THOUGHTS FOR JOHN PRINE

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John Prine has Covid19 and is critical. Sending him love, hope you will join me.

It’s funny, people who only know me now may not know, but in the 70s, I was a Philly WIOQ listener (Adult Rock Era: Under Outlet, WIOQ evolved into an eclectic music format often described as “adult rock“. The station played a blend of softer songs heard on rock music stations, some deeper album cuts, a few top 40 crossover hits, and a bit of uptempo jazz. Leading air personalities on WIOQ in this era included John Harvey (“Harvey in the Morning”), Helen Leicht who hosted a show called “Breakfast With The Beatles” on Sunday mornings, David Dye, Ed Sciaky and Michael Tozzi. (Leicht and Dye are now the midday DJs for the adult alternative public station WXPN. The former continues her “Leight Lunch” program at noon, and Dye is the producer and host of the nationally distributed World Cafe.)Thank you Wikipedia….

I have fairly varied tastes; I love “old school” jazz; I love funk, some rap, some very pop/teeny-bopper stuff, and I might make this list of my current favorite bands (in no particular order):

  • Cake
  • Fountains of Wayne
  • Jack Johnson
  • Beatles
  • Stones
  • Kinks
  • Chili Peppers
  • Luna
  • Sugar Ray…

But I think most folks in my life today wouldn’t associate me with a very folky sort of past. Loved me some deep cut Jackson Browne, Bonnie Rait, Joan Armatrading, CSN, Neil Young. Love them still, just kinda wore them out a little, and life takes you in different ways. If I were still with my first love, I’d still be right in that folky-rocky pocket. But love doesn’t stay; tastes change, and we don’t last forever, or even as long as we should, in some cases.

So sorry that we lost Adam Schlesinger, formerly of Fountains of Wayne (FOW), to Covid19. I adore FOW, and am so very sorry to know there will never be a reunion concert now. He was too young to leave us. I hope that John Prine will not soon join him.

I love your songs, John, and I wish you recovery, music, and love.

PS. Check out my previous John Prine post why don’t you?

Previous JPPost

BY THE WAY…

Fireball-Cinnamon-Whisky-Heart__21618.1580421511I happen to know (because I often talk to him, probably more than he would like actually!) that my mailman, Steve, likes Fireball. And so, last week, when I did a run to Acme for my mom so she would not run to Acme (“…because they have frozen vegetables, 10 for $10! I don’t mind going myself. I’m not worried.” Acme, stop having sales that seniors can’t resist!!!) I picked up a bottle of Fireball for Steve, not because I want him to have a drinking problem, but because he works damn hard and very soberly all week, and this week will be bringing me my coffee from Amazon, which is way cheaper than I can get it anywhere else, and for which I am supremely grateful.
So… take care of your mail carrier folks!

(And, btw, the Acme, which is technically in Rehoboth Beach, looked like it was 4th of July weekend. WTH? Stay home people! I am so glad my mom didn’t go.)

AND THEN THERE WAS COVID19

IMG_6488Aaaack!

I was doing so well, writing my blog, handling my business… and then…

Awesome! One school where I teach got 2 extra days of spring break before spring break. Wooopeee!

But then, a few days later… this Covid19 was really serious, and going to travel ’round the country like some game where Russian Roulette has been merged with Whisper Down the Lane, and we had to stop going to buildings. No more buildings people!

And so no more live school, for me, for my daughter, and for my students. And what do I have, over 100….

The next decision, both of my schools got extra spring break, more than, IMHO, they needed, Covid19 or no Covid19. If you’re sitting at home anyway, why not be doing school work?

Well, because the colleges weren’t ready for them to do school work.

Of course, I’ve been teaching online since 2003. I was ready for it.

The schools were, and still are, not.

These are all the full-time people, who teach 12-15 hours out of the 40 hour week they are paid for, hold office hours for 2-5 hours more, and go to an occasional meeting.

