Sooo much has happened.
which clearly deserves big type. very big. monstrously big.
The last part of April and the beginning of May have been INSANEkind of a mix of vomit and honey. That's right, I've equated my life to vomit and sweetness. Together. In harmony. Where shall I begin? Perhaps let me explain why I have taken a vacation from the blog. This is because my beloved car was stolen. I was late for work, ran out to get in it, only to find it missing. I was completely DEPRESSED.
A tale of 3 cars
If you have been a loyal reader of the Fireside Chat since day one, then you are quite aware of my previous car catastrophes (if not then scroll to the bottom of page one of "the chat" which can be accessed at the bottom of this page (yes, that's confusing, isn't it?), for a little chuckle - a car icon represents the car bits).
Let's have a rundown, shall we?we have the Mazda Protege that had a leak in the gas tank, a broken axle, a busted alternator, an engine that cut out in the rain, an engine that overheated and smoked after 5 min or less and a non existent exhaust system that forced the car to sound more like a small aircraft. I had seen so much of the RI and Brooklyn roadside as a result of the frequent breakdowns. I even broke down on the Williamsburg bridge and created a traffic jam! I'd spent many late nights (late nights to avoid traffic and supreme embarrassment) PUSHING the darn thing across the road to avoid alternate side parking tickets (this sort of thing is probably why I have a bad back). The piece of crap broke down so often and I had to push the car so frequently that I could actually push it while parallel parking it all by myself. Yes, dear readers, I'm a superstar... or is that insane person? Insane superstar? Superstar of insanity?
Moving on. So finally FINALLY I had enough money to purchase a new car. Well, new for me, anyway. It was a blue Honda Civic. I loved it. It had an amazing ghetto style stereo system. FINALLY I was an official grown up buying my first official purchase with my hard earned official book money. Sadly, the car lasted 5 days. Yes, 5 days. It got demolished while parked. A drunk driver hit it, flipped his car over, and escaped on foot. (Feel free to once again scroll to page one where you can actually see the demolished car! Yes!)
Piece O' Crap Mazda had not yet been junked, so I went back to driving that...or is it pushing that?. Well guess what dear readers? It got stolen! Yes, stolen. Don't ask me how because the battery was dead and the engine froze after 5 min.
Part 3 finds me buying a new car with the help of my generous parents. They loaned me the money to buy my green Honda Civic. I loved my Green Honda Civic so. If you know me at all then you know that I drive EVERYWHERE. I use my car for EVERYTHING. And it was gone. Along with the car were 600 dollars worth of books (my books for signings), my tennis racket, my running stuff, my baseball glove (perfectly worn out), a croquet set, a badminton set, my headphones, my plexi book stands (also for signings), my sunglasses, and other things. Lots of things. I could not believe my awful luck. Honestly, sometimes I can't figure out what the purpose of life is or what my purpose is in it... but I'll spare you all the depressing talk. Let's just say that I wasn't handling things well for a while.
Part 4 - I got a phone call late tonight from the police dept. They have "recovered" my car.That's what the message had said. The car has been missing for 3 weeks. How could it reappear? Is it dismantled? Did it go up in flames? Are parts in a chop shop? And to think I almost bought a new car using my high interest credit card! Just as a book can leave you hanging, so will I. Stay tuned for the rest of Part 4 very shortly! Oh yes, I know you're dying to find out what happens next. Well, so am I because I don't know!
Above is a lovely shot of my arm. I only noticed its appearance after getting home from a run in the park. Um... I wonder how many people thought I was covered in blood as I passed them? I didn't notice the paint because it was on the back of my arm and obviously not easily visible to me.
what will get me to go to the doctors?
A hideous eye, that's what. I woke up on Sunday with a slightly irritated, pinkish eye. I took a shower. When I got out of the shower and looked again in the mirror my eye was bright red. By Monday morning the entire eye was the shade of a stop light. I honesty couldn't look at myself in the mirror without getting creeped out. It was the eye of the devil. It was my hideous devil eye. Of course, if this eye was/is plagued by conjunctivitis, then we all know it won't easily go away without medication. I have not gone to the doctor since I was ... gasp... 17. Yes, I was 17. I have avoided it for soooo long and vanity is what will get me to go... not severe back pain... .not heart palpitations... not a knee injury... just awful vanity. I wasn't particularly bothered by the fact that the eye felt like it was harboring a chunk of glass. It just looked so bloody awful... and just plain bloody. And pusy. And swollen. (I know, I've gone too far. But that's what I've been inflicted with).
So in I went to the doctor's office because of my vanity. Out I went with an appointment for X-rays for my back, a piece of paper telling me to go to physical therapy 3 X a week for my back and knee injuries, and ANOTHER appointment to get an eye exam (apparently the dr. was concerned about my 2 year long eye twitch problem due to stress) and I have to get a full physical. I'm still trying to come up with a way to get out of it. He said I'd even get my cholesterol checked out, as if that's an extra exciting bonus. "Oh joy!" I wanted to say. "I'm soooo excited because since high cholesterol and blood pressure run in my family I'm sure I'll have it too! Yay! I love high cholesterol!"
I was already late for my B&N job so I thought I'd quickly get my eye drop prescription filled at Duane Reade 60th and Lex and then be on my way to Union Sq. Well, guess again.. Since I've never had a prescription I didn't know how things worked. I filled out the form and put my insurance in the envelope and then the woman said "Okay, that'll be 45 minutes!" What? What! I was already late for work. Now, a NORMAL person would have said "I'm sorry, I'll need to take my card back because I can't get the prescription filled right now." But instead I said "Uh... okay." Damn. Really dumb. So I took a looong stroll in Central Park in the hopes of spotting Pale Male (I will be doing a book about the hawk so it did make SOME sense).
Cut to an hour and a half later and I'm at work. Finally. Just 2 hours late. The first word out of everyone's mouth was "Ew! What's wrong with your eye? Oh, wait, it's pink eye! Ahh! Stay away from me! Stay away!" I tried to explain that the doctor did not say it was contagious and even if it was I hadn't touched my eye all day and wasn't planning on doing so and besides, it was already medicated. I also didn't bother to explain that I TRIED to explain my condition on the phone that morning but all I got from the manager was "Well, we're very short staffed." So there I was with my hideous eye. No one sympathized. One manager kept pointing at me and calling me Red Eye. Super. Then on top of this a well know author who I loveJeanne Du Prau and her publicist came into the store to sign books. I wanted to say hello but was completely embarrassed by the hideous, hideous eye. I did say hello but what I really wanted to say was "Hi, It's great to meet you. I know I look scary but I don't always. At least not in this way." I WOULD have tried wearing sunglasses but... well.... those were in the stolen car (sore subject).
In work news, I'm SWAMPED.
