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Friday, March 22, 2013

Dan Wells might be the coolest author ever

If you decide you're going to host book club one month, and you decide to read, say, the debut novel from a few years back, I Am Not a Serial Killer, by Dan Wells...
and you cook and serve slightly undercooked chicken parmesan, but make up for almost poisoning your guests by ending the meal with a delicious and bloody-looking red velvet cake for dessert,


and if you've asked him very nicely and he's in town, Dan Wells just might come to your book club and tell you not only all kinds of backstory and secrets behind the book you just read, but also behind his other seven novels. (It's fascinating to learn how one idea leads to one book that requires certain research, which leads to another book idea, and so on. My ambition to become a successful author just got ramped up a bit.)

And then he might hang out and chat like a normal person about TV shows he likes and sign your books and even sell you a couple more of the newest ones while your dog sleeps on the back of the couch behind him. And he won't even make you feel bad about that whole almost-poisoning thing.

Mr. Wells might even ask about what you're working on if he knows you're a writer, and share tidbits from his own writing process and keep everyone well entertained, whilst educating the room about why sociopaths truly are concerned with social expectations and why the chemicals in a mortuary's embalming room make it resemble a snow cone shop.

So if you do these things, and it turns out Dan does show up at your house one Thursday evening in March, you should feed and water him, try very hard not to kill him, keep your dog from licking him to death, and let the discussion flow from the book at hand to all the new ones you now must read, as well as all the great series on right now and how there's never enough time to absorb all the stories you'd like. (You should also talk a little shop with him if you're a writer so you can steal his knowledge.)


And then you should take a picture to prove you're not making it all up. 


I Am Not a Serial Killer is the first of the John Wayne Cleaver trilogy, Dan's first published series, followed by Mr. Monster and I Don't Want To Kill You. In the first book, we meet John who is a teenaged sociopath fighting against his natural instinct to do terrible things, but finds himself facing a monster outside himself when bodies begin turning up in his small town. Had I not been rushing to get the house cleaned up before this get-together, I'd have started the second book already. Mr. Monster is next for me!

The book Dan is holding above is the second in his Partials trilogy, called Fragments. Click on any of these titles to visit their synopses on Dan's website. Apparently Dan got through another two chapters of the final installment in this series the very day he came for a visit, so soon, kids :)

If you fail to follow these steps exactly, I cannot guarantee Mr. Wells will make it to your book club, but who knows? If you read it, maybe he will come :)

*********************** 

Thank you, Dan, for spending an evening among other book lovers, and for being kind to Murphy when he had a hard time understanding why you didn't want to be bathed. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Gone

Friday night my writer's group held a small and casual reading at a coffee shop in downtown Stuttgart. I read the opening chapter of the novel I began writing in November, and I think it was received well. Though I did have to consciously keep myself from flinching at some of the coarse language included in my piece, I surprised myself at how calm I remained during the entire event. (One fellow group member is a priest and sat right up front. For some reason, I associate religious leaders with milder language?) I didn't burn up and turn bright red, I didn't stutter, I didn't even fidget constantly with my face and hair. I'm not sure what got into me, but somehow I managed to not only host the evening, announcing the welcomes and the thank yous, but managed the rhythm of the night without getting dizzy or anything. It was strange, and I liked it.

You see, I'm not a natural leader and I've never been comfortable in front of a crowd, and I'm certainly not one to step up and take control in such situations...which is why this is all so strange to me. Part of my high comfort level is no doubt tied to the fact that I'm familiar with this group of people, and they've all been extremely supportive in my new leadership role. To be honest, if I were challenged I might crumble into a nervous pile on the floor, but luckily I've got people who I  consider natural leaders backing me up. So this is good for me, this step away from that which is typical, this new challenge. But I digress.

With some gentle prompting, I've decided to share my first chapter here. Usually I'm against censorship, but I do feel the need to censor some of the language since I've got nieces and nephews and this is so very public. (Plus, I still choose to live under the delusion that my parents aren't aware that I know such language. Make fun if you must, but I'll always be part-Good Girl.)

Please keep in mind that this is still in draft form and will hopefully improve in the revision process. I'm interested in what your thoughts are after reading it. Would you want to read on?


