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Trout Nation Posts

Do they get that I can still, like, vote, even if they take my yard sign?

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I wasn’t going to post anything political in my blog. I just wasn’t going to, because I don’t like arguing about my political choices with people, or trying to tell people why their choices are wrong, because no one ever changes their way of thinking in those conversations, and, let’s be honest, I don’t want anyone to not buy my books because I didn’t support their candidate. So, don’t think of this as a political post. Think of this as a JEN IS MAD AS HELL AND SHE IS NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE post.

On Monday, I put out my brand spankin’ new Obama/Biden yard sign. Today is Thursday. Today, my sign was stolen.

Mine was not the first sign to be stolen in town. Another house has put out replacement signs that say, “Obama was stolen from this spot,” whenever their signs are lifted, and then they replace them with another, official sign.

Someone else in town had an unsavory word scrawled across their Obama sign. I’m sure that you can guess what the word is, based on the candidate’s race and the fact that there are an alarming number of Confederate flags in this town despite being located in one of the northern-most states in the country.

I loathe, and I mean, loathe, the fact that my neighbors have had McCain/Palin signs, two of them, proudly displayed in their lawn for the last month and those signs have gone completely unmolested. I don’t WANT their signs to get stolen, I just want to know why their political yard signs are a-okay and mine are totes steal worthy.

So, with rage and spray paint, I concocted my own solution to this problem:

This is the part I do not understand, dear readers: what do political sign thieves think they’re going to accomplish? Was the goal to make me go out to get the mail, see the missing sign and say, “Damn, my sign is gone. Guess I have to vote for McCain.” BECAUSE THAT IS EXACTLY HOW IT WORKS.

The Scariest Thing In Kalamazoo

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I have a great friend. His name is Keith, but he likes to be called Raven, and so that is what I call him. Because Raven is a much cooler name that Keith, if you really think about it.

This cool friend decided to hang out with me a couple of weeks ago and, being the cool friend his is, show me the coolest place in Kalamazoo:

This is the Goodie Shop. They have a truly staggering array of candies and soda pop of all kinds, but they specialize in nostalgia candy. I happily skipped out of there with a bottle of grape Nehi and an Abba-Zaba. It was heavenly.

To access this wonder of childhood indulgences all grown-up, you must first go by the single most scary and confusing thing in Kalamazoo. The mural on the side of the hippie co-op grocery.

Now, I had driven past this building many a time, and never really paid much attention to it. But on this day, we parked directly in front of the thing, and that really makes you stop and pay attention to it, the way that parking directly in front of a live T-Rex would make you pay attention. There was no way to avoid it, so to speak.

Luckily, I had my trusty camera on me and was able to capture the truly freakiest parts of this thing to share with you:

Freaky thing #1: Giant Cyclops Baby

Because of this mural’s age, there are places where the paint is cracking and peeling. That’s to be expected. But look at the weird absence of paint over the baby’s eyes, and shape it takes. I’m not kidding, this was the first thing I noticed about this mural… the baby looks like it’s wearing Cyclops glasses to keep from firing his mutant laser beams everywhere. Which leads me to an important issue I suddenly have with the X-Men comics… if Cyclops couldn’t open his eyes or risk blasting people away with his laser vision, what happened in the womb? Babies open their eyes in utero at like, twenty-something weeks. Did his mom have a mutant-laser-resistant womb? I must call a comic geek immediately and get this sorted out.

Freaky Thing #2: Baking At The Beach For No Apparent Reason

Here’s the deal: this whole mural is depicting all different types of people doing all different types of things… but the setting is a sand dune. So, this guy, who looks creepily like the dude from Disneyworld’s “Carousel of Progress,” is standing out at the beach, mixing up something delicious to bake. Somewhere. Because there is not an oven around. In fact, there is no kitchen. One can only assume that he put all the ingredients in the bowl, grabbed his spoon and jumped into the car. “These cookies will only be complete if they have seen the ocean!” some concept-mad part of his artist’s brain commands. He cannot rest until the dough has been bathed in the warm rays of the sun, has felt the embrace of the hot sand and heard the lapping of the tide against the shore. Only then can one truly understand that these cookies are not just oven warmed lumps of dough. These cookies are all of creation!

Freaky Thing #3: The Literal Hoverround

See the guy in the wheel chair? See anything odd about him?

Look closer:

He is hovering off the ground! His wheelchair is magic!

Freaky Thing #4: The bastard child of Joey Ramone and Howard Stern makes uncomfortable small talk with tiny Ron Jeremy

“Would you like to play what appears to be my out-of-proportion guitar, Tiny Ron Jeremy?”
“No, thank you, for I am tiny, and getting a bit lost in all of this vegetation.”

This is the textbook definition of surrealism, my friends.

Freaky Thing #5: The guy in the mural who is just as flabbergasted at all of this as I am.

