10 Pre-Resolutions at the Rejectionist’s Behest

This is a weird year for resolutions for me. I’m actually doing mostly what I want to be doing, so it’s really more a matter of keepin’ on keepin’ on. So – things I want to keep doing, plus a couple I’d like to add on:

1.) Continue the running. I’d gotten severely out of the habit, instead sticking to comfy confines of the gym/weightlifting. It’s nice that Evan and I are running together now. Good bonding time.

2.) Continue the gyming. I want to get my leg press up to something pretty rad by the end of the year. Definitely 600 lbs. but I think I might hit that relatively soon. Will revise to 700 if needed.

3.) Continue Operation: Woo Indie Bookstores. They don’t know I’m a writer yet. I just make this giant circuit, buying books from each store every couple of weeks or so. Once I am ensconced within their consciousness as an awesome customer I’ll be all, oh, I’m a writer, and then one day I’ll be like, and guess what? I totally have a book coming out, LET’S THROW ME A PARTY.

4.) Continue to improve web presence. Must overhaul Fanfreakingtastic. Must overhaul Truth Be Told site. Must create writerly website. Must force friends to subscribe in vast numbers. And by force I mean invite politely – no, wait, I really mean force.

5.) Continue learning. A.) about the craft and B.) about the business.

6.) Continue Operation: Karma. Example of Operation: Karma – on Friday I am going to a local author’s book signing.

And onto the new!

7.) Get back in the pool. Somewhere along the way swimming went out the window with the running. I miss the pool. I need to make time for it.

8.) Begin Operation: Woo Librarians. What with Operation: Woo Indie Bookstores I haven’t been to the library much. And by much I mean I’ve been there once, to get a library card. That I’ve never used. But I do have it in my wallet. If that counts for anything.

9.) I NEED TO LEARN HOW TO DO MY DAMN HAIR. I CAN’T CARRY ELIZABETH AROUND WITH ME, AFTER ALL. Although she is rather small. Conceivably it’d be easier to carry Elizabeth around with me than to learn how to make it do something OTHER THAN JUST LIE THERE, STICK STRAIGHT HIPPIE STYLE. UGH. 

10.) Once I’m done with my next major revision I want to go on a for real vacation.

The Feminine Ideal

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It recently occurred to me that, from an early age, I had a definite notion of the feminine ideal, and developed strong attachments to those women who epitomized it. I thought I’d take a walk back through memory lane and introduce all y’all to the three women who shaped my ideas. 
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The Prototype

1.) Wonder Woman (1975-1979). Lynda Carter played the role of Diana Prince, aka Wonder Woman, on the small screen from the year prior to my birth until I was age three. I lived for episodes of Wonder Woman. I’d don my wonderoos, spin, and carry around a makeshift lasso of truth. Whenever my father would wrestle with my sisters I’d run upstairs to put on my wonderoos, and run back down to pile on, convinced I was invincible.  

Once, at a swim lesson, I found myself splashed most obnoxiously by the kid next to me. I remember thinking, What would Wonder Woman do? And I did this:  

The best possible splash defense.

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 My mom, watching from the bleachers, laughed. (She knew exactly what I was doing when I did it, and why.) I didn’t think it was funny. Being Wonder Woman was serious business. Besides, it worked, as I knew it would. I had a lot of faith in the power of Wonder Woman. Those bracelets deflect not only bullets, but also highly chlorinated water. 

