So if you have been here awhile you know I am mad for the novels of Frank Turner Hollon. I liked the first one I read so much I read the rest, liked them MORE, and then I stalked him relentlessly and forced him to be my friend.
It was hard because he is practically feral....he lives under a bridge in Rural Alabama, eating up any goats that dare to tri-trap over and writing books that rock my socks. This may well be my favorite of his, but if you asked me for my favorite of his on a different day you would get a different answer, as I flip flop between four depending on what I have reread most recently.
ANYWAY, one of his books originally titled LIFE IS A STRANGE PLACE was recently made into a movie called BARRY MUNDAY starring Patrick Wilson (Nite Owl! From WATCHMEN! *geeks out*) Judy Greer, Chloe Sevigny, Jean Smart, Malcolm McDowell, Cybill Shepherd & Billy Dee Williams. (!!!)
SO yesterday I get this email from Frank yesterday and it says, “Please send this trailer to every single person you've ever met so I can get very wealthy and pretend I don't know you. Thanks, Frank”
Pretty much every one I know is here, so HERE is the trailer. I must say, the film looks awesome but WOW, this preview, it is SO VERY NOT SAFE FOR KIDS! You are warned:
And while we are you tubing, and if your kids are about so you can’t watch BARRY MUNDAY, you CAN watch this. And you should. It is the most astonishing thing I have seen in a Good. Long. Time. It is a video for a song by OK Go, and it is a huge Rube Goldberg machine staged in a warehouse and... WOW. I have watched it about 8 times now and keep finding more things to see in it. Please notice this is ONE take. ONE TAKE. Camera never cuts away. It is TIMED like that.It is all one thing mathed out and done on complete purpose. *boggle*
So the other night I am sitting at my computer feeling so. super. sorry. for myself. Which, to be brutally honest, has become so common a description for my state of being that it is almost redundant to say it out loud. It's like clocking an autonomic function... SO I was pulling oxygen-laced air into my lungs and then chemically changing the oxygen to carbon dioxide and releasing it... like that.
The only more constantly true thing I could say right now would be, “So I am sitting in bed watching another Netflixed installment of Harper’s Island (I wish it was 130 episodes instead of 13 at this point, I truly do, so sad it is about to be over...) and feeling so. super. Etc etc...” You get the picture. This morbid bathing in a self pity pond is because I have been ENDLESSLY SICK, see entry below for the snot-filled fevered details.
SO there I sit staring at a screen, dull and listless and WAH-filled, and meanwhile, sneaking up behind me, comes my birthday in on little cat feet. I had no solid plans, but there have been many Mysterious Doings and hints and portents of surprises. My husband, MONTHS ago, told me not to PLAN anything for the three days surrounding my birthday. No book club calls, no service work, no lunches with friends. NADA. I thought to myself, SELF I thought, we are maybe going away for the weekend. But I try several times to conversationally trap my mother into admitting she is coming to babysit, and my mother gambols safely, feckless as a lambkin, through my conversational minefields.
I begin weaseling at Scott for clues and snooping perniciously about, dawdling in doorways when he is on the phone, feely-feeling all over packages that come to him with my feely-fingers, doing some mild shaking. Perhaps I even SNIFFED them. (Not recommended: The outsides of packages mostly smell like the insides of UPS trucks, and UPS trucks mostly smell like motor oil laced with eu de foot with aftersmells of dog poo-crumbs and loam.)
As the weeks unfold, it becomes clear that whatever it is *I* am doing for my birthday, Scott is not doing all of it with me. I begin to suspect spa days, except he KNOWS I hate for strangers to touch me anywhere below my forehead or above my knees,, and the only spa treatments I actively enjoy involve my hair and my feet, and what can someone POSSIBLY do to my feet for three days running that is legal in the state of Georgia?
I call all my friends and make them wrack their brains with me, and my friend Sara figures it out: I have LONG wanted to get certified to dive. You can actually do this in three days. I start hunting around to make sure my most utilitarian bathing suit is unfrayed and practicing making scuba noise-breathing. I become secretly irked that Scott is not getting certified WITH me so we can scuba at Beach Week this summer. I am pretty convinced, is all I am saying.
Then, on Birthday-Eve, I am sitting at my computer, feeling so. super. sorry. for myself, wondering if my lingering pound of lung-mucus will ruin my chances at certification, when lo! there is a knock at the door. I assume it is another foot-smelling UPS package. It’s about UPS o’clock. I glance at the door as Maisy runs to get it, and through the side window, I see the delivery guy in the porch looks a LOT like my friend Sara, who lives a good three states away. And the delivery guy has a puffy Hallmark-style adhesive bow stuck to his forehead. And is grinning like the very devil at me. Hmmm, I think. Weird. I turn back disconsolately to my screen.
Then Sara says I did a take SO double it can't be called a double take. It was like a take SQUARED. I run to the door and let her in, and we leap around, LAR LAR LAR, so happy. She tells me that, ALAS, Karen was flying in from NYC but as I know, Bob, NYC is full of blizzards and no flights have gotten out for 24 hours and they are SO backed up that she MAY or MAY NOT be able to get out on a flight in the next day or so. Sara blinks sadly at me, and I blink sadly back, DUMB AS A CUD CHEWING GOAT WHO NEVER PAYS ATTENTION TO THE WEATHER CHANNEL.
And of course, 90 minutes later, while Sara and I are sitting on the high bar stools of my kitchen, sipping foamy pink pom-tinis and gossiping 90 miles a minute, Karen comes stomping through as if she has been in my house the whole time saying, “Oh MAN, I can’t believe you vodka hogs didn't pour me one."
So far it has been truly a superior birthday.
Hello! Did you miss me? I missed you. Let’s hug it out.
If you are wondering where I have been, no, I did not fall off the earth. OH WAIT, YES I DID! I drove up a mountain to an isolated cabin and literally fell right off the earth into a mountainous snowhole and couldn’t get the car out of it while an enormous blizzard swooped down from the Rockies and buried the house.
Upside: We brought liquor.
More upside: I got about 18,000 words of my new novel drafted.
More upside: We were not killed by yetis.
It is Tuesday, so even though not being killed by yetis is not actually about fitness, I blogged the retreat events inarticulately and in tandem with Lydia over at Five Full Plates. Lydia says the word “yoga.” I say the word, “roll.” (MMMM, ROLLS.) So that seems topical enough.
Best Beloveds, I am off to have a Merry Christmas with the family in Alabama. I will be back Monday to tell you about what PHAT LOOTS I garnered, because THAT, after all, is the TROO MEANING OF XMAS. Or maybe the troo meaning is shopping? I can’t tell because my brain is dazzled by all the white lights on my neighbor’s bushes. MAYBE the troo meaning is squandering electricy? *grin*
No, seriously, for me it is a high holy day, and I will know it is Christmas when we go to the evening service and they sing Joy to the World. I hope there is a trumpet. That song righteously DESERVES a trumpet. I hope you have a lovely holiday with YOUR family and friends and loved ones, and for all of us, my especial hope is that, no matter what else, there is pie. Thank you for existing, oh my beautiful friends inside the computer. You make my non-Christmas days a little more Jingle Bell-y.
Speaking of pie. I blogged over at Five Full Plates about why I will have a much harder time with the pie than you, or wait, maybe it is YOU who has a harder time with pie than me? I forget. But I remember to blog over there every Tuesday. I do not remember to remind you, though, apparently, at least not until it is good and Wednesday.
Oh shush, it made sense in my head. Do not make me get my Pimp Cane.
With thanks to Elena, and PEE ESS, I have met many Many MANY of type four. Many.
Schubert feels better. I know because during his illness, the cat food bowls that dwell in the basement managed to drift close to one another in the way of inanimate objects in a house full of pets and little children. Schubert has not been eating well, so no one noticed the bowls had migrated. This morning, when a modest scoop of kibble landed in each bowl, the thunderous eight-paw response of two big toms galumphing down the stairs told me all was becoming right in cat-world. Then, seeing how the bowls were placed, my chuffy old one-eyed pirate promptly planted his face deeply into one dish and settled his pointy, bald haunches just as deeply into the other.
Boggart stood to one side, watching this. He is such a sociopath that his reaction was, as always, hard to read. Was he quizzical? Angry? No telling. I swear if that cat had thumbs he would be up in a bell tower RIGHT NOW calmly picking off holiday shoppers. If he had more flexible lips, he would be whistling while he did it.
We call Boggart “Dexter Morgan” more than we call him Boggart these days. He has a LOT in common with Dexter. He wants to live in the house with people, but he doesn’t actually want the people to touch him. He does not seem to understand how to have an interactive relationship with other living creatures, unless the creature in question is one of the hapless field mice who sometimes wander into this exact wrong house to get out of the winter. Boggart’s relationships with them are ruthless and efficient and of a very short duration, and, much like Dexter’s most intimate relationships, they leave one party in chunks.
When Schubert, as he often does, comes to wind around and my ankles and bellow to be given his rightful petting dues, Boggart cocks his head to one side and watches like a serial killer turned anthropologist, trying to puzzle out the appeal. He gets closer and closer as he observes the odd phenomena, but if I reach out a hand to try and include him, he rears his head back, ears flattening, and sniffs at my extended hand as if checking it for knives or poison.
SO when Schubert appropriated all the breakfasts, he was unsure how to handle it. The situation seemed to require... *shudder*... conversation, Or, WORSE, contact. After a minute of dead-eyed watchfulness, Boggart released a sharp, short, protesting mewl. Schubert did not respond. Another minute passed, and then Boggart made the same noise again, louder. This time, Schubert deigned to respond by flicking an ear, as if to say, “What? I am warming it up for you. With my butt.”
Or perhaps I too kindly interpret the ear flick because he has been ill. It would be more like Schubert to say, “What? I am warming my second breakfast up for myself. Go eat lint.”
Or perhaps, even, “What? I can eat with both ends now, and also kill you in your sleep. Move along.”
Schubert is not a sociopath, but it is true that he has no use for other animals. He only understands relationships with PEOPLE. And by people I mean, he likes me. He tolerates the children. He does not mind Scott, as long as Scott does not foolishly try to PICK HIM UP. Only I can pick him up. He suffers the dog to live because I seems to like the dog and Schubert wants to please me. He suffered the mice ladies to live because the counter was high, and he suffers Boggart to live for reasons I cannot fathom.
I had missed my old skeezix while he felt so lowly, and it is nice to have him back.
At any rate, I stepped in and moved things around, putting both butt and dish back where they belong so that Boggart got a non-Lint, non-the-blood-of-innocents breakfast. He thanked me by eating a bite, blinking in a meditative way, and then wandering away past me as if I did not exist.
Honestly, the more time I spend with these two, the fonder I become of the DOG.
Amy Go has gone all pro! Last year she caught the shutter bug, and now she has her very own Amy Go Photo Blog. I miss her SO much since she moved. Stupid Kansas.
Also, peep this: One of the Best Beloveds works as a silversmith. I love this thing:
It is a fidget. You noodle with it. I need one as I am a leg jiggler and twitcher and a doodler. These days they call it being a “kinetic learner,” but we all know this secretly means “spaz.” Schools should start issuing little turtles like this. Especially to MY kinetic learning little monkey swarmers who cannot listen and sit still at the same time. One or the other, they can do, but either takes all their concentration. Choose: Jacksons cannot do both at the same time.
In response to the Grand Central catalog cover in the entry below, Karen Abbott called me, and we were talking about Seth Grahame-Smith’s upcoming title, which is, intriguingly, ABE LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER. I liked his Pride and Prejudice and Zombies because, how could I not? And this new one piques my interest as well.
Me: It’s just a good juxtaposition to begin with---inherently amusing. He’s so gangly and earnest.
Her: Oh admit it. You think Lincoln is hot.
Me: I do. I DO think Lincoln is hot.
Her: Okay well, historically, emancipation and social justice and a guy with a working class background rising to greatness with honesty. I’ll give you that one. That’s all pretty hot.
Me: Well, yeah, obviously I admire him, but I mean he is ZOMGAH! HAWT! Like, just physically. He’s smokin’. You know my type, and he is it. Lincoln is the Spock of presidents.
Her: *laughing* That’s true! He IS the Spock of presidents. I am more traditional, you know? Kennedy, Obama, these are out hot-most world leaders.
Me: I am going with Lincoln.
Her: I can’t judge you. I would have dated him. I mean, you put him up by Nixon or, God help me, Grover Cleveland...
Me: Or Polk...
Her: I have no idea what Polk looked like. Let me google image him....GAH! POLK IS HIDEOUS! ... No, no, wait, that was just a bad picture. Wow. No. Polk is fine. I would absolutely date Polk.
Me; *google imaging* I kinda like the looks of Grover, too. He looks firm and resolute, that’s attractive. Oooh! Lookit Polk! Those manly eyebrows! Polk is VERY cute, actually.
