Archive for June, 2007
It’s becoming more difficult to find people who’s word is their bond, one of the hazards of a more affluent society. I, however, believe the cliche that what goes around, comes around and I have nothing. So if I tell you I’ll do something, you can rely on the fact that it will get done (but probably not quickly).
You might remember the children’s book I spent four months and two weeks writing for Dr. Evil and his treachery once it was completed. We had a hand shake contract, and I continued to believe that was good enough because he called me three times a day while it was being written, we met once a week to discuss marketing. He spammed my e-mail box with letters of how much he loved each chapter, the places we would go, the things we would do. Not just me…the illustrator, the music director and the web designer were equally treated and convinced this was a man of his word. Once the book was finished and he fell off the face of the earth, we had few options for getting compensated for our work at this point. No actual legal options. We could bill him, but he wouldn’t pay. So we’d have to sue him, but we’d probably lose (according to our attorney) because we didn’t have a written contract. What we did have was every page of his original material and the rewrite, every e-mail, every note scribbled on a napkin, or scratched onto the back of a receipt. We had plenty of evidence of the work we’d done in his behalf.
With no legal options, the three of us decided to let the universe sort out the mess, with one small interference. Because of the man’s incessant yakking about who he knew and who he wanted to help him, I had an idea which agent he was goning to pitch this book to. So I sent them a professional letter, for their own protection, saying nothing more than I suspected he’d given them work that was not his. I clued them in on the secret to determing whether they had his raw material or our book by looking for a plot. If it had one, it wasn’t his. I knew I’d found the right agent when I received a certified letter from Dr. Evil’s attorney telling me to never talk to or try to contact Dr. Evil again. I was satisfied with that.
We’ve gone on to work on new projects…after all, I will always be a writer, she will always be an artist and the Good Doctor, who IS a man of his word, will always be a successful doctor and musician. The web designer didn’t like the project anyway. Evil or not, the guy has kids. I have no need to wish him ill will, I just didn’t want him to profit off our work.
But the universe had different ideas for Dr. Evil. To date, he’s lost his position at the hospital (1/2 his income), his office space and is advertising for patients. Around here, the only doctors that advertise are the ones that are failing.
There’s a cautionary tale in all this. You might think it’s “get a contract” before you start working with someone. If you’re like me, it’s more “make your word your bond”. Whatever protection is offered from our legal system is nothing compared to the power of the universe.
Yesterday was one of those kinds of days when, at first glance, you suspect you should have just stayed in bed. It started with a long tedious meeting during which I notice this bump on my thumb. Little thing, flesh colored, smaller than the head of a pin. I’m bored, the committee I’m recording minutes for is repeating the same argument for the third time so there isn’t anything new to write down. I’ve doodled away the margins of my notepad, and they still haven’t changed topic. So now, this bump on my thumb is intriguing me…what could it be? A bug bite maybe? I pick at it. I pick at it some more and then all of a sudden it starts bleeding. Blood is gushing from this tiny little bump on my thumb. Its getting on my papers, its running down my hand. Ugh. It gets worse.
I leave the meeting and my car won’t start. I just put a new battery in the old girl, but I freak out anyway. Within minutes, three auxiliary cops, a councilman and a guy driving by that sees my hood up are all gathered around my engine attempting to get jumper cables attached between a van and my car. It still won’t start. The on-duty cop wanders over and leans in the window. He asks if my lights are off, did I turn off the radio…blah, blah, blah. Then he looks down. “Put it in park, Kat.”
Okay, a day full of dorky behavior, but then I get home and waiting for me is a beautiful treasure box filled with goodies from Dr. John and Betty. Very cool stuff…an eagle lamp to light my way, angels to watch over my dorky self and an orange thing with a bicycle on it….wait, on further inspection (and reading the back) it’s a safety bike reflector! Thank you Dr. John and Betty! This could seriously have turned into one of those whiney, somebody push me off the balcony, kind of days but nobody can be sad when there’s presents waiting! If you’ve never visited Dr. John, surf on over there! His blog has everything, the continuing saga of Pidgeon Falls, Finnish lessons, a daily link to an interesting site and some quite good words of advice.
