Welp, had to drive to work yesterday in fog so dense I nearly drove off the road, twice. Fun.
It finally rained here in Oregon East. An actual rain. We plunged into near winter temps! It might snow in the valleys! Nah, not yet but winter wants to pounce.
I want to enjoy Halloween and all its orange, black and sparkly glory, but the American midterm elections throw a giant moist pall over everything. Moister than moist. Dripping wet with racism, sexism, fascism and all the other crappy isms imaginable and then some. Who is taking all these polls? It does not seem to reflect anything but what is expected– that the Gross Old Perverts sweep everything and Biden gets made to look like a doddering, shitting himself in public, gibbering fool. Um? And yet so many people registering to vote and yet…mmm.
I just want this all over so I can start breathing again and plan accordingly. Do I still live in a ‘free’ country or do I have to practice my salutes, wave a flag with savage frantic grins plastered across my frozen face? Shout randomly, in public, about eagles and freedom and no more open borders? We don’t have open borders, what the fuck is that noise?
Idaho, by the way, is almost an Ida-don’t go there, stay away, avoid avoid avoid. We do have scary states here in ‘murica and that is becoming one of the scariest.
The Aryan Nations that used to be a joke, who used to live under rocks and only appear if you whispered something overtly racist near an open sewer…have now virtually taken over that state. It’s sad and tragic and awful. Aryan Nations meets QAnon nonsense, has weird disgustingly awful sex, produces a mutant baby and here we are!
And my state, by the way, has a trumpian Gross Old Pervert running for guvvie. I just. No. No!
I do have scary movies lined up, as the midterms causes eye twitches, drooling, screaming when a leaf drops from a tree too near me. It’s tense here, y’all. Tense. Golly, vote for sane people or batshit trumpfucks? I mean no offense to actual bats, who just wish to live their bat lives in peace.
I have had a few acceptances roll my way, but mostly, lately, it’s been rejection city. Sigh.
Need to sacrifice something to Satan, I guess. Maybe he’ll accept an IOU? Will hand over the flies stuck to the fly strip. They’re already dead and am just gonna toss that strip otherwise. Why be wasteful? Satan? Hello?
March. Warming up. Raised bed for squash almost done. Cat doing great. Now that you’re all caught up–
I happened upon Minx, over on HBO.
It’s about a fictional women’s soft porn mag started in the 70’s by a radical feminist and a hardcore porn mag producer. Whacky hijinks ensue! Yep, it goes about how you think it does.
Penises everywhere. Shrill, naive, unpleasant female lead named, seriously, this is her name– Joyce Prigger. I do mean unbearable. Holy shit. Fun, easy-going male lead, named Doug Renatti, who sees ‘something’ in the Matriarchy Rising mag layout of Our Heroine. She pitches her over the top feminist scream to several mag producers in SoCal at this fair. She of course gets nowhere because no one will give her a chance! She’s an editor shopping around her liberated woman ideals and no one will throw her wads of cash and accolades, wah.
I lost any and all sympathy for her about five minutes in. I’ve seen this shit so many times. The unpleasant, uptight female lead, the lead male totally likable and smart, the rest of the cast pretty adorable, sweet, intelligent at times and…ugh. Okay. It’s rom-com time. At least, that’s the take I take away here.
Our Heroine is fresh outta Vassar, working on selling subscriptions for other magazines and generally so stupid about how the world works it’s goddamn painful to watch. She doesn’t know how that to get financed, you have to get big donors with money? She went to fucking Vassar. She didn’t rub up against the children of politicians and even presidents? For fuckety fuck’s sake.
She can’t sit through picking a male model for their debut issue without losing her shit. Joyce is embarrassed and squrimy, tee hee. The college girl hasn’t seen many dicks! Tee hee. She’s not only a shrieking harpy, she’s a prude! Oh goody!
It’s not funny or charming or astonishing. It’s just dumb. She’s a dumb character, a stereotype, a Men’s Rights example of what they think a feminist is. There is no nuance to her. At least not in the episode and a half I made it through before switching over to Youtube animal rescue videos to clear my head of the ‘Why the fuck are they still writing this type of female character? And during the so-called women’s liberation height??? Fuck fuck fuck fuck!’
And then, yeah, I rewrote this series in my head. Because, writer.
