If you are in need of some, then having just read them both I heartily recommend this:
and then this:
After you've read them, we can all be annoyed TOGETHER that we have to wait until Valentine's Day for this:
Disclosure: Those up there are affiliate links. Which means that if you buy those books through my links, I get a nickel or something. I LIKE NICKELS!
My father's family ate secrets during the Great Depression.
My grandmother, the Gypsy, worked with Margaret Sanger
and knew the dirty little secrets of half the girls in town.
Legend has it packets of meat would show up on their doorstep,
the shameful mis-steps of the daughters of the rich, blood-tinged.
"If a dog shits in your yard, you take the shit and throw it in the woodstove,"
I can remember her telling my mother. "That way it burns his asshole."
We visited her every Saturday in the Jewish old folks' home. She wore
necklaces, bracelets, and earrings of turquoise beads, to ward off the Evil Eye.
"This one, she'll suffer," she said, and spat lovingly onto the top of my head.
I hated Saturdays. "This is what you get for marrying a shiksa." My father nodded,
and handed me a paper napkin. My granny gave me a worry-stone, made of quartz,
with a groove for a troubled thumb. She knew I would need it, the witch.
Sometimes life pulls you out of yourself with its ordinary beauty,
the stumbled-upon poetry about the agony of knowing on social media,
walking out to the backyard beehive with an emotional sweet tooth and a spoon,
and just for a moment you forget everything but the perfection of metaphors.
Figure One: My very favorite author, whose fiction has cheered me up immensely during trying times now follows me on the Twitter. I can die happy!
If you're all "Tiffany WHO?" and enjoy the sex, good writing, and well-rounded characters you'll fall in love with, you should go and read this:
and then this:
and then this:
And then you and I can wail and gnash our teeth TOGETHER because the fourth book, The Mistress, isn't out until July 30th.
Disclosure: Those are affiliate links.
Last night I walked around a corner at work and a co-worker was covertly texting on his phone. "Better watch out," I said, "if The Evil One sees you s/he'll kill you."
"I don't fear death," replied my co-worker, waggling his eyebrows.
"Death be not proud?" I asked him, and without missing a beat he jumped in with "for though some have called thee mighty and dreadful, I LAUGH IN YOUR FUCKING FACE, BIATCH!"
And then we high-fived.
There sure are a lot of English majors in the service industry.
Oh my goodness, y'all. I just spent my entire day off and most of today's morning off positively WALLOWING in the writing of one Tiffany Reisz. Like you know how if you give a cat a big ole pile of catnip, they do that thing where they take a bite, fling themselves down on their backs, and twist around with a look on their face like "yes, I know, I'm ridiculous but this is just SO GREAT?" That.
Sometimes a good distraction is the most wonderful thing in the world, and for as long as I was buried in the books, novellas, and short stories, my tooth didn't hurt and my head didn't hurt and I wasn't worrying about money or anyone's health or the fact that someone done lost their mind at one of my jobs (yes, again, no, not the same person, a different one--we're an unstable lot in the service industry, what can I say).
It was grand.
Especially when I found that the author has a website where she not only publishes the odd freebie, but also does nice things like auction signed copies of her work (including a chapter of her not-yet-released next book) and a phone call from her to benefit those affected by Hurricane Sandy via the American Red Cross. I'd totally bid on that if I had money to burn, purely because PREVIEW CHAPTER (not so much the signed books, as I have an enire shelf full of those from the many amazing writers I met during my MFA program years and I kind of feel like signed books are overrated, in a don't-touch-those-maybe-someone-will-die-scandalously-and-make-us-rich-on-eBay kind of way, or the phone call because I hate the phone, but I suppose I'd suck it up and talk to my new favorite author for a bit, you know, to be polite).
If kinky sex is not your thing then a) I'm terribly sorry for you and b) probably you won't enjoy Tiffany Reisz's work but if it is (or even if it's not ACTUALLY your thing but something you like to read about OTHER people doing) you should absolutely check out the books and the website, and if kinky sex and CHARITY are both things you like and you're filthy rich you should go and bid in that auction. And maybe give me your preview chapter of The Mistress. We'll call it a finder's fee. GO!
