Tag Archives: Cheers

My end of 2011 homework

Last year, Jamey set me a homework assignment to think about the things that I accomplished in 2010. I’m going to carry on the tradition of reflecting on the previous year now, at the tail end of 2011.

While it is not the end of a decade for the rest of the world, I am one week away from the close of a very important personal decade  —  my twenties. I am mostly thinking about that milestone in these last hours of 2011, but if I’m honest, I’m glad to bid adieu to 2011.

It has been a tough year, exhausting and definitive. Hard. Also, I became more myself this year, the last of my twenties, which is probably fitting, but which has also been painful. Many of my friends have promised that the 30s are much better than the 20s and 2012 already promises to be a banner year.

And now, 11 Things About 2011:

1. I worked on four movies and, in two of them, I had a new job title and new experiences. For Playing the Field, I was a film courier, which enabled me to conduct my “Great Louisiana Tour” and listen to many audio books, books I might not otherwise have read. For 21 Jump Street, I spent a lot of time on set shadowing a script supervisor friend of mine. I spent more time on set for that film that I did for all the other movies I’ve worked on combined.

2. I re-hauled the layout for my blog, then changed the name entirely. In between, I developed recurring posts like my Quarterly Reading Reports and my bragging on posts. The blog became a truer version of itself, more what I wanted from the experience of blogging. I wrote fewer posts, but they were more impactful. I had less traffic, but my recurring posts saw a gradual increase in traffic (though most traffic is still driven by Banksy-related searches, to be honest). I began actively deciding what my online presence would be, in earnest, during this year.

3. I mourned the deaths of three people. Their deaths instigated a lot of rumination on my part and brought about many conversations with people, both close friends and strangers. I have been, this year, both sad at their passing and humbled by what I know of their lives.

4. The year was marked by three car accidents in quick succession and though I was only in one of the accidents myself and nobody was seriously hurt in two of the three, it was more than I thought I could bear. I became very nervous in cars, but ironically, this year was filled with more driving than most, which forced me to face something I began to fear before it could cripple me.

5. I learned to tango. Or, I began to. I went to a tango lesson several months ago and since then, dancing every week has become one of the best and most educational experiences of my year – maybe of my life so far. I love to dance. I always have, but I had never recognized before how inexorably dance  (or the lack thereof) has always impacted my relationships. A new writing project was born from the experience, which I talked about at the end of NaNoWriMo. I’ll be working on a dance-themed memoir, or a book of dance essays. It’s kind of both things at once, which made Jamey think of Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running when I told her about it. Nice to know there might be a tradition for this crazy creation of mine.

6. I haven’t forgotten about The Winter Circus. Oh no. That novel has been with me for years and I inch quietly closer all the time. I’m in a strange stage with the book, where most of the writing of it does not involve writing, but thinking and dreaming. It happens sometimes. In the meantime, I wrote my first short story in a long time and probably the first I’ve conceived of from beginning to end all at once and was actually satisfied with at the finish of the first draft.

7. I have begun submitting my work for publication almost militantly, as I should have been doing most of the last few years. I’m lucky enough to publish reviews regularly (225 published almost double the pieces they did in 2010, which had itself been a productive year). But now, I am broadening my scope and submitting my fiction for publication and next year, I’ll submit creative nonfiction as well. I promise to brag on myself should my submitting be fruitful. When it is fruitful.

8. In direct correlation to taking myself more seriously as a writer, my writing community is growing. My own, personally, as well as that of my writing group. This year, Peauxdunque Writers Alliance staged its first literary concert. Yeah, You Write was enormously successful thanks to the efforts of our talented lineup and our equally talented members. I discovered, as chairwoman of the event, that I have a certain talent for orchestrating things like this and though it was very time-consuming, it was also very satisfying.

9. I struggled with change. Changes in my relationships. Changes in address–someone is moving soon from the house she’s had for years, which just happens to be situated on Emily Ave. and silly as this is, it has made me feel connected to her when we’re not together. Changes in my city. All of these changes are bittersweet. There is so much possibility in the midst of the wistfulness for the way things were. One example: today, my trusty coffee shop Cheers closed its doors. On my bio page, I call myself  “an official ‘Anchor of Cheers: Keeping the Place in Place since 2007.'” It will open again as a restaurant and there are many other coffee shops in this city. But Cheers has been such a central part of my life since I moved to New Orleans that when several of my friends heard the news, they asked (not entirely joking) if I would be moving. Cheers was my workplace between movie jobs, where most of The Winter Circus took its current shape. Most people knew to look for me there if they couldn’t get in touch with me. I met numerous friends there and people who have changed my life: one of my ex-boyfriends, Dave and Maurice just to name three. In a fitting farewell, not to mention an apropos New Year’s Eve celebration, Maurice and I wrote there together until they closed. We were the last customers.