Her: We need to do this all day. We need to stay on google images and go look at ALL the presidents and memorize their names in order of date-ability.
Me: As opposed to, say, working on our books.
I am pleased to say we managed to control ourselves and STOP disrespectfully google imaging presidents as if they had posted on match.com and we were time-traveling singles with a yen to be first lady.
I like to call people liars and tell them that they sit upon a throne of lies. I say this a lot. I have been known to say it to my scale, for example, when I am displeased by the lying lie of an untrue LIE number it says to me. I have been known to say it to librarians at pot-luck literary luncheons when they ASSURE me that their rum-pecan-cake has NO calories. Sadly, I seem to secretly BELIEVE the librarians, and it has been suggested by Richard Simmons (albeit indirectly) that believing the NO CALORIE cake lie may have some mysterious and unquantifiable and yet DIRECT connection to the later lies of that lying LIAR of a scale-jerk whom I suffer to live in my bathroom.
But back to liars who sit upon thrones of lies...these are words I say to my children when they make round eyes at me and say that their rooms are “clean enough.” I say them to my mother when she tells me these same children have not had “too much candy” on days when I find them SO clearly jacked up on sugar that they are running straight up the walls and across the ceiling, cackling. I say them to my friends and to my husband and to strangers in the Target. I say these words a LOT, and they seem to ring familiar in a lot of ears.
“What is that line from?” people ask when I call them liars on their thrones of lies.
My answer has always been to shrug and say, “It is either Shakespeare or the Bible.”
Because it always is, isn’t it? Even little everyday phrases so banal they hardly seem to warrant the impressive title of LITERARY REFERENCE are actually hijacked right from Shakespeare. Or the Bible.
Ever said, “a drop in the bucket?” You were quoting the Bible.
Ever had a teenage boy? Then NO DOUBT you have been eaten out of house and home, and you were able to say so in that way because of Shakespeare.
The Bible has put you “at your wit’s end,” and allowed you to “rise and shine.” That last one generally requires a coffee assist at my house.
Ever been “in a pickle?” “Knitted your brow?” Told a knock knock joke? Ever sent someone packing, tried to “lie low,” or put your “best foot forward?” So has my friend Bill.
So, the other day Scott and I are gaming with our friends Neal and Wanda, and Neal rolls some sort of AMAZING winning dice roll, BEATING ME which is clearly....unpossible!. So I immediately accuse him of being a big lucked out cheater pants.
And he says, in his mellow, California guy way, “Nah, that’s just good Karma. Clearly the result of clean living.”
I scoff and say, “Clean living! You sir, are a liar, and you sit upon a throne of lies.”
Wanda says, “I have heard that before---- where is that line from?”
I say, “Not sure. Shakespeare or the Bible, no doubt.”
There is a pause, and then Neal says, “Um no, I think that’s Elf.”
There is this long silence and then I say, “What do you mean, Elf?”
And he says, “You are quoting Elf. You know, that Christmas movie, Elf? Will Ferrell says that line to a mall Santa.”
I am affronted. SURELY NOT! Surely it is Shakespeare. OR THE BIBLE. Surely I have not spent the last few years REFERENCING ELF and saying it was either SHAKESPEARE, or worse, THE POET KING DAVID OR, GEE, maybe, THE PROPHET ISAIAH, TWICE A WEEK.
Except, yes, I have.
It’s chilly today.
If you need me, I will be in the den, lighting a cozy fire. Using my MA in English as kindling.
There are days when I think I am weird. Then I look at my friends and I think, Oh but wait, I am not any weirder than THEM, so if that is the standard level of weird then by definition this level of weirdness is normal. Then I realize that to try and quantify how much weirdness must be included in the Normal Person package to make a normal person correctly weird enough to BE normal is NOT NORMAL. And that realization is usually followed up by a piece of behavior SO VERY ODD on the part of one of my friends that I come to understand that, yes, indeed, I must be a complete freak if these people want to hang out with me.
Today, for example, out of a clear blue cloudless conversation about her edits, Karen said to me...
Karen: I’m concerned. I feel like you are not getting your money’s worth out of this friendship.
Me: You are concerned I am not getting my... what-y’s what?
Karen: Like, you aren’t getting your full friendship value.
Me: *laughing* My FULL FRIENDSHIP VALUE? Like, I could have SUPERSIZED it but instead I just got a small cup o’greasy-friend-fries? What do you get out of my friendship that is your “money’s worth.”
Karen: Are you kidding? I get tangible sprongs of pleasure when I talk to you.
Me: Tangible what of whats???
Karen: Pleasure sprongs. I talk to you and they come out of my head, all around. I picture it as looking like the crown on the Statue of Liberty. SPRONG! SPRONG!
Me: *DYING LAUGHING* And you think I don’t get tangible pleasure sprongs when I talk to you?
Karen: I worry that you do not. I think I come along with my carnivorous little teeth and gnaw at you as if you were an ear of corn. I gnaw away at you in rows until you are all exhausted COB. Just COB.
Me: No, no, I am NOT a cob. I have MASSIVE pleasure sprongs.
Her: Are you POSITIVE?
Me: Quite. I think mine might be PINK.
It is true. My pleasure sprongs are a good thirty feet long. Alas, I suspect my WEIRDNESS sprongs may be EVEN LONGER.
I have a new favorite joke, sent to me by Anne Lovett, a talented chick from my writer's group.
So how many writers does it take to change a lightbulb?
One to change the light bulb.
Four to say that they'd already had the idea for changing a light bulb, but they didn't want to show anyone what they were doing until they'd polished their light-bulb-changing.
Two to point out that someone else had already changed a light bulb, so changing another one was unoriginal and thus not worthwhile.
Three to call light bulbs a new technology that was going to be catastrophic for traditional candlelight-driven writers.
And one to figure out that writers are lousy at math.
Disclaimer: I am not putting up the Better U logo because I am MAD and about to use bad language that the AHA may not wish to be associated with, i.e. Buttmunch.
Jennifer in Comments said, â€œI have been officially DEMORALIZED. And, therefore, hiding under the bed. I went to a doctor (NOT about my weight, or eating habits; about a SLEEP issue!!!) and he asked me "are you happy with your current weight?" Naturally, I said no, and began to explain the BetterU program, my goals, what I have been doing, etc, etc, INCLUDING how I have lost 11 pounds and 4.5 inches (overall). He interrupted me to inform that I was NOT in a SUPERVISED program (and therefore a very inferior one), then gave me a quick up-and-down with a jaundiced fisheye, and said, "I recommend that you see a nutritionist, because obviously what you are doing is not working."
â€¢ Chicken biscuit? Oh, #%&*@# NO!!!
â€¢ Pizza and chicken wings, anyone? Since 11 pounds and 4.5 inches is FAILURE, and I lack the nerve to point at a man with an M.D. behind his name with the BAD finger, I have been taking my anger out on myself in the form of carbs and fried proteins.
There are FIVE things to remember, here, Jennifer, and everyone else who has run into a set back, be it in the form of a mean person derailing you, a unsupportive person trying to tempt you to skip the gym and sit on the sofa and eat bonbons because if YOU change they might have to as well, or someone being HATEFUL and saying you are doing it wrong or not good enough because you are not doing it THEIR way.
The first and most obvious thing is, that doctor is a buttmunch. And people like that doctor belong to the buttmunch tribe. We belong to a different tribe and they do not control us.
The second thing is, no one program works for all people, even though ALL fitness programs are essentially the same thing. ALL fitness programs that WORK are merely different packagings around a couple of core ideas: Commit for a lifetime to better eating habits, learn portion control and find a physical activity that you like enough to make a near daily part of your life.
ALL GOOD PROGRAMS that are good for you and not FADDY crap that hurts you more than it helps are basically THIS. But the packaging MATTERS. For example, I HATE anything supervised and MEETINGY â€“ I am NOT a joiner. I am terminally bored and unhappy at WW meetings, but I LOVE WW online. Some people like Yoga, but the whole being STILL and QUIET part with the chimes makes me want to put a knife in my eye. I am a BOOT CAMP kind of girl. I like yelling and running up and down stairs. Heck, some people like to Deal-A-Meal while sweatin' to the oldies. The package does NOT matter. The CHOICES are what matter---put those choices in ANY package you like, and go for it. BetterU works for me because it is SHORT TERM GOAL ORIENTED and VERY self-directed. I LOVE setting my own goals and rewarding myself. It is ALSO working GORGEOUSLY for Jennifer. If it doesnâ€™t work for you, NO PROBLEM! Find what works, and do it. Your body deserves to be taken care of, because you live in it, and it is you.
The third thing is, the reason week four was all about finding a support system is because of buttmunches. And who is a buttmunch? (Hint: see the first and most obvious thing.) You must not let the Buttmunches GET YOU DOWN. The best revenge is notnotnot EATING FRIED MEAT AND CARBS. That only hurts you and PROVES THE BUTTMUNCH RIGHT. Do not prove the buttmunch right by abandoning a package that was working for you just because he is what he is. And what is he? (Hint: rhymes with Duttmunch.)
The fourth thing is, The best revenge is sticking with what WORKS for you, losing the weight, lowering your cholesterol and triglycerides and blood pressure, getting your waist under 33 inches, getting more stamina, feeling great and lookinâ€™ good, and then calling him up and asking his desk staff to please pass on a message, and the message is, of course, the politest form of
YOU ARE CORDIALLY INVITED TO SUCK IT.
that you can manage.
The Fifth thing to remember is, a feast of angry chicken and biscuits does NOT undo four weeks of work, 11 pounds, and four and a half inches. People who succeed at getting in shape are the NOT the ones who never fall off the wagon and land face down in a quart of Edieâ€™s Grand Fudge Ripple. Everyone does that sometimes. The people who succeed in the long run are those who say, â€œOH WELL YOU KNOW I ate that fudge ripple *burp* and look, all I feel is bloated and weepy, and now I am going to climb back on the wagon, make myself my FAVORITE most expensive and delightful healthy thing for dinner â€“ CEVICHE anyone? And put it all behind me.â€
SO thatâ€™s what you need to. You ate the chicken. Oh well. That was THEN. This is NOW. What are you going to do NOW? Eat more fried chicken, or take the dog for a nice walk and have some fruit? CHOOSE B! We are all rooting for you to choose B. Especially the dog, who feels strongly that there are many fascinating messages in urine to decipher, if only you would just take him.
Also, there is a thing six that showed up in comments.
Rachel said: I bet he is a sleazebag who gets some kind of $ kickback from nutritionist referrals.
I bet she is exactly right! He brought the topic up, ignored your success, and tried to refer you to his own guy -- there was somethign in it for him. That doctor is SUCH a buttmunch.
(Psst. Donâ€™t forget, BOTH of the contests to win free books end tonight at Midnight EST.)
My blog, Faster Than Kudzu, is the natural habitat of all things hyperbolic. An understatement is a rare and welcome creature, so brace yourself, Bridget, I see a shy little understatement peeking over the wall. Oh, look. He came in. See him? Heâ€™s hiding on the other side of the semi-colon; I do not like to garden.
To give you an idea how under this statement truly is, I shall reveal to you that my facebook peeps and I recently played around with a HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW ME quiz app. One of the questions on my quiz was
2) Which of these loathesome things do I like best?
e) Dentist's Chairs
All those things are loathsome to me, but the correct answer, the LEAST loathesome of all those loathsome things would in fact be A) Maggots. Most people guessed gardening, but no. I actually have nothing particular against maggots, and many particular and sincere hatreds associated with gardening. As a child, when naughty, a common punishment was weeding. Now, when I crouch in a garden, my stomach muscles tighten, and I begin to feel I have been a very bad girl. (Not in the good way.)
Also I donâ€™t like vines or vine-like plants like squash plants with thick leaves because I am absolutely sure there are roaches in them, lurking about, hoping to leap onto my hands with their rustle-y roach feet and run straight up my arm. Also, plants turn brown and die in my house, and this hurts my feelings. And I purely hate HAIRY LEAVES. They shouldnâ€™t be. It makes me suspect they SWEAT. I do not want to touch hairy sweaty leavesâ€¦You see how it is?
But at the same time, I WANT to not loathe gardening, because last year Scott and I became Communist Presbyterians and our church is currently growing a vegetable garden and donating the produce. Putting in a vegetable garden is such a pragmatic, un-aesthetic thing to do to a church yard, and it is SO EXACTLY like this church and the people there it is pretty much a tangible metaphor for who they are---who we are---as a community.
The garden is emblematic of the reason we dubbed it the Communist Presbyterian Church the first time we visited. (Communist Presbyterianism is not ACTUALLY a denomination. As far as I know.) Itâ€™s a pet name. It took about 67 minutes of being there before we fell in love with every single Pinko in the building. We visited ONCE and havenâ€™t missed a week since, because we wanted to be better people ourselves just from the being around them.
