Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Big Daddy: What's that?
Brick: A click in my head.
Big Daddy: Did you say, 'click'?
Brick: Yes sir, the click in my head that makes me feel peaceful.
Big Daddy: Boy, sometimes you worry me.
Brick: It's like a switch, clickin' off in my head. Turns the hot light off and the cool one on and all of a sudden, there's peace.
-From Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, released in 1958 featuring Paul Newman as Brick and Burl Ives as Big Daddy speaking the amazing words of playwright Tennessee Williams.
Tennessee. Now, there was a guy born with a finger on the throbbing jugular vein of madness the southern way. People go 'round the bend fairly often everywhere, I realize. But in the south? One can do it while smiling and offering you another helping of lemon icebox pie (especially if they're female). Which, in itself, is fairly frightening, but that's a whole 'nother story.
If you're not familiar with "Cat", you should know that what gave Brick his click is liquor. My com padres and I don't get The Click very often. But when we do? Ahh...when we do.
Still. I like to think Brick has finally found peace another way.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Okay, so the news. Hmmm. Blank.
Wait! I know! Guess what I got on my first English paper?
No, just guess.
Whatever you just said? Wrong.
I got a 60. As one friend said when I told her that,
"You mean...out of sixty?"
No, no I do not.
I mean out of ONE HUNDRED.
Naturally, my first reaction was that all that stuff in my head like my brain and cerebral cortex and sinuses and even that tiny, sweaty exhausted hamster up there wearing a pink tiara and racing endlessly on a rhinestone studded exercise wheel? All that immediately melted into what felt like a big vat of boiling MacDonald's french fry grease. (And I know of whence I speak. MacD's grease is HOT.) It boiled around up there for, oh I don't know, about a minute or two. Until tiny wisps of smoke began to leak out each ear, certainly.
But then? Come to think of it, all of a sudden, then I realized the whole situation was actually sort of funny. (Refer to the "this blog is written on a college level" button at the bottom left of this page for additional yuks.)
Ironically, earlier on the very same day I learned of my "60%" fate, I had spoken to, let's just call it a kind of major publication in the area about their interest in me for a possible regular writing assignment. Yesterday, I learned a grant application I had written on behalf of my employer to the National Parks Service had been funded. As you may or may not know, I write a short piece for the local newspaper each week. My work sometimes appears here.
Clearly? These people should be notified of my inability to write.
Anyway, the good news is that no paper is ever final in my English class. You can keep doing paper(s) over until they are finally met with approval. Much like life. My own offending paper was quickly re-written and resubmitted.
We'll see what happens. Maybe, somehow, I can ultimately rise to a "C"-level.
A girl can dream.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
Ya'll know I have a strict no-mixing-blogging-with-work policy, but just this once, I'm breaking that rule. I only have a few short weeks to go on my latest stint with the City of Paducah (to add to my previous run of 1987-2000--since childhood if you're counting). One of the projects I've enjoyed working on of late is the Fountain Avenue Neighborhood Project, a program aimed a revitalizing the historic area near mid-town roughly bounded by Fountain Ave, Jefferson Street, 13th Street, and Park Avenue.
The City is using a multitude of strategies to bring back the neighborhood (ala Lowertown) including enhanced building standards, discounted or free lots for home construction, and waived plan review fees, but by far the most exciting component of the program are the deferred payment loans available to help buy down the purchase prices.
All that "deferred payment loan" language is legalese the city has to use. What it really means is this (because it's my blog and I can say what I want to): homebuyers can get up to 15% of the purchase price of a new home in the neighborhood from the city up to a maximum of $20,000. The only catch is that the borrower lives in the home for a minimum of five years. After that? There is no obligation to repay the money. That's right. Poof! Debt disappears. (Take THAT, Master Card!).
Is it just me or is that a good deal?
BubbleShare: Share photos - Play some Online Games.
We think so. Developers are partnering with the city on newly constructed homes, the first of which is now complete. And people? We're not talking about cookie-cutter plane jane houses. The photos you see scrolling here are of 412 Fountain Avenue, the first new house available for sale through the program. The home is eligible for the city financing (aka disappearing debt) program.