What if Our heroine, renamed Linda Lewis, or some other normal name that doesn’t hint a thing, was cool. I mean, with it, on top of her life, ambitious, calculating, willing to take chances. And a force of nature or someone you’d want to hang out with, hear their views. She’s got a sense of humor! She wants to change the world and she’s not asking for permission to do it. Linda can be unsure of herself at times but mostly, she works out what needs to be worked out. She approaches the pornmag producer guy, pitches him her magazine idea and he suggests the nude male centerfold every month. As Linda is mostly okay with her sexuality, she agrees to this, but says she wants to be in charge of the whole enchilada, even the tasteful nudie stuff. They begin a tentative partnership and learn a lot along the way.
I’m so tired of the naive, awful female lead and the cool, with it male lead that makes the female lead look both childish and boringly stupid. See the Ugly Truth, with Gerard Butler and Katherine Heigel. The Proposal, with Sandra Bullock– which, despite her charm and Ryan Reynold’s scowling with his usual charm throughout it–presented a horrible female boss stereotype straight from a Hallmark Christmas collection of Bad Lady Bosses that just need a Good Man to Show Them Some Good Lovin’. Sweet Home Alabama, where Reese Witherspoon went home to shit all over her home town and her parents, yet wound up with her ex-hubbie after…ugh.
So yeah, done with Minx. Boring and irritating, not my cup of anything.
I’m also struggling with Our Flag Means Death. I want to like it more. I just fail at that. I do like Blackbeard. It helps that he’s played by Taika Waititi. I wish this series had centered more around Blackbeard facing the end of his time as the most bad-ass pirate ever. The Stede Bonnet character just repels me so utterly. A guy with a lot of money getting to do whatever he wants. Where in American politics and private blah dee blah have we ever, ever seen this crud?
I need a third to end this TV review rant.
Gilded Age! Now, it’s trashy, but it’s fun, gorgeous trash. I get tired of Marian, the female blond lead who’s so bland she blends into the scenery no matter what she’s wearing. Please, Jesus– let her be ravished by a pack of rabid sailors after that bland and boring lawyer guy sells her to a brothel after her aunt refuses to accept him into High Society. Wheeee!!!!!
And then she’s seen no more when she leaves with the sailors as their new captain. Work it out, writers!
As that would leave far more screen time to the Russels. Not the kids, yuck. Ick. Boring!
No no, Bertha and George Russel are fabulous, arrogant monsters you just love to love. She’s a social-climbing soft-voiced goddess and he’s a fiery, black-bearded robber baron you hope never escapes to run amuck in these here present times. Together they plan to dominate Old Money Manhattan and make it beg for mercy it ever slighted them in the least. Bwhahahahahaha! Yes, please!!
I also love the Peggy Scott character. Upper class black woman, with ambitions to be a writer. Her mom is played by Audra McDonald, of Broadway. The Broadway Audra! If you can’t tell, I love Audra McDonald. But, the show explores the middle class and even upper class POC post-Civil War strata that developed and lead to such things as Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
I also find it annoying and eye-rolling when the blond Marian doesn’t seem to notice all the rampant racism all around her. Okay, sure. Ahem. But. We do get a scene with her bringing second-hand shoes to gift Peggy with during an unannounced visit to Peggy’s parent’s home. Dorothy Scott, Peggy’s mom, rightfully embarrasses Marian with how Marian expected the Scott family to be near destitute and grateful for a white lady savior. Ouch.
It’s not Downton Abbey. It’s a colorful, somewhat empty, imitation but it’s enjoyable. Watching the New Money sorts clash with the Old Money sorts, great fun. Watching the Russels plow ahead like a team of shiny Clydesdales, also great fun. The two aunts of Marian, played by Christine Baranski and Cynthia Nixon, make up for a lot. They remind me of L.M. Montgomery characters, for some reason. I half expected Anne Shirley to pop in for a cup of tea and a saucer of neighborhood gossip.
And there’s servants but nothing so far that grabs the attention or begs for more air time. There’s no Thomas, for instance, slinking about, causing trouble while managing to remain a near tragic figure we have to love. But, maybe in later seasons, the servants will be fleshed out, given actual characters, become part of the stories around them, rather than just set decorations whenever Mrs. Russel stalks by in a red silk dress.
Thomas from Downtown Abbey. Sorry if I lost some of you there.
I wanted to do a fluffy blog post, what with all the horrors here in America and over there in Ukraine. And other places, and other places after that. Oh dear.
Right next door, Ammon Bundy is staging a protest over the state of Idaho stepping in to remove a baby that was being horrifically neglected, as in that baby could have died if something had not been done. This extremist, who’s running for govvie of the state, claims it’s a medical kidnapping and has called for protests and even possible violence if the child isn’t returned to the parents who were abusing it. As these parents seem to be related to Bundy’s campaign manager…it’s a frigging mess in Idaho, in other words, right now.
