Multiple Enthusiasms

Infinite jest. Excellent fancy. Flashes of merriment.

Tag: lulu book review

Last night, I dreamt we fell into the ocean.

Last month, I did an interview over at the Lulu Book Review with its proprietor, awesome author Shannon Yarbrough. In it, Shannon asked me about the dreams I mentioned in my essay about what I saw on September 11th, 2001; for a long while before that day, I’d had dreams of Manhattan falling in some way or other.

Now, I seem to be dreaming of water, and of cities falling into it. The ground beneath my feet has given way at least three times in the past . . . well, I don’t really know how long; it took dreaming about it last night to remember I’d dreamt of it before. And the title of this post is a bit misleading; it’s not inundation like a wave or a tsunami. It’s just giving way.

I don’t know where I am in the dreams. Part of me thinks Los Angeles if only because Los Angeles is the only city I associate with falling into the ocean. There was an amusement park-type setting last night, and maybe a Ferris wheel, which may or may not have been Santa Monica pier . . .

I wonder if it’s because I feel I’ve become unbalanced lately. In many ways. I’ve been teaching and grading and studying so hard I haven’t had nearly as much time to write as I would like. I feel like I’ve gone a bit overboard on politics, here in the blog, in the past couple of weeks, but then again I think that’s because so many of my feelings about the upcoming election are tied to my feelings about September 11th. I know that in many ways (and especially in recent weeks) Obama is just politics as usual (mainly, I think, because he’s playing to undecided voters), and I know many disagree that he is a good candidate, but something about him hits me in the same place watching WTC 7 crumble down hit me. Something about him gives me hope in those places that day deflated.

And yes, I realize that’s more an emotional response than anything, but then again, McCain makes me anxious in the same way those apocalyptic dreams always have.

And again: I didn’t mean to talk about politics here. I meant to talk about dreams and disbalance, because I know we’re all a little exhausted by the whole process by now.

I found out, last week, my grandmother passed away. I don’t know if that has anything to do with these feelings and dreams. She was actually a grandmother-in-law, through marriage (my uncle’s mother), but she was still often present in my childhood, whether as the first house on our annual Halloween trick-or-treating adventures or at my cousins’ birthday parties (three cousins, three parties per year). But I don’t actually remember the last time I saw her; I know it was at the local supermarket, but I’ve returned home less and less these past few years, and Jersey feels farther away than ever. I couldn’t go to her viewing/funeral, but I think what bothers me most about that is that I couldn’t hug my aunt and shake my uncle’s hand. She had a full life 88 years long, children and even grandchildren she watched grow up, and my mother told me it’s a blessing for reasons of recent health, but still, mum mum Kit is no longer around, and I’m a little sad about that. I don’t remember mum mum Kit with hair any other color besides white, pulled so taut back it became an old-fashioned facelift, voice full of old cigarettes and bourbon forgotten years before.

Anyway, I’m going to try to move back from politics. I’m going to also be trying to do some more writing. My real writing, that is, not blogs. That’s not to say I’m taking a break; this doesn’t feel like I’ve felt when I’ve realized I need to walk away from the blog for a while . . . it’s different, somehow. I’d meant to talk about Lulu, but I may be saving that for a couple of weeks just yet, as I’m still trying to figure out the best thing to do with my book.

Hope you’re doing well.

Last week, several of my very favorite blogs helped me get the word out concerning my collection/essay.

Literary agent wunderkind extraordinaire Nathan Bransford noted it, along with several other terrific links (especially the ones to Swivet) in his routine This Week in Publishing roundup.

Dani Torres mentioned essay and collection both in Reading Notes over at A Work in Progress.

I discovered that my former classmate and fellow writer/blogger the illustrious Mister John Fox was actually there, that day, as well, when he mentioned it over at BookFox. Funny, that; John and I both taught in the same writing program and studied with John Rechy, and yet it never once came up between us.

Over at Book Addiction, Heather, who was a high school senior that day (no, I don’t feel old. Why do you ask?) mentioned it.

Besides the interview he ran over at Lulu Book Review, Shannon Yarbrough, author of Stealing Wishes, which is just flying up the charts at Amazon, mentioned it on his personal site.