I KNOW what people think when they hear the words "children's author." They picture some batty lady (okay, I am a little batty) hoping around in some meadow painting pink bunny rabbits on her oval canvas. Well, I am hear to set the record straight. Being an author is not all that much fun! It is wonderful to be able to create what's in your head and share it with the world or in my case maybe 5 family members 15 friends and 2 strangers. Okay, my readership may be a bit larger I HOPE.(sigh. always selling my pathetic self short). But anyway, being an author/illustrator is chock full of deadlines, rewrites, sketches, research, stress and STRESS and STRESS!!!. Ideally I need a week to create one finished illustration, but somehow, I end up having to do 3-4 illustrations a week which = painting in the morning, painting in the afternoon, painting in the evening, painting while eating, painting and not getting dressed, and not going to bed until 5 am every night. After a while one looses sight of reality. Not seeing human beings certainly doesn't help. So, very shortly, that is what my life will be like. In the past, I've gotten so tired and burnt out that the slightest thing will set me off. All I can say is -- please no more catastrophes! No more stolen cars, no more eye infections, no more x-rays, no more money shortages, no more tax payments.That's all I ask. By the way, I did pay my taxes. Twice. Accidentally on the high APR credit card. I will now never get out of debt. Please send small chocolates and sympathy cards my way. I will also accept side jobs such as painting houses until I resolve my money crisis. Thank you.
Above is a picture of my new rug. It was my friend Liz's but she's passed it on to me. I love it! Thank you Liz! I was also telling my mom about the rug and told her it was too bad she couldn't see it. She said "Oh honey, just put it on your website." I feel that my mom just assumes that EVERYTHING goes on the website, just as all garbage goes to the landfill. Well, maybe Mom is right.
Stay tuned for the conclusion of The Car Saga... and some music picks coming your way!
Wow, it's April
Tax time and I'm in trouble
but first, some foolishness
I went out and about tonight because it was my friend's birthday. Do you ever have that thought, that voice inside your brain that saysyou haven't done something embarrassing in a while andIT'S TIME. Or maybe you've witnessed something, let's say some pathetic soul slipping on the sidewalk, and you say to yourselfHa! That's funny, oh, but what if it were me I'm due for a good fall. Well folks, my time has come!
Yes, I fell.
I was out and I was having a conversation with my friend about buying jeans that fit. If you don't know me, let me inform you nowI am very tall for a female. Let's not get too overboard with our imagination, I'm not FREAKISHLY tall . I'm 5'10. I'm actually not quite 5'10, but I'm tired of arguing with people about my height, so let's just say I'm that. Anyway, I was saying that tall people who are thin have trouble buying pants that fit. Pant-makers obviously assume that the taller you are, the fatter you are. Well, I am not. Dress pants, especially, do not fit me.
So anyway, I was saying that I found that Urban Outfitters size 4 low-rise stretch fits perfectly, except for the fact that if I bend over even slightly, my butt crack shows. ( Please excuse my comment if the words "butt crack" offend you). I was explaining to my friend that I keep my jacket on for that reason. I was GOING to demonstrate how that works out. I INTENDED to stand up and demonstrate (something NO ONE wants to see), but I tripped over one of my many bags, which was behind me, on the floor. You see, I carry several large bags with me .(This is because I'm a workaholic and I must carry my laptop and other paperwork at all times.)
Okay, so let's jump ahead. I stood up and tripped on one of my bags. It was one of those moments when you know what is coming, but you can't stop the momentum. I knew I was headed for the floor . Within seconds, there I was! The slow motion part for me was thisDo I pretend that I didn't fall and quickly get up? Do I linger and make a scene? Do I go for a middle ground and act classy?
I went for option 2the linger and make a scene. I landed completely on the floor, and STAYED THERE. Within moments, a loud cheer erupted. I heard "Yeah!" and "All right!" and "Wow!" The whole time I kept replaying the fall in my mind. I felt the stool slip my body slip my body hit the floor with a thud. More"All rights!" and "Yeahs!" And some general laughter, of course.
What was I to do?
I lingered on the floor on the damp, brown floor.
Then I stood up and gave a bow.
"Thank you thank you " I said to an audience which was probably too distracted by the incident to listen.
I was a 20 second hero for falling on my **s and making a fool of myself.
Then I got a call. It was from my little sister. The time wasabout 12:05 pm
.She says "Hey, what are you doing?"
I say "What do you think I'm doing?"
She says "I don't know, it sounds kind of loud."
I say "That's because I just fell on my butt and made a big scene and everyone cheered."
She says "Oh. Awesome."
I say "Yeah."
She says "Well, remember that report I wanted to do on you?" (side note: my sister is in a photography class at George Washington University and had to pick an artist to do a report on. She picked me rrrrright.)
"I say "Yeah, I remember."
She says "Well, it's due tomorrow."
I say "What? Tomorrow!"
She says "Yeah, you know I cut things close."
"Well, I need some information about you, you know, for the report."
I say "Well, I just fell on my butt in front of a whole crowd of people, why don't you tell them about that. You can tell them your sister is an idiot."
She says "Yeah. Maybe I will."
"Show a picture of my artwork maybe my children's book stuff then a picture of my photography then a finishing slide of my on the floor looking like an idiot."
Awesome. I'm a superstar. I knew I would be. I knew all along I was destined for fame .
Nothing else to talk about
Anyway, all this blabber has to do with the fact that I have nothing else to talk about. No work things, obviously, are happening. I can talk money, if you want to read about that sad story.
My sad story is that I'm completely broke. I'm not joking when I tell people that I may end up in a cardboard box very shortly. They always laugh and think I'm joking, but I'm not. I'm really not. This is serious cardboard box stuff. Just today I asked someone this I said "Hey, if I lived in a cardboard box, would you visit me? I will decorate it nice and stuff. I'll even put in a little lamp a kerosene one. You can visit."
She said "Um maybe it depends."
I said "But I really might be in one shortly."
She said "I know. That sucks."
"And I'll invite you in you know, for tea in the cardboard box."
"And I might be good at it, you know being homeless. I'm good at collecting things. But you know, I won't have a home anymore."
"Yeah. That sucks."
And it does suck. It really, really does! What people don't understand is that ALTHOUGH a publisher promises money and ALTHOUGH you've been promised a contract, there is no telling when that money will come. Let's be completely frank now*BEING AN AUTHOR IS NOT A GLAMOROUS THING* BEING AN AUTHOR CAN BE PATHETIC* I am probably the only one on earth who will admit that, but it's true. It's all true. I once remember when I was working with a certain publisher and I was supposed to get paid after I turned in sketches for a project. Know when I got paid? 6 months later! Good lord!
There is a silver lining
The silver lining here is that sometimes, if you are an artist, other jobs will come your way ones that PAY ON TIME! I got an email a few weeks ago asking to use my paintings in a movie. It turns out that the film is for a Disney production. They wanted to use my paintings on a set, on a wall in a character's home. I sent over the high res scans, and bingo! A check has been materialized! I swear, I was not expecting a check so soon, if ever. What a wonderful thing. I'm so appreciative right now, especially because I have to do my taxes THIS WEEK. Ugh. Taxes. (And for what?). I will be adding thousands to my credit card debt shortly. Oh joy. (Another thing author/illustrators will not admit to)
Stay tuned folks for in 2007 or so, a movie may be in the big theater which may or may not display two of my cityscape paintings on the wall, in a character's home. It will be a very cool thing if this happens. The film is called UNDERDOG and it's being filmed now, in Providence RI.
End of March
So, I'm sick yet again. This is just a cold. But just a week and a half ago I had some awful stomach virus. I get sick often because of my B&N job. Here's a perfect example:
There were two adorable toddlers, not yet at the talking age, who seemed to discover each other simultaneously. Their eyes met instantly and they both froze, as if to say "Hey, you're a toddler. I'm a toddler. We we are the same aren't we?"
The one toddler hobbled toward the other, then stopped. He was carrying one of those truck books with wheels.
The other boy took a small step forward, smiled, then also stopped. I felt like I was witnessing the first meeting between the American Indians and the English first settlers. Is the other friendly? Does he come in peace?
