30 June 2010

My Life According to My Bookshelf

My dear friend Penguins recently posted this clever game in which one answers a series of questions with the titles of books currently on one's bookshelf. A few months back, we did the same thing with song titles from favorite bands. (Mine is on my book blog in the right bottom corner. It's "My Life According to Pink Floyd") So . . . let's have a bit of book fun.

Using only titles from books on your bookshelf, cleverly answer these questions. Pass it on to 10 people you like and include me. Try not to repeat a title. It's a lot harder than you think!

Are you a male or female: Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)

Describe yourself: The Reader (Bernhard Schlink)

How do you feel: Great Expectations (Charles Dickens)

Where do you currently live: No Country for Old Men (Cormac McCarthy)

If you could go anywhere, where would you go: The House of Mirth (Edith Wharton)

Your favourite form of transportation: A Streetcar Named Desire (Tennessee Williams) Yes, I know it is a play, but I own it in a collection. :D

Your best friend is: The Book Thief (Markus Zusak)

You and your best friends are: Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoevsky)

What's the weather like: The Spy Who Came In From The Cold (John Le Carré)

Favourite time of day: The Night of the Hunter (Davis Grubb)

If your life was a TV show, what would it be called: A Morbid Taste for Bones (Elizabeth Peters)

What is life to you: Persuasion (Jane Austen)

Your relationship: And Then There Were None (Agatha Christie)

Your fear: The Great Mortality (John Kelly)

What is the best advice you have to give: Something Wicked This Way Comes (Ray Bradbury)

Thought for the Day: The Postman Always Rings Twice (James M. Cain)

How would you like to die: Killing Hitler (Roger Morehouse)

My soul's present condition: Things Fall Apart (Chinua Achebe)

My motto: Talk to the Hand (Lynne Truss)

Now you know that I am an even bigger nerdbag than you imagined. So . . . how would you answer these questions? Do it in the comments or on your own blog. :D

23 June 2010

My Favorite Characters From My Own Stories

Jean recently did a post--from the 7 Things tag--in which she blogged about her seven favorite characters from her own novels. I thought it was a fun idea, so fun that I wanted to do my own version. Jean, being a kind person, informally tagged me. (Don't fear. I am not tagging anyone.) Before I start, I think I should give a little glimpse at my writing development, which will help keep this in perspective.

My writing has always developed in stages, two of which overlap. The first went from the ages of 7 to 10. I don't remember much about this period, except this was when I first started writing and it consisted mostly of personal essays and short stories. There are only two pieces I remember from this time. One is the first thing I ever wrote--a short story about jewel thieves in Paris. Before you ask, it sucked horribly. All of the characters were French yet had American/English names and accents. We won't even go into the nonsensical plot. But it was my first creative effort. I also remember an essay I wrote for school when I was about 9, in which I turned my hated stepfather's rants about the messiness of my room into a celebration of how messy my room was. My teacher adored it, my stepfather hated it--Hehe I directly quoted him--and I learned that the pen is truly mightier than the sword when waging war.

My second phase was from the ages of 10 to 17, but mostly between 10 to 15. This was my emo poet stage. I had a lot of "issues" at this time and I consoled myself by writing angry, depressed poetry, most of which was pretty crappy--and having looked back with hindsight--quite disturbing. As I got older, my poetry got more refined and less angsty, but by then, I had shifted into my next stage of writing, which overlapped some with my poet days. This was my novel writing stage, which lasted from about 13 to 19. I dabbled with several genres--most of the ideas blended historical and crime fiction, but I also played with spy thrillers, fantasy, horror, mysteries, and Westerns--and ended up with a few manuscripts and several more undeveloped ideas. I also wrote one play--an adaptation of the story of Esther. (Do not look for that to be staged at anytime in the near future.)

Looking back as an older--and hopefully wiser--writer, I see that I had some interesting premises and complex characters and some good lines, but my writing at the time was uneven and my plots were often overstuffed. (You know . . . only so many people can die before things get ridiculous. And too many plot twists can be jarring. And too many complex characters, no matter how fascinating, can be distracting.) I think my biggest problem was I was too ambitious. Beginning writers shouldn't set stories in places they have never been, in time periods they have never lived, and attempt to write experimentally a la William Faulkner. I bit off more than I could chew. Waaaaaaaaay more than I could chew.