This bunch of political theatre stunt-makers even shut down a major hospital there in Boise for a bit. The present lieutenant govvie, Janice McGeachin or something like that, attended a white pride rally in the most open and defiant of ways. She’s an elected official. She also wants to be govvie. And she’s batshit insane and a religious nutball. Wheee!! I’m two hours from all this and it sucks. It sucks!
So yeah, I’m watching trashy historical dramas and submitting my writing now and then to the here and there. Spring is around the corner. 2022 already seems a bust. 2023, baby, you gotta give us all some hope, m’kay? Great!
Update– Just saw, in the Idaho Statesman, where the child in question was returned to the parents, more than likely because of Bundy’s threats and bullying. It really can be an awful world at times. I doubt those parents have seen the light. And terrorism wins in Idaho.
Good morning. How ya doin’? It’s spring and the garden doth call. Doth it call for thee as well? Okay, before I descend into faux Shakespeare-King James Bible meanderings– I have a short story out in the Ghastling, number 13.
Jimmy’s Jar collection is a tale of two cousins in an Idaho graveyard trying to catch ghosts in canning jars.
Check it out! Also, go check out past issues of the Ghastling. If you like short stories that deal with the macabre and strange and spooky, or even if you don’t, you might find some writing you really enjoy. Cheers!
I happened across my cousin, Jimmy David Cubison, near the corner of the old graveyard that my grandmother’s house overlooks. Nobody gets buried there much anymore. It’s mostly pioneers and old babies. John Gabriel Smith, born 1878, died 1879 of fever. There’s so many of those little grave stones just like that. It’s not creepy, just kind of sad. Jimmy sat near a very old statue of an angel, with her face mostly worn away. The grave she guarded had a date closer to the Civil War than the one with the Nazis. Fredrick Gimmel, read the name in what had once been very grand letters. Now it looked like dogs had been chewing on the marble. I tried to recall if there were any Gimmels still here in Council. Maybe they had moved down the road to Weiser.
“Don’t bother me, Park,” Jimmy did not take his eyes from the grave or the shorn grass around it. He held a Mason jar in his right hand, with some gunk at the bottom. “I’m busy.” A lid he could grab if he had to. The air seemed full of snow. Some of that cottonwood fluff sparkled as if dipped in pale glitter.
“What are you trying to catch?” I scratched at my cheek, getting a sunburn. The sky remained clear, the big storm the lying weather rats promised never showing up. The cottonwood fluff floating by.
“A ghost,” he said, huddling his long body up into more of a ball, eyes flicking toward me a bit. “He shows up near every day, sits here, then disappears. As if he’s waiting for something.”
I admit, a sick little thrill went through me. This seemed more fun than trying to get someone to drive me up to Mann Creek to look for the Mann Creek Ape. It’s like a snipe hunt but fun, my Uncle Chris had said. I had forgotten to ask what a snipe was. “There’s no ghosts,” I ventured and Jimmy gave me a look. A look that said just try asking for a ride into the trees. “But you never know. Hey, what’s a snipe?”
“You don’t know,” he said, almost under his breath. “ It’s a bird. You’re so dumb. Look. Go away. I’m busy. Or help me out. Some ghost lure, a jar, maybe it doesn’t matter who holds it.”
I sat nearby, because I had heard the Council Cubisons were batshit crazy. My mother’s words. Crazy seemed more interesting than Grandma Barb’s speeches on how prices at the grocery store were due to globalists who all worked for the Clintons. Otherwise, she made almond roca for my visit and last night, made meatballs with pork sausage and Spam in them. Mom had been entirely right. You just ignore what you can and eat her food. “Sure. I can hold a jar. What’s ghost lure?”