WTF are they doing with all that extra time all the time? ‘Cause I can tell you, they aren’t doing research or writing novels. Playing Fortnite? When I was in college, in the dark ages, all the teachers in the English departments were writers and doing research or creative projects. Somewhere along the way that disappeared in many colleges. Now they just teach, hold office hours, and attend meetings about how to deal with inept adjuncts like myself. 😛 Can you tell I hold a dim view of full-time faculty? What happened to the faculty who used to have us to their homes for salons? Ride the subway with me discussing world religions? Share pieces of their poetry manuscript with us? College teachers, in the places where I teach anywho, don’t do that anymore.

In any case (that last paragraph was a trip down “old man yells at cloud” lane; wasn’t it? Grouchy much, Di?) it’s been two weeks of scrambling to try to prove to my colleges I can teach online, and get Sophie and Dave and I squirreled away as a small country of three people that exists on a houseboat in the middle of the ocean, with occasional shore leave to walk Oliver, and there went the blog. Which, just a quick aside, reminded me just now that when I was a kid and had twin beds in my room Regina and I used to pretend they were two house boats next to each other, and the ocean was full of very hungry sharks. I loved that game.

This song seems appropriate to the times Wooden Ships.

All this has thrown me off of my course of scheduling my life, working on myself, I put on 2 pounds that I had taken off because…. we have so much food in the house, and food and I love each other dearly.

Today, time to try and get back on the path of self-discovery and improvement (while teaching at home and living in harmony among we three).

And so, I very humbly say that I consider myself crazy lucky at this time because:

#1. I am adroit in an online environment. There is no online program out there that I haven’t taught with, and, this past Thursday, I logged in to Zoom to “work” a virtual writing center, and I spent from 9-3 watching other teachers not know how to click a button, turn on their sound on their computers, use the mouse pad, etc. Full-timers, part-timers, tutors, all hopelessly analog. Of course, I had to sit there while they all tried and tried again, for my full shift, and it was maddening…. I truly feel like I should have “I try harder” after my name, because I do. I have always taken any training I could get, and I am usually a fast learner, which, to be fair, that second part is just function of lucky genes. That, and, probably another function of lucky genes, I’m not afraid of new things. I am sometimes stressed and annoyed by them, but I am ultimately not afraid of them. Being a person who is mostly not afraid is a very lucky thing. And so, thank you Universe, for making me technologically adroit in a difficult time.

#2. We (Hubs and I), at great, great personal financial expense, moved our daughter in September from her limpy public school into the only non-religious private school in 50 miles. We are talking taking on the equivalent of a second mortgage payment AND we had to buy a second car. AND, we are damn lucky, because when the kids came home from her school, her school had a full schedule ready for them for each day. She is at the kitchen table from 8/9-3 each day. She has virtual art and music as well (through Zoom meetings), and she is currently working on a biography of Fredrick Douglass in addition to her math, science, vocabulary, and, I mean, you name it. They sent all her textbooks home, the majority of which are workbooks as well, so she does her work directly in them, and she is learning, and practicing her instrument, and taking online quizzes. The poor school is closing at the end of this year because there just aren’t enough students anymore to keep it going, but we have been so very lucky to have had it this year, when we have needed it more than ever. AND I BELIEVE IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS, but after K-4th of bullying (my daughter is an adoptee, an Asian person, and off-beat… things that don’t go over well in conservative white white white Sussex County), and grades 3-4 of downright ignorance and neglect from her teachers (straight Ds, “…but those are passing grades!” Sure they are….) my daughter had had enough. I was not going to ask her anymore to lose her love of school to support the local institution that was not supporting her, and so, we paid. We went into a debt here and there, we cut down on stuff, etc., and so what? If your kid leaves elementary school with non-passing grades, he or she is simply destined to continue to fail his or her way through a diploma, because, oh yes, the public schools will keep pushing that child forward… until the child hates school, feels stupid, and drops out, or limps to a shoddy diploma. My daughter, now, is doing her work independently, and she gets it, and she is truly learning. And if she cannot get into the charter school next year, then I will homeschool Girlfriend, because I am not putting her back in that system. And she will be ready for it because this school has taught her to like learning and to be an independent learner. Meanwhile, the public schools here (though every kid in every classroom in the school has an iPad they use in class every day) sent the children home with nothing, and now they are hoping to get some schooling together in mid-April for them. Those poor kids, and their parents! And so, all ranting aside, I consider myself hugely lucky because we were able to have our daughter in such a caring and progressive school when the shutdown came, and because we were able to push our mortgage out a bit, and etc. to afford it. We just paid school off this week, actually, so we should begin to renormalize in a month or so. Thank you Universe!

