Saturday, September 10, 2011

Judgement Call

Just being in the laundromat evokes a sense of poverty or misfortune; a feeling of transience. They are not fancy, shiny places. They are strictly about function sans form. The attendant is a cheerful older man who is busy repairing one of the aging machines and chatting with customers, while the patrons generally keep to themselves, avoiding eye contact and conversation with anyone other than the old man.

He came in just behind me. Just a guy, a bit older than myself, but I found myself making up a whole life story for him. Newly divorced (no wedding ring; kept asking the attendant how to work the machine and how much detergent to use). He tries to keep healthy (we both went next door to Subway where he ordered a flatbread sandwich and water). He has some money (iPhone) and is social (either surfed or talked on the iPhone the whole time in Subway). The wardrobe threw me a bit: almost exclusively black shirts, all hung neatly upon exiting the dryer. Gay? Bartender? New Yorker?

Moreover, I thought what would an observer think of me? What might I say to the passing stranger? No wedding ring (it was left behind on the bathroom counter), no makeup, hair in a ponytail. That blue tee shirt I wear to do housework. Worn out hausfrau? Single mom? I ordered a chicken/bacon/ranch and a Coke at Subway. Does that tell people I don't care about my health? Read a book. Am I an intellectual or one of those people who reads 18 Harlequin Romances a week? (I know I'm neither) I would be interested to know what vibe I give off but, of course, how would one ever answer that question? You can't ask your friends - their perceptions are skewed. You can't ask the stranger - they'll think you're a whack job. Or they might be one. How do you know what people think of you and, more importantly, do you care?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Deadly sexy

Guns. Most people have pretty strong opinions either for or against them. Me? I'm kinda on the fence. On the one hand, I don't see any reason on God's green earth why anyone outside of active military or a member of the SWAT team needs an assault rifle. I mean, really? Are the deer THAT dangerous?

On the other hand... in the right setting, guns can be kinda sexy. I love that scene in "The Mummy" when Brendan Fraser and his French Foreign Legion buddies are about to get stomped Alamo-style by the desert army. He has a rifle, spare bullet clenched tightly in his very full lips; then he switches to pistols: two, of course. Out of ammo, he drops those and pulls two more out and keeps blasting away. Now, the fact that he is eight feet tall and drop dead gorgeous doesn't hurt, either. But doesn't every woman, uber liberated or no, like the idea that a man can protect her? Swoon!

Don't even get me started on Oded Fehr as Ardeth Bey, either. Whole other level of sexy there, people.

Also the only person [evvverrr] who can get away with having tattoos on his face.

Photos: Brendan Fraser as Rick O'Connell; Nathan Fillion as Mal Reynolds; Ioan Gruffudd as Horatio Hornblower

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Naughty Bits

Have you ever been embarrassed about what you wrote? No because you thought it wasn't quality writing but because it was... well... naughty?

I'm trying to focus my work. In the past I've been a bit all over the map with it (as I am with my reading, to be honest) so I wanted to pinpoint "what is it I really love and can truly be passionate about?"

Many moons ago, I thought I would write romance. A massive market welcoming to new writers. One problem: I wasn't an avid romance reader. I've read some really good ones and some really bad ones. The bad ones only ignite that old writer's cliche: well, I can do better than that! But was this really where my passion lay? No pun intended.

Who do I read? Michael Crichton and Robin Cook: stories I enjoy immensely even though they can make my brain hurt. Not something I could write. Clive Cussler. Also really enjoyable stories but... I can't see myself writing action/adventure. Maybe from the woman's point of view? Create a female Dirk Pitt? Hmmm... file that thought away for later. But what do I read the most? Horror. Dean Koontz, John Saul, Bentley Little. I have two faves who I read absolutely EVERYTHING from: Stephen King and Laurell K. Hamilton. So, as a big fan of horror, why not focus my writing in that direction? I still am a romantic at heart but I can work that in with the scary. Okay, you talked me into it.

Right. So I have my genre, Paranormal Romance to be exact, and I'm writing away on the project that I'm excited about, when I get to... the Sex Scene. Lemme just say I have read some really good sex scenes in my time. I think I can write them as well. The problem is that now I have to let someone else read it. I'm blushing just thinking about it. What are my kids gonna think? Is my mother going to read this? Are people going to look at me sideways now? Maybe this is why writers drink. How does one release that creative flow without holding back, without being afraid of what others might think?

I wrote the scene. And I think it's good. Now if I can just work up the nerve to see if anyone else likes it, too.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Julia Childs, I ain't

I am not the greatest cook, but I try. I realllly try. Still, it seems I am rarely able to please my husband with what I produce from the kitchen.

I used to think I was a decent cook. I had a special salad I had concocted that was always a hit, and if I learned one thing from my sister's first husband, it was how to make a mean lasagna. This lasagna was a master piece. It literally took all day to make because I made my own sauce. Short of growing the tomatoes myself, that sauce was truly "from scratch". It became my signature dish and I thought I was fully prepared for the old "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach" challenge I would have to face after I left home. (Yes, I was about 12 when I learned to make this lasagna).

Then I met my husband-to-be and, a few months later, came the moment when I unveiled my treasure: The Sacred Lasagna. His reaction? "There are peas in it?" Yes, there are. There are a lot of things in it. "And eggs?" Yes, hard boiled eggs. It's Sicilian. I mean, I learned the recipe from an actual Sicilian who was born there and everything. "Are these onions?" Oh for crying out loud. It's not Stouffers, I'm sorry.

Flipping through my mental recipe book I realized that all the dishes I was good at making were all ones he would not like. My mother grew up in a largely Italian neighborhood so that was what I knew how to cook. Now I had a man who didn't like onions, green peppers, Italian sausage, stuffing (AKA "dressing" if you're from the South. Not Italian, true). Wonderful.

Fast forward some 20 years and try as I might, I rarely (like maybe 5 times total) have elicited any compliments on my cooking. Then came last Monday. Monday is Crock Pot night and I was trying a new recipe. I got home from work and made some corn and boiled up some noodles to go w/the chicken that had been simmering in sauce all day. I prepared to put the finishing touches (bacon and cheese) on the chicken and, much to my dismay, I realized that the chicken was very dry. It was tough and kinda stringy. Wonderful. Well, this oughta be good.

I warned everyone ahead of time that they might want to keep a beverage handy to go with the desiccated bird and we all tucked in. It wasn't inedible but it certainly wasn't what I'd call tasty.

Then it happened.

My husband was bringing his empty plate to the dishwasher when he says (and I'm not kidding) "That was really good."

Doiiii what? Good? It was chicken jerky, for crying out loud! So... what you're telling me is that, all these years I've been wringing my hands worrying about making good food when in reality I just needed to serve something (anything!) drowned in barbecue sauce?

Conclusion: it's not my cooking. It's his taste buds. I wonder if I can still remember that lasagna recipe...