Jimmy handed me his jar. I got a whiff of dill pickles, dirt, something like horses. “Don’t sniff it. It doesn’t work as well if you sniff it. I don’t know why.” With that in my ears and my nose now not sniffing whatever mixture that was at the bottom of the jar, he slouched off toward his bicycle. An actual bicycle, not one of the motorbikes they had around here or even the famous Gator, that looked like a big golf cart. Maybe it was. The mixture had an odd, oily sheen now and then. A thickness like spit or runny snot. I watched the grave of Fredrick Gimmel but I just saw sunshine and old leaves from the years before, the fluff from the cottonwoods that were all around. Seeds, I guess. Ghosts liked the smell? Jimmy slouched back, with a lidded Mason jar and a small covered container. His jeans barely clung to his hips, his t-shirt proclaimed him a fan of John Deere, his haircut had been done with a bowl and very dull scissors, but he also looked like a movie star. Which one I was not sure, maybe the ones from the black and white movies? My mother and Aunt Perri discussed the rest of the family in our north Boise apartment kitchen, when they were not planning on how to make it big. My mother would tell me to go along now, Park, if she caught me listening. He looks a bit like if Tyrell Powers had a baby with Ermine Flynn, I had overheard my mom say. At least I think those were the names.
It was why I was here with Grandma Barb for a bit. So mom and Aunt Perri could travel to cities to play their music. They were opening for a band that pretended it was some other band. Confusing to me, but they both seemed over the moon about their real shot to get a foot in the door.
The same smell when I took off the lid. Dill pickles and dirt gone bad. Jimmy sat again, after making me take the second jar. Why not just sit there with the jar he went to get but Jimmy seemed to be an expert in jars full of gunky smelly stuff. He set the container close to his hip, his black curly hair tangled and uneven about that face where his whiskers could now be seen if you looked real hard at his cheeks and upper lip. “Stop watching me. Watch the grave. He musta thought no one would care if he showed up to take a look around.”
“Sorry. You know they all say you look like a movie star? The baby of Tyrell Powers and something Flynn? I’m not sure of the names.”
“Jesus, that shit again?” He made a huffy sound, leaned forward. “He’s late today. Who says that? I do not look like Tyrone Powers. Do I look like freaking Robin Hood? Jesus!”
“No. You look like you.” I heard things, I passed them on. Mom knew this. It’s why she made sure I was elsewhere when she and her sister held one of their intense it’s gonna happen sessions. “What’s the smelly stuff?”
“Mostly dirt.” He tilted his head, turned it, as if listening. “Shh.”
“Sure,” I said, waving my jar a bit. I looked over my shoulder at the decaying lines of gravestones, statues and markers for the dead. A big field full of dead people, rimmed with pine, locust, and cottonwood trees. Little paths that led to the dirt road that gave way to pavement. Grandma Barb’s small house behind the big wall of locust trees. “There’s just nothing to do here. Grandma doesn’t have internet, says she doesn’t need it.”
“Read a book,” he actually said. “Don’t wave that about. Hold it steady. You can walk up the road there, there’s a creek. Don’t kids like creeks?”
I perked up at once. I actually did like creeks. “Is it far? Maybe we can go on the Gator. Look for that ape. Or was it Bigfoot?”
“Just walk there. You got feet. They’re pulling your leg, Park. Little kids are sure dumb.” The black of his eyes reminded me of wet poster paint. “Now be quiet. I gotta concentrate. Just hold the jar on the ground if your arm’s tired. It has to come to the jar and go in by itself. Then you slam the lid on.”
“I don’t have a lid. So it’s like a mousetrap? Except for ghosts? How many do you have?”
“Eighteen jars of em.” He then put a finger to his lips, and I swear on my mother’s old Casio keyboard, I saw, for just a second, the outline of a big fat man sitting on the rounded top of the Gimmel gravestone. Not the jiggly fat, but a solid fat man who could rip your arms off. Like a wrestler except fat. Then just air and birds fighting over something in the far corner of the place. Jimmy leaned close, his breath cinnamon farts. “He’s been here the whole time. Just be still. I’ll take you for a ride in the Gator. Just sit here, be quiet, be still.”
For just a long moment, it seemed long but it probably was not, I saw other outlines in that graveyard. Not very many, like ten or so. Ten was the number my brain insisted on. An old lady who put her finger to her lips. A little girl who turned into sparkling sunlight and back again. A tall man who lifted his hat at me very politely. A ghost in a hat. A ghost in a hat! My head hurt, my eyes closed, the smell of that ghost lure offensive. I was offended by that smell. It made me want to sniff flowers and candy bars just so I’d remember there were good smells left. The big fat man faded. What looked like the fluff that comes off the cottonwood trees floated toward me and Jimmy, who did not even blink. That fluff caught at the edge of Jimmy’s jar, then fell downward. Jimmy slammed the lid on and oh, then threw that jar as the other outlines drew near and nearer still. The jar seemed to ripple. The grass beneath the jar turned brown, as if the glass had gone very hot. “It’s never done that,” he clutched at my arm and I patted at him. Skinny. His shoulder had so many bones. “Go get it.”
