January 16, 2011

It's a New Year : Sebastien and excerpts from my stories

Well, I'm back. It was pretty much one of the worst year's of my life but I survived and I am still here to live another day.

For the first few months after Sebastien's death it was pretty hard. Grief is an individual thing and nobody can tell you how long or how you should grieve. But after a few month's, it started to get better and I was quite surprised at how resilient I am. Now if it had been an accident why he died rather than there was nothing I could do, it would have been a lot longer. The "what if's" can kill you. The one thing I realized is when my time comes (and hopefully, it's not soon) and I head for the pearly gates of heaven, I will not be scared. It will be a joyous occasion because I firmly believe I will see him again, when the time comes of course. Along with about twenty cats, eight dogs and a rabbit named Alfalfa Sprout.

In other news, we have been looking for a kindergarten for our daughter. We have to go to a private school because our local public schools here are pretty bad. Half the kids in third grade at the school she would go to failed the state reading exam. So like other parents, I have to not only pay taxes for a school system which is failing but now we have to pay private tuition. For a middle class family, it's a frustrating concept.

And let me tell you, touring many, many schools is quite exhausting. In one day, we toured four and by the time we got home, I couldn't even think straight. I think we found the right one and we get a discount if we become church members so we plan to go to the church and school. Today we went to church for the first time in probably fifteen years. We went to a Lutheran church. First of all, I do not sing well and we had to sing about 10 songs. There's nothing like trying to mouth the words of a song and then when you get up the nerve to start singing, you hear your voice out of tune and go back to mouthing the words. I could hear my husband finally getting the courage to start singing and he didn't sound good either but I didn't say anything or else he would never sing again in his life. Pride you know!

Then we went up for communion to take the wine and the wafer. I thought he knew what he was doing because he grew up Catholic. We were the first two in line and went for the benches to kneel down by the main alter and the woman behind us said, "No, no not yet." Then I followed him back to the pews and he went back to the wrong row. I was thinking, "I don't remember sitting behind this woman with the green sweater," and then the lady who helped us said, "No, you sit over there." Let's just say we made an impact, especially when it's a small church.

I've been working on my novel again. Not as much as I would like but it's progress. My husband says he finds me most attractive when he hears me laughing hysterically as I read over it. First, I don't laugh at something unless it's really funny and then it's just usually a smile. So sometimes in the middle of the night or such, all of a sudden he'll hear me laugh quite loudly as I say, "Oh my gosh, this is so funny" and I clap my hands like a weirdo. I guess he's attracted to women who are a little off. Maybe I should post a chapter here sometime from Finding Hope. Maybe the scene where the two female friends, Hope and Gina, go to The Lady Devine Love Club to find the men of their dreams only to encounter a class full of crazies including a stalker named Arnold who Hope refers to as her somewhat demented guardian angel.

Or the other main character, John, who ends up with one of those designer dog's (Mr. Bob) that his model/actress/Bloomingdale's part-time saleswoman girlfriend (and aren't there a lot of those in Hollywood?) made him keep when she left him. Apparently, she got Mr. Bob half-price when the Chihuahua was returned to the breeder for an erratic temperament. And boy does Mr. Bob cause problems. Just try to put him in one of those designer doggy suits!
And of course we have "Bab's", John's 65 year-old annoying neighbor who wears mu mu's and high-heeled slippers with pink feathers and wants to take John up as a young lover. (Don't all men need one of these in their life? Since so called "cougars" are in right now. :o)
There's a little of everything in it: Weight Watcher Meetings with the crazy "spandex queen" woman who lost 100 lbs, the Antiques Roadshow where a Grandma to a mob member tries to see how much a stolen painting is worth (let's just say she runs pretty fast in those support hose), Lady Devines Love Club with a "How to Find the Love of your Life" textbook with charts and cross-analysis sheets, an L.A. trip where Gina and Hope break into a star's home looking for Denzel Washington's house and encounter a Doberman named "Jaws"

