Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Another reason Philly is Suck Ass

You'd think that in a reasonably metropolitan area, one could expect at least three or four good radio stations. In Philly, there is only half of one. 88.5 plays good music some of the time (and of course I define good music as music I recognize, so you'll have to keep that in mind; they do play more indie/artistic music but I am not very hip and so don't know many of thge songs). Here's what else is available for your listening pleasure:

*At least three Jesus stations, one of which is often deceptive because they'll play alterna-Christian rock that only gives itself away in the chorus, so it'll be fairly normal and then burst into: "That is why my God is the only man for me/That is why I am part of his family..."

*2-3 country stations which seems disproportionate to the possible demand because I feel like only about 10 people in the entire city of Philadelphia would listen to country music.

*Sports/talk radio.

*"Soft rock" which means 24 hours of Air Supply.

*Dental chair classical music.

*A couple of hip-hop and rap stations, but again, I don't like them if only because I am not familiar with the songs and I kind of hate Eminem.


Every morning on the way to work, I flip through the stations dozens of times until I can find something that I don't hate and it's usually the same song (that one that's popular by some band right now with the chorus: "This ends tonight...This ends tonight." I'm afraid the song might be from the soundtrack of One Tree Hill?).

I"m trying to find Shawn a cat to take the place of the other three (though Henri doesn't really count) and this kid at work has a mama calico who is super super cute. I am torn because I love calicos and they don't come around that often, but I feel like it would be not nice or disrespectful to Gretel (my favoritest and now dead calico cat). But look:

This is not the real one who is available--but she looks an awful lot like this.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Feel Free to Offer House Warming Gifts at Any Time

(**Please note that the image here is taken from a Flicker page which belongs to a woman named Emmaelina that you can view here).

So I've been packing boxes to move to a house in South Philly--two story, two bedroom, toilet in the basement (and on the second floor), ceiling fans, small backyard, new stove. I have a problem with packing; I can't leave it until the last week. I have to begin packing things the moment I know I'm moving. This means that though I'm not moving boxes until Thursday, I currently have squirrled away nearly everything except for one fork, a pair of socks, and the cats. There's something very satisfying about packing, in part because it forces me to get rid of things I never use or whose sentimental value I no longer recall, books I know I'll never read again (these are often the books I keep on my shelves to impress guests; novels like Sommerset M.'s Of Human Bondage which I have never read and never will; I also display all of the books from my graduate school African American literature class to illustrate how openminded I am. I hide away the less literary books such as anything by Stephen King or self-help paperbacks like, How to Figure Out Your Life Past the Age of 35 and Why You Should Probably Give Up).
I have discovered that because of combining households, I am short a few key things, which you should feel free to purchase for me at your earliest convenience:
*Kitchen table and chairs
*Nightstand (just need something next to the bed to rest my glasses and books and a lamp and the sound machine)
*Toaster (but let's be real. I toast things about once every two years)
*DVD player (though my laptop can play DVDs if I really must rent something)
*Lots of wine
*Washer and Dryer or drying rack (could ask Shawn for his)
*Outside furniture including small jacuzzi
*Coffee table since Shawn refuses to give me the one I bought because, he says, it matches the lounge so well even though he has another one and even though he will be moving the furniture from the lounge into the living room and so therefore will have no need for 2 of them
*Curtains or blinds (optional. Can become white trash and tape up old bedsheets, newspaper, or cardboard)
*Throw rugs for Henri to poop on
That's really it. I guarantee that I can find almost all of this stuff at Circle Thrift. Shawn bought a TV there on Sunday and he pointed out a portable dishwasher that was tempting...

Monday, February 26, 2007

The World Isn't Your Oyster

But these additional cat pictures may make you think that it is. This first photo of Henri covered in yarn is entitled "Humiliation." The second photo of Emma Carol is called "Queen" as she is the head of everything in the house.

