Monday, November 15, 2010

Sick advantages

Today I am sick and home from work, and I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "You lucky duck! You get to stay home while the rest of us slave over the things we usually slave over on a Monday!" And this is true. But do I consider myself lucky that I'm at home and you're not? Not really. I would rather be at work, and have the ability to smell and breathe through my nose than be home drinking microwaved honey because the lining of my throat is gone.

But enough about the linings of my internal organs. Today I have the opportunity to finish the short story that I started over the summer. For those of you who like to keep track, the summer officially ended two months ago. And I'm still not finished with the first draft of this thing. This is the one I started about Michael and Betsy, but it's evolved tremendously since then. Now, I'm not saying that the actual writing has evolved tremendously. I'm saying that the story itself has ended up in a totally different place than I expected it to. The writing itself is about the same. To give you an example, whenever I find myself stuck I tend to write things like this:
"So," Betsy says, twirling a lock of her hair on her finger. "What should we do now?"
"I don't know," says Michael. "Gen's stuck. Until she gets her shit together we're just gonna sit here at this booth in this diner."
Betsy stops twirling her hair and looks around. "When did we get to a diner?"
"Hell if I know," Michael shrugs. "She forgot to mention that's where we are, and that we're sitting across from each other, and that we've got that disheveled look like we've been up all night."
Betsy rolls her eyes. "She's so bad with setting."
"I know. You would think after writing for 25 years, ten professionally, she would have learned a thing or two about that."
"Seriously, how many fucking writing workshops does she have to go to before she figures it out?"
"I don't know, but until she gets it together I'm ordering more bacon." He holds up his mug. "Garcon! Coffee!"
Betsy looks at me, the writer. "Genevieve, that line is from 'Pulp Fiction.' What are you going to do have us hold up the diner in a few seconds? Who are you, Quentin Tarantino?"
I feel embarrassed at having been corrected by one of my own characters and I change Michael's line.
"Garcon!" he hollers, holding up his plate. "Bacon!"

So anyway, I get to do a lot of that today, which I wouldn't be able to do at work. At work I would just be answering the phone and frightening people on the other line with my croaky, demonic voice.
"Safety and Security," I'd growl, then cough. "This is (hack, wheeze!) Gene-(wheeze)."
"Is this some sort of sick joke?" they'd ask.
"Sick, yes," I'd reply and cough up a lung. "Joke? Only in that God has a sense of humor."
So let's thank heaven I'm not in that position today. And now, to write. Somehow I have to get Betsy and Michael out of that diner. I don't like Betsy's attitude and Michael's had more than enough bacon.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Let's not get specific

After a few months of not blogging I could either give you specifics about the craziness that has kept me away from my blog or I could just write as if no time has gone by...Yes. Yes, let's do that. Let us just say that after many emails from distraught fans threatening to shave their heads and other desperate measures, I've decided to take up the blog again for the good of the people.

I will start by marveling at the fact that it is 2010 and I have just learned how to laminate something. How long has the lamination process been around? Since some time around the invention of penicillin? When you consider that technology becomes obsolete within weeks of hitting the shelves and is changing at a constant rate, I am about 500 years behind the times. My cell phone just rings. That's right. It flips open, which apparently no one's does anymore, and it rings. It does not access the internet, answer my email, Tweet, pay my bills or impersonate me on Facebook. It just rings. And I swear, the shameful look on my children's faces every time I flip my phone open would just bring you to tears. In their eyes, it's like I'm flipping off the world. It's as if I'm saying, "No, I have not upgraded my phone because I don't love my children and I want their peers to think that we are less poor than people who live under a bridge because even those guys can update Twitter from Facebook."

But here's the bigger problem - I don't care. And I'm not sure how many people really do. Eventually I will upgrade my phone because I care about what people think, and that's really it. Personally, I could care less if my phone even knew how to do the one thing it does half the time.

Oh! It also sends and receives text messages. There. My phone has the essential survival equivalent of a house with plumbing and electricity. Can humans live without plumbing and electricity? Well, yes. Technically. But to go without it when I don't need to is the same as deciding not to socialize with the rest of the world anymore. I would be "that lady" down the street who uses candles, an outhouse, and a well. But dude, that wouldn't even be the crazy part. My phone would flip open! Children would ride their bikes past my house and text their friends, "Ridin past ole Flippy again," and they would text him back, "PEDAL FASTER!" or something in a text abbreviated language that I'm not hip to.

And because I worry to nail-biting capacity about what teenagers, their friends, and family think I will eventually upgrade my phone. And then I will be one of those people who stares at her new phone as it rings and has no idea how to answer it because it is also Tweeting, looking up movie times, doing my taxes, and making ice all at the same time. I'll hand it to one of my more technology savvy friends and say, "Um, can you answer this for me?"
They'll say, "You push that button."
And I'll tell them, "No, that's the soda dispenser."
"Oh, right. Then you slide your finger across the screen like this..." She demonstrates by sweeping her index finger across the screen and a Swiss army knife/fork and spoon pops out the side.
She strokes her chin. "What does this button do?"
She pushes it and accidently hacks into the Pentagon. The ringing stops.
"Well," she says looking at me. "If it's really important they'll call back, right?"
"I guess," I say.
It makes a dinging sound.
"Oh!" my friend pipes up. "Popcorn's done!"

Let us hope now that I've learned how to laminate things for the office, that lamination technology doesn't suddenly take off and reach a level that I can't wrap my English major mind around. The day my boss tells me to fax something, and send out work-related email using the our new, souped-up (with blue tooth!) laminator I'm going to run screaming from the office.