The Blog of Chloë and Pete  

Two characters (that would be Chloë and Pete) looking for love, safety, and Krispy Kremes. A book looking for readers and a publisher. An author (Jessica) looking for an agent, a life, and a region-free DVD player.

email: jessica_lynn -at- watchmail.com

About Me 23.07.02

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Signed up with Hosting Matters now. Not sure what myrealname.com is actually going to look like. I'd like something a little spiffier than the average template, but what I know about website design can fit in a thimble. I like this template, but I don't think I can cart it wholesale to the new site. And while it would probably make sense in the long run to hire someone to design me something minimally spiffy, the fact is that that Mastercard I mentioned is feeling a little drunk at the moment. Which is to say I probably spent my entire website design budget at an Origins store earlier this week.

A has finished the third draft. In fact, she read it all the way through before I did. I'm hoping she enjoyed it; whether or not she did, it's nice to have such quick friends.

Wait -- here we go: my first control panel! (That's what Hosting Matters gives you to start configuring your site.) Think of this as Portrait of the Artist as a Complete Newbie.



  posted by Jessica @ 22:16 |


31.7.03  

 

So myrealname.com is duly registered and paid for. (Well, not yet, really. Mastercard has, out of the goodness of its self-interest, made me a small loan to pay for myrealname.com, and kicked in some near-useless-but-hey Continental frequent flyer miles to boot, and in due time I will pay Mastercard back.)

Anyway, it's mine, MINE, you knaves. No stealing myrealname.com. Not that you would -- it's a common last name, and God knows "Jessica" is a common American first name, but the two together I don't encounter that often -- but now you definitely can't.

On a related note, God bless Mr. Douglas, and not just because he's much more realistic and less ego-dependent about publishing a novel than I am.



  posted by Jessica @ 21:36 |



 

I understand that one cannot construct an adequate public defense of a private life.

Yet Wendell Berry will go on for pages and pages anyway.

I should say that few things irritate me more than a writer who self-righteously thumps his or her (I know there are women writers who've done it, though I can only think of Paul Auster right now) chest and proclaims that the only way to write is with a typewriter, and no amount of public scorn will convince him (or her) to switch to one of those newfangled computer thingies. These are, apparently, people who have never, not once, lost anything, because the reason to write on a computer is not "ease of use." It is contained in one simple and brilliant little word: backup. The original draft of Edna St. Vincent Millay's Conversations at Midnight, and the draft of another book of poems, burned in a Florida hotel fire. Is the world really a richer place because Millay couldn't go home and open up her Zip drive?

So Wendell Berry and I are already not getting along. (Or, rather, I am disagreeing, and Wendell Berry doesn't much care.) And then he goes on to construct a slightly sounder, but still rootless, anti-technology argument. I say "rootless" because it doesn't seem to be grounded in any facts or real observations about the world, other than that Wendell Berry can't find anything to watch on TV. For example:

    The statistics of life expectancy are favorites of the industrial apologists, because they are perhaps the hardest to argue with. Nevertheless, this emphasis on longevity is an excellent example of the way the isolated aims of the industrial mind reduce and distort human life, and also the way statistics corrupt the truth. A long life has indeed always been thought desirable; everything that is alive apparently wishes to continue to live. But . . . it was generally agreed that a good life was preferable to one that was merely long, and that the goodness of a life could not be determined by its length. The statisticians of longevity ignore good in both its senses; they do not ask if the prolonged life is virtuous, or if it is satisfactory.

This is a lovely argument until you start thinking about what life expectancy actually means: that people live longer because there are fewer things to kill them young. Berry writes as if some band of scientists took life, like a rubber band, and stretched it, thereby making it thinner; rather than as if, which is closer to the truth, that a great many people (not all, by a long shot, obviously) live not only longer but more comfortable lives, free of polio, malaria, sepsis, smallpox, measles, et cetera. In his world, apparently everybody dropped of painless heart attacks at 60 with smiles on their faces.

