Category Archives: Non Sequitorial

I haz famuz! LMAO!

i-can-haz-famuz-lmao1

Hay hay hay Gracie steel Gwen’s laztop! Why is? Me show no thik 2 be famuz cept lay on futstool and gape mouf cute-like-ish! Hee hee haa haa me LMAO in wate in see how long dis pix take to make us Innernets censashun! Not long metinks sphessly wit Gwen be a—HAY!!!!!!!

Excuse me, cat? This is my laptop. Do you mind??

Sheesh, I’m not gone two seconds, and this little minx steals my soapbox. Well, you know what they say about while the mice are… Anyway, just too busy finishing a book before my self-imposed deadline, to write anything intelligible outside plot. So bear with me until next week while suffering through this cute cat picture. Lame, I know, but what the hell.

Advertisements

You really don’t need a bigger boat

635699696981337909-sharkx-large
(Photo: AP)

I’ll be spending the Fourth of July weekend down the Shore, on the beach, and for a fair amount of time, in the water. Growing up there you’re taught to respect the ocean, namely by local elders who are only too happy to school you with horror stories of those who didn’t. You hear all kinds of things, and a lot of the time I’m sure they were exaggerating, but there were some things that just came down to good old common sense. Above all, one of the first things you had to learn was to how to swim and I did, courtesy of the local Red Cross. After you had that under your belt you were forewarned to abide by these three rules:

1. Never swim alone.

2. Never swim at night.

3. Never swim with an animal.

Now, two of the three were actually pretty easy for me. I never swam alone because I never went to the beach by myself as it was too boring. When I did go, it was usually when the lifeguards were around from 10 to 5, because before ten was way too early, and by five o’clock I was usually working a summer job and being way underpaid to miss any hours. I also never swam with an animal as dogs aren’t allowed on the beach in the summer, and my horse was 35 miles inland (yes, I had one. His name was Max and he was a palomino.)

Okay, truth be told I DID swim at night a couple of times, but it usually was after the bars closed and a bunch of us would go to the beach and there was this guy who…  I think you get where I’m going with this, right? In any event, the older I got the more common sense prevailed and I stopped swimming at night. Because even after the bars closed and even with all that Coors Light in me I knew to keep to the dry side of the beach because the wet side of it probably had sharks in it.

Really.

Okay, here’s the thing: sharks live in the ocean and the ocean is on the wet side of the beach. The ocean is their home, and if you walk into their home there is a random chance you could meet up with one.  But just so you don’t think even dipping a toe in the ocean will set a shark to snapping at it, here’s a bit of sanity courtesy of National Geographic:

– 93%  of shark attacks from 1580 to 2010 worldwide were on males.

– Surfers accounted for 50.8% of all attacks in 2010.

– Snorkelers and divers accounted for 8% of all attacks in 2010.

– Inflatable rafts/inner tubes accounted for 3% of attacks in 2010.

– Over the last half-century, there have been more unprovoked shark   attacks in Florida (27 out of a total 139) between 2-3 pm than any other time of the day.

– You have a 1 in 63 chance of dying from the flu and a 1 in 3,700,000 chance of being killed by a shark during your lifetime.

–  Over 17,000 people die from falls each year. That’s a 1 in 218 chance over your lifetime, compared to a 1 in 3,700,000 chance of being killed by a shark.

– In 1996, toilets injured 43,000 Americans a year. Sharks injured 13.

– 1n 1996, buckets and pails injured almost 11,000 Americans. Sharks injured 13.

– In 1996, 2600 Americans were injured by room fresheners. Sharks injured 13. (How do you get injured by a room freshener?)

– The US averages just 19 shark attacks each year and one shark-attack fatality every two years. Meanwhile, in the coastal U.S. states alone, lightning strikes and kills more than 37 people each year.

– For every human killed by a shark, humans kill approximately two million sharks.

Okay, let’s get to my side of the world There hasn’t been a fatal shark attack in New Jersey waters in more than 32,000 days. In fact, there have been only 15 confirmed, unprovoked shark attacks on humans in recorded history along the Jersey Shore. So does that mean it’s safe to strip to the skinny and take a midnight dip? Well, if you’re planning on it, think of this: the impetus for Peter Benchley’s book Jaws was based on the 1916 shark attacks that happened off the coast of New Jersey.

