Friday, March 31, 2006

I'm being lazy today. Last night I had one of the worst allergy attacks I think I've ever had. It's all Loki's fault because I was once again looking for his red and white polka dot ball. I had to take two benedryl and a Claritin. Now I have a mind of mush. And how is that different you ask? HaHa. I'm not sure it is.

So, Thor makes a new friend:

I think it's Psycho Squirrel from next door, but we'll call him Rocky:

Thursday, March 30, 2006

And now, we return to the inane. Birthday parties for kittens.

Well, and Jason too.

Really, it was Jason's birthday. We just let the kittens share.

Loki refused to wear his hat, but agreed to let it be near him. For a moment.

Thor ate his hat. Sigh.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

I just love how complex issues that will take years to resolve now pop up just before major elections to create a firestorm, then die away once the elections are over.

Any-one remember gay marriage? Holy cow, all the gays were on the verge of storming the church doors, forcing preachers to marry them right there in God's inner sanctum.

For Pete's sake.

Now it is illegal immigration. Or as I like to call it: why-you-pay-$1.30/lb-for-tomatoes-instead-of-$10.00.

Yes, I understand all the issues faced by communities along border states. How these immigrants are bankrupting the school and hospital systems there. Really, I do and I have very little solutions for that. Except how it's funny that hardly anyone has said a thing about the $150 million a MONTH we spend in Iraq. Dang. Wonder how much that would help out Texas and California? Congress voted the money right on over to Georgie-porgie without so much as a second thought.

But I digress.

Come on America, take off your middle-class black and white glasses. We created this issue. From this country's earliest beginnings, we depended upon a slave/indentured servant class to provide us with cheap labor. In the not so distant past, "illegal" immigration of migrant workers hadn't been a problem because before the 1960's, we had exploited black Americans to do the jobs we didn't want to do but certainly didn't want to pay any decent amount of money for some-one else to do. Then came the Civil Rights Movement and our consciounesses got raised. We had to find a new group to exploit.

America is in favor of keeping all these "illegals" when it comes to their wallets. Oh, just have to pay twenty or thirty dollars for some avacados or tomatoes or apples. Then they'll be screaming.

We are just such blind hypocrites that we don't want to see "them" and we certainly don't want to have to take care of "them". We just want "them" to stay quietly exploited so we don't have to feel any uncomfortable conflict.

Oh, and how about this. Most hispanic immigrants, illegal or not, follow the exact same course as your immigrant ancestors: poor, hard-working, non-English speaking first generation begets a working class, high school graduate generation which then begets a college educated professional generation.

So stop being a snob.

I heard a story of an immigrant here in the Charleston area, from a church volunteer who works with immigrants. This man was so poor, so desparate and so afraid of ruining his one chance at a decent life that he was catching frogs in the field to eat for dinner. He was starving. But afraid. Maybe he saw that bumper sticker that a friend saw in the Wal-Mart (I'm not suprised) parking lot: This is America, we speak English, learn it or leave it.

Eating frogs. In America. The land of compassion. The land of immigrants. The land of freedom. The land of Christians living the word of Jesus.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

I got a letter from Jesus yesterday. Well, not from the big Guy personally, but from his people. Enclosed was a "prayer rug". Well, a big piece of paper with a nice picture of Jesus on it, thorn o' crowns and all.

Now, they aren't promising me eternal life. They aren't promising me peace on earth. Or peace of mind. No, no no.

See, they got here on this letter all these people who used this prayer rug. One of them got $46,000!! Another lady, in Maryland, got $10,700!! In Delaware, a man got 17 acres of land! In Texas, the lady got a NEW car and a job!!

All you have to do is stare at the picture of Jesus (after first noticing that his eyes are closed in the drawing). Then when you see him open his eyes and look into yours, you take the prayer rug and kneel on it (or just touch it to your knees if you can't kneel down), then you pray. Then you check off on the list of things you want to get: Better Job, A Home, A New Car, A Money Blessing (enter amount:____). Then you send it back with the rug, it is IMPORTANT TO YOU TO DO SO. (So they can send it to someone else, they say so in the letter. Ick. Now I need to go wash my hands, who knows where this one has been.)

I guess God's gone in to competion with the game shows now.

Speaking of which, I am taking the Jeopardy! qualification test on-line tonight. No kidding. Go to and you can register. I need to be at my computer with my sharpened number 2 pencils at 8pm tonight.

