The Scariest Chick on Two Feet

The Scariest Chick on Two Feet

Notice I changed my banner on this blog. I replaced the slanted view of my living room with a pinky-orange fishnet placard that matches my Channillo.com short story series, “A Run in My Tights.” I also wanted to upgrade more from a middle grade to a “new adult” feel. More significantly, I changed the tagline from “Living Ironically” to:

“Chick With An Attitude.”

Time to own-up. At a recent GLVWG writer’s conference, I noticed a pattern.

Hint #1: As I explained my projects to a prominent branding consultant, she said to me, “You’re a handful aren’t you? I could tell from the questions you asked during the session.” Frankly, I felt like Little Miss Closed-Mouth at the session.

Maybe not.

Hint #2: In a panel of literary agents/publishers, one of them said A) Barnes & Noble will likely no longer be around in 10 years, and B) print book sales are on the rise. I asked him, “So how do you reconcile that statement about increases in print sales with the fact that Barnes & Noble is going out of business?”

The crowd laughed. Like I caught him in a lie or something. I felt bad.

Honestly, I just wanted to know whether print books actually were back on the rise.  (Note: He confirmed print sales are rising; Barnes & Noble’s predicted demise is a separate issue relative to its business model. Note:  I apologized to him at lunch the next day.)

Hint #3:  A volunteer from GLVWG read two pages of my waitress novel aloud during a critique session. In the scene, the inexperienced waitress is grilled by a potential employer. The session-reader caught me afterward. “Grrr,” she said, “I wanted to hear more of you in that story. I wanted to her tell that guy off!”

More of me? I don’t remember telling anyone off at this or any other event. However, I’m realizing that even in environments where I feel like Bashful the Dwarf, compared to the rest of the world, I’m a freaking steam roller.

Here’s the biggest tell-tale sign. Before starting the waitress story, I perused a stack of journals from my youth, and I noticed a distinct recurring theme:

.        1981: “Bobby says I have an attitude…”

.        1983: “PJ says I have an attitude.”

.        1987: “Danny thinks I have an attitude…”

.        1988: “Mike says I have an attitude, and I think he’s right.”

One other guy from this time frame—maybe a bit more of an intellectual problem-solver than the others—would calmly turn to me when I got uppity and say:

Yes, Dominatrix.”

These were all formidable guys—the only type even remotely equipped to deal with me, apparently. Bobby was captain of the football team and drove a truck the relative size of Utah. PJ was a good-ole’ frat brother and avid Steelers fan. Danny was an Irish tough-guy from Queens. Mike was a law student who rode a motorcycle.

And the outright kicker?

One of the above guys, who lists counter-terrorism and military intelligence as professional interests on his LinkedIn page, broke up with me because he said I was “intimidating.”

Time to own up. I must be the scariest b-tch on the planet.

I suppose this is how I am able to thrive as a short-statured woman in an industry dominated by men. Large men. ADD/genius, entrepreneurial, C-level men. In the technology space.

Sometimes I wonder if I have any business hanging around with all these nice people in Pennsylvania. I fear that before long, someone will ask me to pack up and go back to New York.

Until that time comes, I’m going to take the advice of the above branding expert during our consultation (thanks SuzyQ). Just as I braced to be chastised for being too in-your-face, she said to me:

“No. I want you to run with this.”

So there you have it. I’ll embrace The Attitude. I’ll forgive myself for the journal episodes where more than one of these guys literally ran from me, sprinting up the cold cement steps of my basement apartment, while early-twenties Suzanne yelled things after them.

If I can’t get away from it, I might as well settle in.

I hope being The Scary Chick turns out to be marketable.

 

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Aside: Note my flash fiction piece, Ex-smokers, which seems to pick up on this pattern….

Write Here, Write Now Anthology 2016

“How do you know these things about Italian guys, Ma?”

“Because I married one.”

 

The GLVWG Write Stuff Anthology is now available on Kindle and eBook format, for the first time, including my short story:

CHANGE FOR DOMENICK

itialyNever go on your first date with a guy who asked your mother out first.

Especially if she has this near-psychic ability to pinpoint a person’s true character down to the bone within two minutes of meeting somebody. My mother was weird that way. Half the time she was mistaken for a giggly twenty-five year-old. She loved low-budget sci-fi movies from the 1950s and believed Bigfoot was out there. But when it came to a person’s character, she had your number the minute she saw you.

My buddy Marianne’s Sweet 16 party was at Pat and Jim’s restaurant in Patchogue, Long Island. The party ran long. Ma waited for me in the lobby, with her long Mediterranean-looking little-girl hair; as usual, smiling like a six year-old.

A D.J. named Domenick packed up his light board and cables in the front of the restaurant.

Ey,” he said to Ma, unplugging things. “You missed the party!”

“Me?” she said. “I’m just a taxi service.”

*    *   *

To continue reading, only $2.99 on Kindle, buy at:GLVWG image

http://www.amazon.com/Write-Here-Now-Anthology-Anthologies-ebook/dp/B01ETJPF5W/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1461705320&sr=1-1

Take a read, give a review! Plenty of other terrific fiction from the Lehigh Valley inside…

Or find Domenick in my Channillo.com short story series, “A Run In My Tights.”

 

Who Owns the Giant Wrench?

Who Owns The Giant Wrench?

A Discussion on Intellectual Property

wrench pink

My mother is funny sometimes, God love ‘er. When we lived all together, she’d constantly instruct us to put the clothes in the dishwasher and the dishes in the hamper. Throughout my first two semesters at college, she mistakenly addressed my mail to Pittsburgh, New York. (I do this kind of thing now all the time, of course.)