We're planning a little event on October 2nd, The Fountain Avenue Home Tour and Festival will celebrate the finished house, give everyone an opportunity to take a peek around and inside, and show the kids a good time. All of this and...FREE FOOD!
Please consider joining us at the event, pass this information along to anyone you think might be interested, and, above all, for the love of God, don't stalk me. I'm one of those people like Bette Midler in that one movie where she got kidnapped and then the kidnappers spent the rest of the movie trying to return her to her husband who wouldn't take her.
Yah, that's it.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
Good lord all you have to do is splice the electrical cord where she chewed on it. You mean you went out and bought 2 more cords for a hundred dollars each. Send the electric cords to me and I will fix them for nothing.
Not really very technically savvy here sometimes.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
And, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, but when Pinky’s not happy? Nobody’s happy up in here.
Oh my god, it’s been awful. On Tuesday, my power cord went bad. It was a while before I noticed, but when I did, Pinky had about five minutes of battery back-up power left. While I’m probably still under warranty w/Dell, I don’t have time to call them and wait for a new power cord to show up in the mail some day.
This meant a $100 trip to Office Depot. I was informed there that, because Dell is a bunch of money-grubbing bastards, one can’t even BUY a replacement power cord that will also charge the battery anywhere but from Dell online. Replacement cords only power the laptop. I took what they had.
And I was grateful. I was back in business, thank baby Jesus.
Last night, I’m typing away on Pinky, when I notice my (brand new) power cord jiggling a little. I glance down to see Tallulah studiously chewing on it. In one horrible moment I realize what likely happened to my original cord. And then in a split second…BOOM…my screen? Black again.
Oh my heavenly stars, people.
It’s a good thing Tallulah is cute, is all I can say. Because she otherwise might have been found, oh I don’t know, swinging from a dead power cord or two? I still had power cord #1 on hand and I now take the time to examine it more closely (in order to distract myself from the deranged murderous rage ball now bouncing around in my head like flubber).
Yep. Itsy bitsy teeth marks.
Back to Office Depot and good-bye to another C-spot (plus interest).
On the bright side, while there, I discover that they now make retractable Sharpies.
Some days, you have to cling to the positive.
No matter how small and pathetic.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Also featured is a WKMS audio piece by Patience Renzulli that begs the question "Where are all the Wrinkles?" (in the right side bar of iLove it-can't seem to link) This opinion could be considered opposed to our efforts to stave off the inevitable or, put another way, (in the soon-to-be immortal words of Annette Benning in that movie preview that's running every five minutes now), "This is my face. Deal with it."
I highly recommend both pieces.
Saturday, September 06, 2008
Friday, September 05, 2008
I highly recommend "Rocket Boys", a memoir about a boy growing up poor in a West Virginia coal mining town in the 1950's who, along with his posse of friends, captures the imagination of an entire community through his obsession with rocket launching. The story is also a poignant recollection of a complicated relationship between a father and son. The movie version of the book titled "October Sky" is also a favorite of mine and, as a huge bonus, stars Jake Gyllenhaal.
"On Writing" I read in just a few days. Holy crap, what aspiring writer wouldn't be wise to at least take a peek at King's thoughts on the craft being, as he is, one of the most prolific fiction writers of the last three decades? In my case King, as they say "Had me at Hello" with his first blockbuster novel "Carrie".
Looking back, I guess you could say King was the JK Rowling of the 1970's. I spent the better part of that decade in breathless anticipation of his every new release. After "Carrie" it got better and better: "Salem's Lot", "The Shining" (my favorite), "The Stand" (King hints in "On Writing" that this is probably his best work), "Dead Zone".
Until it got worse. He lost me at "It" and it's, in my opinion, improbable ending. Although I've read a few of his novels since, it's never been the same. Not that I expect it to be. I wouldn't think anyone could keep up such a fevered pace at that level forever. I'm surprised King managed it for as long as he did. At his best, King reaches out, grabs you by the collar and doesn't let go. At his worst, he's still damned entertaining.
