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All posts for the month October, 2012

Why do a public reading if you hate reading out loud?

Published October 30, 2012 by Sandee

I hate reading out loud.  I feel like I’m publicly luxuriating in my ability to enunciate fluent English, or showcasing the melodic quality of my voice.  Reading to a roomful of people makes me anxious.  I buy my 1 and 4 year old nephews books when I visit, which means I must read to them, but I don’t really like it.  It makes my mouth tired and I hate when I start to sound nasally.  Generally when reading out loud, I feel my persona or whatever vibe I may have at the moment intruding on the text.  Reading out loud also makes me feel like I’m showing off how well I can read out loud.

At my author reading on Saturday for my book Mean-Spirited Tales, the words rolled right off, of course, because I know these stories blind.  I think I did a fair job of being animated when necessary.  It felt like a performance.  A lot of people came and there was some interaction.  My one good friend was the ring-leader with her laughter and applause.  My sister came from Massachusetts — how blessed I am.  Fellow blogger Margarita from Serenity in the City came with her husband — what a pleasure it was to meet her!  “We actually exist,” I told her.  She’s a very attractive woman with a great vibe.  I talked to her for a while.

I was overwhelmed in a good way at all of the support that I got.  When I got up to read there was screaming and loud applause.  The laughter was fun.  I often laugh while writing some of my shit, hoping that others will laugh when they read it, but I was surprised even at some of the places where people laughed.  I stopped at one point to ask the audience, “That was funny? Okay,” and I laughed along with them.

People called the next day and said they had a good time.  Whew!  To me it was rather exhausting.  Ms. Waiting from The Waiting described doing readings as nerve-wracking — that’s exactly it.  I don’t know if I want to do another one.  If I do have another reading, maybe I’ll ask someone else to read.

And thanks so much to all of the bloggers who wished me well a couple of days ago.  I took all of the well-wishes with me.

 

 

 

A damned lie

Published October 27, 2012 by Sandee

Hey everybody wish me luck. Tonight I’m having an author reading from my home-made book, Mean-Spirited Tales.  I’ll read two regular “mean” stories and part of one horror story in honor of Halloween.  It’ll be at a local café.

My friend came by the other day.  He told me that he finished my book.  I asked him if he saw any errors in it and he said no.  I did catch two in the Kindle version, before the hard-copy was published. I fixed them though.  It would’ve sucked worse if there were errors in it after I had paid somebody two hundred and fifteen million dollars and ninety nine cents to edit it.  I’ve seen this before – books from “reputable” publishers with errors.  I saw a mistake in An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England.  I wonder if Brock Clarke saw it.  It made me not feel so bad about the errors in my home-made book.

Before I published my book I read this WSJ article about another home-made book that did really well.  So I did the same thing this author did as far as advertising, etc.  I might have missed something though, because hers sold a gazillion copies – ha!  She said she didn’t spend more than $1500 I think.  I spent less than that.  Let’s see, she bought a review from Kirkus – check – she bought an ad on Goodreads – check – but I swear I don’t remember her saying anything about an editor.  I did have friends look at some of my stories.  The one published in Calliope, Night Terrors, only needed a couple of edits for clarity so I thought I had a handle on editing, although ‘they’ say never edit your own stuff.   Ah but bunk it!   Maybe I’ll do it for my novel – hire a cute boy editor.

Of course I’m one in the legions who harbors a fantasy that my home-made book will be the next self-published success story.  Aghh!  At this point I’m just happy that people are reading the book that I wrote.  No that’s a damned lie.  I want to be the next self-published success story.

Balance

Published October 25, 2012 by Sandee

If you’re me, your shape changes in middle-age.  Other things happen but I’ve been sworn to secrecy by the Coven of Middle-aged Women with Fancy Handbags.  I’m mad.  I work out, jog, but I am not shaped the way I used to be shaped, a subtle shifting of body mass.  I was warned by the Coven.  I didn’t think it would happen to me though.  I eat quinoa.

And also, not to brag — I just did 50 sit ups but my stomach still protrudes. Why? Fucking fibroids.  Yeah I said it.  It happens more so at a certain time of the month.  Why now, a few days before my author reading?  I’m tired of this.  I could have my uterus surgically removed.  I just don’t want to be knocked out and cut so that I can have my guts ripped out.

