In what could prove to be an action-packed
development The Mermaid Translation was
processed by the library today, to be shelved
in the current display area. A cataloger asked
me if it should be cataloged as poetry or fiction.
“It’s a novel,” I said. But is it? I guess.
Anyway, it will be interesting to see if the
book makes any waves here. After all,
the library is featured in the book.
There’s even a Diane Headwaiter fanclub.
Compiled a list of 55 libraries that have my
other 4 published books in their collections
(California, Maryland, Indiana, Texas, Maine).
Will mail them flyers—the old fashioned way,
in an envelope with a stamp.
Sent the Herald news about the reading,
set for Friday, December 17th.
Email from publisher:
“We have an ad for T.M.T coming out in
January issue of American Poetry Review…
I’ve posted that it’s nominated for the
Pushcart Prize. Let the word spread…”
Looked for the book in the library catalog
and discovered its location is Government
Information, second floor...That can’t be
right…Looks like they might have made
a cataloging error after all.
Received a bag of cookies and lemon cupcakes
in trade for the new book. What a deal. Would
you like a book? That will be a bowl of soup
and a kiwi fruit.
Pushing the book cart, I stopped to talk with
Paul Piper. He told me about the new wondrous
& spiritually enlightened dental assistant
he has, with the calming touch of an angel.
(The complete opposite of my last dentist visit
when the assistant stabbed herself with my
Novocain needle. You can imagine the scene.)
Paul told his assistant that she inspired him
to write a story. Sure, I said, his character
would be so smitten with her that he would
do all the wrong things—chew metal,
whatever it took—to return to her dentist
chair. Paul said he would leave that version
of the story to me, then he suggested we do
simultaneous stories based on the same
event to see how they turn out.
Took our son to a birthday party today,
a block away from Voltage Books.
Staring at that bookstore felt strange
and I didn’t want to go in there, close as
we were. The party was in a big room above
the Teapot Café. Rustle was greeted by
the birthday girl. She’s 7. Her mother
introduced herself. I did likewise then
put an arm around my daughter’s shoulders
and said, “And this is my wife.” Rosa is 13.
The woman was truly shocked. You could
feel she believed it was true. I’ve been
noticing this trend lately, my humor has
been bombing pretty badly. Even though
I assured the birthday girl’s mother I was
joking, she practically pushed us out
Email from publisher:
“I had a review copy request from a guy
who does a national blog…also does listing
on Good Reads. I’m sending it out Monday.”
Put 12 envelopes in the mailbox for libraries
stretching from Arizona to Iowa. Pulled up
the rusted red flag. Watched out the window
as the white truck arrived and drove them
the rusted red flag
At 6 o’clock tonight the Herald called. The lady
on the phone was adding the date of the reading
to the paper’s event listings. But she needed to
know the title of the novel. I guess I forgot to
mention that part when I contacted them.
So much for mystery.
Note from Rob in Seattle:
He’s at work on his Frankenstein project
(as described in The Journal of T.M.T #1)
“worrying over a title for this thing. I kind
of want to call it ‘Penny Certain Recordings.’
Where did you come up with Penny Certain?
Not sure. Something that connotates
memory...remembering. I recorded a bunch
of passages from it today and some sound
effects and other things...it is a lovely book!
Nice butler! And I love the homing pigeon
a lovely book
Today is son Rustle’s birthday. Made a big
paper 7 to hang from the ceiling and left
into the dark stormy morning. At work,
the water is out, a city water main was broken.
By 10 it’s been repaired and the sky is clear
too. Blue sky, clouds blown away.
I write a quick note to author Tom Robbins
inviting him to the reading.
Mailed 9 letters to libraries from Iowa to
Mailed 8 letters to libraries from
New Jersey to Texas.
Email from another Robert:
“I’ll be there! By the way did you know
that a circus elephant escaped captivity
back around 1910 and established a brief
residency in Whatcom Creek near the spot
where it crosses under Cornwall Ave?
A huge field where Bellingham High School
is now was the site of the circus every year.
a circus elephant
Submitted a short story ‘Aristotle’s First Car’
written quite a while ago, but still waiting to
be published. It’s part of a big short story
collection I’m hoping will be my next book.
Note from publisher:
Larry and Ann went to Oberlin “to see a
film in the Apollo, stopped by Mindfair…
and there it was…up on the wall in the
front window.” I can’t get my book into
the bookstores in my hometown, but
farover in Ohio, people walking on the
street can look in and see.
With the help of a Sub Mariner comic,
collected 4 selections for audience
participation at reading on Friday night.
