Are you awesome?

I have hustled some friends into helping me start up a zine. We’re going old school – Kinko’s, staples, glue sticks, the works. What we need now are submissions.

So, without further ado, please let me introduce you to:

Aprön

Aprön needs your stuff. We’re a brand-new quarterly zine searching for esoteric crap to fill our inaugural edition. Short fiction, non-fiction essays, chunks of dialogue, weird and exciting recipes, knitting ideas and instructions, photographs, collages, comics, stain removal tips… whatever you’ve got, we want to see it.

The only requirement is that your piece evokes a feeling of affection. The same kind of affection you feel for your crazy aunt and her askew lipstick. This is a quirky comfort zine with a pinch of Schadenfreude. It mixes
media and metaphors all while leaving you with a pleased bloated
feeling.

Email submissions to apronthezine AT gmail DOT com. If you need to mail something, let me know and I’ll send you the address.

Also, we can’t pay you. Yet. We will give you free copies of the zine, though, so you can brag to your friends. Sometimes ego is more than important than groceries.

Aprön. Tie one on.

PS. If you know anyone who wants to advertise in the zine, please email me. The rates are obscenely cheap.

PPS. If you want to subscribe to the zine, or be informed when its published, or just get lovingly spammed by me and my crazy friends (kidding. kidding.) send a note to apronthezine AT gmail DOT com and we’ll add you to our email list.

ka-pow!

they sure do grow fast
seedlings in science movie
with no pause button

Over the past few days, the wee-er one has had a vocabulary explosion. Forgive me while I geek out mama-style and make some notes. I don’t want to forget and DAMMIT someone has run off with all my pens.

At 16.5 months, these are her newest words:

ooos or ooosh – shoes
whoa whoa – no road
eest – toast
muck – milk
ma – Sam
wa-oh – Hello
tash – trash

These are her relatively recent words:

wah – water or walk, depending on context
baybeh – baby or diaper or Tucker (the dog) depending on context
dada – Tucker
dayda – daddy

These are the old stand-bys:

oh-oh – uh-oh
Hi! – Hi!
Bah! – bye!

I think there may be a few more that I’m not remembering, but these are the most common ones. Some, like trash and toast are only every now and then, and others like baby and Tucker are all. the. time.

I tell you what, though, the past few days have been crazy. She’ll study my mouth as I say a word, watching how my lips form. She’s been shooting for better pronunciation, I think. That sounds a little crazy, but this gal has been working hard.

OK. Thanks for bearing with me. Geek out over.

I know the pieces fit

a six dollar beer
taste is magnified by price
even if it’s Bud

Have you ever been to an MFA art show? There’s always something to do with twine. And something to do with face-less/genital-less humanoid shapes. And baby doll heads. And dead flowers. Usually you can find a piece with running water imagery, and there are always blueprints of some sort. 85% of the above is done in sepia-toned mixed media.

Basically, the tool concert was like being trapped in an MFA student’s video installation. It was fun, kind of trippy, noisy as hell (both visually and auditorially), and there were lots of weird slightly medical images of creepy monster-human things in sepia tones.

Also, there were big, green lasers.

As the youngsters say these days, the concert was "sick."

An added plus was that this was a very male-heavy audience so I didn’t have to wait in line to go to the bathroom.

The token conservative had fun, too. He even forked over the $38 for a t-shirt. It was $43 for a baby doll t and I just couldn’t do it. I know I’m going to sound like an old fogey here, so please read this part in whatever old lady voice you specialize in: I remember when I could just "borrow" $20 from my mom’s wallet and grab a Pearl Jam shirt with the entire concert schedule on the back and a weird picture on the front. Now? $43? Are you kidding me? OK, you can stop talking like an old lady now.

Even sans tool t-shirt, it was a really fun night. Plus, no one tried to beat up me OR the TC.

Sometimes we can’t even say that about Christmas.

So close, HEB. So close.

Dear Mr. Butts,

I totally dig your idea of handing out free, reusable grocery bags
tomorrow. Lord knows I have so many HEB bags in my pantry I could melt them down and create an entire new building big enough to house
another HEB.

However, it seems a little silly to replace plastic bags with other
plastic bags, even if they are resuable for a little while. Now, I’m all for baby steps… I totally understand
there’s probably some kind of complicated psychology thing going on
here. You don’t want to scare away crazy Texans by having them believe
you’re going all soft and environmentalist-y. Even worse, you don’t
want them to think you’re evangelizing pansy tree-hugging. I get it.
Like I said, baby steps.

And yet… why not hand out some sustainable bags? I have a Longhorn shirt made out of bamboo (soft
bamboo. I see you reading this, all, "what the hell kind of
uncomfortable shirt is THAT). It actually holds up really well against
staining and stretching (I’m a mama, in case you’re now thinking other
weird things about me). Bamboo is definitely worth looking into, though
I understand that bags made of bamboo may be something you can’t manage
by tomorrow. I’m realistic. But what about canvas? I know you sell
canvas bags in your stores. They’re right by the checkout counters. My
son swings on them like a mini Tarzan.

