Posts Tagged ‘the walking dead’

“The Wrong Side of the Road”- by Alison Grambs

IMG_0428I drive this route all the time,” I hissed defiantly as my husband and I zipped down the golf cart path of our Florida community. “I could make this trip with my eyes closed, thank you very much.”

It was, of course, at this precise moment that my husband casually pointed out that I was driving on the wrong side of the road.

And by ‘other side’ I don’t mean I had just meandered a few inches over the dotted line; I was driving entirely on the other side of the golf cart path. A golf cart path that provides for two-way traffic- not just “Alison can drive wherever she wants” kind of traffic.

“Oh, puhlease!” I sputtered indignantly now, rolling my eyes for dramatic effect despite the fact it was pitch dark outside and Tommy wasn’t looking at me. (He was too busy clutching at the hang bar on our golf cart, shrieking that we were about to die.) “It’s not like anyone’s even coming this way,” I pointed out smugly, slowing down the cart so I could turn off onto the grass and reverse the cart. “So, just, ya know, calm down, dude.”

I mean, come on. My husband spent twenty years working in a profession in which he dealt with life and death situations every day. Seriously scary stuff. Hero stuff. Hardly was me and my cute little golf cart going off the road for, like, a nanosecond any reason to get all hysterical, right?

“It’s not like you can even tell which side is which in the dark,” I was stating even more smugly now as we continued down the path…in the wrong direction. 

That’s when my husband pointed out the fact that our golf cart has headlights. Very bright headlights. Headlights that light up the road for a good, oh, quarter mile or so. (Whatever.)

“Well, my contacts are bothering me lately, ” I snipped back annoyed. “I can’t see.”

That’s when my husband pointed out that I was not wearing my contacts. I was wearing my new glasses. The new glasses about which I have been raving because “I can see so clearly in these beauties!” (Whatever.) 

“Well,” I continue, still in defensive mode and still rolling my eyes, “whoever built this path should, like, have marked it way better than they did. You really can’t tell when you’re on the wrong side of the road.”

That’s when my husband pointed out the large median divider to our right. The one that was supposed to be to our left. The one that the designers of this golf cart path apparently added to certain points of the otherwise open path to alert commuters to the fact that there are two separate lanes of traffic.

Again, I roll my eyes, now adding a huffy huff for added effect. “Well, you can barely see that thing!”

That’s when my husband pointed out that the median is not only long enough, and wide enough, to accommodate several full-grown palm trees and bushes within its perimeter, but is also outfitted with myriad reflective devices. Reflective devices he claims are intended to discourage drivers like me from failing to see the median. (Whatever.)

“Well, it’s not like anyone is coming towards us,” I remarked casually. “We’re all alone.”

A comment my husband responded to with some murmuring about how that could ‘change at any time.’ That someone might come from the other direction. (Whatever.)

I was having none of it.

“Well, what can I say?” my voice now raised involuntarily to that slightly hysterical pitch that means I have lost the argument on paper, but am still fighting it hard-as-nails in my head. “I’ve got a lot on my mind. And the last thing I can be worried about is stupid traffic lanes.” 

Although certainly not the response the Department of Motor Vehicles would want to hear, this was true. I did, in fact, have a lot on my mind. 

Only ten days into the month of April and it’s been a whirlwind of activity and stress. Exactly a year has gone by since I was in the hospital. Pulmonary embolisms had sneaked into my lungs and threatened to take me out. Until now, I hadn’t ever really understood how much the whole almost dying thing can rattle a person’s psyche. The world looks different when you come lose to not being in it anymore. Yeesh. Close calls. And we’ve all had those close-calls. The only difference is, I was totally aware of mine at the time.

On top of that, all the longterm, personal writing projects I’ve been working on for the two years are finally coming to a state of finalization now. Which means I have to do the unthinkable: cease focusing on the creative writing (my strong suit and personal joy), and get to work mapping out marketing plans for each of them (so very not my strong suit and so very much not my personal joy.) It’s that time in the game when a writer no longer gets to say, “Oh, I’m still working on that project. Stay tuned.” The work is done, and now has to be pushed out and judged by the masses. (Or, in my case, the one person who will buy my books.)