Or take this part:

    The question of how to end or reduce dependence on some of the technological innovations already adopted is a baffling one. At least, it baffles me. I have not been able to see, for example, how people living in the country, where there is no public transportation, can give up their automobiles without becoming less useful to each other. And this is because, owing largely to the influence of the automobile, we live too far from each other, and from the things we need, to be able to get about by any other means . . .

    But if we have paid attention to the influence of the automobile on country communities, we know that the desirability of technological innovation is an issue that requires thinking about, and we should have acquired some ability to think about it.

But what about the influence of the truck on country communities? Not the car, the truck. The truck which picks up food and takes it to distribution centers which ships it to markets where I buy it, thus making money for those country communities -- or it picks up the copies of Harper's that people can then buy, thus making money for that magazine, which can then commission articles in which Berry complains that he doesn't see the positive effects of automobiles.

Skipping ahead:

    It is odd that simply because of its “sexual freedom” our time should be considered extraordinarily physical. In fact, our “sexual revolution” is mostly an industrial phenomenon, in which the body is used as an idea of pleasure or a pleasure machine with the aim of “freeing” natural pleasure from natural consequence. Like any other industrial enterprise, industrial sexuality seeks to conquer nature by exploiting it and ignoring the consequences, by denying any connection between nature and spirit or body and soul, and by evading social responsibility. The spiritual, physical, and economic costs of this “freedom” are immense, and are characteristically belittled or ignored. The diseases of sexual irresponsibility are regarded as a technological problem and an affront to liberty.

Does this argument really hold weight anymore? AIDS has been around pretty much my entire lifetime; teenage pregnancy was a hot topic during the 1990s; even the women on Sex and the City have had to deal with disease, humiliation and unplanned pregnancy out of wedlock; but we are all still, somehow, a bunch of irresponsible pleasure-obsessed hedonists. In a paranoid mood I am tempted to read that last sentence as, "We shouldn't be getting so upset if gay people get sick," but that's not fair to Berry; he's writing, it seems, strictly in a heterosexual domain. And yet:

    I don’t want to deny myself the pleasure of bodily involvement in my work, for that pleasure seems to me to be the sign of an indispensable integrity. (emphasis in the original)

Okay, check that. Everybody else is an irresponsible hedonist. Wendell Berry, however, is not only pleasure-seeking but full of integrity -- indispensible integrity! -- in his pleasure-seeking. I don't deny myself the pleasure of bodily involvement in bed, myself, but I don't get up here and tell you that such actions somehow make me a more worthwhile or less flawed person.

    It is easy—it is even a luxury—to deny oneself the use of a television set, and I zealously practice that form of self-denial. Every time I see television (at other people’s houses), I am more inclined to congratulate myself on my deprivation.

I have a friend -- Beta Reader D; he used to keep a blog, but had to give it up for graduate school and a forthcoming novel -- with whom I've disagreed violently, in the past, about moral instruction. I think -- I could be putting words in his mouth -- that he would find Berry's efforts to educate the reader in this way at worst inoffensive, possibly laudable and admirable. I find it obnoxious and vapid. But it's part and parcel of my general attempt (to my own eyes; y'all might think me hypocritical) to stay away from the moral lecturing. After some basic absolutes I become a relativist; or, rather, I'm reluctant to generalize from my own experiences. I have a television, unlike Berry, but it doesn't get any reception. This is not to say I have some moral high ground; it's because if I had a TV I'd never get anything done except taping Good Eats reruns. It doesn't mean that other people shouldn't own a TV. By contrast, when Wendell Berry thinks differently -- takes joy in his handwriting, in his non-TV-owning, in his wood-chopping -- and wants to tell other people that they, too, might find joy in such things, I think, "Obnoxious twit." And it's only fair to say that Beta Reader D probably would not. (Hopefully Beta Reader D will show up in the comments section; I haven't seen him around in a while.)

That said: Obnoxious twit.