I know! How about letting people trade ten plastic bags for one canvas
bag? You know everyone, on average, has 49,000 bags under their sink,
or in their pantry, or in their car, or in the tree in their backyard.
Ten bags is nothing, and yet maybe you’ll feel better about handing out
the fancy canvas bags for free.

What do you say?

You say "This crazy lady has a great idea, dagnabit!" that’s what you
say. Because I imagine you are much like Yosemite Sam, except taller,
and richer, and probably more educated.

Free, sustainable grocery bags. HEBuddy can start wearing tie-dye.

Screw baby steps. Let’s save the damn Earth.

Sincerely,
Kari
concerned mama

finally figured it out

a well-rounded boy
enjoys jazz, literature
and showing his butt

For weeks now, the wee one has been humming a song and begging me to play it on the stereo. It has sounded vaguely familiar, but much to his consternation I haven’t been able to figure out what song it is. Until today.

He hummed it for me and suddenly I realized what it was: Blue Rondo a la Turk, from the Dave Brubeck Quartet’s 1959 album Time Out.

Lest you think my boy is a musical prodigy, I should admit that this is my favorite record of all time. We listened to it a LOT when he was tiny. But lately we’ve been listening to more contemporary stuff. My thing right now is a mix of Spoon’s radio hits and the latest Clash spinoff Carbon/Silicon (worst band name ever). We toss in a heavy sprinkling of Elvis’ Vegas hits and Kanye’s Stronger, just to keep it real.

So I was surprised that Dave Brubeck made such an impression. As soon as the song started, the wee one was flying around the room in a kind of dance frenzy. The dog started barking, the wee-er one squealed and clapped with glee. It was a nice moment.

Note to self: more Brubeck, less crap. It’s like listening to a really strong cup of tea. Smooth, relaxing, and yet somehow invigorating.  I forget how nice it is.

Thankfully, the wee one didn’t.

I see your future

many cute people
even more cute handmade things
I am way too poor

I went to STITCH today! If you imagine an indie craft show as the harbinger for trends to come, then here are a few things I learned about what Target will be selling in about the next year and a half:

1. Things with owls on them

2. Things with squid on them

3. Things with zombies on them

4. Things made of sparkly vinyl

5. Things with squid on them

6. Things with owls on them

7. Things I still can’t afford

So much awesome, heart-swelling indieness. I feel like I need to find Natalie Portman, hand her an owl and tell her it will change her life.

I bought two shirts, one ring, one wallet, one hilarious greeting card with toast on it, and one tiny original artwork of a blue bean with legs and a smile (that one I gave to the wee one to begin his art collection).

I will take a picture of the ring and show you. You will fall over and weep because of its cuteness.

Also, I saw some bowling bags made of vintage automobile upholstery, with actual car emblems on them. We’re talking bags that say "Charger" and "Valiant" in ACTUAL CHROME LETTERING RIPPED OFF OF AN OLD CAR. They were so amazing that I couldn’t speak. They gave me heartburn because I loved them so. I had to restrain myself from kissing people on the mouth. These bags. Holy shit. $120.

I did not buy one. I guess I’ll have to wait for the Target version. It won’t make me want to kiss people.

I did, however, buy a wallet with a spaceship on it. So there’s that.

any filmmakers out there?

showing your worst side
it’s time for road rage rehab
challenge the devil

OK all you filmmakers out there, I have something for you. All I want in return is a "story by" credit, 5% of all merchandise, and a link to your finished product on youtube.

Here’s what you need to do:

Find a bunch of people and line them up, single-file. Maybe they’re in line for coffee. Or maybe they’re in line for the bathroom. Suddenly, a guy runs up from out of nowhere. He chooses a random place at the front of the line and squeezes himself in. The girl behind him is, understandably, all, "Dude? What the hell?" The guy turns around, his face wild. He flips her off with both hands and screams "FUCK YOU, BITCH!"

The screen goes black. Simple white letters form: "Thank goodness we don’t buy coffee like we drive." Alternately, it can be all women in line, or all men in line and the statement can read "Thank goodness we don’t pee like we drive."

Use your creativity, filmmakers, to create other, similar scenes. Take people out of their cars, but continue to direct them to do the dumbass things they do when driving. Have a young man run up behind a slow-walking grandma with a cane. Have him get right up on her heels, stepping on her feet, breathing down her neck, dodging his head from one side of her to another. Have him yell, "COME ON, GRANDMA! GET YOUR ASS IN GEAR!"

Maybe if people can see how rude their actions are in a different context they’ll try to be nicer when they drive. Or not. At least the rest of us will have something to shake our heads at. A rueful laugh can be fun sometimes.

the real life Liz Lemon

"I did not fall down"
simple, positive statement
sad state of affairs

Yesterday, I was able to take several hours and go to a cafe to work on some edits. It was nice to get out of the house and it was nice to feel like an actual writer instead of a person who just talks about writing.

But y’all? I am out of practice as far as being in public is concerned. Let me give you a rundown of what a ridiculous Liz Lemon-y mess I was:

1. Tiny jelly jars, though adorable, are hard to manage. I had a piece of toast in one hand, a knife in the other, and the tiny jelly jar in the same hand as the toast. So I was doing this acrobatic elbow dance as I tried to dig out jelly and then spread it on the toast without having jelly drip off my knife and onto my pants.