Will that keep me out of the water? I think not. But neither will it keep me out of the bars.

Happy Fourth of July weekend!

Research-related road trips and other coincidences: a Pictorial

Great Bay Turtle X-ingI just passed the sagging middle of my work-in-progress, so to celebrate–er, rather as to verify some of the locales I wrote about, I decided to take a trip to see how close I came to their reality. Google and Google Earth will only take you so far, and the committed writer shouldn’t ever rely solely on virtual reality over the real thing. So my husband and I packed up the car and headed for coastal Jersey, which to this South Jerseyan, is not the same as the more celebrated Shore. Parts of Southern Coastal New Jersey consist of a vast tidewater region of creeks, rivers, and salt marshes or what what the locals refer to as meadows (“meddas,” as my Piney husband calls them), which are varied and lush as some of their inhabitants are hard-shelled and truly, well, bizarre.Great Bay. meadows

Our first stop was just past Tuckerton near Mystic Islands, in an area we simply refer to as Great Bay Boulevard. It’s a long, straightaway (more or less) though the meadows teeming with fish, crab, egrets, osprey, songbirds, even the occasional eagle, and especially this time of year–April to August–turtles all over the place. In fact, I’ve never seen SO many wild turtles in one place. They were in the water, the reeds and most especially, crawling all over the road. Great Bay - Turtle 2The locals take this mating period quite seriously, and are very protective. Everywhere we saw not only official TURTLE CROSSING roadsigns, but Great Bay Turtle X-ing Be Awarehand-scrawled and painted ones by the dozens. And for the amount of turtles we saw scampering (if that’s what you can call it) across the road, and believe me, they were EVERYWHERE, in two days we only saw one dead.  Pretty miraculous if you think Oyster Creek Inn. Meadows 1about it. We also saw at lot of them swimming in the bay at a place we went for dinner called the Oyster Creek Inn (fabulous) in Leeds Point. And if you don’t know what Leeds Point is legendary for, then I Oyster Creek Inn. Swimming Turtle.1suggest you look it up, or troll old episodes of The Leeds Point Rd.X-Files. (An aside: if you have ANY kind of aversion to greenhead flies, do NOT venture anywhere near here.  They are huge, vicious, tenacious bastards with wings, and they will hunt you down, then proceed to chaw the skin off your bones. I truly believe this is where the legend of the Jersey Devil began. A photo cannot even begin to do Great Bay - Flowersthem justice.) I should also mention that all around us the spring flowers were in full bloom. I’m pretty dumb when it comes to naming flora, but I did recognize a profusion of honeysuckle as well as wild rose, plus a bunch of other stuff I won’t embarrass myself Great Bay - honeysucklestrying to name. There was also a lot of pretty good fishing and crabbing around, as I could tell from the amount of people hanging off the bridges that link the various sedge islands. And apparently the shellfish must be doing pretty good as well, as my husband fell into a food coma after a dinner of Barnegat Bay broiled scallops. Oyster Creek Inn.Marina(A note about the picture to the right: it is the boardwalk below the Oyster Creek Inn where my husband’s arm was nearly chawed off by a greenhead. No sympathy. Kill. Them. All.)

Anyway, I could go on and on, but I’ll end this pictorial by letting the snaps below speak for themselves. What follows is what we encountered on Route 9 just past New Gretna. It’s a mansion that sits on the southbound side of the road, but luckily enough has a big enough shoulder on the opposite side, otherwise traffic would surely be snarled. It is out-and-out the purest display of WTF I’ve ever seen, crawling over and atop and in front a seven-foot-high concrete wall. Classic Weird New Jersey. Enlarge, enjoy.

