Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Resolution Review

Well, it's that time of year again. We're coming up on the final hour of 2009 and I have really officially run out of time to try and complete these goals. Here's the rundown on how I did this year. The goals themselves are in italics and my analysis will follow.


1. Create a submission packet for Effigy. This includes the dreaded synopsis of which I have only written two paragraphs. But they're really good paragraphs. Once this packet is created, I will start submitting the submission packet to agents and editors who will, I am sure, fight tooth and nail to get me.

Well, this one I did. Query letter, synopsis and all. I don't know that there's much else to say about it than that.

2. Write Second Nature. My fans demand it. All three of them.

Well, all right. I didn't do this one. I started it at least, so that's something, right?

3. Create a Lingo drinking game. I don't know why no one's ever done it before. This is a show that screams drinking game.

I did this one as well. I never actually got around to posting it on my blog though. Probably because my attempts to try out my drinking game led to alcohol poisoning...

4. Make 2009 the last year I work in retail. Thirteen years is quite enough. For anyone. I realize this will mean an end to the workplace blogs, but I'll find something else to write about. It's what I do.

Well, considering I spent the majority of my day today folding 600 pairs of men's jeans, I don't quite think I accomplished this goal.

5. Read more nonfiction. Since I very rarely (shamefully, even) read any now, this goal should certainly be do-able.

This I accomplished. I didn't read a ton of nonfiction, but I definitely read more than I have in years past.

6. Be less sarcastic. Good thing this will be my last year in retail...I think it'll help immensely.

Oh, come on. This one was really more a pipe dream anyway.

So, overall, three out of six isn't too awfully bad. But maybe I can do better next year...I guess we'll find out in starting approximately fifty seven minutes.

Happy New Years, one and all.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

December 2009 Book Report

Taboo- Susan Johnson- A nice trashy romance novel to kick off my post NaNoWriMo existence. God, I love her books. It’s just one elaborate sex scene after another with some semblance of a plot thrown in in between. Super fun!

The Hunger Games- Suzanne Collins- Wow. Just freaking Wow. This is an amazing freaking book. It’s probably the most intense book I’ve read in a good long while and the first since probably Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows that I just literally couldn’t put down. If you haven’t read this book, you really should. Just have a big block of time set aside for it just in case…

Catching Fire- Suzanne Collins- August will be a long time coming. Must. Have. Third. Book. Now.

City of Bones- Cassandra Clare- The first in the Mortal Instruments series. This came recommended by a friend and so I read it. I didn’t like it as much as Suzanne Collins’s novels, not by a long shot, but it’s an all right read.

City of Ashes- Cassandra Clare- The second in the Mortal Instruments series. I hated, hated, hated what Clare did to poor Simon. I hated, hated, hated the constant “he’s dead! No, wait, he isn’t. No, he’s dead. No, wait, he isn’t” Simon’s too good a character and while I suppose I am happy that they finally landed on the “no he isn’t” side of that debate, it’s still asinine. And I am also concerned about the Clary/Jace thing. Book Three better straighten that out and post hasty, because, like I said, it’s concerning. Big props, however, to the scene where Simon reads the “Coming Out To Your Parents” pamphlet. Hi-larious.

City of Glass- Cassandra Clare- The third book in the Mortal Instruments series. They resolved the Clary/Jace thing at least. I can’t decide if I liked this series or hated it. But it did get me to go out and buy all three books (the last in hardcover because it isn’t available in paperback until this summer) so maybe whether I liked it or not doesn’t matter. I liked most of it. There were parts that felt too juvenile to me, which is probably dumb to say given that it’s an young adult series but I’ve read a lot of young adult fiction and not all of them have those moments. Suzanne Collins’s novels, for instance, did not have those moments. This series did.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Vacation

I hope everyone had a successful holiday, whatever it is you celebrate.

The Gator Girl started the holidays off early when she decided to break into the gifts I had wrapped for the other dogs in our life and pick through them for the stuff she'd rather not give away. She stole tennis balls from Sonny and Piper and completely took (and hid) Mindy the Rat Terrier's present. Mindy had a box of milkbones and a stuffed cat toy. I didn't realize it was missing until Christmas morning when Mindy didn't have a present under the tree from us.

Still haven't found it.

In addition to her criminal activities, the Gator Girl seemed damn determined to land herself in the emergency vet's clinic. On Wednesday, she busted her way into a box I had been sure was gator proof (Note to self: nothing is ever gator proof.) and helped herself to a cookie tree present my godchildren had made for both her and Big. It was three milkbone biscuits tied with ribbons and glued to a construction paper tree. It was cute. And when I wasn't looking, it ended up (ribbons and all) in the Gator Girl's stomach. Now we're on poop patrol. Nothing says 'Merry Christmas' like having to dig through piles of dog shit to locate ribbons.

The ribbons, by the way, are still MIA.

Then, Christmas morning, in her rush to get out of the house and into the car (she's always concerned we're going to leave without her), she slipped on the ice and hurt her back leg. The Gator Girl doesn't often feel pain. Or, at least, she doesn't show that she feels pain. A few times, she's cut her pads while playing ball, but she's so focused on playing ball that she doesn't act hurt and you don't know anything's wrong until you notice the bloody footprints all over your once white rug. After her fall on the ice, she wouldn't put any weight on her back leg. It still didn't stop her and her one track mind from running to the car because she was still worried about being left behind.

