Tag Archives: fiction

Diamonds, Daisies, Snowflakes…

That Girl!

That Girl

I can’t believe no one guessed the correct answer. Some of you got close with MTM, etc. ~ shows about single brunettes navigating big city life. But alas, nobody got That Girl. I’ve been enjoying reruns on Prime and am just starting the second season. A good friend bought S5 for me as a gift and watching some of those motivated me to start over at the beginning. Okay, let’s discuss…

First, we’ll address the theme song (music only until S5 when lyrics are introduced), which I see via google is not super popular. I guess people hate happy, sappy lists. Does this mean “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music is hated now too? Bye cream-colored ponies, off you go. We’re tossing the crisp apple strudel right in the trash. What the hell is wrong with lists of nice things? Does every piece of music have to be dark and dystopian with singularity death robots clawing out our livers? Eff that. We can haz nice lists.

Second, That Girl is a nice show about nice people, who mostly do nice things and end up getting into mild predicaments. So, you’re thinking omgawwwd boring. No. You know what I’m bored with? Criminals, jerks, liars, druggies, drunks, narcissists, wackos, and psychopaths. But enough about men from dating sites already, eh? Pffft.

Sometimes it’s just darned good fun to watch a show about normal people negotiating the quotidian. Kind of like Seinfeld, in a way… many of TG’s eps are also about “nothing” or nothing more than the minutiae of daily life gone awry via misunderstandings or miscommunications. This was prior to texting and email, so people have to talk to each other face to face to work things out. This generally resolves an issue quickly rather than our current method of trying to “text it out,” which further mires us in the muck of miscomm. Yes, I realize it’s fictional. 😛

Third, there’s a refreshing absence of sex, drugs, and violence. I’m no prude, but I’m just tired of the emphasis on those three things in entertainment. Once they’re introduced, they tend to dominate the script. Ann and Don are steadily dating, but we haven’t seen them in bed. Good. I don’t want to; it’s uninteresting to me. In one of these early eps, they wade in a stream while picnicking and she remarks that it’s the first time she’s seen his ankles. Why? Because they haven’t slept together or cuz he has sex in his socks or what? The questions crossed my mind, briefly, and I’m happy not to know. There’s a mafia ep where the bad guys end up in a food fight then a fist fight but not a gun fight and it’s hilarious. Etc.

Fourth, surprisingly, these old TG eps offer many situations that are still currently relevant. How to maintain a close relationship with your parents when you move away and choose a different lifestyle. Can you conduct a professional relationship in the same office with someone with whom you’re romantically involved? The struggle of pursuing your low-paying dream while juggling two or more side gigs to make the rent. Etc.

Plus Marlo Thomas is funny. So are Ted Bessell, who plays her boyfriend, and Lew Parker, who plays her father. But many actors could have done these roles, imo, including Marlo’s. This is not to disparage the actors, who are certainly fine, but the writers should get the credit for the show. Always credit the writers! Check out that link… interesting.

K, I’m off for more teevee! 🙂

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All She Wrote

It’s been a month since I created space to write in my free time again by deleting the bulk of my social media. This was tough to do and I lost a bunch of friends and fun chitchats in the process, which I knew would happen and so I procrastinated for a long time, but I’m a writer and I have to do Real Writing or else I get frustrated, angry, and depressed.

These very apt bitmojis magically appeared in my app today and made me smile:

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I’m also smiling because I finished that poetry book I’ve been nattering on about for a kazillion years and it’s up on Amazon for sale right meow! Some of my awesome friends who have hung in there with me already bought a copy and reviewed it ~ one of them had this to say:

“YOUR NEW BOOK IS OUT!!!! IT’S A FREAKING TREASURE!”

How lovely is that? And I didn’t even have to pay her. ❤

I feel so great to have finished this book and it means a lot to me to have the support of my peeps. Some of the poems were painful to write (and probably to read, haha), but each one is important to me in its own way and represents something authentic about where I’ve been emotionally the last several years and how I regained my strength. I’m ready to dive back into some of my unfinished fiction writing and get those stories done now too. I feel so productive and fantabulous! Should have done all this ages ago, but I think I needed everything to simply percolate. This was the right time for many reasons, both to cut back on social media and to publish All She Wrote.

~*~

The Daily Prompt: Authentic

My First Dick

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Philip K., that is. Just read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? this week and enjoyed it. At first, I was surprised at the clunky writing style because after all I’ve heard about PKD, I expected him to be a superb writer, but there was so much “as you know Bob” type of dialog right from the start. But I got past that and was able to appreciate the incredible imagination exhibited throughout. I saw the Blade Runner films first, and enjoyed them, but the book surpassed them. It had so many more levels. The empathy testing was more interesting in the book. The religion aspect was unexpected. All the inner conflicts. The marital relationship. And of course the animals! I had no idea they played such a huge role. Loved the many clever twists toward the end.

