Nath Jones's Blog

August 10, 2016

Leaves of Hostas in August

I was sitting outside just now, avoiding coming upstairs to study for the CGPE, instead sending a pointed email to Foreign Affairs about why on earth they would need to put my name at the top of an article I'm reading on my own phone.

Mainly I was enjoying the morning after buying two tomatoes. Well, so I finally drag myself up, knowing I really do need to look over these geriatric pharmacy modules, and a young man says to me, "Was this bothering you?"

I hadn't noticed a kid sitting there with his laptop and a cigarette. There was music. I said, "No, I just need to go upstairs and study. Was putting it off."

Now, it's true that this kid was wearing very Muslim attire. I don't know the terms, you'll have to forgive me. But the knit hat, the gray dress.

Still, he wasn't bothering me at all. And he never should have had to defend himself just sitting there enjoying the morning same as me. The music wasn't loud. The cigarette smoke wasn't going anywhere in the humidity.

It seems so silly to have to constantly remember that in this country we have inalienable rights, and that, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble."

What that means is that if this kid and I both want to sit outside and enjoy the morning as neighbors, we're allowed to do just that. He can wear whatever he wants and so can I.

He was facing East, which I noticed but did not comment upon.

I just came upstairs. If he's praying, let him pray. If he's plotting, he'll probably grow out of it, as most of us do.
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Published on August 10, 2016 09:30 Tags: freedom-of-religion, freedom-of-speech, inalienable, music

October 26, 2015

Follow through

In 2011 I rented a house on the Oregon coast so I could work on a book in peace. There were walks to take, agates to look for, and driving the winding road to Astoria, of course, too. And there were neighbors.

The neighbors had timber all over their yard. Logs, huge logs, everywhere. I didn't know if it would be polite to ask why on earth they had so much, but by the end of the week the whole story had come out. There was some power line going up somewhere, some kind of right of way that needed to be cleared. This neighbor had made his case and gotten all the wood felled along that way being made.

I don't know how much wood any one person can split. I have no idea. But their whole yard was piled high with huge trees and this man, one man, fully intended to split all the wood so he could divvy it up for the neighborhood.

I hope he did. Just now I ran across a little notecard with his wife's email address on it, thought I'd better send her a message to say hello.
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Published on October 26, 2015 16:42 Tags: astoria, coastal, elk, firewood, oregon, tillamook, timber, vacation-rentals

October 21, 2015

Pumpkin Spice Latte & Two Slices of Pie

Jim said, "We have a sour apple cherry." I said, "Yes."

I'm picking at his choice and working my way through a piece of pumpkin pie as well. I'm petting a Boston Terrier named Alan, who's come to say hello in his end-of-season blue starred harness. The wind's swirling through the morning. I don't know. Things are good. I read something somewhere, something about writers. And I read Tennyson's "Crossing the Bar".

I think you just get out beyond the bullshit. All these pointers and tips. All these tools. All these good ideas and suggestions. The books have to get written. The passwords have to get to the website designer, which is what I'm supposed to be doing right now. Of course I have no idea where to change the settings. Seek and ye shall find, I guess.
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Published on October 21, 2015 06:43 Tags: boston-terrier, crossing-the-bar, passwords, pumpkin-pie, tennyson, today

September 21, 2015

Someday versus Today

This evening the girded loins of youth have subsided to the point that I'm staring out the window of my apartment, watching the sunset light reflect off some window unit air conditioners across the street. There is blue sky over bright, warm brick.

I'm tired. I don't want to seize the day. I need to take a few things to Goodwill and get batteries for my key fobs.

What I have at this point is an opportunity. That's what they say. This country, this mind, this freedom, this sense of duty to the art, to the talent, to the moment. This is it. Right now. Run down, exhausted, confused, surrounded by chaos, shifting priorities, dates, people, checks, ideas, and now the sun hits the glass of another building across the street and my whole home floods with light.

The print edition of the On Impulse series has been 8.5x11, 8.5x5.5, and 6x9. Why? How? I don't know. I am not a publisher. Did not ever anticipate that I would need to become one in order to move forward with these gifts.