She seems better now. Right now, she's amusing herself by running around the house, trying to find things to get into to, things that will make me get up from this desk so I can go and steal back whatever she's taken.

So yeah, we had a good holiday. We had some good laughs with both sides of the family and ate entirely too much food. We were sent home with a ton of sweets with which I am now gorging myself and I spent yesterday on the couch watching my new Alias DVDs, the Incredible Dog Challenge (Yea, diving dog Malinois champion!) and Patriots football (Yea, AFC East Champs!!!).

But today it is back to work. However, Joe is on vacation this week.

I am not. Not really.

Of course, I'm not actually leaving the house (much) to work (although I have to work a whole eight hours at the store this week...spread across two days, of course). I'm sitting at my desk in my office, trying to write a couple of scenes I've had stuck in my head for a few days now. The holidays robbed me of time to write them down properly so I scribbled some notes and swore to get back to it as soon as I could.

And that's today. Or at least I hope it will be today.

But Joe's on vacation and he doesn't know what to do with himself when he's on vacation and at home, so he spends his time wandering around the house and periodically coming into my office to see what I'm doing.

"Whatcha doing?" he asks nearly every time.

"Working," I say. I am nice enough not to say "wishing you were working today."

Sometimes he comes in and sits on the daybed and watches me type. Which I find to be highly annoying. But he generally doesn't stay long. He just pops in to interrupt my train of thought, pat the dogs (because they both hang out in the office with me, even if Joe's home), ask some asinine question and then go back to the living room.

"Why is there white stuff falling from the sky?" was the latest question.

"Because we live in New England and that's what happens in December?" I ask.

Granted, yesterday it was forty degrees and it rained all day. But today it's much colder and we're due to get about five inches of snow. What's that old saying about New England? If you don't like the weather, just wait five minutes?

It's a saying for a reason.

He's on the phone right now. Dollars to donuts, it's the office. That's another of Joe's vacation traditions. Spend lots of time on the phone with work helping them fix things that went wrong. When we were in Las Vegas last June, he got a couple of phone calls at 4am, Vegas time, from the office. I was particularly less than thrilled by those calls because we'd only gone to bed a couple hours earlier.

But hey, at least now he has something to do.

Happy New Year's, everyone.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Exchange Of The Day

I went out to do the last of the holiday shopping this morning and stopped in to pick up Chinese food for Joe and me for lunch. It was a bribe to get him in a good enough mood to do all the wrapping this afternoon. We have a tentative agreement. I do all the shopping, he does all the wrapping. He's much better at it than I am. His wrapping actually makes boxes look like boxes whereas my wrapping makes boxes look...messy. So I ordered him Chinese food.

While they were preparing our order, I went over to Burger King to pick up a cheeseburger for the dogs. They love Burger King cheeseburgers. Big would like it noted that before he had a stupid little sister, he used to get a cheeseburger all to himself but now he has to share his cheeseburger with his stupid little sister. But anyway, the exchange of the day is courtesy of the drive thru lady.

"Welcome to Burger King," she says. "Can I take your order?"

"Yes. I'd like a plain cheeseburger please," I say, resisting the urge to say "I don't know. Can you take my order?"

"Plain?" Drive Thru Lady asks. "Nothing on it?"

"Yes."

"Would you like bacon on it?" she asks.

"No," I say, resisting the urge to add that if I had wanted a bacon cheeseburger, I probably would have asked for a bacon cheeseburger.

"So just a plain cheeseburger?"

"Yes."

"Would you like to add fries or maybe a drink to your order?"

"No thank you," I say.

"How about cookies? Would you like some cookies? Three for a dollar!"

"No thank you," I say. "I'm really all set."

"So just the cheeseburger," she asks.

"Yes," I say. "Please."

"Okay. Your total will be $1.31 at the first window."

"Thank you," I say.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Somewhere An Ent Is Plotting My Demise...

So, for the last week and a half, the arborist has been here cutting down trees which mean that, for the last week and a half, the dogs have been barking in an attempt, perhaps, to protect me. I say that because one afternoon when Joe was home with them during the tree cutting hours, they very seldom barked. But when I'm home with them and Shane the arborist is doing his thing, tweedle dee and tweedle dum bark. And then bark some more. I am currently writing this blog with my headphones on because I just can't listen to it anymore.

Shane and his one man crew show up every morning between 9 and 10 and work until about 3pm. On Monday, Shane came and plowed part of my back yard so he could move the industrial chipper into it. So he and his guy were parked right outside my office windows which meant there was no work getting done that day. They were also parked right outside my bathroom window which meant I really didn't want to take a shower in my bathroom that morning. It just felt weird so I had to go upstairs and use Joe's bathroom. I don't like using Joe's bathroom because it's cold, damn freaking cold, but it's also on the second floor and closer to the bedroom so I figured it would be less weird. But when I went, wearing only my towel, into the bedroom to get dressed, I found myself looking right at Shane who was in the process of de-limbing one of the big pines and looking right into my bedroom window back at me because I had opened the shades that morning when I got up.

Shane waved. I waved. Then I closed the shades.

"Maybe you should've dropped your towel," Joe said when I told him. "Maybe we could've gotten a break on price then."

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the man I consider to be the love of my life. If only I could remember why that is.

Anyway, the price to which Joe referred is the $300 we are now in for on this project because Joe asked Shane how much it would be to take down two giant pines we always worry about falling on the house during a bad storm. Shane said that since he was already here doing the work, he'd take them both down for $900 but would take just the one closest to the house for $600. We decided to pass but apparently, Shane mentioned this to Marie who then offered to split the cost of the two trees with us. Shane told me this, and quoted me a price of $300 (guess he forgot he quoted us $900 for two) for the removal of both trees. Joe and I said yes to this. Seemed kind of like a no-brainer.