I was waiting for that device in Star Trek to come out.  Captain Kirk, Bones and Spock time-traveled.  They went back in time and witnessed a 20th century surgery.  Bones said it was barbaric.  Their time era is the future where Bones just waves this wand thing over the part that needs surgery and – bam!  I could be uterus-free in seconds with not a one scratch on me.  I think it’ll be a while before this is invented, so I’ll just wait for menopause.  That’s when my estrogen level is supposed to decrease, which ideally would mean that these things will shrink.  But we’ll see with the luck I have.

All’s not awful though.  I’ve always had kind of a big ass even when I was a skeleton.  But I don’t look good bone thin anymore and that’s a good thing – like it was ever a good thing.  Now I don’t need to be always worried about staying a certain weight.  I’m more relaxed.  The effort would be wasted anyway.  When you’re this age two carrots, plus 3 walnuts, plus one celery stick does not equal ninety-eight pounds soaking wet.  It equals what your metabolism tells you it will equal.  Listen youngsters – eat, smoke and be reckless, because, you won’t be able to later on.  I’m not killing myself to be skinny anymore, so I don’t have to smoke cigarettes and eat grass.  Since my shape has changed I look like a bobble head if I’m too thin.  And I realized recently that the big ass balances off my big head nicely.

*A post of vanity, by Sandee Harris

Scorpio

Published October 23, 2012 by Sandee

Brigitte’s post on astrology made me think of my sad history with being a Scorpion.  My parents used Linda Goodman’s astrology book as a child rearing tool.  Not cool.  They put me in a box and treated me a certain way because of my sign, whether or not I actually exhibited any of the traits.  Oh, she’s refusing to eat her asparagus — she’s a strong-willed Scorpion child.  She’ll grow up to be a doctor because she’s fearless and focused.  We’ve got to punish her more because she’s so stubborn. 

Not!  As I began reading astrology books, I thought, wow, Scorpions are badass.  I’m not worthy.  So I’ll just act the way Linda Goodman says we are in the book.  It backfired.  She said Scorpions have a penetrating stare.  So I stared, penetratingly, at people.  It was weird.  I loved the idea of getting revenge on all my little friends who had fucked me over, and Scorpions are known for revenge.  Right?  I thought that it was my job to get revenge on people because I was a Scorpion.  Well, any lame attempt that I made to get any earth-shattering revenge generally backfired – the people that I thought I was revenging didn’t know that they were being revenged.  And Scorpions are not supposed to be afraid of anything.  I was afraid of every fucking thing.

From the age of eight on I suffered from a disease called achalasia.  I became malnourished and couldn’t focus in school.  I was in special progress classes so became more intimidated because of my inability.  If my parents had known what to do, they would have done it.  I think my youthful parents and the disease did a lot to undermine my situation.  They didn’t have the resources to mentor me and to interact in a way that would nurture my natural personality.  While they gave me a brilliant childhood, my adolescence suffered because of the shortcomings.  Feeling the burden of being a Scorpion, I was unworthy.  My self-esteem suffered.

But as an adult who has found herself at the end of the journey, hell yeah, don’t mess with me – I got my mojo back.  No, I’m just finally experiencing my true nature.  I remember the two Scorpion types that Linda Goodman described, the grey lizard and the eagle.  Despite my effort to deprogram myself from my parent’s rearing on this, I believe I had been a grey lizard, a seething envious, imploding sort.  As an adult, I’m definitely the phoenix, or the eagle, and I do see a lot of the traits of Scorpio in me.  Though I always thought I was Aquarius rising, I had my chart done, and everything was in Scorpio.  I’ve been told I’m intense.  I still don’t like being judged by my sign.  Don’t think that I’m refusing to eat my asparagus just because I’m a Scorpion.  But I do share a birthday with Danny DeVito and Martin Scorsese – kick ass!

The Bum Couple of Inwood Farms

Published October 22, 2012 by Sandee

*My friend calls this neighborhood Inwood Farms – hilarious.

The bum couple in my neighborhood think they’re the neighborhood’s honorary bums.  People coming home from work stop to have forty-five minute conversations with them.  During these conversations they pause to wave or to say hi to people.

