Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Random Funny

The other day, I was reading a New York Times review of a new movie called The Killer Inside Me. This is not a movie I'm going to see - ever - nor is it anything I was particularly interested in especially once I read the brief description. I don't do serial killer movies and I find no aesthetic value even in what could be an extraordinary performance of said sociopath. Silence of the Lambs might be the only movie of that type I've ever willingly gone to see and that was more because of the guy I was going with than the movie itself. Though I do enjoy a good villain (Alan Rickman's over-the-top Sheriff of Nottingham and Hans Gruber top my favorites), I'm not big on glorifying that kind of dark, perverse evil that can and does exist within mankind much less celebrating it. I don't do horror movies either, mostly because I don't think getting the crap scared out of me is entertaining.

Hey, it works for some and there's no judging here, only love (you whackjobs), but it's just not for me.

Still, the review itself for Killer Inside Me was interesting enough that I journeyed on. And I was rewarded with this last jewel tucked in at the end of the piece amongst the rating notification for this depraved and violent movie. And I quote:
“The Killer Inside Me” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent to adult guardian). Sex, violence, violent sex, sexualized violence. And smoking.
There's SMOKING?! Oy, surely the essence of depravity!


It's not enough this guy escalates from increasing and various violent degrees of sexual congress to outright torture and murder. Like Whedon's penchant to identify his villains by having them light up, the killer inside this guy smokes - truly he is evil. (P.S. Spike, even in reruns, you're still my Big Bad.)

I love this reviewer's wicked sense of humor. That's my kind of MPAA rating caveat.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Narnia: Maybe This Time

Narnia is my home away from home.

The summer I turned 14 (or maybe it was the summer after) I spent Friday nights with some of the best in the world, swimming, laughing, eating, and studying/discussing The Chronicles of Narnia book by book. Sure, I'd read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (LWW), but before then, I'd never delved more deeply into the canon. Each week, we read one of the seven books, took a quiz, and discussed the novel particularly the religious and moral themes and insights. At the end of the summer, there was a final, very in-depth exam that, once passed, made you an official Knight of Narnia. I confess I never finished the exam (thought I still have it in a box somewhere).

To this day, those summer nights remain a shining memory amongst the angst of my teenage years.

Imagine my utter glee when I first heard the news that a feature film was being made of LWW, which a franchise of the entire series planned should the first film prove successful. Of course the combination of a beloved children's book brought to life on screen and the Christmas holiday made it a smashing success.

I loved the movie of LWW for many reasons. I was involved with the grass roots marketing campaign for the film, which was very exciting, so I was invested from early on. And they got a lot of things right in this movie. Tumnus, the Beavers, Father Christmas, the White Witch, the general sight and feel of Narnia. I've a few pet peeves; I wouldn't be me without them. I'm not crazy about Liam Neeson as Aslan, especially not the same year he was Raj Ah Gul in Batman Begins – added to Qui-Gon Jinn from Star Wars: Phantom Menace, that's too much mentoring from one man – but he does well enough. Also, it's hard to get a centaur right (no one has yet that I've seen) and after years of watching moviemakers try, I've decided it's the whole head thing. Horses' heads stretch out from their bodies; on a centaur the man/woman head stretches straight up and it just looks wrong. But while they softened the Christianity, they didn't jettison it completely and that counts big with me. I know Andrew Adamson (director and co-producer) loved the book as a child and was committed to doing it right and I think that shines through.

I was excited about the next installment, Prince Caspian (PC) because I wanted to see Narnia explode beyond the Christmas story even the uninitiated knew something about. But here's where Disney and Adamson (back again wearing multiple hats) went way off the reservation. PC has a slow start with dual stories running simultaneously, which is not how the story originally unfolded, though I have to allow that there probably wasn't any better way to reveal the two stories cinematically.

