June 2010


I swear things keep happening to me on Wednesdays. And Thursdays. And Saturdays…oh. Right. Things just keep happening.

Today I left work thinking I had a ready-made post in hand. As predicted, my life got all weird again in short order when I made the (probably) unwise decision to make an appointment to give blood at the blood drive at the student center during my lunch break. I arrived for the appointment two minutes early and was told they’d had an unforeseeable and unfixable delay and I’d probably have to wait half an hour before giving blood. Fine. I’d just clocked out and had 50 minutes left to donate to this cause. Because I hadn’t had time to eat before my appointment, I figured I’d just have a little lunch post-donation. This plan was tossed out the window 45 minutes later when I was just being called back to be questioned rigorously regarding my traveling, tattoos, and sexual adventures (such as they may be). Obviously, this was going to require more than my hour-long lunch break, but, having checked in with The Boss and gotten the go-ahead, I decided to plow on through.

Please note: I’ve done this before. Many, many times. It has been awhile, however, and I’m pretty sure I’ve never donated blood on an empty stomach. This, my friends, is an awful idea. At the very least I should have had about a gallon of water beforehand to puff up my veins, because they were apparently near-impossible to locate (and I remember so vividly the ease with which my veins were usually located and punctured in past experiences). Also, I never watch this part. It usually doesn’t hurt too badly and I’m not generally tempted to look over and see what’s going on. But once she started digging and wiggling, I couldn’t help myself. I looked. Ladies and Gents, this is a huge needle. I’m known for my exaggerations, but I was literally shocked by the size of the metal tube protruding from my arm. This definitely started me down the path to faintness.

Almost immediately, I got light headed. (PS, Sista Friend, you might want to stop reading – you’ll probably fall out just reading about this) I power through as I’ve recently powered through a MUCH WORSE situation involving one (ONE!) mojito and an empty stomach. I was determined I wasn’t passing out. Jeez, a dude passed out while I was waiting and I was making fun of him so hard in my head. I wasn’t going to let that happen to me.

Anyway, they saw I looked pretty crappy (I’m sure) and made me lie down. At which point, I stopped bleeding. For reals, folks. Ginormous needle in my vein and the well was dry. More digging, by multiple phlebotomists. A few minutes did the trick, briefly. Then, dry as a bone again. More nurses, more needle wiggling. Un. Fun.

By the time they finally pulled the darned needle out of my arm, it was nearly two hours after my lunch break began. I hadn’t had lunch and I didn’t have time to pass out. I had to get back to my desk.

So, probably right on the verge of keeling over, I hauled myself, my extremely heavy purse and my uneaten lunch back to my building, and probably made a fool out of myself for the next hour or two.

I thought that would be the end of my adventures for the day. Honestly, a two-hour lunch break in which I didn’t even eat lunch was enough for one day. But my day got even more fun when I was pulling out of the parking lot and, followed by Comical Colleague (you may remember him from his first appearance, here, grimacing at my lunch choices) in his own vehicle. Apparently blood flow to my brain was still a little low because I really nailed the curb when I turned the corner. ComiColl, true to form, made fun of me through my rearview mirror. Then I drove away and didn’t think of it again.

Until I was getting close to home and my car started making some very unfortunate noises and slowed down. Realizing I had a flat tire, I pulled over (in what amounted to about three feet from the middle of a fairly busy road, by Opelika’s standards) and turned on the hazards. Surveyed the damage. Large tear in tire. Thank God I had a spare, but I’m not sure who to thank for the lack of a jack. Also, it was sprinkling. And muggy. And I was wearing wool pants.

Anyway, Hubby, as  you know, is out of town. Hubby’s friend in town didn’t pick up the phone and I really need to get some co-workers’ cell phone numbers because I was pretty sure I was going to have to obtain some superhuman strength, lift the car off the ground, unscrew the flat tire, attach the spare, and drive away without ruining my clothes or passing out from lack of food/blood.

Fortunately I was rescued by a rather disgusting looking mechanic (I tell you, the mechanics of the world love me. Mechanics and Truckers. Who knows why.) who had two jacks in his car and managed to, after half an hour, solve my problems. All I had to do was watch and say thank you.

So, now I have to skip lunch on Friday to make up for my two-hour long lunch today (so I can lunch with another co-worker tomorrow, soon to be renamed for this forum) and find time between now and Friday afternoon to get my tire repaired or replaced and then drive two hours to Birmingham to spend the holiday weekend with my Hubby whom I miss very much.

