Where Are We?
by L.D. Burnett
I just had my ID scanned by the Instacart driver who delivered $60 worth of California wine—a pinot noir and a zinfandel—to my room at an extended stay hotel in the Dallas suburbs. I am still waiting on the Thai food, which should be here soon.
I haven’t tried either of these labels before—Rock View of Monterey County or Gnarled Vine of (I kid you not) Lodi, California. I say “I kid you not” because I grew up in California’s San Joaquin Valley before its vintners gained acclaim. If you had asked me then what wine came from Lodi I would have guessed Carlo Rossi (and maybe it does). But in my own lifetime Gallo wines went from a cheapo alternative to French imports to an award-winning house whose wines have been recognized around the world.
In this alone I am a pure provincial: I buy only California wine. I will not purchase wine from the Willamette Valley or the Oregon Coast. If it’s a domestic wine I’m buying, it comes from the Golden State or it doesn’t come at all. I may be missing out, but I don’t care. I tip my glass to the farm laborers and grape growers and wine bottlers and vintners of the San Joaquin Valley, never mind Napa and Sonoma and Monterey and even little Paso Robles with its lock on the Costco contract for cabernet.
But why am I telling you this?
First, I need to write something, right now, or I am going to curl up and die. Life is more topsy turvy at the moment than I can begin to explain. This temporary stay hotel is an upgrade from “air mattress in the middle of the empty living room,” my berth a few nights ago, and probably a luxe experience compared to my next sleeping quarters, “air mattress in the middle of the unfurnished apartment.” All this with a side of sinus infection / strep throat (thank God for Augmentin) and a heaping helping of pet care. What have I been doing? The only thing I can do at the moment: cough, sneeze, blow my nose, fight my fever, take my medicine, walk the dog, repeat as necessary, while I await the availability of yet another temporary housing arrangement.
Now, that’s more than anybody needs to know about my business (don’t worry; beneath the chaos all is well and no one is in peril), but I offer that description of my current digs as a way of arriving at the second reason that compels me to write: all this chaos has profoundly disrupted the regular publication of The Mudsill. I could no more have put together an issue from June 1 than I could fly to the moon. Things have been off the chain.
Now, the absence of a June 1 issue is not entirely my own fault. There’s also this: submissions to The Mudsill have dropped significantly from what we were getting at the start. You will notice that some recent numbers do not feature material in every category; there was not adequate material to publish in the missing categories.
This is not your fault. You are our readers and our generous subscribers, and you did not sign on to a co-op. You are here for the content, and I apologize that the content has not been here for you.
However, all is not lost.
In a cosmic burst of serendipity, two different long-time friends in the world of writing, editing, and scholarship contacted me separately this past week to float some ideas about launching a publishing venture that would bring cutting-edge content to readers for little to no cost while compensating writers at market rates. This, as you know, is the dream. This is what The Mudsill is for, and what we’re trying to do.
So I’m in conversation with these friends, and will be bringing them in conversation with one another when I get the all clear.
In the meantime, though, there is this vehicle, The Mudsill. I feel like channeling Daniel Webster here: “It is a small publication, sirs, but there are those who love it.”
And that’s really true. After every issue I hear from readers who love the latest number of The Mudsill. And, mirabile dictu, we are still getting new subscribers.
I would like to offer those new supporters more of what they’re looking for, and I’d like to reward our longtime supporters with new material as well.
So please help a poor feller out, as my grandma would say, and spread the word: The Mudsill is still in business, we still are paying writers $30 per contribution, and we are still looking for poetry, visual art, scholarship, and commentary (2000 words or less, please!).
As to my living situation, fret not: it will get better. But it’s going to be a long haul. A long, long, long, long haul. Some day, when the time is right, I will tell you all about it.
In the meantime, a toast to California wines, and Instacart, and Uber Eats, and clean white linens and fancy French cologne. Or tea tree Paul Mitchell shampoo.
This June 5, 2021 column is the most recent column on The Mudsill. I subscribed to Mudsill in September and on Sept. 13 my check cleared the bank under the name L.D. BURNETT HTTPSMEDIUM.C TXUS. Please cancel my subscription and refund my $50.