The mom of the boy who was holding the truck book said "Oh, look, a new friend! Go ahead, say hello!"
The boy looked skeptical, but took another brave step forward.
The other boy beamed and giggled.
The toddler with the truck book reached his arm forward. He was giving a peace offering! His mom said "That's right honey, give him the toy!"
The other boy stepped forward, but stopped.
It looked like the boy with the truck book was having second thoughts. He took his truck book back and put the corner of it in his mouth. He chewed, and drooled, and made a good dent in that truck book. His mom then said "OR, instead of giving him your toy you could give him your cold!"
Both moms laughed and laughed and laughed.
Now pan the camera toward me, and notice I have a scowl on my face. Oh yes, isn't that cute. Encourage the germs to pass readily. This, dear readers, is why I am sick ALL THE TIME! Isn't that cute the way it's acceptable to chew and drool on the B&N merchandise. Ho ho ho! How funny.
So I'm trying to ignore the fact that I have an achy neck and that I'm full of mucus and that I'm coughing up a lung. I'm trying to go about my regular routine anyway (whatever THAT is). Yesterday that involved running 3 miles. Boy did I feel bad after that. My nose was all empty and runny during the run, but afterward, the stuff came back times ten. This is more than I'm sure you care to know about so I'll just shut up about that. Let me just also add that it's inane that I'm running in the first place considering that my back has been really hurting, there's a shooting pain in my butt that comes and goes, and my knee ceases to bend after the first mile. I am a walking talking disaster case! Pathetic. Completely pathetic. I promised myself I'd call the doctor TODAY. Let's see if I can accomplish this.
My Big News for the Week
So this week has been a big one for sales, thanks to my new agent. Could I have sold 4 books in one week on my own? Most likely. I don't have a problem selling my work. Would I have scored any marketing plans? Nope. Would I have gotten enough money so that I can stop my weekly whining about being poor? Absolutely not because money talk makes me nervous and embarrassed and I don't have that kind of leverage to up the price well not without making all of my editors VERY mad.
So this is the news: I am signing up with Simon & Schuster for two books (one hopefully being Seabiscuit and the other being something I'm not wishing to mention just yet). This IS NOT OFFICIAL YET. Nothing is official until I sign on the dotted line. However, the likelihood of me not signing is very slim. So, more likely than not, S&S is my new publisher! I'm pretty excited because the two wonderful ladies I met with (the publisher and the editor) seem very savvy (not to mention nice). Even if they do one fraction of what they said they'd do for me, then I'll definitely be taking my career up a notch. What a great thing that will be! I can stop being so whiny and stop the constant "I need a 9 to 5 job" speech.
I told my agent that I want stuffed animals made from my characters. I said "I want a Seabiscuit doll."
She said "With a jockey?"
"Yes, with a jockey! A detachable one."
"There would have to be Velcro."
"Yes, Velcro. A detachable jockey with Velcro. That's what I want."
"Okay, I'll work on that. I won't call Knopf back about your books because I'll be working on this Seabiscuit stuffed animal with detachable jockey."
I'm sure now that the agent/author relationship is in full swing, there will be a lot more conversations like that one. At some point I think Ill have to tell her that I want pony rides at my Seabiscuit signing. And cake. And the game horse shoes. And a billboard in Times Square, just like Lane Smith. Ha! That's what I really want, a billboard. A big one. With my nameand words in big letters that read: "Meghan McCarthy - the best children's book author & illustrator in the world!" with maybe a picture of the world on the billboard to hammer down that point. And of course, a stuffed animal with detachable jockey. Dearest readerswould that be the BEST thing in the world? Just picture a cute little Seabiscuit with wobbly legs that swing and a detachable jockey. Below is a drawing of my master plan.
What would I do if I became successful?
On Monday, while at work, a coworker asked what I would do if I ever won the Caldecott.
"Yeah, like that would happened," I said.
She said "You'd pass out, wouldn't you?"
I said "I would never win. It's like winning the lottery. It's not gonna happen."
"But you'd pass out."
"No, I wouldn't."
"Yes, you would."
"No, that wouldn't happen. This is a silly conversation."
"You'd pass out. I would."
"IF that happened, and I got the phone call, then I'd think someone was prank calling me. I'd tell the caller they were mean and that it's not cool to do something like that. Tricking people is not nice"
"Well, once you realized that it was for real, you'd pass out."
I thought for a moment. "No, I'd worry about giving a speech. I'd worry about what I was supposed to wear. I'd worry that I wouldn't be able to get up early enough to make it onto the Today Show."
That's me in a nutshell. Perhaps I am not capable of enjoying things. I'm always looking at the negative and ignoring the positive (as my editor noted that I focus on negative reviews). But what I think is really going on is that I'm defensive. I don't ever want to get TOO excited about something because then I'd be devastated if it didn't work out. The sad truth is that sometimes I DO get excited about things, but I don't tell people, in case, of course, it doesn't work out.
Midway Through March
and it's early spring clealing just go the car washed and now I must clense my soul no, my confused mind, yes, that.
My evening of bowling and belly dancing
(no, I wasn't the belly dancer)
I just need to share a brief memory from last night. My friend Liz convinced me to go bowling. Okay, I have not gone bowling in years! This would seem odd to some since I own my own bowling shoes. The shoes, of course, are not for bowling but rather to fulfill the B&N dress code. I thought bowling shoes would be funny so I went WAY out of my way to find some (yes, sometimes, my loyal readers, my "attitude" towards conformity and rules and the like causes me to do bizarre things). The shoes say AMF on the back and are red and blackvery classy.
Anyway, I had a lot of fun. And the most important fact, my dear readers, is that I WON. If you'd read the previous post, you will surely know that winning is of the utmost importance. Liz's boyfriend Hassin was quite entertaining. Just his bowling stance was hilarious (butt way out in the air, muscles bulging with the anticipation of hurling the ball awkwardly down the lane )
This is the part I am wanting to share: Later that evening we found ourselves at this bizarre bar/hall type thing on First Ave. and First Street (yes, the end of the universe), all colored in dark orange paint. Small dark, round tables lined the hall and sitting on each was a large hookah. A hookah, if you don't know, is used to smoke fruity flavored charcoal type stuff. The hookahs are tall Egyptian looking pipes with water basins that bubble every time the smoker takes a puff. Tubes come out of the things all over the place and the mouthpiece is adorned with tassels and other absurdities. At the back of the hall was a guy at a keyboard. I realized much later that the man was singing (I had thought it was a recording). Other singers got up and took turns singing, too, singing entirely in Arabic. My friend told me that the singers were famous in their country. They were amazingly good so it made sense.
.Why go to Morocco when you can get it in NYC! Yes, I had been transported to another country
All over the floor was money money everywhere! And there were people jumping up and clappingclap clap clap, clap clap clap clap, clapto the beat loudly and we were all being swallowed up by fruity puffs of smoke that fogged the air in a white haze and the Arabic got louder and louder the passionate whaling ebbed and flowed and men danced with other men with their right hands held curved above their heads and their left curved below and then out came the belly dancer covered in silky red. She twirled and shook her hips while allowing her gold jewels to clank to the beat. She spun around while trailing her silk red cloth. She allowed her back to hit the floor and then curled up like a snake coming from a basket. Money was thrown into the air lots of money . The men would reach their arms high into the air and fan the green dollars off their fingers like they were playing cards. And with all this wonder, excitement, color, and scent all I could think about was how wonderful it would be if I could manage to drag my feet as I walked out and accidentally on purpose left the building with dollar bills stuck all over my feet. I would NEVER actually do it but you can't blame a gal for fantasizing!
