Sunday, November 23, 2008

Okay, so, I snuck off late yesterday afternoon, went to Morristown and saw Twilight, the Movie. Cuz...as I mentioned before, Robert Pattinson is really pretty. And I do like pretty things. Really. I do.

Every time I take myself into a public place like that I wonder anew if I'm even capable of living amongst people again. I walked up and down a mall for the first time in probably eighteen months--maybe even two years. I can't remember the last time I was in such a crowded place. There were so many people and I do love seeing east Tennessee's interpretation of "cool" and "hip". Young people, no matter how off base they are in rendering modern trends (which I know only in theory, but am reasonably confident in my own interpretation), are so vital and beautiful. They are really adorable. I love their hair roots and food coloring hair dye. It's never as they originally intended and by the time I see it--it looks like someone spilled coolaide in their two-tone hair. They are parading up and down the mall. Adorable.

I am accosted by a cosmetics booth temp during my stroll.

"I have something to show you!" she says, bright and chirpy, stopping just short of physically grabbing me.

"No. No, really. I live alone with goats," I say.

I don't think she really registered what I said. She has a frantic cast to her eyes.

"Well, then I really have something for you!"

I hurry along as much as I am capable, using my cane as an oar to push myself off--paddle my way through the throngs of people. I can't see myself as an aging hipster anymore with the stick and my gimpiness--though I know that's indeed what I am. I've just lost all of the physical attributes that come with that designation. As long as I remain unseen, a hand on a keyboard, I can hold onto that. It's part of why staying hidden is so important to me--it allows me to maintain who I am. Who I am really. Not what I look like. Because what I look like and who I am are at odds, and they always have been.

She chases after me with a jar of cream. Perhaps I shouldn't have ignored her. Perhaps I could rub that on my hands and be transformed into someone who looks more like what they really are.

So, I went into the movie theater and sat near the front where my eyes could be filled with the screen. My favorite review thus far--and the one I like most with is on Lainey Gossip. Read it after you've seen the film if you plan to see it. It's catty, funny, balanced and I wish I'd been with these two when I saw it.

I think the chemistry between the director and Pattinson is obviously--well--not there. Which is a shame since the chemistry between him and Kristen Stewart is there in spades, so it's a glaring missed opportunity--well, as much a missed opportunity as it could be considering the source material.

There's this one scene that I imagine the direction to Pattinson went something like this:

Director: Okay, Rob--You are nauseated. Really, really sick. About to blow chunks in a big way. Imagine sushi. Bad sushi. Sea urchin with visible parasites. It's in front of you and it's so gross, projectile vomiting is called for--Camera....run speed....aaaaand--ACTION!
There was never a sense of this kid being given what he needed for this role. Never a sense that he was given real thoughts to think about or that possibly--less might be more. He's a pretty, pretty boy and I think it would have been a better call to let him be pretty for this one. Leave the acting calisthenics up to guys like Cam Gigandet-who pretty much steals every scene he's in. And you believe him.

But there are lots of pretty young people in the movie in a pretty place--so what it lacks in substance, acting, scripting, believability, directing--it makes up for in terms of eye candy.

Friday, November 21, 2008

I've decided this is the reason I, embarrassingly, find myself drawn to the movie theater to see Twilight. Or perhaps some sort of former professional interest in the makeup--which does look very interesting--model perfection in the pouring rain and cold. God, I'm glad I didn't work on this one. I think I would have been in tears the entire time. It would have been Coniston Water all over again. There are few things more miserable than following actors in the driving rain making sure they don't muss themselves. Because they have a rare talent for that--mussing themselves.

Anyway, not sure I'll be able to see this today as we woke up to a snowy day. Nothing much sticking but it's cold and miserable. And, of course, the movie isn't playing at Newport's cinema. Guess it wasn't churchy or killy enough for them. Those are the two entertainment draws. What they think is wholesome and body counts. They are so going to be sorry since this thing is showing serious momentum. Guess they didn't know they were Mormon vampires. (Not really, but the author is Mormon and some of that does come through in her work.) So, I'll have to haul myself to Waynesville or Sevierville or Morristown. Arrgh.

