E-books and Social Networks

In my Advanced Essay course we’ve been interviewing guest visitors from throughout the writing and publishing industry: an editor poet, a well seasoned agent, and many gifted authors. One area of inquiry keeps surfacing. What do you think of e-publishing? Is a presence on the Internet necessary these days, to be recognized amongst the hordes of newbie writers seeking publication?

The consensus, at least from this small sample, is that e-pub is the future and yes, an online presence and social networking are nearly essential. This is good news for a hermit who owns a Kindle, is a Mac geek and lives where the termites have been known to clandestinely partake of her collection of favorite writing books. There is a dark side to this good news, however.

This trend also poses grave questions regarding interactions between humans and written language in the physical world, and the powerful impact of books on our imaginations. It begs the question of what this might mean for humanity’s future. I’ll be writing about this in future posts. Right now, I’m off to read New York Times online.

Window Seat

The assignment for week one was to write a 250 word essay on what really frightens you. This is not my submission. It’s 257 words, and I have a lot more attempts to go before I decide on which one to use.

I pick a window seat when I fly. It’s what I’m paying for—time engaged in the pursuit of defying gravity. I like being suspended between the depths of space and familiar earth. I only know I’m moving when the plane’s shadow zips by on the checkerboard below, or when another airplane transects my field of vision like a bullet.

I think flying might be a lot like being dead, only then I won’t know where I am or where I’m going. I’ll be suspended in perpetuity with silent seat-mates, wailing babies and puke-encrusted mothers, women with too much perfume, men clinking their rings against their cans of mixer. I’ll have relinquished my fate to a pilot I don’t know, who might talk only pilot-speak in my native tongue. My comfort will have been assigned to flight attendants (no more stewardesses in the afterlife) with fake smiles who sometimes grouse at people slow to respond to directives.View from airplane window

I’m not afraid of flying. I love the tight feeling in the back of my abdomen on takeoff, and anticipate with glee the thud of the plane’s landing gear as it contacts the diminishing runway. I admit, though, that out of reverence, and possibly a little superstition, I don’t like to fly on September 11, even though the flights are often cheaper.

No, I’m not the least bit afraid of flying. What really scares me is being trapped for eternity in a window seat with a sleeping fat person next to me, and a full bladder needing to be emptied.

© 2012, Jennifer Pierce, All Rights Reserved

Pop’s Birthday

Memory is plastic, bending to our needs, and rarely retains the form of the original events. Just the same, I cling to mine as though it was a lifeline tossed from some safe spit of land fading in the fog of age.  I’m sure some of this must have really happened.

Pop in front of his school busMy father unwraps a birthday present and it is a tape dispenser for his desk. It is heavy and rounded, made of plaster and the pinkish color of my father’s Nash Rambler. A gilded decal on its sides reads “Too Soon Old Yet Too Late Schmart”  and my sister Karen and I think these are the stupidest words we have ever read. We pay attention, because this is the era of our Motto Club, and the decal smacks of an adage we might add to our collection. We don’t.

In fact, I have no idea of the color or what year it really occurred, or even if there was a Rambler, but the form and the mystery of the message has remained intact, and vivid. The dispenser was a present given to my father on what must have been his 50th birthday, just one of many jokes that day. My older sisters prepared a kit for him, in preparation of impending old age, including a faked bottle of Geratol and a gray wig made of an old mop head. It may be that Karen and I even gave him the dispenser ourselves, at the prompting of someone else. His reaction to his presents that day may be why I remember it so well.

He also received a vanity plate for his car, but even that was wrong. It read SD 46, the only number available close to fifty. He used it anyway for years.

He threw a fit,  not seeing any humor in the implication that he was growing old. It was not the reverence he had anticipated. Some sort of unhappy scene ensued, though I don’t remember exactly what he said or did. This birthday is one short chapter of our collective family legend.

My Pop would have celebrated his 97th birthday today, and even though he’s gone, I think that kit must have served him well, because he lived to just before his 88th birthday, and had no gray hair. He’d been active, done whatever he pleased until a couple of months before he died.

Memories linger. The saying on the tape dispenser’s side plagued me for years, until the approach of my own impending old age some time in my fifties. One day its meaning came to me with the clarity of a fog horn. So true, so true, I laughed. Too late. too late to make use of it now.

© 2012, Jennifer Pierce


Contemplating My Tribe No. 1

Contemplating My Tribe No. 1

The crackle of night crickets and soft whistle of thrushie birds bring on the day. Sounds of substance induced all-night revelry so common here in this Caribbean paradise have given way to those of the island’s other residents.

I awaken thinking how much more I enjoy the company of wild animals than that of civilized beings here. This thought embarrasses me, as though I judge myself to be arrogant for even thinking such a thing. But it is the truth. I’d rather coexist with birds and insects if the choice is between them and partying humans.

Don’t misunderstand me. I belonged to that tribe once. Perhaps that’s the point. Only I never had fun partying, even though I did plenty of it. It seems that the alcohol I consumed made the human companionship bearable, that’s all. And also, it allowed me to fall asleep (read: pass out.)

The truth is, I’m just another woodland creature masquerading as a human being now that I don’t drink anymore- I’m not really a social animal like most others of the species. I’m more like an anole lizard. I have a turf I defend, and I interact, as I must to maintain it. Mostly I’m a loner and come together with others to mate, but at this point, that’s really just a form of recreation, not procreation.

Some have suggested that I might be a member of the arachnid clan, like the golden orb spider whose gilded web is suspended like an awning over the stone stairway to my cottage. Numerous suitors, all much smaller and secondary to her existence, attend her. Her web ricochets the brilliant fire of 24 karat when the sun hits it at just the right angle. At other times, it appears ordinary gray. You might say that the sparkle is in the eye of the beholder.

The golden orb’s suitors reside at the periphery of her web, waiting for the opportunity to mount her. She calls the shots in this arrangement. Her orb, when this trick of golden light is revealed, resembles Rumplestiltskin’s spun gold thread. This is where the similarities end, though. The spinner here is definitely not the miller’s daughter waiting to be married off.

© 2010, Jennifer Pierce, All Rights Reserved