I considered putting this on my earlier "gripes" post, but then decided it deserved its own post all to itself, and since I can't sleep, here goes:
PEOPLE OF EARTH, PLEASE STOP MISUSING THE WORD "LITERALLY."
This is what literal literally means. I realize that if you look up "literally," the second sense allows for a virtual usage for purposes of effect, but if your metaphor is worth a shit you don't need the word. Here are some examples:
"I literally laughed my ass off!" No, no you did not. At least, you PROBABLY didn't. If you LITERALLY laughed so hard that both buttocks detached from your body, you probably need the ER.
"It literally sucked the life right out of me!" Nope, not unless you are complaining from beyond the grave.
"That was literally the most hysterical thing I have ever seen." Hysteria isn't funny, kids, and it happens to people, not things. Probably you meant hilarious. And if you meant to say that something was, bar none, the most HILARIOUS thing you've ever seen then you've already made your point by saying "the most." Don't (figuratively) beat a dead horse (and if you're literally beating a dead horse, then cut THAT out too, because it's nasty).
Tonight was another one of those nights that I wish I could be less closed-mouthed about what I do for a living these days and share some hilarious anecdotes, because for all the initial confusion and drama about hours and fulltime status I genuinely do love my job itself (as in what I do when I am on the clock) and like my co-workers. We have FUN at work, and as part of our job we get to do little things to pamper people that make them happy, and customers write Management nice letters about it, and that? Kicks all kinds of ass.
I will share that tonight a much-younger co-worker who is working toward an advanced degree at a university that happens to be my undergraduate alma mater and I got to talking about higher education in general while we sat together and performed a tedious task. They expressed some ambivalence about finishing the degree, and asked me what I thought. My answer, after I considered the question for a moment, kind of surprised me, because it's a very different one from the one I would have given the same co-worker ten years ago. Before, I would have said "you started it, so of COURSE you need to finish it plus DEGREES ARE GOOD TO HAVE!" Tonight I told my co-worker that it depended on why they were pursuing the degree. "If it's because you think you SHOULD, or that it'll necessarily offer you much of an edge in today's job market,* or that teaching would be nice to have as an option to fall back on, fuck it. If, on the other hand, you are studying what you are studying because you love learning about it, and it fills you up more than it empties you out, keep on plugging," I advised. I told them that in my experience UNLESS you wanted to teach or work in a technical field where a degree is a necessity to advance in your career of choice, a degree is more of a hindrance than a help in getting hired anywhere BUT your degree field (true story--I finally found my current job, a "real," permanent job that pays more than minimum wage and comes with benefits, only AFTER I started leaving the MFA off my resume). "And teaching," I told them, with a rueful grin..."Well. If you are one of the very best and most prolific in your field and can publish and get tenure, that's one thing, but teaching as an adjunct pays a LOT less than what you and I are doing right now, and doesn't come with benefits."
"Holy shit, really," my co-worker asked, saucer-eyed. "I was wondering why you'd do this if you could teach instead...a couple of us were talking about that and thinking you had to be crazy!" I said there was more to it than the money, but certainly that was part of it, and then I changed the subject.
When I decided to walk away from teaching (after yes, technically I got fired for blowing a deadline that, under the circumstances I would blow again in a heartbeat--since there is Stalky out there reading avidly and dampening her desk chair any time she thinks I'm not being entirely transparent I don't want to make it seem like I am glossing over that), I had two main feelings: relief (because gawd, I hated it by the time I decided not to do it anymore, and if you go back and read the post I linked to about the getting fired you'll see that I had been planning to stop teaching anyway, just not quite that abruptly) and shame. Not because I feel like I failed as a teacher (I actually think I was pretty damned good at the actual teaching part, although the administrative "no I will not NOT fail you for plagiarism even if your daddy DOES call the dean and haul me into campus for your grievance hearing" part was not my favorite by a long shot and probably I could have put off or avoided getting so burnt out had I let go of caring so much about trying to teach my students not only about writing but also The Importance Of Doing Right In General), but because...seriously? I spent years and years (not to mention a kajillion dollars) working toward a terminal degree to work in a blue-collar industry? How embarrassing! Who DOES that?!?