Plus, I’m really, really disappointed with the season finale of “The Walking Dead.” Is Glenn still alive? Is Daryl dead? Does Alicia Florrick know that her new lover has a penchant for baseball bats wrapped in barbed wire? Not to mention how very weighed down I am by my failure to become fluent in French by the time my mother and I fly off to Paris this summer for a mother/daughter adventure. The best I can do right now is order un croissant. (And I’d probably mess that up by accidentally calling it a poisson.)

“Just get back into your lane please,” my husband, his voice now palpably testy, advised with an exhausted sigh.

It was the kind of exhausted sigh I hear him often. The one he lets out every time I break the kitchen garbage disposal by shoving artichoke leaves into it. The one he lets out when I decide to spray paint a piece of furniture in the house hot pink and accidentally end up spray painting parts of the house itself. The kind of exhausted sigh he lets out when I use the pointy ears of his full-size Yoda figure to dry my wet bras while doing laundry.

“Please…” my husband groans.

But I’m not ready to get back in my proper lane yet. Being on the wrong side, if only for a few seconds, feels good. I feel alive. Granted we’re traveling only 10 m/p/h, but it’s an exciting 10 m/p/h because it feels different. Defiant. Dangerous. Wild. For two years now I have been driving this golf cart of ours down the proper side of the road, following all the rules (well, except for that time I accidentally drove into the exit of a golf cart tunnel, but I digress.) 

There are people in the world who don’t follow the rules. Ever. People who do precisely what they are not suppose to do. People who climb mountains they’re told not to climb. People who write books they’re told will never sell. People who instigate fights they’re told they can never win. People who take up causes everyone else deems futile. People who drink milk not just past its expiration date, but waaaaaaay past it.  

As the golf cart keeps traveling the wrong way I do a quick mental check on where I stand among these people. Do I break the rules? Sometimes, yes. I can be just as impulsive as I can be practical. And, at least creatively, I am quite certain that I function way more out of the box than it in. And I like that. But sometimes I’m so busy functioning outside of the box that I have trouble finding my way back in it when it’s clearly time to grab hold.  That sucks. Then again, sometimes I think I play it too safe. Way too safe. And people who play it safe don’t make history.

But then again, do I want to make history? Not so sure. If it’s making history because I do something important like save people’s lives or invent a cure for a disease or discover a new country, sure. However, with my luck, the only way I’ll ever ‘make history’ is by getting attacked by a Megalodon in a swimming pool. Making the 10 o’clock news for being the first victim to die in the mouth of a previously extinct shark- a shark that then dies of Salmonella poisoning after eating me because I had sucked down expired milk that morning. Well, call me crazy, but that’s not the kind of history I want to make.  

I don’t exactly see my parents bragging at a dinner party about, “how very proud we are of our little Alison. Getting eaten by that historic shark in the kiddie pool at the Motel 6. (And yes, she’s even littler now haha!)” 

Breaking rules is fun. But man, it’s hard to know which ones to break. Hell, do I even know what the rules are on any given day? I mean, when you’re in your 40s, it sort of feels like the rules are always changing and somehow staying exactly the same. Weird. It’s hard to know which rules are for breaking and which are for following. What to challenge and what to accept in life. Which dreams are worth pursuing and which should just be dumped on the shoulder of the road as we drift onto a familiar exit ramp.

I stayed in the wrong lane of that golf cart path for a tiny bit more, trying to come to terms with what kind of person I am when it comes to rules. I doodled along just long enough to enjoy the sensation of the wrong direction breeze in my hair and chuckle at the sideways, wrong direction expression on my husband’s face. I was laughing; he was not. 

And then I freaked out and got back into the proper lane.

Tommy stopped clutching at his heart.

And we moved on…back on the right side of the road. 

 

 

 

“OPEN LETTER TO…” by Alison Grambs

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To the Man One Word Behind:  We spend every Christmas in Maine.  And every Christmas Eve our family braces against the cold and snow to drive into the picturesque town of Portland to attend Christmas Eve Mass at the Episcopal Cathedral there.  And every year, there you are, a disembodied voice singing along to the hymns and carols from the back of the cathedral.  In tempo, you are always precisely one word behind the choir and rest of the congregation, but bless your heart, you sing with such joy in your voice, and complete lack of concern for where or how you may, or may not, fit it.  You know every word- and you sing each of them with a booming voice.  You are just completely and totally filled with the love and joy of the holiday season, and I absolutely love that! I love that every Christmas Eve I can count on you to sing so loudly the word ‘Silent’ exactly when the rest of the church has already gotten to the word “night”.  It’s just a gorgeous and heartwarming experience to know that at least someone on this planet is focused on the message, rather than the delivery.  So, thank you.  And please, keep singing one word behind the rest of us for many years to come. 

