Road Trip

My one sunflower. It regally lives among the ever-spreading squash plants.

September. It’s almost over. The weather here is finally cooling a bit. I’ve rescued the same toads from the dog pool many mornings now. The big one that squeaks at me if I handle it too much, the smaller ones that pretended they were frogs, so I’d leave them alone. That was when the water levels were much higher. I dug a giant hole to put the rubber tub into, and it has this valve that keeps turning so all the water leaks out. Why would you put such a valve into a tub designed to hold water? Oh sure, to drain it but still. It’s entirely too easy to brush against it and turn it the wrong way. I blame liberals for this. Is that how that works?

Snark, sarcasm and hissing gently from the shadows. That’s me!

Job? I don’t know. Nobody cares so let’s move on.

Road trip. I am going to go to Mountain Home, Id-eee-ho, for a literary event. I know!! It’s for the Whistle Pig Literary Magazine launch, held this year at the Mountain Home library. I even got myself a hotel room so I wouldn’t have that long drive back, in the dark, with the extra bright lights in my eyes. I probably need to go see the eye doctor about that…yikes.

Or just deal with it because, hey, who has insurance?

Rimshot! I’ll be here all week, try the chicken.

My story for the Whistle Pig is called Lovesmoke. I based it off a short play I wrote ages ago, about a nearly mute man who’s in love with his brother’s girlfriend. She just wants to get married, have a normal life as her boyfriend is about to lose everything due to bad cattle prices and the bottom falling out of that market. The brother in love goes about collecting rocks and such to sell at the various festivals in and around the Western states. If you’ve ever been to small town festivals, with booths– that’s the type of person Salinas is.

In my prose version, I set it in Weiser, Idaho, with the about to lose everything brother having already run off and the other brother crossing the Rubicon, so to speak, by declaring his love for Lily. It’s bittersweet and it seemed to write itself, once I found that balance between manipulative monster versus clumsy overtures of affection toward another. I sort of blended the two extremes of puppet master and hopelessly bad at romance tropes, so to speak. That happy medium? Eh.

I did play with having them end up together but it just didn’t gel, it just didn’t flow, it just didn’t…yeah.

Rewrote a short story in the last couple days, turned it from vague woman-empowered claptrap to murderous psycho monster baby claptrap. Wheee!!!! I also realized my lead character is the least of my three in that story. I need to, ahem, punch her up a bit. Or not. I also need to look at the ending. It might be awful or okay, depends on mood, weather, snack consumption and coffee levels. The title also needs changing. Willa and the Mist to perhaps Baby Lamb or The Graveyard Baby or something equally provocative. Two On A Meat Hook? I’d have to add a meat hook. Dang it!

I’ve been reworking short stories that keep getting rejected. It keeps me busy and out of prison, so that’s good.

That’s it.

Oh, for those panting to know– I have pumpkins. I also have three giant gourds growing away. I’m so excited! I researched and it said to wait for first frost to collect them. We are nowhere near a first frost. I’m also watching the pumpkins closely, looking for that all-over orange color. Still a bit green underneath. Small sugar pumpkins, for pies but still so gorgeous. I do love the color orange.

Halloween is close. I have a happy feeling somewhere close by. And then the drudge and stress of the ‘holidays’. All those damn turkeys to bake. God damn it. I’m already sick and tired of turkey. I just want to buy a bunch of frozen dinners, call it good from here until next January. Want a fancy meal? Here ya go– Hungry Man Salisbury steak!

Oh my, I should adjust accordingly, eh? Holiday season hasn’t even officially started yet. Not until Hallmark starts constant Christmas movie rotation BEFORE HALLOWEEN USUALLY. Notice that?? I noticed that last year. Syrupy cookie cutter movies that bring numbness and a sort of Zen blankness if you watch too many in a row. Lifetime, also, has a host of these things.

And the Halloween Baking contest is back. Happiness is oozing icing the color of infected flesh dripping down over a rotted pumpkin face chocolate cake. Or pies with top crusts that look like tortured human faces. Happiness and bliss.

