Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dear Charlie:

I've been a bad Geeb.

I'm sorry, long-devoted and long-suffering blog, but Twitter is the devil! It's just so easy!

For those of you not tweeting (save your souls! don't submit to the tweetnomenon!), I've been cranking out a steampunk novella for a Samhain anthology. Unfortunately, while I've written 25,000 words or so in like three days, I think I wouldn't be doing the story justice to short it enough to wrap up in 30K.

So, I'm going to let it be what it is and shoot for 50-60K instead. I was definitely writing lean earlier on to keep the wordcount down, and I would love to go back and add some of the steampunk ideas I reluctantly discarded to the overall atmosphere. Plus, now I get to write a candy bar scene that I honestly wasn't sure I could do without before and now don't have to. Woot!

Gotta take enjoyment from those little things, ya know.

No new news on the job front. Still applying and interviewing and getting nowhere with blinding speed. Heheh. At the moment, I only have two interview/applications still outstanding, and I'd really, really like the second one to come through. It sounds like it would be great good fun on top of being a steady paycheck, and, seriously folks, at this point in my life, I want some fun.

I've done the "responsible" jobs for nine years now. I can do them well and I can do them for a long, long time...but I want to have fun at work. And not have fun just because of the people I'm around but because the work itself is fun.

So, keep your fingers crossed, if you pretty please, and we'll see how it goes. I may ask a favor of a friend to see if he needs any help just temporarily to tide me over until I hear for sure on either of the two possibilities. I hate hate HATE asking favors (it's entirely too close to asking for help, and...yeah, you know me), but I'm getting down to the wire, here.

However, thanks to Pesh and her oh-so-timely intervention of Coke and Bigelow tea, I will follow Gloria Gaynor's sage advice.

I will survive.

*snerk* Sorry. Couldn't help myself.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Dear Charlie:

Literally just got caught with my pants down.

Yes, I just had perhaps one of the dumbest and most ridiculous moments of my life.

As I mentioned in my last post, I've finally listed my house. I didn't expect to be inundated by potential buyers, of course, but I knew there would be last minute calls, and I knew I had to keep the house in good order, just in case. No problem.

Except I didn't expect them on Saturdays. But that's neither here nor there.

See, last night, a transformer popped somewhere in this little corner that Empire Electric seems to forget about. I was still up watching a movie when, at almost the stroke of midnight, the power just...went out. From long experience, I didn't make any assumptions until I looked out my dining room window and assured that everyone to the west of me was, indeed, dark as a cave, while my eastern and northern neighbors still had porch lights and such.

So, I took up my trusty flashlight and checked both the inside and outside breakers, just to be sure, then called the electric company and reported the outage. The lady says, "Have you checked your breakers? No one else in your area has reported an outage."

Because I'm the patient sort, I merely and politely said, "Well, it is after midnight. I imagine no one's noticed it but me."

A moment's silence.

"And yes, I checked my breakers before calling, just in case. Internal breaker and main breaker outside."

She sighed heavily. "All right. I'll send someone out."

Long story short(er), they were out there tinkering around until at least 3:00 AM. Because I'm a light sleeper, I couldn't sleep until they left. They have really bright work lights, and I have windows. But I didn't breathe so much as a word of complaint because I was grateful that they were fixing the problem immediately. I have chicken in the fridge, and I don't want it to go bad.

So I was glad it was Saturday morning and I could sleep in with good conscience.

So when my phone rang at 9:00 AM (and I was still awake after 4:00, when I stopped looking at the clock I'd reset immediately upon the power restoral), I was a little nonplussed but not actually irritated.

"Hi, I'm calling from Remax and I'd like to show your house between 10:30 and 11:00. Would that be okay?"

No problem.

I dragged out of bed, dressed and tidied up (had some dishes to wash from last night, but really, I've not been bad), took out the trash, and sprayed a little Febreeze, just to be sure. Left the house at 10:00 in case they were early (my actual realtor, NOT from Remax, is an early bird that way) and headed for the Colonel's Pancake House.

They were really, really busy. I just wanted to sit down with a little breakfast and read, so I headed on to IHOP. Also incredibly busy. Well, no problem. I stopped in at Hardee's instead, since their drive-thru line was around the block. I wasn't in a hurry and just wanted somewhere to camp until after 11:00.

No problem.