Why not set the toast down and put jelly on it, you may ask? Well, there was a lot of crap on the table – two giant stacks of paper, a laptop, a notepad, food, etc. My toast plate was behind my laptop. Very complicated.

2. As I was winding down, I stacked my manuscript into one big pile and attempted to stuff it into my laptop bag. I had had no trouble doing this to GET to the cafe, so I’m not sure why all the trouble trying to do it a second time. Anyway, I try to cram it into the bag and it seems like only half the pile is going to fit. Well, that’s not right. I peer into the bag and realize the power cord is all snakey and twisted at the bottom, and is the source of my trouble. I yank it out and toss it on the table – and it lands in a pile of honey that has leaked from packet I used in my tea. "CRAP!" I yell into the quiet cafe (because I still have on my earbuds and am listening to Ruthie Foster loudly. She is fucking fantastic, by the way). Everyone turns to stare. This is when, as I’m attempting for a third time to cram the ream of paper into my bag, half of it falls out sideways, going everywhere.

Probably this happened because I reached out to grab the power cord from its tar pit of honey and I relinquished my grip on the top half of the wily paper pile. Or not. At this point there was no rhyme or reason to any of the shenanigans.

OK. So. Honey all over my power cord. Half a manuscript all over my lap and the booth. And did I forget to mention that I was sitting right by the exit door? On a windy day?

At this point I was my own Saturday Night Live skit.

Eventually, I got the manuscript back into my bag and most of the honey sucked off the power cord (I didn’t have any napkins; they had blown away). I gathered everything up, stood to leave, walked to the door and yanked my keys out of my pocket (always have your keys out before you get to your car, right ladies?).

Well, this is when

3. the contents of said pocket flew into the air, slow-motion-like. A handful of hair barrettes, a couple of pony tail holders, some trash, a receipt.

I could actually hear the 30Rock music bouncing around in my head.

"NERDS!" I yelled, thinking I was being funny and meta. But then I realized you’re not really being meta if no one else knows about your life. I often forget my life is not a TV show.

So I squat down by the door, grab the detritus that is leaking from me as if I am one of those hoses that sprays packing peanuts, avoid eye contact with everyone, and flee to my car.

I feel like maybe I should have at least curtsied before I left. Or asked for people to throw their change at me.

Today I’m staying home. I’m locked in my bedroom, determined to finish my edits, and equally determined to not make an ass out of myself. I think privately making an ass out of myself on a regular basis is what causes me such problems in public. I am desensitized to self-ass-i-tizing. Something needs to be done about that.

Things I have learned from the Texas Book Festival, Part I

awkwardness unite!
introverts crawl out of shells
eat jumbo corn dogs

What have I learned from the Texas Book Festival so far? I’m glad you asked!

1. Sherman Alexie is fucking hilarious. And not only that, he has such a concise, incredible way of answering questions that I just want to sit at his feet and bathe in all his glory. I wish I had written down some of the insightful five word sentences he uttered yesterday. They were amazing. My heart went pitter pat, and now I have to search out some of his poetry.

2. Rick Riordan really knows how to work that 12 and under crowd. He has this tone of voice that is definitely geared for kids, but is not condescending or simpering. He just makes his voice come alive – like if you can imagine a person’s voice jumping around, that’s what he accomplishes. His words are simple, and never gives away a lot about his books, but when he starts talking there’s an electrical charge that fills the air and the kids just. go. crazy. It’s really great to watch.

3. George Saunders is just as brilliant as everyone says he is. He’s charming and awkward and probably one the smartest people I’ve ever heard speak. If I could grow up and write half as well as he does, I think my head would explode from sheer force of ego. He makes me want to join an MFA program, because I might get lucky enough to have someone like him teach me.

4. No one cares when you drop your jumbo corny dog on your pants and are left with a giant mustard stain. Everyone at the Bookfest has a stain of some kind on their clothing. I think you’re required to have one just to get in.

5. Even if you are exhausted, you should plead with everyone you know so that you will have a date to go to a club and watch an after hours fiction vs. non-fiction smackdown. Even though the room will be 1,000 degrees and so jam-packed with people you can’t lift your arm to scratch at your mustard stains, go anyway. Even though it will end with the lamest thumb-wrestling match between two writers ever, go anyway. Even though you will talk non-stop to your friends afterwards and sound like a lunatic who never gets out of the house (because you are a lunatic who never gets out of the house) go anyway. And even though, as you are leaving, you will say something completely idiotic on the stairs causing Vendela Vida (editor of Believer Magazine, founder of 826 Valencia, wife to Dave Eggers) to turn around and look at you, like, "Did you just say something idiotic to me?" GO ANYWAY. You will have fun. You will be enlightened. You will be inspired to write. You will make plans with your friends for an Annie singalong.

I am ebullient. A word I hardly ever use, can barely spell and can never pronounce.

As I told a friend of mine, a weekend filled with free chocolates, nerds talking about nerdy things, books, and an extra hour of sleep is the Best Weekend Ever.

I’m working on producing the VH1 show right now.