After I moved out and found myself in college, I developed a theory. I said, Mom, someday a lightbulb is going to go off in God’s head and he will realize he forgot something. On that day, a GIANT WRENCH is going to descend out of the sky and tighten around our heads, and God is going to give that one little half twist that has been missing.

For years, when Mom said something non-sensical or couldn’t think of the right word, she’d look at me and say, “The wrench.  The wrench is coming.”

I told my roommates in college. The Giant Wrench became famous, facetiously chasing each of us any time our brains took one of those momentary vacations, as we systematically destroyed gray matter come the weekends.

Decades later, my ex-roommate Susan from college, whom I adore, is polishing a work-in-progress. She says to me, “I wrote about the Giant Wrench!”

I think, wait… no fair.

The Giant Wrench is mine!

But is it?  I think of all the moments I have written about, and am in the process of re-writing, and have yet to write, that involve her. Adventures we had together and things she said to me that have stuck in my mind and thoroughly cracked me up. We had our own language, derivative of only us roommates.

Yet in being my funny and insightful and wickedly witty comrade, spouting intelligent dialog at the drop of a dime … hasn’t she been writing that stuff the whole time? If I borrow her as a character, am I stealing her material?  I recently reopened a copy of On The Road: Did Jack Kerouac plagiarize Neal Casssady’s life in creating Dean Moriarty? What did Neal Cassady have left to write about, then?

What if all the Dean Moriarties and Tad Allagashes and Tyler Durdens of the literati-verse stood up and demanded their own sovereignty?

(Okay, so Tyler Durden sort of did. But still within the construct of the narrative.)

There’s a woman who jogs in a neighborhood near my home.  We see her every year when the weather warms up.  She is suited in tight black spandex from head to toe—including a hood that wraps across her face, even in 90 degree weather.  A long, black pony tail swishes back and forth behind her head.Original Cinema Quad Poster - Movie Film Posters

My family calls her the Ninja Jogger.

For years, I thought the Ninja Jogger must make an appearance in a story somewhere, this curiously anonymous, skinny woman who could be Catherine Zeta Jones in “Entrapment.”  Who knows what identity she might employ in her regular life, among toddlers and willow trees and lawn-mowing men in cargo shorts?

A few months ago my daughter, studying creative writing at a university outside Philadelphia, remarks: “I’m writing about the Ninja Jogger.”

I think, Oh shit.

So who owns our mutual experiences? Does the copyright go to whoever writes them down first? In that case, I’m quite behind the game here. Is it whoever coined the phrases in question?  In that case, my husband came up with the name “Ninja Jogger,” comic book junkie that he is. And have I blown the cherry on the concept solely by mentioning her here?

For me and Susan, we’re trying to proactively divvy up our experiences so as not to duplicate each other’s efforts in our works. I can only hope for the best possible outcome: Maybe we will become known as popular novelists who struggled together through a long and reflective kinship. Dare I even mention, like that gaggle of expatriate writers of the Jazz Age, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Cummings, Stein, sitting at cafés together in Paris and expounding on their own writerliness.

That would be something worth sharing the Giant Wrench for, even.

We’ll work on that.

Meanwhile, I hope the Ninja Jogger was not an English major, too.

 

“…God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables, slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War, no Great Depression. Our great war is a spiritual war…our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised by television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires and movie gods and rock stars. But we won’t, and we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.” 

― Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club (Tyler Durden)

“Taste … is a matter of taste.”

― Jay McInerney, Bright Lights, Big City (Tad Allagash)

Immortalization vs. Exploitation

I realize here that I’ll be borrowing heavily from the lives of people I have cared about. People who entrusted themselves to me in the form of shared experiences that they at no time realized would be open for interpretation and repurposing years later. These people are still out there. And they did not opt-in to my projects.

Before Facebook and Google, it was all nice and neat and easy to forget that the people whose memories I plan to plunder are still functioning and in concrete existence. Now, with a keystroke or two, I can unearth evidence of their ongoing lives. It was easy ten years ago to think that people persisted only in my imagination, for the purpose of making me smile when recalling my history. They were memory-only, suitable for dredging up and reinventing on paper with a disguised name. Or to recreate, transmogrified and composited, sharing facets of a character that draws from several personalities—discrediting all of the source material in the process, as if each person were not whole enough on his or her own. Yet I spent decades learning and traveling and meeting people for the sake of discovering the secrets of the world, with the goal of building a base of experience wide enough to create a new universe of fiction, or creative non-fiction, on top of that.

I was always the type of person, somewhat like my children are now, who attracts others in need of empathy and guidance to support all their dire, f**ked-up idiosyncrasies.

I was the girl that guys came to with confidences, allowing me to glimpse the misfit pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that contrasted with whatever they presented to rest of the world.

Those people innately knew I’d keep their secrets and love them anyway, smoothing over the jaggedness. And they graciously did the same for me.

Those are the moments and relationships I am passionate about. That’s what I want to capture. Yet I can’t help feeling this translates to some kind of betrayal that will necessitate forgiveness. There is a thin line between immortalizing these moments (I mean these people–friends, love interests and charges) and exploiting them. And I’m doing so in order to present a cathartic, authentic, emotionally valid piece of literature for public consumption. For art.

The difference may just depend upon their point of view. And their level of clemency.

To all those people:  I always knew this day was coming. You didn’t.

Forgive me.