King's writing advice is mostly predictable--not bad advice, but the same advice I've read over and over: Discipline is key--write at the time of day and for the same amount of time each day, write what you know, barf up a shitty first draft, leave out the bullsh!t, edit ruthlessly, develop a network of smart people that you trust to read your second drafts and give you feedback. King himself writes 2,000 words per day and writes in the morning. On a good day, he is finished by lunch, on a bad day it takes twice that long. In this fashion, King can churn out the first draft of a novel in about three months.
King diverges somewhat in that he READS four hours a day and feels this is necessary to keeping one's chops sharp. Also? He's not a fan of the adverb. In fact, I'm not sure I'll ever look at an adverb the same way again, so great is his aversion. King's argument? If you're writing is good you don't NEED adverbs (he doesn't mean never ever, but sparingly at most). It goes with the "no bullsh!t" and edit ruthlessly credos. Check it:
She decided to write her paper. (no adverbs)
She quickly decided to write her paper. (her decision was quick)
She decided to write her paper quickly. (her writing was quick)
Sentence #1, right?
I am dead to adverbs; they cannot excite me. To misplace an adverb is a thing which I am able to do with frozen indifference; it can never give me a pang. --Mark Twain
So there you go.
Beware the adverb, people.
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Tallulah acquired a middle name during the big camping bonanza (she joined the festivities). She is now, officially, Tallulah Priscilla.
Yep. Cute name, cute puppy. But she is quickly turning into a big sack of sass. We knew it had to happen; she is a terrier after all. A breed that, by all accounts, constitutes a huge percentage of the big-dog-in-a-small-body phenom.
This particular terrier is fast losing her baby-like timidity and becoming more adventurous. By laying her mismatched ears flat against her head and pumping her itty-bitty short legs furiously, she is now capable of covering some serious ground in a hurry. She got away from me Saturday during a VERY early morning potty break and decided to explore the neighboring campsite at her leisure. When I whistled for her, she feigned deafness.
I finally had to walk over to retrieve her. Upon my arrival, she decided she’d scoot her little butt under the steps of the strange camper, just out of my reach. When I became insistent, she decided she’d turn around and retreat further into the darkness. Which is when I reached in and grabbed her by her widdle stumpy tail and retrieved her that-a-way.
Yah. Mommie got a few tricks up her sleeve too, sister. (It was the first time I’ve ever seen Tallulah’s face register actual surprise.)
Tallulah’s status as an obedience school drop-out continues. Perhaps I shouldn’t be so surprised at her mischievousness. I will be re-scheduling her sessions just as soon as I get a handle on all my jobs (but that may take a while).
Unfortunately, potty issues are ongoing. I would consider her at about fifty-percent housebroken. Maybe more. She is consistently dry when in her crate, but will occasionally let it fly in the playpen still. Poo consistency is a crapshoot (ha!) between hard and soft at any given time. Playpen poo is usually soft-serve. Just because, you know, between school and my jobs, I don't have enough to do.
And, because one paragraph of poo isn’t nearly enough, I’ll go ahead and over inform you that Tallulah’s issues with, um, a “clean finish” to her pooties are also ongoing. The other night, after catching a whiff of seriously strong and suspicious odor and then searching for the fresh poo I just knew must have been deposited errantly somewhere in the house, I finally found it. Stuck to Tallulah’s (back) butt. ARGH!
Still…when at night I pluck her limp, warm sleepy little body off the back of the couch (a favorite perch) to tuck her into her crate for the night, and she rests her furry little chin on my neck near my ear and lets out a contended little puppy sigh, I am suckered in all over again.
Monday, September 01, 2008
Okay, so I could only eat one bite of the bacon. It was an amazing bite, though.