I have a theory about this tiny man. I think he was probably on vacation at the beach, probably filming his kids frolicking in the surf, when he spotted this enormous bean stalk. And he was all, “Honey… you watch the kids a minute. I’m going to go check this out.” So, he goes toward the giant bean stalk. He’s curious, but it’s a curiosity mixed with fear that is fueled by disaster movies. You know the ones. They always start out with some clueless tourist on vacation who decides to check out this ancient ruin or dormant volcano. And when they do, their death is the first in a long line of tragedies that spur the hero to action. Now, this tiny man with the video camera doesn’t want to be a plot device. But he just can’t help himself. He creeps through the giant leaves and what does he see? This clusterfuck of random imagery just begging to be filmed.

And so, he waits. He waits to see the gargantuan Joey/Howard hybrid come to a loving accord with Tiny Ron Jeremy. He wants to know how the Dadaist baker’s cookies turn out. He wonders if he can sell the patent on granddad’s hovering wheelchair, or if the huge baby with laser vision will blast him to pieces before he can properly examine it.

Aren’t those questions we’re asking ourselves every day? Maybe not in those exact words, but I have a feeling you understand my general sentiment.

Or maybe there is a gas leak in here.

The Wreck Of My Office Chair

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What did I do this weekend? I’ll tell you what I did. I went to see Gordon Lightfoot in concert, that’s what I did.

Now, if you are like most of my friends (except for Bronwyn Green), you will be asking yourself, “Why?”

Because he’s Gordon Lightfoot, that’s why! Because he writes songs that tell beautiful stories, and so what if some of those stories don’t make a lot of sense and seem to be induced by “hard living,” if you get my drift (and I think you do)? The man is a modern-day bard, a wandering minstrel selling his songs. And he’s still doing it while pushing seventy. That, my friends, is true devotion to one’s craft.

However, pre-Gordon, there was a tragedy. And it happened in my house. It happened to my butt.

Back in the day, when I posted about my office and included pictures, I showed you the nightmare of my office chair. The chair that was the very reason I called my blog, “My Office Chair Is Real Uncomfortable.” I kept that chair, despite the fact that it often popped apart and pinched me, despite the fact that it made my rear cheeks fall asleep, because it had seen me through several manuscripts and was a trusted friend. But now, it has betrayed me.

Here’s how it happened: I’m replying to a fan email (I actually do that, despite all evidence to the contrary. It just takes me a long time and I don’t get all of them) on my BlackBerry, and I lean back in my trusty chair. And as my texting thumbs fly over the tiny keys, I hear this queer sort of groaning sound. Then, a cracking sound. Then, the physical reassurance of the chair at my back is no longer, and I am sliding, too slowly for it to be sudden, to quickly to do anything about it, off the back of the chair and onto the floor, where my tailbone makes a brisk acquaintance with the wood laminate.

Holy God, was that humiliating. Yup. I broke a chair. Sure, it was already broke, but come on. I’m super huge and pregnant here, let’s not add insult to injury. If I was meant to have a bruised posterior this weekend, it would have been just as easily accomplished by some method that did not point out my super lardassness.

Here is photographic evidence of the carnage:

And that’s my dog, looking guilty, though he had nothing to do with it. He just has a guilty conscience. He’s Catholic.

Onto brighter things, though. Here is a picture of me and the lovely Gena Showalter at Meijer in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Gena was there signing books on the Levy book tour, with some other authors. But I was there for the Gena, because she was one of the very first authors I ever met after become a “real” writer, and she has always been ever so nice. Please to be looking at Gena and not me, the person with the swollen face and the hair that is in bad need of recoloring:


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A Morning Of Disappointments.

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I found the following things disappointing this morning:

  • Came home from dropping the kid off at school to find Cleopatra on one of the movie channels, but I’d already missed the Rex Harrison parts.
  • Metallica is being inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, despite their general douche-baggery.
  • I cannot find the cord to connect my camera to my laptop so that I can share the fabulous picture of me and Gena Showalter standing by the bras in Meijer.
  • I just bought new long-sleeved maternity shirts and it’s going to be like, a bajillion degrees today.

Otherwise, things will probably go okay for me today.

Except for that Metallica thing, which will stick in my craw for quite some time.

Bienvenidos A Mis Baño

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So, it’s official. I’m probably going to die. Oh, the people at the doctor’s office acted like it was no big thing. Just bronchitis. But I know the truth. I have some creeping lung disease. I may not have spent much time in a coal mine, but I know what this cough means. Certain doom.

Also, I have a real stuffy nose. The above few lines, when read out loud, sound something like this: “I bay not hab spend much dime in a coal bine, bud I know wud tis cough means. Cerdin doob.”

Yes, cerdin doob, my friends. Your brave hero might not survive this one.