**************************

CHAPTER ONE: GONE


It wasn’t the impact reverberating up my arms that broke through the rage roaring in my ears, but the wet crack that sounded out beyond the skin and muscle that wrapped around his torso. When he fell to the floor at my feet there was another snap behind the thump, and before I could take my next ragged breath I found my sneakered foot embedded in his ribs. He wasn’t crying, but growling at me through the pain, and that was when I realized I was the one standing above him this time, his bat hanging by my side like an extra limb. I watched him curling in on himself, cursing me between gasps from what I hoped was a punctured lung.


“What’s that, Daniel?” It was the first time I’d spoken since my brother walked in the front door and met his own bat across the ribs. I knew it wasn’t smart to kneel closer to hear him; he had twenty years of testosterone and muscle on his side. Instead I popped the top of his bent knees with the bat and asked again.

“You’re ******* dead!” he screamed clearly this time, and I smiled because he didn’t know.

When he moved as if to get up, I widened my stance over him and took a hard swing, the bat smashing into his left arm. He let out a primitive wail and after another hit, didn’t try to get up again.

I thought about our father’s eyes watching me incapacitated from his bed a couple of hours earlier, and the feeling it brought bloomed in my chest warm and calm. Something happened that changed me. Keeping my eyes on my writhing brother, still gasping from the living room floor, I crossed the room and sat in our father’s chair, the well-worn, brown leather recliner that reigned over our house.

“No, you see I’m not the one who’s dead,” I argued gently, the roar having died down in my ears and my pulse easing back.

Daniel managed to lift his head enough to turn toward me, the hate in his eyes making room for a hint of fear. “What the **** are you talking about?”

I smiled again; I looked forward to telling him.

Earlier that evening, I’d walked into my father’s room with his dinner, meatloaf and mashed potatoes, having no idea this was the last meal I’d cook for him. When he found out the cancer spread from his lung to his lymphatic system, the prognosis looked grim enough for him to refuse further treatment. My father told people he wanted to die in comfort, but in the back of my mind I believed he was punishing me for his illness. After all, regardless of how quickly his health declined, it was I who acted as his nurse for the last couple of months, feeding and bathing him, helping him to the toilet chair beside the bed and cleaning it after each use. When he first got sick, I was terrified of him dying because I was scared of being left alone. I once believed that a house full of angry hands was better than an empty one. By the time I served his last plate of meatloaf, however, I was warming up to the idea.

Since my mom took off for good I struggled with the fear of being abandoned by everyone I knew. Granted, it wasn’t much different after she left since she was hardly around anyway, but at least I knew I had a mother somewhere. The day she left was so anticlimactic it seemed both inevitable and unbelievable, like we were nothing but a passing mistake in her life, easy baggage to cast off.

I was sixteen and had passed my Driver’s Ed class, which I practiced telling her all the way home on the bus. I didn’t worry when she wasn’t home, though it dampened my excitement some knowing the next time I saw her she’d probably either be too high or too exhausted to care about my news. I watched TV for a while and then started dinner as usual. When my father got home from work he was more irritable than normal but I knew better than to mention it. We sat around the table, me, Dad, and Daniel and nobody asked where Mom was.

“How’d baseball go today?” our father asked.

“Sucked. O’Riley don’t know ****. He’s putting Jackson in to start on Saturday,” Daniel grumbled through his mouthful of spaghetti. “Dumbass.”

Daniel was a senior that year and pitched on our high school baseball team.

“If you practiced more, maybe he’d put you in,” our father replied, ripping a bite from his garlic bread without moving his critical gaze from my brother, who I knew felt it.

“I passed my final Driver’s Ed exam today,” I volunteered. I’d been holding my breath.

My father and Daniel both looked at me for four seconds exactly, and then continued eating without comment. Even though I was used to this, my heart still fell.

“I’ve been saving up babysitting money for a used car so I don’t have to ride the bus to school anymore,” I added. “And also so when I get a real job-“

“Nothing wrong with the bus, Sarah,” said my father.

“I know, I was just-“

“I know what you were just, but I’m telling you not to go letting yourself believe you’re better than anybody else just because you know the difference between the gas pedal and the brakes.” He took another bite of spaghetti, his eyes drilling into mine to hold me in place. “Next thing I know, you’ll be parading yourself around like your ***** of a mother, and I don’t need another good-for-nothing woman to deal with.”

I bit my lower lip to keep from speaking because I didn’t know what I hated more, that he called my mother a ***** or that he thought I’d wind up just as strung out and weak as she was.