In the book, when the four slightly-older Pevensie children (Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy) return to a much older Narnia, they rescue Trumpkin, the dwarf who was sent to find anyone who responded to the magical trumpet's call for help (I'm skipping a lot because I really don't want to go too far into the plot here). Trumpkin spells out Caspian's back story to the Pevensies. Having Trumpkin tell the story of Prince Caspian to those who portend to be his rescuers doesn't make for an engaging film; it's the "show, don't tell" storytelling ethos. So Adamson shows us Caspian's story first and has him blow the trumpet, not after being surrounded at Aslan's How and effectively reaching his lowest point as its written in the original book, but during his initial escape from King Miraz's castle.

By doing this, the film looses the rich context of the Pevensie's journey. It's during this journey that the essence of the story is explored, that of choosing the right path even in the face of great objection and even harassment from those that matter most to you. This is what Lucy experiences when she maintains that she could see Aslan and he was directing her to go another way. Peter's bullheaded desire to reestablish himself as a king of Narnia rears up here, not in a trumped up pissing match with Caspian. In the film, this journey isn't given nearly enough opportunity to explore these once and current kings and queens of Narnia.

Because the Pevensies deal with these themes en route, they are already in their Aslan mindset when they finally arrive at Aslan's How. In the novel, their arrival occurs as Caspian is being confronted by the witch and the hag, when the Pevensies storm the darkened central chamber and kill the baddies. In the film, it's the Pevensies that face off against those traitors who would resurrect the White Witch, effectively denying Caspian his own revelatory moment to "do the right thing" when alone and under great pressure and almost certain death, Caspian stands up to the evil denizens and irrevocably aligns himself to follow Aslan's way.

It's a pretty awesome moment, actually. In the book. In the film, the replacement confrontation between Edmund and the essence of the White Witch is engrossing, but the themes are well trod. Edmund made his choice long ago and has risked his life for that choice to prove it. The White Witch holds no more threat or enticement to him. This scene only goes to show how much Edmund has grown and how he has managed to surpass Peter in mien and bearing.

Look, I can forgive a failed, mid-film castle invasion scenario shoe horned into the story to add risk and cost to our character development and I even enjoyed the requisite end battle too, (though don't get me started on the river god apparition and its blatant and bad rip off of Lord of the Rings). C.S. Lewis' style doesn't help the modern filmmaker either; like Tolkien, he liked to describe a battle in retrospect, following the "oh my God, I can't believe what I just saw happen" narrative style. And thank God they got Reepicheep's tail sacrifice correct, or heads would have rolled. But while LWW was so faithful to the material while effectively cutting and parsing down for the modern audience (though I missed the lion, reanimated from the White Witch's stone garden, repeating reminding other Narnians that Aslan said "we lions." Little things), PC went way too far off the reservation for the purist and yet did not manage to commit to it enough to bring in the newbies.

Disney apparently had a similar reaction to PC, though probably more over less healthy box office returns compared with LWW than content adaptations objections). The studio had enough of something to discontinue the franchise. This is not a bad thing. The Chronicles of Narnia have real risk and real cost in its short pages and trying to express that while keeping it Disneyfied and gentle enough for kids is a fine line that is rarely walked successfully. Just look at PC

Despite my dislike of PC (I don't own it, the ultimate thumbs down) I was disappointed to think that none of the other novels would get their shot at a red carpet premiere. I'm actually not looking to see all the novels adapted. I'd be happy to get through the first four, rounding out the film franchise with The Silver Chair. The Last Battle is cataclysmic, but I won't be overly disappointed if it doesn't make the cut as the story is less rich what with the donkey impersonating the lion and that annoying ape. Plus, there's a reason not too many people remember The Horse and His Boy (read it and find out) not to mention some potentially dodgy cultural issues with the Arabic-like villains. And while Narnia's origin story in The Magician's Nephew could be a fun stand alone, I think seeing Narnia emerge through LWW is more poetically potent. But I really want to see The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (my ultimate favorite) and The Silver Chair unfold on the screen so long as they do it right.

