those are the pictures that I managed to capture at the World Service Offices during our tour today before my phone died. I carried my girlfriend’s camera around all day yesterday and only snapped a few photos, but thoughtfully forgot it when we went on the tour and looked at all of the interesting artifacts on the walls and in display cases. nevertheless, it was fun, and we had some good mexican food. I managed to take a couple other pictures, but I won’t be posting any that include feature people’s faces, as that wouldn’t quite be fair.

It has been a moving experience to have direct contact with folks from around the world who have had the opportunity to hear the message of recovery—that no addict, no matter where in the world, need ever die from the horrors of active addiction. I have had the privilege of meeting people from all around South and Central America, Europe, Asia and the Pacific Rim, Australia and New Zealand, and those Scandinavian nations we all love so much. South Africa has sent a delegate, and I believe we will be voting to extend a permanent seat as a conference participant to them, and to Western Russia as well. Iran and a few other countries were unable to send their representatives due to passport issues. As the delegate from LoneStar Region said, “nuclear weapons are not conducive to international travel.”

I had the privilege of eating lunch alone with the delegate from Western Russian, without an interpreter. It was challenging and rewarding.

I was encouraged by the Chair of the World Board to consider applying for a position as a Staff Writer at the World Service Office. Wouldn’t that be something?


Aside from the fact that I’m already missing the last week of class and won’t really be properly prepared for my Russian final, I received an email the day before I left that PubServ will be holding the workshop that I need to attend before I can begin freelance copyediting the day before I get back from California. I checked with the travel agency, and I’ll have to pay $120 extra to get an earlier ticket. I’m wondering if I can just show up at the airport and have them put me on standby for the next available flight, but I’m not sure if they do that. I’ll call the airline soon to find out—I don’t anticipate that I really need to have a decision ready until tomorrow morning, because most places don’t conduct business on Sunday.

I woke up an hour and a half later than I planned on the day I was to fly out. I jumped up, grabbed my stuff, and got in the car to go. My brother rode with me to the airport and took my car back home for me. But even though we left much later than planned, we still managed to approach the airport in time for takeoff. But before turning on to the tollway, I thought to ask my brother whether or not he had any change. No change. Any cash? No cash. I’ve become quite accustomed to taking advantage of our increasingly cashless society, relying on my plastic to take care of my expenses. I didn’t bother to bring any cash with me at all, and I don’t even know any PINs for my plastic, because I don’t like paying ATM fees. My brother knows his PINs, but didn’t have any money available as we approached the airport. We tried our best to find an ATM for him, but when we realized there was no money to be had, we tried to find a bank so I could do a cash advance on my credit card. The time of my flight’s departure—8:13AM—came and went, and I called the airline and was put on standby for the next flight, at 9:44AM. In order to have reserved the seat, I would’ve had to pay an extra $800 or so, nearly four times the original cost of my ticket. Standby is fine for me. We finally found a payday loan place that does cash advance on credit cards (for an outrageous fee), and I got some money so we could finally pay the tolls. Before getting on the toll roads, we wanted to use the bathroom at one of the gas stations. First gas station’s bathroom was out of order. Second gas station didn’t have any public restrooms. Third gas station’s bathrooms were “destroyed.” I didn’t bother to ask if there had been some incredible natural disaster like a rogue meteorite, we decided to “hold it” until we made it to the airport. By this time, the morning rush hour was in full force. We pulled into O’Hare right at 9:45, as my plane was presumably trafficking to the runway. They put me on standby for the 11:21AM and I began to relax. I found a bathroom and relieved myself before finding my gate. Things were going to be okay.

On the plane, I found out that I didn’t have a window seat. No big deal. I annoyed the guy who was sitting by the window by constantly looking past him as he tried to read. I’ll consider next time asking politely if he would mind trading seats.

I fell asleep briefly on the flight, dropping my $17 Cross Pen on the floor. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to find it, because we were so crowded I could hardly reach under my seat. This was also bothersome because the ticket said “in-seat power source”, so I thought I might be able to plug the laptop (which has infinitely short battery life) in. I’m still not entirely sure, but it seemed like our plug-ins were the same type that we have in cars. No help to businessmen like myself. Just before landing, when the person sitting in front of me put their seat in the upright position, I managed to catch sight of my pen under the seat and reach down and grab it. Cool. . . everything’s going to be okay.

I arrived at LAX and got on the shuttle bus to the Marriott in Woodland hills, where I met the Regional Delegate, Ralph, and we made our way to the room after checking in. At the front desk, they asked me for a card to secure payment for the room, and I handed them my $500-limit card (the biggest one I have). I had planned on using it for the room expense. They typically don’t charge until the end of the stay, so I knew that even though my room was going to cost a little more than $500, I could pay part with my debit card. But they handed my card back and said it wasn’t approved. Apparently they put the full cost, including $50/day incidentals, on “hold”. This would amount to more than $1000. My regional delegate was gracious enough to use his card. Whew.

