Month: May 2013

Braggage: Warning, Sap Ahead

No Whining

No Whining (Photo credit: bepositivelyfit)

I do quite a bit of whining here, if you hadn’t noticed.  I happily tell you I’ve got plenty to whine about.  It’s a life, like anyone else’s, and I’ve got a few bright spots too.  The beauty of a novel that makes me cry because I’ll never write anything as masterful, getting to know a new friend, writing a story, a scene, a sentence I’m proud of, the mango I cut open this morning that was absolutely perfect.

But most braggage centers around my children.  I’m broke, overcrowded, overtired and frustrated, but in so many ways I hit the lottery when it comes to my kids.  They’re good people, all three of them.

Man Child isn’t coming home for the summer. I miss him like crazy, but he has a wonderful job opportunity–one that came from his hard work. the good impression he makes on others, and the fact that he has proven himself to be trustworthy and a hard worker.

Nerd Child comes home next week.  I’m a lot more excited about this than he is.  The fancy shmancy school he attends has turned out to be a perfect fit for him.  Yesterday he called and told me he won an award for character and leadership.


Earth (Photo credit: tonynetone)

Flower Child couldn’t be sweeter than she is.  She cares about the world and all of the people in it, honestly confused as to why people ever do harmful things to each other and the earth.

I woke up thinking about this stuff, feeling okay.  Summer has arrived here in NY, ooh, bliss of a comfy old summer dress and flip flops.  I even decided to spend a few hours pretending if I spent long enough Googling, I’d figure out how we’d be able to move to a beach town where we could afford a house, find employment, and have good health care for Flower Child.

Lily Tomlin

Lily Tomlin (Photo credit: Larry He’s So Fine)

Instead of knock knock, my reality announces itself with a ring.  First, my pharmacist called.  Yes indeed, we have a close enough relationship that he called to say hey Mrs F, it’s Pharmacist, I’ve got a Led Zeppelin CD here for you that you and Husband are going to love.  Ring ring, hi Mrs Fringe, it’s pediatrician’s office, the second round of paperwork for Nerd Child’s summer program is here for you to pick up.  Yah, great, thank you so much, I’ll be there.  First I’m going to try to finish the edits I’ve been trying to get through. Ring ring, Mrs Fringe?  This is super special futuristic lab doing the next round of genetic testing the puzzle doctor ordered, we need your credit card information before we start running any of the tests.  Fringelings, I can’t tell you how I love hearing other writers smugly announce that if writing is truly important to you, you can and do make time every day.  Ring ring, Mrs Fringe, this is Puzzle Doctor’s office to confirm Flower Child’s appointment for next week.  That appointment was canceled.  No, you’re still on the schedule.  It was supposed to be canceled.  Well, we’ll have to speak with Puzzle Dr assistant and find out, I’ll call you back, ok, Mrs F?  Sure.

Flower Child wasn’t feeling well this afternoon/evening.   Not feeling well in a way that makes me nervous, but not a crisis.  I was supposed to meet Fatigue, Husband was home, I was only going across the street for an hour…so I did. The day started out so promising, damn it–I wanted that feeling back!  If you were wondering, the nectar of the gods is a cold glass of gin and lemonade.  Until the stranger sitting next to you begins eating your french fries.  Then it’s just time to give up.  It’s a life, and tomorrow is another day.

Riveting, A Literary V-8

Edward_Lear_A_Book_of_Nonsense 115.jpg

Edward_Lear_A_Book_of_Nonsense 115.jpg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As mentioned often, I haven’t had a day off in years.  Some days contain more suckage than others.  Today, not starting off so well.  I got up and decided to make blueberry muffins for breakfast.  Flower Child choked on a piece of kale during dinner last night, freaked out, not much was eaten, therefore I wanted to be sure she would really eat this morning.  No one else was up yet, I was able to make the batter and get them in the oven.  Another often touched on point here in Fringeland, I have a teeny, tiny kitchen.  Rules out cooking or baking anything that involves needing a lot of space, and involves regular accidents, because I’ve got about 8 inches of counter space to work with.  Got the muffins in the oven without incident, washed what I used for prep, ignored the pot and dishes still in the sink from last night.  Time to get those muffins out of the oven.  First tray, balanced on top of the stove.  Second tray, on the lilliputian amount of space on the dining room table that isn’t used as Husband’s office (read, overflowing with papers, pens, and crap).  I now want to slide the rack back inside the oven, which of course, resulted in the first (full) tray flipping off of the stove and half of the muffins flying out and decorating the kitchen.  Sigh.