Somehow my brain held out as I spent the last three hours typing this up and stuffed my face with leftover pie and a Lean Pocket. Still feeling peakish. Fingers and lips are tingling like I’ve had a bit too much to drink.

Time for ‘The End,’ I think 🙂

I feel as though I must preface this post with a few facts:

  • I love to read. I also love to write about what I’ve read.
  • This is going to be a post about something I’m passionate about rather than something I’m irritated about.
  • I spent many years analyzing literature for a grade. Now I just do it because I can’t help it.
  • I’ve written a novel. This post describes part of the basis for that novel.
  • Please try not to be too upset if this is boring. I’m pretty sure my life will spiral out of control again very soon and posts will return to the self-deprecating hilarity this blog was always intended to be.

And now…onward.

The Mirror is, in literature, one of the most basic of devices available to an author. Literal and figurative mirrors show up in almost every work of fiction you can lay your hands on. I’ve always been interested in how characters mirror one another, how events are foreshadowed by subtle mirroring. I think this is largely unintentional in most writing, or else not viewed in terms of mirrors. Since I started working on my novel two years ago (almost exactly), I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about everything I read through the lens of the mirror (try to get past the awkwardness of the image that presents…I guess what I mean is, from the perspective of the mirror, or with the mirror guiding my thinking…but the ‘lens’ or the paradigm seems to best express what I am trying to say). I see mirrors in everything I read, in varying degrees.

My novel is based around the Victorian poem “The Lady of Shalott,” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. In this poem, the tragic character Elaine of Shalott (described in multiple tellings of Arthurian legend), is cursed. The Lady is trapped in her tower room by a curse that predicts her death if she looks out from her window onto Camelot. She spends her days weaving scenes she sees only through a mirror reflecting the beauty of the world beyond her window. Elaine experiences life only as it is reflected through this mirror. Until she sees Lancelot’s image, Elaine, though dissatisfied, is willing to observe the world outside in this distanced way. When Lancelot appears in her mirror however, the Lady accepts the curse and takes the risk in order to see him for herself. The poem ends with her floating down the river in a broken old raft from Shalott to Camelot, dying.

I first read this poem my senior year of high school. I can say with absolute confidence that it has changed my life. Among other things, this poem began my interest in mirrors in literature. I knew that I wanted the mirror to play a central role in my own novel. As I shaped my novel around this image and Elaine’s poignant story, I began to think of ways to extend my own character’s story. What better way than to shape the continuing saga of my character around other works of literature where mirrors play a key role. My brain sort of exploded when I made my first list of such works.

  • “The Rape of the Lock” – Alexander Pope
  • Through the Looking Glass – Lewis Carroll
  • “Snow White” – the Grimm brothers
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – J.K. Rowling (an idea I won’t be legally allowed to shape my story around for a reeeeeeeeally long time because of copyright laws)
  • “Beauty and the Beast” – no idea

I’ve read extensively but I know I’m barely touching the surface of literary works where mirrors are of vital importance. The mirror motif is strong throughout the works of Shakespeare, but mostly in a figurative way – literal mirrors only show up here and there (most notably in Richard II). My brain is constantly processing all of the prose and poetry I’ve read that might possibly contain mirrors. It’s like a game for me.

Perhaps more fun, though, comes after I’ve located a work fulfilling my requirements. I love to consider all the different uses to which these mirrors are put. In “The Rape of the Lock,” the mirror represents vanity. Similarly in “Snow White,” the magic mirror is a symbol of vanity, but also of truth. In Through the Looking Glass, Alice’s journey inside the mirror explores the opposite nature of a reflection. The Mirror of Erised in the first installment of Harry Potter is the mirror motif used to represent the ‘ideal’ image. The magical mirror that connects Beauty to the Beast in their story is a tool to help Beauty ‘see’ the Beast in a different way. So many different uses for one symbol.

Its versatility makes it an ideal candidate for a over-arching image for a series of novels. While “The Lady of Shalott” and its inspiration stuck with me for eight years before I starting working in earnest on my story, I’m hoping that the mirror motif stays fresh in my mind until I feel ready to create the next installment of my Mirror Series. Frustratingly, I’m hesitant to proceed until I find an agent for the first novel. Let’s just hope it doesn’t take another eight years. Of course, I have a feeling I won’t mind, in the end. More time for practice and blog posts in between.

