Friday, May 29, 2009

My friend, Brad Green, asked me to submit something to The Legendary, a journal he's joined as editor. Brad has one of those strong, flavorful and most definitely virile Southern voices--the sort you expect from Texas. If you haven't checked out his blog, Elevate the Ordinary, I encourage you to do so. Read A Visit to a Tittie Bar. I like that one. A lot.

Anyways. I sent him a selection of what I had coming off the burner at the time and they chose The Adamantine Heart and Love Cats.

The Adamantine Heart (excerpt)

It's easier than you might think to turn your heart into Adamantine. It sneaks up on you while you are trying to get love right. It blindsides you when your teenage boyfriend drowns in a freak accident. It slides into you when your steady fellow in college smacks you around. It happens when your mother dies, then your father dies. It happens when you walk in on your best friend, hanging nude from your gravity boots while your husband, in a hood, whips her with your riding crop--the one you actually use on your horse.

Love Cats (excerpt)

Out on the pier they'd stand, looking out to the ocean with opal eyes, boding bad luck. They'd throw things into the sea from time to time. Someone said it was the ashes of their vanquished conquests. Someone else said it was the tiny bones of their hearts. And still another said it was a stack of handwritten valentines delivered into their hands by scores of damaged lovers. No doubt they were a couple, slinking through the night, all black eyeliner and sadness.
Many other excellent stories from writer friends-- Tim Yelvington-Jone's "Grace," Dawn Allison's "No Fear for Flowers," Frank O'Connor's "Raindrops," and many more. Go read!


In other news...if you are whining because I'm not on Facebook more often--well, it ain't gonna happen until I get high speed something or other. Takes me six hours every two weeks to do what it takes most of you 20 minutes to accomplish on FB. Facebook's interface is about as elegant as a pile of dog poop--so, I've got better things to do than watch the swirling beachball of death and rebuilding my permissions every 20 minutes. But I love you guys and have no problem answering emails.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

God, I love Spike TV--I can't be the only woman who'd rather watch Spike than Lifetime, am I?

Anyway, I've become addicted to Deadliest Warrior, which is basically Jackass with reenactors, computers and ballistics gel brain cases. It reminds me of being 12 and sticking firecrackers in metal tiki torches we'd put tin cans on to watch them go "boom." The epic pre-pubertal exploration of "gee, what can I blow up next?" Or later, as a teenager, launching bottle rockets by hand out the back of your friend's hatchback at night and that wonderful screaming sound they made--especially when you were really high. If you grow at all nostalgic for those more innocent, stupid times when gunpowder and marijuana went together like cake and ice cream, Deadliest Warrior is the show for you.

The basic premise is to match two historical warriors who would never have met each other in real life, rate their weapons then run computer simulations on who would win. The pairings are hilarious and unlikely: Apache vs Gladiator, Viking vs Samurai, Spartan vs Ninja, Pirate vs Knight... Here comes the funny part. They invite experts to whack the ballistics gel torso with their chosen warrior's weapons. A doctor comes out and explains in detail what just happened to the dummy and how terribly dead this guy now is. No, really, the funny part is getting the two teams of experts together and watching their faces when their warrior loses. Some of them actually whine at each other. I'm pretty sure if the show's producers allowed it, things would turn into an all out brawl. And if you want some real entertainment, check out the show's blog and read the comments.

Anyway. That's my guilty pleasure for the week.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Tree Tulips

Our first true, wet, Tennessee spring in two years has set the forest afire with flowers. Far up in the reaches, beyond the reach of dirty-foot dryads, are the poplar tulips. The blossoms are heavy like magnolias but not as big. Green, yellow and orange, you usually only see them on the ground after a big blow or a heavy rain. As luck would have it, I came across a huge limb blown down by a recent storm.