I got into the room and plopped down on the bed. Ahhh…

Then I reached into my pocket, to get my pen so I could write down what my expenses thus far had been. I have to keep track so I can be properly reimbursed later on. But wait, where’s my pen? I think it’s on the Super Shuttle bus.


A rainbow in Paxton

Less than twelve hours, and I’ll be on my way. It feels a bit strange to be leaving the semester and my school-related stress all behind. Not that I won’t still be stressed about it, but at least I’ll be in a place where I’ll need to focus on other things. I just really hope that taking this time away from class doesn’t completely wreck my chances at passing Russian—the one class that I absolutely need in order to graduate. I’ve lately been playing out scenarios in my mind about what exactly would happen if I don’t pass. I can’t really re-take the class over the summer, because it won’t be offered. I don’t believe that it will be offered at parkland over the summer either, which means that the next time to take that level of Russian would be second semester next year. It would be a bad job, explaining to the MFA folks why I thought I could do their program without a bachelor’s degree. Perhaps my Russian instructor would be so kind as to drill me for the first week or two of summer and then let me take the final again. I’m convinced that an hour a day one-on-one for a week or two would be quite enough to prepare me.

Like I said, though. . . I’ll try to put that stuff out of my mind. After all, in eight hours I’ll be on a jet for the first time in my life. I’m pretty psyched about that, even if it doesn’t seem like it’s really going to happen. Maybe that’s because I’m not quite packed yet.

it seems like there were other things that I’ve considered blogging since the last post, but they’ve slipped from my mind now. More will come, I’m sure.

One Week Left

Then I’ll head out to California.

Never Enough (we’ve only managed to discuss the first chapter…but learning how to revise the first chapter should drastically improve my ability to revise the other existing 80 pages and write the end of the piece…another reason to make that donation: so I will have some free time to work on that thing once I finish school).

Anyway. I’m not up to the task of writing a more … engaging blog entry. so this is what you get.

On Self-Publishing

From a message I sent on myspace:

Sorry to take so long to get back to you.

Where self-publishing is concerned, I am primarily published online. I have not published any books. I happen to know that there are a couple resources (,,<--lulu being the best because it's entirely free, but will require a high level of attention to detail on your part where layout and editing is concerned), but I have not pursued any of these avenues, yet.

I am trying to get into a Master’s program for Creative Writing, and the Master’s thesis for such programs tends to be a book of short stories or a novel. Part of earning the Master’s, as I understand it, is learning how the publication process works and getting to know people who have been through it. Being involved in that sort of thing would really help a person to make the right connections to “break into the business,” as you put it.

Otherwise, a person could search online for agencies who represent authors and work on submitting manuscripts to those agencies. It’s important to note that you don’t ever want to deal with an agency who requires money upfront. Anyone who says that they’ll read your whole manuscript for a fee will probably not do much good for you. Chances are good that if they are for real, they’ll read a few pages for no charge, and if you hook ’em, then they’ll ask to see more. If they like what they see, they might take you on and start pushing your stuff on publishing houses.

And, as I said before, there are the avenues for free self-publishing (, but this will require a level of confidence in your own copyediting skills. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to have all of your smartest (and most well-read) friends look at your manuscript before submitting it to something like that, because you’re much more likely to be taken seriously if your work is free from troublesome or annoying errors. I’ve heard that some books sell well enough on Lulu to be picked up by publishing houses, which would be the primary goal. One can probably add a nice little supplement to one’s income by selling stuff on lulu, but I doubt that it would constitute a primary income.

I publish my stuff on my website because it’s easy and I do it myself. if I wasn’t so busy with school, I would probably go through on a more regular basis and edit stuff, add more material, and even compile some of the different work into collections that could be publishable as books. Alas, while working on an education, that’s not entirely possible. I will, however, try to do what I can in coming months (especially if I don’t get in to the Master’s program that I’m waitlisted for).

Best of luck to you with your stuff! Hopefully my comments helped some!

Pub Serv

I did better, apparently, on my second round of application tests for PubServ.. I was told so by way of a phone call yesterday, and I was asked to come in for an interview/information session. I got a tour of the joint and was told that I’ve scored well enough on the tests to be able to be able to begin freelance work as soon as I fill out the necessary paperwork and attend a workshop. If they decide to offer me the full-time gig, I ought to be able to start by the beginning of May, when I return from California. Woo-Hoo!

No April’s Fool

I didn’t oversleep on Sunday. At least, not for the 6AM job. The 3PM job, not so good (my nap runneth over).