Aliens got another starred review! I'm so relieved and happy. None of my books have gotten stars before and it seems that the book hat made me the most nervous the one that I took the biggest chance on is getting the most interesting attention. Here's the review:
-In this picture-book account of the 1938 broadcast of Orson Welles's adaptation of H. G. Wells's novel, the author employs several creative methods to transport readers back to the heyday of radio. She leads into the story with a punchy introduction to the period, which is delivered in the form of a speech bubble by a smiling radio announcer. From there, black-and-white illustrations depict a family listening to an ordinary broadcast, which is interrupted by reports of an alien invasion. For the rest of the book, events described on the radio appear in lurid color illustrations reminiscent of old science-fiction magazines, while events in the real world remain in black and white. Excerpts from the actual radio play describe a vicious extraterrestrial attack, while the text describes the pandemonium ensuing outside the radio station and across the country. In the end, McCarthy reveals that the invasion was just a story, and an author's note gives a more detailed account of the play's creation and broadcast. In the spirit of the original, the author does not reveal the fact that the broadcast was actually a play until the end. This conceit would make the book a great read-aloud to introduce a unit on the 1930s. The interplay between the text of the play and the author's description of actual events is effective, and the illustrations are exaggerated and funny. A unique treatment of a fascinating topic, and sure to have wide appeal.-Rachael Vilmar, Atlanta Fulton Public Library, GA
where it's 30 degrees one day and 70 on another
(No, that is not a metaphor for my moods, although it may as well be .)
I've been thinking today about the tipping point. There's this point this all important top of the scale and once you cross it, things change. This comes from, of course, The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell. What an amazing book. I promise to at some point write a little blurb about it along with the other business books I recommend for writers who want to get business/marketing savvy.
Anyway, this Sunday my book Aliens Are Coming made it into the New York Times. Below is a lovely sample.
No, the review wasn't glowing. The reviewer wanted my aliens to seem more diabolical. So be it. I was going for the goofy alien kind of thang but not everyone is going to love that.
Anyway, back to the tipping point. I was wondering what it takes for a book to tipto go from mediocre sales to bestseller OR EVEN mediocre to DECENT sales sales that will result in a nice royalty check. Is the NYT a start? You betcha. But seriously, what does it take for the sales to tip? How many newspapers and magazines would a book have to get in? I wonder. I've noticed that Fancy Nancy has hit the big time. Why? Maybe because it's fancy. It also got reviewed in the Sunday times, right above my book. Fancy Nancy also got on the Today Show. That's what did it. National television WILL make a book sell. But I've also noticed that the TV show can't merely mention the book. The TV show has to RECOMMEND it and TALK ABOUT IT. That book must be firmly planted in every viewer's mind. I mere flash of the book cover on the screen ain't gonna cut it. The tipping point also talked about advertisingthe fact that a product has to be shown to a person not once, not twice, but at least three times for it to STICK.
I will conclude this bit by saying that it was very cool at work today when someone came in B&N with a NYT clipping. The shopper asked for the Ben Franklin books, which were reviewed along with mine. I thought she was going to walk away when I said that we didn't have them. Then she said "What about that other book the one that would be good for boys?" I wasn't quite sure what she was going for so I didn't bother to pipe up with my book's title (okay, I wouldn't have anyway because I'm my own worst enemy). Then she said "Aliens Are Coming." I wouldn't have said a damn thing, because I'm ridiculously shy about this stuff, but of course my coworker said "She's the author!" The customer said "Really!?" She definitely seemed surprised by this. Yes, what is a NYT reviewed author doing at B&N (who the heck knows but that's a discussion for another time). I was pleasantly surprised that the NYT article made at least one sale! I said "Yes, I'm really the author." She asked for it to be signed and I happily did so. I got out my nice sliver pen specifically purchased to sign ALIEN copies. That made my day. Sometimes it's the little things .
a childhood memory
I was thinking about something else the other day. This is related to whether books for kids should be scary or not. Now I feel it is time to share a brief memory from my childhood.
When I was about 5 or 6 or so, my parents bought two large prints for my and my sister's bedrooms. My sister got a fun image of cartoon animals playing. It looked like a really happy painting from a children's book. I got a Henrie Rousseau print:
Lovely, right? I'm a big fan of Rousseau and have a book of his prints. This painting, especially, is gorgeous. BUT as a child, it scared the crap out of me! Every day I remember going into my sister's room and looking at her print. I was so jealous of it. Every night, when I went into my room, I stared at my print. I looked at the animals hiding in the lush undergrowth. I stared at this:
Scary! I thought they were coming to eat me. The painting gave me nightmares. It bothered me so much that I had to tell my parents. After a few restless nights and screaming for "Mommy! Daddy!" my parents removed the print from the wall. It never made an appearance in our home again.
Wonderful Memory Number 2
My favorite TV show, as a very young child, was Dr. Who. I have NO idea why. At some point I'm going to have to buy a few of the shows and watch, to see what the fuss was all about. I was so into the show that I pledged to PBS and gave them ALL the money I had so that I could get a Dr. Who hat, which turned out to be far too large for my little head (it was like 50 dollars for a 5 dollar hat). It was all rather silly. I remember nothing about the show except for the fact that the doctor liked to eat a particular kind of candy, he rode in a telephone booth, and there was an evil doctor who rode in an evil telephone booth and controled evil robots. I LOVED the evil robots. Don't know why. Maybe I never will.
Above is a picture of the Dr. Who robot that drove around trying to kill people.
Kids are weird. Thye love things and hate other things for seemingly random reasons. They CANNOT be figured out.
This brings me back to my book Aliens Are Coming. Could I have made my aliens scarier? Absolutely! Would some kids like to see them that way? Absolutely! Do I regret not making them scarier? Absolutely not! Dare I mention 911, the war, Hurricane Katrina? I thought long and hard about whether I should make my aliens scary, and if so, how scary should they be? In the end, I decided to make them look more confused and scared of themselves. I thought that would be funny. Why illustrate mass hysteria in a realistic way? Who needs 9-1-1 in children's book form? Some people may. But I didn't want that responsibility. I'm here to amuse entertain enlighten in a goofy way. I like goofy. I'M goofy. I'll leave the scary to someone else. Maybe to Dr. Who.
My last bit for this babble session is that I couldn't walk well today. Again. I was a limping fool. I know, I know, it seems ridiculous. Every month this seems to happen like clockwork! The pain in my butt (literally) feels like someone is STABBING ME IN MY BUTT WITH AN ICEPICK AND THEN PULLING SMALL STRANDS OF MY MUSCLES OUT SLOWLY UNTIL THEY SNAP OVER AND OVER AGAIN UNTIL MY WHOLE LEG GOES NUMB.
I've had backpain on and off for about 6 months now. I can't sleep at night. And now, I believe, something is hitting on the sciatic nerve. I SHOULD go get X-rays. I SHOULD stop running in the park. I SHOULD take time off work and stop the repetitive book shelving that is doing permanent damage. But I don't. I continue to limp around like a fool.