Maybe I should rub the prayer rug on my knees before I take the test, huh?
Loki has been meowing for three and a half hours now. He can't find his red and white polka-dot ball. I have searched every inch of this house and I can't find his red and white polka-dot ball.

I found the red and white stripey ball. He didn't want it.

I found about 50 socks and enough hair balls to make another 10 cats.

I found 10 feathers from Thor's destroyed toys.

I found the black and white polka-dot ball.

I found the yellow bouncy ball, the green bouncy ball and the pink bouncy ball.

He played with it for a few minutes.

He is back to wandering the house, his plaintive little Mike Tyson meows just quiet enough to tug at you subliminally.

I bet Thor hid it.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Jason has asked, "Is Thor Art?"
No, Thor is Goofy.

And, hey, you say it's your birthday?
Happy Birthday to Jason and the Kitten-Kats.

Ah, was it only ten short months ago? They were such sweet little fuzzy things.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Ah, hope never dies. On my table lies a manila envelope containing the required four copies of my short story entry to the Piccolo Fiction Open 2006. I did resist the temptation to title it "By Jason Zwiker" in an attempt to fool the judges in to not bothering to read it before tossing it in the winner's pile.

Then after a painful morning of printing and reading: read it backward (to catch typo's), read it forward slowly (to catch typo's), read it aloud to the cats (for rhythm and flow) I got to go the dentist.

They don't merely clean your teeth. A few weeks ago, I had a "gross cleaning". Which involved spraying a lot of pressurized ice water on my teeth. Today I got to get the "fine cleaning". Which involved a lot of scrape..scrape..scrape.. with that little hook thing. Then a lot of ice water sprayed on my teeth.

And I told the dentist about how bad that tooth next to the crown has been hurting. Woke me up out of a dead sleep the other night, throbbing all the way up in to my sinus. I'm eating so much ibuprophen I'm probably going to need a liver transplant soon. He looked at it and said the gum was "a little" inflammed. He swore that an inflammed gum certainly could hurt that bad. Then they "fixed" it by spraying a high pressure stream of ice water flavored with some nasty-ASS tasting chloro-hexy-antimicrobial shit.

Yes, sure, of course, yes, that feels much better now. I swear, really it does!

Next time I'm asking for morphine.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Last night, MSNBC ran a story about child abduction. What they did was have a man pretend to snatch a seven year old girl off the streets of New Rochelle, NY. The little girl fought and yelled for help. Yelled, "You aren't my father!" over and over again. While people walked by, some glancing back over their shoulders as they moved on.

It made me sick to watch.

Then, two young African American men, both dressed sort of hip-hop, talking on their cells phones, looking like the media's worst stereotype of young black men, heard the girl crying out. They turned, they looked, they looked at each other, then started slowly towards the man and girl. At the end, they both dropped their packages and flanked the man, rushing him. A third man pulled his car to the sidewalk and jumped from it to join the two.

It gave me chills to watch them, ordinary guys who cared more about that little girl than themselves in that moment. Who didn't think it wasn't any of their business. Who weren't too busy to take time out of their day to help. Who actually stepped up and acted on what we all claim to believe every time a child is kidnapped and later found dead: that we all must be vigilant with America's children.

Monday, March 20, 2006

It has begun. Spring madness.

Because it's supposed to rain today and tomorrow, I stopped by Lowes on my way home from work this morning and picked up a big ole bag 'o weed-n-feed.

I brought said bag home and rummaged through the shed (not really, Jason did a mucho fabu-ola job of cleaning out the shed debris). I found the spreader I bought from my brother. I then proceeded to weed-n-feed the front and back yards.

Right now, crazy yard lady is probably still trying to decide if I really did appear before her wondrous eyes and perform real yard work. This is the lady who "vacuums" her lawn once a week during the non-mowing season with her riding mower.

Problem is, her happiness will be short lived. I'm pretty sure I overlapped too much in the front and too little in the back. Now, a striped lawn is appealing to me, a little whimsy in my palette of green. For someone like her, it will probably set her OCD in high gear and some dark night I'll find her in my yard with a flashlight and a can of green spray paint.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Actual story on the MSNBC website: Five Top Holidays for Drinking.

Really. I think Easter is the only holiday that we don't use as an excuse to get drunk. I mean, it was even such a horrendous wait between St. Patrick's Day and Memorial Day that we appropriated Cinco de Mayo.

What's it mean? Who gives a shit! Tequila!!

We are disgusting.

Then I read the "top story" in the Onion about how people don't want to have a country anymore. That being part of America as a country is too tiring, too time consuming, too much of a hassle.

