Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Your Outta Touch, I'm Outta Time

Well okay, I'm the one who is out of touch, in case the choice of a 30 year old Hall and Oates song as the title of this post didn't clue you in.
I noticed that somewhere around my mid-thirties I began using the phrase "I'm old" as an automatic response to anyone who balked at the fact that I didn't keep up with what's cool with the kids these days. Recently, a friend's tweenage niece looked at me in abject horror and exclaimed, "Have you been living under a rock?" when I mistakenly asked her what One Direction was. For other old folks, it's a band that 13 year old girls can talk about at length. But honestly, I'm not old. Sure, 40 is looming around the corner, but 40 hasn't been old since we stopped working 12 hour shifts in the fields, had babies at 14, and created antibiotics. I figure once they start replacing vital organs with titanium robot parts, I've got another 100 years to kick around.
But I am woefully out of touch.
Why does this matter? Because after I finish the final book in The Eyes of The Sun, I'm starting a young adult sci-fi. I read a lot of young adult fiction and apparently that is normal for women my age, so don't judge me. But I have to admit, half the time when the author name drops a current song or popular show, I have no idea what they are talking about.
I want to connect with the audience and keep my work relevant, but I have to wonder if I really need to worry as much as I am over this.
For example, if you were a tween girl at any time in the eighties or nineties, you probably read Sweet Valley High books. Now, I don't know what they were like in the nineties, but in the eighties, Francine Pascal did not have her finger on the pulse if youth culture. The popular kids had sock hops. The cool rock band she name drops is... Linda Ronstadt... in the era of Madonna and Michael Jackson. Everyone was white. Wait, that's a different issue.
Anyway, the point is that the series was so popular that the Wakefield twins were juniors in high school for almost twenty years. So maybe there's something to being out of touch. Of course, that doesn't mean I'm going to have the cool kids 'Bing it' when they need to do a web search. I have standards. But they might listen to Devo instead of Lorde, whatever a Lorde is.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Getting To Know You

If you are on Facebook, then you know that the game du jour is the one where you post a set number of things about yourself and anyone who comments has to do the same. I did this and gave silly answers. But then I commented on someone else's post and was assigned another number. Rather than try to find nine more silly things to post, I decided to bring the 'game' over here and reveal some fun facts about me. There is no requirement to do the same if you leave a comment. I will, however, number these in the silliest way I can think of. If you get all of the references, you win um, something.
The Lonliest Number: I suffer from false memories. I don't 'suffer' exactly, but I remember things vividly that could not have happened. For example, I have a memory of standing in the living room of an apartment we lived in when I was very young. I'm looking out the front door and my mom is mowing the lawn. My sister is making snow cones in our Snoopy Sno-cone machine, wearing a Strawberry Shortcake shirt. I know we lived in this apartment, but I don't think we had much of a lawn to mow, and my sister wouldn't have a clue who Strawberry Shortcake is until several years later, in a different house, long after the Snoopy Sno-cone machine fell out of fashion. I also remember going on a trip to a tiny rundown theme park in Moosic, PA and seeing lions on a safari. We went to that park several times. There were no lions. There weren't even any house cats.
Snake Eyes: I bet my mother a million dollars that online dating only attracted crazy freaks and dangerous stalkers. I took a one week trial offer from Yahoo and proceeded to meet my husband. I have yet to pay off the bet.
Stooges, Pigs, and Amigos: I don't believe in ghosts, but I've had strange experiences that I can't explain. The summer that I was fourteen, we moved into a new house. A busy highway ran nearby, and every night that summer, I heard a terrible crash, squealing tires, and twisting metal, at the exact same time. There was never an accident reported and it stopped after a few months. When I was in my twenties, I lived in an attic apartment in a bad part of town. Lots of weird things happened there, like the windows unlatching and slamming open in the middle of the night despite there being no wind, and my phone ringing, while I was on the internet (dial up days) without kicking me offline, and the caller ID showed my own number.
Hugh Grant and Andi McDowell: I was deathly afraid of the voice of the operator who used to come on the line and tell you that the number you dialed was not in service. For some reason I always imagined her as the witch from The Wizard of Oz.
Stuart Sutcliffe: I swear, not all of these are creepy, but one more. I still remember a vivid nightmare I had in kindergarten. My teacher was not the nicest woman, something my mother can attest to. I dreamed that I had to go back into school at night to get my homework. I got lost, ended up back home, in my bed, but the characters from Sesame Street kept popping out of the wall, taunting me with my homework. Not just the Muppets, I distinctly remember Gordon, Bob, and Maria were there as well.
The 1/111th of The Beast: My father stole my first job for me. The district manager for the local newspaper was knocking on the neighbor's door to offer the boy who lived there a job as a paper boy because ours moved on to greater things, like bagging groceries. The neighbors were not home so my dad, the eternal extrovert, started chatting up the DM, ran inside, told me to come out, and next thing I knew, I was the new paper girl. I was 12. I did this until I moved on to grocery bagging at 14. I have been employed ever since and have never been fired from any job, though I admit to walking out of some.
What's In The Box?!!?: I was a painfully average student. I literally graduated the exact middle of my class. I wouldn't realize my enthusiasm for academics until my second attempt at college three years later, where I made dean's list every semester. I still hold no degree, though.
Enough: My very first office job was customer service for a beauty products distributor in 1997. I've had several jobs since then in a variety of industries, until 2010, when I started working customer service for a (much larger) beauty products distributor.
Turn Me On, Dead Man: I still remember that the telephone number to the Westwood One Radio Network's Saturday night oldies show was 800-634-5789 and I haven't heard that show in about twenty years.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Modern Inconveniences