New Gretna WTF Mansion.3New Gretna WTF Mansion.4New Gretna WTF Mansion.5New Gretna WTF Mansion.7New Gretna WTF Mansion.1New Gretna WTF Mansion.2New Gretna WTF Mansion.8New Gretna WTF Mansion.9New Gretna WTF Mansion.10

BEA 2015 – A Pictorial

Nothing like a 90 degree day in New York! But then there’s nothing like a day in New York anyway–doubly so when it’s BookExpo America. They’ll be in Chicago next year, so after five years running, I wasn’t about to miss my chance to catch it one more time while it’s on the East Coast. This year, me and and my sister, Gretchen Weerheim, went, trolling the aisles and generally looking for hot trends, dealmakers, and free tote bags, finding a lot of the first two, but precious few of the last. Didn’t help we were trolling a bit too late in the day, but it was fun nonetheless, and try to keep us away when it comes back to NYC!

BEA Dorothy and AnnieBEA Downtown StageBEA Madison           BEA Gretchen Selfie            BEA Dummies GwenBEA HCGretchen and Creepy ThingBEA Whatever

My Life in Text

Post-opThis is what happens when you spend life with your face either shoved in a book or a screen–you end up getting cataracts when at a (relatively) young age. It doesn’t help you’re born really near-sighted either, which, I’ve been told, is a contributing factor. In any event, yesterday I got the one in my left eye removed, and had a high-tech intraocular multi-focal lens implanted which will allow me to see at multiple distances. Right now, the day after, my eye is still dilated so the vision is still a bit off, not to mention stepping outside this morning was like–whoa! the sun!–but for the first time in my life I was able to see out of my left eye without correction. It was truly bizarre. As was the operation.

Let me say right from the onset–the fact that I was to have my eye sliced open and had to be awake during the procedure left me nothing less than…may I speak bluntly? FREAKED THE FUCK OUT. Yes, it scared the crap out of me just to think of it. Not the pain–as I’ve had root canals where I’ve nearly fallen asleep in the chair. It was the fact I do not like anesthesia. I don’t like that feeling of being there but…not. Knock me out and I’m fine, but I don’t like that semi-conscious state where you can’t react. But this wasn’t like that at all. In fact, it was even kind of pleasant (for a medical procedure, let’s get real). Let me elaborate.

Above’s what I looked like two hours out of surgery. (The plastic shield is off and only has to be worn for a week at night.) My husband and I got there at 12:30 AM, and due to a glitch with an elderly patient (she was 95 and they couldn’t get her blood pressure down), I was stuck in the waiting room for two hours. But once they took me, it was really fast. I changed into a hospital gown then laid on a table where the nurse took my vitals and an EKG, then an anesthesiologist came in and inserted a stent in my hand and numbing drops in my eye. After they were through, I sat in a chair outside the operating room. Right before I went in the anesthesiologist asked me how I was doing. I said I was a bit nervous. He said he’d take care of that, then shot something with a needle into the stent. Within seconds all I felt was….really good. Not high, not loopy, just…good. He said it was called Versed, but to me it was just happy juice, as all it did was calm me and make me feel kind of nice. The surgery itself was truly bizarre. All I remember is a series of colored lights. In a way, it reminded me of pictures from the Hubble telescope, these brilliant multi-colored swirling shapes. TRIPPY!! Combine that with the happy-juice and it was quite an experience, and over before I knew it. NO PAIN AT ALL, and I walked out of the operating room awake and alert.  I go back today for and evaluation by the optometrist, but right now I’m writing this with only a contact in my right eye. The left is a little blurry, but then it’s still really dilated.
To all those who need to have cataract surgery let me  say: DO NOT FEAR IT. I’m not ashamed to say I was terrified–let me repeat that–TERRIFIED of that laser coming at my naked eye! But after going through what I did yesterday, it was almost easy, the actual procedure less than ten minutes. The hardest part for me was the fear of the unknown, as I allowed myself to imagine all sorts of scenarios that in actuality never materialized. I’m sure there’s someone out there about to have surgery who’d say it’s easy to feel as I do now that it’s over. Yes, it is, as I read similar accounts and I still arrived at the doctors’ office yesterday afraid. It anything, you can take comfort in the fact that when you do go through it, you’ll feel as I do now, and the worst part, if there is one, is everything your mind imagines beforehand. Remember that, because when you actually get to the operating table you’ll know the worst is past you, and there’s nothing but crystal-clear clarity ahead.

