Thursday, September 30, 2010

True Tales of Horror: My Laundry Room

Today, gentle readers, I am cleaning out my laundry room. I'm sure many of you are aware that writers are not renown for their housekeeping skills. You know that scene in that horrible Stepford Wives remake where they all go to Bette Midler's house and she's a writer and the entire place is like a trash heap? That's what my house is like. I know several authors will own up to that level of filth, as well. And if someone is a writer and their house is perfectly clean, they've either got outside help or a low word count. I'm sticking to that.

Anyway, my laundry room has gotten... out of hand. I'm going to show it to you now. I advise anyone with heart trouble or a nervous condition not look at the following picture:

Yup. That is what my laziness has wrought. A solid mass of dirty clothing at least two feet deep. I have to be straight up with you, there are clothes in there my kids have worn once and grown out of in the time since I last did a massive laundry room cleaning. It comes down the landry shoot chute (I are a writer) and straight into the pile, ne'er to be seen again.

So, today I'm sitting down here, perched atop the deep freezer, alternating between working on edits for Abigail's January book (IN THE BLOOD, Samhain publishing, January 2011) and feeding the machines their due. I've got appropriately morose music playing (Tori Amos's utterly depressing Boys for Pele) and a two litre of Diet Coke to see me through. I just have to be sure to appease the Old Gods of laundry, so as not to be consumed by the pile myself.

If I don't return, be sure to buy up all my backlist so that I look more successful than I actually was.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Everything I Think, In Chronological Order

When I was in 8th grade, and later, when I was a sophomore in high school, I kept these journals. They were Mead brand, one-subject "neatbooks", the kind that didn't have any wire or anything, just perforated pages. I filled these with pointless, free-form thoughts for the entire school year. In hindsight, I wish I had done this every year of school.

The reason I'm remembering them now is that my son has started keeping a journal in a notebook. I dug through all my old crap and unearthed these relics of the past because I thought he might be interested in knowing what his mother was like in her childhood years.

He said, "Wow, those are really old," and went back to his own journal. Jerk.

Anyway, I thought, "Maybe people who read my blog would be interested." So, if you're not interested in meeting Jenny at thirteen and fifteen, then get interested, friend.

I named these veritable tomes "Everything I Think In Chronological Order," and "Everything I Think In Chronological Order II: Birth of An Alternateen". Really. That is what I called them.

Here's the May 21, 1996 entry from "Everything I Think In Chronological Order II":
I have to go see Margret today. (ed.-- Margret was my counselor. You'll see why I needed one as you keep reading) I'm stressed out. I hate how people always eat during class. It's like they think they are totally different and don't have to follow the rules. That makes me angry.
Niki Davenport moved to Grand Haven. She's going to be a paramedic.
I found this book, R.E.M. REMarks. It has cool pictures in it of Michael Stipe before he was in the band, like, when he was in high school. He was gorgeous. He still is cute, but he's old now.
(ed.-- Michael Stipe was like, thirty-six at the time.) Oh well. You know, I have no idea how old Dave Matthews is.
There was a poster of a guy parachuting on the bulletin board by the office that said, "A mind is like a parachute; it works best when opened." And Jill took a big black magic marker and wrote, "Hopefully certain facist members of the administration will come to realize this," and drew an arrow and the next day they took it down and put up a "Happy Graduation" bulletin board.
I hunted all over hell and high water last night for the May 3 Entertainment Weekly because it has a thing about the new Dave Matthews album. I want that album. It's like, cool that he can dance around all crazy and play the guitar at the same time.
The beginning of this book is like, an REM concert journal. Thanks for reading through it. It's like, somedays I think, "Wait a minute, who's going to want to read what I wrote?" And I get very upset. But then I think, "Wait, lots of people are interested in what other people wrote."
One of these days I'm going to be saying something bad about Natalie Merchant, and she's going to be right behind me and I'll feel really stoopid
[sic]. Wait, what if she reads this? What if Tori Amos reads this? I'M SORRY, TORI! I LOVE YOU! I WISH I HADN'T CALLED YOU A TALENTLESS SLUT!
Now that I prostrated myself at her feet, I feel better. Hey, maybe Michael Stipe will read this. Whoa, maybe Christian Slater will read this. Hey, Christian Slater, my number is
[ommitted] Dial (616) first. Michael, Tori, Dave M. and Courtney (Love, not Cox) can all call me. Hell, if anyone wants to call me they can. I'm cool. Especially when I went through the ice. Bad joke.
REM rules. Maybe one day my kids will say, "Mom, REM is so old," and I will say, "Shut up, asswipes, REM rules."
Maybe when this gets published, I'll have them put in scratch n' sniff pages.
I'm in driver's training @ Sears. My teacher is such a nut.
Writing on your hands is cool. I like writing on my hands.
I'm directing a short film with the girl scouts from St. Monica's, and this little girl reminds me of Julia Ormond. She's from England and has long hair like Julia Ormond had in Legends of The Fall.
I have auditions for Lil' Abner tonight @ Comstock. I was in Kiss Me, Kate last year. It was cool. I really want to be in Lil' Abner. It would rock more than two thousand popscicles.
I wish the bell would ring.