This little community---they have ideas. They say things to each other, things like, â€œHey, we have all this LAWN, maybe we should use it to grow organic produce for folks who donâ€™t get a lot of fresh veggiesâ€¦.â€ Then other people rally round and start getting fencing and seeds and putting the time in until it ACTUALLY HAPPENS. Thatâ€™s why weâ€™re there. In a bigger sense, I believe thatâ€™s why we are here. So.
It makes me wish I didnâ€™t loathe gardening.
I went to see Mary, one of the women who has made the garden happen, basically to tell her how COOL I think she is, and she tried to enlist me into the ranks of the rake-holders. There I could not go. I said, â€œI really would rather be baked and eaten by file-toothed Morlocks, but, that said, is there anything ELSE that is not actual gardening I could do to help the garden?â€
Her eyebrows raised and she said, â€œCan you make a scarecrow?â€
And I, clearly poisoned by the secret wad of crack a demented barrista must have slipped into my latte, forgot that I am NOT crafty or mechanically or constructionally inclined, and said, â€œSure I can!â€
So, this week I made a scarecrow.
She is very very scary, I will say that.
She has demonic goat ears, trampy pink lipstick, pigtails, broad shoulders, long apelike arms, and no feet. She is held together via prayer, yarn, staples and an indecent amount of duct tape.
Her name is Jezebel:
The kids helped a LOT. They learned very little about how actual, well constructed scarecrows are made, but on the plus side, I am willing to bet that their here-to-fore profanity-limited vocabularies have really benefitted from listening to me try to make the freakinâ€™ hands stick on. But we got her done and today we went by church and our friend Robert helped us ground her.
It is my dear and worthy hope that she does not fall into chunks before this growing season is over.
It is my dear and worthy OTHER hope that she puts many crows directly into terrorized therapy, so that the beans can peacefully and far-from-me do whatever it is they do on their creepy, hairy-leafed, roach-coated, loathsome vines.
I have two friends, Karen and Mir, who are POLAR opposites, but both make me laugh my butt off. Here is a conversation I had with Karen Abbott yesterday:
Me: Wow. I hate that picture of me. It looks like four whales got mushed up together into a whale wad and then someone stuffed the wad into pants and cut/pasted my head on top.
Karen: Hi! You have TOTAL BODY DYSMORPHIA, did you know that?
Me: *as if she had not spoken* Luckily, I hear fat is the new hot.
Karen: Yeah. And crazy is the new fat.
Mir is that way, too. She can hit the conversational ball back over the net. BLAM! And I LOVE her blog.
Today I went to read her entry on spring cleaning, and I laughed my BUTT off, both with her and AT her. I started to write a comment that got SO LONG I just brought it back hereâ€¦
Excuse me, but you are SO silly. I HAVE SEEN YOUR HOUSE and this OH THE MESS. LOOK AWAY LOOK AWAY thing will not fly. Your standards are extremely high...when your house is at the level of mess that YOU would call an untenable pig sty? That is what we call FRESHLY CLEANED AND PERFECT at my house.
Like, your WORST CASE SCENARIO --- some toys and shoes scattered about, couch cushions unplumped, the throw unfolded and slung over a chair, a smear of jam on the kitchen floor---that's my BEST case scenario. Except I have a convenient dog-vacuum who will replace the jam on the floor with a slick coat of dog suck. If only I could find a way to make my dog;s suck smell like PineSol I would just spray jam all over the floor, let him loose, and call it mopped. I may do that ANYWAY, and when he is done put a Christmas Pine Scented Plug In from 1997 in the wall socket.
My standards are, granted, a bit TOO low. They are, in fact, SO LOW that a TINY BEETLE recently failed to limbo under them, and went off to sulk himself to DEATH in a corner of my basement. By the time I noticed him, he was nobbut a husk of former beetle, and there he lay, entombed, completely unmolested, for WEEKS. I would go downstairs, see the dead beetle husk in the corner, think, â€œI should vacuum that dead beetle up, or get a paper towel andâ€¦HEY! LOOK! SOMETHING SHINY!â€ and then forget about him. One assumes that EVENTUALLY someone else noticed him and gave him a pomp-n-circumstance filled funereal walk to a trashcan, or perhaps from dust he came, and now to dust he has returned.
Either way, I feel certain your house is fine, and I am scared to let you come visit again until I hire BLEACHWEILDING GERM MURDERING CLUTTER ANNIHILATING professionals to splash down my house.
DO NOT JUDGE ME.
It is worth noting that SEVERAL months ago, Karen had MICE living in her oven, and her response was to fill the oven with poison, seal it shut, and NEVER OPEN IT AGAIN. So. I may have negative number standards, but I am not alone.
It is also worth noting that after reading this, the next time Karen or I invite Mir to dinner, she is likely to bring her own meal in a hermetically sealed bag. Or just come in a bubble like baby John Travolta.
OKAY, thank you for the sleep recs. I am going to start at the top with rescue remedy and work my way DOWN through everything non-prescription until I get to the suggestion to STOP DRINKING WINE, at which point I will go selectively BLIND and simply refuse to see that. You say wine, and my eyes will read â€œToastâ€ and I will think, AH! VERY WISE and eat my bread cold.
Since my children are selectively DEAF, I have a template for learning selective sensory stoppage. For example, I am now going to say to you with a straight face that I TRULY thought someone would tell me to stop horking down the Starbuckses and other caffeine laden things, but of course NO ONE DID. NOT ONE OF YOU. Do we understand each other? (Yes, in the same way that winter kitty is a VERB, a starbucks is a noun. It is ANY hella overpriced caloriffic beverage at Starbucks. So you say, â€œWant to go get a starbucks?â€ if you want a cocoa mojo double caramel sugar-death frozen delight, and â€œWant to go get a coffee?â€ of you want, you know, coffee. And yes, that is the correct plural form, as in, â€œOh HECKS-YA, letâ€™s go get Starbuckses!)
I have to say, the full moon went poof, and the sleeping HAS been better. Not perfect, but better. so all you Lunar-tics may be ON to something.
Last night I went to a VERRA VERRA posh library fundraiser at CALLENWALDE Center for fine arts. It was SO posh I got to de-bag my NEW YORK SHOES for occasion.
Ungortunately, the BALLET FLATS all summer have SPOILED me. I never got my feet all silky smooth for sandalsâ€¦SO. I had to create an emergency callous assault to ready my feet for their enconsement in the One True Slingbacks.
EVERYONE, including my husband and Karen Abbott MOCKED ME RELENTLESSLY as I extolled the virtues of UDDER CREAM in a quick fix foot regimen. Yes, that IS exactly what it sounds like: a VILE medicinal smelling solvent put on cow teats to prevent chafing during milking. ANYWAY, I did the usual soak, sugar scrub routine, and the pumice and lotion thing, but my feet were beyond these helps. I had to move to OPERARTION FARM PRODUCT to salvage them.
AFTER sugar scrubbing, I SLATHERED my feet in this stuff, wrapped them in Saran Wrap, and then put on thick spa socks to hold the wrap in place and let them marinate ALL DAY. I then repeated the entire thing beforte bed and slept like that. Karen mocked me RELENTLESSLY, calling me â€œBoobie-feet,â€ and such, BUT OH I had SUCH princess-like hydrated callous free LUMINOUS toes, I canâ€™t EVEN tell you. They WERE like boobie-feet, but in, erm, you know, the good way.
I preened my feet around at the event and was QUITE disgusting and full of myâ€¦.well not self, exactly. But shoes. FULL OF MY SHOES. They are costume shoes in a way, not something I ever wear in my â€œrealâ€ life. They are strictly for when I dress up and pretend to be an author.
I have had a very NON DUAL life for a while as I have been holed up drafting, driving to Starbucks in fanstasy pants, and at home not bothering to get out of pajamas, but last night, sipping cosmos and teetering around on glamour-feet and yapping about the arts was definitely from the OTHER side of things. I realized how regular this has become, for me to go from one to the other without noticing when a rather posh lady asked me what I was doing this weekend.
Me: OH itâ€™s the powder springs fest!
Her: Oh. Um, Whatâ€¦what do you do there?
Me: You go in Bouncy castles. And eat CORN DOGS.
AFter that I told EVERYONE about Powder Springs fest, and I think a lot of them were like me in that they had REALLY put on the dog that night, and we'd all get the giggles because for most of us, corn dogs are real life.
SO anyway I better go: jeans with ballet flats and MAYBE EVEN PONY RIDES await me and my children, who are longing to get liquored up on grease and sugar.
PS! now Karen wants to know where to buy UDDER CREAM so she can have boobie-feet too. Any farm supply store I told her, and she said, OH RIGHT! I BET THEREâ€™S ONE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF CENTRAL PARK, in chilly tones.
And here she thought Manhattan had EVERYTHING.
When we last left Karen and me in Dahlonega, we had planned to get up at 5 am and hike the Appalachian Trail. BUTâ€¦ we ended up going out to dinner with a bunch of lit festy folks, including the super talented Steve Berry and his delightful wife, Liz, at a winery where we accidentally tasted about 50 different wines (and we are NOT â€œspit into the bucketâ€ type wine tasters, Oh my Best Beloveds), and then we sat up WAY past midnight cackling like loons with the also super talented Patti Callahan Henry.
Five AM came earlier than it had ever come before in the history of 5 AMs. It came so early that 4 AM lodged an official complaint with the SUN about 5 being so dern overeager and pushy. STILL, we dragged our sorry carcasses out of bed and drove out to the trail.
THINGS YOUR HISTORY BOOK FORGOT TO MENTION ABOUT THE APPALACHAIN TRAIL (or if my history book DID mention these things, I was passing notes and missed it.)
1) It is TOTALLY vertical. We hadnâ€™t gone half a mile before my heart felt like it was going to BURST. I mean I could actually feel my heart, that nerveless organ, swelling up and foundering and flopping about in my chest cavity like a panicky trout. I am not used to thisâ€¦I may not LOOK like an Olympian, but under my coat of lady shaped padding, I am in good cardio-vascular shape. Not, apparently, good enough to allow me to leap straight up the sides of mountains like an adolescent goat, but still, pretty good. Karen, who is younger and lithe-r, didnâ€™t have that much trouble with up, but she has a VERY bad knee. She borked it badly doing cheerleading acrobatics, so badly her orthopedic surgeon had to put CADAVER PARTS in it to make it go at all. (!!!)
Digression: At dinner parties, I like to tell people different stories about her knee. Like I will say, "And then she did all this research and found out the knee once belonged to... A FAMOUS RUSSIAN BALLET DANCER Who committed suicide right AFTER dancing a perfect Giselle!" or ..."A FEMALE MASS MURDERER who was actually the third WOMAN to ever be executed in Texas!" or ..."An international financier who fell face first off a a nineteen story building, and he was an ORGAN DONOR, but he was SO smashed up that only his KNEES were donatable!" Then I wait for whoever I am saying this to to say, "Really?" and then I say, "No." ANYWAY...The higher we spiraled, the more worried she became about getting back DOWN without rappelling ropes.
2) It is NARROW. So very narrow. We had to single file with SPIDER WEBS flossing our teeth for us and ferns brushing our hair and we hadnâ€™t gone a mile before Karen said, â€œI have 50 ticks,â€ in such RESIGNED yet ANGRY and FACTUAL tones, as if she REALLY had 50 ticks and was phlegmatically irked about it. I got tickled and we had to stop walking entirely for two minutes because I was giggling so hard that I thought I would wet my pants.
3) It is WIND-AROUNDY and FORKY And CAVE-Y and, not to be â€¦whatâ€™s the word? Species-ist? No. Landscapist? A Naturalist? Whatever â€“ my point is, all leafy green-coated narrow tick-infested trails look alike. SO of course we got hopelessly lost. I said, â€œDo you think we should go ahead and leap off THIS sheer cliff and plummet into THIS patch of tick-filled greenery to our deaths? Or should we wait a few minutes and leap off the NEXT sheer cliff and plummet into THAT patch of tick-filled greenery to our deaths?â€ She just shrugged and death marched on. And on. And on. We never could tell the cliffs apart enough to choose the best one.
At one random point, I noticed a wooden sign lurking in some fernage by a fork. It said â€œGooch Gap.â€ Karen had her head down ad her arms pumping, forging ahead, so she had not seen the sign.
I called to her, â€œHey! Do you know what this particular piece of the path is called?â€
And she said, without breaking stride, â€œTwo Dead White Girls Trail?â€
At any rate, we DID eventually find our back and RUSHED to the opening breakfast looking feral and wild-eyed and smelling like Huns. I am POSITIVE we are getting invited back to the lit-fest next year! *grin*
MEANWHILE do not forget to SIGN UP FOR THE MAILING LIST AGAIN AND BE ENTERED IN A DRAWING FOR COOL PRIZES month. All you have to do is Send an EMAIL to â€œMailing List at Joshilyn Jackson dot comâ€ by clicking this link. Prizes include Dead White Girl #1â€™s first book, Sin in the Second City I am out of time but I will list another prize tomorrow!