For a magazine that prides itself on it's satire, I'm surprised they did such a brutally honest and accurate story.

Jury duty? Boring waste of time. Voting? I've got to get my nails done that day. Keep up with what elective representatives are doing? I've got to find shoes to go with that little black dress I bought.

We just leave the actual boring details of running the country to some unknown, faceless "them" and just whine about it.

But hey, only two months until Cinco de Mayo!! Whooo-hooo!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

At last I heard from that agent. She has declined to represent me. Said she admired my writing but couldn't connect with the characters.

I can dig it.

It's a strange little story that doesn't quite fit in any category. Agents and editors love genres. Neat tidy little pigeon holes from which to market.

I can dig that too.

I just need to figure out what my novel is. It isn't really "literary fiction" in that the writing ain't that pretty. And I don't think I used any metaphors either. It could be classified as "general fiction" but that isn't good enough these days. It is too "catchall" of a category, you must be specific. It isn't quite "chic lit" in that my main character is not a perky young college grad in a career looking for truelove-perfectjob-perfectshoes. It's certainly not "young adult" even though the character starts out at 18.

I'd like to use the term I coined for it: trailer chic lit.

Because that's what it is. A poor working class girl from a crappy poor family making crappy decisions about her life until one day she matures to the point where she is willing to fight her way clear to just a little bit of comfort and security.

I don't even know how to compare it to other books so I can do what all those conferences/magazines/books say about comparing your manuscript to another in a query letter. The only things that I have found that have a similar Southern poverty theme differ in that their characters are young children and the books are way way way literary.

I dunno. I'm going to wander around lost for a while. Work on my next novel.

Which is about a young, poor teenage girl with a problem.

I sense a theme here.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

It's that time of year again. The raphiolepsis are brimming with buds about to burst forth with their pink/white blooms. There is a hint of raspberry pink along the limbs of the azalea bushes. The red Japanese maple is budding.

It's time for spring garden fever.

I'd be okay if I could stay out of the Lowe's or Home Depot plant nursery.

Oh, I just go insane in there. Yes, I want a cherry tree and a fig tree. Definately a Bradford Pear tree. Perhaps an apple tree.

And I need azaleas, you can never have too many azaleas. And oleander for the back fence. And a mock orange bush, they smell so sweet. Oh! And gardenias. And for the back fence line, where the squirrels and racoons and bunnies come to eat, some fruit producers: fig, blueberry, pear, apple. Or perhaps a pecan tree for them.

Then I get serious and drag out my Southern Living Garden book. I plot out bloom colors, bloom seasons, evergreens or deciduous, shade loving or sun loving. I wander the aisles of the nursery, captivated, my head spinning like Linda Blair's. Oh, pink, no red, no purple, oh...look at those blues and yellows.

In the end, it is too much. I take one little corner of the yard and fix it up. Then my elbow, knees and back remind me that I really shouldn't be doing this anymore. But I can't help it. It thrills me to no end to make a little beautiful spot in my yard. To get my hands dirty and to sweat and do hard work just to prove to myself that, regardless of the consequences that will come, I still can do it.

So, this year I'm thinking I need to replace that missing japonica, tear out the monkey grass and fill that entire front bed with azaleas, dig up under the palm tree and plant some hostas, perhaps. I need to replace that poor pitiful popcorn tree that didn't survive it's transplation. Cherry? Yes, I think so. And I'd like a new flowerbed on the yard side of the sidewalk. Maybe some smaller azaleas in front of the row of japonicas. Oh, and I really need to do something with the side of the house where Jason dug out that oleander that was threatening to attack and eat the neighbor's garage.

See? I need garden dreamer's anonymous. I can't stop.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

About six or seven years ago, I wrote an essay based on an incident that happened at work. It had a profound impact on me. I tossed off the essay, polished it up a bit, shared it with a few friends and promptly forgot about it.

When I joined the SCWW, it was the first thing I read in group. All I remember of that was that I was scared to death. Again, I put it away and forgot about it.

Then it was lost in the great computer crash. I only had the very first rough draft printed out. I cobbled it back together to read for that Monday Night Blues thing I got roped in to.

Apparently that lonely, ignored and almost lost little essay is my finest bit of writing. According to a couple of people I know, that is.

So, I figured I ought to at least get a good, edited copy saved on something a little more permanent that paper. So I've spent the morning re-keying and doing a little more editing.

Now I just want to curl up on the couch and eat chocolate and watch stupid TV shows. My hands and insides are still shaking.