Well, you know what, fuck it. I guess I am who does that, and I'm a much happier person because of it, not to mention making better money. I did the math one time, and what with teaching paying per credit hour, not per how-many-students-you-have or how-many-hours-you-spend-on-administrative-crap and busting plagiarists I was teaching for LESS than minimum wage. That? Was pretty freaking disheartening. I haven't worked for minimum wage, let alone LESS than minimum wage, since I stopped teaching. Plus my current (blue-collar) job comes with benefits. I'm doing what makes the best sense for my mental health and the needs of my family, I'm enjoying life a lot more as a result, and? I'm READING and WRITING again (no, I don't mean blogs, although I read those too and obviously I write this one). Teaching writing and literature appreciation turned it from something I loved enough to study it at an advanced level for eight years to something that I hated to even think about, and that? THAT, my friends, was a shame.
The funny part is that if all of this extra-curricular reading and writing I do continues in the direction it's going, I'll eventually be in a position where I might actually HAVE a snowball's chance in hell at pursuing tenure somewhere, and if that does happen? I'll take great satisfaction in my accomplishments in my degree field and keep right on working in the service industry. I like getting paid to do little kind things that make people happy, and working with people who don't judge me for being broke because THEY GET IT, and not having to worry about what I'll wear to work (because I have a uniform), and I really, REALLY like that once I've been at this job past the initial waiting period, doing all of these things that I like will not only result in my getting paid but also in my securing medical, dental, and vision benefits for myself and my husband. Once the benefits kick in and I can stop paying through the nose for medical insurance we'll be far better off than we were when I was teaching (and than we are right now, ugh**). Where is the shame in that? I'm having a hard time finding any.
Are there people who will judge me for this choice? Yep, probably plenty of 'em. Do I actually give a solitary fuck if someone ignorant to the facts in re: what teaching pays vs. working in the service industry (or who maybe just looks down on those who work in fields that support and care for others) thinks I'm a nutter for choosing the way I did? Nope. Do I regret going for the MFA? Nah, I freaking LOVED grad school and learned a lot of amazing things from some very cool people. Do I feel like a failure for not using the MFA at work? I did at first, but now that I'm actually able to CREATE again in my degree field, I actually feel like LESS of a failure on a day-to-day basis than I did while I was teaching.
* I won't say what my co-worker is majoring in, but I will say that, like English, it's one of those majors that is all about the study of ideas and subjective discourse, rather than, say, specialized technical skills one might use in earn a living in a specific career field.
** You know, barring weeks where there's a tornado, a car wreck, multiple ER visits and an emergency surgery to contend with. But it'd be pretty fucked up if THAT happened again, and so I am hoping that it just, you know, won't.
The woman he was seeing when he had his transplants bailed after the stroke brought the seizures. I stopped loving my ex-husband the day he put me in a cab to the hospital, dying for all everybody knew at the time, and said he was just "out of sympathy." We were already friends, in the frenetically honest way you bond with nameless, faceless, sexless people over the Internet. I knew him as a petite Asian girl, and he knew me as a foul-mouthed, buxom Gypsy-Jew. Some avatars are more true-to-life than others.
Now I read menus to him on the rare occasions when we go out, skipping the selections with peppers, beef, or pork, a nod to his GI issues and personal preference, and he is the one out of all the doctors and chosen family who puts the pieces together and figures out what's wrong with me when I'm falling apart. His hands, soft and scarred, brush against the callouses on mine when he hands me the nebulizer. I never thought I'd be the stronger one in a relationship, but then I never thought I'd be the asshole, either.
At the tattoo parlor where I had a hamsa inked into the skin of my back (it's supposed to ward off The Evil Eye; I thought it was a grand failure until I realized how badly this all could have gone) he asked the artist about labeling his belly and pulled up his shirt. And the guy with the spools and the sleeves and the barbel through his tongue said "whoooooooa," impressed, and then said he'd do it for $50, $10 per major incision, if Transplant gave their blessing. "You guys are really cool," he added. "I love my job."
A friend-inside-the-computer, someone else I know only because we are both broken, lamented today on the facespace that she hates it when the outside of her head is worse than the inside is, and I commented that when she put it that way, either my mental health was improving, my life fucking sucks, or I am gaining a sense of perspective finally because it's been a while since the inside of my head was worse, at least. It was either Groucho Marx or Leonard Cohen who got it the most wrong: the cracks are what let the love in.