10. I did not win NaNoWriMo. But I won in innumerable other ways because the experience of writing with my sister again was invaluable. As was learning that I can’t lock myself into a story for the sole purpose of finishing – I have to write what I’m passionate about. Story is more important that gimmick and it always will be, for me.

11. Lagniappe. This one is true about 2011 and it will be true about 2012. I seek, always, balance in my life. I achieve it continually in little ways and the little ways connect into bigger ways. I wish us all balance in 2012 – not more sorrow than we can stand at any one time and no less success than we deserve for all of our work.

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NaNoWriMo Day 28 – the 10K day

As often happens, my phenomenal Day 26 was followed by a (relatively speaking) fallow day. As it was my parents’ last full day in the city, I spent a lot of it with them. I went to their hotel in the morning so we could all listen to my brother on the radio – Hard Luck Norm on kufo.com. Mamma Mia! and I played cards and talked with Papa Bear with the hard rock in the background until we’d all hush up when Norm‘s voice came on. It was really fun. We’re all proud of him.

Mamma Mia! and I had a quick lunch (this was after I ran into both my 225 editor and a former boss within a few feet of my house), then went off to see Burlesque. It’s about what you’d expect, maybe a little more: high-energy, sexy, great singing and dancing, very attractive people all around. Not the best writing or acting in the world, but by far not the worst. By far. And I was surprised by how many funny lines were in the movie, thanks mostly to Stanley Tucci (and some by Kristen Bell). Cher was poignant and Christina Aguilera, while the acting weak link in the movie, was powerful whenever she was on stage.

We rounded out the evening with Papa Bear at Juan’s and had a good time together. There was a quick cameo appearance by Jamey, which delighted my parents and then they left me to write. As it was the end of the day, I “only* got about 1,800 words done. Nothing to sneeze at, to be sure, but not quite the word count I need at this point, especially as the last two days of the month are work days.

Woke early today to see off my parents. And then I went straight to Cheers and I wrote. As my parents were driving home to Georgia (7+ hours), I spent that time writing. Maurice and Jamey came by and cheered me up and on. It was physically exhausting, but relatively easy going thanks to some steady word wars with folks on Twitter. By around five p.m., I had just under 7,870 words and my parents were getting closer to home.

I took a break for Thanksgiving leftovers and my Netflix movie – Get Him to the Greek. Was absolutely prepared to hate this movie because both Russell Brand and Jonah Hill mostly annoy me. But, I laughed out loud during most of the movie. I loved the Kristen Bell cameo where she played Sarah Marshall. Too funny.

Anyway, I actually got back to work after dinner and the movie. I knocked out a couple more thousand words and made today an official 10K day. My final count for today is 10,604 and my total so far is 42,111. This is actually doable at this point. Really. I just have to remember that tomorrow when I’m exhausted after work.

Can’t stop now!

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Novel updates

If you’re curious how the book is coming, I’ll post some of my recent Facebook status updates here for your perusal. They kinda say it all.

January 13 11:24 a.m. Emilie is up and at it.

January 13 3:15 p.m. Emilie is starting to wonder what book she’s been writing all these years as she realizes that all her favorite parts of THAT book don’t belong anywhere in THIS book.

January 14 6:25 p.m. Jamey fixed my novel today. Seems so obvious in hindsight. I only have to re-write half of it, after all. Finally, this is starting to make sense. Thanks, Jamey.

January 16 1:28 p.m. Emilie is hoping for, as a belated birthday present, a major Saints win.

Okay, so that’s not exactly relevant to my novel, but I do live in New Orleans, keep in mind.

January 17 12:16 p.m. Emilie is trying to figure out what to do with her day. How’s about this…I could go write…

Today 5 hours ago Emilie is at Cheers, ready to work.

Today 1 hour ago Emilie has been making progress today. Greedily, she wants more progress, faster.

Today 13 minutes ago AHA! Again.