Today they appear to be taking down the two big pines. They showed up at 8am with the logging truck on which to load all the trees they've been dropping and leaving in my yard. The dogs and I just watched Shane shimmy up the biggest pine (the one closest to my bedroom windows) and attach a rope to it so I assume it's coming down next. It's cold today and rather windy so I imagine it's a fantastic day to be cutting down trees but I'm really hoping the earlier arrival and the appearance of the logging truck means that this will be the final day.

Not that Shane and his one man crew haven't been great. Oh. The house just shook. I'm guessing that means the biggest pine is now history.

This is a good sign. Trees are coming down and being loaded up, never to be seen again. Please, oh please, let this be the last day.

My head thanks you.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Holiday Favorites, Part Two

Here are some more of my favorite holiday shows and songs and whatnot. I didn't want them to be excluded. I'm sure I'll think of more later. Anyway, here's part two of the list:

Christmas Eve on Sesame Street: What could be more fun than songs and muppets and muppets singing songs? In this 1978 classic, Big Bird is worried that Santa won't be able to fit down the chimney. Cookie Monster keeps trying to write a letter to Santa but ends up eating whatever he's doing. Bert and Ernie reenact The Gift of the Magi and Grover and Kermit talk to kids about Santa.




How The Grinch Stole Christmas: The animated version with Boris Karloff's narration. Not the live action version starring Jim Carey.

Charlie Brown Christmas

Trans Siberian Orchestra: Joe loves this band. I am, I guess, more or less indifferent about them, but I love their Christmas music. Check out this video where someone programmed their Christmas lights to the music:



I also found a clip (thanks, youtube!) from the He Man/She Ra Christmas special I talked about in the last entry. Unfortunately, the embedding code was disabled so I can't post the clip here. I can, however, post the link which is:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVppuv9Pcqk

It's about a minute and forty seconds long and include the scene I referenced before ("You mean they get in fights?") so check it out if you get the chance because it's classic.

I did find a clip of Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye lip syncing to "Sisters" that did have the embedded code available so here's that for your viewing pleasure:

Holiday Favorites

So I am newly back from my first holiday get together of the season, drove home in a snowstorm and am now watching Elf so I thought I'd write a blog about my favorite things...the holiday edition.

Let's start with movies:

1. Elf starring Will Farrell. I don't always like Will's movies but I love this one. Buddy getting hit by the cab, Buddy hitting all the floor buttons in the elevator, the Etch a Sketch note (sorry I crammed eleven cookies in the VCR)...the whole damn thing is hysterical. I can't watch it too many times. Joe would like to disagree.

2. White Christmas starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye and Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen. That scene where Bing and Danny lipsync "Sisters" is just freaking hysterical. Great music and dance and humor. Don't blink or you'll miss it one liners.

3. It's A Wonderful Life starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. Though it wasn't intended as a Christmas movie, it's a great holiday treat.

4. Scrooge, the 1970 musical version starring Albert Finney as the title character. The music is a lot of fun. The honorable mention goes to Disney's A Christmas Carol.

5. A Christmas Story: Although I can't watch TBS's twenty four hour marathon, I'm good for at least one viewing. You'll shoot your eye out, kid!


Television Specials

1. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer: I was watching this just last night. Loved all the "Let's get the women home" talk. Plus, I heard tale that the doll on the island of misfit toys is on the island of misfit toys because she had psychological issues...Yikes!

2. In Excelsis Deo, The West Wing, season one. This is the Christmas episode where the homeless vet dies and has Toby's card in his coat pocket. This episode established a longstanding tradition of holiday episode excellence from this series.

3. Noel, The West Wing Season Two, the episode where Josh is experiencing some post traumatic symptoms.

4. The He-Man/She-Ra Christmas: Don't know if you've ever heard of this one but it's very bad in an awesome way. There are two human kids (Alicia and Manuel or Miguel) who are kidnapped by Skeletor for some reason and along the way, the troublesome tots teach Skeletor the true meaning of Christmas. And there's a puppy. It's hi-larious! Check out this section of awesomely bad dialogue:

Manuel/Miguel: `Christmas is lots of fun. We get presents and we do a lot of fun things.'

Skeletor: `You mean you get in FIGHTS!'

Alisha: `No we do FUN things.'

Skeletor: `But fights are FUN.'

5. The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis, The Big Bang Theory Season Two. This episode is most notable for the very end where Penny gives Sheldon a napkin signed by Leonard Nimoy. Jim Parsons's reaction is absolutely priceless.


Holiday Music

1. The Twelve Pains of Christmas: This song cracks me up, especially the guy rigging up the lights when, at the end, he's all "You're so smart, you rig up the lights!"

2. O Holy Night: It's just pretty.

3. O Come All Ye Faithful: Another one of my favorites to sing

4. O Come O Come Emmanuel: See above.

5. Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer: This makes the list because, my senior year of high school, we had a German exchange student stay with us and, one day, in the car, this song came on and my mother said, "Oh, have you heard 'Grandma got run over by a reindeer' to which our exchange student said "Oh no! She did?" And hilarity ensued!

Before I close, I'd also like to give a special shout out to the Christmas scene in the first Harry Potter film where Harry and Ron are tiny and adorable and Harry's all excited that he actually has presents. Too cute!