ALERT READER Melanie W. has informed me that on August 16th, BETWEENFEST is happening. Yes, the town that is the (HIGHLY fictionalized) setting of my second novel (Fittingly titled BETWEEN, GEORGIA) is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its incorporation. GAH! OH how I wish they had invited me! RATCAKES! RATCAKES! They will have a pet show and a martial arts demo and a singer and suchlike, but not me. *Snivel.*
Ah well, I did, fictionally speaking, burn a goodly chunk of the town up and make their Methodist church be Baptist. Canâ€™t blame them, really...
SO, assuming you did not hit your head really hard last night, you may recall from way way back in YESTERDAY that August is SIGN UP FOR THE MAILING LIST AGAIN AND BE ENTERED IN A DRAWING FOR COOL PRIZES month. All you have to do is Send an EMAIL to â€œMailing List at Joshilyn Jackson dot comâ€ by clicking this link. Iâ€™ll be showing you all the prizes as the month moves along, the drawing will happen in September.
The first name out of the hat wins a signed(!) trade paper back copy of the poppinâ€™ fresh New York Times Bestseller Sin in the Second City by Karen Abbott.
Karen is in my writing group, so I had the intense pleasure of reading this narrative non-fiction account of the rise of the worldâ€™s most famous brothel in turn-of-the-century Chicago as it was being written. I have long thought Karen is so talented she was like BOMB with a free side of diggetty, I am happy to report everyone from the NEW YORK TIMES (who called it â€œa lush love letter to the underworldâ€) to USA TODAY agrees with me.
Last Weekend, Karen and I went to the DAHLONEGA LIT FEST. It is SO cute up there, with nifty little antique stores and cafes and fun family things to do. I plan to go back with the kids so they can PAN FOR GOLD and also see the KANGAROO CONSERVATORY which conserves Kangaroos. (hee). A LOT happened in Dahlonega, so expect this to come in PARTS and sock me no pink socks.
Now, you know Karen and I canâ€™t MANAGE without regular infusions of our drug of choice, which is heroin. No, wait, I mean, ENDORPHINS. BUT, given that we were staying at a bed and breakfast (DARLING, but of course no gym) and given that it was a pretty INTENSE lit fest where we each had a scheduled event about every 90 minutes, it might have been EASIER to score heroin.
The first day, nothing began until noon, so THAT was fine. No gym? No problem: we were staying right on a mountain. Mountains are a landscape feature that is built JUST like a lumpy stairmaster for our butt-toning pleasures. Now, I DO go outside a lot because that is where they keep things like deers and weasels and lizards and I LOVE to see these thingsâ€¦but neither Karen or I cares a fig about heartrendingly gorgeous vistas or sunrises or trees or sweeping cloud filled cerulean skies or, you know, non-animal infested NATURE of ANY sort. We werenâ€™t going out there to LOOK at stuff. Basically, we just wanted to get our sweat on.
SO we waited until 8 am, an hour we thought would be BEFORE the Georgia day realized it was August and became sweltering, and AFTER the night-bears stopped rending people in twain. We grabbed a map that showed us several NATURE WALKS and headed out. We marched SUPERFAST along a gently sloping, wide, level trail, looked at a waterfall, said, â€œYep, thatâ€™s a waterfall,â€ in dispassionate tones, then hiked home. Good endorphins = Good day.
THE NEXT DAY, however, we had to be someplace every other hour from 9 am all the way til late afternoon when we were driving home. We could not see a space in there for a workout. SO, being mentally, ill, we decided to risk the rending-in-twain night bears and get up at 5 am and hike. AND instead of going back to look at our waterfall on a road we knew was clear and wide and not infested with packs of wild dogs or an overabundance of snake holes or chainsaw wielding raper-killers, we decided walk a nearby piece of the Appalachian trail.
I blame Karen, because Karen writes narrative non-fic and the Appalachian trail is like a piece of history that you can walk on. A DIRTY piece of history. As you will learn should you win her book, dirty history is her very favorite kind.
Our course was setâ€¦More tomorrow.
Karenâ€™s cake was awesome. The secret was TWO cans of icing. She FILLED in the middle with white butter cream and then put chocolate flavored icing over the top. I was going to get a picture of it, but I wanted to wait until we had cut it, so you could see a cross section. Then I forgot to snap the picture before we went out to the barn and then WHILE we were in the barn, REBA THE FARTING DOG ATE IT.
Reba, in the THREE DAYS we have been here, has eaten:
1) An entire box of Vive cereal (Not three hours after I salvaged half of it from her gaping maw and put it in a ziplock baggy, she counter surfed and dragged the bag away and polished it off. Thatâ€™s something like 86 grams of fiber in two fell swoop-n-gulps)
2) 5 â€“ 7 baked Cheetos from EACH of us as she told us, one by one, NO ONE ELSE was letting her have even an orange powdered LICK.
3) 1/3rd of a bag of Buffalo Wing Ranch Doritos. (stolen from the coffee table)
4) Chicken Cookie dog treats. (She said the OTHER dog was getting some, and it wasn't fair)
5) 1/3rd of an extremely dark beer. (Sara set it down BRIEFLY to open the horse-gate.)
6) More than half a cake. (We were a little worried about this one because of the CHOCOLATE icing, but she seems to have weathered it.)
I no longer find it amazing that her toots are soâ€¦epic.
MEANWHILE, I am heartbroken. A stray-skinny and yowly-lonely yellow cat followed me home from the cemetery where Karen and I were power-walking. I fell for him SO hard. That was Pushkin. Not Alexander Pushkin. BARNEY Pushkin because we put him out on the barn office with kibble and a litterbox and fresh water so he couldnâ€™t mix with Saraâ€™s cats and possibly infect them with something.
I found him Saturday night, and by Sunday morning, I had Scottly permission to bring him home and keep him. On Sunday and Monday I borrowed a lapdesk from Sara and wrote out in the barn office to keep him company. He inserted himself into the slot between the desk and my abdomen and lay there purring and batting at my fingers and rubbing his face on the keys and generally making a HUGE nuisance of himself â€“ the exact right KIND of nuisance. I got close to 5K words done in two marathon writing sessions with him â€œhelping.â€
On Monday, after he and I wrote from 6 to 10 am (and it was good stuff, if you will forgive me the hubris,drafty but I could tell it was the RIGHT GOOD BONES of what will be a scene) and then I ran Pushkin up to a local vet and said, â€œCheck for a microchip because this boy is so sweet I canâ€™t believe no one is missing him, then do a feline luke test, and if he isnâ€™t chipped and is negative, weâ€™ll do a full exam and get him vaccinated.â€
That seems like a PRETTY CLEAR order of events, but instead the vet did a feline luke check, charged me 50 bucks, and THEN told me he was micro-chipped. NEAT. I got my heart broken and my wallet rogered out in the same ten minutes.
I called his owners who had SAD, HEARTFELT pleas for the return of â€œMarhsallâ€ on their answering machine, and an hour later, they came and got him. I have been blue ever since, and this morning, trying to draft in post-feline-depression, I perpetrated the follwing line of text:
â€œHis desk was big; he had a big desk.â€
I especially like the SEMI COLON in that gem, donâ€™t you? Itâ€™s almost like if I had tried to write a sentence that was a palindrome in meaning instead of in form. WAH! OH! PUSHKIN! WHERE IS YOUR OVERLOUD PURRING ENCOURAGMENT NOW?
My heart is sad; I have a sad heart.
I am on writing retreat at Saraâ€™s house with Karen and Renee â€“ all the usual suspects for these North Carolina getaways. We set goals each night, and we are not allowed to leave our DWA (designated writing area) and PLAY until we have MET our goals.
The pressure to FINISH is intense. There are horses here AND a fully stocked bar, to be enjoyed STRICTLY in that order, and post bar, there is POKER and BAD TV. I plan to get at least two chapters knocked out before I go home, so a half chap a day is my minimum.
In sad retreat news, I am FORCED to admit TOTAL CRUSHING DOGFART DEFEAT. It hurts me, because LORD KNOWS Bagel could totally make the DF Olympics A team, but truth will out. Reba, Saraâ€™s yellow dog, would totally take the gold.
Just when we thought Reba had reached her maximum dogfart potential, she snuck off and ate HALF A BOX of my Kashi Vive cereal that SOMEONE (not me, for the record) left on the floor. Each serving has 12 grams of fiber. TWELVE. GRAMS. OF FIBER. Rebaâ€™s eye-wateringly hateful emanations reached EPIC pungency. Renee, I am sad to report, is now blind.
The ONLY GOOD part is they are AUDIBLE. I have NEVER met a dog who literally makes the THBTHBTHBTHB (fart noise spelling courtesy of Bloom County) sound, so we have TIME to run for another room of the house. Or perhaps a different continent.
I am PLEASED to report I worked like a (NON-farting) dog all day today. I VIRTUOUSLY got more than half a chapter drafted while sitting in Saraâ€™s barn office. Outside, a disgruntled goat named Enzo kicked at the door and demanded I share bites of the delicious laptop I was CLEARLY bogarting.
Work done until sun-up tomorrow, we are ready to hardcore PLAY. Itâ€™s Saraâ€™s birthday. Karen Abbott--- the LEAST DOMESTIC HUMAN BEING on the planet---got all CRAZED and said, WE HAVE TO BAKE SARA A BIRTHDAY CAKE.
Sara and Renee and I (all bakers of some international renown) thought it would be AWESOME to have her make the cake. Unsupervised. I am blogging this AS we sit in a judgmental, wine drinking line at the breakfast bar, NOT HELPING AT ALL. Karen is like the little red hen, and we are the dreadful FARM CAT, DONKEY and GOAT who do not want to help grow the wheat or harvest it or mill it or mix it or bake the bread, but we shall be SO HAPPY to help her EAT it.
WELLLLâ€¦whose of us who are not fastidious will help her eat it. Five minutes in, and sheâ€™s already let Fritz stand in the cake pans. (For the record? For breakfast I ate handfuls of the Vive cereal that REBA had started on, so a little cat foot is not going to deter meâ€¦)
And, when told to grease and flour a pan, she did thisâ€¦
But she realized intuitively that she had too much OIL, so she did thisâ€¦
BUT in the end, her batter turned out SO perfect she had to sneak a TEENY sampleâ€¦
I suspect the cake may come out a little FRIED because of the amount of OIL in the pan, but, heck, everything is good fried. For a first foray into the fabulous world of box baking, I give her a 30. Out of 10. We are all justly proud.
IN OTHER NEWS. I have fallen most desperately in love with Pushkin. No, not Alexander Pushkin, the most famous and lauded of the Russian Romantic Writers. BARNEY Pushkin. I met him in the cemetery. More on him later--- The cake is about to come out of the oven. I must go see what happensâ€¦.
I am back from Florida --- a minor insomnia-induced tragedy occurred. On the way in, Karen and I saw billboards advertising THE CRIME AND PUNISHMENT MUSEUM , and we SWORE we would GO on the way home. I LOVE out of the way museums of narrow focus, and I wanted to have my picture taken in OLD SPARKY. Karen wanted to see their chain gang memorabilia and antique PHOTO collection---she writes narrative non-fiction and that stuff always calls her.
While in Florida, I went to bed after midnight both nights and woke up at 4 am, relentlessly chipper. SO on the way home, I FELL ASLEEP and drooled gently away in the passenger seat. (Karen says she has never seen such a ladylike drooler. Um. Thanks.) Karen did not realize I had not set the GPS for the museum, but was just planning to watch manually for the exit.
When I woke up, we already 30 miles past it, in the little Georgia town that has the giant peach that does NOT look like a butt stuck up on a pole overlooking the highway. This is not to be confused with the small Georgia town that has the giant peach that DOES look like a butt stuck up on a pole and mooning the highway. Which is not to be confused with the simply enormous South Carolina water tower peach that also looks exactly like a butt, but is not in Georgia.
I love the South.
I also love Sara Gruen, but she has some sort of weird power over animals that cannot be understood by mortal man. If you do not believe me, allow me to now present mathematical proof.
Number of dogs she owns: 2
Number of cats she owns: 4
Number of shredded/eaten/disemboweled chairs she owns: 0
At 2 cats and 1 dog, I have exactly HALF her feline/canine population. And still, I have MULTIPLE chairs that look like they have been attacked by Huns.
Well recently we bordelloâ€™d up the bedroom, and we went to IKEA to get for CHEAPS some furniture to fill the hole the pets ATE in my living room. Here is the new corner of the den now with IKEA recliner, 10 buck IKEA throw, and particle board cheapy bookshelf board certified to be 100% dog-edible. Sorry the pic stinks, it was taken via crapulent cell-phone camera 13 seconds ago.