Fortunately, the franchise was picked up by Fox, which normally would send me into tizzies of discontent, but for this one, anything not Disney is pretty good. Adamson is taking a back seat, serving as producer but ceding writing and directing duties to others. Michael Apted is directing. Among other things, Apted was responsible for directing duties on three of the best episodes of the first season of Rome and that field was a competitive one as nearly every episode was mind-bogglingly fantastic. The point is he's done more than Shrek (sorry Adamson) before coming to Narnia. Experience counts.

There is one major character shake up. Eddie Izzard, of whom I am ridiculously fond, was the voice of the warrior mouse Reepicheep in PC. Via, he will now be voiced by Bill Nighy. OK – I had a whole paragraph here about how great Bill Nighy is, but when searching for the link below, I discovered via that he's been replaced by Simon Pegg. Shame, it was a really good paragraph.

Reepicheep is sacrosanct. After Aslan, he's the one Narnian you do not want to miscast.

Do not mess with the mouse.

Izzard was great, playing the charming humor and dedication of the big, loyal warrior in the tiny body like an endearing version of Shrek's Puss in Boots without the tomcatting around, pun intended. But in Dawn Treader, Reepicheep becomes more, oh, so much more, and ultimately is the heart and soul of the story.

Simon Pegg will be great too, I'm sure of it. He's a closer match to Izzard's voice than Nighy and he'll definitely bring the funny; we'll have to see how he does with the more serious and poignant aspects of Reepicheep. But I was really looking forward to hearing Bill Nighy's humor, his talent, his plumy voice in Reepicheep, my favorite character of the Narnian saga.

Where am I going with all this? Right here. The new trailer for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. The first time I saw it I gasped, and a few seconds later gasped again, and then literally clutched my metaphoric pearls. I saw Reepicheep in the bow of the row boat, I saw lilies in the water, and I saw a wall of water flowing upside down.

"Return to magic. Return to hope. Return to Narnia," the tagline exhorts.

Oh yes, please.

I think, I think, maybe this time they got it right. On December 10th, we'll all find out.

Further up. Further in.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Soapbox Rant: Volkswagen Advert

Dear Volkswagen,

I love your cars. Really. German engineering – MWAH! Big kiss. Pain in the ass expensive to repair, but great fun to drive and you can drive those puppies into the ground. Also, potential to be incredibly cute in a way that doesn't bug (heh, see what I did there? no? read on) the crap out of me. By which, I mean the reincarnation of the Beetle. Kudos on that.

I grew up with Volkswagen cars. First there was the grass green Beetle of my infancy (really ugly). When my parents sold it, my sister and I stood by the driveway sobbing as the new owners drove it away. Mom and Dad traded up for the dark green Beetle of my childhood, followed by the grass green Rabbit of my pre-adolescence and finally the dark green Rabbit of my teenage years. The 'rents definitely had a green theme going on there. After that came the one lemon, the red Jetta, a totally cash suck for many years. Probably it was the color change that did it.

I loved that last Rabbit. I called it The Turtle thanks to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle plush toy (Michelangelo, natch. Kowabunga dude) won on the boardwalk of the Jersey shore that adorned my dashboard. And the whole green thing. Sadly, the name never caught on with anyone but me, but that was enough. That Rabbit was bliss, that car was freedom. And it was my first and last stick shift transmission. I loved driving that car.

Ergo, I have the pedigree for this rant. So pay attention.

It is NOT Punch Dubya. We are not, however much we may desire, punching George W. Bush every time we see a VW.


Get it right, you gits.

This is a (car) game specific to the VW Beatle – AND ONLY THE BEETLE. Beetle=a bug=buggy=Punch Buggy. I don't know where it came from or how it began, but I do know what it is and especially, what is it not. And every single time I see your commercial, I scream at the screen, "It's Punch Buggy you brainless gits!" If I was deliberating on whether or not to buy a VW right now, this would have lost you a sale. Yep, it's that important.

