Tuesday, June 10, 2014

I've Moved!

Hello four blog readers!

I recently moved my words to my very own domain name. :)

Find me and throngs of other blog readers (go with it) at my new digs here.

See you there!

Monica

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Fun With Procrastination


I often joke that when the fiction writing isn’t happening, I take pictures of the pup. Good writing days...well, there's nothing better. But, let's face it, sometimes they're not so good. Sometimes they're putrid. Some days I struggle to string together a few words and tack on some questionable punctuation at the end.

When those oh-so-infrequent (go with it) low-productivity days hit—after I’ve rearranged my sock drawer, scrubbed the silverware separator and shredded old bills (NYC rental agreement circa 1994, I’m talking to you)—the camera offers welcome distraction. Ok, procrastination. Whatever. That, my friends, is when I take pictures of Kona, our pup.


But, I ask, can you blame me?

 

Answer: No. You cannot.

But a funny thing has happened with all my, er, procrastination: I've ended up writing a tidy little library's worth of picture books for our young nieces and nephews. The whole endeavor started years ago with Bogie, Ko’s big brother. When The Husband and I were newlyweds, I got Bo a puppy Santa suit and the two of us carried him all around the city, taking holiday pics of him. Bo looking at the Rockefeller Center Tree. Bo checking out toys in a window. Bo picking out our Christmas tree and bringing it home. And, of course, Bo peeing, because I’m not above a cheap laugh. Every paw print was chronicled in Santa Bo.


The following year, we returned from a family Disney trip with a Yeti. That spring and summer, the running joke between Husband and me was situating the Yeti in surprise spots throughout the apartment. Sometimes he was dressing. Or going for a bike ride. One time I came home and found him sitting in front of the TV, one paw in a bag of M&Ms, another on the remote, watching SpongeBob Square Pants. And of course, the Yeti and Bo playing backgammon. The Yeti was a misunderstood little guy--everyone feared him when in reality he was this well-rounded sophisticated chap. Another book, The Urban Yeti, was born.

 
 

On the last page of The Urban Yeti, Kona made his debut (furry cliffhanger!), and all was revealed in the following book, The Story of Lil’ Ko. That literary offering focused on the deep and complicated bond between brothers—a common refrain in some of the finest literature of our day. In this story, Bogie waded through the weighty and oh-so-serious emotional issue of how he wanted a Brother computer and ended up with Ko instead.


The following year, we gave the nieces and nephews Toys Story, where we incorporated the full cast of stuffed animal characters, including the always-difficult Gingerbread Man, into the gripping plot of…wait for it…how will Ko and his friends get their paws on a bowl of clementines??? I’ll say what you’re all thinking: Dramatic tension, it doesn’t get any better than that.


Next, there was Let Us Eat Cake, a story that got to the heart of an insidious discrimination so pervasive and corrosive, it’s a blight on our society. Specifically, that shop owners will not allow dogs into their stores to buy baking ingredients. Ko can’t buy any butter! He’s simply not welcome anywhere. I know…let’s pause a moment to collect ourselves. But fear not. The Ko is a plucky little pup. Instead of wallowing in the injustice of it all, he heads to Washington D.C., meets with a Very Important Pup there and returns victorious, with Congressional-approved legislation in hand! Yes, the part about Congress actually doing anything to better anyone requires a serious suspension of disbelief, but this is a children’s tale, one where a stuffed blue octopus alligator speaks.


Then, this past year, we did a book called Lord of the Cozies. I should preface this plot summary by noting that there was a stretch during the holidays where we watched The Lord of the Rings trilogy like it was our jobs. I am nothing if not a diligent student of storytelling. Anyhoo, in this book we included the familiar cast of characters from stories past, and introduced some new ones, like Mrs. Domo and Furry Bunny (perhaps we watched LOTR too many times? Is that possible?). There was a quest for Ko to save the Christmas village, political maneuverings by the still-difficult Gingerbread Man, who was backed by big money, and, at the very end, a tribute to Bogie, the little guy who started it all. Last year, Bo went to that big backyard in the sky, so it was only fitting that we bring our books back to where they all began.


As for this year, let’s just say we’re in pre-production work. I’m not procrastinating. Honest. I’m creating.


Like I said, go with it.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

I Hart You, Norton



There were times in undergrad I was a begrudging English major. It wasn't I didn’t love words—I did, and still do. It was more that there were certain authors and playwrights I loved and others, I absolutely loathed. Case in point:


A close up:


The inside cover:


Lest there be any doubt my feelings toward Mr. Joyce changed the more I read, page 115:



This is a picture of the pup...just because he's adorable.


But I digress. When I found my early 90s embellished copy of The Dubliners this week, it made me miss my Norton Anthologies. If you were an English major, you know the texts of which I speak. I lugged those Nortons, with their phone book heft and paper-thin pages, throughout my undergraduate years in Ohio. I underlined with love. I annotated with care. The pages were well-thumbed, critically poured over and never, ever marked-up in anger a la The Dubliners. I loved my Nortons. After college, I heaved them to graduate school in New York City, where they sat largely untouched on a bookshelf for years, collecting dust as I scampered off into new areas of writing. Then, decades later, I hauled them down to the book donation shelf in my building’s laundry room and left them there before moving with my husband. And now, I miss them so much.