“No,” I very sensibly said. The inside of that Mason jar had turned weird. Like it was stuffed full of a tutu. I had always wanted to dance about with one of those on but my mom said ballet was for rich people. Are we rich people? No, I had to admit. You can practice in your room, she had added. Trying to stand on my toes had hurt but I still wanted one of those tutu outfits. “You get it. It’s your jar.”
“Just go get it,” Jimmy shoved at me. I shoved back. He might be made of lots of bones but he was awful strong. Still, I was not about to put up with that from some no-account Council Cubinson, as my Aunt Perri had said once on her third glass of cheap box wine. Cheap box wine for cheap boxes, which had made my mom and aunt laugh. “You agreed to help me. So help me! Go get that damn jar.”
“Fine!” I slapped the top of his black head, he pinched me before I could get out of reach. Fair was fair. The jar moved and shifted without me touching it. The lid bulged a bit. That fluff glowed in there. I looked back at Jimmy, who gaped at the jar. “What the hell did you catch in there?” A sliver of a crack grew up the side of that jar. Jimmy stood by my side now, both of staring down at the possessed Mason jar full of Mr. Gimmel. I had chills and thrills. I heard breathing just over my shoulder. Maybe the other ghosts were curious as well. A hand crept into mine. The little girl or one of the dead babies that were buried here. A dead baby held my hand. But I could not let go of the cool hand fitted into mine. Jimmy jerked his head at me, then stepped back, stepped back and my feet stumbled backward as well, though my aching eyeballs stared at that jar, which now had a river of cracks, a delta of cracks. I had learned about deltas, the end of the rivers. That’s what that cracking of the glass looked like.
Jimmy gripped my arms, yanked me back just as the jar exploded.
It went like someone had chucked a big firework inside. Glass went everywhere. Glass pieces hit me even as Jimmy tossed us both to the mowed grass. Glass rained on my back. A smell of old flowerpot dirt, the mold I had once smelled on bread, something else that was just foul and rank. Jimmy shivering, his arm holding my head down. Then nothing.
Just the birds calling back and forth, the barking of the big dog that had to live chained up guarding a falling down trailer house. The burr of someone’s chainsaw. “You okay?” Jimmy sat up, glass bits falling from him, from me as well. What remained of the jar could have fit in a mouse’s ear. The ground where it had been thrown was burned brown-black, as if someone had tried to light a fire there. Jimmy’s bike now lay on the ground, his backpack torn to shreds. His finger traced along my cheek and came away dark with my blood. I felt the press of that little girl’s hand in mine, then just my hand and my blood on my cousin’s finger, his black eyes shocked and very wide. ‘I didn’t know it would do that. The others just sort of sat at the bottom.”
“You should probably let them all go,” someone whispered in my ear, a very low man’s voice, sounding like my Uncle Chris when he had a cold. He had a cold now. “You do as I tell you, girl”
“You should let them go, too,” I said, very obedient for once in my life. Jimmy stared over my shoulder and I just knew the man who had been sitting on the Gimmel gravestone stood right behind me.
“And if I don’t” Jimmy asked. My cheek stung now.
Nothing at all said back, just the wind now, that lonely sound of branches rubbing against each other. Jimmy stared at the ground, his sunburned face almost white it was so angry and scared. “Maybe they don’t like being caught.”
“I’ll have to try something else. Something stronger. Grandma’s gonna shit herself. Your face got cut up.”
“I’ll blame the Clintons,” I said very wisely and he laughed and laughed, then we picked up his bike, then had to leave it as it was twisted into a pretzel. His backpack was a total loss, his ghost lure dumped out and oozing into the ground.
“You can’t tell none of this, Park.”
What could I tell? Had I really seen a Mason jar explode like a bomb? I had the cut on my face, though. Had a little ghost held my hand as the big ghost went after my cousin for jailing them? My dad would be coming home soon from Los Angeles. He’d been hauling freight down that way. Otherwise, I’d still be in Boise, playing Pet Mountain and drinking from a juice box. Mango melon was my favorite. I had no wish to tell any of this to anyone just yet. “Sure,” I promised and almost meant it.
You’re drinking at six in the morning, already done with the day’s shenanigans? Is that just me??
I am super-awful at self-promotion, which is what modern authors need above all. Or maybe, always?
So. Hence the drinking. But! I will nonetheless post about my BOOKS and such, regardless of the sick sharp feeling of dread and embarrassment combining into a probably gut-slicing set of Ginsu knives in my innards.