The weird thing is, I don't remember actually wanting to be a writer, but it's clear from these journals that I planned on getting long, repetitious thoughts about REM published some day.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Stuck at the airport: the five stages of grief

The unfortunate downside of being dyslexic is that I have a really hard time keeping things like dates and days in order. This lead to me being trapped at the Newark New Jersey airport for twenty-four hours this weekend.

Realizing that you are trapped in an airport comes in stages. After spending several good hours on the phone with Delta airlines customer "service", I finally gave up and headed the airport to try and speak with someone in person. The mistake I made was in assuming that airline ticket counter representatives are human beings with souls aren't constantly beset upon by weary, excuse laden travelers. And thus, our odyssey of grief begins...

Stage One: Denial Though my hotel had very graciously offered to let me stay in the room until 2pm and then hold my bags until late that night so that I could go into the city to do some sight-seeing or something, I was pretty sure that I didn't need to take them up on that offer. Because how hard could it possibly be to get standby on a last minute flight out of New Jersey?

Stage Two: Bargaining Okay, so it's pretty difficult to get a last minute flight out of New Jersey. But there has to be something that can be done. No, I don't have $287.00 for a new ticket. I'm sure we can work something out for a lesser price. Hey, I could push the drink cart!

Stage Three: Anger You know what? FUCK YOU, DELTA. If I get stabbed in my sleep, it's going to be all your fault.

Stage Four: Depression Actual transcript of conversation I had with my husband on payphone in concourse B: "I'm just so lonely and it's so nice to hear your voice. Stay on the phone with me until you go to work, okay? Promise?"

Stage Five: Acceptance I'm going to live at this airport forever. I will never go home. The airport is my home now. Let's make the best of it by building a tend with the ballgown from the masquerade party and barricade the door of the handicapped stall with luggage and a sweatshirt used as a rope so I don't get raped.

Now that I'm home, I'm actually afraid that I'm going to suddenly wake up and be back at the airport, like John Cusack in that movie where he's trapped in the haunted hotel room.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Another Open Letter...

Over the weekend, I attended Jaquelyn Frank's Authors After Dark conference in Secaucus, NJ. Overall, it was an amazing, enjoyable weekend. There were plenty of good friends, some I had met before, some I met for the first time. There were readers and authors, both sides fangurling over each other, fun giveaways and free books. Tons of fun was had by all.

Keeping that in mind, what I'm about to say is not a reflection on the conference. It is a reflection on one particular individual, and it should in no way turn readers or authors off from attending the conference the future. It's fun, affordable, and everyone goes home happy.

Unless they spend the weekend having their body weight relentlessly mocked by someone who should fucking know better.

I'm a large woman. I make no apologies or excuses. If I wanted to be thinner, I could be. I could work out more, eat less, I'm large enough that surgery is an option. But I don't pursue any of those options, because I'm happy with my life. It never occurred to me that anyone would feel that they had the right to be unhappy with my size on my behalf.

This weekend, one particular individual, and author who I used to greatly admire and looked forward to spending time at the conference with, took it upon herself to make comments leveled specifically at me, to my face and in front of other attendees in an attempt to shame me about my size. Comments like, "There's nothing worse than a fat woman wearing flowers," in regards to my love of Hawaiian shirts. "Don't eat that, that's why you're fat," when I grabbed a snack (this in front of a horrified group of readers attending a party in the con suite). Other fat-hate comments about "feeling sorry" for large people who wear sweatpants in public, and "knowing what that's like," that assume all fat people secretly long to be thin and are miserable because they are not.

When the straw finally broke my big, fat back (the "that's why you're fat" comment), I started off feeling enraged. How dare someone police my body? How dare someone feel they had the right to pity me for the way I dress or what I eat or how much I weigh? I have given no one permission to pity me, because I don't pity myself. I like myself, at any size or shape, and I love my awesome, awesome life. I live for every moment, and I try to make sure that I feel everything in my life with enthusiasm for living. Okay, maybe not as enthusiastic when I'm stuck in a plane on a runway in Allentown, PA because God decided to smite New York with a crazy huge thunderstorm, but most of the time I really do love every second of my life. The thought of someone pitying me, making a judgment that because I'm fat I must also be unhappy with my lot, made me see absolute red.

Then, it made me even more mad to realize that if she'd said these same comments to someone who has a problem accepting their weight, they might have thought, "She's right." A friend who roomed with me said, "If she had said that to me, it would have destroyed me." I thought about how low my self-esteem was after I gave birth to my first child and gained the first seventy-five pounds of what would ultimately be an over one-hundred pound weight gain. If someone had said to me then, "This is why you're fat" or made a comment about feeling sorry for people like me, I would have been crushed. I struggled with binge eating back then, out of hatred for myself and my body. I crash dieted, desperately counted my "points" and kept a "thinspiration" journal of svelte bodies that I wanted so badly to have for my own. If I had met this author back then, when my career was first starting and I hated myself for getting fat, I would have given up. I would have given up writing, starved myself, missed out on friends and acquaintances that I met in this business who I hold very dear. A single snide comment about my weight, back then, would have literally ruined my life. Did she make a remark that hurt someone else that badly at this event?