I found a few things too amusing not to mention. The book was rather sexist, don’t you think? Rick’s wife was pretty Stepford all the way. The other women were tropes, even the “strong” ones. Also, smeary onion skin copies, bwahahaha! After all PKD comes up with as far as fab futuristic stuffs, he thinks we’d still be typing with copies in 2021. Jesus, I can’t remember the last time I made a literal “carbon copy.” Omg, remember those? So messy. Hate hate hate. And one mistake? You had to start all over.

I have several books waiting in my queue, but I want to read a few more PKD’s that’ve been recommended by friends. Glad I finally grabbed this one after all these years!

Captive Audience

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I began a new book last week: Crimes Against a Book Club by Kathy Cooperman. It had been hanging around my Kindle pile for a while. I guess it had appealed to me when I downloaded it and then not so much after that. But I finally opened it and jumped in. It didn’t grab me much at first… too many characters, too many POVS, a big mishmash. Yuck.

And it had a snotty, snarky narrative voice. Very cliched. Hi honey it’s me your best girlfriend and ooh we are gonna dish on everything and everyone and be bitches to the maxipad, oh yes we are babes, we are about to Joan Rivers this place UP!

Bleargh. I debated cutting my losses after a few chapters. After all, didn’t we just discuss how life is too short for annoying books and shitty movies? I believe we did.

But idk, there was something… different about CAABC that kept me going. I had no idea what would happen. None, zero, zip. I like that lately. And I don’t mean because it was surreal and crazy (ick); I mean because the characters were interesting and complex. Finally they sorted themselves out into two main protags with separate motivations. The satellite characters were less interesting, but had humorous moments. The narration became less Joan Riversy and straightforward with legit funny moments. Someone I wasn’t expecting suddenly played a major part toward the end and that became super hilarious and dare I say… a little bit profound!

I enjoyed the La Jolla/San Diego setting and the takedown of the ultra wealthy, though it was done relatively gently. There were some stellar mommy moments too ~ of various ages of mommyhood, which doesn’t end when kids are legal adults. Often a novel hooks me at the start and overpromises and underdelivers; CAABC did the opposite. It served up a tedious appetizer, a mediocre salad, but produced a tasty main dish, yummy sides, and finished off with a splendid dessert.

I highly recommend Crimes Against a Book Club.

~*~

The Daily Prompt: Captivating

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Dukes…

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Jennifer Weiner has an interesting op-ed in the NYT celebrating sex ed via the romance novel. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve never read any of Ms. Weiner’s novels and I want to change that soon. I’ve put her memoir Hungry Heart on my wish list and will be grabbing some of her older novels as well. But in the meantime I enjoyed her article in the NYT, even though I didn’t agree with all of it.

We’re on the same page with the idea that “what goes where” sex ed is necessary but not sufficient for young peeps and of course they will be curious for more information. They will search for it relentlessly. I definitely agree with Ms. Weiner that romance novels give a woman’s sexual satisfaction equal priority to a man’s. No fantasy duke or pirate or spy or CEO ever forgets to please his heroine in the bedroom (or wherever), multiple times. Ms. Weiner makes a good point that, unlike pr0n, romance novels describe complete scenes, including birth control (in contemporaries), various other awkward moments, and follow-up conversations.

Talking is important!

But romance novels, like so many forms of entertainment, focus mostly on fabulous looking characters with beautiful faces and perfect bodies. These are the kinds of people deserving of soul mates, true love, fantastic sex, and happily ever afters… this is the message insidiously drilled into our minds as soon as we’re able to read a book or watch a movie. Ms. Weiner quotes Jennifer Crusie in her article, and Ms. Crusie has given us plus-size heroines in several of her novels, but still they are gorgeous overweight women with great legs, lips, and hair, not the ordinary fat chicks you find shlumping around the supermarket. This is not to criticize ~ I lurve Ms. Crusie’s novels and they’re among my favorite romances. I am… JUST SAYING.

[I know some of you go into a peevey fit when peeps just say. Sorry about that.]

Point is, there’s a downside to young people (aka women let’s be honest cuz young men aren’t going to be reading Crusie et al) consuming the emotional content of their sex ed via romance novels. I should know. I was one.

On the bright side, people are still reading books.

Simmer

Quill

I use everything in my writing, like a depression era cook. Nothing goes to waste. While juicy bits might be served immediately, scraps and fat are not tossed out, but flung into the pot on a slow simmer. Bones and beaks will be cycled back in someday, just wait and see. Feathers float around the stove whispering poems as I stir the plot. Little feet line up on the windowsill awaiting their turn as I sweep broken shells into a corner. Oh, I haven’t forgotten what you’ve done. You’re just lucky my weapon is a pen and not a gun.

