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October 22, 2011

Okay, so....

By Cornelia Read


Okay, so... since I last posted here at TLC, I have done a number of things. As follows:

1. Turned in what, Vishnu and all other deities willing, is the final draft of my fourth novel, Valley of Ashes. 


Yes, this is Ganesh. He would be among the other deities I hope are willing.

2. As I was also getting evicted--a month or so early from my temporary rental in Brooklyn, with two days' warning (douchey landlords, long explanation)--I ended up turning in the last 150 pages two days late. Well, okay, technically three days late, since I turned it in three minutes after midnight of the day it was due. Well, okay, ALSO, technically I think the original contractual due date was in January of 1823, so it was actually over a century late in real life, but that's the way I roll and hey, some other stuff that was kind of overwhelming also happened, so I am trying not to swoon with guilt. Which is difficult for me.



3. Got the proposed cover art, which I think is really, really cool:


(Those are like, REAL ashes and stuff. Like they burned things to make them. Which I am touched by.) Also, Tana French is awesome, right?

4. Also, I got the cover art for my first novel in Spanish, which I think is pretty damn awesome, too:


I think the next time I introduce myself, I am going to mention that I am maliciosamente pervertida.

5. After being a homeless orphan for about five days,



which involved Vermont and Rhinebeck--because I am a homeless orphan to whom people are very, very kind--I found a place to crash until I find a real grownup apartment for myself, with my friend Muffin. Muffin is awesome. Here is my favorite coffee mug at her house:


6. I got to go to a descendants' reception at Prospect Cemetery in Jamaica, Queens, that was hosted by my distant cousin Cate Ludlam, at which two portraits of our mutual Ludlam (okay, Ludlum, because they were what Cate refers to as "spawn of Obadiah," who changed the spelling) were being installed. There were really good sandwiches and this wonderful soprano performed music popular during the lifetime of these Ludlums, who built the Chapel of the Sisters in which we were sitting--named in honor of the three daughters they lost to disease in their youth, one of whom was named Cornelia.


Cate and Prospect figure heavily in my third novel, because she is a lovely and generous woman, and also a really great cousin. This is Cate, doing an intro for the evening with light streaming in through the stained glass windows she had restored.


7. After that I got to have drinks with Denise Mina and Laura Lippman and a really wonderful editor named Reagan Arthur, at a groovy bar in mid-town. They are awesome women and I was deeply, deeply happy to get to hang out with them. Also, Denise has amazing hair.


So do Laura and Reagan, but Denise's is really having a most excellent party on her head. Which I think is way cool.

8. I found an apartment yesterday. It is really, really wonderful, especially because it is a two-bedroom in Manhattan with a dishwasher and a view of trees and it is going to cost me under $1700 a month, if I pass the credit check.

Of course, it is almost in the middle of Spuyten Duyvil Creek (meaning way, way north), and it is a five-floor walkup, but hey... my ass is going to look fantastic.

And this is the view from the kitchen at sunset:


Over the rooftops toward Inwood Hill Park, which is the last 200 acres of untouched forest in all of Manhattan, and where Peter Minuit bought the island from the Lenape tribe.

Here is where my great-great uncles built a house in the 1800s, when the neighborhood was still farmland:


This is now about five blocks north of where I'll be living, and filled with apartment buildings I can't quite afford to rent in, but still. I'm a block east of Seaman Avenue, so I feel kind of cool about being there.

The view from the old house was once described as follows:

Looking north can be seen Spuyten Duyvil creek and the rich and fertile acres which it washes; the Harlem river with its torturous course winding like a snake through the tall grass and thick shrubs; a section of the Hudson shining like a lake of molten silver, and tinged with crimson by the setting sun; the misty hills rising from the valley and just perceptible through the haze, the weird glens, the weather beaten crags and torpid mountains. A scene like this is but a portion of what strikes the eye at every point; and this sublime panoramic view has been gazed upon by many eminent Europeans, who declare that nothing equals it in the Old World.