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The Paradigm

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2.) V (1983-1985, 2010-11) (IMPORTANT UPDATE: Jane Badler will be reprising her role as Diana in the new V!  So exciting!) Badler played a huge role throughout my formative years. As it turned out, the important thing to me wasn’t that my Amazon role model be a hero, but rather that she be brunette, have big hair and the name Diana. Even more importantly, she had to be tough, smart, and powerful. Although V scared the ever living crap out of me as a kid, I was so devoted to the character of Diana that I helped found a recess game called V, wherein aliens and the human rebels attacked each other. I, of course, played the role of Diana. This game had a tremendous number of participants, and to this day I consider its creation one of my greatest triumphs. Later on in the TV series, the character of Diana was stripped of her power. Diana’s second-in-command, Lydia, played in real life by June Chadwick and on the playground by my friend Amanda, was elevated to commander. I am ashamed to admit I then tried to convince Amanda to switch characters with me. She could be Diana and I’d be Lydia. I’d be playing a blonde woman, but it was a sacrifice I was willing to make for power.  Amanda wasn’t buying it. I remained Diana, frustrated by the loss of my rightful place at the helm of the alien empire.  

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The Alpha and the Omega

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3.) Ghostbusters (1984) Sigourney Weaver as Dana Barrett. Yes, Dana is missing an i, but you can’t be THAT picky. She remains tall, brunette, tough, smart, strong, and boasts big hair. The important pieces are there. The character of Dana Barrett settled into me in a different way than either of the comic Dianas. While no one would argue that Ghostbusters is realism, it is more grounded than either V or Wonder Woman, even with Slimer. Certainly, the character of Dana Barrett feels like a real woman. If Ghostbusters had gone the cheap way out and offered up a flimsy, hot, dumb love interest for Bill Murray it would have lost much of its smarts and substance. It was a genius stroke to cast Sigourney Weaver in the role. As it so happens, Dana Barrett’s wardrobe is also one of the first times I’ve ever been cognizant of clothes in a film, which is why I picked the above photo, and not one of her in the metallic orange dress. You can find a billion pics of her in the metallic orange dress, but only a handful of her in one of the understated outfits she wears throughout the rest of the film. I loved her clothes. As it turns out, I am not the only one. I actually found a blog post about it. Check out Clothes on Film for an in depth discussion of the matter. (They choose her cape coat to analyze. I’m more partial to her wrap in the cello-carrying scene.) 

Now, there is a reason why the above three women registered with me. However, this post is already really long, so I will make this a two parter and leave the explanation for next time.

Things that Go Bump in the Night. Literally.

Folks seemed to enjoy my Green River Killer Nightmare story, so I thought I’d regale you with the other creepy tales from my childhood. You could put this under the heading of ghost stories, but I don’t know how accurate that title would be.

The house I grew up in was a two story white colonial. My parents built it when I was three years old. I know some sort of structure was torn down in order to build it, but I don’t know what that structure was. I remember the demolition, though, and at the time, as a three year old, I thought it looked like a chicken coop. I also remember my mom telling me there were wasp nests within the structure, so I couldn’t explore it, even though I wanted to. I have no idea if these memories reflect reality. 

Springboard logging. Why was this a good idea? I don't get it.

Years later, I realized an old road ran through our horse pasture, and the hundreds of acres of forest behind our house still had some enormous trunks that bore evidence of springboard logging. The point of this is, while I had a notion our house was built on pristine, rural land, in fact that area had been logged, lived in, driven over, and otherwise occupied throughout the twentieth century, and maybe before.

My first supernatural experience that took place in that house was when I was somewhere between five and seven years old. I was taking a bath, and the rest of the family was downstairs watching tv. I happily played with my bath toys until, out of nowhere, came a knock on the bathroom door. And when I say knock, I really mean fist slammed into the door at maximum velocity. Initially scared and startled, I then quickly realized it had to’ve been one of my sisters. I called out for them to reveal themselves. They didn’t. Slowly I came to the conclusion that while my sisters might play a prank on me, they wouldn’t leave me hanging like this, they wouldn’t leave me to shrivel in the bath until the water turned cold. I didn’t know what was on the other side of that door. Ultimately, I decided it had to be my sisters, who, apparently, were meaner than I first thought. Scared, cold, and angry, I raced out of the bath, dried, got on my nightgown and ran downstairs to accuse my family of torturing me.  They all sat in the living room. They all insisted none of them had left the living room throughout my bath. My mom said she was wondering what took me so long. I cuddled up with my family and put the bump in the night behind me.

