Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Watching the Hammered Follies

Yes, I really am blogging on a holiday, that's just how devoted I am to writing. Plus there's not much else to do. I'm an only child and my parents passed away a long time ago. No pity party please -- I have about a zillion cousins and friends who invite me over for fun and festivities. But I'm off the hook per the compulsory family gathering. 

A bunch of friends and I had a tradition for years: they would come by my apartment with pie and bitch about their families. They didn't know each other's families and we would always be in helpless giggles halfway through the evening: everyone had an inappropriate uncle, a drunk brother, a slutty cousin, or any and all of the combinations thereof. My  friends would be quite loopy at the end of the evening (lots of champagne with the pie); we had a big girls' sleepover. I'd get up in the morning and serve my friends coffee and pancakes while they relaxed in their sleeping bags.

The weather has been crappy and I have no urge to go to town, but the island is perking up and the show is about to begin. There are a few more people on the island because there are a few more lights here and there. But the big rush comes for New Year's. People like to come here, get hammered and drive around -- because they can. There are only 30 residents and it isn't like we have a police force.

I don't drink, never have, and the idea of careening around hammered strikes me as exceptionally silly -- but what do I know, right? We find folks in the ditches all the time and they certainly seem to think they're having fun. Occasionally they go to remote corners of the island and that's a problem. If you  drive off the road out in the middle of nowhere, it is very likely that no one will find you. Heck, you don't even have to be out in the middle of nowhere, you can be on one of the roads that we all go along frequently -- but not at night.

Did I mention we have no streetlights? True. If I have to drive after dark I have to be careful to pick a car that has headlights. My favorite vehicle doesn't, though I can still drive it just fine as long as I have moonlight.

So there you are, drunky person, in the ditch, in the dark. You pull out your cell phone. Guess what? We have lousy coverage.

Even if you get your cell to work, you can't dial 911 and expect a helicopter to rush out and pick you up -- as many people have found out. "911" dialed from a cell phone roams; you might get any one of three or four dispatch offices in any one of four counties, we even get Canada. If you manage to get to the emergency services folks that are supposed to respond to us, they will want to send the boat (politics at work). It's a very nice boat which the driver put up on the rocks last summer running emergency patients to... not the hospital nearest us, but to another bigger facility that was farther away (more politics).

Moral of the story: if you must get drunk, do so with at least a dozen of your friends, so when you go joyriding and careen off the road, you can huddle together for warmth 'til we find you in the morning. Or you can stagger together down the road and sing loudly and off-key. Either way you'll have a great story to tell.

And so will I.

Monday, December 17, 2012


I've been doing a lot of thinking about crazy people this week -- not because the people around me are crazy -- I'm pretty sure they're not, but I'm struggling with a character in my current manuscript. She has no feelings -- does she have Asperger's Syndrome? Maybe, even thought the DSM-V has removed it, effective May 2013. "Autism spectrum disorder" doesn't have the same ring.

There could be a plot thread here -- what if my character created the diagnosis of Asperger's for herself so she could get state benefits? What happens if the syndrome is no longer in the DSM-V? Hmmm -- interesting premise but I can her you all out there yawning.

What if I make her a psychopath? What is a psychoath? "A person with an antisocial personality disorder, manifested in aggressive, perverted, criminal, or amoral behavior without empathy or remorse."

OK, but she's not antisocial or aggressive or perverted.

Maybe she's sociopath -- ah -- now we're getting warmer. Our girl has no conscience she cannot love, she can do anything and feel no guilt. She's spontaneous, complex, and talented but doesn't care what happens to the people around her. Her goal is to dominate the people and "win".

Time to re-read The Sociopath Next Door (interesting reviews on Goodreads.... hmmm)

I recall something I read years ago -- an actress playing Salome is presented with the head of John the Baptist on a platter -- how does she react?

She recoils in horror, had to her mouth. (Cliche.)
She laughs manically. (Cliche.)
She acts as if she'd gone mad -- tearing of hair, wild eyes. (Bad acting)

She acts as if the severed head is the cutest puppy she ever saw. (perfect - and -  scene).

Crazy behavior is normal behavior taken out of context...