On the agenda…

1930s-Fashion-Sourcebook-daywearIt’s Tax Day, and although I’ve already done mine (phew!), it’s made me think of the summer that’s fast approaching, and how I’ll spend it. Being in academia, that also means I have a month left of classes, and this year, I actually have part of the summer off before I’ll have to return after the Fourth for a sincerely easy summer class.

But before I do, I’ll have some time to write full-time, which is always nice. Up at dawn and nigh until the night I’m at the keyboard, and it really is the most marvelous feeling, the freedom to just have plot on the mind. Maybe one day I’ll hit that New York Times list and be able to do it full-time all year round, but until then, this slice of summer is pure bliss.

For those that follow this writer (I mean me, in case you’re wondering), I’m working on a new series. Don’t really want to say what it’s about yet, as I first want to see if it’ll fly, but I’ll say it’s based in Jersey like my other books, and, well, it’s got a mystery attached to it, and maybe even a bit of the paranormal. It’s not so much new for me as it’s returning to an earlier style. In any case, it’s keeping my interest, so I must be doing something right.

Oh, and as far as the picture above? It’s got nothing to do with anything that I’m writing about. If you’ve read me, than you know I’ve a thing for anything Parisian, though these two look like they’ve been living on Tic Tacs and cigarettes. Someone give them some French Fries–please.

How I spent my Spring vacation ~ a Pictorial

Sylvia DayI’m one of those poor academics who has to work most of the year except Agents Panelfor a few weeks between semesters and in that venerable time called Spring Break, which for me was last week. The hind end of it was spent at the Liberty State Fiction Writers annual conference, where the Keynote speaker was bestselling author, Sylvia Day. (She actually was much closer than this when I snapped the picture at left. It sure didn’t look this far away!)This year it expanded into a two-day conference, and I got to attend some great workshops and talks, as well as hook up with several writer friends, my agent, who also sat on the Agents Panel at right, and a bunch of other publishing professionals. But mostly–and here’s the really important part–I got to spent a goodly amount of time imbibing in all things theoretically Bad For Me, the absolute BEST part of any conference.

For example, here’s my glamorous agent, Marisa Corvisiero and I10676170_10153157517647298_4678831760680549663_n lunching on the de rigueur plate of institutional chicken atop a mish-mash of rice and what I believe were vegetables scraped from the previous day’s soup pot. That’s Marisa laughing at another of my uproarious bon mots. It was probably something like, “You gonna eat that?” (Yes, I’m that funny.) The iced tea was incredible, at least.

Conferences are also prime places for getting embarrassingly shitty cell phone pix taken of you. Consider the Edvard Munch study below. Don’t ask me what the impetus was for that. I have no idea.

Munch ImpressionComposition in Light and Dark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Juxtapose that against what I call “A Composition in Light and Dark” at the right. There’s me looking all shady and ironic (and beat-up; it’d been a rough night) against the beatific figure in the background beaming like a Botticelli. Truth be told, I never knew I possessed such a talent for artistic expression. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but I swear, these are absolutely improv-ed. I’m also that talented.

Ultimately, the conference comes down to hanging out with good friends, drinking some good wine (or at least priced accordingly), and demolishing a honkin’ big dish of Brownie Sundae. Between all of this I got to make some really good plans for the future, some of which you will be privy to shortly. If the best business is done in the off-hours, then I’ll take this office space any time. It truly is where the best people are.

LSFW Dinner(left-right: Linda J. Parisi, Gwen Jones, Gretchen Weerheim, Marisa Corvisiero, Samantha Bremekamp.)

Pot hellions

Crater RoadSome watch for robins, some for crocuses, some even say marshmallow peeps, but for me the real harbinger of spring are potholes, I’m telling you, those pervasive little asphalt assailants never fail to creep up on us, around every bend and over every hillock, disguised like shimmering little macadam birdbaths until you hit one and bam! there goes the hub cap, spinning away like a frisbee.