I will persist even if I start puking up blood over trying to do my own sales anything, in other plainer words.
What is Aftermath: Boise, Idaho about, one might ask.
Native Idahoan Hannah Gray kills herself, as the zombies scratch at the door of the apartment she hides within. However, she wakes up in an office, in Boise, Idaho. Hannah has no idea what she’s doing here or what she’s supposed to be doing in this workplace full of women busy with superficial tasks. To her horror and confusion, the boss seems to be an actual zombie or, in this new reality, called a Fecto. To her further disgust, the Hannah who belongs in this world seems to be having an affair with one of the other Fecto bosses, who goes by the name Harrison Squack. The other Hannah was apparently a double agent in this bizarre new plane of existence. A strange society where zombies are in charge of everything versus the humans who have to just grin and bear it. Or else these naughty humans get sent to Salt Lake City for ‘retraining’, wink wink. Or just disappear or get featured on the news as suicides or as going against the nice Fectos who just want a better society for all. There’s, naturally, a rebellion afoot! The local Fectos seem all over that! Hannah plays along but she soon sets off a chain of events that leads to some wacky, wild and, ultimately, tragic events.
I drove myself to Mountain Home, Idaho. To do a reading of my short story, Bunny Slipper, for the tenth edition of Whistle Pig, the Southwest Idaho’s literary journal.
It’s a two hour drive, at least.
The legislators in the Gem State raised the speed limit to 80 MPH.
So, my hundred mile or so drive took TWENTY MINUTES.
No, I didn’t, but it’s nice to look down at the speedometer, realize I’m not speeding recklessly. Or that the Idaho State cops won’t be yanking my backside over for a ticket. I don’t go eighty. No. About seventy or so. I used to drive like a speed fiend. I have the tickets to prove it. I’ve turned into that slow duffer. In the right lane, putting along. With others whizzing by at a hundred, all of them praying the cops are elsewhere…!
A lovely day. The gauge hit in the mid-sixties. Sunshine. No wind. I had the radio on, noticed the station, the River as it’s referred to, seemed to play the same set of songs. From a U2 combo of Pride, in the Name of Love and Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For to some whiny men singing about friends and weed. I seriously cannot hear the difference in today’s musical men or women. It all sounds alike. I have Old Man Get Off My Lawn Tin Ear-itus these days.
Oh and the River plays Love Shack, a lot, by the B-52’s. I turn that shit up! It feels so decadent to be tooling down I-84, on my way to not the love shack. Tin roof. RUSTED.
No, I don’t have that fancy thingamabob where you store every song every invented, that hooks into your car something or other. I, gulp, jab the buttons on the car stereo, like some old-fashioned dope.
Now, this stretch of the freeway is known to me. I attended UNLV way back when, so I usually entered Idaho after taking the three seconds it takes to drive through Jackpot, Nevada. Up the 93, with other highways thrown in.
I would then head for the freeway, head back to Eastern Oregon across southern Idaho. I never stopped in Mountain Home, that I remember. I drove past it, a lot. There’s also a rest stop just outside Boise, which I did stop at if my back teeth were swimming.
It’s really hard to pee if you’re on a freeway. You can’t just pull over and go. Like you can on a mostly deserted back country highway. Which I’ve done. You gotta go, it’s urgent, there’s no cars in either direction.
You yank the vehicle over, you listen for motors. You hastily squat and yeah, you hear a car approaching…yep. Every. Single. Time. You can drive for literally miles without seeing another car on a Nevada highway and then, the moment you give in, decide to water the weeds a bit, yeah. There’s a freaking parade going by.
Here’s where guys have it easy. They can just casually stand by their collection of metal and rubber wheels, whiz discreetly while pretending to be looking at something by the side of the road. Oh sure, we all know what that guy, standing by his pulled over car or truck is doing. Sure. But we pretend he’s looking at a tree or a river or a crumpled Arby’s sack hanging artistically from a clump of sagebrush.
Whereas women have to yank pants down or lift a skirt, squat. It’s a whole rigmarole. What? Wait until you get to a rest area or a truck stop or a gas station?? Yeah, when the next one is fifty to a hundred miles off? Sometimes the bladder wants what the bladder wants.
Where was I???
Oh yeah, reading a bit from a short story in Mountain Home, Idaho.