“You got something to say?” Daniel piped up, a satisfied smile stretched across his greasy face. He’d always thought he was something special being the son.

I shook my head.

“Do you?” our father asked, his hand wrapping around the handle of his fork on the table, a gesture I knew well.

“No, sir,” was all I could say.

“Speaking of your mother, she won’t be coming home this time.” He said it so casually, so carelessly as if he’d just told us it’d be raining on Saturday.

“Whatever,” Daniel spat. “Who the hell cares.”

“Where is she?” I asked, forgetting myself.

I knew the instant the words escaped my mouth that I should’ve kept quiet. His eyes flared and his fist clenched. When he spoke, the word came clearly and slowly. “Gone.”

My knees trembled under the table, my hands suddenly freezing. It would just be me now taking the blows. At least with my mom around from time to time there was someone to share them with. As much as I hated her for not taking me and running, I still needed her around. I focused on breathing and held back the tears for fear of further ridicule.

“She finally up and left us altogether, stupid *****, and you should be grateful. You might have a chance of becoming useful now.” I could smell his garlic breath and thought I might throw up right into my plate.

We finished eating in silence and after I was done washing up, I threw up in the dishwater instead. We didn’t talk about her again after that. I knew I no longer had a mother after that, too. Happy Sweet Sixteen. She chose to leave us; it would’ve been easier to take if she’d died. 

As I stood beside my father’s bed watching him pick at the dinner I cooked for him, images of my mother’s swollen and bruised face flashed through my mind. It’d been two years since she left and I’d taken on her share of things as was expected, but seeing my father in such a weakened state began to give rise to something new within me. It began with a flutter in my stomach that slowly reached into my chest. Foreign at first, I slowly realized this feeling must be hope.

“Where’s Daniel?” he asked, his voice gruff and impatient.

“Work,” I answered simply.

His sigh rushed out in more of a huff, and he stuck his finger into the blob of mashed potatoes. “God******, they’ve gone cold.” His weakening body did nothing to soften his temperament.

I started to reply, but the back of his hand knocked the words right out of my mouth.

“I don’t want to hear it you dumb ****. Is it too much to ask for hot food? Don’t I deserve a decent meal for taking care of you all your damn life?” Despite his complaints, he kept eating.

I pressed my fingers to the side of my mouth, tonguing the inside part that was now bleeding, while my father grumbled and cursed his way through his dinner. I was expected to wait so I could take the tray away the second he was done. Patience wasn’t something he practiced.

“What the hell are you staring at?” he asked, his fork poised in front of his mouth.

I hadn’t realized I was looking at him. “I’m not staring,” I replied.

“Don’t you argue with me,” he began, but stopped suddenly when a sharp breath in stuck in his throat. His eyes popped wide and his hands went frantic grabbing at his bed sheets, knocking over his iced tea, then tugging at the front of his shirt, ripping at his collar. It wasn’t until he grabbed his own throat that I understood what was happening.

At first I jumped back, startled by the burst of movement, but as I listened to the sound of air trying to fight its way around the clog in his throat, my mind began to buzz. It’d be so easy to let this happen; I was in the kitchen washing up and didn’t hear him. It was an accident. Though my thoughts sped through my head, I moved slowly and with purpose, first taking the tray from his lap and placing it on the floor. He was balking against his own body when I climbed onto the bed, straddling him and watching the panic take hold of his weathered face.

“Shhh,” I soothed, taking his hands and pushing them palm down at his sides. “It’s going to be okay.” I scooted up his body and pressed my knees into the backs of his hands.

I’d just turned eighteen and graduation was only a couple months away. With him gone I could walk away from this place if I wanted and no one could stop me. I could achieve what my mother was too weak to: freedom.

He watched me with wild eyes, still trying to force the mashed potatoes from his windpipe, but didn’t struggle against me until I leaned forward into his face, resting my weight on both arms that were now resting hard against his. Inches from my father’s face, I watched him fight to breathe and it thrilled me. All he could do was kick his legs beneath my weight and try to squirm out from under me, but it was all wasted effort. The cancer had greatly weakened his body, but not his mind, and he knew exactly what was happening. My veins coursed with adrenaline while his depleted of oxygen, and when he finally stilled, I felt something else I’d never felt before.

Power.

