Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Never a Dull $!@%ing Moment

By Cornelia

So Monday morning I was feeling pretty damn good about life. I'd done readings for The Crazy School at the wonderful Book Passage and Diesel bookstores over the weekend and gotten to see lots of friends who were kind enough to come out and celebrate the release with me.

Plus, the magnificent persons at Grand Central Publishing put nice big fat ads for the book in The New York Times and The San Francisco Chronicle, like this:

and which had me totally kvelling, I can assure you.

In fact, I was in such a good mood by Monday morning that I actually enjoyed spending three hours at the Department of Motor Vehicles--a state of mind which, given my normal world view:

Should perhaps have come as a bit of a warning that I was experiencing one of those Icarus moments--the kind where you think it's this:

when it's actually this:

and you end up wishing you had taken more of this:

or at least had the foresight, back in college, to stockpile some of this:


and this:

(Painter Bruno Fonseca, now sadly deceased)

to get you through the inevitable goddamn rainy days.

Especially the inevitable goddamn rainy Monday afternoons, which suck the most hugely, in my experience.

Remember that essay that got emailed around a few years ago, purporting to be Kurt Vonnegut's commencement address at MIT, but wasn't?

(A sketch by the real K.V.)

In part, it said:
Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 pm on some idle Tuesday.
I didn't even make it to Tuesday, this time around.

Because on Monday afternoon, FOLLOWING my three happy hours at the DMV, I got a phone call at home.

From my husband.

Saying he'd just been fired by the assholes in San Diego.

Somehow, the fact that I'd said, "you know, I don't think you should work for those people, it sounds like they're assholes" a year ago--before he took the job--didn't really make up for the fact that he came home Monday night with exactly one month's pay as severance.

Here are the main facets of the bright side of this occurence:
  1. smug satisfaction that I was so totally right.
  2. free babysitting.
  3. I didn't move to fucking San Diego.
Here is the potential downside:

As Sophie Tucker once so cogently said, "I been rich, and I been poor, and rich is better." I think I actually quoted her a couple of weeks ago on this very blog, when I was feeling slightly less poor.

I don't know... sometimes, you realize you're in a movie, right? And then it dawns on you that, unfortunately, your director is not Frank Capra, but:

which can make you feel:

Or, as my friend Candace used to say, that "there is a God. He's malicious.":

Although I prefer to believe he's just off his meds:

In fact, most days I prefer this guy:

to this guy:

Although I am tremendously grateful that I am here in Berkeley, safe in my house and only worried about money, rather than here:

Sometimes, you need to pull back and get the big picture, you know?

Which I'm trying to do.

But even so, if any of you guys have friends with lots of this:

Please ask them to come to Stacey's Books in San Francisco today at 12:30, or M is for Mystery in San Mateo on Saturday at 2:00 to splurge on this:

Because my children drink a lot of this:

Meanwhile, I will remember the time last year when my husband told me, "you need to give up this writing shit, because you're not making any money at it and I need a homemaker."

And I will smile to myself, picturing this:

And if that doesn't work, I'll just whistle this:


  1. Your husband is Batman?

    "you need to give up this writing shit, because you're not making any money at it and I need a homemaker."

    Heh! That'll learn 'im. The gods hear stuff like that, dude. And they do love their pranks.

    Here's hoping THE CRAZY SCHOOL starts earning you Dan Brown money, and quick.

  2. Can do much about the lost job, which sucks like a tornado bearing down on a trailer park, but I can tell you I bought my copy of CRAZY SCHOOL yesterday. Can't wait to start it. Hang in there, C. Positive waves being sent your way.

  3. Hi C,

    Just bought Crazy School. Kept thinking I'd call one of the bookstores where you are signing to have it sent to me, but decided to buy it now and have you sign it at B'con or whenever our paths cross again (hopefully, in 2008).


  4. Um, maybe what he really needs is a good bop in the old beezer? Thank Gods you didn't move and this too shall pass, tho that doesn't make it suck any less.
    love you lots.mbh

  5. I guess the highs and lows in our lives are better than flatlines but it never seems so when we're experiencing the lows. Keep the faith, Miss C. We're all in your corner. Great things to come. I promise.

  6. Hey, Miss C., this sucks big time. What does your husband do?

    It's lousy at the moment, but as my mother was oft to repeat to my little sister: it's character building! It's writing fodder, even! Sic 'em, Cornelia.

    Oh, and Anne McCaffrey's ex-husband made little of her writing achievements. When she made enough to pay their phone bill and then some, her husband got really upset to be proven wrong. Since then, she's gone on to write some of the world's best loved science fiction stories - and made a bundle doing it. See, there's hope for you and for me, and all of our friends who are striving to write well and get well paid for it. :-D

    Bests, with a hug,

    PS: Your hubby needs a good smack after a good wifely cuddle.

    PPS: Can he turn his experience into a steamy bestseller?