I've read the book and I think it's going to be a better film since the book was heavy by at least 200 pages. Totally needed the cuts. And I'm thinking--as much as I razz on the vampire book writers--I probably could do it so much better. I know I could. But here's the thing. I wouldn't want to use my own name--cuz I'm like, a serious litrary writer. Srsly.

So far, my Zoe friends have come up with "Lustine" (Thanks, Gerry!) and Lecroix (Thanks, Tim). Lustine Lecroix. Think you can do better? Go ahead. Make my day--rename me.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Savings Places

I'm driving home from Newport today after buying groceries when I saw it. Got more stuff to do the amazing sweet potato dish and a 20 pound turkey. It's been a while since I cooked a turkey and I always enjoy watching the cockers while the thing is in the oven. They guard the stove like somebody is going to come and steal the turkey. Or maybe break in and make off with the entire stove--like it's a turkey safe or something. You need opposable thumbs to get into it.

Anyway, I took the long way home rather than cross Green Mountain--where we all have to detour until the bridges are finished. Off 25 is a whorehouse they painted and converted into a church. 25 is famous as the old red light district of Cocke County. We think they have it cleaned up now, but every once in a while the prostitution thing will resurface. Anyway, I remember when they busted this little whorehouse, so it hasn't been that long ago--2005? Anyway, it's a church now. I'm not sure what sort of special sanctification rites must be performed to switch a whorehouse to a church, but I'm sure we Episcopalians or Catholics have something already written up for such occasions.

Outside, the sign reads, "Walmart isn't the only Savings-Place, Come on in!"

Thought that might give you a giggle.

I'm so sorry I seem to have turned my blog into my personal PR firm. All I ever do anymore is announce where my stories are being accepted, blah, blah, blah. Just one more though! And this is huge--it's like one of those benchmark acceptances. I'm both thrilled and a bit shocked. One of my beloved stories--stories I like too much for their own good--"48 Years", has been picked up by MsLexia! It's a big deal for me. I mean, important people read MsLexia. More important than me, anyway.

So, I've been wandering around trying to adjust my surroundings to accommodate my enormous head which keeps knocking over the furniture. They had me fill out a questionnaire thingy even. I'm getting stuff in the mail from England. Whoo-weee! They'll be talking about me almost as much as they did with my Japanese admirer.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I had to go into Newport today to get an MRI of my back. Not that they'll be able to do anything if they see something. I told them that. But I think it will make them feel better if they do find something. But I was in at the crack of dawn to be pushed through the thwunk-thwunk machine. I don't know why those damn things are so loud. It's like they are crashing cars or something inside there. And the stupid tubes. They must construct those tubes in some country where people are much smaller than we are. I felt sausagey. Polska Kielbasa-ey.

So, I took the laptop with me because I knew I was going to be in town all day. I'm getting therapy for the PTSD I've been suffering from the September asshattery of Newport Baptist Hospital's ER. Anyway--the appointment was late in the day. Spent part of the day at the library--would have spent the entire time there if not for their no laptops policy--I know--nuts, considering the tech they are afraid of is on every cell phone and blackberry now.

So I end up at Bojangles working on the novel. Most places, you'd end up at an internet cafe or some trendy spot. I'd die of self-consciousness in one of those places. Somebody is always working on a damn novel and they can't wait for you to ask what they are doing so they can say, "I'm working on my novel. It's about...." Argh! In the Newport, TN Bojangles Chicken and Biscuits, there's absolutely no danger of that happening. None, whatsoever. I was a bit embarrassed the laptop was so dirty. I gave it a good cleaning when I got home.

Weave Magazine picked up one of my stories for their second issue. I really like the look of this new journal. They are out of Pittsburgh--where I narrowly missed settling. Had I decided to go to CMU for my MFA, I might be there now. Instead of wondering what my next starring role in Appalachian Emergency Room might be.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Dogs: Wet and Dry
A Collection of Canine Flash Fiction


If you were planning to send a story in, the deadline is December 1--so get writing. There's a partial list of contributors on the Dogs: Wet and Dry site. You can also follow how the anthology is shaping up on the Dogs: Wet and Dry blog.