After I replaced the food tray to his lap and repositioned his arms, there was no question what had to happen next. Daniel would be home from practice soon. My mind flooded with memories of all the pain inflicted on me at the hands of my big brother, the one who was supposed to protect me instead of joining in. The rising feeling of hope stirred deep within me and started to spin into a hot wind that grew with each passing minute, fueled by the anger I carried, my own kind of cancer. The longer I waited with Daniel’s wooden bat across my lap in the dark of the living room, the stronger that wind grew, spinning up through my body and into my head, until my rage was a hurricane screaming in my ears behind the thumping of my heart.

And now here he was, glaring up at me in pieces on the floor.

“I said, what the **** are you talking about?” His voice cracked. I wondered if he’d figured it out.

I leaned forward in our father’s chair and tilted my head at Daniel as I said the word, “Gone,” soft and sweet like I was speaking to a child.

Daniel started screaming in rage or sadness, I didn’t know which, and I stood and raised the bat again. He was too loud.

“No! Please!” he yelped when he saw me.

“Shut your mouth, Daniel, or this bat’s going to get very bloody.” I had no idea where this calmness came from. All I knew was that this was over; I was done.

“What did you do?” he asked, his voice strained. He was sobbing like a pathetic little baby; he sounded like our mother.

“It’s over, Daniel, do you understand? Do you understand what I’m saying?” My hatred made me strong for the first time.

He shook his head, but I didn’t know if it was at me or the terror of the situation.

Suddenly I was on him, sitting on his chest, my right knee crushing the broken arm at his side. He cried out but stopped and stared up at me, waiting. With the bat shoved crossways deep into his throat, I leaned in to say what I’d never had the courage to say before.

“Never ******* touch me again.”


*****************************

© Copyright 2012 Lindsey Cole, all rights reserved.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Still Kicking, I Swear

Wow...has it really been nearly a month since I posted? That can't be right.

I've been writing, I swear, just nothing that's made it here.

I started writing a post about linguistic misunderstandings and the ridiculosity of certain literal translations, but then I got distracted... but what was funny was going to then turn into something really deep and thought-provoking, too.

Then I was going to jump in on one of these writing prompts I've been seeing on some of my favorite blogs (Hi Natalie and Erica!), but then the fact that I've not been putting enough time in on the novel kept me from starting anything completely new. I've only got so much creative juice and if I spend it all trying to write something worthy of a contest, I've got nothing left for the bigger project I should be working on.

Even so, I then wrote half a post about the crazy parade I attended a couple weeks ago to include pictures of Smurfs on horses, cherry red Porsches, and mischievous witches with Winter curses, but it needed a lot more work before I could post it and the guilt of ignoring the novel shamed me away from finishing it.

So I've been working here and there on that novel, trimming and tightening the opening chapter specifically to read this Friday at a public reading my writer's group is holding. Plus other people need feedback on their pieces, and as the current leader of the group, that's something I want to do in the hopes of spurring more feedback-swapping among members. Then there's all that other life stuff I can't get away from, like walking Murphy and making time for the gym, the endless laundry and dishes to be washed, and attempting to maintain a semi-clutter-free living space so outsiders aren't afraid when they walk through the front door.

This isn't a blog post, I'm aware, but I feel like I have to put something up as evidence that I have not, in fact, fallen off the face of the earth, and that I do miss blogging. I'm just having a hard time juggling at the moment, but I'll find my way back.

So please keep popping by. I promise I'll give you something to read soon.


In the meantime, here's a creepy mob of witches to hold you over.


(I love you...don't leave me.)



Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My Life Line in Media

so far, that is. 

I was feeling nostalgic. These are TV shows, movies, musicals, songs, artists and books I've loved over the course of my life thus far. This is when I encountered them, not necessarily when they were released. And though this list is in no way exhaustive, these were the ones that came to mind when I took a mental stroll back over my life. These color my childhood, first heart break, part of my engagement when we were apart, the wedding, moving to Italy, then to Germany, and many, many moments in between. I understand if you must judge me for a couple of these, but there they are anyway.

