Friday, April 8, 2011

Security questions, regrets and who the heck needs this?

Sometimes, I force myself to leave the house and visit one or the other of my children and use their computer to monitor a small investment account that I keep with a well-known brokerage house.  When I log in, the system always asks me to answer one of the peculiar questions they have devised to keep the wrong people’s hands off of my money.

One of the questions is:  In what city did you meet your husband?  I have been divorced for over a decade and now I have to dredge up the city where we met and that also dredges up the circumstances and I have to re-live that drama and the fact that I allowed that marriage to fail and now live alone like a loser.

Another question they ask is in what city did your paternal grandmother live?  Since I am of Palestinian descent, I have to go to Google so that I spell Ramallah correctly and then I have to dredge up how this city does not belong to the Palestinians any more and blah blah blah. (Ramallah, btw, was distinguished by the fact that it was settled in the early 1800’s by five brothers and everyone who lived there was related.)

Another question is: Who was your favorite childhood friend? I was raised in convent boarding schools where all the students, me included, were demented and came from dysfunctional homes.  The friendships were bizarre and often exclusionary (as in being excluded and bullied).  Then I have to remember that sometimes I took my turn at being the subject of bullying and then would stay in bed and pretend to be ill so I wouldn’t have to face the bullies. We slept in attic rooms in narrow cots that remind me of that wonderful movie with Michael Caine based on the novel, The Cider House Rules.  One year when I didn’t attend boarding school, my favorite friend (like Charlie Brown) was a red-headed girl named Thomasina Thrasher.  Hey, Thomasina, if you are out there and read this, please get in touch.

Another question the brokerage firm asks is in what city was your mother born?  My mother, although of French descent, was born in San Salvador.  Recently I’ve learned that it was not really San Salvador but a smaller village named Zacatecas. Then I have to remember that my mother and I were both born at home and it was up to our parents (I use the term loosely) to register our birth with the authorities and our parents were negligent and imprecise and in my mother’s case they got the name of the village wrong.  In my case they got the date wrong.  Then I remember how my mother and I traveled to the United States by bus through Texas and for the entire trip the only thing I ingested was Coca Cola, a drink that in those days was made with syrup and soda and still had cocaine in it.  I arrived in the U.S. a mild dope addict.

These are all things that happened a long time ago so please don’t leave sympathetic messages.  I am quite happy now except when I have to use a strange computer and TD Ameritrade asks me all those questions.

On the e-publishing front.  I did something different with my latest offering “Thinner Thighs In Twenty Years,” a monologue I wrote in the early 2000’s and was performed at the Seattle Film Festival and at the Periwinkle Playhouse in Sanibel, Florida.  I submitted TTITY to Kindle Singles.  Kindle Singles is different from plain Kindle publishing.  You have to submit and be accepted.  My publishing buddy Sandra who has published over twenty excellent books and has earned my total respect says she never again wants to submit anything that has the chance of being turned down.  I still enjoy being humiliated so I submitted Thinner Thighs.  And, guess what?  They took it and will launch it next week.  Because of my inability to accept acceptance, I surmised that perhaps no one was submitting Kindle Singles and they were accepting anything that came their way.  I’ll let you know what happens when you publish a Kindle Single.

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