February 13, 2006

On the Brink: Life's Too Short to Drink Bad 'Shine

So point me to the GOOD shine, please. Lord, but I am STILL a little sick. My mother came down with a murderous bacterial lung fungus, and I was supposed to go over there the weekend BEFORE going to the ON THE BRINK lit conference, so she asked the doctor if she was contagious, and he called her back and said, "Oh no honey, no one is going to get your mess. This is BRONCHITIS, not a COLD." So I came over and was seduced by her rich people's sheets into lying in her bed with her for five or six hours chatting and pretty much BASTING myself in her fungal dregs, and when I wasn't lounging around her bed with her, my dad was, and now both my dad and I HAVE LUNG FUNGUS, and she called her doctor back and said, "But you said it was not contagious" and he said, "Let me rephrase. It isn't contagious if you BREATHE all over people, but if you lie sick in a bed for days coating it with bacteria and people get in that bed and stay there soaking in it like it was palm olive, then...maybe you need to consider that those people may not be overly bright. Your family being kinda dim isn't the same thing as YOU being CONTAGIOUS."

SO I went to On The Brink assured that I, too, was not contagious, as long as I didn't spit into the punch bowl or invite anyone back to my room for 5 or 6 hours of snuggling. CHECK.

Anyway, since the lung fungus had me still a little off my game at the conference, I decided that even red wine, my usual belly-up-to-the-bar poison, should be avoided. I would, I decided, pretty much pick at fresh fruit and lean meats and drink tons of water, but then I got there and was seduced, SEDUCED I tell you, by the whole CONCEPT of the Pom-tini---Absolute Citron and POM. You know what POM is, right? The elixer of all good youth and delightful self-renewing health, or it BETTER be, at 4 bucks a snootful The POM-tini is that rare drink where the freakin' MIXER costs more than the Absolute. So, since I was still recovering from my lung fungus, and since POM is the pure essence of total wellness, I decided it was my DUTY to drink it by the bucketful. I mean, really, can you ever drink too much POM? I do not wish to explore the question of whether one can drink too much vodka.

I may have had a WEENTSY bit more Absolute than was strictly necesary for medicinal purposes, and that slight overindulgence may have fueled my POOR decision to reveal the true tale of what I did to my lip gloss in the fifth grade (DO. NOT. ASK.) that caused Frank Turner Hollon to look at me with a gimlet eye and say, "Jackson. You are a complete freak. You know this, right?" but I maintain that it was the SURGE of POWERFUL ANTIOXIDENTS that wrung that story from my never-to-be-glossy-again lips.

Appropos of NOTHING, Jacksonville has a store called GRUB-MART. I think that's a HORRIBLE name for a store. I called it Maggot-Land all weekend, but it didn't catch on.

Appropos of even less, my mother has these sheets that are like 3 million thread count Egyptian cotton, SEVERAL HUNDRED DOLLARS FOR A SET OF SHEETS hence the name "rich people's sheets" and even though the very THOUGHT of shelling out enough money for a pair of center orchestra Broadway tickets for SHEETS is enough to make my frugal teeth grind each other to horrified nubs, I HAVE to admit it is like sleeping in a pat of cool and lovely butter. If you felt these sheets, you would ignore the fact that they had been coated with The Creeping Death too, and you would get RIGHT in the bed with my hacking mother and watch the entire first season of Project Runway on DVD. You WOULD. As soon as I win the 120 million dollar Lotto, I am going right out and buying 50 or 60 sets of those sheets, three for me, and then a set for every bed down at the battered women's shelter because ONE NIGHT on these sheets and I swear the sleeper would wake up CONVINCED that a better life is possible.

I got some new books--well three. I am no longer allowed to go to lit conferences if I cannot promise to come home with NO MORE than three books. So. I got Frank Turner Hollon's latest...go get it. I do not read Southern when I am drafting, and this is set in south Alabama, but it isn't messing with me. I'm about half-way through, and it SO not about voice. It's about creeping me right the heck out. I say it's not about VOICE, but that's not strictly true. He's done something kind of interesting with voice, but it's so different from what I do with voice that it isn't bothering me as I try to stay within the rhythms of the book I'm writing. He's got this distant, slide-y omnicscent-ish POV and he slips around outside observing and then dips into any head he feels like dipping into, and it's seamless and a real MOOD setter. It's CHILLING, and the BOOK is chilling as all get out. I can't set the dern thing down. It's called Point of Fracture.