Spuyten Duyvil is "spitting devil" in Dutch.
This is what it looked like when the place was occupied by the British:

These days, the neighborhood looks more like this:

But there is still quite a lot of this:

And this:
And this:
Still, I am really glad I didn't find a rental here, because it would get really tiresome to explain, I think:

Yesterday, I think I rode the subway about 500 blocks. Literally. Today I am back in Vermont.
Life is good. I would like it to slow down a little bit now, though.
How's your week been?


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A few remarks...

HERBIE! Herbie Popnecker! I used to read his comics all the time when I was a kid.

Nice musical selections.

The British built Hobbiton?

Yeah, I'd avoid living on that corner, too.

Congratulations on finishing the novel!

I'm pretty sure none of my ancestors ever built a church. I do know for a fact that they built a few saloons and, as family legend goes, a brothel.

Ganesh is one of my favorite gods, after Coyote, Loki, Cthulhu and Dionysus.

Cornelia, I know am going to love VALLEY OF ASHES. Cannot wait! And I do love the cover. And yes, Tana French is brilliant, as are you, my dear.

I am soooooo relieved you will not be homeless much longer. I want to punch that douche bag landlord in the nose, so don't tell me who he is.

My week has been very good to me. I discovered a new hairdresser - so excellent! I had to get a new person to do my hair, because my old hairdresser who promised me I could be late for my appointment - because she understood about the paratransit van - and her mother is a wheelie - and she really gets it and - and - and - and . . . when I arrived 15 minutes late, she headed me off at the pass, and said she had five people waiting - and she couldn't do my hair - and could I call back next week - and too bad about my roots and - and - and - and . . . so I gave her the finger and had to wait 2 hours for the van to come back and pick me up at my appointed time - and - and - and . . . so I went home and took a pair of scissors to my hair and chopped it off - and - and - and . . . so anyways I found a new hairdresser -- Sylvia the Great -- who is a "cowboy mounted sharpshooter" (I know - like your sign) and a completely cool person. And nothing fucking phases her. And she can really do hair, too. She laughed. We joked. We had a great time talking about horses and guns. She shoots with an old S&W .38 that I have one of too. And she adores Kendall. Well who doesn't? And she made me look good. Now that takes skill.

I love you, Cornelia. Take good care, okay? And have fun with Muffin (that's my old nickname from school that I dropped in SoCal, because it made people giggle, and I was trying to fit in - BIG HUGE MISTAKE because it cannot ever happen for me there).

My week? While visiting in Texas, I experienced my first ever Dust Bowl-style dust storm. It was one of those bizarre things that just shouldn't be possible on earth, and I was totally weirded out, much like the way I reacted to my first earthquake. Grandchildren, however, made up for it.

Enjoy your new digs, Cornelia! Now all you need to do is unpack, right?

Doc! HERBIE POPNECKER! I had no idea, how cool! And I, too, love Ganesh.

Reine, I am LOVING your Sylvia the Great, how magnificent!! And you can pop my landlord in the nose while I pop your old hairdresser!!!

Nancy.... GRANDCHILDREN!!!!! YEA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So so so wonderful!

Your week was award-winning for its ups and downs. No way, Cornelia, would I discuss my puny seven days.
And I envy you this designation: "maliciosamente pervertida."

Nancy, did they have a haboob in Texas? OMG! Wailing Wall of Water!!!!!


Wow! A lot has happened since you last posted. I'm not going to complain about my recent annoyances and setbacks. When do you officially move into the Manhattan apartment? I'll be sending Positive Thoughts your way that you won't get sick this time. Weren't you under the weather when you moved to Brooklyn? We don't want that to happen again!

Reine, your former hairdresser seems to have trouble with truthfulness - she had no business telling you that she "understands" that your circumstances can cause you to be late - and to then make a huge fuss over a mere fifteen minutes! God bless Sylvia!

I could'nt survive a week in your shoes. Hope you get your apartment.
The cover of Valley of Ashes is fantastic.