The Lunching Ladies At Panera: You made me smile that day as you six ladies, dressed in your matching running suits, gathered around the table to share lunch.  Your silver and gray hair belied the youthfulness of your collective spirit; and I couldn’t stop staring at you because you all just seemed so happy to be with each other.  I could tell there was a lot of history at that table.  That you knew each other’s individual rhythms, and had probably walked one another through a lot of ups and downs in life. I relished in watching you relish in the giggles that erupted around your table.  I have girlfriends like you, and I know how blessed I am to have them. They are like family to me.  How much I hope me and my girls will still all be gathered around a table decades from now, making each other laugh.  (But I couldn’t help but notice you left your dirty dishes on the table when you left.  Not cool.  There are garbage receptacles in every direction.  So, give the servers a break and clean up your own dishes, okay? I’m just saying’…)

To the Sender of the Lakisha Cruz Spam Mail:  Please remove my email address from your mailings.  I am not interested in your pharmaceuticals.  If I need drugs, I will march myself down to the local CVS and pay an exorbitant price for them through my health plan the same way everyone else does.  Your emails are intensely annoying, with mismatched fonts and words underlined that don’t deserve to be underlined.  And it’s mean the way you trick me into opening your emails by putting “Someone who loves you sent you an urgent message” in the subject line of my emails.  There I am, fully expecting to get this ‘urgent’ message from, say, Norman Reedus from The Walking Dead, informing me that he is totally okay with giving me private (naked) lessons on how to use a compound bow… when instead, I hear from you about some drug that probably hasn’t even been approved by the FDA.  So, please stop emailing me. I can’t take the constant disappointment.  

The Cashier At Walmart:  With your thin hair, swept to the side, the awkward glasses, the soft, lilting lisp, and playful sense of humor, you reminded me of a literary giant.  Never have I had so much fun purchasing bed pillows.  You knew about art and history, and chatted freely with me as you admired each of my purchases and revealed a worldly background well beyond your present circumstances.  Chatting with you made me think of Truman Capote, and thereby, Philip Seymour Hoffman… and a film role Mr. Hoffman played that has not been mentioned as much in the many tributes being made since his passing.   Along Came Polly.  Did you ever see that film?  What a perfect comedic performance he gave in that, and there are few movie scenes that launch me into repeated hysterics more reliably than the one of him on the basketball court.  (White chocolate!) I was at a play once downtown that Mr. Hoffman had directed.  He was seated in the audience in the row directly in front of me. I have no idea what the play was about because I spent the entire time being totally captivated by his presence. He was just one of those actors who mattered – quietly attracting attention despite what was, quite clearly, his best effort to avoid doing so. How timely that I ended up on line in your cash register aisle at Walmart-  just a few days before Mr. Hoffman passed away.  How lucky I feel that you made me think of Truman Capote,  and thereby, Mr. Hoffman.  And how lovely that you admired the linens I was purchasing when no one else would have bothered. 

To the Car Salesman:  You are a jackass.  No, seriously. I mean, you are really a major jackass. I’ve met a lot of jackass car salesmen in my life, but you, Mr. Jackass, take the cake.  Did you seriously just use the line, “What would it take to put you into this car today?”  Are you seriously that much of an idiot.  Well, the fact of the matter is, we told you what it would take to ‘put’ us in that car, and you didn’t do it.  Instead, you resorted to text book lies and cheap lines (oh yes, I definitely heard you say,”If I gave you the car for that price, I’d be paying you to drive it…”)  You are not only annoying, but foolish.  How do you keep track of all the lies you spill out to potential customers? But I got you back, pal, for trying to take advantage of us.  Oh yes.  All those free hot dogs you were giving out at the dealership in the hopes that they would fool us into overpaying for vehicles you were misrepresenting?  Well, I downed those dogs like there was no tomorrow! Even though I wasn’t even hungry!  And better yet?  When we went for that test ride in that stupid car you told us had certain features it most certainly did not – I made sure to burp up the remnants of your stupid, overcooked hot dogs all over the interior.  So, you can suck it, pal.