OH CRUD â€“ Have to run the kids to school. IT SNOWED here last night you know. YES! Actual SNOW! It touched the EARTH and STUCK here in Georgia within the last 24 hours. School should RIGHTFULLY be closed, and indeed, most schools are, even though the snow is already gone. Thatâ€™s how we roll, here, except OUR school did nto get the memo. Philistines! I must DASH! DASH! I will tell you about the League of Mighty Chair Protection Products I am assembling tomorrow.
Anyway, I KNEW I was going to begin the Crazy Bible Pasta Diet. And my friend Karen agreed to go on it, too. We are both HIDEOUSLY COMPETITIVE, so we made a bet. Whoever BREAKS and has cheese, or wine, or chocolate, is the undisputed loser and the WINNER is the total boss of them forever. It may sound meaningless to you, but trust me, Karen and I would both lick worms ---MULTIPLE slime covered FILTHY worms ------ before we would let the other win. We are using our horrible warty inner competitive trolls for good!
ANYWAY---on Saturday, Karen and I wanted to have a orgie-riffic bacchanalia. To fortify our inner children for the long road ahead.
In a seemingly unrelated but of info, Karen is married to Chuck, the lead engineer for this dam thatâ€™s being built up in Canton, Ga to provide drinking water for Cherokee County. Cherokee is growing MAD and FAST, and Chuckâ€™s dam is going to be the largest dam in Georgia. This is SUPER GREAT FOR CHUCK AND ALL, butâ€¦
Ever since Mr. Husband found out what Chuck does for a living, you can guess what his main aim in all of life was: For both of us to go with Chuck and Karen out to Canton so we could all put on hardhats and REALLY sexy puffy orange safety vests and crawl all over the impending dam and watch how it was being built and sniff its foundations and look at PERFECTLY HUUUUUUGE CRANES.
My stance on dams has not changed since May 1, 2004 Before May 1, 2004 I HAD no official â€œstance on damsâ€ and NO thought that I might ever NEED an official dam stance. *sigh* But given that Ihave and stand by my DAM STANCE, ever since Mr. Husband found out what Chuck does for a living, MY aim has been to NOT to go within 30 miles of Canton and, should I fail, and accidentally come within sniffing distance of the dam, to have a flask and stay in the car with Karen playing a drinking game using the plastic travel Scrabble I have stowed under the passenger seat for JUST such an damergency.
At any rate, on Saturday I had scheduled a reading and a signing at a very cool indie that I did not realize was in DANGEROUS DAM PROXIMITY due to my being so GEOGRAPHICALLY INCOMPETENT that I get lost trying to find the little used guest bathroom in my house, and if I were given a MAP to that bathroom, I would actually become actually MORE likely to end up in a toilet free Photomat booth in Cleveland.
My first clue that I was getting within the damâ€™s radius should have been that the bookstore is in CANTON and the DAM is in CANTON. Um, yeah. I KNEW both these facts peripherally, but they managed to wander around in my brain like those not-yet-destioned-to-meet soul mates in Sleepless in Seattle. Maybe they peered across a street at each other, but they did not connect.
MEANWHILE, My husband, who updates my website, realized that I was going to BE at Yawnâ€™s Books and More IN! CANTON! Oh, yes, Magical! Dam-filled! Canton! At a bookstore that was a dogâ€™s butt hair away from GEEK BOY PARADISE, and there was NO reason on earth why Karen and Chuck could not meet us at the bookstore for the reading, and then weâ€™d all caravan up the road three or four miles and Make Him Happy for The Rest of His Life.
Me: Yes! That would be great, but sadly, Chuck died.
Him: *skeptical* When.
Me: Last Tuesday. He was eaten by carnivorous beavers. They infest DAMS you know. Very dangerous to go anywhere NEAR dams. *sorrowful head shaking*
He did NOT buy it, and so I filled the big flask with Dirty Stoli, packed a ziplock with olives, and loaded up the LITTLE flask with arsenic, just in case the Stoli ran out.
THEN CHUCK WAS A TOTAL GENIUS FOREVER!!!!
He said, â€œHey, why donâ€™t you and Karen go to the book event, and she can meet the booksellers and some readers ( Karenâ€™s first book is coming out this summer) and while you guys do that, *I* will take Scott up to the dam and we can take our time without listening to you two pule and bi---I mean, without you two sweet, pretty things being bored by a bunch of hairy sweaty dam talk.â€
SO THE PLAN WAS SETâ€¦and then after book talk and dam talk, we would all four re-meet up and have the Bacchanaliaâ€¦and my time is up â€“ I have to go pack and drive to Oneonta for a lit fest at the library.
GAH I am SO behind. I have things piling up and up to tell you! I will finish this up in ONE thing on Thursday. Pinky (sock) swearsies.
Too. Stupid. To. Live. Seriously, I should not be allowed to PUT GAS IN MY CAR lest I blow up Georgia. I should not be allowed to eat anything but finger foods, lest I stab myself in the back of the throat with a fork or put some unsuspecting fellow dinerâ€™s eye out with same.
My only comfort is that my friend Karen Abbott is possibly worse. I dunno though. Itâ€™s close.
Last week she told me Sara Gruen (author of what turned out to be my FAVORITE book from last year) was flying in to the Atlanta Airport with the entire Gruen Posse: Mr. Gruen and the three auxiliary boy Gruens. They had a SIX AND A HALF HOUR LAYOVER, and their flight landed about half an hour after Karenâ€™s flight (she was coming home from a trip to meet her godson). so Karenâ€™s plan was to wait at the airport for the Gruen-zoo and take them all back to her house, feed them, let the boy-pack gambol about in a park, and then return them to the airport.
Me: In what car? Thatâ€™s SIX people, Karen.
Her: Chuckâ€™s SUV is bigâ€¦
Me: It seats 5. You canâ€™t say to one kid, WELL, your BROTHERS get seatbelts, but you are kinda the SPARE, so you just hang onto the roof. I tell you what, you take Marta TO the airport, and when you come back on Saturday, I will come get you AND all the Gruens in my SEXY MOMMY McVAN, which seats 7 people with still room for a VERY LONG DOG to sack out on the floorboards.
So it was decided. I had Karen forward me Saraâ€™a email with her flight info so I would have the number.
Here is the ENORMOUS CHAIN OF TYPICAL WRITERLY NOT-LIVING-IN-THE-REAL-AND-CONCRETE-WORLD DUMBASSERY that followed.
1) Sara didnâ€™t take her cell phone on vacation. She thought to ask for KARENâ€™s number so she could put it in her husbandâ€™s phone, but Karen did not ask for Bobâ€™s number. So Sara could call us, but we could not call her.
2) The airport was CRAWLING WITH A ZILLION HUMANS---mostly sweaty, mostly smelling vaguely of beer. Here I am TRULY not sure which is DUMBER, me or Karen. Your call:
a) Karen, who KNEW it was something called final 4 weekend, but did not connect this event with why the airport smelled like Hairy Man Brewery and was so crowded that, had we been standing in a primitive culture instead of an Atlanta arrival gate, I would now be LEGALLY MARRIED to the guy behind me.
b) Me, who didnâ€™t know it was final 4 weekend, or even what final four weekend WAS. I still donâ€™t, to be honest. It has sports in it and makes a four minute drive from the interstate to Karâ€™s house in midtown take 45. Thatâ€™s all I can tell you.
3) We stood peering at the gate that all deplaining sorts come through, and we saw nary a Gruen among the tipsy masses as they churned and teemed and pushed each other and grunted, crazy to reach sport-nirvana. And Sara didnâ€™t call. We stood there for over two hours, with various split ups so one of us could check the baggage claim and the airport restaurants and have her paged.
4) Finally we left the airport and went to Sweet Devil Moon and ordered WAY TOO MUCH TAPAS and drank a vat of Sangria and then Chuck came and got us and took us to a movie, and SARA never called even though we left at least 10 messages onâ€¦a phone we knew she did not have.
5) Then we got home and looked at the email.
And noticed her flight was actually coming in SUNDAY.
And that her email, which we had both read, NOT ONLY said the DATE, but also said, â€œHey Karen, My plane gets in THE DAY AFTER yours, so maybe we can meet upâ€¦â€
I had ALMOST forgiven myself by pinning most of it in KAREN, saying it was HER fault because she SAID it was the same day so ALL I had really looked at was the FLIGHT number, and *I* was not the dumbest hereâ€¦ but then, today, I had to go to my doctor for my annual check-up, and I drove relentlessly to his OLD OFFICE where he has not been for SIX YEARS NOW, and then sat in my car blinking in puzzled wonder when I saw his old building was not only CLOSED now, but a HEAP OF TORN DOWN RUBBLE.
Day 17 of Gerbil life is GET EYES day, and all 8 of our inbred little products of brotherly love have now opened peepers. In celebration, here are some pictures of things that our formerly eyeless gerbils could not see, starting with each other:
The two whie ones were the last to open their eyes. This is the BOY white one, and behind him is our only gray, a little girl that Maisy named Cosy Mole Mouse. We are KEEPING Cosy Mole Mouse, who runs up my wrist, wanting to come play whenever I put my hand in the cage. Cosy, an eyeball prodigy, was the first to open one eye, doing so a full day early. Then all five black ones opened their eyes.
BY THE WAY, Baby gerbils nursing sound like faint birds. Far away birds. Birds in France. We are ten days from weaning, which means ten days from the great baby gerbil give away festival. Everyone who is friends with me is trying to plan a vacation so as not to be in town when I come around like the Stork-god of rodent-kind, delivering shoeboxes full of baby gerbils to good and loving homes...
ALAS, The very next day, baby gerbils were sadly blinded by my favorite shoes. I love these shoes. Woe betide me on the day the wedge heeled sandal goes back OUT:
AND LASTLY, in the MIDDLE of my tour for Between, my 20th high school reunion happens. LORDY! I REALLY wanted to go, so my publicist scheduled my Pensacola stop for the day after. An old friend, Jennifer, sent me this picture which she found and scanned in:
Jennifer and I are all in white for graduation day. I am the one on the right who is trying desperately to make a sex-pot face with no good concept of what a sex-pot face IS. AH the dovelike innocence and whimsy of 1986, when we thought the mullet was a good haircut. We were ripe and ready to accept Parachute Pants as delightful statements of fashion-savvy. And I got a piece of paper, and was released into the wilds of college. Good times. Bad hair, but good times....
I used to think it was Tim Burton who had a problem. Scott and I used to joke about it, every time I would see Depp was going to be in another Tim Burton movie---how on earth, this time, was Burton going to attempt to do something to Depp that could successfully distract the eye away from the cheekbones, the hollowed eyes, the clean jawline, the cut glass mouth, all the things that together add up to the absolute sum of male loveliness. Depp's beauty is so preternatural, he can shame a breathtaking mountain vista into wishing it had run a comb through its hair. Maybe put some blush on.
Depp's beauty is so is so, so, so beautiful that his ridiculous overabundance of acting talent seems like an afterthought. Something God tossed in as a bonus. And if you think about it, that has to kind of, well...suck.
Here he is, probably the most talented actor in several generations, fearless and resolute in his choices, creative, innovative...and yet, if you say Johnny Depp, the first that gets said, always, always, has to be, "Oh, lord, he's so HOT." Because MY LORD. He is SO hot. It's my secret theory that Depp's removal is the true reason behind some American's recent feelings toward France. Depp is our Helen, and if it takes a thousand ships and a 50 foot wooden horse puppet, we want his lithe butt back in California.
So it was my theory that Tim Burton was using Depp's beauty to experiment:
WHAT on earth could he do that would distract the eye and make something MORE extant than Depp's intrusive physical perfection. What could POSSIBLY to pull focus from The Face long enough to allow us to notice how nuanced and layered and startling Depp's performances are?
Give him flock of seagulls hair and blades for hands? Still hot.
Ask him to wear women's lingerie and speak in Ed Wood's accent? Still SO hot.
Have him channel Angela Lansbury and Nancy Drew and coat him in gore while he shrieks like a big girl? So. Amazingly. Hot.
Put him in a pageboy and clown-white foundation and bug-eye glasses? Hothothothothot.
Most recently, he animated Depp! ANIMATED HIM, made him slim as a pencil with eyes as round as quarters, removed DEPP from the screen entirely and replaced him with a FACSIMILE that went down to mack fey-ishly upon a dead girl, and you know what? I thought that puppet was a little bit hot.
But the time has come to rediagnose. Maybe it was Burton's obsession to begin with, but Depp has joined him in recent years, striking out at his beauty at every turn. After all, Burton was nowhere to be seen when Depp replaced most of his teeth with black and gold rotty caps and channeled a perpetually drunken slightly gay pirate with a bath phobia. Never seen anything hotter, quite frankly.
