Saturday, October 31, 2009

I have a lot of words and I'm not afraid to use them.

Recently I read How to Become a Famous Writer Before You're Dead, by Ariel Gore. I've read a lot of books about writing but this has become my favorite. She dispels all the excuses for putting things off with practical advice. She doesn't waste a lot of time telling you what you already know. If you want to be a writer, you have to write. What stands out about her advice are all the pointers she gives about self promotion and most of these ideas transfer over to the art market as well. Good stuff. Ariel Gore is the cat's meow. Read anything she's written and her personality just shines through every page. She's the creator/editor of Hip Mama and worth checking out.

Then, Bam opportunity fell into my lap. I'm glad opportunity isn't like a cat with the claws outstretched because that would really hurt. A writer friend met a woman looking for folks to contribute to an online version of a local paper that had gone out of print and she recommended me. I gave her two little audition type articles and she liked them! So now I have the motivation to meet a deadline each week as I write this column. I'll be making more material, honing the craft, maybe even grabbing a few more readers. (No offense to my imaginary friends from here of course.)

Here it is,me in print! Sort of. you know the kind without ink, on a screen and on an obscure website that I can't even connect a link to. Hmm, not very differenty from this at all. My grand entrance to the respectable world outside of self publishing wasn't graceful. If I'd been thinking about it maybe my first sentence wouldn't have had the word crud in it. The difficult thing was to describe what my general subject matter will be, and how to describe myself. Subject matter I still haven't decided on, but since I'm trying to write humor, I'm going to go with whatever has the most joke potential. I'm aiming for five laughs for each piece with pieces averaging about 600 words.

This is what I came up with for a bio:
Alice Mullen is just some poor shlump living over in Lovettsville with too much time on her hands and a seemingly insatiable appetite for work that is unpaid and tedious. A slave to her creative muse she seems incapable of earning money in any of her endeavors. Mother of three, painter, writer and wise arse extraordinaire she balances an inferiority complex with an inflated sense of self. Her credentials are too numerous to mention, her expertise too wide and varied to question. Her education is a combination of both high brow elitist learning and street smarts. She will except both compliments and money at

November. National Novel Writing Month! I'm going to try and start fresh this year and push through. My novel, I guess we can call it my first novel, is still struggling through revision. There's a chance that my bright idea is part of what's been doing me in. Maybe I overdeveloped the plot trajectory so nothing organic could come from the writing. Maybe I was just coloring in the lines trying to hard to get to the next plot hurdle. The benefit of NaNoWriMo is that there'll be no time to over think. The field is wide open for ideas and I'm excited to get started.

Of the two pieces I submitted to the online paper thingy, one was considered to risky to publish. So I give it to you. Happy eat the kid's candy before they do day.