Historical Oven cooking depicted in a painting...

Historical Oven cooking depicted in a painting by Jean-François Millet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Flower Child is now up, curled on one end of the couch under a blanket, and waiting anxiously for the muffins not covered in dog hair and drool to cool off.  I sit on the couch with my laptop and my coffee.  After a little bit, I tell her she can take a muffin.  She throws her blanket off, and my coffee spills onto the couch, the floor, my phone, and my book.  Fuuuuuck!  For the record, she’s been standing in front of the muffins for twenty minutes now, waiting for me to tell her which muffin to take, afraid to move at all despite the fact that I told her six times to just pick one.  I don’t want to look at them anymore.  Husband woke up, looked in the kitchen, and asked if I made scrambled muffins for breakfast.

So, what to do when you need to escape life and you can’t actually have a day off? Read, and try to pretend your couch doesn’t reek of cafe con leche.  I was thinking about books and reading this morning, anyway.

What makes a novel great?  And I mean fantastic, enduring, cross genre and cross generational.  The type of book that you either can’t put down, or have to put down every so often so the perfect line of prose you just read and reread can be examined, dissected and allowed to swim through the synapses of your brain until it’s coming out of your pores like the morning after a night of drinking cheap vodka.

I think it’s when the story is so clear but so flexible you not only want to be the main character, or in that world, you can apply it to yourself in your world, your life.  Open for interpretation, if you will, allowing for projection.  Kind of weird, because many of my favorite novels involve stories and lives I wouldn’t really want, they’re tragic.  But I can feel them.  And you, opening the book with a different viewpoint, different life experiences, different locale, different socio-economic background, can see yourself in that main character, in that story, and feel them too.

I don’t want to say ambiguous, because that has negative connotations, and too often makes readers think of torturous works of literature assigned by pompous and musty professors.  You know the ones, they smell like my couch.  Personally, I’m ok with ambiguous, especially ambiguous endings, but many aren’t.  They want to know there is a happy ever after for Joe Smith, or maybe they want to see Mrs Fringe get her comeuppance.  Maybe the story, the character, needs to be pliable.  Something that has it’s own form, shape, and limits, but can be stretched through a reader’s brain to mold to individual interpretations.

I’m going to make more coffee and give Flower Child a muffin.  Tell me what you think.

English: Constellation of Literature pavilion ...

English: Constellation of Literature pavilion in the Temple of Literature, Hanoi. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ahh, Nothing Like Blustery Autumn Day

In May.

A pair of well-used flip-flops.

A pair of well-used flip-flops. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is what I should be wearing.   Instead, I’m wearing a turtleneck and winter coat.  For the love of God, I’ve got socks on!  Socks!

I hate socks.  Don’t put them on until the last possible day in the fall, and put them all away the moment my toes don’t actually get stiff in the spring.  Yes, I’m whining.  And yes, I know it isn’t just NY, it seems like much of the country is experiencing unusually cold temperatures right now.

Last year Flower Child and I spent one of the days of Memorial Day weekend on the beach.  I’m sure, over the course of the weekend, I cooked things that were seasonal.  Tofu dogs, cole slaw, burgers, whatever.

At least it’s still a three day weekend.  And today Husband was going to work later, which meant I could sleep in.  (I try to walk the dogs at least once while he’s home so Flower Child doesn’t have to get dressed and come out with me in the mornings of her days off.) Except I didn’t get to sleep in.  Something went wrong with the plumbing yesterday; dirty, disgusting water backed up into our tub.  So instead of snoring, I was downstairs harassing the handyman at eight AM, to make sure he didn’t “forget” to come up and fix it.  Again.  In my coat, because it was 44 degrees this morning.

