The last couple months have seen a nice uptick in downloads of the electronic version of "Crossing Decembers" over at Wowio, so naturally, that’s when things come to a screeching halt: Seems there’s something a-brewing with the company and we’ll see what happens. Global availability would be nice, naturally – Wowio’s U.S.-restricted distribution earned it some flak – but I don’t know how this will affect author contracts or compensation.
(The book’s also still available through Lulu.com – where, incidentally, I recently discovered this incredibly nice note in a review from a complete stranger: "It has one of the strongest opening paragraphs I’ve ever heard, a great name, and a very inviting concept." )
In the meantime, I’ll be offering "Crossing Decembers" via email in PDF format through my own site, for a piddling buck-fifty, which I’ll gladly apply toward a subsequent purchase of the print edition. (Yeah, I know some pretty prominent authors give away e-versions free. For me, that’s not an option right now.)
Here’s hoping Wowio comes back sporting a popularity jetpack.
My younger brother Nick stopped by last week with an audiobook CD he’d found at the library and thought I might be interested in. He held it out, and when I saw "Farewell Summer" and "…eagerly anticipated sequel to Dandelion Wine," on the cover, I snatched it and had a brief, stammering "what?huh?when?" moment.
My Bradbury for breakfast, lunch and dinner years are a ways back, but I’ve still paid attention to the guy – at least, I thought I had until I saw that somehow I’d missed this book’s 2006 publication.
It took me about a commute and a half to listen to "Farewell Summer" last week, and while most of it’s better than the last couple Bradbury short story collections, I was disappointed in the ending, which I thought was a little wishy-washy. There’s still a lot of good stuff in here, though: Ray’s voice is as familiar and evocative as ever, and the storyline meanders but still feels closer to a novel like "Something Wicked This Way Comes" – which now becomes kind of the middle of a loose "Green Town Trilogy" by Bradbury – than series of tightly-connected vignettes like "Dandelion Wine."
Audio-wise, Robert Fass is a good performer, though the little-kid lisp he uses for one of the characters – I don’t know if Bradbury actually wrote this or if it’s Fass’ own take – seems to grow more pronounced and a little more grating as the story moves along.
Still, "Farewell Summer" was a good listen/read, and a somehow fitting start to the season.
I had a tremendous run after work tonight – seven miles, 64
minutes, and I felt really good afterward, but that’s not what made it great.
At 5:47, it was gorgeous, mostly cloudy and coolish, but no rain set for my
neighborhood until at least 9 p.m.,
according to weather.com, so out the door I went, starting off at a little
faster cruising pace, trying to push things a little, and my mind’s all over
the place, and the first mile spools past pretty quickly and I turn north for
the long outbound part of the loop.
There’s a suspiciously-denser-than-the-rest cloud sneaking
in from the west, but it doesn’t look threatening, and besides, I’m not turning
around. I’ve gotten so used to not running the same routes repeatedly that I’m
bothered by the very idea of returning along the same path – let alone giving
up early just to avoid the possibility of a little shower.
I’m still feeling pretty good the next few miles, and though
at one point there’s a minute or two of faint spit-rain, it comes when the sun’s
actually out, so I’m not thinking I’m in for anything worse.
When I head west on the road marking the swing that will
start the return run, I get a double side-stitch, and I feel just a hint of
misery. I slow up but lengthen the strides, trying not to hit that “just keep
going, even if you’re barely past walking” wall. It passes, and I turn back
Just before the five-mile mark, the rain comes. I’ve run in
a light, passing shower before, but this comes quick and hard and it’s real
rain, even if it’s not the sideways blattering kind, and in a minute, I’m
soaked and I can’t see much through my glasses, and yet the rain is cool and it’s
like fuel and I’m running at a good clip now, faster than a minute before, and
God help me, I am freaking SMILING like an idiot and I can’t help it.
Cars are passing, and I realize for the moment, I am that
nut case, that freak, that looney who’s out for a jog in a rainstorm.
Rain runs into my eyes and it stings a little, which I
think is weird until I realize it’s mixing with sweat from my forehead, so tug
the sopping collar of my shirt up and wipe my face with it.
