Tuesday, December 22, 2015

If no one hates your work, no one will love it. -forget who said this

Haunted graveyard hill run at the ghost town of Nortonville
I do weird shit sometimes. As a woman of extremes, I'm either totally unhealthy or at optimum fitness. I've been mentally healthier since starting graduate school, and keeping busy in between semesters.

After consulting the Google Oracle for fifteen minutes and not being able to locate the owner of the quote:

-If no one hates it, no one will love it.

I gave the fuck up.

People will hate your writing, and it's something that doesn't get talked about much in Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group. I. Love. This. 

I had my first gallery reading with four other writers. My boyfriend and cousin showed up to the reading for some wine and to show support. 

My boyfriend, coming straight from the office, was the only one attending that looked like a banker.

So in the middle of reading my fictional piece, everyone in my co-hort turned to stare at my boyfriend. Here's what I read:

After sleeping in I go for a run. By the time I get back I can hear the television on in the living room.

"Hey, babe," I call out dropping my keys on the hallway table as I walk through the entryway. The T.V. is on some sports channel. The crowd cheers. Matthew doesn't say anything. Matthew doesn't yell across rooms. Unlike me, Matthew is self controlled, contained, and disciplined.
I walk by the kitchen and into the living room. Matthew is sitting on his couch still in his suit and tie, a cocktail in one hand. His Allen Edmund cap toe shoes and crisscrossed ankles resting on his designer coffee table. Did I put my Wonder Woman metal lunchbox back under my shoe rack, or leave it on the bed? No, I remember putting it back. Thing must have at least eight thousand in it by now. I can get money orders to pay down my credit cards and sit on the other four thousand five hundred.
I set down my book bag and my purse.
"Hey, babe," I say again.
"Hi, sweetie," Matthew smiles.
I lean down to give him a kiss, then look back at the television. Basketball.
"How were your last two days?" I ask.
"Fine, and yours?"
"I helped a woman find a book on ridding the world of men and establishing an all woman utopia. What did you do?"
"Well darling, I closed a fifty million dollar loan with a real estate development firm downtown. That whiney millennial senior manager committed suicide and we threw a party. Just kidding. There wasn’t a party."
"That's great." I pick up a glass from the wet bar and fill it with soda.
"Oh, and sweetie..."
"Yes?" I ask. He sure is talkative for a Monday.
I receive a text from the Spaz –Raul says he read your book, and hates it when women talk like men. – winky face
I shoot Raul a text. –Dear Raul, Suck my dick. Love, Ali.
End Scene

While my boyfriend didn't love being identified as a fictional psycho, and I could feel the silent accusations of it being too hetero-normative (yes, that's a fucking word) for San Francisco, the rest of the artists in attendance laughed at the appropriate places. So there! 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Panic! IWSG (Breathe) Last Week Of School and I Only Have 12 works due. Panic! OMG!!!

It's the first Wednesday of the month. Time for Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group. Join by clicking http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/ 

I run every day and it don't matter. I'm on anti-anxiety meds right now, at work, writing a blog post, and trying not to dwell on everything that has to get done tonight or I'll die. I don't give a flying antichrist on hell's rocket who's bothered by this right now. 

Sunday is technically my last day of school so pray to the gods for me. 

What am I insecure about?

The ozone layer.

Global warming.

I'm a talentless hack.

Concentration camps in Sri Lanka and bitches are buying up our travel guides talking about how Zen their trip will be.

The closest relationship I have right now is with my dog.
  And I'm hiding under my desk in the receiving room of our bookstore wondering if I should paint my nails or set my hair on fire. Maybe that's the meds talking.

Any suggestions?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

IWSG - How To Relax

It's the first Wednesday of the month. Time for Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group. Click here to join!

I was gifted a copy of Thich Nhat Hanh's, How To Relax at the Northern California's Independent Bookseller's Trade show and re-appropriated my copy around the show displays to show how I feel.

I have full time work and I'm in grad school full time. I try to exercise off the tension but sometimes I can't. Any techniques you guys can share? Thanks again. Love you guys!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Insecure Writer's Support Group - Does fitting into crazy places mean you're crazy?

Yes!!! I'm on time for Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group. Success is mine. Muahahahahahaha! This goes down every first Wednesday of the month. 

Find out more at http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/. I pre-wrote this post and saved it to my drafts to doubly make sure a wasn't late. Sup now, biznitches?

I've been working in bookstores for a few years. Before, and quite a bit during I've also had jobs at random clubs downtown.

