Personal

insane in the Maine

You know that friend that drags you to a party that you don’t really want to go to because the only people there will be their old friends from college or their scrap-booking circle or their Menudo addict’s support group and ten minutes after you arrive your friend ditches you next to the dip of questionable origin holding a red Solo cup of brown alcohol while they disappear into some dark corner with the ex they constantly bitch about yet still want to re-enact a nature documentary with?

Yeah. That’s kinda what I did to this blog. Bitch move, I know. But I swear I have an excellent excuse and it doesn’t involve ex-boyfriends, equipment malfunction, meeting a future new ex-boyfriend, locusts, or anything.

I moved nine states away. Completely across the country the up-and-down way not the coast-to-coast way. Athens, Georgia to Orchard Beach, Maine. One thousand, one hundred twenty-one miles. Seventeen hours and thirty minutes driving in a car with four plastic bins full of my worldly possessions and one cat looped out of his skull on kitty valium.

What made me undertake such a journey?

The short answer?

I had nothing to lose.

I know people throw that phrase around a lot, but I mean it literally. I had already lost everything. About a year ago, I separated from my husband of seventeen years and moved into a condo that I could only afford because a wonderful friend offered it to me on the cheap. I wasn’t only leaving him, but my two dogs; my silly, sweet, fuzzy girls. From that moment on, I had to redefine my life. I had to rip out all the future pages of my life’s calendar and burn them. Everything I had planned, everything I had hoped, and everything I had built so far was now ash. For a while, I wallowed in the ruins. Sleepwalked through my days and pantomimed all the motions: sleep, work, eat, wash, rinse, repeat. I made writing the focus of my energy in a way I hadn’t before. On the plus side, I self-published a book and received some great reviews. But I was still reeling. I couldn’t see my future more than forty-eight hours ahead. I had no idea how to plan my new life.

Then I got a call from a friend. He offered me a way to rise from the ashes of my old life and create something entirely new. The prospect was terrifying and, I’ll admit, at first I turned him down. I’m not one to jump into things. I need to think and ruminate and come at from all angles. The next time my friend, Dave, and I talked, I had a few questions, he had reassuring answers. After a few emails and phone calls, I was ready to pull the trigger.

I was ready to move to Maine and work in the nebulous and exciting world of medical marijuana.

Now, anyone who knows me will snort and laugh at my choice of profession. Not that I have anything against marijuana, or “pot” as I’ll call it from now on just to save the keystrokes. I don’t smoke it. I have tried it, but wasn’t impressed. I have no interest in partaking in anything containing pot or getting high. That is probably one reason why Dave wanted me on board: he can trust me around the inventory. Another reason why people laughed at my new job has nothing to do with drugs. Simply put: I hate snow. I think snow is ugly and gross and ruins everything. Yet, I chose, willingly, to move to a state that will inevitably be covered in snow.

So, to recap . . . I decided to work with a product I have no interest in while living in a climate that I will loathe for a large portion of the year.

Crazy, right?

Yes. I agree.

But I was ready for crazy. Open to the chaos in a way that I had never been before. What was another pebble tossed into an already churning lake? Success would mean financial stability as I had never known it before. Failure would mean a slow dissolve back into the life I had left back in the condo in Georgia. Nothing gained, but nothing lost as well. Zero sum.

So, that brings me to the present. I am typing this from my bedroom in my new condo with an ocean view in Maine. In the living room are two nineteen year old boys who share the condo with me (also brought on board by Dave) watching television. My cat, Cain, is snoozing at my feet. Tomorrow, I will drive around and deliver pot to a couple patients, purchase a few supplies, and try to absorb as much information about this business as I can because there is a lot to learn.

I am excited and I am determined and I hope this venture is even a fraction as successful as everyone dreams it can be.

But even if this whole thing goes bust and I have to limp back to Georgia with my tail between my legs, one truth remains self-evident:

This will make for an excellent story.

For me, there is no better motivation.

And I can’t wait to share that story with the world.