Yesterday was one of those hectic days filled with errands, kids, friends and generally running about or talking until my throat hurt. Inbetween housework, an editing customer and grocery shopping in the morning, then the movies, dinner with my son and a birthday party for one of the grandgirls in the evening – I noticed a trio of little girls huddled in the sunshine next to the building across the parking lot. On closer inspection, I saw they were taking turns reading from the book A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Bad Beginning. Watching them read, giggle, gasp and pass that book around made me miss the opening credits of Room 1408, but it was worth it.
Its been a long time since I saw children sprawled under a tree in the summer, just reading a book. Despite our house filled with reading material, and having a writer for a mother, getting my own kids to read for pleasure was a hopeless endeavor. While I’m an outspoken supporter of modern technology in all its forms, there is such magic in the lowly book. I work with a handfull of aspiring young writers, none of which read for pleasure. It shows in their writing, but it will take someone more convincing than me to prove that to them.
One of my more ethereal, angel loving friends told me about Ecanus, the guardian angel of writers and writing, back when I was a young mother. The theory of an angel assigned to guarding the written word stuck with me. I had been fussing over the inattention the chidren, teenagers and young adults I knew were paying to books, when The Shameless Lion Writing Circle came up. It struck me that the power of a lion was exactly what dear Ecanus needed to complete his mission.
I hope we’re seeing a change in the reading habits of our nation. Blogging, e-mail, instant messaging, flash fiction…these things open doors that can be opened no other way. But there’s also time to take a book from the shelf, curl up on a lawn chair and escape to places and times available no other way but through the pages of a book.
What’s the last good book you read?
Seamus has tagged me for a “getting to know who we are” exercise. Tough for you guys that hang out with me on a regular basis, but I think I found 8 things you don’t know:
The rules are:
1. Post the rules.
2. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
3. People who are tagged need to write their own post about their eight things and display these rules.
4. At the end of your post, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
5. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.
Okay, don’t hold any of this stuff against me:
1. 5 is my magic number. I’m the youngest of 5, married to the oldest of 5, we have 5 kids and 5 grandkids. Remember when we had that little lottery win? $5,000, there was 5 in the winning number and it took me 5 days to spend it.
2. Murphy’s Law Picked My Husband. Pap and I are 18 months apart. His father was stationed in California the year he was born which is why he was delivered at the same hospital I was. In December of 1958 Pap’s family finally got orders to move back to Ohio. His mother went to the hospital to retrieve their medical records and stopped by the nursery on their way out. She held up her little blonde toddler and said “Take a last look son, you are never going to have to see any of these spoiled, bratty California girls again.” Guess who would have been one of the baby girls in that nursery?
3. I am knocking on wood before I tell you that I’m unbreakable. I’ve never had a childhood disease (measles, mumps, chicken pox – nope), the flu or lost a body part internal or external. M.Knight will be pleased to know that truth really is stranger than fiction.
4. I sleep five hours a night, six if I’m lucky. I’ve never slept more than five or six hours at a time according to my baby book.
5. I’m hideously forgetful. From important dates, to locking doors, turning off the oven or meeting any kind of deadline…if I don’t write it down I will forget it. I’m a creature who operates almost solely by lists. I have lists of my lists. They can’t just be written on any old scrap of paper, the lists must be on the same size paper with a place for me to write in the date I finished whatever task is on the list.
6. I have the worse eating habits in the known world. I won’t eat anything squishy or slimy at all. I keep the Pepsi company in business single handedly. The only green things I eat are lettuce and green beans. And yet…see #3 above.
7. I have an addictive personality. If I had ever smoked a joint, snorted a line or drank a beer three days in a row, I’d still be doing it and be unable to quit.
8. I’m passive-aggressive with a strong desire to be openly rebellious. Which is why I’m breaking that tag eight other people rule. But if you just want to write eight things about you, I’ll come over and praise your uniqueness profusely.
I used part of today to start sorting out the fifteen years of clutter I’ve accumulated at my day job. I started here as the secretary to a very unpopular Mayor. I was new to town and that’s exactly why he hired me. He was run out of office before his term ended and the most popular man in town, Doug, took his place.