FOOL: n (windbag) 1 a silly or stupid person
That is me (see previous passages about driving without a license, pushing broken cars down the road, carrying around a rubber cockroach, and above passage about refusing to admit AT THE BOOKSTORE that I'm an author).
To continue with the disabled story and to prove that I"m a fool, I'll enlighten you all, my fellow readers.
So I KNOW I've had back problems. My friend, who had a similar problem and was diagnosed with a slipped disk, asked me if I ever lift heavy objects. I laughed. I said "Ha! Of course! Don't be silly!" "Recently?" she asked. "Why, just over vacation!"
So people often wonder where my competitive nature comes from. Yes, just today I convinced a coworker to arm-wrestle. Last week I tried to get a coworker to amuse me by seeing who could jump higher (I thought it was fair since we're the same height, but she wouldn't go for it). But my family oh, my wonderful family THEY understand!
So my little sister and I were arguing about who was stronger. This is a typical argument. The last time we argued about something it was who could throw a softball farther, so we ran out into the restaurant parking lot to prove it. So, back to the Christmas competitionI said I was NATURALLY stronger. Little sis insisted I was lying. Rrright. I was determined to prove her wrong. I said "Okay, see the toybox?" (the toybox is a long solid wooden box about 6 feet long and 2 feet wide that my grandfather made). It once house us kids' toys. It now houses all sorts of household crap. Let's put it this way--it's filled with heavy, heavy objects. On top of this toy box was a microwave that my parent's bought for my sister as a present, and a few books, and some other crap. Without saying what I wanted to do with the toybox, my sister said "Meghan, I can lift that toybox. There's no way you can. You don't have any muscles." I said "Oh, please! Of course I can! It's YOU who can't!" So, she HALF lifted the toybox. I KNEW I could to better, so I bent down and lifted that 6 foot long heavy thing up! All the way! Ha ha ha! I SO beat her. My other sister came into the room and doubted my abilities, so I did it again. The thing had to weigh over 100 pounds. And it was awkward to balance. It required a lot of back bending. Yes fellow readers, I AM AN IDOT.
I told my mom later that my back hurt. She said, well, have you lifted any heavy object lately? I told her her about the competition. "Why did you do that?" she asked. I said "Kaila said I couldn't do it."
What I would like:
I will now conclude with two words that I don't like because they're spelled the same.
Polish and polish.
present and present and present
This is how I would like them to be spelled:
Pollish and palish
present and presant and preesent
And these things we can all do without:
Who and whom
effect and affect
I will add to this list when I think of them. It's time to take back the English language people! Let's let it make sense! Or should that be cents. Yes, cents.
Okay, and this is the dog that comes up ALL OVER THE WEB when you put in "ugly dog" in the word search. What IS it and how can we SEND it back to its rightful owner who lives in an eternity of hot flames and dams people to hell?
Have a name for him? Let me know.
I will call him Rusty in the meantime. Or
The End of February 2006 and the dirty snow is melting
(no, that's not a metaphor, I meant it literally)
It's been a strange, not entirely good week. I'll say that.
First, I just noticed that lovely and quite photogenic friend (no, you can't see the photos but feel free to imagine whatever you'd like) put this on her blog:
Awesomeness on a Platter
Speaking of my amazing friends: the stunningly sexy, dazzlingly smart, hilariously witty, scathingly sarcastic,Ęendlessly talented, hug-hating but still lovable Meghan McCarthy just released her fourth picture book, Aliens Are Coming! The book is awesomeness on a platter.
She was exaggerating on everything except the sarcasm. I'll give her that. I'm quite sarcastic but seriously, in the best of ways. Okay, I'm also not a big hugger. I don't even know why. I remember once, my really good looking soap opera neighbor (As the World Turns - not kidding!), came out to greet me carrying a bottle of wine and two Champaign glasses and went to hug me and of course, I'm not a super hugger so he then said "Another awkward moment with Meghan!" I'll never forget that. What a touching moment. Maybe I should practice hugging pillows or something. That's a picture for your head, eh?
Anyway, I lost my train of thought. Big time. What was I talking about? Ah, yes the quote above. This is the part I think I'll put on my ALIENS website "The book is awesomeness on a platter." Who cares about Booklist, Kirkus, and the rest. I'll just use that! I'll make bookmarksawesomeness on a platter and buttonsawesomeness on a platter and keychains okay, not keychains (too hard to make too costly and somebody still gets too many self addressed envelops requesting the things and somebody (yes, me in he 3rd person) can't keep up!) but seriously, everything else I can come up with from now on will say AWESOMENESS ON A PLATTER. Yes. Oh, yes.
I noticed that another friend also mentioned my book and put up a very large picture the coverthank you to everyone for helping spread the word! IF I ever become more successful, dinner, drinks, and lots of fun is on me.
So, I think I'd mentioned my strange week. Yes, strange. My book came out on Valentine's day. No big bang there. I don't think people who aren't authors realize what it's like to work so hard on something and then have that something released with ZERO fanfare. It's bloody depressing. The thing is that I SHOULD be used to this by now but I guess I'm not. Perhaps I secretly have some hope that one of my books will become some sort of success. My friends did take me out for dinner and margaritas, so that made me feel better.
Then I found out some bad newsthere was a death in the family. It's such a sad thing when the last of a generationa chunk of my lifeis gone. I won't babble on about this because this blog can be whiny and depressing but in a funny way not in a seriously depressing way. Let's just say things were thrown off this past week. I DO promise (for myself) to at some point compile all of my grandparent's stories, from both my Mom and Dad's sides, and make them into something great. Maybe I'll post some bits on here.
I called my sister at work to tell her the bad news and said something stupid like "Bridget bad news my friend " Okay, she WILL NOT let me live that down! She said she tried hard not to laugh because she knew what was coming and knew it wasn't good but I said "bad news my friend" which was really quite stupid. Now every time she talks to me she says "Meghan, bad news my friend "
the after-funeral gathering was actually quite nice, despite the circumstances.
Some of my mother's family showed up, as well as many of my father's friends.
It was nice to see them. What was funny is that every time I walked up
to my mom talking to someone, I heard the words"bad review."
She managed to tell EVERYONE about my darn PW review.
I also thought I"d lighten the mood by bringing out Greggor, the rubber cockroach. Perhaps I should explain him first:
We B&N workers found a rubber cockroach that some prankster had left hidden on one of the bookshelves. Yes, we all slightly jumped when we first spied him because he's quite lifelike. But I grew to love Greggor and took him home. I thought he could travel with me everywhere and play pranks whenever I felt it was appropriate. The thing is, that the last laugh was on me. He kept falling out of my pockets and landing on the floor I'd jump and then laughah, it's just Greggor he's just rubber. But I'd do it again and again throughout the weeks! Stupid, I know. Once I was even reaching for change in my jacket pocket and grabbed him and let out a little scream. Darn you, Greggor!
Anyway, so I pulled out Greggor because well I'm a weirdo and so, why not. My cousin took a liking to him and decided to plant him in the potato chips. So he sat there for a while waiting for someone to find him. The problem is that we all stared at the bowl for too long, watching waiting and so people grew suspicious. The table was surrounded by men and so their only comment was "Cool! Look at that!" Hmmm. So I forgot Greggor at my aunt and uncle's house my mom rescued him and took him home but never gave him back! I asked my sisterI said "Hey, where's Greggor?" She said "Oh, Mom really likes him. I don't think you're getting him back."
Author's note: Dear reader, please don't think I'm completely insane. I'm really not. Neither is my family or are we?