The bookstore v.s. downtown night scene. Which one is the crazier work environment? I'd have to say it's a toss up.

Bookstore humor, located in our receiving room.
Working at night clubs I've listened to guys cry into their drinks over lost family members. I've consoled off-duty cops as they looked for stuff that was, and is, only quasi-legal.

Working at a bookstore I was asked by someone in mourning if I wanted to see their recently deceased mom. I expected him to pull a photograph out of his backpack, not an urn.

I watched book sales soar after a drunk off her ass drug addled author gave the worst reading of her career. I had only met her when she was helpful and engaging. Book sales after that event were 'normal'. 

The next time she was in town she was having, ehem, issues. Everyone wanted to know who the author was that bombed 'that one night', and buy her book. Insane.

My gravitation towards crazy people has me questioning my own sanity. Is this just the occupational hazard of being a writer? Do you feel the same?

I love comments!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Beethoven went through hella notebooks.

“Don’t only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets, 
for it and knowledge can raise men to the divine.”
Ludwig van Beethoven 

This is my stack. The red moleskin with my, Clockwork Orange sticker, "I'm completely reformed." is my favorite idea starter.

Did I keep notebooks because I needed to write? Or did I need to write because I kept notebooks?

I was always given notebooks as presents when I was a kid. Probably because blank paper is cheap and it got me to sit down and shut up.

The first piece I remember feeling proud of was a play I wrote when I was seven. I performed it with my cousin for my family on Easter Sunday. The script didn't have many words, but consisted of blocked out story boards on construction paper. 

The plot was simple.

Two girls find a baby on the beach. They look for the baby's family. After some research they realize the baby is dead. The end. 

According to Christopher Booker's seven plots of literature, this plot falls under quest and tragedy. It should have sunk under rebirth. I got the whole resurrection thing backwards, or maybe I'm  a visionary.

So when Sri Lankan poet, and my professor, Pireeni Sundaralingham insisted everyone juggle notebooks, I let go of all my notebook hoarding shame.

I know many of you keep multiple journals. My main stays include my idea starter, my notes and outlines for each project (which right now equates to three notebooks), a personal development notebook, and my planner/diary/dream journal. 

How many notebooks do you keep on rotation?

Friday, August 21, 2015

Um, what?

One would assume working in a bookstore your days are fully spent engaging in stimulating conversation. A bookseller is blessedly spared from stupid annoying questions. 

In the words of Betty Boop - No. No. A thousand times, no!

I'm minding my own business in the Women's Studies section when a woman around my age approaches me.

"I'm thinking of getting, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance for my brother who just bought a motorcycle," she says.

"Let me check if we have it on hand." I walk over to my computer and begin typing.

"No, I know you have it. What is it about?"

"The title is pretty self explanatory," I say.

"So, it's about actual motorcycles?" she asks.

"It's about a father and son riding across country incorporating eastern philosophy and social commentary with motorcycle maintenance."

"Oh, no. That sounds wordy, complicated, and way heavy," she says shaking her head with her nose wrinkled.

"It is in our Philosophy section, I say. "It forces us to think."

She's already waving her hand around to swat my words away.

"Yeah, no. He really wouldn't like it. He hates that stuff. What would you recommend for someone like that?" she asks.

"You want me to recommend a book for someone who hates to think?"

"Like, heavy thinking, yeah. Where would something like that be?" she asks as she actually looks around the store. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

My second book and hyper-specific updates.

The 'My Bad' Post. Talk of snuff porn leading to mass genocide, priest orgies, and taxes has desensitized me.

I missed posting to the Insecure Writer's Support Group this month. :(

My bad, Alex. To learn more about what that is click ISWG.

Life's full of excuses. I just got back from Alaska, switched jobs, and started graduate school. Big so what compared to my writing peers who keep posting through chemotherapy, losing jobs, homes, and loved ones.

Life happens and we all need to keep our commitments. 

I now work at a different bookstore here in San Francisco. The transition was easy, and I still work for the same independent book company. What's amazing about independent bookstores is we literally find no subject taboo to discuss. Here we are free to banter about everything, and we do.

As a bookseller it's hard to take advantage of this. But our customers here in San Francisco go right ahead, without fear, and talk about anything.

From your stuffed animals coming to life and having group sex to homosexual serial killer aliens from outer space, there's not an idea under the sun that hasn't been written about. No matter how gross, morbid, or horrifying a topic, it's been put in a book at one time or another. 

