Thursday, March 17, 2011

Plane Jane

Mardi Gras extends from the Louisiana boot to Pensacola Bay and up to Floribama, Mobile and beyond. There's wannabe Lakers colors and strange "king cake" everywhere. And you've got to watch out, because if you don't pay attention at the parades, you'll get beaned in the head with candy, and whipped with beads. Like me. And like our friends - who wisely invited us to the downtown Pensacola Mardi Gras celebration - you can take this time to avoid eye trauma and hone screaming, waving and catching - collecting as much free shit as possible. From Indian (is that PC?) headdresses to plastic cups and moon pies. (Though a crushed, 'orange' flavored moon pie is a little iffy.)

Dirty pretty things

Cloudy, pretty things

The city barely had time to sober up before St. Patrick's Day hit, begging for beer festivals following 5k runs and slutty green outfits. But what are we doing? Skipping the corned beef and sauerkraut and watching Top Gear, letting the hus rest up from his second solo flight, flown today. Oh. His first! That was done a couple weeks ago (ahem, sorry) with the T-6, number 056. Surprisingly - apparently - the check ride (the flight prior to a solo), is the more challenging and nerve-wracking. And after your first primary school solo (one is already done during IFS [Introductory Flight Screening]), those around will happily oblige you a dunk in the tank outside the line shacks.

Good job, Red Knight 056. Good job, photog.

Click to enlarge (ha ha)

So, military wives do things like yoga while they're husbands are out buzzing around in the MOA (military operating area = 2 layers of 12, 4-6,000-foot blocks). And while I'm doing sit-ups (yes, I know these aren't technically part of the yoga plan), I pull a muscle. Not a leg, arm or back muscle like a normal person. But a neck muscle. Not even a normal neck muscle. But the muscle between my throat and chin. Like my swallowing muscle, let's call it... I pulled my swallowing muscle doing sit-ups. (That'll teach me to stray from crunches.) I seriously had to stop what I was doing and lay there breathing, willing the pain and swelling sound in my ears to go away before I was compelled to run around the neighborhood screaming. It did go away. And when I told my formerly-a-physical-therapist-hus, he said, oh yeah, I've had that - it sucks. Suck it did.

When I was able to wolf down food again, I had the energy for a shopping trip. This was of course between hours and hours of productive, well-paid (pah!) freelance marketing writing and a side of novella editing (in which after each paragraph, I start to think about writing head-beaning parades and pulled neck muscles into the storyline). With goals of freshening a pointless wardrobe (an occupational hazard when working from home), I instead got sucked into the miraculous shopping activity of picking out Crocs Jibbitz.

Alright, so for any fellow writers short on whimsy or advice of late - or any interested readers or followers - the below are some faves from the last couple weeks.

Kurt Vonnegut's Short Story Sage-ism -
  1. Use the time of a total stranger (your reader) in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  2. Give the reader at least one character to root for.
  3. Every character should want something, even if it's only a glass of water.
  4. Every sentence must do one of two things - reveal character, or advance the action.
  5. Start as close to the end as possible.
  6. Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your main characters, make awful things happen to them, so the reader can see what they're made of.
  7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  8. Give your readers as much information as possible, as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what's going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves - should cockroaches eat the final pages.
  • Vonnegut qualifies the list by adding that Flannery O'Connor broke all these rules except the first, and that great writers tend to do that. (Good ol' Catch-22. [If feeling less polite - insert stream of consciousness cussing here.])

The words I had to find and wish I wrote - 

Plain was the same as it ever was the same.

Plainly plain ... Samely same.
But then,
Someone lit the flame.

Plain rode away on lion’s mane.

Where plain met fruits with strangely names.
Such wonderful things they did contain.

A shot of life to a hungry vein.

The captive beast who broke the chain.

And there upon that fruited plane,

is where plain became what plain became.

So much more than more than plain.
Plain will never be the same.


Anonymous said...

That's my butt in the top picture!

Aly Lawson said...

A butt to envy!

thebluemuse said...

A few things:

1. Congrats flyboy! LOVED the dunk photo.

2. Pulling swallow muscles sounds awful! I thought I was the only one who jacked obscure life-altering-for-a-few-days muscles. Glad I'm not alone.

3. Thanks for the Vonnegut list. I'm commencing a (scary) project for my narrative class this semester. Academic-ese be damned. I'm writin' stories. Hope I haven't forgotten how!

llwade said...

Good job Cary! Ry and I are waiting for our fly by when he is out buzzing about!

Although I have never done it myself I bet it was one of your hyoid muscles in your neck that you strained. If you ever need a teacher on proper sit up technique I can help you....hahaha! Ya right.

I miss you.

We are going to Turks and Caicos in May and you guys should totally buzz down!


Aly Lawson said...

I'll be sure to pass on the congrats to C; he'll love it.

Yeah, nope - Shawna, you're defintely not alone in the pulling of obscure, life-altering-for-a-few-days muscles (I love it). And I'm so glad we might have a finger on the name now, Bean! That must help one avoid pulling it. =)

I wanna see scary writing ventures(are there any other kind)documented on The Blue Muse!

Cheers to future fly-bys and the hyoid muscle, and appeasing it so it doesn't affect the thyroid. Ha.

What? Turks and Caicos?! I'll have to see about that...

Cary said...

My favorite is the FAGE plain part; not even the solo.

Aly Lawson said...


Pritchard Orthodontics said...

Are there some things in life that can never be described as plain? Yes, but probably not a hard and fast rule. We humans can always mess up the extraordinary into the ordinary, and thusly, just plain. Sad, but true. We should maintain the viewpoint of a child, viewing the world as a wonderland. As an example, Italian food, by it's very nature, should never be considered, "just plain Italian" food. Yet, what do we have, Chief Boy-R-Dee canned spaghetti. Plain ol' spaghetti. But then, if you were really, really hungry, that plain ol' can could actually be nirvana. Interesting. Perhaps it all depends on our outlook or circumstances? Yes, that's it! So, the next time we go to the same ol' market or grocery store, just look at all the stuff that's in a market: look at how many oranges there, the variety of plain ol' potatoes, at one aisle devoted to breakfast cereal. Now, image those shelves empty or sparsely stocked. What an amazingly unplain market. Go out and be amazed, look beneath the plain, and see the potential for wonder, even if it is a can of Chef Boy-R-Dee spaghetti.

Aly Lawson said...

Hear, here =)