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Hey Dancing Heart

The title of the post is the title of a personal ad I happened to see. I love it, so I’m kinda playing around with it to see what it fits. Because I just have to use it. 🙂

Life’s been kinda chaotic. My temp job came to an end and the very same day (after my going-away party, awwww), I drove up to Baton Rouge for the Louisiana Book Festival. Many of my friends were on panels and Jamey was kind enough to invite me to share her gorgeous hotel room. That first night, we were driven in style to the Author’s Party at the State Library – which was good, because I hadn’t packed for the cold and that’s a bit of a walk from the hotel! We met some really amazing people, caught up with old friends and ate wonderful food from Mansur’s in the stacks of the State Library. There is nothing like witnessing your friends being celebrated, so it was a good night. Jamey and Barb met up with the folks from the Oxford American who’ve published them this year, as well as other writers-including Alex Cook, who not only writes for Oxford American, but 225 Magazine and Country Roads as well. And it turns out we have a decade-past M’s Fine and Mellow Cafe connection, so that was cool. Louis and his wife Elly were there and I got to see my mentor David Madden as well. After we were put into the last cars back to the hotel, some of us decided to go out on the town a bit, though we had to be up early, and that was a blast as well.

The whole time we were at that end of downtown, near the LSU Museum of Art and the hotel, close to the river, I was having fits of nostalgia, some really powerful flashbacks. Nearly ten years ago, the hotel was a ruin and the museum wasn’t there. Downtown was a ghost town after 6 p.m. when all the government workers would flee the encroaching darkness. M’s Fine and Mellow and Tabby’s Blues Box were pretty much the only things open and the year that I became a regular at M’s (every Tuesday, open mic night) was a year of my personal blossoming. I met many of my friends then and there, I forced myself to come out of my shell more. And it really felt like the place was ours, empty and dangerous as it may have been. Now the mural that used to be on the side of M’s is gone, replaced by a painted sign for The Roux House, which occupies the same space. The parking lot I used to park in is the cradle of the gorgeous museum, whose rooftop offers a breathtaking view of the river. Tabby’s is gone and in its place, a club my friend Daniel Lee plays at sometimes, I think. I met Daniel that very first Tuesday I went to M’s, grabbed his hand as he passed by my table and told him how much I liked his music. He thanked me and sat down to talk. These days, downtown Baton Rouge is full of life and it’s great to see. It’s not the same, but it’s still a beautiful thing.

The day of the Book Festival was glorious and overwhelming. I don’t know what voodoo the organizers of the Book Festival do, but there always seems to be gorgeous weather for the festival. Sometimes it’s hot, but as far as I can remember, it’s always been clear. This year, it was chilly with such a crystalline blue sky, you felt like you were walking around in an advertisement.

I had to pop in and out of panels to see everybody, but I feel satisfied with my glimpses and experiences. Barb in the enormous Senate Chamber with Rick Bragg et al for just a few minutes. Then, Louie’s book reading where I ran into a friend who is coincidentally a fan of his and was gratified to hear another reader say, “I picked up your book because of the piece I read in 225…” Then, a thrilling ride in a golf cart with Elly and Louis to the signing tent – Elly and I crying, “Wheeeee!” and urging the driver to go faster on the sidewalks around the Capitol building and Louie trying to act like he didn’t know either of us.

After chatting with Louie and Elly for a few minutes, I wandered around some of the vendor tents, stopping to talk to the great folks who publish me occasionally at 225 Magazine. It was really nice to put a face to the e-mail conversations. I’ve known my editor, Jeff Roedel, since our days in the Cinema Club together at college, but I hadn’t met Tom Guarisco, 225‘s editor, though we’d communicated. One of the downfalls of freelancing, though it’s so great when you get to have a face-to-face. I’d never spoken with Rachael Upton, the online news editor, but I was very pleased to meet with her there at the festival. She does really great work with the website and she just happens to be really nice.

And then it was back into the Capitol building for a whirlwind of panels. A few minutes in the “Humor in Welty” panel that some professors of mine from LSU were on, and then across the hall to Barb’s very intimate reading from her book, More of This World or Maybe Another. She read from the story “Killer Heart,” and there was this one particular line (won’t say which, not out of context) where I felt like she’d reached over and punched me in the stomach. I made an audible sound, a sort of agonized, “Oh,” and that’s probably one of the best compliments I can give a writer. Especially a short story writer because, as I confessed to Barb later that night, I struggle to read and write short stories. There’s something about them that is harder for me than novels. They’re very different beasts. More on Barb and her book in a few paragraphs.

