Doing laps in the LA Fishbowl

Morning Most Excellent and Fair

There was, oddly, no sleeping last night. I’d doze for a couple of hours, then gradually find myself awake again. In and out, in and out. It wasn’t the heat, it wasn’t caffeine, it wasn’t a snoring husband (for a change). It felt like the sleeplessness that comes the night before the first day of a big shoot, or a new job. It was only upon awakening that I realized what was keeping me in a state of perpetual anticipation: Today was The Day.

My book, Still Life Las Vegas, is being sent out into the world. At last. 

Let me backtrack three months:

We had temporary custody of two boys, schoolmates of Ben, whose lives had been uprooted precipitously with the sudden (and continued) incarceration of their mother. For seven weeks we had been witnesses and agents of their dismantled lives. Every day we took up the tools of destruction: giving away a dog, packing up an evicted household, prison visits, custody hearings, DCFS visits, selling and disposing of their worldly possessions. All the while trying to give them some semblance of stability during their last days of school. Weeks of anxiety and grief visited upon these small boys. The devastation was complete; we had done the best we could to make the fall as gentle as possible, but given the height, it was impossible for it not to injure, and scar.

Our day-to-day lives got put on hold. Existing in constant crisis sweeps most of your to-do’s out the window. I had the welcome respite of voiceover jobs, but there was very little meditation, almost no exercise, and creative writing? Except for the notes of the day, my output was almost non-existent. My last act on that front had been the day before the boys came into our house, when I submitted my manuscript to an agent whose name I came across on a gay news website. He had just married the author Augusten Burroughs, and on a whim, I cold-queried him. Then the maelstrom flew in, and I completely forgot about it. 

We moved the boys to their new foster home the Saturday after school ended. The next day, Benj and I traveled to Santa Fe for a long-planned visit with my sister and her family. It was a hard transition. We were both a little shell-shocked. The first night in the tranquil house I found it impossible to sleep, partly kept up by the pervasive heat and my flailing, teeth-grinding son next to me in bed, but mostly because of an all-encompassing desire for flight. I needed to get up, get going, Do Something. Living on survival mode, remaining in constant vigilance  for almost two months, I was so on edge that even the sound of the tinkling koi pond outside my room kept shifting into the murmur of boys’ voices, threatening war.

“I’d be thrilled to take you on as a client and be given the chance to sell this.”

My cellphone had spotty service up in the pristine mountains where my sister lives; the wifi, practically nonexistent—the price you pay for paradise, I guess. My phone finally kicked in during preparation for breakfast the next morning. And there it was, in my email inbox, a letter from that same agent I had queried weeks before:

“I’d be thrilled to take you on as a client and be given the chance to sell this.”

He liked my book. A lot. He had some notes, none of them dire, and he had questions, but he definitely wanted to represent me. I had to read the email in parts; I was in such a frazzled state I didn’t want to contaminate the letter. Never before had there been such a clear demarcation between phases of my life. Here, here, this has ended, and now, here you are, your new direction. Come along. Finding an agent is only one early part in a long, unsure journey, but it came at exactly the time I needed it most.

The agent and I have had a invigorating string of communications since. He’s worked with me on some revisions of the book, all of them for the better. My illustrator Sungyoon Choi gracefully contributed more artwork to tie everything together, and it’s ready to go. He’s sending it out to publishers today. Fingers crossed, shall we?

The night after the good news in Santa Fe, we slept on the roof of the house to watch a predicted meteor shower. It was cold and cloudy, but I was awake at 2:30 in the morning when the clouds finally shredded and drifted away. What was left was night sky and a clear view of countless constellations. It was glorious. That night, I saw three shooting stars and Sagittarius, my birth sign, rearing up over the horizon. 

September 10th, 2013 - Still Life Las Vegas


4 responses to “Morning Most Excellent and Fair”

  1. Genevieve says:

    Sweet Sagg brother, I'm so glad. What a time you have all had. Whew. Peace now.And, congratulations! xo, Genevieve

  2. Anonymous says:

    Sending you lots of Blessings!!!! Love you! Love You!

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