Last weekend we got a new stove. Why? Because in 2010 we were doing some heavy renovations that included ripping most of the sub floor out of the kitchen. This left us with a big hole that was open to the elements and inevitably, the wilderness made it inside, so we ended up with a rat living in our oven. We discovered the extent of the damage a few weeks later on thanksgiving, when we turned on the oven and were greeted with the smell of preheating rat pee.

Yes, I did say 2010, which means that for three years, my husband and I have cooked every meal on the stovetop or in a toaster oven, including three Thanksgivings. Now to be fair, we are vegetarians, so it isn't as if we were cooking a whole turkey or anything, but looking back, it was quite an accomplishment. This, coupled with a conversation I had at work the other day made me realize how many modern convenience items, that everyone assumes are standard in all homes, we don't own. Are we strange? Or are there other people out there that get by without these things as well?
Since somewhere around the mid 80s, I've always had a microwave. Heck, the last four apartments I've lived in had them included. But a few years ago, I learned that the urban legends about the dangers of microwaves were based in reality when ours decided to blow up and give me one heck of an electrical shock when I tried to unplug it. At that point we decided that radiation housed in flimsy metal and plastic was probably something we didn't want in our kitchen, so we never bought another one.
The replacement: stove and toaster oven. Aside from greasy popcorn in a salty bag, there is virtually nothing that can't be made without a microwave. When my aforementioned coworker expressed disbelief in my ability to exist without one, I was genuinely surprised to find out that people actually rely on them for more than reheating leftovers (which can totally be done in a toaster oven or on a stove).
I know it's the snobby thing to say, "I don't watch tv." But really, I don't. It's not that I'm too cultured and spend my time doing important things, I get plenty of lazy time with the internet and other distractions. It's just that I've never been a big fan of sitting on the couch and watching shows. When we did have a tv, I wasn't the one to turn it on. If it was on, I would occasionally sit down and suddenly realize that half my Sunday morning was gone and I had watched five episodes of Mythbusters (spoiler alert, C4 is always the answer to the age old question, "how can we make it explode?").
I can't get invested in series either because the last time I did that, I ended up wasting a huge portion of my life on the Battlestar Galactica reboot, eating crappy pizza and wondering how it was possible to make a tv show about robots in space so completely awful that I would rather watch a Pawn Stars marathon.
The replacement: books, internet, writing, exercise, and generally, everything else. Sure, I don't get to participate in the office discussions about Dexter or The Walking Dead, but to be honest, I was never going to watch those shows anyway. At some point I may want to watch more of the new Dr. Who, but there's streaming video for that.
I'm not saying that we don't have a furnished home, but we do have three dogs with no concept of personal space, so we end up with things like this.

There are two loveseat sized sofas in my livingroom. The one in the picture received a hackjob reupholster treatment from me, but make no mistake, that is the dog's sofa. 
The other is a quaint, mismatched Frankensofa that I cobbled together out of clearanced sectional pieces from World Market. When I'm not sitting on it, I have to cover it with books, my laptop, and a storage box to keep the dogs off. It makes entertaining difficult, but really, we never entertain, so it isn't an issue.
The replacement: patio furniture. We live in a place with nearly ten months of reasonable weather so I spend a good deal of time hanging out on the patio while my crazy dogs run around the yard chasing squirrels. Not even the summer sun is a deterrent, but sadly, this year mosquitos were, so I've spent a lot of time on the sofa.
Automatic Coffee Maker
It is a well documented fact that I have an incurable coffee addiction, so it may come as a surprise that I don't actually have a Mr. Coffee or a Keurig sorcery machine. To be honest, I used to have a little four cup coffee maker and all it succeeded in doing was make me spend money on coffee shop coffee. I hate the way drip coffee from a plastic machine tastes.
The replacement: two French presses, a tea pot, two separate grinders for regular and decaf, and a stovetop espresso maker. Sure, it takes longer and makes a smaller amount of coffee, but if you have never had coffee from freshly ground beans in a French press, you haven't had coffee.
Now of course, on the other end of the spectrum there are probably things we have an overabundance of. For me this is definitely electronics and for my husband it is probably drums. Does this make us weird? Are any of these items that you live without as well or are there other seemingly common things you live without?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

A Much Needed Makeover

Hey, look up! Do you see that? That's my swanky new cover art! Fellow blogger and talented artist, Shoshanah, AKA Mindless Minion Number 2703, created this and I can't thank her enough. I've been looking for a way to feature artists on this page and she provided me with the perfect opening. So with that in mind, I'd like to draw your attention to the heading at the top of my page titled Fantastic Art and Where To Find It. As of right now, there are only two artists featured, but there will be more and I welcome any and all to submit their links as well. Go take a look right now!