I completely forgot it was Friday today, until about five minutes ago. I mean, sure, I knew what day it was, in the sense of "the bookstore rent is due" and "only five more days until the next episode of Survivor," but as far as "hey, your blog post is due, dingbat," no, that never crossed my mind. Until now.
How could I possibly space the most important thing of your day? The one bright spot to start off your dreary, miserable weekend? Well, I'll tell you. I've been working on a new novel. And, I must admit, it's been soooo much fun.
This is how it started: leading up to this week, I'd been working on editing an anthology, getting my own short story collection ready for release, doing edits and shopping around my completed novella, and feeding vegetable oil to my cat to get her to stop yakking up so many hairballs. (Boy, she really hates vegetable oil. Especially when I bathe her in it.) However, I did have time to talk to a writer friend on the phone. Here's how the conversation went:
Kristi: So, what are you working on now?
Me: I don't know. Now that the anthology's in layout, I'm thinking about turning my sister into a zombie.
Kristi: Oh, that's sweet! She'll love that!
From there, the idea started to germinate and take root. I outlined the plot, the characters, a few red herrings, and the end game, and started to write. Of course, first I had to do my research. Since the two main girls are teenagers, I had to call my sister.
Me: Hey, listen, I'm working on a story and you're kind of the main character. It's all about you, really. Except you're a zombie. Could you please ask your thirteen-year-old if the term "sped sled" is still in use?
Kim: I hate you.
From there, I started typing away. Occasionally, I had to stop for a moment and Google a few things. Here's my recent search history:
nuclear treatment plants in Arizona
serial killer victimology
what was the name of that fruitcake that married Ted Bundy
ballet dancing terminology
whatever happened to the guy who played Eyeball Chambers in Stand By Me
Is Bradley Gregg married
Creative ways to kill Justin Bieber
Are visitors allowed to feed sharks at Mystic Aquarium
… and the list goes on. You get the idea, though. Any idiot can put pen to paper. A true writer does a thorough Google search first.
For me, the hardest part of any novel is coming up with the character names. I find it's easiest to pilfer the names of well-known people and change them slightly. I'm looking at you, Justine Blieber. What? It's totally different. I'm sure I can't get sued for that, right?
So, you see, this is why I've neglected you this week, gentle reader. Please forgive me. When Kimela Lungo, Undead Corpse hits the stands, I think you'll agree that it was worth it.
Jason and I have been married for exactly five years today. Had you asked me seven years ago if I would ever marry again, I probably would have spit on you. But my hubby tricked me into it somehow, and here we are, still together.
Marriage is hard. And I'm not talking about the finances, or big decisions like having children and where to spend Christmas. I can deal with that stuff. It's the little things, like perhaps my spouse's inability to put a single dish in the dishwasher, even though it is right next to the sink. THAT's the kind of example that makes me daydream about how happy I was when I was single.
I'll admit it, though: I'm no cup of easy street either. For instance, I am a rabid, raging harpy until I get at least half a pot of coffee in me. It's in these early hours of the morning that I'm most likely to say "You know what would be nice? If you moved back in with your parents."
Also, I can hold a grudge. For a looong time. About things that one might never realize I'm upset about.
Jason: We haven't had chicken and dumplings in, like . . . ever.
Me: I think you know darn well why I will never make you chicken and dumplings.
Me: Remember on June 3, 2007? In the Bisquick aisle at the grocery store? When you said maybe I should read a recipe on how to make chicken and dumplings? How DARE you imply that I need a recipe? You can choke on your dumplings, pal!
Also, there are a couple of traits we both have that don't always mesh together well. Jason, for instance, does not like to order new foods, but he likes to try and sample whatever is on my plate. I, on the other hand, am not good at sharing. Oh, sure, my parents taught me to share at an early age, making me split everything with my sister. And you know what? I am GREAT at sharing with my sister. We'll share bowls of chowder, slices of cake, members of Duran Duran . . . but I am not so good at sharing with Jason. After spending 15 minutes listening to him gripe about how there's nothing on the menu he likes, then watching him order chicken fingers (in an italian restaurant) while I opt for the steak gorgonzola over fettuccine, I am not particularly tolerant when I see his fork slowly creeping towards my plate for a taste. That's often when we playfully engage in a game I like to call "Move Your Hand Closer So I Can Stab You." He also has an uncanny knack of doing this at every meal when I'm on Weight Watchers. (I'm eating steak gorgonzola over fettuccine, people. Of course I need to go on a diet.) Note to all of you married men out there: When your wife is on a strict diet of 1200 calories a day, don't even think about taking one little mouthful of our carefully measured-out food away from us. We'll kill you, and no jury in the world will convict us.
