Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Family Troubles and eBay Auction

Last Winter, my father had an amputation after his left foot became gangrenous. He'd undergone a graft back in the 90s to shore up his femoral artery and the doctors at the V.A. hospital told him that the graft would only last for 10-15 years, that it couldn't be repeated, and that, when it failed, he'd lose circulation in the leg and probably, the leg itself. Sure enough, 12 years later, that's what happened. Fortunately, there have been no major complications from the amputation, and Physical Therapists at the V.A. in Johnson City, TN, have been working with him to get him ready for a prosthetic, although that progress has been slowed by a more recent operation to remove his left kidney.

Unfortunately, once he became a uniped, his landlord became a douchebag, refusing to make a wheelchair ramp for the unit, or more outrageously, to put up a handicapped parking sign in front of it. His reasoning? "I don't want to encourage other handicapped retirees to move in to this complex." Or at least that's what he allegedly said to my stepmother.

The bastard claims to be within his rights, saying that the 1989 Amendment that extended the Fair Housing Act to cover handicapped accessibility only applies to multi-family dwellings that had their first use after 1991, and dad's apartment complex has been operated continually since the 50s. I wanted to at least publicize his landlord's behavior, with the hopes of shaming him into relenting, but Dad and my stepmother want to move out. They've lived there for 18 years, but don't want to stay on with such a bastard as their landlord. Can't say I blame them.

But moving out takes money, and they're on fixed incomes and I can only send them so much at a time. To raise them some additional funds, I'm holding an eBay auction of what may be the rarest and most collectible item I own.

Back in the 80s, I wrote CRAZY CREATIVE WRITING: STORY STARTERS AND WORD BANKS for Carson-Dellosa, a local publisher of educational workbook. "Story starters" are the beginnings of simple short stories, accompanied by a "Word Bank" of possible words to use in completing the story on the blank lines under the beginning paragraph. My book contained 30 of these, and was aimed at teachers of grades 1-4.


In the 90s, when I was going to a lot of science fiction and fantasy conventions and working on my first novel, I asked various professional writers I'd met to complete stories in the book, just like they were kids in an elementary school classroom. Neil Gaiman (SANDMAN, AMERICAN GODS, CORALINE), Poppy Z. Brite, Kelly Link, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Mehitobel Wilson and others complied.

Here's Neil's contribution (with some of it blocked off for the eBay auction, so that I'm not giving away the entire story).


At the time, a couple of contributors teased me about how I was pestering them into creating a unique and potentially very valuable collectible. I knew that was true, but I was mainly doing it for a lark, and over the years since then, I've felt guilty about trying to sell it, not so much because it has huge sentimental value but because it seemed like a mercenary response to their friendly generosity.

However, in lieu of my parents' circumstances, I've changed my mind. When I asked Neil if he thought this was mercenary of me, he replied no, not at all, "it's not like you're going to use the money to buy edible kittens or something." I've been giggling at that phrase ever since.

So I just listed it on eBay. Neil, Poppy and Caitlin have agreed to publicize it on their blogs. The item # is 280364723261

Here's the auction.

And yes, I know I misspelled my own damn name, leaving out an "l" in McDowell! Poppy kindly pointed this out to me, no doubt snickering to herself as she did so. It will have to stand, as I don't seem to be able to edit an item's description while the auction is active.

Wish me luck. I'm not posting it here because I think this blog is widely read that it will get me any more bids, but so I'll have a link that I can point other people in the fantasy and horror communities at, so they'll learn the story behind the auction and perhaps pass on information about it.

UPDATE: Up to $500 in 24 hours That's a good start, methinks.


Blogger Ralf the Dog said...

1. What's wrong with edible kittens?

2. The prices are jumping up fast. It would be cool if you could auction off a few signed copies of books or something for people who don't want to go over a few hundred dollars.

3. Make this a regular thing. Get non profit status. I am sure lots of people need to convert their houses to handle disabilities. This would be a good cause for the Science Fiction community.

4. After your father has moved, please publish the address. I am quite sure the landlord would be thrilled by 10,000 people dressed as Klingons picketing his place. (If you would like, I could post that the landlord was responsible for the death of Michael Jackson.)

10:57 AM  
Blogger Ian McDowell said...

Ralf, a friend of mine is giving me her copy of the signed, limited edition of Poppy's Seeds of Lost Souls, just so I can auction it for this cause. I also have some signed Michael Bishop and Mike Ford I'm considering auctioning. None of those things should go much over a hundred.

It says something about Neil that he immediately thought of "edible kittens" as an unhealthy, immoral or simply hedonistic use for the money, rather than, say, hookers and blow.

1:14 PM  
Blogger Ralf the Dog said...

What could be better than yummy crunchy kitten prostitutes lightly powdered in coke?

If you want to make real money, get a kindle and an engraving pen, then pass it around the community.

3:03 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home