And here we have a very disturbing trailer park trash representation of every day life with the three cats all sprawled together on the bed. Notice that Emma Carol has no shame about bearing her shaven belly (from getting fixed), that Ernesto is a delicate flower, and that Henri faces away from the camera as if to say, I am frightened. He has a long red scratch on his nose these days from a run-in with one of the other two. It is quite sad and pathetic.
I confess that I'm reading Stephen King's newest novel, Lisley's Story. It's about a widow of a famous author who is haunted by all these memories of the past that she's put aside. I don't care what anyone says about SK. I know he's not the best writer in the world, but he's good enough; one of the few popular writers that has consistently kept me reading. There's usually one arresting moment or idea in each book that stays with me. In Pet Cemetery, it was a particular scene with the ill sister; the one who choked while everyone was out in the garden. She had some kind of spinal cord injury and I remember a scene where the healthy sister is terrified by the vision of the sick sister crawling across the floor toward her with a not-nice glint in her eye. My favorite book of his is The Talisman--one of the few novels that's not been made into a movie probably because it's more of a fantasy genre--a journey story about a kid who can flip between two dimensions. At the center of Lisley's Story is an idea that comes up only in nightmares--the thing you're most afraid of. Here, it's that the one person that this little boy can count on to keep him safe (his older brother) suddenly turns evil--crazy insane, I'm-going-to-kill-you-and-eat-you-up-little-brother-evil.
When I first started writing fiction (when I was around 11 or 12), I only ever wrote scary stories or these sort of sci fi rip-offs of the Star Wars saga. My friend Dee and I had an entire book that we started in sixth grade about these two women (Sayora and Enserena) who were on a space ship (The Star Searcher) with a bunch of hunky co-pilots with unoriginal names like Rhettreeve (a combination of Rhett Butler and Christopher Reeves--I believe he had jet black hair and a debonair mustache. I bet you anything that I even used the word "debonair" when describing him in the book). We would each write a chapter and then switch and we included pencil illustrations. My character was Sayora and she had long, long, long, long brown hair (to her feet). Dee's character was Enserena and her hair was blond and ended in ringlets (because I could draw excellent ringlets). We had a few dogs (golden retrievers with antennas) but I forget who our actual enemies were. I started another co-authored book in 10th grade with a redhaired girl named Kirsten who I thought was exotic because she had lived in Saudia Arabia. Don't remember much about that one either except I believe it took place in medieval times (so that I was able to draw unicorns). I should start something like that again--it was just fun to write, like watching bad TV, eating Cheetohs, and drinking Coke all at the same time.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Importance of Being Ernesto

I've been looking at summer classes that I'd like to take. I want to find something that will force me to write, the only courses are available are for non-majors and I used to teach classes like that at Penn State, so it's weird to sit in on one. I am uber snotty about it which isn't fair to the other students who have most likely never attempted to write short stories ever. But I did take a class last summer and it made me write two stories that both got published and that I would never have worked on otherwise, due to my laziness. I think of ideas for stories often, but never write them or if I do, I only manage a couple of pages before running out of steam. Sometimes, it's just a first line that I like. This one keeps running through my head: "Somewhere along the line, she had gotten fat." I wrote part of this one--it's about the 9-5 cubicle life and how this girl is surrounded by thin women with good hair who sip Diet Cokes all day and complain about their weight. I thought of a title for another one "Crushing on Jesus" which would be about a 13 year old who develops a serious crush on God's son and spends her days imagining what it would be like to kiss him and doodling hearts with "Jesus H. Christ" on the back of her folders during math class (my mom would not approve of this idea). I've been fooling around with an organ donation story--the narrator is a transplant coordinator--but that is a difficult story to write because it's inherently very dramatic and has the potential to become an "and the moral of the story" story: DONATE LIFE! I was also thinking about some story centering around a theater group. I took so many acting classes in college and several outside of college for fun and used to do community and children's theater and so it would be easy to write a story about that--most people interested in acting (myself included) are melodramatic and run around singing songs from musicals and competing for attention. Then lastly, I feel like I should be figuring out a way to get all of the Evie stories into a book of some sort--I just can't find a through line. So much time, so little writing getting done.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

All You Need R Cats

Shawn has created this lovely flowered picture of Emma Carol, the latest in a slew of cats that have descended into my life. Here she is in her natural, wild stumpy state. She has taken to grooming Ernesto and then fighting with him. Three cats are better than two. There is always something going on with 3 animals--most of centers around knocking things over.