Listen. If you're going to use the parlance of slang that has risen up around one of your seminal, for better or for worse, products, DO NOT bastardize it by stretching a dodgy advertising campaign across the entire line of automobiles. All you're doing is creating bad will amongst those of us savvy enough to know and fond enough to remember your original incarnation of said model (namely me) for whom Punch Buggy is a reminder of long cars rides to the Poconos and other parts of the tri-state area when my sister and I negotiated for real estate of the back seat while we sang songs and played games (and fought) to pass the time in an era before DVD players and iPhones and iPods and whatever else parents stick on or at their kids to shut them up became de rigueur.

Seriously man! Don't violate my childhood with your flawed marketing schemes.

Deep breath.

I aim an emphatic finger in your collective direction.

Don't. Mess. With the Punch Buggy.



Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Design Maintenance

Notice anything new ye few, ye happy few who read my ramblings? Behold the new layout.

Blogger came up with some new templates recently so yesterday I played around with the template.

I'm quite keen for maps, a fondness shared by my father who never met a map he didn't like. When on road trips, we used to joke that we were in real trouble when Dad brought the map out. But when I knew I'd be driving around Ireland, the first thing I did was buy a map. Still have it too; I love that map. My mom bought me a TomTom for my birthday and I had her return it (one of the rare times I exercised my desires on a gift already given) because I'd prefer to figure a route out myself (and I wanted the new Kodak color printer). So when I saw the new map template, I thought, wow, blogger actually got something right.

I really dislike blogger and only remain here because I'm too dang lazy to transfer to wordpress even though I know it's heaps and heaps better and easier to use. I'll get there soon though and until then, I'll just keep playing with the template. I started out with a standard one for about a year that I never really liked, too unexciting, and then instigated the light house motif last summer. Now I'm segueing into map territory – here be dragons for sure. I like the thematic implications too, almost as though this is a place yet uncharted where I tap tap along at my keyboard writing whatever comes to mind and sometimes unwisely posting it here, but there you go.

Which is where ye few come in. Weigh in, will ya? I'm not crazy about the salmon background but I like how the map looks on it. The trick is getting everything to show up on a light background without resorting to too heavy a color for the text and accendiaries. I don't like web sites with dark backgrounds. I'm not writing paranormal here so I don't need the dark and stormy night implications. And blogger gives you a color palette to work from and though I'm never quite happy with the choices, I do what I can with what I'm given. I'm also trying to keep from simply making everything reds and blues and be done with it.

I do see myself biting the bullet in the near future and getting official about this web site stuff. Until then, it's trial by error, still working out the blog kinks and changing the look to suit my mood at any given moment.

Let me know what you think of my latest attempt at design maintenance.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Cryin’ on the Inside

I had a phenomenally inspiring weekend that kicked off with the Long Island Romance Writers annual networking luncheon. I was a luncheon virgin having never attended before, but it was a fabulous event that I'll tell you all about - some other time.

As usual, attending a writing event lit the banked fire under my butt to write. I've actually been doing well, but I got stuck in editing the old stuff again in the hopes that it would inspire new stuff and, well, that never works. I have a couple scenes blocked in my head I only need to get them down on the page as they do no one any good locked in my brain. I churned the whole bloody thing out Saturday night with 3600 words spewing from my fingertips and then Sunday I massaged them a little and added till I reached the 5200 level. I'm pretty pleased with myself, but that won't last, and I'm not writing this to fluff up my traditionally drooping wings.

The scene is when my heroine delivers grievous news to a girl's parents. OK – yes, the girl is dead, but before she died, my heroine made a promise to tell the parents so they wouldn't spend the rest of lives in ignorance. She's giving them closure, a horrible kind of closure, but nonetheless. And it's an important scene because the hero sees her empathy and pain as she's talking to the parents and begins to finally accept that she (our heroine) is not the heartless, scheming, manipulative jade he thought she was. He's suspected this for a while, but he's been denying it. Now he has to finally accept it.