That little almost lost essay is safely stored away now.

I don't want to mess with it any more. It messes with me too much.

I guess that's what makes it good?

Monday, March 13, 2006

I was out of town most of last week. I drove to Norfolk to watch my son's ship come in after a six month deployment. And to see him also, of course. It was wonderful to see him again after more than a year. The whole experience was by turns fun, sad and moving. I was raised in a military family so the intense feelings of patriotism and pride were automatic, familiar. But I was an air force brat so the whole coming home from sea aspect was new to me.

Watching those young wives with their young children, watching the parents, watching the children (is that one Daddy's boat?") made me cry. And I think I know why, but that is a surface why. This week I will think about it, try to figure out what was so beautifully and poignantly sad about the people there that day.

And just for any future traveling plans you may have, here is a helpful hint. Apparently Wednesday is double wide trailer moving day on I-95. Just so you know.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

How can I stay blue when this is what greets me when I come home?

Monday, March 06, 2006

There are things in life that are so overwhelmingly unfair that I don't know how much longer I can continue to be part of my profession.
Such as fetal demise. One of those medical distancing terms for "a baby died before it even got to be born".

It sucks.

And it sucks worse for the family than for me.

And nothing we do makes it much better.

Friday, March 03, 2006

I read in the news today that the founder and former owner of the Domino's Pizza chain is donating a whole ton 'o money to create a Holy Roman Catholic town in Florida.

The whole town will be run in strict accordance to Catholic principals.

No abortions, no birth control, no pornography, etc.

I assume that child molestation will be legal?

Or just punished by banishment?

Thursday, March 02, 2006

We went to the Charleston City Paper's big gala event last night. Now, I'm not a big party person and this was a BIG party. They rented out the Aquarium, had food and free drinks about every ten feet or so. Although I must say it took me back a bit to see the sushi bar in the Aquarium. hmmmmm?

Anyway, it was cool. Loud but cool. I couldn't hear or understand a single thing anyone said to me, so I guess I was the smiling, nodding moron in the crowd. But where else in Charleston are you going to see fancy high class lawyers rubbing elbows with "Extreme Akim" (who I went to high school with, now THAT is weird), local TV personalities, a "little person", a guy with a mowhawk, a girl dressed as some sort of German bar-maid hooker Little Bo Beep combo and the rest of us slightly normal people.

Okay, now a rhetorical question. A friend came by to pick me up for lunch out with some of the girls and she wanted to see my new floor/rug. Well, she really liked it but asked me why all my National Geographic magazines were in piles on the floor. Because they'd been moved so many times that they were out of order and I was putting them back in order (from oldest to newest) so I could put them back on the bookshelf.

She seemed to think that that was the height of madness.

Is it?

I mean, I know I'm slightly off plumb, but it isn't like crazy cat lady with 200 cats and one litter box crazy, is it?????

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

My property sits on the banks of Church Creek, a tiny tributary twisting off the Ashley River. A few summers ago, Jason built a walkway from the cultivated back yard, through the 100 feet or so of wild marsh grass to the edge of the creek.

It's not much, just a little square, big enough for two lawn chairs, but it is perfect.

It sits at an angle where the creek bends around a tiny island where rumor has it several of my mother's pots and kool-aid pitchers are slowly returning to nature, having been forgetten there after many a summer night camp out by my brother and his friends.

I like to go back there, especially on days like today, a sunny mid-seventies blue skied reminder of why I love the South. I can sit there for hours, watching the cardinals, the mockingbirds, the tufted titmice and the bluejays making forays from the island to the "main land". Over head circle the family of turkey vultures, which at least look romantic when circling high enough in the blue to disguise their true nature.

Mostly what I hear is the sound of the wind through the pines and oaks. The spooky rustlings and creakings of the marsh grass, the rustle of the fiddler crabs. Occasionally, I can hear a car crossing the little flat bridge on Highway 61. And if the tide is slack, the sound of mullets breaching the water's surface, jumping for their lives as a turtle or a catfish closes in on them.

It's where I would go when writing my novel, when I was getting ready to write a particularly painful scene, when I knew I was about to delve into some painful aspect of human nature. It's where I would go after the writing was done, to sooth my frazzled mind.

It isn't a posh piece of pluff mud to brag about, my little Church Creek. But it's my little spot. And I like that the racoons and the possums and the rabbits and the fiddler crabs all think so too.

So if you come by and I don't answer the door, walk on around back, through the gate and follow the path. I've got an extra chair back there.