I’ve been battling a pretty nasty chest cold recently. I’ll be back doing the blog thing tomorrow or Wednesday.
I had planned to post an interview with Todd Keisling today as part of his blog tour promoting The Liminal Man (the very excellent sequel to the page-turner A Life Transparent). He was supposed to call me earlier in the week to answer some questions I had. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that it was Dr. Albert Sparrow on the line instead. I’m a roll-with-it kind of gal so I, well, rolled with it. Fortunately Todd’s giveaway is still going on even in his absence. (I sure hope he’s okay…) Enter below for a chance to win:
- Signed hardcovers of A LIFE TRANSPARENT and THE LIMINAL MAN
- A t-shirt sporting The Limanal Man’s “Leaping Man” cover design
- An “I Am Donovan Candle” Coffee Mug
- An eBook package that includes books by R.J. Keller (hee!), Anthony J. Rapino, Moriah Jovan, and others
Click HERE to enter the contest at Todd’s Facebook page. You can like his page HERE (and you should).
RJ Keller: I appreciate you taking the time to speak with me today. Can you tell us a bit about yourself? Just who is Albert Sparrow?
Albert Sparrow: Predictably a loaded question, but I suppose inquiring minds want to know. I’m Dr. Albert Sparrow. I earned my doctorate in Sociology, but my interests range from philosophy to human psychology—and perhaps a little metaphysics as well. I used to fashion myself as a self-help guru, but lately I’ve expanded my focus to other, more lucrative passions. In fact . . . you might say I’m an old man who wants to be a god. Metaphorically speaking, of course. [He chuckles.]
RJK: I’ve heard great things about your first book, and it was even a bestseller a few years ago. Tell us a little about A Life Ordinary: A Comprehensive Study in Human Mediocrity.
AS: My book—ALO, as I like to refer to it—is both a reflective study of our culture’s decline into mediocrity and a self-help guide meant to direct readers through a series of steps toward personal fulfillment. Throughout my studies, I’ve discovered a certain lack of desire in our culture to achieve our full potential. When we’re young, we have so many dreams and aspirations, goals which we want to achieve; as we age, we lose sight, settling for a paycheck, settling for . . . less. We find ourselves slowly fading into life’s many gray areas. These negative spaces are stagnant pools into which we will lose our dreams. My book offers a way out of those middling spaces—for only $29.95 in hardcover. I hear the paperback is due out next spring, but admittedly, I haven’t been “in the loop” for about a year now.
RJK: It’s funny you mention that, Dr. Sparrow. That was going to be my next question. A year ago you seemed to vanish from a book signing event at Harrison & Main Booksellers—
AS: Oh. Yes. I suppose I did—[Static.]
RJK: According to the news reports, you interrupted your reading, abandoned the lectern for a trip to the restroom, and just disappeared.
AS: Disappear isn’t the exact way I’d describe it—
RJK: Can you tell us what happened? Why have you decided to speak out about it now?
AS: What happened? [static] I’ll tell you what happened, Mrs. Keller. Donovan Candle is what happened. That arrogant son of a bitch thought he could disrupt everything I’d worked so hard to accomplish, and— [His rant is garbled by electronic interference.]
RJK: Dr. Sparrow? I’m losing you. Are you still there? Hello?
AS: —Of course I’m still here. I’m everywhere. In your phone, in your television, a paragon of mediocrity ready to consume the world—I am the Monochrome King!
RJK: Uh . . . right. Can we get back on topic?
AS: If you prefer. Don’t fucking ask me about that day at the bookstore. Strike that from the record. Understood?
RJK: Sure. Whatever you like. May we continue?
AS: Please, Mrs. Keller. Continue.
RJK: Right then. You mentioned being the “king” of the “Monochrome?” What is that?
AS: The Monochrome is a metaphor I use in ALO for the gray areas of reality. The place beneath the murk, where your dreams go to die. The place that will consume society one bite at a time. [He pauses for a moment.] Or, Mrs. Keller, perhaps it isn’t a metaphor at all. [His laughter dissolves into static.]
RJK: Hah, very funny, Dr. Sparrow. I just have one more question before we wrap up this interview: Who is Donovan Candle?
RJK: Dr. Sparrow? Hello?
AS: [Static.] Donovan Candle is a worthless man. He is a coward. He is the reason I’m stuck in this place, and I will have my retribution. There are only gods and insects, Mrs. Keller. I am not an insect. I am the King of the—
RJK: The Monochrome. Right. Got it. I think that’s about all for now. Thanks for your time, Dr. Sparrow.
AS: DO NOT MOCK ME— [His words fade into a garbled mess. The line goes dead.]
I picked up Past Imperfect by Julian Fellowes over the weekend and plan to get going on it today. What are you currently reading?