Anyway, that about does it for me tonight. But tell me: What are some of your favorite holiday things?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Intervention

So I went into the local Borders Express the other day to attempt some holiday shopping. I wandered down to the young adult section where one employee was engaged in helping a customer select some Ellen Hopkins novels for someone. They were also standing in front of the books for which I was looking so I was standing around waiting patiently for them to move.

When the lady took her purchases to the register, another customer, a man this time, swooped in to ask the employee a question.

"What's a good book for a sixteen year old girl who is an avid reader?" he asked.

I really wanted to raise my hand and jump up and down going "Oooh! Pick me! Pick me!" But I didn't.

"Do you know what she likes to read?" the employee asked.

He didn't. But he had picked up a copy of Stephenie Meyer's novel The Host. I resisted the urge to gag.

"Oh yeah, that's a great book," the employee said then.

At this point I resisted the urge to say "What, are you kidding? That a great book? Seriously? Have you even read that book or are your standards just that low?" But I didn't.

She went on to explain how it wasn't a part of the Twilight series because there have been some people who have bought it thinking it was the fourth Twilight book.

"They're also making it into a movie," she finished.

I didn't actually know they were making it into a movie. I hadn't heard that. Then I resisted the urge to snicker.

"Okay," the man said. "What else?"

"Umm," I said. "Excuse me..."

Here's what a sixteen year old avid reader should be reading (If she hasn't read them already):

Speak and Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson which I firmly believe are two of the most important books teenage girls could read. The Host is so NOT one of those books.

They should also read books by Ellen Hopkins. Crank, Burned, Tricks, Identical...any of them. Really. Each one of those books is such an unique experience. The way that woman manipulates language in order to create setting and mood and character is unreal.

Suzanne Collins's novels The Hunger Games and Catching Fire are fantastic and feature a sixteen year old girl in some extraordinary circumstances. Plus, they're addictive. Once you start them, you can't put them down. The story just grabs hold of you and won't let go. I stayed up for about three days straight because I just couldn't stop reading them. The only drawback is that the third installment won't be out until August.

If she loves the supernatural, she should read Holly Black's modern faerie tale series Tithe, Valiant and Ironside. Or Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series. Lisa McMann's novel Wake and Fade are another good example.

But please, please, whatever you do, don't get The Host.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

And So It Goes

I am missing November.

And it isn't just because I am now looking out the window at a near foot of snow when, just a week ago, we were sitting pretty with some sun and near seventy degree weather. I live in the mountains of New England. Snow is sort of inevitable this time of year.

I am, however, a little miffed at my plow guy right now. My plow guy who has yet to appear to plow the near foot of snow currently filling my driveway. Not to mention the more than knee deep snow at the end of the driveway, courtesy of the town plow. (Side note: How is it the town plow never seems to leave snow at the end of anyone else's driveway? How is it always mine?) Joe, even with our all wheel drive vehicle, barely got into the driveway this evening and only managed that because I had gone down and shoveled out an opening for him.

Note to my plow guy: I did not pay you a butt load of money so I could shovel out the end of my driveway after a freaking snowstorm drops a foot of the not so fluffy white stuff. If you can't be bothered to show up in a timely fashion, give me my damn money back and I will find someone who will. And yes, I already have someone in mind.

The someone is the arborist (Shane) who spent both Monday and Tuesday taking down the trees. Or some of the trees, I should say, because there's still a lot to come down. He started with the little pencil thin trees Marie wanted taken down because she was afraid they might grow (not sure what trees do on whatever planet she happens to be from but they apparently don't grow because she's always surprised when that happens.). Then he started on de-limbing the bigger trees. Today he took off because of the snow. That part was nice because it gave me a rest from the incessant barking from the Dynamic Duo who started barking at 9am on Monday morning when they noticed Shane the arborist and Shane the arborist's assistant tromping around our yard. The dogs stopped barking at 3:30 that afternoon when Shane and his assistant called it quits for the day. The fun resumed at 9am the next morning. Today, like I said, was quiet, but I fully expect them to start up right at 9am tomorrow when Shane is likely to reappear.

Shane also plows driveways. He mentioned this to me the other day and asked if we had a plow guy already. I said yes because I thought we did, in fact, have a plow guy. But apparently, when you sign a contact and send in a check to a plow guy it doesn't necessarily mean they'll show up. Jackasses. Shane told me that if our guy flaked on us to give him a call.

Man must be psychic.

But anyway, Shane is doing a wonderful job. If we ever have any further tree removal or landscaping needs, we'll totally be calling him. Even if he's afraid to come in the house. Just because he's met by a 130 pound German shepherd barking its head off and the only thing standing in between them is a baby gate precariously leaning against a doorway. Whatever...

So yeah, I'm missing November.

Another facet of this is that my creativity level has dropped off sharply so far this month. Joe says it's because I don't have a website telling me how many words I need to write each day and no graph depicting how far behind I am. He then offered to create such a graph for me. I turned him down because I have no set goal this month so I wouldn't know what to put into a graph. I'll probably take him up on that offer in January though because I have a definite writing goal then (to finish Second Nature).

Plus, there's this whole impending Christmas thing.