Custom dictates that the personal secretary to an elected official leave when he does, so I did. I didn’t find it necessary to formally resign, it was just “the done” thing. Four days after he took office Doug showed up at my house. I opened the door and he said “You coming to work today?” I answered “Do you want me to?” to which he said “I’ve got typing”. Then he turned on his heel, climbed back into the police car that had delivered him to my house and drove away. One year after that he asked me to run for the fiscal officers position. He campaigned more for me than he did for himself, the party after we won was insane. We had a crazy fun ten year run bringing this small town into the 21st century. He died of cancer and a variety of other bodily failures two years ago and the light went out of this job. I miss his goofy, energetic, idea a minute self every single day. Into the box went the cup he brought me from Germany, the cross made of salt he brought from a mine he’d visited, and a picture of him dressed as Yoda for the first town wide Halloween party the two of us held at the park in 1997.
The red ribbon adorned with gold letters spelling out Unit of the Year goes into the box along with a random blue card and an outdated copy of the boy scout merit badge book Personal Management. Souveniers of my time as an advisor for eagle scout wanna be’s and police explorers. A picture of a giant ship being towed by a tiny tug boat named Tiny Miss Kathy – gift from one of those boys I helped to Eagle Scout.
The desk is filled to overflowing. Lists, cards, notes, pay stubs…a poem written by a man named Stan LeMaster. A fine southern gentleman who helped me start the tree commission in town, and gave me seedlings from trees he’d collected from all over the world. An old financial statement from the Arts Council…funny, we had only $26 that first year.
Fifteen years is a long time and there’s been too much change lately to finish the job. As happy as I am about the fact that have less than 200 days left on this job, its hard to leave this place I’ve put such personal stamp on.
If its Monday, I’ll be the one with the nervous ticks and glazed eyes. For the last 12 years, Monday is Meeting Night. Council meetings, my job is to take notes…when I’m not doodling in the margins. As soon as I’m done with this job I’m not even going to balance my own checkbook. That’s another good reason to reconcile with Pap, I can make him balance the checkbook.
I feel a need to have a talk with the Pixar writers. Princess and I went to see Shrek The Third a few weeks ago and I couldn’t help noticing that Shrek and Fiona’s offspring are ogres. “Well of course they are!” You may be saying, but wait! Genetically speaking, Fiona is half human and half frog, turned ogre by magic. Technically those kids should look half ogre, one fourth human and one fourth frog. They need to get it right.
Its summer so of course every youth group in town is having a car wash. Why is it that these groups only send their bikini clad girls out to the street with the placards? Where are the muscle bound young men with placards to lure in the women? We ladies have dirty cars and cash…come on.
Now that I’ve completely mutilated my reputation as a serious writer and rational woman, I’ll go to my meeting. Pay no attention to the new look here in my neighborhood – it probably won’t last any longer than the last one. As soon as I leave this job I’m going to learn HTML or CSS or whatever it is that lets me design these things myself.
Remember my neighbors? Dear Amber and Shutthefuckup have parted ways. I know this because I was awakened one morning at 3:00 a.m to some country song that has this line: I can get her back, if only in my dreams. Poor old STFU played it over and over and over. By 4:30 I was praying he was a drinker and would soon pass out. He has recovered from his heart break with the help of his many and sundry friends. Its actually quiet over there now if you don’t count the clanking of beer bottles.
The guy on the first floor would scare you to death if you met him in a dark alley. Tattooed, pierced, mohawked and wearing leather in the heart of summer…he looks like a fella thats seen a bit more than normal of the dark side. But I know him from the balcony. He’s snuck into the high grass of the field behind our building and cleared himself some land for a little garden. Tomatos, marigolds, carrots and radishes. He waters and weeds in his boxers just after dawn. If I yell good morning down to him, he yells back “You’re gonna eat good in just a couple more weeks Miss Kat”. His friends call him Moe, but I know his optimistic mother actually named him Myron Robin.
I love that the world is filled with characters.