This is also a turning point for our heroine because she's got more to do with this girl's death than she's letting on. Confronting the parents here opens up this wound and finally, she starts letting our hero in and he (along with the reader) begin to learn more pieces of the back story. So it's a BFD scene, emotion wise for all parties, right?

OK – here's where I fess up that I am not a crier, which sometimes is simply another manifestation of my control freak tendencies (the "I will not cry mentality) but not always.

Here's an example: When we were driving to the cemetery after my grandmother's funeral, my rightfully grief-stricken sister said to me "why aren't you crying?" to which I answered, "because I'm a cold, empty bitch" but of course that wasn't it. For me, tears are a private thing whenever possible (and sometimes it's not). And at that particular event, there were things to do, cars to follow, people to greet, a mother falling to pieces, a grandfather mute with grief, and other family angst to manage. Grief (and crying) took a back seat. Also, a good cry makes me ravenous, seriously, will-eat-my-hand hungry, and there wasn't a WaWa near the cemetery (Kidding. A little.)

Crying is an important emotional release for a person. I get that and I agree with it. People need to cry sometimes or frankly, there's something wrong with them. It's a necessary part of being human and, probably, having a soul. And I think that's exactly what it should be used for, not some manipulative tool to get your own way. All too often people, particularly women and I'm guilty of this too particularly in my juvenile past, use tears to this end. I'm not that kind of person and, frankly, I think it stinks. Also, there's still that little girl in me who gobbled up Native American literature and believed that crying was a show of weakness. Those early beliefs are hard to circumnavigate as an adult however much reason says I'm off my rocker. Of course, I scream bloody murder instead – better to be angry than scared or worse, hurt –and I'm not quite convinced that's any better, but what are ya gonna do?

So there I was Saturday, the anti-crier for lack of a better phrase, writing this scene where this mother is literally destroyed by the news this stranger (our heroine) has brought to her door. And as I'm writing, she (the mother) is screaming at her husband that she wants her baby and the words, and I say this with no aim for hyperbole, were absolutely flying from my fingers. And as I came to the end of the flow and sat back, drained, in my desk chair, I realized the corners of my mouth were fiercely turned down.

Bet you expected me to say I was crying, right? Ah - psych. I'm not that far off the reservation yet, but after this experience, I'll admit, I'm not ruling it out either.

It was pretty cool. This woman, while a minor player in the overall scheme of things had become a real enough character to me that her pain was causing me sadness.

Listen, everybody remembers Joan Wilder writing the end of her novel at the start of Romancing the Stone while sobbing along, tissues used up, as she pounded out the triumphant finale. That will never be me.

But I've had years of listening to or reading of writers who say that their characters took off with the page, or that they had no idea what was coming next , the characters took over or any other myriad of things writers say about the creative process and where the work comes from. I never got that. I mean these people and these ideas are coming from the writers' heads. How could they not know?

I'm not sure I get it still, but I definitely had something special going on this Saturday. Hard won, hard found, and hardly known, but something.

Though I am curious about what might happen next.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

No Rest for the Wicked

I've got a stack of work on my desk that will not end till the end of my day because we're short staffed today, last month's freelance copy that I have to rewrite – again – for what's probably the fifth time by Monday, a deluge of *****X work expected to begin its June gestation at my desk tomorrow, and a pitch and summary to perfect before next Friday's big luncheon not to mention the need to finish writing the DAMN BOOK.

So I'm a tad stressed.

What I really want to do it curl up with Sherry Thomas' newest novel His at Night. Two days and I'm only on chapter 5. Unheard of! I've also got Julia James' Something About You waiting for me at the library and my cousin's Christmas Barnes and Noble gift card to bruise with Julia Quinn's Ten Things I Love About You. I need a vacation just to get through my TBR pile!