The Smurfs
She-Ra
My Little Pony
The Care Bears
Pound Puppies
Popples
"The Greatest Love of All"
The Neverending Story
Stand By Me
Teen Witch
Teen Wolf
"Straight up" & "Opposites Attract"
"Could've Been"
"Hold On"
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Back to the Future
Goonies
"The Sign"
"Ice Ice Baby"
"Buddy Holly"
Sandlot
"The Sweater Song"
"Tonight Tonight"
"When I Come Around"
"I Will Always Love You"
My Pal Trigger
The Lottery
The Toasters
"You Oughta Know"
A Tale of Two Cities
Empire Records
The Crotch Rockets
The House of Spirits
Blink 182
"Head Over Feet"
"Don't Speak"
Beloved
"Truly, Madly, Deeply"
Can't Hardly Wait
Alien: The Resurrection
"Time of Your Life"
"Fortunate Fool"
The Bluest Eye
Napster
Ani DiFranco
Bastard Out of Carolina
Liz Phair
A Widow For One Year
American Idol
The World According to Garp
"Skater Boy"
Big Fish
Elf
"Toxic"
"The Reason"
"Here Without You"
"I Will Love You"
"Left Outside Alone"
Laura Pausini
Rent
"Hey There, Delilah"
Corinne Bailey Rae
Once
Avenue Q
"Sex on Fire"
Mando Diao
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
Avatar
"Love Song"
Inception
Rise Against
"Animal"
"Fidelity"
Kate Nash
"Jar of Hearts"
Ingrid Michaelson
Amanda Palmer
Life of Pi


A thousand points to whomever can name the bands that go with all the songs. I'm certain I've forgotten some favorites, but I think most of them are here. And I know I sometimes listed a song and sometimes a band, but there are reasons for it all, mysterious reasons you'll never know, mwahahahahaha!!!

...mostly because they're boring details that only matter to the person they happened to. You know, me.

What are your favorites of all time?

*** UPDATE ***
I cannot believe I forgot Buffy, movie and series, and The New Kids on the Block, my first concert ever. And all 80s music all over the high school and college years. And The Beach Boys during childhood. I'll be back in five minutes to add more. 



Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Your Memory is a Liar

I'm the youngest in a family of three kids with a significant age gap separating me from both my brother and sister. Back in the 80s, while my sister was watching MTV and refusing to clean her room to the point that our dad took her door off its hinges, I was watching the Smurfs. While my brother was crashing cars and setting fires in the mangroves down the street from our house, I was playing with My Little Pony and Barbie. (To be fair, he only set one fire and it was a total accident that got out of hand.) Being the baby, I got a lot of crap from my older siblings (still do) about being spoiled and doing things for attention, which I whole-heartedly deny. Not about being spoiled. We were all spoiled and they know it, but the thing about getting attention? No. Sure, I enjoyed being the center of attention from time to time within the confines of our house among family, but I would never make things up to achieve it. (Skunky doesn't count as a lie - imaginary friends are off the table.)

I've always had vivid dreams and the overwhelming desire to tell people about them (forgive me), so my family members have spent years hearing about them in all their nonsensical glory. To this day, if someone doesn't quite believe what I'm saying they'll say, "Maybe it was a dream," which has always had the power to irk me. It's true that my dreams have been known to trick me into thinking something that didn't actually happen did, and the men in my life have been subjected to the repercussions in real life of something they did in my dreams, but it's not (all) my fault. I can't help that what happens in my dream affects me so strongly, and usually whatever they did in my dream was something they really would do in real life, so maybe they should just be nicer.

My point? Sometimes we lie and we really don't mean to. It happens all the time.

In the middle of writing a different blog post, in fact, the one preceding this, I found myself reminiscing about singing in my childhood years, which led to memories of my mother singing when I was a kid, which then led all kinds of interesting tidbits I've kept safely tucked away in the recesses of my brain. When I ran into a snag, wherein my memory didn't exactly align with what Google said about a group of which my mom used to be a part, I called her to help straighten me and my memories out. We've just hung up and my stomach hurts a little from all the laughing - those phone calls are the best.

First, let me share my memories about my mom's singing career when I was a child:

My mom was a rock star. When I was young, let's say single digit years but over 4, my mom was a member of Sweet Adelines, an a cappella singing group who performed for real life audiences on the church circuit. They traveled around and put on shows, so sometimes she was out of town on tour (like the time I busted my head open on the door latch plate and was awarded one stitch at the emergency room for all the agony). They wore shiny blue costumes with sequins and there was a great, big, tall, muscular man with red hair and a mustache who traveled with them as part of the act, performing lifts in the dance numbers they did on stage to accompany the songs they sang. I pictured the women running across the stage into the red-headed man's great big arms and being lifted into the air, their poodle-like skirts flying.