Has anyone else seen that commercial where this guy tells people to schedule pap smears for the women in their lives as a Christmas present? The first time I saw it, I actually had to reach for the remote and rewind the commercial so I could watch it again and confirm that that guy (I have no idea who he is) really did say 'pap smear' and 'Christmas gift' in the same sentence. Then I had a moment of disbelief where I couldn't believe it was a real, actual serious commercial and not some kind of Saturday Night Live spoof. Now, I don't need or expect anyone to buy me a present of any kind but even I have to think that a pap smear appointment isn't really a great gift. Nothing says Merry Christmas like a visit to the gynecologist. For Valentine's Day, maybe I'll get you a mammogram.

I'm surrounded by people who are knocking off their holiday shopping in one swoop (or one phone call to the gynecologist...) and I'm floundering big time. I just don't have the drive or desire to go out and do any. I can't even bring myself to shop online. Don't know where my Christmas spirit has gone to but I hope it comes back soon because, damn, I have a lot to do.

This Saturday I have to bake cookies. My mother has an annual holiday cookie swap party where everyone brings two dozen of two different types of cookies. Then you, like the name suggests, swap cookies so everyone goes home with an array of an insane amount of cookies. The problem is I have to bake cookies. This is a problem because I (a) do not bake and (b) I am afraid of eggs (sad but true) and refuse to even buy them which really limits my cookie making abilities.

But fortunately, I have a very excellent friend who comes over and helps me with my pathetic-ness. Heather is not afraid of eggs because, really, what sane person is, right? She's coming over on Saturday after she gets out of work to help me bake cookies. And by 'help me bake cookies' I pretty much mean 'bake cookies for me'. But I totally give her full and complete credit for it because I sure as hell don't want anyone thinking I can bake.

Because I can't.

I did, however, tell Heather I would make her dinner. Anything that she wanted. Well, anything that she wanted that I could make. Which probably means macaroni and cheese because, really, I don't know how to make much else.

My goodness. This blog really does seem to be exploring the reaches of my pathetic-ness, doesn't it?

So I guess on that note, I'll sign off for the evening. Maybe I'll go see if the USA network is replaying Elf starring Will Farrell (possibly my favorite holiday movie ever) and see if I just can't recapture some holiday spirit.

Until next time...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Television Week In Review (Week Ending 12/05/09)

Sunday

Legend of the Seeker: Thanks to NaNoWriMo, I am now two episodes behind. Will try to get caught up soon.

The Amazing Race: I hate the brothers. They are a pair of dicks. With a capital D. I am also disappointed that Big Easy couldn't systematically work out the challenge and instead chose to sit on a step in Prague for four hours. I am hoping Meghan and Cheyne take it next week. They seem to be the most high functioning of the group but I will not be sad if Brian and Erica end up with the top prize. Just anyone but the Brothers Dick.

Monday

Monday Night Football: Pats at the New Orleans Saints: Well, I do not know who those guys in the Patriots jerseys were but they certainly were NOT my beloved Pats. What the hell was that, guys? Seriously?

House: This episode focused on Wilson, which was a nice change of pace. It was a great episode too, I thought. I hear there's an episode coming up with focuses on Cuddy. Interesting. Also interesting is that Jennifer Morrison (Cameron) is still in the opening credits but has left the show. Does this mean she's coming back or they're just not going to bother altering the opening credits. Kind of sucks for Peter Jacobson and Olivia Wilde though.

Tuesday

So You Think You Can Dance: This was kind of a boring show tonight, I thought. Thank goodness Jakob and Ellenore had that Sonja Tayeh piece otherwise I think it would've about been a complete wash out for me. Curious to see who America's going to dump.

Wednesday

So You Think You Can Dance Results: Nathaniel and one of the girls is out. I don't remember if it's Noel or Catherine because they're kind of the same person to me. This is probably not a nice thing to say but it's true.

Glee: Get ready to sell some mattresses! Oh my God. The scene where Will finds out about Teri's fake pregnancy was INTENSE. I'm really looking forward to next week's fall finale.

The Middle: Are you watching this show? Because I really think you should be because it's hi-larious! Those three kids just kill me every damn week. Joe says Brick is his favorite but I think Axel is mine. Loved the part where Frankie (via voiceover) said that "Axel didn't pretend to commit suicide once!"


Thursday

Bones: How gross can this show get?? The three boys waiting in line for good seats was funny if an overly annoying and blatant advertisement for Avatar. Like we don't already know what it is. Give it a rest. I also enjoyed Angela's face when she saw the tattoo on Jack's arm and heard the story of how it got there.

Friday

Monk: The series finale. Thought the wrap up of Trudy's murder was a little rushed and I totally called who did it and why. Go me. I also liked the little montage at the end.


Saturday

Robin Hood: Didn't get a chance to watch it. Thank goodness for my DVR.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

NaNoWriMo Excerpt: The Meet Cute

The following is an excerpt from my NaNoWriMo project, originally titled Choose Your Own Adventure. It is currently does not have an official title but its working title is When Vinnie Met Ellie.

The scene you are about to read is the "meet cute", the scene where the heroine and hero meet for the first time. The heroine is Lavinia Pryce, nicknamed Nia, or Vinnie. The hero is Llewellyn, nicknamed Lew, or Ellie. They meet at a bar where Lavinia (along with her roommate Susannah) is celebrating her newfound unemployment.

Hope you enjoy it...and just remember...we weren't supposed to edit anything and I didn't.


“This seat taken?” a man’s voice asks a while later.

I don’t look up. “Does it look like it’s taken?”

“No, but I didn’t know if maybe you had a boyfriend-“

“No.”

“Or girlfriend-“

“Oh, how very progressive of you.”