In the fourth grade it came back, with a vengeance. The first night, I was reading in bed, as per usual, and it came softly as first. By the time I realized it was there, I knew it’d been going on for some time. Once the sound registered, I couldn’t make sense of it. We did not have an attic in our house. The only thing up there was rafters and insulation. And yet what it sounded like was someone slamming their fist into the floor above me. As with the bathroom door, some of the punches were extremely loud and violent, powerful enough to rattle the little objects I had on my desk.

Too scared to move, I listened for about an hour before I got the courage up to race downstairs and tell my parents. They came up with me. The sound, of course, stopped. And so it went on for not only months, but years. Those sounds terrorized me. I’d lay in bed and just listen, unable to sleep for hours. My Granny, who had experience with such things, came and visited. Sleeping in the adjacent bedroom, she said she heard the sounds, too. In her estimation, they were squirrels. A.) I never saw a squirrel in all time I lived in that house and B.) those were some big, invisible squirrels. But, my malady now had a name – squirrels. That was the official position and it wasn’t changing.

Still from the Truth Be Told trailer. Creepy things come in through the front door, don'cha know.

In the sixth grade, the squirrels figured out how to open the front door of the house. The first time this occurred coincided with the first time I was allowed to be at home alone. My mom had gone to the grocery store, and I, feeling grown up and independent lounged in front of the tv. It was a sunny summer day, and I wore shorts and a t-shirt. It was my habit to lay on the floor in front of the tv, my chin propped in my hands. This is where I was and what I was doing when the room turned unnaturally cold. I kept checking my back, wondering where on earth this cold draft was coming from. Finally, I got up and followed the draft to its source – the front door of the house was swung wide.

We rarely used the front door. The garage or the side door was how we got in and out of the house. Certainly no one had used the front door on this day. I closed it, and rattled the handle to make sure it was properly shut. I returned to my tv. Fifteen minutes later, the cold draft returned. This time I knew exactly where to go. I went to the front door. It stood wide open.

This time I turned the bolt.

It didn’t stop those squirrels.

The third time I found the door open, I gave up, and sat on the front porch until my mom got home. This was not the last time the front door would find a way to open itself when I was home alone. For the record, our front door was quite nice. Big, wide, solid, well made. It never opened by itself on any occasion other than when I was home alone.

While these events scared me, I don’t remember becoming hysterical or crying – except, perhaps, for the very beginning of attic thumps in fourth grade. My feeling about the door opening was more along the lines of, “well, this is deeply unpleasant.” The last time I heard the attic thump I was a senior in high school, filling out my application to USC. I remember looking up at the ceiling and thinking, “back atcha, buddy.” (Read with sardonic tone.)

As an addendum – years later, my mom confessed to me that she didn’t like being in my room when I wasn’t there, and on one memorable occasion, she heard the full glory of the impossibly loud thump while in there alone.  This was my reaction: “?!?!?!?!?!?!” She said, “I didn’t want you to be scared of your own bedroom.” She had a point… I guess… I did learn to disregard those thumps, and I think that’s part of what made them go away.

A second addendum – for those of you familiar with, for lack of a better term, poltergeist theory, you may recognize that I was a perfect candidate. Poltergeist activity frequently surrounds one person, most often an adolesecent, most often a female, experiencing psychological trauma. In the fourth grade, I transferred schools, gained a ton of weight, and embarked upon the most difficult two and a half years of my life, thanks to the fine young citizens of Grass Lake Elementary. The theorists split on whether such individuals attract dark spirits, or whether they, themselves, are the generator of the phenomenon, either as a halluncinatory product of an overwrought  mind, or through actual activity, created in an unconscious external expression of internal turmoil. Stephen King’s Carrie  is an example of the latter, although she gains control of her powers.

What this Carrie experienced, I cannot say for certain.

(For a better version of the “ghost in the door” pic go here. Thanks again to Axel, Murphy, Dan, Maggie, Drue, and Evan for hanging in there at the end of a long, long day in order to get that still photo. I still appreciate it!)