And Depp let some chick DRILL HIS EYEBALLS OUT and then he wandered all over Mexico with NO EYEBALLS AT ALL. NOT EVEN A SCRAP OF EYEBALL! BIG RED GORY GAPING SOCKETS IN THE CENTER OF HIS FACE. I didn't see Burton there, and neither did Johnny, what with the HAVING NO EYEBALLS. Did I mention they DRILLED OUT HIS EYEBALLS?? You might can tell, the eyeball drilling thing gave me the complete wig. And yet, when he whipped off those sunglasses, I somehow looked past the gaping holes with the long blood-stripes for eyelashes and noticed...
The man is Totally Hot.
Tonight I am going with my friend Karen to watch Johnny's hair drop out in scabrous syphilitic hunks while he prances and gibbers wearing a strap on metal proboscus over the rotten scrap of his former nose, and you know what? I've seen the trailers. I have to say, he looks FANTASTIC as he dies of VD in a sanitarium.
I'll tell you his saving grace, as an actor. It's not that he's going to succeed where Burton, an endlessly inventive director, failed. I can't ever forget he's beautiful---if the eyeball thing didn't do it, THEN NOTHING WILL. But it doesn't matter, because every time I see him in a role, I DO forget he's Johnny Depp.
SO! It appears I am going to change the focus of this blog... It is going to become a cocktail blog. Or rather, POMtail blog. Since cocktails seem to equal blog entries, I better get serious about drinking them with, like, breakfast, and then I can blog about my ha ha so funny drinking all the time, ah ha ha, laughing right up until my liver goes leaping out my throat and tries to crawl away. It's all good fun until someone loses a liver.
Please do not stage an intervention just yet --- I can't even drink right now because my wretched LUNG FUNGUS has put me off everything but nourishing soups and toast points, AND I swear I'll get a new topic any second, I just have to tell you one more string of cocktail-themed stories from the On The Brink conference because there is something IN IT for you if you can help me. And ANYWAY, I can stop talking about cocktails anytime. I just don't CHOOSE to stop talking about cocktails yet.
BUT before we get to the CONTEST, I meant to tell you that one of the conference organizers had a DIFFERENT POMtail recipe, in case you don't care for Vodka but still want your cocktail to double as an antioxidant superpower. It's called a Blueberry Smash and it is from GOURMET magazine or something like that. I did not try it, because it is my feeling that those who switch cocktails midstream end up sorrysorrysorry later, but those who went with it SWORE that they could feel the tingle of renewed delicious youth way way down deep in their gnarled old toe-sies. I do not know the proportions, but I watched the guy mix it, and it went a little something like this.
Some POM Blueberry-Pomegranate Wonderful
Some Makers Mark
A Little Clover Honey
I do have to confess that when the Blueberry Smashers were lipsmacking and vigorously BLOOMING with health, the POMtini contingent was feeling tiny jealous twinges about the new cocktail's pedigree of FANCINESS. Honey stirred up in there? Recipe from Gourmet Magazine? Alas! We could find no maraschino cherries on pink plastic swords to console ourselves with. SO I started digging around in the mixers trying to see how we could gussy up our rawther plain VandP's.
That's when I saw it....The bottle was kinda shaped like a DEKUYPER'S Amaretto bottle, brown like that, but on closer inspection, I saw the label read, STRARETTO.
"Um, what?" you say.
And I say, YOU HEARD ME.
If you say it three times fast you sound like a cat horking up a gobbet of mouse parts.
It was some sort of strawberry amaretto BLENDED LIQUEUR, and I adopted it as my especial pet freakish object. EVERYONE needs an especial pet freakish object to tote around at a cocktail party, and another author had already laid claim to the old fashioned A-OOOOO!-GA Klaxon-y clown horn thing. So. I went around to the POMtini people offering to freshen up (or possibly ruin) their cocktails by the addition of a little dollop of STRARETTO, and I even put a modest dash in my POMtini (it was...interesting) and it became this whole big thing. At the end of the night, the bottle was close to empty, and I was VERY TEMPTED TO STEAL IT, but 1)That would have been WRONG. 2) It would have been bad manners, considering what a lovely man our host was and also, 3) (and this was truly compelling) The spirit may have been willing, but the jacket pockets were small. *grin*
OH HOW I WISH I HAD STOLEN IT.
I got home and I was telling Karen (She is MINNA in the comments) about the horrors of STRARETTO, and she tried to GOOGLE IT and... she said there was no such thing. We googled it it 75 ways from Sunday, and then we YAHOO'd it, and then we asked Jeeves. Nothing but strawberry amaretto cheesecake recipes.
My Hypothesis: HOLY GODS this liqueur was SO horrifying that it was only made from 1968 to 1972 and was the greatest factor in MANY fabulous trends from the 70's including keys-in-the-fishbowl wife swapping and these pants. AND this guy, our host, had bought a bottle in about 1970 and accidentally forgotten it existed for 36 years and then some party guest dug it out of the very very very way-most back of the pantry and put it out and I DRANK SOME OF IT and my internal organs are slowly liquifying and I will be dead by Thursday.
It is not a good or cheerful hypothesis, but it is a BETTER hypothesis than EITHER of KAREN's impugning and cruel ones which are:
1) I MADE STRARETTO UP!!!!
2) I was so CHARGED UP with antioxidants that I HALLUCINATED Straretto, and believed so FIRMLY in it that I made other people see it too OR they did not see it but just thought I was weird. After all, these people had been afflicted with the knowledge of what I once did to lipgloss. SO. They were expecting me to be weird.
AND SHE CONTINUES TO MOCK ME WITH THE NON-GOOGLE-ABILITY of this liqueur that I SWEAR on the grave of my grandma's dead poodle Suzette EXISTED. I DRANK some. I SAW it.
I went to the DEKUYPER's website and tried to send them a letter asking them to CONFIRM straretto, but their "send us a comment" function is broken and sends me to an error page. SO I sent them a snail mail letter, but that will take WEEKS.
LISTEN -- if ANY OF YOU can find proof of STRARETTO'S EXISTENCE before I hear from DEKUYPER's you will get a prize. Mind you, it must be evidence that KAREN WILL ACCEPT, like a picture of the bottle on the web, anything concrete---Karen will NOT accept a sworn statement where you say, "Um yeah, I once took a bunch of heroin and saw some Straretto. It had long pink legs like a flamingo and was singing 'Marsy Dotes.' Totally exists."
ANYWAY, prove I am not crazy or a BIG LIAR, and I will send you a SECRET BETWEEN LOOT, and either an audio version of gods in Alabama OR a signed first ed, your pick.
(By the by, the Bad Pants pop up is from Bad Fads dot com )
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.
MARTHA, I lost your e-mail addy, please shoot me a line if you read this...(Ironically, later in this entry, I am going to try to prove that I am not a flake...)
I have a thousand snippetty little somethings to tell you, so here is a herd of them sent to stampede toward you in random, jostling order.
1) While out of town on his long long trip, Scott ate a horrifying thing. He ate it IN HIS MOUTH. Yes, that's right, he put this OBJECT right into his personal, private mouth and CHEWED on it WHILE IT FIXED HIM WITH IT'S BLANK AND GOOGLEY EYE. I am going to show you a picture, but I will put it in a pop-up because it is too horrifying to view head-on. Click if you DARE.
2) Kira is getting married in February. KiWords is a blog I read regularly, and I hung out with her while on book tour, and she and Mir and I did our own wine-and-Whole-Foods-smoked-salmon-salad soaked version of BlogHer last year at MY house because ONE of use could not whip up the needed enthusiasm for the amount of plane-sitting and hotel sleeping that I, er I mean, anonymous ONE OF US, would have to experience to go to an event all the way in California. I think that certain person had been on more flights and stayed in more hotels in the previous year than she had done in her whole life put together before that and she just wanted to be home. Okay, you broke the code. I admit it --it was Mir. Anyway.
Kira is getting married, MARRIED! In February, and I have contorted my brain into twisty yoga shapes trying to think of some sort of superfantastic present that would blow her out of the water and make her realize just how pleased I am for her, and how excited, and also, how deeply cool I am on the moleclar level to have come up with what had to be the very best wedding present in the history of marriage, because, who is it all about? That's right. Me. And it has been very difficult -- have you ever seen a brain do Downward Facing Dog? No? Well, hint: It freakin' HURTS. Anyway, I was still brain-yoga-ing like a fool when, suddenly, all CASUAL LIKE, Mir shoots me an IM and says, "By the way, I sent Kira a wedding present. It's...A ROBOT."
Yeah. You heard me. A ROBOT. To her credit, she did not TELL me in IM that she was doing the in-yer-face endzone victory booty dance, but I could sense it anyway. I am sorry, but in any game of wedding present rock-paper-scisoors-spock-lizard, Robot is the mythical gift that TRUMPS ALL. There is no object that can even FRONT like it is superfantastic in the face of A ROBOT. I gave up even trying and got her the teapot and creamer and sugar bowl she had registered for, as well as one of the MANY separate and oddly shaped whisks that she and her future husband have inexplicably requested.
DIGRESSION: Kira says I have a dirty mind for looking askance at the, SERIOUSLY, like 9 whisks she asked for, to which I answer, "Whatever, you big fetishist. Glad you found a guy who shares your apparently BOUNDLESS enthusism for, um, WHISKING things."
But this is just sour grapes. Unless I can come up with some Exotic Robot Sex Tea to go with her rather mundane present, then Mir is undisputably the Champion of Being Superfantastic. Sadly, when I google "Exotic Robot Sex Tea" all I get are links back to my own blog. I throw paper, I throw Spock, I throw lizard and rock and scissors. Alas! Alas! STILL Robot wins.
3) SEE, I CAN GO BACK AND ACTUALLY TELL YOU A STORY LATER! I CAN FOLLOW THROUGH AND DO WHAT I HAVE PROMISED! I AM NOT A FLAKE!
3a) Except I never found out what I was NOT doing in Augusta last week, so either I was flakey enough to schedule babysitting for an event that never actually existed or I flaked. Either way, it qualifies me to be packed by Pilsbury in with the crescent rolls.
3b) Last night the time for the BOOK CLUB CALL I had scheduled came and went, and still I stood in the kitchen cooking up The Beautiful Shrimps and snowpeas while singing an obnoxious little song I made up called, "Oh I am cooking, cooking, cooking the beautiful shrimps! LA! LA!" Basically the whole song consists of that line sung over and over in a bored monotone to keep me from falling alseep and plummeting face first into a saucepan full of boiling parmesan sauce: I hate things you have to stir constantly. ANYWAY, I missed making the call. Luckily I had given them an emergency "Joshilyn is a total flake" number, and THEY called me.
I sloshed some wine into a glass, abaondoned the beautiful shrimps to the tender stirrings of Saint Scott, and did the call. They were a NEAT group with good questions FROM CALIFORNIA. I loved it, quite frankly-- A California book club read-icularly visiting the rural south? How cool is THAT? They could not understand why Arlene's Mama wouldn't GET HELP, hehe. I explained the older rural Southern generation's mistrust of modern psychology and one of them said, "Honey, out here, everybody's Gramma has a therapist." Smart women. And able to NOT FLAKE. Heh. Anyway, maybe I should amend 3 a LEETLE by adding a "this time" or some sort of mocking emoticon to look skeptically at my claim to non-flakiness.
4) In the spirit of shoring up the BELEAGUERED point three, let me now deliver my promised opinions about the VIDLIT and the BOOK TRAILER. Remember them? They are here:
I think they are both hella cool, quite frankly. I like the VidLit a LITTLE better, conceptually. I love audiobooks though, and that's a factor. I am big into audible.com I like how the images hint and evoke while being not too literal. The movie trailer one is HOOKY, though I wanted it to be cut a TINY bit. The IT IS A NICE SMALL TOWN beginning worked for me. The best part was the kid getting out of the car and heading for the house -- I found that part to be EXTREMELY effective and TRIPLE SPOOKY and it made me VERY interested. The last third went on too long without visual movement. BUT the majority of comments were more in favor of the movie trailer format, so what do I know.
I MAY end up doing something like this for the book I am writing NOW, but I am not sure I can justify the expense in the face of "number of likely viewers." MJ is a bit of a grass roots marketing genius and really does a fantastic job of getting the word out for people to see her (expensive to produce, very professional and sleek looking) VidLits. I don't know what kind of exposure Martha Weir's films (She is the woman who did Anne Frasier's movie trailer type video). I think like VidLit she would just do the film and the author has to get the word out. I do think Martha Weir's trailer was VERY professional and beautifully filmed. Either way, Quality work is spendy, and then you have to market the COMMERCIAL as well as the book. Not sure I have the chutzpah and the marketing savvy.
3c) Please note, this is me following through on yet ANOTHER promise to tell you something later. TRA LA!
5) If you only click on ONE link in this whole link-laden entry....let it be this one. I am FLUSHED with pleasure, and my heart keeps burbling something about, "LOOK! LOOK! IT IS REALLY TRUE AND HAPPENING!"