As often happens, one among us experienced rather too much cheer and, as I understand it, generally was a bit loud and sort of embarrassing until the next camp site (looked to be Church of Christ) started shining their lights upon our camp obnoxiously and said out-of-order rowdy camper had to be lured to her sleeping quarters with promises of high quality moisturizer and THEN upon reaching her sleeping quarters protested having to be put to bed at such an early hour but was in a dead sleep thirty seconds later.
And, of course, that someone was me.
I was granted an unexpected day off work Friday, another snow day, essentially, and so my camping trip was actually three nights long. Of course I had to celebrate properly! Jeez.
Saturday night Jake told me his story:
I was not a very nice kid, really. And I don't know why, you know? There wasn't any reason for it. My Mom loved me, everyone was nice to me, but still, I had this smart-assed mean mouth. I never did care what I said. If anybody crossed me, I could be vicious and just completely go off on them in the worst sort of verbal way.
By the time I got to high school, I hung out with a bunch of dumb meat-headed jocks. They were completely stupid for the most part. I really don't know how I ended up in that crowd except maybe because even the jocks knew they couldn't push me around. Because I was never scared of anything. I mean, I just never backed down. And so, because they couldn't dominate me, I was one of them, I guess.
The jocks picked on smaller, weaker well...nerds, if you'll excuse the expression. And I laughed about it when they did it. We all did--laugh about it, I mean. It was terrible, it really was.
I was on the track team, and this one day I'm running along on the track and I notice, running up ahead, one of those kids, like, a nerd, basically. And I'm running along, and this kid is small, and I start catching up to him. And right as I run up behind him, I just pull my fist and hit him in the back with my fist. I mean I hit him with everything I had and I was a lot bigger than he was.
I couldn't really believe the effect that punch had on this kid. It literally lifted him off his feet and when he landed he skidded on the pavement on his hands and knees. When he got up he as all bloody, but what really freaked me out was that he was crying. I mean REALLY crying. Just sobbing.
I stopped running and I'm just watching his whole reaction and I'm just kind of in shock, really. The kid turns around, still sobbing, and screams at me--just one word, over and over,
He wails it.
Four times he screams that word at me. Like, hysterically.
And I just stand there. I don't react at all, but each time he screams "WHY", I ask myself the question, but on the inside, you know? And I in my mind I just come up with...nothing.
The fourth time he screams at me, I've already turned around and begun to walk away. Because I had started to cry myself. It was horrible. I just...couldn't hold it back any longer. And I couldn't let anybody see.
After that happened and after that day I began to change. I stopped reacting so quickly to people when they pissed me off. I learned to stop being so quick to come back with something mean and nasty. When I wanted to, I'd remind myself how it felt that day to know how much I'd hurt that kid. And I knew I didn't want anyone else to feel that way because of me.
But I never stopped feeling guilty about what happened that day on the track. It haunted me, it really did. It's like it got worse as time went on.
When I was twenty-five, I was working at this place in [a large southwestern city]. And all of a sudden, one day, this kid walks in. I knew it was him because of his eyes. You know how a person can get fat or skinny or old or whatever and their eyes never change? Well, I knew those were the eyes of that kid, even though he had changed so much. He was, by then, as tall as I was. You would never have known he was that nerdy kid.
And so I asked him if he knew who I was. And the kid says no, he's never seen me before.
So, I tell him.
I tell him he might want to beat the hell out of me, and that I probably deserved it, but that I was the guy who punched him that day at the track back in high school. I tell him about how bad I felt. I tell him that I was crying when I turned around and I told him how I was never the same after that. I told him that, it probably wasn't enough, but that I'd been a different person since then, one who thinks about what effect my actions might have on others.
By then, we are both teared up, me and the kid.
He tells me that, yes, he remembered at that point (but I think he remembered before).
And, then, if you can believe it, he forgives me. I mean, that had to have been one of the worst experiences that kid ever had at school, one that was so bad it probably haunted him just like it haunted me.
I still can't quite believe I had that opportunity. That I got to say I was sorry and know that kid was okay and that he forgave me for what a jerk I was. What a gift.
I never saw him again after that, or at least I haven't yet.
I'm thirty-seven now.