Practice, Practice, Practice

That old joke, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?…”

It’s showtime, folks.

Here I am, back home again. Not that I can’t blog from the hospital, I just didn’t want to. Husband has yet another brand new part, Art Child has a brand new diagnosis of walking pneumonia, and me? Well, I’ve got the same old pile of dirty laundry staring at me. Much like the file that holds the current manuscript I’m sort of kind of querying, I’m ignoring it. Every morning I get up, make my coffee, exchange emails with my writing buddy, squint at the newspaper while I try to pretend I’m not living through the death of American democracy, do my stretches, open the file intending to make notes for a synopsis (some agents require these when you’re querying), read a couple of paragraphs, weep, and close the file again.

Life has been pretty damned weird these days, and I feel like I’m…on the cusp of a new stage, or grieving, maybe both. I think those two things go together. Grief, not just for dinner dying anymore.

No, no, don’t get nervous, I’m not going to go on about health, hospitals, or death. We grieve a lot of things at different stages: loss of friendship, loss of marriage, job loss, major financial difficulties, leaving school, starting school, menopause (so I’ve heard–personally, I celebrated), children growing up, viagra prescriptions, a healthy planet, elected officials who understood the term public service, and dreams. Oh, those traitorous, treacherous fucking dreams. Mine, as anyone who’s been with Mrs Fringe for any length of time knows, is tied to my writing. A contract. Someone in the industry who believes in my words, my fiction, enough to think they and I could earn a dollar from them.

That clip above? From All That Jazz, my favorite movie, I honestly don’t think I can tell you how many times I’ve seen it. Gah! I was an adolescent during one of the golden ages of movie musicals. All That Jazz, Saturday Night Fever (I know, technically not a musical, but it was the soundtrack of my youth), Hair, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Grease, Fame, Yentl, Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, The Rose, Shock Treatment, Fame (yes, I wrote it twice), The Blues Brothers–there were a lot of them. They were all great fun and great tears with a message. If you had talent, determination, someone who believed in you, willingness to put the work in and put up with various setbacks and humiliations, booze and/or mind altering substances but didn’t OD by the time you were 30, well. You would make it. That or you’d be beaten by life and give up those stupid dreams for a house in the suburbs. Or financial security. Or you’d just be too busy with financial insecurity to care anymore. See above, “I acceeeeeept!” Whichever way the chips fell, there was definitely no soundtrack telling me I’d take a twenty year break from trying, wake up one day to hear the alarm ringing from Pink Floyd’s Time in my head and start writing again, and write and revise and write and revise and connect with other writers and learn about the publishing industry and get derailed again and then write and revise and submit, and write and revise and submit, over and over again until I was 50,000 years old, still care, and what’s playing in my head is no longer the alarm clock, but Clare Torry’s brilliant, wordless vocals. Yeah, I’d like to see that movie. It’s possible this manuscript is a version of it.

I want to accept. I say I accept. I think I’ve accepted. And then I don’t. Because even as I grieve the loss of my writing dream, the writing is how I get through, how I live, how I grieve.

The closing scene of All That Jazz is below. Kind of long but you should watch it, about the death of a dream realized, and also Ben Vereen is a god.

Chugga Chugga Chugging Along

Blur of colors, faces, and heat inside the train.

Blur of colors, faces, and heat inside the train.

No more denying, this year has begun.  I know, for most the year begins in January, but for me, as a parent and summer worshiper, the year begins in September along with the public school year in New York.  Nerd Child went back to school first, Art Child began last week, and Man Child left for Italy two days ago.

Art Child has begun high school.  I think the fact alone confirms I’m in my dotage, but in case it’s questionable, I’ll assure you I feel it. By the end of last week–three days of school–I had taken approximately 43,000 trains and climbed 9 billion subway steps bringing her to and from.  By Friday, she and I both fell asleep on the couch before dinner, and she was already trying to fight off some kind of virus/cold.

Surely I'm trapped inside this cement mixer.

Surely I’m trapped inside this cement mixer.