I live fifteen miles from work, and on my way home last week I counted no less than 25 of the replicating little suckers. And that didn’t include the ever-widening fissures in the middle of the road, and the winter erosion of the softer shoulders, due to the dig and drag of the snow plows. And then there’s those inevitable frost heaves that pitch up and crack the roads, always on whatever side of the road I’m driving. Which, of course, quickly becomes your side when you swerve into my lane to avoid them.

But if all this isn’t bad enough, the cure isn’t much better. How many of you have driven smack into a fresh pancake of cold patch, that municipal quick-fix of asphalt the town boys tamp down with shovels and their own boots, to shut up the one irate taxpayer that doesn’t quit calling until it’s fixed. Ahh…the lovely ping-ping-ping of loose tar as it plies itself to the undercarriage of your car. You’ll be scrubbing that off until nigh on August. Soon those road patch patties will be as ubiquitous as dandelions, and just as hard to get rid of. Because if you’re betting on highway dollars on high to get them gone, you can just forget it. The bank is broke in New Jersey come June 30, and staying that way for a while.

For the meantime, take your comfort where you can get it. After the winter we’ve had here in Jersey, just seeing the road means it’s only a matter of time until we’re burning our bare feet crossing it. And that, my dears, could only mean a day at the beach.

Counting the days.

Break me, please!

4cfcbb62c5976427f498bd97f33ed5a022764103I’ve been in academia for fifteen years now and teaching college for five, and one thing the profession has never been is boring. I’ve met my share of interesting people, from Candace Bushnell to Maya Angelou to Robert Kennedy, Jr., to Francine Prose, and just today, in my Media Writing class, I met a former police beat reporter for the Asbury Park Press, Margaret F. Bonafide. She talked to my class of budding journalists about life as a beat reporter, and how one of your stories could even catch the eye of a film maker and turn into a documentary. It was all very fascinating and inspiring, and although my students were rapt as they listened, asking intelligent questions and offering her a rousing applause when she was through, she barely left the podium before they were out of there like a shot. Why, you may ask?

Next week is Spring Break baby! And it’s not even next week yet! You see, it’s the wise student that gets a jump on.

Today is Wednesday, and I still have two more days of classes, but already, my attendance roster is falling short. Just the other day I had a student in one of my English classes tell me he would be in Cancun over the break, so could he have extra time for this week’s assignment? “Might I suggest you do it before you go?” I may have well asked him to hand over his spleen. Hey, you only have to write that three-page essay. I have to grade over thirty of them. And that’s just for one class. I’m wisely staggering them for the others. They’re not the only ones on Spring Break, you know.

So what will I be doing? Funny you should ask. I do have a book I’ve just started, so I’ll get in some extra writing time. Get my taxes done. Sleep. (Ah, yes, I fit it somewhere in before my 7:30 class.) Not shovel snow (It was a blissful 60 degrees here today in Jersey.) AND go to a writers conference next weekend! (See last week’s post.) That in itself constitutes my own Spring Break, a break from the ordinary, a chance to reinvigorate, reconnect, and renew. With chips and dip, of course, And wine. Lots and lots of wine, yessir.

In vino veritas, ah yes.

The Morning this Writer had the Whole House to Herself

Cutie Pie

I’ll have the house to myself all day, so I’ll get up at the crack of dawn and hit my desk by 6:00 AM. I’ll mute my phone, ignore my email, and do nothing but write. Oooh! I love it when I can work in my jammies.

5:30 – Alarm rings. Roll over, hit snooze.

5:31 – Cat finds ball. Ignore tinkly bell and fall back asleep.

5:40 – Alarm rings again. Cat jumps on face. Swat at cat. Miss cat. Knock over alarm. Alarm stops by default. Pull pillow over head. Fall back to sleep.

5:44 – Dream of jingle bells.

5:49:58 – Cat pulls curtain and curtain rod from window, knocks alarm from night table.

5:50 – Alarm rings. Give up, get up and go to bathroom. Tinkly sound emanates from bedroom.

5:55 – Feed cat.

