Stranger Than Fiction

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.

 

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insecticide

I arrived home from work and ignored the cat as he loudly castigated me for having the gall to leave him alone yet again. Walking into the kitchen to wash out my travel mug, I looked out the window over the sink. Or at least I tried to look out the window. Blocking my view was a jittering, oily mass of black flies buzzing against the glass. A group of flies is called a “business” and these flies were all up in mine. I dropped my mug in the sink and backed away in horror, frantically trying to remember which of the Dark Gods I had angered this week.

Where could they have all come from? The apartment was fly-free that morning and now less than ten hours later it was host to a plague of the ugly bastards. And they were huge! Each one the size of my pinky nail and I have large hands (yes, it’s true what they say about gals with large hands. I have no idea what that is, but it’s true).

I pointed an accusing finger at the cat. “What good are you? Did you even try to kill any of those things?”

The cat gave me a “Not my problem, bitch” look and proceeded to lick the area where his testicles used to be.

This was a battle I would have to fight on my own.

Because I didn’t own a fly swatter or a flame-thrower and I feared using my shoe would break the glass, I armed myself with enough paper towels to give the Brawny lumberjack the uh-oh feeling. I approached the window expecting the flies to, well, fly, but they just did a skittering juke and jive across the glass. I don’t know if it was their bloated size, but their reaction time was slow for what I expected from a fly. Fortunately, this made them easy to kill. Unfortunately, this also upped the creepy-weird-gross-out factor to eleven.

The flies barely moved as I smashed them, sometimes two and three at a time, with the paper towels leaving greasy, brown-green smears on the glass. It’s like they were resigned to their fate and accepted the dry, white press of death with cold detachment. I was not similarly unaffected. I barely managed to suppress a violent case of dry-heaves as one by one I popped flies against the glass like some kind of Lovecraftian bubble wrap.

About thirty minutes later I had over sixty confirmed kills. I poured myself a quadruple red wine and sipped it as involuntary heebie-jeebie seizures wracked my body. Throughout the rest of the evening, I dispatched a few more flies that must have had a stronger will to live and had flown away from the carnage at the kitchen window. Before I went to bed, I checked each room of the apartment and finding them clear of flying vermin, I settled under the covers and prayed for a dreamless sleep.

The next morning the only signs of life were me and the cat, as it should be. I left for work relieved that my bug gut splattered ordeal was behind me.

Until I got home and found my kitchen window infested with buzzing black flies once again.

I screamed some barely intelligible obscenity and the cat darted for cover in another room. As I smashed flies with hand-fulls of paper towels, I scoured my brain for any possible explanation. None of the windows or doors had been left open, the trash was empty, and I hadn’t smelled anything that even remotely resembled death in the apartment since I’d moved in months ago. What was going on? Did I unknowingly anger an old gypsy woman? Was there a portal to hell hidden in the baseboard?

I stuck a straw down the neck of my bottle of wine and called my sister. “I’m living in a Stephen King novel,” I told her.

She listened to my tale of woe and asked the pertinent questions. “Are they arranging themselves so they form words? Like GET OUT or DIE?”

I took a long pull from the straw. “Not yet. I’m thinking about impaling some of the corpses on toothpicks, you know, as a warning to the others.”

“Good idea.”

“So far, there haven’t been any in my bedroom, so I think I’m safe during the night.” I saw an errant fly crawling along the living room wall and absently squashed it.

“Keep the door closed. And text me in the morning so I know you’re alive or haven’t been assimilated into their fly society.”

“Maybe we should have a code phrase. So you know it’s me and not the flies pretending to be me.”

I pictured two flies walking across my phone’s keyboard to type out, “THIZ IZZ AMY. NO WORRIEZZ. STILL HUMANZ. TOTES NOT A FLYZ.” Then I imagined them fighting with the auto-correct and the image made me laugh enough so I could go to sleep without feeling phantom fliez flies crawling across my skin.

In the morning, the apartment was fly-free, but I knew their little routine by now. Coming home from work, I took a deep breath and walked into the kitchen. The window above the sink was populated with only about a dozen flies, not the fifty or sixty I’d come to expect. For most people, a dozen flies would be cause for alarm, but for me it was practically a vacation. I killed them all swiftly and mercilessly then made myself a quesadilla.

Over the next few days, there were fewer and fewer flies until the glorious evening when I arrived home and nary a fly greeted me from my kitchen window. I’d already made myself a paper towel mitten purely out of habit, so I unwrapped my hand and folded the sections neatly so I could use them one at a time like a normal person. Not being forced to begin my evening with mass murder was a relief, however something felt . . . off.  It’s not that I missed killing swarms of flies (I’m only blood thirsty in my fiction), but it had become familiar. The evil you know, and all that noise. Now that this trial was over, I couldn’t help but wonder what new eldritch horror awaited me with drool-slicked fangs just beyond the periphery of my current reality.

If it’s spiders, I’m moving.