I think people talk to them for a cheap show of magnanimity.  Look at me everybody. I don’t have problems talking to bums.  I talk to Frank the bum but never this long.  I dare these people to invite Mr. and Mrs. Bum to their homes.

The man said hello to me once because I made eye contact.  It irritated me.  He looked wounded when I didn’t continue to speak to him or his wife.  I think they silently scolded me with their little puppy dog homeless faces.  Nothing against bums – I love Frank, and the other bums are cool.  Hell I might just be a bum myself at the rate things are going in this country.

For a long time they lived in the 207th Street subway station.  Transit workers played chess with the husband by the elevator.  People stood around watching.  I love chess.  I played naked chess with my computer, listened to death metal and ate olive oil toast every night before blogging.  But never would I play chess with that bum.  Number A:  on the subway station benches he had biblical placards.  And Number B:  one said Halloween was the devil’s holiday.  So you take up space in the subway station, proselytize AND put down my favorite holiday.

They live on the benches by the park now.  The husband plays chess on the park wall.  Sometimes there are two or three games going at once.  You’ll find the wife waddling back home sweet home with a cart full of groceries during the games – maybe she’s got hors doeurves and crudite in there for the boys.

Sometimes when it rains they’re hidden behind rain slickers, garbage bags and two gigantic umbrellas.  If you didn’t see two pairs of feet underneath you might think there was just a heap of crap on the bench.  They must get along really well to be able to sit so close.

But I’ll bet that husband could show me some mean chess moves.  He reminds me of a guy I was infatuated with who also played chess.  He and his wife are tall and heavy.  This guy was too, with a deep voice and big feet.  I joked that the bum couple reminded me of me and this guy.  He was in financial trouble and I had taken this job making half the money I used to make.  I had some strain myself.  So we’d be together – broke.

I said to someone, “I think I hate them because I’m afraid I’ll become them.”  But no, I just don’t like them.  Sue me for not liking a downtrodden married bum couple.  It’s far more evil to use bums to demonstrate your bullshit magnanimity.

Horror Story

Published October 21, 2012 by Sandee

Sometimes I take a circuitous route home.  I walk three quarters of a mile on a wooded road, the scenic route, before getting on the #10 bus.  Across the street is the Henry Hudson Bridge.  Yesterday an old man at the stop began talking to me about the horns on my head.  I inched away from him toward the bridge, which I was always curious about.  “Yes we had Enchanted Weekend where I work.  Okay, o-kay –bye bye now,” I said.  So I climbed the stairs to the bridge and had a lovely constitutional.

There’s a building at the end of Palisade Avenue that I wanted to see from the bridge.  At intervals I stared over the bridge at my lovely building, which overlooks the Hudson.  At the Hudson River Museum yesterday, there my building was, immortalized in a painting – a sure sign that I am to inhabit this early 20th century dwelling one day.  The wind was vigorous.  The palisades were wondrous, and Inwood Hill Park invited below as the leaves are beginning to turn.

I stopped finally to look over the bridge at the water.  At the end of the bridge, the paths led only into Inwood Park.  I had assumed there was a path at the side of the parkway leading to the street.  Should I go back to Riverdale after walking all this way?  A woman was killed in the woods years ago.  People had been attacked.  I never go into the woods alone.  A runner took the curved path into the park.  Maybe he knew the way out.  I followed the runner.

Inwood Hill Park is called a forest.  There are cliffs rising high over Manhattan.  The trees are so thick that you can’t see buildings.  And there is no street noise.

The runner was gone and I was alone. I tried another path, but it led back to where I came from.  I thought of the Blair Witch Project where they try getting out of the woods but go around in circles.  They eventually die in the night.  Now it was dusk.  I heard crickets.

I walked quickly, uphill endlessly, scared as shit.  I was sweating.  I was relieved that the upward climb was over, but there were more paths up there.  Trying to figure out which to take was confusing.