I had to leave Barb’s panel to get to Jamey’s “Work-in-Progress” panel with our teacher Moira Crone and another writer named Maggie Collins. It was really great to hear Moira read her piece. Jamey’s was material I had heard about, but never read (or heard). She prefaced hers by saying that it truly was a work in progress as she’d been working on it that morning at breakfast. I can attest to the truth of that. 🙂

Again, I had to duck out early from the “Works-in-Progress” panel to get to Toni’s panel about the Bobbie Faye books. She was entertaining her crowd with behind the scenes stories about the repackaging of the series and they asked a lot of questions about whether there’d be a fourth Bobbie Faye book (yet to be determined), one reader even going so far as to passionately say, “I think you owe us that story.”

The rest of the day was conversations, drinks and then a long, wonderful dinner. And then a long, not-so-wonderful drive back to New Orleans, getting back late at night/early in the morning, whichever way you look at it. Sunday was a recovery and packing day, catching up two friends for lunch and dinner respectively, before driving to Georgia on Monday.

Tuesday, I attended a press session with some of the Top 10 dancers from Season 5 of So You Think You Can Dance. It’s interesting covering an event as press when you are also a fan of whatever you’re covering. It was hard to be cool and professional when talking to Evan, for instance.  At one point, he was playing lacrosse with one of the tour folks and the ball rolled up a hill to land at my feet. I got to toss it to him and I was giggling girlishly (in my head, oh, I hope it was just in my head) as I tossed it back to him. Hold onto that journalistic integrity with all your strength. You’ve got to, as there’s still something of a prejudice against bloggers (I was there representing Pure SYTYCD, not my personal blog). I think the dancers definitely appreciate the bloggers from the fan sites cause they know their names and stuff about the show – also, as “my boys” (Phillip, Jason and Evan) pointed out, one of the recent fan site bloggers knew a lot of stuff that was going on with the tour that only the dancers knew!

Also, an advantage of blogging? Immediacy. A disadvantage at times, maybe. But, that day, total advantage. I was able to go to a nearby Kroger with a Starbucks (and wifi) and upload the pictures I’d just taken for our readers. Check out the post I did that afternoon here. I’ve been struggling on a book for years that relatively few people have seen, so it’s nice to have something in my life that I can write and have thousands of people see immediately. It’s helpful to have some instant gratification in my life and career.

It was another long day as Mamma Mia! met me at the Arena for the show that evening and the show itself was several (wonderful) hours. And then, being the total dorks and enormous fans that we are, we stayed afterwards (hours in the cold) for the meet and greet with the dancers. All of the dancers I’d met that afternoon remembered me when we met late that night. Unfortunately, most of my pictures didn’t turn out all that well, but I had some good conversations I will always remember and I did get a picture of Evan’s and my almost-matching wrist tattoos. It was both a freelance opportunity and a great bonding experience with Mamma Mia! Lyndsey Parker (Reality Rocks) set a great precedent when she took her mom to the American Idol finale. Take your mom to work, payback for all those “take your daughter to work” days growing up. 🙂

And then, of course, we got to watch the Top 20 announcement episode together the next night. Had dinner with high school friends and their daughter my last night in town and then rocketed back to New Orleans on Friday – especially for a book party for Barb.

Let me say one more time – it’s a wonderful thing to see your friends celebrated and no one deserves it more than Barb. Hosted at a gorgeous Midcity home right off the bayou, the event was simply breathtaking, what each and every one of us can aspire to one day. Reward for finishing and publishing our books. Earlier in the day, I’d been reading More of This World or Maybe Another at Cheers and Barb’s story “If the Holy Spirit Comes For You” made me cry in public. If you can make me laugh out loud on buses or cry in my local coffeeshop, you have completely moved me, sucked me into your world and, as I said earlier, that is the highest compliment I can pay a writer. I was so mad at the characters in that story and so mad at Barb for pulling all these emotions through my skin (painfully) and out of my body with her words. But apparently, it’s great advertisement for her brilliance because my neighbor S. saw how upset I was and when I told her why I’d been crying, she said, “I can’t wait to read that book!”

And that pretty much brings us up to date, to now. I’ve fallen out of the habit of being at Cheers everyday [:(] and today, just now, I noticed that they painted over the bathroom graffiti. It was really disorienting and kinda sad. But then, I just told myself – it’s a blank slate, a clean canvas. Like my book. What was there was great, but what will be there will be better. And I can’t wait to see what it will be.