(Other 3 things are from Steinbeck’s
Sweet Thursday, a poem by Robert Sund,
and some Raymond Chandler from
The Big Sleep when Marlowe meets
the General in the greenhouse.)
Hopefully there will be at least four
people in audience and four who
will like to read.
the help of a sub mariner
Email from J. Genius:
“Wow. The title & the cover are a knockout.
I can’t wait to enjoy your new book!
The soul needs sustenance. If you’d like
to do some audience participation please
feel free to count me in. I am, after all,
3 parts ham.”
Sent off two poem submissions
‘Who Wouldn’t Want a Gorilla Mask?’
and ‘We Live Beneath.’
Found out there’s an appointment at the
office scheduled right after the reading.
Will have to keep it under 45 minutes.
I think I have it all put together,
I just need to time it.
Coming back from walking the dog
I checked the mailbox and lo and behold,
there’s a letter from Tom Robbins!
Lacking a vital Hollywood connection,
it looks like he won’t be making it to
the reading, but it was good to hear
there's a letter
Had the reading last night. We went to the
office a half hour early, I put a sign out on
Holly Street and we set up the rooms—an
urn of chai tea, cookies, the 5 books for sale,
also an extra box if hordes of people show up.
The kids were playing Harry Potter as usual
until Rustle needed my help finding the
bathroom. We walked down the hall,
the walls have never stopped smelling of
paint. The Clover is an old building,
a fantastic thing with 3 floors, creaky
tipped hallways that looks like a set
from Outer Limits, filled with odd
offices with paper nametags on the
doors: travel agencies, restaurant supply,
tax advice, or just a handwritten word.
When Rustle was 2 or 3 he loved
elevators—the Clover has a great one—
and once he slipped away down the hall
and got in the elevator. We caught up
with him on the next floor, his eyes
wide. So I was taking him towards
the Executive Suites sign when
J. Genius appeared. “Yes,” he observed,
“You look like a father taking his son
to the bathroom.” Afterwards we went
back to the office which had collected
a few more people. A woman was
apologizing before taking off her shoes,
“My sock has a hole in it.” “That’s
nothing…” I replied and held up my
left heel for inspection. The whole
back of my foot was exposed, the way
it usually is, the reason I get cold feet
walking to work in my sandals.
There used to be two little girls
from Vietnam who would wait with
their mother at the bus stop. They
noticed and would laugh at my feet.
I thought about turning that into a poem.
A few more people showed up and
found chairs. When it was 6:40 and
I guess around 12 people (the audience
was all people we knew, no sign of the
Herald readers, no cigar chewing kid
from Chapter 16) The Mermaid
the reading last night
The dog started barking this morning,
not unusual with her nose pressed to the
window pointed towards the street.
A yellow checkered taxi was parked at
the curb, a guy in a thick black coat was
getting out. He held a suitcase and he
had a cardboard poster tube tucked under
his arm. I’ve never seen him before.
I brought the dog into the kitchen,
she was still carrying on, but when
I got back to the window, the taxi was
pulling away, leaving fog and the visitor
was walking up the driveway. He got
past the sign on the gate ‘The World’s
Smartest Dog’ and then there was a knock on the door.
“Hi, my name’s Darp Thiggens,” it sounded
like he said. It was cold out there on our
doorstep, it seemed like it might even snow.
“I’m from Kazow Toys, they sent me here
to speak with you in person.”
“We’re interested in turning The
Mermaid Translation into a board game.
I’ve brought along some blueprints.”
“Alright,” I said. I let him in. I closed
the door, even though he had the air of a
salesman. They do try our house from
time to time, paying no attention to the
dog sign on the fence or the warning
‘Solicitors Butchered!’ posted on the
He set the suitcase down and tapped out
the blueprint scroll. So even though he
mentioned my book title, I was half
expecting him to try and sell me a
collapsible broom, or willow rotor.
But when he unrolled the paper and
held it up, I saw something else:
a map of a town beside the ocean,
a circus on the bay, a hill with a
mansion at the top, and mines
underneath everything. Looping
through it all was a path like the
yellow brick road. Leaning closer,
I could see the familiar characters
from the novel drawn as little
moveable game pieces.
“That’s the blueprint,” he said and
laid it on the chair. Then he unlatched
the suitcase. With a flourish he
presented it, “And this is the working
Mesmerized, I watched as the little
plastic figure of Sanford rode the
gondola string up the cardboard
slant of September Hill.
The Journal of The Mermaid Translation #2
written 11/30/10 -- 12/18/10