Spouse versus THE PAN

  

It began, as so many things do, at Christmas. A cheese-soaked lull between brunch and dinner, early… but not too early for drinks.

(Never too early for drinks.)

Spouse and I exchanged presents with my family, and he received a shiny, fancy, ceramic-coated frying pan. (To ground this for those who may be confused: In our relationship, he’s the cook.)

Spouse is very excited.

But, it is a new pan, and he decides to treasure its unused state for a time - this is called seasoning, right? Finally February arrives and with it, a long weekend in BC Canada. Family Day. This is the perfect time to use the shiny pan, and its first culinary task shall be making an omelette.

This will not be any omelette, he says, this will be ONE OMELETTE TO RULE THEM ALL.

Soon the happy cackling of a new pan user and the cracking of eggs fill the air. I am in the next room, frantically typing away at the sci fi novella I was supposed to have finished in January. So I’m occupied, with coffee in hand, and fully prepared to let Spouse revel in his new-pan-ness without interruption. But eventually I realize it has gone rather quiet in the kitchen, and yet, I still do not have breakfast.

I glance at the doorway, seeking signs of movement.

Nothing.

“Hey, hun,” I call out. “Everything okay?”

“Yeah, yeah.”

I shrug and return to my manuscript and glare at a particularly unruly sentence. I will fix it, I will… I pause. Head tilting, I look back at the kitchen. I know that ‘yeah.’

My eyes narrow. “When will breakfast be ready?”

<Inarticulate grumble from kitchen.>

<Large bang.>

Now, you must understand, my husband comes from loud humans. His father is possibly the loudest human known to humankind. So I am used to bangs. However, I also know that long pauses between bangs is a form on non-verbal communication, usually taking the place of four-letter words.

I sigh. “I need to make toast, don’t I?”

After a long moment, Spouse says, “Yeah…”

(On an unrelated note, his patronus is Eeyore. Or a morose Elcor from Mass Effect).

Putting down my laptop, I walk into the kitchen. He is standing before the oven, staring at the pan. A sheen of sweat on his bald head and a maniacal gleam in his eyes.

<More inarticulate noises emerge, like a grizzly bear is wrestling with a horde of ill-tempered squirrels in his chest.>

Following his gaze, I look at the pan and notice there is a lid on the pan.

Rather, there is a lid IN the pan.

“Huh,” I say.

I shift my eyes to Spouse, lift my left eyebrow, and wait.

“It won’t come out,” he says. “The omelette is inside.” His eyes widen with what I assume to be hunger-edged madness. “I. Can’t. Get. It. Out.”

This explains the bear sounds.

“Huh,” I repeat. Aloud. Internally I’m yelling, WHY DID YOU USE A SMALL LID FOR A BIG PAN? But I am not so hungry that my Marriage Preservation Filter has been overridden.

“All the bacon is in there.”

My eye twitches. This knowledge challenges my filter, but somehow it holds firm.

“I’ve tried everything. I’ve pulled really hard. I put it in the oven and got it really hot. I put it on the floor, stood on the edges and yanked. I even put it in the freezer.” His voice drops to a whisper. “I think I welded them together.”

I decide it is good the lid remained stuck, because I no longer want that omelette. Though, it is the lid for all the nice, stainless steel pots we got for our wedding. But at this point, I’m certain we’re not getting it back.

To benchmark his effort, my spouse is nearly 240 pounds, over six feet tall, and renowned for what we fondly refer to as his ‘resting serial killer face.’ He looks like a wrestler who got kicked out of the club for being too mean, or a biker the tattoo artists were too afraid to work on. In short, Spouse is neither small nor weak. So if he can’t wrest that lid free, it is not happening with anything less than a watercutter slicing both pan and lid in half and then seeing if they can be separated.

“My new pan.” He grips the lid’s handle and, sure enough, the entire pan lifts as one.

He shakes it. The sad thwap of an unreachable omelette fills the kitchen.

“Maybe I can use WD-40? Or fill it with flammable gas and hold it over the BBQ and--”

I take his hands, cutting off the ramble before any of those cockamaymie schemes can dig into his brain. Because they will. He comes not only from loud stock, but from irrationally-bull-headed stock with a penchant for self endangerment. I’m reasonably certain our marriage contract has fine print, stipulating it's my job to save him from himself for, you know, as long as we both shall live.

Sometimes this vow feels unduly ominous.