So I read and I gnoshed and...unfortunately...got a Diet Coke instead of a Coke. Oh, I could have dumped it out and got myself a regular Coke, but that would be rude, and, seriously, what am I complaining about? It's caffeine, right?

So I drank the whole thing, mostly because then I could refill with regular Coke and really wake up, and by about quarter after eleven, I was ready to go home, certain that the agent had come and gone and the potential buyer had passed judgment on my housekeeping inabilities.

No problem. Right?

So I got home and looked around for a minute. Put everything down. Had to go to the bathroom.

Hey. Seriously. A big ol' Diet Coke. Sue me.

No sooner had I turned on the CD player and opened my book to where I left off at Hardee's than...the front door opened. No, I am not kidding.

Not quite panicking but quite red in the face, I hurriedly flushed and washed, grabbed up my book and my Coke, and tried to run out the door, only to be caught in the living room by the agent and prospective buyer.

"Oh, are you still here?"

Me, embarrassed at totally being caught in the bathroom, said, "Oh, I've already gone and come back. Sorry, I'll be right out of your hair."

"Oh, sorry, we were late."

No kidding. Holy crap.

I made my escape and ran over to the closest gas station to laugh about the situation with a friendly cashier who works there, dinkered around for a good twenty minutes, then came back just as they were leaving.

Wanna make any bets on whether I'll get an offer? Ha!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Dear Charlie:

Well, today is a weird day. Why, you ask? Good day or bad day, you ask?

Well...both. Because I finally put my house on the market.

*pauses to reflect*

I've had eight good years in this house. It's had its ups and downs, but in all, I've loved this place for eight years. I knew it was the one I wanted from the first time I saw it. I'd been looking at houses for almost eight months at the time, and I didn't expect much from the property description, but when I pulled up to the curb, my first thought was, "This can't be the place. It looks...perfect!"

But it was the right place, and soon enough, it was mine. Well, mine and the bank's, of course. But it felt like mine.

I haven't always been good to it and it hasn't always been good to me. But it's been shelter and comfort for a lot of years. I've housed friends here. I've baked for friends and family and perfect strangers here. I watched thousands of movies and read hundreds of books here. I've cooked lots of big, ornate dinners. I've also chowed down on lots of Ramen noodles.

I guess that's the point, isn't it? Owning a house and all it entails gets expensive, and I just can't keep up with it anymore. Even when I had a job -- and that's a whole 'nother story -- I was scratching and scampering every month to make ends meet. Between insurance and taxes and utilities and upkeep...it's just hard for a single person with crappy credit. We get hammered from all sides, and when there's only one paycheck -- one MEAGER paycheck -- it just doesn't cover everything.

So, goodbye, House. I'll miss you when you're gone. I hope a new owner treats you with the careful touch you deserve.

I'll be chillin' in a studio apartment with all utilities paid. Heh.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Bizarro Sidebar:

There is something incredibly wrong with me. I don't know why I find these stupid things funny as hell, but...heheh....


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And Luke Goss as Dracula? Pesh, that's just for you. Happy October?

Sunday, October 04, 2009

My Dearest Charles:

In a cross-promotion for our short stories in the anthology, The Sweetest Kiss: Ravishing Vampire Erotica, miraculously talented writer Anna Black and I decided to each theorize on our favorite aspects of the vampire mythology. Her post -- excellent and to-the-point as always -- is HERE.

For my part, I want to analyze the bite itself. Or should that be The Bite? I rather like the capitals. Gives it a bit of credence.

So, what is it about The Bite that is so attractive? It's not always characterized as a comfortable or sexy thing, so why has the liquid kiss of the vampire invaded every form of art from literature to film, from paint to sculpture, from song to comic book?

Some schools of thought attribute it to guilt about sex. Hear me out before the groans! These folks think the sweet pain, the dreamy loss of blood, the submission and subsequent damnation for giving in to forbidden pleasures are a just punishment for succumbing to evil. For being unchaste, for being enchanted with darkness. And the need to see it, read about it, dream about it means we vampire enthusiasts are sexually confused or, at best, repressed.

Will the real Sigmund Freud please stand up?

Hey, what do I know? For some people, that might even be it. The theory especially holds up when the vampire is initially alluring, sensual, seductive... and then turns nasty right before the bite. When those two delicate incisors turn into a quisinart gnosharama that would put a shark to shame.

If that isn't a commentary on the dangers of sex, I don't know what is.