I’m making soup for dinner today. Kale and cannellini bean soup.  So wrong for the calendar, I didn’t have soup stuff in the cabinet, and had to go food shopping first thing this morning.

1) Saute your base in olive oil.  I used garlic, red onion, carrots, celery, fresh ground salt and pepper, thyme and oregano.

2)Add canned peeled tomatoes, smush them in pot, cook about 20 minutes.

3)Add water and or broth (I used about half and half), kale, beans, and a hunk of Parmesan rind. Bring to boil, then lower down and cook about half an hour. *I prefer escarole, but the store didn’t have it today and I didn’t want to go to another store.

4) Immersion blender into pot, blend part (but not all, and don’t blend the Parm rind) of soup, I did a rough, quick few runs with it, leaving it mostly chunky, just adding texture.

5) Add torn stale Italian bread.  Or baguette, whatever you’ve got, cook at least another 40 minutes over low heat.

On the Rocks, Extra Grit

Zwei Cocktails "Leap Frog"

Zwei Cocktails “Leap Frog” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now that it’s late Spring, we’re having some nice weather days here in NY.  Not today, and not forecast for this holiday weekend, but it is that time of year.  Women toss their tights, sunbathers glare at me as I walk dogs through the park, and restaurants put some tables and chairs outside to extend their seating and offer sidewalk cafes.

Stop and think about that.  Al fresco dining in the middle of Manhattan.  Now it’s true, we don’t have too much in the way of drive-thrus here.  If I’m starving and in a hurry, you just might be able to spot me eating a slice (pizza) as I walk south on Columbus Ave. Not high on the list of dining experiences but it can work.

But I would like someone to explain to me how they think it’s a good idea to pay for a restaurant meal and drinks, and sit outside on Broadway.  New York is a whole lot cleaner than it used to be, but it isn’t clean.  The amount of dirt in the air is measurable (I know this because the windows in my apartment are usually open, even ten floors above the street a lot of dirt drifts in daily).  Ask any person in the city wearing open sandals or flip flops what the soles of their feet look like at the end of the day.

Stephansplatz in Vienna, Austria. Pedestrians ...

Stephansplatz in Vienna, Austria. Pedestrians walking by. In center a young woman sits on sidewalk barefoot, with the dirty soles of her feet towards the camera. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Don’t forget the tons of pedestrians checking out what’s in your dish as they sneeze past.

I’m not saying I never/have never had a meal outside in the city.  I’ve done my share of picnics in the park with the kids.  And there’s a lovely cafe in Riverside Park we used to go to.  Out of budget now, but it is a nice afternoon option.  Grills and tables under a cement dome that provides shade and cooler air, it feels like a public barbeque.  Fancier tables are right alongside the Hudson River.

Back to those sidewalk restaurant extensions.  There are trees planted along most avenues, growing from square cutouts in the sidewalk.  Pretty, and if they’re big/old enough, they offer a little shade and fresh breeze.  You’re really appreciate that nice oak three feet away from your table when the dogwalker goes past with a pack-walk.  The standard poodle especially loves that tree.  As does the mastiff and St Bernard.  Splatter splish.

If it’s a popular time of day/evening, don’t forget the press of people waiting for a table.  Don’t rush, they’re fine waiting.  New Yorkers are much friendlier than tourists expect, they’re happy to provide entertainment. The foodies–or the picky eaters–will deconstruct the contents of your plate and debate the merits of sitting at an outside table.  Many are comedians, and crack jokes about how hungry they are, offering to share your meal.

Bon apetit!

English: Looking east across Broadway, past To...

English: Looking east across Broadway, past Tom’s Restaurant, down West 112th Street on a cloudy afternoon. ZIP 10025. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Is It Over Yet?

Pass the watermelon, would ya?

Pass the watermelon, would ya?

I am ready to be smack in the middle of this photo.  My mind is, anyway.  The calendar says not yet.  Come to think of it, my abs aren’t so sure either, I haven’t worked out in way too long.  It can’t be bothering me that much, or I’d get my butt onto the yoga mat and start crunching.

