Muscle Memory

•October 27, 2020 • Leave a Comment

So, the good news is: I’m back to work. It’s not a “new” job, per se, since it is back with my old payroll company where I am helping out temporarily while I search for the next full production gig. It’s not exciting work, but it’s better than unemployment.

Today, I finally got my remote access set up to be able to cut checks again. I haven’t touched this payroll system in over a year, but here I am being plunged in head first! I’m discovering (luckily) how much of the process has been committed to muscle memory: which is good, because my brain memory has been TERRIBLE. All the commands that I knew by touch are still stored deep in my mental databanks. All the commands that require me to remember, say, a password or batch name, are GONE.

It’s really interesting to see the process at work. I’ve been able to do 90% of the cutting so far without getting *too* stumped, but luckily there haven’t been any major hiccups to throw me off. Yet.

The day is still young.

The Green Room

•October 20, 2020 • Leave a Comment

At the Christmas white elephant gift exchange I won a guitar case shaped lunch box and, for reasons that remain unclear, became preoccupied with the idea of turning it into a diorama. In January, I took a field trip to a miniatures store where I picked up the chair, the guitar, the rug, and some of the parquet flooring.

Then the project sat untouched for months.

When I finally got back to work I built out the walls- this was furthers delayed while I tried to sort out lighting- I was very convinced that lighting would be a key element in “selling” the world, but I didn’t have the foggiest idea how to go about it. But once I figured out the wiring and the battery packs and so on I could install the walls and begin to decorate them.

So. Many. Stickers.

So. Much. Distressing.

My idea was that I was creating a little green room for a musician. The venue had once been a glorious 1920’s deco theatre but had since been keelhauled along the bottom side of rock n roll history in dozens of chaotic layers. A place both cozy and homey and also a place that had been completely rockstar-ed many times over.

Anyway, I’m delights with how it turned out and now it’s installed in my liquor cabinet, which feels appropriate.

Booklist

•October 16, 2020 • Leave a Comment
Points for variety…

Back in March, at the start of quarantine, the LA Library elected to do away with late fees. This decision seemed to be as much for practical purposes as it was a gesture of noblesse: for several months, no one could return books, so it would have been rather shabby to charge fees for it. An email went out assuring library patrons that if you had books already checked out you could keep them fee-free until the libraries were operating again.

At the time, I’d felt very lucky: I’d checked out a stack of huge books- only four or five in total, but each two to three inches thick- but I’d been too busy to read them. Suddenly, I had plenty of time- both in which to read and in which to have read the books staring back at me from my To Be Read pile. I took my time, and enjoyed them guilt free.

Then I finished them. And suddenly I could see the table-top where my To Be Read pile once sat. The library announced that they would be opening a few select branches for a Library-to-Go program: if you had had a book on hold before the pandemic began, you could arrange an Appointment to pick it up in a discreet paper bag with the most minimal amount of human contact possible.

I did have a book on hold left over from March. Going to the library to pick it up felt like an Outing. Coming back home with a new book to read was a positively giddy feeling. I immediately went online and began adding books to my Holds list: recommendations from my book club at work, recommendations to become more anti-racist, books I saw featured online or heard about from friends, books recommended by my therapist.

So many books.

Many of the books had long wait times- several had waiting lists in the teens of people lined up for them before me. I figured I might as well put everything I was interested on the holds list and just take them as they came. Which worked out great- until they really started to come.

“How many books are you picking up?” The Curmudgeonly Lion would ask.

“Two.” I’d say.

“And how many are you returning?”

“One.”

“That’s a net of +one!” He would howl in mock dismay, knowing, as he did, that there was a growing stack of books TBR on the bookshelf at home already.

“I’m TRYING!” I would protest in similarly dry tones.

My last trip to the library was the first week where I returned exactly as many books as I picked up. Today will be my first time returning MORE books than I pick up. Partly because one of them is overdue. Nothing like a deadline.

SelfPub

•October 15, 2020 • 9 Comments
A site-specific instillation A Sudden Gust of Wind by Serkan Ozkaya.
21c Museum Hotel, Bentonville. РPhoto by Samantha Baker

So, I’ve started researching self-publishing. I completed the manuscript for my first novel a year or so ago and began querying it to agents and publishers right away, knowing that it could take a while for anyone to even look at it, much less get back to me. I racked up a few rejections- not a ton, but enough to feel like I’d given it a college try.

I was (and in truth, still am) hopeful that my work might catch the eye of someone with more experience and know-how in the world of publishing who could guide me through the process. I didn’t know what the steps were to get my story from words on a computer screen to pages in a printed book: editing, formatting, cover design, marketing- the words all drifted in the ether in a kind of nebulous web of Things-That-Needed-Doing that I had no idea how to do. Yet.

After a while, I came around to the notion of self-publishing. A plan formed in the back of my head to release the book online in a regular series of free chapters. Even after an extensive re-write, the story is quite long, and very episodic. It might do nicely as a weekly or bi-weekly release. And I could maybe offer a Kindle version for the lowest possible cost for anyone who wanted to read the whole thing at once…

I let the idea sit for a week or two to see if it would go away. It didn’t.

So, now I’m researching self publishing. I’ve begun by seeking out some podcast- the first few have all been about the State of the Industry and casually throw around terms like “KU” and “ad revenue” and “perma free” and so on that I’m still trying to learn, but so far the more I hear the more I like my options.

It might be time to start writing out a Plan.

Aldi Effect

•October 14, 2020 • Leave a Comment

Have you ever been to an Aldi? If you have, then you probably understand what I mean when I say “the Aldi effect”.

Aldi is a grocery store. It’s German owned- a relative to the Trader Joes brand but with a slightly more down-to-earth aesthetic. It has no faintly Caribbean theme. It just looks like a normal grocery store. It sells the basics. Nearly everything is store brand. The prices are reasonable and the variety changes over just regularly enough for there to always be something new.

The place is a menace.

I say that with all due affection: I love Aldi. We waited with GREAT anticipation for one to open up in our area. We count an “Aldi Run” as an outing these days. But it’s still a menace. It’s nearly impossible to get out of the store without impulse buying two or three (or four, or five) things you didn’t come in for but OMGhadtohave!

It was supposed to be a quick trip: all I needed was eggs and cheese.

And a red onion.

Okay, and some cabbage.

And the mushrooms always are good, so…

Oh, hey, and keto friendly wraps for taco night.

And that cauliflower crust pizza that tastes so good.

And some salmon, you know, since I’m there.

And keto ice cream.

And some greeting cards.

And…

And…

And…

Suffice to say, my shopping trip was not quite as streamlined as I might’ve hoped: that’s the Aldi effect.

 
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