The freelance work has me annoyed. I'm so appreciative of it because, despite my client's title increase this year, I'm getting fewer and fewer assignments. There's a lot of good reasons for that, few if any that have to do with me or my work directly, but it's a dramatic enough decrease that it's no longer a piece of income I can rely on regularly. More time for my own writing then, you say? Well, yes, but the pay out for that is a long way off – if ever. And cash in hand is gooooood. My fabulous editor got me some extra cash for it because it really is a new direction for the copy, and that's very good. But I'm still annoyed because I thought the job was put to bed and here the editor hadn't even looked at it yet and once she did, decided it needed to be sweeter. Oh-kay. It's a pretty hot book, but apparently were focusing on babies and fantasies and happily ever after and sweet instead. I don't typically do sweet and having a baby is not my idea of happily ever after, so I lift an incredulous, Stephen Colbert-like brow at this and then repeat my manta – not my book, not my book, not my book.

Because it's not my book; it's someone else's hard work that my copy with help position to sell. Ideally. Someday perhaps, someone will be writing copy for my hard work. Yeah right. Like I won't rewrite that puppy a hundred times. But until then, I'll bend my pen to this title again to try to find the right words that are not too smart or witty, nothing remotely chick-lit-y about it, as, rather than weave my new bracelet into my WIP this weekend, I'll spend the few hours I have post another PA visit to rewrite and reposition this copy – very sweetly, I promise.

Because on Monday, the real work begins. On Monday, the faux wood of my desktop will disappear beneath the bevy of job bags from *****X. it may indeed save lives, but this month, as it does every June, it will do its damnedest to kill me.

Good thing I have a few good books to look forward to.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


That's how I began my day today – powerless, as in literally without power. It was the silence that woke me, the absence of the humming soundtrack of my nights produced by the two fans that cross check my bed. One is a standing fan that could make a strong run for the position of last airbender, and the other a table fan that runs year round to keep air circulating in my windowless room. I woke to quiet and darkness sans furry companions and realized that lo, the power was gone.

My whole morning changed in an instant. I couldn't dry my hair, which meant less prep time required to get to work. So of course, I went right back to bed. I try to never waste an opportunity for another 5 minutes of sleep. But my mind was already going at a mile an hour, processing the implications and examining the day ahead, mentally reorganizing my wardrobe choices to fit the change in circumstances, so I gave in and got up. And what was at the top of my list of concerns? The fact that if the power didn't come on by 10 PM, I'd miss watching Justified tonight. Yep, sometimes, that's exactly the height of my priorities.

Do you know how many things we do every day, infinitesimal moments of living that require power? All morning, I kept flipping on the lights without thinking and then actually wondering for a second why they weren't working. I was setting up the coffee pot for my mother and even with my handy Maglight I couldn't manage to see the watermark. But I didn't want to take it to the window for a better look because then I'd have to unplug it and reset the clock. Then I realized the clock was already gone because there was no power. Polish moment times ten.

Fortunately, the power came on just as I got out of the shower, so my blow drying needs were met and my wardrobe choices reversed once again. Despite the heat reaching crazy levels already here in the Garden State, I'm still forcing hot air on my head every morning. Can't be a Jersey Girl without the hair.


I had a pretty good Memorial Day weekend. I even cooked! Twice! OK, burgers one night and steak the other, but still an accomplishment for me. Caught Prince of Persia on Friday afternoon (next week's Movie Monday topic), and finally managed to clean my pit of a bedroom on Saturday (an event as I have the housekeeping skills of a 13-year-old boy). Didn't manage to point the vacuum in its direction yet, but that's coming. I can actually move in it now and even found an unopened bag of Starburst jellybeans along the way. No, not ewww. Unopened. That's key.

Sunday, we took a drive down to Lambertville, a family favorite activity that has become more wearying now that I live 30 minutes farther north in North Jersey than ever before. Not something I thought of when I suggested the drive. But it was a beautiful drive down the Pennsie side of the Delaware River itself flowing and churning along, fat and sassy from all the rain we've had this spring. Seriously, if you like tubing or canoeing or kayaking, this is the summer to get to it.