Ahh, the stresses of mamahood.  Man Child will be away for six months.  Very exciting for him, and quite strange for me.  Before he left, I guess he was feeling a bit nostalgic, because he was talking about and requesting the dishes that were staples when he was younger.  I made a huge batch of basic tomato sauce, we had spaghetti one night, baked ziti another, he made a simple (and delicious) rice and beans with roasted chicken, and he and Mother-In-Law baked an early birthday present of Dominican Cake for me–guayaba filling, of course.  The apartment felt very quiet once he left; he’s a young man with great energy, both of my boys laugh easy and often, and by yesterday morning I was already missing the seemingly constant simmer of something on the stove.  I still had a container of sauce left, was feeling a little nostalgic myself–not to mention envious of the foods and flavors Man Child will certainly be experiencing, so Art Child and I went to the store to purchase an eggplant.

Between time constraints, dietary restrictions, generally fewer people at the table, and a shrinking capacity for standing, most of what I cook these days is a healthier and quicker variation of the dishes I used to prepare. But what the hell, one old-school dinner to kick off the start of the new school year.  I purged the eggplant.  Purging is slicing, salting, and weighing down the slices to draw the bitterness out–then rinse, pat, and begin your dish.

Eggplant Parmigiana


I season the flour with a little garlic powder (granulated, not the stuff that gives clouds of garlic dust) and fresh ground black pepper.  Some people add their seasonings to the egg, but I find it adheres better to whatever you’re coating when in the flour, instead of sinking to the bottom of the bowl.

After a light flouring, a quick dip in the egg/water mix.

After a light flouring, a quick dip in the egg/water mix.

Then into a panko/parmigiana mix.

Then into a panko/parmigiana mix.

Use your hands and get your fingers dirty.  Panko crumbs make for a lighter, crisper coating than regular breadcrumbs, but need a little help to make sure you get a nice mix on each slice, not just the grated cheese.

Fry (yes, I said it, fry) in olive oil.  Not a super light extra virgin, something heavier that will hold up.

Fry (yes, I said it, fry) in olive oil. Not a super light extra virgin, something heavier that will hold up.

I like to get them a nice gold color, about 2 minutes on each side.  Yes, my stove is dirty, I have no shame. Probably what tipped the scales to have me make this–it needed to be cleaned anyway.

I had one zucchini in the fridge, so I dredged it and added it to the eggplant.

I had one zucchini in the fridge, so I dredged it and added it to the eggplant.

As they finish, layer the slices on a paper towel lined and layered plate to absorb excess grease. Now try not to eat all the eggplant before you make the casserole.

A little sauce on the bottom of your casserole/baking dish.

A little sauce on the bottom of your casserole/baking dish.

Good quality cheese is everything, and fresh mozzarella is so much better than the dry, yellow, pre-packaged stuff.

Good quality cheese is everything, and fresh mozzarella is so much better than the dry pre-packaged stuff.


Start layering.  Eggplant, mozzarella, sauce, and then a little fresh grated parmigiana or romano.  I prefer romano for this step.


Repeat the layers two or three times, depending on the depth of your dish.  There should be enough sauce so every bite has some, but too much will leave the whole thing kind of gloppy and you won’t taste the eggplant at the end.

Bake.  Not for too long, everything is pretty much cooked already.  350 or 375° for twenty minutes covered with foil, then uncover and bake another 10 minutes.  Done.



I Bow to You

Beginning yoga, take #432--feel free to chant along.

Beginning yoga, take #432–feel free to chant along.

I first learned about yoga when I was 11 or 12 years old.  It was a book I found in the school library, small and yellowed, shoved to the back of one of the shelves.  I don’t know what I was supposed to be searching for but I’m sure that wasn’t it. Still, being the pretentious little shit that I was, I had to borrow it once I saw the distaste on the school librarian’s face.  Or maybe it had nothing to do with the librarian or pretentiousness, maybe it was the fact that in the middle of these pages filled with sketches of purposefully twisted bodies, I saw an unveiled reference to masturbation.  C’mon, it was junior high during the year of the flood–certainly this was a book that would take me out of the armpit of Brooklyn.

