Thursday, December 30, 2010

Great visit. St. Francis fainted.

My visit with family was wonderful, as usual. For fun and new stories, I can count on Carlin every time.

As soon as I arrived and hugs were over, Carlin pulled me to her large living room windows which look out over the backyard. She pointed dejectedly to her statue of St. Francis, laying flat on its back.

Carlin has a perennial problem with deer feasting on her garden -- fruit, Swiss chard, even leaves. While deer feast above ground, gophers and moles join the party beneath the soil, chewing through roots, killing her plants from the bottom up. Meanwhile, in a true display for love of interaction between nature and animals, Carlin’s statue of St. Francis maintains a benevolent pose, despite the destruction of vegetation.

Carlin’s husband preferred capture and relocation as opposed to poison as a control for the gophers, his reasoning being that someone’s pet might find its way into their yard. Carlin complied, and the gopher problem got worse.

Carlin’s husband passed away a few years ago, and now the gopher poison is out. In response, Carlin’s statue of St. Francis fell flat onto its back. Unable to resist, I looked at her and declared, “You made him faint, with your poison!” She responded, “But I hope his head hasn’t come off! Do you think it has?”

“I’ll look tomorrow.”

St. Francis’ head was just fine, Carlin is happy, and only time will tell the effectiveness of her pest control.

This story is an example of the humor in Half Italian, which is…..unique.

- PJ

Monday, December 27, 2010

Me: 4/8, Dallas: 5-10. Anticipating a visit with my Italian family.

Tomorrow I’m going to visit my beloved, crazy cousin Carlin and my uncle.* Carlin emigrated from Italy in the 1950s and has been a source of fun my entire life. Her 80th birthday a few weeks ago did nothing to diminish her energy, enthusiasm for living, or her accent. Her voice is the same as I remember since I was a child – high-pitched and so full of excitement that it sometimes cracks.

Last time I visited, my uncle had recently renewed his driver license. During my visit we realized he’d been issued an “ID card” rather than official “driver license.” He was concerned, but there was nothing he could do since it was Friday and the DMV was closed. Carlin came to his rescue, saying (with heavy accent) “Don’t worry, you can borrow my car, it will take you wherever you tell it to go!” My uncle and I were silent for a moment, wondering who’d speak first. Finally he said, “Like, your car has something mine doesn’t?” Carlin was aghast, realizing she’d confused the “license on the car” with the “license on the driver.” Comic relief assisted through the weekend and the matter was easily resolved. What’ll it be this time? As I said in my first two posts last July, the humor in Half Italian is…..unique. And my family is the living source.

One more game for Dallas. Four more responses for me. Any agents interested? Four chances remaining.

- PJ

*See 7/13 post.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Me: 4/8, Dallas: 5-9

Mid December in Los Angeles often brings wind – cold, dry, and biting. Christmas day is usually high 70s, with clear skies. This year is an exception with regard to the dry wind; we’re in our fourth consecutive day of rain. Not a problem for me, I look out the window and see that my little Tuscany is once again turning into my little Umbria, with its lush green grasses.* The onslaught of water, however, has toppled a tree onto Cahuenga Blvd. in Hollywood. Drama.

Not much to say about the remaining four responses except I’m truly not looking forward to determining my next step, should those responses lead nowhere. And every day that passes seems a reminder that I’m considered nobody in the world of writing. No drama there.

But Christmas approaches and there is magic in the air. I’m grateful.

- PJ

*See 7/17 post.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Me: 4/8, Dallas: 4-9. Italian Christmas party.

Last Sunday I attended the Christmas party of my Italian family. I hadn’t seen many of them since August.* Often we see younger generations make good-natured fun of the older, but Lara*, at age 90, is one exception. Observing her 39-year-old grandson talking to me “with his hands,” as the expression goes, she stood just out of his peripheral view, mimicking his hand movements, waiting for him to notice. Oblivious, he simply continued his story. Lara finally gave up, whacked him on the arm, and then walked away. As I said in my 8/30 post, both Mario and Lara are still in feisty humor.

In the event this image invokes the Italian stereotype often presented to us on television, for the record, Lara is not one of the Italians; she married into the family, creating yet another half-Italian household. No one in my Italian family fits the head-slapping stereotype.

At the beginning of that party Dallas and I were matched, at 4-8 and 4/8, respectively. By the end of the day Dallas was 4-9.

Four responses left. Once again, my spirits want to wane but family energy prevents that; I’m still high and flying from the Christmas party. I think of a sentence I wrote near the end of Half Italian: “Is there a greater mood elevator than being with cousins you love?”

- PJ

*See 8/30 post.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Me: 3/8, Dallas: 3-8

Another agent response in the mail, a rejection, this one says she's swamped with current clients. Dallas and I now match, at 3 to 8. For Dallas there's always another season; for me there's always more agents, if this round turns out to be all rejections.

It seems, however, that unpublished authors need a connection in order to move forward; a published author's recommendation, or to know an agent or someone connected to publishing. But this is Los Angeles, not New York. Publishers, authors, and agents are scarce by comparison. Is this agent-query exercise a waste of time for the unpublished, meaning me?

I think of a man who self-published, saying any "bits" offered by his agent never amounted to a full meal. Self publishing, however, brings the hurdle of distribution.

The days here are crisp, clear, and beautiful; not unlike Provence a few weeks ago. I love autumn, and Thanksgiving. All this helps offset the blackness I feel over my working environment, a recurring cancer that threatens to rule my life, even when I'm not there.

It's early morning here in Los Angeles. The sun is coming up and soon will turn the hill I look out at, the hill with my little Tuscany, into a golden patch of encouragement. In fact, that hill isn't unlike those in Provence. Thank you, Provence, for staying in my heart and mind. The balance you bring is most welcome.

- PJ