Looks That Way

High Cotton

This is where my parents fired me. Note ominous clouds.

As previously mentioned on this blog, I work for my parents.

They happen to live very close to Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport, aka, The Cutest Little Airport Ever! There’s two terminals! Everyone’s friendly! There’s a cute little coffee shop! Everything’s a short walk away! Adorable! (I am really not sure how they earn the “International” part of their name – perhaps flights to Canada?)

And so it was that I would be flying to Seattle to visit family and friends at the end of August. My flight out of GSP left early, and so I spent the night at my parents’ place. For dinner my parents were going to make salmon, but I am kind of salmoned out, so then they spur-of-the-moment suggested a dinner at High Cotton in downtown Greenville.

As we strolled across the Liberty Bridge and took in the sight of the Reedy River Falls, I asked what had happened at work. Jane*, as it turned out, had decided to quit. She’d still work for the company, but at home and with far fewer roles. That was too bad, I said. I’d miss Jane.

We then made our way into the lovely restaurant, were seated, and as our waters were being filled, my mom began to tell me about their plans for their new hire. As she listed the tasks the new hire would be taking on, many of them sounded awfully familiar.

“Wait,” I said. “That’s what I do.”

“Hmm-hmm,” my mom said, and continued adding tasks, which again sounded a lot like my job description.

“Am I being fired?”

“It looks that way,” my mom said.

“But Beautifuls, if you need the money, you can come up and answer phones whenever you want,” my dad chimed in. (My dad calls all of the women in our family Beautifuls. Once upon a time we had unique nicknames. I remember Becky’s was Sweet Pea, but I can’t remember Cindy’s or mine. But somewhere along the way he decided to streamline the process and just call all of us Beautifuls. My brother is Boyz or Son, and far too frequently for his taste, he is accidentally labeled Beautifuls.)  

While I didn’t say anything out loud, I thought, I don’t think I want to drive 63 miles a day to answer phones

Of course, being the Adams family, my parents looked at my consternated expression and laughed and laughed. It’s what we do. To be fair to my parents, there’s a good reason to fire me. Namely, I don’t know what the holy heck I’m doing. I scan in a document, I label it something obvious, and it might get into the right file. I just don’t know anything about 1099s or K-1s or the various other things I come across. But, I am fabulous on the phones! We all have our talents!

And let’s be honest – while it’s nice to get a little extra cash my heart does not lie in the field of document scanning.  So, while on my magic flight to Seattle – and let me tell you it was MAGIC (and no, I am not being sarcastic. It was the most magical day of travel I’ve ever experienced.) – I mentally adjusted to this idea of being fired, came to peace with it, and started to look forward to the next chapter in my life.

During the month of September they looked for the new hire. And then they found her! Huzzah! I was free. Except I wasn’t. “Can you work all the days between now and the Oct. 15th extension deadline?”  my mom asked. It’s like a mini-tax season, and the new hire was in serious catch up mode, thanks to so much being left undone while Jane was gone and no one had yet filled her shoes. That said, once you’re fired, and you get used to it, it’s kinda hard to get unused to it.

So, I, for one, an curious as to what’ll happen after Oct. 15th. I could quit, be re-fired, keep working… it’s hard to say.

*Jane is not her real name. I am protecting the innocent.

The Rough House

This last Friday I ventured forth with friends and husband to Abbeville, SC.  Things to know about Abbeville:

Of less historical significance is the fact my dad has a “cabin” there. It’s not really a cabin, per se. It’s a double-wide. But this only adds to its charm and allure.  The cabin sits on the shore of Lake Secession. Pop Quiz: Lake Secession was named in what year? A.) 1842 B.) 1899 or C.) 1940. All those who picked, C.) 1940, get a piece of candy. I’m not sure when my dad got the cabin. We’re going to say 1999 and call it a day. Point is, it’s been in the family awhile, and I’ve come to consider myself a connoisseur of the various delights of Abbeville and its environs. An amateur connoisseur, to be sure, but an enthusiastic one.

