Notes from a Council Meeting

Sue: We’d like to welcome everyone to tonight’s meeting. What a good turnout! A whole four people. I’m Sue Fernandez. With me are Deandre Jones and Kendrick Harris. To open…

Bob: I’m here to complain about parking.

Sue: Normally, we go over the previous meeting’s notes and enter them, so if you could just…

Bob: Yeah. Anyway. I’m Bob Smythe S-M-Y-T-H-E and I run the Friends of the Library. F-R-I-E…

Sue: I’m sure we can manage to spell “friends,” Bob.

Bob: If you say so. The people from the McDonald’s are parking in the library lot.

Kendrick: So? Public parking. Can we move on to…?

Bob: Are these open meetings or not? Anyway, people are taking up spaces. And our patrons can’t park.

Kendrick: Look, the library is taxpayer funded, right? So, the people parking there are taxpayers. Big whoop.

Bob: But the people who want to use the library can’t. I mean…

Kendrick: I am so sick of this. You think you’re better than a business? They pay taxes. You don’t. Shouldn’t even have leeches like libraries using up tax dollars *mutters*

Bob: I guess we could just have the non-patrons’ cars towed, but we don’t want to…

*Unintelligible yelling, followed by a break in the recording*

Deandre: I’m just saying that parking’s always been a problem here.

Sue: Let’s not talk about that for a little while. Now, about the previous notes…

Gilda: My poor trees are just dying.

Deandre: Excuse me?

Gilda: In the arboretum? All the trees and flowers that we’ve been planting are dying.

Kendrick: Damn trees. There are too many trees in that park.

Gilda: It’s an arboretum?

Kendrick: Whatever. Easier to mow if it’s just grass. It’s too expensive to go around all that crap.

Gilda: But then it wouldn’t be an arboretum. It would be a… an empty lot.

Kendrick: Sounds good. Seconded.

Gilda: No! I just want to know what happened to the boulders that kept the erosion down?

Kendrick: Had the maintenance men dump them in the ditch.

Gilda: Why would you do that? We bought those with donated money!

Kendrick: Tripping hazard. Little kids, you know. Could sue us.

Deandre: How, exactly, would a small child trip over a boulder?

Kendrick: You know kids. Anyway, it’s much easier to maintain. Next, I think we should get rid of all that plant crap.

Gilda: It’s an arboretum! It’s meant to have all that plant crap! I mean, all those plants.

Kendrick: Uh-huh. So does the motion to plow it carry?

Sue and Deandre: No!

Kendrick: Yeah, okay, we’ll table it for next time.

Deandre: That’s not how this works!

*Incomprehensible yelling and Gilda wailing*

Sue: Enough!

*Shocked quiet*

Sue: We are NOT getting rid of the arboretum. Next!

Bart: The volunteer fire department would like to know where their funding went…

Kendrick: Oh, God. Not this again.

Bart: Because this lawsuit you brought against the shaved ice stand is not only frivolous, but it’s depleted our fund. The one that people voted for and the taxpayers you were so concerned with earlier pay?

Deandre: What have you done now?

Kendrick: They promised to give the firefighters a shaved ice, any flavor, after a call, and they haven’t once.

Bart: So this genius hired a lawyer to sue the owner. With the fire department’s money.

Kendrick: They promised!

Sue: Exactly how much have you spent on a lawyer?

Kendrick: I don’t remember.

Bart: Almost all of our money for this year. And the pumper truck needs…

Kendrick: We’ll get it back when we win.

Bart: It’s a shaved ice stand. How much money do you think they have?!

Deandre: What if there’s a fire?

Kendrick: It’s fine. There’s water everywhere.

*Scuffling sounds*

Sue: Kendrick Harris has been removed from this meeting. Thank you, Bart. Motion to pursue criminal malfeasance charges?

Deandre: Seconded.

Sue: Carried with one vote absent. Now, can we get the previous minutes in? Because I can feel a headache coming on.





Places to See in a Small Town

I recently noted in a bookseller’s catalogue books with titles like 101 Things to Do in New York and 101 Things to Do in Chicago. And I realized that all of them were about big places. With this list of “Things to do in Midwestern Small Towns” I aim to show why that might be.

