Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Upswing


After describing the pit into which my life had fallen in the last blog entry, I wanted to record the marvelous reversals in fate that have occurred since Sunday.

“Please represent me, because you’re the only agent who could cope with me.” The agent to whom I’d sent the first 50 pages of my book responded to this pathetic plea by agreeing to take me on, but at my own peril. He recommends I don’t fall for his flattery and continue my search for The Perfect Agent. I don’t know if he’s any good at selling books, but anyone who describes himself as the descendant of an Irish horse thief and whose latest addition to his skill set is growing hair on his ears, sounds just perfect to me.

My mother is less easily impressed:
“I’m very suspicious of these people – “I’ll make you a star, I’ll get you into modeling” - How much do you have to pay this agent?” she demands.
“Nothing. He just takes a commission when I sell the book.”
“You see!” She is very canny, my mother. “Are you sure he’s reputable?”
“No, he’s entirely disreputable, that’s why I like him.”
“What?”
“No, seriously, I checked him out with a friend in the publishing world who said this guy has a great reputation for spotting talent and developing it, and that he’s someone editors in the business respect.”
“I don’t know… you’re such a worry to me - you’ve always lived so close to the edge. Why couldn’t you have been a dentist?”
“Because I’d have been bored on the first day and wired someone’s teeth together just for the heck of it.”
“I should never have had children, I should have bred poodles,” she laments.

My son, with all the world-weariness of a 13 year old, says he’ll congratulate me when the agent has read the rest of the book.

But my mum did send me an email this morning in her terrible, tortured typing, entitled “apresent” and saying, “I,ve sent some cash and hope your luck changes soon. It WILL. Love Mum.xx (I guess getting an agent doesn’t register for her as the Best Thing That’s Happened To Me Since My Composition Was Read Out To The Class In Junior Two, like it does for me). She’s lovely my mum. Her heart’s in the right place and God forbid she should ever change - she provides me with an inexhaustible source of material.

My other inexhaustible source of material, my health care provider, did not disappoint. Today, after four days of getting a recorded message when trying to obtain my biopsy results, I finally called member services, who managed to put me through to Debbie, the advice nurse in dermatology.
“Debbie! I was beginning to think you weren’t a real person!”
“Yes, well I’ve been on vacation. So there we are.”
There we are indeed. Stress-related illnesses are obviously low on Kaiser’s list of preventable diseases.
“You HAVE got skin cancer,” she says after rustling through the notes. Visions of my coffin being carried through the street. “But it’s only superficial.” How can you only superficially have cancer? Is that like being a little bit pregnant? “Nothing like the melanoma you had before.”
“Before?”
“Yes. Wait a minute, what’s your name again? Louise? Okay, I read that wrong. There was just a suspected melanoma. Anyway, the doctor will be contacting you about taking it off.”
“It is off. I have a great big hole in my back. The mole’s in a little bottle somewhere.”
“Little bottle,” she repeats, testing out the 't's.
“Yes, Debbie.”
“Okay. Well, I’ve been on vacation. So there we are.”

After this conversation, I spent an interesting afternoon getting up to speed on legalese and contract law. My new agent suggested I wrote the contract as I didn’t like the one he offered me. Smart man, that agent; I’m fixing his contract boilerplate even now. I am just wondering if it’s all still legally binding if you get rid of the “hereafter, herein, and hereofs.” Is it like a spell and these are the magic words that give it power? As a lover of language, but no lover of obsolete Elizabethan English, I’ve taken them all out, which probably means I’m completely wasting my time because any lawyer will look at it and snort: “This cannot be upheld in law because people can UNDERSTAND it! What were you thinking?”

Things are looking promising on the job front too: I had a telephone interview for a job in Palo Alto, where I would be working as a Program Officer for a relatively new foundation. I would have a portfolio of 50 grantees, including some in developing countries. Groovy! I’ve always wanted to get into International Development, but so far have been unable to convince anyone I have the qualifications. Luckily, this foundation seems more gullible than most. So I’d better get working on that contract, because hopefully I will soon be busy packing up my house (or rather, what’s left of the furniture once I’ve got rid of the various items that serve as Flea HQ) and moving to Northern California. When I pick up my son from the airport after his trip to London, the conversation will go something like this:

“Hello, darling. Did you have a nice time?”
“Yes.” (Teenagers only answer in monosyllables.)
“We have to go to gate 15.”
“Why?”
“So we can board our flight for Palo Alto. But don’t worry, I brought your Junior Police Academy certificate and the Joseph Wambaugh’s books will follow in the crate with our furniture.”
“Furniture?” He is so taxed by the attempt to communicate in multi-syllables the iPod earphones pop out of his ears.
“Yes, the coffee table.” Registering his frown. “It’ll be fun! A whole new adventure. And then there’s always the book deal to look forward to. Perhaps we can use the money to buy you a bed.”
“God!” he mutters, and rams the earphones back in his ears.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

You would've been a cute little poodle. "Sit Louise. Roll over. Write a novel." I could feel the bite marks as I write this.

Lou said...

Poodles are much too dignified to bite, but just for that you can read my contract when it's done.

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