The flowers are pretty in the way I most like pretty--twisted with the colors off just-so. Like the pretty part of death or the pretty part of a dreadful calamity. I'm told not everyone is capable of appreciating such things. How pitcher plants and some orchids look like something from a dark place or a planet we couldn't possibly cohabit. But poplar tulips are like that, a delicate sickly green touched by jaundice with a splash of dangerous orange in the center. They look like something a clever fey would concoct a precious poison with--a poison fatal to inconstant lovers, perhaps. Or people who speak without thinking. Or the pompous. Or maybe not the pompous because they are just funny. Annoying sometimes but generally funny. I mean, it's funny when someone thinks they are better than you for whatever reason, since you can hear the thundering bootsteps of hubris clomping along behind them and the whistling displacement of air as said boot kicks the pompous in the arse. (As it always does...)

And poplar wood breaks with the exact brittleness of human bone. How cool is that?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

So, Max is once again barking his frantic--OMG! OMG! OMFG! Lookit! Lookit! Lookit!--and that can mean only one thing--Snake. Or trapped something.

Anyway, I find he is yapping at a black racer snake living behind my heat pump. The racer has caught a baby bunny wabbit and is squeezing it to death. Not sure how the bunny got there--unless the bunnies are living there and the black racer came upon them. Or Max chased the bunny into the snake's opportunistic reach. Not sure, but squeezing was well under way by the time I found them.

I'm actually sort of glad to have this sort of snake living around the house because they eat mice and rats and all sorts of things I don't want around. But I've kept snakes before and I would have sworn this was a much more ambitious meal than a snake this size could handle. I found a big one in the chicken coop once that had eaten the fake easter eggs I'd put in the nests to encourage the hens to lay. Had to kill that one since it wouldn't have survived with all that plastic in its gullet.

I gave him some privacy to concentrate on consuming the bunny and when I came back out he had stuffed himself in the hidey hole between the heat pump and the house. So I didn't get a picture of the lump. But it might have looked like this:

Except with a bunny rabbit.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Well, since I no longer have the goat herd keeping the vegetation down, the snakes have arrived in spades. This morning, I go out and Max is having kittens over near the drop off. I go over because I know how a dog behaves around a snake before it has been bitten--and Max is doing just that happy dance. The one before they become intimately aware of what a massive envenomation feels like. I call him off and there right in front of him, reared up like a cobra and coiled in four zig-zagged, snakey neck springs--OH NOES--it's crotalus horridus! A Timber Rattler. Actually, it's the only rattler I've seen in the wild here, not counting Pastor Jimmy's church snakes. I stand there clapping my hands to keep Max's attention--he's scared because he thinks he's pissed me off--until the rattler backs down. Max and Shadow get frogmarched into the house where we wait for the snake to find a better place to hang out and for Max to lose interest.

Speaking of venomous reptiles, I ran into Pastor Jimmy and Pam outside the library last week. It reminded me how much I've missed their company and I think I should make an effort to go to church. Perhaps it will pull me out of my funk. And Jimmy should really come snake hunting up here now, especially now that the snakes are back.

The story I've been writing this week has not been going well. Primarily because I got sucked into my research. There's something about the late 18th century that calls to me in a very personal way. Anyway, I've been rereading Sade--yes, as in the Marquis de...and feeling very sympathetic towards him. I've actually shed a few tears for him this week. His life was such a train wreck and the deeper I delved into his life, the more I realized he reminded me of Scott--I think because Sade lacked filters like Scott does. And if you are reading this, going on what you think you know about Sade, then you may be a bit horrified I feel so sad for him. But really, if you compare him to the monsters that surrounded him--beings like Robespierre and Saint-Just--he comes off as a kitten. A sort of screwed up, self-involved, control freak kitten with issues needing serious therapy, but certainly not the boogie-man history painted him as. I think he was pretty much robbed. I hope he got a do-over without the maniacal monster-in-law.

Anyway, I started writing a story using Sade's voice but realized I wasn't ready. Sometimes you have to wait until you are ready to write a thing and no matter how much you force it, it won't come. I know that story is in me, it's just not ripe yet.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

I go into the doctor today because I've had these icepick headaches for two months now. They've gone from being 3 minute crash-to-your-knees events but over quickly so easily ignored, to something akin to a migraine that requires I sleep on ice packs. Anyway. Can't ignore them anymore. My entire philosophy of survival with chronic illness is a delicate balance of denial and actually treating my problems. I've discussed this on the blog. It's all based on the idea that if you pretend nothing is wrong, then nothing will be wrong. Monty Python and the Holy Grail's Black Knight is my role model.

