Thursday, June 19, 2014

My Last Book

I. The Toilet Book

My most recent and maybe also final book (at least for this publisher) arrived in the mail this week--the one I blogged about writing last year, on the history of sanitation.

I don't like the title--marketing chose it to supposedly appeal to young adults--but at least they kept my subtitle, The Invention and Reinvention of the Toilet: a little long-winded maybe, but accurate.

I always cringe at attempts to appeal to young readers by being fake-friendly cute: "we speak kid".
When I was a kid, I thought that sort of thing signaled that the books would be cut-rate in intelligence, and that's often true.

[One of the horrors of my life was a publishing coworker asking me, "Why do you work so hard on these books? They're just for kids to write reports."]

Grumbling aside, I'm pleased with the book. I didn't cutesify the info, though the editor did soften some sharp points–– (she added a line about sewage treatment plants in the USA being "extremely safe," which isn't exactly true---among other things, they're vulnerable to shifts in water levels from global warming . . .)––
but she also smoothed out some of my clunky syntax, so I'm grateful.

After sending a comp copy to all my relatives (3), I still have a couple leftovers to give away: if you want one, let me know.

 II. Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer true...

The process of invention and reinvention is so interesting to me.
You know, humans don't progress in a straight line, we invent and then lose solutions over and over.
This works in an individual's life too, or it sure does in mine, anyway.

Like, I recently remembered what I want to do for a job:
I want to work with aging, and aging well. I'd realized this three years ago on Camino, and then I forgot it.

I'm not talking about the Oprahish "let's all learn SCUBA diving at 85" approach to aging. 
I mean, aging and ill health can be a living hell of loneliness, despair, fear, and physical torture:
what might help?

Singing, maybe? A little?

When I worked at the nursing home a couple years ago, before I hurt my wrists and had to quit (this is why I forgot that I wanted to work in the field, just not in the heavy-lifting part of it), I helped out during dinner on the Alzheimer's wing a couple times. One of the women, Ann, had lived on the floor where I worked regularly until her noisy confusion started to bother other people and she was moved. I knew she liked to sing, so at dinner I started to sing "Bicycle Built for Two" with her. 

The other women at the table––most of whom couldn't even tell me their names––started to sing too, and for a minute, anyway, there was happiness.

The charge nurse afterward told me music is one of the last memory circuits to go.

I'm not very musical, but my mother taught me a lot of old songs, like "You Are My Sunshine," and she insisted I take piano lessons.  I didn't like the lessons, but now I could easily learn a few tunes well enough to lead a sing-along.

And then there's visual art. Next month, the week before her 89th birthday, my auntie Vi is having her first art show of her paintings. She wrote and thanked me for encouraging her to get into art a couple years ago.

So, I need to look into that field (seems the latest term for it is "therapeutic recreation").
Meanwhile, I start working as a Guest Ambassador next week at the convention center. Seems it's only going to be very, very part-time work, so I need another job, for sure.

But now, I'm going to watch Uruguay & England play World Cup soccer.


Zhoen said...

Oh, me! me!

Sorry, forgot myself for a moment. But really, I would love one of your potty books. I agree, trying to be "hip" never comes across as anything but pathetic. It's like when old relatives try to use slang unironically. I only use slang now in the most obviously ironic ways. Or unselfconsciously from my own era.

deanna said...

If there's still one more copy, I would love to have it.

My daughter sings "You Are My Sunshine" to her son (whom I got to babysit this afternoon! what a treat).

Poor Hal. Sigh.

Art and music are such good therapy.

Enjoy the start of the job! I wish it could magically expand into more hours, but anyway I hope it's a good gig for you.

Krista said...

I'd love a copy, if you still have one. I've enjoyed our exchanges about cholera and such as your were writing it.

Love it when you're in the blogging mood! One never knows what one will find here.

Fresca said...

3 copies, coming up!

Krista said...


Anne Lippin said...

Are all the copies claimed? if not, would love one. if so, tell me you're preferred purchase venue.