Monthly Archives: October 2013
I have to begin my gratitude post with some sad news – but it relates directly to the rest of the post. This is Erie. We lost her on September 29. She was eighteen and a half. She’d lived with us for exactly 18 years. We’d adopted her in September 18 years ago, when she was five months old.
Losing my elderly girl made me grateful for the rest of our silly, adorable feline family. That’s one thing, I know. But there are three of them. So I contend it totally counts. Besides. There are only so many photos I can reasonably expect you to look at. There’s nothing quite like losing someone you love to make you realize how lucky you are to have had that love. So I’m taking a moment to appreciate my felines.
Meet our only boy, Autolycus (Uh tall uh kus):
He is a complete nut job. He thinks my husband walks on water (this is not related to the cat being a nut job, I swear). Autolycus is one of those cats who lives for trouble. The more I tell him not to do something, the more invested he is in doing it. He’s a combination teddy bear and alarm clock. When I go to bed, he snuggles down next to my face to purr me to sleep. But sleeping past 6am? Forget it. He’s up dancing on my pillow, pulling my hair, and touching my face with his cold, wet nose. This is a boy who doesn’t want his breakfast to be late.
This is Cuillean. (Qui-lay-un) She’s a little shy, not that you’d know it from this picture. I said shy, not modest. She’s my lap fungus. When I sit down to work, Cuillean is on my lap. She has a lovely, gentle purr and a sweet set of chirps and trills. She doesn’t actually meow. Unless you try to put her in a carrier to go to the vet. Then she wails this heart-wrenching WOOOOE! WOE! I’m kind of surprised the ASPCA hasn’t paid me a visit.
When our alarm goes off in the morning, she comes in for morning pets. This involves coming into the master cabin, getting between me and my husband and having both of us pet her. Eventually, she flops down on her side and kneads my husband’s armpit. This is sweet until her claws get past a certain length. And then, love hurts.
Finally, Hatshepsut. I pronounce her name for you in the video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBhIGCP5iCs if you watched the video, then yes. She’s always that intent. She has a HUGE purr. Little cat, great big purr. She wields it as a weapon. Many an attempt to listen to her heart or lungs has been thwarted by that purr. She loves to have me hold her. Or pull her toys. I cannot make a bed without Hatshepsut help. It’s against the union rules. All beds being made must be inspected for bed mice (my fingers, under the covers). The disturbing bit is that she purrs like a freight train while rabbit kicking the crap out of my hand…
I am eternally grateful for the love and fun and laughter my four footed family members bring. They’re always focused on right now. They’re an excellent reminder to take joy everywhere I can.
When I received the topic for this week’s blog post, I thought, “Name three things I’m most grateful for? Easy peasy.” Turns out that’s not quite true. I think I wrote this post four times, and every time I started fresh, there were three new things in my life I found myself grateful for. I decided to go with the first version because, while it’s much more personal than I tend to ever get, it’s the most authentic. Here’s what I came up with.
#1: My Husband
It might sound a bit trite, but he’s the thing I’m most grateful for in life. There are too many reasons to list, plus I’d probably get all sappy, so let me hit the high points. First, that man loves me more than anything else in the world, and he makes sure I know it–texts, notes, voicemails, emails, flowers, surprise dates. He is a cuddling machine. He listens to what I have to say. He’s brilliant and not stingy in sharing the knowledge, so I’ve grown marginally more intelligent over the years. (Yay, osmosis!)
Above all, when the shit really hit the fan and I found myself in a very precarious emotional spot due to some serious ongoing health issues, he stood by me, behind me for support and in front of me as interference. He was where I needed him to be when I needed him to be there without my ever having to ask. He simply loved me harder.
This man has taught me more about love than I ever thought possible, and I am a better woman for having been his partner for eighteen years.
#2: My Friends and Family
So simple. So true. I have a very, very small inner circle of people who surround me. There are quite a few people who orbit the group, people whom I value, but those closest to me? There are only a handful. These are the people I can call at 3:00 a.m. when my old Labrador Retriever had a seizure and my husband was out of town, the person I meet at Starbucks in “our spot” and can count on to be honest no matter how hard it is to hear, the person who goes to doctors’ appointments with me so I don’t have to be alone, the person who calls and says, “My Spidey Sense was tingling…what’s wrong?” and the person who simply shows up with a cold Dr. Pepper despite her personal war against sugar and says, “You need a little sunshine, Denise. Let’s sit outside.”
I do my absolute best to be worthy of their friendship, be they blooded family or not. My life is richer because of these people who form the nucleus of who I am.