“Maybe using the facilities or something.”

“No,” I say, looking up finally. “That seat’s not taken.”

He’s tall with short dark hair and blue eyes. He appears to be the textbook definition of ‘tall, dark and handsome’. He has some stubble on his face. He’s wearing a tee shirt and jeans, both of which do a lot to promote his athletic build. He smiles at me as he slides onto the stool. His teeth are very white and very straight.

“So you’re here on your own then?” he asks as he signals to Frank.

“Just me and my friend, Jack.”

Frank comes over and my newfound, yet entirely unwanted, companion asks for a beer. Whatever’s on tap. He’s not picky. Frank pours Sam Adams. When the new arrival receives his pint, he throws some money down on the bar and takes a swig of the beer. Frank looks at me as he gathers the money. It’s a look I’ve seen before. Is this man bothering you, Nia? I shake my head slightly. Nothing I can’t handle. Frank nods and turns to the register.

“Jack?” the tall dark stranger asks as he sets his beer down.

Not too bright, this one. Probably gets by on his looks. He probably makes women everywhere crazy with those well muscled arms of his. He then dazzles them with his baby blue eyes and easy grin and (likely) washboard abs so they don’t notice his total lack of wit. Too bad for him that I’m immune to such manipulation.

I indicate my glass. “Jack. As in ‘Daniels’?”

“Oh,” he says and then looks at his beer. “I feel a little emasculated right now.”

“Do you?” I ask, not caring. “Frank? Can I get another, please?”

Frank nods and prepares my whiskey sour. He puts it down in front of me. I do not throw any money on the bar and Frank walks away to the other end of the bar.

“Frank?” the man asks.

“The bartender.”

“Oh, come here often?”

“Wanna know my sign next?” I ask. “Look, if you’re trying to pick me up, I’m not interested. Save us both some time and hassle, you know?”

“Who said I was trying to pick you up?”

“You certainly seem like you’re trying to pick me up.”

“Just making conversation.”

“Just checking.”

“I think I may have stumbled on to why you’re here alone,” he says.

“I’m sitting here at this bar alone,” I say. “But I am not alone in this building. I have a friend-“

“Besides Jack?”

“Who dances,” I say and point over my shoulder in the general direction of the dance floor.

“She’s over there.”

He looks over his shoulder. “You don’t dance?”

“Haven’t had enough to drink yet to consider it.”

“So you’re one of those.”

“Whatever that means.”

“So touchy,” he says. “You always like this?”

“Drunk?”

“Charming.”

“What do you care?”

“Are you new to the concept of conversation?”

“I didn’t ask you to sit here.”

“True.”

“Nor did I ask you to converse with me,” I say. “In fact, I think I’ve done quite a lot to discourage conversation.”

“Also true.”

“And yet,” I say.

He grins. “Here I am.”

“Yes, here you are. So, what are you? A glutton for punishment?”

“Not especially.”

“Lose a bet?”

“Not that I recall.”

“Someone put you up to this?” I ask, looking over my shoulder to see if Susannah is having a good laugh at my expense. She isn’t. She’s thrown herself into a very energetic, if slightly intoxicated, version of the Robot.

“You mean like a Taming of the Shrew thing?”

“He knows Shakespeare,” I say, feigning shock.

I choose to ignore the fact that I have been just likened to a shrew. It isn’t the first time, after all. It isn’t even the first time this week.

He shrugs. “He knows of Shakespeare.”

“Last book you read,” I say. “What was it?”

Da Vinci Code,” he says.

I mime vomiting over the side of the bar. Frank is not amused.

“Not a fan then, I take it,” my sparring partner says.

I tap my nose. “And a prize for the gentleman.”

“What was the last book you read?”

“You don’t want to play this game with me.”

“Oh,” he says. “Must be embarrassing.”

“And why must it be that?”

“You faked vomiting when I mentioned Dan Brown,” he says. “I expected to hear Proust or Tolstoy or something equally snooty come out of your mouth. Your reluctance to answer leads me to believe you last read something just as frivolous as-“

“Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales,” I say. “In the original middle English.”

“A bit of light reading then. That’s nice,” he says. “You wouldn’t lie to me about that, would you?”

“Why would I lie to you?”

“An attempt to maintain your supposed intellectual superiority?”

Supposed intellectual superiority?” I echo. “No, see, you’ve gone and misunderstood me. You’re working under the assumption that I would care enough about both you and your opinion of me to go to the trouble of lying. And I don’t. Care enough, that is. So, no. No, I wouldn’t lie to you.”

He laughs. “You know, I don’t know why but I kind of like you.”

I laugh at this. “I don’t know why either.”

“Can I ask your name?”

“If you’re asking me if you’re capable of forming the words which will form a sentence inquiring after my name, I think the answer is ‘yes’. I don’t know you very well but I have faith you could handle it.”

“If I asked you your name,” he says then, “would you tell me?”

“Ah,” I say. “Now there’s a valid question.”

“And the answer?”

I look him over and have a sip of my drink. “Nia,” I say after a minute. “My name is Nia.”

“Nia,” he says. “That’s nice. Unusual though.”

“It’s Welsh. Means ‘Bright’.”

“Put a lot of store in the meaning of names?”

“A rose by any other name,” I say.

“What?”

“What’s your name?”

“Lew.”

“Like short for Lewis?”

“Like that, yeah,” he says.

He looks over his shoulder again.

“Am I keeping you from something? Someone?” I ask. “Wife? Girlfriend? Boyfriend? Your mother?”