It follows logically that you can talk about pony tail butt plugs on coupled sex, snuff porn leading to mass genocide, priest orgies, your taxes (now that's just sick) and anything else in my bookstore.

I'm now insecure about that I've been desensitized by this. I'm no longer allowed in polite society. There. I said it.

That's a good thing, right? You don't want to be around those boring normal people when you get to work in a bookstore, right?

Monday, July 6, 2015

Adult Coloring is Becoming More Of a Trend, And Getting More Adult!

The coloring table at our indie bookstore!
It's nothing new. Creative therapy has been used to de-stress and decompress in an official capacity since the 1940s. Intensive art therapy is being given to combat survivors to help with post traumatic stress disorder.

What if you don't want to commit to molding clay or watering down paints? You can pick up some colored pencils!

While coloring books like, The Secret Garden and The Enchanted Forrest are fun for both children and adults, I suggest flipping through others just to be sure they're age appropriate. 

This seemingly innocent coloring book is filled with Hindu mythology. You'd enjoy the Goddesses, Mandalas, and Sacred Geometry.

When it comes to your little one, this kind of coloring will probably not relieve stress. 

The Enchanted Forrest and Secret Garden are both safe bets. You can create your own scenes and find hidden artifacts. For those of you who want a more adult option, there are plenty to choose from!

Has anyone else joined in the color craze?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Feast or Famine!

It's the first Wednesday of the month. Time for Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group post!

I'm feeling very fortunate these days. I landed a freelance writing gig with a company that umbrellas seven different publications, I have an interview today with a San Francisco tech company, and I start grad school next month. 

Another proof of my mystery novel, Chosen is on its way to my twitchy little hands. My editors have been awesome. 

My neck has locked up (I was in a car accident last December) and I haven't been able to run, which makes me depressed. I'm trying to go for a light jog today, but the pinched nerve in my neck dictates that I take it easy. I just know that if I could really run I'd sweat out all the stress.

Until then, I'm slowly masticating the giant bite I took this summer. Trying not to choke.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Under the gun once again...

It's the first Wednesday of the month. Time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post. Check out Alex J. Cavanaugh's brain child and join in the fun by clicking HERE!

I'm submitting my horror short, Bookshop to my first major writing contest through grad school. This is exposing and nerve racking. Bookshop, is four thousand words and fifteen pages. I've decided to post the first bit here, so that it's out there. It takes away some of the dread, in theory anyway.

If you don't want to read, no worries, but can any of you old pro's  offer suggestions on submitting a competitive piece? Hope you're all having a good week!