#3: My Writing
This one might strike you as odd. Let me explain. Several years ago, I lost my job after a back surgery gone wrong. My job had become my life. It was everything I identified with, everything I used to define the parameters of “me.” When those parameters crumbled, I was left a shivering mass of naked regret. A decade spent building a career — gone. Disability was suddenly an unavoidable reality, and I hated myself for it. For a long time, I sulked. I didn’t want to rediscover joy in life. I didn’t want to find new passions. I wanted my old life back, and was so busy looking over my shoulder that I nearly missed what was right in front of me. Remember my darling husband? He bought me a laptop, brought it home and said, “Write. It used to make you happy.” I sulked a bit longer, then got up in pain in the middle of the night and went to the living room. There sat the computer. I opened it up and wrote the first few pages of Legacy, the first book I sold. Writing helped me rediscover who I was, who I am, and it gave my flagging sense of productivity an outlet that I could physically, safely, manage. I found myself in the words when I thought I was lost, when things were so bleak for me that I went to a very dark place I don’t talk about. My imagination was unlocked and I found my happy inside. How can I ever thank him for that?
Take a second and let me know who or what you’re most grateful for. I’d love to celebrate them or it with you.
In the last week of October, as we slide toward November, our theme for the next couple of weeks is the three things we are grateful for. Mine are simple. And I’m doing four, because I could not get it down to three.
Number one, and far ahead of the others, is my daughter. She is a joy and a wonder and a tenacious bulldog at times, but she keeps me engaged, loving, well-dressed, on my toes, and very close to my inner child and the magic hidden beneath life’s burdens. And she keeps me loved. Very loved. Who else would ask me to dress up as Dracula and pop out of a coffin, dance with a one eyed, banana-eating minion (an after the dance party pic) or answer knock-knock jokes for hours.
Number two. I am grateful for my health. As dull as that seems, having everything more or less working, more or less well is a true blessing. One I wish for everyone. As part of that wish, I happily and proudly contributed a story to the Shades of Pink Anthology, a gift 33 authors are giving to thank those who give to breast cancer research. You can check out the details here.
Number three, believe it or not, I am grateful for my fears and flaws. As much as they create obstacles and frustrations in my life and drive some of my bigger, badder errors, these also keep me moving forward, humble, creative and compassionate. They are as much a part of the package that is me as the stuff I actually like. So it seems fit to be grateful and aware of what they bring to the table, as much as they work hard to disrupt said table.
Finally, I am grateful for the little things in life. That parking space that opens up in the crowded lot, a good review for my book, a text from a friend just when you need it, a stranger on the metro who’s smile and good wishes lifts up a day that looked bleak, a cat curling up on my lap when I’m feeling sick, a good book, a reader who tells me how much they like my story, a strong cup of coffee in the morning, the almost accident that wasn’t, and so on and so forth.
For these, and so much more, I am grateful. What about you. What little things are you grateful for?
I don’t have two favorite horror movies – because the thrill of watching horror movies is lost on me. I never liked being scared – NEVER. The first time I remembered shaking in my shoes was watching The Creature From the Black Lagoon. An old film, yes, and poor cinematography, yes, but damn, the creature really freaked me out!
I walked out on The Exorcist and waited in the lobby for my friends as soon as Linda’s head turned completely around! Oh God, it was just too creepy. Maybe it was being raised Catholic that made it seem so real and that she was truly possessed by the devil – I couldn’t go there. Not that I believed in the devil, exactly…
And what about Alfred Hitchcock’s classics. When I got through watching The Birds, I couldn’t go outside without one eye searching telephone polls with menacing black birds all lined in a row. And come on, we all know the music from Psycho’s shower scene.
Peace and Love!
Sins of Lust:
Thou shall not kill.
For archangel Razi-el, he had no choice. He would break God’s commandment again if it were to save Uri-el from a demon’s talons. Yet even God’s most trusted archangel cannot avoid punishment. No longer Razi-el, he is now Izar, a Protector sworn to kill for the angels.
When a Protector kills an angel, Izar is summoned to work alongside Uri-el to capture the killer. Izar is shocked when his bloodlust spikes hot for the archangel.
He knows better than to go after forbidden fruit. Refusing to give in to temptation, he ignores his body’s tempestuous arousal for Uri-el until a heated argument turns his blood into molten lust.
As they rush to find the killer, their passion plays into the demon’s plan. Izar will have to make a choice between life and death if he is to save Uri-el again.
I’ve never been one for frights. Doctor Who used to scare me (still does on occasion – Weeping Angels, anyone?) and I’ve never seen a horror movie in my life. Oh, except Final Destination, but that’s so preposterous I spent more time giggling than being remotely scared.
Jurassic Park, on the other hand, terrified the willies out of me.