  7. Oh, now here's a happy post.

    Buck up, Bunky. I'll see you at Stacey's.

    Course, I'll be the one sitting right next to you, signing my book, too.

  8. Cornelia, thank Ganesha you're in Berkeley - look around you, it ain't that bad. I went through a REALLY DREADFUL TIME some years ago, and as one of my friends said, "At least you're not in bloody Bosnia." It sounded like my mother telling me I had to sit at the table until I ate my greens because of all the starving in Africa, but it pulled me up short.

    And I predict this writing business will be keeping you and yours safe in the land of milk and honey for years to come. Think "Film Rights" and light a candle to dear Ganesh.

    I'm off to buy my copy of The Crazy School today - apart from anything, I need to read it to be able to sound intelligent at Poisoned Pen ("So, Cornelia, about character development ...."), when, folks, Cornelia and I will be doing the book tour song and dance routine together.

  9. Oh most sucktastic badness. Hang in there Queen C.

  10. It all just sucks, in every possible way. Rat bastards. May their legs grow together, and may they suffer eternal halitosis, and itchy rashes in really uncomfortable places.


  11. If I were to meet the fellow who fired your hubby, I would curse him, thusly: "Zol vaksen tsibbelis!"

    If you wish, I will organize some fellow striking writers and we will picket that farshtunken San Diego company. We are very good with Molotov cocktails...assuming they're made with whiskey, vermouth and bitters.

    Ah, the curse? Translation: "Onions should grow from your bellybutton!"

  12. Jacqueline: our family's version is "Well at least we don't live in Richmond County."

    Paul: good curse.

  13. You guys are absolutely wonderful! And I will be at Stacey's today with LOUISE URE, which makes it extra great. Two, two, two mints in one!

  14. One thing experience has taught me is that it'll all work out.

    Jackie's right, you could be in Bagdad or Bosnia, wherever the hotspot is. Berkeley doesn't sound too bad.

    You're already a succesfull writer and your husband will find the right job.


  15. I think C has heard this but Marianne's tale reminded me of being at a mystery con in So Cal some years back and seeing an old friend but boy did she look different. Thinner, younger, happier, just not the same person. I said "do you have time for a drink?" because I had to know what was going on with her. She wasn't a great friend, more of a convention buddy but someone I had actually talked to in life and the change was just knockout.

    She told her story. She'd divorced her husband. Her husband had never taken her writing seriously. He'd never read a word she'd written and didn't find it worth paying attention to. She finally left and in leaving, forgive the trite language, "found herself". You know the old stupid "how do you lose 150 ugly pounds, get a divorce" non-joke? She did.

    By the way, her name is Maxine O'Callaghan and she is one of the movers and shakers in mystery fiction - before there was Sharon McCone, Kinsey Milhone and VI Warshawki, Maxine had created Delilah West (though only in short story form by the time of Edwin of the Iron Shoes.

  16. How about you stop whining all the time, stop taking tax payers money away from true artists, and stop begging people to buy your books?

    Everyone has problems. Deal with it.

    Be a professional for Chrissake.

  17. Have to wonder what true artists need with taxpayers money, but it sounds like charlieparker has a corncob stuck up his ass--please forgive the language, Cornelia.

    Sometimes you just have to vent. I went through a cycle of losing a job under really ridiculous circumstances every three years or so. That's when I decided that it was time to get serious about my writing.

    Eventually I figured out the "terminations" were God's way of telling me I wasn't in the right place. I guess I'm so stubborn that He just needed a bigger hammer.

    Berkeley is a tad better than Iowa, and I thank God that I'm not homeless with a six degree high slated for Saturday.

    Everything's relative (look at one time public assistee J.K. Rowling), and one day I'll laugh about this.

    So will you. Good luck, Cornelia.

  18. The card is priceless - I want it. Sad thing is, I probably know a dozen women who would say "YES, GIVE THAT TO ME TO LEAVE NEXT TO THE TOOTHBRUSH...or to stamp and send to someone who no longer lives here." Great reading at BP and so cool to see your mother in person. I wish you had introduced all of your relatives so we could match them to characters in Darkeness or Crazy.

  19. I'll admit the possibility that CharlieParker is a friend trying to be funny and kind of sucking at it.

    Or possibly the strain of being "the world's leading diversified manufacturer of motion and control technologies and systems" has made him a little testy.

    Or he could just be a troll, in which case, I suggest a vigorous thwacking with the troll hammer.

  20. I, too, wondered about Mr. Parker, and what he was referring to, then I realized it must be Our Miss C's well-deserved NEA grant (she wrote about it a few weeks ago). Which goes to show that Mr. Parker must be a follower of Cornelia's posts, and therefore an admirer of her work who is just having a really, really, really bad day.

    Hmmmmmm ......

    And I also looked at Mr. Parker's website, mainly to find out if he had offices in San Diego.