I have found a temporary way to alleviate the insidious symptoms of my disease. I can sit in the bathroom with the hot water running in the shower, and make a little rain forest for myself in there. It’s giving me Robert Plant hair, and I’m sweating, but I’m pretty sure that what I’m also doing is breathing. I haven’t done it in so long, it’s hard to tell, but I’m confident that this is what people are referring to when they talk about it.

So, this is my view, today:

I like the bathroom, because it has a natural place to sit. Also, it is convenient for when I start sneezing and coughing and hacking and wheezing and peeing at the same time. But notice how shiny the walls are. That’s a combination of being slick with moisture from the tropical climate I’ve introduced, and the fact that the guy who “helped” me at Lowes was like, “Get high gloss for your bathroom and kitchen!” Well, I don’t know what he thought I was going to be doing in those rooms that I would need vinyl-like paint that was highly susceptible to peeling (like, what, did he think I was going to make a homemade sweat lodge in there or something? Well, I DID), but holy cow, is it annoying. I hate my paint.

Check out my awesome bathroom reading, yo. I like to leave books in the bathroom, because I think it tells people, “I am a good time manager. I use every moment available in the day to broaden my mind and experience. Even when I am pooping.”

Okay, this is my shower curtain. I bought it because I thought it was so cool. Like, Enchanted Tiki Room cool. I brought it home, took down our old one, which was just plain white, and hung this one up, thinking it looked so awesome and that I was just the bestest, most funnest decorator ever.

And everyone makes fun of it.

My enthusiasm for it has not waned, but now there is an edge of spite to its presence. It’s me saying, “Screw you, world. I love my shower curtain. If you don’t like it, go to hell!”

Me and my shower curtain, against the world.

My husband complains that I have to much stuff on the bathroom counter. I say, “What the hell do you need so much space on the counter for? Are you going to do an autopsy in there or something? Shut up!”

The bathroom is an enormous source of marital tension, really, once you factor in the shower curtain and the counter space issue. I’m sure if we ever get a divorce, right next to “Reason for petition” it will say “Bathroom.”

Dime mas! you’re all saying. Okay. I will. These are the lights in my bathroom. They annoy me, because I bought the wrong light bulbs when two burned out, and they don’t match. I tried to make it look intentional by alternating them, or putting two of the same on the outside and the other two in the middle, but it’s just not working out. This is the best I can do.

So, that’s what I’m doing today. I’m sitting in my bathroom/steam room and pretending to be alive, when what I really want to do is curl up into a ball and die. But don’t worry, somehow, I shall soldier on, I’m sure. I always do. For I am tough.

Also, look at this turtle:

Is that not the happiest turtle you’ve ever seen? Look how thrilled he looks! No matter what awesome thing happens to you today (maybe an author you really like doesn’t die of lung collapse in her bathroom), your day is not going to be in anyway as good as that turtle’s day is going, I guarantee it.

So, I’m Pretty Sure I’m Going To Die.

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I think I have pneumonia. I’m not a doctor, despite the appearance of my shiny white lab coat (I just wear that to protect my clothes from spills), but I’m thinking the sloshing sounds coming from the vicinity of my lungs, making me sound like a human water bed whenever I move, might be an indicator. Also, the fact that I woke up this morning going, “Is someone making boiling water? Where is that tea kettle noise coming from? Oh, it’s me. Breathing. That sucks.”

Today, I’ll be giving a presentation at GRRRWA, after which time I will drive myself directly to the funeral home in anticipation of impending demise.

Shut up, I’ve been busy.

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I have been really busy, y’all. Let me tell you the latest development in this awesome life of mine.

I found a Tuba.

In the trash.

Oh yes.

My friend Jill and I had just dropped a friend off at her apartment after a rousing day of doing the stupid shit that we always do when we get together, like buying a bunch of pairs of flip-flops at Target and so on and so forth. Now, because this apartment complex was designed by rocket scientists and brain surgeons, they have one, count em, one dumpster for a complex with like, nine buildings, and the buildings have like, sixteen units a piece in them, so I don’t know, you do the math, but that’s a lot of garbage. So, we’re driving past the trash heap that the chronically full dumpster hides underneath, and Jill goes, “Wait… did somebody throw out a tuba?”

I pulled a full on, tire screeching U-turn and busted ass back to the dumpster, where we found… Trash Tuba. It was totally in working order, apart from a few isolated dents and bangs.

So, right now, Trash Tuba is at the music instrument fixing place, getting all patched up. They said it would take about a week, and that was, like, last Tuesday, so I’m getting antsy. I want my Trash Tuba right now! I want to lovingly cradle it in my arms and play lots of brassy, fart-sounding slow jams. I WANT MY TRASH TUBA!

Okay, so I lied, I haven’t been busy. But wasn’t my absence worth it for a story like that?