One last quote:

    We cannot think about the future, of course, for the future does not exist: the existence of the future is an article of faith. We can be assured only that, if there is to be a future, the good of it is already implicit in the good things of the present. We do not need to plan or devise a “world of the future”; if we take care of the world of the present, the future will have received full justice from us. A good future is implicit in the soils, forests, grasslands, marshes, deserts, mountains, rivers, lakes, and oceans that we have now, and in the good things of human culture that we have now; the only valid “futurology” available to us is to take care of those things . . . If you love the freedom and elegance of simple tools, why encumber yourself with something complicated?
    And yet, if we are ever again to have a world fit and pleasant for little children, we are surely going to have to draw the line where it is
    not easily drawn.

I wonder -- I really do -- if David Brooks would characterize Berry as a Bobo. I think he would. Which amuses me a great deal.




  posted by Jessica @ 07:50 |



 

Okay. I've looked at Bravenet, I've looked at PowWeb and Lunarpages and iPowerWeb. If anyone wants to recommend a hosting company, feel free. I'm aware that Movable Type is the must-have accessory for the cool blog nowadays. I'm wondering if I could afford EK. Wonder, wonder, wonder.

Note how good I've been at updating this week. Next week there'll be less, since I'll be having lots of work-related meetings. Meanwhile I'll be trying to figure out a damn domain name. myfirstnamemylastname.com? jessicalynn.com is taken, and sounds like a porn site anyway. Anna Beth, who's been at this longer than I have, used to have her first name and last name as her URL and then got some very strange people finding her, if I'm remembering right. I could go with some nifty concept, but who would remember it?

The English translation of my IM screenname (how's that for obscure?) isn't taken. Hmm.



  posted by Jessica @ 15:47 |


25.7.03  

 

The good A. C. Douglas has suggested that yes, I should get my own domain and furthermore, don't worry about the Asian film stuff. But I like posting about the Asian film stuff, ACD, even if probably ninety percent of my readers can't do more than say "Ohh-kay, now" when I talk about Lee Jung-jae looking hot in a black leather coat. (Or a blazer. See proof.) It's a public service! Y'all are better people for your increased knowledge of hot Korean actors. Really!

Besides, it makes me feel a little less narcisisstic. Just because I talk about myself all the damn time doesn't mean I'm proud of the tendency.

So I did have dinner with M last night at a nice little kosher sushi place. She showed me a picture of her fiancé, a big guy with a big smile. "The rebbetzin set us up," she said. "She knew I was looking to get married and he was looking to get married, and so . . . " She smiled. "I just knew. Right away." They'd been dating a month when they got engaged. I have not yet reported all the juicy details to my mother, though I can imagine her reaction if I'd gotten engaged to a man I'd been dating a month. "Mazel tov" would not be her choice of words.

I strongly dispute this whole "just know" business. It doesn't seem to work for me, at any rate. I had long and fairly serious conversations about eventual marriage with both of my last two boyfriends, and in both cases, it seems now -- I could always be proven wrong later -- it turned out to be a good thing that we never got as far as ring-buying. But the occasional time I have tried a relationship, or a version thereof, with someone I knew I wasn't going to marry, it's generally ended badly. I usually want the long-term faith even if it flies in the face of all reason. O reason not the need, in a very different, much less tragic context.

If you know, as M does, what your life will be in the long term and the values that will guide it -- she wanted someone, for example, who prays three times a day, as she does -- then I could see how you could just know that another person would fit perfectly into that puzzle. But I don't know what I want. I don't even know where I'm going to be living in July 2005, much less with whom. What I want keeps changing. A commentor on Megan's blog (or Megan and Mindles's blog, I should say) once raised the question: if a relationship doesn't lead to marriage, can you really call it successful? And I thought, well, yeah. I consider both of those relationships successful. At the time the men gave me exactly the love and support and humor I needed, and I gave them (I hope) what they needed, and there just came a time when we needed different things.

I'm a little jealous of her certainty. And she did come dangerously close to pitying me (that "You just broke up with your boyfriend, right?" came almost immediately after showing me the pictures). But -- I might well end up single and Fabulous! at 30 or 35 or 40. I'm not sure. I know I'd like to be married, someday, but I also am learning not to depend so heavily on certain pictures of the future.