  1. The first thing you’ll want to do is get your bearings. One of our roads runs North and South. The other East and West. It is vital that you not get these confused, or you might end up in a Great Lake. There aren’t any other proper roads.
  2. After that, you’ll want to see one of our many, many churches and bars. So, so, many. We have about 2,000 people and ten churches and the same number of bars. Most people attend both, sometimes on different days. The wide variety of churches will astound you: We have Lutheran, Methodist, Nazarene, Episcopalian, Baptist, Catholic, and Bible. You may have thought that all Christian churches were Bible based, but apparently not. Those of you from other faiths are welcome to convert.
  3. Another thing you’ll want to experience is our thriving meth and heroin import trade. It’s practically our only industry! 
  4. Visit one of our five pizza shops. It’s amazing we have so many, since there are no Italians here, but if you’re looking for tough crust with vaguely tomato-y sauce topped with cheese-from-a-bag, look no farther.
  5. Make sure to visit one of our two parks. Perhaps the most interesting thing in each are our memorials to those who fought and died in war. There are three such remembrances, including one for our most recent conflicts. It’s a long list for such a small place.
  6. Marvel at School Street. The school was moved some time ago, but why change the name? That way lies madness.
  7. We have stores for hardware, car parts, feed and plants, but no bookstore. However, the plant place has a cat who is very friendly. Recommended.
  8.  Mind the Amish and their buggies. They’re as close as we get to diversity.
  9. As you stroll around town (don’t worry, it won’t take long), observe all the barking dogs! Some of them are entirely unrestrained and a few stay outside day and night in all weathers. Some towns might be embarrassed by this, but here it’s perfectly normal. Also, watch your step! Most people here do not clean up after their dogs, and are not at all ashamed. They won’t even pretend to do so if you watch. It’s charming!
  10. Enjoy our many feral and returned-to-the-wild cats. Spaying and neutering is expensive and house cats are basically outdoor animals, so why not let them all roam free? The population is kept in check though cars, predators and the occasional mass poisoning.
  11. In case you become ill, there is a doctors’ office. You will, however, need to make an appointment months in advance because they are the only doctors for miles. Unless you are willing to try the lovely Muslim doctor. Her schedule is wide open.
  12. If you are one of the 25% of Americans who suffer from mental health issues or one of the millions who suffer with addiction, you won’t have to worry about seeing a therapist here–because we don’t have any! In fact, there is no care for about thirty miles. Good luck!
  13. You won’t have to worry about waiting in line at Starbucks because we don’t have one.
  14. Wonder at the various rednecks, hillbillies, country people and white trash. Yes, they do sometimes go grocery shopping on a lawn mower, and yes, that might be because they lost their licence because they were intoxicated. Indeed, that IS a person riding an ALL-terrain vehicle up and down the paved road for an hour. Yes, someone does keep firing at exploding targets until midnight (and no, no official has bothered to stop them). Don’t stare too long at the various yards turned into junk plies though–most of those folks have guns (and yet more dogs!).

I do hope that this list has helped you understand life in a small town. And if you do decide to visit… For the love of everything, why would you?

Review: Helen and Troy’s Epic Road Trip

A. Lee Martinez’s Helen and Troy’s Epic Road Trip has a great title. It’s also a great book.

I have enjoyed all of Martinez’s previous books (seriously, go buy any of them). He seems to prefer stand-alone books which means a person can read which ever one the bookstore has. Sometimes I like a series, but it’s nice to be able to just read the books without having to either buy sixteen of them or have to remember things from three books back.

Our protagonist is Helen, a perfectly normal teenage girl who worries about how her clothes fit, cute boys, and whether her horns will fit through a doorway since she’s a Minotaur. Martinez has put a lot of thought into his world and how having a Minotaur as the main character would affect her progress (and how such a thing might have happened anyway). And Martinez nails a female character (something he’s done well before) and a teenage one at that. It’s not always easy to write as another gender (or species) without resorting to stereotype, but Martinez achieves this wonderfully (I was going to write “easily” but how would I know? 🙂 ).

As you can probably tell from the title, this is a humorous take on mythology (and how it might be updated for modern America). Witty details abound (which I’m not going to share because they are so great).

If you like fast-paced, funny quest books, I recommend this one. Then go read some more Martinez–it’s worth it.

Review: Heroine Complex

Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn is a terrific book: fast-paced, clever, and, most of all, funny. It stars Evie Tanaka as a personal assistant to a superhero, Aveda Jupiter. As you might expect, Aveda is rather high-maintenance.

The first thing that drew me to the book in the first place was the write-up on the back which mentioned killer, demon possessed cupcakes. What a great, rollicking way to showcase both the tone of the book and the action pieces–which seemed quite well done (note: while I like action movies, I have no experience in this area). The dialogue is snappy and fast-paced. Best of all, the characters can be told apart from the dialogue alone.

The second thing that attracted me was the cover, which features both main characters and the cupcakes in a comic-book inspired way. Since the book covers comic books from a more realistic perspective (how does one get frosting out of a superhero costume?), the cover was perfect.

I did predict a few things before the book revealed them, but that’s not unusual for me. However, even though I had figured them out didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the book, which I sped through.

I enjoyed this book and am putting her other book on my shopping list. I’m hoping that this book does well enough that we can spend more time with Evie and the other great characters.

State of the Blog

As my mother likes to say, here’s the deal:

It’s all pollen’s fault. Well, not entirely. It’s also my immune system’s fault. And an odd reaction to medication.

My allergist recommended Zyrtec because it’s stronger. And it was! I was sleeping deeply and feeling more rested. Win!

However… It was also giving me emotional grief. I would burst into tears for no reason. I was stalked by a relentless, pervasive dread and anxiety. This went on for some time. Then I gained ten pounds. In a month.I was starving ALL THE TIME.

I made an appointment with the allergist. He’d never heard of such a thing.  (He should do a web search for weight gain+Zyrtech. There are even studies!) But he was willing to prescribe something else–Claritin X. It works! The main side effect is dizziness. Since I take it at night, that doesn’t bother me (although it pop ups at odd moments once or twice a week).

So, I was ready to re-start the blog. And then I went back to work. And was offered a third class–the week before classes started. So I’m a little busier than I intended.

But I have three blog ideas (two reviews and one funny (I hope!)). I’m going to try to publish at least once a week. And I’m restarting my novel (a mystery!). I’m trying to install one of those nifty word count doohickies on the blog.

Now all I have to do is lose all this weight and more besides. That’s not going as well (although I’ve been exercising well since that helps with stress).

What’s your current project?