“It’s time to put the pan outside,” I say gently. Because the longer he stares at that pan, the more likely he is to try one of those schemes.

“But my omelette. It was so fluffy.”

“I know.” I pat his hands and carefully extract the pan from his grasp. “And now you’ll have toast.”

***

Epilogue:

Despite my quietly putting the pan outside before distracting him with toast and video games, he rescued the pan from the recycle bin and tried for a whole week to separate pan from lid.

These efforts were not successful -- he claims that is because I banned the use of explosives.

Remarkably, I am not sorry.

We are lucky enough to find a kitchenware sale, replace the pan and debate never telling my parents the true fate of their Christmas present, but it’s just too good a story not to share. So on Tuesday, after we gather for dinner and enjoy a glass of wine with my folks, I pour a little extra wine and read them a little story...

  

Werewolves and Fuzzy Magic Mirrors

I know, I know. A fuzzy mirror wouldn't be all that useful. Or reflective. It might even need combing, or a bath...

ANYWAYS. Bear with me, I'll get there. *snicker* Bear, get it?

*grin*

But despite Pooh's happy dance, I give quite a few bothers about recent events and I've been figuring out how to start dealing with them. On which shelf does Bother-it belong? Next to Botheration and my favorite croutons, or alongside that cereal I bought when it was on sale but don't eat because it tastes like cardboard? 

A lot of November has tasted like that cereal. 

The Great and Powerful Oz (aka the internet) has weighed in - of course. As happens more than usual when events shake the world, there's been a lot of talk about the role of an artist. Some people dig into the entertainment camp, while others staunchly defend the need to reflect current events.

As also happens with complicated situations, I agree with both. 

Oh, Chris, I could stare at you all...

I MEAN YES, HELPFUL. INTERNET. MIRRORS.

Entertainment has been a necessary part of coping these past few weeks. I've watched innumerable puppy videos and trusted favorites on Netflix (while hugging a box of cookies). Quick facts: My degree is in history. I used to teach WWII at college. I know you'll believe what you want, but for me, its a scary time. But good art doesn't come from a diet of baby animals and...

Um, that did NOT come out as intended. What I mean to say is that, as much as we need comfort, we also need understanding.

And understanding is fucking hard.

I don't want to know the monsters that birthed this hate-stuffed beast. But we had a painful lesson in the dangers of the echo chamber this past November. So today I looked up things I did not want to hear. People preaching hate. People supporting exclusionary, harmful policies. But once I pushed past my personal rage and fear, I could see pieces of what drew angry, scared people toward such talk. What made them invest in promises of better times and protection from the unknown.  

The unknown scares a lot of people. 

Werewolves used to represent that unknown. We told tales of beasts walking like people to understand what we could not see. At first, those stories were only to frighten. Then, the longer we sat with those tales, the more familiar they became. Until the werewolf wasn't the villain. 

Until the werewolf became the hero. 

This is the power of fiction. And I believe we have a responsibility to use our art - particularly those who write science fiction and fantasy. In our hands isn't just a regular old mirror, reflecting terror back at scared people. No. In our hands is a MAGIC FUCKING MIRROR. 

We can dress the unknown in wolf's clothing, give it a hero's name, and send it to fight dastardly villains.

Basically, we get to entertain people while punching harmful stereotypes in the face. How awesome is that? Challenging your worldview is tremendously difficult. But when you're invited into a different world and handed an epic adventure with engaging companions, its easier to drop your guard and see something a little differently.

Come in, we say, while I tell you a tale full of magic and mystery and star-crossed love

Its not real, you see. Even if it is. 

Scrape, scrape, wince.

Scrape.

Scrape. Scrape. Wince.

Oh the dentist's office. You sit down in a reclining chair that seems designed to be comfortable, but is actual built to prevent easy escape. You're given headphones and a TV remote, but only have daytime TV. If  you can hear it over the dentist equipment.

Then they break out the implements, which my technician helpfully sharpened. Loudly. And of course I calmly sat there and let her do her job. 

Okay fine. I sat there and softly cried - like a BIG KID, goddamn it.

Needing something to keep those cries inaudible over my 'neighbor's' discussion of his leg injury, I tried to watch an old western. NOPE. That scrape goes right from tooth to ear. So I turned my brain to my book. And, in between winces, I realized how much editing is like going to the dentist. 