To the Woman Talking To Herself Next To Me Right Now:  Please stop.  You are saying very boring things. If you’re going to speak aloud to no one in particular, at least reveal a juicy secret… or your ATM pin code… 

Sincerely, 

Alison Grambs

 

 

 

“Open Letter To: #2”- by Alison Grambs

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OPEN LETTER TO:

THE WOMAN IN THE PUBLIC RESTROOM:
Ma’am, I have no idea what you were doing in that stall for so long. There was so much noise going on from your corner of the restroom, all that huffing and puffing and grunting and sighing,that I am inclined to assume you brought a traveling circus into the stall with you. When I’m using a public lavatory, I tend to be one of those “in and out as fast as ya can” kinda gals, doing everything I can to avoid coming in contact with anything in there. I don’t touch anything I don’t have to. I’ve seen those talk shows about what germs lurk in public areas and am just not willing to take a chance of walking away with someone else’s bodily secretions on my person. That being said, I would greatly appreciate it if, the next time you use a public restroom, especially one located in a New York City eating establishment where people are simply trying to get through the day without getting mugged, you would be kind enough to end your elaborate performance in the stall with a cursory washing of your hands. I am not judging you for having whatever problems you were having in that stall back there. Things happen, we put things into our body that end up coming out wrong. But I do take issue with you thinking it is socially acceptable to depart any restroom, including your own, without so much as a quick thrust of your hands under the faucet. Guess what? That is why the sink is there! To assist you with the washing away of whatever god forsaken things you brought out of the bathroom stall. It’s a common courtesy, Ma’am, a gift we considerate citizens of this city dole out so that the rest of civilization can go to the napkin dispenser in the restaurant without fear of contracting Ebola. It takes less than a minute to properly wash your hands in accordance with the Health Department’s guidelines for proper hygiene, Ma’am. Surely you can spare sixty seconds? I’m fairly certain you spent more time than that picking out that ridiculously unfashionable knitted beret you were wearing on your giant head as you strolled out of the bathroom stall and headed straight toward the exit, leaving me to gasp in horror as I stood in front of the sink…. oh now, whatever could I have been doing at that sink? Hmmmmm. Oh, that’s right! Washing my hands.

THE STREET SANTAS :
Hey guys. You’re very cute, standing there on the corners around the Radio City Music Hall area, ringing your bells and singing Christmas songs. I really appreciate it, because man, I love Christmas. Still get as excited about it at age forty-three as I did when I was three. And some of you guys and gals take the holiday spirit one step farther (further?) by playing instruments. Totally cool. Love it. Anyone from whom you cannot extract a jolly smile for your efforts is nothing but a grinch. That being said, as you may recall, last year I asked Santa for a pony. Never got one. Come to think of it, didn’t even get a stuffed animal of a pony. I got a sewing machine. A sewing machine that is wonderful in theory but really friggin’ hard to operate. So, your boss there not only gave me a gift that wasn’t even close to a pony, but one that has resulted in me giving out gifts of half-sewn pillows to friends and family because I have proven a really lousy sewer. So, yes, of course I will continue dropping dollar bills in your collection buckets, and yes, of course I will continue thanking you street Santas for getting everyone in the holiday spirit. But I’d better get that damn pony from you guys this year. Seriously. If not, I suggest you ring those merry bells of yours with one eye open. Capice?