I am a really shy person. I don’t think I’m particularly introverted once I get to know someone, but it’s sometimes difficult for me to get beyond that barely-acknowledging-the-existence-of-other-people phase. I like people. I hate small-talk. People I don’t know tend to mostly keep to the simple topics of conversation. My natural inclination is to end such conversations as quickly and gracefully as possible. I’m fully aware that this is the sort of behavior that keeps my relationships with acquaintances at that very surfacey level. It’s a catch 22.

But the moment a natural disaster strikes, genuinely nice people come out of the woodwork to help out. There’s nothing like having your biggest frustrations visible for the whole neighborhood to see for forcing yourself to open up. Of course, Hubby had already made friends with these folks, which definitely eased my own relations with them significantly. Hubs is awesome at making friends. He’s a small talk wiz, but more than that, if you talk with him for more than a minute or two, somehow, you start to feel comfortable with him and conversation deepens. I just don’t have that same skill.

Anyway, I have previously made some snap judgements about my neighbors. Okay, I really do still believe the folks next door grow different sorts of weeds than I grow so effectively in my yard. But they are  nice folks, they know my name, and they thanked me for the pie I made them. They came and visited with Hubby when he was chopping up the limbs this morning.

Also, I may have recently posted that my across the street neighbors held my food hostage and drank my milk. Then the lovely  mother of the family came over with a BRAND NEW gallon of skim milk and had the decency to tell me that my cats are beautiful. My babies! Are beautiful! She, too, thanked me for the pies.

The third neighbor, who brought us cold drinks last weekend, came over to thank me for the pie and tell me how much her husband enjoyed it  – and asked for the recipe!

So, I guess the moral of this story is, it’s sort of nice to like your neighbors, and have them like you back. I suppose it’s a little sad that it took me three years in this house to figure that out…!

I’m pretty sure my Saturday is going to be spent salvaging the wreckage that is my front yard with Hubby (at the same time as the internet repair people had BETTER be fixing my internet), but I have some very specific plans for Sunday. I have every intention of going to church Sunday morning, then Hubby and I will probably either eat lunch out or I’ll fix something at home, and I suspect he’ll head back to Birmingham, unless there are still dead tree limbs to be dismembered and hauled to the street. I sincerely hope I don’t have to be involved in that process, because my Sunday afternoon is absolutely-no-matter-what going to consist of the following things:

  • Six (twenty-minute) episodes of my soap opera – The Bold and the Beautiful.
  • Two hours of The Bachelorette.
  • One hour of Hell’s Kitchen.
  • One hour of Royal Pains.
  • Two hours of Lie to Me.

I think that about covers it. Eight full hours of television. I should have no desire to ever watch anything again after that marathon viewing schedule (of total crap, I am aware), but we all know I will. Depending on how I feel on Sunday evening, I may store up my TV viewing for weekends going forward. It isn’t that I’ve been especially productive this week without television programming to lure me away, but I have done two loads of laundry, made four pies, and written 2,500 words on yet ANOTHER reworking of my first novel. Okay, yeah I guess I have been particularly productive this week without TV… I can already picture Mom’s comment in response to this:

“Liz! I told you so! Also, your brain will leak out of your ears if you watch eight hours of TV in one sitting. Do. Not. Do. It.”

To which I will reply, “I can think of nothing you can say (aside from having to choose between watching eight hours of TV now and NEVER GETTING TO WATCH TV EVER AGAIN) that could stop me from my Sunday marathon of television nonsense. Don’t waste your energy. I love you!”

And to those who have been astounded (in a good way) by the lack of TV discussion here lately, I sincerely apologize. As much as I’ve loved having lots of crazy stories to share and amuse everyone with, I’ll be honest – I’m exhausted. My brain needs a break. And I can think of nothing I’d rather do after a week without internet than watch hours upon hours of mindless television!

OPELIKA (June 23) — One unopened gallon of skim milk is being held hostage this week in the home of [NAMES WITHHELD FOR SECURITY REASONS], along with one family sized box of pizza Lean Pockets, one bag of frozen chicken, two Jeno’s Party Pizzas, one unopened bag of corn, one unopened bag of broccoli in cheese sauce, two boxes of Weight Watchers Ice Cream Bars, and one unopened bag of Pizza Pockets. Negotiations for their release are currently at a stand-still.