Its necessary - healthy, even - but damned uncomfortable. It always takes longer than you want, and sucks if you have a serious gag reflex. Worst of all, you have to CONFESS to things. Things you knew were wrong, yet were hoping you'd get away with because you had to choose between fixing that paragraph or eating a donut. And dammit it was chocolate. 

Editors, like dental hygienists, get right in there and the good ones take no prisoners. My hygienist will ask, "Do you floss regularly?" And I'll mumble something that could be interpreted as 'yes.' But I know as soon as they look in my mouth...

My editor knew I hadn't flossed in places. (By which I mean I'd avoided dealing with word plaque because... *cough* Nevermind, you get it.)

Needless to say my word-plaque has been uncovered. The tools have been sharpened. And now all I need to do is pull up those big kid pants I claim to wear and get on with it. Because just like my post-dentist mouth, my book will be healthier (and nicer to look at) with all that coffee-driven debris gone. 

Also my spouse claims keeping my teeth is important... It seems he has plans for when we're seventy.

Until next time, I'll be editing!

 

Girding My Conference Loins

Loins. *snicker*

Ahem.

Like so many of the writers I know and follow and admire, I’m an introvertbut I wear extroversion wonderfully. I’ll don killer shoes, a bold shade of red lipstick, armor-up with jewelry and bright scarves, and happily meet everyone. Talk books, art, politics, puppiesyou name itand I have a great time. How many times a year do I get to spent an entire weekend with people who love what I love and do what I do? (Hint: one)

It’s fucking glory.

Writing conferences let me feel like I’m not alone. Share tales of edits and grumpy drafts and the universal horror that is synopses. It’s also intensea tidal wave of people and ideas and learning and awkward conversation. And anticipation is a spiked lump in my throat.

This year I’m off to the Emerald City Writers’ Conference with my Writing Wife, aka the fabulous Laurel Greer, who just sold her first book to Harlequin! *cheers* *shakes pompoms* (Don’t judge those pompoms, you don’t know what they’re made of…) Laurel is my oldest writing friend, the very first person to hold my hand and tell me, "Yes, your draft is shitty, but you are not. And you'll fix it. Now here's a donut." (We fix a lot of things with donuts.) And we are CELEBRATING her debut as a contracted writer.  

So with all that awesome, why do I feel like I’ve swallowed a tiny, ill-tempered dwarf wielding a battle mace?

Because conferences involve a lot of people. Professionals. Authors. People I admire. Who I want to like not only me, but my books. And in the face of that, doubts creep in: Will I say something really stupid? Will I keep my opinions in checkdo I want to? What if I stutter through my pitch and forget my main character’s name?

Hah! Okay, there’s no forgetting Alecs. But the rest stands.

Anxiety is an insidious creature. It doesn’t fight in a straight line on a battlefield. It twists around, feints to the left and bites from the right. I’ve met some of my closest friends at writing conferences, had spectacular conversations with strangerstoasted, cheered, commiserated together. But those moments require a daunting degree of vulnerability. I had to put myself out there, strike up conversations, take my lumps, and try again.

The best things are so damn hard.

So I’m girding. Storing up my energy with lots of quiet. Basking in the wonder that is Gears of War 4 (husband is playing, an arrangement we both enjoy) and planning my outfits. I even bought a new lipstick. If psychosomatically that lovely shade of Risky Rose and a great pair of heels help me speak coherently about my book? Fan-fucking-tastic.  

We all have our strategies for preparing ourselves for the things that scare us. Mine just happen to involve jewelry inspired by chainmail. If you’d like, share yours in the comments!

This weekend with my writerly clan is golden and I’m ready to have a blast.

*punches stomach-dwarf into submission*
*actually just eats chocolate*

Emerald City, here I come.

And so it begins. *Drum roll*

Here we go. I'm officially starting the blogging thing! 

This means OPINIONS and THOUGHTS and STUFF and pictures of PUPPIES will infect this blog. You can never have too many pictures of puppies. Or pithy quotes. Or Tom Hiddleston, especially dressed as Loki.

I'll end up writing about comic-book movies and video games. Music. Conceptual art. My favorite unicorn picture of the day. Zombies. And, ever so often, visual culture and the joys of working in academica. 

So far I have only one complaint: there is no function for rainbow font. How can one properly express themselves without color? *heaves great sigh of sadness* Be warned, many of the aforementioned thoughts will involve color and design. 

Take your chances and jump in, I hear the water's fine.