My parents were no more pleased to see me with this book than the librarian had been.  They were certain it would lead straight to a love-in loving cult, tabs of acid (LSD) jumping from the pages to my tongue. Strict in so many ways, but monitoring my reading material wasn’t one of them.  Naturally this prompted in depth study and practice, and several renewals. I’ll tell you the truth, I loved it.  The meditation, mindful breathing, the light in me recognizes the light in you, mention of the “Divine Spark,” all of this with the magnificent ways I could contort my body, I found… something.  Thinking about it, I felt a similar this-is-right-for-me connection when I began blogging.

The first night of trying different poses in my room I saw a page illustrating the crow pose, and I was determined.  Umm, you’re upside down, like you’re going to do a handstand, only you balance your knees on your elbows.  Sort of, it’s been a long time, so don’t take my word as directions.  My room was tiny, and just typing the words makes my knees and elbows chafe with the imprint of the royal blue shag rug, forehead thwoked into the wooden edge of my cot-sized captain’s bed. The first time I saw a yoga mat I thought the angels were singing.  Freaking brilliant!  Took me three days, but then I did it, the crow pose. Surely this meant I had attained enlightenment.  Really, what I wish is that I had known people could train and become paid yoga teachers. Of course there were already yoga centers in the US, but not in the land of Saturday Night Fever, and I didn’t know about them.

I can’t say I stuck with it, but I have always returned to it. Never considered myself a yogi, and never had the budget or the confidence to take an official class.  All at home, just me and the sketches/videos/dvds/youtube.  Assorted dogs and babies climbing on me while I practiced through quite a few of those years, and a few years worth of beautiful mornings with Man Child doing it with me. The last several years though, different. Increasing problems with my back have limited the poses and how I do them.

Strap and block, felt like defeat.

Strap and block, felt like defeat.

And then last year I really gave up.  I’ve been in better or worse shape at different times of my life, but I had never been this limited in my movements.  If you can’t get yourself into a decent downward facing dog, what’s the point?  More than the point was the embarrassment of what I could no longer do.  Does it make sense to be embarrassed in the privacy of my living room when everyone else is asleep? Of course not, but there you have it, Fringeland. Along comes this winter, and my smack down from icy city streets resulting in assorted fractures.  And then PT.  I’m lucky, I was assigned the nicest, most supportive physical therapist I can imagine.  Until this past few weeks, the exercises were all so small I felt like there was something wrong with the whole scenario.  Despite these little baby exercises I was mocking myself for, it was hard.  Surprise, Mrs Fringe, a pelvis with multiple fractures fucks you up.

Even though they felt hard, and I hadn’t worked out in a year, none of those initial exercises actually got me stretched to where I felt muscles stretching.  Second surprise, those little make fun of myself for doing them exercises?  They weren’t nothing. They made a difference, and my body wants more.  Yoga sense memory, maybe. By the end of last week it finally clicked.  I can go back to yoga.  Not just my body, my head wants it.  Maybe not all the same sequences I practiced a few years ago, but sticking to the small workouts assigned by the PT has allowed me to regain strength and some of the flexibility I thought was permanently lost.  OK, it’s unlikely I’ll ever do a pigeon pose again, but we all know how much I hate pigeons anyway.

So, along with my new ankle weights and resistance bands, I’ve broken out the strap and block I bought over a year ago.  I even broke down and bought a thicker yoga mat, which is making a huge difference.  I was right, when I brought that book home eleventy thousand years ago, and chanted my very first om. I found something, and I can still find it.

Never got the hang of sequencing to appropriate yoga music with soothing water sounds and inspirational flutes, but old school rock takes me right there.

Sort, Sorting, Sorted



While it doesn’t quite feel like anything is happening, I am making headway.  The envelopes above.  There were over twenty of them on high shelves that lined my halls, plus dozens of loose rolled preschool paintings and 5 boxes of school and kiddo related stuff.  And cards. Cards from them to us, us to them, Abuela y Abuelo to them, Grandma and Grandpa to them, even one from my grandmother to Man Child. Cards to me and Art Child from several friends met online.  So freaking sweet, I wanted to melt with many of them.