All this leaves me casting about for a subject. My favourite “scary” movies are The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Corpse Bride and Coraline. I’m currently listening to the audio version of Neverwhere (easily my favourite Gaiman book).
Not, you have to admit, stuff that’s going to keep you awake at night.
I think my problem with modern horror is that it seems to equate to blood and guts. I don’t find that scary, just disgusting. The things that creep me out are subtler, more ordinary. An unlit street is frightening because of what lies unseen in the shadows. Masks hide faces and therefore intentions (make up also does this to an extent, which is why I’m terrified of clowns). Things that seem to move when you’re not looking, like stone angels or store window dummies.
I do like being creeped out rather than outright terrified. I like being able to sleep at night. So, no, you won’t find me queuing for the latest shock-horror-gore fest opening at the theatre, but you will find me watching the Doctor battle normal every-day objects turned bad by the twisted imagination of the writers.
Even if that is from behind the sofa.
I like to think of myself as a practical, down-to-earth person. But, to be honest, horror movies, books, or even just concepts strip all that away, exposing my superstitious and vulnerable underbelly. Feeling that way isn’t something I enjoy, so I no longer indulge in that genre. As I’ve gotten older I’ve discovered reality is bad enough without terrifying myself with (hopefully) imaginary monsters or the kinds of horrors that might exist but (again, hopefully) will never touch my life.
When I was younger though, I remember huddling under the covers, reading Stephen King’s Firestarter, The Shining, etc. I also saw the movie version of The Shining and was suitably horrified, although I still think the book was better.
And there is one incident with a horror movie I’ll never forget, because it was so funny, and also a favorite memory of my teen years and of my brother.
My parents often went off on vacation, leaving my brother and me at home to hold down the fort. This particular time, I think I was too young for my brother to go out and leave me at home alone, so we settled in to watch a movie my brother-in-law had copied to VHS for us. Turned out to be Dracula, the 1979 version, starring Frank Langella. Okay, so it isn’t the scariest version ever made, but there was something about the way Dracula’s eyes vibrated whenever he saw blood, and the sight of him climbing down a sheer stone wall, that terrified me. But I didn’t want my brother to know how scared I was, so I didn’t cover my eyes or anything…
Then the movie ended and, realizing I would have to turn off the lights and go upstairs by myself, in the dark, if I didn’t get out of the room first, I bolted.
So did my brother!
And the night ended with neither of us willing to go back and turn off the TV or the lights, all of which stayed on until morning. It was a mini case of mass hysteria, LOL!
Now, I’ll leave you all to your zombies, possessed souls and other assorted things that go bump in the night… while I watch my true crime shows about mass murderers, serial killers, etc.
Which one is more horrible? I don’t know…
I don’t know if it’s a curse afflicting all writers, or if I’m just lucky, but if you show me something horrifying, it is seared into my memory and IT NEVER LEAVES. Think back to the last real horror movie you saw. Do you want the grossest, most terrifying scene staring back at you from the insides of your closed eyelids for the rest of your life? I don’t.
I mean, I realize I’m
psychotic odd. I can watch true crime shows – you know – where real people actually died and be fascinated by how science solved the crime. I can watch medical shows and be completely absorbed regardless of the blood and exposed anatomical bits. But put me in front of a fictional account of monsters ripping through humans and you’re going to have to scrape me off the floor.
I discovered this fact when I went to see An American Werewolf in London with a pair of my friends. I didn’t even get a quarter of the way into the movie. The initial werewolf attack happens and there’s a shot of one of the men. He’s lying dead on the moor, his abdomen ripped out, his meaty, bloody ribs exposed in the light of the moon. Got up, walked out and went next door to watch The Empire Strikes Back for what had to be the twelfth time.
I can’t even tell you why that was so horrifying. It’s not like I don’t do blood. Medical shows and true crime, right? So what’s the problem with fictionalized stuff? No clue, but it’s a thing and I respect that. The last movie I saw that could remotely qualify as horror was Pitch Black. I do like that movie. Alien is, of course, a classic, but I’ve talked about it before. I think Pitch Black works for me (I watched the whole thing without flinching much) because most of the movie focuses on how the survivors are freaking out about Riddick, while the audience kept thinking, “He’s the least of your concerns.”
Once we got to critters ripping people apart, you saw little of it on screen. Some, sure, but just enough to let you know the characters were up a creek without any kind of paddle. The focus of the story wasn’t on the horror or the gore. It was on the people and their bid to escape.
Most of the horror movies that came out when I was a teen (and we won’t talk about how long ago that was) were focused on how inescapable the horror was and they were incredibly misogynistic. Young women died simply because they dared to own their sexuality and express it. Young men died, too, but in far fewer numbers and their bloody corpses didn’t wander into the high school to haunt their surviving sex partners.