Speaking of weddings, if you're wondering what to get that special transcontinental blogging couple, guidance is here.



  posted by Jessica @ 11:59 |


24.7.03  

 

The very, very smart Megan has done an admirable job of summing up why she's not posting about Niger, yellowcake, exit plans, Paul Bremer, et cetera, et cetera. If I tried I wouldn't sound nearly that intelligent.

Unfortunately I don't have a lot of Asian film news for y'all, except that The Uninvited, the new film starring the potential future Mrs. Frankenstein, will be out in Korea August 8th.

Oh, no, wait, I do! It's "Secret Wonderland," the title of this year's New York Korean Film Festival. Yay! The schedule includes YMCA Baseball Team, starring Song Kang-ho, whom, as I've said before, I would watch read the phone book; Jail Breakers, from the Attack the Gas Station! / Kick the Moon directing team; Road Movie, which is said to be one of the most thoughtful treatments of a gay character in Korean film, ever; Oasis, which has kicked ass at every festival that's hosted it; and 1997's near-legendary No. 3, which launched the aforementioned Song Kang-ho into stardom.

It's not the best schedule in the world, with many weekday afternoon screenings and all the Jail Breakers screenings taking place after 9 p.m. And no Jeon Ji-hyun just yet. But if you're in New York in August and you want to see good movies, or just spend two hours with Song Yun-ah on a big screen, now you know what to do.



  posted by Jessica @ 10:20 |


23.7.03  

 

Archaeologists now believe that the lost portions of the Rosetta Stone largely consist of speculation about Javier Vazquez coming to Atlanta.

Hee! Now that the Skip Caray-Joe Simpson and Pete Van Wieren-Don Sutton teams have been restored, I can be less ambivalent about my hometown team even under the thumb of AOL Time Reallyshouldn'tbeowningsportsteams. Hence linking to the Braves Journal, home of news, rumors and much invective against Shane Reynolds.

By the way, if the Braves picked up Tsuyoshi Shinjo, that would probably be enough to lure me to The Field That Ought to Have Been Named for Hank Aaron. Probably he got signed by someone else ages ago. Sigh . . .



  posted by Jessica @ 14:45 |


22.7.03  

 

While mulling over the less-than-compelling question of whether the world needs one more blog, and avoiding work like the plague, I decided to check and see what my future husband Neal Pollack is up to. And found:

    Many topics array themselves today on the table of my mind. First, we have last weekend's suicide of the British scientist who served as the point man for the intelligence that may or may not allegedly have been forged but nonetheless led us to depose one of the most brutal tyrants ever, and therefore it doesn't matter. While a dead man is a dead man, certain deaths mean less than others, and could even be called useful. I'll just let that lie fallow for your cogitation.

I think this is a test. If I fail, Neal Pollack will cross me off his list of potential wives, mistresses, and one-night stands, and never will I know the fan-fic-able beauty of a night in the arms of Neal Pollack. Mary Sue, my name is apparently not.

So I'm trying to cogitate. Useful how? Useful for whom? Are people seriously picturing Tony Blair wiping his brow and saying, "Oh, thank God, Cherie, they got rid of that Kelly, we're in the clear now"? Is Neal Pollack trying to imply that Kelly was either mysteriously done away with or pressured into suicide, and thus his death was "useful", or is he making fun of those making fuss over "intelligence that may or may not allegedly have been forged"? Perhaps both. Which would be, in sum, nothing at all. And yet I have spent ten minutes trying to figure out one paragraph, and have cogitated myself into uneasiness. Maybe something sinister did happen. Or not. And we should be upset. Or just mocking.

I still hope Neal Pollack will marry me, though. If he doesn't marry me I'll never know whether he was serious. Or kidding. Or just manipulative. Or hung over. Or he'll marry me but remain forever aloof. Damn you, Neal Pollack! Damn you! Call me!



  posted by Jessica @ 17:30 |


21.7.03  

 

It's early. Coffee good. Sluggy Freelance also good. Go give The Artist money!

Was reading the piece on Random House's Peter Olson yesterday. It's not very good -- on and on and on about how Olson is taking a New, Hard-Headed, Cost-Cutting Approach to book publishing, and barely a word about why a New, Hard-Headed, Cost-Cutting Approach might be necessary; lots and lots about how Ann Godoff wasn't making any money, but no actual numbers. It's such an inconsequential piece of journalism Bookslut hasn't even bothered to blog it.