My poor Man Child, we had a couple of years when he was 8,9,10 where it felt like a round robin of funerals and ICU visits.  “Dear Dad, Please don’t die.”  And Nerd Child, from homework on a page of vocabulary sentences, 1st grade, “My aunt was in a ventilator in the hospital.”  There are fun ones, too. From NC’s second grade teacher, a note in response to his first homework of the year, an “about me” letter:  “Dear Nerd Child, Wow, I’ve never met a kid who said Pink Floyd was his favorite band before.” A note from Art Child to me, “Dear Momy, Im sory, Im doo it nw.  Lov lov lov lov”  Whittled down to 5 envelopes, period.  The shelves have been taken down.

And the fridge magnets.  I don’t have any on my fridge in this apartment, it makes the kitchen feel too cluttered when you’re talking about such a small space.  But my last apartment?  Like 90% of other moms, the refrigerator was covered. Magnets holding pictures, drawings, receipts, phone numbers, appointment cards, glucose level logs, seizure logs, med titration schedules.  Ok, maybe not quite like most other moms, but close enough. Apparently I had put all of those into one box when I was moving in here, it got put on a shelf to be dealt with later. Guess it’s later.  In the box was the complete set of these:


Two sets, actually.  I don’t know if they still sell them, they’re a little electronic learning game, magnetized so the main component and letters can all be stuck on the fridge, and it says the name and sound of the letter when fit into the main piece. The other set does the same, next step, slots for three letter words. Many, many hours playing with these. I was happy to pass them on to the nursery school.

The painting and the floors are close to finished in the new apartment. If all goes well, we’ll be able to really move within the next week or two, hooray!  I spent the day celebrating by cuddling with my sick and sniffling girl, Dr Who on the TV.  Ok, maybe I wasn’t hanging onto the Dr’s every word quite the way Art Child would have liked. Maybe I was cyber window shopping for tank equipment.  I don’t know why I find shopping for curtains and medicine cabinets tedious, but protein skimmers and RO/DI water systems and salt mixes, oh my!  Bestill my shriveled reefing heart.

We saw this sky the other evening, I had to take a photo to share.


Run Away


Yesterday, I did something I haven’t done in over 21 years. I went to the beach. By myself. Come to think of it, beach or not, I haven’t had a day by myself, no obligations, in over 21 years. I took my towel, my phone, my metrocard, my iPod, and a frozen bottle of water.

The beach was packed, the subway was nose to armpit jammed, and it was heavenly.

One of the best things about New York is the diversity. On the beach
I heard Russian, I heard French, I heard Chinese, I heard Spanish, I heard English, I heard Hebrew, I saw a family of Asian descent speaking Russian, I saw senior citizens swimming in their underwear, young studs in cut offs, young women in thong bikinis, old women in string bikinis, an orthodox man in his beard and black suit sitting on the sand so his little ones could have a day in the ocean.

I plugged my ear buds in and blasted all my old beach favorites–to the group three towels down, thanks for sharing your rap, but I was sticking to Cream. And Creedance and Kate Bush and Melissa Etheridge.

It’s true, the Brooklyn beaches aren’t the prettiest, that glint of green in the sand is as likely to be part of a beer bottle as seaweed, but yesterday it was bliss.

After about an hour, I realized I was free to enjoy another beach pleasure I haven’t indulged in years.


Why yes, I do think a beach towel is equivalent to a brown paper bag. I have to ask though, wtf is a nutcracker? Guys in heavy jeans and towels walk up and down the beach same as always, selling water, beer, and Newports out of black plastic bags. But now they offer nutcrackers too.

When I was young, there was nothing I wanted more than to get out of Brooklyn. But yesterday, I looked at the fancy newer condos along the boardwalk and thought, “not so bad.”


Hell, I looked at the ancient buildings on the side streets, the ones with wiring too old and fragile to support an air conditioner and lights at the same time–trust me, I used to live in one–and thought, “not so bad.”


If you called me yesterday, or texted or messaged or emailed and I didn’t answer, forgive me. I ran away. And Nerd Child, thank you. 

Possibility: A Pseudo-Lesson on Defensive Living

Crossing a threshold, maybe

Crossing a threshold, maybe

Mrs Fringe and Husband were informed a 3 bedroom has opened up in the building.  We’re going for it.  Again.  Sounds good, right?