Sure, the man can't wash a dish, or cook, and I often refer to myself as Dobby the House Elf when I'm feeling put upon. But he does do a couple of things that make up for it. Jason is always urging me to get more of my writing out there, and when I do send out stories that get accepted, he's tireless about promoting me and bragging about me. If my novel is rejected, he's the first one to tell me the publisher is clearly a tasteless, illiterate idiot, and he won't let me dwell on that rejection, but will suggest other markets to send it to next. And he's great about knowing how to cheer me up. He loves to surprise me by running to the library and renting a terrible B-movie if I'm feeling blue. A couple of weeks ago, I was depressed over a big project that's been overwhelming me. There was Jason, beaming: "Look, honey! Sharknado!" And you know what? It did cheer me up!
So for those of you thinking about getting married, my only advice is to make sure you two know all of the ugly details about each other before tying the knot. Jason was fully aware of my caffeine addiction prior to the wedding, and to his credit, he didn't run when I threatened to shave "Cream, two Splenda" into the side of the cat so he'd remember how I like my coffee. I knew prior to tying the knot that Jason was incapable of cooking anything more then ramen noodles in the kitchen (and, disgustingly enough, he microwaves them). It's okay. Because you know what? This marriage thing is working for us. So far.
Happy Anniversary, Jason!
We don't have cable television or even regular television at home. You might think this would mean that we don't waste a lot of time watching mindless crap. Not true. Thanks to Netflix Streaming, Amazon Video, Crackle, and the websites for ABC, CBS, and NBC, we watch mindless crap every night.
I'm not going to lie: I've watched some garbage. I'm a sucker for a good soap opera like Sister Wives. But there are a few TV shows, over the years, that have won a special place in my heart. What are they? I'm so glad you asked!
Best Sci-Fi Futuristic Political Commentary Show Ever: Star Trek
People who criticize this show due to Bill Shatner's over-acting or the ridiculous Tribbles are missing the point. I took a class in college that studied the cultural importance of such classics as Star Trek and Spiderman, and it was the single most useful college course of my career. Professor Trimble (fabulous man) would tell you that Star Trek depicted the basic struggle of the human mind to listen to logic (Spock), emotion (Bones), and ultimately weave both together in harmony in order to save the day and get the sexy girl (Kirk). Trimble applauded this show for showcasing a variety of races and cultures working together for a common good. Star Trek gave the world its first broadcasted interracial kiss, the inspiration for cell phones and tasers, and George Takei. What could anyone NOT love about this show?
Most Realistic Depiction of Marriage and Family: Roseanne
This show still cracks me up. Marriage is not all flowers and sunshine and perfect kids and healthy parental relationships. It's about kids who flip the bird in their class photos, mothers who are tired of working and cleaning and managing the house, husbands who get laid off and worry about paying the bills, and the single funniest sister-sister relationship ever to grace the airwaves.
Roseanne: People who cannot handle conflicts, right away they run for the alcohol.
Jackie: Well, have another shot of pancake, Roseanne.
This show was ultimately about family, and let's face it folks, family isn't always pretty. (Mine is. But others are not.)
Best Game Show of All Time: Survivor
Jason used to make fun of me for watching this show, until he was in the room one day while it was on and got sucked right in.
Here's what I love about Survivor: It showcases human behavior at its basest and ugliest. People are manipulative, mean, lying schemers when there's money on the line. Oh, sure, not always: Survivor: Africa's Ethan Zohn came across as a genuinely nice guy, I suppose. But time and time again, it's the Richard Hatches of the world that make it to the end. (UPDATE: I met Richard Hatch on Nov. 2, 2013 and he is personable, friendly, and wholeheartedly delightful. I love him. Nobody is ever allowed to say anything bad about him in my presence, EVER. He deserves a million dollars.)
This show isn't all about rotten lying schemers, however. The physical competition, near-starving camp life, and intense social interaction does showcase the core human nature of the contestants, and some of them are genuinely good people (Lisa Whelchel, Rupert Boneham) that will restore your faith in humanity. Plus, the fact that the truly nasty ones (Russell Hantz) often don't win the million in the final tribal council will make you feel better about your fellow man.