I went to a reading yesterday, because I’d randomly picked up a flyer in class and saw that the guy reading teaches for the one MFA program that hasn’t rejected me. The reading was great, and I enjoyed his responses to the questions in the Q&A session that followed—his vision for what creative writing should be about is closely aligned with my own. I bought a couple of his books and had him sign them, and mentioned to him that I’m on the wait list at Antioch. I said it would be nice to work with him in the future. Later in the evening, after a frustrating attempt to write at the coffeeshop, I went home, ate some sashimi with the little lady (who has reached an agreement in the terms for the purchase of a nice condo not too far from campus—Congratulations!), and decided to try to go to some other coffeeshop to try to work. Our default “other coffeeshop” is the espresso way out in the boonies, near where scrilla lives. But we weren’t sure if we wanted to go so far, and the little lady suggested Aroma instead. My favorite non-Espresso Royale cafe in town (sometimes my favorite cafe, period), it seemed like the right choice. We settled in to get to work and before an hour had passed, the Author from the reading came in through the back door with the woman who’d presumably invited him, with whom I’d taken two writing classes in one semester, and who had written one of my recommendations letters for grad school. “Go say hi to him,” she told me. “He’s friendly.” So I went and talked with him a bit longer, fumbling to explain that I strongly agreed with his philosophies and admired his dedication to the art. He was well-versed in the golden rule of being a good conversationalist: ask people about themselves. When I finally returned to my seat, I felt like I’d probably seemed a bit retarded. Hopefully he didn’t think so.

Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but feel that there was something fortuitous in meeting the man. My short-sightedness would suggest that I met him so that he can help me on my wait-list situation at the low-residency program. While I’ve come to strongly believe that there are no real “coincidences”, I’ve also learned that when the universe conspires, it’s better not to try to guess what the purpose is or what the outcomes will be.

Unless, of course, we are sufficiently caffeinated:

  • You can jump start your car without cables.
  • You answer the door before people knock.
  • Your eyes stay open even when you sneeze.
  • You can type sixty words per minute—with your feet.
  • Instant coffee takes too long to make.
  • You don’t sweat… you percolate.
  • You walk twenty miles on your treadmill before you realize it’s not plugged in.
  • Starbucks owns the mortgage on your house.
  • The Taster’s Choice couple wants to adopt you.
  • When someone asks ‘How are you?’ you say, ‘Good to the last drop.’
  • You don’t even wait for the water to boil anymore.
  • You don’t get mad, you get steamed.
  • You don’t tan, you roast.
  • You introduce your spouse as your coffee mate.
  • You think CPR stands for Coffee Provides Resuscitation.
  • Your first-aid kit contains two pints of coffee with an I.V. hookup.
  • You take your morning coffee into the shower with you.

Finally, something from Esti:

This manifesto of moderation brought to you by me, Wolf Halton

Greetings to the Imprisoned Citizens of the United States. We are Unitarian Jihad. There is only God, unless there is more than one God. The vote of our God subcommittee is 10-8 in favor of one God, with two abstentions. Brother Flaming Sword of Moderation noted the possibility of there being no God at all, and his objection was noted with love by the secretary.

Greetings to the Imprisoned Citizens of the United States! Too long has your attention been waylaid by the bright baubles of extremist thought. Too long have fundamentalist yahoos of all religions made your head hurt. Too long have you been buffeted by angry people who think that God talks to them.

People of the United States, why is everyone yelling at you??? Whatever happened to … you know, everything? Why is the news dominated by nutballs saying that the Ten Commandments have to be tattooed inside the eyelids of every American, or that Allah has told them to kill Americans in order to rid the world of Satan, or that Yahweh has instructed them to go live wherever they feel like, or that Shiva thinks bombing mosques is a great idea? Sister Immaculate Dagger of Peace notes for the record that we mean no disrespect to Jews, Muslims, Christians or Hindus. Referred back to the committee of the whole for further discussion.

We are Unitarian Jihad. We are everywhere. We have not been born again, nor have we sworn a blood oath. We do not think that God cares what we read, what we eat or whom we sleep with.

Beware! Unless you people shut up and begin acting like grown-ups with brains enough to understand the difference between political belief and personal faith, the Unitarian Jihad will begin a series of terrorist-like actions. We will take over television studios, kidnap so-called commentators and broadcast calm, well-reasoned discussions of the issues of the day. We will not try for “balance” by hiring fruitcakes; we will try for balance by hiring non-ideologues who have carefully thought through the issues.

We are Unitarian Jihad, and our motto is: “Sincerity is not enough.” We have heard from enough sincere people to last a lifetime already. Just because you believe it’s true doesn’t make it true. Just because your motives are pure doesn’t mean you are not doing harm. Get a dog, or comfort someone in a nursing home, or just feed the birds in the park. Play basketball. Lighten up. The world is not out to get you, except in the sense that the world is out to get everyone.

Brother Gatling Gun of Patience notes that he’s pretty sure the world is out to get him because everyone laughs when he says he is a Unitarian. There were murmurs of assent around the room, and someone suggested that we buy some Congress members and really stick it to the Baptists. But this was deemed against Revolutionary Principles, and Brother Gatling Gun of Patience was remanded to the Sunday Flowers and Banners committee.

People of the United States! We are Unitarian Jihad! We can strike without warning. Pockets of reasonableness and harmony will appear as if from nowhere! Nice people will run the government again! There will be coffee and cookies in the Gandhi Room after the revolution.