Chartroose posted the essay in its entirety at the sublimely named “Bloody Hell, It’s a Book Barrage!

Trish, whose birthday is Dec. 7th, another day of infamy (I see you opening Wikipedia in another tab. It’s the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack) wrote about it at “Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin’?” and she’ll be happy I got the punctuation right.

Chandler Craig maintains Fumbling With Fiction and mentioned it in a post concerning book memory. She called me a nice aspiring writer, and she’d know; she’s one, as well, who writes Young Adult fiction and whose novel, Scout, just landed her representation with Daniel Lazar. If she weren’t so damned enthusiastic and didn’t totally deserve it, I’d be batshit envious about it, but I’m not, because it couldn’t have happened to a sweeter gal.

And finally, I’m mentioning this one last because it prompted some thought on my end. World Fantasy Award nominee Will Shetterly mentioned it at It’s All One Thing, (the WFA nom is for The Gospel of the Knife, and meanwhile, in a fun turn of events, his wife Emma Bull is also nominated this year, for Territory) and in the same breath noted some issues with the United way– that it’s not the most efficient charity out there and that it’s famous for paying its executives a whole lot of money.

I chose the United Way because I, personally, go way back with them. My father used to work at a local Mobil refinery and volunteered with the United Way when I was a kid; I remember, some summers, he used to get to use a van for a few weeks, though I realize now, thinking about it, I haven’t a clue why. Also because it was one of the reasons the Boy Scouts of America began to change its policies regarding discrimination based on sexual orientation. For a long time, the BSA denied membership to anyone gay, but some units actively began to defy national tenets in favor of keeping United Way funding.

That means a lot to me. The Boy Scouts was one of the most influential organizations in my life, and I value that every bit as much as I hate their discrimination policies.

Anyway, that was my mindset going in. And this is the mission statement of the United Way NYC:

United Way of New York City creates and supports strategic initiatives that address the root causes of critical human care problems in order to achieve measurable improvement in the lives of the city’s most vulnerable residents and communities. Throughout our work, we partner with neighborhood agencies, government, business, foundations, volunteers and others so that collectively we can achieve more than any one organization working alone. By leading programs that get at the root causes of problems in these five key areas, United Way of New York City creates lasting, systemic change: homelessness prevention, access to healthcare, education, building economic independence, and strengthening New York City nonprofits.

But now that I think of it, really, I realized I should put the question to you. Because it is, after all, your money. Is there somewhere else you’d like to know it went? I’m wondering if donating it to the American Red Cross might not be a better idea, as that would actively help other people affected by very similar tragedies, and Lord knows it seems to come up every year anymore.


And to everyone who mentioned it (I went by WordPress’ incoming links widget, so if I missed yours, let me know, or put it in the comments, please): thanks again.

Over at Lulu Book Review, one of the better POD review sites, Shannon Yarbrough invited me to do an interview about “What I Saw That Day.”

You also mention how your employer’s front desk attendants just waved you by that morning without checking your ID, but never again after that. What else has changed for you on a personal or professional level that sticks out in your mind now?

God, where to start there? I mean, what hasn’t changed, really? On a personal level, I moved back home, stayed for five years while overcoming depression, then drove cross-country to study, and now live in Denver. On a professional level, I taught and trained, then edited, and then went back to school, and then again became a professional writer.

But I think what’s more important is what I see has changed on greater levels. For example, I think we, as a country, are more naïve now than before. That might seem counterintuitive, but before that day, I think we would have laughed at a color-coded emergency-response system. I think we would have been outraged at the idea of illegal wiretapping, and I think we would have, rightly, run our collective leaders right out of office (I mean, heck, we impeached one guy for a blowjob, but not another for misleading our country into war?). I think that day was the first time we, as a nation, realized we could be hurt, that we are, in fact, mortal, and I think it scared the hell out of us, and I think we’re still recovering from it. Now, the people who attacked us are still at large, and we’ve demonstrated our utter inefficacy to fight them on a massive scale.

Many thanks to Shannon for his support and involvement in all this.

As always, you can find the book here, and all proceeds benefit the United Way NYC.