I'm glad you found a new place. As a kid, I spent a lot of time in Inwood Park with family friends. A sniff for how long it's been. It's funny, I wake up every morning with hair like Denise Mina's. She is a dynamite writer, as are you. Really like the cover of your new book, and wish you luck in your new digs-or don't they say that anymore? Reine-we've got to get a posse after that woman, but it sounds like it worked out fine. I so admire your courage and spirit. This is such a great site with really neat people.

I forgot to mention how much I adore Denise Mina, and the hair is only part of my admiration.

A haboob, yes! But doesn't that sound like some kind of food you'd buy on a stick in a bazaar? Or maybe an Arab brassiere?

I laughed so hard through your story I cried. Was it supposed to be funny or have I gone off the deep end? Did your spanish book review, say you were a malicious pervert? My spanish isn't good even though I have lived next to the Mexican border all my life. LOL My spanish teacher told me to take french. LOL
I could never give that street corner address with a straight face. Your blog made my week seem so much better. Fantastic cover and also your blog made my week so much better.

Elaine, thank you! And I would really, really like to have a puny seven days. As my daughter Grace said recently, "Couldn't we have just ONE boring week? Would it KILL the universe to let us have that?"

Deb, Ganesh willing, I will move in on November 1. And I still have the cough I had when I moved into Brooklyn, but I think I barfed while I was packing in New Hampshire. That was soooo not fun.

Danielle, THANK YOU!

lil, I totally still say "new digs." And I don't care if we're the last two people who say it, it's a wonderful saying.

And I am SO wanting a haboob to be an arabic brassiere. That would be awesome.

Juanita, thank you. And that's it exactly about that street address. What I forgot to mention in the body of the post is that my Great-Grandmother Read's maiden name was Seaman, so I guess that avenue was named for her uncles who built the house up there. Which makes it feel kind of groovy to me.

My week was incredibly boringly normal. But my daughter had someone hit her 2008 Hyundai and left the scene at 2:38am Friday morning. A couple of friends recommended she look for the car in the neighborhood...and SHE FOUND IT!!! She called the police, the perp found, lies were told, insurance was called, all the good stuff. Perfect for a novel, lol. When she gets the entire episode into story form, I will let you all know. I have always thought my daughter was funny, but this was hilarious.

Cornelia, that cover is fantastic. The spanish version is too. Can't wait to read Ashes!

Landlords are the evil spawn of Satan.

I saw my estranged daughter for the first time in over two years, when I attended her high school play in which she was the lead. She looks just like her mother at that age, almost 17.

Secretly. My ex-wife told me about the play, but wouldn't tell me when it was; I had to find that from the school's website. I didn't tell anyone I was going, and I asked my ex-wife not to tell my daughter or son afterwards. I expect the secret to last, oh, about one more hour, when my former in-laws tell my son, who is driving them there to see it tonight.

And I almost cried.

Oh, Josh...

How sad to not be able to openly be the proud father.

Pam, I am dying to hear that story.

And Josh... oh... I am so proud of you for going, and I hope it all gets much much much better. I was estranged from my dad for about ten years (his choice, not mine.) It meant a great deal to me that he came to a book signing I did in LA, and that we got to spend the last two years of his life together as friends. Estrangement SUCKS, especially when it's not your idea. Hugs to you.

Josh, your post made me cry. I am happy for you that you went, but it is sad. Some day I hope you will be reconciled.

Don't suppose anyone is still around to read these comments now . . . but just in case.

Cornelia, meant to follow up sooner but had a little accident transferring. I am okay. Just a little black and blue. Too bad Sylvia isn't a doctor! Well . . . but then my hair would still look like crap.

Nancy, that is the funniest! Haboob = Arabic brassiere!!! love that Ha, Boob! Get in there! Ha! Take that, Boob! Oh, and I meant to say, "Wailing wall of sand!"

Deb. Thank you! I feel rewarded with Sylvia and now these comments, too.

Lil, I just saw your comment. Thank you! I think you are wonderful. and The Coast is so lucky to have you! xo

Cornelia - Lordy, what a saga! I'm so glad you found a place to live. One of these days you've got to tell the whole story. Janet

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