I'm really excited since the dog thing has always been a big, big part of my life. The story I've got in there is called Lulu and Jules, about a teenage boy and his seizure alert/service dog. All breeds and everything in between will be represented given the wide range of really amazing writers contributing to this book. It's going to be great! This is definitely a book you are going to want. I'll let you know when it is coming out so you can pre-order a copy.

The chapbook is sort of done. It's longer than most chapbooks at 11,600 words--which means I'll need to cut it down to enter it in contests. But I don't know if I really want to do that. I've been having a bit of difficulty with the name--so far I've been playing with Exile to Shaconage and The Exiles of Shaconage. Yes? No? Shaconage is the Cherokee word for the Smokies that means "land of blue smoke".

Monday, November 10, 2008



One of my favorite stories I've written this past year, Where Saturniides Fall Into the Sky, went live on Night Train this morning. Please read it! I'm very proud of it--it's one of my insect inspired stories--and has a nice dose of Southern Gothic for a soup├žon of creepy.

Friday, November 07, 2008



I loves Keyhole Magazine!

Again--I find myself in the company of some of the most amazing literary talent out there. When Peter Cole asked me to contribute, I warned him I had dreadful handwriting. But I was a pretty good doodler. I totally didn't know it was going to be in color, though!

Anyway, I have a little drabble in this issue called, "Spell Shop".

Go ahead and preorder your copy HERE!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

It was the year my grandfather died, I was in a school bus accident and I got a rare case of stress related stomach ulcers--rare because I was ten. Parochial school will do that to you. The windows of the second floor school building looked out onto a side street that was most often blocked off and one of those creaking, gently decaying Savannah mansions--abandoned during those days. I remember day dreaming, looking at that old house. My mother told stories of how that house had been quarantined one summer. Big posters warned everyone away. My grandmother became obsessive about literally laundering money--washing all the money that came in to remove the polio cooties. It was a polio summer and no one could go swimming.

While I lazily thought about this--ignoring the mysteries of prepositions which had thus far eluded me--inviting the nun to cuff me on the back of the head (ergo the stomach ulcers), Margaret sat behind me unplaiting and plaiting my hair. She'd get it just so--then undo it and start all over again. We had these old fashioned desks that were connected and had actual ink wells in them. The ghosts of miserable students past clung to those old desks and when I lifted my desk to gather my notebooks, I could smell the fear so much like my own mixed with beeswax. Evil Irish nuns smelled of altars, incense and bitter potpourri. Poor little Anthony, the tiniest boy in class, but also the most chatty, had knuckles like a bare fisted fighter that entire year.

Margaret was black in the way I miss so much here in Tennessee where skin is usually coffee and cream or burnished red. I miss the Lowcountry and the lush darkness, the shiny, tactile glow of West African roots. She and I were just kids--bright kids--and I fancied her my best friend. Her nervous handling of my long, white girl hair, spread out on her desktop, calmed her as much as it calmed me, I think.

I asked if I could bring Margaret home for the weekend for a sleepover. Permission was denied when my parents found out Margaret was black.

"Why?"

"It's just not done."

I pressed the matter as far as I dared but lost that battle. Margaret and I drifted apart through the years. She was always so much smarter than I was, but argumentative and on the debate team--in my heart's dreamscape I imagine her as a lawyer. I don't really know what happened to her after high school--but I think she would be a judge or someone very important by now. Definitely someone more important and accomplished than me.

The truth is racism exists in the South much like the stain of original sin. All of us, of a certain age have it. To deny that we don't is just stupid. Some of us are unrepentant, some of us deny we are racists and some, like me, are always wondering how things could be different and examining our selves for the hidden stain. We know it's there. We become hyper-aware of it, but at the same time, know we are completely clueless as to what it means to be a person of color in this country. It's very sad to me that the most profound advance I've achieved in my own quest to eradicate racism in my self--is the ability to say, "You know, you're right. I have absolutely zero point of reference for what it must be like to wear your beautiful skin--to exist in your culture."

