Thursday, February 21, 2008

Royalty Check = Reality Check

Two big things happened yesterday. OK, more than that because life is a dynamic and magical mystery tour. Too many things happened yesterday to recount...

For one, I was driving to teach last night and watched a giant harvest moon come up out of the clouds. This while inching along behind an SUV on Rte. 9. Still, I thought, "How romantic." I did. I looked at that big shimmering disc with all the little spots visible on it and thought that a person really could worship the moon. 

Also, Sammie turned 4. Finally! She was so thrilled. We sent popsicles with her to preschool in the morning, and in the afternoon she came home wearing a paper crown like she was born to it. Actually, she came home carrying a spare crown. I don't know how she talked her teachers into that. But I'm pretty sure she could talk the Pope out of his crown, if she ever met him.

In the morning I went off to teach in Mattapan. More on this later. Twenty nine senior citizens showed up to begin writing their memoirs. During a break, I recounted Sammie's birth, the labor pains, the whole thing to Sonya, who works at Grub and who was helping out with the class. I can't explain why I did this, except to say that some of the stretch marks you bear from having children are in your brain and they cause you to do incredibly rude things, such as retelling a birth story four years out to people who can't possibly want to hear it, but who are too nice to say so.

But, one of my favorite bits of that story is when I'm having an email exchange with a doctor. This is the guy with whom I was writing a book at the time. We were finished, really, and were answering all the queries, good ones, from the copy editor. But each one of these queries reminded the doc of all the technical (boring!) stuff he wanted to add to the text. And he was going on and on about how we had to change chapter five to include all this stuff about the sympathetic nervous system. I remember answering him while having pre-labor contractions. Really reasoned arguments and all, about not boring the absolute bejesus out of the reader, but he was insisting. And I finally got fed up and wrote something like, "Look, I'm kind of having contractions here; can we just move this along?" And then I realized that I hadn't actually seen him in the past year, because his practice is in New York, and hadn't actually mentioned the pregnancy at all. I know this sounds weird, but it never came up. He's a great, really smart guy. I liked working with him. We just never chatted. That was probably sort of a mean way for me to break the news, but I was really, really pregnant at that point, and the hormonal toxicity was no match for the little slice of emotional stability I had left. 

Plus, it's a really funny story now. Can't be sorry about that.

Came home from Mattapan to find what in the mailbox? My latest royalty check from that book. I'm not going to reveal how little I was paid to write that 300 page book, because it's too shameful. However, I will say that I have had some nice mid-three-figure royalty checks from this book. OK, only one or two of those, and a couple more in the low three figure range. I don't complain, because getting any royalty check under any circumstances is like finding money in the street. Think about it; the work is already done and gone and forgotten. The pain of writing the book is like a labor pain. I can't really remember it. 

I opened the envelope to find that it's in fact a "royalty statement." The check is supposed to come under "separate cover." This directly from the accounting firm. OK. But the amount is priceless: $8.81. Almost enough to take myself out to lunch. Almost. 

I think I'll go put on one of Sammie's crowns.

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