But I was reminded, for the 9,000th time, that even if I do get an agent and a publisher and a contract and so on for The Adventures of Chloë and Pete, it will not mean success -- and when I say "success" I don't mean "the next Jonathan Safran Foer," I mean "sell copies to people who aren't my family and friends, and avoid the Barnes & Noble inventory kiss of death." If publishing is becoming a harder-headed, colder-hearted, more-bottom-line-oriented business, then it is highly unlikely that anybody -- agent, editor, publisher, anybody -- is going to care much about the success or failure of this novel, save its author.

More than a year ago I started this blog in the hope that it would get oodles of hits and make a name for me, a little bit of publicity to help the novel along. See that little rainbow button at the bottom of the screen once you've scrolled down? Press it. See average daily number of hits. Feel free to indulge in Schadenfreude.

If I really do want to follow this plan -- and I'm not even sure it's a good plan anymore, now that everybody from Howard Dean to Neil Gaiman has a blog -- the next step is, I guess, to bite the bullet, buy myrealname.com, and finally start really asking for publicity, as opposed to, "You linked to me? Aw, shucks!" I've thought about buying asianfilmblog.com, I've thought about Movable Type, I've thought about asking Little Willow to design me a nice website. What have I got to hide, at this point?

I think what's stopping me is that then the blog will stop being a lark I can drop for a month and become an obligation, something official and professional. (Plus it would need money, and the idea of spending money on anything before Gus's massive insurance and ad valorem tax bills come due, in August/September, is not particularly appealing.) Am I ready for that? Is this book ready to see the light of day? Am I finally, after four years of writing the novel and three years of writing online without putting my name to my words, going to walk the walk?

Feedback, encouragement, advice, anything of that nature would be much appreciated. It always is, but especially on this point.



  posted by Jessica @ 10:57 |



 

Just left a slightly awkward message on the voicemail of M, who is one of my acquaintances of longest duration: she and I have known each other since we were five or so, when our little brothers ended up in the same playgroup. There are pictures at my parents' house of Halloween 1984 or 1985, with me in a Scooby-Doo mask and M dressed up as a princess.

Acquaintances fall out, obviously, but M and I haven't had a real conversation in several years. The change has less to do with us (I suspect) and more to do with our families, specifically our mothers. M's mother and my mother have always had this strange, somewhat competitive friendship, basically looking at each other's children and saying, "Well, I'm glad my kids don't do that." The competitive aspect has only gotten worse as M's family has moved, over the years, from Conservative to Orthodox Judaism, which has made my mother -- a non-practicing Conservative happily married to a non-practicing Lutheran for 27 years and counting -- very uncomfortable. The last time I saw M, it was at a kosher Chinese restuarant with her parents and younger brother, and her parents did most of the talking.

M is getting married on August 24th, in a sex-segregated, traditionally Orthodox (I think) ceremony. I'm not serving in the wedding (there was a long time, perhaps my entire adolescence, when I just assumed that I would be one of her bridesmaids, and she would be one of mine) but I am invited, and I am going, Korean film festival be damned. I called her in the hopes that I'll be able to see her before the wedding. Good luck getting a bride's calendar a month before her wedding, I know.

I'd like to have a friendship with her independent of the dysfunctional relationship of our mothers. My mother, who believes in God and keeps a few traditions but absolutely cannot understand the idea of living life by a set of hard-and-fast religious rules, thinks M is throwing her life away, and M's mother probably has nothing but pity for me, not-quite-25, chomping down on the bacon, three moves and two car wrecks since college, unmarried, unsettled, and with no nice Jewish boys in sight (Los Angeles not counting as "in sight"). I can understand the appeal of an Orthodox life better than my mother can, even though pretty much everyone I've ever dated has been atheist, goyishe, or both, but I don't know if M thinks less of me for remaining so relentlessly secular.