It may or may not come through.  We’ve been this close before a couple of times, and life happened.  There’s a little part of me that’s crying.  If it really comes through, and we take the apartment, it will cost us money, a lot of work, and acceptance that I’m not leaving New York anytime soon.

As I’m typing this, my little email notification popped up, there’s a new listing in Oahu!  Yeah, yeah, I can and do dream.  Why would I take this apartment if I know it takes me further away from leaving the city?  Because for whatever life hasn’t taught me, I’ve learned a few lessons well.  One of them is I don’t know what next year, next month, or even tomorrow will bring.  So if there’s an opportunity in front of me now, I need to take it.  Get it while you can and all that.  And hey, a 3 BR apartment in Manhattan that’s practically affordable–not to be taken lightly. Besides, I made my buddy Mrs Smitholini promise about a million times that when I die, she’ll take my ashes to Hawaii.  So eventually, in some form or another, I’ll get there.

I saw a neighbor earlier, she asked me if Big Senile Dog was still alive because she hasn’t heard him.  He is, but the truth is when I woke up this morning I thought he wasn’t.  As I’ve said before, he always wakes me up, cries until I get out of bed and go to the bathroom, and then he goes back to bed as soon as I start making my coffee.  This morning he cried, but then stopped.  All was quiet when I was in the bathroom so I went to check on him, and he was all curled up, not snoring, on his doggie-pedic bed. Still alive, but slowing down a little more each day.

Not perky, but still with me.

I swear his jowls are sagging.

Yup, good and bad, life happens.

Here, a little fusion jazz for us all.

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(Wo)Man Makes Plans

and God laughs.  That’s the expression, right?  I’m making plans anyway.  Well, I’m thinking about making plans, and we’ll see what happens.  There’s only so many days I can walk around sniveling before I can’t stand myself anymore.

Even Little Incredibly Dumb Dog looks bummed, and she truly is too dumb to be depressed.  ;)

Even Little Incredibly Dumb Dog looks bummed, and she truly is too dumb to be depressed. 😉

Several years ago it occurred to me that people need stuff to look forward to.  This is a problem when you’re stuck in the endless grind of life on the Fringe.  I came home from taking Flower Child to school yesterday morning to find that Big Senile Dog had gone out to the terrace while I was gone–my fault, I shouldn’t have left that door open–and torn into a bag of garbage that was left out there.  Yanno, so they wouldn’t make a mess while I was out.  Once upon a time he would have eaten everything in there, pistachio shells, tea leaves, and coffee grounds, while Little Incredibly Dumb Dog took care of the tissues and tea bags.  She did eat all of the paper stuff, but.  By now even he knows he can’t eat that stuff, so instead, all that crud was ground into and under the rubber flooring stuff I have down to protect the concrete.  Fantastic.

No shame.

No shame.

There I was, thinking about nothing to look forward to and how many years it’s been since I really had a day off.  If you’re curious, it’s almost 19 years.  Man Child will be 21 in a couple of weeks.  Husband and I went to Aruba for a long weekend when MC was 2.  21 years since I had a day off *to myself.*  And then I was thinking about submissions, querying, and Astonishing.  The unpredictable nature of this business I’m trying to get myself into.  Well, what can I realistically do about all of this?  What is/can be within my control?  Two plans conceived.

First, today is a #MSWL day on twitter.  That’s when certain agents and editors post their “manuscript wish lists” under the hashtag MSWL, tweeting what they’d like to see come across their desks.  I’m watching, in hopes of seeing magical realism, literary fiction, dark lit fic…anything that would reasonably seem like a potential match for Astonishing, and then I will query those agents.  I hope.  A lot of the agents expected to participate seem to be more focused on Young Adult, Middle Grade, New Adult, but I’m watching.  The best part of this is no twitter pitching.  I suck at Twitter.  Seriously, I can’t quite get the hang of it.  I’d blame my age, but that’s a blatant lie.  Plenty of people my age and older who are twitter-savvy.

