Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Difficult to Swallow

Magic Mouthwash, sans Magic

Saturday night, I got food stuck in my esophagus. Answer to most asked question at this point: pork chops. Second question: bone-in. Third question: No, I was not gnawing on the bone. I think maybe I missed one of those tiny bone slivers that chops sometimes have. All I know is, it hurt and I couldn't swallow after that.

Part of story that matters: They ran a tube down my throat. Between that and the original problem, my throat/esophagus is (still) raw and sore. P.S. when they do this, they also take samples of your esophagus for Pathology. Ow.

So... one doc gave me a script for some 'magic mouthwash'. MM has lidocaine in it, which is supposed to kill pain and help me eat. I went to Rite Aid when they opened, got the script filled, went home. Shook bottle, took mouthwash. I noted that it was pretty thick at the time. Ate soup, went to take a nap. P.S. no codeine in this particular MM, but I was pretty tired.

Woke up from nap, went to get MM, only to discover that it had SET like gelatin in the bottle! I called the pharmacy, but the pharmacist is gone for the day (Sunday after 6 PM, go figure). I called Monday and got a sleepy-sounding tech. He didn't understand what 'set' meant, but understood "won't come out of the f---ing bottle" just fine. He told me the pharmacist would come on duty at 3 PM.

No pharmacist until 3 PM? On a weekday, when Rite Aid purports to be a chain of DRUGSTORES? What kind of BS is that? At the very least, they ought to have someone on duty at one of their local stores the tech could refer me to.

When I did get hold of the pharmacist, he was a very nice fellow. It turned out that UK had given them the 'recipe' for the MM, but their instructions, apparently unclear, were to dispense it in TWO bottles... because the components 'set' when you combine them. I was given two bottles with instructions to mix them in certain proportions. And I don't even cook!

It's a good thing I diet. Otherwise, I wouldn't be familiar with measuring spoons at all. So far, so good: I haven't killed myself. I just wish I could eat tastier stuff than non-medicinal Jell-O.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

TV Detectives in Days of Yore

We picked up a few back issues of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine at our Sisters in Crime chapter meeting yesterday. One of them, AHMM June 2005, has an interview with William Link (of Levinson & Link fame). The focus of the interview was on the television series Murder, She Wrote, then fresh out on DVD. Near the end of the article, Link bemoans the ageism that plagues the TV industry. He claimed even people in their forties were having problems (I'm riding the ragged edge of disaster in that case!) getting networks to look at their stuff. He also talked about hit shows like Columbo no longer being possible because of the focus on forensics.

Naturally, I went into the other room to discuss this with my spouse, who is even less qualified to write for television than I am, despite her superior writing credits. Only the inexperienced need apply, I suppose.

I proposed that one could do a series similar to, say, the old Ellery Queen: one old detective, one young detective. Perhaps the older detective would be the old-school detective, some grizzled police detective, and the young detective could be the forensics person. If Link were younger and had started writing in a different era, he might have had a Columbo that was savvier to high-tech. Certainly my favorite detective paid strict attention to details, and the show's villains came up with some clever, frequently technologically based, alibis.

Gwen proposed that the TV character closest to J.B. Fletcher now was Richard Castle. Very true! He has the same 'worldwide fame' and a talent for solving crimes. Fortunately, he's in a bigger town than Cabot Cove. I said that it would be a great team-up to bring J.B. Fletcher to the Castle show. The only disadvantage is the difference in networks. ABC would need to get permission from CBS to use the character.

"What they ought to do," Gwen said, "is put her at the table with the other writers during one of his poker sessions. She could do a cameo." She also felt that Jessica should have all the chips in front of her during the scene.

They wouldn't even have to identify her character. TV mystery buffs would KNOW. Anyone got an 'in' with Angela Lansbury or ABC?

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Those Naughty, Naughty WIPs

The Writers Who Kill put a rather provocative post up yesterday: "I Hate My WIP". For those of you not familiar with writing jargon, WIP stands for "Work in Progress". I found a great relief in reading this article and realizing that I was not alone.

I hate my WIP up till the first draft is done. Then, it's: "OMG! I finished it! I did it! How wonderful! Yippee!" Dancing around.

Unfortunately, this is followed by revisions. Maternal adoration turns to diaperish (?) disgust. "There's a lot of crap in here! Yecch! PLEASE don't make me touch it! No! It's ugly! Ugly and full of crap! I can't send this ANYWHERE!"

Eventually (years later?) I have the WIP cleaned up and dressed nicely (i.e. I followed the submission guidelines). I send it out into the world, only to receive a note from the teacher: "Rejected." I search WIP/child for more crap; I know it's in there somewhere. That's the problem with babies, literary or physical.

After a few more rejects: WHAT'S WRONG WITH MY WIP? Isn't it cute enough? Maybe it should be blonde with a frilly dress. I don't think I can dress it like that, it would bite me. By the time I got it into that pink outfit, I'd need to update the technology in the story again (this has happened to me more than once). I detest my WIP; no one wants it. It's too gangly and funny-looking to be loved.

So, now, I have a freakish orphanage in my house (or, at least, my memory stick). My WIPs meep and chirp and drive me nuts. Periodically, though, one gets adopted. I send the lucky child off with relief and joy, but there's always that nagging feeling that I could have done better with it. Therein lies the true problem: the WIP stays a WIP until it's published. You will never be through with it.

So, once it becomes a true 'work', why do we want it back to make one last change?

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Reunion Ruminations

This weekend, I will be attending my 30th high school reunion. I missed the 25th (not an accident), but a number of my old classmates discovered me on Facebook and it looks like I will have people to talk to. I find this very odd, since I barely remember some of them, but they seem to remember me.

Honestly, I'd hoped to have more trappings of success by this time. Oh, not a Lexus or a $500 outfit, but results of lifetime endeavors. A Master's, perhaps, or a Ph.D. The subject matter would be less important than the magical acronyms.

You see, I was one of those children cursed with being 'smart'. Usually, being smart makes my life easier. Most of my remarkably stupid decisions have been made based on emotions, not ignorance or an inability to draw conclusions. Most remarkably stupid decisions are made based on emotions, but I've saved myself from investing in silver or mixing Clorox and ammonia. Doing my day job is easier because I love information and learn new things quickly.

It's the expectations of being 'smart' that I must live down. When I graduated from high school, I visualized myself getting a degree in engineering and doing something cool like designing space shuttles. I would get a good-paying job and acquire the respect of my peers. Most importantly, I would write books. Lots of them. Probably science fiction, since that's where my experience would lie.

It didn't pan out that way. I realized, within a short time, that hard science drove me nuts. Not only was it hair-pulling difficult (even for someone who got a 33 in science on the ACT), I didn't find it especially interesting. I tried genetics for a while (thank you, X-Men), but came to the conclusion that I enjoyed reading science fiction more than doing actual science. Instead, I got a degree in journalism with a minor in psychology, since that was the subject I took more consistently than any other.

So... I just wrote lots of books then, correct? No. Despite the pressure from my internal sense of 'destiny', I avoided it like the plague. Writing is so important to my self-definition that I didn't seriously try fiction until I was nearly thirty. Writing fiction makes me want to Run Screaming Into the Night (tm). I edited two Pagan newsletters and was a credentialed blogger for the 2008 Democratic National Convention, so it's not expository writing that gives me trouble. It's fiction, my putative raison d'etre.

At least I have a manuscript now. I haven't sold it yet, but actually writing a book is a major victory in my... er, book. I have a few short story credits to my name.

I know I did better than some of my fellow grads. I'm employed, I have a house, and I've stayed out of prison. Right now, though, I feel like my biggest success was marrying well.