I hope she's happy with her guy. And I hope she calls me back.



  posted by Jessica @ 12:01 |


18.7.03  

 

Attention Beta Readers PW, HBM, MH, and AT, and Potential Beta Readers SE and BB: (1) do you want a copy of the third draft? (2) if so, in what format? (It's about 30,000 words shorter than the draft you read.) If the answer to #1 is no, I won't be offended, I promise. I know y'all got a lot going on. Leave comments or email me.



  posted by Jessica @ 11:43 |



 

So I'm on the blogroll of some poor schmuck. Hi, poor retired-Army schmuck, and thanks for the link.

But I have to say that this make me think of nothing so much as Rowan Atkinson's monologue as the devil: "I'm afraid the Jews were right."



  posted by Jessica @ 12:16 |


9.7.03  

 

Two of the most interesting women to ever have spent time in Austin, Pamie and Jessa Crispin, sit down together to talk books and the book business. Whether or not you are taking time today to support Iranian democracy movements -- Pejman will have all the info you could possibly need, as will OxBlog, Winds of Change, Jeff Jarvis, and Hossein Derakhshan, while Brooke has details on the New York rally -- don't forget that every day can be Smart Women Talking About Books Day.



  posted by Jessica @ 10:02 |



 

InstaProf linked today (technically, yesterday) to one of the first gay bloggers to be legally married. And the happy couple are Atlantans, no less. And appropriately adorable. Congratulations, Michael and Robert!



  posted by Jessica @ 00:55 |



 

Today I am a Slithering Reptile. Again, I'm flattered.

Especially since apparently the thing for ex-Swatties to do is have a LiveJournal, not a blog. Meet my ex-boyfriend Fred, now graduate student, eBay entrepreneur, and LJ user; he links to Melissa and Dan (who used to have an LJ, at any rate) and Besh (who's engaged now! Yay!) and Arcadia and that has to be Amy and Rebecca and my dear Greg and of course there's Chaos and if it's Morris dancing it must be Will and of course I already knew about the LJs of my ex-roommate Elizabeth, my fabulous Alastair, and Dave and Sarah, who I got to see this past weekend.

("What's new?" Dave asked. "Not much," I said, "y'know, single now." I thought they'd be surprised but they nodded in sympathy; a moment later Sarah said they'd seen references to the now-ex here.)

I went to school with all of these people, save Besh, who I didn't meet until AWA '99. And now I can just open up a window and hear about their lives, or at least see what parts of themselves that they want to present to the online world. As Allison keeps saying, God bless the Internet.

I feel like saying: hi, it's me. Remember? I was the only cheerleader ever to be a SWIL non-member; I went away to France for a semester; I did College Bowl and worked on the Phoenix until it near drove me crazy; I co-hosted the Botticelli show on WSRN . . . damn, only four years since I graduated, and yet it feels like a long time.

Hi, y'all. I'm in Atlanta right now; I was driving through Alabama yesterday. My car is a 1996 Volvo 850 named Gustavus Adolphus, Gus for short, and we love each other even though he doesn't get great mileage and I haven't checked his fluid levels in ages. I'm single. Live alone. Just finished the third draft of a novel. No, not the novel I was working on in college, another one. Yes, another one. No, that earlier one's not seeing the light of day anytime soon. Maybe someday, in a vastly reworked form. My job rocks. My co-workers rock, and I would say this even if they hadn't one and all discovered this damn thing. And I don't miss Swarthmore, even now -- I miss y'all but I want to reunite in different contexts. Boston or New York makes more sense to me than any reunions on Parrish Beach, right now. But you know -- online works, too.



  posted by Jessica @ 21:23 |


8.7.03  

 

Sitemeter says that a couple new people have added this blog to their blogrolls. I'm very, very flattered. Hey, new blogrollers! If I don't add you to my own list in the next couple days, holler over at me via email and remind me -- I've got a busy week at work this week.