I’ll admit I was a little late to the Harry Potter train (pun intended). Well, a lot late. My mom tried to get me to read the books after the third one came out back in, I believe, 1999 and didn’t let up until I finally agreed in late 2010. By then all the books had been released, which was probably a good thing. I’m not good at being patient and I can’t imagine what it was like having had to wait 10 years between the first and final books. I’m kind of horrible that way. But I ended up falling very hard for the series and devoured all seven books in about two or three months.
Being the nerd I’ve always been, I’ve since done a lot of behind the scenes reading about the characters, settings, spells, history, etc. I really love digging into fictional worlds, especially when they’ve been created with the kind of care and attention J.K. Rowling put into these books. But something I’m not super fond of (and I’m probably alone here) is the extra “off page” information she’s given out about what happens to the characters after the final page of Deathly Hallows. As far as I’m concerned, if something isn’t written in a book, it’s up to the reader to fill in the blanks. It’s why I don’t answer questions about what happens to Brian and Tess – or any other character – after the final page of Waiting For Spring. Those stories belong to you.
Am I alone here?
This is about the tenth time I’ve done the I’m Going Grey thing. This time I think it’s going to take.
I’d like to say that my decision to let the grey grow in is because I want to be a healthier, more natural person. It’s not. I’ve finally become too lazy to keep up with the coloring and too cheap to pay someone to do it for me. I was thinking about adding some funky colors to the whitest parts from time to time. Bright red for Valentine’s Day, green for St. Patrick’s Day, purple for Grape Jelly Day. That kind of thing. But that would mean taking a break from the whole lazy thing and I’m not quite ready for that.
I’m materialismally challenged. (Shut up, spellcheck! That is totally a word! So is spellcheck!)
Recently a good friend of mine sent a text inviting me to go shoe shopping with her at the mall.
ME: Ew! I hate the mall. And shopping. And shoes.
HER: But they’re 30% off!
ME: What’s the sale price?
HER: Around $60.
I didn’t go, of course. She knew I wouldn’t. I’ve never paid $60 for a pair of shoes in my life, not even for my wedding. My go-to store is Goodwill. Look at this awesome outfit I got from there right before Christmas. $2.99 for the shirt, $1.99 for the tank top, $4.99 for the jeans.
But that doesn’t make me cheap. It just means I was able to take the money I saved on clothes to buy this sweet $32 necklace from SurlyRamics.
And it’s not just clothes. I got this really cool chair for free:
And used the money I had set aside for furniture on this set of Harry Potter books. It was $120, but it came with a Hogwarts trunk! It’s a cardboard trunk, but still!
Also, the cool multi-colored patchwork pillow on the chair up there? $42.
So I’m not cheap. I just have really weird financial priorities.
Not literally. Because literal shit is yucky.
Back when I used to blog here a lot, I wrote chiefly about the experiences I had working graveyard shift at the convenience store down the road. The truth is I really hated that job. As much as I tried to shine that shit up into gold…Jesus, I hated it.
I hated waking up when it was dark and heading into work.
I hated falling asleep just as the sun was coming up.
I hated the phone calls that would wake me up at 10am.
And I hated the store itself, really. The place was about 25 years old and falling apart, because the corporate office didn’t think the store in Shitberg Boonies, Maine was worth fixing up. The walls by the sink were moldy. The windows were drafty. The floors were so stained that they never looked clean, even when I bothered to mop them. And the freezer was always acting up. I can’t count how many times we had to spoil literally thousands of dollars worth of food (including Ben and Jerrys ice cream!!!!!) because it just decided it didn’t feel like working. Much like me and the floor mopping thing.
Well, the freezer didn’t actually decide not to work. The poor thing was just neglected. My boss called the main office to complain about it all the time, begging them to pay for a professional to look at it and figure out what the hell was wrong with it. The last time he did this was three days before the store burned to the ground. The culprit? That’s right.
Faulty wiring. In the freezer. Fucktards.
That was about two-and-a-half years ago. Since then I quit my day job to write full time (a topic for another blog on another day) and the store has been rebuilt. Well, a new store has been built on the same site. I go there as a customer several times a week and it’s a great looking store. Brand spanking new with freshly painted, non-moldy walls, air-tight windows, and bright, shiny floors. And freezers that work perfectly.
But, honestly, I find myself missing the old store. It was half the size and falling apart, but it had character. It was homey. Customers hung out there to chat. Now they’re – that is to say we’re – just in and out. It’s way too bright and almost too big and looks and feels like any other one-stop store in any other town. Don’t get me wrong, the cashiers are still really nice. One of them literally gave me the ice scraper out of his car a few weeks ago when I complained about not being able to find mine. But it isn’t the same.
If missing a moldy, drafty, dirty store doesn’t make me old, I don’t know what does.