I stopped writing completely my first year of college--other than diary entries and academic essays--and then resumed writing the next summer on my book blog, posting book reviews. By this time, I was an English major and in between reading classic works and literary fiction, I felt like I would never, ever be a writer. I would read beautiful prose from writing masters and one part of me would think "OMG! Pretty!" and the other part of me would think "WAAAAAAAAA! I can't do that!"

Then, I was assigned to write a poem for one of my classes. Some of you have read it--"Oedipus in Hell." To make a long story short, I was supposed to put an ancient literary character in hell and punish him. I chose Oedipus--a character I actually like and feel sorry for--and banished him to hell, dooming him to pay for his self-mutilation with an, erm, ironic punishment. Most of the people who read it liked it, I made an A++, and I managed to frighten my grandparents with it. (The last one sort of bothered me, because I didn't want to disturb them, but deep down, I was thrilled that I was able to elicit such a visceral response from a reader.)

That assignment made me realize that I could write and I could only improve if I worked on it. To that end, in the past 6 months, I ended up writing and submitting a comic piece about crimes against punctuation to my college's literary magazine, which is not likely to be published, but it was the first time I ever subbed anything; entered and placed second in my college's sonnet contest; and worked on my college's literary journal as an editor. This last one was a great experience, because it confirmed how much nerdy delight I take in editing and revising (I do; I truly do) and it made me realize that there are a lot of talented writers out there--many much more so than me--but there are also a lot of people who think they can write and, well, to be nice, can't. But they at least try to write and they have confidence! So I am working on my writing confidence . . . and my writing. This summer, in some weird full circle, I am back to my early writing career of short stories and poems. I have a few short story ideas I am working on and this July I am going to try to do NaPoWriMo, even though it usually occurs in April. (Hey, I was busy in April!)

So now that you know a bit more about my writing, I will list my favorite of my own characters, all of which come from my still most definitely unpublication-worthy attempts at novels:

1. Ed McPherson (Chicago): Ed is a Depression era mobster in what ended up being my first (and still remains my most complete) novel that I keep changing the title of. (I am leaning toward Once Upon a Time in Chicago, but that's just because I adore Sergio Leone and want to pay tribute to him.) The title isn't the only thing I keep changing. Poor Ed has went through three major personality revisions. At first, he was the tale's antagonist--and his name was David. He was a somewhat charming person, though his charisma masked an over the top psychopathic personality. Then, I decided that those kinds of villains are a dime a dozen in novels, so I changed his name to Ed and made him a relatively good natured, if not somewhat murderous, bad guy who was not the antagonist only because there were no good guys in this story. This was all fine and good, because I adored Ed. He was a fun character to write about. In fact, I adored Ed so much I refused to write an unhappy ending for him, though my brother--who is the only person to ever read my novels--kept telling me that for the story to really work, Ed would have to, you know, kind of, sort of . . . die. *bursts into tears* I refused to write that! Ed was not dying! Ed was my fictional buddy! NOOOOOOOOOOOO! Ahem. I finally decided my brother was right and that the problem was that Ed was too likable. I mean, he kills people for a living. He's not really someone you'd invite home to meet your mother and no matter how laid back and good natured he was, nothing could change that. So I rewrote his personality . . . again. Now Ed is not really psychopathic, but he's acerbic and cynical and ruthless and, to be honest, quite moody. And I don't mean Ed-weird Twilight "But he's so charmingly moody" moody. I mean moody, as in "Leave him alone when he's in one of those moods" moody. Ed's still not the antagonist, but he is no longer a likable character. *sniffles* He's not the man I used to know! But this personality change was for his (and the story's) own good.

2. Carla (Killing Tiny): This is a story--likely a novella--that I started when I was fifteen and, in many ways, is still one of my absolute favorites. Killing Tiny is a noir comedy about, erm, well, killing a fellow named Tiny. Carla is Tiny's sister and is the chief conspirator against her brother. Carla is one of my favorite characters because, though she is far from bright, she has all the tenacity of a pit bull. Come hell or high water, Tiny is going to die! Hehe Now if only Carla and her pathetic band of assassins would stop screwing up their attempts to put Tiny six feet under . . .

