Monday, August 29, 2011

Hurricane Drunk

As a fairly young New Englander, I can count on one hand the number of times life has been disrupted by a hurricane.

There was Gloria in 1985. I don't remember much about the storm itself but I do remember Laura Branigan's song of the same name was hugely popular that summer. They even played it at my uncle's wedding reception.

After that, there was Bob in 1991. That was the storm that took out our rather lovely and large weeping willow tree. That was also the summer we had a French exchange student staying with us. I remember him stripping down to his boxer shorts and running a lap around our backyard in the middle of the storm. My mother was oh so pleased.

Since I've left southern Maine for the Mount Washington Valley, I can count on one finger the number of times a hurricane has disrupted life. We're pretty well inland here in the White Mountains so it's definitely not often you see the words "hurricane" or "tropical storm" appear in your extended forecast.

But that all changed Sunday.

So like the good, somewhat responsible people we are, The Man and I prepared. We went to Borders so I could buy yet another bag full of books. We filled the cars with gas and cleaned off our deck. We took out the screen doors and replaced them with storm doors. We ran the Gator Girl ragged so maybe she'd drive us less insane while being trapped in the house all day Sunday. I even braved the grocery store to stock up on some essentials. It was mobbed with people stocking up on water and batteries. This was my pre-storm shopping list:


Yes, I have my priorities straight.

Just so you know, we're all fine here in Casa Crazy. Except for the not insignificant amount of water in the basement, you never would've known we were riding out a tropical storm. The only casualties we experienced were my once lovely Ralph Lauren towels that The Man commandeered to help control the basement flooding. I may have cried a little over the loss. But you can't prove it.

Other parts of the Valley were not so fortunate. The Swift River flooded, closing down two major roads in the area. The Saco River (on which my neighborhood has a beach) flooded. Its flood stage is nine feet. The Saco crested at sixteen feet early this morning. You can see it from my living room. Just so you know, you normally can't. My sister suggested that I sell the house immediately because now it has both water and mountain views.

The Saco, before it crested (this is not the view from my living room).

Friends of mine report that their road literally washed away before their eyes as they were trying to get home. They ended up having to turn around and stay in a hotel. They still haven't been able to get home. The Man's boss is working from home today as he is literally trapped in his town because the road in leading and out washed out at both ends. Other friends lost their power and still haven't gotten it back yet. At Casa Crazy, we lost power for maybe five minutes in the early afternoon. It was off just long enough for us to have to reset all the clocks and listen to our next door neighbor's house alarm go off. For three hours. Then it stopped. I'm assuming it dropped dead from sheer exhaustion.

The scene in Jackson, NH

So we were lucky. Very lucky. As the storm clean up starts today (all right, so I'm in the midst of the clean up), my work is limited to the drying out of the basement and the picking up of branches in the yard. It's actually good that I have this to do because I really could use the exercise. I ate entirely too many donuts and peanut butter cups yesterday.

Hope everyone else who was in Irene's path is doing well...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Good, The Bad and The Funny

What's this? A new blog entry? But it's only been a day since I last posted. How could this be? Shouldn't there be weeks in between posts? Well, let's just be grateful for small favors, shall we?

Today's post, as you may have already gathered from my über clever title, is a bit of a hodgepodge blog as I explore some of the good, bad and funny things I've come across in the last day or so.

The Good:

Remember the Problem Scene I've been bitching and moaning about for the last millennium or so? You do? Great. Well, guess what. I kind of finished it. I mean, it's not the world's greatest prose or anything but it's a good solid draft that I feel comfortable leaving to marinate for a time while I move on to the next Problem Scene. It's not much in the way of progress but it still progress. Woo. Hoo.

David Powers King is hosting a book giveaway on his blog. You should head over there and check it out because who among us doesn't like books? And if, for some reason, you don't really like books, you could still check out his blog because it's really quite nice.

Alex J. Cavanaugh, he of the brilliant blogfests, has done it again with his invention of the Insecure Writers Support Group. With a name like that, I'm not sure further explanation is really required. But I am sure that this is a fantastic idea because all of us writers need love and support. You can hop on over to his site (click HERE) for all the details.

The Bad:

Remember those five hundred shirts I said I had to fold yesterday? Well, during today's shift I was told that the Corporate offices had changed their minds and decided to make some other shirts the special deal of the week so I had to undo what I did yesterday and then fold five hundred different shirts. The silver lining is that the new special shirts were taking up too much space in my stockroom. Now they're taking up less.