I get it. It's a game. But you're not going to get me to betray someone's trust and destroy alliances on national television. My mother would never forgive me.
TV's Darkest Delicacy Then: Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Thank God for re-runs and DVD. Alfred Hitchcock Presents was creepy, dark, and often offset by Hitchcock's delightful sense of humor, which he would interject before commercial breaks and at the beginning and end of each episode. Before I even knew this show existed, my mother would talk about this one episode, "Breakdown," in which a man is paralyzed in an accident and everyone thinks he's dead. My mother was (and still is) terrified that this would someday happen to her. Of course, everyone knows "Lamb to the Slaughter" with Barbara Bel Geddes, in which a wife murders her husband and feeds the murder weapon to the cops. But what about "The Big Score," in which a group of teenagers decide to rob a man, stab him during the robbery, and then find out later that he was a gangster, and now they're in big, big trouble? (I mean, more so than just the run-of-the-mill 'we robbed a guy and stabbed him' trouble.) Fun stuff.
TV's Darkest Delicacy Now: The Walking Dead
How can I explain the appeal of this show? I suppose these two words sum it up: Daryl Dixon.
What would life be like after the zombie apocalypse? Would the survivors band together and work to save humanity? Or would a creepy guy with an eye patch try to establish a cruel monarchy, complete with zombie fights and heads in aquariums? Who knows? What I do know is that if all of this were to happen, you'd better have one crossbow-shooting, motorcycle-riding, "I'll kill my big brother if he turns into a zombie, but I won't like it"-thinking zombie slayer on your side. This is the beauty of Daryl Dixon. (Interesting side note: I don't find Daryl's portrayer, Norman Reedus, particularly attractive outside of this role. But as Daryl, he melts me like butter.)
It's not just all about Daryl. There's a cop who can't keep his s**t together, the cop's son that had to shoot his own mother in the head (which, by the way, made little Carl a whoooole lot more interesting), and the lady who escaped an abusive marriage, lost her daughter, started training to become more efficient with a knife and gun, and performed a few zombie c-sections to increase her medical skills. Who is this woman's closest ally? That's right, our resident hunk of awesome, Daryl Dixon.
I like Michonne, too, the mysterious, katana-weilding loner. But not in the same way that I like Daryl.
Most Realistic Depiction of Life as a Gen-Xer: Friends
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I believe that I once had a group of friends named Ross, Monica, Joey, Phoebe, Chandler, and Rachel. Sometimes I wonder what they're up to these days. But since I'm not friends with them on Facebook, I guess I'll never know.
Friends was fun because it made some of the harshest realities of life--divorce, losing your job, having a crazy boyfriend/girlfriend that none of your friends like, having to work crummy jobs just to pay the rent--hilarious. Life sucks sometimes. Having strong friendships help.
I've been thinking about this show more lately because two of my friends recently, unexpectedly, hooked up, a la Monica and Chandler. I'm feeling a little Phoebe-like. Happy for them, but slightly grossed out because I'm getting details about both of them I'd rather not know. Friends: it could happen.
Best TV Show of ALL TIME, Ever, and Don't Even THINK About Arguing With Me On This Because You'll Lose: Six Feet Under
Six Feet Under was the smartest, darkest, funniest show to ever air on television. An examination of interpersonal relationships between the Fisher family and their friends/lovers/coworkers that centrally takes place at the Fisher-Diaz Funeral Home, you will actually get angry at other TV shows for not being as brilliant as this one. Seriously. Think Michael C. Hall is amazing as Dexter? I'd argue that his portrayal of David Fisher is the most dynamic, realistic, and entrancing characterization ever to grace a television drama. He was so good that my sister still refuses to believe that Michael C. Hall, in real life, is 1. not gay and 2. not a funeral director.
To top it off, this show had the best series finale in the history of series finales. It made the M*A*S*H series finale look like an episode of Barney & Friends. Love Seinfeld's ending? Watch this series finale and you will soon be in therapy to deal with your shattered self-confidence when you realize how spectacularly dumb Seinfeld's finale really was in comparison.
So what have we learned today? We learned that Stacey likes some crappy TV (Survivor) and good TV (Alfred Hitchcock Presents). We've reaffirmed that she's a little shallow (Daryl Dixon is delectable, I tell you!) And we've learned that she will, in fact, fight to the death to defend the honor of the greatest television series ever made, Six Feet Under.
You've been warned.