The fact that I so blithely donated these tomes—books that years ago I thoughtfully plucked out of the Used section at the campus bookstore because they weren’t marked up and therefore were available for my own notations—appalls me now. Granted, I was a journalist then and was much more keen to read The Economist or digest economic figures than analyze a short story or novel. And when you’re moving in with the person you’re going to walk down every road in life with, sometimes it's best not to haul every book and piece of paper along for the journey. The sheer amount stuff that I’d crammed into my 300-square-foot apartment over the years was alarming--editing it down was necessary. Of course, I still showed up at our new apartment with 10 comforters, whose bulkiness ate up so much space, my husband blanched. But the Nortons? Those relatively compact gems that would have had a cozy nook all their own on our bookshelf, I abandoned them (sniff...sniff).

As they say, times, they do change, and my endeavors to write my own book have brought me back to literature, where I started. Now I’m thinking back to all those English courses, all those professors I had, all the stories I read, all the critical thinking and interpretation I did, and, of course, all the papers my roommate and I stayed up all night writing because we were such horrible procrastinators. (I miss you, Em!) And, it goes without saying that I’m lamenting the fact that I’m Norton-less, that the texts to my literary education, the ones with all my notes on passages that struck a chord, are gone.

But James Joyce’s craptastic Dubliners? That I still have. Perhaps it’s my penance.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

So, About That Blog…

Hi! Remember me?

What? You don’t?

Can’t put a face to the name? A url to the site? A reason to point and click to that link? I feel ya, trust me, I feel ya.

But here I am anyway after a long, multi-seasonal hiatus. So what exactly was I doing? Well, my four, dear, faithful blog readers, I helped birth a house, did loads of yoga, got rear ended on the jenkiest highway in New York (yes, Van Wyck Expressway, I’m talking about you), celebrated an iron anniversary, got really, really tipsy (not from booze, but by vertigo), and joyously got to spend the last three months with family and friends at the beach. It’s been a great run filled with so much writing…yeah, productive, crazily fulfilling, all-encompassing writing. Ok, that last sentence is a complete and total lie. Also, I became a social-media hermit.
 
Hermit, thy name is Monica.


 
But now it’s back to reality—summer is over, so it’s time to sit down at the keyboard again, get to writing and reconnect with the world (electronically—I’m not about to pick up the phone and actually call anyone…that would be nuts). While I do that, thought I’d leave you with some random pics from the summer:


Me, the pup, and our mess.
 
Training for the circus. Actually, a nightly bonding ritual between daddy and puppy son.

Same ritual, different angle. Better view of hubba-hubba hubby.

There was a devotion to seasonal produce.

An intense devotion.

I so wasn't kidding about the devotion part. If you're taking close-up pictures of asparagus, chances are you have some time on your hands to blog, right? You'd think, but devotion to produce takes up a lot of time. Months, in fact.

A rainbow in Long Beach...and, um, a pole. What can I say? We were rushing to get the shot before the colors faded--photo composition be damned! The rainbow pretty much sums up the summer. Yeah, it's a corny metaphor, but I'm sticking with it.


Finally, tonight's sunset. A spectacular way to end a season. Bring on fall!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Random Thursday Thoughts

Yes, I’m still here, although you’d barely know it. It’s, well, March, as my four blog followers have pointed out to me. Many a day, nay, a week has passed without a post. So, Beth, Paul, Rob and, most of all, my husband, this tiptoeing back into the blogosphere is for you. Thanks for the kick in the butt.

What have I been up to? That’s a really good question. An excellent one, in fact. (Cue crickets chirping.) I’ve been working on a book. That is, when I’m not obsessing about the pup’s diet.


Or his attire.


Or spending time watching entirely too much TV…solely for the purpose of studying story development, of course. At this point, I have a PhD in television time suckage. It was Justified.


Or photographing an unruly bunch of critters for the holiday book that we do every year for our nieces and nephews.


 So, as you can see, I’ve been very busy (just go with it).

And yet, that hasn’t stopped a certain d-bag delinquent from spamming my blog. Every day. Like it’s his job.

That’s right, Anonymous, I’m talking to you. You, by some diabolical computer program, has ensnared my innocent, quiet blog in your sticky marketing web. I’m not even sure what you’re peddling, as all your ineffective, spamish words point to some product or service that has no tie to anything relevant about anything I’ve written about (or, um, not written about). There’s a reason I have to moderate my comments before they’re posted, and that reason is you.

I’m here to tell you, Anonymous, that your come-hither product blather is indecipherable. Your prompts to check out your website, lackluster. Your marketing gimmick, impotent. As such, I’ve clicked on nothing, not one of your links. I’ve posted not one of your generic comments. You, Anonymous, can suck it.

video


And as far as those page views you’re generating for me when I’m not publishing a single word in new content, Anonymous? Well…um…

Yeah.

Ok, I’m just rethinking some things here on the fly. Some positions that I’ve taken might be a little hardline, a bit too unforgiving. Hope I haven’t offended you too much, Anonymous.  I mean, when I say, “suck it,” what I’m really trying to say is Thank You.