•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?”


“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.


•October 15, 2020 • 10 Comments
A site-specific instillation A Sudden Gust of Wind by Serkan Ozkaya.
21c Museum Hotel, Bentonville. – Photo 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.




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

Hobby Reprise

•October 14, 2020 • Leave a Comment

Ugh, one would think that being unemployed would mean that I have plenty of time to write a post each day, but once again here I am several weeks from my last update.

Hi! How’ve you been?

In spite of my radio silence, I seem to have pulled through my slump that was happening towards the end of September. For a while, it seemed like I was constantly needing to lie down for little cat naps throughout the day just to bolster my energy. Once I finished my gig on the animated production I was working on, I embarked immediately on a ten-day caffeine detox to try to reset my system. That changed my “cat naps” to “NAPS” that sometimes lasted a couple hours and left me a bit drifty for the rest of the day. Now I’m back to my regularly scheduled morning coffee and my productivity has ticked up accordingly.

For the past couple weeks my focus has been on job hunting. The timing worked out nicely so that I was finishing up my employment right at the exact moment that USC was holding their Career Week events online so each day I could sit in on one or more Zoom session to get to know some of the other opportunities available. I’ve had several interviews, but nothing has panned out yet.

In the meantime I’m enjoying having command of my free time to work on various hobbies. Do you know how long it has been since I’ve had hobbies?! Like, actually gone to the craft store to buy stuff “just for fun”? Baking! Reading! Miniatures! Basketmaking! Sewing! Collage! Suddenly I have time to dedicate to these things just because I enjoy them and not having to hoard my precious, precious minutes for the sake of Productivity.

So, I’m doing well and keeping busy. Gotta enjoy myself while I can 🙂

Time Capsule

•October 1, 2020 • 4 Comments
The cat didn’t want me to go alone.

I went to pick up my personal effects from the Paramount lot yesterday. In truth, I was looking forward to the outing even though I knew it would only take me about fifteen minutes to gather everything, return my laptop, and drop off a few thank you notes on other coworkers’ desks.

Walking back into the office was like walking into a time capsule. Time had simply stopped sometime in March and nothing had moved since: the dirty spoon still rested on my desk, waiting to be taken to the kitchen. The lemon I’d picked off the tree was now dried into a hard brown husk. The half-drunk energy shot taunted me on day three of my caffeine detox. I threw it away.

The Edward Gorey calendar pinned to my cubicle wall was still on March. It was still good: the past six months might’ve felt like a decade, but it was still only 2020 and I was pleased to think I could pin it up at home and still get some use out of it, although I felt some regret at all the months I’d missed out on. There were postcards wishing me a Merry Christmas. Postcards congratulating me on the new job- the same job I was now leaving. Postcards wishing me a happy anniversary- mere days away from once again being relative. A certificate of First Flight in a hot air balloon from last October- feeling both like “Just yesterday” and “A million years ago”.

There was a laptop charger I’d completely forgotten I owned. A pair of shoes I’d completely forgotten I owned. A shawl that I remembered I owned, but thought was tucked in a drawer at home somewhere. A parasol that I’ve been missing mightily during the sunny summertime months.

Oh, and a smorgasbord of snacks. Still good. Ish.

So it was quite the journey down memory lane. Now on to bigger and better things!

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