Perforated Lines logo.

⚡ February 2, 2015

While My Thermoose Gently Weeps 💌

Playing the piano in 1968.

Playing the piano in 1968 for a photographer from Cosmopolitan Magazine.

The worst thing about being a professional writer is that it’s impossible to write for free. Impossible! Really good writing is painful as picking at a scab and most sane people avoid pain whenever possible. But if I have an assignment – no matter how small and dreary – I write like the wind and get the job done. I suffer the normal agita and I’m not ashamed of what I produce. In fact, I often jealously look back on a writing job and wish I could do it again, but this time just for the pleasure of it. Therein lies the trap.

To take pleasure in writing, at least according to the imaginary conversation I have with my mother, is a sin. I would rather be “working,” I relentlessly tell her ghost. If you were born and raised in a blue-collar family that sometimes fled in the night, you would learn that it’s hard to defend and protect a fluffy profession like writing. It’s just so much cotton candy when there are mouths to feed.

When high school is finished, you are expected to get a job, and I did. Had I packed a suitcase and gone off to seek my fortune, I would have been a member of the famous college-graduate class of ‘69; they were the hearts and souls of the hippie movement. Instead, I watched my classmates from outside of all the fun, from my paying job, spying on them via a small TV, which might have been just black and white back then.

A cartoon of me, made for the Delaware County Daily Times when I had my Gal Friday column.

Gal Friday weekly column, 1965-66.

Nonetheless, we carry on. I landed a dream job called Guy-or-Gal Friday at the local daily newspaper in Chester, Pennsylvania. It was my first full-time job, and believe me, it was serious. I started auditioning for that job in my junior year of high school. It was while I was working at the Daily Times that I met my future husband W. David Duthie, Jr.

The Waiting Wife

The story that follows is one that I really wanted to write and one that I felt I had to write, so in 1968 I went back to the paper I had left in the dust in my haste to get married and start a family. They said to go right ahead and they would publish it, and they did. That’s basically how it’s done.

So, that’s what I’m doing here. I’m asking permission to write instead of cleaning and cooking. I would like to make a fancy-schmancy-nancy version of the five articles I wrote for the paper, which I’m reproducing right here. Carefully retyping the words from 47 years ago is daunting enough, and I want to tell the rest of the story … but I am too shy and too blue under the collar to do it without a job order.

A photo of my weeping thermos.

And so we come to the leaky thermos, which I really have to replace. This particular one is pricey, but it keeps your coffee bulletproof and piping all day long and it’s somewhat unbreakable. Some parts do shred and strain, and this particular weeping comes from erosion in the inner seal.

It happens, over time.

So, here’s my request for assignment (RAM): if you will pre-order – as many as you want! – and pre-pay for the wonderful revised Waiting Wife which I’m working on right now, I would be so happy! And here’s why:

Reason Number One

As soon as I get maybe seven people to pre-order, I can replace this lousy leaking lina of a thermos.

Reason Number Two

After that, I will be able to buy supplies for my new needle-felting hobby. Bill is both concerned and carefully ignoring the whole endeavor, but one of these days I’ll make a little UFO Hunter Bill … and then we’ll see about that. You can see the nascent cottony figure right there in the photo, resting on the Altoids tin.

Meanwhile, I have to be discreet about my purchases and the needles so far might be breaking on my home-made stabber-pillow, so I have to have replacements for general peace of mind. All the ladies on YouTube who needle-felt say it’s addictive, so I must be careful to keep myself in needles. Let the NSA parse that sentence as they will.

I am a working reporter! Interviewing a spelling-bee contestant in front of the Capital building.

Reason Number Three

I would like to make this a really great book by adding the cool audio file that I have on ancient reel-to-reel tape. It’s the whole Part Five read aloud by the guy Robin Williams made famous in “Good Morning, Vietnam,” with George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” in the background. It was was broadcast to the troops in Vietnam, in the field, over the radio. It’s yet to be digitized.

There are oh so many interesting tidbits I’d like to pick out of these five essays that come to you direct from the Mad-Men era. I’ve marked the spots I especially would like to follow up with an asterisk, so you’ll know what to expect should you decide to buy the ebook. I hardly recognize the naïve 21-year old who wrote it on a Corona Selectric while watching the second Kennedy assassination coverage on the floor-console TV in my in-law’s Republican living room in the swinging wacko year that was 1968.

The finished book will contain lots of full-color photos of Dave in Vietnam, baby Holly, wife Nancy, and much more, including the black and white contact sheets from the Cosmo magazine shoot that accompany this article. There will be modern follow-up photos, too, all captioned and cropped and enlarged, so you don’t have to squint.

If I can find the follow-up article I wrote for the newspaper about the half-way mark of the famous Hawaiian R-R trip, I will include it, along with more photos.

I would also like to show the actual full newspaper pages, including the front pages of The Delaware County Daily Times, when they ran the story. This is a little tricky and time-consuming because each page requires multiple scans and then some photoshopping to get it all to come together. It’s a thumbnail to history!

Finally, I may also include the actual Cosmopolitan article, which I hated. They rewrote my flat affectless prose and added snappy patter to make it a little cheerier. I was so mortified when I read it in the supermarket! It was the first – and only, as it’s turned out – time I’ve ever had my writing altered by a stylist at a magazine. So, there’s that. For the record, I have never, ever used the word coffeklatch, except when talking about this abomination.

Deadline? Of course.

March 1, 2015 or before. This iron-clad, rock-solid deadline will click into place with the very first pre-sale. I will honestly try to tell you how many sales I get, unless it’s mortifying. In that case, I will change the subject to my next scheme, which is making miniature UFO Hunter Bill Birnes moose dolls in needle-felting.

Bonus? Of course.

Cover of Tesla Illuminated.

You will receive this ebook to read while you wait! For free!

Minions? Of course.

Minions blowing a kiss.

I thank you from the bottom of my empty wallet for pre-ordering, and I will be forever in your debt.

Available Formats

The paid version will be ready on March 1 by the latest, probably earlier. Formats will be released in this order: PDF, Kindle, Mobi, and other stuff as need be. Will it ever find its way back into print? Only via the very expensive print-on-demand format, and for that, we’ll wait and see. The moose will probably appear first. 🐔