Archive for February, 2010

Truckin’ ?

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

blu-ish highways

I heard a discussion on the radio about the unemployment rates in the country right before I started my walk, and I got to thinking, what sort of job would I get in Florida today, if I were to start looking for one? If I really needed one?

So here’s the situation: I am forty six years old. As I’ve said before, I have no degree of any kind – I dropped out of school in the eleventh grade, and did a GED (high school equivalent) in 2000 in California, so even that is now ten years ago. I did not have a work permit all these years living in America on an H4 visa attached to my husband’s H1, so I did not develop any on-the-job skills all these years either.

If I list my skills, I thought, I might gain some insight:

~ I did some photography. I was good, but photography today is beyond me. I used film cameras. I could learn the equipment used today, I’m not particularly afraid of tech – but, it seems counterproductive to embark on an iffy career by investing thousands.

~ I had kids, and raised them, a combined 33 years of experience there. So I could possibly babysit. I’d really rather not. I don’t have a general love for small children – I always wonder about it when people say “I just love kids” – as if they are a species by themselves. I tend to look at them as individuals, same as any other people – so you like some, you don’t like some, and some like you (me), and some don’t. So I won’t be babysitting.

~ I fed those kids I raised, and not just with fast food. One of them will vouch for my cooking, one of them will not. But general comments and sighs and sounds of pleasure from friends and family over the years make me pretty confident that my cooking is alright. So there’s a little ray of hope: I could go into business in the food industry – again high investment – or, I could get a job at a restaurant. I can chop onions, peel potatoes, fry, sauté,  grind, garnish… not wait tables, though, I’m not the most patient or polite person, I might get fired for advising a large patron to go for a salad and walk instead of the steak and fries.

~ I edited a book. Really. The author, Pat Regan, will vouch for my editing skills. So I have a little experience with that. The publishing business is not in the best of health here in America, but it’s a thought. Bit of hope.

And… that’s it and that’s all. No, there’s also housecleaning – dish washing, laundry (I’m not big on folding), driving – I can drive long distances, so I could have a taxi for school kids – school and back, school to swimming and back, soccer, baseball, acting classes and back… kids again. Maybe not. I considered getting a trucker’s license – and find that I am perfect for this job: To get a CDL (commercial) license, I need a GED, a clean driving record, I have to pass a physical, and that’s pretty much it. And I have it all. Plus, I imagine myself on blue highways gathering material for a new book, and this seems, at least in  the imagination, a perfect job. In reality I suspect it is hard, dreary, and caffeine laced on most days, and dangerous on some. Still – I can’t help but consider it as a life I would like to live, at least for a short time.

Of course I’m a writer, and my second book is getting ready for release, and I am in the process of writing the third, and fourth, and fifth (really). But judging from sales of the first, which the publisher says are not bad, and what all my writer friends who are considered successful say – “you can’t live off writing unless you are Stephen king” – royalty is not a good strategy for paying the bills.

Suggestions welcome…


Friday, February 19th, 2010

photo by StilfehlerMy next book, Kashmir Blues (Westland/Tranqubar), will be published later this year. It made me acutely aware that I was finished with that book, but did not yet have another in the works. Life was taking too much time, all the daily eating and walking and children and cats…

I decided earlier last week to begin the process of completing my next book. I decided to write, or try to, 10,000 words a week. When I did the calculation, I realized that if I actually did write 10,000 words a week, I would have a novel in 10 weeks! I’m assuming that an average novel is about 100,000 words – my first two have been around that length.  So if I give myself a little wriggle room, I could have a novel in four months. And three a year.  Will I have readers for these novels? If I find someone to publish them, that is? Now that I can’t answer without writing them. So… back to work!

The Cholesterol again: Leaves and fishes…

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010


My first cholesterol fright happened on Veteran’s day last year – mid-November. The numbers were frightening, and I’m sure anyone who gets this bloody news at their doctor’s office has experienced the same overwhelming sense of doom that I did that day. It made me run to the pharmacy and buy Lipitor.

The reason for this post is simple: to share with the people reading it that I did not take the Lipitor, or any other statin drug, or any drug at all, and, three months later, here I am, still typing. And that’s not all. I did a blood test last Tuesday, and got the results today. My gains – or should I say losses – are modest. Very modest. But I have managed to slightly lower the numbers with simple stuff . The hardest was quitting cigarettes – which I love. The change in my diet was simple and easy to do. Oats for breakfast make it very easy to watch what you eat the rest for the day – they sit hugely in your belly for hours without budging.  I ate a lot of leaves and fishes. And sprinkled a bit of ground up flax seed on anything I ate, when I remembered. I went for walks – and not religiously. I started out religious, but then eased off on myself. I walked ‘most’ days – which was about four days each week, and between 3 and 5 miles each time. I drank a glass of wine occasionally.  I took Benecol – a vile caramel sweetie that doesn’t kill your liver, but prevents absorption of cholesterol. I took Guggul. But again, not religiously. About three – four times a week.

What I’m saying is, it didn’t take drastic life change, or enormous discipline or constant vigilance. Just an awareness of what I was putting in my mouth, and how often I was just sitting on my ass.

And I may be capable of typing a coherent post today precisely because I didn’t buy the fear mongering from that pharma-pimp of a doctor – I could have lost my memory along with my cholesterol, on a statin drug! No, this has not been proven – but the very idea is terrifying! No?

NOVEMBER 2009 (then) FEBRUARY 2010 (now)
Total Cholesterol 232 (high as shit) 210 (high but not as shit)
Triglycerides 81 (pretty good anyway) 81 (still pretty good)
LDL (bad chol.) 170 (damn that’s high) 151 (hmm… seems a bit high)
HDL (good chol.) 42 (poor) 43 (still poor, but not as poor as 42)

And that’s my story – I hope it helps people to consider not taking statins. My next drug story may be about anti-depressants… (I’m no doctor, just a high school dropout!)

rim shots

Friday, February 5th, 2010
photo by Jon Hammond

photo by Jon Hammond

Though my son is a jazz musician, I have no feel for it or knowledge of  it except the most basic. I’m working on a new book. A man I intended as a minor character is a jazz musician. I suddenly find him becoming very insistent.  This happens uncomfortably often – I remember my mother telling me that people in a book do what they want, and become who they want, and it is not always in the writer’s control. I thought she was quite mad. But in Kashmir Blues, (Westland/Tranquebar June 2010), Leon, one of the main characters, did take over the book, and there wasn’t much I could do about it, other than follow where he lead, and it was not always easy, and rarely safe. I get what she meant now – that once the person comes to life, at least in the book, you can’t make him or her be something they are not. I must sound quite mad too, now that I think about it!

So in this new book, the Jazz musician is getting loud and insists I listen. I feel I should at least know who he is and what moves him, even if it doesn’t move me. I’m listening to more jazz when I write, and am try to catch live performances when I can. Was at a jazz cafe recently. The superior faculty of the FSU jazz department were there, doing what they do best. And what I found out about myself-and-jazz was that – as long as the drummer thwacks enough of those delicious rim shots into a tune, I’m happy. Leon Anderson did not disappoint me that night. (For those of you who don’t know, rim shots have nothing at all to do with sex or alcohol…)

When I told my son about my self-discovery, he just laughed and said “you’re cheap.” I hope so – if he means I get complete happiness from simple but perfect moments, that can’t be a bad thing!