When I asked my mom about this time in her life, laughter ensued. There were moments no one could actually speak real words because of it.

My mom's memories about the same time:

My mom has always loved to sing. When I was young, let's say between 5 and 7, my mom was a member of the local chapter of Sweet Adelines, an all women a cappella group who sang from time to time in the area, having no religious affiliation (thought they did practice at a local Methodist church). She doesn't remember any over night trips with the group, but they did compete and WIN at the regional competition one year. They wore shiny blue, satiny costumes with sequins and the group of women was so big (about 50) they filled a set of bleachers on the stage to sing. There was no man with red hair and a mustache, though now my dad is starting to wonder. There were also no poodle skirts. Or dancing. She said the closest they came to dancing was a little swaying, but that was it.

To my credit, my mom was also a part of a singing ensemble at our church that had both women and men around the same time in my life, so I'm thinking this is where the man with red hair and mustache came from, as well as the church connection. Either way, comparing memories can be kind of hilarious and I encourage you to try it.

And I really did split my head open on the door latch enough to warrant a single stitch, we all remember that, and my mom was out of town, though nobody can remember where she was.

One of these days I'm going to figure out who that man with the red hair and mustache is.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Save the Empire!

If you've never seen Empire Records (1995), most of this post may be lost on you. And I can't even apologize for this, as it's your fault you haven't seen this masterpiece of teenaged angst and rebellious love of music over capitalism. It may not be your fault - perhaps you didn't know - but now that you do there's no excuse and I expect you to get your hands on a copy immediately, but only if you were ever a teenager. The rest of you are off the hook.
http://www.luckylegendary.com

Let's back up a little.

I have always loved to sing. I can remember my mother sitting at the piano smiling while I matched with my voice the notes she played. *She was even a member of Sweet Adelines, a traveling singing group that made the church circuit - I thought she was a rock star. I grew up listening to her sing her way through the house and I've always done the same. I was the little girl in children's choir who got the solo at the Christmas concert at church, and if chorus was an option at school, I was in.

Enter adolescence and the flush of hormones that turn every kid on their head and I quickly grew too self-conscious to let anyone hear me sing anymore. In church I'd grown up with these people and there was a sense of safety when I stood on the stage and sang my little heart out. In school, however, I never auditioned for the solo because I didn't want to stand out, preferring to hide in the small sea of elementary voices that surrounded me. When my elementary years ran out, middle school didn't offer any opportunities to sing, and when I entered high school I was too shy to seek them out. But isn't this one of the very reasons we love movies so much? To not only buy into the story, but imagine ourselves within the realm of another reality for a couple hours?

I was 14 years old when Empire Records came out. My best friend and I rented the tape and watched it at least four times over the course of one weekend. (Keep in mind that this was in the day of rewinding the movie when you were done, so clearly this movie spoke to us in special ways for us to rewind it several times just to watch it again. I can't even imagine rewinding anything these days, who has the time?) As with all Generation X teen flicks, we saw ourselves in the characters and felt their plight to the depths of our tortured, teenaged souls. Damn the man!

http://summerscreen.org/this-week-at-summerscreen-empire-records
I saw myself in Debra, the angry and depressed girl with suicidal tendencies who shaves her head in a fit of frustration. I envied her courage to say what she thought and confront anyone who questioned her.

http://fashiongrunge.com


I wanted to be Corey, so oblivious to her pouty-lipped beauty but cool at the same time, while the sweet, slightly insecure, and properly grungy-hot A.J. fumbles after her in an attempt to reveal his love for her by 1:37pm. (You have to respect a boy with goals.)



http://jurassicgriffin.blogspot.de
But the one who really got me by the end was Gina. Gina is the record store slut, if you will, the sexy little wild thing who does what she wants and cares not what you think. (I didn't relate to this part, but secretly wished that I could.) But in the end, we find out that Gina does have insecurities like the rest of us (what!) and not only does she envy Corey's bright future in college, she's always wanted to sing in a band but is too afraid!

This was the moment I - and probably most other viewers - fell in love with Gina, not only because it's a relief to see the girl who seems to have it all under control really doesn't, but also because she overcomes her fears about singing in front of people and stands on that marquee and belts out lyrics to 'Sugar High' while the band plays around her at the finale scene where the people rise up to save the independent record store that is Empire Records! It's glorious and since 1995, any time I listen to the Empire Records Soundtrack and that song comes on, I sing Gina's parts loud and proud, pretending for a moment that I have the courage to sing from atop a lit marquee, too.