THE CAST OF “THE BIG BANG THEORY” and “THE WALKING DEAD”:
Sheldon. Penny. Leonard. Raj. Amy. Howard. Bernadette. I owe you all an apology. For a long while now my friends have been trying to get me to watch your show. But my affection for shows featuring graphic violence and unnecessary amounts of death and destruction kept me from tuning in. In recent weeks however, in an effort to momentarily fill the void that will occur when “Sons of Anarchy” and “The Walking Dead” go on hiatus, I have been watching reruns of your show. Forgive me, oh, you fabulous, fabulous geeks. You are so very funny, so extremely talented, and I cannot remember a sitcom that made me giggle so much in recent memory. I wish I had neighbors like you – because then Tommy would have pals to help build him his Princess Leia hologram, and I would have pals to teach me which twinkling thingies in the Manhattan sky are stars and which are just martian poop. As for those of you still alive and fighting the good fight on “The Walking Dead“, it sucked the big one having to say adieu to Hershel. He rocked in a million ways, and I’ll miss Scott Wilson’s voice lulling me to sleep every Sunday night as he served as a moral compass for the group in that broken down prison. Am I a bad person for being happy to watch that little girl get taken out by a Biter, though? Probably. But frankly, I found her annoying. I mean, come on! If you’re gonna play around in a flash flood zone during the Zombie Apocalypse, use your tween noggin and think before you go digging around the mud. Duh. (no wonder she kept losing to the Governor at chess.)

BILL BRYSON & SARAH VOWELL:
Thank you. Thank you both for being the kind of writers who make learning about our country and history such an entertaining experience. Mr. Bryson, before your latest book came out I’m abashed to admit I did not give much thought to the year 1927 in America. (I wasn’t there, so naturally, I just figured it was a dull year.) But thanks to your eye-opening trip back in time, the mere mention of Lindbergh, Coolidge, Dempsey, Babe Ruth and the miracle that was the invention of the Talkies, gets me so very excited. I don’t know how you do what you do – I can barely draft a grocery list without losing my train of thought – but I thank you from the bottom of my now slightly more historically accurate heart for writing the books you do. As for you Sarah Vowell? Being a fellow fan of all things morbid, you have a new fan in me. I bought your book for $ 1.99 on Kindle, and although I will have to suffer the guilt of being an e-book fan, and thereby part of the horrible team of Americans putting bookstores out of business – I promise to make it up by buying hard copies of all your books now because you are so very fun to read because you get my twisted mind perfectly. It seems the parts of history I remember most are always the ones that have a bit of the gruesome involved. Ask me who the current president of the United States is, and I might be stumped. But ask me how many limbs had to be amputated at the Battle at Gettysburg, and I’ll give you facts and figures galore. So, thank you for walking me through the fascinating nooks and crannies of the assassinations of Lincoln, McKinley, and Garfield with such fervor, and just the right amount of self-deprecating wit to keep me interested. And if you think I won’t be doing a pilgrimage up to Oneida soon to see where all that free love stuff went on in the vegetables gardens, well…

Sincerely,
Alison Grambs

“RETREATING”- by Alison Grambs

 

photo About twice a year I embark on what I refer to as my ‘writing retreat’.

I escape from the noise and chaos of the city to lock myself away in a far away place for a few days to focus solely on my literary endeavors. Usually, such trips coincide with a new idea I have for a novel. Now mind you, I’ve never actually published a novel, so you can see how well this is going so far. But the point is, I have several novels ‘in the works’, and I am doing my best to see them to fruition. And such writing tasks sometimes benefit from the luxury of a bit of alone time. So, during these self-imposed sequestrations of mine, off goes the email, the cell phone and the television, and, with any luck, on goes the flow of creativity. The idea is to be away from people, noise, and the daily grind of life that so easily interferes with one’s attempt to write more lengthy pieces of fiction.

Sometimes my semiannual writing exiles prove highly productive; and sometimes, not so much.

My last such venture was a bit ill-timed. I had just gotten my nose pierced. I guess I was bored. And when I get bored, I either watch The Real Housewives of Whatever… or I go to the annual Tattoo Convention at the Roseland Ballroom and pay a chick, with the inevitable five hundred steel studs poking out of various compass points of her face, to drive a needle through my nostril and then staple a fake jewel into the hole. As a result, three of the next five days I was supposed to be writing my novel were, instead, spent calling my husband in a panic at all hours of the day and night because my nose was swelling, itching and burning. No amount of soaking, steaming or massaging seemed to be helping and soon I became convinced I had contracted a deadly disease through the hole in the ‘meat’ of my nostril (as Tommy so romantically refers to such areas of my nose)

ME ON THE PHONE: Help My nose is swollen. I’m going to die.

TOMMY ON THE PHONE: You’re not going to die. The meat of your nose is just in shock.

