this weekend

I’m going to be at the Edward James Olmos 6th Annual Houston Latino Book and Family Festival on Sunday, at noon, on their children’s stage in the George R. Brown Convention Center, reading my first book for kids, Growing Up with Tamales. Last chance to get a signed copy before Christmas. It’s a free event. Not only will I be there, but they’ll most likely have lowriders, food samples, and people dressed as Clifford, the Poky Puppy, or other characters. You should check it out. It’s Saturday and Sunday, and it’s fun. Oh, and sometimes Edward James Olmos, AKA Commander Adama, shows up, too. I’ve met him three times now, at various points in my life, but he never remembers me. However, I like that, every time I meet him, I’m more successful than I was the time before. Hopefully I’ll see him Sunday, then, and I’ll be like, “Hi, Commander Adama! I have five books now! Last time you met me I only had one! The time before that, I had zero but I was playing Anita in West Side Story! I loved you in Blade Runner!” and he’ll be like “Hello, nice to see you,” and he’ll smile while my boyfriend snaps a photo of us, and the photo will come out with me in mid-blink, so that I look high or developmentally delayed, and I won’t be able to post the photo on my Flickr and no one will believe that I ever met Edward James Olmos at all, much less three times.

So you should come to the festival and see me. This Sunday.

Welcome to the (Publicity) Machine.

I had a meeting with my publishing peeps the other day and we wrote a bunch of dates on a bunch of pieces of paper, and now I have to do a lot of work to make the dates come true. I have to research stuff and email people and ask my publisher to mail books to people and write press releases and coordinate schedules. It doesn’t sound like hard work, and it’s not, but it is a lot of little details to manage.

Doing publicity for yourself is like a whole other job, in addition to your writing and to your day job, if you have one. And in addition to your parenting and your household-running and your girlfriend-being.

Most writers don’t like that part of the job very much. (I think it’s because most writers are introverts. Do you agree?) I’m not complaining, because I’d rather have something to publicize than not. But the publicizing isn’t my fave part, either.

Things I like about publicizing my work:

  • Doing readings, making people laugh during the readings
  • Meeting readers
  • Traveling
  • Exercising my creativity by thinking up new ways to describe my own work
  • When they have free cheese and wine

Things I don’t like about publicizing my work:

  • Needing to remind people about my work constantly, which makes me feel gauche
  • Feeling like I’m bragging about myself
  • Feeling frustrated that I could do more/better if I had more time
  • Receptions where I feel pressured to “mingle,” instead of just eating free cheese and drinking free wine and chilling
  • Putting my work and myself out there (like, say, on a Web application for sharing and rating books), inviting random strangers to criticize my stuff at will, as opposed to simply writing my stuff (like, say, on a blog) and letting interested people read or ignore it as they choose

But I’m getting over those petty peeves, with the help of self-directed cognitive therapy and the daily horoscopes of Mr. Rick Levine. Like I said, I’m not complaining. I’m just telling y’all how I feel so that you authors can empathize, and you aspiring authors can know what you’re in for. Some of you are reading my list of publicity dislikes and saying “What? That sounds like fun!” And to y’all I say, boogie on, reggae extroverts.

(That’s a take on a song by Stevie Wonder. “Boogie on, reggae woman.” Sorry – I’m kind of obsessed with that song ever since I saw a drunk guy try and fail to sing it at karaoke three or four years ago. So he danced, instead. Drunkenly and heartfelt. It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. I wrote about it, here on this blog, back when it happened, but I think that entry’s been deleted. But I still think about that guy and that song all the time, especially when I think about people doing what they want to do, despite the laughter of friends and strangers.)

(The subtitle of these paragraphs is my take on a Pink Floyd song. Yes, half my blog entries are actually just classic rock song lyrics, altered slightly.)

the birds

There are these birds migrating through Houston right now. I researched last year, and I think they’re indigo buntings. That’s what someone from the Houston Audobon society told me They’re grackles. That’s what Andrew at the Houston Audobon Society told me. We always have grackles in Houston (those are my fave birds), and then we get extra ones coming down for the winter, and then they all hang out together on the trees and electric lines.

Andrew told me that the grackles are very smart, for birds, which I already knew. I know this because they steal sugar packets from local restaurant patios, forcing restaurants to think harder. They take the Sweet n Low first, a waitress told me. The pink packets are their faves, basically. Even if they’re generic, I imagine.

Andrew told me that grackles go under parked cars and climb into the radiators to eat the bugs that gather there. Can you imagine?

People here have been commenting on how awesome the birds are for lining up on the electric lines, all spaced two bird-widths apart. I agree that it’s beautiful, and not just because I wish humans would keep two people-widths from me at all times, either.

Male grackles are iridescent black, kind of like black Infiniti G35s in the sun. Female grackles are dark dove-brown and always defer to the male grackles when it comes to food. No matter how many times you throw ciabatta pieces at female crackles, they’ll have to let the male grackle have them, if he shows up and wants them. Even if you yell at the male grackle, “Hey, you get out of here! Those are for her!” They have entrenched patriarchal inequality. But, besides that, they’re awesome.

One of my winning-the-lottery fantasies is that I’ll throw a masquerade ball on New Year’s Eve. For my costume, I’ll fly to Venice and have them custom sew me a (male) grackle costume. It sounds weird, but I have it all planned out, and it’ll be better than you’re thinking.

Don’t tell anyone I told y’all that, though. It’s kind of private, my grackle masquerade fantasy.

I wish PBS would do a show about city birds and their behavior. Maybe there’s one already? I wish someone would do a whole documentary about city birds in Houston. No, I wish someone would fund me and a team of ornithologists to do a documentary about the birds at three or four Houston establishments. Probably Empire, La Madeleine on Shepherd and West Gray, the zoo, and any random Jack in the Box. I wish it was my job, to make that documentary.

I’ve never understood elderly bird-watching hobbyists, but now I’m obsessed with grackles. I still don’t understand them, though, because they travel around, seeking out various species in the wild. I wouldn’t do that. When I’m too old to do anything else, I’ll totally go to different restaurants and name the grackles, pigeons and wrens. I’ll be like, “Here, Julio and Veronica, I bought you an almond croissant. But you have to share it.” And people will be like, “Oh, that’s so sad. Look at that old lady with ‘90s hair. She thinks those animals are people.”

I wonder if I’d even like grackles so much if they weren’t named grackles. If they were just crows or ravens or blackbirds.

Yes. I would.

Okay, don’t tell anybody anything I said about birds today. I’m starting to think it’s a little crazier than I knew.

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Posted in Houston, obessions, venting, writing on 12/09/2008 12:13 pm

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