As long as no one else is home.

I still love to sing whenever I can, whether I'm in the car, in the shower, at my desk with iTunes blasting or making up silly songs to describe what I'm doing. Singing the words to a song that you connect with does something beautifully cathartic, and sometimes when I really need to tap into a certain emotion, whether to deal with something personal or get into the right headspace for writing a certain scene, all I need to do is play the right song and the room fills.

This train of thought was brought on by a recent post by a favorite blogger of mine, in which she discusses her fantasy job that she knows she'd suck at. The Cat Lady closes the post posing the question to her readers, What is your secret fantasy career that you know you’d be awful at? Well, Natalie, let me tell you...

Being aware that a career in singing would be a terrible move doesn't mean that I'm failing to believe in myself, I'm just realistic. I can carry a tune, and I admit that I have the ability to sing certain songs pretty well, but I lack the proper pipes and guts to pursue anything outside of my house. And it isn't that I'm not going after a dream, because I may fantasize about singing in a band like Gina, but my true dream is to be a successful writer. Singing is something I'll always do, but writing is something that defines me.

http://www.mamapop.com/2010/07/empire-records-perfect.html

I think it's healthy to hold onto slightly unrealistic fantasies to keep our hearts hopeful and imaginations limber, just as long as we don't lose touch with reality and in turn, lose ourselves to the pursuit of a shattered dream waiting to happen. Some people find out what was once slightly unrealistic is really their true calling in life, but for the rest of us, it's fun to pretend between moments of stupid adult responsibility and what is sometimes a dull reality.  

Because wouldn't it be great if we could all end our days dancing in triumph on the rooftop of an independent record store behind the glorious neon glow of its sign? 

Yeah, I think so, too.



*See the next post, Your Memory is a Liar, for the correction to this slightly fudged memory.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Grateful

In case you didn't know, I am the easiest person to shop for in the entire universe. I may require a lot emotionally, but Chris has it so easy - I've always been a cheap date and easy to please.

Why, you ask? Because I'm a nerd and I love books and anything related to writing and socks, lots and lots of wonderful socks. I reject plain socks and refuse to wear (or own) white socks (except the kind you wear to the gym because who wants to waste good socks there?). I like 'em striped, argyle, or my favorite kind, silly.


The most amazing pair of socks I've ever received lay here among ones from both Mom and Chris. You'll notice they're not just argyle, they're argyle with mustaches.

What? I know. Amazing.






After socks comes books, the kind you read for fun sent to you from your good friend at Random House who knows your taste, and the kind you write in,






the kind you read so you can make amazing gelato and ice cream in your new ice cream maker,




the kind you read to help get yourself published so you can tell people you're an actual author,








and the kind you hide things in.
After the nerdy stuff comes the wine-related stuff...which is always appreciated.

Need to chill your wine to the ideal temp?
(left)


Need a redneck wine glass in which to enjoy said perfectly chilled pinot grigio at the block party?
(right) 


















And because the interwebs are constantly overflowing with cat paraphernalia, it's my duty to add a little Murphy to that soup. It may have been a Green Christmas, but it was still a good one for the dog child.

It was funny, the second I brought home his stocking, he knew it was his and dragged it off a couple of times. And every spoiled puppy should have his own sheep skin, right? Its name is Shrek, Jr. but not after the ogre. Yeah I know...he's got it rough.


Is there a point to this brag-fest of a blog today? 

I suppose this is just another attempt to show you a little bit of who I am via the things that make me happy. I'm a fortunate person and I try to keep that in mind whenever I start to itch over things like not getting to drive a Porsche while living in its motherland, not having control over what happens next for us with regards to where we may go, and not being in the shape I'd like to be in. I think it's okay to celebrate those things which bring us joy, especially when some of that joy comes in the form of a jar glued to a candlestick a dear friend made just for me, because it's when we forget about the little things that we begin to slide toward not appreciating the bigger things we have. So in a way, appreciating new books and socks and wine vessels keeps me grateful that I've got a car at all (the Mazda 6 model of Porsche), that in an unstable economy Chris will still have a job regardless of where we go (while I pursue writing), and the blessing of having a fully functioning body with the ability to get to where I want to be if I can just stick to it.  

Oh, and the Murphdog, because look at this face.