~*~

The Daily Prompt: Simmer

Dissolution

In the beginning, Sea and Terra lived as husband and wife intermixed together on Earth.

Eons passed and Terra grew restless. One day she announced to Sea, “I need my own space.”

Sea didn’t want to separate from Terra, but he didn’t argue. He retreated, at first methodically and then erratically, until Terra decided she had enough room for herself.

“Thank you!” she said. “We’ll both be happier this way.”

Sea didn’t feel happy, but he stayed quiet and watched as Terra flirted with Sun and began to blossom. Tangled jungles grew around her waist, decorated with fragrant flowers of every hue and shape. Insects and winds scattered their seeds. Apple trees grew to the North over Terra’s breasts. Sea watched with amazement as every part of her burst forth with lush vegetation and new creatures. Sun was always around to help nourish the burgeoning greenery.

Sometimes Sun overdid it and the plants died. Then there was only scorched sand for miles and miles with dangerous snakes crawling around the edges. Sea smiled to himself when he saw these barren deserts, for he had a secret. In his shallows, and floating discreetly on his surface, Sea hosted billions of beautiful plants and flowers. Some of them even took nourishment from Sun when Sun wasn’t paying attention. Sea felt no need to announce this to Terra. He found he enjoyed keeping secrets.

After a few million years, she commented, “Sea, I know you’re still sulking. Don’t you think it’s time you moved on? We’re never getting back together because I am madly in love with Sun!”

Sea shrugged and a giant tsunami swept over Terra’s Southern thigh, destroying some of her creatures. This made her very upset and she didn’t talk to Sea again for over ten thousand years. He was not unhappy about that. If they weren’t going to be together, he would rather she leave him alone.

As Terra continued her romance with Sun, and new creatures evolved upon her various surfaces, Sea grew depressed, stopped moving, and ice formed at his poles. He suspected she had always loved Sun and never him. This idea permeated every bit of his being, making him feel colder and colder, and since there was so much of him, this chill began to affect the entire planet.

“I’m freezing!” Terra complained. “All my Northern plants and animals are dying off. Can’t you do something?”

“What do you want me to do?” Sea said.

Terra smiled up at Sun, which made Sea sick. “Fall in love! Then you’ll be happy again.”

“I loved you, Terra,” Sea told her. Waves of his tears splashed over her lands. “There is no one else.”

“Sea, do you know something?” Terra said. “All this time, Moon has been in love with you.”

Moon? Sea slowly lifted his enormous watery eyes to gaze up at the night sky.

There, in a black velvet blanket spangled with stars, glowed Moon. Her eyes were steady orbs, her face a familiar comfort with a small, shy, but unmistakable smile.

Sea shook his mighty head and giant waves rushed across the Western shores.

“Stop!” Terra cried. “You’re so moody! Just be calm. Think about Moon and how lovely she is.”

As requested, Sea calmed, but he did not want to think about Moon. He turned inward and gazed at his favorite coral reef. A graceful pair of pink dolphins captured his attention. He watched them somersault through the turquoise waves on the morning side of the Earth. Whitecaps hissed gently to shore around the islands as diving birds swooped across the sky.

All day Sea’s mind remained blank. He refused to consider Moon, but the bitter jealousy toward Terra and Sun had subsided. He simply observed his water creatures and he felt the ocean reeds sway beneath his undulations. This made him content. As the sky began to darken, he listened to the birds sing, but then he realized Moon would be coming around again.

Sea could have changed his focus to the West, where morning painted the sky, but he remained in his Eastern mind and waited for Moon to fully rise. There she was! He felt her tug at his tides slightly and understood he’d grown so used to this in the eons since he and Terra parted that he had been taking Moon for granted.

“You’ve been a good friend to me, dear Moon,” Sea said. “I should have told you so sooner.”

Moon proffered her shadowy smile. “Thank you,” she whispered.

Sea appreciated her understated cool silvery beauty as a balance to his wild moods. Let Terra have the bold bright beaming Sun; Moon was the perfect counterpart for Sea. He only wished he had seen the truth a billion years ago. Sea’s waves churned with agitation as he fretted that he might have hurt Moon’s feelings.

“Shh,” Moon whispered. “Everything is all right.”

Soothed by Moon’s serenity, Sea unruffled himself for that night and many following. While he didn’t directly express his love toward Moon, nor she toward him, in the blatant ways that Terra and Sun announced their emotions, each night for millennia Sea and Moon cherished each other in quiet reverence.

Sea and Moon.

Moon and Sea.

And so it was.

And so it shall be.

~*~

The Daily Prompt: Moody

Flip-Flops

My secretary left me for my husband, but still I wore my charcoal Theory suit and Gucci pumps to work Monday because it’s important to keep an image going.