They say it’s the little things that count. I say it’s the little things that make us feel human. I’m no longer disfigured and can go back to work.  My skin is no longer oily and my hair no longer greasy. I was so sick for the last five days I couldn’t properly wash myself, all I could manage was splash around in my bathtub. Now that I’m showered, my long hair freshly washed and legs shaved, I feel human again.
            Sunshine fills the street as I step out of my house on Valencia where I rent a chilly room in an in an old Victorian. My space heater barely makes a dent in the cold due to its high ceilings. My body thaws in the morning sun causing me to breathe a sigh of relief on my walk to the bus stop.
            Once I grab a seat, I feel under my throat for my swollen glands. They’re tender to the touch but no longer visible. Still, I wont be able to work my night job for at least a few more days. As a Go-go dancer I do burlesque shows for Tech parties, Speakeasies and Noir Festivals with my dance troupe, Ménage a Trois. The pay is great, but inconsistent.
            The silver chimes dance as I walk into Dark Compass Bookstore. I get a chill down my spine every time those bells chime. After I graduated with a degree in Creative Writing, I was stuck working temp jobs in legal aid while I looked for a job as a bookseller. I was astounded at how hard it was. For me to get a fulltime job at one of San Francisco’s historical literary landmarks, a bookseller and six other candidates waiting in line for the job opening had to die.
My favorite is Redwood Books, which opened in 1851. The interior side panels of the building, as well as the ornate built in floor to ceiling bookshelves, are hand crafted out of beautiful warm Redwood. I handed my resume and cover letter to the bookstore manager, Larry two months ago. I’ve been showing up ever since. Finally, one evening, Larry approaches me.
“You’re in here every other day around this time. Don’t you have a home?”
It’s true. I’m in Redwood Bookstore from six thirty to eight o’clock nearly every night spending what little extra money I had on paperbacks or hardcovers that were on sale.
“I know you applied for a fulltime position, but we could use a part-time bookseller on weekends. You want to come here as much as you already do and get paid?”
Yes, I do. But I really need a fulltime job and I need at least one evening a week to do my gigs with, Ménage a Trois and the rest of the time to focus on my writing. I reluctantly turn it down.
Fast forward to the day I discover Dark Compass Books. This day, on my way to work I receive a phone call from an attorney I support who instructs me to turn around and meet a client down in South Bay. With no forewarning I have no time to plan for traffic. I’m going to be late. I’m going to be yelled at. I’m going to say something snarky again and my boss will hint at firing me, again. Moral at an all time low, instead of hoping back on the freeway I decide to head home to the Mission. I’d think up an excuse to give the office later.
It’s nine a.m. After I find a place to park I walk down a side street that is kitty corned to an alleyway I’d never noticed before. On Valencia cars honk, twenty and thirty some-thing-year-olds mill about thrift stores and dive bars at all hours of the day and night, cabs weave in and out of lanes stagnating traffic and bicyclists cut through it all. But, on this narrow side street the tight nit buildings block the noise and it’s quiet, almost desolate. You can hear the soft echoing of foot falls down the narrow street from someone so far away you can’t see them.
I lock my car doors and spot a strange black and white checkered awning halfway down the narrow street. I walk towards it until I can make out the sign in the front, Dark Compass Bookshop. I had done a canvass search of all the bookstores in my area.  How had this one escaped me?
Bells chime as I walk through the door. The store in the old building is an organizational nightmare, and sells both new and used books. Some books are kept behind a locked glass cabinet. A few look ancient. Each one has some kind of obscure symbol on their spines. Fiction is crammed together tightly. Hardcovers and paperbacks are shoved in together side by side.  Science, Biography and Psychology consists of about twenty shelves next to Metaphysics which probably fills fifty. The small store is stocked to capacity. Book-stacks can be seen from the back. They are piled so high they could topple at the slightest tremor.
The place is a death trap. One good earthquake and patrons will be buried under thousands of titles pinned at the mercy of any loose wire. An electric spark near an old piece of parchment can light the place up like a tinderbox.
A moving stack of books comes towards me, then past me. An old woman in a black skirt, black tights and black wedge heels wearing a cranberry shawl draped over her shoulders sets the heavy stack on the front counter with a sigh and twists her long grey hair.
“Can I help you find something?” the old woman asks.
“Actually, I’m looking for a job. Can I leave a cover letter and resume?” I ask. I can’t keep my lack luster frown from sagging down my mouth. The likelihood of the store needing a hand from someone under seventy is doubtful. People clearly worked and died here.
“Yes, of course. What hours are you looking for?” the woman asks.
I don’t know what to say. She didn’t ask why I’m looking for a low paying job at a bookstore, which is the first question most bookstore managers ask.  
“I’m a writer and I’ve published a few short stories and essays. I’d like to quit my paralegal job, but I need something fulltime,” I say.
This demand was the deal breaker.
“Perfect. When can you start?”
And this is where I begin working for Elaina. I love it. The hours are great and she pays under the table.
The entire store is odd. Elaina is techno phobic and refuses to use computers. The organizational layout is similar to the librarian loved Dewey system, but the layout groups books by subject rather than ISBN numbers and uses colored stickers to highlight contemporary, popular categories, and displays most books by their covers as opposed to spines. Some books take me ages to find. With most of our costumers, it’s hard to tell if they’re going to be the impatient kind or join in the treasure hunt. The system is a nightmare for anyone trying to find a specific book that doesn’t fit into an obvious category. 
“You’ll see most of our customers are regulars. We don’t advertise. We prefer to keep to ourselves,” says Elaina.
As long I’m not trying to help a customer who’s looming over me, I love cross-referencing books in the old bookstore and hunting down dusty titles. Our customer base consists of collectors who mostly look for hard to find esoteric titles having to do with Metaphysics and/or Philosophy. Both subjects I’m not particularly familiar with, but when it comes to anything to have to do with books I’m a quick study.
The customers that float through the store come across as trendy with either the distinction of a pedigree education or just incredibly eccentric. The men wear black bell-bottoms, collared shirts, blazers and chunky shoes. The women typically wear the same, but maybe a instead of bell-bottoms and long black skirt. They are so similarly dressed, anywhere else it would raise an eyebrow, but this is San Francisco. They keep mostly to themselves.
After one week Elaina gives me a key and I begin opening the store in the morning. Our store is the bottom floor of a two story Edwardian where Elaina lives in the back and our stock room takes up the upstairs. As far as I know, Elaina does all the buying and receiving. We don’t have a public bathroom and Elaina’s back house is the only downstairs portion with plumbing. To use the restroom I would have to go up the dark creaking stairs.
            Each time I make my way to the back bathroom past piles of books dust and spider webs. Upstairs it’s always dark and it feels like a dozen pairs of eyes are watching you. The bathroom in the back consists of an eagle claw foot porcelain naked tub with no curtain, a wobbly toilet and a bronze dirty oval mirror. When I look into it through the grime, it’s as if someone beside myself looks back at me.
            I get used to restocking the popular titles right away. Titles like, Techniques of Graeco-Egyptian Magic, Mystical Occult Ideas and Invocation of Elder Gods, History of the Rosicrucian’s, various Masonic texts, anything by Aleister Crowley, A.E. Waite and Madame Blavatsky.
            A tall, thin pale man wearing all black with dark eyes, close cropped dark hair and a black trim mustache and sharp goatee the color of shoe polish approaches me as he enters the store.
            “I’m looking for a book by Aleister Crowley. It’s called Moon Child. A new edition just came out, but I’m looking for the original first edition printed in 1929 by Mandrake Press,” says the young man.