Yesterday, the Gator Girl (AKA, the Deadest Dog In Deadonia) cemented her status as the Most Evil Malinois In All The Land when she, for no reason apparent to the human eye, decided she hated Big's left ear and tried to rip it off. I stopped the fun before it got that far but Big did come away from the attack with an actual physical hole in his ear. It took me an hour to get the bleeding to stop and then another three hours to scrub all the blood off all the walls, floors, cabinet doors and everything else (including myself) that managed to get hit by the splatter. My house once again looked like a crime scene. Dogs' ears bleed like a sonofabitch. On the bright side, the bleeding did eventually stop, I didn't have to make yet another emergency vet visit and now Big can finally get those lovely hoop earrings he's long coveted.

The Funny:

The sight of me, alone on the sales floor yesterday morning (and obviously forgetting I wasn't alone in the store), wearing earbuds and singing Florence + The Machine's Heavy In Your Arms at the top of my lungs. Later, the Floor Supervisor tried to get my attention and ended up scaring me half to death. Fortunately, I sing pretty well. The Floor Supervisor is one of my fans.

I had a lady come into the fitting rooms yesterday who wanted to try on a shirt featured on a mannequin. The size she needed happened to be on the mannequin so I told her I'd take it off for her. The woman said, "Great. I can just steal that one and— Oh. No, not steal it. I would never steal it. I don't steal things. I just want to try it on. I promise."

And last, but not least...This video:

Monday, August 22, 2011

Can't Get Started

I didn't think it was possible but I appear to be on the verge of accomplishing even less in the month of August than I did in the month of July. I would seem to be an even bigger waste of space than I usually am. It's not a very positive attitude to have, I know. It happens some times.

Now it's happening because I'm very out of focus. I'm very out of sync and I just can't seem to get started with anything. It's been an alarming trend over the last few months and I can't say that I'm enjoying it.

Nor do I know how to pull myself out of it.

Last month, I read a lot. If you looked at my book review, you'll know that's true. When I get through ten books in one month, it's a sure sign that I wasn't writing a lot. And I wasn't. I'd been working on the Problem Character and his Problem Scene and while it was coming together, it was doing so slowly. So I read instead. I figured that was good because as Stephen King said (or wrote, rather in his book On Writing), "If you don't have the time to read, you don't have the time or the tools to write."

Now fast forward to August and not only am I still working on the same damn scene, I've only managed to read three books. I'm very disappointed with myself.

Not that this month has been a complete loss. Yes, I did work a lot the first two weeks and I'll have a very happy shiny paycheck to show for it. Ruthie's son is doing just about as well as he could be. And, over the weekend, I managed to scrape together an idea for NaNoWriMo 2011.

Now, keep in mind, that I mean 'idea' in the very broadest definition of the word possible. I have a character name (Jessalyn Jones) and an image of an opening scene. Apparently, it's going to be a suspense novel. Probably a very un-suspenseful one with no ending (I don't view this as being negative. Just realistic. I have yet to write an ending for a NaNoWriMo project.). In preparation for this, I will be spending the month of October reading suspense novels. Have one you'd like to recommend? Let me know!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Since I've Been Gone

Holy. Moly.

Did you know— did you realize— that it's already August freaking 12th? Did you know that the last time I posted something here it was only August 1st and I was working under the apparent delusion that I would be more productive this month.

Silly Rabbit. Productivity is for anyone who isn't me.

Not that I've been sitting around not doing anything. I have honestly been very busy. This has been my first day off since the start of the month (all right, there was last Sunday but I was so severely hungover that day my job was really just to not die) and what do I do first? Not the laundry (and boy, is there a lot of laundry), not the dishes, not exercise the Gator Girl (but I really can't put that off much longer. A Malinois Meltdown is imminent), not even go to my local Borders and buy out everything they have left (rumor has it, ours will be out of stock before the end of the month). Nope, it's come here and blog for your pleasure. Or judgment (Yes, I was hungover yet again. But I haven't been hungover since January. Plus, I am of age and had a designated driver and Twitter-er. Tweeter? So except for the ill-advised imbibing of a rather large quantity of rum, I was really very responsible).

Provided anyone reads this, of course. It has been a very long time. It's possible you've given up on me.

But I hope you haven't. Because I have a backlog of stories to tell you that'll definitely make you laugh. Or maybe just chuckle. Or possibly just shrug and move on to the next blog on your list. I guess we'll find out.