This week it's just a few simple things: finalize the 6x9 interior files. Meet with someone on Wednesday about how best to maintain a mobile-optimized website over time.

Guess what? I don't care. And I don't want to get up and rush over to the coffee shop to get busily down to the grindstone on my novel.

I want to sit here snoozing in this light. I want Someday to go away. But it won't. And neither will Today.

They are both with us, as an American yin-yang. But as much as I might like to comment on such a thing, my eyes are closing while I skim some black and white Wikipedia page.
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Published on September 21, 2015 16:27 Tags: gifts, goodwill, key-fob, mobile-optimized, someday, sunset, today, wikipedia, yin-yang

August 9, 2015

This Life of Letters

I love how technology has forced us into the moment, has insisted nearly upon connectivity and transience.

I've adapted. Let almost everything I've written go.

But what happens when every once in a while something still should be preserved?

My friend Steve Despain wrote a fun little thing for me today.

I feel like I’ve now passed through some kind of Writer’s Rite of Passage. Thanks Nath. Did you consider I might have pen fright? I came across Nath when doing a search on Kerouac’s BIG SUR. I had lived near Big Sur for a couple of years. She read a few pages from Kerouac’s book where he was getting out to the cabin in the woods. I lived up by Cannery row, and visited where Henry Miller rested for some years by the ocean’s rhythms (to wash away his days in Paris, I assume). On Friday nights, I’d get together with a dozen others to go through dream symbols. Everyone kept a detailed log of their dreams, and old man Joe, a retired Marketing Executive from Madison Avenue (and good friends of Marshall McLuhan), would lead the group. You haven’t understood dream symbols until you’ve spent a year playing spin-the-bottle around a large coffee table and being prompted to read from your diary when it lands on you. Joe was in his 80s and got a woman in her 40s pregnant. By the time I met him, his new wife had one or two more. He and Marshall would exchange letters sharing conquest stories. I’ll never forget the woman who talked about a dream where her tongue was furry. What did that mean? So we went around the table. Afterwards, I went with a friend to Clint Eastwood’s Saloon in Carmel. We were having a drink by a fire and a sleek Middle Eastern woman in a trench coat approached and talked to us from a distance. After a while, she flashed her coat wide open and she had nothing on except the straps on her boots. I thought of Joe, Henry Miller, and Kerouac. The last summer I was there, I volunteered to work at a Marathon that passed through Big Sur and finished at Point Lobos. I was assigned the task of being the “special fluids guy.” When the top three (ranked) women runners passed through the station I was at, I was coached on how to run alongside of them to hand them their special fluids and keep up with them until they had finished the bottles. Fortunately, they didn’t all come through all at once. It was nice to have some part of that – my slice of the Jericho Mile. I left the Pebble Beach evening fires behind and moved up to Seattle. I then moved further east to the Cascades where Lynch filmed TWIN PEAKS. When I first moved here, that’s when I came across Nath’s video on Big Sur, because I was reminiscing about my past through Jack Kerouac. And I discovered she was a writer, and blogging her trials of self-publishing. I have several things I have intended to write since leaving Chicago for California. One of them having to do with the theme in Stephen Wolfram’s A NEW KIND OF SCIENCE and the other to do with a stone that depicts the foundations of ancient Egypt (Narmer Palette). Nath’s blog gives the hope that it can be done. An interviewer once asked her, “Who do you write for?” She simply replied, “I write for you.”

No more paper. No more special places to preserve the best of what matters. Throw what's glorious on Facebook. Copy and paste some kind of stop motion hope onto Goodreads, knowing the sands will shift.

Writing is different. Love is the same.
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Published on August 09, 2015 12:30 Tags: big-sur, clint-eastwood-s-saloon, epistolary, henry-miller, kerouac

August 6, 2015

4 Hours of Sleep

It's funny how things seem possible.

Right now I'm working nights, seven on/seven off. Sounds great, seems like there's plenty of time for the writing career.

But here we are in this organic growth of the thing. We're looking at events in Indy, St. Louis, Louisville, Dayton. It's great. Except I have to get there without driving into a ditch.