Further in the department of Yay!, I just got email from Todd, one of the head honchos at Mobius Home Video Forum. I typically post in the Asian section of MHVF, but there are interesting discussions at all four of its boards, so if you're a film buff (and you know who you are), head on over there. Especially now, as they're in the midst of a pledge drive to buff up their servers.



  posted by Jessica @ 13:30 |



 

Among the bottles of alcohol I bought during a brief side trip to a liquor store in Dallas last Christmas was a bottle of chartreuse. I love chartreuse more than any other form of alcohol in the world, including the runners-up, Guinness and Stoli Vanil. Chartreuse is produced in a monastery about a half-hour's drive from Grenoble, so Grenoble is flooded with the stuff. In the spring you can get chartreuse ice cream at any ice cream stand in centre-ville. I didn't think you could get chartreuse anywhere in America, much less in Dallas, but the boy was more confident. He led me up one aisle and down another until he spotted both the yellow and green bottles.

I hadn't touched the bottle of chartreuse since we broke up; I didn't feel like drinking alone. Tonight I poured myself a glass of chartreuse and added two ice cubes.

It's July 4th. It's eleven years since the night that I cried, inexplicably, during the fireworks at Wallace Wade Stadium, and A comforted me. It's three years to the day since I heard my cell phone ringing and nearly leaped across my friend's kitchen with the sure knowledge that the guy I'd met three days earlier, the one I already liked more than I cared to admit to myself, was calling. It's two years and one day since my grandfather died.

I think for the rest of my life I'll be circling the first week of July on my calendar. First week of July, 2000, I met a man who kissed me around 4 a.m. First week of July, 2001, my mother called me and said, "I'm going down to Florida," and I could tell from the choke in her throat why. First week of July, 2003, the same man who kissed me three years earlier said, "It's probably better if we don't see each other -- we'll both just start crying."

Today I walked out of the Borders at Peachtree and 25th Street with a copy of Pamie's book and my laptop, with the third draft of my own book, finished, finally.

I'm almost twenty-five. I'm alone, listening to fireworks popping outside. I have a big work assignment next week which is, frankly, scaring me. I have a 90,000-word novel that may never be published. I hurt a good man who used to be here and isn't now.

But I did finally finish. Chloë, bless her distrustful chain-smoking heart (there'll be a surprise for my beta readers: Chloë didn't smoke in the second draft), and Pete, a better DDR player than I am and a better person than he thinks he is, are a tiny bit closer to getting the prose they deserve. And I'm okay. And my ex, who hopefully had a good time today, will be okay too.

It's the fourth of July. Our lovely imperfect country was declared independent 227 years ago today. Hannah Beth's friend Kim is on her honeymoon. Thomas Maxwell, son of Beta Reader Melissa, is home and adorable. A is in California, with her girl; Beta Reader D's first novel is due out this fall; Miss Maggie is doing nicely; my grandmother's in town. And I'm okay. All of those seemed like very good reasons to break out the chartreuse.



  posted by Jessica @ 23:23 |


4.7.03  

 

Coming to a blog near you: When Smart Men Disagree, With Great Amounts of Name-Calling on Both Sides, About Weapons of Mass Destruction! (See the comments.)



  posted by Jessica @ 10:29 |


3.7.03  

 

More on the deal that made AirTran Boeing's bitch, or Boeing AirTran's bitch, I'm not sure which yet. The good folks at AirDisaster.com -- one of the most informative sites I know of, although by no means should you go there just before flying -- are also discussing it in their forum, though their attitude is more "Yay for Boeing!" and less "So how is this going to help AirTran, exactly?"

While it's nifty that AirTran will soon (if speculation is correct) be flying a lot more places than just Atlanta to Moline-Quad Cities and back, where's its competitive advantage? When AirTran was competing with the major airlines -- mostly Delta/ASA, but also United, US Air, Northwest, and Continental -- out of Hartsfield, it had the advantage of being cheap and not significantly worse in service than the majors. That, and its snack mix. Y'all won't believe me on this, but in the late 1990s AirTran had the best snack mix in the airlines. I'm sure there's a Best Onboard Snack Mix trophy, in the shape of a crumpled baggie, somewhere in Joe Leonard's office.