Two people at the festival told me, “it’s your turn soon, to sit over there and sign books.” I have to take their faith in me and make it my own. And do the freaking work.

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Fess Up Friday (the so glad to be done edition)

Let it be known that around 7:35 p.m. today, I finished my book and my first act upon said completion was to launch myself across Cheers, throw myself into Jamey’s arms and sob for about three minutes. And then she took me to Juan’s for some melted cheese and margaritas where I occasionally sighed with relief and randomly grinned and was generally goofy.

Just prior to this launching and sobbing and celebrating, B. came by and knocked on the window and made silly faces at me, to which I very meanly held up a finger and mouthed “ONE PAGE” and then made a rude gesture for him to leave me alone. But he’s forgiven me, so that’s okay. This is what happens when one finishes one’s masterpiece at a public venue.

At this point, my computer has threatened to die several times, my hands and wrists hate me and I am incredibly sleep deprived, but I never once had to consume an energy drink and I’ve slept at least four or six hours each night. I think we can surmise that my coffee habit is so much more pervasive and deeply rooted than the last time I pushed to finish a book (ha, also this one, but in a different version) that I had no need for energy drinks (Rockstar didn’t come through anyway).

But let’s rewind to where I left off with the last FUF. N. came into town and we assembled a motley crew for a bit of drinking and dinner at the local and the next morning, we recuperated with some yummy at Slim’s. Then, we hit Magazine and the Quarter for some fun shopping and indulged in the best candy in the city. And then, like a good girl, I stayed in to write while N. went out. Though, we did hit the local after that, so it’s a toss up how good I actually was. And then we recuperated again the next day with Slice and some Borders browsing before she went home. I spent the rest of Sunday doing some last minute hurricane research, which was pretty traumatic, but helpful. I watched a short movie (41 minutes) about the affects of storms on Louisiana’s coastal wetlands called Hurricane on the Bayou that’s pretty remarkable and I highly recommend it. It features some awesome local musicians and there’s a pretty amazing story behind it, but that’s for another time.

I finished a wonderful book called Cures for Heartbreak by a writer I adore, Margo Rabb. I managed to keep my (few) appointments and I did watch SYTYCD both Wednesday and Thursday, though I almost forgot about Wednesday and missed the very beginning. But largely, people knew to ignore me and I felt qualified to ignore them.

And so, some final word counts for you:
5/23: 68
5/24: 1,074
5/25: 4,118 (yeah, I know)
5/26: no new words, but lots of editing
5/27: 2,205
5/28: 1,688
5/29: 4,619 (whew)

The days got kinda strange there. For several days in a row, I was up till 3 and then 4 and then 5 a.m. I’d get a few hours’ sleep, address bills and emails (the least amount I could get away with), talk to Jamey and drink coffee, putter around a bit, then go home and eat. Around 7 or 8 p.m., I’d begin writing again. This morning, I was up till 7 a.m. and almost finished the book. I had ONE chapter left and had to stop because I was exhausted and had an appointment in the afternoon. Even after I forced myself to shut down the computer and go to bed, I was jotting down notes in a frenzy. So after the appointment and puttering around, I got back to work about 5 p.m. and by 7:35, I’d finished. Which brings us back to the beginning of this post.

Thank you to everyone for your support.

In parting, some links to things I’ve found interesting this week:

This person gives me hope for the youth of America (and also makes me sad about that status of education in America).

This is mostly a test to see if W. reads my blog. 🙂 Horror novels on toilet paper. What next?

Men love Twilight, too.

Yay for Louiethis is fun.

To bed, go I. My blog is a year old, my book is finished and I get to see my Papa Bear tomorrow. Life is good.

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A catch up

If you follow me elsewhere (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, or even [gasp] real life), you might’ve heard my plea recently for you to enforce a May 1st deadline for my book. Like the heroes that you are, you responded with threats, promises, treats, condolences, coffee and chocolate.

I never intended to be done May 1st. Instead, I was practicing with a deadline. The first draft of the book got finished when I cut off almost all human contact, locked myself in my house for 10 days subsisting almost entirely on Rockstar Energy Drink (I’m plugging it in the hopes that they’ll send me a free supply for my new deadline) and vegetables suggested by Steph. I had to finish that book, there was simply no other option. A lot of crap resulted, but a lot of sleep-deprived genius also happened. Okay, some sleep-deprived genius, a respectable percentage when you consider the vast amounts of crap.

