  It could be an offer of rep, but it could also be the acceptance of when it’s time to trunk the manuscript and move on.  Maybe it’s the (to me) mythical ideal of writing only for oneself, being satisfied with or without validation. Damn. I’m gonna be asleep forever.  Spiritual coma?

To decide to write a book, to do so, to tell people you’re doing it…all of this requires not just a leap of faith but big brass ones.  To query, well, that means polishing them up to put them on display.  But then once the work is out, humility.

For the moment, I will contemplate cleaning the bathroom, and decide what to cook with the goodies I bought at the farmer’s market this morning.  And blast the iPod.  Nerd Child always has interesting new (to me) music.

 

Backwards Skate

Hellooo Fringelings!

It’s been a little bit since I last posted.  You know what they say, if you don’t have anything nice to say, then shut the fuck up.  Really it’s just been hectic.  Nerd Child is home for the summer, which is wonderful, and Mother in Law is in the hospital, not wonderful.  On the bright side, she’s recuperating, getting stronger each day.  Art Child is not finished with school yet, the NYC public schools are in session until the end of June every year.  Just making sure that even with a late start to summer weather, the kids and teachers have plenty of sweltering days in the classrooms.

This has, of course, all involved a lot of back and forth and running around.  Yesterday, Mother in Law told me I need roller skates.  I agree, and would like the ones I had in middle school/high school, with the emerald green wheels and matching green sparkle laces and furry green pom poms.  Yes indeed, I was stylin’ those Friday Nights at the Roller Palace.  For some reason, my clearest memories involve the inevitable point in the night when someone’s wheel would bust off, and there would suddenly be a thousand little ball bearings rolling across the floor.

Alas, my wheels are long misplaced, and I suspect if I tried, I’d be skating backwards when I tried to go forward.

Yesterday Man Child called me to touch base, and maybe, just maybe, give me a little nudge along the lines of, “Hey Ma, wtf?!  You haven’t blogged.”  So I brought my camera earlier today, to catch a few pics of St John The Divine, and the assault construction taking place on its grounds right now.  In my opinion, this cathedral (Episcopal) is one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful, in the city.  Interesting, too.  Construction began in 1892, and has yet to be completed. The campus involves something like 11 acres, and they offer a lot of free or inexpensive programs and classes for the public.  They also house one of the fancy private schools of NY.  Somehow, they’ve found themselves running with a deficit.  There was a huge fire over ten years ago, and if I had to guess, I’d say they’re still trying to make up for the cost of restoration and clean up.  Several years ago they leased a corner of the property, and allowed an apartment building to be put up.  Now comes another one, this one much closer to the church itself.  As I walked around with my camera, able to see in through the back along Morningside Ave, it broke my heart a little.  They don’t have official landmark status, and I’m not familiar with the politics of this type of thing to know why, but somehow, seeing the excavation for the foundation up against the gorgeous granite and carvings, it feels wrong.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

IMG_1345 IMG_1346 IMG_1348 IMG_1349 IMG_1350

IMG_1370 IMG_1372 IMG_1376 IMG_1377 IMG_1380