Entropy. Erosion. Art and Order.

The truth? I don't want to deal with any of it. All this follow through. Sending another email. Making another call. Fixing the website again. Looking at the production quality of the print edition.

The chaos is kind of over. I can just be about the business of writing books, having events, chatting with readers. It's everything I've always wanted.

But, I don't know. Just. The exhaustion. Finding a day to have the Genius Bar guys look at the laptop. Giving up on ever finding a current driver for the printer. Getting ready to pull the trigger on dropping thousands of dollars to have a streamlined home office. Adjusting the PDF size of the print edition. Working toward consistency across platforms. Keeping the dates, times, places, and contacts straight. Just handling all this little stuff that's required for the books to come into their being.

Is it worth it?

No. It's not worth it. Yet here we are. I can send one email about one event. I can send another. I can ask one question. I can reply to a few grateful readers. I can remember to thank people myself. Just little stuff, almost nothing.

Is it enough?

Yes. It's plenty. I'm looking at a hanging basket of pink petunias. Someone bothered. Someone hung a wrought iron basket from a streetlamp. Someone lined it with peat moss. Someone planted the flowers. Someone waters them. Daily.

So here they are, gorgeous.
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Published on August 06, 2015 15:57 Tags: chaos, exhaustion, genius-bar, order, petunias, printer-driver, working-nights

June 9, 2015

Cool Cal Carries On

I've been adjusting to a new job with a commute. I like it--the job, the commute, the whole thing. But it does take me all the way away from the work of writing. There are still several cases of books in my apartment. Once a welcome arrival they're now more imposing, becoming a little too much like the veritable Mary Kay starter kit.

Action. That's what they say: Take action.

Wonderful. Lovely. Fine. So I emailed a few more coffee shops to set up a few more events. I figure I'll just do these little events until there are no more cases of books.

Anyway. It's all very professional when these emails go out, small scale, grass roots, but professional. I approach a proprietor, try not to have it get too boilerplate, and we all maintain our decorum for the most part. So I was quite surprised this evening when I saw one reply begin with, "Are you shitting me?"

I wasn't sure whether or not to click on the email.

Now I cannot count the emotionally charged emails I've sent. Staggering numbers. But to receive one really is quite different. Anyway, I did end up clicking on it. The person was not put off by my request, wholly the opposite. She's fairly well interested to have me stop by next week.
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Published on June 09, 2015 21:04 Tags: action, book-tour, coffee-shop, freedom, love

April 29, 2015

600 Miles

I got out of the car this morning and stared as two hawks, or kites--I heard my father's voice say buteo--circled over a small body of water behind a chain link fence.

I don't know where I was exactly. Some gas station 93 miles east of Reno. But these birds were there in the morning, in the light air, impressing me the way such moments do, or can.

I drove from Reno, Nevada to Evanston, Wyoming today. It's funny to have this freedom. I saw the headlines--the 200 abducted girls perhaps found, Baltimore in an uproar. And then to be free in the face of that, in spite of that, connected yet unfettered.

So just to drive. Just to be a woman driving 600 miles. No protest. No fight. No politics. No religion. Just exercising the rights we're so privileged to possess.

Believe me I have plenty of fear. One friend talked to me for a solid hour today. I was like a treed cat--because I really do hate driving in the mountains. The car straining up. The triple-trailered trucks barreling down. The cars whipping around and gone. Vehicles at all speeds, curves, ravines, cliffs--mountains.

But so what? Drive.

I had two chats with two women in the past twenty-four hours. Both were desk managers of crappy little roadside hotels. Both were about my age. In Sparks, NV I asked the woman what I-80 was like toward the east. She said, "Toward Sacramento and that?" I said, "Toward Chicago." She kind of thought about it. Then didn't really have an answer, said, "I don't really know."

I didn't say anything. I don't care if she doesn't drive east on I-80.

I can see why she didn't have an answer. Bunch of buteos. Some chain link fence. Utah has an answer to that, of course: rock. But again just a reminder of its inherent grandeur.

