Standing Outside A Broken Phone Booth With Money In My Hand (by Primitive Radio Gods).
To begin with, the title. WHAT THE HELL!?!? That title is amazing. I love it.
But, in truth, the song itself is what get’s me, because I only learned the title when I went to write this post.
The song, quietly, insistently, pushes itself into your pocket, and every time you pull out your subway pass, or the crumpled cash for that pack of smokes you smoked back then, the song comes tumbling out.
In some ways this is an 80s song, though I think it came out in the 90s. It has a Pet Shop Boys feel, but I think it surpasses anything they ever did, including West End Girls. And the 80s were mostly high school years for me, so the 90s, college, fledgling adulthood, kind of went by in a blur.
And the 90s bands I was into:
Nirvana, Rage Against the Machine, Sound Garden, Tori Amos, Jane’s Addiction, Pearl Jam… that was a lot of angst right there. And what about Live, and their album Throwing Copper? You remember “Pain Lies on the Riverside?” Damn 90s!
So yeah, and then this song.
I don’t think I ever knew who sang it or its title until today, but every time I accidentally heard it then, and still to this day, I’m like, Just don’t stop. Keep it going. Loop it. Throw the other records away man.
There’s quite a bit of story to this book, which began life as part of a sermon by the Reverend Charles S. Wing, and then had a few iterations before being claimed, so to speak, by publisher Arnold Munk, who published under the pen name Watty Piper. But the story still remains the same, and so does the message: that someone small can sometimes do a large and necessary job if he/she has enough effort and grit.
We love these children’s stories of determination, I think, because we want our children to be resilient. I know I have taken a lot of comfort, in my life, from The Little Red Hen, who did what she wanted to do, even if it meant she had to go-it-alone, and, in true children’s picture book fashion, it all worked out for her in the end.
Sometimes I feel like the little engine, like the tasks I choose to take on are too big for me, and I wonder if I have enough grit and effort to do them.
It’s an interesting thing, running a creative business with your one-and-only, especially when both of you are creative and have visions.
Dave creates every single cover we make.
But, about half the time, I have envisioned the cover, maybe found something on the web as an example of what I would like to see as the cover, and, occasionally, even designed a sloppy hot-mess version of a cover that Dave has to magic into the wonderful covers he does.
This is not without occasional… tension. And then, add in an author, in the case of our single-author books, and you have a third party who wants to be heard from. And we do our best to make those authors happy with their covers, while still keeping the cover in the style we want for our books. because we have made the commitment that all our books, from any of our imprints, will have a similar look, so that when you see a book from us, you know it.
Some books that some people produce, IMHO, don’t look so good. We want all our books to be books you will be proud to display, and that we will be proud to have you display.
So, it is something to think about, as we all (including Dave and I) willy-nilly try to get people to publish us. Do we ever look at the other stuff they are publishing? Do we look at the wrapping that will surround our words if we go with them? I think, so often, we just feel so lucky to get chosen, we don’t think past that. “I was chosen!” so any cover is okay. But, we should consider what things look like, and if that will please us.
I consider myself a bit off-beat; Dave is definitely off-beat. Trying to be a publishing company as a second-half of life career is absolutely not a move a wise or stable person would make, and our covers reflect that (forgive me for this word) vibe.
So, nights like tonight, the three of us are around our large kitchen table. Sophie is sketching, using her iPad, making something called aqua beads, and eating noodles. I am doing DPP secretarial work, blogging, and eating cold tomato soup (it was hot at one point), and Dave is drawing. He got up at one point to snag a half an avocado and some salsa and lost his seat to the dog, and, in true Dave fashion, got himself a different chair. Dave is a very nice person, and we have worked hard, learning to co-manage this company.
My very first job that I ever had was taking care of ladies with disabilities who lived in an institution. My ladies never were dirty, or hungry, or lonely, or bored. In fact I’d probably still be doing it now had it paid even remotely well. I loved that job so much, and I don’t know if that job turned me into a helper, or if I was a helper and so that job was a good fit. Either-or, I am a helper by nature, and I think that may be why, in my fifties, I am dragging my family through this publishing adventure. I think it is unfair that good writing does not have a chance to see the light of day, and I want to help with that, and so, on a night like tonight, we are all around the table, working, in our own ways, on being together while publishing books.
I’m guessing it is some sort of comparison algorithm at work here. I have never read DFW, and only read short stories by JJ. I cannot imagine I am much like either of them with my writing, but I do love to spin out a long sentence, which enrages my fellow poets, who have argued this makes me a non-poet, but I’m going to say I don’t agree with them, though it may be why I have yet to win a poetry grant. I think no one gets it. But, when no one gets it, does that mean people are incapable of grasping it, or that I just suck? I admit to being open to both possibilities, though I try to encourage myself that the former is true. If I didn’t, I’d probably stop pecking away.
BTW, as I peck away, it occurs to me, having grown up typing (without learning how to type) on a typewriter, that one of the kindest things I have done for my own writing is to purchase a separate keyboard that is bluetoothed to my laptop, and looks and feels more like a typewriter, and makes it a lot easier for me to type quickly. I typically, in case you happened to be curious, use two hands but only three fingers to type, and I don’t look at the keyboard most of the time, so a typewriter-like keyboard has made it a lot easier.
And, if I ever write or say I don’t look at the keyboard, I find, for at least a few sentences afterwards, I type nothing but gibberish unless I look at the keyboard. Which means I am the suggestive type. 😉
In any case, I found the thing fun, though I was hoping to be compared to Tom Robbins, and no one else.