Dude -- I am kinda having a day. Mental Illness Rise-O-Meters are always on HIGH SENSITIVITY DEFCON YELLOW status when Scott leaves the state for WEEKS AT A FREAKIN' TIME.
On top of the regular, I just got a note from someone explaining how I can use GOOGLE ALERTS so that Google will google ABOUT me FOR me AUTOMATICALLY and alert me whenever anyone says anything with my name in it. TEMPTING, I admit, but also a little bit like hiring a geeksquad to squat silently on top of toilets in every girls room in all of middle school and report immediately via text messaging the SECOND anyone says you are a slut or says some boy likes you or that some boy likes you BECAUSE you are a probably a slut. The good, the bad, and the ugly, as it were, all served up before you even think to go looking via e-mail. Yikes, and no thank you.
For MONTHS and months now I have imposed, in fact, a complete moratorium on googling my name, the name of my first book, the name of my upcoming book, the name of my blog, or anything else that could lead me to read about myself. I don't even check my Amazon ranking number or reviews anymore. (Digression: OH! WOW! THAT WAS A WHOPPER! In fact a NEW review just went up on Amazon titled "little g" gods in Alabama, "capital g," Genius, that makes my heart sing like a ... singing thing. It is truer to say that I don't check EVERY DAY. Or even every WEEK. Just...most weeks. ONCE most weeks. And even at that slow rate, I find I feel dirty after.)
But self-googling has been completely cancelled since before I went on book tour, even. And yes, that includes YAHOOing or ASK JEEVESing too. It was making me even more self involved and egocentric than I already was just from being a writer. WHICH FACE IT -- we all have to be a LEETLE egocentric or how else would we have the chutzpah/balls/ovaries/guts to say I THINK I WILL BE A NOVELIST AND I AM POSITIVE I HAVE SOMETHING WORTH SAYING AND REJECTION DOES NOT STOP ME, IN FACT, NO CLEARLY MEANS YES OR AT LEAST PLEASE SEND AGAIN, TRA LA.
As gods in Alabama prepared for launch, I used to google it and my own name relentlessly. I realized that as I prepared to google myself, my mouth would go dry and my heart rate would increase, TERROR and HOPE at war within my dove-like, tender bosom. DO YOU LIKE ME, I would ask the pretty internets. DO YOU LIKE MY BOOK??? DO YOU? DO YOU? I allowed the positive to feed the uglier bits of my ego and I let the negative hurt me in a personal way. Since I can't seem to grow a thicker skin and I can't seem to balance my tendency with make out with myself with anything more healthy than an equal and opposing dose of self loathing, I decided googling me is just BAD. No googley the selfy.
Also, I have learned I do not have to. If something REALLY good happens on the internets, someone kindly will usually pop me a link and say OH LOOK YAY THIS HAPPENED and then I can say yay back and celebrate the moment with a friend instead of furtively reading about myself in a manner that can only be described with a PG 13 word I won't use here, but it rhymes with schmasturbatory. Also, if something really BAD happens, there are a couple of people who will absolutely send me a link, and make sorrowful tut-tut noises at me while enjoying the heck out of the thought that they may have made my day a little crappier. They are that sort, you know the kind. You have had friends like that, who ones who love it when you fall on your face. The kind Nichelle Tramble blogged about so eloquently...
What about you. Do you google you? Do you use classmates? If you blog, do you technorati? If you are a fellow writer or person with a lot of google hits on their name for whatever reason, do you find you are actually mentally and spiritually balanced and can read about yourself and your work dispassionately? HOW? If you can, then more power to you, and can I please borrow YOUR therapist.
I have been MEMED again. I got MEMED last week but was unable to MEMify because I had to paint my HUGE basement red. And really, I ask you, WHY? Why red? Three coats later, we are getting close to a redlikeness. Maybe ONE more coat. And of course by now I have forgotten who tagged me and have lost the e-mail where I was told I was tagged, and I did a search of the meme's key phrases and my name trying to find the LINK from her blog to mine where she tagged me and google tells me NOTHING. Therefore I cannot link back to hers. Therefore I am a bad person. And so is Google. Please put the link in the comments? Or email it to me and I will insert here: FUTURE POSSIBLE LINK
I found doing this that I don't really have the attention span for seven things. You may have met a man with seven wives when YOU went to St. Ives. But me? At about wife four I saw someting shiny and wandered off. Hey, I did my best.
Seven things to do before I die:
1. Become a better person. I know I say I am going to become a better person every dern day, and then I relentlessly DO NOT, opting to instead stay the same old half-assed NON-better person, but I think it's important to make the vow, you know? I am going to keep it at the top of my goal list in the hopes that for a golden moment or two before I die, I will bloom into a kinder, gentler version of me. Joss Mach 2.
2. Lose five or maybe seven pounds. As a life goal, as a thing to do BEFORE DEATH, I realize this is pathetic and shallow. And yet, I had a hard time not making it number one, which shows you how TRULY far I have to go before I can put a check mark by "become a better person."
3. Actually follow through on my near constant vows to quit writing and become a rock legend.
No, that's a lie. Actually, I want to quit vowing to quit writing and go do somethign improbable, and admit and accept how much I freakin' love being a novelist. It's hard to NOT create drama---and one can never discount the SOMETHING SHINY factor. Yesterday, Karen showed me these Mod Poddy Rertro WALL ART THINGS you can MAKE YOURSELF, and my immediate response was to say, "I think we should quit writing, and possibly also quit bathing, and become art deco fabric wall art makers. Count me in. I am sure we will get a gallery show and be nicknamed THE SMELLY BUT AMAZING WARHOL TWINS for our true artistic greatness." I fuel a constant stream of hypothetical BAD career moves, and I need to SHUT UP. So really #3 should read "STOP CREATING DRAMA before I die," which if you think about hard, actually translates as "Be happy with who and what I am."
For things that are the diametrical opposites of "Be happy with who and what I am," I refer you to 1 and 2, above, and would like to point out that being happy with who and what I am might NEGATE 1 and make 2 obsolete, and I would never have to actually become a better person or diet AT ALL! Tempting! I accept. The ONLY thing I TRULY want to do before I die is learn to be happy with who and what I am. Wow. Who knew. I hereby declare "be happy with self" to be all seven of the things I should do before I die.
Or, no, let's make that 1 - 6, and for 7, I want to learn the tango. It would help if I could lose five pounds so i could look smashing in the tango dress FIRST, and also I should become a better person really quick BEFORE I became happy with myself and attempt the tango, because I feel a better person (if I became one) might have a modicum of grace (which I do not.) In fact, on Saturday night I got out of my seat at the Mexican Cantina which, BY THE WAY, had no dance floor and, more importantly, NO MUSIC PLAYING, and I attempted to do THE RUNNING MAN dance move from the 80's (HAMMER TIME!) and my friend Karen laughed until she was practically crying and said, "I'm not saying it was BAD, even though it was pretty bad. I am only saying it looked more like a Can Can.." And then when I looked crestfallen she added, kindly, "BUT IT WAS A GOOD CANCAN! And only the people on this side of the restaurant actually saw your underpants. So THAT's good, too."
By the way, the fact that I so immediately digressed from the whole MAYBE I SHOULD LEARN TO LOVE MYSELF WHICH IS THE GREATEST LOVE OF ALL, THANK YOU YOU WHITNEY, only shows you how deeply unlikely it is that I will manage to actually DO IT before I die when you take into account the human life span AND my attention span, and so therefore I want to change my DO BEFORE I DIE list again to read, "I want to go to Thailand and Australia and Japan and Alaska and Hawaii and the Galapogos Islands and learn to tango." There. That's seven.
Seven things I cannot do:
1. The Running Man Dance Move from the 80's
3. Become a better person, apparently.
4. Make a roux.
5. Lose gracefully.
Seven things that attract me to my husband:
(to the literal-minded of those tagged by this: substitute your own spouse or a significant other if you have one or a best friend if not)
1. The big tall tallness of him. I like a man that seems like he could pick you up and hurl you out of a burning barn, and then go back and do the same for your horse.
2. The big smart smartipantsness of him. Chuck just said, of Scott, "He seems like the kind of guy who is so freakishly smart he has to kind of DIAL IT DOWN in order to go into the public." That's...pretty accurate.
3. THE BEARD. I MOCKED him when he started growing it, said, "I HATE beards, yick, I hope you don't think I am going to run around KISSING YOU with that FURRY THING on your HEAD!" And then once it came in I was all, like, "WELL HELLO THERE, MISTER BEARDED MAN! LET'S MAKE OUT!"
4. The sci-fi geek factor.
5. The fact that he is so so so so so nice to me, even when I am saying 1 - 4 of the things I say most often. (see below).
Seven things I say most often:
1. Do these pants make my butt look big?
2. LET'S HAVE A PEACE RIDE! (a peace ride is where children are not allowed to talk in the car, and we all listen to music or bang our heads against the windshield, whatever, as long as we do it silently.)
3. I am never going to get this book done, and even if I somehow do, it will be terrible because I am terrible. I hate myself and my book and oxygen and I wish you would hit my head with a rock til I stop thinking. Thanks.
4. I am a complete genius. This is the best thing I have ever written. Seriously. The best. I think you should rip that bannister off the wall and whittle it into some sort of memorial STATUE of me. Thanks.
Note: Some days, I say both three and four ALTERNATELY every hour or so, with absolute sincerity. AND HE IS STILL NICE |TO ME. I would have drowned me like too many kittens YEARS ago.
5. Where is/are my keys/purse/children/coat/head
Seven books I love: (and here I limit myself to books I read this year, in the order that they occur to me, and also I limit myself to books avaiable NOW, because I read a lot of ARCs this year):
1. Something Rising (Light and Swift) - Haven Kimmel
2. The Garden Angel - Mindy Friddle
3. Diana Lively is Falling Down - Sheila Curran
4. Truth and Beauty - Ann Patchett
5. Love Walked In -- Marisa de los Santos
6. The Final Solution -- Michael Chabon
7. Case Histories -- Kate Atkinson
It's hard to stop at 7---also I really liked The Bitch Posse, Cast of Shadows, Same Sweet Girls, Cinnamon Kiss, Broken for You, and that's just this year. I read too freakin' much.
Seven movies I would watch over and over again:
1. Grosse Pointe Blank
2. True Romance
That's about it. I can't think of another movie I am always happy to sit and watch. Although I DID love Garden State and Serenity and both those may end up being infinitely re-watchable.
Seven people I want to join in, too:
1.) You. And shoot me an url. I hope you get to all 7.
Herewith and hear ye, I nowly present unto and before thee my empirical evidence of a) a good day and b) a bad person. Ignoring my extremely poor attempt at legal-speak, you may assign points and decide: Was the day better or was the person worse?
1a) I had a GOOD dinner. I declare Bison to be palatable and nice if you don't over think it. And I didn't unvirtue-tize it by means of sour cream and the application of many beautiful melty Mexican cheeses. Just a SPRINKLE. I (mostly) forsook the crunchy fried taco shells and ate my bison in a 100% whole wheat flour tortilla with sautéed muchrooms, onions, and peppers and some vegetarian low fat refried beans as meat moisteners. (Digression....No, too easy. I mean, do I EVEN need to say it? I will just say EW and leave it at that.)
1b) "Isn't Bison Buffalo? Is that the same animal? Hey! Did you ever read that book, Bless the Beasts and the Children?"
2a) I AM WRITING A NOVEL! I AM I AM. It is, of course, absolutely impossible to write a novel. The very idea dizzies me. The audacity. To think I can. Of COURSE I can't possibly right a novel. If you need a novel written, call Barbara Kingsolver because I hear SHE is not a total spaz. And I bet she can DANCE, too. But I can't, obviously, SO I come in here on preschool days when I have the house to myself. I put Basement Jaxx on in the other room and write bits and pieces and paste them together and relentlessly cut the bad paragraphs and hurl them over my left shoulder (like salt to sting the eye of the devil), subjecting myself to the misery of pumping out new material and the pleasure of PLAYING on that material as if it were a jungle gym and I were a crack-happy monkey. And I say, OUT LOUD, bravely, right at the beginning of this paragraph, for example, that I AM WRITING A NOVEL even though it can't be done and if it COULD be done it would be Barbara Kingsolver doing it. But I say it ANYWAY. Because I SUSPECT (based on previous experience) that one day, about 8 or 9 months from now from now, I will hit my shortcut to MS WORD and open my THE GIRL WHO STOPPED SWIMMING file and oh, what's this? Seems to be the rough draft of an entire novel in here. And then I will begin doing the PURE revisions and life will taste sweet in my mouth.
2b) "Lord, but you travel a lot. I mean, I wondered how you found time to write books with the kids and all before, but now with all this travel...I don't know how you do it. But you think you can? Really? Wow. Really? Wow. No, but...really?"