But as I considered all this, I also realized that this woman was not making these comments to me. She used to fat, and makes no attempt to hide the fact that she has lost the weight. She shouldn't, either. She was unhappy with something in her life, so she changed it, at great personal sacrifice. She worked hard for a dream, and she deserves credit for that, just as anyone who is brave enough to make a huge sacrifice for what they want deserves recognition. But for some reason, it's not enough for her to have attained her goal. She needs to punish her old self for not living up to her new standards.

She wasn't talking to me. She was talking to herself before she lost the weight.

So, to this individual, who I hope reads this post, I say: Let go of the hatred you have for yourself. Who you are is not about what you used to weigh. The people in your life who loved you then and now will never stop loving you because of a number on the scale. Your readers, who devour your books, don't care what you look like. They love you and your stories because you have a gift that transcends physical standards of beauty.

I know, because I used to be one of those readers. I'm not anymore. I will probably never forgive you for the hateful way you treated me this weekend. I know I damned sure won't be reading your books in the future, because every time I pick one up I will be reminded that you don't feel I'm worthy to shake the ground with my lumbering steps. But I do truly want you to forgive yourself for being fat in the past. You were a lovely person then, inside and out. You've made the outside lovelier. Now work on fixing the ugliness you grew on the inside.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wanna check out Ravenous for free?

If you're looking to win a copy of Abigail Barnette's (yes, that is me) Ravenous, Bronwyn Green is giving away one free copy to a lucky commenter.

As for Abigail, her/myself? I spent last night in the ER with a crippling headache. Thankfully, they did not listen to my pleas to euthanize me. But I'm all better now, and both my (fully integrated) personalities are hard at work writing today!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Internet Powers of Colin Firth

Okay, either blogger has just added stats to the dashboard, or I've just never noticed them. I love attention, so I jumped at the chance to see how many people notice me. The results are... surprising.

First of all, I need to do some revamping of this blog. Put some pictures of my books on it and stuff. Because otherwise, people might think this blog is about Colin Firth. According to stats, until I wrote my rebuttal to Laurel K. Hamilton, my most viewed entry was one that I wrote about Colin Firth. More specifically, it was a post made up of lies about Mr. Firth.

Now, the simple fact of the matter is, while Colin Firth is a great actor and generally under-recognized for his contributions to film and indeed, even literature (because everyone knows by now that Mark Darcy in the Bridget Jones books and columns is based entirely off of Firth's portrayal of Mr. Darcy in the flawless miniseries adaptation of Pride and Prejudice), I don't really have much more I can say about the man. I'm not what you would call a huge fan. If he's in a movie I was otherwise uninterested in, I'm not likely to go see that movie based on his presence alone. In fact, when I hear the name "Firth", I don't even think about Colin.

I think about his brother, Jonathan.

In the 1990's, there was a television series called Covington Cross. You probably don't remember it, because it was only on for like, six episodes in the United States. Time and detective work uncovered the rest of the season for me, and I've enjoyed it for years, despite the fact that the series ended on something of a cliffhanger (Do Richard and Charlotte get married or something? What about Eleanor's new found love of all things feminine? Does John Mullens pursue Lady Elizabeth romantically? Because that was hinting at pretty hard in one of the last scenes). Imagine, if you will, the show Bonanza (Or, if you're familiar with it, The Big Valley), only in Robin Hood times. It was super awesome.

Jonathan Firth, Colin's younger brother, played Richard Grey, the middle son who was always struggling for his father's love and trying to make a name for himself despite being dealt the shitty medieval hand of being the second son and not the one who stands to inherit all the titles and land and stuff.

I have no idea what has happened to Jonathan Firth, because I'm bad at keeping up with actors that I like. All I care about is that I still have my copies of Covington Cross, and that the inclusion of the name Firth will bring me some kind of blog traffic.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A sensitive subject.

I am aware that not everyone sees eye-to-eye with me on the subject of the war in Iraq, or our president. I try not to be too overtly political, but I'm an opinionated person and my family's motto is kind of like, "He who is loudest wins" but in Latin, probably.

However, I can't let the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom pass without comment. I never agreed with the war, and I supported the troops in that I didn't want them all blown to tiny pieces by roadside bombs. I have nothing but good feelings for the men and women in our Armed Forces. I have friends and family that are currently serving, some of whom served in Iraq. I have at least one family member set to go to Iraq, even though the war is officially over. I have no illusions that the true end of this conflict will come years from now. I mean, we still have soldiers at posts in South Korea, we're never truly "done" with the wars we're involved in.

Still, it's a relief to have one less war to worry about. Our country has been at war since both of my children were born. We'll probably still be involved with the war against terrorism when they go to college. But for today, this is all right. Not grab-a-nurse-and-kiss-her-in-Times-Square all right, but all right enough.