 

Advertisements

hive mind

This Friday, I should hold in my hands a proof copy of the short story collection I’m self-publishing. It won’t be the first time I’ve seen my words printed in a paper and ink book, but it will be the first time all the words in said book are mine, all mine.

I’m excited. And nervous. Really nervous.

I designed the cover myself and it looks pretty good as pixels on a screen, but I have no idea how well those pixels will translate into a six by nine glossy cover. I’m dying to post a picture of the cover for everyone to ooh and ahh at, but if it looks like crap, I swear I’ll just die. Die! Like, I mean it! You, you just don’t understand! Ugh! Runs to room, slams door, and cries into my Benedict Cumberbatch pillow while The Smiths sing in the background (I know, I know, it’s serious).

Okay. Tantrum over.

But because I am still more excited than nervous, I would like to show you a bit of what’s inside the book. I wrote a Forward where I briefly mention either the origins or the motivation behind each story in the collection. Here is a snippet:

One thing you should never say to a writer is, “I have a great idea for a story you should write.” We hate this. Not because your idea is awful, but because we already have a million ideas buzzing around in our brain like a swarm of angry bees. But even though it’s often hard for us to pluck one of these idea bees out of the air and squeeze sweet story honey out of its ass, they are our bees, we cultivated them in our mind apiary with love. The last thing we need is for someone to thrust a strange, misshapen bee in our hand and tell us to milk it. We can’t work with your weird bee. It’s got too many wings and its stinger, is . . . is that a corkscrew?
All that said, when my sister, Tracey, told me I should write a story inspired by her dream where her Roomba ate everything in her house, I took her little bee and ran with it. What resulted is “Nature Abhors a Vacuum” and I had more fun writing that story than almost any other story in this book. Goes to show what I know.

misery cubed

This is a post from the deep, dark past of my old blog. Even though I am now free range and no longer work in cube farm hell, I still enjoy this little ramble. It’s kinda like looking at an old picture of yourself with hair teased to within an inch of being a ceiling fan hazard wearing an acrylic rainbow sweater and blue eye shadow. Sometimes it’s good to look back and see how far you’ve come. 

The fluorescents are too bright.  I feel washed-out.
Cave crickets are translucent due to the perpetual darkness.  I am colorless from too much unnatural light.
Even the furniture is painted and upholstered in shades of non-colors: beige, taupe, gray.  All outlined in stark black like an illustration of something that should be real.
Is this life or the manual?
(See Fig. 1 – Female Employee slumped over cubicle desk.)
The coffee is flavorless and the creamer is synthetic.  The sugar looks too white to be trusted.  Much like the management.
The steady rhythm of telephones and the copy machine is like distant drums.  When they stop, the silence is unnerving.
Surrounding me are inanimate objects that demand my attention: blinking monitors, email notifications, stacks of folders and papers.  Yet the living avoid contact and look down when passing in the halls.
The only conversation I’ve had today was with my printer, coaxing it to give up a piece of jammed paper.
Here, all my natural instincts are considered signs of aggression.  I have to remember to speak softly and not show too many teeth.  Sudden movements and off-hand references from obscure movies cause confusion and fear.
(See Fig. 2 – Female Employee fashioning primitive weaponry from  rubberbands, paperclips and hi-liter ink.)
It is safer to not draw too much attention so I keep my head down.  Documents are strewn across my desk, multiple windows opened on my monitors.  Looking busy is my camouflage.
I pretend that I am biding my time, waiting for just the right moment to attack and unleash my fury.  It’s a hard ruse to maintain.  For now it is only about survival.  Towing the line while trying not to hang myself with it.
There is hope, though.  I am preparing a signal fire.  Every day I gather a little more fuel, building it bigger and higher.  When conditions are finally right, I’ll set it ablaze and the smoke will rise above the canopy and  my rescue will come.
(See Fig. 3 – Female Employee dousing cubicle in kerosene exactly three seconds before she realizes that the whole signal fire thing was supposed to be a metaphor.)

the unboxening

Okay, y’all know I’m a huge dork, right? Well, if you didn’t before, you certainly will after watching this video wherein I open my Loot Crate box. I debated for days whether or not to even post this. There’s a reason why I’m a writer and not an actress or newscaster or infommercial spokesmodel. So, sorry in advance for my face and my voice. And also double sorry that I totally mis-identified Bowser as Shredder in the video. Please don’t revoke my geek card for that snafu. And it was evening when I shot the video, so no comments about drinking wine for breakfast. I save that for my birthday.