There was an ancient iron lamppost with a broken globe.  I wanted a sliver of glass, a weapon.  Still walking quickly, I pulled a pen from my bag, ready to stab.  I called Eric, panting.  “Eric I’m in the woods.  I’m scared.  I can’t find my way out.  Can you stay on the phone with me?  I need someone to know where I am in case something happens.”  At times I jogged, grateful to be going downhill.  I reasoned that I should stay to the left where the trails led to the foothills.  Eric’s voice faded then I couldn’t hear him.  The call was dropped.

The darkening woods menaced.  It’s ironic about my creature horns — I told people at work that I was a wood creature.  I still had them on — haha.  An old tree on the right had a fantastical orange fungus.  What other monster imagery would I see?  A human threat?  Even in fear I thought fleetingly to take a picture of the fungus.  When would I see something like this again — get this opportunity?  But fear propelled me forward as I couldn’t waste any light.

At Halloween, during Haunted Inwood when actors hired to portray monsters guide kids through the night time woods, festooned with fog and cemeteries, there is a ticklish horror.  This was no ticklish horror.  More dark green paths led to an area where I saw a building way below.  I heard children.  But were they phantom children, like in the Blair Witch Project?  I took another path, trying to get to the building, but it went north.  I planned if necessary to climb down the rocky hills to the streets, veering off of the useless paths, so what if I tore my pants.

I got back on the original path.  At least I knew then that I was headed south where I would eventually get out.  I walked faster, heading for the wide stairs with wooden edges.  As a kid I got lost with my father and brother in these woods.  We came out around here.  I had shown daddy how to get us out.

Through the trees I saw the playground on Dyckman a way down. Would there be witchcraft involved where I’d continue to see the playground but never get on the right path?  I winded around another path then I was out!  I wanted to kiss the ground.  I called Eric back, then left a dramatic message with another friend.  I walked on the avenue at the border of the park, looking up at the dark menace of green looming over me.   I saw friends on my block and told them what happened with an exaggerated spirit of adventure, leaving the horror back in the woods.

Two words: hanta virus

Published October 18, 2012 by Sandee

I’ve scheduled my reading for 10/27, 10:30pm at the Indian Road Café.  I’ll read for half an hour.  Afterward they’re screening Night of the Living Dead.  That’s crazy because I had no idea they’d be showing this movie and it’s one of my favorites – I know the whole script.  Two great lines from it:

“They’re coming to get you Bar-ba-ra.”

“Yeah they’re dead…they’re…all messed up”

I’d like to write a treatise on this movie.  It’s been done.  They make it a metaphor for the times in 1968.  The zombies are the encroaching threat to the establishment.  They represent black people too, I think I’ve heard.  George Romero used a black protagonist which was progressive, but then again, he doesn’t survive, AND his plan for keeping everyone safe — as the alpha male in the bunch — failed.  Womp womp oh well.

Since I’m on zombies – anybody ever see Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things? One of the reasons I love Fright Night is because the kid in the movie watches it on TV, the part where Orville is reanimated and goes after the leader of the theater group. This movie has a cult following so I feel cool because I knew it when.

My horror story in my book, Mean-Spirited Tales doesn’t have zombies.  I may have a friend read one of the stories. I’m going to miss Bob being at the reading.  I’ve been to the Indian Road Café a few times to eat and Bob would be there.  He was retired so I think he went everyday for lunch.  “There goes that Sword-Chinned Bitch,” he’d snarl. I was thrilled the first time he said it because I fantasize about walking down the street with people whispering “Hey, there’s the Sword-Chinned Bitch” — hehe.  So Bob helped me realize my fantasy.  After I got my hair butchered by the salon, Bob sees me and says, “So the flat-headed Sword Chinned Bee-itch is here.”  He made bitch two syllables.

When I went to the café to speak with the owner about my reading, I hear behind me, “I know I’ll be there to see the Sword-Chinned Bitch.”  It was Bob.  He bought my book and read my blog.  I wrote about my love affair with a mouse in my apartment on my blog.  He commented:  “Two words:  hanta virus.”  Ahahaha!

If no one else comes to my reading Bob will be there and perhaps with his lover, I used to say.  Bob passed away of a heart attack a week after I saw him at the café.  He was both wicked and very kind.  When I spoke to him last, he talked about having a good life and being fortunate.  I was fortunate to know Bob.  He was one of those blessings that we get in the minute of the day.