3. Shlomo Rabinowicz (Killing Tiny): Shlomo is Tiny's friend and business partner. He's one of my favorites because, well, though I am Jewish, he's the only one of my major characters who is Jewish. My brother has said that I like Shlomo so well because he reminds me of me. That's probably true. I just like writing his kvetching rants. He lives to kvetch. :D

4. Virgil (Chicago): Remember when I was discussing Ed and said his story had no good guys? That's true. But some are better than others. Conversely, some are worse than others. Virgil is about as bad as they get. He's a former hit man who now makes a living fleecing poor hapless souls. He runs a scam charity that purports to "help" those hit hard by the Depression. Of course, the only person Virgil is interested in helping is himself. I can't stand Virgil as a person--partially because he's based on someone I know. No, my acquaintance was not a hit man for the mob, but he was a sleazy scam artist, so I have fun seeing how slimy and smarmy Virgil can be. And O Evil Me has a lot of fun making sure Virgil gets his proper comeuppance. ^^

5. Louie and Nelle (Chicago): If I really and honestly had to choose just one character who is my favorite, it would have to be one of these two. They are the employers of one of my other characters in Chicago. Initially, they didn't even have names. They had no important role, but then I decided that I needed some comic relief. Louie and Nelle seemed like likely suspects. So . . . they went from being nameless employers to hideously tacky employers who bicker with each other constantly--much to the dismay of everyone unfortunate enough to be around them. In fact, I had so much fun with these two knuckleheads that I ended up giving them a major role in the plot just so I could keep writing about them.

6. Jack (Chicago): Jack is a detective in my mobster story. I adore detective novels, but I have found that there are usually only two types of detectives--the utterly brilliant, morally upright, well-to-do amateur detectives of classic English mysteries who are detectives for the sheer fun of it and the disgruntled, disillusioned, dysfunctional detectives of classic American hard boiled fiction who usually despises his job but feels compelled to do it, even if it means breaking the law he is trying to uphold. Jack is a bit of a mixture of both. He's not disillusioned, per se, but he's not really the most ethical guy you'll ever met. (If you want a favor, you should know he likes cash, preferably in non-consecutive bills.) But he is brainy and he does take a great deal of delight in being detective. He's also self-destructive but not in the traditional alcoholic sort of way. He's more neurotic and obsessive in his self-destructive tendencies. Again, my brother says that last point is me coming out in my characters. I think my brother should shut up.

7. Effie (untitled): I have never figured out a title for this story, which is a murder mystery set in Western North Carolina. My family is originally from there, and this novel is based on a true story--with names changed and some artistic license taken. Effie has a small role, really. She's in only one scene, but she was so much fun to write that it wouldn't be right to not mention her. Let's just say the scene she's in involves Effie taking some well-deserved vengeance out on her philandering husband. ^^

17 June 2010

I Am Not a Total Bald-faced Liar . . .

I am a bit ashamed of my shameless lies. I mean, I try to be honest--though some of you bragging on my lying abilities flattered me and made me wonder if I should lie more often Muahahahahah--so I feel indebted to come clean and tell the truth. *cough*

1. When I was 5, I became so angry at a boy I had a crush on because he kept ignoring me that I decided to get his attention by running up to him at recess and then shrieking "I hate you! I hate you!" before kicking him in the crotch. He still hides from me to this day.

False The basic details of this story are true--you know what they say about a woman scorned--but I was actually 6 when this happened. In a further note of nitpickiness, I actually screamed "I hate you, Charlie! I hate you!" because I wanted him to know this was not a random attack or a case of mistaken identity. Also, I haven't seen this guy in ten years, so I have no idea if we would hide from me or not, though he did hide last time I saw him. I have no idea why . . .

2. I know how to make a guitar out of a gas can.

Before I tell you the answer to this one, I am going to tell you a story. Most of you know my dad served in the 82nd Airborne. During his time in the paratroopers, my dad did 2 nine month tours of duty in the Sinai desert in the early 1980s. During those tours, my dad did a lot of patrols, and he witnessed some interesting things. One night his squad had been walking for several hours in the desert when they heard an eerie noise wafting over the dunes. The more they walked, the closer the noise got, and the more it unnerved them. They had never heard such an otherwordly noise. My dad and his comrades started to get nervous. They asked for permission to lock and load their weapons. Their lieutenant was also rattled, so he gave them permission. So . . . they rounded the next dune, arms drawn, prepared to blow whatever it was to smithereens. They did not see a djinn or a ghost. But they did see a highly intoxicated man wailing mournfully in Arabic, while accompanying himself on a guitar made out of a gas can. So the answer is . . .

False. I have no idea how to make a guitar out of a gas can, but I know it can be done.

3. When I was 7, I loved the book Matilda so much that I hid the school's copy in my desk the entire year and disavowed all knowledge of its whereabouts, so nobody else would take it from me.