War Anthology

So. Hi. Howya doin’? September is HOT AS HADES here in the east of Oregon. We had a storm blow through last night that started fires and knocked down trees.

My short story, the Cherry Of Her Lips, will be included in Black Hare Press’s War anthology, due out in October. That’s, um, next month. I really, really like this story of mine, so am glad someone else did as well.

I also have Annie Helps included in Are You A Robot? anthology, available on Amazon:

Plan on reworking a short story that has been rejected ad nauseam. Just gut it, restructure it, deconstruct it, whatever it takes. I did a rewrite yesterday and mmm…have a whole new way for that story to go. My my. The things you discover when you toss out the baby and the bathwater and the shampoo and the rubber ducky. Wheeee!


Corn field and sunset from August.

Stormy skies today. Cooler. Nice.

I have gourds growing. Gourds. They’re adorable. Soft and fuzzy.

Had a story accepted. Had that same story rejected as having too much necrophilia. And then, this morn, found that same story had been re-accepted. What??!! Okay. Prince Charming Finds His Sleeping Beauty.

Work is…um, work. Toxic and frenetic.

Might just nap today. I did rewrite a short story this week, need to go over it and get it ready to send out. Sigh. It’s been rejected in every version so maybe I should just chuck it.

Started the new Lord of the Rings series. Beautiful. Yet, why did they turn Galadriel into the same grim warrior-woman stereotype that seems every female who’s a leader/fighter in television and movies? Why? She’s unlikable, harsh, charmless and a zealot. Um…? Perhaps she gets a great journey and some character other than grim fighter for Middle Earth.

She reminds me of Rey from the ending trilogy of Star Wars. That same single-note, not very interesting female that gets overshadowed by far better written male and even other female characters who have, um, depth, personality, etc. I grew to like Rey a lot but…just wish she had been allowed to be goofy, human, fallible, contradictory, fun, moody, something other than ‘burning to save the world’. It just wears so thin if the character behind it is nothing but a talking head spouting lines.

I could not understand why Elrond was so excited to have Galadriel visiting. Back to LOTR Power of the Rings. How are they friends in any way? I didn’t see any real relationship between them. Might be the series needs to settle in and get comfortable with these fantasy characters.

I saw actual conflict and love between Durian [third or fourth one?] and Elrond. That worked so well. Elrond allowed himself to be humbled before all the dwarves and seemed to feel real shame he had missed his friend’s big life moments. I loved Durian’s wife [can’t remember her name]. She was fantastic. So personable and fun. She brought a much needed note of humor and warmth.

Bronwen and her elf crush. Arondir. Had to look that up. I liked this pair. There’s a lot of territory to explore here and Bronwen has a real reason to be a fighter– to protect her son and her fellow villagers. Her slamming that orc head down was so satisfying. No one believes women when they warn of danger and hey, orc head, motherfuckers. We leave at first light! Gotta cheer a bit at that.

She didn’t cuss, of course. I do. But she didn’t.

I also looked at House of the Dragon. Oh my. Drawn in at once. And the female characters are interesting, contradictory, fun, political, etc.

Anyway, just a hodgepodge. Have a lovely weekend.

Grim Dystopia

No, not America. There are bright lights in the stormy dark of America. That’s rather dystopian in itself but…!

Work. Job. Employment. Dickensian horrors. Or maybe even some Russian novelist’s version of a workplace. Something full of not enough supplies, not enough workers to cover the shifts, not enough, not enough…ugh.

I started work at a local hotel. I won’t give the name in case they are MONITERING ME RIGHT NOW. I’ll call it the Shred Cat. You can puzzle out which one that is, m’kay, if you like.

I interview for about ten seconds at the Shred Cat. Basic questions. What hours do you want, what shifts, any problem standing for long periods, have to keep the lobby clean, etc. I do not hear back so I call, leave a message. I’m quite sure yet another place has given me the passive, won’t call back and tell me ‘fuck off and die’ message.

Nope. Shred Cat calls me back a couple days later. Hey, you wanna work for us? I, just happy to hear a yes from somebody, agree to be hired.