#3. It’s raining a lot these past two weeks…. which helps my mother decide to stay indoors, because she is not an introvert, and she really misses going shopping, visiting friends, playing mahjongg, going out to restaurants. Momma… I love you; please stay home!

And, honestly, I consider myself lucky because I have always been a person who thinks for myself and who reads and finds things out. In times like this, when very different messages about how to protect our health are being bandied about, I feel really lucky that I read, from many sources, and listen to NPR, and can understand what I hear and what I read. My mother always emphasized reading, and learning vocabulary at dinner, and never let me ditch school, and for that I am grateful.

I am a very quiet and still introvert (I may have mentioned), and so this time is easier for me than some other folks, and we have the class pet with us, so there’s that too.

May you be well; may you discover new ideas and worlds inside yourself as you float in your little wooden boat on the water, may you be loved and be with people you love, and may this virus run its course soon.

I have no idea why you read my silly blog, but I thank you for doing it.

Much love~~

 

OFFICE

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Well, after my entire life without one, I have an office.

It’s still a pretty messy work in progress, as you can see, but so is my entire life! LOL

I am not sure if I particularly need an office, but it is nice to have one spot in the house where all the decorating is 100% chosen by me. AND, as you can possibly see, the decorating is a mixture of my love for my daughter and my love for feminism.

And my BFF from elementary school gave me the most wonderful birthday presents, one I will wear in the room, and one I have used to decorate the room, and I’m going to frame the damn packaging too!

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For all my fellow moms of daughters out there…

If you are parenting a daughter and you’re not a feminist… you need to be. Especially if you want your daughter to have control over her own body, and to not be paid 70 grand for a job a man gets paid 100 grand for.

My Christmas wishes for the coming year…

For Trump not to be re-elected (though I have little hope on this one as Santa is a fat old white man who enslaves diminutive indigenous people)

For the ERA to be ratified.

Women, you know, *hold up half the sky.

 

(*Perhaps the one concept Mao got right in his long disastrous life!)

GOAL-SETTING

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So, if you read my blog, you know that I put Devil’s Party Press on hiatus.

I put it on hiatus to take some time to improve it.

And, I put it on hiatus to take some time to work on my own writing.

And, I put it on hiatus so that I could become a better entrepreneur and leader.

And so, to that end, I have decided to try to work on things, in part, through journalling.

And you can see the journal I went with, above (It is my dream to have a subscription to Breath one day; all of their publications appeal to me. AND I want the FLOW book of paper, which is so expensive…. greedy goals, greedy goals).

So, has anyone out there journaled (on goals or not) in any reliable way?

If so, please share your tips and tricks with me.

MICRO-FICTION CHALLENGE WINNER

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Is not me.

LOL.

I am out. Lost in round two.

Now that it is over, I will share my two stories.

This story, SIEG, won first place in Round 1:

It had to be suspense, involve taking a photo, and have the word victory in it (sieg in German):

Sieg

Ilse Weber worked on the Graflex for months, perfecting the shutter and the intricate mechanism that would launch the curare-dipped dart hidden within, breaking the cellophane covering she’d fixed in place to hide the missing glass. It would work perfectly. It had to.

Ilse had conceived the plan almost immediately upon being hired by Signal magazine. Eva Braun had seen Ilse’s photographs of Marlene Dietrich, taken before Dietrich abandoned Germany for good, and had insisted that what Signal needed was society photos. She wished Miss Weber to photograph her and “Wolfie” beautifully attired and socializing with the other Nazi elite. Ilse’s initial revulsion turned to eager acceptance when she realized this opportunity would bring her close, so very close.

Wolfie disliked the impromptu nature of society photos; he agreed only to a single photograph, with Eva, as a trial run.

And now, the day had come. Ilse stood behind the Graflex, beneath the black drape. Eva posed upon the sofa, and there was only the man himself, who needed to take his position behind Eva, his hand on her shoulder while she gazed up at him.

He finished preening his mustache, took his place. Ilse was not to speak to him. Just take the photo. 