Speed dating events with themes including Gothic Night where a man dressed up as a vampire has a hand licking problem, or a Cartoon Speed Dating Grand Gala Event where a very short Asian man is dressed up as Daffy Duck and tells Hope, "You pretty American lady." Hope finally gives in and they dance to Barry White's "Let's Get It On" as he lays his Daffy Duck head against her chest. And she responds, "Why not, what else do I have to do tonight." Or when Hope trusts her friend/coworker Gina, to book a hotel for a business conference in Mexico and instead of staying at the Marriott they end up at a broken down hacienda in the middle of the Mexican desert where the father of the farm/house is booking reservations to try to get his daughter and son with one rolling eyeball married off. Apparently the roof in their room isn't complete for which the father, Mr. Sanchez, argues, "It an American Skylight!"

So that's just a part of it. And that's why it's 500 some pages and needs to be cut down. There are so many funny situations they end up in and it could go on forever if books could be thousands of pages. But who would read them, right?

Also, I have a start of a book and some ideas written down for a comedic novel called, The Writer's Resort. A woman quits her job to become a writer and goes to the Writer's Resort on the coast of Florida. When she gets there she meets a lot of misfits, all with the passion to be great writers. Here are some excerpts to The Writer's Resort:

Set-Up: When Nora, the main character is talking to Mary Alice, the owner.

Nora: "Some of these people here are rather strange and a few, I think, have some diagnosable mental problems. Bernie washed his hands six times during the class and the dark haired girl with the big glasses chewed away her pen cap. Did she eat it? I just don't think these are the type of people I expected here. I thought real writers were professional and half-way normal. All I see here are people with problems."

"Imagine that, people writing because they have a problem with life," Mary Alice laughed. "Honey, you don't know the first thing about writers. Creativity and crazy go hand-in-hand. Welcome to the club."

Set-Up: Nora and the owner, Mary Alice, are sun bathing on the lawn chairs at the resort by the pool. Nora hears a commotion and looks up at the roof of the small resort.

"Mary Alice, there's a strange old man on top of your roof staring out at the ocean with a pair of binoculars. He's not a writer is he?"

"Oh, the Corporal? He's harmless." Mary Alice looked up at the elderly man dressed in an M1 helmet and army battle fatigues. "Yeah, he lives up in the attic. He was here when we bought the place. I think he was the owner's uncle or something."

"So what? He just came with the property?"

"Pretty much," Mary Alice said as she casually sipped her drink. "It was basically, either take him too or lose the deal."

They watched as the elderly man loaded balls into a small cannon on top of the roof. He picked up a bullhorn and shouted, "All clear! Get your heads down men!" A couple in front of them ducked suddenly wondering what was going on.

"Well then," Mary Alice said taking another sip of her drink.

Nora wondered why Mary Alice was taking this so casually. How many resorts had an 80 year-old man in an army uniform shooting a cannon on their roof. "I've heard of taking in a neighborhood cat with the sale of a property, but an elderly man who lives in the attic?"

"He's really not bad once you get used to him blowing his bugle at 5 A.M. to announce the invasion of Normandy," Mary Alice said.

"Great, I'm going to have to hear that tomorrow morning?" Nora asked.

"Just consider him a hands-free alarm clock." Mary Alice looked over at Nora's expression and laughed.

"This isn't funny," Nora said, "the man is obviously demented and needs help." She looked back up at the Corporal, his hands on top of his helmet as if an oncoming bomb was about to approach, "that or he's shell shocked."

"Listen," said Mary Alice, "when you buy a house, or in this case a broken-down resort, you always end up with more than what you bargained for: things the owner doesn't quite tell you about. Some people find out the place they bought has a bug infestation, some a leaky basement with mold spores; we just happen to end up with an 86 year-old World War II veteran living in our attic who on his off days, still thinks he's fighting in the war. If you ask me," Mary Alice reasoned, "we came out pretty lucky."