It went well. I enjoyed the other selections. There was local art work, from young kids to the elderly. Idaho has talent and it’s rather surprising how thriving the arty community is. I felt energized. It’s write a novel month coming up in November. I plan to tackle my Starved Out Eastern Oregon ranchers versus Big Gubbermint attempt. No ghosts, goblins, zombies or vampires. None! Just people being all people, as they do at times.
Exit 90 is the exit I took. You then turn right, drive a bit. If you want, you can head off to Bruneau, and the famous sand dunes.
The place I sought sits on the right. El Herradero. I treated myself to enchiladas, pork. I had to go back out, find the other room where the readings would take place. I got there to Mountain Home a bit early.
I managed to read without sounding like a squeaky mouse. I kept my reading fairly short. I used my actor training to modulate my voice. I did not touch the mic which kept going on and off for others, as microphones do at times. The atmosphere for the Whistle Pig gala was pretty laid back, warm, charming and gracious. Everyone seemed to know each other. As you do in a close-knit artist’s community such as this.
Now, I parked across the way, in the Albertson’s parking lot, the Jimmy [GMC] pointed at the one-way street I needed to get back on to get back out to the freeway heading west. I’m always thinking, when I have to get to a new place, how do I get back again. I did manage to find the freeway entrance, in the dark, and got back again obviously, instead of heading off to Twin Falls. Though, if I had gotten on the freeway going the way I did not want to go, I could just take an exit, yeah. Though, that exit might not be for some miles, so. And the cops, even in Idaho, frown at doing a u-turn on the freeway. I joke. Idaho cops would find that a ticket-worthy offense. Among other things.
Speaking of cops!
It was Friday night, so the cops were out IN FORCE. Saw lots of red and blue lights! Even when I got super-close to home, there were cop lights going off. I even thought one was going to pull me over…but it didn’t come after me creeping past the Malheur Butte, wondering where all the papers were, if my license was even in my purse and…yeah.
I had had a Pepsi and a glass of water, so no worries that way. Yay!
Also didn’t take many pictures. I just. Ugh.
To sum up, I got to Mountain Home and back home again. I left at about three thirty, got back at eleven at night on the dot. I read my piece, I didn’t embarrass myself.
It was called Bunny Slipper. About a man who buries his unwanted convenient sort of wife in the Nevada desert and she crawls out of that hole to come find him. Sad, with maggots. Yeah. The usual dreary stuff.
I got a flash for a short tale. About a goddess drinking at a dive bar. In Payette, Idaho. The protagonist writes travel books. She’s collecting stories for a a book about rodeos.
It’s in strictly rough draft, prolly needs a rewrite or the scrap heap, early stages yet.
Here’s the opening shot across the indifferent bows of the world:
A sign, made of tin, nailed to the outside, announced that the Spotted Horse had been established in 1956. A vague horse-like shape had been painted onto the tin, and this, one had to assume, was the horse the bar had been named for. I also saw a no minors allowed warning and we shoot, then we card cutesy plaque. Peaked metal roof, wooden structure. Otherwise, this place looked just like any other dive bar anywhere in the United States of America. Dirty, full of low-life rabble-rousers and shady sorts a step ahead of Johnny Law. Bikers to underage whores to out of work locals waiting for that switch to flick. That switch that kept them from murder sprees and desperate crimes of passion. A few beers at the Spotted Horse or the Pit or the Longbranch or the Sailor’s Bees, as one place was called, in the wilds of South Dakota. Then, a life-changing decision to take up a gun or an axe. And go kill people, whether you knew them or not. He was a quiet man that never caused any trouble. Those quiet men started off their day of mayhem usually with a few shots of rotgut crystallizing their thoughts and silencing their doubts.
That is a line from my latest stab at the third book of my ‘trilogy’. Saint Lysette and Bloody Alice. The second is done– Alice in Oregonlandia.
I’ve started that third book over X amount of times [at least four] and have stumbled upon…well, will do a whole blog post on that. I am determined that September will be ABOUT WRITING AND WHAT I’M WRITING OR ELSE I’LL EAT MY OWN HAT. I have two hats. One is from Thailand. I won’t eat that one. Because I got it in Thailand and I need to remember I was once a brave little world traveling cookie.
American politics, at the moment, make me want to write snarky comments under news stories and start my own religion so I can get a megachurch, too. The Church of Annabella. I’ll preach on America First, everyone else can just suck it and why guns are holy and in the Bible.
Hence, the focusing on the gentle art of writing and the gentler art of promotion of said writings. Yippee skip, my cowpokes and cowladies. Mostly because anything I write that way– [I edited out a mini-rant on AmeriJesus running over SJW’s in a chariot. Uh huh.]– makes me a bit, well, unfocused and scattershot. So!! Let’s get promotin’!! Isn’t this fun?