ME ON THE PHONE: No. I’m dying. I don’t think the needle was properly sterilized. I shoulda just gotten a tattoo of a nose piercing. Then I wouldn’t be dying.

TOMMY ON THE PHONE: Don’t be stupid.

ME ON THE PHONE: You’ll feel badly for calling me ‘stupid’ when I contract Ebola and die.

TOMMY ON THE PHONE: You can’t contract Ebola from a nose piercing.

For a moment, I felt better. My husband is a very smart man and deals with first aid issues all the time. So, I hung up the phone, hopped on the computer and resumed work on one of my fifteen novel projects. But soon I grew bored with my writing and began Google-ing all the diseases one can contract from paying a chick $ 50 to drive a ‘sort of sterilized’ needle through the meat of one’s nose. About sixteen more panicked phone calls ensued, and alas, I returned home having only added the word ‘the’ to my novel.

As for this year’s writing retreat – inspired by the journalist who is presently walking around the world, and the dude in Berlin who is living a life completely devoid of money, I was in a bit of an experimental mode. Thereby, I decided on a more minimalist approach for my trip than I usually employed. No car, no excess luggage, no ventures into the nearby town to purchase creature comforts. And absolutely no communication with the outside world (save for the occasional “good news! I haven’t been kidnapped by a serial killer yet!” check in with the family.) Yes, armed with just a single suitcase and enough dried goods and clothing to sustain me nutritionally and hygienically for five days, I was off for my sequestration.

Much to my surprise, my hotel room was upgraded from the usual standard room. Let’s do the math, shall we? An upgraded room = a remodeled room = a fancy kitchen! And coming from a Manhattan apartment that is anything but newly remodeled, this was a huge victory. At first. But my joy was quickly dashed when I discovered I could not operate the fancy computerized stove/oven. With about 400 dials and burners, and button features like Self-Cleaning, Heating, Probe, Delay, Confection, etc., it looked, and behaved, like a NASA endorsed incubator. As a result, what was supposed to be the simple preparation of a can of Progresso chicken noodle soup ended up being an intelligence test for me. Before I knew it, I had turned on the wrong burners and, because there’s no flame on these fancy electric ranges, I had no idea what was hot and what wasn’t. So, I ended up sautéing a dish towel and sucking down gelatinous cold soup. The fancy dishwasher and coffeemaker proved just as complicated, and the refrigerator was the size of a coffin which, seeing as it was pretty much empty save for the carrots and disgusting soy milk I’d brought along, cast a bit of a pall over my atmosphere.

In terms of productivity, I’m proud to report I was, in fact, highly productive this time around. Part of this was due to the fact my nose piercing has fully healed; and part is due to the fact I didn’t turn the TV on once. If you’re a normal person who watches TV to unwind or feel stupider or escape, let me assure you it’s quite an experience to not watch one. It’s one thing to be away from a television due to circumstances, like a camping trip…or prison. But when you’re in a room where there is not only one, but TWO giant televisions just begging you tune in, well, it’s quite a challenge to resist the temptation. Did I break? Not once. Not even for The Walking Dead (which, by the way, Tommy promised me he would DVR for me because, ‘it was like, the BEST EPISODE EVER”.) Did he actually DVR it while I was away? No. Can it be found anywhere on my Fios ‘on-demand’ feature now that I am home and jonesin’ for television like a crack addict in withdrawal? Noooooo. Am I going to now feed my husband to the zombies as punishment?
You bet.
All in all, except for the occasional walk to avoid impending muscle atrophy, and extended reading breaks to gather inspiration from writers who actually finished their novels, I remained diligent with my writing goals during my self-banishment. I edited, expanded, rewrote, cut, inserted, rephrased, revamped, deleted, researched, and typed my little fingers off on my laptop with aplomb, slowly but surely bringing life to what had previously been just the germs of ideas in my head. I twisted plot ideas around, developed characters that had previously been undeveloped, and even settled on a title.
So, while I arrive home a bit disheveled and malnourished (there’s just so much cous cous a girl can eat before she loses her mind), I arrive home with the third of my novel projects in a state of enough existence to warrant further nurturing. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that I still haven’t seen Sunday night’s episode of The Walking Dead. (Thanks, honey.)