Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Talk Thursday (on Saturday): What I Did This Summer

Sorry for the delay. We had technical difficulties. Apparently my antivirus software was having an argument with something called "Norton 360". I don't even know where that came from. I thought it was illegal for your laptop to download something without telling you. Well, even if it's not illegal, it certainly shows a breach of trust in the relationship. Perhaps we should seek counseling.

I know summer doesn't officially start until June twentysomething, but for me it kicked off in early May, when Texas Frightmare Weekend roared into town. Two solid days of horror movies, memorabilia, guest lectures, extremely amusing T-shirts, great costumes and all things scary. Next year's weekend is already in the planning stages, so if you're a fan of horror and you live anywhere near North Texas, you should really consider checking it out. If nothing else, it's not often that you get to see six movies for fifty bucks. Okay, some of them were better than others. But still.

In late May I went to the Pen to Press Writers Retreat in New Orleans, where I had a number of spooky experiences. New Orleans is kind of rumored to host those, from what I hear. Among them: Hearing a bunch of things I didn't know I already knew, all rolled into a package and actually explained for the first time, about how best to write commercial fiction. Running into JulieAnne, a girl I went to junior high school with a million years ago in the wilds of Utah. (And by the way, you should check out her blog; it is really good.) Wanting a beer, for the first time in like five years, to the point of calling my sponsor and asking her to talk me out of ordering one. She doesn't normally do beer, just food, but she humored me. Maybe it was just the alcohol flowing freely in the French quarter or something. Couldn't have been the intense anxiety about having to, you know, talk about writing with people, something I basically never do except in certain contexts. Nah.

We've also had a lot of fun with appliances blowing up and otherwise misbehaving. Next on the agenda is almost certainly the water heater, which, we found out quite recently, is 19 years old. That's, oh, about seven to nine years past the life span of a water heater. My uncle Bob told us not to worry, though, because water heaters only fail when you're out of the house for two or three days so that they can flood your entire basement. We don't have a basement, though, just kind of a laundry room, so hopefully we are exempt. At least until we save up another $600 or so, that is.

Recently, we've had yet another dispute with our idiot neighbor about yet another tree. Last summer, while I was out of work, I watched him bring in a skid loader and dig a big hole in his back yard. This could not possibly end well. Turned out he was installing an underground swimming pool, normally the kind that sits three to four feet above ground. Once you put them underground you start running into city issues, such as needing to get plumbing and drainage permits and putting up a certain kind of fence to protect the local kiddos and things of that nature. He didn't do any of those things. I checked. (I have that power.) He did, however, come over and ask us to remove two trees on our side of the fence because they were dropping leaves in his new pool. Oh, for Christ's sake. I was thinking about saying something along the lines of it's nothing you and your chainsaw on your own side of the fence can't handle, but, no further comment. Still, I dutifully called our tree guy and he came over and gave us an estimate. I took the estimate next door and showed it to the idiot neighbor. Just to be a sport, I even told him I'd pay for half, as long as I got it up front in cash. He hemmed and hawed and finally said he'd get back to me. I'm not holding my breath.

I also had a lot of fun with hypoglycemia this summer as a result of the continuing tinkering with meds (which, despite the fact that it's been going on for a good seven or eight months now, shows no sign of even slowing down). I spent three weeks on the vegetables-and-whole-grain train and have come to the reluctant conclusion that I'm probably stuck there. Every time I try to eat the way I used to, it all comes crashing back, which is to say, I almost go crashing to the floor. I mean, there are worse things in the world than eliminating sugar and white flour from one's diet, but I'd rather do it because of some saintly religious ideal or other instead of "because I frick'n have to." Kind of like one of my bosses eats strictly kosher to serve the glory of God rather than "because I was raised that way." Yes, that's childish, but I'm age-frozen at about twelve and a half, so I can be that way.

Last weekend, Joan and I were upgraded to new BlackBerries by our kindly service provider. Not the Torch, which would have been great, but considering mine is almost five years old, anything is a significant step up. Mine is fuschia, which is just cooler than cool. We had all kinds of trouble getting them up and running, though. There were two trips to Fry's involved and something like four hours spent on the horn with tech support. But, they work now and mine rings to "In a Big Country." It was either that or Warren Zevon's "Lawyers, Guns and Money." Heck, now that I think about it I don't see why I can't use both.

Which brings us, more or less, to the present moment, the only moment that we will ever have, the only moment that matters. Savor the present moment, kids. Especially if you live in North Texas: Savor the brief pause between the blast furnace and the deep freeze, the 90-degree days and the 75-degree nights. They're all too rare in this world of colliding weather systems. And speaking of which, it's the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina today. Having a roof over one's head is a good thing. Having a house that's not under ten feet of water is also a good thing.

Going to renew my flood insurance now. Later.


Cele said...

Your summer makes mine sound tame. Ducky and I have an on going battle with our water heater's thermostat... I think it will continue until the day it dies.

Ducky would like to go to Naw 'leans for the Mardi Gras, I'd like to go for the metaphysical. I know a writer from that area who gives spooky tours I would love to take one.

As for the dude with the swimming pool? His poor taste and he's a butt head.

Jen said...

Poor taste indeed - you should see the side of his house and the pile of decorative rocks he still hasn't finished applying thereto some three years after he started. I just refer to him as "my idiot neighbor, who is an idiot." He's like Mater from the movie Cars, minus the sense of humor.