Just not today. But I will tell those stories. Unless I forget. Which is— let's face it— highly probable.

So what have I been doing that's kept me away for so long? Well, I'll tell you...

My good friend and co-worker, Ruthie, has a son who was involved in a very, very serious motorcycle accident at the beginning of the month. It was very nearly almost the worst kind of accident, the kind from which you don't get the chance from which to walk away. He literally broke his neck and he actually crushed a couple of vertebrates. He had to be taken to a hospital in the next state over that's better equipped than our own hospital to handle injuries of this magnitude and, once there, had a very long, very critical surgery. It went well and so far, so has the rest of his very long road to recovery. But needless to say, Ruthie has not been able to cover her shifts. So in addition to working my own shifts, I've been working hers as well.

This has led to a lot of very long days. Not as long as Ruthie's, I know, so I want to be very clear that I am not complaining. Just explaining. I have a very physical job at The Store that is, most days, akin to an eight hour StairMaster workout. So by the time I get home, I'm pretty wiped out. I'm sure I'll perk up when I get my next paycheck though.

So please, if you've felt ignored or abandoned by me of late, don't take it personally. I'll get back to you, I promise. And I know, after ignoring you for all this time, the last thing I should do is ask y'all for a favor but I'm going to do it anyway. Here it is:

If you have any positive energy to spare, any at all, even an iota of the stuff, please send it along to Ruthie and her family. I know they would definitely appreciate it. Thanks all.

Monday, August 1, 2011

July 2011 Book Review

Here's a list of the books I read last month:

Thirteen Reasons Why
- Jay Asher- I really don’t know what to make of this book. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a well written, well told story. I have absolutely no qualms with it. It just left me— and appropriately so— with an odd feeling I’m not entirely enjoying which, interestingly enough, makes me love it that much more because I love a book that can make me feel something so deeply. I think this is an important book that every teenager should read and discuss. If I were still teaching, this book would immediately become part of my curriculum.

Grounding Quinn- Stephanie Campbell- I read this book after Jolene Perry recommended the hell out of it on her blog. I’m glad I listened to her because it was a very good book and I really enjoyed it. I liked the attitude, the snark of the main character. I liked the voice of the entire novel. I liked that the MC bought Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food because that’s my favorite. I liked that the MC is far from perfect. There was so much to like in this book and the cover is absolutely gorgeous. However, sometimes I thought the time jumps from one chapter/scene to the next were jarring or hard to follow. And I really didn’t care for Ben calling Quinn “baby” all the time but that’s just me being me. Still, a very worthwhile read.

Paper Towns- John Green- Proof that I do sometimes love books because I found this book to be frakking amazing. It made me laugh, it made me almost cry. I couldn't read this book fast enough because it was that awesome. Another book for my curriculum.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows- J.K. Rowling- You know I love it. Still this did not prevent and sister and me from mocking it mercilessly one evening. Nothing is more entertaining than B’s Hagrid voice.

Switched- Amanda Hocking- I wanted to read this book to see what people were talking about. It wasn’t the worst thing I’ve read but neither did it do a whole lot for me. I found it interesting that Entertainment Weekly reviewed this book in one of their recent issues and complained of misspelled words, misused words and something else (I don't remember what the something else was) but still gave the book a grade of B. Maybe I'm way overly picky where grammar is concerned but I wouldn't give a book with overly blatant grammar issues a B.

Looking For Alaska- John Green- John Green, you are amazing. I would seriously devote an entire semester to your novels.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson- John Green and David Levithan- This book caught my attention with the quote on the cover. It’s from the New York Times Book Review and says “funny, rude and original.” That’s definitely my kind of book. So I picked it up and read it. And loved it. This book is made of awesome, covered in awesome sauce, topping with whipped cream and cherries— wait, I don’t like cherries. It’s topped with whipped cream and giant peanut butter cups. With freshly baked brownies and chocolate chip cookies.

Forever- Maggie Stiefvater- A lovely book and a fitting end to a lovely series. I adore Stiefvater’s writing style. It’s really very intelligent and classy.

250 Things You Should Know About Being A Writer- Chuck Wendig- The title really says it all. I love this guy’s sense of humor and his writing style so this e-book was a no brainer for me. I especially loved that he told people to watch Gilmore Girls as an example of awesome dialogue.

Sweet As The Devil- Susan Johnson- A nice historical bodice ripping romance to close out my month. I don’t read a ton of romance novels but she is the one romance author I actually seek out.