Instead, I’m still working on the damned synopsis.  I have a completed draft.  It needs a gastric bypass, and then some serious CPR.

Little Incredibly Dumb Dog decided she’d help me out by eating my flash drive. This way there’s no evidence of those wasted hours when I hit the delete button, and I burned a few calories chasing her to get it out of her tiny, vise-like jaws.

Don't let the bad haircut fool you, she isn't innocent.

Don’t let the bad haircut fool you, she isn’t innocent.

Maybe if I put the printed synopsis between my teeth as I hold the chair pose, both flabby abs and prose will tighten up.

And Then

The Story Thus Far

The Story Thus Far (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Revision hell actually hasn’t been too hellish.  Once a few things clicked, I was rolling.

When you think you can breathe a sigh of relief, you have to write a query letter.  And a synopsis.  Cue young Jamie Lee Curtis scream here.

Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode, the final g...

Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode, the final girl of Halloween. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For my non-writer fringelings, a query letter is an introductory letter to an agent or editor, giving a very brief snapshot of your book in the hopes of enticing them to request the full manuscript.  A synopsis is kind of like a book report on the story, hitting the major conflicts, plot twists, and how the story ends.  Some describe it as the way you’d tell the story to a friend.  Some agents want a synopsis along with the query letter and sample pages, some want it if they request material, some don’t ask for it at all.  But you have to be prepared before you begin the querying process, so you’re ready to send everything requested (hopefully, see? I’m being positive) and not find yourself sitting in a puddle of tears trying to get it together and sent off before the agent decides your story really didn’t sound that interesting after all.  Or it’s still interesting, but you took too long, and they just signed two other new authors, their list is full.  Or, or, or.

English: Rejection

English: Rejection (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have written and rewritten my query letter.  Actually, I’ve rewritten it about twelve times, and I think it might work now.  Time to work on the synopsis.   Shoot me, please.  It sounds so easy.  Tell the damned story.  Mmm hmm.  But trying to distill it into 500-1000 words, keep it clear, concise, interesting, not include every last detail but not omit anything that is important to the flow?  Here’s the thing, when you write a novel, you’re trying to make sure that every scene, every character, every detail raises the stakes, adds to the story.  Now figure out which of those all important and all contributing scenes and characters don’t actually need to be in the synopsis.

Just because you can write poetry doesn’t mean you can write an epic fantasy novel.  You might be able to write historical romance but not be able to pull off a picture book.  I occasionally have fun writing limericks.  Great for giggles, but with an editorial–or a serious reader’s–eye, they suck. I would never try to get them published, or showcase them to illustrate my writing.  Query and synopsis writing involve a different skill set than writing a manuscript.  Ready for the conflict?  Mrs Fringe has a completed manuscript and she’d like to find a literary agent.  To do so, she has to send competent, engaging query letters and possibly synopsis (synopsi?) to agents who seem like they might be a good fit for Mrs Fringe and said manuscript.

Today’s attempt at a synopsis left me ready to send a form rejection to myself, and scrawl a big fat YAWN across the top in red pen.

They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!

They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Judgement Day

Judgement Day

Judgement Day (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

is every day, here on the www.

I’ve talked before about how much I love the internet, the people I’ve met through it, blah blah yawn.  It’s a funny thing, though.  I continue to get lulled into a false sense of happy happy joy joy free love and learning, and then get biffed upside the head.

Not everyone you meet online is someone you’d want to sit and have a beer with.  So what?  Just like the offline world, smile, nod, and move on.

Except, online there seem to be a lot more people who don’t want to move along.  You know who I mean, the ones who paint themselves as experts in X, and believe it is their great duty and privilege, perhaps even an obligation, to engage in argument.   It took a bit for me to catch on to how this works for these cyber types.  When I first became engaged with online communities where you saw this type of action, I took the bait.  Argued back to explain my position, and proclaim my rights to my opinion.  Then I learned a bit more about how socializing through a screen works/can work, and would attempt to steer the discussion with a more civil tone.  Yah, done with that, too.

Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology

Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From there you find the people you enjoy spending online time with, and figure out how to narrow your interactions with others while still remaining engaged in the greater community.

Or not.  I no longer visit most of the forums I’ve joined over the years, because I found my “peeps” and we now interact in smaller groups through Facebook, email, sometimes even *gasp* face to face.  Let’s be honest, here, do I need to post questions and have discussions with 8000 other navel gazers?  Thirty, twenty, even ten can be sufficient for a lively debate and interesting discussion.  Every so often someone new gets brought in for fresh air and new perspectives.  Not only does everyone involved not have to agree, it’s a more productive discussion when they don’t.  I learn other people’s opinions, new facts, and my mind gets opened a bit wider.  As long as it’s all conducted with respect and basic courtesy, it’s all good.

Let’s look at that word again.  Respect.  It doesn’t matter if the poster is 14, 40, or 80 (and often you don’t know).  It isn’t my job to slam anyone else in a personal way.  I’m not talking about engaging in debate, but attacks that can/will be interpreted as personal.  You know what I find to be one of the best parts of being a grown up?  Understanding that not everyone will like me, and I won’t like everyone, and that is just fine.  In person or online, still fine.  Remember, I live in a small space.  I can’t fit an entire forum around my dinner table.  My laptop is old and cranky.  A reflection of me, it stops and freezes every time I click on a new post or thread.  It can easily take me 30 minutes to read two short threads, 45 if I want to reply.  In many ways that’s ok, it forces me to choose carefully before clicking.

There are internet trolls who are obvious trolls.  Fine.  Some are annoying, some are amusing.  But the tricky kind are those who don’t seem to understand

English: "Wikipedia troll at play" s...

English: “Wikipedia troll at play” sign, based on a yellow “Children at Play” sign that symbolizes a child kicking a ball. The ball was replaced by a Wikipedia globe, and the child’s head was decorated with unruly “hair” reminiscent of troll dolls. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

they’re trolling, and are passionate about their way/belief being THE way.  The ONLY way, for everyone, and they must “correct” any and all who question a different path.  Personally, I’m a silly, flighty gal.  Know what I do when I see a question/thread/post that seems pointless to me?  I don’t click on it.  Forgive me, I’m such a radical.

Mmm hmm.  Would you and your hand like a room, buddy?<< phrased respectfully, of course.


Homestead-Nowhere-Motel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hidden Dangers


I’m pretty sure the overt dangers of life in NY have been well covered by the media.  Overblown, even.


English: Heavily tagged subway car in NY in 1973.

English: Heavily tagged subway car in NY in 1973. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The trains don’t even look like this anymore.  As a New Yorker, I have and always have had a certain comfort level with the stuff that makes tourists clutch their purses.  Yes, I rode the trains at all kinds of hours, even when they still looked like the above photo.  Not only rode them, but I’d fall asleep–almost always waking up just as the doors opened at my stop.


Safety tips can be summarized quickly.  Look like you know where you’re going, and do so at a reasonable pace.  Don’t gawk.  Don’t be stupid (flashing cash, jewelry, etc).  Flashing boobage is questionable.  It’s legal in NY, you can’t be arrested for it, but I think we’ve got a little way to go before it’s safe to be a topless female waiting for the 4 train.   And oh yeah, watch out for subway grates when you’re walking down the sidewalk in stilettos.


In Central Park relax, enjoy, and don’t walk through by yourself after dark or before other joggers/bikers/dogwalkers are up and about.  Don’t pet the squirrels (nasty and rabid) or feed the pigeons (gross).  C’mon, it’s self explanatory. Same rules as NYers.  Don’t stare ’em down, keep moving, leave them alone and they’ll leave you alone.  Or be prepared to be the crazier one, but that’s another post.