Which is why I was so delighted to experience something not only new in Abbeville, but something fanfreakingtastic and new in Abbeville.  I went with my Pot Belly Deli Writing Group friends Lisa and Kim and Evan to a play, First Baptist of Ivy Gap, starring fellow writing group member Tamara. Beforehand we went to The Village Grill for dinner, which was pretty fanglorious, both in terms of food and company, and then we watched the play. (Southern-based friends, you must go! The entire cast is excellent, but I think Tamara brought the most sparkle.) Afterward, we were supposed to go to the Mexican restaurant for margaritas. “Order me a top shelf margarita,” Tamara said, “and I’ll be along in a minute.”

The Rough House.

This is what is on the other side of The Rough House time portal.

Off we went, only to find the Mexican restaurant closing down. There was only one other open option in town: The Rough House. Alternatively, The Roughhouse. They liked to switch it up. Sometimes it was spelled one way, sometimes another. Why go with consistency in spelling when you can have variety? I mean, sometimes I go by Cary or Kerry or Kari or Zanzibar Buck-Buck McFate, depending on my mood.

We opened the door of The Rough House and stepped through a time portal. On the other side we arrived in 1932. For reals. Except, did they have styrofoam in 1932? I’m not sure if they did or didn’t, but The Rough House sure did, and the mild-mannered British gentleman who ran the bar served the “top shelf” margarita in styrofoam. With salt. (Top Shelf=Jose Quervo.) It was then that I knew I’d found a new home for my heart, and that my heart would be safe there forevermore.

Pool Hall

Dead things, pool table from 1936, viewing chairs from 1932, interesting Southern state flag.

It turns out The Rough House was built shortly after the, as they refer to it, “War for Southern Independence.” (For when you’re feeling like “The War of Northern Aggression” just sounds a titch too hostile, but you’re still opposed to plain ol’ Civil War.) The bar was established in 1932. Whether it was a speak easy during those last few months of Prohibition I don’t know, but I hope so. Because that would be awesome.  It was probably just a pool hall. And it remains a pool hall to this day. Their tables were purchased in 1936. I AM TELLING YOU. TIME PORTAL.

In addition to every piece of furniture, the ornate bar, and the pool tables, there were other things stuck in time there. Quite literally, in fact. And by that I am referring to the large number of dead things forever frozen to their spot on the wall. Bobcat, deer, mountain goat, turkey, elk, and loads of fish adorned the walls, while they themselves were adorned with dust. Lots and lots of dust. To be fair to The Roughhouse, they were awfully high up. I’m sure it’d be a pain to clean. It was sad, though, that their whiskers were all about a half an inch in diameter. Whiskers aren’t supposed to be that thick.

Also, The Rough House caters. Hot dogs. Exclusively hot dogs. Yep, caterin’ hot dogs. (How many people would you need to be feeding before it would make sense to farm out the job of hot dog preparation?)

My favorite moment at The Roughhouse, and it’s hard to pick just one, when there were so many, has to go the accidental hoof grab Lisa made. To back up, at The Rough House, there are things. Just kinda lying around. Sorta on tables and chairs, sorta not. It’ s a huge space so not much gets in the way of anything, it’s just sorta bordered by things. Lisa, whose back was to the wall and assorted things on tables, got up to use the restroom. She placed a balancing hand on a thing on a table. She took a step, stopped, looked, and said, “It’s feet! I just grabbed feet!”

She had, in fact, just manhandled a coat rack made out of deer legs. She proceeded to get a case of the heebie-jeebies. I can’t imagine why. I would hope it goes without saying that when she returned from the bathroom we’d placed her purse and cell phone on top of the deer leg coat rack. Those are the kind of shenanigans that are de rigueur  at The Rough House.

ADDENDUM: It has just been noted by Tamara that it was not a deer leg coat rack, but a deer leg GUN RACK. As previously stated, I am but an amateur connoisseur of Abbeville delights.