He shakes his head and looks back at me. “I’m flying solo tonight.”

“Left your entourage at home, did you?”

“I don’t really know how much of an entourage it is,” he says. “No wife, no girlfriend.”

“Boyfriend then.”

“No boyfriend,” he says. “Although that’s very progressive of you.”

“I do try to keep an open mind.”

He snorts into his beer. “I do have a couple of friends.”

“Sam Adams and your man, Bud?”

“A couple others too,” he says. “But they’re spending the evening with their wives and girlfriends.”

“Wives and girlfriends?”

He shrugs. “They like to keep an open mind.”

“An example for us all,” I say. “And your mom? She had plans tonight too, huh?”

“Yes. To watch Jeopardy! with my father.”

“In the same room?”

“Sitting on the same couch even. They just might hold hands.”

“You’re the product of an unbroken home?”

“Strange, but true.”

“So, what’s wrong with you?” I ask.

“What’s wrong with me?”

“Yes,” I say. “Wrong with you. You’re good looking, you’re nice, fairly literate-“

“Fairly literate?”

“And yet, entirely single, apparently straight and free of any emotional baggage,” I say. “So what’s wrong with you?”

“Fairly literate?” he repeats.

“Are you a serial killer?”

“No.”

“Would you tell me if you were?”

“Probably not.”

“Are you a time traveler?”

He smiles, trying to conceal his confusion. “No.”

“Secret government agent?”

“No.”

“Superhero?”

“No,” he says. “But not for lack of trying.”

“So you’re delusional.”

“No more than any other comic book fan.”

“Ah,” I say as though I have just discovered gold in them dar hills. “Comic book fan.”

“So?”

“Live in your parents’ basement?” I ask. “Have a closet full of Star Trek costumes?”

"Star Wars,” he says. “And no.”

Now I smile.

“What’s wrong with you?” he asks.

“What makes you think something’s wrong with me?”

“You’re good looking, kind of nice-“

“Kind of nice?”

“A literature snob-“

“Well, yes, I am that.”

“And yet entirely single, apparently straight, yet broke from excess emotional baggage fees,” he finishes.

“And you still have to wonder what’s wrong,” I say.

“Maybe I’m just trying to be polite.”

“This is you trying to be polite?”

“Is this you trying to be polite?” he asks.

“Who says I’m trying to be polite?”

He smiles again and even laughs. “No one within earshot.”

“So tell me then,” I say. “What’s your story?”

“Why should I tell you?”

I shrug. “I’m asking,” I say. “What, are you unfamiliar with the concept of conversation?”

“And what will you do with my story?”

I shrug again. “Probably judge and mock you unfairly.”

“At least you’re honest.”

“Well, you are a Star Wars fan. A certain amount of mocking is inevitable.”

“Not at a sci-fi convention.”

“This look like a sci-fi convention?”

He takes a look around. “No,” he says. “Not enough pointy ears.”

“You really are a glutton for punishment, aren’t you?”

“Maybe,” he says. “So tell me, what are you celebrating?”

“Huh?”

“You seem to be celebrating something in your own twisted sort of way,” he says, indicating the emptied and overturned lowball glasses in front of me. “I’m curious to know what.”

“What will you do if I tell you?”

“Judge and mock you unfairly?”

Now I laugh. “I joined the ranks of the unemployed today.”

“Your idea or theirs?”

“Mutual, really, in the heat of the moment, but if anyone asks, theirs.”

“Probably not budget cuts then.”

“More like insubordination.”

“I’m shocked.”

“Everyone is.”

He takes a sip of his beer. “What did you do before the insubordination got in the way?”

“Taught English to a group of adolescent ingrates.”

“Well, that explains the Chaucer,” he says.

I laugh.

“An insubordinate English teacher?” he says next. “Don’t they usually make inspirational movies about you?”

“Not when you refer to your students as adolescent ingrates,” I say. “Sends the wrong message.”

“Molding young minds,” he says.

“Unfortunately no,” I say. “I didn’t use any swear words they didn’t already know.”

“Missed opportunity, that.”

“I know. You can really learn from those kids.”

Lew laughs again. “What are your plans now?”

“I’m going to get rip roaring drunk,” I say. “Then I shall sleep it off.”

“And after that?”

“Thought I might try to improve my own best minesweeper scores. Maybe play some online poker.”

“Going to try and parlay that into a career?”

“Tempting, but no,” I say, finishing off my drink. I turn the glass over and leave it next to the other ones. “I hear the professional scene is really cutthroat.”

“Thought that might be right up your alley,” he says. “Another round?”

He doesn’t wait for me to respond before signaling to Frank.

“Another for me and the lady,” he says.

I snort. Frank obliges and pours another pint. He mixes another whiskey sour and passes it to me. I toast him with the glass.

“Thanks, barkeep,” I say.

Frank rolls his eyes at me and walks away.

“Gotta love a girl who can shoot the whiskey,” Lew says.

“Country music or American Idol fan?” I ask.

“I can’t be both?”

I wince. “A country music fan,” I say, shaking my head sadly. “Well, that explains the Da Vinci Code.”

“I lose some points just then?”

“You are, of course,” I say, “now working under the assumption you actually had points to lose.”

“Apparently so.”

“This must be very sad for you.”

“Certainly isn’t going the way I thought it might.”

“Oh, pray tell, how did you think it would go?”

“Not like this.”

“How wildly vague of you,” I say. “Care to be more specific?”

