Saturday, February 24, 2007

Getting the Hell out of Dodge...

Argh. Well, for all my promises of increased blogging, I can't say I've returned to any sort of productivity. Right now I'm getting ready to go to Beijing for a couple of weeks. This is something like my ninth China trip, so it's not exactly a big adventure at this point. I know my way around, I see that dorky statue/construction in the Beijing Airport that looks like a combination of Tinker-Toys and something from the late, lamented Disney Monsanto ride, and I feel oddly at home.

In any case, it's not traveling that stresses me out. It's getting ready to go. I always have a million things to do and not enough time, and even if I did have enough time, I manage to procrastinate to the point where I'm up all night before I go throwing crap in a suitcase without a lot of planning. My house is a mess, I need to do laundry, bills to pay, and then there are the cats, I have to make sure their cat-sitter is on board, gotta leave my office in some semblance of order, and what to do with my car, thanks to street cleaning regulations? Passports, visas, e-receipts, drugs, books and gifts, and I always forget something.

But hey. Tonight I did my taxes. I used TurboTax online and opted for automatic deposit of my refund. I actually did the Snoopy dance after I hit the button for "file your returns."

Cat-food, purchased. Books, ditto. Gifts, not yet. Bills still to pay. And much laundry to do.

I deal with my odd anxiety about flying, the sense that I've picked the wrong day, the wrong time, the flight that will fall out of the sky at random. I worry about my elderly cat. Will she be okay without me? Will my cat-sitter give her the proper meds and lap time? I wonder if my staff will fall upon each other with teeth and nails in my absence. I print up a list of my bank accounts and debts and put it in my desk cubby-hole, just in case.

Sometimes I think, who needs this aggravation? I could just take two weeks off, sit on my couch in my pleasant Venice house, write, take walks, eat out, go to the gym. Why fly halfway around the world, dragging an ill-packed suitcase?

The moment I reach the airport, it's all okay. All the stress falls away, like a heavy coat shed in the sun. I find a bar and have a microbrew. I'm on vacation. Drop me just about anywhere, and I'll be okay.

Friday, February 16, 2007

I'm baaack....

I've been completely consumed with life, work and a novel-writing contest at There is much I could say about the Gather experience, but it's late and I'm tired so I'm going to stick to the positives: I "met" some really cool people.

One of them has inspired me to make some of my band's music available on one of those internets. I don't know that you can post music on Blogger, so I've put it up on my Vox blog.

"Sheraton Arms" is a song that I started writing during the Reagan years and finished during Bush 1. The last time I sang in public, I sang this song, at an anti-war fundraiser the night before Bush 2 started bombing Baghdad. It pisses me off more than I can say that this song is more relevant now than it was when I wrote it.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Why I haven't been blogging....

I've been totally consumed by's First Chapters contest for unpublished novelists. Gather has been described as "MySpace for the NPR set." I'm not so sure about that. I've pretty much only dealt with the contest, which is being sponsored by Borders and Simon & Schuster. The prize is a book deal, and money.

So far, Gather has received something like 1700 entries, illustrating both the notion that everyone indeed does have a book inside of them, and that not all books should ever come outside. It's a real mixed bag. A lot of truly wretched stuff, a fair amount that's mediocre, a smaller percentage that's competent, and a few really good submissions.

I have an entry in the contest. I'm not going to post the link here, because I'm not into spreading my identity around the web. If you'd like to check it out, drop me a line at my gmail address listed above. I'd love to get your feedback.