Friday, July 24, 2009

summer fun times

My mom was driving us to a picnic, going backwards down the highway. Through the front window, we could see the cars behind us with giant matching auras towering high above them. Apparently this was the result of refraction in the tires as the cars drove through puddles. It made the cars look tall and skinny. At some point, we convinced our mom to turn the car around and put the car in drive instead of reverse, and things went much more smoothly.

At the picnic, multiple concerts were going on all around us. Happy hipsters trotted from an outdoor bandshell to a musical parade to a giant rectangular pool that covered half of Queens. It was about two miles long and a mile wide, and we all jumped in and spent the rest of the afternoon breathing underwater, doing backflips.

Then John had to go check his parents into a retirement home and I realized we were 55 years old. The afternoon went downhill from there.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

saving the world is hard.

It was hard to tell what the fuck was going on, exactly. There had been a number of recent technological breakthroughs that made life infinitely more complicated. I was working with an NGO that policed the poaching of endangered species in the Serengeti and/or the Sahara. I wasn't really all that sure where we were. We would wait until nightfall. By shining a light on a mirror about a mile behind us and then looking for the glinting eyes of the poachers in the reflected beam, we were able to locate them without giving away our location. Then we'd surround their camp and, you know, put an end to their poaching.

But then somehow some of us figured out how to melt themselves into goo like that thing in the first Terminator movie and then reconstruct themselves back into normal people. A portable-science-lab experiment gone awry may have been responsible. We were pondering the do-gooding possibilities of this new discovery when some poachers attacked. In the ensuing battle, one especially evil poacher was sprayed with toxic chemicals and melted into nothing. We assumed she was dead. But she wasn't. And she wasn't a poacher, either. She was a super-evil super-villain spy!

So then we had to spend all this time fighting this evil monster of our own creation, which was really hard because she had figured out how to melt at will and then turn herself into anything or anyone (kind of like that one X-Men villain, right?). Anyway, she was screwing everything up everywhere. Meanwhile, I had started dating one of the good melting guys, which was also very complicated on a much smaller scale. (My father did not approve.)

Monday, July 13, 2009

folksy rural fantasy novel, apparently

I grew up in this small town in the Midwest where each generation has a secret coven of witches. Up until my generation, it was always just boys, and my dad had high hopes for my older brother. My dad was actually the head witch in his generation. The position came with a lot of power. All of the witches were really smart and popular. They could turn into dogs (collies, generally) and fly little personal spaceships, but mainly they were excellent authors. Every witch in my dad's generation was an accomplished novelist. My dad represented all the writer-witches from our town. He also somehow got to approve or reject every single novel their publisher published.

People generally found out if they were witches about halfway through high school, when it was the hardest to keep it a secret from the rest of the town. Most of the witches were pretty unpopular right up until the point where they weren't anymore, and it was all they could do to keep from lording it over the other kids who used to beat them up or turn them down for dates. My brother was already a senior in high school, and nothing had happened to him yet as far as I could tell. Then it turned out that I was the witch in the family, the first girl witch the town had ever seen.

Things got really tough for my brother then. I kind of blamed my dad. He was this really judgmental, controlling guy. He liked being in charge of all the other witches and telling them what to do all the time, and it drove him nuts not being able to get my brother to do all the magic stuff, and be a dog and fly around in the little ships and all that. The worst of it was that he was a terrible writer. My brother stopped hanging out with people. Mostly he just moped around the backyard. I would fly down in my personal spaceship and offer to take him for rides, but he just ignored me. The other witches didn't make matters any better. I think they were annoyed with my dad telling them what to do all the time, and they took it out on my brother, ganging up on him in the general store where he worked and making him drop groceries all over the place all the time. He sort of shut down. By the time I left for college he had pretty much stopped talking. I didn't come home for a long time after that.

When I left home, I tried to give up the magic. I got a job as a book editor, and I was pretty good at it. Sometimes I'd get annoyed with agents who would fight me over tiny little things---it was hard not to pull out the old magic tricks to get my way. I worked for a different publisher than the one my dad wrote for, but even so he tried to get his fingers into everything we did and tell me how to do my job. The thing was, inside the industry, the house my dad published with was getting to be kind of a joke. My dad would only let them publish old-fashioned western novels about cowboys. He was convinced these were the only books worth writing, and the only ones anyone who was worth anything really wanted to read. One time I tried to explain to my dad that times were changing, that the world wasn't the way he remembered it being, but my dad never listened to anybody.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


One of my authors and our art director had to spend the night at my house so we could finish up a big project. Unfortunately, I didn't know in advance that they were coming over, so the place was a disaster area. Dishes piled high in the sink, magazines covering the dinner table, clothes strewn around my room like a tornado just struck. Like a good host, I asked if I could get them anything. The author asked for a snack, but there was no food in the house. The art director asked for coffee, which I did not have. So they both settled on a glass of water. Lucky me, at that moment the tap decided to freak out and start spewing a brown soapy goop into the glasses. I managed to clean them out and found some cold water in a long-expired Brita jug in the fridge.

As I carried the glasses back to my room, my brother (who was also my roommate) arrived with several boxes of pizza. The pizza came with a roll of purple paper that you could unfurl in front of you like a royal carpet. It had a picture of a king on it eating pizza. My brother unfurled it into my room, and the author and art director poked their heads out to see what was going on. "This is my brother," I told them. Then a half-naked girl came out of the bathroom. "This is Krissy," my brother said.

Krissy was my brother's new girlfriend. She was also the spokesperson for an edgy brand of bowling balls called THUNDERballs. In their viral-style commercials, Krissy would drive around the country on a bulldozer, breaking down the walls of bowling alleys and "liberating" their old bowling balls. Then she and the THUNDERballs staff would give all the bowlers brand-new, custom-made THUNDERballs and drive off, leaving the bowling alley a wreck behind them.

Just then, my dad popped out of the other bedroom. He had also decided to spend the night unannounced. This was his first time meeting Krissy. I left my brother to do the introductions, grabbed a pizza, and holed up in my room with my guests to work out the cover design for the author's book. I could hear things crashing out in the main room. I gave everyone the benefit of the doubt and assumed Krissy was giving my dad a THUNDERballs demo.