Just so many things wrong there. That’s probably another blog topic we should put on our list – the notion that horror is extraordinarily specific to a single society and even then, only to certain slices of that society. (Nightmare on Elm Street only works if you’re never taught that you control the reality of your dreams like most pagan kids are…)
Anywho. My second and real current favorite? A book. The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle.
The end of the world walks right up to the closed gates of Katie’s Amish community. An illness has killed or altered millions of humans, turning them into creatures of unholy evil. When Katie finds an injured man just outside the community’s fence, she’s compelled to bring him secretly in and treat his wounds. But then, it becomes clear that evil has found a way into the village filled with Katie’s family, friends and former fiancé. Did her act of compassion doom them all?
Like Pitch Black, this story concentrates on the characters and a community facing the inexplicable, rather than focusing on gore. Which isn’t to say there aren’t a couple of scenes that aren’t — pretty. But the writing is gorgeous and Katie is courageous. It’s a great combination.
Anyone else a complete wuss when it comes to horror? Or am I cowering all alone over here in the dark?
This, MANhandlers, is the photo that launched a thousand ideas. It is my inspiration, my happy and my favorite photo. Not as explicit as some of the others, but there’s simply something about this man that makes me rawr. Enjoy!
I put off this week’s post as long as possible. I’m writing it about an hour before it’s due. I’m normally not such a procrastinator. In fact, I try to have my posts done early so I know they’re up for you to peruse at your leisure. But this time? It’s not that I didn’t want to send out the MANhandler shout out, but I had nothing to offer for the (ahem) meat of the post. We’re discussing favorite horror movies, books, shows, magazines — whatever. I’ve got nothin’. I blame Halloween.
When I was little, not quite two, my mom dressed me as Raggedy Andy. I was freakin’ adorable. Then she and Dad took me trick or treating. We lived in Sacramento, California. I remember going, being very unsure of myself with the older kids, but people were giving me candy. Once I got that part figured out? I was golden.
We hit a few houses in the neighborhood and then went to The House. The man was dressed as a werewolf — mask, ragged clothes, big paws, scary-ass feet. He was terrifying older kids. Me? I lost my sh…tuff. The man removed his costume and got down on my level, tried to give me candy. Even then, I was nobody’s fool. I’d seen the monster behind the man, thank you very much, and my “Stranger Danger” alert was at DefCon 8 on a scale of 0-5. Dude had a bigass, terrifying creature locked inside him and I was the only one who seemed aware of this tidy little fact.
Things like this tend to leave a mark on a child and shape how she sees the world. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, it created in me a true fear of monsters and mythology and things that go bump in the night. I always had an overactive imagination, but that night has been fodder for a lifetime of I’m-no-chainsaw-wielding-psycho’s-victim-chick-who’s-going-to-trip-in-the-woods-but-thanks mental ramblings that make me cross dark spaces quickly and get the heebie-jeebies when I walk down an unlit hall. So to come up with something like a favorite horror movie? There’s just no such thing as a “favorite.” I’m reduced to choosing between Scooby Doo episodes. Sorry, folks. I yam what I yam.
What about you? Do you love to get the wits scared out of you? Do you thrive on having to change your shorts after a movie? Or are you content to live in well-lit spaces? If so, come sit by me.
Sabrina bows her head. She has a confession to make. “I can’t hack horror in books or movies or shows.” Sad face. 😦
I have climbed a rock face, traveled alone in a foreign country, asked a guy to the junior prom, made a keynote speech but I cannot sit through a horror movie and keep my popcorn down.
It all started at a seventh grade sleepover. Psycho was playing. From that day until I started college, I never took a shower with the curtain closed. My mother eventually gave up on me. But I never really could remove the psycho shower scene in my head.
In college, I learned to shut the shower door. Older and wiser (at least I thought so at the time), I tried again. The now classic film, Halloween. I went with my boyfriend, so grabbing onto him every time Michael showed up was actually a pretty good thing. Fear mastered.
Or so I thought.
Then we got home. A friend, in a hoodie pulled up over his head, jumped me from behind. To be cute.
I shattered, fell to the floor, lost my ability to breathe, completely freaked my friends and boyfriend out. And my experimentation with horror movies, from that moment, was over.
To this day, I avoid them. So that, is my sad story, and why I do not have any favorite horror movie or book or anything else to share.
However, I do love the holiday of Halloween. For some reason, I do not classify monsters as horror. They’re just fun. Buddies to pal around with. Romance figures to write stories about. Or maybe its just the candy? Twizzlers anyone?