3a) Remember the auction for the crit? To help a fellow writer who lost all her worldlies in a fire? Well, I started working on that crit. I spent about two and half hours on it last night. SO. This auction winning woman, she's a MAC user. She sent me the pages as an RTF file. I double clicked the RTF attachment and it obligingly opened itself into MS Word. I read the whole thing. I then began making notes in bold type all through it. I made a lot of notes. (Let me just say here --- the woman can WRITE. Seriously. And she has a good, hooky concept. But it's a draft, and she sets the bar pretty high in a GREAT opening, so I am trying to find ways to help her make the drafty bits hit the rather high bar she's set for herself) I make a ton of notes over the course of two hours, getting through about half her pages. I AM A SAVE FREAK. I hit save like Maria Carey hits high notes, which is to say, until it is ACTIVELY PAINFUL.
Then I ran out of time. I hit save AGAIN and closed the file.
Heh. Those of you who understand how RTF files work just said "DOH!" Because all of that work was saving in a TEMP file and the minute I closed MS Word it CEASED TO EXIST. It didn't even PAUSE, didn't even pop a "Are you SURE you want to close this, bonehead?" window, It just cheerfully closed and deleted itself.
Later, when Scott was unable to retrieve it even through the magic of Scottness, I hurled myself to the floor to writhe and foam in horror and rage, but see, hurling myself to the floor put me on eye level with my printer, which is on a rolling shelf under my desk. And there were all these....PAGES in it. I pulled them out of the tray. It was the whole file. With all my notes. I had accidentally PRINTED IT at some point and hadn't noticed. (If it pleases the court, please also note that I have here in passing proven the existence of a beneficent God. Thanks.)
3b) "HAHAHAHHAHAHAH! YOU ARE TOO STUPID TO LIVE! HAHAHAHHAHAHA!"
4a) About a month or so ago I sent a few manuscript pages of Between, Georgia, my book that is in production now, to an old theater friend of mine. I asked him to teach me to add the tiniest hint of a cajun slur to my Georgia for thirty seconds at a time, and then to pop right back into Georgia. Oh, and I needed the cajun voice to sound like a MAN, thanks. He hooked me up with a another friend, bayou born and bred, who read all of Henry's dialogue to me. Then I asked Scott, who has seven years of higher education and even more years of practical working experience in theater, to listen to me read those pages 900 times. I got Daren Wang (the brain behind VERB) to burn a good quality CD of me reading, kissed common sense g'bye, (I mean REALLY g'bye, kissed hard, with tongue and closed eyes, like I was sending C.S. on an epic journey with hobbits and hot elves played by Orlando Bloom, a journey from which there might be no return) and mailed the freshly burned CD away to Warner.
Yesterday my editor called.
WARNER AUDIO LIKED MY TAPE!
In fact, I blush to disclose, that reportedly, words like PERFECT FOR IT were bandied about.
Upshot: Common Sense fell into the burning mountain and was utterly lost, and I WILL BE READING BETWEEN ON THE AUDIO VERSION. PANT! PANT!
4b) "Are you sure you want to do that? I mean, I hear that you are excited and all, but... your writing is already out there for people to judge and dismiss, and now here you go putting yourself out there in a whole different way. Most of those books are read by professional actors. I hope in comparison you don't get, you know, absolutely slaughtered in the audio book reviews. Because that would be a lot more personal you know? Like a criticism of you directly instead of your work. You could end up suicidal. Heh."
HEY! I hear they have Bison Mozzarella Roll-Ups in the jurors' room! MMMMM!
I am quitting writing to become a very famous artist. SEE IF I DO NOT.
HERE IS THE THING: I had a beautiful friend named Amy and she cruelly moved to Kansas and there is a big Amy-shaped hole in my life and no matter what I try to stick in that hole it remains Amy-shaped and gaping. Very irritating.
One of the best things about Amy is that her her middle name is GO. Amy Go Wilson. She goes a lot. She always is going, and if you call her and say,
Amy do you want to go---, she interrupts you and says, YES I DO, LET ME GET THE CAR.
This is very valuable because it makes me and my other good friend, Julie, leave our nests and GO too. And Julie and I, left to our own devices, like to flirt with becoming agoraphobic. Also, Amy is nutritionally NORMAL and when she is around she balances out the sudden weird urges Julie and I get to live on organic wheat grass juice made from our very own wheat grass that we could easily grow if we killed absolutely everyone who was currently irritating us, dumped the bodies in Julie's leaking pool and filled the whole thing in with top soil. Because, see, wheat grass juice is a blood purifier, and irritating people are good fertilizer. It seems like SUCH A GOOD IDEA if we do not have Amy there to say, UM BUT I BET IT TASTES LIKE CRAP, YOU MORONS, AND ALSO? WITH THE DEAD PEOPLE FERTILIZER? IT'S A LITTLE TOO SOYLENT GREEN FOR COMFORT. SO LET'S GO GET SOME ROTISSERIE CHICKEN INSTEAD. OKAY? OKAY!
So another way to put it might be, Amy is the SANE one. Very, very valuable.
Also, Amy is the CRAFTY one. She makes us do PROJECTS. The last year Amy lived in town was the last year I had a slew of glue-clotted homemade presents to inflict upon my friends and relations at Christmas. Even the EDIBLE ones were glue clotted, because I am not crafty, but HEY, they were made with love and all my friends and relations who were my very own mother deeply appreciated them.
I am ARTSY-FARTSY (which is different from crafty----it's like crafty with no skillz) and Julie is goal oriented, so between the three of us, when there ARE the three of us, we are a perfect CRAFT PROJECT team. Amy comes up with ideas and instigates projects, I make sure the projects are half-assed and glue-clotted, and Julie makes sure we complete them.
Last week, Amy was IN TOWN! And we painted a garden on Julie's daughters wall. Which we NEVER would have done left to our own devices...LOOK here it is!
I made all the bugs and did the creeping vine with the orange-y flowers on the right. I made all the bugs be very fat and cheerful and SMUG----Here is a close-up of my favorite:
Okay, yes, I realize there are some problems with SCALE. That bumblebee, for example, has clearly been soaking in radioactive juice and is going to go invade France just as soon as it pollinates the AMAZINGLY LARGE birdhouse-dwarfing sunflower. BUT UM SHUT UP. Because CLEARLY I am destined to become the glue-clotting member of a very important three-woman art-team and ANYWAY it was the most fun we have had in ages and Julie's daughter LOVES it and and and....Oh Amy. MOVE BACK.
I do not often speak bluntly and unkindly about my fellow human beings. Not on this blog, and I try not to in life as well. TRY being the operative word. Gossip is my very favorite sin--it's probably the one that will put me into hell. One day I'll slip this mortal coil and go tumbling out of my body, all the way down, and while I am being prodded experimentally by the pointy sticks of the toasting demons, one of them will hold up my ledger and say, "Tut tut It says here you tried to be a good wife and mother, you were kind to little old ladies, you gave to charity, but then on the other hand, you LOVED you some sloth and some gluttony, and your books had all that cussing and the somewhat graphic ex-say---not to mention the VIOLENCE *tongue cluckings*, so you were teetering on the edge, and then look, right here. The gossip. It JUST tipped the scales. Now let's go strap a thousand pounds of luggage to your back and, you know, set it on fire, and then I will show you to your room."
All that freely admitted...I met an idiot on Tuesday. God love him.
I was in a book store, so he kinda blindsided me. Book stores are not the idiot's natural habitat. But there he was, bless his heart, clutching an oversized paperback that lists all the literary agents in the U.S to his chest and watching me with an odd and carnivorous gleam in his eye.
I was out of town for the last two days (hence the no blog entries) and on the drive home I passed a bookstore. I went in, as is my wont, and introduced myself to the folks that worked there and offered to sign the copies of gods in Alabama they had and etc. They were a nice bunch and one of them HAD READ THE BOOK AND REALLY, REALLY LIKED IT! TRA LA! SO. That's always fun. I was having a good time. The woman helping me went to find the "signed copy" stickers, and when she left me, the idiot who had been creeping through the stacks on his sly underbelly saw his moment, and he pounced on me.
Idiot: *touches book* You wrote this*
Me: Yeah, I did.
Idiot: I saw this in Entertainment Weekly---'sposed to be a really good book.
Me: Well, I'm proud of it.
Idiot: What's it about?
Me: *Tells what book is about and ends with...* so I hope you get a chance to read it.
Idiot: *whiffs his nose in faint surprise and then looks at me as if I had just suggested he eat an alive kitten* Oh, I won't READ read it...*leans in confidentially* See, I'm a WRITER.* *holds up the book of agents. He was showing it to me as proof of his writer-ness? I think?*
We stood talking for a little---he grilled me pretty relentlessly about my publishing house and agent, wanting to know how he could best approach them. Let's put aside for a moment the PERSONAL here. Which, okay, yes, It's plain old-fashioned BAD MANNERS to say to a writer, "Oh I am not going to read your book, good grief, why would I want to do THAT? But can I say I met you when I approach your agent?" But... quite frankly, that has happened SEVERAL times without me feeling the need to blog about it. I answered him the way I have answered the three or four others who have shamelessly said the same thing to me; I told him the process for querying my agent (or any other) which he already knew. Then he told me all about his writing. He likened himself to a more literary Michael Crichton, but then admitted he hadn't actually READ ANY MICHAEL CRICHTON. Let's pause here and boggle for a moment. OKAY! We have now left bad manners and gone directly to stupid. Talking to him, I got the distinct sense that he didn't really much LIKE TO READ. At least, he hadn't read much of anything that I could determine, excepting, of course, a HOST of books about how to write books and a separate whole nother host of books about how to sell books. He had spent hundreds of dollars in book stores and had emerged from the experience UNSCATHED by the READING OF ANY ACTUAL BOOKS.
I find this to be so MINDBOGGLING I can hardly go on. It's a little bit like having someone tell you that it is their lifelong ambition to be a cowboy, and then having them add, "Of course I think horses are stupid, and cattle don't smell that great, and I'm very fair, which means I BURN easily, so I've never been what you might call 'out-doorsy,' but Lordy, honey, my be-hiney looks mighty fine in some butt-less chaps."
So I told him what I think is the absolute truth: If you want to be a writer, you need to love books. I do not KNOW a successful writer who isn't an avid reader. Writers need to eat books and make out with books and shower with books and cuddle books and only go to sleep so we can dream books. You need to read every good book you can get your hands on, and you need to read some spectacularly BAD ones as well ---- NOT ONLY because you will learn more about writing a seamlessly shifting POV by spending some delightful hours with TO THE LIGHTHOUSE or CUJO (depending on your tastes) than you will learn by reading one thousand articles called "How to shift POV,' --- but because it is such a glorious and ceaseless and reliable and unending source of learning, and beauty, and NOT LEAST AMONG READING'S MYRIAD PLEASURES, entertainment. AND DO NOT give me that crap (as this young man did) about "OH BUT IF I READ BOOKS WHILE TRYING TO WRITE BOOKS WON''T THAT MESS UP MY OWN VISION." No. It won't. In fact, that's why God made books outside your genre. If you are writing hard-boiled mysteries, Jane Austen is NOT going screw with you. In fact, IF YOU PAY ATTENTION, she will teach you to infuse a scene with sly humor. *tries to climb off soapbox, fails, pops back up*
People ask me why I don't have a WHAT I AM READING icon on the side of my blog, and it's because to change that side menu you have to muck with the CODE and that always ends with me wrecking the whole site, and then Scott has to spend four hours fixing it, and the icon would change too frequently for me to ask Scott to keep up with it. This week, for example, I read the second in a series of VERY FINE mysteries by Julia Spencer-Fleming (A Fountain Filled With Blood) right now I am ALMOST done with Jim Fergus' CHARMING and intensely readable speculative western, One Thousand White Women. I should finish that this afternoon, at which point think I am going to reread some Kaye Gibbons or start on Marshall Boswell's series of interconnected short stories called Trouble With Girls depending on my mood. OKAY! NOW I AM DONE. *Gets; off soapbox.* Well...almost done.
I got on my soapbox and told the idiot all this, and I closed with something like, "I swear to THE LORD I'm not trying to make you buy my book here. I'll shamelessly tell you that it is a good book, but hey, it may not be your cup of tea, whatever. That's okay---but you need to go find out what your cup of tea IS. Put that reference book back and go spend the 30 bucks on, I don't know, why not start with writers named Michael. Off the top of my head i can think of Connelly and Chabon and Cunningham and if you are comparing yourself to him you need to read Crichton and those are just the Michaels that have last names starting in C and HEY! while you are at it, buy some freaking DICKENS."
I do not think he heard me.
I told a friend of mine this story on the phone yesterday, and she didn't think I should blog it. She was worried that, besides being tipped over into hell by the snark-gossip-factor, the guy might come to my website and find this long entry discussing his idiocy and feel terrible. But good grief, this is a BLOG, which last time I looked was a text based medium, and the guy, by his own admission, DOES. NOT. READ. I'm safe as houses.
See you in hell.