So, the crashing one-sided headaches have made it difficult for me to pretend nothing is wrong. Particularly since it's on the bad side of my brain. The left side. So a neurologist gets to be the latest in my merry band of medical caregivers. I don't know what they think he or she can do about this. But we must protect the brain because it's all I've got left.

But the nurse makes me get on the scale and I'm the fattest I've ever been. I'd gotten to a point where I was okay with my fatness, but damnit--it's not okay anymore. I don't look like me and yeah, I hate myself. Not in a weeping fat lady hanging all over Richard Simmons sort of way, but in a dark, emo, crawl into my cave because I'm Grendel the monster sort of way. Take up bulimia again, sort of way. But one of the library ladies is maybe giving me a treadmill so I can walk without fear of falling--so that's good.

Anyway. I'm completely owed a do-over. This life has obviously been one big fat karmic payback session because obviously I was some sort of monumental asshole in every previous incarnation I've had. Next time I want to be healthy and mildly stupid so stuff doesn't bother me so much. You know. Normal.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

I love the golden light right before it becomes too dark. Here, like many places in the South today, it has been storming. Anyway, I looked out the window from the reviews I was writing and saw the sky as one bruise with the wind whipping. And there, just on this one mountaintop, was light, all gold and green. The rain has made everything so green here and it is at the point in the spring when each hill has thousands of hues of green--but fresh green not dead winter green. Just this one ridge in all that angry purple. Then just a smudge of rainbow appeared above it. Just an afterthought of a rainbow. Then darkness.

It reminds me why I love this place so much.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Tivo Alert!

Andrew Zimmern's Bizarre Foods visits Appalachia tomorrow night at 10:00. Looks like he's sampling some of my personal favorites like liver mush and chicken fried squirrel. Also on the menu are bear meat (which I've always wanted to do a Food Porn article on but haven't gotten any donated for the cause), wasp larvae (WTF?) and mushroom coffee. He actually goes squirrel hunting, which I gotta see. Looks like his promo even has a possum in the process of being "perished."

Friday, May 01, 2009

The dogwood trees are amazing this spring. The blooms are the size of saucers, the canopies dense as clouds--I don't think I've seen them quite like this before.

I've got a story that went live today on The Litterbox Magazine. It's called "The Ugly Tango Dancer." I hope you like it.

It was inspired was a stage I went through where I only dated people with disfigurements. Really. I think I had some metaphysical reason for doing so. I think I bought into the Hallmark idea that one's soul could somehow balance the accident of being born ugly. But I needed research to back up my belief. Thus, the ugly lover stage. What I found was that the two states, the physical and the spiritual, do not seem to be even distantly related. The ugly can indeed be ugly down to a cellular level. Their wounds do not ennoble them. The converse can be true of pretty people, but they are just as likely to be suppurating beneath their lovely skins. But the sad thing I found was that souls are much more likely to be ugly. They don't just pop out pretty--they are ugly like human babies are. Oh come-on--you know human babies aren't pretty! They come out looking for the world like blood drenched Shar-Peis.

Rail at me if you wish. Scream at me the things your mother told you. Or your minister. But it's true. We are ugly to the bone. If you aren't working on making your soul beautiful (and those who know me know I'm not talking about religion, Christianity or otherwise--you are as likely to adorn your soul in a church as you are to find a sensible, reasonably priced pair of Christian Louboutins) then you have the typical Quasimodo-ish human soul. And, as Stuart Smiley says, that's okay.

Anyway. I have to work at it lest I sink into a vat of bubbly nihilism. I'm way too fond of shadenfreude. I'm reading Andrew Davidson's beautiful debut novel, The Gargoyle, in an effort to sound less bitter and jaded. So far I found myself thinking, "Damn--he seems really vanilla for a porn star." 'Cause I'm ugly.