The problem now is, AirTran is losing its competitive advantage. Some of its price innovations, such as being able to buy a one-way ticket without a significant markup, are being adopted by the big shots -- Delta has done this with Song, for example. (And ten points to the person who can find a mention, a mention, of Song on Delta's website. Seriously, who dropped the marketing ball on that one? Delta: We love to shoot ourselves in the foot, and it shows.) JetBlue is cheap and cheerful, as I mentioned yesterday, and as it expands the competition will be between "cheap and leather seats" and "just cheap." The changes in AirTran's frequent-flyer program have lowered the incentive for people to stick with AirTran. It's still much easier to get a free flight on AirTran than it is on the majors -- I have 25,000+ Continental OnePass miles, thanks to a lovely no-annual-fee credit card, and no idea what to do with said miles -- but while new customers might be comparing A-Plus Rewards to Skymiles, existing customers like me will be comparing old A-Plus Rewards to new A-Plus Rewards. And old A-Plus Rewards beat new A-Plus Rewards hands down.

And they lost the yummy snack mix. Is bringbackairtransnackmix.com taken?

So what is AirTran going to do to set itself apart now that it's not the only cheap airline around? Its customer service has gotten much better since I started flying it regularly in 1998-99, but it's still not known for exceptionally outstanding customer service. ("Exceptionally outstanding customer service" and "cheap" are hard to combine anyway, as Southwest seems to have realized.) Its website is very user-friendly as airline websites go, but again, that's not enough to make a reputation on. It can't lower fares much more than it already has. The Boeing 717s are nice and clean, and far preferable to those creaky DC-9s I occasionally get stuck on, but nothing memorable. Moreover, I've never, that I can remember, flown in an AirTran plane with a TV -- fine for Atlanta-NY or even Atlanta-Boston (2 1/2 hours), but Atlanta-LA is a longer flight; are they going to continue to not offer in-flight entertainment? That's fine by me, but other people might find a five-hour flight with no movie a turnoff when there's JetBlue with its DirectTV and video games and MP3s and whatnot.

In case you can't tell, I don't get to write about the airline industry at work.

I would say to AirTran: bring back the super-fast fly-three-get-one-free Amex deal, put a book of crossword puzzles in the back of every seat, keep offering one-day web-only sales that people can easily access, something, anything that will make you stand out when JetBlue and Southwest are breathing down your neck. And please, please, oh-pretty-please, bring back the snack mix.



  posted by Jessica @ 10:38 |


2.7.03  

 

In other news, the incredibly resilient Allison has summed up her last few months online. Y'all know you can still help her and Chris out, right?

In other news, Miss Hannah Beth is 27 as of yesterday.

In other news, Pamie got to see her book in bookstores the other day. I haven't picked up a copy yet but I hear it's damn good.

In other news, my book is still not finished. Two scenes left.



  posted by Jessica @ 17:11 |


1.7.03  

 

A while ago My Secret Agent Lawyer Man Who Now Has Both My Home and Cell Number had a post about US-based airlines using bad Eurosuppliers (i.e. Airbus) instead of doing the patriotic thing (i.e. Boeing). So I was going to suggest he write something about AirTran ordering 50 new jets from Boeing, and then thought, "Screw that, I've got my own blog."

I'm not exactly cheering. AirTran! My love! First you go all wacky with the frequent flyer reward system and kill the Amex bonus that made it so much easier to get free flights, then you order 50 more jets, now? You made a profit of $2 million last quarter, which in the airline industry is the equivalent of ending the month with $50 in your bank account and feeling proud because all your friends are racking up the credit-card debt. And, that's great about the $2 million, but have you noticed the state of your general industry right now? Have you noticed that JetBlue is all, look at me, I've got leather seats and TVs and I'm cheap and pretty? This feels like the airline equivalent of Scarlett O'Hara buying a new dress because she heard that Rhett was with that Watling woman. And last year's style of dress, to boot. Boeing 737s are so Southwest.

Now, it might be a good time to purchase planes; apparently, Boeing and Airbus fought over this order like another one was never coming along. So hopefully AirTran got itself a decent deal, though from what I've read deals to order airplanes are never straightforward.



  posted by Jessica @ 17:07 |


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