When I turn west for the last mile, it’s letting up, and my
pace is catching up to me and there’s a big hill ahead, but I push up without
crawling, and by the time I’m at the peak, the sun’s out. Ahead, there’s a
downhill through a tunnel of trees, and I let momentum carry me to a
near-sprint, and yes, I swear I’m not making this up, when I come rolling out
from under the branches, there’s a freaking rainbow dead opposite me, like I’m West on the compass rose and it’s marking East, and I can see it end to end,
and I think, “I want to be home before it fades,” so I pour it on and I’m
grinning and breathing hard and I lean into the turn onto my street and keep
looking right as the rainbow slips in and out of the trees and houses and then
I’m wheeling up our driveway, yanking the front door of the house open and
trying to read the clock by the television, but I can’t because my glasses are
still covered in water drops.
“Time?!” I ask my wife in a gasp, “What time does it say?”
I do a quick calculation after she answers, and I can feel
my wet clothes weighing on me like chain mail, and my breathing is hot, but I
can’t stop grinning.
My wife Jenn worked the early
shift today, and my daughter spent the night at her grandma’s house, so I had a good chunk of
Father’s Day to myself, so I went out running.
In the fourth mile, I started
taking my mind off the run and making a thank-you list for my wife and daughter: All the things they give me day in and day out that are so much
more important than a new tech gadget or a card or even
fresh-baked brownies. (Though if anyone’s asking, from that list, always pick Door No. 3.)
Here are some of them – and having
a family who makes a list like this possible, is, naturally, the best Father’s
Day present ever.
Thanks for understanding why whiny
Luke Skywalker is funny and classic, while whiny Anakin Skywalker is annoying.
Thanks for recognizing how
important it is to me sometimes to leave the family room and work on writing that’s got nothing to do with earning a
paycheck. (Yet.) It’s more supportive and encouraging than you know.
Thanks for those moments during
our arguments when we still manage to go about the business of making dinner or
doing laundry or cleaning the kitchen and saying "please" and "thank you" even
while we’re fighting.
Thanks for being stronger and more courageous
in your life and your career and your health than you realize. Our daughter could not have a better role model.
Thanks for being the kind of
mom who’s got a talk-about-anything relationship with our daughter. Growing up in a three-boys-no-girls house has left me largely ineffective in some parenting situations.
Thanks for cooking vindaloo.
Seriously: It’s my favorite. Thing. Ever. At least supperly speaking.
To my daughter:
Thanks for being the kind of kid that
teachers and other people say awfully nice things about.
Thanks for feeling bad when you realize you’ve gotten a little too sarcastic: It’s tough, I know, especially when your parents have these warped senses of humor and can be a little smart-mouthed themselves.
Thanks for the difficult things
that you choose to talk to me about, and for the difficult things that you’d
rather share with your mother.
Thanks for sharing Guitar Hero III
cheesetastic jam sessions and appreciating the goofy addicting power that is
Dragonforce, as well as recognizing that The
Police and R.E.M. are, in fact, pretty cool for "old people" music.
Thanks for both wanting to be more
mature and not wanting to grow up too fast, and for recognizing that they’re not mutually exclusive.
Thanks for coming downstairs to
give me a goodbye hug in the morning before I go to work, even though it’s far
earlier than you need to get up, especially over summer vacation.
To both of you:
Thanks for telling me that you
think about my Dad, even though neither of you got to meet him.
Thanks for shouting out Jeopardy!
answers with me.
Thanks for rolling your eyes but
still smiling at my lame, lame jokes.
There are a lot more of these – it
seems like I collected a lot more of them out there in the fields this morning,
but by the time I’d made it back home, it was hard to remember them all.
At any rate: These are the things
you’re always getting me for Father’s Day, whether you know it or not, and they’ll never get old.
Brownies are still welcome.
So my heading-into-sixth-grade daughter gets a call from one of her friends this afternoon: Snickers is sick. Really sick. Dying sick.
Snickers is a ferret. My daughter and her friend have known each other since kindergarten, and since they only live about a mile a way, the two of them have spent a lot of time in each other’s houses, and Snickers, one of many pets belonging to my daughter’s friend, is a fond animal to my kid, too. (Both of these girls are absolute animal nuts – my daughter fills the DVR with those seriously oocky animal surgery/rescue shows, and even when I can’t watch, I love the fact that she’s so into them.)