False. This did happen, but I hid Bunnicula all year from everyone, not Matilda, though I did adore that book, too. Nobody was taking away my vampire bunny book until I was finished obsessing!

4. I never once got in trouble at school, because I was a goody-two-shoes. Or should I say I never once got caught getting in trouble at school. ^^

False. I got in trouble once. I was in kindergarten, and I had been told to not skip on the way back to class after lunch. But I was pleased with my skipping skills (I could skip and not trip and fall--a small miracle seeing as I could not do this while attempting to walk) and I was the teacher's pet, or at least I thought I was because I didn't eat crayons, so I skipped, anyway. She yelled at me and when we got back to class, I got my card--which always stayed on green for being good--moved to yellow as a warning. My card had never been moved before. I was the only kid in class who had never had the card moved. I was so distraught that I sobbed hysterically all afternoon, which interrupted my teacher's reading lesson so much that she had to stop and reassure me that I was not in trouble and my card would be back to green the next day. I still kept crying. I wept all during naptime, too. Everyone else napped while I laid awake, sniffling into my little nap mat and reflecting on my evil skipping crime. I was inconsolable until I came back the next day and saw that my card was green. (Did I mention I was a sensitive child?)

5. When I was a child, I wanted to be a veterinarian, because I loved puppies and kitties and they loved me! When I was told I'd have to touch blood, I shrugged. Puppies and kitties would need help, anyway! But when I was told I'd have to touch saliva, I lost all interest.

True. Blood has never bothered me, but spit? EWWWW! That is the most vile thing ever. I even get hysterical when I get dog slobber on me. Seeing large quantities of blood does not bother me--even if it is my own. I used to dissect things as a kid with absolutely no problem. Seeing someone spit makes me want to vomit, which incidentally enough also grosses me out. When I see vomit or spit, I vomit and when I vomit, well, you get the picture. I sure hope you're not eating while reading this. I think I made a wise decision in deciding to be an English and history major.

6. When I was a junior in high school, my local homeschoolers' group took a week long trip to Chicago. My first day there I ended up getting lost at O'Hare Airport and spent hours walking in circles, wondering where everyone was. I finally gave up and sat on my luggage until someone noticed that I looked confused and pathetic. It works every time.

False. This one is so false it is not even funny. I have never been to Chicago. (But I would like to go. Al Capone Museum, here I come! *cough*) In fact, the farthest north I have been is southern Illinois. I have not been in an airport since I was nine. I have never been lost in an airport. Even though I was homeschooled in middle school and high school, my family never had anything to do with the local homeschool groups. We're lone wolves. I also am someone who, though painfully shy, am assertive when I need to be. I get proactive when I get lost. Finally, and this point is not to be underestimated, but I am also lazy--I would march up to the nearest desk and ask for help before I circled a large airport several times.

7. I am so shy that when I was twelve, I entered a local talent contest to play the piano and froze on stage. I got over my stage fright by running off stage and never getting on it again.

I am so shy that I have never entered a talent contest. I am self-taught on the piano and would never, ever have the nerve to play it in front of anyone. I have run away from social gatherings before, though. ^^

Okay, I promised e-cookies for those of you who correctly guessed the right answer. Three of you deduced the right answer--Feathery, Patrice, and Sky. Yayayayayayayayayay! Congratulations! Each of you get a lifetime supply of e-cookies!

*looks around at other followers who are begging for e-cookies* Oh, all right, each of you can get one. *hands out a cookie to everyone*

Am I not merciful? AM I NOT MERCIFUL? *develops deranged Joaquin Phoenix-like glare* Sorry! I watched Gladiator this weekend, and it has two of my favorite actors in it--Phoenix and Russel Crowe--and I really enjoy randomly quoting it. It also greatly saddens me that Phoenix is no longer acting and that people think he is insane, though he probably is. Come back, Joaquin. :(

On that totally random note, I will leave. :D

15 June 2010

I am a Bald-Faced Liar . . . And So Are You

How's your weekend been, dear readers? Mine has been a bit strange. I suddenly became sick Friday night with, well, I am not sure what. One minute I was happily typing away on my computer, the next I was lightheaded and suffering from a pounding headache and nausea. As to quote John Cleese, "I got better" on Saturday, but I was still a bit woozy and remained that way for the weekend, which is my excuse for wearing my shirt backwards all day Saturday, even though I kept denying that and instead thinking it was actually inside out. (It wasn't, but it most certainly was on backwards.) Maybe it was because I was all hopped up on generic over the counter pain medication. Yeehaw! Or, maybe, it 's just that I am the world's biggest space cadet when sick. I am not sure.