by Alice Mullen
Recently a Springfield Virginia man was arrested for indecent exposure . The catch to the story is that he was naked in his own home in his kitchen making coffee, and this got me to thinking. Isn't this a sort of gender discrimination? If it had been a woman don't you think folks would be less likely to complain?
It's not this fellow's fault that the male genitalia are all dangling and silly. Speaking of which, Ladies have you ever noticed that sometimes, as you gaze lovingly at your man in all his glory it's a little like a cartoon face, the nipples like eyes, the belly button a little nose? Or is that just me? Maybe I'd be less likely to damage sensitive egos if I wasn't laughing hysterically every time a naked man comes at me.
A woman is just less likely to be naked by accident. I, for one, am almost never naked unless the light is flattering (read here dim), or I'm swept up in a certain reckless abandon. Though there are disputes about the actual time this incident occurred, it was most definitely before noon. Reckless abandon never visits me before noon.
I used to live on a large farm, in a dark house, with great views. Since I didn't have any real neighbors, I didn't have curtains. For the most part this worked out just fine. I would step out of the shower, gaze at grazing cows while I dried off, and all was right with the world. One morning though as I stepped out, the sunlight bouncing off my glistening wet skin like a glittery beacon, I looked out to see ten or more people standing around watching as a vet gave the cows inoculations. I'll tell you there's nothing that can make you feel so young and vibrant as crawling away from a window on your hands and knees. Not that I have any shame in my body. I think it's holding together very well, but I have had three children so there are portions of my physique that require subtitles or at the least, post-its of explanation. Without the benefit of these explanations I think the sight of ME is a bit much to take. I make a concerted effort to spare the general public, but my point is, accidents happen.
Back then to our man in Springfield. There's a chance these things just didn't occur to him; his nakedness, the woeful lack of curtains, the watchful eyes of a close knit community. Maybe he was behaving like a flasher, exposing himself to strangers to get some weird thrill. But oh, how lazy and sad. I mean at least you can give a flasher some grudging respect, he's out there fully engaged with life and the elements. Armed with nothing but a trench coat and a sense of purpose, with the ever present threat of a chill wind all but shriveling his credibility. Standing in front of a window? Lazy, lazy lazy. And with the benefits of central heating, down right pitiful. So maybe he was a perv, but a lazy sad one. How awkward are things going to be in this neighborhood? Fully clothed on his way to the mailbox, neighbors will avert their eyes from him for fear of something unzipped or that they'll giggle just thinking of it. I'm not saying it's okay to be creepy or perverted especially where kids are concerned. What I am saying is that in these times when there are so many bad things to be or do, naked hardly seems to be one of them.
It was a mother that called the police, presumably to defend her child from being exposed to too much humanity all at once. What's really disturbing about this is that she witnessed him (either exposing himself or accidentally forgetting his clothes- take your pick) and decided the best way to handle it was to call the police. Victims call police to defend themselves from crimes. What I'm concerned with is that this woman felt so helpless that she had to call the authorities to help. What ever happened to the days when the community set the standards for a modicum of behavior and mothers were the stalwart defenders of these standards? Communities have all but become extinct. Now we just have clusters of houses without anything connecting the lives within them. This woman didn't realize the potential power of her community. It's all just so simple. This guy's neighbors just need to take a small collection and buy the poor man some curtains, and a trench coat just in case.

Friday, October 16, 2009

My favorite deviant

So Felix's teacher sent home a note. Actually it was more like a novella. He's been arguing with her and being disrespectful. Which doesn't sound like him, but when he gets an idea in his head he can be pretty fierce to defend it. The long note offered some examples of his behavior. Did I mention it was long? And as much as I'm embarrassed to know that he's being difficult, as much as I want to help the teacher and come up with strategies for him to deal with everything better. I still think he's doing better than I did as a kid.

I was way too sensitive as a kid. I could deal with adults, I felt like I understood animals, but other kids were a mystery to me. Once we were watching a slide show about the sun. I was spacing out, looking out the window. I remember it was one of the slide show movies with a loud beep to signal in the recording for the teacher to change the slide. I tuned in to pay attention just in time to hear that the sun was a star and would eventually burn out. But, because I hadn't been paying attention I thought they said it would burn out in 30 years not 30 million. (This highlights the value of paying attention kids.) I took in my little dose of misinformation and just absorbed it. I looked around at all my classmates and felt like I suddenly understood them. That it all made sense, the things they thought were funny that weren't, the way they acted so loud and wild. It was only news to me, they already knew we were all doomed and they were just determined to live it up. I went on thinking like that for months before I finally sorted it all out. See? Weird dark goth child. Maybe I was anemic, or prematurely depressed? I think having a strange viewpoint growing up sort of helps me now. I can usually come at things from some unexpected angle, because normal just eludes me. But poor Felix. I hope him and normal can become acquainted.

And while I'm rummaging through the junk left on the sidewalks of memory lane I can't leave out the big black dog. Grammar school our recess was out on the blacktop. Across from the blacktop there was this big grassy slope that looked out over the school and everyone set their coats and lunches on the hill. Now me, being anti-social and all, I sat up on the hill and watched. Sometimes I watched the games of the kids below, and sometimes I tried to see into the windows of the school and wondered what the teachers did when we were all outside. One day this big old black dog sauntered up to me on the hill. He was a little shy, like me, but eventually he sat beside me and I patted him. To me it was a thrill because secretly I was lonely and it was so nice to have some affection in the middle of the day. But as I was patting him I could feel his ribs sticking out . . .

I remember sitting in the principals office, crying, my nose running, gasping for breath in between sobs. The principal kept asking me what I had been thinking. And I really didn't get it. I know I was upset that an adult was upset with me but I truly didn't understand. My dog friend had been so hungry, and all the kids, well, they were obviously well fed.

I know some version of the big black dog will eventually find Felix. Maybe he can do better than I did and just feed the dog his own lunch and not every one's.