And when I got to the little crappy motel room in Evanston, Wyoming--same thing. I asked the woman at the desk which was her favorite of the sites in Wyoming. She had no answer. Seemed odd. Granted there's no official concierge service at the place I'm staying. But still, usually there's some kind of hospitality or at least awareness of one's surroundings enough to toss out a highlight.


Now, part of me wants to round this out without doing anything unbecoming of a lady. And I'm not going to assert anything about these other women, insist they explore, demand they use what they've got--this life, this place, the ideals our nation yearns to implement. If these two desk managers don't want to? They're well within their rights never to bother.

But to see those two hawks this morning in the early light. Not sunrise light, that light right after. Just soft brightness. And at about 3:30 this afternoon I took my Buick out onto the salt flats.
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Published on April 29, 2015 22:31 Tags: buteos, fear, i-80, nevada, travel, wyoming

March 16, 2015

Friends, Real Ones

I really wasn't expecting to have to go sell this collection of short stories. I thought I'd do the five On Impulse collections, revise a novel or two, and then start pitching agents. I thought pharmacy would be the underpinning and I could just kind of plug away quietly at the writing, refining my craft.

As it happens, the pharmacy went out of business, which is completely understandable. Other retail pharmacist jobs are in fairly short supply. I'm sending resumes, setting up one-on-ones, networking, exploring other careers, meeting with people who do those other things, emailing mentors--doing all the stuff you're supposed to do for a job search and: nada. There were four conversations about running a hospital pharmacy in Guam but that ultimately went the way of all things.

Meanwhile, here comes this book, Acquainted with Squalor: Short Stories. It's just a little book. No big deal. A collection of short stories written by another aspiring talent from another MFA program. Great. I never thought it would be the one to bet the farm on. But what is happening is that doors are opening for the book that are not opening for my pharmacy career right now. And it's the most beautiful validation.

People are opening their homes. One of my best friends designed a tee shirt to match the book cover. A woman I know is driving with me to all the book events for the first week. Another friend is driving with me for several more. It just keeps happening. People just keep helping. A guy I know says he can introduce me to a photographer who can take the work, "to a whole other level." Three friends are helping me book events, which has led two more friends to suggest even more great locations.

What a bounty in the exact moment when it seemed I have no real prospects.

Still. There's this resistance to really offering myself to the work. I love to give 98% and then say it will all be supported by a pharmacist's income. Well, maybe the book will find its audience. Maybe the audience will love the characters the way I do.

Maybe it's possible to trust that enough, to follow this quiet path of openings and opportunities far enough that I will allow something to happen, which I don't believe can.
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Published on March 16, 2015 12:30 Tags: book-launch, book-tour, faith, hope, pharmacist, sw, trust, writing-career

March 6, 2015


I wish you guys could see my Hotmail inbox. It's where I send all the promotions. Just now I logged into it, because I need to track down my Apple ID again, lifelong quest.

Right there in the middle of the screen was "Go Green with Lobster Gram!"

Now this inbox is filled with all sorts of stuff: Stonewall Kitchen, Yankee Candle Company, DICK's Sporting Goods, The Saint Paul Hotel, credit cards, real estate agents,--you name it. I mean, we're talking seriously 26,170 unread messages and I purge, delete, archive, sweep this thing fairly frequently. So I'm not singling out Lobster Gram. I have nothing against them.

But. I'm telling you right now. Lobster Gram? Really? Come on. How many repeat customers do you think Lobster Gram gets? I'm sorry. But even if they have the email address I used in high school Lobster Gram is a one-time thing.

Plus. These companies really do not seem to get it that maybe I do not want to be reminded of my ex-husband's favorite uncle's fiftieth birthday every time I open my inbox. Am I right?

Okay. Fine.

Well. So. Here I'm about to go sell my book, right? And. I need to take this effort seriously, because I'm out of a job. (Dude, we seriously need some sales with this one.)

Anyway. So. As always I will make a personal attempt to toe the line between making sure you guys know these books have been written and incessant screaming into the deaf ear.
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Published on March 06, 2015 04:10 Tags: blessings, faith, favor, hope, hugs, in-it-to-win-it, jolly-good-time, love, no-fear