Ilse fixed him in the frame. Arm raised, she held the bulb. Just squeeze, she told herself, just squeeze. “Victory,” she whispered.

“Sieg für dur Führer!” the hiss, quiet, close to her ear. A hand closed around her wrist, twisting it sharply, expertly.

The second entry did not make it into the top 10.

It had to be horror, have a ghost and a smoke detector that was going off.

Porch Guest

The ghost started visiting Coralee after her son, Boone, was jailed for rape and awaiting trial. His daddy, Macon, went out nightly, trying to figure out how to save Boone. Coralee sat on her porch, alone, sipping a coke-cola, til the night the ghost walked out of the cornfield, onto the porch, sat in the other rocker like she’d always been there.

The ghost was comforting; sat quietly as Coralee talked.

“He’s so handsome. A girl said something about Macon when we was dating, but her family knew better, and she just went away. This girl should too, stop bothering my dear son.”

The ghost smiled, said nothing.

One night Macon returned home early and saw Coralee on the porch with a girl he thought he’d never see again. He dragged Coralee inside and threw her down, and when she hit the past came back to her, the rumors about “Pretty girl gone missing,” and Coralee knew her porch guest finally, saw how Macon had choked her, built the porch right over top of her. Now he was gonna put Boone’s girl there-

The smoke detector wailed. Macon’s head jerked around as the ghost came through the door a newspaper in her hand with her own face on the front page, blazing with fire. Macon screamed, grabbed his gun and shot until he was sure the ghost was dead, but it was Coralee who was dead, and the smoke detector shrieked as the blazing house took Macon to hell.

The second story was inspired by a local “boy” who was convicted of rape, and his mother had told the court that her son was so handsome it was not his fault that girls kept throwing themselves at him. I think, ultimately, I wanted to tell that story of freaking male privilege more than I wanted to write a good 250 word story.

Well you win some and lose some, literally. And life… goes on. 🙂

It’s not at all easy on the ego being a writer, not at all, but, you cannot take it personally, and you can’t quit.

SOMETIMES IT’S OKAY NOT TO KEEP GOING

IMG_5028Let me tell you what you see in this photo above, here, in my first post of 2020.

You see Sophie’s breakfast (white toast, 1/2 banana, and cherry juice).

You see my breakfast (Dave’s Killer Bread, 1/2 banana, and coffee).

And you see a (leave me alone for five minutes) treat for Oliver (who is always all like “feed me! feed me again! fart. snarfle. pee. poop. pee again. poop. rub me. snarfle. can we walk yet? snarfle. I will get you, Cats! fart. snarfle,” in the mornings). Suffice it to say that, while Oliver doesn’t mind me owning books (see David Sedaris, above) he would really rather I not read them (much like Sophie, actually) when I could be interacting with him.

So, alright, not in general getting a lot of recreational reading done.

However, the lovely and appealing tableau above is because:

  1. Dave is in Los Angeles (working hard, making bank)
  2. I had no baby-sitting for 6-8:15am this morning (6am being when I usually leave for school and 8:15 being when Sophie needs to leave for school)
  3. I had to remove Sophie from school @ 1pm today to go to the dentist (which, had babysitting been available, would have meant rushing home from my third class of the day anyway)
  4. I made the decision not to run around like a nut.

And so Sophie and I are both ditching school. After our leisurely breakfasts, mine on my blog, hers on her iPad, gaming, we will work on her school project, go to lunch, go to the dentist, and cook dinner for ourselves and our friend Krissi.

We will not pass go; we will not collect 200 dollars; we will not run around like mad fools to get everything done; we will not do anything prescribed for us besides brush our teeth and go to the dentist.

When Sophie was in preschool, and we were both in Los Angeles, she used to go three days/week. Two of those days I was teaching, and one was to give me a day to grade papers. On the days I was teaching I sometimes spent 2-3 hours getting to a school 40 miles away. Let’s see… if a car on the highway can drive @ 65 mph, should it take 3 hours to go 40 miles? Sophie and I consider ourselves math-girls, but even non-math-folk should be able to figure out that one doesn’t seem right. So, sometimes, since those two days were already fucked, I’d just stay even later at school (or go in earlier) and get my work done, and she and I would ditch our responsibilities the next day.