And speaking of music, if you need a super photographer for your band/other, I strongly recommend checking out Natalie Gruppuso If I were more photogenic, I'd pay her to shoot me but well I get really uptight in front of cameras unless I'm taking the picture myself. Yes, I take pictures of myself. So?
Anway, I found this new photograph on her blog. It's a shot of The Fatales (her boyfriend is the one on the right). She's great for portrature, period, so if you're an author I also recomend checking her out.
Photo by Natalie Gruppuso © 2006
Some good reviews for ALIENS
This last bit is for my editor who probably thinks I'm nuts for posting the bad PW review on here. (I thank those of you sent me notes about PW and told me to keep at it!): Although this blog, in my opinion, is about the naked truth, and I therefore am happily keeping the good, the bad, and the ugly I suppose it's silly to only yap about the bad (as I often do), although doing so can be quite therapeutic! I also suppose I'm my own worst enemy and biggest critic so I should probably be chained up and not allowed to come out OR to stay in and type after a book is released to the public. I love Gary Baseman's tagline (one of my favorite illustrators): "Blurring the lines between stupidity and genius." Yup, that's me, although I think I'm tipping more toward stupidity.
Yes, yes, ALIENS has gotten GOOD reviews! Below are some quotes:
It's a lighthearted but well-researched glimpse into one of our country's quirkier collective moments - Kirkus Reviews, starred
(Aliens Are Coming is) greatly excerpted and put together with quirky, imaginative artwork that reinforces the fantasy. Using a 1930's art style, and a palette comprising mostly muted grays and reds, McCarthy evokes an era gone by, at the same time creating a cozy nostalgia... this is packed with age-appropriate thrills and scares. - Booklist
To read both reviews in full go to www.AliensAreComing.com
I also found this review on Bookloons, a bookstore's online website, reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke:
Before television, there was inventive radio broadcasting. I can remember sitting by the radio with my Tata in the late 1940s and 1950s, listening to The Shadow, The Green Hornet, Archie, Fibber McGee and Molly, and many other entertaining programs. Aliens Are Coming! is an adaptation for children (and surely for adults, too) of the true story of a CBS radio broadcast in 1938 that shook American audiences.
The story broadcast on October 30th (the day before Halloween) was a fictional radio play, yet listeners believed it to be true, and panicked. The headline announcer stated that aliens had landed in Grovers Mill, New Jersey: 'Ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt our program of dance music to bring you a special bulletin ... Professor Farrell of the Mount Jennings Observatory ... reports observing several explosions ... on the planet Mars.' The announcer's voice was that of actor and director, Orson Welles, who was a fan of H. G. Wells' science-fiction novel, The War of the Worlds (the same story made into a movie in 2005, starring Dakota Fanning and Tom Cruise).
McCarthy's Author's Note explains the Halloween hoax, which used many other actors' voices as well. The New York Times newspaper article stated: 'in Newark, New Jersey, more than twenty families were spotted fleeing their homes', and the question of the day was: 'What time will it be the end of the world?' McCarthy created the text and luxurious color art on the oversize-book jacket and the illustrations inside. Her art is 'reminiscent of the pulp magazines and dime-store novels of the day' (that is, the 1930s), which in itself is a part of history. I especially like the wide-open eyes of radio listeners, and the round space and rocket ships! This story about another story should not be passed by, especially for those who have never heard about this uncanny, realistic radio broadcast. Aliens Are Coming! is a book worth collecting.
And lastly, my new agent
My very last bit of news is that I signed up with an agent a few weeks agoat Writers House. Crazy, I know! Me? Agent? I've sold so many books on my own struggled by myself made my own contacts learned the business even read some fun law books on contract negotiations! Oddly enough, even though I'm a control freak and thought I'd struggle with the whole idea, I'm surprisingly relieved. I don't have to deal with all of that ugly stuff anymore! I'm gladly handing it all over to the agent. I'm washing my hands of it all. No more advance talk, no more contracts, no more worrying about which publisher gets what no more any of it (of course, I still consider myself the executive decision maker sorry, the control freak is still lurking). I'll keep you all posted .
Still nervous but feeling better!
My editor sent me a review from Kirkus last Friday. It's a starred review! What a relief! That definitely makes up for the crappy PW one. Of course, I can't help but wonder if ALIENS is going to be one of those books that people either love or hate. I know that doing my cartoon style for nonfiction material is a risky thing. But seriously, the kids are the ones I'm targeting. So far the response from them has been great! I think it's those green aliens on the cover. I have to hurry up and finish the aliens website because Kirkus mentioned it--what pressure to make it great! Stay tuned
in a customer service job gives you a good perspective on the American
)I often find myself ending these conversations with an "Um" to prevent myself from saying something else that would get me in trouble. These are real conversations that I"ve had believe it or not! No lie! No James Frey here!
the copy machine?"
do I get down?"
do I go to rent this?"
the second floor?
me, where's a Borders around here?"
floor am I on?
are these books so expensive? Don't you have anything cheaper?"
There are times when I take the opposite approach to get a customer to go away, such as this one:
much is this?"
When the going gets tough, tough gets mopey? depressed? pathetic? self loathing?
This month I've been concentrating on painting. When I say painting, I do not mean working on illustrations for a new book. In fact, although I've tried to work on some new projects (especially since i have no income for 2006!) I have not been able to bring myself to do so. You many wonder why this is. Well, the reason is because several weeks ago I declared (mostly to myself although one of my friends did suggest that I carry a box around with me to be my "soap box," since I'm usually adamantly going on about this or that...) that I would quit making children's books and start my new life, as a PAINTER. Below are my first new paintings in years. The first piece is on two small 5X5 wooden panels. It's not quite finished yet, but I'll post the finished product in the painting section when it is.
Below is my second painting on a wood panel. For both pieces, I'm going for realism with a graphic edge.
So now I'm really into the painting thing and have been going around the city looking for new subject matter. My plan is to enter the RISD NYC biennial and GET IN the show. It WILL be fabulous. I've also discovered another competition to enter that's open to women artists nationwide. I know the chances aren't good, but, a gal can try.
Now I have some explaining to do. The reason why I'm taking a sabbatical (albeit short) from the kids' book thing is because i have gotten the first TERRIBLE review of my author-illustrator career. I mean, the review just slams my soon-to-be published book and had NOT ONE nice thing to say.Reading the bad review crushed me. Aliens Are Coming is my first nonfiction picture book and I've had butterflies about its success, or lack of, since day one. After I read the review, I started to have a lot of self doubt. Am I really cut out to be an author? Am I good enough? Maybe I'd be better at something else instead. People always love my paintings and my photography should I be doing one of those artistic endeavors instead? Or maybe I shouldn't be doing art at all. I hear "garbage collector" pays quite well.
I have a thick skin usually. I went to one of the toughest art schools in the country where we as students were criticized on a daily basis. Some teachers even made students cry! Some students packed their bags and never returned to RISD because some of the teachers were so cruel. But I didn't mind the criticism. The reason is because it was CONSTRUCTIVE criticism. It usually MADE SENSE. The bad review makes no sense and is not the least bit constructive. It's not like I can say to myselfoh, next time I'll do this, this, and that differently.
One author brought to my attention that an author does a whole reading of his good and bad reviews in an attempt to humor and enlighten the audience. I thought that was an interesting approach. Most often I'm so ashamed of criticism that I never mention it to anyone. BUT I'm going to try something different for a change. I'll post the review in its enter but first let me explain what my intentions were for ALIENS.