 

bad is a relative term

I remember watching Die Hard when I was around fifteen and thinking there was something wrong with me. John McClane was great and all with this quick wit, boyish swagger, and unflagging devotion to upholding the law (even while breaking a good forty dozen of them in the process). But I couldn’t keep my eyes off Hans Gruber.
The class.
The intelligence.
The snark.
I fell harder for Hans than he did from the top of Nakatomi Plaza. (Still upset about that ending, by the way.)
So thanks to Alan Rickman, I developed an unnatural fondness for brilliant, suave bad guys. The kind of guys who could kill you with Shakespeare. If they have dark hair and a British accent, then it’s all over but the cryin’, and there will be cryin’ because a gal who loves the villain rarely walks out of a movie happy.

I'm sending my therapy bills to you, Alan. In a big box. That also contains myself.

I’m sending my therapy bills to you, Alan. In a big box. That also contains myself.

I started writing my novel with an alien antagonist named Cid. He is everything I love about bad guys: confident, sarcastic, smarter than you. He’s also cute if you’re into gray-skinned, black-haired aliens with sharp teeth and claws. I am into that, apparently. Less than half-way through writing the story, I’d become so smitten with Cid that I turned him into the hero. Being a writer is kinda like being a God that way. “For I so loved my world, I gave it a snarky alien. Amen.”

Speaking of aliens, I am hoping that Loki’s character arc in the latest series of Marvel movies ends up with him as a pseudo-hero. So far he’s gone from being a good-if sneaky-guy turned bad (Thor), to a badder guy (Avengers), to kinda a good guy but still doing bad things (Thor 2). It could take only a couple more steps before he is fighting with the Avengers right beside his brother, Thor. I don’t think he could ever be Good with a capital G, but he could at least be kinda bad but in our favor. If there’s anywhere you want a dashing, maniacal genius who’s always twelve steps ahead of everyone else, it’s on your team.

Heimdall, open the bi-frost. I need to have a word with my boyfriend.

Heimdall, open the bi-frost. I need to have a word with my boyfriend.

Anyway, I am going somewhere with all this.

A while back I stumbled on a subscription delivery service called Loot Crate. Once a month, for how ever many months you choose, Loot Crate will send you a box of geeky goodness. In case you didn’t know, I am a bit of a geek. I’m a second generation Trekkie and I have a VIP card to the Mos Eisley Cantina. I love most anything sci-fi themed and adore the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So I really liked the idea of Loot Crate, but hadn’t signed up because it was such a frivolous expenditure and I was worried the box would have more gamer stuff (which I’m not really in to) than geeky stuff. Exactly what’s in the box is a surprise, but you are guaranteed a t-shirt (which is worth the price of a one month subscription in itself) and various other toys, stickers, trinkets all with a geeky/gamer sensibility.  You do get a hint, though. Each month’s box has a theme. Well, when I saw that July’s theme was Villains, I knew the time had come to lay my money down.

So in four days my box of baddie-themed prizes will be en-route to my door. It’s exciting! Like a gift from a secret admirer. That I had to pay for. But let’s be honest . . . don’t we all have to pay for secret admirers in some way eventually? Restraining orders don’t file themselves.

my roommate

Last December, I needed a new place to live and a friend of mine needed a tenant for her empty condo. Win-Win.

Well, except that the condo wasn’t exactly empty. Along with a couch and chair and dining room set, the condo came with a cat. My friend and her husband had moved to Atlanta and they couldn’t take him with them. They’d been trying to find him a new home, but had so far been unsuccessful. So the cat, Cain (yes, as in Cain and Able), was living the bachelor life in the condo with his automatic feeder and waterer and self-cleaning litter box. Cain was fully automated.

