Saturday, May 1, 2010

Mr. Artboy decided not to go to the grocery store himself.

It's a beautiful Saturday (though a bit too warm for my taste) and I'm sitting at my desk doing BIG work and feeling not so pleased about it.

Because I really don't want to do it.

Because I barely pushed myself to do the piece for the magazine that needed to be written.

Because I really don't want to do anything but lay on the couch and watch cooking shows on PBS.

But the thing that I told Leopold I would not be doing today?

I will not be going to the grocery store today.

And why is that?

Because I've made no secret about my new grocery shopping habits and, while I've not been able to remove myself completely from the big supermarket chain thing and fully into little and local, we buy more from the local farmers' market and are still going great guns with our CSA.

And this distrust of mass supermarket chains is a dislike embraced by Leopold. So, when I say Mr. Artboy will not be going to the supermarket today, it's fine and dandy.

Now if we can just expand this concept.

You cover everything I don't feel like doing.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

But I wasn't.

The Photographer threw a birthday party for The Youngest.

Because The Oldest was going to be old enough to figure out that The Youngest was going to be the center of attention I did what any good oldest would do and decided to bring her a gift as well.

Continuing my vow to patronize little and local whenever possible I hit the baby boutique not far from our house.

Yeah. That's right. We're talking a place where the strollers require roughly the same amount of paperwork as a Volkswagen bug.

So, I found exactly what I was looking for, took them to the counter...and that's when it began.

"Hey, did you find everything okay?"

I'll note here that this is a question that always puzzles and slightly irks me. Because, well, if I didn't find everything I was looking for I'd probably ask about it.

And, more to the point, why are you wondering about this now? This store is all of 50-square feet. Maybe you could have asked me, I don't know, 20 minutes ago.

But instead I said: "Yes, I did. Thank you."

"No worries!"

This is said in the most excruciatingly chipper voice possible. But more to the point, I thought, no worries about what? That I troubled you to ask if I found everything I needed to purchase on my own?

But she continued: "Is this a gift?"


"Great! No worries!"

I'm going to pause here again to note that I was buying two small, knit dolls.


Yes. I might have been buying these for myself but even if I was...I don't think that I'd admit to that.

"Are these gifts? No. Not at all. I'm hosting a tea party (1) later and I was two guests short."

And again...why did she think I was worried? Because she had blown the lid of my doll buying/tea party scheme?

Before I walked out the door with my gifts the phrase "no worries" had been used exactly eight times.

Eight times.

Maybe this is one of those things all the cool kids are saying these days...but wow.

I'm so not cool.

And so not worried.

1. Thought I'd use the phrase to see what it does to my blog traffic.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

What's an Artboy to do?

Do what you love.

That's what we're told. That's the advice that I recently tried to pass along to one of the Multitude of Cousins. It might not happen today. It might not happen tomorrow.

It might not happen until you realize you're devoting a little too much time devising means of escaping your office after you've started the fire (1).

But I still believe that one day, when you've finally figured out what that thing is that you really love, you'll find a way to make it part of your life. You might still have a BIG day job...but even that might not be forever (2).

As I try to get myself focused, working to devise a writing project that will get me into some kind of groove, I'm discovering that the things I love may be something of a motley crew.

These things include:

Comic books.
Old school butchers.
Sideshow freaks.
Pretty much anything involving accordions.

I've got some work ahead of me.

Oh...did I mention diy poster design? That's really important.

1. This is a joke. I actually used to spend my time wondering how long it would take to break through the two-layers of shatterproof glass that separated me at my desk from sweet, sweet freedom. What? Oh like you've never done it.
2. Yeah, that's right. The wheels are turning...though the maps I need seem to always be changing.

Move along, nothing to see here...

Bob Edwards is doing a series on the future of publishing and, as is the case with so many discussions, it appears to be a future viewed solely from one of two perspectives.

Perspective number one: Things are changing and that's okay. In the end we will still have our books and independent bookstores as well as these other options and opportunities.

Richard Nash, formerly of Soft Skull publishing raised the really interesting idea of the independent bookstore serving as a kind of matchmaking service between readers and books. It's an image I have to say I really like. I love shopping in stores where the people behind the counter are actual readers who can point you to things you might not have heard about yet.

Perspective number two: Get over it. Buy a Kindle and move along. The future is online and electronic. Chump.

Okay. So maybe I'm a little biased. But here's the discussion I feel that we never hear. It's a line of thinking that I've tossed out to those people who will listen to me, but that's a very small pool. This is shocking because, really, I'm fascinating (1).

Here's the thing. While we like to continue to pretend that technology is democratic and available, it is not. A Kindle is a luxury item. A Nook is a luxury item. For those ready for the shock, a laptop is a luxury. A computer and printer and Internet access in your home is a luxury.

And I'm not talking about people in square states waiting for the good folks at Verizon or Comcast to string lines up through the cornfields so they can post pictures of their trip to Dollywood (2). I'm talking about people in places like my fair city who depend on their neighborhood library to get e-mail and job search and do all the things that many of us are able to take for granted. We have Blackberrys and personal laptops and work computers. They keep their fingers crossed that the local government won't limit hours any more or close up the library they depend upon to participate in this "democratic" online environment.

I include in this population teenagers like some of my students who depend on the local library to print out research and papers. That's another oversight of the great e-book debate. Sure it might attract and allow new readers to be engaged. But we're going to be leaving people behind. Even those young early adopters who are so attractive to the techies.

So, when we have these discussions about the future of books and reading and publishing, let's try to the think about all of the readers out there. Even the ones who complicate the conversation.

And, let's really go nuts, and talk about the poor stepchildren of literature...the library.

1. Yes. A joke.
2. Don't get me road trip to Dollywood I'm totally there.

Do you know where you're going to?

The rule, as it is drilled into us in writing programs and workshops of all sorts and sizes, is that there are two major elements involved in strengthening one's writing.

Read a lot.

Write a lot.

I'm struggling with both though I'm trying to be a bit more deliberate when it comes to my time. For instance, this morning, everything had a start time and a deadline to keep me from wandering away from the work that had to be done. The house needed cleaning. Laundry needed done. Finkelstein needed walking. A piece for the magazine needed writing. A piece for BIG needs attention. A trip to a non-local grocery is needed. The blog needed fed (1).

So far, the plan seems to be working and things are going along pretty smoothly.

But this book...this book right kind of begging for my attention. I'm trying hard to ignore it. To stay on task and, more importantly, to keep my promise to not start a new book till I finish the one I'm currently reading (2). But it's not easy.

Not easy at all.

I mean. C'mon. Look at it.

Look. At. It.

1. Here it bears mention that today is a full tilt work day for Leopold so his time if way over-accounted for until this evening.
2. The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart by French rocker Mathias Malzieu. The Guardian called it a "gothic-punk novella" which is pretty good...though I think I'd have called it a steampunk fairy tale with prostitutes, circus freaks, and kickin' chapter titles like: "In which a couple of vampires go on a supermarket trip, and fleshy ghosts hang around".