5:58 – Bowl of Cheerios and sliced banana. Get newspaper while cereal soggies.

6:03 – 6:14 – Front page, editorials, comics, horoscope. Take vitamins.

6:15 – 6:19 – “Morning Joe.”

6:20 – 6:47 – Switch to TCM while “Joe” is on a commercial break and become embroiled in pre-code Jean Harlow/Clark Gable rom-com until cat leaps into window at neighbor’s cat reminding you to look toward wall clock.

6:48 – Make cup of tea; visit bathroom while waiting for water to boil, turning on laptop en route. Brush teeth. Spy book on dresser on the way out. Finish reading chapter started the night before.

6: 54 – Return book to dresser.

6:55 – Retrieve tea and head toward office.

6:56 – Visit several email accounts and return email, re: 3 student crises, web course designer, critique partner. Email agent. Sneak peek at Facebook, Twitter, tweet, favorite. Check website.

7: 18 – Bring up work-in-progress. Shrink work-in-progress. Bring up FreeCell. One therapeutic game to get brain functioning. Or two. Three. Four at the most.

7:39 – Bring up work-in-progress. Remember need to look up legal term first. Shrink WIP; go online, homepage, CNN. Check if world blew up the night before. Switch to Google. Find term. Tweet. Check email. Answer email. One more FreeCell. Return to WIP.

8:07 – Emergency email from critique partner. Forestall imminent artistic self-thrashing and proceed to email buck-up. Email is replied to in less than a minute. Send another buck-up complete with happy emoticons. Check Twitter.

8:47 – Return to WIP. Stomach growls. Go to kitchen and make toast, toss cat teeth crunchy treats. Stare out window at trash truck across the lake as toast toasts. Remember forgot to put out trash. Run out door in robe. Return to smoke alarm blaring from toast stuck in toaster. Open windows. Toss toast. Fan.

9:05 – Return to office. Email from agent. Needs immediate proposal for prospective editor. Panic but produce passable proposal in less than ten minutes. Return to WIP, but first retreat to kitchen for cube of 72% cacao dark chocolate while entertaining visions of NYT Bestseller Glory. Return to office and WIP. See cat had jumped on keyboard and now there’s kmsadslvy]e0-vn’aey9-3 rya2932f all over page 78. 79. 80. 81———————

9:16 – 9:19 – Clean up WIP. Phone rings. Seems forgot to mute phone.

9:20 – 9:51 – Chat and play solitaire.

9:52 – Return to WIP. Take sip of tea, notice it’s cold. Go to kitchen to reheat tea. While heating eat forkful of cold spaghetti from fridge. One more. Another. Mmmm….

9:58 – Return to office. Pick up hand weights. Lift. Throw out back. Lay on floor to stretch. Cat jumps on stomach. Yelp. Swat at cat. Miss. Cat circles head, purring. Melt.

10:10 – Remember forgot tea in microwave. Go to kitchen to retrieve. Spy calendar and see it’s wrong day for trash on my street. Go to street to retrieve trash can so don’t look like an idiot. Return to kitchen and retrieve tea. Cold again. Check MSNBC on TV as tea reheats. Go to HBO during commercial break.

Noon – Get up to retrieve tea as credits roll for “Get Him to the Greek.” Dump tea; go to fridge and retrieve pot of spaghetti from fridge. Take to office, shrink WIP and go to Slate.com and read “Dear Prudence” while eating cold pasta with fingers. Phone rings. Still forgot to mute. Chat while licking fingers.

12:49 – Find Lindt Dark Chocolate Truffle from old Christmas stash in desk while rearranging desk tray while still on the phone. Eat, toss wrapper at trash. Miss.

12:50 – Cat finds missed wrapper. Grabs in mouth. Runs from room.

12:51 – Hear a crashing sound from bedroom. Ring off phone. Go to bedroom. Jewelry box and entire contents is now on floor, truffle wrapper on top. Scoop contents, return to box, return box to dresser. Toss wrapper. Cat missing. Eye bed, still unmade.

12:52 – Call day a wash. Return to bed. Bed never so comfortable…

12: 59 – Cat finds ball.