It's that time of year when all of the towns you've never heard of start posting signs about their annual fall festivals. Jason and I like to do the fall fair circuit, mostly because we're both big fans of fried food. We've had to limit our fair-going this year, as we have a business to run, but we managed to stop by three. Here were the highlights of each fair this year:
The Middle Haddam Fair: Never heard of Middle Haddam? Neither have we. We sat in traffic for 45 minutes waiting to get to this little fair, nestled amid corn fields and cow pastures. I was surprised that the parking was causing so much traffic backup. Their sign said they'd been holding this fair for 102 years, so I'd hoped they would be able to figure out a more effective parking setup by now, but no such luck. It was convenient that there were so many fields nearby, however, as I spotted more than one fairgoer jump out of their car and pee in the pastures while stuck in traffic. It did make me thankful that I don't live there.
Once we parked, I noticed immediately (and with some alarm) that I was clearly overdressed. I'd worn a black blouse and neatly pressed jeans, and I looked like I was on my way to a formal dinner compared to everyone else. Clearly, I should have worn a shredded tank top that highlighted my bra, short-short cutoffs, and my cowboy boots (if I were the sort to own cowboy boots. I am not). I might as well have carried a sign reading "I grew up in Glastonbury, and I think I'm better than you" which, quite frankly, was what I was thinking.
The fair was small, a camel bit my finger, and I opted not to use the port-a-potties for fear of catching crabs.
Highlights: The apple fritters were yummy.
Lowlifes: One truck actually had a confederate flag hanging off of its trailer. I borrowed a lighter from one of the gentlemen trying to light cow pies on fire and managed to set the flag up in flames. Then I had to run like the wind to get out of there before the hillbillies caught me. Luckily, because I was not wearing cowboy boots, I made a swift getaway.
The Woodstock Fair: This is a pretty big event held in northern Connecticut every year, and since I once found a lovely watercolor depicting Jack, Bobby, and Teddy Kennedy here, I have fond memories of this fair. We went on a rainy day, which cut down on the crowds, and admired the cows, rabbits, and most importantly, food. I'd dressed more appropriately (tee-shirt, jeans that were too tight) and wound up feeling pretty good about my body by the end of the afternoon. Honestly, people: if you need to lose more than ten pounds, don't wear a thong, and if you do, for the love of God, don't let it show above your spandex pants!
Highlights: I ran into Dennis, my former coworker, and got to meet his wife and see his new baby. Also, there were no camels.
Lowlifes: There was plenty of camel toe, however. Male and female.
The Hebron Fair: I've been going to this fair since I was a kid. Also, it's practically in our back yard, so it would be sacrilegious not to go. My aunt was kind enough to cover the store so we could attend on Thursday night. I do wish that I'd remembered Thursday night is Demolition Derby night, and that Jason loves the Demolition Derby. We walked around, Jason got a corn dog, I indulged in some cheese fries, and we settled down to watch a bunch of cars ram into each other. The temperature dropped to about 30 degrees right before the event started. Here is the actual text message conversation I had with my sister:
Me: I'm at the Hebron Fair, waiting for the Demolition Derby to start. If you could stop by and shoot me, I'd appreciate it.
Kim: You need to be shot. What's wrong with you, sis? Are you blowing out black snot yet?
Me: Hasn't started yet. The derby, I mean. Not my tears. Those started 20 minutes ago.
Kim: Want me to pick you up? I have tissues.
Me: No, my tears have frozen to my face.
Kim: Do they sell hot chocolate to help defrost the ice on your face?
Me: I bought hot chocolate and dumped it on my head to warm up and now my head's cold and wet.
Kim: How are the third degree burns?
Me: Painful. I passed out from the pain for a little while, so that helped kill some time.
Kim: AND helped keep you warm.
We made it through the event without getting hit by any flying bumpers, so overall, I'd say our outing was a success.
Highlights: Those were darn good cheese fries.
Lowlifes: The camel that bit me at Middle Haddam was at Hebron, too. It saw me, winked, and slowly ran its tongue across its hideous camel teeth.
Overall, our fall fair attendance went well. Jason bought a few clunker pretzels (he nearly chipped a tooth on one) but we bought some yummy apples from the Cavanna Farm Stand to make up for it. There were very few clowns, which was a bonus, but now I have a deep fear of camels. Also, I'm ashamed that there are people in my state who fly confederate flags and others who wear thongs when they shouldn't.
So there you go. Make your fair choices appropriately, and have fun.
Pretty and perfect in every way.