Second, I decided I’m going to go away for a couple of days when Big Senile Dog dies.  By myself.  No, his death isn’t imminent, but he is elderly and going.  Could be a month, six months, two years, but it gives me something to look forward to and a chance to save my pennies.  No, I can’t do this before he dies.  The logistics of getting him and Little Incredibly Dumb Dog walked and taken care of, Flower Child taken care of, too much/too expensive.  I mentioned this to Husband last night, I think he was horrified by my cold and calculated look at the future.  The big non-secret is that he adores this dog he didn’t want more than any of us.  Not enough to walk him, but adores him nonetheless.

For today, I’m going to watch the Twitter feed and create a playlist for my little eventual trip.  That’s the plan, anyway.

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Piss and Vinegar

English: Vinegar & Olive Oil

English: Vinegar & Olive Oil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mrs Fringe and guilt go together like oil and vinegar.  Sure you have to do all that mixing, blending, emulsifying to get them to unite, but once you do they make sense.  Unlike this analogy, but I’m under the weather and Flower Child is home sick today, so that’s the best I can do.  Besides, I’m a big fan of vinegar, have no less than seven  different kinds in the fridge at all times.

And I just had a little mishap on the terrace.  I keep a big jug of plain white vinegar for cleaning the reef tank equipment, very effective, inexpensive, doesn’t harm the critters–NOT that anyone should add vinegar to their tanks, reef or otherwise, but it doesn’t leave behind crazy levels of nitrites, nitrates or other nasties reefers don’t want measurable amounts of in our reefs.  I got a huge bottle at one of those big box stores for people who like to purchase 72 rolls of toilet paper at once, and left it on the terrace.  Because it’s big.  And I have a small apartment.  Well guess what?  Vinegar freezes.  And then it expands, and then the plastic bottle leaks, and then the terrace reeks of vinegar.  Maybe it will keep the pigeons away.

What was I talking about?  Guilt.  My most recent guilt episode is one that’s old and familiar, the guilt of slow writing.  Everyone has their process, I know this.  Some people write faster than others.  Know it.  But you know when you’re already feeling low, and then you read just the right thing to make you feel like shit?  And then you look for more things to read to make you feel worse because what the hell, you’ve been stuck and not making progress on the WIP, plenty of time to read about other people’s mind boggling daily word counts.  They are productive.  They don’t make excuses.  They are working on their 87th draft of their 120,000 word manuscript–pared down from 210,000–while I continue to watch the word counter at the bottom of my page stay at exactly the same number.  Which is still too far off from my 70,000 word goal of my first draft.  They are disciplined, they write, they earn money, they raise children, they work out, they save the fucking whales and feed croutons to the pigeons in order to soak up the excess vinegar.

Well I was stuck.  And I pondered.  And then I was more stuck.  And then I pissed and moaned and whined.  And then I stopped reading about the fabulously prolific and closed the open Astonishing file and said I’m taking a break until I’m not.   And then I found myself pondering again.  Yesterday I was able to unstick myself, wrote a little.

This morning I was cruising the writer’s forum and saw this link.  Hallelujah, I have found my people at last!  My perfect critique partners.  Ok, it’s true that all except one are dead, but doesn’t that sound like my pace?  Bed, grave, is there really that much of a difference? Just my speed.  Lying down is my favorite! and is there anything more secure than being in your own bed?

Couple in Bed

Couple in Bed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was inspired, wrote more than a little today but not anything another slow writer would boggle at.  Not in bed, in my corner on the couch, where I always write.  Half lying, half sitting, laptop on my lap.

Come to think of it, I got a new ottoman last week .  Maybe the next time I’m stuck, I can try writing from the other end of the couch.

Perfect height, on clearance!

Perfect height, on clearance!



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Your Call Cannot be Completed as Dialed

Phones are dead.

Phones are dead. (Photo credit: nicadlr)

Between Husband and I, we have spent oh, I don’t know…4000 hours on the phone and in the store over the past few days, trying to clear up our cell phone account.  I think I mentioned in my last post, but maybe not, someone somehow used our account to purchase 4 new iPhones and add 6 lines to our account.  Oh, the joys of technology, it makes life so much easier, doesn’t it?

