Friday, December 24, 2010

The Journal of The Mermaid Translation #2

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.

Interesting idea.


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

the door.


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 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.


in the front window


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

from him.


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

Translation began.


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.”

“What about?”

“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

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