I love all animals: horses, snakes, lizards, bats, squid, narwhals. I grew up with both cats and dogs, so I had no problem moving in with Cain. As long as Cain had no problem with me moving in with him.

That’s the thing about cats, they have opinions. Strong ones. Not having lived with a cat since I was a child, I’d forgotten most of what I once knew about cat behavior. As the days turned to weeks turned to months, I relearned a lot. Such as:

– Unlike dogs, clapping your hands and saying, “okay, let’s go” means absolutely nothing to a cat. They will continue to lay on your bed and stare into space like you don’t exist.

– Cats will adore you with the entirety of their little fuzzy hearts right up until the random millisecond when they want to rip your face from your skull.

– That “I see dead people” stare they’ll do at a spot right over your shoulder then run from the room like their tail is on fire.

– No flat surface is out of a cat’s reach. I hid a dime bag of cat nip on top of the refrigerator and Cain found it, chewed it open, and ate the entire contents. I came home from work to find him rolling and drooling on the kitchen floor higher than Seth Rogen celebrating his birthday at James Franco’s house.

– Cats show affection by causing pain, i.e., kneading your flesh with their claws while they snuggle and purr and you whimper and cry.

– Cats have a burning desire to chalk your nose like a pool cue with their starfish every chance they get.

– Cats are, basically, assholes.

Like with any roommate situation, there was an adjustment period, but Cain and I have settled into a routine. This mostly involves him doing what ever the fuck he wants and me trying not to trip over him on the stairs and kill myself. It works for us.

Amy and Cain

 

and we’re walking

I’ve invited you in (like the little vampires you are), so I suppose I’ll give you the tour. Now everyone hold hands with your tour buddy. Don’t want anyone getting lost.

Where you are right now is my Blog page. This is where I blog. What will I blog about? Oh, you know, bloggy things. You say the word over and over and it starts to lose all meaning, doesn’t it? Blog, blog, blog, blog. Sounds like an embarrassing bodily function. “And then Chet blogged all over the maid of honor. I could have died!” I suppose writing can feel like an embarrassing bodily function at times. Some words spring forth like toadstools after a rain, organic and vibrant and glistening with promise. Other words are secreted, expectorated on the page and are only suitable for reading by a patient relative or a medical professional. I hope this page will serve as loamy soil and not a wad of kleenex.

If you look to the left you will see my Home page. There is nothing there right now but a barely coherent metaphor involving red wine and me introducing myself as a writer. I don’t do that at parties, by the way. “Hello, my name is Amy and I’m a writer. Could you point me toward the wine?” I suppose I could; there isn’t any test you have to pass or license you need to apply for to be a writer. You just have to write. Now to be able to say you are a professional writer, that is a whole ‘nother ball of yarn. One I hope to bat around like a carefree kitten in the future. Which brings us to the next page on our tour . . .

Live Nude Words. As I’m sure some of you are disappointed to discover, there is no nudity on this page. False advertising, I know, but I gotta get people in the door somehow. This is where I will shill my syllables, peddle my pages like the vitamin D deprived, wine-soaked word whore that I am. There isn’t much to show at the moment, just a bit of ankle, a flash of shoulder, but I hope to have a full body of work on display in the future. All the pieces for a full monty joke are in there somewhere.

While I may not have much in the way of wares, I do have friends with books for sale. This brings us to the Pimpin’ page where you’ll find links to my writer friends’ websites so you can stalk them mercilessly. Between them, you are bound to find something that tickles your fancy: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Gay Romance, Humorous Memoir. Unless your fancy isn’t ticklish, that is. Have you tried behind the knees?

Well, that concludes our little tour. I see a couple of you lost your buddies. No, you can’t go back and look for them. They belong to my website now. Don’t worry, I will keep them safe and will teach them how to serve me. You may hear them from time to time, scuttling about in the walls, chittering to each other in a pidgin language even I don’t fully understand. And if you see a thin, translucent hand beckon to you from the shadows, back away slowly towards the light. Because no matter how much I feed my precious pets, they are always so very hungry.