Anyway, in a time honored routine, I huddled in bed and read while my devoted and delightful Chihuahua of nearly ten years tried to make me feel better by using my head as a trampoline. He does this every time I am sick. That or he uses my head as a stage to tap dance on. And, as usual, he performs his little jump/dance routine for about five minutes while I whimper for him to stop, then he settles his delicate five pound frame next to me and sleeps quietly until I feel better. I do not even pretend to understand his methods, but I know he loves me with all of his little heart, as I do him. I think he is practicing an ancient medicinal dance of his native Mexico to restore my health.

But enough about me.

Spammy and Rebel gave me this most prestigious award, with the following instructions:

If you want this award, you must:
1. Thank the person who gave you the award (Thanks, Andrew and Rebel! :) )
2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog
3. Link to the person who nominated you
4. Tell up to six outrageous lies about yourself and at least one outrageous truth, or vice-versa
5. Nominate seven "creative" writers
6. Post links to the blogs you nominate
7. Leave a comment on each blog letting them know they've won the award.

So to that end, here are my lies . . . or are they truths?

1. When I was 5, I became so angry at a boy I had a crush on because he kept ignoring me that I decided to get his attention by running up to him at recess and then shrieking "I hate you! I hate you!" before kicking him in the crotch. He still hides from me to this day.

2. I know how to make a guitar out of a gasoline can.

3. When I was 7, I loved the book Matilda so much that I hid the school's copy in my desk the entire year and disavowed all knowledge of its whereabouts, so nobody else would take it from me until I was finished. Um, well not really keep it until I was finished so much as keep it so I could obsessively read it every day for the year. Do not judge me.

4. I never once got in trouble at school, because I was a goody-two-shoes. Or should I say I never once got caught getting in trouble at school. ^^

5. When I was a child, I wanted to be a veterinarian because I loved puppies and kitties and they loved me! When I was told I'd have to touch blood, I shrugged. Puppies and kitties would need help, anyway! But when I was told I'd have to touch saliva, I lost all interest.

6. When I was a junior in high school, my local homeschoolers' group took a week long trip to Chicago. My first day there I ended up getting lost at O'Hare Airport and spent hours walking in circles, wondering where everyone was. I finally gave up and sat on my luggage until someone noticed that I looked confused and pathetic. It works every time. :D

7. I am so shy that when I was twelve, I entered a local talent contest to play the piano and froze on stage. I got over my stage fright by running off stage and never, ever playing in public again.

I nominate 9 bloggers for this award, just because, well, I don't see why I have to choose seven:


And whoever can correctly guess which is truth and which is fiction--or guesses better than everyone else--will get, um, well, will get their name mentioned with lots of exclamation marks and be awarded e-cookies when I post the truth. :D

09 June 2010

Forsooth! My Socks Lied To Me

I apologize, guys! I was going to post something about writing, but I had to spend another day glued to a chair, working our county's run-off election, so I just whipped this up. I hope you enjoy it! In case, you're wondering--you really aren't, I know--the election was much like last time, except our ward captain abandoned us, so I got stuck filling out paperwork for two precincts. *twirls finger* I hate paperwork. I hate paperwork almost as much as I hate lying footwear.

This makes me tear up to say it, but my socks are liars. *pauses to dab eyes* They are unrepentant, shameless liars! Liar, liar, pants on fire, Mr. Socks!

I am getting ahead of myself. I'm sorry. It just upsets me when my socks are deceitful. What happened, you ask? Why does Zella accuse her socks of bearing false witness? Aren't socks by nature truthful creatures? What motives could socks have for lying? Can socks even talk? And why did Zella name her socks something as atrocious as Mr. Socks?

I recently had to buy some new socks. My sock supply has decreased in recent months. I am not sure if they have a hidey-hole they retreat to or what the deal is, but my socks are disappearing at an alarming rate, and the ones that remain are holey. No, they are not saintly socks bestowed with spiritual powers. My socks have no religious affiliation. (On the contrary, my socks are apparently diabolical and quite criminal in nature.) They are just full of holes and wear marks, and they are falling apart.