“I think I’d rather plead the fifth, if you don’t mind.”

“Are you a lawyer or just a fan of courtroom dramas?”

“Neither, actually,” he says. “So you’re currently looking for employment?”

“Well, not right at this moment but yeah,” I say. “Since I’m not independently wealthy, I’ll probably have to find something else to do with my life. Bills to pay and all that. You understand, I’m sure.”

“No, I don’t, actually,” Lew says. “I happen to be independently wealthy.”

“Independently wealthy men do not spend their evenings talking to hostile women in smoky dives such as this,” I say. “No offense, Frank.”

Frank holds up a hand as he passes. No offense taken. Frank’s cool like that.

“You know that for a fact?” Lew asks.

“I do,” I say. “I read a lot, you know.”

“I don’t remember that lesson showing up in The Wife of Bath’s Tale.”

I am kind of impressed by that reference but I work hard to keep from showing it.

“Well,” I say. “Maybe you weren’t reading closely enough.”

“No doubt,” Lew says. “Will you look for another teaching position?”

“Probably not,” I say. “Different location, same problems.”

“What then?”

“Again, I am forced to ask why you care.”

“Don’t, really,” he says.

“Just making conversation?” I ask.

Lew doesn’t have the chance to answer as Susannah bursts onto the scene. She slams into me hard enough to cause me to spill my drink down my front. I swear and reach for a napkin with which to blot whiskey sour. Susannah doesn’t notice and stands there, hanging off my shoulder.

“You drink enough yet to come dance with me yet, Vinnie?” Susannah asks.

Lew’s eyes narrow slightly.

“Not by a long shot,” I say.

“Well, what have you been doing this whole-“ Susannah starts.

She stops when she sees Lew. She smiles and looks him up and down. He smiles back.

“Oh,” she says then. “So that’s what you’ve been doing.”

“No one is doing anyone,” I say.

Susannah pushes between us so she can belly up to the bar. She calls for Frank to make her another martini. Lew leans to his right so he can see me.

“Vinnie?” Lew asks.

“It’s a nickname,” I say. “Don’t your friends have a nickname for you? Boba? Jango? Vader? Jar Jar?”

“Jar Jar?” he asks. “Oh, because you find me to be annoying?”

I grin and nod.

“You know,” Lew says. “For someone claiming to not be a Star Wars fan, you sure seem to know a lot about it.”

“I do watch TV and I don’t live in a cave,” I say. “Are you not answering my question because your nickname is embarrassing? Or is it because your friends who are not beers are actually uncreative imaginary types?”

He smiles and looks away.

“Embarrassing then,” I say. “Do tell.”

Lew sighs. “They call me Ellen.”

“Ellen? Like the talk show host?”

“Yeah.”

“Because you’re a lesbian?”

“No.”

“Because you love to dance?”

“I love to dance!” Susannah proclaims as she pulls back from the bar, martini in hand. “So let’s get to it, Vinnie. You can come too if you want, Ellie.”

“Ellen,” he corrects.

“Because that’s so much better,” I say, grinning.

Lew grins back, looking slightly sheepish. The music starts up again. It’s playing some ABBA. Dancing Queen. It’s a sure sign that Susannah has been flirting wildly with the deejay. Susannah squeals with delight, downs her martini and puts the empty glass back on the bar. She bounces past both Lew and me.

“Vinnie, come on!” she cries.

I start to slide off my stool. “Well, Ellie,” I say. “It’s been a blast but I’ve gotta go. They’re playing my song.”

“Thought you looked like a dancing queen,” he says. “Maybe I’ll see you again sometime.”

I spread my hands. “I should be so lucky,” I say as I walk away.


© 2009 by Melissa Jordan

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Exchange Of The Day

Scene: I am cleaning out one of The Store's fitting rooms that looks like a bomb filled with clothing went off in it. I was just eating a triscuit cracker and started to choke a little bit on the little bit of the cracker that went down the wrong tube.

Enter The Customer, looking to try on a sweater.

Customer: You're not getting sick, are you?

Me: No, no, I'm not sick. I'm just choking on a triscuit.

Customer: Oh good. (and proceeds into the fitting room)

Thanks for your concern, ma'am. Have a great day.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Another Lesson Learned: The Management Strikes Back

As it turns out, when one throws a temper tantrum at work over the prospect of having to stay late, the management can and will retaliate by removing one completely from the schedule the following week.

Huh.

Well, live and learn, kids. Live and learn.

November 2009 Book Report

All right, so it turns out that when you spend an entire month trying to write a novel you may not have a lot of time to read other novels. Here's what I managed to accomplish:

Tuck- Stephen Lawhead- The third in his Robin Hood series. I loved this series, I really did. This book took a little while to get going (though not sure if that was because of the writing or just because it had been so long in between volumes) and then was very good, building up to the big final battle and all and then…there wasn’t one. Tuck managed to make peace between the two sides and I was left wanted a little more. I guess I shouldn't be sad there wasn't some major bloodbath but...I guess I am.

Bird by Bird- Anne Lamott- This is a book on writing that a fellow aspiring writer friend of mine suggested to me. I’m glad I read it. And I’m glad I read it this month too. The first part of it seemed to read like a “How To” NaNoWriMo handbook. The rest of it was just me on paper. I spent a lot of time saying “Oh my god! I do do that! How did you know?” and stuff like that. It made me laugh, it made me cry (at work even…how embarrassing!)…a must read for anyone who wants to write.