-if I don't win, to be continued...

Friday, May 8, 2015

IWSG - *Cough*, cough. Sick and Insecure.

I'm a day late and a few words short for Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group. To learn more click HERE!

I'm a few days late with this post because of scratchy eyes, a rudolf red nose and a stomach lining raw from NyQuil abuse.

Still, I must rally.

I got accepted to all three schools I applied to. Last week I made a visit to each campus and now I'm about to make one of the most important decisions of my life. In fact, the academic advisor to the program I chose is scheduled to call me in one hour, six minutes.

The school that was towards the bottom of my choices is now my top choice. I've had a gut feeling that this was the case, but it wasn't until the MFA student mixer that I finally made my decision. 

While the other two schools are more accredited, my tribe is where the faculty drink wine and curse openly. I have two years to focus on my craft. Here, I'll be less inclined to censor myself.

There. I made my decision. 


Fifty-seven minutes.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Tough Choices

I'm a day late posting for Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Follow the link http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/

Today is the day I have to give my non-refundable deposit to the MFA program I got accepted to and choose classes. I've emailed and left multiple messages at the other two Universities and have yet to hear back. I checked an online forum, and tons of people have received their rejection letters. Come on!

Sounds simple, right? Wrong! 

I was bitching about how the MFA Admissions Coordinator to one of the schools is a flake. I was in close contact with her, wrote assistantship essays and provided her with tons of additional material. 

After a huge rant I was informed the poor woman had died, like weeks ago! I was griping about grad school admissions and this woman close to my age, dropped dead in her office due to a bad heart. I'm. An. Asshole.

I'm definitely not putting my boot to their neck for answers now, but I'm getting down to the wire here. Any suggestions?

Those who have read my previous posts know that I juggle writing projects. When I complete them its usually a few at a time, but in the interim nothing gets published at all. I've always been a feast or famine word slave. Now, each project is equally pertinent to finish and I'm having trouble deciding which one gets full focus. 

Do I finish the high profile one, or do I finish the more academic project that carries more weight?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

How my collective neurosis keep me in shape.

On my run today. You can't see it here, but people are actually surfing the break.   

Hi Bloggers!

Did I mention that I have a touch of ADHD and if I don't do cardio in the morning I can't sit still?

Did I ever bring up the fact if I don't wake up a tad hungover or exhausted from the previous day's workout my sliver of OCD prevents me from driving to work without circling the block, getting out of my car and double, sometimes triple checking my flat iron is off and my apartment doors are locked?

Did you say something? I'm sorry. My auditory processing deficiency is showing.

My neurosis are why I'm in shape and now I've found the guts to make use of it. I'm training for a half marathon in July and a full marathon in October.

My eye fly at mile four. It's the fly's fault I had to walk a bit. Bastard!
 Today I ran six miles, yesterday three miles of hills, the day before yesterday ten miles and the day before that was a rest day. That day I drove around the block to double check my flat iron... you see the pattern. 

I'm glad I'm in shape before my MFA Writing and Conscouisness program begins in August. Writers are bizarre. 

Ha! I tried to smile. The creased brow and hard stare makes me look oddly like my father.