Disclaimer: I have nothing against the people mentioned below. In fact, I value that they live their life in honesty. But if I was scared to write because I might offend someone then the crazy characters in all of my stories would be pretty boring. And they would lose their charm.

Set-up: There are classes at the resort being offered by genre. One is called, "Gay and Lesbian Fantasy Fiction Class." Stewart, Nora's friend and a fellow attendee, tells her about the first class at lunch:

"There are only two people in the Gay and Lesbian Fantasy Fiction class and I am one of them. The other woman, and I use this term loosely, is an overly tanned Lesbian who is a weight lifter by day, writer by night and of course, just my luck, really hates men."

"Gay men, too?" Nora asked.

"All men," he said. "She is writing about this love affair between Maxi and Barbara, these two women who wear flannel shirts and stir-up pants and somehow, all the men keep hitting on them in the story, despite the two women's lack in fashion. Well, every encounter ends up where Maxi and Barbara are beating up the men: pulling on this, twisting that. It's just so not publishable. And let me tell you," Stewart continued, "she sure doesn't like it when I read the sex scenes between Garry and Larry in my book and mention the word penis. I really think she's going to throw me out of the window. She's really not an attractive lady."

"Sounds like you're going to have fun this summer, " Nora smiled.

"Wait, here she comes," Stewart said. "Her name is Billy," he whispered across the table.

"Are you sure she isn't a man," Nora said as they watched Billy walk across the pool patio in her string bikini. "I swear she has an Adams apple."

"No, she said it's from an unfortunate overdose of steroids in her youth. She actually wrote a short story about it and said it was published in Weightlifting Mania."

"You mean she shared it with you?"
"Remember, I'm the only other person in there," Stewart reminded her.

"And Professor McConnell? What did he think of her short story?"

"I don't know? He left at the beginning of the class to get a drink of water and returned right before we had to leave. Come to think of it, he had a full water bottle on his desk before he left."

"You don't say," Nora said sarcastically.

"It's okay now," Stewart said. "Billy and I have found out how to work together. When she reads her stories she omits the parts where she is bashing in men's testicles and I substitute the word vagina for penis when I read my stories. You see, it's all about finding common ground."

"I bet psychologists would love to be in the room with you two."

He laughed, "It's totally crazy, isn't it."

"Yeah, I think most people would say so."

Final thought: So by the end of it, Nora finds out that the owner is going to sell The Writers Resort because it's in disrepair and she wants to retire. Nora decides to make a big decision and buys the resort with the savings she made from her corporate job. Last excerpt from Nora's journal:

We came to The Writers Resort thinking we would be able to write our great American novel. A dream we all have as writers, to be welcomed into the sanctified halls with Chekhov, Fitzgerald and Hemingway. These were dreams of ours which carried us so far until one day, we reached out for help and hoped the strength we couldn't find in ourselves, others would be able to find in us. And that is why we came here. When I first entered this dilapidated resort, with its torn shingles and the water dripping from the ceiling, I wondered who would own such a catastrophe. And more than that, what was I doing here? I thought for sure, this was either a joke or some scheme to get hopeless writers money.

This place that I thought was rundown and needed to be torn down is now the place I call home along with many other writers. I learned this building may have lost a lot of its structure and glory but the dreams of thousands of writers have passed through its doors. I will continue the resort just as the original owners did when they opened their doors in 1920. And the magic of this old ocean side resort will live on so future writers will have a place where they will not only learn how to write, but will be encouraged to dream. #

Well, I'm done. It's way past midnight and I have to get up with my daughter tomorrow which means, I'm going to be really tired. The grammar isn't perfect, it needs revising but this is an easy-going website and at 3 in the morning, one just doesn't feel like editing copy, am I right? It needs more description and punctuation checks, but that's for another time. So I'm off to bed. Hopefully, you'll get at least one laugh.

Goodnight. Man, I shouldn't have drank that cup of coffee. My schedule is going to be so off.