Monday, I left for work about an hour early to buy myself some new socks. This is necessary, because I live in a very rural area and it takes me roughly thirty minutes to get to town. Also, I am picky about my feet and what goes on them, so I wanted plenty of time to buy my new sock soul mates. My socks must be 100% cotton, black or dark blue in color, plain, and neither too short nor too tall in height. In case you're wondering, I am not picky about the stylishness of my clothes, not in the least (I am notorious for wearing mismatched socks and dressing like a slob, in fact), but I have some medical issues that make me picky about my feet's comfort--and let us not forget I am too lazy to ensure they match my outfit-- hence the rigid requirements.

I usually don't shop for clothes in a store--that's what garage sales and Goodwill are for, my dears--so I went to our local Wal-Mart--the same one I encountered the Bratz dolls in--and walked around for several minutes trying to locate the socks. When I found them, I was mortified. The only socks available were shocking neon colors of some unidentified but most certainly not cotton fabric with disturbing plaid, striped, or polka-dotted designs, and they looked too small for my feet. What is a pathetic nerd to do when confronted with such footwear? My eyes were starting to hurt from this visual assault when I noticed that the socks were all marked as "Girls' Socks". Not "Ladies' Socks." I was in the kids' section. Oops!

I didn't want to admit that I had no idea where the women's socks were, so I went to the counter and nonchalantly asked for the socks. I assumed since I am always mistaken for a thirty year old, the clerk would automatically point me in the right direction. For once in my life, I assumed right. She pointed me toward the women's socks, which were the direct opposite direction of where I had been.

*stifles sob* This is where my tale becomes tragic. *blows nose* I circled the three sock aisles repeatedly, searching for socks that met my requirements. Alas, I could find none. There were a lot of hose (which I dislike) and colorful socks (which are right out!) and those little socks that have their edges below the ankles (ICK!) and some socks that went to the calves (NO!). But no socks that met my requirements. I began to slightly panic, because I had to be at work in twenty minutes, no socks were suitable, and I have a serious depopulation problem in my sock drawer.

Just when I was beginning to think that the socks of the world hated me and that no socks in the world loved me and that my poor little, erm, not so little for a petite woman's, feet would be unprotected for eternity, my little nerd eye spied some black cotton socks on the bottom rack. I grabbed the package and was delighted by two facts:
1. There were ten socks in the package and they cost less than the packages that only held six. (I am notorious for being a miser, so this made my skinflint heart beat with joy).
2. The pictures of the socks showed them as coming roughly up to one's mid shin, which is exactly where I like my socks.

I was elated. I would have danced a jig if someone had not been standing there. I grabbed two packages and scurried to the self-check out.

Once I paid for my new treasures and carried them out to my car, I quickly drove to work. I arrived, parked, and stared longingly at my socks for some time. I really wanted to wear a pair of my new socks to work, I thought I deserved to wear my new socks to work, and, gosh darn it, I was wearing my new socks to work. I tore into the package and pulled out a pair . . . only to discover they had . . . had . . . lied to me!

My socks were not shin length. Those Benedict Arnolds were ankle length. :( THEY LIED! I feel betrayed. What has the world come to when you can't trust your socks to be straightforward about their length? They were the only socks that even remotely matched my description, so I would have bought them, anyway. But this . . . this treachery? It is inexcusable. *cries in corner*

But, if you want me to be honest with you, I like my new socks because they are comfortable, though I am not sure I could ever truly trust them. (Or, rather, I would like them if they weren't lying liars who lied about their true lying selves.) ^^

What are your feelings on socks? Are you picky or will you wear anything?

02 June 2010

Granny Zella Wants to Rant

I had a disturbing incident in Wal-Mart the other day. No, I was not attacked, nor was the item I was looking for out of stock, nor did that crazy woman who works there lead me on a wild goose chase around the store, though she has done that in the past. I just saw something that set off my inner granny. *beats cane against floor*

Allow me to explain with some background information:

I have recently decided that I have been lazy this summer. True, I have only had a couple of weeks off, but I am already getting bored . . . and disgusted with my boredom. I have been reading and blogging regularly--which I am pleased with--and I have been working at the library a couple of days a week, but I feel like I need to do something slightly more constructive with my free time.