  21. Cornelia, no one with A VOICE LIKE YOURS is going to starve. Patti's right -- there are great things to come. Give yourself a couple of days to keen and moan (you've earned them) and then make a list of what you have to be thankful for. Make sure it includes your enormous talent.

    Then be grateful that you're not terminally ill, in prison, homeless, humorless, or working for Donald Trump.

  22. What sort of dog turd leaves comments like "Charlieparker" did? A total stranger, with nothing good to say, whose only link is a business website where, if you wish to contact HIM, you have to jump hrough the hoops of providing address, email, blah blah blah.
    If something offends this son of a bitch, why doesn't he just go get another beer and shut the fuck up? I don't understand the mean nasty ugly snarkiness of someone attacking Cornelia who has never done jackshit to "Charlieparker" in her life. What kind of weenie would behave like such a rotten little child? And why? why not just shut up and leave her the hell alone? It's too bad you don't have a lick of talent Charlie boy but it's really infantile to hate someone who has talent. You don't like it don't buy her book, you dimwit. JESUS.
    Sorry - you folks are all being so reasonable but I am OFFENDED big time. i went to write him back but decided he probably wouldn't exactly like me any better - I suck far more off the taxpayer than Cornelia EVER will.

  23. Take comfort in that CP is JEALOUS-- probably has that issue about being incapable of sharing the bad times that we all have to go through. probably little dick and no sex too...
    Hope you know you have talent and friends.... PRICELESS.
    and Death to all our enemies!

  24. PS

    Parker probably would have told Bill Styron to quit whining and suck it up......
    As my Dad would say, he is CLEARLY a "Known Asshole".

  25. Holy cow! I leave my computer for a few hours and all hell breaks loose. I LOVE it.

  26. OMG! Congrats on your first troll Cornelia; I'm so jealous. The best I've been able to manage is a guy who thought he was the second coming. (No, really.)
    Significantly less congrats on the job sitch. Commiserations, in fact. But hey, free babysitting!

  27. But...but...big fat ads in the NYTimes means you never have to worry about money again, right? RIGHT?

    You're killing me here!

  28. You guys are very very kind, and thank you for the support in disliking Mr. Parker so I don't have to. He does make me feel a bit like the Three Billy Goats Gruff.

    Oh well, fuck 'im if he can't take a joke.

    I have to say that I feel a little weird about having won the NEA fellowship, but VERY proud on behalf of the genre that I got it.

    To me, the best writing is being done by genre writers these days, and I think there are an awful lot of people writing SF and mystery and thrillers who are far more "true artists" than your average MFA bear. I'm grateful to be able to learn from them, and hope to be as good as they are some day.

    My first draft of this post had about fifteen pictures of people who'd been killed in Iraq at the end, but at 2 in the morning I decided it was a little strange and presumptuous to turn a post about familial unemployment into an anti-war diatribe--as though I somehow equated my economic fears with great global tragedy, which I don't.

    I am damn lucky, and I bless the powers that be for allowing me to have good health, and my dear friends and family, and a safe place to live with enough to eat tonight, and clean water and heat and electricity, and two books published. I don't take any of that for granted, and I never will.

    However, that doesn't stop me from being a snarky bitch, most days. Anybody who has a problem with that can kiss my rosy red ass.


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  30. Hey C,
    I lost 15 pounds without even trying after filing for divorce... yahoo.

    Your H needs to watch out for the Karma Fairy. I hear she can be a real bitch.


  31. p.s. I knew there was a reason I hated Bebop.

    p.p.s. Love that, Martha. And thanks for the husband comic, too!

  32. Ha! Charlie Parker's as cool as the guy who posted a comment on my blog that I wasn't fit to perform oral sex on Bob Dylan! Extremely funny in their own simian minds, I guess, but here in REAL people-land, not quite so.

  33. Marcus, I think we should make you a bumper sticker that says "BDBJ" on it, with a red circle and slash superimposed.


  34. "I have to say that I feel a little weird about having won the NEA fellowship"

    But not so weird you gave back the money, right?


  35. Well, it's not like they send you a check. They set up an escrow account, and then you request sums from it for specific things that are allowed as expenses. I haven't even looked up what I'm allowed to ask for money for, yet. I presume I can't say "I'd like to pay my mortgage, and buy some sushi."

    But no, I have not offered to give the money back, either!


  36. "You guys are very very kind, and thank you for the support in disliking Mr. Parker so I don't have to."

    I could swear that this originally said "hate", but perhaps I'm mistaken. Yes, dislike, disgust, and decidedly disrespect for someone who could be so crass, but hate is reserved for guys like Hitler, Osama bin Laden, or the people who send out young innocents to be suicide bombers, rather than themselves. That's what falls into my "hate" category.

  37. Exactly. That's why I said dislike. Though it's too easy to just blithely toss off the word "hate," I try not to, because I agree that it should be reserved for life's true bad guys.