ME in two photos: 6/29/19 (kitty-cat dress) and 6/29/21 (getting ready to tutor on Zoom). That was a great dress (kitty-cat), but I donated it last month because it was falling off of me. Running, biking, eating better (no diet, just healthier choices and cutting-down on snacking), and having the time to do so (dare I say “Thank you stay-at-home orders?”), plus check-ins with a great family doctor, have made a huge and visible difference. The truth is our lives often don’t give us time to even contemplate self-care, let alone do it. For only the second time in my entire life post age 30… I am no longer plus-sized. I also love my hair at this moment. I always felt the need to avoid the haircut I like the most, the pixie, to hide my fat-face. I don’t think I have a pixie-sized face quite yet, but I went for the haircut anyway, and I am so much happier.
And… lipstick. Make-up, for me, was either an “Ivory soap says truly pretty girls are natural” sort of avoidance (Fuck Ivory, BTW, most drying soap there is and a whole childhood of false feminine ideals), or make-up was a, “Who has the time or money for such a luxury?” I look better with lipstick (in the only opinion that counts, mine), and I deserve it. I don’t join Zoom without it, and I now reapply throughout the day! Woo-hoo! Growing up is liberating!
I am, of course, worried about what the return to driving to work will bring in the fall. But, I will have to be a dedicated enough lover of myself that I will not hit the drive-through (except for coffee, coffee=life) because I have packed something reasonable to eat if I get hungry (so give myself the time to prep), and I will have to be a dedicated enough lover of myself that I will still hit the pavement 5-6 days/week.
Weight loss, getting in shape, eating better, taking care of oneself in any way, is a very slow process, and I have finally allowed that I have to accept slow, and go slow. I hope to shrink down to my lowest size ever (an 8) one day, but I don’t expect to get there before Xmas 2021. Maybe June 2022. Be the turtle, not the hare.
I am not, btw, trying to body-shame anyone. If you are plus-sized, or any size, and you are happy as you are, I love it. Women can be so toxic to each other. My changing me does not mean you have to change you, and it certainly doesn’t mean you have to worry about what I think. As for trying to get the world to accept and love people of all sizes, well, I don’t think that will happen soon, sadly. Just like people hate people of different ethnicities, and religions, and sexualities, and etc., people hate people who don’t conform, to their ideas, whatever their personal fucked-up ideas are. I am not about that. It’s none of my damn business how you look or choose to be. And, conversely, it is no one’s business that I was not happy as I was, nor did I feel healthy as I was, and, as an old mom to a young daughter, I feel I have to treat my body better so it lasts, because I have not had nearly enough years to hug and embarrass my daughter yet. And when I left my kite-cat dress at the Salvation Army thrift store, I truly hoped another unusual woman would find it, and feel beautiful in it.
If you were going to try to reframe your body, as I am trying to do, my suggestion would be to begin by reframing your thoughts.
Don’t diet (subtract from yourself, restrict, or punish you). Add resilience to yourself (any exercise, more vegetables, sunscreen). Listen to your body about your body (not your lazy brain). Today, as an example of this, Dave made me three amazing blueberry pancakes with blueberries I’d picked, and the pancakes were, of course, covered in granulated sugar (oh yeah, the good stuff) to make them crunchy and really hit that hot fruit, and after 1.5 of those pancakes my stomach felt kinda full, so I moved my plate away from in front of me, and sipped on my coffee. Though it felt like a sort of a waste not to eat the rest of those amazing pancakes, and my brain said, There’s only 2 more! You’ll hurt Dave’s feelings! You’re wasting those blueberries! But, stop and waste I did. Oliver (my dog) ate them and loved them, and I am worth more than wasted pancakes. The pancakes do not deserve more consideration than I do.
Be calm, and know that you are… great, and capable, and able to get back out there even if you get sick, or tired, or overworked. If you fall a mile off the wagon, you can still get back on.
We just returned from a long weekend in Williamsburg, and, one night, while we were there, after the ghost tour (Sophie loved it. It’s a don’t miss!) we had one chance at a shuttle back to our car, but we had to run for it. Last summer… no way; we’re calling a cab and waiting a half hour. This summer, easily did it. That took me a year, a year to get there. A year of walking out the door and starting to run, or ride my bike, even as my brain was saying, Wait, aren’t we still thinking about this? Can we talk about it? I don’t want toooooo! A year of sweating, and going out ridiculously early so no one would see how unfit I am (and why the hell do I care if anyone sees????) It took a damn year, but I was so privately proud of myself in that moment that is was worth 100% of each time I fought my brain and went out the door.
Be the turtle, not the hare, and some day buy smaller underwear, lol! I’m such an idiot.
Milton, DE – July 1, 2021: Devil’s Party Press of Milton, DE, will release its summer issue of Instant Noodles, an online literary magazine featuring original works by both local and national writers, artists, and poets. The new issue, Hot Fun in the Summertime, features thirty original works around this theme, and will be available beginning July 1.
In curating the magazine, DPP publisher Dianne Pearce sought to capture the essence of the Sly and the Family Stone single, Hot Fun in the Summertime. “Growing up in the ‘70s, going to the beach every year, one of the things I recall most about the summertime was hearing that song, feeling the heat of the summer days, and having a great time,” Pearce noted. “The literary selections for the new issue of Instant Noodles reflect those feelings, and are penned by award-winning writers both local and nationally. The art is something special; it captures that ‘70s feel and helps make the entire magazine the best beach-read you’ll find this year.”