And then I got a book of short fiction I have not cracked yet. I rarely buy short fiction, but the guy's reading hooked me. I can't read it now, though---it IS the kind of Southern that will mess me up as I am drafting---I will report back on it in June when I have the draft complete. It's on the top of my TO READ pile. And THEN I bought POETRY. Um, yeah. I think I own 8 books of poetry--I like Auden and I like some of those male southern rogue poets who write about sheep children and kudzu and shooting rats at the Bibb County Dump--- because I read it even less than I read short fiction, but if you had been at Beth Anne Fennelly's reading you would have bought you some dern poetry, too. Her selections from Tender Hooks blew me away. Made me grin and snorfle and then weep. It was almost like, for one brief shining moment, I was a Real Boy, Gepetto! With a soul and EVERYTHING.

BY THE WAY. A bastardization of WHAT I DID TO MY LIPGLOSS just went into the new book this morning when I got up at 5 am realizing that if I completely changed the context I could get an image out of it that would make a very difficult character make sense... So, in two years or so, when that book comes out, if you read it and if you REMEMBER, you will be all IN THE KNOW. You'll be like, OH SHE DID NOT DO THAT....DID SHE? And then you will send me a little note via email saying, "Jackson, you ARE a complete freak." And I will write back and say, "Shut up and pass the POM-tinis."

REMINDER! You have until MIDNIGHT tonight to get your ENTRY in for BLOGGING FOR BOOKS. Winner shall take home M.J. Rose's latest, The Delilah Complex, SIGNED, natch....If you want to know a little about the book, you can watch the VID-LIT, which I maintain is pretty dern stinkin' cool.

Posted by joshilyn at February 13, 2006 6:38 AM

Jackson, you just bet your sweet bippy I'm gonna remember! *grinnin' like a possum eatin'...*

Posted by: David at February 13, 2006 8:16 AM

I am frankly a bit too horrified to contemplate what you may have done with your lip gloss. The possibilities are too scary.

Posted by: Mir at February 13, 2006 8:26 AM

You big tease! I want the lip-gloss story! And I haven't forgotten those dern pink socks, either.

Posted by: Amy-GO at February 13, 2006 9:37 AM


Posted by: Aimee at February 13, 2006 10:38 AM

Grub-Mart! That's pretty bad.
When I lived in a small town in Tennessee, we had a Hairy Foods (I still maintain it was a misspelling - the owner's first language was not English) and a Sanitary Food Liner. If you have to tell us the food is "sanitary" I cannot believe you. I think the food at a Grub-Mart might have less salmonella.

Posted by: Laura at February 13, 2006 11:04 AM

You should run a contest of your readers, "What is the most embarassing, dumb ass thing you did in your formative years?" You will glean great stories for future tomes and have enough blackmail fodder from your readers to say - "don't give me shit, you were the one that..., pass the pom-tinis."

Pomtinis how can that not be good for you? All those lovely antioxidants surrounded in a loving sea of alcohol to denature the nastiest of bugs. A virtual health elixir.

Posted by: Cele at February 13, 2006 11:14 AM

Wait...you just bought a book written by the same Frank Turner Hollon who told you that you were a freak in fifth grade? Now that's a story.

And, yes, POM is an antioxidant gift from the goddesses. Good for estrogen levels as well. Worth every penny--particularly if mixed with Absolut.

Posted by: Edgy Mama at February 13, 2006 12:52 PM

Hey, Joss! My butlers used to serve Pomtinis in my brothel in Chicago back in 1905, along with a fabulous liqueur called "Strawretto." Ever hear of it? Damn, but I wish that stuff would make a 21st century comeback.

Posted by: Minna Everleigh at February 13, 2006 1:03 PM

Absolut Jackson:


Whooooaaaa, flashback to "free time" in eighth-grade typing class... speaking of A la Recherches de Lip Gloss Perdu.

Posted by: Cornelia Read at February 13, 2006 2:29 PM

I see POM in the store but can't bring myself to fork out the dough for it.

Posted by: Heather at February 13, 2006 3:36 PM

Everyone should have at least one set of those sheets. Pure heaven and SO worth it (but they're addictive, making self-control a necessary evil).

Can't wait to see the lip gloss story in your next book. :)

Posted by: dragonfly at February 13, 2006 6:16 PM

Ok, how's about this: I take up a collection to get you some of them there sheets and then you tell me all private-like what in God's name you did to that lipgloss? It'll just be our little secret.

Posted by: Contrary at February 13, 2006 7:21 PM

I catch everything. Please stop breathing, sweating and shedding while I am here (snicker)

Best wishes for a swift recovery - always a delight to read you, even when you're ill.

Happy Valentine’s Day!
Marti at her new blog,

Posted by: Marti at February 14, 2006 8:51 AM

Thought you all might find this reference to POM amusing:


Maybe we should just go ahead right now and change the name of our institution to Pomegranate State University. Sounds kind of nice -- POM State. Yeah, I like it.

Posted by: Joe at February 16, 2006 11:19 AM