I’m a lot closer to finishing this book than I allow myself to believe on a day-to-day basis and around the new year, I set myself a deadline of June 1st. So this is my for realz deadline and I hope you won’t feel punk’d, I really did need your help for the dress rehearsal. And I continue to need your threats, promises, treats, condolences, coffee and chocolate. Not to mention Rock Star and veggies.

In return, I pledge to:

-spend less time playing with music
-watch less t.v.
-refuse most of your offers of recreational activities
-take on the least amount of freelance work I can
-ignore this blog and all of you as much as possible.

But only for one month.

With any luck, there will be only one blog post for all of May and it will happen somewhere around the 30th and will say something along the lines of: We won! The book’s done!

And then I will sleep and spend time returning your calls and begin the process of sending the book to its new interim caretaker.

So, for perhaps the last time for a little while, here’s some stuff I’ve noticed recently:

Seth Grahame-Smith is inventive, crazy cool and now rich.

I’ve been saying for years that we needed this.

Stephenie Meyer rocks – sold 16% of all books last quarter and reminded us all what a writer with a fan base is capable of. In case we forget, I’m sure there’ll be another reminder from her soon. Perhaps a spin off featuring J. and R. (aka N.)???

Just to prove I read other things besides MediaBistro, passenger lands plane.

This is a bad idea, but makes a great point about the length of AI.

Wonder if you can get carpal tunnel of the thumbs from texting. Or heart attacks from the bills.

Angelina will star in movie(s) based on Patricia Cornwell’s series.

Ron Howard defends Angels&Demons. Hasn’t the Church figured out they’re the only reason anybody cares about this movie at this point? Audrey Tautou gone? Me too. Though at least it looks like the mullet’s also gone.

I have two desks, too. Have for years. It’s a good idea. If you count Cheers, I have more like three.

Note to self: Don’t marry another writer. Or at least make sure you can communicate very, very well before you do.

The Soloist. I dug the long music/color sequence. Admired the chutzpah of Joe Wright. Had other issues, but not that particular one.

‘Bout to be kicked outta Cheers, gotta run. Cheers.

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Writing about music…

is still writing.

Today I am faced with a short review of The Song Is You by Arthur Phillips in EW and then his playlist blog for Living with Music. Guess which was more effective in making me want to read the book?

EW gave The Song Is You an A-, but the reviews are so wildly unreliable in determining what I will like that it’s amusing. But then they’re not reviewing for me, are they? Who are they reviewing for? Who does anybody review for?

I’m not going to answer that.

So I read Living with Music religiously, yet somehow seemed to have fallen behind. Today, I caught up and when I read the following, I was like, “I’m sold…”

2) Sympathy for the Devil, the Rolling Stones. Mick Jagger, channeling Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel “The Master and Margarita” and feeling more than up to the task of speaking for Satan, ends up producing one of the great works of the 20th century, encapsulating a couple millenniums of evil in six minutes and, like a good alumnus of the London School of Economics, blaming the Russian Revolution on the Prince of Darkness.

I managed to write about music and a book. I’d say that was a pretty successful use of my time.

[4.17.09: My copy of The Song Is You came in today. At Cheers, I read the prologue and since it deals with Billie Holiday’s I Cover the Waterfront, I put that on while I read. I honestly got chills. It was hard to put the book down and get to work.]

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Post-graduate studies

Someone commented recently in a private response to my blog that, “You don’t talk about your writing as much as you used to…is this because you’re not writing?”

Yes and no. Yeah, that’s the answer.

I’m making HUGE strides and progress and then standing still. Trying to motivate myself without beating myself up. Having issues with authority (writing about about an elderly, gay, multiracial man can be a real bitch, you know, when you are none of these things yourself, and this is on top of wanting to represent the circus and New Orleans aspects of my book respectfully and accurately as well).

So here’s the answer to what’s going on with my writing at the moment: I’m doing rigorous post-graduate studies with Professors Hatley and Causey (both of whom have cool news on their sites – go read!) with numerous visiting lecturers that range from the baristas at Cheers to my new roommate to whatever music happens to catch my fancy.

I’m continuing with a bit of freelance work, as always, which I realize I’m extremely fortunate to do. For instance, recently met Louie Maistros at a local signing and had a lot of fun hanging out with him, his wife and friends before, during and after the show. Check out his book The Sound of Building Coffins. He’s got a Baton Rouge event this coming Sunday, as well as more New Orleans ones. I’m going to interview him soon for 225, so be on the lookout for that. Speaking of, the 225 feature on Clarence Nero will be out next month.