We thought we cleared it up the day before Christmas.  Then we thought we cleared it up the day after Christmas.  Then we were certain we cleared it up yesterday.  Our contract is up, Man Child and I are due for upgrades.  Perfect timing, because the week between Christmas and New Year’s is when the cell phone stores push the sales.  Yay!  This was the first time in years that my cell phone didn’t completely die before Christmas in the time frame when our contract was up.  Because no, I will not replace my phone until and unless  I’m due for an upgrade.  The full retail prices on these things are ridiculous, I don’t care if I spend 8 months with the phone held together by duct tape.

Man Child and I went into the store yesterday, ready to get new phones and downgrade our plan.  We’ve been paying a ludicrous monthly bill for what we use.  Woo hoo, I’m psyched, I’m finally going to get the phone I’ve been wanting for years, at the price I’m willing to pay.  Which, for the record, is free.  (Once I get my rebate.) It isn’t the most current model, but groovy enough for me.   Only we couldn’t, because the cell phone carrier is now on the case, making sure no fraud occurs.  Isn’t there an expression about that, something about a barn door, free milk, escaped horse, something?

An open door

An open door (Photo credit: Juha Riissanen)

Even though the extra lines and charges had been removed from our account, as far as the carrier was concerned, we already re-upped our plan and got new phones.  I couldn’t take care of it in the store, because the account is under Husband’s name.  Grrrrr.  Fine.  We leave, Husband calls and spends another 3 hours on the phone with the carrier this morning to clear it all up and make sure I’m an authorized something or other to make decisions and handle problems.  For the record, Husband doesn’t even use this carrier anymore, because of their exorbitant prices and previous bullshit over the years.  Man Child and I still use them/the plan, along with Mother-in-Law. M-i-L because it’s easier for her, Man Child because they have the best signal at and near his school, and me because they have the best overall coverage in the country, and there have been several times already when we’re out of town and Husband’s phone doesn’t work but mine does.  One of us has to have a working phone all the time.  Two kiddos away at school, another one with medical needs, someone has to be reachable, no?

So, Man Child and I went back to the store this morning.  Picked out our phones–again–go through a thing with the salesman.  He was pleasant, but of course, trying to make the best sale he could.  I get it, this is how he pays his bills.  But no, I’m sure we can and are going to downgrade our plan, and no, $350 worth of protection plans aren’t worth two free cases.  Really.  I’m sure.  M-i-L doesn’t need or want a smart phone.  I need a lower phone bill each month.  OK, we establish what info we need transferred from our old phones to the new ones, and the salesman begins to process the order.  But wait!

A stopped press

A stopped press (Photo credit: slambo_42)

First, I get a phone call on my cell from the fraud department requesting permission to process the order because our account is now flagged.  Thumbs up.  Surprise!  Order still can’t go through.  There’s a mysterious something pending on our account.  A mysterious something we didn’t authorize or pay for.  Ummm, get rid of it?  The salesman, who started out so smooth and friendly when I first met him on Saturday afternoon, is now growling into the phone with whatever department is supposed to take care of this, stabbing the digit keys with his index finger as he dials.  Again.  and Again.  Apparently, they’re just as quick to disconnect calls from store employees as they are customers.  Seems to me if you’re a phone company you should be able to transfer a call without disconnecting it, but perhaps I set the bar too high.

While he’s on hold, I try to convince him he should give us free phone cases for our troubles, while he looks me straight in the eye and explains it doesn’t work that way, how it isn’t really our loss or trouble, it’s the phone company who took this huge hit, so there’s no reason to expect any courtesy/compensation.  Really?  This is my fault that someone, somewhere, didn’t make an effort to confirm it was truly Husband making these HUGE purchases and changes to our account; an account we’ve had with them for ten years now–for phones they charge hundreds of dollars for, that cost them about 10 cents to make?  No reason for a major phone carrier to extend courtesies despite the fact we’ve now wasted many, many hours on this?  Heh.

At this point, I’m losing it.  This is too much like shopping, and I’m starting to look and feel like a 9 year old with a serious case of ADHD who didn’t take her meds.  I should be home.  Sleeping.  Playing with Flower Child.  Writing.  Reading.  Listening to Nerd Child tell me about his most recent research on something serious and intense that I don’t understand but love hearing his passion.  Anything but standing in the middle of this fucking store getting absolutely nowhere.