But what about older tales of revenants? Tales of the mindless, starving wretches who claw their way out of their graves to ravage anyone and everyone they come across with no guile, no beauty, no seduction, no sanity?

I tend to think these poor souls spawned from the same fetid, uneasy ground from which zombies rise. The two undead have much in common, after all -- mindless killing machines of eternal hunger, no memory of life or love, killing friend and foe alike. And spreading their terrifying malady by their Bite.

Ah, that's part of my theory about our endless fascination with the undead and the method of becoming such: disease.

Especially nowadays, when a chance sexual encounter could result in anything from genital warts to AIDS, fear of disease must be deconstructed, analyzed, satyrized, even embraced...and thus staked through the heart and conquered. If we can put it on a page or up on the big screen to be oohed and aahed over, it must not be really scary. Or, at least, it can be forgotten as soon as we close the cover or leave the theater, drowned in a comfortable sea of catharsis.

The Bite makes it especially poignant and fearsome, as so many of these real-life diseases are passed on by fluid exchange, and what better way than through a kiss? Or a kiss full of teeth?

Remember in Demolition Man when Sandra Bullock's character is explaining why people don't touch even to shake hands in her century? She spouted off a laundry list of STD initials that all resulted in one central point -- contact, especially sexual contact, is hazardous to your health. Thus, in that future, it was banned completely.

Talk about an era that needed a good vampire story.

But, of course, the earliest tales of nosferatu existed long before anyone knew that disease was most efficiently spread through fluid exchange. Hell, these folks still believed in spontaneous generation.

Admittedly, skeptics believe these frightened few huddling on the edge of the dark also thought up such bogies as fairies and vampires and werewolves and monsters to explain away such inexplicable "natural" terrors as sudden child death, cancer (or "the wasting disease", which is horrifically accurate, if poetic), insanity, and plague in a way they could understand and perhaps even fight, but hey. Other skeptics believe we invented God for the same reason. Who you gonna trust?

At any rate, the "fear of disease" theory only holds a certain amount of water when it comes to The Bite. Something else must be at work here.

Of course, fear of death is also a huge component. To allow someone's teeth -- even plain, old, omnivorish teeth such as ours -- near the vulnerable throat where our life flows so fully...to endure and even welcome the opening of that fragile channel....

A kiss there is especially arousing because of the trust it implies. But a Bite there?

Consider this: we humans are notoriously cowardly about our eventual fate. How much money is spent each year on research to extend life? As if we don't already have overcrowding problems...but that's a whole different post.

In my opinion, even the explosive cosmetics industry points directly to this fear of death. Deep down, we all know that looking older means we're that much closer to the grave, and we're all desperate to hold that Ghost of Christmas Future at bay. So...got wrinkles? You're at Death's door. Got some Oil of Olay to smooth those wrinkles out and give you a healthy, young glow? You might just live forever.

It's also that fear of death and the promise of eternal beauty, of eternal youth and life, that makes The Bite so attractive. To turn the neck and its jugular vein into an inlet for eternity instead of the makings of death is just as bolstering to the fearful as thinking up the stake and decapitation necessary for ending immortality must be to the righteous.

Think of it: bare your slender, vulnerable neck to the lovely beast with the dainty, humanely sharp teeth and... *snick*... instant immortality. Never know death, but taste it on your lips every night. Never know pain, but inflict it or not at your whim. Never see your own blood spilled, but lap up anyone else's to assure you, again and again, that you are no longer a fleeting thing.

That eternal gift. Exchanging the flickering candle of life for the cool, encompassing mist of forever.

And all from The Bite. A tiny prick that can be either pleasure or pain, depending on the beneficence or maleficence of your usher into invincibility.

Fear of sexuality. Fear of disease. Fear of death. All or none of the above?

I tend to think The Bite springs more from fear of disease and death than of sexuality, although -- especially in visual mediums like film -- the horror genre has made billions on fear and exploitation and demonization of sex, much to my amusement. After all, sex hasn't always been something to discuss at length and teach children in schools and prevent or advent, depending on your political and religious inclination. In less civilized times, sex was merely a part of life, something you did to continue existence. Like eating or sleeping, sex just was. No debate about it.

But there have always been vampires, as there have always been death and disease. As there has always been terror of the dark and the things that might -- or might not -- be in it.

Sweet dreams?