Always, the book is foremost. Even if I’m not talking about it. There are just gonna be times when it’s a lot more fun to talk about yummy media or President Obama being a die-hard Twitter tweeter. I may actually join now, just so I can follow his tweets.

While I don’t condone thievery, of course, this short piece was heart-warming because it reminded me that at least books are still considered valuable…

And maybe it doesn’t seem so relevant, but I promise this is: I looooove the NY Times’ Paper Cuts Blog and here’s a great quote from Karan Mahajan, the latest author to blog a soundtrack. “I was post-colonial and didn’t even know it….Before globalization, the English-speaking middle class [in India] trusted things that were “imported” more wholeheartedly anyway — a sort of colonial hangover. So we embraced [Freddie] Mercury like he was our own because we thought he wasn’t our own, even though he was our own.”

Care to speculate why it’s relevant?

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Technology Resistant

It’s time for a new post. Beyond time, probably. I stand by my accordion post, but I got a few emails about that one. LOL. Eh, at least you’re writing me.

So I recently described myself as technology resistant. I should clarify that I understand most technologies, especially the ones I need to become accustomed to as a writer and for jobs. You’re looking at the product of one, actually. And, I was a squealy squealy girl when my friend Mel plugged a dohicky cord into my MP3 player, attaching it to her car radio and we got to drive around South Louisiana to my favorite songs. Her iPhone is pretty fantastic, actually. She can solve trivia disputes, find the times for movies, get directions, play music, etc., all with a single tool.

I resist, resist, reeeeeeesiiiiisssst the iPhone, however. I acknowledge its greatness and this is WHY I resist it. Once you pop, you can’t stop. Every iPhone owner I know tells me this and I take one look at it’s glittery goodness and I know. I will be come THAT person, the one none of us can stand, who is addicted to technology and helpless without it. I purposefully buy the cheapest, least glorious phone I can find and limit all the bells and whistles. And you know, as much as I complained about my basic red Samsung, I have dropped that thing a million times and it’s still going strong. It’s so dinged, cracked and scratched nobody would steal it. I took that thing to Europe, to Russia, to New York and back. It did the trick.

And what about cell phones? It used to be, you screened calls if you didn’t want to talk to someone. “Oh, I wasn’t home.” But there is something about my cell phone answering that urges a Pavlovian response. I can’t bear to ignore the call. And I feel like, if I miss a call, I must respond very quickly. Texts have to be returned asap. I’m connected. Some of the happiest moments are when I forget my phone at home or in my car, except then I’m worried my car will break down and I can’t call for help…

The thing is, folks, I can’t even remember phone numbers anymore. I’m entirely reliant on the pre-programed numbers in my phone. I can remember two of my best friends’ parents’ phone numbers from like 10 years ago with barely any prompting, but I can’t tell you my last boyfriend’s phone number. Or my best friend’s. If I should upgrade to a shiny iPhone, how much more helpless and dependent will I become?

The other day, I struggled for 20 minutes to find phone numbers for a friend using Google, etc. I got the wrong person when I did find a potential number and she promptly opened up her phone book and gave me several helpful numbers. Her phone book. You know, old school, a book. That thing the phone company throws on your porch periodically.

Are we capable of keeping our McGuyver-like, practical, real-world skills as we allow machines to further simplify our lives? Somehow I doubt it.

Another friend (you shall remain safely anonymous) recently asked me sheepishly, “What does LMAO mean again?” We’re not even 30, so don’t call us fuddy-duddies, but the thing is, everything is changing so much faster now due to technology. Sometimes, that’s a cool thing. But more often, it’s bewildering. I find myself saying old-fashioned things like, “Can you turn that down? Do you know correct English? WHAAAAT?!!” quite often. I dream of cabins in the woods without electricity and plumbing, then I kinda shake myself and wonder, “But what would I DO? I’d miss Bones and American Idol. I couldn’t write after it got dark. And outhouses??”

I’m the girl who’s almost desperate to go on Survivor and has confessed to friends that I’d like to be turned into What Not to Wear (Stacy would kill me), except I don’t want to be on t.v. I don’t want my 15 minutes of fame, my blogger stardom. I remember thinking, as a kid, that one of the best things about being a writer was that, unless you were Stephen King, everyone could know your work and not know your face. It was possible for your name to be famous, but you could also go to the grocery store unaccosted. We’re all competing in a super-saturated market.