Being in Los Angeles for ditching was, sorry Delaware, much better than being here.

  • We had a zoo membership, and the zoo always had lovely programs, was just 20 minutes from the house, and the weather was always wonderful.
  • We had a huge Whole Foods 2 miles away, where we could get lunch from the food court and go sit and play Chutes and Ladders.
  • We had the beach.
  • Monterey Park (dumplings! dim sum!).
  • We had a pool in the back yard.
  • We could hang out in the yard in warm weather without being devoured by swarms of things.
  • We had… a lot more options. I mean there’s a reason it’s hella expensive to live there and the commute can take 3 hours. Here there is only even one reasonable diner we can go to that has food we like and passable coffee. But, we can go to the beach when the weather is nice. No, there is no zoo close to here, though we joined the National Zoo. It’s just 2 hours away, and the LA Zoo is much nicer (sorry DC).

It was, to be fair, much harder to make friends in LA. We sucked at it. People were always crashing and burning and going back to Chicago.

Or people were so filthy rich they just were (whether they considered themselves to be liberals or not) a bit classist (like, Yeah the LA ZOO is right here, but it’s filled with so many brown people. Let’s go to the Santa Barbara Zoo, 2 hours away, to avoid them). Too classist for us, sometimes. Dave and I have very blue collar roots, and, like many blue collar folks,  we’re broke now, still! LOL. AND, I believe, in spite of what Trump tells us, that TRUE blue collar folks have always been okay with diversity. It’s where we “live,” all in the same boat.

Of course, here, I am often passed on the road by aggressive white men in pick-up trucks with very Trump bumper stickers, or sometimes drive past little “corner” stores with confederate flags hung out front. So there’s that.

And so, today, when the options were find other people to inconvenience with a very early morning running Sophie around so that I could run to my classes and then back to Sophie and then to the dentist and then…

I just said, to myself, you know, it’s okay not to keep going.

And it’s the second time I have said that in 2020. The first was when I put Devil’s Party Press on hiatus.

Yes, the press could have stayed on schedule to publish 6 books this year, and yes, we publish well-written beautiful books. But, we’re running like mad dogs to do it, and we’re not feeling good about the process and the ROI, and, most importantly, the joy.

Sometimes, to get to where you want to go, you need to pull-over into a rest stop and re-plot your route.

So, today, here’s to all of you out there who pride yourselves on moving forward, efficiently, reliably, responsibly, and at all costs. May you all decide to take a day to not show up

for anyone but yourself.

 

IT’S GIVING TUESDAY… KEEP YOUR MONEY. WE WANT YOUR WORDS.

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Here at DPP, we don’t want your money on giving Tuesday.

We want what all writers want… to be read.

How do you let a writer know you read his or her book?

You write a review.

I’ll never forget… soon after MOSQUITOES AND MEN went on sale author Mark Polo said to me, “Someone read it! Someone in Texas read it, and she wrote a review!” He was thrilled. If Amazon allowed him to have her email or address, he would have written her a thank you note. If she was local, they’d be best friends by now.

It’s not the purchase; no one is getting rich off of their books if they’re not at the level of Stephen King, but, also, let’s be frank, Stephen King doesn’t care if YOU read his book or not.

We do care.

We need you to help out our writers by letting them know that, yes, they should write; their words matter to you; you are reading.

So, this Giving Tuesday, while everyone wants you to empty your wallet, we are asking only that you take a moment to leave a review, on Amazon or Goodreads, to let our writers know that, somewhere out there in the big wide world, maybe in Texas, someone is reading.

Thanks so much for your support for the continued artistic lives and creations of older authors.

OH I’M NOT BRAGGING ON MYSELF BABY, BUT THERE’S NO IFS OR BUTS OR MAYBES…

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36 – Suspense and/or Thriller / Taking a photograph / victory #1 – ”Sieg” by Dianne Pearce

So, whaa at….?

I advanced to the next round? And I came in first in my category?

Could it be that the women who writes the world’s longest poems has a knack for really short short-stories?

Well, who knows.

All I know is… this one worked.

Yay!

I so-badly needed this this week.

Now it’s time for some Lou Rawls….