I've seen how this played out in the election on Tuesday. Of course, the South went red. And there is absolutely no way to know how much of that was issue based and how much was driven by racism. Things are very snarled in that respect. I'm sure there were quite a few of my fellow Dems who voted McCain because they had problems with Obama's skin color. I'm pretty sure they would deny that, too.

I think what has excited me the most was how the vote broke down by ages. The younger generations are indeed making headway. All this ugliness we white Southerners have been toting around with us is fading. That's so exciting to me. To think that a South where people could stop lugging around the chains of hatred is in our grasp in a few generations. And I have this crazy elated hope that the Obama presidency will jumpstart that--that it will serve as the river baptism that will sweep all of that ugliness downstream.

Oh...yesterday's Newport Plain Talk--after the most historic election in anyone's lifetime placed the article about Obama's landslide victory below the fold at the very very bottom of the page in a teeny tiny article you had to turn to page 3 to finish reading. Under an article about how Cocke County overwhelmingly voted for McCain--but Eddie Yokley of course won his seat, despite being a Dem. Cause he's a damn nice guy and shows up.

But that doesn't have anything to do with racism, because today I saw a bumper sticker that said "TN is for Jesus, Not Obama." And Jesus was another fine, upstanding man of color--so, if He was running, TN definitely would have elected Jesus--dark skin or no.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Okay, so I've been not very good about updating my blog. Exactly a week ago I sat down to write and my back has been stuck there ever since--in not a good way. So--back problems. But just normal debilitating back problems like everyone else seems to get, have surgery for and pain management. Not my hugely more serious problem with the bleeding and the screaming that the east Tennessee medical community takes such great pleasure in observing and doing nothing about (yes, I'm still bitter, angry and litigious.).

Gorgeous East Tennessee--Where the kid you knew who pulled the wings off flies, blew up ants with magnifying glasses, set fire to kitten's tails, then ended up killing the neighbor's pets while playing "doctor", but nonetheless grew up to be a physician comes to practice medicine. Because watching people suffer intractable pain is just so damn fun and isn't it jolly when they blow their brains out?

Yeah. You can expect me to trash talk the medical community until I either get out of here or monkeys fly out of my butt or something.

Anyway, I'm back to not being able to sit for long periods of time and am unable to lift things or rise from a sitting position. This is a problem because I'm doing NaNoWriMo this year. This is where 125,000 people all over the world get together and individually write 50,000 words--or a novel. I didn't get my outline done so I just started into a spec piece I had floating around. You'd like it. It's an Appalachian speculative fiction piece--sort of like one of the stories I did last October. But better, of course, because I'm writing so much leaner these days. I'm already behind on my word counts--only 3000 give or take. But I think many people are just cranking out words as fast they can, and because I've been writing flash, I'm very sparing with my words.

Friend Scott calls last night and breaks my heart spewing nonsense contrary to all of my careful indoctrination of him in the Democratic Party. I'm hoping he doesn't go all Bradley Effect on me today. Scott starts talking about how if all the people who own horses at the barn where he works for eight dollars an hour (shoveling horse poop, taking care of the horses, driving trailers of the horses to horse shows, managing the barn, sleeping with the horses--basically doing all of the labor they'd usually hire six illegal aliens to do) get their taxes raised that he'll lose his job. I mean, does he honestly think any of those rich people will give a moment's thought to exchanging "Scott the Horse Poop Shoveler" for "Juan the Horse Poop Shoveler"? In the same breath, he tells me about seeing this old guy in his late 70's working as a groom and how the guy said he'd have to work until he dropped dead because they'd never taken any SS out for him so he couldn't ever afford to retire and at least he had Medicaid now. Scott doesn't want to be that person, he says. I don't want Scott to be that person, either.

Anyway, it's just one thing that never made sense to me. I didn't fall for the whole reasoning of why oil and prices where rising and their justification for their profits being through the roof. I never fell for the reasons we supposedly went to Iraq. I don't believe the so-called "bailout" is going to do a lick of good. And I certainly, have never fallen for the concept of "trickle down" economics. It sounds like being peed upon--which is exactly what it is. Scott's too good for that--we all are. We need our middle class back.

But I'm getting ready to grab my cane and head out to vote now. I expect all of you to do so as well. Get out there and be a citizen!