The book is designed to educate kids about an interesting and probably not well known (for kids) event in history. But it's also meant to entertain first and foremost. I was never that interested in history as kid when it was presented in the normal, dull way. ALIENS is doing something quite different. Can history be fun? Exciting? Inspiring? I will also add that I was quite careful not to make any of the images look at all frightening. My target audience is preschool through grade-school. The little ones would be scared to death if they saw a book full of man eating aliens devouring innocent citizens. So let me say this againI made sure that the aliens were silly lookingNOT frightening, realistic, or detailed on purpose! I was also not trying to reproduce the many War of the Worlds movies. The broadcast, after all, was created far before any of the films were made. Besides, if parents wanted their children to have a good scare then they could bring them to the theater. So, I URGE you to go out and read the book yourself. Make your own judgmental. For a preview of the book, go here. If you like what you see then please tell others. I don't want narrow minded, judgmental reviewers to unfairly ruin this book's chances. Now, without further ado, I present to you THE WORST REVIEW I'VE EVER GOTTEN.
Aliens Are Coming!: The True Account of the 1938 War of the Worlds Radio Broadcast Meghan McCarthy. Knopf, $16.95 (40p) ISBN 0-375-83518-0 In an era of fake news, reality shows and terror alerts on simultaneous channels, this volume reminds readers of the panic that greeted Orson Welles's unique radio hoax of Oct. 30, 1938. McCarthy (Show Dog) alternates black-and-white illustrations, representing ordinary life, with full-color images from listeners' colorful imaginations. Initially, two parents and their children sit quietly in a living room, picturing "Ram—n Raquello and his orchestra, playing a tango" in an aptly lurid purple cloud. Suddenly a CBS announcer interrupts and the violet backdrop gives way to a sulfurous hue. The family looks distressed; explosions have been observed on Mars, and a "flaming object, believed to be a meteorite," has fallen in Grovers Mill, N.J. "Good heavens, something's wriggling out of the shadow," reports newscaster Carl Phillips. In fire-and-brimstone shades, McCarthy suggests how frightened Americans trusted Phillips and envisioned sluglike, drooling creatures emerging from a flying saucer. Yellow, sci-fiĐhorror typeface demands, "Was this the end of the world?" while duotone panels picture stampeding citizens and traffic jams; policemen at the supposed crash site "find an empty field." McCarthy reports the unfolding situation, but her imprecise painting style doesn't allow for close detail or multiple perspectives. The bleary brushstrokes are atmospheric but unsuited to quick cinematic cuts between reality and fantasy; the high-anxiety spreads seem too spacious and unpopulated to be convincing. McCarthy nevertheless recalls a startling incident, and the listeners' na•ve responses have an odd, unfunny resonance in light of today's moment-by-moment media hype. Ages 4-8. (Feb.)
Something to say? Say it here!
JANUARY 2006 YA'LL
(photos of various presents wrapped by my dear sister will be interspersed. Why? Because this thing needs pictures and because my sister is SO non artistic, but, yet, her wrapping has wowed us all. Also, at least one turkey carcass will make an appearance.)
Looking back at my young soo- to-be-published self
Wow, another year has come and gone. This always freaks me out. I am constantly reminding myself of my own mortality and so on and so forth. I moved here a year after graduationthat was in 2000 I THINK. Or was it 2001? Hmmm. Let's see here. I graduated in 1999close to the summer. I worked at Checkers Pizza in Providence for a year (BOY do I have some stories! Unfortunately, most are inappropriate for mostly rated G Rrrr PG? blog), starting right after graduation. You know, I'm still not sure when exactly I moved here. I think I'll go pull out my very first rejection letters to figure it out. I happen to save every rejection letter I have ever received (surprisingly, there haven't THAT been many). Am I disturbed mentally because I save these things? Am I? Fellow readers, am I insane?
My first rejections were the summer right before moving to NY. Sadly, since I didn't have a job for a while, the rejections are the only form of proof that I have that confirms what I was doing with my life at the time.
Okay, I just pulled out the letters. Let's have some fun!
My memorable one was from my Viking editor, who was then just some important person in an important office who I knew nothing about. It's dated 11/3/00. It says:
I love the IDEA and illus. for GEORGE UPSIDE DOWN, but the story is slight. It needs DRAMA, excitement, tension! Give me a call when you're in NYCI'd love to see your portfolio
All the best, ---
(WHY do I still have this?? It's one of those thingsI've saved it for this long, so why throw it out? The filing cabinet is a bit tight, though)
That was a good rejection. Too nice, really. It should have said "Dear Meghan, your story is a piece of crap. Don't sub to me again." It was a rejection, but it forced me to get my butt to NYC. As I recall, I still hadn't made up my mind whether or not I was truly going to move here, although I do recall indicating that I was in all letters to editors (maybe that was some sort of subconscious commitment to the big apple?). I must also note that the term "slight" is such a ridiculous and ambiguous publishing term, isn't it?
As you all know (if not, then you might want to check out the rest of my website) my first published book was GEORGE UPSIDE DOWN.
My first actual non rejection editorial note, from Scholastic Press, is dated January 8, 2001. It says:
Thanks for dropping off your portfolio see you Tuesday 16 January at 11:00.
That note led to my very first actual publishing meeting! I must say, I was nervous as hell. I was worried about what to wear, how to talk, etc.,etc. What a day that was. I have some stories about that, but I'll save it for another time. (On a side note, I now never meet before noon because I'm spoiled and don't like to wake up early. My poor editors who have to put up with me )
Now I can safely conclude that I moved to NYC in Sept. of 2000 and sold my first book at the beginning of 2001. So, I have been in NYC for almost 6 years. Yikes! Good lord! Oh my gosh! Hell no! I was just a youngin' at the tender age of 22 and now I'm elderly! Aaah!!! And believed me, I've matured SO much. Can't you just feel the maturity oozing out of this blog?
The usual drama
Being the fool that I am, I lost my license right before having to drive to RI for Christmas. Now, when I say "lost" I do NOT mean that it was taken away by the law, as most of my friends assume when I say "lost." Why do they think I'm so terrible? What do they think I would or could have done to get it TAKEN forcibly away? Geez, guys. Really. No, no, my dear friends, I misplaced my license and that is ALL only I think the misplaced part is quite permanent.
So here's the drama part: I have a RI license which means I have to go to the RI DMV to get a new one. So, I did so when I was there visiting the parents. I took a red ticket as if I were waiting for a slab of meat. I waited, and waited, and waited. Luckily, I brought my newly purchased laptop (happy holidays to me!) with me and so I busied myself by working on my novel (which is now finished and turned in to the agent which I'm sure she'll conclude is a piece of crap once she notices all the typos, etc.). I waited and waited some more. In typical RI Department of Motor Vehicles fashion, I didn't get to talk to a person until 2 hours later. Good fun. But finally, I heard a
"Can I help you?"
"Yes, I need a new license. I lost the old one."
"Do you have your birth certificate?"
I give her it, which, by the way, my mom gave me as an early Christmas present because it is also permanently missing. To obtain a new one would also involve a long procedure.
"Proof of signature?"
I give her my Social Security card.
"Okay, that will be 20 dollars."
I reach out to hand her the money.
"Wait," she says.
She looks at the screen. She looks at me. She looks at the screen. She looks at me. She looks at the social security card.