The first leg comes out in September.The House on Clark Boulevard.
Ghosts. Holiday meals. Human sacrifice. Will Nancy ever get those Christmas cards written? How can a housewife get a kid potty-trained if she’s fighting the forces of darkness? Who is Mr. Peepers and just why does Mr. Blue do what he do? Who will get up to let Fred in? It’s certainly not Art! Will that turkey ever cook?? Is Calgon far more magical than that company let on? Find out these questions and more!!
The House on Clark Boulevard.
The street is real, by the way. That house, which is one of the characters in this book, was one of my childhood homes. I was just a little older than Alice Stockhorst when I lived in the actual house on Clark Boul-de-bard. That’s how I said it, because I was, like, four or five.
We were living in Washington State by the time I hit first grade…Paterson Elementary, where you could spend your whole recess watching barges go up and down the mighty Columbia if you so wished. We took field trips to McNary Dam [giant man-eating catfish!] and to Tri-Cities [Pasco, Kenniwick and Richland] to see the ballet. Memory, it cleans up those images you wish to be sparkly and nice, doesn’t it. Oh yes.
Oh, I made my grandmother–the real Grandma Joan in my about to hit the market book, whose middle name was Joan– drive us past the dead bull when I lived in that house. A dead bull they had not yet taken away. Yes, one of the truly darker parts of that happy fantasy friendly barn yard picture some of you hold dear in your heads. What happens to large dead animals? When they get all ripe and stinky and very very very dead? La la la!
It fascinated me, that gas-bloated dead behemoth, and she indulged my morbid tastes, like any good granny does. Kids, they love death and gooshy stuff. That shiny, balloon-looking carcass we had to visit as long as it remained a fixture of the landscape. Back then the roads had not yet been paved and the ruts shook her little car.
A Lynx. Or maybe that car came later, maybe she had another car before that, there’s so few left to ask. And I find I’d rather romanticize than ferret out the boring make and model of whatever car she ACTUALLY had at that period of time. I remember her silver Lynx, a Ford. I remember the bull and my grandmother driving us by it so I could get a good look. That much is true. That much will go in the documentary called What Ann Wrote. It will be produced two hundred years from now when people ‘discover’ my writing and there’s fan clubs and…
Oh look, there’s me not being a total unicorn-happy butterfly of positivity!
Back to this book about to TAKE THE WORLD BY STORM. Yay!!!!
A friend of mine has helped me set up readings. In Ontario, Oregon. At the local library and possibly, at this little wine place that features ‘local talent’. Second and Wine is the name in case you’re ever in Ontario, Oregon. Chefs, authors, foot models, who knows. I don’t get out and about, I am not in the loop, even the tiny Eastern Oregon/Western Idaho loop. I’m nearly a total recluse at this point in time.
So, the reading/s.
There might even be a Boise, Idaho one. Big city, bright lights, fellow babies. I know, Boise is relatively ‘small’ when compared to, say, Los Angeles or Hong Kong, but I am not getting on a bunch of planes to go to Hong Kong. That takes more than the seven dollars I have in my purse at the moment. Just saying. There might be ‘some places’ in north Boise– which is apparently the arty end?
If you know Boise at all, that’s mildly funny. If you have no idea what a Boise is or have never heard of the state of Idaho, well. Maybe that’s God’s will working wonders in your life, who can say at this point in the narrative. I’m being totally, like, sarcastic, so let’s return to our regular blog post road, shall we?
Being a grad school grad, I’ve had public readings of my stuff.
Oh yes. I’ve seen my work done on stage, either really well or so badly I actually died a little. I’ve had to sit and take criticisms that were more about tearing me apart than addressing my work. I’ve gotten great stuff from actual enemies who hated my guts. I’ve gotten many a neutral ‘good job’ from actual friends who perhaps didn’t wish to hurt my feelings.
So I’m not shaking over reading a few pages for the public’s amusement/boredom. I probably will be a lot more nervous once actual dates and times are nailed to that cross of public speaking, oh yes. But it will be more about– what do I wear, my hair should be murdered with a nuke, should I just shave my head or what and what did I do with my beige iridescent lipstick? [A shout out to the real Dirty Dancing]
Oh hey, I have a new book coming out!! You can buy Oregon Gothic!! I also write plays, so produce them!! I’m fabulous!!