So how do we market ourselves and our work and still lead private lives? That IS the question. This world is getting faster and smaller and to me, often, scarier.

Take Google Earth, for instance. Ohhhh. Yesterday, I walked up to one of my neighbors at Cheers and he waved me closer to look at his computer screen. And there was… our street. My front door. Satellite images (not real-time, thank goodness) of our street. Up close and personal. It was cool, but I felt a wave of terror and revulsion. I got a bit distracted, back at my own table, by plugging every address from my address book into Google Earth. I was fascinated and really, really creeped out. And you know what? With every address I checked, except for one, I could see front doors, yards, cars, whole streets outside their houses like I was going to visit for lunch.

When did we stop asking, “Just because we can — should we?”

And structured controls of things like satellite imaging and say cloning can get scary too, cause then we’re looking at Big Government, Big Brother type situations. So I guess it comes down to each of us choosing to make active decisions. To try to remember phone numbers, to stop morbidly typing in every address we know into Google Earth. Hesitate. What’s wrong with that? Take your time. We don’t have to jump into everything without thinking about it first, evaluating how it makes us feel, how it may change our lives.

Sigh. So this post all came together because I accidentally got AIM. I signed up for a MapQuest account so I could save my searches and apparently, simultaneously signed up for AIM. This entire blog/rant began there and then I remembered everything that’s happened recently that also pinged the same technology anxieties.

How do we have a private life these days? Between MyFace (let’s go ahead and add AIM, OkCupid, Twitter into all of that) and Google Earth and our iPhones. Everything is connected and some days, that can be great. But it can get problematic. I’m looking for a job right now. All a prospective employer needs to do is type my name into a search engine and this blog comes right up. Perhaps my MySpace, as well. Instantly, they read this latest post “technology resistant” and they’re uncertain whether I can work a fax machine (I can), scan (yep) or probably even type (fastest fingers in the southeast, folks). Maybe they’re resistant to hiring me because I’m technology resistant.

The consequences of everything are harder to escape because the world is small and faster. There’s nothing wrong with being careful, using our problem-solving and analytical abilities to work out what feels right for us, how and when we’re going to invest in the McMyFace world.

Another thing that sparked this blog for me was watching a slideshow of “weird news images” and seeing a picture of a robot acting in a play with a woman. This isn’t where I saw it, but where I found it, second image down. Let me know what you think.

The whole technology issue is brought up in He’s Just Not That Into You, by Drew Barrymore’s character. Her technology stress and anxiety is eerily spot on, very valid. Also, watch the hysterical Top 10 Cliches (under videos) that has three of the male actors (Justin Long, Bradley Cooper and Kevin Connolly) playing girls in cliche romantic comedy scenarios. Very, very funny.

Also, from a little while ago (and wordsmith.org), A THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Myth: we have to save the earth. Frankly, the earth doesn’t need to be saved. Nature doesn’t give a hoot if human beings are here or not. The planet has survived cataclysmic and catastrophic changes for millions upon millions of years. Over that time, it is widely believed, 99 percent of all species have come and gone while the planet has remained. Saving the environment is really about saving our environment – making it safe for ourselves, our children, and the world as we know it. If more people saw the issue as one of saving themselves, we would probably see increased motivation and commitment to actually do so. -Robert M. Lilienfeld, management consultant and author (b. 1953) and William L. Rathje, archaeologist and author (b. 1945)

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Filed under pop culture, random rant

I kinda dig this birthday thing

So, right on time, I’ve only fully accepted that it’s a new year when my birthday rolled around. Got back to work this week, right in the thick of things, motoring ahead on the book, dealing with some personal loss and pretty much all the life you can jam-pack into the first seven days of the new year.

But this is how Emilie does her birthday 2009 style:

-Wake up late (ignoring several early-morning well-meaning calls, including the first at 5:45 a.m.)
-Have breakfast at Sucre at 11:30 and breakfast means cake and champagne, just for the record
-Swing by Cheers for some coffee, then pick up your birthday present at the post office
-Enjoy a steak lunch at O’Henry’s while catching up with Jamey
-Get your second tattoo, show it off the remainder of the day, especially back at Cheers
-Answer all the birthday calls (and return the ones you ignored) and emails throughout the day, including several in which singing is involved.
-Finish the Next Great American Novel.

🙂

Also, this video is pretty freakin’ awesome:

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Filed under family, Friends, music, New Orleans, pop culture