It was the first time I'd driven the CR-V down the windy, narrow route 32. Some of those corners freaked me out no matter that I've been driving them upwards of 15 years. Couple of times, I really expected to scrape up against the rock wall. I couldn't figure out why it felt difficult this time around more narrow and tricky. No, it wasn't my speed. It was the size of the car, the small SUV significantly broader than my former Civic. I'm telling you, it felt like we had some close calls.

We'd gotten fantastic STJ sandwiches at Market Basket and about 4pm finally planted ourselves on a bench outside the Sojourners boutique in Lambertville that I like so much. I really like the Sojourners boutique. It's pretty much the only shop in the town that I must visit when I'm there. I always wind up finding a nice pair of earrings for not a lot of money, which is excellent for me because I am abysmally cheap. This time, it was a pair of earrings, a necklace and earring set, and a beautiful bracelet. That's pretty much my shopping quota for a year.

There's an overt East Asian atmosphere in the store that grows as you move through the store and into its back room where handmade clothes and home décor are featured along with incense, candles, and their accessories. I'm long past my hippy dippy stage, if I ever had one, but I do have a weakness for Indian products. I love the drama of the jewelry, the beautiful saris and flowing pashminas in elegantly lush colors. Also, I'm fond of elephant figurines. Totally random. Go figure. But my favorite part of the store, apart from the jewelry is the shoes. Shocking, I know. I'll never, ever be able to wear any of the exquisite, unique shoes they sell; they're narrow and generously heeled. But they are glorious.

Lambertville was predictably packed with people, a lot of the foot traffic going back and forth across the bridge to New Hope. I love people watching almost as much as car watching. A black van drove by with the band The Who's emblem on its wheel well and the phrase "We won't be fooled again" headlining its back door. I could write a suppositional thesis on that alone. A bride and groom and their attendants walked through the town too, a trifecta of photographers in their wake. I also saw a red, two-door Honda Civic cruising by with – hey! – my dad at the wheel. Hi guys! Fancy seeing you here!


I haven't been to a parade in years. One thing you miss by not being part of a traditional nuclear family is an inclusion in the community around you. Without kids, there's none of the myriad school minutiae and connections to tie you in, no bands or baseball teams boy or girl scouts to march in the town parade. Normally, I've got something going on or simply can't be bothered to get up and get out to the parade – for some of those suckers, you gotta get up dang early to be well situated and I don't do well before noon. This year, I didn't want to pass another holiday watching NCIS marathons or the like. So I piggybacked on my friends' family's activities – my surrogate family – enjoying the Rochelle Park parade with them under Monday's unforgiving sun. I was their stereotypical "maiden" aunt, topping off my hat and shades couture with an actual umbrella to ward off the sun. Man, I'm getting old.

It was a blast watching everyone march past, smiling, throwing candy, the classic cars and the fire trucks, while band after band decided not to play just as they reached our spot simply to make us feel all special, I'm sure. Afterwards we walked the small distance to the American Legion to reclaim children and enjoy flat, cold soda (ambrosia), hot dogs and popcorn with face painting and balloon animals for the kids. That walk, small as it was, kicked my butt but good and I spent the rest of the afternoon napping on the chaise with a Harry Potter DVD running in the background while Hollis rollicked in the sunspot next to me. Not a bad way to wind down the weekend.

I looked around the American Legion patio and saw the community, the parents and grandparents, the weary, sweating marchers, the hoards of running, screaming children that didn't bug me for a minute. It reminded me of how much I miss being part of such a community. We've only been in our new place going on two years now, so we're still relatively new to the area and without those traditional community ties, it's not easy to break through that. My day-to-day life revolves boringly around work, parent, grandparents, bills, the next crisis and the one after that, and writing. Until I get to those bright, shining weekends when I'm instantly absorbed back into my go-to community of writers who remind me of how good it feels to belong.

Everyone needs a place to belong, a place to be in community. Otherwise, we really do become powerless.