I’ve never worked in a hotel.

Not front desk, checking people in on a system I DO NOT KNOW. At least there’s training.

Yeah, training.

Now, the man who got to train this whackadoodle [that would be me] was a former police officer and in the Air Force. So, he’s a regimented martinet for how things should be. And I’m nervous and so aware of every last little to giant mistake I make under his exacting eye. Holy shit. I dread going to work to be trained, because it’s just a clusterfuck all the time. But hey, I also get to clean a lot and fold laundry. Because management decided front desk can also fold laundry when there are no guests to deal with…which is almost never.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Trainer guy is actually quite encouraging, as well as being precise. I always felt like I had failed miserably every training session but he kept saying, you are improving. You are getting better. Yes, now I can hunt and peck in addresses and not erase credit cards on file so readily. My eyesight is bad so reading those tiny blurry numbers correctly nearly caused poor trainer guy some heart attacks as people piled up and things bogged down. Yep.

Two weeks or so of four hour sessions for swing swift stuff. Three to eleven. I hate this shift. I hate it. It just ruins your day. I’d rather do graveyard or morning. I don’t mind getting up early. Graveyard starts at eleven, ends at seven. That’s doable. But swing…anyway.

Let’s skip to my first full shift by myself. Except it wasn’t because of course one of the management sorts happened to be covering the morning shift on this Sunday. I was a goddamn deer in headlights and the most woefully complicated reservations popped up that I had never trained for or even seen. So, she had to stay and help because I had no idea how to process the transactions asked for. I kept messing up, I kept making mistakes that I knew better than to make as the woman turned me into nervous jelly.

I went home Sunday in tears. I actually burst into tears during that eight hour horror festival of stupid mistakes, braindead idiocy on my part and sheer ineptitude.

I had to come back Monday and do it all over again.

I just. At least I didn’t burst into tears again. But I did cock up some room arrangements that took a while to untangle. There was also a rush of guests MY LAST FREAKING HOUR OF WORK and the laundry did not get attended to or the floor mopped…because I and the woman who had to stay all day Sunday because of me had to deal with the rush of people on Monday night. Including a Mormon bishop driving 75 miles to help out a young couple with kids from a small Idaho town. The woman had worked out a deal with him, so was waiting to check that group in herself and…ugh. I had an eight and half hour shift, but I did get to leave.

Now. People at work use Whatsapp. To communicate and such, instead of holding, say, staff meetings.

I find I am being blamed and roasted because…wait for it…the laundry didn’t get folded and the floor didn’t get mopped. I, um. Yeah, I can’t do two jobs at the same time. But I apologized instead of writing a novel-length accounting of my time to show why I didn’t get to the laundry and floor.

Now, the Whatsapp stuff is an addictive grim soap opera. You can follow the travails of housekeeping! You can ride along with the front desk drama! There are pictures! It’s all about tattling on others, mostly. Without any consideration that the place is woefully understaffed and sometimes, you just can’t physically get to something because shit happens and you have to take care of that shit right then and there. Like people showing up, thinking they have rooms reserved through their company or business and nope, not there. So, hey, have to call business, get them to make reservations, do we have their credit card on file somewhere and….uh huh.

Oh, so I ran into someone I recognized as having worked the front desk. I showed up, the day after the Bonnie Raitt concert, for training. She had no idea I was showing up, so I went home. This person is now working at the local canned food store. She was the clerk checking me out yesterday or so. I overheard the staff at the store trying to get shifts covered and remarked, hey, that sounds like my job. She looked at me. I looked at her. Hey, I know you. Yeah, I used to work at Shred Cat, it was impossible, they need to get their act together.

I don’t know how much longer I can last there, frankly. They’re just hiring warm bodies and throwing them into the grinder. My entire town seems understaffed. Running into that one all over. I might indeed have to consider becoming a teacher in Arizona, as my friend suggested. Kids and paperwork, oh my. And nasty parents, ugh. Still better than front desk torture.

Happy September!