To that end, I have vowed to work more on my writing--more on that another day--and resume painting. I used to love to paint. There is just something so soothing about mixing paint, applying that paint with methodical brush strokes, and then seeing what becomes of it. My family has never really quite related to my writing--though, for the most part, they have supported it--but painting and visual art? Now that is something they understand. My grandmother is a talented ceramics artist and we have other artists scattered through out the family, the best being my father. Nicknamed Picasso in high school for militantly refusing to draw what he was assigned--he would draw everything but what he was told to--my dad actually won a full art scholarship for four years when he graduated high school, but he turned it down to join the 82nd Airborne (Yes, my dad jumped out of planes for four years. ) and then the navy. After that, other than some time he worked as a tattoo artist, my father's artwork has mostly been hilarious but decidedly politically incorrect cartoons he drew to amuse my brother and me. (You may have gathered that my father is a somewhat colorful individual. You would be correct.) I never inherited my father's amazing talent for art, but I did inherit his interest--and his ornery defiant streak. :P

It has been awhile--about two years, to be precise--since I last painted. I decided to start small by buying a couple of those paint by number things (Don't laugh! They are harder than they look!) just to get used to painting again before I started painting my own stuff. So I ended up in Wal-Mart last week, wandering around looking for the craft section. I assumed that the craft section would be near the toys, which was incorrect. (They were near the school supplies. Logical, no?)I didn't find paint sets in the toy section, but I did see something that morphed this twenty year old nerd looking for paint into a raving granny brandishing her cane like a weapon--Bratz dolls.

Have you seen these monstrosities? I had heard of them before, and even seen pictures on the commercials, but I had never seen one up close and personal. They look like hookers! Parents are buying their children dolls that look like prostitutes! I don't consider myself a prude, but that just really bothers me. Why would you buy your kid a doll that looks like a streetwalker?! What kind of message does that send! (I kept trying to craft a mock conversation illustrating this point, but it was just not really PG, if you know what I mean.)

And that's when the little gray-headed granny inside of me emerged. If I would have had a walker, I would have thrown it at someone. If I had false teeth, I would have lost them. When I was a kid, we didn't have skanky dolls! All you had were Barbies. And you had to like them! Regardless of the fact that they were all skinny, pale blondes, and you were a stocky, swarthy brunette. (I always wanted a Jewish barbie. They always have those princess dolls. Why not a Jewish American princess doll? Oh, erm, well, maybe not . . . )

If you happened to amputate Barbie's leg--that was not me. I do not know how that happened--you just got more Barbies and strict warnings to not perform surgeries upon them. We didn't have dolls that looked like strollops! And if you were somewhat disappointed in the manliness of her compadre Ken, you just had to live with it and let them have their little pie-in-the-sky perfectly manicured dream world. (Well, actually, if you noticed the overly masculine army dolls that were intended for boys, you could buy Barbie a harem of macho guys in fatigues. I had a couple of these army dolls for my barbies. They were buff and came with assault rifles! Shortly after their arrival, Ken lapsed into a deep depression. He would just sit in the little Barbie convertible all alone while his lady friends were having fun with other guys. One day Ken was found decapitated. No suspect was ever determined. No, honestly! We don't know who did it. I wasn't there! I SAW NOTHING! I WANNA LAWYER! YOU CAN'T PIN THIS ON ME! He didn't die anyway! His head was duct taped back on and he now lives in a plastic tub in my basement! He looked somewhat happy last time I saw him before I closed the grave, erm, container! *dramatically points in direction of basement door* SO, THERE! IT WAS NOT A DOLL HOMICIDE! I PLEAD THE FIFTH!)

Ahem, where was I? Granny Zella is getting old and can't remember what she was complaining about. Platypuses, was it? They are funny creatures. I don't trust them. They have beady eyes. Hmm . . . *scratches head* Granny Zella doesn't remember now. Well, whatever it was set me off and upset me in K-Mart. Or was it McDonalds? Yes, it was their sweet tea. They don't put the sugar in at the right time. They don't know how to make proper tea and that infuriates Granny Zella. She has contemplated fire bombing their tea machine, but her arthritis prevents her from doing it. Granny Zella is getting old and feeble and she wants to take a nap. (And she wants to know why she is being forced to refer to herself in the third person. Granny Zella finds this a little creepy.) *toddles off*

P.S. I have shared this blog link with a couple of you already, but if you have never read Allie Brosh's Hyperbole and a Half, you are missing out! (For my Sparkler blogger friends, she is like a cross between Auntie Sparknotes--without the advice but with the hilarious drawings--and Dan Bergstein.) You must read her work! Try her latest. The part where she says "I would have shanked an infant for juice" was more than I could handle. :P)