This was a good summer, ending a good year. May 5771 be as good!
5770 brought me some great fun with my book, starting with an interview in February by Anita Manley in the Senior Gazette. She did a great job with it, even though the accompanying photo, which she snapped with her digital camera while we were sitting 2 feet from each other at my dining table, looked like it was taken with a wide-angle lens, and I consequently looked like an elderly mental patient. They ran it on Page One, though, and that drummed up some business for my “signing event” at Barnes & Noble shortly thereafter. The first “customer” who came up to my table at B&N was an elderly lady who had brought with her Anita’s article, carefully cut from the paper and encased in a clear plastic cover with a white plastic slip-on spine like the English papers we wrote in high school. She gave it to me, and bought two books, G-d bless her! I managed to sell 18 books there. Rachel came with me and helped me out and kept me company at the table during my 2-hour stint. Also at that signing, a woman named Jane chatted with me and we exchanged phone numbers, because she said she wanted me to teach her how to write her autobiography. We set that up and, sure enough, a few weeks later, she came over for lunch, and brought me a nice white plastic tray decorated with cheery blue and orange flowers.
Then I was invited to the TBJ Rosh Chodesh group meeting at Lorraine Wernow’s home in Marlboro one evening, because their “topic” was “Louey Levy!” That made me happy because these were really, really smart women.
Sales of the book continued steady at Newburgh Art Supply, the sweet shop run by my friend Michael Gabor on Liberty Street; every month or so he lets me know that he has run out, and I bring him another 5 signed copies.
A really fabulous event was when the Newburgh Historical Society on Sept. 19 invited my pal Mary McTamaney and me to do a song and dance about Newburgh in the late 1950s and early 1960s; she showed photos from that era, and I read from “Louey” and then signed and sold 28 books! That led to a cool thing that I hope pans out: A young English teacher at NFA was in the audience (of about 50 people, total) and said she was planning to teach “The Catcher in the Rye” and “To Kill a Mockingbird” this spring, and now she wanted to add “Louey” to that list! I told her I’d be glad to come and speak to her class, and she seemed very excited about that, and took my contact info. WAHOO!
On Nov. 11, I’ll be on that great lefty radio station, WBAI, from 2-3 with Louis Rivera, talking about “Louey” with my fellow member of the National Writers Union. I sooo look forward to that! And on Dec. 5, a Sunday, I’ll be at the Wallkill River Art School in Montgomery, for a reading and signing. (Just in time for holiday book-buying! Perfect!)
Other than marketing my novel, this year was great because one of my other Big Projects got done: the Snake Hill Cemetery is now fully enclosed by its nice new fence, thanks to the good people of Kiryas Joel, who financed it and put it up for us. And it now sports not one, but TWO signs! (WRITE YOUR OWN JEWISH JOKE IN THIS SPACE.)
That’s right: After the Mandatory Dickering Period, we put up a bare-bones, 12” x 16” black-ink-on-white-metal sign saying that “this historic cemetery” (my contribution) had been around since the late 1880s and belongs to TBJ; and unbeknownst to me, the Kiryas Joel Hasidim paid for and put up (rather crookedly, I couldn’t help but notice), on the other side of the gate, their own sign, twice as large as ours, in Yiddish, saying … something or other. It mentions the name of their congregation and has, I think, a few prayers on it, too, and some phone numbers. The TBJ phone number was one item I wanted on our sign, but was overruled on. So what does the one bit of English on the Hasidim’s sign say? It says, “For any info on this cemetery, call …” Oh, well: G-d bless them! And let our people rest in peace.
Jeez, this is turning into a cross between a blog entry and one of those horrifying Christmas letters you get where people tell you about everything that happened to them over the past 365 days. But now that I’ve started, I might as well finish it.
Tim and I spent our tax refund this year on two important things: getting our wills made out (important to me) and buying a washer and dryer (important to him). I must say, each purchase has been about equally useful, so far. I’ve had to call the plumber twice about the dryer, which doesn’t work at best, and which fills the basement up with toxic, damp, hot air and lint at worse. Last time, they told me to call Sears about it, because, as they say on the oncology ward, they’d done all they could for it; and Sears subsequently told me it’s no longer under their warranty and I’d have to ship it back to the manufacturer (General Electric) at my expense, or have GE send someone out to look at it at $200 minimum. G-d, I used to loooove going to the laundramat! It was peaceful there, and I loved the people, and it created time in my day where I could do things (clean the kitchen, do the dishes, make the beds, etc.) while the washer, and then the dryer, was running. It was almost always just 11 quarters to wash, and 4 quarters to dry all my laundry, because I could usually stuff everything into one washer and always into one dryer, and I could do all my laundry at once, taking about an hour, total, whereas with these machines, you have to do each load one at a time. Now I’m thinking of taking the top off of our dryer and turning it into a $400 planter, like the old one, that I set out in the back yard a couple of years ago.
Rachel went to Europe for 5 months to do organic farming in France, the Isle of Guernsey and England, and while “Over There” she also visited Barcelona, stayed a week at a friend’s apartment in Cambridge, and went to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival! What a year for her! Now she’s applying for jobs in radio again, and we’re all hoping she gets her top choice and becomes assistant producer of WNYC’s “On the Media.”
Good luck to her, and good luck to us all in 5771!