I started reading this really exploitive book about Andrea Yates (the mentally disturbed mom who drowned her five children one at a time in the bathtub of her house). I can't say why I picked the book up, except that it seemed like the written equivalent of a Law and Order episode and I must have been in a slightly macabre mood. However, after reading about ten pages while waiting for the #3 bus last night, I decide that I don't need to continue, even if the writer is a semi-well respected journalist who has written for the NY Times and Two phrases struck me as incredibly bad:

*When the police officers first arrive on the scene, one of them is so disturbed that he thinks he's going to "hurl."

*At another moment, she writes something about the husband that's like "he already had a feeling that his day was going to suck, but he didn't think it would suck this bad."

I can't read a book that's about infanticide that also sounds like it was written by a teenager. Dude! She killed her kids!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Your Sexy Snowlion Valentine

Here is Ernesto in all of his cold glory this morning. He is so delicate. I was in New York this weekend for a conference and I believe it is even possible that the animals missed me. Henri surely did as he allows no one else to touch him.

Nearly everyone has skipped work today because of the icy snow and laziness. I am here after having spent 25 minutes de-icing the car.

Here are some things I saw at the conference in New York:

1. A KD Lang lesbian wearing a suit, white socks, shiny black shoes, and an exact replication of KD's Elvis without the sideburns, haircut.

2. A fat woman with a hook for a hand. She had the program clutched in it. She wasn't shy.

3. Thin, thin girl who in profile looked just like Julia Roberts except with sharper cheekbones and bangs. When she turned to look in my direction, I saw that she had a large gap between her two front teeth and little eyes. She did not stay for the full session.

4. Liz and I watched two hours of the Westminster Dog Show Monday night and could not stop exclaiming over all the dogs, each one cuter and fluffier than the last. I decided that although pugs are not my favorite breed, I could live with one. Liz doesn't mind little dogs in the same way that I do, and you can see how she has a point--many are like walking stuff animals. Apparently, an English Springer Spaniel won Best in Show.

5. Ingrid and I counted the times that this speaker from McGill said the word "right?." It was over a dozen. We are snobs.

I have a picture of the book cover that the publisher sent but I'm not sure if I like it. I may post it tomorrow.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Why Do I Even Care?

Just learned via my handy email alert that Anna Nicole Smith has died, of natural causes I'm sure. It could not have had anything to do with what I imagine was a cocktail of Valium, cocaine, white zinfadel, oxycotin and Trimspa. And even as everyone in the entire world could see that she was only alive due to her many handlers, I'm still surprised. We haven't had a celebrity death lately, not since that one old guy died. It seems that everyone is living longer and longer despite the odds. I love Clint Eastwood and I don't want him to die and he's really not that old but then you see his face on the cover of Entertainment Weekly and yes, he is kind of old, by previous decades standards. How old was John Wayne when he died? Fred Astaire? (Please don't think I'm putting ANS in the same category). We know that there are many other teen bopper celebrities who should by all rights be dead--the partiers, the ones with the eating disorders, the kids who were famous and then not and are severly depressed and compensate by going on reality shows. Unfortunatly, ANS will now be the subject of some biopic and be played by another up and coming blond because she died at 39 after a short flurry of years of infamy in the press.

In other news, here are some cover ideas that I think are funny. You will no doubt notice the similarities in choices.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Fear and Loathing

Good things today:

*I have a great office now on the other side of campus with two winodws that look out onto Broad Street. I don't think I've ever had an office with windows; not in my entire professional career.

*My hair is getting longer and I like it that way. I may start flipping it from side to side.

*I finished my manuscript and got it to the publisher on time. Plus, our VP announced the book thing at our all staff meeting on Friday and people have been complimenting me. I will not let it go to my (long-haired) head.

Bad things today:

*I really really really need to shave my legs and I r, r, r don't feel like doing it.

*Emma Carol (the cat) needs her stitches out and I don't feel like taking her in. Shawn thinks we can remove them ourselves and I disagree especially since her belly still looks sore and reddish.