"Is it my signature?" I ask. "Does it not match?" (I should interject that I signed my SS card when my signature looked LEGIBLE, probably when I was 10).
"No, it's not that. Either your name or your birth date are not correct."
"I"m sorry, but I can't give you a license."
"What does this mean? I don't understand."
"You'll have to go to the social security office and talk to them. Something isn't right."
"But I don't understand. I've had a license for years. I've had my social security card my whole life. How could my social security information not be correct now?"
"Since 911 "
That's ALL I needed to hear. Some crazy terrorist paranoia has once again ruined it all! I don't know how many 911 things I've heard lately, but I'm sick of it! Sick of it! You hear me political leaders! Sick - of -it!!!!
So, I called the SS office the next day. I got a lovely southern lady. We went through the spelling of my name, my my birth date, and other info in a meticulous manner.
Their info is correct. I call the DMV. I get
"I"m sorry ma'am but I can't help y ou. When you got married"
"I'm not married. I never changed my name."
"Well when you changed your name "
"No. I DIDN'T change my name. There is nothing wrong with my information. You have to help me. How can I fix this?"
"You'll have to go to the social security office, ma'am."
"I already talked to them. There's nothing to fix."
"I"m sorry. I can't help you."
"But but "
"Change your information and then go back to the DMV."
"But there's nothing to change. There has to be something wrong in your system."
"Ma'am I can't help you. I'm sorry."
I already talked to social security. Their information matches my birth
certificate AND my license."
"I'm sorry, I can't help you. I don't know."
"Who does know?"
"You'll have to talk to social security."
"I already did."
can't help you. I don't know."
So, we went back and forth like that for some time. I hope you can imagine my frustration. I STILL don't have a license. I'm driving my darn car anyway. You hear that everybodyI'm driving it ANYWAY!
Of course, what are the odds that I'd get pulled over? Well, let's review my record: Since moving to NYC, I have gotten pulled over three times in six years.
The first time was when I was driving a UHAUL and there was a fake paper plate on the back of the truck. This was right after 9-1-1, mind you (yes, it always comes back to this) and the cops accused us three ladies of being terrorists. We really got the third degree and they inspected the truck, etc. I said something sarcastic like "We are three white girls driving a moving van in the rain and listening to Madonna. Do you really think we're carrying a bomb?" That made them mad. My friend started crying. Good times.
The second time was when I had a headlight out in 2001. The third time was last year when I wasn't wearing a seat belt and got charged 90 dollars. That was right before the holidays, as I recall. Happy holidays to you, too, officer.
Anyway, I thought the odds were slim as long as I behaved. Right? Wrong. Dead wrong. What happened this week? Well, let's guess, shall we? I was driving in Union Square to meet some friends for some good old PBR in a can and a nice grilled cheese sandwich at Chat N' Chew.
All of a sudden, dozens and dozens of cops came flying through Union Square blaring their lights. It looked like a presidential convention of some sort. All the cops lined up in rows and parked. Ooookay, I thought. I drove out of Union Square and came back 20 min. later. The cops were still there but things didn't seem as obnoxious. A taxi was in front of me.
We drive past B&N, past the McDonalds until we hit a red-light, right where the ridiculous cop car parking thing is. The taxi stops.
The car behind me starts honking.
Turns out it was an undercover cop. He puts on his lights.
The taxi drives on.
I pull over to let the cop go. As I pull over, I pull up next to two cops who are standing in the parking lane, on the street.
The cops are talking.
The light turns green.
The one cop is in front of my car so I look at him to sort of silently ask if it's okay to go. He turns to look at me, then turns back to continue his conversation. A long line of angry cars builds up behind me. I thinkcan I go? Is it okay to go? Hmmmm Hellooo Mr. Cop can I go?
.I decide it's okay to go since the light is green. So I drive around the cop, who is standing in a parking space, not really in the road. As soon as I drive around him I hear a loud thud on my window. Imagine someone taking a large, hard swing at your carthat was the sound. Then I hear "What the hell do you think you're doing! You think you can drive around me! You think you can drive around me!"
I shake my head in fear.
"Who do you think you are! What do you think you're doing! That's it! Pull over! Pull over!"
I stop. "It was an accident! I didn't know!" I cry.
The cop walks to the window. "Give me your license."
Oh my god, here we go, I think. I cannot believe this. I cannot!
"Give me your license!"
So, I start frantically looking for the license that I know I don't have.
I search my pocket.
I search the other pocket.
I search my glove compartment.
I search the drink holder How long can I pretend to look?
I search under the seat.
I search under the other seat.
I search in my pocket again.
I ruffle papers.
Then, I hear "Get the hell out of here. We're doing terrorism practice." The cop storms off before I can say another word.
Lucky break! Or, has terrorism paranoia cursed me? You decide.
A new year, a new me?
Time for resolutions. Here's the thing Do I need any? Or am I perfect as is? Don't laugh my dear readers, I am serious.
1) to continue running but also not flake out on the sit-ups and body toning. I always seem to do one or the other.
2) To finish www.aliensarecoming.com before Feb! Oh man, I'm cutting it close.
3) to sell my very first novel. I WILL do it. Or, maybe I won't. Hmmm. Do I suck at writing? Do I? Am I no good?
3 1/2: stop having so much self doubt and to stop being so darn insecure
4) To attempt to begin a more touchy subject YA novel, not the sci fi things I am fond of (because they don't involve personal memories).
5) I am almost frightened to make this one because, well, I don't want to. Waaaah, I don't want to! Okay, here goes: I will TRY to do a school visit. TRY. That is all I can promise.
6) Finish the ridiculous things I've started and forgotten.
6) do a few cityscape paintings. I haven't painted-painted in a long, long time.
7) continue balancing work and non-work. I sometimes don't balance those two well. I tend to be a workaholic. I need to value the rest of my life more because, after all, doing a children's book is a big crapshoot anyway.
8) I promise not to put embarrassing pictures of my sister on here without asking first. I know she hates me for that. Of course, maybe, my dear sister, you shouldn't BEG me to take photos of you putting peanuts up your nose if you care so much, hmmm?
Speaking of sisters, my OTHER sister, the youngest of us nut-jobs, did say I could put a wonderful photo of her on here. This is the photo she has on her computer, as wallpaper, and this is the photo I saw when I used her laptop one day. I was SHOCKED, fellow readers. SHOCKED.
My sister Kaila is in the middle. I fondly call this Kaila In Cream.Who's partying too much when she should be studying? Could it be Kaila In Cream?
Below is a picture of part of my family, during Thanksgiving. They all wailed loudly (not that they care to read this, anyhow) when I jokingly said I'd put the picture on my website (can't take a joke) so now I feel obliged to do so.
(black heads pictured above may or may not be to scale)
Something else I usually do for the holidays is make mixed CDs. Our wonderful kids' B&N manager has left, so I made her a mix entitled BAD EMPLOYEES. I ran around all day on Sat (we were going to dinner on Sun) to take shots of my fellow coworkers doing bad things. I had them fake-puke in trash cans, go through the manager's personal mail, pretend to be smoking, etc. Below is the finished product. Enjoy.
My friend Julia is on the left and lovely Linda is on the right.
(The black dots are censoring unnecessary things )
And now, without further adu, is my photo of the month! Gotta love Williamsburg. Enjoy.
4:25 am. Time for bed!
For past months of "the chat" click here!