Monday, December 10, 2012

Read a great review of Anne Applebaum's new book, "Iron Curtain, the Crushing of Eastern Europe"  in the New Yorker. I clicked right over to Amazon to discover that it isn't in paperback yet. I can pre-order for August delivery, but the hard copy (21.00) or Kindle (17.00). I don't have an e-reader, guess I'll have to buy hardcover. On the other hand, I am in the habit of reading in the evening, I wonder how reading about the crushing of Poland will affect my dreams. Applebaum's "Gulag" is also on my reading list -- hardly light reading.

And in the interest of comparison -- both books are cheaper on Amazon than on eBay.

Heck of a week! I was part of a BIG group show in Seattle -- the 30-Day Art Challenge  and I mean BIG -- 107 artists, each of us made thirty 8 x 10 works and on December 5 and 6, the opening was a eyeball blowing cacophony of color and pattern.

The VIP Friends and Family opening was Dec 5 -- which was crowded, but nothing compared to the crush during First Thursday, December 6. I could barely move -- the gal doing the counting said she'd clicked in 167 people in a single 15-minute period. That's more people than I see in a months on end here on the island -- with the exception of Saturday Markets in summer.

The cool thing? If you liked something on the wall, you could take it down and buy it -- $50.00 bought you any piece of art you fancied and mid-evening the line to buy art snaked around the foyer outside the gallery.

Ah city life -- sometimes I miss it, meetings with cool folksa bout cool projects, coffee with friends. What I don't miss is this -- can't go out the door without spending money. And... always walking on a hard surface. Quite the contrast to my muddy life here; and there's no place to spend money unless I buy eggs!

Life on an island....

Monday, December 3, 2012


More (imagined) adventures of Elvis Rain, the Barking Rain Press mascot...


Del's favorite coffee shop, Java Jive, had been bought by the cafe next door. It was renamed the El Jive and he was pleased to see that none of his favorite baristas had left -- and dogs were still welcome. The baristas told him that they were now part of the Cafe El Marz Cooperative, there was a profit-sharing program and in fact, the restaurant and the coffee shop would be owned by the employees in a few years.

That seemed like a good thing to Dell and he congratulated the baristas.

He and Elvis went home and got ready to go to work at Doggie Daycare.

There's a parvovirus outbreak in the city, a dozen cases traced to an off-leash park across the city from the Doggie Daycare. Amy has been busy assuring her customers that she doesn't take their dogs to that park and making sure that all their dog-clients have been vaccinated against parvo. She also bought a case of bleach and put all the volunteers, including Del, to work scrubbing and bleaching every inch of the floor, the kennels, and the runs. The boss had all the chips and dirt scraped off the play area and replaced with fresh dirt, gravel and chips.

Everything smelled good and fresh, Del thought, like a laundromat in a hamster cage. Most of the Doggie Daycare customers took a look at how clean everything was and didn't worry that their dogs would get sick.

However, some clients have asked Amy and Tom to care for their dogs at home and have paid a pretty penny for the service. Del has been assigned to one dog in his neighborhood and for these duties, he is paid. The little extra bit of money was good to have -- Del planned to buy himself a nice big steak at the store -- and share the bone with Elvis.

The dog owners have left very specific instructions: no dog parks, don't let the dog sniff at anything, no contact with other dogs, exactly one cup  of dry food at 9:30 in the morning, scooped poop goes into the special garbage can... the list went on for two pages. Del left Elvis in the car and carefully walked the dog around the neighborhood three times a day, and played a little fetch with her. After three days it was clear to him that the dog was lonely and he asked Amy if Fluffball could come back to doggie daycare.

"I'll ask," Amy said, "But they're scared that the dog will catch parvo. She's been vaccinated and is young and healthy, but her owners are ultra-cautious."

It was a week before Fluffball came back to Doggie Daycare, even though her owners insisted she be kept in a separate run and not be allowed to come in contact with any of the other dogs. Still, she seemed to be happier with the other dogs around, Dell thought.

It has been raining non-stop for days and Elvis, who hates rain, has been a big grumble. Dell has to get the golf umbrella out to coax him outside, but today it's too windy for the umbrella. They have to use a default walk out by the covered play shed on the school grounds. Dogs are not technically allowed on the school grounds, but the kids know Elvis and Dell is careful to pick up after Elvis very carefully.

Other dogs get in and do their business near the shed too, really, the shed is a kind of dog magnet. Dell picks up after them too, but today even Dell is a little jumpy about parvo. There are stray dogs in the neighborhood, so he took Elvis, grumbling the whole way, to another corner of the field, where he had to do his business in the rain.

He grumbled and glared at Dell the whole way back to the house.