A seeming act of kindness turned into a hostage situation early this week when [NEIGHBOR] volunteered on Sunday to keep dead-tree-power-outage victim LizHarrell’s refrigerated and frozen foods in their spare refrigerator until her power was restored. The situation began to escalate Monday evening when LizHarrell dropped by [NEIGHBOR]’s house to collect her food items. It didn’t take her long to realize that, though they appeared to be at home, [NEIGHBOR] wasn’t going to answer the doorbell.

Frustrated that her evening meal was not going to be a Lean Pocket but a (highly disappointing) Healthy Choice Fresh Mixer, LizHarrell resolved to win her neighbors over with a gift. She spent a fair amount of time preparing pies for their enjoyment. These no-bake pies required several hours of refrigeration and she planned to return to [NEIGHBOR]’s house the following evening with the gift.

Meanwhile, the unopened gallon of skim milk cowered in fear in this unknown refrigerator. Would it be rescued prior to its ‘sell by’ date? Would it be reunited with its compatriots from the freezer or would it simply be poured down the sink by its evil captors, its blue cap mailed to LizHarrell as a threat? The gallon of milk had soured on its current conditions.

The following day, LizHarrell arrived home from work, eager to continue negotiations for the release of her food items. Although no ransom had been requested, LizHarrell thought a goodwill offering may ease tensions. She removed the pies from her refrigerator and walked across the street. After ascertaining that at least one of the family’s cars was in the driveway, LizHarrell rang the doorbell to no response. She attempted to knock but found that a large spider web had enveloped her fist. Taking this as an act of aggression, LizHarrell scampered back to her home, pies still in hand.

It is rumored that at lunchtime the following day, the frozen broccoli and one of the Jeno’s Party Pizzas attempted a breakout when [NEIGHBOR]’s college aged son opened the freezer to locate some sustenance. He took one look at the broccoli and threw it back in with the other hostages. The Party Pizza has not been seen since.

Negotiations are set to resume at 5:15 today, at which time LizHarrell intends to make a second attempt at delivering her pies. She is not hopeful for the recovery of the gallon of milk, though she expects to find the frozen vegetables and Lean Pockets intact. “I really just want to keep the pies,” LizHarrell confides. “The lemon one looks especially tasty. Maybe I should just let them keep the groceries.”

Attempts to contact [NEIGHBOR] have gone unanswered, though witnesses confirm that a milky rag and two pop-sickle sticks were placed in LizHarrell’s mailbox at approximately 3 PM today. Stay tuned for further updates in this ongoing story.

  • When your call for a repair requires speaking to a computer, who takes your request to reconnect the telephone wires to your house as connection problem that could be fixed by restarting your modem.
  • When your call to the repair/service branch of the company is dropped after they’ve obtained a good call back number, and they don’t call you back. Even when the call drop was on their end.
  • When your second call to the repair/service branch of the company leaves you on hold for half of your lunch break and you have to clock-in while still listening to bad hold music.
  • When you are forced to hang up after letting the Customer Service Rep know that you are at work and have limited time and he promises to call back on the good call back number when he has the date for your repair work to be done, and an hour later you are still waiting to hear back.
  • When your new co-workers see you on hold after lunch and get excited because they get to see “Angry Liz” for the first time.
  • When you call back to check on the status of your repair request and no one knows what you are talking about and half of the offices in the company are already closed so nothing can be done about it.
  • When you’d rather order pizza than call them one more time.
  • When you spend an hour on hold waiting before work the following morning only to find out you’ll have a technician at your house four days from today, between the hours of ten and six.
  • When they show up at four, two days late. (which is just a guess at this point, based on the level of customer service I’ve been provided so far)

I’d say that depending how far down this list you get, you are totally justified in having words with your ISP. Angry words. Words of righteous indignation. Words that get your bill cut in half. Words that make your Customer Service Representative feel so sorry for you, they quit their jobs on the spot.

I was ready to have some of these words about halfway through the list, but I made it to the end without threatening to yank my service and switch to someone else. I wonder at myself for just taking this abuse when I pay dearly every month for their service. Don’t I deserve to be treated better? Just because they have squillions of customers to take care of doesn’t mean each and every one doesn’t deserve a timely call back if a call back is promised! Doesn’t each customer deserve prompt restoration of service if they are PAYING for that service during the time it isn’t active? Yes and yes. Will I be the one to stand up for customer rights? Uh, unless they happen upon my blog, probably not.

* UPDATE! I sent a strongly worded email to my ISP!  If I had known this was a possibility, I never would have suggested I wasn’t willing to have words with them. Written words! Heck Yeah!