Central Park

Central Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Occasionally you can spot a raccoon in the park.  Never heard of one that didn’t have rabies, don’t pet it, or send your dog after it.  I saw something in a tree staring down at me last week, I swear it looked like a sloth.  Tried to get a photo, but dusk in the park and my camera phone don’t seem to care for each other.  Sometimes there are other bizarre animals to be found in there that don’t belong at all, generally because some bozo thought an exotic pet was a good idea when it was cute and little.  Then it got big, angry, and tried to eat its owner, so Mr Macho decided to release it into the “wild” of Central Park.  Thanks.


Yesterday I learned something new.  There’s poison ivy in parts of the park.  Not only did I not know that, it never occurred to me.  For me, that’s under the category of “things to learn about if I go rural.”


This morning I was walking my beasts.  Not even 7AM, just walking down the street, not in the park, and we were accosted by a sparrow.  It has to be one of the most bizarre experiences I’ve ever had.  This little twit hopped out from under the orange netting of a construction site and chirp chirp cheeped at Little Incredibly Dumb Dog.  OK, I figure the thing must be confused, built a nest in the wrong place, I pulled my little fluffball away.  Then the thing went after Big Senile Dog.  Really?!  I can’t tell you how uninterested BSD is in birds, squirrels, etc.  I beg him to frighten the pigeons off of the terrace, but if they aren’t in his sunning spot, he just doesn’t give a shit.  He kept walking, in search of the ideal poop spot.  The sparrow chased after us, twittering and chirping and hopping while Little Incredibly Dumb Dog kept yapping, until the bird got Big Stupid Dog’s attention.  He, of course, decides it must be a pre breakfast snack and opens his mouth.  I hauled both dogs away as his teeth were about two centimeters from the little morsel, convinced we had come across a rabid sparrow.


I consulted with my good buddy Googles when I got home, it turns out, birds don’t get rabies.  Guess it was plain old New Yorkitude.

English: House Sparrow Deutsch: Haussperling S...

English: House Sparrow Deutsch: Haussperling Svenska: Gråsparv (Passer domesticus) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


I’m not OK, You’re OK

Are you?  I hope.  More ok than that ’70’s self help book I ripped my title from, anyway.  Did anyone else have to read it for psych when they were in school?  It should have been titled the Tao of OKitude.  I don’t remember Harris’ theories, I just remember each chapter feeling like torture.  As I recall, the solution was reading while listening to the Doobie Brothers cranked on the stereo.

Publicity photo of the music group The Doobie ...

Publicity photo of the music group The Doobie Brothers. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Speaking of, I guess I’ve got the 1970’s on my brain today.  I went to get my hair cut, wanted something a little different.  Retro.  Somehow, no matter what I ask for, I always seem to walk out of the hair salon looking, umm, shall we say, suburban?  Doesn’t matter whether the stylist is male or female, young, old, or middle aged, when they see my salt and pepper hair they stop listening and give me the haircut they think is appropriate.  You’d think they’d understand appropriate isn’t high on my list, based on the fact that I don’t dye my hair, and usually walk in looking like a frizz bomb.

Today’s guy tried to ignore me, and I tried to explain.  Of course, my brain fogged with the smell of hair bleach from the woman next to me getting highlights, and  I couldn’t think of the word “shag.”  I kept saying fringe.  Can’t imagine why fringe would pop into my head.   So I made him get props.  The sad, dusty binders filled with jagged edged magazine photos.  I’m laughing just thinking of the expression on the stylist’s face, trying to decide how to tell me I don’t have straight hair.  I reassured him that I understand my hair won’t do anything other than what it wants no matter how it’s cut without major intervention.  Just make it so I can make it look reasonable when I put the effort in.

After 20 minutes of cutting, product, 25 minutes of blow drying, 20 minutes with the straightening iron, a little more cutting, a little more ironing, a little more product.  Voila!

Mrs Fringe, Smooshed, Smoothed, and Ironed

Mrs Fringe, Smooshed, Smoothed, and Ironed

Sometimes a gal just has to remind herself she knows how to be a person.  I’ve been submerged in revisions, but I’m happy to say they don’t feel hellish right now.  In fact, I’m feeling pretty good about how the story is coming together.

In celebration of sleek hair and edits that are working, I offer a song to my fringelings.