“Sorry about Laura,” Hobson said. “I need a copy of the Canary contract.”

I looked for it in between checking the fourth quarter projections and trying to convince my mother to go over to my house and change all the locks. My feet hurt, so I took off the Guccis and shoved them in a drawer. Laura wasn’t answering her phone. They were probably lounging around in bed all day, assuming I’d support them. It’s true I’m almost too busy to bother hiring a divorce lawyer. Not to mention a tax accountant.

“Maybe I could write them off,” I said to Hobson.

“That’s funny,” he replied with a tight smile. “Have you found the contract yet?”

So, at lunchtime I drove over to Laura’s apartment. It was right at the beach, of course. My husband likes to surf. Second floor. I clomped up the stairs in my Guccis and snagged my stockings on the railing. The air smelled of coconut oil and rotting vegetables. Laura opened the door. She wore a lime green camisole, pink shorts, and turquoise flip-flops with sequins on the straps.

“Oh,” she said. “He isn’t here.”

“No, no,” I reassured her. “I want you. I mean, I need you to tell me where you put the Canary files. Please.”

I didn’t like to beg, but this was business.

Her head tipped back as it does when she’s riffling through the card file in her brain. Laura has a photographic memory, which is one of the reasons she was such a great secretary. I knew then I’d miss her more than I’d miss him. Her sequined feet winked up at me.

“In storage cage twelve,” she said. “Unlabeled. Sorry.” She glanced away.

“It’s okay,” I told her. It really was. I didn’t have time for a husband. Tomorrow I’d hire a new secretary to type up the labels. Everything would be fine.

I clomped back down the steps to my Audi. As I beeped open the door with my electronic key, a seagull pooped on my four hundred dollar shoes.

“That’s when,” I say. “That’s the moment I decided to dump the partnership and open my nude portrait studio.” I wiggle my toes in my ten dollar flip-flops. They’re tan and have little seashells glued to the straps. I swirl my brush around the peach paint and gaze at my subject.

“You do seem much less stressed,” Hobson says as he reaches for the grapes.

“Perfect,” I say. “Stay just like that.”

[from Burnt Offerings]

~*~

The Daily Prompt: Label

Graveyard Shift

Harold and I played Hangman whenever the computer went down. We’d form our linear skeletons on the backs of garbage printouts, sometimes adding fingers and toes to make the game last longer. When the analysts arrived, rumpled and muttering, we’d keep on playing as they typed in secret codes and yawned. We pretended not to listen as they devised new evacuation plans. Soon they’d tramp upstairs, arguing about the Redskins, and we’d drink pale, watery chocolate in that cool, grey-tiled basement. If they didn’t bring the system up, we’d play all night, plucking colorful, exotic words from the marshy reaches of our minds. Once, Harold kissed me by the printer and his warm breath swept my lips like feathers. As I moved away, the empty screens glowed like dark emeralds.

[originally written in 1989]

~*~

The Daily Prompt: Screen

Since You’ve Been Gone

Stephen King has a short story in Bazaar of Bad Dreams called “Ur,” which is centered around the notion of an experimental Kindle with an extra menu feature that gives access to alternative literary realities. Forex, say you type in a random number… in this world of words Shakespeare lives five more years and writes a couple more plays. You get to buy, download, and read these plays on the new Kindle. It’s addictive, as you might imagine, for you could spend day after day checking random numbers and writers to see if your favorites appear in parallel universes with new works to read.

But it’s also comforting to know that the authors we love will continue writing in their familiar styles in the alternate realities. If we search for Ray Carver, we don’t want to find vampire romances. We want what we expect. Most of us anyway. That’s why when I go to a vegan restaurant and order a lush looking dish of macaroni & cheese I’m invariably disappointed ~ it appears so beautiful and cheesy, but it never tastes as expected. I’m always better off with a salad where the veggies taste the way they’re supposed to.

*

I dream about my mother frequently. This month is nine years since she was diagnosed; next April nine years since she’s been gone. In my dreams, she just goes on as she ever was ~ present, helpful, sometimes annoying. Nothing super dramatic. In the last one, we were at a table with a bunch of other people (I don’t remember who) discussing an arts & crafts project. At one point, I turned to my mother and complained that my pantyhose kept getting runs in them the first time I wore them, sometimes right out of the package. She commiserated. I don’t remember if she had any advice, but it’s almost certain she would have. Because Mom.

This was a comforting dream. Mom was being Mom.

*

In the King story, the protag next discovers that the experimental Kindle feature also has alternative reality newspapers. Some of these are funny, especially King’s election ideas. And then our protag finds his local future newspaper. ~ doo doo doo doo ~

I am highly enjoying Bazaar of Bad Dreams.