** NOTE! This is my 150th post! For having been at this for a year and a half, that doesn’t seem very impressive. Still! I wanted to announce it!

I have been married for seven years today. Yesterday, Hubby reminded me why he’s my hero, just in time to celebrate our anniversary.

Y’all, a little back story may be in order. Remember how on Thursday afternoon a big limb fell and pulled down our power line and we had to hire an electrician? Well, the electrician we found did a wonderful job on Friday of fixing it right up. For some serious cash, certainly, but he was a nice guy and really came through in our crisis. Anyway, I got home Friday evening, retrieved our frozen and refrigerated goods from our neighbor’s house, packed my things and drove to spend the weekend with Hubby in Birmingham because he had to work on Saturday, it was our anniversary weekend, (and I didn’t have any internet connection to entertain me at home). We spent most of Saturday afternoon in indecision about how to celebrate the anniversary and were basically decided that we’d just celebrate next weekend in Auburn when the phone call came. It was our next door neighbor informing me that there had been storms that afternoon and several more branches of our tree had come down. And it looked like the very same power line had come down, as well.

It was like someone had snatched my stomach out of my body. I felt both hot and freezing cold at the same time. I don’t even know what I said to the poor lady who called to tell us about it. I doubt I was particularly friendly to this bearer of bad news. Not that I wasn’t appreciative that she’d taken the time to call us when it didn’t look like we were in – that was very sweet. I am pretty sure I thanked her for the call. But I was just too stunned by the unbelievably awful timing of it all to be 100% polite.

Hubby also received a call from another concerned neighbor and after we called a third neighbor, we pieced together that it was either not as bad or significantly worse than what had happened on Thursday afternoon, and the massive branches in our yard were either bigger or more profuse than the original branch of destruction. Also, there were either holes in our roof or just some small branches.

Basically, we were going to have to come back to Auburn together to see for our selves. So, after ten minutes of sobbing uncontrollably, I pulled myself together, had dinner with Hubby’s family, called my Dad to apologize for not getting to see him on Father’s Day, and we went to bed.

Wow, okay that was a lot of back story…sorry, every now and then I can get quite carried away. To the point!

Sunday morning, Hubby and I got up semi-early, packed up the cars with a ladder, chainsaw, gas cans, hand saws, gloves and safety glasses and drove the two hours back to Auburn. When we arrived, it was clear that everyone we spoke with on Saturday had basically explained the situation correctly, despite the inconsistencies in their stories.

There were branches a plenty,  a couple of which were larger than the original branch of doom. And in terms of the power line, the situation was worse in that when the line came down, it was a live-wire, meaning they had to remove our meter box when they came out, which they hadn’t had to do on Thursday afternoon. But the situation was much better also, because the electrician had reinforced the new piping much better than it was originally done, and therefore none of that will have to be replaced the second go around. As far as the roof goes, there were little limbs all over it, and maybe a shingle or two poking up where it shouldn’t, but nothing extreme. But Hubby was there with me, and may I say, that made all the difference! I could handle the insanity of the situation because I wasn’t being required to figure it all out alone. In fact, I could defer to him as the authority on the subject of all things tree and power.

Not only that, my man is a beast with a chainsaw. He got to work with that thing and in no time, he’d chopped up the biggest limbs in the driveway into more manageable pieces. AND he hauled most of it to the street for pick up. I was in charge of smaller branches and obtaining cold liquids for him to drink. And taking phone calls, of which there were many, as our families were checking on us constantly. His parents even came down to join us, arriving around 3 with sustenance and another manly eye.

With his dad there to advise him, Tom ended up in the tree with the chainsaw. Keep in mind, when I say that this is a huge tree, I am not exaggerating as usual. I’m serious. Hubby was at least thirty feet up*. I was terrified, but I was also really proud. He chopped down three more huge limbs and looked like a rock star doing it. There’s just something about a man with power tools. Yummy.

After descending from the heights of the tree, he started chopping up the felled branches and the power tool gave out before he did. We decided it would take three days to chop up the rest with hand saws so there are still three HUGE branches in our yard and driveway, but Hubby will be back next weekend to work on that. In the meantime, as soon as I get power, I’m going to make pies for the three neighbors that helped us out this last week and hope they forgive the fact that our yard looks like a war zone.

In conclusion, my husband rocks. Happy Anniversary!

* A Picture of Hubby In HUGE DEAD TREE:

Hubby In the Tree!

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