squishy revisited

So, here we are. One year later. Let me just get this out of the way first: I missed you, too. I missed you very much, actually. It was lonely without you around. After all those days spent complaining that you guys were too much to handle, I felt like a mom who had finally gotten all of her kids off to college. The house was empty and too quiet.

And like a mom who finally gets her wish come true, I got bummed out and watched too much Oprah.

If you didn’t delete the one notify I’ve sent out previously, you know that I had quit smoking, got a literary agent and started a new job. Still not smoking. Still have an agent. Two, now, actually. But that job didn’t exactly pan out. Too bad I didn’t have the journal then because my continual stories from “pseudojob,” as it was known around these parts, would have kept this thing in daily updates. I think I’m contractually obligated to not spill any of the stories, which is sketchy since they had me sign the contract on the very last day I ever worked there. In the strangest managerial style I’ve ever seen, I was laid off from that job by having them completely ignore me. After the new year they just never called me in for work and never called me back. So much for that job. They ignored me until I went away. Luckily I didn’t want to be there for another minute, so I wasn’t whimpering too loudly. But still. Who fires someone by pretending they don’t exist?

I was living on unemployment for a little while, so I countered my shame by working my ass off on everything that didn’t pay. I figured I’d earn my unemployment in pages written. I was saved at the last minute by a long-time reader who needed some freelance work. I tell you, this journal has changed every single molecule of my life. That girl saved me from having to do some serious prostitution.

I wrote three teleplays and sent them off to competitions. I was a semi-finalist at Austin Film Festival and got to fly home to see my friends and family. I got an agent here in Los Angeles by December, and wrote my first screenplay over Christmas break. It hasn’t sold, and neither has my second (which just went out a month ago), but they’re getting me meetings, which I guess is the Hollywood version of a resume landing you an interview. This last screenplay had to be rejected by Mr. Brian Grazer himself, so I’m feeling okay about that. I hope that as he was shaking his head back and forth, his eyes rested on his Oscar. My name, his Oscar. My name. Oscar. Pamela Ribon. Academy Award. Me. Prizes. Then the next time he thinks about hiring an Academy Award-caliber writer, his brain spits out my name as quick as the analogy “Oprah. Uma.”

That’s two mentions of Oprah, I know. See? I really have been watching way too much. I can’t help it. I love it. Okay? I said it. I love Oprah.

One year later and it’s like I’m still the same babbling girlie-girl.

Okay, so that stuff was good, the writing stuff. It’s all very good. Now for the not-so-good. My father passed away in February. Yeah, I’ll just put that out there very quickly like I’m pulling off a Band-Aid so I don’t have to dwell on it and get all maudlin on you. I still get rather maudlin and, you know, my father died, so there’s no real easy way to sum up how I feel. It’s a very complicated bundle of sad and angry and misty and pissy and all I know is that no father should die right after he’s done with the fathering part. He’ll never get to see what all that hard work will do. That’s like building a house and dying right before you get to move in. Or a guy I knew in college who died minutes after he turned in his thesis. Just the wrong time. Seems like you miss all the good stuff that way. But my family is doing as well as expected, and we’re all coping. I’m pretty sure Dad’s getting to haunt Vegas, just like he would have wanted to, as I can feel him standing right over my shoulder when I play craps these days. It’s not that I want to keep going to Vegas; it’s just that everybody I know loves the city and I keep having to go back if I want to see them.

There were more trips over the past year. I saw AB and her family in Dallas to celebrate the engagement of Allison and Chris. It was on my birthday, so there was so much celebrating we just had to play loud music until AB’s friends wished I wasn’t so loud. I took a couple of trips to Atlanta. One because my friend needed her friends and one because sometimes I need to hear the B-52’s live. I went to Berkeley a couple of times. I mentioned Vegas already. But mostly I had to go to Texas to spend as much time with my father as I could. When someone’s sick for a long time, you get to feeling rather dependent on the fact that it’s just not time yet. You know it’s coming, but you don’t think it could be really soon. Even when you’re staring right into the face of it. Even when your father looks at you and says, “Not much longer now. I can feel it.” He could feel it. Can you even imagine? Just knowing.

I’m back on the subject of my father, but only to say that during those few months when everything was coming to an end, I really missed having this journal. It’s the hard times that made this space feel very healthy. My thoughts and feelings were always validated.

So, from the horribly horrible to the best news of all. Ready? The other thing that I’d been writing over the past year was a promise to everybody that loved Squishy and hated to see it go. I didn’t want to have closed this journal for nothing. I wanted pamie.com to have moved on, forward, upwards and some other kind of head-strong velocity motion thing. So, I wrote a book. I wrote it because someone asked me, and because I got an agent who was willing to try and sell it. I took some entries from Squishy and wrote a fictionalized account of a girl starting a journal and what can happen when someone exposes herself online. I wrote constantly. I wrote in every coffee shop Los Angeles provided. I wrote until letters were rubbed away from my iBook. And then when the partial manuscript was rejected by everyone (I don’t recommend sending out a comedy book on September 6th, 2001), I finished writing the entire thing. I rewrote it. I rewrote it again. We sent it out, and by some miracle of miracles, someone wanted to buy it. A few people, actually, but Pocket Books were the big winner. So, yeah. This just happened last month, which makes me really happy. I wanted it to be done by my one-year mark so that I could come here and say to you guys: Thanks for believing in me. Thanks for letting me go away and have this time to myself so I could get out all the words. I needed it.

And now, for your patience, you can buy Pamela Ribon’s Why Girls Are Weird in July, 2003.

Holy crap. Look at that. It really hasn’t hit me yet. I think I’ll have to see something on actual paper first before I really understand that there’s going to be a book out there with my name on it that potentially I could see people reading while I’m at the airport. And yes, it does have the Tiny Wooden Hand entry.

As for other updates: I’m still not smoking. I don’t live with Ray anymore, as he’s taking the summer to vacay in Tejas. I moved to an area of Los Angeles that doesn’t have human feces on the street on my way to coffee in the morning. I love where I live very much. I love whom I live with even more.

Cal and Taylor are doing fine. They’ve been on diets, but I can’t see that it’s working. It just makes them crabbier. In a feat for the record books, I came home one day to find that Cal had pooped on his own head. Just a tiny turd, sitting in the middle of his forehead. You tell me how that happened.

So, I guess the big question now. Am I back? Well, when I quit the journal last year, one thing I kept hearing was this smirky, “Oh, she’ll come back. They all do.” And I was like, “I won’t then. Screw you. I’ll show you.” But I promised myself that if I sold the book, then I’d decide if I wanted to come back. No forums. No giant mailing lists (aside from this one-time notify). Just me and you guys. Not every day, unless I want to. By the way, if you want people to thank, you can thank Allison, Anna Beth and Fred, who asked me several times when I was coming back. Anna Beth just about threatened to sue if I didn’t start writing again. But the real reason I’m writing now and might just start this thing up again is because my mother said, “I wish you still had your journal. It always made me laugh. And when it didn’t, it made me cry. But I always knew I’d read something I loved.”

Come on, y’all. You can’t just not write a story when your mom asks you for one.

So, here I am. I’ll be here if you need me. And please, please, please give me an email and tell me how you’re doing. We’ve got some catching up to do.

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