Man Child goes out and gets us coffee.  While the salesman on the phone is dealing with the vortex of the fraud department, we chat with another salesman who had helped me the last time I got a phone, over two years ago.  Seems like a genuinely friendly young man, we chat about New York and life while pretending the other salesman isn’t about to have a stroke on the phone with fraud and my head isn’t about to explode from this ridiculous level of bullshit.  I take the opportunity to do some shameless self promotion and plug Mrs Fringe, Man Child goes out and brings back breakfast.  Our salesman, still on the phone.

We’re now back home, with one very costly migraine, but no new cell phones.  Why?  Because now the fraud department is being extra cautious, and even though I was added as an authorized user/decision maker/bill payer this morning, they decided I can’t exercise my glorious power of handing over my debit card, with my name, and my identification, without Husband either there in person or on one of the cell phones from this plan.  Husband is at work.  With his cell phone, which is not one of the ones from this overpriced quagmire of a cell phone company.

Thirty minutes.  I’m willing to give thirty more minutes to this tomorrow, before I tell this company and their fraud department to kiss my rapidly spreading middle aged butt (not the individual store or salesmen, because they were quite nice and did what they could from their end) and go buy a phone elsewhere, with a month to month contract.  In case of emergency, send smoke signals.

Can You Hear Me Now?

Can You Hear Me Now? (Photo credit: jeffsmallwood)


Pushing Forward

Sometimes I would like to say forget it, crawl into bed, and stay there for about three weeks.  If you hadn’t noticed, I’m in one of those stretches right now but hiding in a bed of apathy isn’t possible, or feasible.  Instead I will smile and nod and use the apathy as sunscreen. Keep doing what needs to be done until I forget to apply the sunscreen and realize (about three days later) I haven’t burned after all.


Perfect sky, no?

Perfect sky, no?

So strange, isn’t it?  I live in the land and age of immediate gratification, entitlement.  No matter how aware I am of these ridiculous and selfish concepts, they’re insidious.  I want it IwantitIwantit….Part of the daily bombardment of media and those who seem to be living large all around me.


But Fringeland is all about caution and hurry up and wait.  Wait for bills, wait for money to pay said bills, wait for test results, wait for responses to queries, and the writing itself, for me, is a slow process.  For every hour I spend writing I probably spend another three thinking about what and how to write those words, and then another two editing.  And of course, waiting for apathy to blow over, replaced with the usual numb inertia with those invaluable moments of peace. Of this is okay.  I’m okay.


I’m thinking about all of this as I push forward with my WIP.  Slow going, this one.  No beach read here, I want it to have the intensity of my short stories. Which means each and every word has to be the right one.  (This is not to say genre fiction isn’t written carefully, with serious attention to craft, just a different style.) Darker than the last, but equally surreal.  I’ve decided I have enough realism in my day to day.  For now, I’m sticking to the literary equivalent of surrealism. Enough reality to be recognizable, no elves, dragons, or fae, but where the impossible just is.

Yves Tanguy Indefinite Divisibility 1942, Albr...

Yves Tanguy Indefinite Divisibility 1942, Albright Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The other night Husband and I went out for dinner.  It was raining, but not one of the crazy storms we’ve been experiencing.  Weekends in the city are fairly quiet, just the peasants without summer homes or plans, so the restaurant was half empty.  The restaurant itself has big plate glass doors that fold back, and they were open since the evening was cool.  As I was bemoaning the hideousness of my twitter pitching experience, the awning covering the outdoor tables fell.  Talk about surreal.  At that point it was raining enough that I think there was only one table with customers out there.  I told you, Fringelings, nothing good comes of al fresco dining in the city.  A waitress was clipped in the head but able to get right back up.  When we left, she was standing near the entry, ice pack on her head.  I swear I could feel her willing that damned bump and nausea to die back down.  Who can afford a day  or two or three of lost tips?

Onward. I had planned to query the finished manuscript slowly, and I have been, but it occurred to me last night that if I go any slower I might as well not query at all.  So I’ll pick up the pace a bit.  And I’ll keep working on this new WIP, searching for the right words.