So, the call: They’re taking Snickers to the vet to be put to sleep, and my daughter’s friend wants her to come along. They come over in their minivan, Snickers peering weakly out from a blanket on a lap. We all give him (her? I honestly don’t know)gentle scratches behind his tiny ears. His bones feel close to the skin. He feels fragile.
My daughter returns a couple hours later, goes up to the bathroom wordlessly. Comes out a few minutes later and barrels into my arms as I’m climbing the steps to make sure she’s OK. She’s just sobbing, and I can feel tears in my shirt.
My daughter tells me later that she and her friend stood in the vets office hugging when Snickers was taken away. They’d waited together for Snickers’ body to be brought out for a backyard burial at home.
It was still a little bit light outside when my daughter went to bed. Sometimes she jokes about not sleeping anymore with the worn, stuffed dolly she’s had since she was born. Tonight she didn’t say anything about it, but I saw her tugging it close under her pillow.
Jenn & I were in Rhode Island last weekend for >counting on fingers< 39 hours, give or take.
We packed in enough fun and even some unwinding time around Aaron & Jessica’s wedding that when we got home Sunday night, it felt like coming back from a vacation.
Friday night: Bowling – in my case, horribly – with 80-plus people, seeing folks I hadn’t seen in years – like Aaron’s younger brothers, who almost paralleled me and my brothers in age range – full-on 80s pop and rock blaring throughout the alley (“Just a city boy/Born and raised in South Detroi-ooooit…”), and platefuls of wings, potato skins and pizza. Afterwards, running into two of the Spider Monkey guys (more of Aaron’s old pals) back at the hotel, then walking to a nearby bar to hang with my brothers and our wives – I discover Newport Storm‘s got some pretty good stuff, Maynard.
Saturday morning: Walk along the shore with Jenn, sit on the rocks and B.S. with my brother Adam and his wife, eat a mediocre, way over-priced lunch that’s worth it anyway because we’re sitting over the ocean in sun and a nice breeze, then chilling a little before the wedding.
The Wedding: Officiant’s remarks include “Love is ‘More than Meets the Eye.’” Vows cover loving, honoring, protecting, and fighting alongside one another against giant robots and the impending zombie invasion. Aaron & Jessica look like they’re having a ball. So are those of us lucky enough to be there.
Reception: Transformers on the cake. Surreal moment where I realize that my mom is having a chat with one of
the original Takara Transformers designers from back when my brothers were filling their toy shelves in our basement with the things. The DJ unloads a night of more eighties rock, with one significant throwback: Dude plays “Hang on Sloopy.” I don’t know if he realized what he was doing, but within about
three seconds of the song’s start, a dozen or so of us Buckeye Staters are on the floor and there’s no pre-planning at all when we launch into the “O-H-I-O” chorus at the top of our lungs. Heck, we even got a few New Englanders caught up in the fun.
There is “Blister in the Sun” and there is “Let’s Go Crazy” and there is Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes,” for which nobody is on the floor except Jenn and me, and can it possibly be 12 years since we walked down the aisle to that song and got married on her uncle’s back patio?
It is a night of Awesome.
I wake up at 5:30 on Sunday, a half hour before my alarm is set to go off. I decide to go for a short run partly because I’m wide awake, partly because I haven’t run in a week and partly because I want to prove to Jenn that packing my running shoes was not pointless after all.
It’s humid and a little foggy and already pretty warm, and I do about 2.3 miles up and down the coast.
After a shower and breakfast, Jenn & I walk on the beach and pick up small shells, stones, and a piece of sea
glass. The ocean water is numbingly cold, but we stand in it anyway, and its sting still feels fresh in my memory.
Can you feel anything but excited about a wedding weekend with an invitation that includes this –
– followed by these:
Lanes and Shoes will be Provided
Buffet Dinner will be Served
Can you? I submit that you canNOT!
Big time road trip this weekend as my old friend Aaron – artist of church pew attendance pads, consumer of Cool Ranch Doritos, Coke and plain cheese sandwiches, and Commodore 64 Archon warrior extraordinaire – gets married.
(He’s also done a bit of work at Hasbro and created a fantastically cool comic book and character, Gumbo, which another loooongtime friend has written about over at Random Thoughts Escaping. Me, I gotta hit the road…)